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Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the £3 per week taken from income-related benefits is a very reasonable amount. One can look at the circumstances and that could be adjusted if necessary. As regards getting back payments and loans, I was very concerned at the thought of using debt collection agencies; indeed, I
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Baroness Hanham: My Lords, could the Minister tell us what advertising is done regarding these grants or loans? There seems to be pretty poor take-up so far. How are they advertised to refugees and people who are entitled to stay here? Is that done by the DWP, or is it done more generally?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, the noble Baroness raises a very good point. I do not know the exact details, but we have a very good system for helping people integrate into society. They are taken care of by around 300 caseworkers, who look after cases around the country. I am sure that they would give them the details, but I do not know the precise answer, so I will have to come back to the noble Baroness on this in writing, if I may.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I am informedand I ask the noble Lord if this is correctthat people applying for asylum are told about this scheme. If that is so, for how long after that do they have the right to apply for a loan?
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I am glad to hear that they are told about the scheme as they apply for asylum. This partly answers the previous question, although I will still write in answer. Exactly how long they have thereafter to make the claim, I do not know. I will get back to the noble Baroness in writing on that, if I may.
Lord West of Spithead: My Lords, I am afraid that I do not have those facts at my fingertips. I know that the DWP uses the four debt collection agencies that it uses more widely in recovering debts. If I can get that answer from the department, I may come back to the noble Lord in writing on the details.
To ask Her Majestys Government whether they will reconsider the allocations for three years to the Ministry of Defence, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Department for International Development rising from £5.4 billion to £7.9 billion to alleviate concern as to the availability of requisite funding for the Armed Forces and counterterrorism.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I apologise; I was clearly eager to respond positively to the noble Lord. The 2007 Comprehensive Spending Review set out the Governments priorities and spending plans for the years to 2010-11. These plans are fixed and will not be reopened. Planned spending on defence will rise from £32.6 billion in 2007-08 to a total budget of £36.9 billion by 2010-11, demonstrating the Governments continued commitment to the Armed Forces. The budget of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office will rise also, from £1.6 billion to £1.7 billion in the same period.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his response and respectfully ask if he is aware that this does not address the concerns of Sir Richard Mottram, the former Permanent Secretary at the MoD, chairman of the Intelligence and Security Committee and co-ordinator of government intelligence and security? The Times reported on 30 December that he said in his Demos lecture that DfID expenditure should be used to its maximum effect on defence and counterterrorism.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the Government agree that expenditure must be used to its maximum effect; that is why this defence expenditure provides two new aircraft carriers for the Navy, protected vehicles for the Army and additional air transport capability for the Royal Air Forceas well as, within the Foreign Office budget, increasing expenditure that will help in broader counterterrorism activities. These points were, of course, debated and taken into account before the spending plans were decided upon last year.
Lord Foulkes of Cumnock: My Lords, would my noble friend confirm that the second largest percentage increase in budget after DfID went to the intelligence services, which lead the fight against terrorism? Will he also confirm that DfIDs work to eliminate poverty around the world helps to reduce the likelihood of conflict and terrorism?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, of course my noble friend, with his vast knowledge of these matters, is absolutely right that we have made provision in the budget for the reduction of poverty, which is an important part of the general battle against terrorism. As he indicated also, there is a substantial increase in the single security and intelligence budget, which will rise to some £3.5 billion by 2011more than three times what we spent on these matters before 9/11. The Government are giving proper priority to this important work.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I do not think that defence spending has fallen below that of 1930; it is massively above the spending of the Conservative Governments last decade in powerthe late 1980s and early 1990s. The simple fact is that defence expenditure is falling, if the noble Baroness meant in relation to the rise in GDP, first, because the rise in GDP is proceeding significantly, and secondly, our percentage drop against GDP is in line with all other advanced countries, including the United States of America.
Lord Blaker: My Lords, is the noble Lord aware that the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary said two weeks ago that one-third of our diplomats in Europe are to be moved to the Middle East and Asia? While there may be a need for more in the Middle East and Asia, given the troubles there, is it not doubtful wisdom to reduce our diplomats in Europe by one-third?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, as I indicated in my Answer, there is increased expenditure on the Foreign Offices budget, but its priorities change significantly from time to time and the noble Lord will recognise that there is an immense need to increase our capacity, ability and representation in the Middle East in areas where we are all too well aware that real difficulties manifest themselves. He will, no doubt, have heard this morning the extremely able way in which our ambassador to Afghanistan responded to the issues confronting the Government there, reflecting the enhanced status of his role in the countrya properly enhanced status, given the significance of Afghanistan to world security.
Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, can the noble Lord assure us that adequate provision of resources for our Armed Forces, for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this respect, and for counterterrorism will remain a priority over other expenditures?
The noble Lord is right: defence expenditure is bound to be a very high priority. He will appreciate that we need to guarantee the security of our country in troubled times. He will also recognise that we have provided in the budget additional resources for the period up to 2010-11.
In response to observations that we have had from all sides of the House about the normal conventions of debate at different stages of Bills, I remind the House that, when we come to debate the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill, the advisory rules for debate from the Companion state that,
The noble and learned Lord said: My Lords, I have had a message from my noble friend Lady Finlay, who has put her name to this amendment. She says that her train from Cardiff this morning was unfortunately cancelled. She is travelling up by taxi which, apparently, can go almost as fast as the train, and hopes to be here before the end of the debate.
When we were debating saviour siblings in Committee, there were two main concerns about the drafting. The first was the inclusion of the words other tissue in paragraph 3 of Schedule 2, which seemed to be far too wide. That concern has now been met by the Government in the next amendment, so I will say no more about that.
The second cause for concern was the word serious in the context of serious medical condition. The reference is to page 55, line 30. I prefer the term life-threatening which is, as I understand it, the current test. To my mind, life-threatening is better because it indicates, with some precision, the right degree of seriousnessneither too broad nor, as I hope to suggest, too restrictive.
The trouble with the word serious on its own is that it is much too vague and imprecise. For example, one meaning given in the Oxford English Dictionary is: giving cause for anxiety; not light or superficial. I do not suppose that anyone in the House would argue that a condition which gives cause for anxiety is a sufficient ground for creating and testing embryos. Clarity and precision, if one can achieve them, are always important in legislation but never more so than when one is dealing with matters as sensitive as human embryologya point made very well this time last week by the most reverend Primate the Archbishop of Canterbury.
I am of course aware that the Joint Committee recommended a change from the term life-threatening to serious and it did so on the basis of the evidence of two experts, as was made clear in Committee by the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin of Roding. The view of the Joint Committee is obviously entitled to great weight but I suggest that it should not be regarded as conclusive. Indeed, the noble Lord, Lord Jenkin, himself acknowledged that when he saidhe will forgive me for quoting:
There is a huge difference between the conduct of a joint pre-legislative committee, which we had, and the importance of a debate such as the one that we have had this afternoon. Both serve their purpose, but the pre-legislative committee can never be a substitute for debate in the House.[Official Report, 4/12/07; col. 1663.]
In this House, we have had the huge advantage of hearing from two other great expertsnotably, my noble friend Lord Walton of Detchant and the noble Lord, Lord Winston. My noble friend Lord Walton said that he preferred the term life-threatening to serious,
Not surprisingly, I agree with both noble Lords. I hope only that they have not changed their minds, and I do not see that they have. Their expertise in this field is of course beyond all question, but I suggest with humility in passing that, if they had not become doctors, they would almost certainly have made very good lawyers.
At the end of the debate in Committee, the noble Baroness, Lady Royall, seemed to be receptive to the argument that serious was too wide a term and she said that she intended to come back at or before Report. I hope that she, too, has not changed her mind and that she is equally receptive today.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Mackay, challenged me to think of something better than the word serious. That was a challenge which, coming from that source, I could not have declined. The clue, I suggest, is to be
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I do not know whether it is in order to anticipate the amendment in the name of the noble Earl, Lord Howe, as the two amendments are not grouped together. In his original amendment, the noble Earl proposed a definition of serious as likely to shorten life or significantly impair quality of life. I had no quarrel with the first part of that definitionlikely to shorten life seems to me to mean much the same as life-threatening. However, I had difficulty with the second half of the definition because significantly is no better a word than serious. Indeed, I believe that it is less precise; we get no further by defining one word in terms of the other.
The revised amendment of the noble Earl includes life-threatening, which is fine, but it goes on to add a reference to the quality of life. The word, severely in his revised amendment is better than significantly in that context, but I am still concerned about quality of life. Of course I understand and sympathise with the motive behind that part of the definition, but once we start talking about the quality of life, we are entering a very subjective area which is better avoided. I invite your Lordships to stick with potentially life-threatening, which can be added easily to serious. Surely that will give the scientists enough scope for their important research, for the time being at any rate. I hope that we might all come together on the amendment. I beg to move.
Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, I have added my signature to Amendment No. 30, which stands in the names of the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick and the noble Baroness, Lady Finlay of Llandaff.
Last week, I moved an amendment expressing my opposition in principle to what are called saviour siblings. The majority of noble Lords disagreed, and of course I accept the decision of the House. However, in the debate, even supporters of the practice expressed strong reservations. In view of the fact that the Government are determined to press ahead with what many think are excessively broad parameters, it is surely right for Parliament to set more reasonable limits on procedure.
There was much debate in Committee about the sorts of illnesses for which tissue-typing could be licensed. The term serious medical condition is, as the noble and learned Lord, Lord Lloyd of Berwick, said simply too broad and vague to be a sufficient safeguard in this highly controversial area. No doubt some would say that the regulatorthe Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authoritywill reject spurious applications for a licence, but that is putting
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