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Lord Annan: My Lords, is it not necessary for the Government to review planning procedures, which are very time-consuming? Does the noble Lord recall the Roskill Commission set up in the 1960s? That commission proposed that the third London airport should be sited at Stansted. Having reported a year-and-a-half after the inquiry began, at an expenditure of £1¾ million, the Roskill Commission suggested that the airport should be sited at Cublington. That proposal was turned down by the then Conservative government. Next, it was suggested that the airport should be sited at the end of the Thames estuary and that the road connecting it to London should run through the East End and terminate in the City. That was turned down. In the end Stansted was chosen. Does the Minister consider that that is a reasonable way in which to proceed?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as described by the noble Lord I find it very difficult to regard that as a reasonable way to proceed. I recall some of the saga. I visited Foulness in the expectation that one day that site might be an airport. We are all concerned that this procedure

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is too long and needs to be streamlined and simplified, but that at the same time the public must have an opportunity to express their view.

Lord Clinton-Davis: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that the statements he made, today and earlier, will be generally welcomed? There need not be any dereliction of duty towards environmental matters. But is it not plain common sense that the procedures currently undertaken are too lengthy and inhibit our economic effort? Will my noble friend contrast the actions that his department has already taken--we shall have an opportunity to debate them soon--with the inertia which, over 18 years, overcame the former administration in this and other respects?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, as always I am happy to endorse my noble friend's views. We need a more strategic approach.

On planning procedures, my colleague, Dick Caborn, is considering the whole range of planning procedures. However, noble Lords need to be aware that the vast majority of public inquiries last a week. It is the big inquiries which pose a serious problem.

Baroness Hamwee: My Lords, I have to declare an interest as a resident of west London under the flight path to Heathrow.

On a more general point, does the Minister agree that the adversarial nature of planning inquiries does no good to our society? In this case, it appears to have cost the applicants around £60 million. The Minister gave a figure of £9 million as regards the opponents, including cash-strapped local authorities; my figure is £4 million. Either way, there is a great imbalance in the resources available to the parties.

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I suspect that some of the imbalance is inevitable, and far too many resources on all sides are expended. The adversarial aspect is bound to be present in some of the controversial issues, but the procedures should minimise it and the facts should, as far as possible, be agreed.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, will the Minister accept that on this side of the House we welcome the possibility of a change in the planning procedures for major projects? Will the Minister remind his noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis that the former government got through the planning procedures some major projects including, for example, the Channel Tunnel which links this country to Europe, of which the noble Lord is so fond?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, I, and no doubt my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis, greatly welcome the Channel Tunnel. From some of their comments, I am not sure whether all noble Lords opposite do the same.

Lord Ampthill: My Lords, the noble Lord on the Opposition Front Bench seems to forget that before the transport and works legislation the procedure went before both Houses of Parliament. We could have dealt

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with Terminal 5 in another place and this House in 18 months without the slightest difficulty. Will the Government consider repealing the transport and works legislation?

Lord Whitty: My Lords, the noble Lord rightly reminds us that the parliamentary procedure is an alternative. It is one of the options in the paper.

Mental Health Services

3.22 p.m.

Lord Laming asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will refer the research paper Homicides by people with Mental Illness--myth and reality (Taylor and Gunn--British Journal of Psychiatry) to the review of the mental health services.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, yes. This paper has already been brought to the attention of the External Reference Group advising the Department of Health on the development of the National Service Framework for Mental Health, and of the expert group undertaking a scoping study as the first phase of the review of the Mental Health Act 1983.

Lord Laming: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that helpful reply. Does the noble Baroness agree that this research indicates that, contrary to popular belief, of the number of murders committed in this country during any one year those committed by people with mental illness has declined steadily? Will she ask the review team to consider requiring each mental health authority to put in place a multidisciplinary outreach team dedicated to maintaining close contact with those mentally ill people who have a tendency to drift in order that we can ensure that they take their medication and do not drift out of sight?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, my noble friend is right to draw attention to the article, which takes a balanced and considered view of the issues relating to homicides committed by mentally ill people. In urging that balanced view, we should not stigmatise the mentally ill because of rare occurrences. Neither should we divert ourselves from the need to improve services to reduce those incidences.

Assertive outreach is important to deal with those who suffer from mental illness who, as the noble Lord rightly pinpoints, are particularly difficult to reach by conventional systems. The National Service Framework for Mental Health, which we hope to publish in the spring, will give advice on alternative ways of providing such a service.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, in the light of the Minister's reply, will the noble Baroness agree that the paper should also be referred to the review by Professor Richardson of the Mental Health Act? If or

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when Professor Richardson's review group makes a proposal for a community care order, will she confirm that there will be full consultation on the principle, and practical application, of any such community care order?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, yes, I believe that Professor Richardson's group has received a copy of the document. She was asked to consider how community treatment orders might be implemented when the review group scoping study was set up last July. I understand that she has consulted fairly widely already but that before she puts proposals on the subject to Ministers she will consult again.

Earl Howe: My Lords, does the Minister agree with me that dangerous mental disorders, in particular schizophrenia, are often triggered by drug abuse; and that there is a close connection between these two types of disorder? Is it not therefore as important to educate young people on the many dangers of drug abuse as it is to ensure that schizophrenia is effectively treated?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Earl is correct to point out that some sufferers from mental illness who are most difficult to reach, and some whom the article identifies as the most likely to be in that small minority who commit offences, are those who have drug or alcohol abuse problems. He is right to point out that we need to consider those issues as well as the issue, for example, of schizophrenia, if we are to be effective.

Lord McNair: My Lords, will the Minister please insist that research is carried out into the violence-producing side effects of modern psychiatric drugs, in particular that of Akathesia, which makes it difficult for many who work in the mental health services to handle the people in their charge?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, it is important to recognise that we must look at many new treatments in the round. We have to consider the side effects as well as the primary effects. For example, we need to give clear advice on treatment protocols. The national institute for clinical excellence will have a key role in developing and disseminating guidance on drugs in the future.

Earl Russell: My Lords, I am sure this is not the first time the Minister has heard a good proposal for putting an additional obligation on a local authority. Will the noble Baroness agree that the tendency to put additional obligations on local authorities without ensuring adequate funding to meet them has increased, is increasing, and should be diminished?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I do not think that the hypothesis to which the noble Earl refers applies in this circumstance. We did indeed put extra obligations on local authorities, not least the obligation to work with health authorities on services for the mentally ill because their needs go across the organisational boundaries of

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the health service and local authorities. But I am glad to say that with that exhortation we provided extra funding for both social services departments in local authorities, and health authorities, so that they could take action on that.

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