HL Deb 13 July 2000 vol 615 cc388-400

4.24 p.m.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, with the leave of the House, I should like to repeat a Statement being made in another place by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister. The Statement is as follows:

"With your permission, Madam Speaker, I should like to make a Statement on the Annual Report, published by the Government earlier today.

"Our first and primary responsibility was to get the economic fundamentals right—the building blocks that will make Britain stronger and fairer. Inflation is at 2.2 per cent, within our inflation target of 2.5 per cent. An inherited £28 billion deficit was turned into a £16 billion surplus by last year. Unemployment is down. One million jobs have been created since May 1997. Real take-home pay is up by about 8 per cent. And when you take out spending on areas we want to spend money on, like children and pensions, welfare spending is falling for the first time in decades.

"But none of this has come without serious choices: Bank of England independence, taking the politics out of people's mortgages, and tough action to clear the deficit. I know that some of these decisions, like the rises in fuel duty, were unpopular. But they were necessary. Interest rates over the years of this Government have averaged 6 per cent. In the previous 18 years, they averaged 10 per cent, a change that makes the average mortgageholder £160 a month better off.

"That stability having been fought for and on course to being won, now we must make the next choice: to invest in the country's future. I believe that the people of this country understand that Britain is a chronically under-invested in nation. For 18 years transport, health and education were starved of funds. In education, for example, the real terms increase during the 18 years of Conservative government was only 1.5 per cent a year. If we want opportunity and security for all in a world of change, we have now to invest in our essential infrastructure and in our public services. This is a government committed to that investment.

"There has been investment to repair and renovate 11,000 schools, with 6,000 more to come; more money for books; money for computers; money for paying teachers more; and thousands more schools linked to the Internet.

"We have seen a dramatic rise in standards in primary schools. The next challenge is to see the same big rises in standards in secondary education and in universities. The priorities remain education, education, education, and our response, Madam Speaker, will be investment, investment, investment.

"In the health service, we are meeting our target on in-patient waiting. We must now get sustained falls in out-patient waiting. By the end of this year all accident and emergency departments that need it will be rebuilt or refurbished. The first new hospital has already opened in Carlisle. Thirty-seven more infrastructure projects over £25 million are on the way in England alone. There are new services like NHS Direct, and walk-in centres. As a result of the Budget in March, the NHS is now finally getting the funds it needs—the biggest sustained increase in its history. But we know that there is much more to do.

"In transport, the Jubilee Line and Docklands Light Railway show what our transport system could be like. Also, there are additional numbers of trains and bus services. New rolling stock is starting to come into use. But in many parts of Britain, our transport infrastructure urgently needs substantial extra investment. We admit it. The 10-year transport plan, to be published shortly, will show how it can be done.

"The Government are committed to a society of opportunity for all, responsibility from all. Crime is clown since 1997, particularly car crime and burglary—in some areas, spectacularly so. But violent crime is rising. We need more police. We will get them. We need new ways to tackle drugs. We will get them. We needed tougher action against drug dealers. We are legislating against them.

"In all these areas we should all recognise the immense efforts of millions of public servants—school teachers, police, NHS staff and civil servants—because their work makes our country richer.

"This is a government committed to social justice. Thanks in part to the minimum wage, the working families' tax credit and the biggest ever rise in child benefit, 1.2 million children will be lifted out of poverty in this Parliament. But there is still a long way to go to meet our goal of ending child poverty altogether.

"On pensioners, I am well aware of the focus on the 75 pence rise on the basic state pension; and if that was all the Government had done for pensioners, people would have every right to feel angry. But it is not. We chose, deliberately, to get most help to the poorest by the new minimum income guarantee. Around 2 million pensioners have gained, some of them considerably, by about £15 to £18 per week. We have abolished eye test charges, introduced the winter allowance, now at £150, and given free TV licences to pensioners aged 75 and over. In total, an extra £6.5 billion is being spent on pensioners over and above what the last government planned. But I am the first to say that there is more to do and, step by step, as the country can afford it, we will do it.

"This year also saw the best inward investment figures in our history. Around the world, people see strong economic fundamentals. They see a good business environment, recently described by the Economist Intelligence Unit as the second best in the world.

"The Government are committed to a positive and constructive role in Europe. At the Lisbon summit, we helped to set a new economic course for Europe. Most recently, the Chancellor turned round the entire debate on tax in Europe. We are leading the debate in Europe on defence. We maintain a policy on the euro that is designed for our national economic interest, that is good for British jobs, British industry and British investment.

"There are many other areas where we can chart progress: hand guns are banned; land mines are banned; hereditary Peers are on their way out; paid holidays for everyone for the first time; the arts with funding rising, quality improving and our international reputation a credit to Britain; the right where employees want it to be represented by a trade union. We are starting to cancel third world debt. The Strategic Defence Review is allowing Britain to count for more in the world.

"Of course, there is more to do. We have been in government for three years. One million more in work. True. But still many thousands of jobs lost through industrial change. We now have the best ever results in primary schools. True. But our secondary schools still are not near the level of the best in the world. An extra 10,000 nurses in the NHS compared with three years ago. True. But we need many more, and we need many more cancer and heart surgeons, too. Domestic burglary has fallen by 20 per cent in three years. True. But violent crime is increasing. There is a lot done, but a lot more needs to be done and this Government will do it.

"Deliver the stability. Deliver the investment the country needs. Deliver opportunity for all in a civic society founded on rights and responsibilities. Our purpose is to build a Britain that is strong, modern and fair, under a government who at long last see economic prosperity and fairness not as opponents but as partners in building the Britain of the future.

My Lords, that concludes the Statement.

4.32 p.m.

Lord Strathclyde

My Lords, I thank the noble Baroness for repeating the Statement. However, having read it and having now heard it, I am bound to say that I have my doubts if what are essentially trivial public relations statements of this type—spin and not substance—are worthy of the attention of your Lordships' House.

Is there not a sense of utter bathos in moving from the Motions we heard earlier after Question Time to this Statement? It is a journey from service to self-service, from real achievement to a land of promises, promises, promises and a descent into the land of Walter Mitty in which the Government and their swelling army of spin doctors increasingly live.

To listen to what has been said by the Prime Minister and to what the noble Baroness has just repeated, one would think that the Government had more achievements to their name than a combination of the Britain of the Victorian era and the Athens of Pericles. However, outside of this House, if they bother to listen to the people of this country—at the school gate, in the hospital queue, in the farmyard, in the traffic jams, on the Underground or even at home in the still, small hours, pouring over bureaucratic forms and struggling with the tax return—it feels very different. Rarely in the history of politics has there been a more giant gulf between preening self-image and real substance than we sense with this Government.

Elements of the Statement sound as though they were being presented as a prospectus for action for a government on their first day in office rather than a government with three wasted years behind them. Perhaps noble Lords will remind me: was it last year or was it the year before that that was supposed to be the "year of delivery", or was that only one more empty and insincere soundbite along the way?

I do not intend to take up much of the time of noble Lords on this Statement. After all, there is nothing of policy substance in it. I shall content myself with just two observations.

The Prime Minister has said that we are, leading the debate in Europe". Whether we take my view on the euro or that held by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, does not the noble Baroness think that both he and I would be entitled to just a hint of scepticism on that score?

The Prime Minister has said that he can chart progress because hereditary Peers are on their way out. I know that the noble Baroness has to repeat the words so masterfully crafted in No. 10, but is not this House entitled to rather more respect than that the Prime Minister should crow about the passing of people who served their country and this House with a rare sense of duty? Furthermore, the Government still do not know how to replace them. If, over the past three years, the Government had had half the commitment to the details of legislation as that of the hereditary Peers we have lost, they would not keep loading Parliament with so many ill-thought-out, half-baked and damaging Bills.

In the Statement there was one constant refrain: "We have more to do. We have work to do". Goodness me, they are right on that. But while they spin, we must toil. This House has real work to do. It has work to do once more this afternoon, yet again tidying up the confusion and chaos of this Government's legislative programme.

We know well that the real measure of the quality of this Government is not to be found in this self-serving and self-congratulatory report. It is to be found in the Report stages of Bills such as the one which forms our main business today, a snoopers' charter of a Bill and a Bill in which, once again, only the diligence and wisdom of noble Lords is contriving to save the Government from themselves.

It is in that legislative confusion and those misplaced priorities that one will find the reality of this Government. We have to live with it day by day. Perhaps I may therefore suggest that we move swiftly on from this vacuous report to return to the real work of Parliament.

4.37 p.m.

Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank

My Lords, I am struggling with the temptation to follow the advice of the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, but I am not confident that, even if I did, others would so do.

We, too, are most grateful to the noble Baroness for putting on a firm face and a pleasant smile while reading out a Statement which seemed like a preface to every election manifesto since the beginning of time. I have read a great many of them. For those who can recall this one, it sounds like, "Let us face the future by first remembering the past". Alternatively, it could read as, "Why we should have a second term in government".

I have been reading the very glossy document and it is rather amusing to think about how it was put together. Clearly, it was placed in the hands of a picture editor. He probably said, "We must have a gender mix; we must have an ethnic mix and we must have an age mix". The age mix must have been particularly important given the hard deal that old age pensioners have had. He may also have said, "Let us print some nice pictures, preferably smiling ones. Then we should try to find some text to put around them". That is how a document like this is made up. Indeed, I wrote, "Suitable for sixth formers", but then thought that that was perhaps casting it a little high.

The first part of the Statement contained a good deal with which one could agree. I certainly think that the economy is a good deal stronger, although the Government inherited a far stronger economy than any other Labour government during the 20th century. It is true that inflation is low and I congratulate the Government on that, as well as on the lowering of the unemployment figures. Those are matters about which it is reasonable to rejoice.

However, by the time one reaches the second page, the whole report changes its tone. We do not have hard choices; we now have "grown up" choices. The report goes on to blame the previous government for 18 years of neglect in transport, health and education. Surely there will come a point when this Government, like every other, will give up blaming a government in the increasingly distant past. Then we come to a reminder that it is, "Education, education, education", to which is now added, "Health, health, health"—and so the document goes on.

There is one interesting little device in the Statement. Noble Lords will recall Mrs Thatcher's great ability, when she saw high unemployment figures—when she walked, for example, in my old constituency of Stockton-on-Tees—of deploring a situation which she had either done so much to create or absolutely nothing to alleviate. We find the technique adopted on page five of the Statement: We need more police. We will get them". That is said after three years when it has been a regular theme on all sides of this House and in another place. The Government cannot rely on that at this stage.

We come again to a reference to hereditary Peers, as the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, mentioned. The Prime Minister says in his Statement: Hereditary Peers are on their way out". It is not a question of what we are doing in future. They are here, nearly 100 of them. The report could equally have said, "We the Government decided that we wanted to retain 100 hereditary Peers in the House of Lords, and we have been successful in achieving that"! So every issue can be looked at in an alternative way. There follows a peculiar reference to, Paid holidays for the first time". Paid holidays for the hereditary Peers? Paid holidays for whom? Are paid holidays an invention of this Government? I thought that paid holidays had existed not for 10, not for 20, but for more than 50 years. Perhaps the noble Baroness will explain the point. In what ways are paid holidays available for the first time in a way that they were not available in the past?

I shall not adopt tedious repetition, as indeed I could. The document is a mixture of fact, fiction and fantasy, with a certain degree of frankness occasionally thrown in to give it a sense of authenticity.

I rather like this Government. I believe that they are better than the previous government, and I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt. Therefore, I shall not say that the report is an abuse of public money, merely that it is a waste of public money. I ask the noble Baroness only one question: how much did it cost?

4.42 p.m.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, the conventions of the House, by which we all abide with great precision, require me to thank both noble Lords for their response to the Statement and to the Annual Report. I cannot say that I am entirely surprised by their lack of overwhelming enthusiasm, although in responding the noble Lord, Lord Strathclyde, did not seem to take his own criticisms seriously, so I do not feel enormously burdened by them.

Both noble Lords spent an enormous amount of time doing what the Government are usually criticised for doing. They spent the entire time referring to the presentation of the Annual Report. Perhaps I may draw attention to one or two facts, beginning with the final question from the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers. The total cost of the report—together with numerous pages on the website in which the detail of many of the polices will be explained more fully, together with the regional operation, which involves people being able to identify and access matters of particular significance to their area, together with videos demonstrating that—is expected to be somewhere in the region of £140,000, about £40,000 less than last year's Annual Report. So to that extent, efficiency and economy have succeeded.

I am slightly surprised that both noble Lords took what I can only describe as a rather "Westminster-centric" view of the absolutely genuine attempt by the Government to make sure that people throughout the country understand some of the complicated changes that have taken place, and of the way in which the Government have tried to make people feel that they can have access to this information by arranging it in an attractive format rather than the rather dreary format of a traditional White Paper. That is precisely what people enjoy. I can vouch for that from my personal experience as Minister for Women. Last autumn, the Government produced—again, to rather patronising criticism from many—a publication entitled Voices, which reflected the consultation my right honourable friend Tessa Jowell and I had conducted with 30,000 members of the electorate around the country. That document is now internationally accepted as an example of the way in which government should communicate with the electorate in the modern age. I believe that the present document will have exactly that sort of success.

The fundamental point of the overall policy of the Government which both noble Lords have missed, or have decided to ignore, is that the reason why the emphasis in this document is on acknowledging some of the achievements, but also the fact that much more needs to be done, is that the hard decisions taken in the past three years have created opportunities for investment and the economic stability which now enable all those points—the health service, the police force and the situation in secondary schools, for example, to which both noble Lords referred—to be addressed with proper money and proper programmes.

It is not sufficient for the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers of Quarry Bank, to suggest that this is merely a retrospective assessment of a situation for which we should now take total responsibility. When we have been in government for 18 years, that may indeed be true; but on the basis of three years, this is a proud record.

The noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, said that the report reads as though it is demonstrably an election manifesto. If that is the basis for an election manifesto, it is certainly one on which I should be proud to fight an election. As the Prime Minister says in his opening message, These are the facts. People can make their own judgement on them".

4.46 p.m.

Lord Tomlinson

My Lords, I thank my noble friend the Leader of the House for repeating the Statement made by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister in another place. Does she agree that a report that clearly shows inflation at 2 per cent, unemployment at its lowest for 20 years, in-patient waiting lists in the National Health Service down by over 100,000, and Britain better off in Europe, indicates progress in 38 months which contrasts most favourably with the record of the previous government? Does my noble friend further agree that if we plead guilty to any deficiency it is the failure in 38 months not to have fully redeemed all the damage that was inflicted on the country by the previous administration?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

Yes, my Lords, I am very happy to accept my noble friend's sensible and accurate appreciation of the detail of the Annual Report. I have not been asked, because it is a point to which people do not want to draw attention, about the present position on the five pledges made at the last election. But, with the leave of the House, I shall repeat them. It can be done shortly. We have halved the number of infants in classes of more than 30; we have helped 210,000 young people to find work through the New Deal on our way to the target of 250,000; the average time for getting persistent young offenders from arrest to sentence is down to 108 days, on our way to the target of 72 days; we have already cut 100,000 off in-patient waiting lists; inflation and interest rates are low; and we have cut VAT on fuel.

Lord Waddington

My Lords, may I ask the noble Baroness a question not so much about the content of the Statement but about the use of this device of an Annual Report? Will she recognise that many of us were horrified at the form of the Queen's Speech at the beginning of this Session? It was not, as it is supposed to be, a catalogue of the Government's plans for the coming Session, but instead, to a large extent, a tedious and extremely ill-written recital of the Government's alleged achievements? Does the noble Baroness agree that the introduction of the Annual Report removes all excuses for not returning to a Queen's Speech as it should be—a simple recital of the Government's plans for the coming Session? Will the Government please have some mercy on Her Majesty, who had to read all that tripe last time round?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, perhaps I am a little slow but I do not entirely follow the noble Lord's logic in making a connection between the Queen's Speech and the Annual Report.

Lord Waddington

My Lords, the logic is obvious. If there is a new device in the form of an Annual Report to outline the alleged achievements of the Government, there is no excuse for repeating that list in the Queen's Speech.

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I remain unconvinced about the connection. I am delighted to point out that the Annual Report was written by civil servants. It is, therefore, a wholly official document, not a party political attempt to influence opinion in that way.

Lord Clinton-Davis

My Lords, does my noble friend recognise that the fact the noble Lord opposite is so upset bears testimony to the value of the Annual Report? Will my noble friend deal in particular with the question of Europe? Does the Leader of the House agree that to shut one's eyes to the idea of a Europe which includes the United Kingdom is the opposite of common sense? Is it not much better to acknowledge that there needs to be convergence and that, subject to the test set out by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, in a year or two from the date of the next election the British people should be asked to express their view about the future of Europe?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, with his normal clarity and authority my noble friend sets out precisely the Government's position on Europe. One of the advantages of the Government's position over the past three years which my noble friend outlines is that it demonstrates precisely the influence that the UK can have in the European councils in a way which perhaps has not happened before. I refer in particular to the detailed debate in your Lordships' House several weeks ago about the leadership of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on European taxation. Six months ago we were very much in the minority, but by virtue of my right honourable friend's good arguments and leadership there has been a change of opinion within the European Union. That change is very much to the advantage of this country and is in tune with a number of points made previously in your Lordships' House.

Viscount Cranborne

My Lords, in view of the emphasis that the noble Baroness places on the effectiveness of this document as a means of communication with the electorate, can she tell the House how many copies of the equivalent document last year were sold and how many hits the website received? Does the noble Baroness expect to do better this year than last? In view of the electioneering tone of the document, which was acutely spotted by the noble Lord, Lord Rodgers, can the noble Baroness tell the House whether the document is being sold in this way with a view to an early autumn election so that the Government can try to garner the remaining benefits of 18 years of Tory government before things really begin to go sour on them next year?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, with his customary seductive ability, the noble Viscount leads me down very dangerous paths and tempts me to speculate about the date of the next election. He knows full well that I have no intention of replying, even rhetorically, to that question. I understand that last year a similar document sold between 10,000 and 12,000 copies, but many others were distributed through other mechanisms. The website then was not as elaborate as it is today. If one is connected to the Internet the website now enables one to gain access based on one's own postcode and particular locality. Therefore, I expect the number of website hits to be much greater this year. I do not have a breakdown of the number of hits last year, but if I discover that fact I shall write to the noble Viscount.

Lord Wallace of Saltaire

My Lords, does the noble Baroness accept that the four pages of the report devoted to foreign policy and international developments are very bitty and anecdotal and that a number of major developments over the past year are simply not mentioned? For example, as a member of the European Union Committee of your Lordships, I note that the Schengen opt-in, which has been one of the more significant movements in Britain's relations with the EU over the past year, is not mentioned. Does the Leader of the House recall that in April 1974 the Foreign Secretary, Mr James Callaghan, proposed that there should be an annual White Paper on Britain's international commitments and foreign policy? Do the Government consider that it would now be useful to have such an overall annual White Paper?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I am well aware of the detailed and authoritative interest of many noble Lords in foreign affairs. In response to the specific points raised by the noble Lord, the printed document must be seen in combination with the other bits of information which have been published. The whole point of this document is that it should be anecdotal. I believe that the noble Lord used that word pejoratively, but I use it in a positive sense. One of the criticisms in the past has been that lists of achievements and developments are regarded as indigestible. The whole point of such a document is that it should be more broadly accessible and popular. However, there is a complex, detailed website which provides much detail of the Government's developments and policies over the past year. I am not in a position to respond authoritatively to the noble Lord's question about an annual report on foreign affairs. I am aware that your Lordships have many important debates on that subject which perhaps collectively add up to such an annual report.

Lord Hylton

My Lords, I welcome the emphasis on education. The Leader of the House may be pleased to hear that in the village where I live, 30 year-old mobile classrooms are being replaced by a permanent building. Being a voluntary-aided school, there is a very large contribution from parents, neighbours and interested local people. Can the noble Baroness say something about the Achilles heel of the education system, by which I mean those children and young people who are suspended and excluded from school? I am aware that a little while ago the Government earmarked a sum of money to deal with this problem. A few days ago at Question Time the noble Lord, Lord Elton, pointed out, quite correctly, that suspension and exclusion were the strongest indicator of subsequent criminality, with all the social costs that that entails. Will the Government each year increase the amount of money that is available for these young people and place continued emphasis on alternative social and literacy education for those who miss out on what we all expect for our children?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, the noble Lord puts his finger on a very significant part of the boundary (if one can so describe it) between social policy and education policy and the way that they should work together. The noble Lord will be aware that next week we shall see the outcome of the comprehensive spending review in which the kind of spending to which he refers may be identified. Perhaps the noble Lord should acknowledge that the Excellence in Cities initiative precisely seeks to straddle social and education programmes. For example, if as a result of that initiative one has on-site welfare officers to tackle truancy and special units to remove disruptive pupils from the classroom, at least one identifies at local level the problems and, it is hoped, the solutions. However, I agree with the noble Lord that the important boundary between education and social policy, together with the other pieces of policy which need to be present to support families, must be looked at in totality.

Baroness Whitaker

My Lords, my noble friend the Leader of the House explained the format of the report. Does she agree that the report is modest in not celebrating the largest ever increase in one year in the international development budget: namely, 12 per cent in real terms over the previous year?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, yes, my noble friend identifies an important contribution which the Government have made to international development. At the same time the Government have continued to play a leading role in reducing the international debt of developing countries. As my noble friend will be aware with her special interest in this area, last year we backed the agreement on the heavily indebted poor country initiative to enable those countries to take advantage of the additional 252 million dollar programme which gave relief to individual countries.

Lord Clark of Kempston

My Lords, is the Minister aware that many people in this country consider the report a blatant misuse of taxpayers' money to produce an electioneering pamphlet? First, why is the pamphlet silent on the inheritance by this Government of the strongest economy for many years? Secondly, why is there no mention of the enormous increase in taxation when one takes into account direct and indirect taxation?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I am surprised that the noble Lord translates the economic statistics that I repeated in the Statement into that gloomy overview. The noble Lord talks about the economy being very strong in 1997. As I pointed out in the Statement, we inherited a £28 billion deficit. By last year that was turned into a £16 billion surplus.

As I also said in the Statement, one million jobs have been created since May 1997. None of those factors adds up to a picture of strength which we inherited. They add up to a picture of strength we have created.

I am surprised that the noble Lord should identify the tax issue as of specific importance today. In the Opposition's extraordinary contortions over their tax guarantee, they propose a £16 billion cut in public investment were they ever to come to office.

Earl Russell

My Lords, when I collected my copy of the report at lunchtime today, I looked at the glossy photograph on the cover and asked a colleague whether he thought that the Government intended to market it alongside Vogue. After some thought, he replied, "No, Tatler". Nevertheless, in the spirit of the Minister's remarks I shall engage with the content of the report.

I was pleased to notice that the Government take their anti-poverty strategy seriously enough to have honoured it with a small paragraph on the top of page 17. The noble Baroness will be well aware that the Government define poverty as below half average income. Were I to ask her why, she would doubtless reply that the line should be drawn somewhere. I shall not put her to that trouble. However, I shall ask her why the Government collect no information on the percentage of the population below 20 per cent, 10 per cent or 5 per cent of average income.

If, when the Government meet the electorate, they find that they have reduced the proportion below 50 per cent of average income but that the proportion below 20 per cent has increased will they then claim that they have reduced poverty?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I take advantage of an old friendship with the noble Earl to say that by his remarks about marketing this publication with Vogue or Tatler he demonstrates a lack of awareness of the way in which most people in this country like to read the information contained in this publication and access the more detailed information on the Internet, should they wish to do so, along with the ability to have a video presentation or something of that kind. The noble Earl may prefer the population to access government information only in a more traditional form. However, our experience—I referred earlier to my experience—is that that is not so.

The noble Earl asked some detailed questions about the alleviation of poverty. I say simply—I am aware of time running out—that by 2001, for example, I should be perfectly ready to defend this Government's agenda on poverty by identifying the extra billion which is being spent on support for children, lifting one million children out of poverty over the period of this Parliament.

Lord Archer of Sandwell

My Lords, does my noble friend agree that one attractive feature of the report is that it can be tested against the proportion of benefits already visible to the eye? I refer, for example, to increasing numbers of people in jobs and reduced waiting lists. Does my noble friend recollect that it records additional resources to the health service of the order of £2 billion and a rising graph to 2003?

Can my noble friend give some indication of the proportion of that money which will he dedicated to long-term benefits such as the building of new hospitals and how much to benefits which will be obvious fairly quickly, such as reduced waiting lists?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, my noble and learned friend rightly identifies the extra spending on the National Health Service. He will be aware, as will all noble Lords, that we await the new National Health Service strategy which will set out the detail of the way in which the extra money should be spent.

My noble and learned friend is right to say that there has to be a combination of short-term goals and long-term investment. One of the most important factors will be to identify particular resources for the training and support of people within the caring and clinical professions. It is by reinforcing the numbers of doctors, nurses and other people working in the front line of the health service that we shall achieve the step change which this Government are determined to achieve.

Lord Boardman

My Lords, the noble Baroness said that the Statement had been prepared by civil servants. She referred to the record level of inward investment. How does she reconcile that with the many statements made by the Foreign Secretary and others that the Government's indecision with regard to the euro is having disastrous effects upon inward investment in this country?

Baroness Jay of Paddington

My Lords, I should be grateful if the noble Lord would identify a statement by my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary in which he said that. I simply repeat the sentence in the Statement, which is accurate, that, This year … saw the best inward investment figures [to this country] in our history".