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Lord Warner: My Lords, the Government share the concerns expressed by the noble Lord. That is why in January 2005 they published their action plan, Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Care. That publication has led to a great deal of work being done to take forward the agenda. Whether we will ever satisfy everyone in relation to the mental health Bill is not an assurance I can give to the House. It is a controversial area. However, we are determined to work with the interest groups mentioned by the noble Lord, as well as with all stakeholders, to make sure that the race equality impact assessment that is to accompany the Bill will be the result of the fullest possible consultation.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, will the race equality impact assessment, whatever that may mean, cost money? Does he not agree that it would be better to use such money for treating patients who need help now?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am afraid that I have to disagree with the noble Baroness, possibly not for the first time. The race equality impact assessment is a crucial part of the Government's commitment to showing what impact this legislation and, in some cases, other policy areas will have on black and minority ethnic groups. The cost is modest and it is money well spent. The assessment does its best to ensure that government legislation is accepted by the people who are affected by it.

Baroness Tonge: My Lords, the Minister may be aware that under the present regulations black men are 44 per cent more likely to be sectioned than those
 
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from other ethnic groups. Yet it is being proposed in the new Bill that the police will be able to enter people's homes without a warrant and take them away for treatment. With alarm bells ringing in my ears about the draconian Terrorism Bill and the disproportionate impact it will have on ethnic minorities, does the Minister share my concern about the direction in which the Government are taking us?

Lord Warner: My Lords, the House will not be surprised to learn that I do not share the concerns expressed by the noble Baroness. What I will say in response is that she does need to wait until the Bill is published. No doubt we will be able to debate her concerns as the Bill goes through this House.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, is it not true that the Minister in another place, Rosie Winterton, extended the opportunity for consultation only after pressure from BME communities, mental health charities and MPs, and a final admission that there were major problems over the first consultation, with few BME attendees? Can the Minister explain how the Government will ensure that they reach this vital group of mental health service users in further consultations?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I do not quite accept the noble Baroness's account of affairs. We are always willing to look at ways of improving our consultation processes and we are working hard to ensure that all the people she mentioned are involved in the consultation process on the race equality impact assessment. We will continue with that work.

Baroness Howells of St Davids: My Lords, are the Government confident that the progress being made in preparing the race equality impact assessment will be sustained?

Lord Warner: My Lords, let me reassure my noble friend that we are committed to producing this assessment and the purpose of it is to highlight actions to safeguard against possible adverse impacts of mental health legislation for BME groups. We will continue to work with those groups to ensure that race equality issues are properly built into the implementation of the Act, the way we monitor it and the code of practice developed for it.

Lord Ackner: My Lords, why have we dropped the use of the word "effect" and seized upon this odd word "impact"?

Lord Warner: My Lords, this is a government who like to have impact.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, does the Minister have any evidence about the disparity of treatment between black patients and others, and if not, will he look at evidence that may be available from other sources, including the Commission for Racial Equality?

Lord Warner: My Lords, we have certainly been in touch with and been guided by the Commission for
 
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Racial Equality in taking forward work on the race equality impact assessment. The noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, is of course quite right in saying that there are discrepancies and disparities in the ways people are treated. The Government have accepted that there are problems to be tackled. That is why, following the David Bennett inquiry, we published Delivering Race Equality in Mental Health Services at the beginning of last year, and that is why we are taking forward the agenda in that document.

Botswana: Kalahari Bushmen

11.22 am

The Lord Bishop of Oxford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): My Lords, we monitor closely the situation concerning the small San community in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve. Our High Commission staff last visited the reserve and resettlement areas in June 2005. They have visited the area three times in the past two years and officials plan to make further visits in the near future. We discuss the issue with the Botswana Government and with other interested parties at regular intervals.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply. As he will know, 242 heads of Bushmen families have an outstanding legal case against the Botswana Government in order that they might return to their ancestral lands. It has been adjourned a number of times but returns to the court on 6 February. I wonder whether the Minister would be able before that date to make representations to the Botswana Government, reminding them that in 1961 the British government declared this a game reserve in order to safeguard the way of life of the Bushmen and to raise particular concerns about the use of force in removing the Bushmen from their ancestral lands. Finally, only last year the Botswana Government apparently wanted to change the constitution in order to remove such safeguards as the Bushmen have. There are very major concerns which I hope the Minister will be able to convey before that date.

{**12**} Lord Triesman: My Lords, we have consistently urged on the Government of Botswana that no violence or undue duress should be placed on people. Issues arise as to the way in which the Government of Botswana are trying to deliver services to all of their people; I do not think that in an answer this brief it would be possible to go through all of them. But we do raise those human rights issues. The United Kingdom believes that all indigenous people are entitled to have their individual human rights fully respected and we support efforts to protect and promote those rights. There is no doubt that the change in the constitution
 
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was taken through a proper and constitutional set of provisions by a government who behave in a broadly democratic way.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, do the Government agree that this whole tragic saga does nothing but unnecessary damage to the reputation of Botswana and its people, whom we all otherwise hold in such high regard? Is not the deeper problem that the African herdsman and his descendents tend to look down on the hunter-gatherer, to put it politely? So, what we are really looking at here is our old friend racism, which has resulted in a policy almost of ethnic cleansing towards these peaceful and spiritual people. While I appreciate that the Government cannot get involved in the legal proceedings, could they not at least, in pursuit of their ethical foreign policy—and here I echo the request of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Oxford—give the Government of Botswana a friendly nudge towards acceptance and indeed encouragement of the Bushmen and their chosen way of life?

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I say candidly to the House that I am not greatly drawn to the stereotypes which are sometimes provided of the lifestyles of people who are often living in what may be traditional but also potentially very difficult circumstances. The Government of Botswana have made it plain that they want to see education provision for the children of all people in Botswana and proper health provision in a place where HIV/AIDS is a significant problem. They live in a country the size of France, populated by 1.5 million people. Unless they can get a degree of concentration of people, those aspirations will not be met. The San people themselves, and certainly the younger and new generation of the San people, are clear that they want to live with some of the advantages of modernity.


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