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Lord Peyton of Yeovil: My Lords, if I may say so, that Answer falls short of the spellbinding. Can the noble and learned Lord point to any speech made by any Minister on this subject that is likely to give any comfort to those who suffer the daily agony of being one of London Underground's victims? Moreover, how does it come about that Ministers have so far been unable to congratulate the Mayor of London on being on the scene? He is uniquely qualified--his record and qualities fit him to do his task. His qualities are such as to indicate that anyone who gets in his way must be something of an idiot. I have one last question for the noble and learned Lord. Has it not yet occurred to the Government, with all the painful life of experience behind them, that to separate operations and safety is just plain stupid?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I apologise to the noble Lord for not spellbinding him. My purpose in answering his Question was to give information. He asked about speeches by members of the Government

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that would bring comfort to the users of London Underground. We sought to produce a policy that will bring substantial investment into London Underground over the long term so that standards can be radically improved. The obligation of Ministers, the commissioner of transport for London and the Mayor of London is to work together to produce a policy that will bring in that investment and radically improve the quality of London Underground. I hope that we are all working towards that. So far as separating operations from safety is concerned, the priority, as has always been made clear, is safety. The operation of London Underground will remain in the hands of London Transport and London Underground, which have the prime obligation in relation to safety because they are the bodies that will operate the Underground.

Lord Marsh: My Lords, does the Minister accept that the Cullen committee's report overwhelmingly demonstrates the enormous dangers--by emphasising the contribution it made to the Paddington accident--of separating those two activities? The report dealt with precisely that point.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I am very conscious of what Lord Cullen's report said about Railtrack. The same proposal is not being made in relation to London Underground. The proposal is that London Underground will remain responsible for safety. It enters into long-term contracts with three contractors and it will remain responsible for safety. London Underground is the body that actually operates the trains. That is the important difference from the situation involving Railtrack.

Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, my noble and learned friend signally failed to spellbind the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, but will he try to cast his spell over me by reminding me where the responsibilities for under-investment in London Transport began? Did they begin in 1997 or do they go back even as far as the days when the noble Lord, Lord Peyton, had responsibilities?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I do not think that anyone would dispute the decades of under-investment in relation to London Underground. That is the problem. Since 1997, the Government have been seeking to ensure that there is a scheme or proposal that will lever in billions of pounds in the long term to ensure that that under-investment is remedied.

Lord Ezra: My Lords, on the question of safety, would the Minister care to comment on reports in yesterday's press that Mr Kiley has written to the Prime Minister emphasising that he could not answer for the safety of the Underground system under the present PPP arrangements?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, as I have said, safety is pre-eminent in the proposed PPP. It is not, as the noble Lord, Lord Marsh, sought to suggest, similar

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to the arrangements involving the railway system. London Underground remains responsible for safety, but that is subject to the overarching direction of the Health and Safety Executive. We believe that those proposals are adequate to ensure safety.

Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, can the Minister tell me whether there are any plans to build an Underground station at Battersea before I die? It is no good telling me to take the bus--I would have to take three buses to get here. Blocks of flats are going up all the time in Battersea and it is very expensive and inconvenient not to have a Tube.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the robustness of the noble Baroness suggests that even if the Tube were built a long time in the future, it would still be built in time. I am grateful for the signs that the noble Baroness is making towards me from a sedentary position--indeed, she is making more and more of them! I do not know the precise date, but I shall write to her about it.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, over the past four years, how much has been spent on setting up the PPP?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I cannot give the precise figures in relation to professional costs and so on. However, I am quite sure that that money is well spent. It is incredibly important that what is produced involves a durable scheme that will produce investment for the long term.

Human Cloning Ban: Prospects of Legislation

3.6 p.m.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to introduce legislation to outlaw human cloning.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, we recognise and share the concerns of many people about human reproductive cloning. However, that cannot be carried out in the UK. Any treatment using human embryos requires a licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, which has stated as a matter of policy that it would not issue such a licence. We have stated our clear intention to introduce primary legislation to put this ban on a statutory footing as soon as parliamentary time allows.

Lord Alton of Liverpool: My Lords, while I am grateful to the Minister for that Answer, does he recall the assurances that he gave noble Lords in our debate on this subject on 22nd January? We should assuage the fears of many who believe that therapeutic cloning will inexorably pave the way for full reproductive

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human cloning. He said that the Government would introduce legislation and the implication was that that would be brought forward very quickly. The omission of such legislation from the gracious Speech caused disappointment to many people.

The Minister will doubtless have seen the speeches made by the Italian scientist, Severino Antinori, who, heartened by our decision in January, said that he intends to proceed with reproductive cloning. Has he seen the statements by the Royal Society and by Ian Wilmut, who cloned Dolly the sheep and who said that it would be dangerous and undesirable to go in that direction? Given that there is support from all parts of your Lordships' House and from another place for giving a statutory seal to the Minister's desired wish that there should not be reproductive cloning in this country, will he say when that legislation will be forthcoming?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for his Question. I do not accept the proposition that therapeutic cloning research in the UK would lead to reproductive cloning elsewhere. I accept that legislation is desired by many in your Lordships' House. In the debate earlier this year on the regulations I said that legislation would be brought before the House as soon as possible. I also referred to the normal pressures on the parliamentary timetable. This Parliament still has a little time to run and the comments of noble Lords on this matter will be carefully considered.

So far as Professor Antinori is concerned, I refer the noble Lord to the article in The Times today in which Professor Evers of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology criticised Professor Antinori as,

    "a pain in the neck, because he can't even offer what he says he can".

Baroness Williams of Crosby: My Lords, does the Minister agree that it is essential to maintain public confidence in scientific research, not least in the life sciences? Does he further agree that that makes legislation to put this matter beyond all question a very important priority? Would he therefore make representations to his colleagues and point out that this matter is perhaps somewhat more important than some of the Bills that will be coming to us through the legislative pipeline?

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I certainly accept the noble Baroness's proposition that we must do everything we can to ensure that the scientific community commands public confidence and respect. Events over the past few years have reinforced the need for that.

I understand the point that the noble Baroness makes. I want to assure the House that the Government are committed to this legislation. Of course, I am not able to say when that will be brought forward because it is not my position to do so. But the urgency in terms of our debate last January is clearly

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understood. It is important for me to reiterate that reproductive cloning cannot take place in this country. The HFEA made it abundantly clear that it will never permit a licence for that to happen.

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