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Lord Warner: My Lords, they are entering into a contract for work in the NHS and those contracts reflect that. As I said, we encourage volunteering
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through our initiative on improving working lives, and we have issued the toolkit that I have just mentioned. We want people to go back, where it can be arranged, to support culturally the development of healthcare services in many developing countries.
Baroness Barker: My Lords, can the Minister confirm that if doctors who are on the five-year training regime take a year out to go to another country that year's experience does not count towards their points on the training table? If so, does he agree that that system is not desirable either for our health system or for those abroad? What exactly are the Government doing to support the Tropical Health and Education Trust?
Lord Warner: My Lords, on the latter point, we have given financial support in that area and we will continue to support that trust, which does a very good job. Others are also joining us in that support. On the question of medical training, it largely depends on what the person is actually doing when they travel abroad. I will certainly look into that and give the noble Baroness a more detailed reply.
Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, what is being done to warn those doctors overseas who hope to come to Britain for training that many British graduates are currently unemployed? Job competition is extremely fierce, and some doctors from overseas find themselves running up huge debts and unable to get a job.
Lord Warner: My Lords, this country owes a great debt to international medical graduates who have come over a long period of time to work in the NHS. I do not want to say anything to diminish the contribution they have made to our National Health Service. We know that some doctors come despite advice. We are working with the General Medical Council so that information is available to doctors before they take the tests that enable them to practise in this country. Some come very much on spec, and they take a risk in doing so. We try to ensure that information is available to them.
Lord Colwyn: My Lords, I have just returned from a dental exhibition in Birmingham over the weekend, where I met many foreign dentists. Does the Minister agree that if Australian dentists were to return home the NHS would be in an even worse state than it is in today?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the resources available to the British Transport Police are a matter
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for the BTP Authority, which oversees the force and sets its budget. The rail industry is responsible for providing the necessary funding for the force. In addition, the Government have provided funding for capital expenditure of £12.5 million in 200506. The Government will consider how best to deal with any further additional costs. My right honourable friend will keep both Houses informed.
Lord Faulkner of Worcester: My Lords, I thank my noble friend for that reply. I am sure that he will agree that the contribution made by the British Transport Police in the aftermath of the attack on the London Underground on 7 July was outstanding. Is he aware that the extra anti-terrorism measures that the BTP have put in place have cost the force a further £5 million, which so far the Government have not given any indication that they are prepared to meet? Does he accept the principle that if we ask the force to take on duties that affect the security of all of us it is not reasonable for the railway industry to meet the whole cost?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am sure the whole House will agree with my noble friend that we did very much appreciate the work of the British Transport Police on that disastrous day of 7 July. Their response showed how prepared and efficient they were, together with the other emergency services.
I hear what my noble friend has said. He will recognise that there has been an increase of 21 per cent in the budget for this coming year in the light of the difficulties. The industry is responsible for the majority of the funding, but the Government recognise that there is additional funding related specifically to the issues of terrorism and the safety of passengers and staff, which necessitates an increased government contribution. There has been a contribution over the past year, an increased one over the coming year, and a three-year projected increase of support for that necessary expenditure.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, some of the money is devoted to such specialties, particularly to anti-terrorist devices and training about which it would not be appropriate for me to go into in detail. I assure the noble Lord that the need is recognised. He will appreciate that the standard of training of the British Transport Police met the tests of July, in terms of response to an emergency. It is clear also that we need a high level of training with regard to detection and prevention and, of course, all our police services are engaged on that.
Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts: My Lords, further to the response that the Minister gave to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner of Worcester, will he tell the House what specific measures have been taken to ensure that the special response unit of the British
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Transport Policethose who are in the front line of 24-hour cover against terrorist attacksis adequately and properly resourced?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, we recognise that the additional resources are necessary; that is why I indicated that we intended to contribute additional amounts over a three-year programme. Last year, there was an increase of allocation to the British Transport Police from government sources with that end in view. The noble Lord will also appreciate that the issues obtain across the range of our services. The Government are of course fully cognisant of the fact that it behoves us to meet additional expenditure, but the increase in numbers of policecommunity support officers and police officershas also been enabled by the increase in resources from the British transport executive.
Lord Bradshaw: My Lords, last year the British Transport Police put up its budget to train operators by 15 per cent. This year it has gone up by 15 per cent, and next year it is projected to go up by 30 per cent. Despite the extra money to which the Minister referred in answer to the noble Lord, Lord Faulkner, what steps are the British Transport Police taking to improve their efficiency? If he does not know, will he please write to me?
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, it is clear that the additional resources are allocated to the specific issues of security against the background that they will be intelligently and properly spent. The issues raised earlier by the noble Lord who asked about training are important; so is co-ordination and the capital requirements that guarantee that effective communication between police officers is improved. All those matters are very much in hand. They make a demand on additional resources and, as the House will recognise, both the Government and the industry are responsive to that obvious and pressing need.
Baroness Masham of Ilton: My Lords, will the Minister see that the transport police are better trained about illnesses such as diabetes and epilepsy? He may be aware of a case in which a diabetic went into low blood sugar and passed out, and our transport police were very heavy handed, arresting him and dragging him into a vehicle. They need to detect illness rather than terrorism.
Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the transport police must be efficient in responding to both demands. The noble Baroness will recognise that we have been concerned to improve the quality of the response of transport to the needs of the disabled or those who become ill in all circumstances. That is why we have recently passed legislation to enhance the requirements and demands upon transport to respond sympathetically to such issues. But she will recognise that the burden of the questions today has been about
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the very real dangers that are presented to our transport system by terrorism and I want to reassure the House that both the industry and the Government recognise the need for extra, effective expenditure in that area.
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