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Baroness Amos: My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right. The Pashtuns feel that they have been left out of the wider political settlement. That needs to be addressed and is being considered in the context of the work being undertaken by the transitional administration, but also of the work that we are undertaking, with others, to seek security in the south of the country to enable political developments to flow.

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, the noble Baroness said frankly that there was still a serious problem about security in Afghanistan. I understand that the International Security Assistance Force is still limited to Kabul itself. Are there any plans among the donor nations or the coalition that fought against Afghanistan to extend policing beyond Kabul? Most Afghan representatives that one meets—especially those who visit this country—repeat over and over that it is crucial to get order and law back into the rest of Afghanistan if the country is to have a serious chance of reconstruction.

Baroness Amos: My Lords, of course security is very important. The method being used is the provincial reconstruction teams, which are joint civil/military teams, to deploy outside Kabul. Their primary function will be to extend the authority of the transitional administration to the regions. So far, three have been established under the United States. Other countries are considering whether they can lead PRTs. As I understand it, the US would like to extend the number that it leads. That is a way to ensure security in other parts of the country.

Lord Blaker: My Lords—

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, I am afraid that we are over time.

Mental Health: Black and Minority Ethnic Groups

2.58 p.m.

Lord Chan: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question standing in my name on the Order Paper. In so doing, I declare that I am patron of the United Kingdom Chinese Mental Health Association.

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The Question was as follows:

    To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the National Institute of Mental Health report Inside Outside on improving mental health services for black and minority ethnic communities in England.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the Department of Health has already instigated a programme of activities to improve the care and treatment of black and minority ethnic mental health service users, their carers, families and wider communities. That includes investing in 500 community development workers by 2006 to strengthen community engagement.

Lord Chan: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that Answer, but the report clearly states that mainstream services continue to fail ethnic minority patients. What will the Government do to ensure that mental health organisations prioritise clinical governance, care standards and workforce composition?

Finally, when will the Minister respond to the growing anxiety and mental distress in the Chinese community about severe acute respiratory syndrome?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, perhaps I may start by paying tribute to the noble Lord for his excellent and consistent work to bring to the fore the problems suffered by black and other ethnic minorities in mental health services. He has played an outstanding role. I assure him not only that the Government have read with great appreciation the report Inside Outside but that the implementation framework will be presented later this year. The report is still being consulted on. We expect to have the implementation framework very shortly and to have it in action to do the things that he has already suggested—better models of care, better pathways into care for black and ethnic minorities, who are sorely disadvantaged, and addressing the issues of clinical governance.

As a Statement on SARS will be made later this afternoon, I shall be very happy to answer the noble Lord's final question in that context.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I join the noble Baroness in congratulating Professor Sashidharan on the report, which is excellent. But many of its implications are very broad as regards cross-governmental working. The noble Baroness mentioned the allocation of funds for community development workers as one of the key recommendations in the report. Is that to happen this year, and has the process already started?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, yes, it is highly significant that Professor Sashidharan made that a priority. The priority was driven by the black and ethnic communities themselves, because they see it as the essential way of getting people into mental health care and prevention services as quickly and as easily as possible. We expect the process to start immediately. The figure of 500 will take us up to 2006. We hope, and the black and ethnic communities are confident, that

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we will be able to recruit the sorts of workers who can also take advantage of experience in other fields; for example, in promoting social inclusion.

Earl Howe: My Lords, can the noble Baroness give us any news on the long-awaited mental health Bill?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, we will bring forward the mental health Bill when parliamentary time allows.


Lord Grocott: My Lords, with the leave of the House, there will be two repeated Statements this afternoon. The intention is that we shall take them at on the conclusion of the Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill—in other words, between the two debates this afternoon. The first, on Iraq and Israel/Palestine, will be repeated by my noble friend Lady Symons, and, as my noble friend Lady Andrews said, there will be a Statement on SARS.

Regional Assemblies (Preparations) Bill

3.2 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 2 [Local government referendums]:

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 2, line 36, leave out "Part 2 of this Act" and insert "section 13(1) or 16(4)"

The noble Lord said: My Lords, the government amendments to Clause 2 are minor, technical ones that make good our undertaking to the House on Report to tidy up the clause. Clause 2 provides for referendums on the structure of local government. Specifically, it requires the Secretary of State to put at least two options for unitary local government to a referendum.

Clause 2(5) requires that those options are based on the recommendations of the Boundary Committee. It does so by means of a reference to recommendations,

    "in pursuance of a direction under Part 2 of this Act".

In fact, it is possible to be more specific, because the options put to the electorate will be based on recommendations made in pursuance of a direction under either Clause 13(1), which provides for the Boundary Committee to make recommendations to the Secretary of State following a local government review, or Clause 16(4), which provides for the Boundary Committee to make further recommendations if so directed by the Secretary of State following his rejection of its original proposals. As we said on Report, that should be made clear on the face of the Bill. The first government amendment to Clause 2 does just that.

Similarly, the reference to,

    "a direction under Part 2 of this Act",

in Clause 2(7) should be made more specific. Again, the reference should be to directions under Clauses 13(1) or 16(4). The second government amendment to

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Clause 2 deals with that. It does not alter the substantive effect of the clause, which will still require the Secretary of State to wait six weeks after receiving recommendations before moving an order for a referendum. I beg to move.

Baroness Hanham: My Lords, I am extremely grateful to the Minister for his explanation. As he says, it gives rise to the second question, which we discussed on Report. I shall raise the point I wish to make under the next amendment. I thank the Minister for moving Amendment No. 1. While we are all still friends, I thank him very much for all the correspondence over the Recess regarding various amendments.

Baroness Blatch: My Lords, I wish to ask a question about when a referendum is called by the Minister. My understanding is that, when we discussed the Bill throughout the 7th and 8th April, the triggering mechanism—that is to say, the soundings exercise—was discussed at length. Although I was astonished, I took advice that I was always given as a young person: if you write a letter in anger, you should deliver it only after reflection. So the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, has been spared the letter that I would otherwise have written.

Nevertheless, the question remains: on 9th April, following two days of full debate, including very extensive debate on soundings, I discovered that a Written Question had been answered in this House on 7th April and was printed on 8th April. I picked up my Hansard on 8th April to discover that, in the light of amendments agreed, the soundings exercise had been extended until 16th May. We went all the way through the debate on 7th and 8th April. When I asked at the Clerks' office when the Question was submitted, I was told that it was submitted on 8th April. I said that it was almost impossible that that was done on 8th April simply because I picked up my copy of Hansard at 8.15 a.m. on that day.

The department knows that I have been asking questions about the matter during the Recess. It appears that not only had the policy decision been made during our discussions at least and the actual administrative arrangements put in place, but the Written Question must have been tabled on 7th April for it to be in print by early on 8th April. It would be helpful for the noble Lord to let me know, first, why the Committee was not informed that the soundings exercise was to be extended and when that decision was taken, but also when the Written Question was submitted to be answered in Parliament.

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