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Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Does the Minister accept that those of us who support the proportionate use of force and recognise that it is not possible to negotiate with the current Taliban regime nevertheless feel that the use of cluster bombs in Afghanistan is not a proportionate use of force?
Lord Grocott: My Lords, as the noble Lord will know, this point was raised by his honourable friend the Liberal Democrat spokesman in another place during the Statement on Friday. Cluster bombs have been used, but only in a limited number and against carefully selected and legitimate targets. Five such targets have been attacked. One was a terrorist training camp and the others were Taliban military positions. The cluster bombs used are armed with bomblets designed primarily for use against vehicles and buildings, which explode on impact. I reiterate--I am sure the noble Lord will agree--that the difference between the coalition against terrorism and the terrorists is that the coalition against terrorism takes every possible step to avoid civilian casualties of any kind, whereas the objective of the terrorists, as we saw on 11th September, is to maximise the number of innocent victims.
Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, the sexual health and HIV strategy was widely distributed and is on our website. Consultation runs until 21st December. A number of consultation events for health and social care professionals, people living with HIV/AIDS and young people are being held this autumn.
Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that helpful Answer. The range of people being consulted is impressive, but are young people being consulted in the strategy? Will their views on sexual health, education and services be taken into account?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the strategy clearly goes beyond the needs of young people. I agree that it is important that we get their views if we are to develop services to which they will respond. We are funding the voluntary organisation Brook to undertake a consultation with young people. This will help us to form views about the outcome of the consultation on the strategy. In order to inform the development of the strategy, in 1999 the Health Development Agency set up a sexual health forum for
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, having sat on the two parliamentary inquiries on AIDS, among other things I visited the George House Trust in Manchester, which does a great deal to make people aware of the need for prevention and of the situation in regard to HIV. It made a very clear point and I should like to ask the Minister whether it has been taken into consideration in these consultations--namely, that sub-cultures within the community use a language that is quite different from that of a normal Department of Health document. To get the message through and enable consultation to take place, attention to language is important. Some of the pamphlets published by the George House Trust were not entirely clear, because the terminology was so specific. Does the consultation document take this important factor into account?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Yes, my Lords. I am aware that not every member of the population of this country reads Department of Health consultation documents with great joy. The noble Baroness raises an important point. It is clear from our experience over the past 10 to 15 years that messages about sexual health will not make an impact unless they are targeted at specific groups in the population. We are undertaking research in relation to the Safer Sex Campaign work to make sure that we pick up that point.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, the Minister will be painfully aware that the report is just one among thousands of consultation documents with which primary care trusts are having to deal as they are being established. Does he agree that, in order to implement the strategy, properly ring-fenced funding for HIV prevention should be maintained until 2003?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I agree that primary care trusts face many challenges in taking on what is expected of them. However, it is absolutely right to push decision-making as far down as we can, particularly to the primary care level. I understand that there is concern about the mainstreaming of the £54.7 million for local HIV prevention. I assure the noble Baroness that it is our intention to performance-manage the situation. It is right that after a period of time we should mainstream special funding if it is still required to fund services, as in this case. We shall monitor and performance-manage primary care trusts to ensure that the money is spent effectively. I am confident that primary care trusts will be able to rise to this challenge.
Baroness Gould of Potternewton: My Lords, my noble friend Lady Massey referred to young people. What specific investigations took place into the provision for minority groups? What consultation took place with such groups; and how will they be
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend and I shall pass on her congratulations. Perhaps I may congratulate my noble friend on the fact that today is her birthday. She is right to point to the need for the preparation of a strategy for consultation, and to the need to engage with various social groups. I can confirm that the strategy development included separate consultation with members of black and minority ethnic groups. Membership of the steering group and working group included such representatives. We have also invited members of such groups to take part in national consultation that will take place between November and December. I am clear that in order to make the strategy work we must target the messages that need to come through from the strategy. That means a wide engagement with all stakeholders.
Lord Glentoran: My Lords, apropos an item that I heard on the "Today" programme this morning, what is Her Majesty's Government's view on legalising prostitution?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the Government are not in favour of such a move.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, the report will have the support of many sides of this House. However, in view of the fact that chlamydia infection is rising at an alarming rate, as was pointed out both by Professor Adler and by Ministers when the report was published, does the Minister believe that the proposed action on screening for chlamydia will take place rapidly enough? At what date will full national screening for chlamydia be available?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we do not have a date for full national screening. We are committed to a phased roll-out, which will begin in 2002; as that continues, we shall be in a better position to give a completion date for this important project.
The pilot studies in Portsmouth and the Wirral were very successful in terms of testing. However, in general practice, the prevalence of women in the target age range found to have chlamydia was 8.5 per cent in Portsmouth and 8.7 per cent in the Wirral. That underpins the seriousness of the problem and the reason why screening is important. We must wait to see how the roll-out goes before we can give a definite date for coverage of the country as a whole.
Earl Howe: My Lords, is the Minister satisfied that the sum of £47.5 million pounds will be sufficient to implement what is a diverse and wide-ranging strategy? What will the money buy in terms of infrastructure and staff?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the figure of £47.5 million is the funding that we wish to use to
Clearly, the total amount of money is important in making sure that the strategy is successful. We shall consider the issue further in the light of the consultation process. Discussions will take place in the next spending round review. Overall, I believe that the figure of £47.5 million is a good start.
Lord Ackner: My Lords, I beg leave to ask a Question of which I have given private notice; namely:
Whether Her Majesty's Government still intend to sell by auction tomorrow, 30th October, through Bonhams & Brooks, certain items of Privy Council silver.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: My Lords, the Government adhere to the principle that they should hold assets only where the costs of doing so are outweighed by the benefits. As a result of resource accounting and budgeting, a number of departments, including Her Majesty's Treasury, are reducing their asset holdings. That wider programme will continue.
So far as concerns the four lots of silver items originally made for the Privy Council, the Government remain of the view that the Treasury is not the right owner. However, we recognise the case that has been made for ensuring that they are available to be seen by the UK public. I am glad to say that the representations that we have received suggest a number of ways in which this could be achieved. These would, I am sure, address the concerns which noble Lords and others have raised. We are making further inquiries about those alternatives. To allow those inquiries to proceed, while the other items will continue to be sold and the programme of asset sales will go ahead, the items originally made for the Privy Council have been withdrawn from tomorrow's sale.
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