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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, I venture to suggest that I need not give the Prime Minister of this country any such advice. I am sure that he is well equipped to give that advice to Mr Zapatero.

The noble Lord accused Mr Zapatero of being a little loose with his rhetoric—I think that those were his words—in opposition. Sometimes, opposition parties are a little loose in their rhetoric. In government, there are real responsibilities, and Mr Zapatero has made it clear that he will consider those responsibilities carefully before he takes a decision.

Lord Lea of Crondall: My Lords, does the Minister agree that if, as the noble Lord, Lord Blaker, suggests, the change of government in Madrid leads to a move forward on the European constitution—Spain and Poland had some difficulty with the voting weights—many of us would welcome it?

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: My Lords, that might well be. As we have already had numerous

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exchanges about the foolishness of premature speculation, it would, perhaps, be as well for us to wait and see what Spain decides.

Hospices: Financial Support

3.8 p.m.

Lord Laming asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will review the financial support given to hospices.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, as I informed my noble friend Lord Ashley of Stoke on 9 March, the Government have met their pledge to increase NHS investment in specialist palliative care, including hospices, by 50 million a year by 2004. The additional funding has been allocated by the joint NHS/voluntary sector National Partnership Group for Specialist Palliative Care, which will undertake a monitoring exercise to see how the funding has been used, including the level of support for hospices.

Lord Laming: My Lords, I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. Does he agree that the work of hospices deserves the support of us all, because of the pioneering work that they have done on the management of pain for young and old and on encouraging dignity in death, both in hospitals and in the home?

Does the Minister share with me and, I suspect, others the concern about the time that the good people who work in hospices must devote to fund raising? There is constant anxiety about the continuation of this valuable service. Will the Government consider a national formula that would guarantee core funding for hospices?

Lord Warner: My Lords, of course I join the noble Lord in paying tribute to the splendid work done day in, day out, in hospices across the country. As he may know, about three-quarters of all in-patient hospice services in England are provided in the voluntary sector. We have allocated this extra 50 million on a co-operative basis between the voluntary sector and the NHS, so the voluntary sector has played a major part in this allocation and will benefit considerably from the 50 million.

Lord Clement-Jones: My Lords, all of us will welcome the additional 50 million and, indeed, the additional 12 million for training that has also been allocated. However, the Minister is no doubt aware of considerable concern about the funding of children's hospices in particular. On average, only 7 per cent of their funding is received directly through the NHS, whereas adult hospices receive more than 35 per cent. Is the department considering this issue?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I draw the noble Lord's attention to the fact that the New Opportunities Fund,

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chaired by my noble friend Lady Pitkeathley, has given 45 million since 2003 to palliative care for children, of which about 15 million has gone to children's hospices.

Lord Glenarthur: My Lords, can the Minister say how many hospices there are in the public sector and how he expects that figure to grow over the next five or 10 years?

Lord Warner: My Lords, as I said earlier to the noble Lord, Lord Laming, about three-quarters of the in-patient services in hospices are provided in the voluntary sector. That amounts to approximately 2,630 beds. A third of that, give or take, is provided also in the public sector.

Lord Ashley of Stoke: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that although the Government have done well as far as hospices are concerned, it is far from good enough? Although the 50 million he mentioned has been helpful and welcome, the Government are relying far too heavily on the voluntary sector. Hospices should have greater responsibility to the Government, and the Government, in my view, should be primarily responsible for funding them. We are nowhere near that, so how about approaching the issue in that way?

Lord Warner: My Lords, of course we would all like to do better, and we accept that there is a need to continue to improve the funding of hospices. However, the voluntary sector has done a splendid job in hospices and is held in a great deal of public affection by those who use such services. I do not think we would want to, in effect, give a vote of no confidence to that work by implying that we were not satisfied in any way with the work done in voluntary hospices.

Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, while welcoming the extra funding to which the Minister has referred, will the long-term support for the hospice movement fall within the remit of the Select Committee's consideration of the Assisted Dying for the Terminally Ill Bill of the noble Lord, Lord Joffe, which is, I understand, not to meet until July?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I do not think it is for me to suggest in any way whatever how that Select Committee should do its work. I draw the noble Lord's attention to the fact that the Select Committee on Health will be making an inquiry into hospices and palliative care.

The Lord Bishop of Oxford: My Lords, does the Minister agree that although hospice care is sometimes said to be expensive, it represents very good value for money? Not only does it represent superb care for patients but, as the noble Lord, Lord Laming, implied, it has pioneered palliative care for the country as a whole and raised standards.

Lord Warner: My Lords, the right reverend Prelate is absolutely right. Great pioneering work has been done

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by hospices, much of it in developing services outside hospices as well as in relation to in-patient beds. For example, there are 264 specialist palliative homecare teams, 81 hospice at home services and 200-odd daycare services. Some pioneering services have been developed by the voluntary hospice movement.

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: My Lords, given that the health service now knows its allocations three years in advance, will my noble friend encourage primary care trusts to enter into longer term agreements with hospices so that they have much more stability and certainty about the funding they receive from the NHS?

Lord Warner: My Lords, as my noble friend knows, primary care trusts will, from April 2004, be responsible for controlling 75 per cent of the NHS budget. Very substantial increases in that budget mean that there will be opportunities for them to respond to local needs, which is the purpose of many of these increases. Much of the 50 million that I mentioned was to improve inequalities in different parts of the country. My noble friend will be aware that in the cross-cutting review by the Treasury and the voluntary sector, strong emphasis was placed on government departments and the public services entering into more secure funding for the voluntary sector.

Business of the House: Executive Powers and Civil Service Bill [HL]

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Amos): My Lords, I beg to move the Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That leave be given to advance the Committee stage of the Executive Powers and Civil Service Bill [HL] from Tuesday 30 March to Friday 26 March.—(Baroness Amos.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Energy Bill [HL]

3.16 p.m.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): My Lords, I beg to move that the Bill be now further considered on Report.

Moved, That the Bill be further considered on Report.—(Lord Whitty.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer moved Amendment No. 171B:


    Before Clause 76, insert the following new clause—


"GAS AND ELECTRICITY MARKETS AUTHORITY SUSTAINABILITY DUTY
(1) The 1989 Act shall be amended as follows.

23 Mar 2004 : Column 599


(2) In section 3A (the principal objective and general duties of the Secretary of State and the Authority), after subsection (2) insert—
"(2A) Subject to subsections (1) and (2) above, the Secretary of State and the Authority shall carry out their respective functions under this Part in such a manner as to ensure the contribution to the achievement of sustainable development.""

The noble Baroness said: Perhaps of all the amendments in the Energy Bill, I regard this one as bringing the Bill up to date in helping the Government achieve what they said they wanted to achieve in the energy White Paper. Ensuring that energy continues to be affordable should not be done at the cost of increased climate change. Indeed, it should be done with a view to decreasing the burden on our environment.

When I moved a similar amendment in Committee, I included the sort of environmental considerations that Ofgem should take into account. The amendment probed the Government's attitude to both the narrow environmental issues and the much wider issue of sustainable development. The Minister gave some quite satisfactory answers on the environmental issues. He said that guidance on environmental and social issues would be issued to Ofgem. I believe it was so issued on 23 February, between Committee and Report. He further told us that regulatory impact assessments and environmental impact assessments must be carried out. That is good, but there is nothing to suggest that any change of policy must result from their being carried out. Nevertheless, I felt that those were both moves in the right direction and did not retable the part of the amendment dealing with the environmental issues.

However, the reply of the noble Lord, Lord Davies of Oldham, on overall sustainable development was, I believe, totally unsatisfactory; I do not believe that it included the words "sustainable development" anywhere. I fear that this Bill does not recognise the importance of Ofgem updating what it is able to have regard to in its principal duties. With all due respect to the Minister and his department, that may be because there is still a lack of understanding of what exactly sustainable development is. The reply suggested that just dealing with the environmental issues was adequate. But I quote to the Minister from the Government's own publication on sustainable development, which states:


    "Sustainable development is currently a headline topic for policy making . . . The significance is given further weight by the recently expanded definition of sustainable development, broadened from its origins within environmental protection and resource conservation now to include social perspectives, as well as economic perspectives, which dictates a relevance to policy making across most if not all of the public sector".

That is a very good statement of policy. It is on the Defra website, and I believe that that department does understand what sustainable development is all about. Indeed, in the recent debate on the countryside, the noble Lord, Lord Palmer, described sustainable development as a three-legged stool. That is a vivid and apt description. All the legs need to be of equal length for the stool to be balanced. That is Ofgem's problem: at the moment, the stool is unbalanced on the

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economic and social sides. That is not to say that we do not need to regard separately the social, environmental and economic strands, but there really must be an over-arching principle in place. That is what my amendment seeks to do.

The Minister's reply in Committee was that the,


    "current drafting of the principal objective and the general duties strikes a fair balance between protecting the interests of consumers and safeguarding the environment".—[Official Report, 4/2/04; col. GC 401.]

That defines the problem that I am trying to explain. The Minister saw the problem as a balance, as if the two objectives were on opposing sides of the equation. However, the core of what sustainable development is all about is that the three things are not in opposition, but are in a complementary tension.

The interests of consumers should be seen in the context of the price of energy and the manner in which it is generated; that must be something that Ofgem fundamentally concerns itself with. We have seen some good examples recently of Ofgem, without the sustainable development duty, being unable to exercise its powers in a way that is complementary to sustainable development. It is quite interesting that in Ofgem's own folder about what it does, it states that it works in the interests of customers, both present and future. I was intrigued to discover that it believes that it works in the interests of future customers, as that suggests that it believes that it should be able to take issues such as the overall effect of its policies on something like climate change as central to the duties that it should be pursuing. However, following the Minister's reply last time, I do not believe that, given its duties under the legislation as drafted, it would be able to do that.

The Minister's third point was that:


    "Piecemeal rearranging of the regulator's general duties does not provide for regulatory certainty, which is an important objective".—[Official Report, 4/2/04; col. GC 401.]

My wish to put sustainable development as the over-arching framework in which the authority operates is certainly not a piecemeal rearrangement. It would enable there to be a very firm framework so that we should not need to return to the issue in future. With this amendment in the Bill, the legislation should stand the test of time.

Finally, I quote again from the Government's own writings on sustainable development. When it is understood as a matter of importance, I believe that it is very well expressed. The following quote came from the No. 10 website:


    "In the past, economic activity tended to mean more pollution and wasteful use of resources. Money has had to be spent to clean up the mess. A damaged environment impairs quality of life and, at worst, may threaten long term economic growth—for example as a result of climate change".

That is very well put. However, if Ofgem, as the regulator that considers how energy should be generated and used, including all those important price mechanisms, is unable to take overall regard of sustainable development, it will fail at that first test. The Government are incorrect in saying that there are

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in place sufficient powers for Ofgem to be able to do that. I have not found that to be the case on the reading of the past legislation. Therefore, I beg to move.


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