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  • Feb 12, 2020:
  • Feb 6, 2020:
    • Employment: Health | Department for Work and Pensions | Written Answers

      To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are planning to take to ensure that people with fluctuating and hidden health conditions receive the support they need to (1) find, and (2) stay in, employment.

    • Climate Change - Motion to Take Note | Lords debates

      My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Browne of Ladyton, for securing this important debate. It is very timely because the appalling bush fires in Australia have put the challenge of climate change into sharp focus. However, the Climate Change Act commits us only to "net zero" within the UK territory. That will not do. We need absolute zero and we must count all the emissions for which we are responsible.

      The reason we have reduced emissions by 42% since 1990 is because we have picked the low-hanging fruit by cutting coal-fired generation, driving manufacturing abroad and failing to count the carbon cost of importing goods and food by ship and air, while EU laws on electrical appliance efficiency have reduced UK domestic electricity consumption by around 15% over the past decade. So the second half, or should I say the remaining 85%, of reducing our emissions is going to be much harder and more expensive, and will require radical policies. We must stop burning fossil fuels and focus on harvesting the energy of the sun in all its forms. That will require major changes in infrastructure and behaviour. So please will the Government resist the temptation to put their trust, like the United States, in technologies that have not yet been invented? The scientists in the FIRES report remind us that it can take 30 years to bring new technologies into widespread use. What we need is to lavishly apply existing technology.

      The report claims that to reach absolute zero, we will need to electrify all uses of energy, which is currently feasible except for aircraft and shipping. If we carry on at the current rate of growing non-emitting generation, we could be just about there by 2050, except for the inconvenient fact that by removing the use of fossil fuels, we will have massively increased our demand. So, while we accelerate our production of clean electricity, we will also have to reduce energy demand by about 40%. We will all have to change, so it is important for the Government to ensure that they take the public along. Young people are with us already, but not everyone. The CAB tells us that 38% of people think that they will need to change the way they heat their home, and most would be happy to do it-but they would need financial support. Do the Government plan to expand support for new boilers and home insulation?

      This week, it was announced that all new cars must be electric by 2035. Can the Government explain how they plan massively to increase the number of rapid charging points by then? What are their plans to strengthen the national grid? If we are to use electricity for space heating, the grid will be less stable than the gas grid when there is high demand and could leave essential users without power.

      This is not simple, because all these issues are interdependent. Take, for example, the complexity for the construction industry when building new homes to high energy efficiency standards such as Passivhaus. Building a new house costs about 65 cubic tonnes of CO2. This could come down massively if all the materials were manufactured and transported using green electricity. When you demolish old properties, how much of the material is recycled? Are the Government planning any new regulations about this, especially in the light of the high carbon dioxide cost of making cement, given that we do not yet have a substitute? The Association for Environment Conscious Building has calculated that to deep retrofit all our old draughty homes would take one thousand million cubic tonnes of insulation, plus the new windows and doors, so a massive upsurge in retrofit to save carbon would itself have a carbon footprint, which the association amusingly calls the "carbon burp". It makes it clear that without the decarbonisation of manufacturing and transport, the most ambitious retrofit programme will achieve nothing.

      Perhaps I may now go back to the need to produce more non-emitting energy and ask the Government about their plans, after Brexit, to support the massive increase in renewable energy generation we need. In Bangor University alone, much important work is being done to help us to absolute zero, currently supported by EU and Welsh Government funding. The new Smart Efficient Energy Centre has received £4.6 million from the Welsh European Funding Office. It supports research into the development of tidal and offshore wind energy, while €1.2 million came for work on synthetic landfill microbiomes for enhanced anaerobic digestion to biogas. Research into the production of more efficient solar panels at Swansea and Bangor was funded by EU structural funds. Can the Minister say whether that funding will be replaced by the UK Government as part of the effort to reach absolute zero?

  • Jan 30, 2020:
    • Major Trauma Centre: Westminster - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, I welcome the Minister's reassurances. Is she aware that in London last year 265 fewer members of the public attempted CPR on people nearby whose hearts had stopped? Does that not suggest that it would be more help to the people who work in and visit this building if we invited St John Ambulance to come to us again to deliver training on CPR and wider first aid interventions?

  • Jan 29, 2020:
    • Social Mobility - Question for Short Debate | Lords debates

      My Lords, many years ago, when I was training to be a teacher, I had to spend a week observing in a primary school even though I was preparing to be a secondary teacher. One particular moment has always remained in my memory. It was in the reception class when the teacher said to me, "When they come to us, some of the children are bright and inquisitive but some of them have a dull look in the eye. They can hardly put a sentence together and lack energy. Some are not even toilet-trained and some are obviously undernourished. What can our school do to make up for all these disadvantages?"

      Today, there is absolutely no excuse for this. We know about the importance of the first thousand days. We know that a child's life course is fundamentally affected by what happens to them in their first three years, and that babies from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be born with low birthweight, which leads to poor health. We know that the poorest children are 11 months behind when starting school. High-quality early years provision is vital for all children but particularly those whose family is unable to provide the richness of experience that allows the child to develop fully. However, 33% of staff working in early years settings lack either English or maths GCSE, or both, and are unable to provide that high quality. They are not trained to observe children and intervene appropriately to provide personalised development activities. Of course, staff with higher qualifications cost money, but it is money well spent because it produces better results for children and could be a major contributor to their social mobility.

      I support the Sutton Trust's recommendation that priority be given to ensuring that more early years teachers gain qualified teacher status. The Government should also invest in improving qualifications for all practitioners in the sector. It really matters.

  • Jan 28, 2020:
    • Tokyo Nutrition for Growth Summit - Question for Short Debate | Lords debates

      My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Collins, for securing this important debate this evening. I strongly suspect that there will be considerable agreement with what he just said from across the House. I certainly agree with him.

      Malnutrition is the main driver of illness and poor human potential worldwide and the UK has been a leader in taking action against it. We have to admit that while asking for more, as we always do. Action on nutrition is one of the most cost-effective things we can do to help us achieve the sustainable development goals and to maximise the potential of the global population. Value for money is £16 for every £1 spent on nutrition. As it happens, such action is closely linked to the other global crisis, climate change: improve one and you beneficially affect the other. The scale of the problem is enormous, as we have heard, with over 20% of children stunted and unable to reach their education potential, and very susceptible to illness.

      It is, of course, children who suffer most because of their vulnerability, but it is also girls and women who are particularly susceptible to anaemia and consequently give birth to underweight babies, thereby perpetuating the problem. We have long known that if you support a woman's health, you benefit a family, and this is a cost-effective way of benefiting the economy of fragile countries. However, we must not forget malnutrition in older people who are more likely to lack the finance necessary to feed themselves properly and who often lack influence in their community, so get forgotten. I am told that one in three older people in hospital in this country is malnourished.

      It is tempting to think that malnutrition is something that happens somewhere else and is the responsibility only of the contributions of DfID. However, malnutrition includes undernutrition, shortage of micronutrients and obesity; one in three children globally suffers from one of these three, including here in the UK. Actually, I strongly suspect that it would be a good deal worse if it were not for the existence of food banks, the wonderful school breakfast initiative, the nutrient standards of school meals and the availability of free school meals. I congratulate those local authorities that ensure that children on FSM also get fed during the holidays. Although the main focus of this debate is the Government's pledges at the Tokyo Nutrition for Growth summit, what action are they taking to address child and elder malnutrition, in all its forms, in the UK?

      As we have heard, the current DfID funding for nutrition around the world ends this year. We all hope that the Minister will be able to go a little further when she replies than she did in answer to the Oral Question from the noble Lord, Lord Collins, earlier this month and say whether the Government will up their game a little and pledge £800 million a year for the next five years. Could the Minister also say what analysis has been made of the most effective nutrient-sensitive and nutrient-specific programmes so that we know that the money is being spent on what works best?

      As a fellow of UNICEF, I have always been a great admirer of its child nutrition programmes. Part of that is the programme on breastfeeding which also takes place in the UK as the Baby Friendly Initiative. The wonderful thing about breastfeeding is that it helps to protect the mother from breast cancer as well as nourishing the child at minimal cost and risk. It also provides the child with valuable immunity from common diseases. Exclusive breastfeeding for six months and carrying on until 11 months could prevent over 800,000 child deaths and 20,000 maternal breast cancers. What are the Government doing both here and abroad to promote breastfeeding? To protect poor mothers from spending scarce resources on breast milk substitutes, are we providing education about the benefits of breastfeeding? I echo the plea from the noble Lord, Lord Collins, to make sure that we work with partners to ensure the enforcement of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes.

      Talking of working with partners, despite all we do, it is clear that the UK cannot solve malnutrition alone. However, we have already set an example and can do a lot to encourage others. Part of that would be to make the early pledge at the July event in Tokyo that the noble Lord, Lord Collins, asked for and show commitment at the top level by the presence of the Prime Minister.

      What plans do the Government have to match fund or co-finance nutrition initiatives to support nutrition plans in the most fragile countries? Will the Minister commit to programmes which strengthen the resilience of food production in poor countries in the light of the effects of climate change? It is much healthier for populations to eat their own normal, fresh diet rather than have to rely on dried food brought in by aid organisations in response to famine, war or natural disasters.

      Our track record on these matters is something we can be proud of, but there is much more to do. Therefore, we need the Minister's assurance that the UK will continue to make a major contribution to tackling the scandal of child and elder malnutrition across the world and start this new decade with a major announcement in Japan in July.

  • Jan 22, 2020:
    • Health: Sepsis - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, it can be difficult to diagnose sepsis in people with learning disabilities and difficult for them to realise that they may have it. The NHS has a very good little video prepared by and for people with learning disabilities and their carers. Is there anything the Minister can do to make sure that that helpful video is disseminated more widely?

  • Jan 15, 2020:
    • NHS and Social Care: Staffing - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, there are particular shortages of nurses in certain specialties such as children's palliative care, children's mental health and learning difficulties. What will the Government do to improve the situation in those very important and sensitive areas?

  • Jan 9, 2020:
    • Queen's Speech - Debate (4th Day) | Lords debates

      My Lords, I thank the Minister and the other winders for graciously giving me permission to speak, even though I may have to leave before the end of the debate because of a health issue concerning my husband. I wish to speak on health.

      Our NHS is a precious national asset, which comes right at the top of most people's priorities, and rightly so. In the gracious Speech, the Government promised a number of measures on health. I welcome the commitment to look at legislation proposed by NHS England to facilitate delivery of the long-term plan, and I look forward to working with the Government to implement it. However, I do not believe that the Government were addressing the right priorities when they promised to build 40 new hospitals over 10 years. The fact is that our hospitals are full, and one might think that a solution to that problem might be to build some more. But would it not be better to look at why the hospitals are so full and do something about it? The main problem lies at both ends of the throughput. Many people remaining in hospital beds would be better off in social care. This results in dangerously high levels of bed occupancy, with vulnerable patients having to wait for 24 hours in A&E for a bed on a ward. Yet we have been waiting years for the Green Paper on social care, and now all the Government can propose is cross-party talks. Fine-but when will we get a remit, a format and a timetable, and why not start with Dilnot and the report of the committee of the noble Lord, Lord Forsyth? We urgently need a courageous solution which is fair to all patients and all generations. It must address the predicament of those suffering from that distressing condition Alzheimer's disease, who face on average 15% higher care costs than other patients. A way must be found to spread the costs across the whole of society.

      At the other end of the throughput is primary care. We are promised 6,000 more GPs but the last Conservative Administration did not hit the previous target. At the same time we disadvantage ourselves when recruiting doctors and nurses from other EU countries by leaving the EU. Speeding up visa applications and reducing fees will not help when people still have to pay thousands of pounds to bring their families and to use the very NHS for which they are being recruited. Primary care is under great pressure and nowhere near enough capital is being allocated to the facilities needed to attract GPs. Perhaps new local health centres do not make such good headlines as 40 new hospitals. What are the Government's plans to invest in modern primary care facilities?

      In December, A&E hit its worst-ever waiting times because people cannot get to see a GP. Patients who really need hospital treatment wait in ambulances outside, like the lady in my village who died of sepsis having waited for hours outside the hospital.

      That brings me to staffing levels. The Government are relying on retaining 19,000 nurses who might otherwise have left to deliver their promise of 50,000 more, but they need to make staying on much more attractive. That means much better working conditions and less need for, for example, staying on for an extra two hours at the end of a 12-hour shift because no one is there to take over.

      Finally, I turn to gambling addiction, a preventable mental health issue that is growing. More than 400,000 people in England are addicted to gambling, and hospital admissions have more than doubled in the past 12 months, while the age of sufferers is getting younger. I am pleased that 14 new treatment clinics are planned by 2024 but we need to do more now to prevent the problem while we treat those affected. Will the review of the Gambling Act seek to tighten the regulation of companies that promote gambling, which take more than £14 billion a year from the punters, and to restrict the way that they market their services, especially to young people?

      We allow far too much gambling advertising. Companies would not spend £1.5 billion a year on this if it did not result in more gambling. We realised long ago that advertising smoking encouraged people to do something that damaged their health and that of others, so we banned it. We should do the same for adverts that endanger the mental health of susceptible people and bring misery to their families. Will the review of the Gambling Act seek to reverse the normalisation of gambling?

  • Oct 29, 2019:
    • Health Service Safety Investigations Bill [HL] - Second Reading | Lords debates

      My Lords, I too thank the Minister for introducing this Bill.

      I have always believed that, if you want to know what is wrong in an organisation, the best thing you can do is ask the people who work there. They will also very often know what to do about it. If you want to manage change effectively, your first principle has to be to involve in its design those who are going to implement it. I am also, as a keen gardener, a fan of the old saying that the best fertiliser is the farmer's boot. In other words, there is no substitute for getting round the farm to see what is growing well and what is being eaten by caterpillars. The same goes for organisations. If managers do not get out of their offices to see how things are working on the ground, they will miss what is going wrong and lose out on valuable opportunities to hear from staff informally. Nowhere is that more important than in an organisation where people's lives depend on getting things right the first time.

      We therefore welcome the Government's objective of moving towards a learning culture, but in many good NHS organisations this is nothing new. There have been many successes when the principles I have just outlined have been put into operation and staff have embraced change, especially when it was their idea in the first place-or at least they believed it was. Sometimes small management and systems changes can make a big difference to patient safety: for example, the introduction of checklists in surgery has reduced mistakes considerably. These things are not the responsibility of any one member of staff but involve people working together. The Bill deals with thematic or systemic issues rather than individual cases so it has a rather different role from the existing systems for improvement and safety management, but I would like to know how its operation will link with and impact on those existing systems.

      Getting to the bottom of problems in the past has often been hindered by staff hesitating to report concerns because of worry about being victimised as a whistleblower -there have been some very bad cases of that-but also because of a lack of confidence that anything will be done. The safe space idea should help with this. However, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, that it has to be seen that the recommendations are put into place for that confidence to arrive.

      Currently, the duty of candour means that staff must express concerns when they believe there is an unsafe situation. However, the RCN tells us that half of those who do so are not convinced that any action has been taken. As the noble Lord, Lord Hunt, said, it will be a challenge to the new body to ensure that those who give evidence in the new safe space see that effective safety improvements are put in place as a result of their co-operation. It is also important that those who give evidence are not inadvertently put at risk by doing so. That means that the exemptions to disclosing information to other bodies must be narrow, clearly defined and well understood. I think my noble friend Lady Parminter will say something about the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, which feels that it should be treated the same as coroners. There must also be clearly understood definitions of what serious professional misconduct means.

      Therefore, to fulfil the ambitions for the HSSIB, investigations must look at the whole picture, not just at the individuals involved in any incident. They must consider whether the shift at the time of the incident contained an appropriate number of staff for safe working, with the correct skill mix, training and experience for the situation they find themselves in. For example, we know that there are currently 40,000 nursing vacancies, and half of nurses in a recent RCN poll reported that their last shift was understaffed. Brexit has and will make things worse.

      The investigations should also consider local and national policy and report on how they impacted the incident, and should be able to make recommendations to the Secretary of State about the need for structural changes indicated by the investigation. That is why it is so important that the organisation is independent. How do the Government plan to ensure that the recruitment of the board is really independent of government and includes lay members as well as medical professionals? Again, I agree with the noble Lord, Lord Hunt of Kings Heath, about the appointment of the chief investigator and the involvement of the Secretary of State.

      It is arguable that all patients, however funded, should be able to benefit from the work of the HSSIB. Are there plans to extend its remit, after a period, to all health services, including those provided by independent providers? Indeed, the BMA has already suggested that its remit should be extended to incidents that affect the safety of healthcare workers as well as patients. In Committee there will be discussions about the potential expansion of the remit. Can the Minister clarify the relationship with other bodies with responsibility for quality and safety in health and care such as the CQC and the various regulators? Also, there are already various pathways that staff can take to express concerns, so there needs to be clear guidance as to which path to take in each situation.

      Resources for up to 30 investigations per year are being provided. How has this number been arrived at? What if a serious qualifying incident happens just after the annual budget has run out? Will the HSSIB have to publish the number of incidents referred to it alongside the number conducted, to determine whether further resources are needed in the future?

      How will decisions on the criteria for investigations be made? The groups consulted should be as wide as possible, including patient groups as well as healthcare professionals and managers. The Secretary of State seems to have a slightly suspiciously large role in an organisation that is supposed to be independent.

      As I said, I welcome the safe space approach, but it is important that staff feel supported when they disclose what happened, especially if their view with hindsight is slightly different from what they might have said at the time. The primary objective of learning from mistakes will be achieved only through full disclosure to the investigators, and that will come only from confidence in the system.

      We welcome the plan to put the new medical examiners on a statutory footing. It is important that bereaved families are helped to understand what happened and, if there is any doubt about the cause of death, that further investigations are put in place. Of course, we need the right sort of people for this with the right sort of training. It is essential that the service is properly resourced, particularly if it requires input from staff who are already stretched in their ability to provide good-quality and timely care to patients. Will the Minister say something about the staffing model for medical examiners? If they are to examine all deaths apart from those that go to coroners, there will be times of the year when they are very busy indeed, such as the winter months or in a heatwave. This is the same time when all clinicians are very busy, so if the MEs are clinicians employed elsewhere, doing shifts as medical examiners as well as their other job, they may need to be in two places at once at some times of year. How will the staffing model be designed to be resilient in that situation?

      In summary, one could hardly be against a plan to develop more of a learning culture in the NHS and enhance patient safety, but there are questions to be answered and reassurances to be given, and I hope that the Minister will be able to do that.

  • Oct 22, 2019:
    • Queen's Speech - Debate (6th Day) | Lords debates

      My Lords, I have recently had cause to be very grateful to the NHS and its dedicated staff. However, a service that leaves a vulnerable elderly patient in A&E waiting seven hours to see a doctor and, on two other occasions, waiting in A&E for a bed in a ward for 12 hours and overnight is a service that is either inadequately resourced or inadequately staffed, and probably both. Patients are well named in the health service of today.

      The health service relies on a thriving economy to provide its funding. This Government have played fast and loose with the prospects for our health service by their relentless pursuit of the hardest of hard exits from the European Union, within which our economy has thrived for more than 40 years. Brexit has already cost our economy £70 billion. It has also hit NHS staffing hard, with many well-trained and well-motivated staff either going home or not coming here at all.

      Why are so many A&E departments not reaching the target of seeing 95% of patients within four hours? It is not because the staff are not working hard. Clearly the reasons are complex, and demographics play a part. There are people who go to A&E who could have used other services. Here, I stress that all three visits I mentioned earlier were made after all other sources of help had been tried.

      However, two elements of the problem are outside A&E. One is delayed transfers of care, meaning that beds are occupied by patients who would be much better off at home with support or in social care. The second lies in primary care. Therefore, when I heard the Prime Minister's headline-grabbing claim that his Government will build 40 new hospitals, I looked at it very closely and found that it is really only six new hospitals and a bit of seed corn money for the rest. More importantly, I realise that this unelected Prime Minister has no idea what the problem really is if he thinks that the solution is six new hospitals.

      Patients who cannot get to see their GP will go where the lights are on, and that is A&E. It is very common for patients to have to wait three weeks to see their GP, and that is unacceptable. In many parts of the country, there are not enough GPs. In some places, this problem has been tackled by GP practices taking on other professionals to lighten the load on the doctor. This is an enlightened approach but it requires forward planning, funding and suitable premises. In the case of my local primary care services, that is not happening. There are no suitable premises for a modern all-service primary care facility, and that can make it hard to attract GPs. Therefore, to move to an efficient primary care service and reduce the pressure on A&E, we need funding and planning, but we are unlikely to get that from a Government intent on damaging our economy and promising not to increase taxes. Of course, the best course is to avoid damaging our economy and our health service by remaining in the EU.

      The other way to reduce pressure on our health services is to prevent ill health, and I absolutely agree with the gist of the speech of the noble Lord, Lord Young of Cookham. I welcome the focus on prevention in the NHS Five Year Forward View. However, I would like to mention a preventable cause of illness which the noble Lord, Lord Young, did not mention and which is linked to another of the Government's stated objectives-that is, action on climate change.

      Outside this building for the past two weeks, thousands of citizens have demanded urgent action on the climate change crisis. They did so while breathing air that has 50% more of the most dangerous small particulates than the WHO recommended maximum. In London, the average level of PM2.5 is 15 micrograms per cubic metre, while the WHO recommended limit is 10. Polluted air kills about 40,000 people a year. It causes respiratory and cardiovascular illness and affects the brain development of babies and young children. There is evidence that older people who breathe polluted air have a steeper reduction in cognition with advancing age compared with clean air breathers. Research from the University of Warwick shows a significant reduction in memory, equivalent to ageing 10 years, in those who breathe polluted air. Polluted air therefore attacks our thinking power as well as our health.

      Tackling climate change from the health perspective is also the right thing to do for the planet. It is bad for your health and tackling it is the healthy option, but the forthcoming Environment Bill needs to go further. It promises legally binding limits on air pollution but we have not been told what those will be. Actually, we already have them within the EU but have continually failed to reach them. What is required, as called for by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Air Pollution, is much more than painting the number plates of electric cars green; it is a phased reduction in the legal limit for PM2.5 to 15 by 2020, 12 by 2025 and 10 by 2030. This would provide the incentive to government and local councils to reduce car use and speed up the introduction of non-polluting electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, while bringing forward the phasing out of those powered by fossil fuels to 2030. We need radical action on charging and refill infrastructure. This would help the UK meet its climate change commitments, which it is otherwise unlikely to do.

      The proposed office of environmental protection also falls short. We need an independent body capable of rigorous scrutiny, with powers to investigate and gain access to data and the ability to monitor and force compliance and take Ministers to court if they fail to address these issues. We need these things for our health's sake and our planet's sake. So will the Government support the Private Members' Bills introduced today by my noble friend Lord Tope and the noble Baroness, Lady Jones of Moulsecoomb? That would be a step in the right direction.

  • Oct 2, 2019:
    • Brexit: Medicines and Medical Devices - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, in my local pharmacy there is a poster on the wall asking patients not to blame pharmacy staff for the current shortages of medicines and medical devices. While accepting that it is not the pharmacies' fault, can the Minister say whose fault it is?

  • Oct 1, 2019:
    • Influenza: People with Learning Disabilities - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, is the Minister interested in the views of the pharmacist I consulted yesterday on this Question? He said that his difficulty was identifying the local people with learning difficulties, because unless they have a physical problem that keeps him and the local GP in contact with them, it is hard to get to know them and, therefore, to encourage them to have the flu vaccine. Does that not indicate the need for a major public information campaign in accessible terms to indicate the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine and vaccines such as MMR?

  • Jul 19, 2019:
  • Jul 15, 2019:
    • Space Science and Technology - Question for Short Debate | Lords debates

      My Lords, I too thank the noble Lord, Lord Mawson, for securing this debate. When devising our industrial strategy, it makes sense to assess our opportunities and play to our strengths. In relation to both, the UK should be doing more: though only 3% of the world economy, we are 5% to 6% of the world space economy, so we are already doing well, although we need to do a whole lot better if we are to reach the Government's target of having 10% of the global space market by 2030. Apart from the trade and the very high-value jobs we can create from space exploitation, there are four good reasons why we need to be active in this field. Space programmes allow us to monitor and observe our world: this is vital for environmental protection and climate change mitigation. Communications rely on space programmes, as does navigation. Then there is the vital area of defence. We need to be independent in all these areas.

      We are already active in two of the major sectors of space exploitation: building satellites and receiving and interpreting data from them. The area where we are lacking is in independent launch facilities, although this aspect of space exploitation could be worth £3.8 billion to our economy by the end of the decade.

      The Sutherland space hub being developed by Highlands and Islands Enterprise is supported by £2.5 million from the UK Government as part of its £17.3 million funding, and other grants have been made available to companies developing a new rocket, launch operations and a new satellite. The location of this site makes sense, so that we can launch to the north-east, but it is in Scotland, a part of the UK where the people and the Government do not want to leave the European Union and where the SNP Government have threatened to attempt to break up the union if we Brexit. What happens to the Sutherland site then? I understand that there is another site in Cornwall where there are plans for a launch site, but the investment in Sutherland is already great. What discussions have taken place with the Scottish Government to protect that investment?

      Brexit threatens more than that. Half our current satellite manufacturing is exported to the EU. Tariffs would make us less competitive and a no-deal exit would be a disaster for companies such as those in the Glasgow and Surrey clusters, which build a lot of small satellites. One area in which we excel at the moment is removing space debris. There is a parallel here with the plastics that pollute our oceans. In our race for development, we have polluted the oceans with plastics that do not decompose and we have polluted space with bits of technology that are no longer used. A British satellite manufacturer has a clever netting system that can remove them. Surely this technology has enormous potential. Are the Government backing it?

  • Jul 9, 2019:
    • Restaurants: Calorie Labelling - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, I was alarmed to read the Public Health England report about unacceptably high levels of sugar in baby foods, even some labelled as being healthy. What steps are the Government taking to ensure that such products give parents the information they need to make healthy choices for their children?

  • Jun 28, 2019:
  • Jun 18, 2019:
  • Jun 4, 2019:
    • Food and Feed Hygiene and Safety (Miscellaneous Amendments) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 - Motion to Approve | Lords debates

      My Lords, I too thank the Minister for outlining all the technical details of this SI. Of course, this instrument has been withdrawn from the Order Paper twice before. Some of the changes made since we originally saw it are small but crucial. We are lucky that they have been spotted, but that raises concerns for the industry that there may be others. Now that the leaving date has changed, are the Government planning on conducting additional scrutiny on the other SIs that are being rushed through this House to make sure that they are up to scratch? How do the Government intend to convey these changes to the relevant individuals and companies on whom they will impact?

      I add my support to the question asked by the noble Baroness, Lady Thornton, about the capacity of the FSA. This is probably about the 16th time that we have asked the same question and we are still concerned about the capacity to replace all of the other measures.

      Some of these changes reflect very recent EU law that has come into force, as the Minister mentioned, so what do the Government intend to do about any new EU law that might come into force between now and 31 October or whenever we happen to leave? Will these SI and the ones that preceded them have to be further amended if there are other changes to EU law?

      The Minister mentioned that the system for minimum charging rates for hygiene controls of fishery products is somewhat out of date. Will the Government confirm whether they aim to change the pound-euro exchange rate from the 2008 level at which it is currently set? Although these charges, as we know, are rarely levied by local authorities, any change in the exchange rate, which could happen after Brexit, could have a big impact on the ability to pay of those against whom the charge is levied. We saw a big difference in the rate of the pound against the euro after the 2016 referendum, and the way in which we might, unfortunately, leave the EU, could have a similar serious effect on the exchange rate. What are the Government planning to do about those charges if there is such a big change in the exchange rate? Are they planning to bring it up to date from 10 or 11 years ago?

  • May 23, 2019:
    • Children: Gaming - Question | Lords debates

      My Lords, as the noble Lord, Lord Brooke, said, this is about gaming, not gambling. Although some games can indeed be beneficial, some of them have covert elements of gambling in them such as loop boxes. Will the Minister assure the House that the PSHE curriculum in schools will cover elements of gambling, including those hidden in otherwise innocuous activities such as gaming? How do parents find out which are beneficial and which are the harmful ones?