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House of Lords

Tuesday, 10th June 2003.

The House met at half-past two of the clock: The LORD CHANCELLOR on the Woolsack.

Prayers—Read by the Lord Bishop of Sheffield.

Defence Exports Scrutiny Committee

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have to establish a defence exports scrutiny committee.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): My Lords, during the passage of the then Export Control Bill, the Government were unable to accept my noble friend's proposal for a defence exports scrutiny committee to undertake prior scrutiny of export licence application. The Secretary of State has therefore not put forward any proposals, but inter-departmental discussions are taking place to see whether we can take additional steps to achieve greater accountability and transparency in the export licensing process.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, the discussions have gone on for 12 months and nothing has happened. Does my noble friend recall that 311 elected Members of Parliament in another place supported the Motion calling for the committee to be set up? Why can we not have more rapid decision-taking on such matters?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, the discussions have been taken forward by the Cabinet Office. We should be able to report on them in the summer.

Lord Redesdale: My Lords, do the Government believe that there should be wider scrutiny of the global defence trade? Do they have any policy on the offset trade that is part of most arms deals today?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, as I said, we are keen to see greater transparency and accountability in the process. That is why we are having the discussions. Offset is a different issue that needs to be considered in a different way.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: My Lords, the Minister talked about greater transparency, which I am sure that everyone wants in all kinds of deals. However, does he agree that there would be a risk to the commercial confidentiality of potential purchasers as

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well as of exporters? It would need to be handled very carefully to make sure that they did not take their business elsewhere.

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, when we turned the proposal for a defence exports scrutiny committee down during our discussions on the then Export Control Bill, we gave three main reasons why we did not think it appropriate. The third was that there was a danger that it would give rise to legal difficulties, cause delay and possibly compromise confidentiality without necessarily improving the quality of decisions. That was a key consideration.

Lord Hylton: My Lords, do the Government accept that the record is somewhat depressing? Have we not seen too often weapons and ammunition that we have exported used against either civilian populations or even our own military forces?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, everyone agrees that the control of arms is extremely difficult. However, I do not think that our record is depressing. On the whole, there has been very close control in what are difficult circumstances.

Lord Avebury: My Lords, are any defence export orders outstanding for Indonesia? In view of the fact that the Indonesian Government have refused to give an undertaking that it will not use the Hawks and Scorpions with which we supplied them in the past in the civil conflict in Aceh, will the Government not consider some means whereby Parliament can scrutinise the orders outstanding for that country?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am not aware of what discussions are taking place, and I will write to the noble Lord on that point. However, I should point out that the discussions are confidential until an export licence is given or not.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, my noble friend will know that the Quadripartite Select Committee in another place, which has a great interest in such matters, recently produced a further report. What does he think of its latest findings on the recommendation that was made last year?

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: My Lords, I am afraid to say that I have not read the report in great detail. I will go back and read it very carefully and give my noble friend an answer.

National Service Framework for Children

2.41 p.m.

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made on developing the National Service Framework for Children.

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the first set of children's national service framework documents was

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published on 10th April. It includes the standard for hospital services—the first standard of the NSF—which emphasises the importance of shaping hospital services around the child, and an emerging-findings consultation document setting out the direction of travel for the NSF. A draft standard for child protection was included with the documents for consultation.

Baroness Massey of Darwen: My Lords, I thank the Minister for that encouraging reply. Will she expand on it by saying when the rest of the framework will be published and how it will fit into the overall NHS Plan?

Baroness Andrews: Yes, my Lords. The full NSF will be published in 2004. It is the most complex of the national service frameworks. It includes eight working groups covering health and ill-health of children and all aspects of care. More than 300 different stakeholders are involved, and a great deal of hard work has already gone into producing the first standard.

Essentially, the framework offers a new way of looking at not only services, but children, and will mean that NHS and care staff are looking for new ways of approaching their working, and even for new attitudes towards children. It fits into the NHS Plan—it is central to it—and will benefit from other measures such as emergency care and improving patient access, which will also lift the NHS.

Baroness Sharp of Guildford: My Lords, how do these proposals fit in with the Laming conclusions and the establishment of multi-agency children's trusts at local level?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, it is important that we get all this together and that it is consistent. The NSF has a working party which is looking at vulnerable children. That includes children in care. As regards the Laming report, certain action has already been taken. I refer, for example, to improved guidance. The response to the report will be published soon. We are waiting for that in relation to the Green Paper on children at risk to help inform the NSF. Therefore, it is extremely important that all this works together.

Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, there has been an increase in the incidence of diabetes in children, especially diabetes number two. Will such children fall under the NSF for children, or that for diabetes, or both?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, the beauty of the NSF for children is that it covers all conditions in all children, including the wellbeing of children. We are therefore looking at healthy children, too. They will certainly fall under the external working group that is looking at ill health in children and also under the diabetes framework.

Baroness Knight of Collingtree: My Lords, can the Minister be clearer about the parameters of the

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national service framework? She hinted that it involves not just the NHS but many other issues, too. Does not that cross over into education and so forth? Can she be clearer about that?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, as the framework deals with wellbeing as well as health, it involves the care of children. Of the eight external working groups, some are looking at vulnerable children. That involves children in care and young carers. Obviously, a good deal of work is being done on ways of improving care services to those young people and that means working closely with the Department for Education and Science as well.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, how will the framework address the needs of children with disabilities? Will it be focused on the needs of the children or will there be cost constraints?

Baroness Andrews: My Lords, an external working group is dealing with children with disabilities. It has already made its report and it is on the website. That is informing the standard for improvement which will emerge.

Furthermore, the hospital standard, which was published in April, contains a good section on children with disabilities. The particularly impressive aspect of it is that it uses accessible language to express the importance of treating the child as a human being and of treating the whole child. It is also important to involve the parents in becoming the carers and the experts around the child.

Baroness Carnegy of Lour: My Lords, in case other noble Lords are as ignorant as I am, will the Minister tell the House precisely what is wrong with the National Health Service treatment of children that is making this provision necessary? What will the overall cost be and what is currently happening?

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