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Noble Lords: Order!

Lord Broadbridge: My Lords, I beg your Lordships' pardon. If that is out of order, I take it back. My apologies to the House. Though a final formal notice of closure of Bart's was given three weeks ago, in the face of 1 million signatures against and 34 letters from

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professors of Harvard University alone, et cetera, these things can always subsequently be fudged. Better the devil you know than the one you do not, and the medical college's umbilical link while it lasts, and maybe sine die, is surely better than a merger into the unknown.

Secondly, why has Bart's put its name to the Bill? I believe there must be an element of outside force majeure in this. After all, the medical students of Bart's had, via Marcus Beadle, expressed their true feelings by putting in one of the three Petitions against the Bill in another place—we have two here in this House—but it was then mysteriously withdrawn. It is the overriding view of senior clinicians at Bart's that pressure of some sort was put on, and this pressure perhaps influenced them, too, to put their names to the Bill. It is extremely odd that the Bill should be formally endorsed by those whose current verbal utterings seem to be somewhat to the opposite and also that a petition should be withdrawn. One of the two present Petitions to your Lordships' House is in the name of the Doctors Save Bart's Society which, and I quote from the Petition,

    "represents the doctors who trained at Bart's, including some current members of staff at Bart's totally dedicated to keeping separate and maintaining St. Bartholomew's Hospital and Medical College and associated interests and properties as they previously were before the recent changes".

They state in paragraph 8 of their Petition, and again I quote:

    "It was very distressing for the Dean to learn that all grants would be withdrawn from the college if the Dean did not comply with the merger in this Bill. As it was already part of London University this does appear to be very irregular".

All I can say is that that is what they have said in the Petition. Paragraph 10 of the Petition states:

    "The students are terribly demoralised about the whole closing down of the medical college but they are called to see the bureaucrats at the London Trust if they dare to enter a petition to stop it, as indeed they were at the Second Reading in the Commons, when their petitioner was 'persuaded' to withdraw, having most enthusiastically submitted it.

    We believe that they were told that they will be marked men and their future careers affected."

That is all from the Petition.

The mover of this Bill this evening did mention that it had the full support of the governors of the medical college concerned. The other petition is from John Currie, who is a governor of St. Bartholomew's medical college and a consulting surgeon at the associated hospital. From 1977 to 1983 he was sub-dean of St. Bartholomew's medical college. Among his objections are that the funding for the new combined clinical school, which will be needed if this Bill is passed, has not been guaranteed. He states that,

    "the merger proposed in this Bill has been brought about not by agreement but by force majeure".

Again, I am only quoting what he says. His final objection is that,

    "Statements made and actions carried out by those associated with Queen Mary and Westfield College while this bill was passing through the House of Commons and provisional appointments made in anticipation of the bill becoming law, give rise to serious concern as to the ability of the merged colleges to cope lawfully, properly and effectively and in the best interests of medicine".

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This to me is a pretty damning indictment of the management already in place before the Bill is passed and their ability to do their jobs in the view of a governor of Bart's medical college.

Finally, professor Lesley Rees, for some years dean of St. Bartholomew's medical college and whom I have met, wrote a couple of years ago, and perhaps before coercion was brought to bear, as follows:

    "As far as the medical college is concerned the Tomlinson Report recommends a merger with the London Hospital Medical College and the Queen Mary and Westfield College. I believe that the City and East London Confederation for Medicine and Dentistry (CELC) provides the optimum link between the two medical colleges and Queen Mary and Westfield College. The Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences at QMW has largely met the claims for medicine being placed within a multi-faculty college of the university. Cementing further the CELC arrangement will provide no added advantage that I can see in a medical faculty structure for teaching and research. Indeed, with activities on at least three major sites such a faculty structure would be unlikely to create economies of scale".

What more is there to say? I cannot support the Bill.

8.2 p.m.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I apologise to your Lordships for putting my name down after the list of speakers had been published. I did so at the request of an old colleague and friend in another place whom the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, will remember well. I refer to Ronald Brown, the one-time Member for Shoreditch and Finsbury, who has been associated with St. Bartholomew's for a very long time.

I shall not oppose the merger in any way, although I have a personal interest in mergers connected with Bart's because a number of years ago, while I was the pro-chancellor of City University, we had an ambitious plan to merge the City University—which is not part of the University of London—with St. Bart's medical school; the Guildhall School and also with what was then the City of London Polytechnic. Let me say that that ambitious plan fell and I have no intention of reviving those imperial thoughts this evening.

I am not opposed to the merger as such. I support the Bill. But I have worries about Clause 7. There are legitimate fears about that clause, which were outlined earlier by the noble Lord, Lord McGregor. I have no need to repeat them in any great detail. I shall briefly remind your Lordships, before we finish the debate, of some of those fears.

The fear is that, as a result of the revision of Clause 7, any of the assets held after the amalgamation could be applied towards the promotion and advancement of education at the amalgamated body, which will clearly not be confined to medicine and surgery. While that will include the medical college, it would allow funds to be spent by the trustees outside their present objects.

This is a serious matter. I believe that the Bill should be amended in order to ensure that the original purposes of the trust are not frustrated, thereby avoiding the risk that the assets of the trust be applied for general educational purposes rather than those for which they were originally intended.

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We have had the advantage of hearing from several vice-chancellors or former vice-chancellors of London University. When I was young I looked on such eminent academics with awe and took their word as gospel. Now that I am no longer young, I still look on them with awe.

Noble Lords: Really!

Lord Howie of Troon: But I no longer take their word as gospel, my Lords. That is the one thing I have learnt in a long life of believing what I am told. The noble Lord, Lord Annan, told us that these fears were groundless. If I understood him correctly, he thought that the merged colleges would not behave in the way which is feared. Unfortunately, he also listed a number of occasions on which universities have behaved in exactly that way. There is no reason to believe that universities, having behaved in that way in the past, as the noble Lord, Lord Annan, said, would not behave in that way in future. Perhaps these fears are not quite so groundless as he made out.

I have been reassured by the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, who spoke about an agreement which had been reached. The point about agreements reached between people is that at a later date those agreements can be "unreached", if that is a word, by other people. I am not quite sure of the power and strength of the agreement to which the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, referred. I would like to see the terms of that agreement in the Bill where they would be ring-fenced, as it were, and would not be capable of being changed.

In conclusion, my noble friend Lord Peston must have been pleased to hear the kind words said about Queen Mary College. It is not often that he hears these things. He will have enjoyed that. I conclude by saying that the Bill should go ahead with the reservations I have made.

8.7 p.m.

Lord Peston: My Lords, we must all thank the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, for introducing this Bill in a clear and cogent fashion. Perhaps I may also say that although I speak from this Bench, I hope that the Minister will agree that there are no political implications. I hope that she will also agree that this is certainly not a Government Bill.

In speaking briefly on this Bill, I must declare several interests. I was born in the East End of London and lived a fair part of my life there. I and my friends went to east and north-east London grammar schools, and learned about classical music and foreign films by going to the People's Palace, which is now part of Queen Mary and Westfield College. I myself founded the economics department at what was then Queen Mary College. I have been an economics professor there for three decades. I regret to say that in my years of decline I am now an Emeritus Professor of the university.

I took the territorial bit of my title from the Mile End Road, which I used to hang about in as a boy. My family has spent more time at Bart's, Homerton and Hackney hospitals and the London hospitals than any of us would care to think about. I cannot emphasise too much the pleasure that I get to discover—to some extent I am echoing what my noble friend Lord Howie said—suddenly how many other people have developed an

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interest in health and education in this part of our great city. I thought that no one cared about us, but I now know, especially from debates in the other place, that we are uppermost in people's minds.

Of course, it is true that both Queen Mary and Westfield Colleges, from small, but high quality beginnings, now comprise a major force in higher education in our country. I have no doubt that the medical school will itself achieve the highest standards, certainly no less and a good deal more than what went before.

This debate is about the Queen Mary and Westfield College Bill. Such a Bill would normally go through your Lordships' House with the minimum of fuss and almost as a matter of form. I must advise the noble Lord, Lord Butterfield, that I did not know about the Bill on Guy's and St. Thomas's which is to come before your Lordships' House. However, I can assure the noble Lord—I am absolutely certain of this—that so many of us have been patients at those hospitals that any Bill coming from that source will certainly go through on the nod. The noble Lord has no need to worry about that. Indeed, I have discovered that nothing is more bonding in your Lordships' House than to mention an operation that one has had in either of those hospitals.

I said that this ought to be a formal matter, but that is not the case now. For my part, although I have strong views on the effects of aspects of hospital reorganisation in London, I must echo the views of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, and others, that this Bill has absolutely nothing to do with that. Whatever the traditions of the other place, on which I should not dream of commenting, it would be a misuse of your Lordships' procedures to debate all that under this rubric, and I have no intention of doing so.

I must, however, comment on the Petitions that I have received and to which the noble Lord, Lord Broadbridge, referred. I am surprised that any noble Lord would wish to be associated with them. It is hard to discern any locus standii for the petitioners, but that is probably of minor interest. I am more disturbed by the content of the Petitions, which are misleading—in fact, they are wrong—and, to put it as mildly as I can, they are damaging to the point of being defamatory—so much so that I forbear from quoting them since it would be inappropriate for them to appear in Hansard.

I note the support that has been given to the Bill by so many academic heavyweights and I am gratified by that. I assure the noble Lord, Lord Annan, that I will not indulge in my usual antic of making life miserable for vice-chancellors. I have taken great pleasure in that in the past, as the noble Lord well knows.

In addition to those heavyweights, I sought the opinion of the noble Lord, Lord Dainton, who has been my mentor on many aspects of higher education, but is unable to be with us today. However, he has written to me and said that I may quote from his letter, which I shall do. The noble Lord writes:

    "I must say that I am horrified to learn that there are those who seek to oppose this Bill, for in so doing they are going against the grain of opinion of all those who have given serious thought to the most advantageous way of dealing with education and research in

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    medicine ... When I became Chairman of the UGC in 1973 I faced a proposal to expand intake in UK medical schools from 2400 to about 4100 per annum. Nothing concentrates the mind more! It gave the impetus to a reconstruction of medical education and research in London and, of course, we concluded where common sense and theory converge that the earlier Royal Commission was right and that London's free standing hospital medical schools must be integrated with large multi-faculty university-status colleges of the University of London which had the requisite strength in science. As far as East London was concerned the solution was obvious, namely, to bring the Royal London and Barts HMCs together with QMC".

He concluded:

    "So, in the light of those experiences I think I can claim sufficient knowledge of both principle and practical detail to express a valid opinion on the merits or otherwise of this Bill. In my view to reject the Bill would be a wholly retrograde step whilst passage of the Bill will pose no threat to either of the two hospitals and I have not the slightest doubt that old and valued traditions which contribute to the well-being of the new school will, if for that reason alone, be preserved".

In addition to what we have already heard, that seems an overwhelming argument. Indeed, it should really be the end of the matter, but I am delighted that the noble Lord, Lord McGregor of Durris, having most properly raised the question of the hospital trust, has now been reassured that the dangers that he feared have now been dealt with and will not move his Instruction. I am slightly surprised that my noble friend Lord Howie of Troon has not yet been so reassured but I hope that he will be, because it seems to me that the commitment that has been made is absolutely binding and there should be no problem with it.

I am sorry to say that I am advised that there is nothing that we can do about the Petitions. They are laid and a committee will therefore need to consider them for their locus which, as I said, I think is rather doubtful, and for content which, as I also said, is even more doubtful. However, we have to go through that stage. Subject to that, I hope that we can support the view of the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding, and others, that we must proceed correctly and rapidly to bring the matter to an end so that this excellent new development can take place.

8.15 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): My Lords, the Government welcome the case that my noble friend Lord Jenkin of Roding has made for the merger of the medical college of St. Bartholomew's hospital and the London hospital medical college with the Queen Mary and Westfield College.

The move presents welcome opportunities to develop a continuing partnership between medical education, research and clinical services in East London. As my noble friend said, the Bill has the support of all the institutions concerned. The principles supporting the case for merger of the schools stand on their own merits. Those merits have been ably explained by the noble Lords, Lord Annan, Lord Flowers and Lord Quirk. As has been pointed out, each of those noble Lords has been a distinguished vice-chancellor of London University. Indeed, we should not forget that the noble Lord, Lord Butterfield, has twice been a vice-chancellor

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of the university. I have been trying to think of the collective noun for vice-chancellors and have come up with a "virtue" of vice-chancellors.

The Bill is one of a number introduced over the past 20 years to unite medical schools within multi-faculty colleges of the University of London. It will strengthen the institutions concerned and develop important links with other departments such as life sciences. As medical practice changes, it is essential that the doctors of tomorrow are able to participate fully in the huge and fast-moving developments not only in biological sciences, but increasingly in biotechnology, engineering and the social and behavioural sciences to name but a few of the sources of knowledge which are so essential to the sophisticated medicine that is necessary for the 21st century.

The Bill will ensure that the tradition of excellence in medical teaching and research in that part of London will continue from a strong academic base. The forging of stronger links with the medical schools and the University of London will provide a fertile environment for new ideas and developments in medical teaching and research. It will ensure that London's healthcare is able to stay at the forefront of clinical practice.

The Government have made clear their strategy for ensuring that London retains its well deserved reputation, both nationally and internationally, for outstanding education, teaching and research. The Bill will help to contribute to maintaining London's leading position in those fields as well as securing a medical and dental school of great distinction in east London to match those which are being established in other parts of the capital.

I congratulate my noble friend on the case for merger which he has placed before the House today. I reassure the noble Lord, Lord Peston, that this is a Private Bill and that I have been scrupulous in my conduct in respect of the status of the Bill.

Your Lordships rightly have the fullest confidence in the Select Committee which is appointed to consider Private Bills. Several matters, some controversial, have been raised today, but I have no doubt that they will all receive the most detailed consideration by the Select Committee. That would have included the Instruction tabled by the noble Lord, Lord McGregor of Durris, if the House had agreed it and if the noble Lord had chosen to move it.

Meanwhile, it is difficult to refrain from emphasising the importance of the Bill to the rationalisation of medical education in London. The resulting merger will build on the existing strengths and traditions of the three great colleges to create a school of national and international distinction in medical and dental teaching and research, an institution of which we can be justly proud. I therefore trust that your Lordships will accord the Bill a Second Reading.

8.20 p.m.

Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, I am immensely grateful to noble Lords who have taken part in the debate and to the overwhelming majority who supported the Question, That the Bill be read a second time. I must

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say that I have not enjoyed a debate so much for a long time. We heard some splendid contributions from what I would describe as a glittering galaxy of academic distinction. I enjoyed my noble friend's description of a virtue of vice-chancellors and I hope that my description is not considered as over-egging the pudding. As a humble politician and former Secretary of State, it was a matter of enormous pleasure to be supported by such distinguished university figures. My noble friend Lady Perry of Southwark, who unfortunately was not able to stay to take part in the debate, assured me that the Bill had her support.

The noble Lord, Lord Annan, reminded us of that remarkable character the first Lord Lindsay of Birker. During a spectacular 1938 by-election in Oxford, at which he was the Labour candidate, I performed my first political act by going up to the blackboard in the upper sixth at the Dragon school and saying, "Vote for Hogg".

The House much appreciated the comments of the noble Lord, Lord Flowers, in particular the tribute that he paid to the person whom I regard as perhaps the most courageous Secretary of State for Health we have seen for many years. I refer to my right honourable friend Virginia Bottomley. She took an enormous amount of flak, much of it thoroughly ill-intentioned and grossly ill-informed and she stuck to her guns. I believe that the noble Lord's comment, in coming from him, was well received.

The noble Lord, Lord Butterfield, suggested that the great centres of medical excellence and teaching would move further east. I spent a day last week chairing an appointments advisory committee at Whipps Cross Hospital. I am chairman of the trust and that was the latest of many committees that I have chaired. The fact that we must question every candidate on his or her ability as a teacher, and that we must have representatives of the university sitting on the committee to assess the ability of every applicant for a consultant post as teacher, means that as the patients come east so education is bound to follow. I have no doubt that hospitals in Essex and east London will benefit greatly from that. I greatly value the support that we have received.

The House will not welcome a long speech in winding up the debate. I was most grateful to the noble Lord, Lord McGregor of Durris, for agreeing not to move his Motion. As regards the noble Lord, Lord Broadbridge, I wish to make only one point to put it firmly on the record. The Government do not whip on Private Bills. It is most important to have that principle restated because it was the case in another place. The Government did not whip on this Bill.

I am grateful for the support of the noble Lord, Lord Peston. As he said, what is needed is that the Bill should proceed with all dispatch through its remaining stages with a view to achieving Royal Assent in the overspill period in October or early November. The three colleges had hoped that it would become law before Parliament rose for the Summer Recess. However, as a result of protracted proceedings in another place that is impossible. I believe that this House owes it to the many thousands of people in the academic community who will make up this great new college to do their best to

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end the uncertainties as swiftly as possible. We can begin by giving the Bill an unopposed Second Reading tonight. I commend the Bill to your Lordships.

On Question, Bill read a second time, and committed to a Select Committee.

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