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Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, the noble Lord is a shining example to us all and to the rest of the country. It is a citizen's duty to notify the DVLA if their health conditions have changed in such respects as to adversely affect their driving. Their GP will tell them that this is so, and they are then under an obligation to act. I am sure that what the noble Lord is indicating is that it is a civic duty to drive safely and to ensure that one is fit to drive.

Lord Harrison: My Lords, further to his earlier reply on the question of bifocals, does the Minister understand that someone can drive a car perfectly well wearing bifocals because of the vision to drive along the road, but that their peripheral vision will be distorted if half of what they see is obscured by wearing the lower half of bifocals, which are clearly intended for short-sightedness and not for long-sightedness?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I do not wear glasses very often and am singularly ill qualified to respond to this question. However, I emphasise again that the DVLA is concerned that the test should be carried out under proper and fair conditions. As I said, all test applicants who wear glasses in order to drive would be expected to wear them for a test that is measuring their ability to drive safely.

Lord Hanningfield: My Lords, as the Minister will know, we have just completed the passage through this House of the Road Safety Bill. In those debates the
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Government revealed that they are to call in all existing driving licences and replace them with a card that looks remarkably similar to the ID card. The Minister was not able to clarify whether it was going to be the ID card; the point was unclear when we completed the Bill's passage. However, if people lose their driving licence as a result of their eyesight or for other reasons, will they also lose their ID card?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, that question rather pre-empts debate both on a Bill that is before this House and on the Road Safety Bill, which also has not yet completed all its passages between the two Houses. The noble Lord will in due course, as I said, receive the satisfaction that he requires on this point.

Lord Berkeley: My Lords, perhaps I can help the noble Lord, Lord Harrison, by asking my noble friend the Minister whether he does not think that the bottom half of bifocal glasses is quite useful for looking at the speedometer.

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I am well aware of the benefits of bifocal glasses; I have heard of their many reputed advantages for all who wear them. However, I emphasise that when driving a car, one needs both peripheral vision—which is examined by one aspect of the test—and the ability to read closely the speedometer and the car's other instruments. In so far as bifocals aid in that dual responsibility, they are to be worn with enthusiasm.

Viscount Simon: My Lords, before a learner driver can take the driving test, they have to read a number plate from a required distance. This, of course, can be done by someone with tunnel vision. Would it not be a good idea if all drivers, prior to taking the driving test, had their peripheral vision tested by an optometrist or someone similar?

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, such a requirement for all driving licence applicants would greatly increase the demands on the service. As my noble friend indicates, a car number plate—with characters 79 millimetres high and 57 millimetres wide—must be read satisfactorily from a distance of 20.5 metres. That test has stood us in good terms over a very long time—although Imperial metrics were used previously. We do not find that eyesight problems are a major contributor to road accidents.

Anti-social Behaviour: Respect Action Plan

2.59 pm

Lord Northbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My Lords, the Respect Action Plan sets out the Government's detailed plans for delivering the respect agenda, and how it is to be funded. The action plan builds on existing activities to tackle anti-social behaviour that affects local communities. The Government believe that local authorities have adequate resources and capacity to deliver this in conjunction with other local agencies and with support from the respect task force.

Lord Northbourne: My Lords, I am most grateful to the noble Baroness for that Answer, although it was rather imprecise. Does she accept that I strongly approve of many of the projects that are envisaged in the action plan, not least those for revitalising the nation's youth service and for supporting parents? The Government are talking about £80 million. That sounds an awful lot of money, but, spread over 10 million children, it is only £8 per child. I do not think that we will get a tremendous lot of extra services for that sort of money.

I suggest that the Government, as any good business would, should employ someone to sit down and find out what each local authority, one by one, needs in additional services to implement the plan, estimate what that will cost and then think about where the money will come from. Surely that would be the very least that we would expect in a decently run business; surely the very least that we should consider is offering sufficient respect to parents and children who, as a result of this launch, are now expecting those services?

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, I acknowledge the noble Lord's strong support for issues that are contained in the plan and which he has advocated for many years. However, the £80 million to which he rightly referred is not the only money that will be available. Some £52 million of that amount goes to new funding to start a national programme, and £28 million goes to the intensive family support. That is on top of some very significant additional funding that we have already made available on this agenda. There is £38 billion for the Sustainable Communities Plan, £81.7 billion for local government, the £1.2 billion that we invested in March to improve the quality of housing stock, £1.05 billion for the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund, and so it goes on. There is huge investment in this agenda, and we are trying to bring it all together, take advantage of the synergies and get the outcomes that we aspire to for children, their families and the community.

Baroness Walmsley: My Lords, given that the children most at risk of offending are often identified early and are partly addressed by the Sure Start programme, why will the Government not follow through when those children go to school? Is the Minister aware that to get extra resources to help those most needy children, they have to go through the statementing process? That can take up to two and a half years. It has hurdles that are too high and, if children are successful in getting through in the end, they do not get adequate resources to meet their
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needs anyway. Schools that have dozens of such children, in our most deprived communities, are struggling, and no wonder.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the noble Baroness will be well aware of the work that we are doing in relation to children's trusts, linking the development of the work between the DfES, the Home Office, the Department of Health and the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. We are aiming to draw the whole issue together so that we get the added value for the children most in need. I have had the privilege of going to look at some of the new intervention programmes. I went on 10 January to see the intensive supervision surveillance programme in Hammersmith, together with the youth inclusion support panel. I saw for myself the splendid work that is being done and the benefits that are being delivered to children and their families. I applaud the people involved because they are doing work that should have been done a long time ago.

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, I hope that the Minister will agree that governments do not always have all the answers. Indeed, much of the best work being done on parenting, families and children is through faith-based charities and voluntary organisations. Therefore, I hope that as part of the Government's respect agenda, they will support and help such organisations.

Baroness Scotland of Asthal: My Lords, the noble Baroness is absolutely right: the whole of the respect agenda is predicated on partnership right across the piece, so that everybody has a role to play. Again, it is better supported by the alliances that I have mentioned. The noble Baroness will know that in November I launched the faith and voluntary sector alliance. We acknowledge that the Government need all the help they can get to make sure that we are doing all that we can as a community to meet the needs of the people about whom we care.

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