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Baroness Pitkeathley: My Lords, will my noble friend agree that raising awareness among at-risk groups, particularly with this form of cancer, is of the utmost importance? What are the Government's plans for further raising public awareness?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, my noble friend is absolutely right. Prostate cancer is problematic because of the element of embarrassment associated with it. But we are making progress. In July 2001 the prostate cancer management research programme was introduced. Its intention was to provide an informed choice for men. A pack is being circulated among GPs, who were consulted. It gives a lot of information and enables men to make an informed choice on both the tests and the treatment, which in itself is problematic. That too will help GPs. We hope it will be in the surgeries by the summer. In relation to other forms of raising awareness, some interesting research is about to begin on Afro-Caribbean men who have a high incidence of the disease. It is imperative that we get the results of that research out as fast and as effectively as possible.

Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, in view of the research which consistently shows that processed tomato products, as opposed to fresh tomato products, are very beneficial and that the taking of tomato juice or tomato sauce on a regular basis is an effective preventive not only for prostate cancer but also for breast cancer, will the Minister suggest to the Department of Health that through health education they encourage people to go on to tomato juice?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I shall do my best. One of the problems connected with research related to diet is that people are susceptible to making either the right or wrong choices. However, I shall certainly take the suggestion back to the department.

Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, while I warmly acknowledge all the help given by my noble friend Lord Hunt in response to the concern expressed—more especially by our good and noble friend Lady Howells of St Davids about the finding that black men are much more prone than others to

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prostate cancer and in its most virulent form, can my noble friend Lady Andrews say what recent further progress has been made in increasing research in this important policy area? Finally, I, too, rejoice at the presence of my noble friend at the Dispatch Box this afternoon.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord. The noble Baroness raised the question in the House a year ago. Research into the incidence of the disease among Afro-Caribbean men is about to start at Bristol and in London, as is research on other risk factors connected with genetic and family history. So we have made progress.

Baroness Northover: My Lords, does the Minister agree that we need a major expansion of research—as my noble friend Lord Ezra said—so that we can rapidly develop a screening test which is better able to predict the aggressive forms of the disease? Does she also agree that for too long the cancer charities have borne the major cost of cancer research, and that it is about time that the Government made a reality that others would recognise their aim of trying to match what the cancer charities have put in?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, since 1999 we have increased spending on prostate cancer by twenty times to the present figure of 4.2 billion—by four times in the past four years. We are delighted to work in partnership with Cancer Research UK and all the cancer charities. They part-funded and helped with the prostate management cancer research programme. They do invaluable work. But we are spending significantly more than we were.

Baroness Noakes: My Lords, I welcome the Minister to the Dispatch Box for a full House. A smaller group of noble Lords had the pleasure of the noble Baroness at the Dispatch Box on a more select occasion recently.

Can the Minister tell us how many men over 50 have had a PSA test following the department's informed choice project? And is the department satisfied with the take-up?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, I cannot give the figure for the number of men over 50 who have already had the PSA test. This year's informed choice programme will be properly evaluated so that we shall have those figures in a year's time. If there are figures, of which I am simply ignorant, I should be happy to look for them.

Baroness O'Cathain: My Lords, in view of the figure of 4.2 billion being spent on prostate cancer research, can the Minister tell us what is the comparable figure spent on AIDS research in this country? The figures given today for the number of people who have died are quite horrific.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, it is 4.2 million. I am afraid that I do not have the comparative figures for AIDS research. I think that all noble Lords would

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agree that the figure of 10,000 avoidable deaths is far too high. We are committed to a national screening programme if and when we have the improvements in testing and treatment.

Criminal Records Bureau

2.53 p.m.

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Criminal Records Bureau is meeting its targets for processing applications.

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the Criminal Records Bureau is not meeting its disclosure application processing service standards. It has introduced a performance improvement plan including revised procedures, rapidly recruiting additional staff, increasing resources and extending working hours. There is a special procedure for teachers. The application backlog has been outsourced to Hays Plc's Chennai (India)data processing centre.

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale: My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend for that response. Since Capita, the private service provider, is taking taxpayers' money to deliver an agreed level of service, will it be fined for failing to do so? When is it expected that the target time of three weeks to process applications will be met so that both voluntary bodies and local authorities can get the protection that the Criminal Records Bureau was set up to provide to the public?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, Capita and the CRB have to work together to ensure that they deliver the performance standard to which my noble friend refers. It is vital that that is delivered. Once that standard has been delivered one can start determining what the consequences are of not having met it before. But the critical matter is to ensure that Capita and the CRB work together to deliver that standard as quickly as possible.

Lord Dholakia: My Lords, I support the concern expressed by the noble Lord, Lord Corbett. Why is the Criminal Records Bureau in such a shambles? It takes over three months to carry out a criminal record check on people working in the sensitive field of childcare or teaching. That has a serious impact on applicants—particularly those working in the field of resettlement—employed in non-sensitive jobs. What will happen later in the year when not only sensitive checks will be required but people will have to produce their records to employers? How will the Government meet the target when full disclosure is required whether or not people are in sensitive jobs?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the process has been going since March of this year. Everyone agrees that it was a sensible policy to have a CRB

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which could make disclosures of the kind that it makes. It is not meeting its target. I made that absolutely clear in my original Answer. We are working as hard as we possibly can to try to ensure that it will meet its targets. A recovery plan has been agreed between the Criminal Records Bureau and Capita to try to meet those targets. I agree entirely with the noble Lord that in relation to teachers or anyone who works with either children or other vulnerable people, it is important that the check is made and that it is made within a reasonable time. That is what we are working towards. But we need time to get there.

Baroness Anelay of St Johns: My Lords, the Minister has referred to the fact that there is now outsourcing of this processing to Madras in India. Can he tell the House what guarantee there is of the integrity of the information being outsourced? If, by any remote chance, there was a slip up and information was not kept confidential, against whom would an individual have to bring a complaint and a case? Would it be against Capita or against Hays which controls the system in Madras?

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the material that is being sent to India is the application forms. It does not include the material which will be matched with the application forms. The application form involves people giving their name, address and the particular job that they are applying for and some other information. It does not include the information that comes from, for example, the police national computer. Having said all that, there are plainly security considerations. We have made checks to ensure that the levels of security are reasonable.

Baroness Sharples: My Lords, the noble and learned Lord says that the CRB is not meeting its targets. By how much is it missing them?

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