Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, my information is that although the pressure on theatre time may be a contributing factor, there are a number

12 Dec 2002 : Column 381

of reasons for cancelled operations, including bed availability and shortage of theatre staff. There are also emergency pressures on theatres whereby patients scheduled for routine treatment are asked to wait because of an emergency case. The real solution to these problems is to increase capacity in the health service. That is why we are seeing such a large increase in the number of nurses employed, up to 40,000 more since 1997; an increase in bed numbers; and an increase in staff training places. All those actions will enable the health service to increase capacity and, therefore, to deal with the problem most effectively.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, can the Minister say to what extent the shortage of staffed intensive care beds is contributing to the cancellation of very major surgery in patients who are extremely ill with life-threatening conditions?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, it is not possible for me to quantify how many operations might have been cancelled because of a particular problem with a critical care bed in a particular hospital. What I can tell the noble Baroness is that, just as we have seen an increase in the past three years—for the first time in 20 years—in the number of general and acute beds, we have also seen a big increase in the number of critical care beds. Using as a baseline 15th January 2000, there were 2,362 critical beds; by July 2002, the number had increased to 3,070.

Lord Turnberg: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that while the causes of cancelled operations are multiple and vary from place to place, in many instances surgeons find themselves unable to operate because of a lack of time or space in theatres? Is not this whole matter compounded by the difficulty in discharging patients into the community where they would be better off?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, as regards the discharge of patients, we shall introduce a Bill to incentivise local authorities to do what is required to ensure that when a patient has finished his treatment and is ready to return to the community the relevant local authority makes the necessary arrangements. There are instances of pressures with regard to theatre use but that matter is being tackled. I believe that a more flexible working pattern on the part of staff in the NHS would enable those theatres to be used more effectively.

Lord Elton: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the growing body of anecdotal evidence that the money to which he referred in his reply to the first supplementary question of my noble friend on the Front Bench is simply not coming out of the other end of the pipe into which it is poured? Will the Minister reassure me as regards the following matter? In the spring I heard at a meeting held by people running cancer units in Greater London that they had not received the money that was promised to them. I also

12 Dec 2002 : Column 382

heard at a meeting of people running hospices that they had not received the extra money promised to them in September. Does the Minister recognise that that makes it difficult for me to accept what he said?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we monitor carefully the two matters to which the noble Lord referred. I understand that the improvements that we wanted to see take place in cancer services are taking place. As regards the general resource question, as I think I have already said, one cannot judge the use of resources simply in terms of the number of hospital admissions. Resources are being used, for example, to increase drug budgets. That enables people to receive better treatment and often means that they do not have to go into hospital. We are also using resources more effectively by increasing the use of GPs and primary care. Overall, the NHS is treating more patients more quickly and more effectively. That is the pathway to an improved and excellent NHS.

Licensing Bill [HL]

3.32 p.m.

House again in Committee on Schedule 1.

Baroness Buscombe moved Amendment No. 8:

    Page 108, line 33, after "facilities" insert "other than a person who is a performer in relation to the entertainment or a person representing such performers in dealings with the promoters of the entertainment"

The noble Baroness said: This amendment aims to try to plug a number of loopholes which the drafting of the Bill has left open. It is my understanding that as the Bill stands any payment made by the promoter to the performers of music at a private event is enough to trigger the regulation of an event. By that rationale, an event within a private home, or a private rehearsal by musicians who receive payment, becomes a licensable activity. While it is clearly important to try to give a comprehensive definition of the provision of regulated entertainment, there are also cases where regulation imposes needless bureaucracy and causes confusion and complication for those taking part in the entertainment, most particularly for professional musicians.

I hope that the Government will clarify the issue of payment and explain their thinking on that aspect of the Bill. We on these Benches have turned to lawyers with expertise in licensing law. Their view of the situation with the Bill as currently drafted is clear. They state that they understand that the Bill's wording not only captures private events where band leaders, for example, are hired to organise live music, but also children's entertainers, for example, Cocoa the Clown. This amendment is essential to ensure that simply because a musician is paid to arrange live music, which may include several different bands, solo performers and so on, private events such as wedding receptions or bar mitzvahs do not become illegal unless licensed. I beg to move.

Lord Redesdale: I support the amendment which stands also in my name. Is it the intention—as we

12 Dec 2002 : Column 383

believe—that an individual could trigger the question of whether an activity is licensable? There appears to be confusion and concern about the matter, especially among those who organise private parties.

Lord Skelmersdale: Does not the matter go wider than that? The noble Baroness, Lady Blackstone, is an opera lover. She will have attended performances given by, for example, Diva Opera, in private houses and other locations which may or may not have raised money for charitable purposes. At Question Time hospices were discussed. Is it the intention to cover those events? If so, I, and I am sure, various noble friends would consider that that is quite wrong.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Sub-paragraph (1) of paragraph 1 of the first schedule requires that certain conditions must be met for entertainment to be regarded as the provision of regulated entertainment under the Bill. Sub-paragraph (2) of paragraph 1 provides:

    "The first condition is that the entertainment or entertainment facilities are provided—

    (a) to any extent for members of the public or a section of the public,

    (b) exclusively for members of a club which is a qualifying club in relation to the provision of regulated entertainment, or for members of such a club and their guests, or

    (c) in any case not falling within paragraph (a) or (b), for consideration and with a view to profit".

Sub-paragraph (4) of paragraph 1 states:

    "For the purposes of sub-paragraph (2)(c)"—

that is, other than for members of the public or members of a club or their guests—

    "entertainment is, or entertainment facilities are, only to be regarded as provided for consideration if any charge—

    (a) is made by or on behalf of any person concerned in the organisation or management of that entertainment or those facilities, and

    (b) is paid by or on behalf of some or all of the persons for whom that entertainment is, or those facilities are, provided".

The noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, made a wider point about private parties to which I should like to respond if an amendment were tabled on that subject. However, the measure we are discussing does not concern that point. The amendment would exempt instances where a charge was made by or on behalf of someone organising the management of the facility if they were a performer or a person representing performers dealing with the promoters of the entertainment. But, as I said, the exemption would apply only where the entertainment or facilities were not provided to members of the public or members of a club and their guests.

Taking the amendment literally, I do not see why the safety concerns of the public would be reduced simply because the performer, or someone representing performers, was the person organising or managing the entertainment facilities to whom a charge was paid. Why should a premises owned by a musician, for example—because that is what the measure would mean—be exempt from a requirement when a normal

12 Dec 2002 : Column 384

business person would not? I understand what the noble Baroness, Lady Buscombe, is saying but that is not what her amendment says.

Lord Redesdale: Before the noble Lord sits down, his explanation gave the impression that a private performer, for example, concerned with musical dance, would have to license his or her own home. If the entertainer in question offered children's entertainment, would the relevant child's home have to be licensed premises under the Bill?

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page