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Baroness Whitaker: My Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the House explained the format of the report. Does she agree that the report is modest in not celebrating the largest ever increase in one year in the international development budget; namely, 12 per cent in real terms over the previous year?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, yes, my noble friend identifies an important contribution which the Government have made to international development. At the same time the Government have continued to play a leading role in reducing the international debt of developing countries. As my noble friend will be aware with her special interest in this area, last year we backed the agreement on the heavily indebted poor country initiative to enable those countries to take advantage of the additional 252 million dollar programme which gave relief to individual countries.
Lord Clark of Kempston: My Lords, is the Minister aware that many people in this country consider the report a blatant misuse of taxpayers' money to produce an electioneering pamphlet? First, why is the pamphlet silent on the inheritance by this Government of the strongest economy for many years? Secondly, why is there no mention of the enormous increase in taxation when one takes into account direct and indirect taxation?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am surprised that the noble Lord translates the economic statistics that I repeated in the Statement into that gloomy overview. The noble Lord talks about the economy being very strong in 1997. As I pointed out in the Statement, we inherited a £28 billion deficit. By last year that was turned into a £16 billion surplus.
As I also said in the Statement, one million jobs have been created since May 1997. None of those factors adds up to a picture of strength which we inherited. They add up to a picture of strength we have created.
I am surprised that the noble Lord should identify the tax issue as of specific importance today. In the Opposition's extraordinary contortions over their tax guarantee, they propose a £16 billion cut in public investment were they ever to come to office.
I was pleased to notice that the Government take their anti-poverty strategy seriously enough to have honoured it with a small paragraph on the top of page 17. The noble Baroness will be well aware that the Government define poverty as below half average income. Were I to ask her why, she would doubtless reply that the line should be drawn somewhere. I shall not put her to that trouble. However, I shall ask her why the Government collect no information on the percentage of the population below 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent of average income.
If, when the Government meet the electorate, they find that they have reduced the proportion below 50 per cent of average income but that the proportion below 20 per cent has increased will they then claim that they have reduced poverty?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I take advantage of an old friendship with the noble Earl to say that by his remarks about marketing this publication with Vogue or Tatler he demonstrates a lack of awareness of the way in which most people in this country like to read the information contained in this publication and access the more detailed information on the Internet, should they wish to do so, along with the ability to have a video presentation or something of that kind. The noble Earl may prefer the population to access government information only in a more traditional form. However, our experience--I referred earlier to my experience--is that that is not so.
The noble Earl asked some detailed questions about the alleviation of poverty. I say simply--I am aware of time running out--that by 2001, for example, I should be perfectly ready to defend this Government's agenda on poverty by identifying the extra £7 billion which is being spent on support for children, lifting one million children out of poverty over the period of this Parliament.
Lord Archer of Sandwell: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one attractive feature of the report is that it can be tested against the proportion of benefits already visible to the eye? I refer, for example, to increasing numbers of people in jobs and reduced waiting lists. Does my noble friend recollect that it records additional resources to the health service of the order of £2 billion and a rising graph to 2003?
Can my noble friend give some indication of the proportion of that money which will be dedicated to long-term benefits such as the building of new hospitals and how much to benefits which will be obvious fairly quickly, such as reduced waiting lists?
My noble and learned friend is right to say that there has to be a combination of short-term goals and long-term investment. One of the most important factors will be to identify particular resources for the training and support of people within the caring and clinical professions. It is by reinforcing the numbers of doctors, nurses and other people working in the front line of the health service that we shall achieve the step change which this Government are determined to achieve.
Lord Boardman: My Lords, the noble Baroness said that the Statement had been prepared by civil servants. She referred to the record level of inward investment. How does she reconcile that with the many statements made by the Foreign Secretary and others that the Government's indecision with regard to the euro is having disastrous effects upon inward investment in this country?
Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I should be grateful if the noble Lord would identify a statement by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in which he said that. I simply repeat the sentence in the Statement, which is accurate, that,
The noble Lord said: My Lords, before that government commercial break, these Benches were chided by the noble Lord, Lord Bach, for not intervening on Amendment No. 56. I do not know whether the noble Lord's Chief Whip heard those remarks. I assure the noble Lord that if he is encouraging interventions on every amendment, we shall be here rather late tonight.
Lord McNally: My Lords, the general suspicion about government access to keys formed part of the earlier discussion and will unfold more strongly as the amendments are debated. That general unease is widely shared. I received an open letter with about 50 signatories. The key sentence states:
The noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, may find it interesting to note that among the signatures are those of representatives of the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Nursing, the Brook Advisory Centres and others. I think that they are in her bailiwick in terms of the Bill, yet they still have concerns about the implications. I do not want this matter to be seen as an attempt at a division between a cold-hearted and indifferent industry lobbying vigorously on one side and the caring professions lining up behind the Government on the other. I beg to move.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, I too have accessed these lists. There are no childcare organisations involved. I point out to the noble Lord, Lord Cope, that I discussed the matter with Poptel because its name is on the list. It is an organisation with which I have been familiar for many years. It was very keen to assure me that its clients are not involved in this matter. The question here is that children's interests are not represented by these organisations. That is the problem.
Lord Phillips of Sudbury: My Lords, Amendment No. 57 is grouped with Amendments Nos. 58 and 59. If it is convenient, I shall deal with the three together. The three amendments address broadly the same point as was addressed by Amendment No. 50 which was debated at some considerable length last night. Your Lordships will remember that I endeavoured to paint a scenario where Steve and Willie were engaged in exchanging information and where, wholly innocently, Willie could find himself on the wrong side of the law in circumstances also addressed by Clause 48(3) of the Bill.
I do not propose to repeat the explanation that I gave last night. As I have said, the issue is the same. The Minister gave me an assurance that he would make sure that there were no circumstances in which an innocent recipient of information could find himself or herself on the wrong side of this provision or that dealt with by Amendment No. 50. On the basis of that assurance and after consideration of the matter, I do not propose to say any more on this occasion.
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