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Baroness Barker: My Lords, I too welcome this order. I also thank the Minister very much for circulating a revised version of the measure which was extremely helpful. I welcome in outline the quite dramatic step forward that this represents for the General Optical Council. It is clear that the range of measures which will be open to it will turn what has been a rather blunt instrument into a much more finely tuned one. In particular the fitness to practise reforms should be welcomed by practitioners and users.
I have three questions about that for the Minister. First, on the consequential amendment, I wonder whether the protection of vulnerable adults legislation should be incorporated into this measure. My views may be coloured by a case I heard about that involved an optician. I ought not to go into details, but I would like to raise the issue.
Thirdly, can the Minister tell the House what provisions there will be to involve users in the consultative committee? The involvement of users is a valuable method of driving up good practice and would seem to be within the spirit of the order in updating the profession.
I welcome the order as it applies to contact lenses. I have long been concerned about the sale of contact lenses and glasses by people who are not able to tell customers at the point of purchase whether the glasses or lenses are suitable. By and large, I welcome the order as I think it will protect people from eye conditions that are potentially extremely damagingand I say that with the heartfelt emotion of someone who once struggled to wear contact lenses and gave up the attempt.
As a parliamentarian given the responsibility of scrutinising the regulations, I feel that there is a matter that I must raise. The explanatory note says that in 2002-03 US regulators were notified of about 100 adverse incidents involving cosmetic contact lenses. That is 100 out of how many? What proportion of sales are we talking about? How widespread is the issue? The answer to that does not appear in any of the papers. The Minister may not be able to answer me tonight, but I would like to have a sense of how widespread the issue is and, therefore, whether the measures are proportionate.
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Lord Warner: My Lords, I shall answer the last question first, mainly because I know that I do not know the answer. I also have the figure of 100, but what it is 100 out of, I am not altogether sure. I need to look into the details of the research and then I will write to the noble Baroness. Mis-selling is covered by the regulations and would be misconduct.
The noble Earl, Lord Howe, raised a question about the hearings panel. It is the main innovation in the order and is a way of putting some distance between the council and individual fitness to practise decisions, and of giving those decisions greater independence. Any allegations will be heard by the fitness to practise committee, which will be set up afresh for each hearing, using people from the panel. The panel will not contain council members. The hearings panel will be made of up three groups: optometrists, dispensing opticians and lay people. The composition of the panel will be set out in rules made by the General Optical Council that will be laid before Parliament. I cannot give more details than that, but that is the current position.
Regarding the dispensing opticians, we are in a difficult position. They are not included in primary care trust lists, and their position will be considered as part of the review of general ophthalmic services, which will begin shortly. However, I cannot give any assurance at present that NHS money will be available to reimburse dispensing opticians for time spent on training. As with all professionals, though, they need to keep their training up to date. That is the best I can do for the noble Earl at this time.
Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now adjourn during pleasure until we are ready for the Third Reading of the Prevention of Terrorism Bill. The precise time will be shown in advance on the Annunciator.
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, in speaking to Amendment No. 1, I shall speak also to Amendments Nos. 2, 3 and 4. Amendment No. 1 is a tidying up amendment. It removes a reference to the Secretary of State imposing obligations on the
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individual. That is no longer appropriate in the light of amendments which provide for all orders to be made by the courts.
Amendment No. 3 removes Clause 10, which deals with appeal rights to the courts against decisions by the Secretary of State in making non-derogating orders. The clause is now inconsistent with the other provisions in the Bill in the light of the House's decision that non-derogating control orders should be made by the courts. I regret that this amendment was not moved on Report. It should have been.
On Amendment No. 4, the Bill currently provides for a right of appeal from the Secretary of State's decision to modify a derogating control order. However, following the amendments made by the Government to provide that the court should make derogating control orders, this provision is redundant. I apologise for not moving the amendment as intended on Report. I beg to move.
Lord Roper: My Lords, I do not want to detain the House for too long. We have had very useful debates. We could not have had those debates if our Public Bill Office had not been so efficient in producing the papers for us. I believe that we should refer to that before we agree the Motion.
We undertook, at the beginning of the procedure as an opposition, to use our best endeavours to deliver the Bill to the Government by Tuesday night. We have done so. It may not be quite the same Bill as the one that arrived in your Lordships' Houseindeed, we believe it to be a better Bill than the one that arrived a few days ago.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I wish to say three things. First, I entirely endorse what the noble Lord, Lord Roper, said about the Public Bill Office, which has done a fantastic job. Secondly, it has been an incredibly testing experience for everybody in this Houseas it has also been for all the officials, from the Home Office and the Department for Constitutional Affairs, who have done an absolutely fantastic job despite all the pressure that they were put under. Thirdly, whatever our disagreements over the content of the Bill, it has been a most civilised debate in this House. I am grateful to both opposition parties for achieving that; I thank them very much.
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