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Lord Thomas of Gresford: My Lords, before the noble Lord deals with the winding-up speeches, I wonder whether he would care to check Hansard for 30th June 1997. A Written Answer from Mr Alun Michael showed that for the year 199697, the total compensation paid was £211 million, subject to audit. Will the Minister also check with his department a press statement made on 25th November which said that out of public funds, rather less than £200 million was now being spent by way of compensation?
Lord Warner: My Lords, I shall wait to see the figures before I decide who should apologise. I shall clarify those figures and write to the noble Lord, but at the moment I have no reason to resile from the figures that I cited. However, I shall apologise gracefully if I have got them wrong.
I turn briefly to the two speeches from the Opposition Front Benches. I am grateful to the noble Earl, Lord Howe, for what I would describe as his modified rapture in response to the programme. I am grateful for his support, subject to his consideration of the detail, on the health protection agency. We shall shortly be able to publish the human tissues Bill, which is due to be introduced on 3rd December and will be published on 4th December. I shall not go into a lot of detail now, as the Bill will be in the public arena and people will be able to study it.
The Government have been listening to points made by stakeholders on mental health, but this is not the time to go into a detailed analysis of that. It is certainly the Bill's purpose to safeguard the benefits and position of vulnerable people, although we also have to safeguard the position of the public. There will be detailed scrutiny, and the Government will publish the Bill as soon as possible.
The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, raised a number of issues. I hope that he will take this as a response to some of them. I have also picked up some of the points about the Better Regulation Task Force issues in my responses to my noble friend Lord Turnberg. The noble Lord, Lord Clement-Jones, made some mildly unkind remarks about our position on choice and the Agenda for Change. I remind him, and the rest of the House, that the Agenda for Change programme was agreed with all the health unions and is being piloted in what are, from memory, about 20 pilot areas. That is to ensure that results are as we think they would be before the programme is rolled out on a wider basis, so that any problems can be identified and rectified in negotiation and discussion with the health service unions.
As for the question of choice, the noble Lord will just have to wait a little more patiently. He is always welcome to join in our big conversationthe more the merrierbut he will have to wait until the Government produce the results of the consultation with patients and the public on choice. He may be quite surprised by the sorts of things that people are saying that they want the health service to do, and the way in which they want to be treated. He will find that the Government are responding very positively to the points that the patients have made to us in the consultation.
Lord Dholakia: My Lords, before the Minister finishes, I refer to the questions which my noble friend Lady Walmsley asked him. He implied that they went much wider than Her Majesty's gracious Speech. Will he reflect on those questions and see whether a reply could be sent to her? They may not refer to the gracious Speech, but there may be opportunities for us to move appropriate amendments, subject to what he says.
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