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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, the noble Lord is right to refer to the study, published in July, showing what appears to be a more tolerant attitude towards the use of drugs among a greater number of young people since the previous study was conducted. That is a matter for concern and it will inform the national communication campaign upon which we are about to embark. It will also inform the programme that takes place in schools, which is important in terms of getting the right messages across to young people.
Lord Carlile of Berriew: My Lords, bearing in mind that most young people who take ecstasy do so when they are already entranced by loud music and possibly alcohol, does the Minister agree that to confront young people about this issue one needs to do it where they are when they take it? Is it not time for an organised campaign in which nurses, doctors and other drug experts would go into the clubs and
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I should certainly like to be there to watch such a confrontation. I am not sure that the noble Lord is right in saying that that is the best approach, although I shall ensure that it is considered. I recognise that the need is for action rather than for a large number of committee sittings. However, we need to take advice from those who are most concerned. Those who work with young people in the drugs areas are giving invaluable advice. My department is also in dialogue with young people themselves. I agree with the noble Lord's key message: patronising messages from adults to young people are no good. The best messages are informed by what young people think, and it is important that we take that forward.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, does the Minister agree that young people enjoy taking risks, and that the risk factor is one of the problems in drug taking? Does he further agree that one could put up hard-hitting messages such as, "Ecstasy can kill and damage the brain" in the clubs and places where young people go?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am all in favour of hard-hitting, accurate messages. Part of the programmes we shall be developing will seek to get across to young people as accurate a picture as possible of the harmful effects of drug taking. However, it is important that we are informed by young people themselves and by those who work with them as to the best way to get that message across.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, further to my noble friend's robust response to the original Question, will he be equally robust about other forms of substance abuse by young people and the not-so-young, be it tobacco, alcohol or even cannabis?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I do not disagree with my noble friend. The programmes that many schools have adopted seek to deal not just with illegal drugs but also the use of tobacco and alcohol. A holistic approach is appropriate, but the programmes must be accurate about the relative risks of each category.
The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): My Lords, the noble Baroness, Lady Strange, has been trying to speak on a number of occasions.
Baroness Strange: My Lords, does the Minister agree that we, in this House, are particularly fond of
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, I am not sure that a message to young people that, if they stay active and healthy, they will grow to be as Members of your Lordships' House could be calculated to convince all young people that they should keep away from these substances. But the noble Baroness is right to suggest that one cannot simply adopt the approach, "Don't do this" and "Don't do that". It must be positive also. The comments made in the Answer to the first Question about the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, exercise and sport are relevant.
Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, without wishing to detract from the Question of the noble Lord, Lord Williamson, will the Minister confirm that the key killers are cocaine and heroin, and that it is towards those that much of our efforts should be directed?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, we should not underestimate the potential harm of ecstasy. But the noble Lord is right to draw attention to the serious consequences for users of heroin, morphine or cocaine. According to the latest statistics I have, in 2000, 926 deaths were recorded as a result of using heroin and morphine. There were 80 deaths from cocaine and 36 from ecstasy.
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, I beg leave to ask the Question in my name on the Order Paper. In doing so, I declare an interest, not a financial one, as honorary parliamentary adviser over many years to the Royal British Legion.
Lord Morris of Manchester: My Lords, why is it that, when highly reputable doctorsin this case, the Church of England'sreadily use terms like "Gulf War illness" in diagnosing ill health among Gulf veterans, the MoD goes from pension tribunal defeat to defeat in contesting their use? Why are some illnesses treated as Gulf War-related in the United States but not here? Again, why, over 12 years on, when we could soon be involved in a second Gulf War, are we still unable to apply, since, without the Porton Down report, we shall not even have learned, all the lessons of the first? And is it not doubly distressing for Gulf veteransmore especially those who are terminally illto be made to seem impatient in asking for Porton Down to report before the end of next year?
Lord Bach: My Lords, the fact is that, at present, there is no proper basis for recognising Gulf War syndrome as an appropriate diagnostic label. That does not preventI repeat, it does not preventa Gulf veteran getting a pension. A war pension can be paid for any disablement provided that a causal link to service is accepted. In terms of impact on moneys paid, war pension awards are for service-related disablement, not a list of specific diagnoses. To date, more than 4,800 Gulf veterans have received awards, around one-quarter of which are for disablement accepted as related to their service in the Gulf. Pieces of research must be published in the peer-reviewed scientific literature before they can be accepted. That is a generally true comment about medical research anyway.
The Lord Bishop of Guildford: My Lords, is the Minister aware that, far from being discharged, Mr Peachell requested early retirement on grounds of ill health and that was fully accepted by the Church of England on the stated grounds of Gulf War illness? Given the measured and careful way in which the Church of England Pensions Board and its medical advisers approach these questions, what steps are the Government taking to ensure similar protection to other members of the military?
Lord Bach: My Lords, I am grateful for that comment. The fact remains that the Army pension payment to the Reverend Peachell was made on the basis that, unfortunately, he had many illnesses over a period. That is why he was discharged. The Church of England doctors called it "Gulf War illness". We do not believe that such a syndrome exists; we accept of course that over the years the Reverend Peachell has suffered a variety of illnesses. We will be as
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, I am standing my ground.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: My Lords, I dare not, I dare not.
Baroness Trumpington: My Lords, am I right in thinking that Porton Down was selected to look into this matter because it has the greatest expertise in that field? Why should it have taken 12 years? If it goes on any longer, will not those examining the matter be dead themselves?
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