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Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, in a recent answer given to my noble friend Lady Jay the Minister said that the total amount spent on AIDS patients by the National Health Service was £236 million a year. That
Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, the AIDS budgets are made up of a number of different factors. There is the national aids public campaign, the health authorities' money for treatment and care and for health promotion, and there is also money to voluntary organisations and local authorities. All that amounts to £281 million this year.
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that much of the money is spent on research? A document published last year by the Institute of Economic Affairs Limited pointed out that for every person who dies of heart disease in this country the research funds amount to £51 and for every person who dies of AIDS in this country the research funds amount to £285,000.
Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, the research funds for coronary heart disease are considerable because they are made up of money from all kinds of different charities and other organisations. However, the money spent on AIDS must come from the Government because no charities or other organisations contribute to it.
Lord Rea: My Lords, the Minister confirmed that the funding allocated to the treatment of AIDS will fall by 7.7 per cent in the coming financial year. That confirms the figure given by the Providers of AIDS Care and Treatment. In view of the fact that the number of AIDS cases does not appear to be declining and will not decline for the next three years and that the preventive treatment for AIDS is becoming more complex and expensive, how can the Minister justify that reduction in funding?
The Minister of State, Department of the Environment (Earl Ferrers): My Lords, the sale of the five Property Services Agency building management businesses saved the taxpayer over £100 million by comparison with the alternative of closure. The sale of the Property Services Agency projects business in December 1992 also saved money over the alternative of closure.
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, it was decided that civil servants were not the best people to do the work which the Property Services Agency did. Therefore, either it had to be closed or it had to be sold. The cost of the closure would have been somewhere between £195 million to £310 million--the mid-point of that was £251 million--whereas the cost of the sale was £141 million. Therefore, the taxpayer has benefited.
Lord Ezra: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, in asking this Question referred to the important report of the National Audit Office. Is the noble Earl aware that paragraph 4.26 on page 35 of that report refers to the estimated indirect costs of closure? It states that a large part of the costs of closure were subjective and that,
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I am surprised the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, should say that because I said that the costs of closure would be somewhere between £195 million to £310 million. I should have thought that I had not described those figures with pinpoint accuracy and that I provided a certain range. Of course, it is perfectly true--I am not hedging--that these figures are difficult to get at because some of the payments were made over a period of years. It is difficult to discern how much one would have saved had the PSA been privatised earlier. However, I can tell the noble Lord, Lord Ezra, that over the six years from 1990 to 1996, if the privatisation of the Property Services Agency had followed the pattern of other privatised businesses, there would have been a saving of about 20 per cent., or £1,500 million to £2,000 million, over the six years.
Lord Haskel: My Lords, is the Minister aware that in order to maximise the proceeds of the sale the Property Services Agency was divided into five units and each one was sold separately? Can the Minister explain why W. S. Atkins was paid £11.5 million to acquire the Manchester division? Noble Lords will not be surprised that the National Audit Office in its report considered this to be,
Earl Ferrers: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Haskel, will be the first to appreciate that it is not every day that one sells an organisation such as the Property Services Agency. We therefore took advice from consultants and they suggested that it would be best to split the organisation into five parts. Having done that, one then has to obtain the best possible price, or the least possible cost. We took their advice and that is why that part of the PSA was sold in the way that it was.
Lord Avebury: My Lords, did the officials obtain any information about the voting arrangements for the 2½ million people who have been forcibly displaced from their homes in the south east by the conflict? Can the noble Lord say whether on the advice that he has received so far the ceasefire which was announced by the PKK has been properly observed, and what inquiries have been made about the murder of 11 passengers in a minibus near Sirnak recently which was ascribed to the PKK by the authorities but which eye witnesses have now said was perpetrated by the security forces themselves?
Lord Chesham: My Lords, as to the second part of that question, the credibility of any ceasefire declarations by the PKK is to be questioned. The PKK conducts terrorist acts which we unreservedly condemn. However, it is for the Turkish Government to decide how to react. It is unclear who is responsible for the killing of 11 people in a minibus in Sirnak province on 16th January. The Turkish Government initially stated that it was carried out by the PKK. The PKK has denied this.
Lord Cledwyn of Penrhos: My Lords, is it not the case that this is an extremely serious matter and that the conduct of the Turkish Government is totally unsatisfactory? While it is good to know that the Government have made representations to the Turkish Government, is not this a matter which should be taken to the United Nations as well?
Lord Cledwyn of Penhros: My Lords, I asked a question which I hope the noble Lord will be good enough to answer. Have the Government considered taking this matter to the Security Council of the United Nations?
Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, I recognise the dilemma that isolating Turkey will simply encourage a move towards fundamentalism. But will it be made clear to the Turkish Government that that argument rests on the assumption that the present Turkish Government are more likely than any alternative to observe human rights; to reach an accommodation with the Kurds; to put an end to the torture and the disappearances; and to permit free expression? If there is nothing to choose between the present Turkish Government and the alternatives, then isolation is the inevitable consequence.
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