Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I am answering this Question because the research councils, including the Medical Research Council, are responsible to the Department of Trade and Industry rather than the Department of Health. It is true that Professor Richards will be concerned with cancer research although his immediate problems, as he described them on his appointment, are more to do with staffing. But improved cancer research, in particular relating to the environment, will not necessarily cause increased liabilities on the National Health Service. A good deal of effective research will cause savings to the National Health Service.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in some rural areas there are pockets of leukaemia? And how much research is being undertaken on farm fertilisers and pesticides?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, a great deal of research is being carried out on farm fertilisers and pesticides. However, most of that is concerned with the more immediate effects of peripheral nerve function rather than with cancer. I note what the noble Baroness says about leukaemia. I have no doubt that the authorities will pay attention to her remarks.

Lord Elton: My Lords, did I understand the Minister to say that the Medical Research Council is responsible to the Department of Trade and Industry and not to the Department of Health? If so, are the criteria for the funding of the council different from those controlling the funding of other more commercial organisations by the department?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, all the research councils, including the Medical Research Council and the Natural Environment Research Council, to which I referred, report to the Department of Trade and Industry and they all have comparable funding arrangements.

Lord McNair: My Lords, although there are regular announcements of hope and optimism from the

2 Nov 1999 : Column 721

charities which research drugs for the treatment of cancer, is the Minister aware that the many proven holistic methods of treating cancer would, if adopted, save the NHS a fortune?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, if the noble Lord is suggesting that the Medical Research Council has set its face against the investigation of complementary medicine, I have to say to him that that is not the case. Perhaps I may give a recent example. Clinical trials on lower back pain have been set up to compare the effectiveness of traditional medicine, chiropractic and acupuncture. There is no presumption against complementary medicine in the research decisions of the Medical Research Council.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that the priorities might change if there were more patients on research committees? Does he agree with the leading US breast cancer researcher who said, "If the world were run by women, we would work on prevention"?

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, of course, the more people, the more users, involved in decisions, the more likelihood of better priorities. That is one reason why the 10 Downing Street seminar of January this year made the Medical Research Council responsible for setting up a cancer research funders' group which will provide the co-ordination sought by the noble Earl.

The Millennium Dome

3.12 p.m.

Lord Luke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made with regard to the completion of the Millennium Dome.

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, progress on the Millennium Dome remains on time and on budget. The construction and development phases for the dome are nearing completion and the transition to exhibit fit-out is in full flow. There are now 59 days until opening and the entire team at the New Millennium Experience Company, from the many young acrobats and aerialists training hard for the central show to the people engaged in the fit-out, are working hard to deliver. They are on target for a successful opening on 31st December 1999.

Lord Luke: My Lords, I thank the noble and learned Lord for that excellent Answer. Is he aware that, as a result of the high profile that the dome has enjoyed since it was conceived some years ago, expectations of the many people who will want to go to the experience

2 Nov 1999 : Column 722

will be high? Are the Government confident that they will be fulfilled?

Furthermore, does the Minister agree that continued doubts about the completion date of a fully functioning Jubilee Line extension, from Green Park to North Greenwich, must inevitably soon affect ticket sales?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as regards what is inside the dome, I agree that people's expectations are high. From my involvement in what will be inside and around the dome, I believe that those expectations will satisfactorily be met.

Secondly, the Jubilee Line extension already runs from central London--namely, from Waterloo--to North Greenwich. I am confident that it will be open, connecting Green Park to Waterloo, thereby connecting Stanmore in the west to Stratford in the east, well before 31st December 1999.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, will the Minister tell the House what the estimated overspend on the Jubilee Line extension will be?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I do not know the precise figure. I agree that for years there has been a significant overspend; for years before this Government came into power.

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, as the Minister said that the dome was running to budget, will he remind the House what the total budget was? In doing so, will he tell us what proportion of the budget will be met by taxpayers' funds and whether that proportion is higher than originally predicted?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the total figure spent on the dome, from building it to running it to the end of 2000, is £758 million. Not one penny of that comes from taxpayers' money. The Millennium Commission has made a £399 million grant from lottery funds and there has not been one penny of overspend in relation to that.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, when I and other noble Lords recently visited the dome, the ceiling was extremely dirty. Has that problem been solved?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the ceiling is being cleaned even as we speak.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, does the Minister agree that when people visit the dome they will be surprised to discover that the "Our Town Zone", which reflects local communities, is sponsored by that great homogenising giant, McDonalds?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the "Our Town Zone" is an opportunity for people from every town in this country to come to the dome for a day and tell the story of their town. With two exceptions, every local education authority or library board has

2 Nov 1999 : Column 723

subscribed to the idea. They have done so knowing full well that McDonalds has made a contribution to that. I believe that they focused more on people's opportunity to tell the story of where they live rather than on the fact that a commercial concern has been sufficiently enthusiastic about the dome to make a significant contribution to it.

Lord Hankey: My Lords, while it is difficult to judge a design that is not complete, will the Minister take note of the criticism of members of the architectural profession who visited the dome only two weeks ago that the co-ordination of the interior design and the thematic pleasure to be achieved from the great variety of internal buildings puts at risk the total pleasure?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I regularly visit the dome, inside and out, and during the past nine months I have seen the inside coming together. I am not sure what is meant by the "thematic whatsit", but visiting now one has the sense of a complete whole coming together and it is both pleasing to look at and incredibly entertaining.

Lord Tebbit: My Lords, I was a little slow in picking up what the Minister said about the Jubilee Line. Did he say that it would be open to Greenwich or not?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I said that it is already open to Greenwich from Stratford in the east and from Waterloo in the centre of London. I also confirmed that it would be open from Stanmore in the west.

Lord Elton: My Lords, in case the Minister regards that with too much confidence, would he be interested to know that when my noble friend Lord Luke and I went, at his kind invitation, for which I thank him, to visit the exhibition last week, we thought that we should save time by coming back to the House by Underground, starting on the Jubilee Line, and had to wait 20 minutes because of a signal failure?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, when one opens a new Underground line, as we have done, it is inevitable that there will be teething troubles. I am sure that they will be over before 31st December 1999.

Baxi Partnership Limited Trusts Bill [H.L.]

3.18 p.m.

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Commons Message of yesterday be now considered; and that the Promoters of the Bill have leave to suspend any further proceedings thereon in order to proceed with it, if they think fit, in the next Session of Parliament, provided that notice of their

2 Nov 1999 : Column 724

intention to do so is lodged in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments not later than 12 noon on Tuesday 9th November;

That the Bill be deposited in the Office of the Clerk of the Parliaments not later than noon on the second sitting day in the next Session with a declaration annexed, signed by the agent, stating that the Bill is the same in every respect as the Bill at the last stage of the proceedings thereon in this House in the present Session;

That the proceedings on the Bill in the next Session of Parliament be pro forma in regard to every stage through which the Bill has passed in the present Session, and that no new fees be charged to such stages;

That the Private Business Standing Orders apply to the Bill in the next Session only in regard to any stage through which the Bill has not passed during the present Session.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page