Drugs: Black Review

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Tuesday 19th October 2021

(2 years, 8 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, we have a very good example inside the UK of the short-term impact of cutbacks in rehabilitation and treatment. In Scotland, we now have the highest level of drug-related deaths in Europe, partly as a result of cutbacks in treatment and rehabilitation made over the past decade by the Scottish Government. The UK Government share some responsibilities on drug policy with the Scottish Government under the devolution settlement, so will they guarantee to work with the Scottish Government to try to turn around this devastating situation?

Lord Kamall Portrait Lord Kamall (Con)
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In September 2020, Kit Malthouse and Jo Churchill, the then Minister for Prevention, Public Health and Primary Care, co-chaired a UK ministerial meeting focusing on UK-wide approaches to drugs misuse. The second UK drugs ministerial took place at Hillsborough Castle in Belfast on 11 October. The Government maintain a commitment to consulting the devolved Administrations—or devolved Governments in many cases—as well as a number of expert speakers.

Covid-19: Aligning UK and Foreign Entry and Return Requirements

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Monday 19th July 2021

(2 years, 11 months ago)

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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I completely agree with the noble Lord that we should be utterly committed to the route to sustainable, open borders. However, we cannot hide from the threat of infection from abroad. That infection comes from higher rates from abroad—the positivity rates of some countries have been in the high teens—but also the threat of variants of concern, particularly the vaccine-evading beta variant, which is highly prevalent in some countries, including, increasingly, France.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the lack of co-ordination of regulations and announcements between the four Governments of the United Kingdom has been one of the worst examples of incompetence throughout these past 16 months. That is now particularly true in relation to international travel. Why is it impossible for these four Governments to agree one set of rules for people travelling in and out of the United Kingdom? What will the Government do to try to improve the situation, even if it cannot be resolved for the summer-?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con) [V]
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My Lords, I am not sure whether I agree with the premise of the question. I pay tribute to the collaborative spirit in which the four nations have worked together. I have regular meetings with my counterparties—in fact I have one this afternoon—in order to talk about exactly this sort of co-ordination. The answer to the noble Lord’s question is, in the framing of the question, that it is not in my or the Government’s gift to manage this on our own; we depend on collaboration in order to have co-ordination.

Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (All Tiers) (England) (Amendment) (No. 2) Regulations 2020

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Wednesday 30th December 2020

(3 years, 5 months ago)

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Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab) [V]
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My Lords, in the two minutes available I want to make three quick points but also to say how much I appreciated the balanced intervention there from the noble Lord, Lord Walney. I hope that we will have a chance early in the new year to debate the overall strategy, with more time for contributions.

First, I am totally opposed to the further mass closure of schools in any part of the United Kingdom. I do not think that the younger generation should be made to pay for the challenges which there clearly are in public health for the rest of the population. It is not beyond our wit and imagination to provide appropriate ways in which schools can stay open and children be taught using additional staff, volunteers and IT equipment, and additional space. That should remain a top priority for the Government. I would like the Minister to confirm that the Government still consider schools and other educational establishments critical infrastructure.

Secondly, while vaccinating health service staff and vulnerable, elderly people is very important—it is, no doubt, popular and in many ways correct—it is vital that we vaccinate other sections of the population. There are those who have to work, for example, such as bus drivers and those collecting our domestic waste, or those in our schools and educational establishments. There are also those working in factories and other manufacturing establishments where they cannot work from home; they may be working closely together. The vaccination programme needs to be more diverse and the strategy needs to take additional factors into account.

Thirdly and finally, it is absolutely vital that at the start of the new year, at the end of this week, we take a wholly new approach to co-ordination between the four nations of the United Kingdom. It has been a shambles. It has almost certainly cost lives because the public messaging, collation of evidence, reviewing of rules and the rules available for international travel have been so diverse and shambolic across the four nations of the UK. There is a need for leadership on this and for a new energy, so as to have a more concerted approach. I hope we will see that from all four Governments at the start of the new year.

HIV: Ending Transmissions

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Tuesday 1st December 2020

(3 years, 6 months ago)

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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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My Lords, I noticed the recommendation that every late diagnosis should be regarded as a major contagion, reported and followed up by an authority such as PHE. This is something for PHE to consider for itself, but I will certainly write to it to raise the recommendation and ask it to respond to me.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the doubling of mother-to-child transmissions around the world is just one of the implications of this year of instability in health services around the world caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In my experience around the world, one of the greatest fears of those living with HIV is instability, whether that is caused by climate change, conflict or pandemics. What are the Government going to achieve by cutting £4 billion in overseas development assistance when these great crises need so much attention at this time?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell (Con)
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The noble Lord speaks with great humanity and compassion, but I perhaps need to give a bit of perspective. I am not sure if our UK aid budget is enough to solve all the problems that he describes. The UK remains extremely committed to international aid. In the Covid epidemic and recession, we have reduced our commitment in a small way and have promised to revisit it at a later date. That commitment is very clear, and we will do that in due time.

Covid-19: Response

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Tuesday 19th May 2020

(4 years, 1 month ago)

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Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell
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It will be for others to decide whether an inquiry is necessary. For my part, I am enormously proud of the Government’s response and the NHS’s response to Covid-19, and I stand full square behind the decisions and actions we have taken.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, I welcome the fact that in the Statement it is clear that the Chief Medical Officers of the four nations of the United Kingdom agreed jointly to amend the identifiable symptoms for Covid-19. That stands in stark contrast to the mixed messaging of the weekend of 10 May and the days thereafter. What action have the Government taken since 10 May to ensure that the next round of announcements by the Prime Minister and the three First Ministers are more coherent and better co-ordinated in the interests of not only a clear public health message across the United Kingdom but the economic recovery that we will need in all four nations afterwards?

Lord Bethell Portrait Lord Bethell
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My Lords, we work extremely closely with the devolved Assemblies, the four CMOs and the four nations to have a consistent four-nations approach to Covid. We very much welcome Nicola Sturgeon’s support for this consistent approach.

Brexit: Counterfeit Medicines

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 7th February 2019

(5 years, 4 months ago)

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Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
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My noble friend is absolutely right that the MHRA is globally recognised, and that it has set the standards worldwide. We want to ensure that as we go into EU exit those standards continue, and that our reputation is maintained internationally.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, can we be assured that, in these and other areas where legislative responsibility is shared between the UK Government and the devolved Governments, there are appropriate arrangements in place behind the scenes—despite the political disagreements—fully to engage the devolved Governments in discussions on preparations for any scenario over the next few weeks?

Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford Portrait Baroness Blackwood of North Oxford
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The noble Lord is absolutely right. There is strong representation of life sciences in all four nations of the United Kingdom, and engagement has been going on across the devolved Administrations and will continue to do so.

HIV

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 15th January 2015

(9 years, 5 months ago)

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, these figures inevitably have to be estimates but they rely on data from three surveys that measure undiagnosed HIV infection among sexual health clinic attendees, pregnant women and people who inject drugs. Comprehensive clinical data from sexual health clinics relating to patients newly diagnosed with HIV are also used to infer the risk of undiagnosed infection.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, moving the focus from sub-Saharan Africa, where we have been so focused over recent years, is the Minister aware of the increase in the incidence of HIV/AIDS in south-east Asia? Are the Government looking at advice to British tourists travelling to that area in the light of this increase in the incidence?

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, I believe I am right in saying that there is advice on the FCO website for tourists to that part of the world. However, if I may, I will write to the noble Lord with details of the factors that obtain in south-east Asia.

Health: Liver Disease

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Tuesday 6th May 2014

(10 years, 1 month ago)

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, as my noble friend knows, there is of course scope to include alcohol awareness in relevant lessons in secondary schools. However, I take my noble friend’s point. I am encouraged by recent figures which show a drop in binge drinking, but that is no cause for complacency. It still takes place, and too many young people end up in specialist care and sometimes lose their lives. That is very much on Public Health England’s radar.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, Elena Baltacha had a remarkable career—

--- Later in debate ---
Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale
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I was up three times before.

Lord Hill of Oareford Portrait The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Hill of Oareford) (Con)
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My Lords, we are against the clock. It is the Labour Benches.

Female Genital Mutilation

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Excerpts
Thursday 7th November 2013

(10 years, 7 months ago)

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Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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My Lords, I am aware of that. I was a new Member of the House when that Act went through, and I commend the noble Baroness for the work she did on that issue. She mentioned France. One of the features of the French system is the physical examination of all girls under the age of five. We will not be following that path. We do not think it would be right to do so. We think it raises ethical and human rights concerns. However, all children are routinely seen by healthcare staff in the universal healthy child programme that covers England, and prevention and safeguarding absolutely underpin that programme. It is an important channel for conversations to be held with parents and children, so that they can be provided with relevant support and advice.

Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale Portrait Lord McConnell of Glenscorrodale (Lab)
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My Lords, the 1985 Act was updated in Scotland by the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. It extended the maximum sentence from five years to 14 years. In Scotland, as in the rest of the UK, there have been no prosecutions. Will the Minister and the Government work closely with the Scottish Government to make sure that we have a unified approach across the UK to ensure that there are prosecutions in the future for this most extreme form of child abuse?

Earl Howe Portrait Earl Howe
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Yes, my Lords, we work closely with our colleagues in the devolved Administrations. The noble Lord is absolutely right: FGM is a crime in the UK under the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003, and in Scotland under the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation (Scotland) Act 2005. I am advised that it is a feature of both Acts that if someone is taken overseas for the mutilation, it is still a crime in the UK if the mutilation is done by a UK national or permanent UK resident.