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The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his Answer. However, does he agree that the very limited need for those weapons by our forces in any foreseeable conflict is outweighed by the terrible suffering being caused to civilians, especially children, by such mines lying around—there are some 100 million of them—long after the conflict is past? Does he also agree that the export of self-neutralising or self-destructing mines, with a failure rate estimated at something like 10 per cent., would only add to those terrible problems and also discourage other nations from agreeing to a total ban on their production, stockpiling sale or use?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, in his supplementary question the right reverend Prelate has indicated the core problem which is the 100 million or so land-mines in the world. I am sure that we all wish to see a reduction of those and eventually a world free of mines. The problem we face is that those weapons are easy to make and to use. We have to focus our policies on our prime purpose; to protect civilians from the consequences of indiscriminate use of land-mines which do not self-neutralise. In order to do that, we believe it is right,

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first, to bring about a regime where increasingly the mines which may be used in the world are those which self-neutralise—I refer to the so-called smart mines—rather than the "dumb" mines which have such dreadful consequences.

Lord Wright of Richmond: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in reply to my question during the debate on the Address about the Government's intentions to ratify two additional protocols to the Geneva Convention, I received a courteous reply from the noble Baroness, Lady Chalker, stating that it was purely a matter of time? Can the Minister tell us anything about the timing of the Government's ratification of those protocols?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his question. I am pleased to be able to advise your Lordships that we hope to be able to ratify them by the end of next month.

Lord Ennals: My Lords, I have been trying to follow the logic of the Minister's reply, but I have to admit that I failed to do so. Why would it not lead towards a complete agreement if the Government now announced that they propose to make a complete agreement so that there would be no exportation at all either of the whole land-mine or of a component of it?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, we believe that under appropriate circumstances, in accordance with the principles of Article 51 of the UN charter, land-mines can be legitimate weapons of self-defence. As I said earlier, what the Government are concerned about is the consequence of the indiscriminate use of so-called "dumb" land-mines. We believe that in the wicked world in which we live, because land-mines are so easy to manufacture and deploy, and bearing in mind, for example, that this year we anticipate that it is likely that somewhere between 10 million and 20 million land-mines will be laid around the world, we must focus our efforts to ensure that the land-mines used are the so-called smart land-mines which are self-neutralising.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, in pursuance of the Government's laudable aim of greater transparency in weapons transfers, will the Minister ensure that the United Nations arms register includes a full list of the transactions for the sale and acquisition of those weapons? Could he publish in some suitable form a list of the states which, as he said in answer to the right reverend Prelate, are opposed to a complete ban on the manufacture, sale and use of those weapons?

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, regarding the second part of the noble Lord's question, I shall write to him with the details that we know. It was one of the aspects of the code of conduct which the British Government promoted that mutual information should be exchanged in that field.

Lord Judd: My Lords, does the Minister accept that there are genuine anxieties about the reliability and effectiveness of self-destructing and self-neutralising mechanisms in anti-personnel mines? Does he also agree that research in the Pentagon has called into

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question the military utility of such mines? In those circumstances, does he understand that the anxiety of the Red Cross and others is that a limited ban plays into the hands of those who want to evade the policing of such arrangements; and that a total ban on production stockpiling and export is what is necessary.

Lord Inglewood: My Lords, we share the underlying aspirations of the Benches opposite and the Red Cross to which the noble Lord alluded. But as I explained earlier, we do not accept that the line of action which the noble Lord proposes will help those wretched people who are currently being maimed, injured and killed by the indiscriminate use of land-mines around the world.

Lord Jenkins of Putney: My Lords—

Several Noble Lords: Next Question!

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): My Lords, as always, I am in the hands of your Lordships' House but I am aware that there is one more Question and just over five minutes in which to cover it.

Nursing Auxiliaries: Sth-Bucks NHS Trust

3.4 p.m.

Baroness Castle of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current ratio of fully qualified nurses to nursing auxiliaries in the South Buckinghamshire NHS Trust area; how this compares with the ratio in the hospitals concerned in each of the previous five years; how much training the nursing auxiliaries currently receive before being allowed to work on patients in the wards; and what rate of pay they receive for how many hours per day.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): My Lords, the ratio of qualified to unqualified nursing and midwifery staff in South Buckinghamshire NHS Trust as at August 1994 is 2.4 to 1. Figures for the ratios of qualified nurses to auxiliaries in the trust for each of the past five years are not available, as the trust has been in existence for only just over one year.

The trust provides a five-day training course for nursing auxiliaries which is run by the College of Nursing and Midwifery. New starters either begin with formal training or are closely supervised and trained on the job until the formal course starts. Nursing auxiliaries work 37.5 hours per week and the current salary ranges from £6,690 to £9,875 per annum.

Baroness Castle of Blackburn: Is it not a fact that the number of nursing auxiliaries employed by the South Buckinghamshire trust has been increasing? It is now, as a proportion of the nursing workforce, 23 per cent. compared with 18 per cent. in 1987, five years ago. Is it not also a fact that those auxiliaries receive no preliminary training at all before going into employment? According to the chief executive, they receive five days' training in service, as soon as possible. Is it not also a fact that in its annual report

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the trust boasts of its increased performance activity, the increased number of patients it is handling, without any reference to or prospect of the increase in qualified staff that ought to be employed to carry that workload?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, the number of nurses in that trust has increased, there are 150 more nurses than seven years ago. Auxiliary nurses also have a very important part to play in any ward in any hospital. They receive training—perhaps not immediately when they start, but they get on-the-job training. Then, as I explained, they attend a training course run by the College of Nursing and Midwifery.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, can the Minister tell us whether this Question is comparing like with like and whether the new nurse training system under Project 2000 makes a difference to the situation?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, my noble friend is correct to bring that to the attention of your Lordships' House. The new Project 2000 courses are far more sophisticated, they equip nurses better to do the job. The nurses are there on a bursary and are full-time students. I believe that never before have we had more nurses, better qualified and better paid.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the points raised by my noble friend about the local situation in South Buckinghamshire are causing anxiety to nursing organisations across the whole country? They are particularly alarmed about the arrangements for local pay. Can the Minister give an assurance that the Government will abide by the national review body on pay, which I believe will report shortly? Will the Government ensure that all nurses with all qualifications at all levels are given a fair pay award this year?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, I find it interesting that Peers on the opposite Benches should bring forward these issues. It was the Labour Party that cut nurses' pay and never this Government. This Government have always honoured the pay review body awards and we await its results. I have no doubt that the noble Baroness will be pleased.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, may I therefore be assured that the nursing pay review board proposal will be abided by this year?


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