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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, I believe my noble friend is confusing two things. She is confusing a remuneration allowance, which is for the hours spent away in the course of business, and that for subsistence. Subsistence is for meals missed at home. If one does not miss a meal, one does not claim subsistence.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, can the Minister indicate how many local authorities have declined to use their powers to backdate these allowances?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, no, I cannot. It is for each individual council to resolve. We believe that where they decide to backdate the allowances it is reasonable to assume that they will do so based on the evidence provided by councillors when they submitted their earlier claims.

Lord Howell: My Lords, can the Minister say whether in the review the inadequate allowances of many local government people serving the democratic process were compared with what is received by those appointed by the Government to serve on quangos whose salaries and allowances are far greater than those received by people who are elected by their fellow citizens to govern the city or council area in which they live?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, it was because the officers were being more generously rewarded that the working party decided that the members should be equally generously rewarded. For instance, the new motor mileage rates for members represents an average increase

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of some 48 per cent. The subsistence a member can claim for a full day away from home on council business, including all the meals which my noble friend Lady Gardner indicated she would have to miss, has increased by 84 per cent.

Baroness Faithfull: My Lords, why was it recommended that the travel and subsistence allowances paid to councillors should be aligned with those paid to officers? The role of councillors is quite different from the role of officers and many councillors have other jobs. Why, therefore, should their allowances be aligned?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, the Secretary of State set up a working party on the internal management of local authorities in England. That was established some time in June 1992. The working party recommended that the travel and subsistence allowances of officers and councillors should be aligned. Ministers agreed that there should be uprating and alignment with officers' allowances. Having taken the advice of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, the Association of County Councils, the Association of District Councils and Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all, it was decided that it would be right to uprate allowances.

Lord Dean of Beswick: My Lords, what is the maximum allowance a member of a local authority can claim for attendance for 24 hours? What is the maximum subsistence allowance, including overnight allowance, a member can now claim for 24 hours? What does the increase in the mileage allowance being paid bring the total mileage allowance up to? If the Minister cannot give those figures today, will he be good enough to place them in the Library, as we shall then know what we are talking about?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, the department has issued this information: reference DoE LGR 61/1/14. The day subsistence for breakfast is £3.98; for lunch, £5.48; for tea, £2.16; and for the evening meal, £6.79. Overnight subsistence is £69.80 and in London £79.60. I believe I have answered the noble Lord's questions.

Lord Williams of Elvel: My Lords, the Minister was kind enough to say that the Government had taken advice from Uncle Tom Cobbleigh and all. Did the said Uncle advise the Minister that if such backdated allowances were to be paid they would be paid to those councillors who, regrettably, for one reason or another, had lost their seats in last week's election?

Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, because it is backdated that would have to be by a resolution of the existing council.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, the circular says that there will be another review this summer and that the outcome of that review will be backdated to this year. Can my noble friend assure me that if the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, the Association of London Authorities or any of the Tom Cobbleighs to which he referred make representations to say that they find this system very cumbersome and unworkable, the Government are prepared to look at the matter again?

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Viscount Ullswater: My Lords, we are going to review it. We have just received notification of the new officers' rates for this year. Those will be taken into account in the review. The working party to which I referred—I hope that the House will not think that I have belittled its work—made that strong recommendation. The review will not be carried out by the working party. However, if representations are made, I am sure they will be considered.

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords, can the Minister explain why a councillor needs more than a Peer for overnight allowance in London?

Viscount Ullswater: No, my Lords.

Eating Disorders: Guidance

3.18 p.m.

The Viscount of Falkland asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they intend to take in the light of the increasing number of cases of eating disorders, particularly among young women.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): My Lords, we have issued clear guidance to general practitioners and health authorities on the needs of this group of people. Last month we issued a handbook on child and adolescent mental health which draws attention to the prevalence of these disorders. In addition, we are funding the Eating Disorders Association and Young Minds, both of which are active in this area, and we are supporting the Medical Research Council in its research.

The Viscount of Falkland: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for what to many parents will be an encouraging reply. They are increasingly worried about, in particular, their daughters, who tend to follow the fad for being thin and imitate their role models. Can she say whether in her view there is enough guidance to parents and teachers in order for them to distinguish between what may be irritating, though relatively harmless, dieting and what may develop into a serious disorder?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, the advice I have is that we should imitate my noble friends the Leader of the House and the Chief Whip. To be serious, I confirm that it is a serious problem. In terms of numbers it is a very small problem, but to the families concerned it causes extreme anxiety. That is something we shall be considering in terms of the advice to GPs which we are giving out.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, does the Minister believe that the fashion magazines may be promoting very thin and sexy images which some of the young girls copy and which then lead to eating disorders?

Baroness Cumberlege: Yes, my Lords, there is a great deal of pressure on young girls today. Models like Kate Moss set an ideal that many of them try to follow.

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Baroness Robson of Kiddington: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is not only a question of following the fashion that makes young people suffer from anorexia and eating disorders? Is it not true that there is considerable evidence that it is caused by stress, particularly in families where marriages break down?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, there is no single cause for this particular disorder. In fact, it is believed that genetics may have something to do with it. There are certainly social factors and individual psychological difficulties. It is possible also that there are causes within the family which encourage that kind of behaviour.

Lord Addington: My Lords, will the Government consider placing some relevant advertising to counter the number of slimming clubs which advertise on television and especially to point out to the young that there is no point in trying to achieve a certain shape if one actually knows what one will look like when an adult?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, we encourage a healthy diet and the Government put out a lot of information on that. But we are always very anxious not to be a nannying state.

Mental Health (Patients in the Community) Bill [H.L.]

3.21 p.m.

Read a third time.

Clause 1 [After-care under supervision]:

Baroness Cumberlege moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 10, line 1, leave out ("section 25H") and insert ("sections 25H and 25I").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, in moving this amendment I shall speak also to Amendment No. 2. These amendments introduce a new Section 251 into Clause 1 of the Bill. This changes the provisions for patients subject to supervised aftercare who are sentenced to imprisonment or committed or remanded to custody. The effect is that for those on remand or serving sentences of six months or less, aftercare under supervision would remain in force although the conditions would be suspended until the person was released. If supervision was due to expire while the person was in custody, or within 28 days of the person's release, it would be extended and deemed to expire 28 days from the date of release. The power would have to be renewed within 28 days of release subject to the prior consultation procedures which are already in the Bill.

The amendment does not apply to those sentenced to longer periods in custody essentially because if someone has been out of touch with the specialist services for a long period, the presumption that he or she is still suffering from the conditions which led to aftercare under supervision being arranged becomes hard to sustain. However, if the sentence was more than six months but less than a year and supervision had not expired while the person was in custody, it would still be reactivated when he or she left prison.

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We think that the number of cases in which supervision arrangements expire during a period in prison is likely to be very small. Indeed, it is very likely that the patient would have been transferred from prison to hospital under the existing Mental Health Act power enabling a fresh supervision application when he or she was eventually discharged. Nevertheless, we think it important to minimise the possibility of even a few patients slipping through the net of care in this way. I beg to move.

On Question, amendment agreed to.

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