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Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the noble Earl points to a very important matter. Clinical skills are at the heart of effective care. Certainly, the desensitisation treatment is very time-consuming. My understanding, which I will confirm with the noble Earl, is that the NHS North West strategic model will roll out over the next few years. It will assess exactly those sorts of
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Lord Walton of Detchant: My Lords, does the noble Baroness accept that one of the most devastating forms of allergy is the kind of acute anaphylactic shock that may occur in individuals who are sensitive to nuts and that, recently, there has been some progress in desensitisation against, for example, peanuts? Nevertheless, it is crucial that this desensitisation process should be carried out only in a specialised unit where the risks of such a process are fully appreciated and can be handled.
Baroness Thornton: My Lords, the noble Lord is correct. Two recent studies from Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge and Duke University in the United States suggest the possibility of removing peanut allergy in children by very slow and careful exposure. However, we have asked the Food Standards Agency and the Committee on Toxicity to advise the department about how to proceed with this. We will continue to monitor it, but the noble Lord is right that this has to be done with extreme care.
Viscount Simon: My Lords, I live with an allergy problem every day of the year and I was a member of the Select Committee. Are more allergy specialist consultants being trained, rather than just the very few who have been trained so far?
To ask Her Majestys Government what is their response to the analysis in The Great European Rip-off, published by the TaxPayers Alliance, which maintains that United Kingdom membership of the European Union incurs an equivalent cost for each United Kingdom citizen of £2,000 per annum.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My Lords, the benefits of our EU membership far outweigh the costs. The figure of £2,000 cited by the TaxPayers Alliance seems to be largely based on estimates of the costs to the UK economy of regulation at the EU level, but that is not even half the story. Single market regulation has opened markets across Europe, and 3.5 million British jobs are linked to exports to the EUand the benefits go still wider. The security of UK citizens is enhanced by co-operation with EU partners on terrorism, illegal migration and organised crime.
Lord Pearson of Rannoch: My Lords, I thank the noble Lord for that reply, which is a shining example of the triumph of political hope over the ruinous experience of real people. Are the Government aware that the TaxPayers Alliance analysis was taken from official figures and that £2,000 per person per annum comes to some £300 million per day for the country as a whole, or £120,000 million per annumsome 8 per cent of GDP? Cannot the Government see that leaving the European Union and continuing in free trade with our friends in Europe would liberate us from the clutches of Brussels and create millions of jobs, not lose them, as the Government go on pretending?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, there is some slight relationship to official figures, but they are multiplied and exaggerated for effect. To take the largest portion of the TaxPayers Alliance calculation, it has at least doubledif not morewhat the EU estimates as the cost of regulation. I am afraid that the TaxPayers Alliance has not only conveniently forgotten the benefits overall to the UK of the jobs and growth created by Europe but also conveniently invented the costs to us.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): My Lords, I am sure that there is time for the noble Lord, but my noble friend was asking his question first.
Lord Tomlinson: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that even a cursory reading of what pretends to be a serious study of the cost of European membership shows that not even the authors believe the figures to be accurate? At figure 3 it says that the real cost of the EU may be about 10 times higher, and the figure is justified only by including such vague things as its estimate of the cost of red tape and its estimate of the cost of VAT and other fraud, but they bear no relationship to reality. However, will my noble friend join me in congratulating the noble Lord, Lord Pearson of Rannoch, on his party getting a substantial donor, even if it is at the cost of the Conservative Party?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, let me say in response to the first part of my noble friends question that the figures do indeed seem to be hugely exaggerated. One can only wish that the contribution had been similarly exaggerated.
Lord Howell of Guildford: My Lords, the Minister has made a robust case for our membership of the European Union, and I agree with much of what he says. However, he would not wish to sound soft about the question of excessive regulation, whether from the EU or anywhere else, would he? Is he aware that since the initiation of the UK regulatory reform agenda announced by the Government in 2005, the latest very detailed estimates suggest that the cost of regulation has risen from £16.7 billion a year to £28.5 billionthat is a 74 per cent increase, of which some 71.6 per cent is EU originated? Whatever ones view about the virtues of the EUone can see many of themsurely Ministers
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Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, let me say immediately to the noble Lord that we share absolutely his horror of red tape. I remind him that this Government have championed an initiative and now an agreement between other member states to cut red tape in Brussels by 25 per cent by 2012. We are also leaders in trying to bring about reform of the common agricultural policy. I completely agree with the noble Lord that our respect for Europe should not disguise to us the fact that significant improvements in efficiency are still to be made.
Lord Dykes: My Lords, does the Minister agree that he does not need to congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pearson? He should be sympathetic because, having wrecked the Conservative Party, Stuart Wheeler is now moving his money to the UKIP. But it does not need it anyway because all the UKIP MEPs charge maximum expenses on a regular basis in Strasbourg and Brussels, which adds up to about £400,000 per Member.
I turn to the TaxPayers Alliance. Does not its innocent-sounding title hide a rather sinister truth? Five years old now, it was formed by three or four dotty, extreme right-wing Conservatives who make the neo-cons in America look very moderateMinford, Minogue and all the rest of themand is now advocating deep hatred on a day-by-day basis; as Polly Toynbee said in the Guardian on 9 February, insidious poison. Will the Minister treat this report with the contempt it deserves?
Lord Williamson of Horton: My Lords, does the Minister agree that, as these are not budget figures but estimates of the costs of regulations that we have either initiated or agreed to in an EU context, it is particularly important to take account of the benefits as well as the costs? Is it not particularly appropriate at a time when we are in a recession that is noted for insufficient regulation of the banksa recession not made in Brusselsto look at the benefits and not only at the costs?
Lord Malloch-Brown: My Lords, the noble Lord is right. Regulation has its role and we have to make sure that Brussels regulation is as effective and as efficient as possible. So yes to regulation, but regulation that works and does the job well.
That it is expedient that a Joint Committee of Lords and Commons be appointed to consider and report on the draft Bribery Bill presented to both Houses on 25 March (Cm 7570) and that the committee should report on the draft Bill by 21 July.
The Duke of Montrose: I move this amendment in the name of my noble friend Lord Taylor of Holbeach. I shall be brief, as this is a probing amendment. There is a licensing regime contained in the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975. That Act is being updated; Clause 207 of the Bill, which we passed a second ago, amends Section 25 of the Act and will apply that regime to all these fisheries. When we get to Clause 208, amending Section 26, there is a reference to,
The Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act currently has in place a charging regime. How many licences need to be issued at present under that regime, and do the Government envisage that the amendments in the Bill will create a vast change in those numbers? If the present scheme is adequate to regulate the fisheries at present, why is it thought necessary to have an additional authorisation scheme with its own charging regime? Does that imply an extra financial burden for the administrationpresumably, the Environment Agency? Has this been assessed? Will the Government expect to recover the full burden of these costs from the applicants? I beg to move.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): I am grateful to the noble Duke, who has moved a probing amendment. We are introducing an authorisation scheme because the current position does not work sufficiently well. At the moment, the Environment Agency must issue licences to all who apply, subject to any net limitation orders or court-issued disqualification orders. It is only in those cases that the Environment Agency is permitted not to issue a licence. Other than that, it is an automatic issuance. The problem with that is that some fisheries can have a serious impact on stock or the aquatic environment, and we think they should be subject to tighter controls.
The Bill will enable the agency to assess those fisheries that pose a higher risk to either fish stocks or the aquatic environment, which might involve new fishing methods that may develop and which have potential to harm the aquatic environment. In order to safeguard the situation, we want the agency to be able to refuse to grant an authorisation should the method present significant exploitation or harm. For that purpose we are amending the licensing provisions in the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975, through Clauses 207 and 209. Angling and fisheries undertaken under statutory entitlement will remain
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As to numbers, under the current rod regime the Environment Agency issues approximately 1.3 million rod and line licences and over 1,200 net and trap licences. I am told that the number of licences issued is not the same as the number of fishers; in particular, eel fishers hold a number of licences in order to set a number of eel traps and nets. At this stage we intend that only those who are targeting eels using fixed traps or racks or those targeting lamprey or smelt will be required to seek authorisation. Early indications are that this change will affect between 20 to 30 people out of over 1,000 who currently purchase net or trap licences, so the vast majority of those currently purchasing a licence to fish using nets and traps will continue under the same regime as before.
The Environment Agency is currently considering the appropriate fee for authorisations. My understanding is that its thinking is that fees will be in line with those for a licence currently issued for that fishery. Early assessments are that the fee involved will be sufficient to cover the cost to the Environment Agency of assessing the effect of a particular method on a site or stock. Those costs not met through the fees will be absorbed by the Environment Agency through efficiency savings. I assure the noble Duke that the Environment Agency will consult widely on its proposed changes for authorisations later this year, and fishers will then have an opportunity to contribute their views.
The Duke of Montrose: I thank the Minister for giving us so much information. In the confusion at the beginning, I forgot to declare my interest as somebody who runs a salmon fishery in Scotland which is not subject to the regulations.
I am most grateful to learn of the workings of the new regime being put in place and that it will not mean a substantial change for those affected. We all applaud the powers with which it will provide the Government to conserve fish and eels. I beg leave to withdraw the amendment.
Lord Greenway: I shall speak also to Amendments A259 and A262. Part 8 of the Bill deals with enforcement, and Clause 225 specifically with marine enforcement officers. Marine enforcement officers are,
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