|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Triesman: My Lords, it is absolutely right to pay attention to all kinds of economic analyses. I have described three with which I profoundly disagree, but it would be wrong and probably not sensible not to study them properly. In some cases extrapolations, made for whatever purpose, can be found going beyond where the evidence should really take a clear-thinking person. People will study the evidence on the other side with equal interest and careand so they should.
Lord Wallace of Saltaire: My Lords, leaving aside the constitutional costs and the cost to Euro-sceptic pride of being in the European Union, can we concentrate on the budgetary costs and benefits? Will the Minister accept that we on the Liberal Democrat Benches much regretted the fact that the British Government did not take the opportunity proposed in the Sapir reportand others, well before the last budget negotiationof having a fundamental reshaping of the EU budget to focus on the costs of enlargement, foreign policy and innovation? We ended up with a rather unsatisfactory budget compromise partly because ahead of those negotiations the British Government, among others, had not set out a case for underlying change sufficiently intelligently.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, if it is all right with the noble Lord, I shall have a go at the last one. We made a strong case for fundamental change, particularly as regards the common agricultural policy and investment, as I said in response to an earlier question with regard to investment in science, in university research, in new energy sources and efficiency and so
25 Jan 2006 : Column 1182
on. Yet we have been unable to persuade all of the vested intereststhere are some significant onesthat they should also embrace those changes. It will obviously be a longer debate than we ideally wanted, but we will pursue those objectives. There is no real difference over them.
Lord Renton: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the expression "European Union" causes many well informed and intelligent people throughout Europe to assume that membership of that body involves the surrender of sovereignty? It would be much more practicable, and acceptable, if an expression such as "European alliance" or "European partnership"anything except European Unionwere to be used.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, some people may believe that. I am not sure that a long debate on the name is where we need to focus. I would rather focus on and get people to understand the rate of economic growth that has occurred in the European Union and the number of jobs created. Those should be the fundamentals of the discussion.
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I will obtain a precise figure and get that to the noble Baroness. My belief is that the number is relatively small; smaller than any major domestic departments in our own Government. However, I will check on that.
Lord Harrison: My Lords, has my noble friend costed the burden of red tape that would fall on British business were we to withdraw from the European Union and then be obliged to renegotiate 24 bilateral agreements with the other member countries of the European Union?
Lord Triesman: My Lords, I am not sure that anyone has costed that disbenefit. However, there are some regulations that are beneficial to the creation of a single market and make it work well. There are some that keep people healthy and safe at work and some that are of genuine economic benefit. Those are often discounted as well.
What measures are taken to check health service staff for any involvement in sexual offences against minors before such staff are employed in positions which may bring them into proximity with children and young people.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, Criminal Records Bureau checks are mandatory throughout the NHS for all new staff with access to patients in the normal course of duty. The NHS is required to follow the guidance Safer recruitment, which covers all pre-appointment and post-appointment checks. For people working closely with children, the Criminal Records Bureau will carry out an additional check against List 99 and the Protection of Children Act 1999 list of persons barred from working with children. In the NHS, that would include all child specialist and paediatric services, but NHS employers determine the exact posts covered.
Baroness Seccombe: My Lords, I thank the Minister for his reply, but it still sounds confusing and, indeed, concerning. Has the problem come to light only since the revelations in education last week, or did he know of it beforehand? Can he tell the House how many of those who have been cautioned for or convicted of a serious sexual offence are in the NHS and what he is doing about it?
Lord Warner: My Lords, I speak as an ex-director of social services, so I have had some familiarity with the issue for some time. As I recall, the original legislation in this area went back to 1926. This Government have passed the Sex Offenders Act 1997, the Sexual Offences Act 2003 and the Protection of Children Act 1999, and they have set up the Criminal Records Bureau. We will make the position stronger with the new Bill implementing the Bichard recommendations. That is a good record. We know that there are problemsthis is a complex area. I do not have the exact figure that the noble Baroness, Lady Seccombe, is trying to get me to reveal, but we have done our utmost to ensure that none of those people has access to children.
Earl Howe: My Lords, the Minister saidhis colleague said something similar in a Commons written replythat the Government did not hold information about the number of individuals employed in the NHS and social services whose names appear on the Protection of Children Act list. Would it not be a good idea to remedy that absence of information? Will the Minister take steps to do so?
25 Jan 2006 : Column 1184
Lord Warner: My Lords, my right honourable friend the Secretary for State for Education made it clear that the Government would follow through on the legislation that they announced in the gracious Speech. We will bring forward the legislation implementing the Bichard recommendations, which will close a number of loopholes and strengthen the arrangements in these areas, by the end of next month.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the article in the Health Service Journal of 19 January in which trusts report that it is taking between one and six months to get information back from the Criminal Records Bureau? The trusts therefore have to employ people before they have those checks cleared.
Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, why is it impossible to answer the Question asked by my noble friend Lady Seccombe, which was followed up by my noble friend Lord Howehow many people on the list are working in the NHSwith a straight answer?
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|