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Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, despite that negative Answer, is the Minister aware that research shows that disabled people are three times more likely to be attacked in their homes and are also more likely to be attacked outside their homes than non-disabled people? Fear plays a large and damaging role in their lives. Cannot the department co-ordinate the work between the agencies involved--the police, the crime prevention panels and disabled people's organisations themselves--and do so preferably under the auspices of the Home Office Working Party, which should be fully funded?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his questions. The British Crime Survey, which is a respected survey and takes into account some 14,500 applicants, 19 per cent. of which comprises information returned from disabled people, shows that there was little difference between crime suffered by disabled people and crime suffered by non-disabled people.

Lord Campbell of Croy: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that some disabled people who live on their own leave their front doors unlocked in case they need

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help from outside in an emergency? As this is tempting to thieves, will the Government encourage local arrangements, such as spare keys being held at police stations, so that these doors can be kept locked?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I understand what my noble friend is asking. I also understand that this facility is available in some form. It is something that we shall be looking at later.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, is the noble Earl aware that there are increasing reports that employees of private agencies which provide domiciliary care in the community are pilfering from old people, using their telephones and abusing their duties to the people they are caring for, both the old and the disabled? Do the Government intend to license the agencies which provide the care so that employees can be properly trained and vetted?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, the noble Countess is correct. Such activities should be utterly deplored. Local authorities are responsible for setting and monitoring quality standards both for people they employ directly and for independent agencies with which they have contact. The Department of Health is currently carrying out a major review of the way in which social services are regulated and inspected. I am sure that this factor will be taken into account in that review.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, I find the Minister's response to that question rather strange in view of the fact that the Government turned down an Opposition amendment only yesterday on the registration of agencies for the disabled and their staff. Would it not have been helpful to have acceded to that amendment which would have helped the cause that the noble Countess, Lady Mar, is urging?

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I believe that that question is somewhat wide of the Question on the Order Paper. I understand the point that the noble Lord is trying to make. I believe that we were debating the Broadcasting Bill yesterday afternoon--

Noble Lords: It was Monday afternoon!

The Earl of Courtown: I apologise to the noble Lord. Can he repeat the question?

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, is the Minister aware that the Home Office has a working party looking into the problems of disabled people and crime? Is the Minister further aware that the Suzy Lamplugh Trust and the Greater London Association for Disabled People have also carried out some research and that all these combine to agree that crime against disabled people is very serious and far more important than it is for normal people? I find the Minister's answer quite inexplicable. I should be most grateful if he would look at the matter again because we want some action as these people are terrified. It is not good enough to say that we do not know.

The Earl of Courtown: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord if he does not feel that I am being sympathetic

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towards the problems afflicting disabled people. I am aware of the work of the Home Office. It has recently assisted the Susie Lamplugh Trust in the production of a consultative document on personal safety for disabled people and a leaflet entitled Out and About, which gives specific advice to disabled people on how to keep safe when travelling around. There are other areas in which the Home Office has provided information. In fact, there is a Home Office booklet entitled Your Practical Guide to Crime Prevention, which covers areas of safety at home and travelling about.

European Airlines: State Aid

3.11 p.m.

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that the European Commission should approve further state aid for European airlines.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Transport (Viscount Goschen): My Lords, no. The Government strongly oppose state aid in aviation. By distorting competition it is bad for consumers and damaging to United Kingdom carriers.

Lord Brabazon of Tara: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that reply. But is not the latest decision by the Commission to allow a further tranche of state aid to Iberia almost enough to drive one to despair? Is it not the case that when Iberia was last allowed state aid some four years ago it was strictly on the condition that that was to be the last time, and now it has been allowed another £440 million? Further, if, as is claimed, the Spanish Government are acting only as any private investor would in the circumstances, does my noble friend agree that a private investor would inject cash only if he could see a return on his money in a reasonable time? Can he ensure that the Commission provides proof that that is the case or, better still, finds a bank to put up the money?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, I quite agree with my noble friend. He is right to be disappointed by the Commission's decision. It flies in the face of everything that we are trying to do to establish a single market for aviation within the Community. This is the second huge payment to Iberia in four years. About £670 million was approved in 1992 by the Commission with the express condition that no further aid was given for the duration of the restructuring programme. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to see how the current situation fits in with that. It is also extremely difficult to see how the Spanish Government can be acting according to the market investor principle, particularly as Iberia has been losing money for a great deal of time. In those circumstances it is difficult to see how the Government are working as a commercial investor.

Lord Bruce of Donington: My Lords, the noble Viscount has indicated the Government's disapproval of the subsidy approved by the Commission to be granted

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to Spain in respect of Iberia. In those circumstances, can the Minister say why the British Government, as a member of the Council of Ministers, did not invoke the procedures outlined in Article 3(2) of the treaty which makes specific provision for the Council to be able to object to any proposition of this kind? Why did not the Government take action before, or if they did not know that, why did they not?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, the noble Lord has the advantage of me as regards paragraphs and probably subparagraphs of the treaty. Our resolve has been shown as regards state aid by action in the Air France case, where about £2.4 billion is due to be injected into that airline. We have taken legal action. We have joined in supporting airlines who have also taken legal action on that case. We could not possibly take any action before we knew what was happening. We are examining the judgment very carefully and in the light of that we shall make any further decision on the action to be taken.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords--

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, can my noble friend--

Noble Lords: Order!

Lord Boyd-Carpenter: My Lords, can my noble friend say what action the Government are taking to prevent a repetition of this folly?

Viscount Goschen: My Lords, all such injections or possible injections of state aid are considered by the Commission on an individual basis. As I said before, our resolve on this matter is demonstrated by our action as regards Air France. It is an enormous injection of cash into an ailing airline. We thoroughly disapprove of the Iberia decision. It seems very perverse in view of the publicly stated policy of the Commission on this issue. We shall continue to oppose state aid for airlines, but we shall look at each case on its merits.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords--

Lord Mackie of Benshie: My Lords--

Noble Lords: Cross Benches!

Lord Strathclyde: My Lords, we have enough time to hear both speakers. Perhaps the Cross Benches may be heard before the noble Lord, Lord Mackie of Benshie.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords, is the Minister aware that Air France has already had in subsidies from the Commission twice as much as the net value assets of British Airways, the most profitable airline in the world? Why should it not now be allowed for British Airways, or for any other enterprising and non-loss-making concern, to buy Air France and Iberia as obviously they are both hopelessly badly run?

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