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Lord Campbell of Alloway: My Lords, does my noble friend's answer to the noble Lord, Lord Dubs, mean that the Royal Marsden is no longer under threat of closure?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, at the moment there is no intention of closing the Royal Marsden Hospital.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, is the Minister aware—there is no reason why she should be—that this morning I opened a conference of the Royal College of Midwives and the Health Visitors' Association, designed to promote breast feeding in this country? In that area there is substantial research which is neither in the Daily Express nor in any sense questionable that breast feeding can prevent breast cancer. In future, will the Government promote the link between those two as part of their health education campaign?

Baroness Cumberlege: Yes, my Lords. Indeed, we have put a huge investment into the current National Breast Feeding Awareness Week. We recognise that "breast is best". It is the designer food for babies, and we want to encourage women to breast-feed.

Lord Dubs: My Lords, will the Minister agree that when she says she is unable to give an assurance about the future of the Royal Marsden in Fulham, the truth is that the way in which her department is reorganising cancer care in London is likely to mean that the Royal Marsden's future is doomed? It is not part of one of the other teaching hospitals and therefore has no obvious catchment area. Is it not a rather sad day when a masterplan for the health

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service in London —dare I add, Soviet style?—is likely to lead to the closure of Britain's best hospital for treating cancer?

Baroness Cumberlege: My Lords, it is a very sorry day today, when the noble Lord puts such a question. It will raise a whole lot of fears that are totally unfounded. It is scaremongering. I have already told noble Lords that there is no question at this time of the Royal Marsden Hospital closing. The noble Lord will know as well as anyone that I cannot say that in 100 years, 150 years or whenever, this hospital will never, ever close. That would be a ridiculous statement for any Minister to make.

Channel Rail Link Bids: Compliance

11.31 a.m.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any of the bids submitted for the Channel Tunnel rail link by the appointed deadline were not full bids on the basis of the reference specification; and if so, whether any such bid was subsequently accepted for consideration on the basis of information supplied after the deadline.

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, there was a large number of non-compliant elements in the bids submitted on 14th March. We have been seeking to rectify these in accordance with the rules of the competition which were set out in the competition overview document published last August.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Minister replied in terms of defects in bids. However, does he agree that the rules for the process that were published last year require that all bidders must submit a full bid on the basis of the reference specification? Will he further agree that the tender adjudication group, while acknowledging deficiencies in all the tenders, said specifically that the tender for Eurorail did not include a reference specification? Is that not a far more serious breach of the rules than the other tender deficiencies?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, we had always anticipated a degree of non-compliance. That is why we set out very full rules in a public document published last August. I can assure the House that the department has acted entirely in accordance with those published procedures, and entirely even-handedly as between the four bidders.

Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, I wonder whether any of the applicants is likely to fulfil the Government's hope that it will have sufficient resources, and the will, to put the Grade I building at St. Pancras into an appropriate state of repair. Does my noble friend agree that it is quite clear that the British Rail Property Board has neither?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I note of course my noble friend's interest in the St. Pancras building. It was rehearsed in another question earlier. I believe that my noble friend has tabled a further Question with regard to the St. Pancras building, and I shall be delighted to give him an Answer then.

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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, that is no answer to the question that I just asked. My question was about the present list of applicants.

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the Question on the Order Paper relates to the bids submitted and whether they were compliant with the specification. As I said, we anticipated a degree of non-compliance; there was non-compliance in a number of areas in the bids. We have acted entirely in accordance with the rules as set out in the published document.

Lord Monkswell: My Lords, does the Minister agree that there seems to be a question about what the rules are? If they are published, and three applicants submit bids in accordance with the rules and one does not, why does the fourth applicant remain in the race? Is it a question of the rules being fit for the particular people involved? I gather that the bid that did not meet the initial rules involved a Member of this House on the Government side. Is that not a very curious way of applying the rules?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I have already given the House a very straightforward assurance that we have acted entirely in accordance with the rules and in an even-handed fashion. If the noble Lord cares to go to the Library and look at the document, he will see in paragraph 11.3.1 the detailed procedure for processing bids, and the procedure where there is a degree of non-compliance. To read out the exact rules would take up too much of your Lordships' time. However, I believe that when the noble Lord examines the document he will be fully assured that the Government have acted properly.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Minister again refers to "a degree of non-compliance". Will he acknowledge that my Question refers not to a degree of non-compliance—which is of course acceptable—but to a failure to meet the basic specification of the bid? Is it not the case that one of the four tenders—I have no interest in any of them—of which three are led by Conservative Peers, failed to meet the basic requirement to submit a full bid in terms of the reference specification? If that is the case, why is that bid still in the ring?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, without wishing to tax the patience of the House with somewhat repetitive answers, all I can do is repeat the assurance that I have already given that the bids contained a degree of non-compliance. That fell within the scope of the document that we published as to how to deal with this situation. We have not acted outside the rules as set out in the document entitled, Channel Tunnel Rail Link and European Passenger Services: Competition Overview.

Lord Richard: My Lords, I wonder whether the Minister can help me. I am a little lost. As I understand it, he is telling the House that in relation to the competition, the Government had rules with which they did not expect people to comply; and when people lived up to the Government's non-expectations and did not comply with the rules, the Government decided that somehow or other they would forgive the non-compliance. Were there any criteria in relation to the forgiveness? Were some of the sins considered graver than others? If so, can we be told on what basis the Government reached their conclusions?

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Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the noble Lord has done a very good job in trying to confuse the House on this issue. I said earlier that I did not wish to try the patience of the House, but I feel that the moment has come. The document states:

    "Bids received by the tender deadline will be checked for completeness and for compliance with the tender documentation. Where bids are found to be lacking in terms of the information necessary to enable proper evaluation, or where inconsistent information is presented, one of the following courses of action, which are not necessarily mutually exclusive alternatives, will be taken:

    the information presented will be analysed and where necessary specific clarification sought from the Tenderer,

    the response will be reviewed to determine the consistency and acceptability of the bid;

    as a last resort"—

as a last resort, my Lords—

    "the bid will be rejected".

Atomic Energy Authority Bill

11.37 a.m.

Earl Ferrers My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That it be an instruction to the Committee of the Whole House to whom the Atomic Energy Authority Bill has been committed that they consider the Bill in the following order:

Clause 1,

Schedule 1,

Clauses 2 to 6,

Schedule 2,

Clauses 7 and 8,

Schedule 3,

Clause 9,

Schedule 4,

Clauses 10 to 14.—(Earl Ferrers.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

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