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Lord Avebury: My Lords, bearing in mind that this is the third occasion, I think, on which the Charity Commission has investigated false allegations against Interpal, is the Minister satisfied that the Charity Commission has the necessary resources to conduct investigations into such allegations whether they are substantiated or not? If she is not so satisfied, what steps will the Government take to improve the resources available for this purpose?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, it is right to say that the Charity Commissioners have been able to discharge their duty speedily and well on each occasion without any apparent difficulty. We would expect that they will continue so to do.

Lord Clarke of Hampstead: My Lords, referring to my noble friend's earlier answers, I think that she would recognise that, as recently as two weeks ago, the IMF reported that #560 million had gone from President Arafat into various other investments such as terrorism and casinos. Does she agree that, at a time when the Palestinian people are suffering, that is a wrong way of using that money? What are the Government doing to ensure that the Palestinian leadership is correcting such financial mismanagement? Can we be assured that British aid is being invested in valuable projects? Furthermore, what are the Government doing to push the Palestinian leadership to challenge Hamas and to dismantle the infrastructure that supports them?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, as tempted as I am to answer that question—and my noble friend will know how tempted I am—I think that it is very wide of the Question on the Order Paper. However, I shall ask my colleagues to write to him with an answer.

Podiatric Medical Education in London

3.39 p.m.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, the decision to move the contract for podiatric education

6 Oct 2003 : Column 20

from the London Foot Hospital and University College London was made for sound educational reasons. The changes will lead to educational improvement, more and better prepared students and better podiatry services for the people of London. The Government believe that there is nothing to be gained from an independent inquiry.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply, but what level of incompetence is required before an inquiry is granted? The new course costs more per head than that bid for by University College, London. It is unaccredited, so students cannot practise after qualification. Nearly all the staff of the old hospital are leaving. The number of students applying is massively down. On top of that, Camden PCT is making a profit of #2 million to #3 million out of the property, which otherwise would have been available for the London Foot Hospital. Will the Minister reconsider?

Lord Warner: My Lords, the answer is, "No". The position that the noble Lord describes is considerably different from the information available to me. The previous course at UCL and the London Foot Hospital had unacceptably high student attrition rates—40 per cent from the 1999 student cohort. The University of East London, which will run the training in future, is using a proven curriculum that has been delivered at the University of Brighton. Increased student numbers are confidently expected, and we expect a larger output of trained podiatrists.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, I am sure that the Minister is concerned about the impact of the events referred to by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, on the provision of chiropody and podiatry services. He will be aware that the postcode lottery is alive and well so far as concerns those services. Does he have anything to offer by way of hope to the hundreds of thousands of people who cannot get that treatment at the moment?

Lord Warner: My Lords, that is a little wide of the Question, but I can say in relation to Camden, quoting the chief executive of Camden Primary Care Trust:


    "At no time will there be a loss or decrease to podiatry services for the population of Camden".

Camden has written to all the other strategic health authorities and PCTs to ensure that non-Camden residents have access to services.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I must declare an interest in the issue, having been a grateful patient of the London Foot Hospital in its previous incarnation, something that has enabled me to walk, if not to wear fashionable shoes. May I press my noble friend a little on a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, about the break-up of the teaching team at the London Foot Hospital? As I understand it, several members of the team have already left and others have refused to accept new contracts. That is bound to undermine the quality of

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the service offered and, again as I understand it, follows a rather unhappy period of lack of consultation between UCL and the staff concerned.

Lord Warner: My Lords, many of the staff have transferred to the University of East London. Six members of staff at UCL have decided not to accept the terms under the arrangements on transfer of undertakings, and have chosen to go their own way. I remind the noble Baroness and the noble Baroness, Lady Noakes, that expenditure on podiatry education has increased from #1.3 million in 1998–99 to a forecast #9.4 million in 2003, a sevenfold increase in expenditure.

Lord Quirk: My Lords, I also declare some interest, in my case as a fellow of UCL. Has not the sorry tale outlined in the supplementary question resulted in a great deal of student upset and disillusionment; the break-up of a highly talented team of clinical teachers, as was said by the noble Baroness, Lady Jay; and a serious demeaning of the place of podiatry in the student body and in higher education? Is not the root cause of this whole problem the unwillingness of our health authorities to locate podiatry any longer in institutions of the Russell group calibre?

Lord Warner: My Lords, there is a complex background to the problem. What shines out is that the commissioners for services for education have taken a grip on a situation in which large numbers of students failed to complete their courses, and have taken robust action to improve the education provision without any diminution of services.

Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill

3.44 p.m.

Lord Warner: My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to which the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clause 1,

Schedule 1,

Clause 2,

Schedule 2,

Clauses 3 to 25,

Schedule 3,

Clauses 26 to 34,

Schedule 4,

Clauses 35 to 37,

Schedule 5,

Clauses 38 to 40,

Schedule 6,

Clause 41,

Schedule 7,

Clause 42,

Schedule 8,

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Clauses 43 to 143,

Schedule 9,

Clauses 144 to 146,

Schedule 10,

Clauses 147 to 180,

Schedule 11,

Clauses 181 to 183,

Schedule 12,

Clauses 184 to 186,

Schedule 13,

Clauses 187 to 192,

Schedule 14,

Clauses 193 to 198.—(Lord Warner.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Bill

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.

Moved, That the order of commitment be discharged.—(Lord Redesdale.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Legal Deposit Libraries Bill

Lord Tope: My Lords, I understand that no amendments have been set down to this Bill and that no noble Lord has indicated a wish to move a manuscript amendment or to speak in Committee. Therefore, unless any noble Lord objects, I beg to move that the order of commitment be discharged.

Moved, That the order of commitment be discharged.—(Lord Tope.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Criminal Justice Bill

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now again resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now again resolve itself into Committee.—(Baroness Scotland of Asthal.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.

[The CHAIRMAN OF COMMITTEES in the Chair.]

Lord Kingsland moved Amendment No. 160BAA:


    Before Clause 135, insert the following new clause—


"JUDICIAL DISCRETION IN SENTENCING
Judges shall have discretion in the determination of all sentences save for the offence of murder."

6 Oct 2003 : Column 23

The noble Lord said: This is a probing amendment on which the Opposition do not intend to divide the Committee. Its purpose is to give the Government the opportunity to respond to the hesitations expressed by noble Lords about Part 12 of the Bill on Second Reading.

The Opposition are particularly concerned about two of its proposals. The first is that which determines the minimum sentence after conviction in a criminal trial; and the second is the modus operandi of the Sentencing Guidelines Council. Our concerns have been aggravated by the fact that, in another place, important amendments to those matters were tabled on Report, so late that it did not have the opportunity to debate them properly.

Differences have emerged between the judiciary and the executive about the degree of statutory control appropriate to constrain the sentencing powers of a trial judge. Where should the line be drawn between obligation and discretion? In what circumstances should society require a minimum sentence irrespective of the facts of a particular case?

Under our constitution, both the executive and the judiciary are subject to the will of Parliament. However, another place, at least for the time being, is the creature of the executive. In those circumstances, your Lordships' House has a particular and special responsibility to ensure that an appropriate balance is maintained between Ministers and judges.

Imprisonment after a criminal conviction is the biggest constraint on liberty under our jurisdiction. We must ensure that, in all the circumstances of the case, the sentence is just. Do these proposals meet that test? I beg to move.


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