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Lord Mackenzie of Framwellgate: My Lords, I thank my noble and learned friend for that Answer. Does he agree that, while the NSPCC has welcomed many of the proposals in the forthcoming Sexual Offences Bill to improve the protection of children, it is right to be concerned that, if the police are not able to dedicate appropriate resources, little impact will be made? Will he therefore confirm that child protection will be made a national priority for the police and the probation services, as recommended in the joint report of the chief inspectors in October, and that it will receive a high priority in the National Policing Plan?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I can confirm that it is a national priority. The National Policing Plan requires chief officers to reflect the fact that it is a national priority in their local policing plans by including child protection strategies from 1st April. More detailed recommendations are contained in the report of the noble Lord, Lord Laming, published today, on which my noble friend Lord Hunt will make a Statement immediately after Questions. The report focuses on precisely what needs to be done. The issue is incredibly important and the Victoria Climbie inquiry indicates its urgency.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, will the Minister confirm today's report from the Met that large numbers of police from the Child Protection Unit are being removed in order to deal with more than 1,200 cases of people identified on the Internet as paedophiles? Effectively, does that mean that there is less protection for children now? Will he enter into discussions with
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, the National Policing Plan makes it clear that child protection must be a priority. The Laming report, which my noble friend will deal with later this afternoon, specifies what that means in practice. The Metropolitan Police have reorganised their child protection arrangements in advance of the publication of the Laming report. Individual police forces must determine where the priorities lie as between operation and individual cases of child protection. But we all agree the importance that must be attached to the protection of children in individual cases.
Viscount Bridgeman: My Lords, in view of what the Minister has just said in reply to the noble Lord, Lord Dholakia, does he further agree that the leaking of a list, apparently from police sources, to the Sunday Times is very serious? Can he assure the House that steps will be taken to investigate the source of that leak?
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I do not know the details of any leak and I should need to make inquiries about it. Plainly, it is inappropriate to leak that type of information to the press. Such steps as need to be taken will be taken. The focus of this Question relates to child protection, which I believe has more to do with the issues raised by the Laming report than with the kind of issue raised by the noble Viscount.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton: My Lords, I believe there is a link in the sense that people who download child pornography may well be connected in some way with activities which are worse than simply downloading pornography. I believe that there are differing views as to the scientific link, but plainly there is a link.
Lord Brookman: My Lords, I also declare an interest as president of the Welsh Trust for the Prevention of Abuse. The work of the trust follows a slightly different tack but I believe that it is significant in the question of child protection. Does my noble friend agree that it is important to ensure awareness among children of the many difficulties or potential dangers that they face? In that respect, is he aware of the much acclaimed video produced by the trust that I mentioned? The video will go into all schools in Wales to make children aware of the potential dangers.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): My Lords, we have no specific information about large retailers' awareness towards customers in this matter as there is no legal requirement to provide such assistance. The Health and Safety (First Aid) Regulations 1981 set out employers' responsibilities. Employers must provide adequate and appropriate first aid facilities and equipment for employees who are injured or who become ill at work. The regulations do not require first aid provision for members of the public. However, research has found that on the whole employers, including retailers, are aware of their responsibilities.
Viscount Falkland: My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for her Answer. I know that she has had some difficulty with the way in which I have phrased my Question. I thank her for dealing with the issue in relation to staff.
I was concerned about a report that I received from a member of the staff of this House. Over a week ago he was in a supermarket and suffered a hypoglycaemic episode, which describes a dangerously low blood-sugar level, from which he subsequently collapsed. He woke up in hospital and later discovered that he had been put into an alleyway outside the premises by the staff of the supermarket. Thanks to an observant member of the public, an ambulance was called and after treatment he recovered. Does the Minister agree that that demonstrates a need for further education for the staff and management of businesses such as supermarkets? I know that this matter is somewhat outside her scope, but can she offer some encouragement and guidance on it?
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, the noble Viscount, gives the House an appalling and horrifying story that could happen to any of us who suffered a cardiac arrest or a similar problem when staff were not in a position to recognise the cause. Staff may assume that one's condition is due to something other than a medical condition and as a result bypass it. I can give the noble Viscount some help.
Although under health and safety legislation employers have a responsibility only towards their employees, this autumn the Health and Safety Executive will publish a discussion document on the provision of first aid in the work place. Together with my colleagues at the Department of Healthmy noble friend Lord Hunt is listening to what I sayI shall ensure that a copy of that discussion document is sent
Lord Jenkin of Roding: My Lords, does the noble Baroness recollect that a year ago I was smitten by a similar event and was carried unconscious from the palace where I was picked up by an ambulance? Senior staff of the Law Lords department appeared to know exactly what to do and happily I am here today.
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: My Lords, we are all the richer for the presence of the noble Lord. It struck me that your Lordships may be interested in the situation in the Palace of Westminster. To allay the fears of noble Lords, there are 18 trained first-aiders in the House of Lords and an additional 71 trained first-aiders in the House of Commons who are available to both Houses. I am delighted to report that there are also 42 people trained to use defibrillators, so I am confident that if any of us experiences a sudden cardiac arrest, a hypoglycaemic attack or a collapse we shall have the best possible support and service. That support and service is also offered to members of the public.
Lord Gladwin of Clee: My Lords, I declare an interest as a former trustee of Diabetes UK and as someone who has type II diabetes. Is my noble friend aware that although the health and safety first-aid regulations cover employees, the Health and Safety Executive has issued guidance to undertakings that provide a service to the public, such as places of entertainment and shops? Will she encourage the Health and Safety Executive to make that more widely understood and available particularly to large retailers?
Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Yes, my Lords, I had picked up that point. I understand that local authority licences require that there is adequate first aid provision for members of the public in places of public entertainment, such as cinemas, sports halls or the like. As the noble Lord has rightly identified, the problem is that health and safety at work applies to employees and there is no clear legal responsibility for members of the public who may collapse in a shop or on the street. There is a duty of care for ambulances to respond to a call for help, but there is no duty on any of us to summon that ambulance.
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