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Lord Roberts of Conwy: My Lords, with regard to returning nurses, is it not a fact that when nurses leave the NHS and return at a later stage they take up their jobs at a lower salary than when they left? Would it not be extremely helpful in terms of keeping up NHS nurse numbers if that problem was looked at?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I know that it is an issue which has been raised. It has also been raised in relation to nurses who, for instance, have perhaps left the NHS, gone to work abroad for some time and enhanced their experience and leadership skills but have then found it difficult when they came back to the NHS to be employed at their old grade. This is an issue which needs to be tackled both by individual trusts and by the various strategies we have in relation to nurse pay and conditions. There is no doubt that the quality of our nursing workforce is very high. We must reward them for that.

NHS: Planning for Single Currency

2.59 p.m.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, as set out in the Government's second outline national changeover plan, the NHS is carrying out a measure of pre-planning for the possibility of UK entry into the single currency. All parts of the public sector, including the NHS, need to plan for the possibility of UK entry to ensure that any changeover, if it takes place, takes place in a smooth and cost-effective way.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, is the Minister aware of the extreme concern being expressed by the trusts on this matter? Can he tell the House exactly how much money hospitals will have to contribute for this purpose? What proportion of that money are the Government providing? Does he not agree that a diminution of funds must inevitably mean a lessening of patient care? How on earth, anyway, will patients benefit from our joining the euro? Is not the NHS in enough trouble without adding this burden on top?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the NHS is not in trouble. It has just had an injection of a record amount of resources which will enable it to grow by one-third over four years. The noble Baroness referred to the concern expressed by trusts. It is difficult to find any issue in the NHS about which one individual trust is not deeply concerned. All that has happened is that each NHS organisation has been asked to consider and

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prepare plans in order for it to evaluate what it would take to embrace the changeover if that were to happen. With regard to expenditure, we would expect that task, which has to be completed by every organisation by the end of September, to be carried out by staff already working in the organisation.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, does the noble Lord accept that many people will be slightly puzzled by what is going on? What conceivable implication can membership of the euro have for good or ill for the National Health Service? It is simply another currency that might be carried by patients coming from France, Germany, China or anywhere else. I ask my question purely out of interest.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, if at any stage it was decided that this country should enter the euro, that would have an impact on the National Health Service, particularly during a transitional period.

Noble Lords: How?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: In a number of ways, my Lords. For instance, on day one of entry into the EMU, if that were to happen, the NHS could expect to receive euro invoices. That might have to be covered by multi-currency financial systems. That would then require training for NHS finance staff. It might involve the organisation in dual pricing during the transitional period. That would have an impact on similar organisations. It is sensible that the NHS should be reflecting at the moment on what it would have to do if changeover occurred.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, is this not--

Lord Shore of Stepney: My Lords, perhaps I may--

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): My Lords, there seems to be some competitive calling for both my noble friend Lord Tomlinson and my noble friend Lord Shore. Perhaps we may hear them both if they ask brief questions.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, is this not a simple question of sensible forward planning by a sensible public service? Do not the suppliers of the National Health Service already submit some of their invoices in euros? Are there not some circumstances in which we require to be paid in euros? Is not such a preparation a necessary basis on which people can carry out sensible planning and have a sensible choice in a referendum when it comes?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, that is certainly a helpful intervention. We want a National Health Service that plans for the future. If this country decides to join a single currency it is important that the NHS is well prepared for it. The exercise that is taking

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place at the moment is to ensure that the NHS fully understands the implications so that if and when entry into the euro occurs it is able to do so.


Lord Carter: My Lords, at a convenient moment after 3.30 p.m. my noble friend the Leader of the House will, with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement which is being made in another place on the Civil List. That will be followed by my noble friend Lord Bassam of Brighton who will, again with the leave of the House, repeat a Statement on football hooliganism.

Regulation of Investigatory Powers Bill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the amendments for the Report stage be marshalled and considered in the following order:

Clauses 1 to 29, Schedule 1, Clauses 30 to 47, Schedule 2, Clauses 48 to 63, Schedule 3, Clauses 64 to 80, Schedules 4 and 5, Clause 81.--(Lord Bassam of Brighton.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Government Resources and Accounts Bill

3.6 p.m.

Report received.

Clause 5 [Resource accounts: preparation]:

Baroness Anelay of St Johns moved Amendment No. 1:

    Page 3, line 17, at end insert--

("( ) For the avoidance of doubt, any money paid by a government department to the New Millennium Experience Company shall be included in that department's accounts prepared under this section subject to the provisions of this Act.").

The noble Baroness said: My Lords, the Government will be aware of public concern about the funding of the Millennium Dome. The Dome is run by the New Millennium Experience Company. It became a non-departmental public body in 1997 when its shares were transferred to a government Minister. That is currently the noble and learned Lord, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, who is the sole shareholder of the NMEC. The company also remains a company under the Companies Act.

Over the past three years the finances of the Dome have been marked by a lack of transparency. My amendment tries to shine a little light on the

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relationship between the Government and the NMEC. A detailed analysis is for another day's debate and I am delighted that my noble friend Lord Lamont has a Dinner Hour debate on Wednesday 12th July on this very subject.

My amendment would make sure that every government department that had financial dealings of any kind with the NMEC would have to show those dealings in its accounts. One might ask why I am so cynical that I suspect that the accounts would not be transparent. The answer is that over the past year or so I have watched a drip-feed of money going to the Millennium Dome. Lottery funds are the public's money. Concern has been expressed about the manner and timing of those transfers of money.

Yesterday I looked at the website of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. That still states that the NMEC,

    "has an overall cash budget of £758 million to meet the costs of all aspects of the project".

That statement ignores the fact that so many extra amounts of lottery cash have been lent or given to the Dome--I am not sure which in many cases--over and above what was originally intended to be the investment--a good investment--from the lottery.

Earlier this year, the new chief executive, M. Gerbeau, denied claims that he was going to ask the Millennium Commission for another bail-out sum of £20 million. That statement was made in the middle of April. However, one month later M. Gerbeau asked the commission for £29 million and, of course, he received the money. When giving evidence to the Select Committee last week, M. Gerbeau admitted that on the very day that the grant of money was made, in practice the Dome was on the verge of bankruptcy.

Noble Lords will be aware, following exchanges on a Private Notice Question in this House at the time, that the Millennium Commission made that grant of money only after seeking and obtaining from the Government a letter of direction. The reason for obtaining such a letter of direction was in order that the Millennium Commission could cover its own back because it believed that it was making a grant of funding that would not demonstrate value for money for the public. It is therefore reassuring to know, at least as a result of that event, that those matters will be subject to reference to the National Audit Office.

Last week, M. Gerbeau again said that he would not approach the Millennium Commission for further funding. Should we believe his statement? I certainly hope that that is the case, but I should like to ask a question: what will happen if the Dome requires more money to help get it through the operating period covered by the summer and towards the end of the year? I ask that question because M. Gerbeau has given assurances that the Dome will not close down until the end of the year. Where would M. Gerbeau go for additional moneys?

These issues provide the basis for my amendment. I should like to establish whether plans are in place for the Dome's finances to be shored up using other

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resources that might lie within the control or influence of the Government. Can the Minister give an assurance that, if I were to withdraw my amendment, any money subsequently given, lent or in any way made available to the Dome by any government department for any period will then be recorded on the balance sheets of the government department concerned in a clear and transparent manner? I beg to move.

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