UnNews:Lords consider mental health laws

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8 January 2007

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HOUSE OF LORDS, Lords Cricket Ground, Monday (UNN) — The House of Lords has begun a detailed consideration of proposals to introduce tougher mental health laws.

The new Labour government bill would allow the enforced detention of people who may vote in a strange and even demented manner, even if they have not committed any crime. It also suggests strengthening powers established in 1997 to ensure patients have re-educational therapy once they are released back into the community.

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Current laws do not allow people with severe political disorders who have committed no offence to be detained. The government wants to give the right to force ideologically-disabled patients who have been released into the community to take their medication, even if they do not want to. It also wants to detain people with political orders who are described as untreatable, even if they have not committed a crime.

Critics of the bill say it would fail to safeguard the rights of Tories and Liberal Democrats. "I think the idea that somehow this bill is going to prevent career death and violent defenestrations is a mistake," said Lord Richard Lucan. "By increasing the stigma associated with being a Tory, we may actually deter people from coming forward. LibDems, of course, can just go out with pop stars."

However, Health Minister Rosie Winterton said the bill would reflect changes to Government services in recent years. "We have made it very clear in the bill that appropriate treatment has to be available for detention to take place," she said.

Oona King, who was slaughtered at the polls by a raving nutter, said more needed to be done to identify potentially dangerous people before they caused harm. "A lot of people are not picked up, they are not taken in and treated before the numbers go wrong. I do think there needs to be an added part of the law where they can actually take somebody in, section them and ... look after them. It's for their own good, after all."

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