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Lord Sandberg: My Lords, it is nice to hear of the progress being made. However, against the backdrop of the recent murders of British soldiers and the continuing violence against American soldiers, it seems to me that the Statement is rather optimistic. Would the Minister confirm that there is no complacency about the problems that lie ahead of us?
Baroness Amos: My Lords, there is absolutely no complacency. I was trying very hard to strike a balance in the Statement and show the very real concern that I, the Government and the CPA have about the security situation. I was also trying to give noble Lords a sense of the progress that has been made. I feel that some of what we are seeing is very negative. I want noble Lords to have a more balanced picture. This in no way indicates that we are complacent, or that there is not a very serious recognition on the part of the coalition that a great deal more needs to be done.
We have to deal with the perception beginning to emerge among the Iraqi people that things were perhaps better before. Everybody I met is absolutely delighted that Saddam Hussein is gone. However, if basic services are not up and running and there is no
I would like to assure noble Lords that I and other members of the Government will continue to be seized of the situation. As regards resources, we need to provide not only money but also expertise; that is, people who have experience of working in developing countries and experience in implementing programmes on the ground. As I said, security sector reform will be an absolute priority for us.
The Lord Chancellor (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): My Lords, may I take the opportunity to inform the House that I shall be undertaking a ministerial visit to Belfast on Tuesday, 8th July? Accordingly, I trust that the House will grant me leave of absence.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs estimates that some 90,000 to 130,000 children are living with a problem drug user. The council's report recognises some of the good work being undertaken to tackle drug problems and to protect vulnerable children, but also that more needs to be done. The Government have already increased by 23 per cent this year the pooled budgets available to drug action teams, which has improved access to treatment services for pregnant women and parents. The Department of Health is working with other departments on what further action is required.
Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that response. Is he aware that under these dreadful circumstances it is often the grandparents who end up taking care of the children? What kind of
Lord Warner: My Lords, my noble friend is quite right to say that grandparents are a major source of support for young children in these circumstances. Around 50 per cent of the children whose parents were included in the advisory council's report were living elsewhere with family members or friends. Grandparents comprised the main family members looking after those children. The report highlights examples of local schemes that help the children of drug users and provide support for families, including grandparents. I am sure that, in her capacity as chair of the National Treatment Agency, my noble friend will encourage an extension of such schemes.
Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, what is being done about the barriers to parents with drug problems seeking treatment? For example, parents fear that their children may be taken away from them and there is a lack of residential mother and baby units for drug treatment and rehabilitation.
Lord Warner: My Lords, clearly, some parents in these circumstances will be worried about the removal of their children, but social services do have a responsibility to protect children. We are aware that support is required and, as I said in my earlier Answer, the Government are putting a lot more money into the pooled budgets of drug action teams which will improve access to treatment services for parents with drug problems.
Lord Rea: My Lords, my noble friend said that the Government are expanding the facilities for dealing with parents with drug problems. Can he tell us how many residential rehabilitation centres are in operation around the country which have facilities for mothers and children? Does he not agree that this is an area to which the Government should give priority?
Lord Warner: My Lords, I cannot give the exact numbers, but the Government are putting more money into treatment services at all levels; that is, from the primary level up to tier 4 services. However, I shall be happy to write to my noble friend with details of the exact number of centres.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, if the parents are injecting drug users, is enough help being provided as regards hepatitis B and C? What counselling services are available if those parents test positive, and even if they are not positive, how are they counselled before they are tested?
Baroness David: My Lords, can the Minister tell me how the educational needs of children whose parents are drug addicts are met? So far as I can recall, very often those children do not get to school.
Lord Warner: My Lords, the Department for Education and Skills issued a government consultation draft entitled "Drugs: Guidance for Schools", which emphasised the importance of having a designated member of staff responsible for co-ordinating the school's response to drugs. It is also a key requirement of the national healthy schools standard to have a designated drug education co-ordinator. Moreover, training is available to support teachers in this particular role.
Ultimately, there is also the potential for social services to intervene. When a carer needs support and services for a child, in particular when problems are being encountered that centre on going to school, the carer can approach social services and sometimes voluntary organisations can help in this area.
Lord Warner: My Lords, I do not think that I can paint a national picture on this area by area, but we know that a growing number of local support services are being put in place for relatives as carers of children in the circumstances of this Question. A number of local authorities come to mind which have particularly strong support arrangements: Plymouth has had a support service since 1999; there are dedicated workers in Hampshire and Wandsworth, which are also using family group conferences to help families make the best decisions for those children who cannot remain with their birth parents.
Lord Elton: My Lords, does the noble Lord agree that this is largely a problem to be tackled locally? When the noble Lord writes to his noble friend with the details of those schemes which have central government support, can he make them more intelligible by revealing the location of those schemes? I do not mean that he should list them individually, but can he set out what criteria are used to ensure that these resources are put within reach of the people who need them?
Lord Warner: My Lords, the Government provide general guidance, but it is for local authorities to provide the responses because they have statutory responsibility in these areas. Of course their work is
The Earl of Listowel: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the invaluable support provided to many children's homes, foster carer groups and schools catering for such children's complex needs by way of appropriately trained mental health professionals? Can he tell us what progress is being made towards making available that kind of highly skilled consultation to parents and carers working with these children?
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