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Baroness Howe of Idlicote: My Lords, is the Minister aware that no fewer than 20,000 phone calls complaining about bullying are made each year to Childline? Does the Government's strategy include research on the extent to which children who are bullies at school continue their unacceptable behaviour into the workforce? If, as we would expect, the resulting numbers are significant, what further action do the Government intend to take within the school system to eradicate bullying there? Would that not be an effective way to nip workplace bullying in the bud?
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely correct to say that bullying in schools is as widespread as bullying at work. In both areas, it is a huge problem that we must aggressively
The noble Baroness asked an interesting question about the crossover from bullying in schools to bullying in the workplace. I do not know whether there are any figures. If there are, I shall certainly send them to her, but common sense would say that if one bullies at school and gets away with it, the chances are that one will take those anti-social habits into the workplace. So my guess would be that there would be a high correlation between children who bully at school and those who bully at workand perhaps even between children who are bullied at school and those who are bullied in the workplace.
Lord Marsh: My Lords, given that we would all entirely accept the need to protect children, does the Minister not feel that there is a marginal difference between the protection of children, and our obligation to do so, and the protection of adults in the workplace? Even if it is possiblewhich I doubtdoes he really think it desirable that Ministers and the Government should take on the responsibility of controlling workplace relationships?
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, the first point is that children are vulnerable and therefore must have the maximum protection. We would all agree with that. My view, and that of the Government, is that, as I said, the Government can make only a contribution: this is not a problem that we can solve on our own. But we must do everything that we can to encourage the absolute defeat of bullying in the workplace. As I said, the Government will work with any initiative or organisation to help us to achieve that.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the case in which a man and a woman brought the same complaint against someone who was bullying them? They were forced to do so under the Sex Discrimination Act 1975. The man lost and the woman won. Does he agree that we need more specific legislation rather than using other legislation to deal with the issue?
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: My Lords, it is difficult for me to comment on individual cases. I noticed that in last Friday's newspapers, two cases of bullying at work were reported in two different newspapers. At present, the Government's view is that legislation will not work to defeat bullying in the workplaceprobably, almost certainly, for the reasons given by the noble Lord, Lord Marsh. It is
Lord Evans of Temple Guiting: Yes, my Lords, that is a form of bullying. Last week, I visited a hospital and was appalled to see reception staff wearing bullet-proof jackets. The whole question of violence and bullying in the public and private sectors is something to which we must give constant attention.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): My Lords, decisions on proposed GM crop trials in England are made on a case-by-case basis. Accordingly, the level of detail at which we require trial site locations to be notified and published would depend on what was considered to be proportionate in terms of safety and the need for transparency in each case. To date, we have required such locations to be notified and published at a level no less specific than 1 square kilometre on an Ordnance Survey map.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, is not the Minister concerned that Bayer, for example, and now Monsanto, are withdrawing from field trialsBayer, in particular, because it cannot guarantee that the trials will be completed? Would it not be sensible for those six-figure digits not to be placed on the web? It is right that they should be known, but to allow people to come to trash trials blocks those trials. Is he not fearful for the future development of crops in seed production?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, I of course condemn anyone who uses that information to trash trials which, as has been shown in the case of farm-scale trials, yield valuable information for making future decisions. However, an issue of transparency is also involved, both locally and nationally. The body that makes recommendations to the Secretary of State on the matter, the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment, advised that although the location was not needed for safety reasons it would be important for reasons of transparency. The Secretary of State
Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer: My Lords, does the Minister accept that it is important for farmers whose land surrounds crop trial areasand, indeed, beekeepers, who may be keeping their bees within 2 or 3 kilometres; or, reputedly, up to 16 kilometres of a trial siteto have access to that information, so that they know what is happening to their livelihoods?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, without necessarily accepting the distances to which the noble Baroness refers, it is of course important that neighbouring farmers know what is being grown close to them, whatever the size of the trials. That is one reason why the committee and the Secretary of State felt that we needed to divulge that information.
Baroness Hayman: My Lords, my noble friend rightly mentioned the need for transparency, but does he accept that farmers who participate in the trials or, for example, in the Krebs trials on bovine TB, are doing a great service by providing proper scientific data under which case-by-case decisions can be taken? In those circumstances, do they not deserve some protectionif not by hiding the trial sites, at least by adequate police protection against illegal action by people who only want to trash, not to achieve scientific results?
The Countess of Mar: My Lords, is it not apparent that the trashing is by people purporting to belong to non-governmental organisations such as Greenpeace? Further to the previous question, are they not using bullying tactics, and should they not be persuaded to be effective through argument and scientific proof rather than by ruining other people's crops?
Lord Whitty: My Lords, it has been the Government's stance throughout that organisations objecting to the commercialisation of GM crops should allow the trials to proceed in order that we get information. It is ironic that, when some of the information that emerged appeared to go their way, organisations seized on the trials as important, whereas a few months ago they had been involved in trashing the crops or disparaging the trials.
Baroness Byford: My Lords, perhaps I may press the Minister further. If the original decision by ACRE was that the location of the trials should be known, is the Minister not concerned that we will export our ability to carry out the research needed to bring greater benefit to crops in the long term? At their trial, people
Lord Whitty: My Lords, the decision was not taken all those years ago; the recommendation is quite recent. We have been consistent throughout. Given that there is such concern about GM crops, it is important that the Government act in a straightforward, consistent and transparent manner. It is also important that property is not damaged, and that the criminal justice system and the police take seriously any threat to it. The information from such trialswhether farm-scale trials or smaller scale seed trialsbenefits future decisions on the commercialisation of such products.
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