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Lord Molloy: My Lords, will my noble friend agree that private healthcare has always been permissible even within the NHS? However, the fact is that the NHS is

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cast in the noblest mode of any party measure that has come before our Parliament; and, furthermore, our NHS is the envy of the world.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am very happy to endorse my noble friend's views and I accept exactly what he said.

AIDS Survivors: Treatments

2.58 p.m.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in view of the uncertainty about the nature of the treatment regimes followed by long-term HIV/AIDS survivors, and the importance of this information, they will fund a long-term study.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, the Medical Research Council is the main sponsor of medical research in the UK and would obviously consider proposals on their scientific merits in competition with other applications. However, the MRC has already funded research on people who, although they are HIV positive, have not, over a period of some years, gone on to develop AIDS. That research looked at lifestyle and behavioural factors. The noble Earl may be interested to know that it also included the use of complementary therapies, in addition to detailed laboratory studies. I understand that the published results of that research should be available within the next six months.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley: My Lords, in thanking the noble Baroness for that reply, perhaps I may also thank her for her detailed response to my letter, following my earlier Question of 19th June, which has only just arrived and which I have not had time to digest. Will the noble Baroness accept that I am not here seeking simply to bang a complementary medicine drum in attempting to follow up information which seems to suggest that patients survive by rejecting conventional treatment and embracing a wide range of alternatives?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I understand that that is the noble Earl's view, based on a number of learned papers which he was kind enough to send to me. The Department of Health and the Medical Research Council have no evidence of long-term survival among people who have deliberately avoided conventional therapies.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon: My Lords, has any research been carried out into the possible increase in HIV and AIDS among practising male homosexuals if the age of homosexual consent is reduced to 16--a step which the Government apparently support?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, that has certainly not been the subject of research. As my noble friend will know, there has been an increase in

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HIV positive status among young homosexual men. It is a matter for speculation what change would occur if there were a change in the law.

Lord Wyatt of Weeford: My Lords, will the noble Baroness explain why it is proposed that people should be sodomised at the age of 16 which will obviously greatly increase the number of people with AIDS? What is the sense in that policy?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I can respond only as I did to my noble friend Lord Stoddart. Any relationship between a change in the law on homosexual consent and potential HIV infection is at this moment simply a matter of speculation.

The Earl of Clanwilliam: My Lords, does the Minister agree that drug-based approaches have got almost nowhere in the past 10 years, and that the new protease inhibitors have not yet shown any actual survival benefit? In the light of that, are we not at risk of repeating earlier errors with AZT, as shown by the recent Concorde trial? I refer the Minister to col. 628 of the Official Report of 9th July when I asked a similar question about HIV and AIDS. I asked the Minister to write to me. I hope that I shall receive an answer in due course.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I apologise. I thought I had given the information to the noble Earl. I shall of course pursue that matter with the Department of Health. I believe that the noble Earl is somewhat incorrect in his rather pessimistic analysis of what has happened in respect of these therapies. My understanding is that data from clinical trials such as the multinational Delta trial show a relative reduction of about 30 per cent. when the combination therapies are used. Of course we are still looking at the early data on the combination therapies using three different drugs, the so-called "cocktail" drugs, which have been in use in this country only for some 18 months to two years. At the moment the results are rather optimistic.

Earl Russell: My Lords, is it the case that no government in recorded history have ever had a complete statistical base of the number of either heterosexual or homosexual sexual acts, and that therefore the statistical base for the research requested by the noble Lord, Lord Stoddart of Swindon, does not exist?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, as always, I defer to the noble Earl in any matter of historical comparisons.

Lord Thurlow: My Lords, your Lordships will have seen in the press this afternoon the assessment that each case of AIDS in London costs £10,000 and that many foreigners come here to receive treatment at our expense whereas complementary medical treatment has negligible costs in many cases. We greatly look forward to the review of the Medical Research Council. If the MRC does not persist in its research in this field will

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the department consider funding research directly itself? I understand that the directly funded research budget is something of the order of £30 million.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for that suggestion. It would be sensible for us to await the outcome of the research from the Medical Research Council which, as I said in answer to the original Question, should be within a matter of months. As regards overseas visitors being treated in London, I am glad to say for the record--because I know that there has been press speculation on this matter--that trusts should charge overseas visitors for their treatment. That charge can either be made against the individual concerned or, in the case of those countries which have a reciprocal agreement with the UK, with the bodies specified in that reciprocal agreement.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, is the noble Baroness aware that patients with AIDS and tuberculosis are becoming resistant to antibiotics? How much research is being done into this dangerous, worldwide condition?

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am afraid I cannot tell the noble Baroness exactly what is being done on a worldwide basis to look into the relationship between TB and HIV infection. I am aware that it is a matter of concern to clinicians in this country. That may well be a sensible suggestion as regards future research.


3.5 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend Lord McIntosh of Haringey will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement that is to be made in another place on reform of the National Lottery.

Wireless Telegraphy Bill [H.L.]

Read a third time; an amendment (privilege) made.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, on behalf of my noble friend Lord Clinton-Davis, I beg to move that the Bill do now pass.

Moved, That the Bill do now pass.--(Lord Haskel.)

Baroness Rawlings: My Lords, I welcome this Bill on behalf of my noble friend Lord Inglewood and the Opposition. As my noble friend said at Second Reading, we would have introduced the Bill had we won the general election. We wish it well.

Lord Mottistone: My Lords, it gives me great pleasure to be allowed to take part in the debate at this stage. This is a splendid Bill. We are grateful to the

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Government for accepting my amendment and others and for tabling one themselves. I hope that the Bill is well received in the other place.

Lord Haskel: My Lords, I thank noble Lords for their kind words. I thank all noble Lords who have participated in this Bill for their helpful contributions. It will lead to a more efficient use and better management of the radio spectrum.

On Question, Bill passed, and sent to the Commons.

Referendums (Scotland and Wales) Bill

3.7 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 1 [Referendum in Scotland]:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel) moved Amendment No. 1:

Page 1, line 5, leave out ("Her Majesty may by Order in Council") and insert ("the Secretary of State may by order").

The noble Lord said: My Lords, in moving Amendment No. 1 I wish to speak also to Amendments Nos. 8, 10, 13, 14, 19, 21, 24 and 27. I gave an undertaking at Committee stage on 3rd July that the Government would bring forward suitable amendments on Report to incorporate the material from the draft Orders in Council into the Bill. I am pleased to present these amendments to the House. In the interests of clarity we shall debate the new schedule and the amendments to it later. The amendments before us now pave the way for the new schedule incorporating the Orders in Council. This is the first stage of a two-stage process.

In Committee the noble Lord, Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish, made a convincing argument that we should not detain your Lordships' House and another place into August simply to debate the draft Orders in Council. We were content to take that step in the interests of everyone. However, I should point out that our original approach was perfectly acceptable technically and procedurally. The Delegated Powers Scrutiny Committee was of the view that the detailed conduct of the referendums could be dealt with perfectly well by Order in Council. However, in the interests of time we bring forward these amendments today.

It may be of assistance if I outline the purpose of our amendments. Amendment No. 1 allows the Secretary of State to specify the date of the referendum by order. This replaces the procedure whereby the date is specified in the Order in Council. Amendment No. 13 requires the order to be made by statutory instrument.

Amendment No. 8 replaces the provision of Clause 3(2), which allowed the Orders in Council to specify a cut-off date for alterations to the register of electors. The cut-off date is to be 10 days before the date of the referendum.

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Amendment No. 10 requires the counting officer to conduct the count in accordance with part of the new schedule, in addition to any direction issued by the chief counting officer. This covers arrangements for appointment of observers, attendance at the count and certification of the result.

Amendments Nos. 14, 19, 21 and 24 have similar effect for Wales. We will come to the main amendment, the new schedule, later. For the moment, I commend these amendments as an essential preparatory step. I beg to move.

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