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Lord Drayson: My Lords, I shall try to be even clearer. Our troops are involved daily in training the

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Iraqi army in the operations which it must undertake to maintain security within the region. This training is conducted at all levels of the army, among the leadership and across the chain of command, and includes tactics, procedures and training on equipment. We can see from the Iraqi army’s success—particularly in the 10th Division, which is now fully set up and has taken over responsibility—that this process works well. We should not underestimate the vital importance of our troops’ work in supporting and training these forces. Most recently, the way in which they were able to handle incidents in the centre of Basra shows that the training works. We have been following this process for a number of years. We are able to withdraw troops because the Iraqi security forces are able to take over.

Earl Attlee: My Lords, in view of the fact that the Iraqi armed forces have only an internal operating capability—we have just talked about the air force—who is responsible for securing the Iraqis’ external security?

Lord Drayson: My Lords, responsibility for the Iraqis’ security, both internal and external, will lie with the Iraqi Government themselves. Our strategy is to develop that capability, as I said, in the Iraqi air force, navy and army. We have undoubtedly made the most progress with the Iraqi army, but all three branches of Iraq’s services need to be developed.

Lord Campbell-Savours: My Lords, does that mean that we will oppose any American troops being used to sort out the problem in northern Iraq in the event of Turkish intervention?

Lord Drayson: My Lords, we are not envisaging Turkish intervention in northern Iraq. We are aware, as is the international community, of the terrorist attacks that have been undertaken by certain elements in the north, the PKK in particular. We are supporting all efforts to stop such terrorist activity, and we recognise the calm measures that the Turkish Government have taken to date in response to those attacks.

NHS: Dentistry

11.40 am

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the department keeps the new dental system under continuous review through the Implementation Review Group. That key stakeholder group, chaired by the Chief Dental Officer, includes representatives of the dental profession, citizens’ organisations and the NHS.

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Baroness Gardner of Parkes: My Lords, I sympathise with the Minister over that reply, because the Government have such an appalling record on dentistry. I have two points to put to her. One is that she did not reply in the debate last week when asked whether the Government intended to phase out NHS dentistry altogether. The other is that recent government responses in the media have said that everyone has access to emergency treatment, but that does not at all accord with the reports we are getting. How and where is this emergency treatment available to patients, and how and where do they find out about it?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, that was a lot of questions. I shall answer them all. The Government are not going to phase out NHS dentistry. We have a fine record in relation to dentists. I abhor the sensationalist treatment of this subject by the press this week. Nine out of 10 dentists signed the contract, and a survey showed that 93 per cent of patients were happy with their dental treatment. There are more dentists now than there were in 1997, and we have increased exponentially the number of dentists in training. That is a very fine record.

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff: My Lords, what guidance has gone from the Chief Dental Officer to GPs and accident and emergency departments for managing dental emergencies out of hours? Will the Minister assure the House that there is dental provision for those patients undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments where a dental infection, if not rapidly and expertly treated, could prove fatal?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I do not know the exact guidance that has been given to GPs and accident and emergency services, but I will get back to the noble Baroness in writing about that. If a person needs emergency treatment, they can go to the PCTs and demand such treatment. That is their right. They can find a list of dentists on the NHS Direct website, but I know that that is still difficult for some people and we are looking for new ways of communicating information to people so they know where to find their emergency dentists.

I acknowledge that it is extremely important that patients undergoing chemotherapy have access to dentists whenever necessary. I am sure that that is happening, but if it is not, perhaps the noble Baroness will tell me in writing.

Lord Colwyn: My Lords, since the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, has taken his seat on the Front Bench I have had two encouraging Answers to Questions about dentistry. Despite the assurances made by the Minister, other Ministers and the Prime Minister, there is no doubt that out there the profession and patients are not happy with the situation. Will the Minister ask the noble Lord, Lord Darzi, to have a look at the dental contract as part of his general inquiries into the NHS?

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Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, my noble friend Lord Darzi is doing a fine job. I do not think that he is looking at dental services in his current review, but that may change. The dental contract is not within his remit at present, but it may be in future. As I explained earlier, many more patients are satisfied than we are given credit for, but I recognise that it is an enormous problem if someone who needs treatment cannot find an NHS dentist in their area. However, in areas such as Cumbria, where people were unable to find NHS dentists previously, we have provided an extra 62,000 places. Similar increases are being seen throughout the country. In response to the noble Lord’s point about the dental profession, I respectfully point out that professions never like change.

Baroness Barker: My Lords, the Minister will be aware of the CAB report, which came out earlier this year, about inequalities in access to dentistry in different areas. Will the department plot the incidence of people seeking emergency treatment against known inequalities in basic provision? One can see a pattern where emergencies will arise in areas where people cannot get routine access to basic dental care. Will the Government analyse that as part of their review of the contract?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, that would seem a sensible way forward if it is not being done at present, but in areas where great inequality in access and difficulty in getting NHS dental care have existed, we are doing our utmost to work with PCTs to ensure that there are improved dental services. However, I shall take back to the department the issue that the noble Baroness raised.

Lord Soley: My Lords, how does the health of children’s teeth in the United Kingdom compare with that in other European countries? If she cannot give me an answer immediately, will she put it in the Library?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, I do not have the relevant statistics, but when I looked into this question, I was delighted to learn that our children have the healthiest teeth in the European Union. That is largely to do with the fine toothpastes that we use, but, in some areas, it is to do also with fluoridation. In Birmingham and Sandwell, where statistics for health are poor, children have excellent teeth. We are therefore very much in favour of fluoridation.

Earl Howe: My Lords, has the Minister seen this week’s report by the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, which surveyed 5,200 patients and 750 dentists over several months? If she has, why do the Government continue to think that the present dental contract is not in need of review when a quarter of patients have been forced to pay for a private dentist because their local dentist does not accept NHS patients, 35 per cent have stopped using dental care because it is too difficult or expensive to get it on the NHS, and 6 per cent have treated

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themselves by using pliers to remove their teeth, because they were unable to get professional treatment on the NHS? Does she think that that is an acceptable situation?

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: My Lords, the situation as outlined by the noble Earl is not acceptable, but if one looks closely at the survey, the situation is much brighter than he portrayed. There is absolutely no reason for anyone to resort to self-treatment. The cases that were outlined by the media this week were absolutely sensationalist; there are very few such cases. Ninety-three per cent of the patients who were surveyed said that they were content with their dental treatment.

Business of the House: Recess Dates

11.49 am

Lord Grocott: My Lords, with permission, I draw the House’s attention to a document before me that is entitled “Recess Dates”. Rather than take too much time reading the dates out, I can say that copies of the document are in the Printed Paper Office. The Recess dates given run right up to and including the return from the Summer Recess on Monday 6 October, so they take us pretty well through the calendar year. I can say in addition that, unless something happens that I do not currently know about—which is possible—that the House will prorogue on Tuesday, 30 November—

Noble Lords: October!

Lord Grocott: My Lords, I mean October. You see what happens when you do not concentrate too much on your notes.

The list also includes the provisional dates for Friday sittings, again for the full period up to 10 October next year. These dates are all provisional, as ever, but we stuck to them this year and I intend to do my best to stick to them next year.

Company and Business Names (Amendment) Regulations 2007

11.51 am

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): My Lords, I shall not move the Motion because there is a problem with the instrument.

Motion not moved.

Further Education and Training Bill [HL]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Lord Triesman): My Lords, I beg to move that the Commons amendments be now considered.

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Moved accordingly, and, on Question, Motion agreed to.

[The page and line references are to Bill 75 as first printed for the Commons.]

Lord Triesman: My Lords, I beg to move that the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 8B, 8C, 8D, 8E, 8F and 8G in lieu of Commons Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 to which this House has disagreed.

The House last considered the Bill on 25 July. By a very narrow margin, the House disagreed with the provision on intervention in unsatisfactory further education institutions that had been agreed in another place. The other place has considered our disagreement and the amendments which are before us today include significant new provisions. I believe that we have now got the right clauses for this part of the Bill.

Before I come on to the detail of what is now proposed, I thank those on the Benches opposite, particularly the noble Baroness, Lady Morris, for their help and advice as we considered the outcome of your Lordships' objections on 25 July and, more generally, throughout the passage of the Bill. I also thank the noble Lords, Lord Dearing and Lord Sutherland, and others on the Cross Benches as well as noble Lords on the Government Benches and others who have worked very hard on various aspects of the Bill. Their help to get the right provisions and detailed wording into the Bill itself, and in documents setting out supporting arrangements, has been invaluable. At each stage in which colleagues on this side of the House and on other benches have been involved, they have identified matters which needed to be investigated and resolved. They have made constructive suggestions for improvement, which would leave them and the further education system more confident about the new arrangements. It is my belief that every one of those issues has now been addressed or, at the very least, that sensible and workable compromises have been achieved as a result of the process that I have described.

We have a Bill that meets the aspirations to carry further education forward, to enable it more fully to fulfil the roles demanded of it in a modern society. The amendments that are now being proposed make provision for the Learning and Skills Council in England and Welsh Ministers in Wales to intervene in unsatisfactory further education provision. I do not think any of us in the House has a quarrel with the principle that there should be such intervention. The issue is ensuring that the system is operated properly and that those who make the interventions are fully accountable. On 25 July, your Lordships expressed particular concern about the arrangements for England.

Let me set out what those arrangements would be. The Learning and Skills Council would, in addition to the powers of intervention it currently has, be able to exercise, with modifications, powers that currently reside with the Secretary of State. The LSC would not have any powers to intervene in ways that the Secretary of State cannot currently do. The LSC

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would be required by the Bill to prepare a statement of how it proposed to use its statutory intervention powers. An illustrative draft of what this statement might contain has been made available to the House. On 25 July I set out details of specific triggers for intervention that will be included in a later consultative draft. I also described to the House how consultation on that draft will be conducted, including specific bodies to be consulted.

The Bill also requires the LSC to consider representations on its draft statement. It must submit the statement to the Secretary of State who will, if he approves it, lay a copy before each House of Parliament. The LSC must publish the statement that has been approved by the Secretary of State and act in accordance with the most recently published statement. There is provision in the Bill for similar arrangements in relation to a statement by Welsh Ministers. Following consultation on the draft statement, the Welsh Ministers are required to lay it before the National Assembly for Wales. They must publish the statement and act in accordance with it. It will be clear how the powers will be operated. The statement by the LSC or by Welsh Ministers will set out arrangements for notifying a governing body about issues of concern and, if it becomes appropriate, the possibility of intervention.

The amendments before us today also include a significant extra provision, which is that the Secretary of State must be notified beforehand by the LSC of any intended statutory intervention. Specifically, the LSC would be required, before it exercised any of the statutory intervention powers, to give the Secretary of a State a notice setting out the grounds for intervention and the reasons that the LSC considered that they applied, what the LSC proposed to do and the reasons why it proposed to do those particular things.

In another place, the Minister for Lifelong Learning, Further and Higher Education has clarified that on receipt of such a notice, the Secretary of State would be able to take action if he considered that what the LSC was proposing to do was inappropriate. He could use his powers under proposed Section 56C of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992; or, where he was satisfied that the LSC was proposing to act or was acting unreasonably or had failed to discharge a statutory duty, his powers under Section 25 of the Learning and Skills Act 2000.

The Minister also gave two important commitments in the other place. On receipt of such a notice, the Secretary of State will write to local MPs to ensure that they are aware, on a personal basis, of the possibility of intervention. He also said that Ministers intend to use the Secretary of State’s power under Section 28(2) of the Learning and Skills Act 2000 to direct the LSC to include in its published annual report a statement summarising how it has used its statutory intervention powers. In the debate in the other place, there was widespread support for the arrangements on intervention in unsatisfactory further education provision that Ministers are now proposing. John Hayes, the MP for South Holland and The Deepings said that,

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Sarah Teather, for the Lib Dems, said that,

In the past couple of days, I have given careful consideration to a point raised by the noble Lord, Lord Dearing, who queried the reference in proposed Section 56A(2)(a) of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992 to mismanagement of the institution’s affairs by the governing body. His point that it is not for the governing body to manage the day-to-day affairs of the institution is well taken. “Mismanagement” here is not about the college’s day-to-day activities, which are properly the responsibility of the principal in his or her role as chief executive. In the context of this clause, mismanagement relates to the conduct of the governing body in discharging its responsibilities as set out in the instrument and articles of government. The instrument and articles make it clear that the governing body has strategic responsibility for the college and the principal has responsibility for its day-to-day running. For example, the instrument and articles state that the governing body is responsible for approving the annual estimates of income and expenditure, while the principal is responsible for preparing the estimates for its consideration and approval.

I assure the noble Lord and the House that nothing in this provision implies that Ministers are seeking to change the respective roles of the governing body and the principal as set out in the instrument and articles. Indeed, the provision in this part of the Bill mirrors existing provision in Section 57 of the Further and Higher Education Act 1992.


I am grateful to the noble Lord, as I have been for his constructive and important interventions throughout the passage of this Bill, for raising that point and giving me the opportunity for clarifying it. I thank him. He has been assiduous in ensuring that the meanings of any particular provision are clear. We have benefited hugely from that. I hope on this occasion that noble Lords’ comments and suggestions for improvement have been reflected in what I have said to the House. The Government have made significant changes to the Bill in supporting arrangements and I am sure that other documents that are necessary as a backup, which will describe these matters further, will reflect the points I made today. I shall ensure that all such documents are deposited in the Library of the House.

As a Government, we have reflected on these points and on the changes to the Bill—to the supporting arrangements, including those in relation to this provision. I hope that the House will agree that it now addresses the outstanding concerns expressed

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by noble Lords and that we have reached a point of agreement on the Bill. I hope that is reflected in what I have had to say and I can conclude only by once again thanking everyone who has made it possible to arrive at a satisfactory conclusion on a Bill that will be of great value to further education in this country. I beg to move.

Moved, That the House do agree with the Commons in their Amendments Nos. 8B, 8C, 8D, 8E, 8F and 8G in lieu of Commons Amendments Nos. 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 and 8 to which this House has disagreed.—(Lord Triesman.)

Baroness Morris of Bolton: My Lords, I thank the Minister for listening to the genuine concern which this House expressed in July regarding the proposed transfer of reserve powers from the Secretary of State to the Learning and Skills Council.

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