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Lord Monson: My Lords, in his excellent speech the noble Lord, Lord Renton, raised a consideration that had not occurred to me. How will it look to other nations if this country, almost uniquely, has to recruit its police officers from abroad? I say "almost uniquely" because I suppose that the Home Office has done its homework to try and identify other countries
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I obviously was not clear when I replied to the previous debate. This is not about recruiting police officers from abroad. The clause has nothing to do with recruiting police officers from abroad; it is about people with a clear immigration status who are resident in this country with a right to work. It has nothing to do with recruiting police officers from abroad. I have made that point again and again. Apparently, I did not make it clearly enough. This is not about going out to recruit people from abroad as police officers.
I have enormous respect for the noble Lord, Lord Renton. I will not take the matter away in order to think about removing the clause. I do not accept any of his five reasons. None is a reason of substance. It is not good enough to use arguments about accents, native police or to say that forces cannot find enough of "their own people". We are talking about recruiting people who live and work in this country not from abroad. The argument, "They don't understand local dialects" just does not carry water. As to the argument about sense of duty and service, I do not accept that the people concerned who are already resident in this country with the status of being free to work will not have a sense of duty because they are not British.
I have said that we are not changing the Immigration Rules to facilitate recruiting police from abroad. The normal rules remain. We are talking about quality people resident in this country who, by reason of their nationalitynot all of them, because Commonwealth and Irish citizens are currently all rightare denied the opportunity to serve or train as police officers.
I accept, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, says, that perhaps the White Paper could have contained more background information. I discovered that in Committee. I thought it a little thin. I gave some reasons then. In the previous debate I stuck fairly closely to the notes because I thought that a few explanations needed to be put on the record in order to take account of the complete absence of the matter in the White Paper.
I do not have good enough reasons to say why subsection (4) of Clause 67 should not be mandatory. There probably will be other qualifications for appointments which will be dealt with in regulations. It is clear that we shall need some regulations. It would probably be unhelpful to make the mandatory regulations include some items and not others. We must consult about this issue. We cannot just issue regulations from thin air. We certainly do not want to reserve posts by rank alone. We need some flexibility.
The matter will come back to this House. I have no doubt that it will be debated in the other place. There is always Third Reading. I do not invite amendments and I am not promising to bring forward any. I will probably seekand I think that it would be legitimate so to doto have a short paper prepared which takes account of the absence of the explanation in the White Paper and which puts together the notes that I have used as a basis today. By way of a background, that would facilitate the matter. If it knocks on the head the canard that we are sending out the bosses and the telegrams to recruit from abroad, it would be quite useful. That is not the purpose nor the intention of the clause. I apologise because obviously the White Paper was not up to scratch. I shall have a note prepared to take account of that gap.
Lord Rooker: My Lords, I must give a better answer than the one I have given to the noble Lord, which was that I do not have one. We do not want a mandatory requirement to make the regulations because some forces covered by this provisionfor example, the Royal Parks Policemay not need to reserve any posts for UK nationals. So there is an issue. In the way that the clause is drafted, simply changing "may" to "shall" would cause problems for a variety of police forces. But I shall make surethe noble Lord having asked a very reasonable questionthat I have a note prepared which covers the point, even if it is not directed specifically to the line and paragraph in the Bill. Certainly, the issue of regulations must be covered in any such note.
Lord Renton: My Lords, perhaps I may say that over 40 years ago when I became Under-Secretary at the Home Office I had to deal several times with police legislation. As a Back-Bencher in both Houses I have spoken on police legislation before. I have always thought that it would be splendid if, so far as possible, all the parties in both Houses could try to agree on police legislation. Therefore, the public would have greater confidence in the police.
It is for that reason that I still implore the noble Lord, Lord Rookerand I admire his zestto bear in mind what has been said in this debate. Obviously, I shall not call for a Division. But I am grateful to those noble Lords who have taken part in the debate. We still have the Third Reading debate. The Bill will then go to another place where detailed consideration will be given to it. I hope that before the Bill receives Royal Assent the Government will try to achieve greater accord between all concerned in both Houses. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
The Countess of Mar rose to ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to the report to the Chief Medical Officer of an independent working group on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis dated January 2002.
The noble Countess said: My Lords, in view of the publication in the British Medical Journal of 13th April 2002 of its survey of so-called "non-diseases" and the prominence given by the press to chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis as a non-disease, this debate has come at a very appropriate moment. I declare an interest in that I am patron of several ME charities.
As Nero fiddled while Rome burned, so the Wessely school fiddles the facts while people suffer and die. When Wessely's work is legitimately criticised by colleagues and his methodological flaws pointed out, he blames his peer reviewers for allowing his own errors to be published. Wessely is responsible for the accuracy, honesty, impartiality, quality and scientific integrity of the research which he has published.
There are many documented instances in which he is in direct conflict with other competent medical opinion. His tactics include manipulation, distortion, invention, misquotation, suppression, exploiting public ignorance and deliberately constructing his presentations to fit his audience. Rather than his having orchestrated a campaign against patients and their credibility, he claims it is patients who are orchestrating a campaign of vilification against him.
Professor Wessely seems to have taken it upon himself to reclassify ME as a mental disorder in the WHO Guide to Mental Health in Primary Care in his capacity as a member of the UK WHO Collaborating Centre for Research and Training for Mental Health. He has disingenuously amalgamated his own definition of chronic fatigue syndrome with ME by stating that ME may be referred to as CFS and is thus, he claims, a mental disorder.
The report concedes that there is huge confusion surrounding terminology. In reality it is simple. In 1992, the WHO included the term CFS as one by which ME is sometimes known, and indeed many international researchers now refer to ME as CFS. The patients whom they are studying resemble those with neurological illness. There is a long established acceptance that such patients are severely physically ill. However, since 1991, Wessely and his colleagues have been responsible for producing their own criteria for CFS, known as the Oxford criteria. They dropped all reference to physical signs. Physical symptoms suddenly became behavioural in origin as opposed to organic.
Simon Wessely and, in particular, Michael Sharpe, Anthony David, and Peter Whiteall psychiatristsproceeded systematically to flood the UK literature with their own beliefs about the non-existence of ME. They commandeered medical journals and the media. They became self-designated experts in medically unexplained symptoms such as ME, Gulf War syndrome, and multiple chemical sensitivity. They have received disproportionate funding, amounting to over £5 million, for research into their own beliefs to the exclusion of virtually all research into organic causes.
Their influence pervades every aspect of ME sufferers' lives, including their ability to obtain social security and private medical insurance benefits, social services assistance and home tuition for children. Tragically, children with ME have suffered
The Minister knows of my concerns in the field and I should be grateful if he would tell me what progress is being made with the inquiry by the Social Services Inspectorate into the cases that I have passed to his honourable friend, the Minister for Public Health.
My Lords, the influence of Wessely is clearly manifest in the report to the Chief Medical Officer. Not only is the terminology ambiguous and confusing, it specifically advises that vital investigations such as immunological and nuclear medicine scans are inappropriate and unnecessary. Those are the two areas which are delivering hard evidence of organic pathology and are the focus of intense investigations in the United States. How does such a report help patients? The answer is that it does not. I make no apology for having dealt with the Wessely problem at length.
When it supposedly advises clinicians how to put its recommendations into action, the report's own authority is undermined by the fundamental disagreement about the recommended management benefits. Having highlighted the controversy and conflicting opinion about cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) and graded exercises, the report's most serious flaw is that it offers no explanation or advice as to how health professionals decide whether a patient will benefit from or be harmed by the recommended management regime. Thus, by virtue of the conflicting opinions on risks and benefits set out in the report, the NHS exposes itself to the risk of treating patients unlawfully. Will the Minister please explain how that can be "good clinical practice" and why such flawed advice got through the scrutiny net?
The scientific evidence is that, at best, a total of between 22 and 28 people with CFS and no psychiatric illness have derived limited benefit from CBTnine of them in just two trials. None of the trials studied those with ME who were severely affected or children. Professor Friedberg of State University, New York, says that, for those CFS individuals who do not have
Is the Minister happy to rely on such manipulation of the scientific evidence as appears in the report? Does he endorse management recommendations for patients with ME who do not have psychiatric illness that have been extrapolated from findings of studies on patients with a psychiatric diagnosis? Is the Minister aware that the organisers of a workshop and conference to take place at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford on 18th April, entitled "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Research and Practice", state:
Many of those who are severely affected feel let down by the apparent capitulation of the two major ME charities, which appear to accept the bio-psychosocial model of ME/CFS. The ME Research Group for Education and Support, MERGE, one of the charities of which I am patron, has given a cautious welcome to the report. It states:
The charity was started in 2000 by Dr Vance Spence, who is senior research fellow in medicine at Dundee University, and Robert McRae, a banker. They are both ME sufferers who have had to retire early, but Dr Spence is able to do limited research. He has already established that there is significant disruption to the biology of blood vessels and also to particular circulating white blood cells in patients with ME. That is significant because the results establish a biological mechanism for ME symptoms and unequivocally refute the dominant psychosocial explanations.
In their response that accompanied the report, the Government have handed responsibility for research to the Medical Research Council. May we know who has been appointed to the independent scientific advisory group? May I also have an assurance from the Minister that psychiatrists will not dominate the group, as they have done hitherto, and that there will be a reasonable balance of funding for biological research?
I became interested in ME more than 20 years ago when a close family member contracted the illness after having glandular fever. In those days, we had no idea what ME was. Over 20 years ago, there was some excuse for that, but now there is little excuse, least of all for members of the medical profession. ME is a serious illness, with no known cure. It has taken many years for that to be properly recognised. The illness has a profound effect on individuals and on entire families. In this country, it affects up to 25,000 children and, it is estimated, between 100,000 and 300,000 adults. Fifty per cent of long-term sickness absence from schools is attributable to ME. The cost of the illness is estimated at £4 billion.
I want to look forward from the chief officer's report. I will not dwell on the past in the same way as the noble Baroness did. I agree that Professor Wesley has not played a particularly glorious part in the controversy over ME, or indeed in that over Gulf War syndrome. However, I take a more positive view of the chief officer's report than the noble Baroness.
In 1998, the Chief Medical Officer set up a working party to examine the treatment and management of the illness. The document was published this year by the Department of Health. Despite the controversyin a sense, the final outcome and the resignations may have been a good thingand the year-long delay, the report came as a relief to sufferers. The new recommendations offer a major opportunity for change in the way that young people, in particular, are treated, supported and educated. The report acknowledges the disabling nature of the illness and the severe limitations that it can impose. It recognises the need for proper, multi-disciplinary assessment at the outset, so that a flexible treatment plan can be created.
The report was described by Val Hockey, the chief executive of the ME Association, as a wake-up call for the entire medical profession. I commend the chairman of the working group, Professor Allen Hutchinson, and the CMO on the outcome. It is also a testimony to doughty campaigners such as the noble Baroness, Esther Rantzen and all the voluntary organisations associated with ME, particularly Action for ME and the ME Association. We can look back at reports such as the 1996 report from the Royal Colleges of Psychiatrists, Physicians and General Practitioners as rather quaint anachronisms. It is a sign of the times that the Health Minister, Yvette Cooper, in an interview in Tymes magazine, published by the Tymes Trust, can be open and frank about how
Many questions arise from the work of the CMOs working group. First, there is the issue of training for doctors. Some recent articles written by doctors in the wake of the report are absolutely disgraceful and ignorant. I feel strongly about some of those reactive reports, and I shall also come later to the related issue of false allegations, which are relevant in this context. Often, such allegations arise from professional ignorance or, in some cases, sheer bloody-mindedness. We also had officials engaging in covert surveillance of people with ME. There are social workers and education officials who do not understand the condition. All those others need training. The department must say what plans it has. We need good practice guidance for social workers and other professionals, not just for doctors.
In February, I asked the Minister about the aftermath of the report. In particular, I asked how the Government planned to disseminate the findings and recommendations of the CMO's working group. The Minister replied that it would be put on the website and that there would be a report and summary for clinicians. He said that the Government might even consider NICE guidelines. We must be clearer than that.
The crux of the matter is that we cannot go on with a situation in which we have a report that, in many ways, acknowledges the condition and suggests how the treatment options should be taken forward without making certain that the report is taken seriously. Incidentally, I part company with the noble Baroness about the treatment options. They are options, and the report is not over-prescriptive about that. NICE guidance will be crucial, and I hope that, in the weeks between the date of my Written Question and today's debate, the department has considered whether such guidance will be commissioned. The department must proactively disseminate best practice.
I also asked what funding would be available for research. The Minister replied that the department had commissioned research into the diagnosis and treatment of CFS/ME and said that details were available on the national research register. He said that the department had asked the MRC to develop a broad strategy for advancing biomedical and health services research into CFS/ME. I welcome that, so far as it goes, but we need something concrete. We need a budget, and we need to know that the MRC intends to assemble a set of research proposals and put it out to tender, in a sense, to research bodies. That is extremely important. I would like the Minister to give us a progress report.
There are other issues. Will the Government change the incapacity benefit handbook for medical service doctors? It is written for doctors who provide advice to Benefits Agency adjudication officers in relation to incapacity benefits. I do not know the status of the handbook, and I do not know what it says now, but previous versions stated that there was no firm
The issue of expert patients is important. The report emphasises how important it is that patients who have sufferedor are sufferingfrom ME are consulted about management and treatment. It is important that there should be such ongoing involvement, and I would like to hear what the Minister has to say on the subject.
In our debate last October, we heard about false allegations. I am sure that all of us have heard terrible examples of how parents of children with ME have been accused of abusing their children or allowing them to play truant. Parents have been diagnosed as having Munchausen's syndrome by proxy, and children have been put on the at-risk register. There have been secret case conferences and so on.
Last October we debated the issue of child abuse and discussed the guidance issued for consultation on children in whom illness is induced or fabricated by carers with parenting responsibilities. At that time, the guidance was in draft form and was out for consultation.
Can the Minister say what is the current status of that guidance? It is extremely relevant in the case of ME because so many parents of children with ME have had problems with the authorities in this respect. Will it recognise the issue of ME and possible false allegations? It is vital that it does. Enough injustice has been done over many years. Stigmas are created which take years to expunge, let alone recovering from the emotional upheaval involved.
I believe that the CMO's report is a huge first step in regaining a balance in the area. However, the department cannot stop at this point. A huge amount remains to be done and I look forward to hearing what the Minister has to say in that respect.
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