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Lord Peston: My Lords, does the Minister recall that his right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade referred not long ago to intervening before breakfast, luncheon and dinner to save British industry? In the light of what has happened to the British shipbuilding industry and, more generally, what has been said about British industry, can the noble Earl interpret what his right honourable friend said?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, if I may say so, I think that it is perfectly simple. My right honourable friend will intervene on behalf of British industry and he has done so in agreeing with the OECD agreement that there should not be anti-dumping--at the moment it can be construed that there is; that there should be credit terms which are controlled; and that there should be the elimination of subsidies. But the fact is that there are some parts of the world, particularly in the Far East, where there have been considerable increases in

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capacity. Korea has said that it will double its capacity. That is fine provided that it does not dump its ships on the world market.

The Lord Bishop of Newcastle: My Lords, may I ask the noble Earl a related question touched on by the noble Lord, Lord Peyton? Does the Minister see any prospect of employment for thousands of shipyard workers on Tyneside who are eager to use their skills?

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I understand the concern of the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Newcastle, but there is no advantage in keeping alive an industry which is unable to compete--if there is such an industry--simply by virtue of trying to create jobs. We have to create jobs in that area, if that is necessary, which will enable people to provide goods and services which are required, and without subsidy. That is something which the Government have been keen on doing and we have been successful in obtaining considerable investment in the north east from other countries.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords--

Lord Sefton of Garston: My Lords, may I ask the Minister--

Noble Lords: Order!

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): My Lords, I am very much in the hands of the House. I am aware that we have one more Question and six more minutes or under in which to ask it. I wonder whether your Lordships would be prepared for the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, to wrap this up and for us to move on to the next Question.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, will my noble friend ask his right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade to take another careful look at this, particularly as there is a danger of making these judgments on a very short-term basis? The shipbuilding industry raises very long-term problems and I hope that my noble friend will look at it in that light.

Earl Ferrers: My Lords, I understand my noble friend's concern that shipbuilding is a long-term business. He is perfectly right; it is. However, I suggest to him that it is impossible to keep going by artificial subsidy a number of businesses which one may feel are in the long-term interest, even if in the short term they are unable to be viable. Our concern is that they should be viable. There is a great deal of evidence to show that those shipbuilding industries which are now involved with shipbuilding have done a great deal to make themselves viable.

War Pensioners

3.3 p.m.

Lord Molloy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are consulting the Royal British Legion about the continuing care of servicemen and women wounded in the two world wars.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): My Lords,

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as the Minister with special responsibility for war pensioners, I meet regularly with officers of the Royal British Legion and other ex-service organisations to discuss the needs of disabled ex-servicemen and women wounded in the two world wars and since.

Lord Molloy: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that encouraging reply. But is he aware, and does he recall, that quite a number of years ago wounded ex-servicemen and women, irrespective of whether they were wounded in the mind or in the body, were given preferential treatment in the NHS? That seemed the right thing to do at the time. It now appears that that priority, and the promise that was given, are dwindling away, and that the older ex-servicemen and women who now need treatment most of all are no longer entitled to that privilege.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, the noble Lord, Lord Molloy, has raised a question that concerns us. I must correct the final point that he made. The ex-servicemen and women to whom he referred are still entitled to the priority treatment which was agreed all those years ago, whether it is given in hospital or through family health services and their GP or wherever. We realise that, with the passage of time and with new doctors and nurses entering the profession, that obligation may be forgotten. We frequently remind the professions of the situation by way of circular. Earlier this year my noble friend Lady Cumberlege and my noble and learned friend Lord Fraser of Carmyllie both sent circulars to the medical professions and the related professions in England, Wales and Scotland reminding them of this obligation. I am happy that the noble Lord has given me the opportunity to underline it here again today.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, can my noble friend give an estimate of the number of wounded from World War I who are still alive as distinct from World War I veterans who were not wounded but who now suffer from disabilities which arise from and are aggravated by old age? Both categories should, of course, receive the best of care. I should make clear that I was not myself wounded in World War I but in World War II.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I know of my noble friend Lord Campbell of Croy's interest in this matter. I looked into this matter when I visited the war pensions agency in Blackpool recently. I believe, from what I remember, that there are about 600 World War I disablement pensioners on our books, so to speak. However, I am afraid I cannot answer my noble friend's question as regards how many have come on the books in recent years due to their injuries which perhaps did not seem so serious when they were younger or middle-aged but which are proving to be a problem in old age. That is certainly a real problem both for World War I and World War II veterans.

Lord Richard: My Lords, will the Minister confirm that one of the concerns of the Royal British Legion in this area is the delay that is taking place before the issue of whether someone is entitled to a war pension comes before an independent tribunal? Can he confirm that that

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delay is now approximately 18 months? Can he tell us how many such cases are currently outstanding, and can he tell us the length of time being taken to settle each case? As he is the Minister who is personally responsible for this, we are grateful that he is in a position to answer.

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish: My Lords, I do not have a photographic memory and I am afraid that I do not carry those detailed statistics in my head. If the noble Lord wishes me to answer those questions, I am happy to do so if he tables specific Questions. I can then come armed with information. The whole question of studying an application for a war disablement pension is taken very seriously and it involves the records held by the MoD. It is quite a long business and we try to make it as short as possible, but consistent with giving the applicant the fairest treatment possible.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, may I on behalf of the War Widows Association--

Viscount Cranborne: My Lords, I think our 30 minutes are up.

Baroness Strange: My Lords, on behalf of the War Widows Association--

Noble Lords: Order!

Petition: Christian Ethics

Viscount Brentford: My Lords, I beg to present a petition from Dr. Alan Kerbey which prays that this House will take note of the Crusaders' declaration, the terms of which are contained in this petition and which has been signed by over 6,700 people. Dr. Alan Kerbey further prays that the House of Lords might take action so that society today does not become a post-Christian society characterised by disorder and moral breakdown.

Petition presented.

Appointed Bodies (Financial Penalties) Bill [H.L.]

3.8 p.m.

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, I beg to introduce a Bill to provide for the recovery of sums from members of appointed public bodies in circumstances of unlawful expenditure or improper accounting and for connected purposes. I beg to move that this Bill be now read a first time.

Moved, That the Bill be now read a first time.--(Lord Dean of Beswick.)

On Question, Bill read a first time, and to be printed.

Hybrid Instruments: Select Committee

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

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Moved, That a Select Committee be appointed to consider hybrid instruments and that, as proposed by the Committee of Selection, the following Lords together with the Chairman of Committees be named of the Committee--

V. Craigavon,

L. Gallacher,

L. Murton of Lindisfarne,

V. Oxfuird,

L. Wade of Chorlton.--(The Chairman of Committees.)

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