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Baroness O'Neill of Bengarve: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for all that he said about the intention to make respect for persons and informed consent by patients and families central in this area. I first became aware of the legal vacuum some six years ago when, as a member of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics, I worked on our report on the medical and scientific uses of human tissues; tissues being by us well understood to be diverse in their significance and sometimes to include organs.
We were, curiously, least aware of how difficult things might be in the case of tissues removed under coroner's authority. Can the Minister reassure the House that in reviewing the matter, account will be taken of the two other contexts in which tissues are removed and retained for a range of purposes? I refer first to the process of treatment where tissues may be removed for the benefit of patients but may be retained for pathological examination to the benefit of that patient, other patients, medical education, medical audit and, indeed, research. The other context--here, I believe consents are generally much better--is in the case of human subjects of research where a greater degree of understanding of the particular research project has been required. In all of this one has to see that pathologists deal with a large range of tissues procured in different circumstances and for a large range of purposes. It would be a pity to lose the opportunity by looking too closely at the specific events that have caused these particularly sad and appalling outcomes.
I have one further point. Perhaps I may ask the Minister whether particular care will be taken in the review to consider the question of the financial transactions that may or may not be involved. I am sure that I am not alone in noticing the "scare quotes" around the word "sell" in virtually all the newspaper reports. People are not sure whether things are being
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we are considering the legislation in two phases. We want to deal immediately with the issue of consent and sanctions as regards the Human Tissue Act. Equally, I accept the point raised by the noble Baroness. We need to look at a number of wider questions, which may require legislative change. I can assure the noble Baroness--indeed, I should be interested if she wanted to talk to the department--that we shall also consider those wider issues.
As regards the commercial uses of tissue, thymuses were collected at Alder Hey between 1991 and 1993. I understand that an annual handling fee was paid by the company to hospitals collecting thymus fragments. We understand that a number of hospitals had similar practices up until 1995. There is clearly an issue of consent, which appears not to have been sought in those cases. However, I can assure the noble Baroness that the code of practice--which, as I stated, will have the backing of statutory direction to NHS organisations--will also lay down that explicit consent must be obtained before tissue can be provided for use in products, product development or research by commercial companies.
The noble Lord said: The first and most obvious point made by the amendment is that expertise in all the various fields covered by the Bill, as well as much more widely, is acquired by both training and experience. It seems to me that the wider word "skill" would reflect that fact. It would make the authority and everybody else conscious of the fact that they are not thinking just in terms of training but of the skills acquired by the individual.
This clause is separate from those which deal with licensing. It gives the authority the function of setting and approving standards of conduct for adoption by the people involved. The authority can make other requirements under the criteria for issuing a licence. The fact that its only concern here is training does not necessarily mean that the criteria for a licence might not include an element of experience or probationary conduct.
A number of British standards in this area will no doubt assist the authority when it comes to carry out its functions under this subsection. Some are set out in the White Paper. As they stand, they are not onerous. I refer, for example, to two days' initial training. Nevertheless, they have been set out and agreed. Since the British standards listed in the White Paper, BS7960 of 1999 takes the matter further.
I realise that the authority will not have legal permission to run training courses. That is not provided for in the Bill; quite rightly. I do not believe that that is its function. I am unclear as to whether approving the standards of training in the way suggested will give the authority permission to run examinations, for example, and whether the Government envisage that happening. A large number of training courses are already organised in the industry, notably by the Security Industry Training Organisation, which is a joint body set up by the industry. That organisation, and others, are capable of running the training, so I do not think the authority needs to do that. Whether it should consider examinations is a different question. I beg to move.
Lord Bassam of Brighton: Amendment No. 4 would mean that the security industry authority was required to set and approve standards of skill instead of standards of training. The Government agree that it is important for the security industry authority to have the ability to incorporate references to skills into the standards which it sets. We believe, however, that subsection (2) as drafted already allows the authority to achieve that. The subsection also requires the authority to set standards of conduct, training and levels of supervision. The provision would therefore allow the authority to incorporate relevant skill levels into the standards it sets for conduct and training. It already achieves the objective of the amendment.
In addition, I believe that it is widely acknowledged that the private security industry is acutely aware of the importance of training and attaches considerable importance to the authority being proactive in setting standards in that area. We believe that to delete the word "training" from the statement of the authority's functions would be undesirable. It would shift the area of responsibility, which we do not think would be wise.
As we envisage the SIA, it will not run examinations itself. However, we do recognise that there is a need to consider how examinations might contribute to its standard setting and delivering role. The authority will have an interest in this aspect, but will not run it. The examinations will be set and run by others. The authority may well monitor this and report on it, and obviously it will have a carefully thought-through role in the examination process.
If we were to accept the amendment it would rather change the nature of the SIA's role, and that would not be wise. Obviously we shall read carefully what the noble Lord has said because these matters will need to be studied carefully within the industry itself.
Lord Cope of Berkeley: I am grateful to the Minister, particularly for his undertaking to ponder the matter between now and the later stages of the Bill. In the light of that, I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The noble Lord said: I beg to move Amendment No. 5, with which it is suggested that we should discuss Amendment No. 43. Both are about the power of the authority to borrow money. The Bill provides in paragraph 14 of Schedule 1 that the authority can borrow money with the permission of the Secretary of State. The amendment suggests that it should not be able to borrow at all. It is a probing amendment. I do not intend that it should never be allowed to borrow in any circumstances, but I should like to know how borrowing by the authority will be dealt with in the Home Office's accounts, particularly now that we are on resource accounting. Will it show up as government borrowing? I suspect that it will not, and that is because permission of the Treasury is not required. Generally speaking, in matters of borrowing or expenditure the Treasury is careful to make sure that this is written into every Bill. As far as I can see, permission of the Treasury is not going to be specifically required although it may have have sufficient control over the Secretary of State for Home Affairs to deal with it.
I hope that the authority will not be borrowing large sums of money, although it may not be able to function entirely without borrowing. Any well conducted business should certainly consider doing that and indeed may have to borrow considerable amounts. I do not see why the authority should be different in that respect. However, because it is a public institution dealing with public money, it should obviously be carefully supervised in this respect.
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