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Baroness Richardson of Calow: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that reply and I am glad to know that something is being done, not only through government circles but also in other areas.

Is the Minister aware that, of the 70 per cent who are affected in major incidents, 40 per cent are still affected a year after the incident and that undiagnosed and untreated post-traumatic stress disorder causes great problems within the National Health Service? It bears human and economic costs.

I suggest that that is true not only of the large numbers affected by major disasters but also of individuals who are affected as victims of violent crime. Is the Minister satisfied with the progress made in the nine years since the Allen report suggested that there should be a nationally integrated service to provide post-traumatic counselling facilities? I understand that currently such provision is available mainly in London and the South East, with few facilities provided elsewhere, and that at present the waiting time for initial consultation, even in London, is 12 to 18 months. Given the sad inevitability of future major disasters, is the Minister satisfied that enough is being done in that regard?

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I accept that the noble Baroness has pin-pointed challenges which we face to ensure that a sufficient range of services is available. I assure her that we have established a work force action team that is looking closely at the work force issues which she has raised. I should say also to the House that we have established a national advisory group for psychotherapy which, in itself, is taking an overview of education and training requirements. I hope that that will help us to meet some of the challenges to which the noble Baroness referred.

Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate: My Lords, is the Minister aware that stress is a perfectly normal reaction to major disaster and that there is a growing body of opinion which suggests that the wholesale stress counselling of people involved with major disasters may be damaging?

Does my noble friend also agree that, if that is applied to the emergency services and to the Armed Forces, it can be enfeebling and can be similar to responding to a burglar alarm by simply switching off the alarm? We should take great care before we encourage the growth of what I see as a growing stress industry.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I have a great deal of sympathy for that point. Of course, one should not underestimate the severe trauma which many people have suffered as a result of some of the tragedies which have occurred in this country. In those cases, it is absolutely right that we should provide the most effective counselling and support service possible. But it is important that we should not push counselling onto people who do not want to receive it. We must accept that in many situations it is normal and appropriate to have emotions of fear and stress.

Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I was present at Hillsborough and witnessed scenes which I hope never to see repeated in my lifetime. Is my noble friend aware that the pain and suffering of the bereaved were aggravated greatly by the media treatment of the disaster? Is he satisfied that the Allen report's six recommendations on media issues have been followed in respect of subsequent disasters? Does he not agree that those should be looked at again?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I certainly believe that my noble friend is right to raise the issue of the media and the often intrusive impact which that may have on people who are suffering great trauma. However, as a general point, I believe that we have learnt lessons from disasters like Hillsborough. Certainly, as regards my own department, if one looks at the recent Paddington disaster, there is no doubt that the provision of health services and the co-ordination between emergency services were excellent. While there are always new lessons to learn, we must recognise that we have learnt from those tragedies. I believe that we have a very good system of emergency planning as a result.

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3.14 p.m.

Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m., my noble and learned friend Lord Falconer will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is being made in another place on Northern Ireland. That will be followed by my noble friend Lady Scotland who will, again with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement on Sierra Leone.

Business of the House: Debates, 11th and 12th May

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That Standing Order 40 (Arrangement of the Order Paper) be dispensed with on Thursday 11th May to allow the Motion standing in the name of the Baroness Jay of Paddington to be taken before the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Bill, and also on Friday 12th May to allow the Motion standing in the name of the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean to be taken before the European Union (Implications of Withdrawal) Bill.--(Baroness Jay of Paddington.)

Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I appreciate that it is in no way the fault of the noble Baroness the Leader of the House, but I wonder whether I could raise the problem of the confusing way in which these two debates have been scheduled on the Minute.

Noble Lords will have noticed that they were first scheduled in the Minute on 3rd May, when the defence debate correctly appeared as being the first business for next Friday, 12th May, with the Committee stage of the Bill in my name on the implications of withdrawal from the EU as the second business. I am sure that this is indeed the appropriate order and I make no complaint about it, and I am extremely grateful to the usual channels that my Bill should go ahead at all.

But the purpose of my intervention is to point out that in the Minute of 4th May, the batting order was reversed with my Bill appearing to be taken before the defence debate. My fear is that a number of noble Lords--and indeed, one has already spoken to me--will have therefore concluded that they could contribute to my debate and get away in good time for the weekend, probably well before lunch, and may have made arrangements to do so. We are, after all, talking about a Friday in May.

But now the batting order is to be reversed again, back to what it was when we started on 3rd May, which may cause further inconvenience and confusion with both those who wish to speak in the defence debate and in the European debate. So I merely wish to ask the noble Baroness whether she could do something, perhaps with the authorities of the House, maybe to arrange the use of italics, which I understand

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is quite widely used on the Minute in the other place, so we would all know where we stand on a Friday afternoon in May.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord for raising those matters which, as he says, are particularly relevant to a Friday afternoon in May. I have an elaborate explanation in front of me which I am prepared to convey to the noble Lord in writing or indeed to repeat, but I fear that that may cause enormous exhaustion for the House.

Perhaps I may try to explain the matter in one sentence. The second part of the Motion, which refers to Friday, 12th May, which I have just repeated, corrects what was wrongly printed on the Minute and puts the business back in the order that it should be. I agree with the noble Lord that sometimes the complexities of what appears on the Minute and the reasons that it appears in the order that it does are somewhat difficult to follow. I agree with him that perhaps we need to pursue this issue. The noble Lord may care to raise this during the debate in the name of my noble friend Lord Peston on Wednesday, although I believe the Speakers' List is rather long. I believe that it is an issue which we could usefully address, if not then, perhaps on another occasion.

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Child Support, Pensions and Social Security Bill

3.18 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): My Lords, I beg to move that the House do now resolve itself into Committee on this Bill.

Moved, That the House do now resolve itself into Committee.--(Baroness Hollis of Heigham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

House in Committee accordingly.


[Amendment No. 1 not moved.]

Earl Russell moved Amendment No. 2:

    Before Clause 1, insert the following new clause--


(" . In section 55(1) of the Child Support Act 1991--
(a) in paragraph (a), for "16" there shall be substituted "17", and
(b) for paragraph (b) there shall be substituted--
"(b) he is receiving full-time education (including education to the conclusion of a first degree course);".").

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The noble Earl said: Amendment No. 2 deals with people who are older than those normally dealt with by the CSA. It extends the right to receive maintenance to the age of 17 or up to the conclusion of full-time education, whichever may be the later.

Where agreements for the maintenance of children are reached by negotiation between parents, it is perfectly common for them to include provision for the higher education of the child concerned. Indeed, that is a point I make from memory and with some gratitude. Where a system is imposed and where people have no right to negotiate and are required to accept particular terms willy-nilly, sometimes there is a feeling that when people have done what is imposed that no more should be required of them.

That is a threat to the continuing education of all children who come under the regime of the CSA. The extension from 16 to 17 is because we do not want children compelled to leave school in the middle of a school year. It is a regular academic convention, fairly well understood in negotiations between the academic community and the Government that financial support lasts until the end of whichever course is in progress.

As a serving university teacher, I must declare an interest in this amendment, a point that applies even more to the second part of the amendment which deals with the continuation of support through a period of full-time education. I believe that the Minister, in her academic capacity, will probably not dispute that point, although in her ministerial capacity she may feel that she must dispute it.

In practical terms, it is now impossible for people to go through a university education without a significant amount of parental support. I do not refer just to tuition fees, although in that context they have not helped. First and foremost, the support available under the loan system and under the access funds, even if the student concerned is extremely fortunate to receive support from them, is simply insufficient to maintain a student for 52 weeks of the year. Without living at home at the parents' expense through a considerable part of the year, people simply cannot get through.

It is no good saying that they should work for the whole of that time. I have learned a great deal more than I would have liked about the difficulties of the labour market in Bournemouth during the Christmas period. They are considerable. Bournemouth is not a unique example. In practice, without parental support, I would not advise prospective students to set out on a university education unless they are mature students with several thousands of pounds in the bank.

If this amendment is not accepted, one of the effects of the CSA regime will be to exclude those affected by it from a university education. That is a classic case of the law of the unintended consequence. I do not believe that Ministers expect any such thing, so I hope that they will consider it. I hope that they will take advice on the matter from sources of information

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slightly wider than simply the Department for Education and Employment. I hope that they will actually consider the real situation. I beg to move.

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