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Lord Moynihan: My Lords, as noble Lords will be aware, following the bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Serbia, the Americans have offered compensation to the Chinese. What representations have the Government

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and our NATO partners received from the Russian Government about compensation to civilians in Serbia, given that last month Mr Chernomyrdin said:


    "Sooner or later, NATO will be expected by the world community to pay Yugoslavia for damages to compensate the bereaved families of innocent victims."?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, the issues relating to Russia are based on an interpretation of international law with which Her Majesty's Government do not agree. I refer the noble Lord to my original Answer that, as we do not believe that our bombing was unlawful, the issue of compensation does not arise.

As regards the Chinese Embassy, it is common for ex gratia payments, without any admission of liability, to be made when one state damages the diplomatic premises of another.

Lord Chalfont: My Lords, will the Minister comment not only on the legality of our action but on whether it was in accordance with the principles of the just war, one of which is proportionality; that is, the use of proportionate force to achieve the end in view? Is the Minister as confident about that as she is about the legality of our actions?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Yes, my Lords, I am confident about the issue of proportionality. I am sure that anyone who sat through the debates in your Lordships' House during the bombings knows the care with which my noble friend Lord Gilbert was able to describe the targeting processes and the detail into which Members of the Front Bench, speaking on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, went in explaining how bombing raids were undertaken. Furthermore, when things went wrong, we were unprecedented in the openness with which we dealt with that. We have nothing to hide in our conduct of the campaign. Our Armed Forces did extraordinarily well, and the three-quarters of a million returning Kosovar-Albanians know the truth of what I am saying.

Department of Health: Workforce Planning

3.13 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the timetable for the review of workforce planning promised in the Department of Health's reply (Cm 4379) to the House of Commons Health Committee's report on future staffing requirements (1998-299, HC 38-I).

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My Lords, the review will begin in the autumn. We anticipate that it will take around three months to complete and will be followed by the publication of a consultation document making proposals for action.

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Following a short consultation period and any necessary modifications for the proposed action plan, an implementation timetable will be established.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I welcome the Minister's Answer and congratulate her on her department's late conversion to the view that its workforce planning for the NHS was inadequate. However, will the review, as a matter of urgency, consider severe shortages in, for instance, obstetrics, gynaecology, radiology and paediatrics? Will she confirm that the medical profession will be closely involved in the review, despite the recent war of words conducted by the Prime Minister?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, there are an awful lot of issues to unpick in that supplementary question! I do not know about the department, but I do not need convincing of or converting to the idea that we need to improve workforce planning throughout the NHS. Many people share that view within both government and the professions.

The review will look at how we undertake the task of workforce planning with the view of streamlining it and making it more efficient and coherent. It will not undertake the workforce planning itself. We are taking immediate action in some of the areas that the noble Lord mentioned--obstetrics and gynaecology, for example--in order to deal with the difficulties.

As regards the "war of words", we intend the process to be consultative and we need to involve all the professions, not only the medical profession, in the review. The noble Lord should not believe too much of what he reads in the newspapers. Those of us who have heard the Prime Minister speaking to health service audiences know exactly how much he values their contribution.

Lord McColl of Dulwich: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, until the Government came to power, it was always the practice to keep junior hospital staff in post until they were found suitable employment at the end of their 20-year training? That was readily achievable by recruiting new trainees only when the posts were vacated by their senior colleagues. Why will not the Government now restore that civilised practice, bearing in mind that the NHS is a monopoly employer and that the training of junior staff costs a lot of money?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord McColl, described the process as civilised, but I am not sure that it was the best in ensuring high-quality services for patients or proper employment opportunities for those who he was right to say had undergone a long training period. However, given the changes in the way in which services are delivered and the demands on health services, the 20-year timeframe to which he referred illustrates the difficulties of workforce planning and the need to have more flexibility in the system.

Lord Monkswell: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that it is little short of a national scandal that, for almost all of the past 50 years, the NHS has been a

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net importer of doctors, in particular from the Indian sub-continent which is scarce of doctors itself? Does she agree that we should welcome with rejoicing the fact that the Government have announced the training of a further 1,000 doctors? Will she say whether, if there is a need, the Government will make available funds to increase that number?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, my noble friend is aware that this month we announced 1,000 additional medical school places distributed throughout the country, bringing medical education into new areas including the West Midlands and Stockton-on-Tees. Therefore, as regards long-term planning, we are increasing the supply of doctors who are trained in this country. There has also been an increase in the number of training places for midwives and nurses. We should not underestimate the contribution which continues to be made to the NHS by those who are trained overseas. Of course we do not want to denude countries of their trained personnel on whom they depend, but nor should we devalue what can be learnt from the interchange of professionals--and I refer to professionals leaving this country and working elsewhere as well as those coming to work here.

Lord McColl of Dulwich: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the civilised practice to which I referred was practised by every government and that, if this Government were to restore it, the skills of the workforce would rise? Why will they not do so?

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am sure that the review, which we have agreed will be consultative, will be interested to hear the noble Lord's views and he can put that suggestion forward. I was not making a party political point. I was saying simply that what was right in the past may not necessarily be right for the present, let alone the future.

Mental Health (Amendment) (Scotland) Bill

3.19 p.m.

Brought from the Commons; read a first time, and to be printed.

Standing Orders (Public Business)

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper. As your Lordships will be aware, this gives effect to the decisions taken by your Lordships' House on Thursday on the basis of the Procedure Committee Report.

26 Jul 1999 : Column 1291

Moved, That the Standing Orders relating to public business be amended as follows-

After Standing Order 8

Insert the following new Standing Orders:

8A.-- (1) In implementation of section 2 of the House of Lords Act 1999, this Standing Order makes provision for hereditary peers who are excepted from section 1.

(2) The excepted hereditary peers shall consist of the following categories:

(i) (a) 2 peers elected by the Labour hereditary peers;

    (b) 42 peers elected by the Conservative hereditary peers;

    (c) 3 peers elected by the Liberal Democrat hereditary peers;

    (d) 28 peers elected by the Cross-bench hereditary peers;

(ii) 15 peers, elected by the whole House, from among those ready to serve as Deputy Speakers or in any other office as the House may require; and

(iii) any peer holding the office of Earl Marshal or performing the office of Lord Great Chamberlain.

(3) Elections shall be conducted in accordance with arrangements made by the Clerk of the Parliaments.

(4) In order to stand for election or qualify as an elector under paragraph (2)(i), a peer must register with the Clerk of the Parliaments, identifying the party or Cross-bench group to which he belongs. In order to stand for election under paragraph (2)(ii), a peer must register separately with the Clerk of the Parliaments. A peer may not stand for election nor vote if he has not taken the Oath or is on Leave of Absence.

(5) In the event of a tie between two or more candidates standing in any of the elections held in accordance with paragraph (2), the matter (if not resolved by the electoral arrangements adopted by the House) shall be decided by the drawing of lots.

(6) The Clerk of the Parliaments may refer any question concerning the propriety of the electoral process to the Committee for Privileges.

(7) In the event of a vacancy occurring at any time up to the end of the initial period through death among the peers elected in category (2)(i) or (2)(ii), the vacancy shall be filled by the nearest runner-up in the relevant election under paragraph (2) who both wishes to fill the vacancy and is otherwise available. The provisions of paragraph (5) are applicable for this purpose. If no such runner-up is available, the House shall decide how the vacancy shall be filled.

(8) In this Standing order and in Standing Order 8B the end of "the initial period" is the end of the first session of the next Parliament after that in which the House of Lords Act 1999 is passed.


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