|Previous Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|
Lord Carter: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the belief that the basic problem in this whole question of veal crates arises from the fact that animals are regarded under European rules as agricultural goods, which presumably puts them on the same trading basis as a tractor or a bag of fertiliser? Do the Government support the suggestion that farm animals should be redefined under the Treaty of Rome as sentient beings? They would thus be recognised under European law as having the ability to suffer from pain, fear or stress.
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, the Government are definitely prepared to examine the proposal in advance of next year's negotiations on the treaty amendments. However, as the noble Lord will know, achieving a treaty amendment is no small matter. Therefore we need to consider most carefully the precise implications of a change in definition before pressing it.
Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, if the other countries of the Community persist in refusing to ban the rearing of calves in narrow crates, is there any time at all at which the Government will engage on a unilateral ban on the export of calves, and perhaps other live animals for slaughter, where the slaughtering procedures are in our view cruel and beastly?
The Earl of Lindsay: My Lords, the Government share the sentiment behind the noble Lord's question. My right honourable friend has already considered the best case which can be made out to support the legality of such measures as the noble Lord suggested. However, the conclusion was that any such measures could not be justified in law.
Viscount Mountgarret: My Lords, can the Minister tell the House why it takes a year for the fate of these unfortunate animals to be decided? Surely if anyone was really concerned about them, a discussion could be held well before that.
Baroness Lockwood: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that Answer. In pursuing the matter, I declare a non-pecuniary interest as chairman of council of one of the universities that is concerned. Can the Minister say on what criteria the decision was made to withdraw all the bursaries for postgraduate courses in interpreting and translating? In making that decision, was the Minister aware that the two universities that are most concerned, Bradford and Bath, have a very high
Lord Lucas: My Lords, we are talking here about people who are already very highly qualified and who take an additional qualification to provide them with an even more highly paid career than they might otherwise have. Surely that kind of vocational education is best paid for either by the people who are to benefit directly from it or by the employers who will employ them afterwards, as would be the case in, let us say, accountancy or the law.
Lord Healey: My Lords, is it not the case that Her Majesty's Government make great use of those who are trained under these bursariesfor instance, in the Cabinet Office, GCHQ and a large number of other departments that I could mentionas do major firms in Britain, such as the BBC and the Shell oil company, and major international organisations? How can the Government justify terminating bursaries which provide men of this qualitywhich made Britain world-famous in this fieldwhen they rightly decided to finance training at a grammar school in the same skills but at a very much lower level? Is it perhaps that the Cabinet Office has decided that it is better that we do not understand foreigners and they do not understand us?
Lord Lucas: My Lords, the Government and industry also employ many accountants, and we do not pay for their training. These are people who are being asked to make a personal investment in their own future and who will achieve some very great rewards thereby. If the Government at any stageor, indeed, any other organisationsfound themselves short of these skills they would doubtless sponsor people on these excellent courses.
Lord Morris of Castle Morris: My Lords, does the noble Lord the Minister agree with the vice-chancellor of Bradford University, who says that abolishing these bursaries will not mean that these highly talented linguists will find alternative means of funding? There is no corporate or institutional sponsorship for this type of training. Is the vice-chancellor correct? If so, where would the Minister advise these highly trained linguists to look for alternative funding arrangements?
Lord Lucas: My Lords, there is not at present much corporate sponsorship for these courses, presumably because there are plenty of people out there with these skills. If an individual wants to finance himself on one of these courses, then all that I would suggest is that he should apply for a career development loan, which would seem to fit the case very well.
Baroness Seear: My Lords, is the Minister seriously saying that in this country we are overloaded with people who are good at foreign languages? It is the first time I have ever heard such a fairy-tale in this House! Do not the Government recognise that the training of graduates is of the greatest possible importance? At present there is a large increase in the number of undergraduates. Does the Minister accept that if we
Lord Lucas: My Lords, these are high-level vocational courses answering the specific needs of particular employers. If those employers have a need which is not being met, they will surely find ways of financing students to learn the skills that they require, as happens in many other industries. In this industry they do not appear to need to do so at present.
Baroness David: My Lords, does the Minister realise that he has shocked a large number of us in this House by what he said today? It is very rare that we have these great centres of excellence in this country. To turn one down like this and not appreciate its value is really very shocking indeed. I am absolutely amazed at what the Minister said.
Lord Lucas: My Lords, excellence in vocational education is not a matter for the Government to express their opinion on; it is for the employers who make use of that particular skill. If employers wish to continue to employ graduates from these courses they will doubtless find ways of sending them on them.
|Next Section||Back to Table of Contents||Lords Hansard Home Page|