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Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, is the Minister aware that many local pharmacies are considering closing as a result of workload, competition from supermarkets and particularly cash-flow problems? Do the Government plan to revise the payment system for local pharmacies as part of their forthcoming community pharmacy strategy? Will the Minister confirm whether the Crown report on prescribing will be published at the same time as that community pharmacy strategy?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Lord is correct that we are currently looking at our community pharmacy strategy. That should build on the contribution that pharmacists can make. We have received a great many suggestions and comments on that. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State had a useful round-table meeting to discuss it. We now need to consider the contributions that have been made and to publish the strategy in due course. I do not think that I can make a commitment that the Crown report will be published at the same time. It might well be in advance of it.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, does not the Minister think it rather unbalanced to have between four and seven doctors on such groups but not one pharmacist or dentist? As a member of a former family

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health services authority, does not the Minister agree that those bodies were far more balanced and democratic?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, there is a difficulty here in terms of getting the balance right. The skills and expertise of many professional groups will be needed if primary care groups are to function effectively. That is why we have included powers of co-option--to balance against the need also to have a manageable and workable core membership. In specific areas, primary care groups have the ability to set up executive sub-groups, which it might well be appropriate for a co-opted member such as a pharmacist to lead.

Baroness Uddin: My Lords, can my noble friend the Minister tell the House how it is intended to monitor the structure of primary care group boards to ensure that they reflect the equal opportunities commitment that we have made for the health service?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the health service is committed to effective implementation of equal opportunities. I believe that it has done a great deal in terms of appointments made to trust boards and health authorities during the time of this Government. The primary care group will be a sub-committee of the health authority and I expect it to monitor equal opportunities among the membership, as it does other areas of its work.

Earl Howe: My Lords, why is it that pharmacists are to be included automatically in primary care group boards in Wales and Scotland but not in England?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Earl will be aware from the many debates in this House that it is possible to hold different views about the appropriate structures for different parts of the United Kingdom. That is very much the outcome of the legislation that has been debated in this Session. As far as concerns England, as promised in the White Paper, the Government believe that doctors and nurses should be very much in the driving seat and that other appropriate professionals, be they occupational therapists, physiotherapists, midwives or pharmacists, should be brought in to make their contribution as and when appropriate.

Offshore Wind Electricity Generation

3.21 p.m.

Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What encouragement or assistance they are giving to the development of offshore wind generation of electricity.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My Lords, two offshore wind projects comprising 13.5 megawatts have already been awarded

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contracts under the general wind bands in the fourth Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation Renewables Order. In addition, the Government are working with the British wind industry and others to see how the UK's offshore wind resource can best be developed in order to contribute significantly to the UK's electricity supply from renewables. To this end the Government have issued a consultation document on possible arrangements for incorporating the development of offshore wind energy into a specific offshore wind band in the Non-Fossil Fuel Obligation Order process.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for his reply. In view of the Government's commitment to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by certain dates, might this renewable source of energy, taking full account of the needs of navigation, be preferable to wind farms on land, which give rise to many objections? There is plenty of wind around the coasts of Britain, especially Scotland.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I do not comment on where wind is most prevalent in the British Isles. A 10 per cent. contribution to UK electricity supplies from renewals by the year 2010 will require the use of four main technologies: onshore wind, offshore wind, waste such as landfill gas and energy crops. Therefore, as we begin to harness offshore wind, we will need a significant contribution from onshore wind at the same time.

Lord Hooson: My Lords, if the Government are anxious to have a large offshore wind farm, have they considered undertaking a feasibility study to establish one on the Dogger Bank?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, at the moment a review is looking at all of the possible sources of offshore wind production. I am sure that that review will also consider the point just raised by the noble Lord.

Lord Dormand of Easington: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that while the wind power that has been mentioned is welcome, the most important factor in electricity generation is the state of the British coal industry? Can the Minister say whether further help is to be given to the industry, particularly as productivity has increased out of all recognition and also because it is the cheapest form of energy?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it is true that renewable energy still represents a very small proportion of total electricity supply. In total it is about 2 per cent., half of which comes from large-scale hydro. Coal still represents 37 per cent. The health of the coal industry

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remains very important. On a marginal basis it is true that coal is often the cheapest but on a long-term basis gas is cheaper.

The Earl of Lauderdale: My Lords, can the Minister say whether the possibility of energy from wave power has been eliminated altogether?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, we must also look to the future. While it is a very small proportion at this stage, in terms of security of supply it is sensible to look to the long term.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, I declare an interest as vice-president of the Campaign for the Protection of Rural Wales. Can my noble friend confirm that any onshore wind energy arrangements will be subject to the most rigorous planning permission and will not obscure the delightful hills of rural Wales?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, we monitor the planning applications. This reveals that, broadly speaking, 50 per cent. of wind farm applications are granted and about 50 per cent. are refused. There is no evidence that local planning authorities either disregard advice that is given by PPG.22 or fall prey to concerted lobbying groups with a particular interest in the countryside.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, does the Minister agree that in order to meet only three-quarters of the 10 per cent. renewables target, 9,000 wind generators will be required--rather more than the 2,000 suggested by Mr. Meacher in Buenos Aires?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it is true that to provide a substantial amount of wind energy will require a large number of turbines. I do not have the exact figures with me, and I shall certainly write to the noble Earl when I have them.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, can the noble Lord give an indication of the current cost of producing electricity from offshore wind energy? I have heard estimates of between 5 and 6p. per kilowatt hour to be compared with 2.5p. from conventional sources. If that or anything like it is correct, how do the Government propose to close the gap?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, it is extremely interesting to look at the pattern of prices over successive NFFO rounds of agreement. It has come down from 7.98p. at NFFO -1 to 2.88p. These are large wind band contract prices. One can see that it is beginning to become economical.

Lord Howie of Troon: My Lords, I should like to help my noble friend on the number of windmills that are required. Does he realise that in order to replicate the output of, say, Pembroke power station in rural

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Wales (2,000 megawatts) more than 4,000 windmills, each 100 metres in height at 100-metre centres over an area of five square miles will be required?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I am becoming increasingly aware in this House, there is no type of energy generation that does not have its critics.

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