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Lord Davies of Coity: My Lords, as my noble friend the Minister has confirmed, at Second Reading I said that I had no objection in principle to this amendment. My concern was that we would have run out of parliamentary time. I am now assured that, with the maximum co-operation, that will not happen.
Since Second Reading I have met with my noble friend Lord Evans, I have had discussions with my noble friend the Government Chief Whip, I have had a brief discussion with the noble Lord, Lord Cope, the Opposition Chief Whip and a very brief discussion with the noble Lord, Lord Roper, Chief Whip of the Liberal Democrats, and I believe that they have been extremely fruitful.
This morning I had a brief word with the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Portsmouth, who certainly supports the Bill, as expressed in his speech at Second Reading. He has no objection to the amendment. Further, I have had a telephone conversation with the right honourable Eric Forth, the Member in the other place who tabled this amendment in the first place. I have been assured by him that although the timetable is very tight, this Bill will not suffer obstruction in the other place and will therefore become law in time for Christmas this year. On that basis, I urge your Lordships to support the amendment.
The Lord Bishop of Worcester: I rise as a member of the Ethical Investment Advisory Group within the Church of England, which has consistently pressed for this Bill, and which has engaged in vigorous dialogue with some shops that have shown a tendency towards opening on Christmas Day. I am very glad for the introduction of this amendment.
I simply add to what the Minister has already said, that Christmas morning has a very particular quality about it, which makes its guarding a matter of some importance to us all. So I join with noble Lords who have already spoken in hoping that the amendment will pass and that the Bill will speedily become law.
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Lord Cope of Berkeley: I support the amendment. I just want to build a little on what the Minister said. To my knowledge this is the first time that we have been able to amend a Private Member's Bill from the Commons in this way. The other place has altered its arrangements, and in particular the last day on which it habitually takes Private Members' Bills, to allow this to happen. This is a rare example of the other place altering its procedures for the convenience of your Lordships. That matter is to be welcomed in principle as is the detail of the amendment.
Lord Roper: I rise not to speak on the substance of the amendment, although I believe, irrespective of what one thinks about the substance of the Bill, that these amendments improve it. Although I am told that turkeys do not vote for an early Christmas, I shall certainly not oppose this particular amendment.
Like the noble Lord, Lord Cope, I wanted to refer to the fact that we have, following the principle of comity between the Houses, been able to reach an agreement whereby it is possible for this House to consider amendments to Private Members' Bills at a late stage. This is a way in which we can ensure that this sort of legislation is improved, or at least made as good as it can be by discussion in this House as well, and that this in itself does not kill Bills and prevent them becoming law. That is a very important step forward in the legislative process. I am pleased that this is one of the first occasions when we have been able to take advantage of these new provisions.
Page 2, line 10, leave out "section 1" and insert "sections 1 and (Prohibition of loading and unloading at large shops before 9 a.m. on Christmas Day)"
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Page 2, line 13, leave out "offence under section 1" and insert "offences under sections 1 and (Prohibition of loading and unloading at large shops before 9 a.m. on Christmas Day)"
(1) The 1994 Act is amended as follows.
(2) In Schedule 1 (restrictions on Sunday opening of large shops)
(a) in sub-paragraph (4) of paragraph 2, omit "or Christmas Day", and
(b) after that sub-paragraph insert
"(5) Nothing in this paragraph applies where the Sunday is Christmas Day (the opening of large shops on Christmas Day being prohibited by section 1 of the Christmas Day (Trading) Act 2004).".
(3) In Schedule 3 (loading and unloading at large shops on Sunday morning), after paragraph 9 insert
House adjourned at a quarter past ten o'clock.
The report and accounts cover the second year of significant operations by the Standards Board for England. During the year ended 31 March 2004, 3,566 allegations of misconduct had been referred to the Standards Board, an increase of about 20 per cent compared with the previous year.
The annual report highlights that the board is continuing to work in partnership with local government to promote and sustain the high standards of conduct, which are essential to public confidence in our local democracy.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My honourable friend the Minister of State, Department of Health has made the following Written Ministerial Statement today.
The Government have today published a Mental Health Bill. This Bill will be subject to pre-legislative scrutiny. A joint scrutiny committee has been established and has been asked to present its report by the end of March 2005.
Mental health legislation sets out the circumstances in which a person can be treated for mental disorder without their consent and the safeguards they are entitled to. The vast majority of people with mental health problems do not need to be treated against their wishes but occasionally this is necessary, normally to protect themselves, but more occasionally to protect others.
It has long been recognised that the current mental health legislation, the Mental Health Act 1983, needs to be updated in line with the development of services
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and of human rights law to give a greater focus on patients' needs and wishes. In 1998, the Government set up an expert committee to advise on how mental health legislation should be shaped to reflect contemporary patterns of care and treatment and to support government policy. In 2002, following a Green and a White Paper, a draft Bill was published for consultation.
Since then, the comments received on the 2002 draft have been considered in full and, following further work and meetings with stakeholders, a revised Bill has been produced. We have made changes to address the concerns expressed by stakeholders. The Bill brings the framework for the compulsory treatment of people with serious mental health disorders up to date.
This Bill needs to be considered in the context of the wider government strategy to improve mental health services. In 1998, the National Service Framework for Mental Health set out national standards for the care and treatment of adults with mental disorder. The NHS Plan announced, in 2000, substantial additional investment for mental health services. As a result of the national service framework and the additional investment, significant improvements have been made in mental health services. This is particularly the case in relation to community-based services, such as crisis resolution and assertive outreach teams. It is important that mental health legislation is now modernised.
The Bill will provide important benefits. The Bill means that the small minority of people with mental health problems who need to be treated against their wishes, normally for their protection but occasionally to protect the public, will get the right treatment at the right time. This meets the needs of the individual patient and makes sure that the public are protected.
The Bill ensures there is no compulsion without the provision of appropriate treatment. Safeguards for patients will be greatly strengthened with a choice of representative, access to advocacy and all use of compulsory treatment beyond 28 days having to be authorised by the new independent mental health tribunal or the courts. Under the Bill, patients who are ill and vulnerable will be able to get the treatment they need in the community, including non-dangerous mentally disordered offenders who may otherwise receive a prison sentence.
Legislation about compulsory treatment inevitably raises many difficult issues. There has already been much discussion about this proposed new legislation. Pre-legislative scrutiny will now allow further considered debate. We look forward to receiving the report of the scrutiny committee.
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