on Reproductive Health
Health Action Zones and
Baroness Young asked
how many health action zones have been established which
will permit girls as young as 12 to have the morning after
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department
of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): we have been notified
of 12 schemes which have been established by health action
zones and health authorities. Although they are open to
women of all ages, experience has been that there are very
few requests from under-16s. Supplies can be made to an
under-16 within the legal framework established for health
professionals in 1986.
Baroness Young: what measures are to be taken to
monitor the effect of all this, particularly as regards
the number of girls under the age of 16 who are likely to
receive those particular pills? Will he monitor also the
incidence of sexually transmitted diseases as a consequence
of the availability of the morning after pill?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: certainly I accept that
it is important to monitor the progress of health action
zones. I assure the noble Baroness that the issues which
she has raised will indeed be monitored. My understanding
is that in the Manchester health action zone, the average
age of women presenting in the Manchester pharmacy scheme
was 24 and only 4 per cent were under the age of 16.
The Earl of Longford: does my noble friend agree
that sex between children, adolescents and unmarried young
people should be discouraged by government action?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: the House is always asking
the Government to take action. We wish to do everything
that we can to reduce the degree of teenage pregnancy, which
is very much associated with the question asked by my noble
friend. Our national media campaign in relation to sexual
health and teenage pregnancy focuses on giving young people,
first, the facts about the risk of unprotected sex and also,
importantly, helping them to face down the pressure to have
sex before they are ready to do so.
Baroness Blatch: in view of the fact that the morning
after pill is available to young people under the age of
16, what protection is there in relation to the culpability
of a teacher or a head teacher who refers a girl to a nurse
and/or a pharmacy if something goes wrong?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: if the contraceptive was
issued under a patient group direction, the professional
prescribing that contraceptive would be open to regulation
and discipline by his regulatory body. In addition, the
medical doctor who was concerned with and signed the patient
group direction would himself be accountable if an error
were made in that patient group direction.
On the question of the supply of contraception by school
nurses, the noble Baroness will recognise that that occurs
only after a decision by the governing body of the school
after consultation with the parents.
Baroness Massey of Darwen: does the Minister agree
that there is overwhelming evidence to show that very few
girls of 12 are having sex in the first place and that the
vast number of women who use emergency contraception are
in the age range of 30 to 40? Does he further agree that
it is better to use emergency contraception than for a child
to have a child?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I agree with all those
statements in my noble friend's question. Indeed, the evidence
from the Manchester scheme confirms that.
Lord Clement-Jones: does the Minister also agree
that in the majority of the other health action zones, particularly
the one of which I am aware; the Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark
health action zone, the figures are very similar to those
referred to by the noble Baroness, Lady Massey?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: that is why I responded
positively to the original Question by the noble Baroness,
Lady Young. Clearly, it is extremely important for us to
monitor the figures and make them known because that will
inform other potential schemes up and down the country.
Baroness Knight of Collingtree: asked the Minister
to say what warnings his department issues to reach those
very young girls to ensure that they know about the now
known danger of starting a sexually active life very early?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: in relation to the overall
sexual health strategy, the Government are keen to ensure
that the risks of having under-age, unprotected sex should
brought home to young people. We seek to do that. At the
same time, I believe that when unprotected sex has taken
place it is absolutely right that contraceptive advice is
available to those young people, as long as the legal framework
Baroness Uddin asked the Minister to inform the House
what data are kept in relation to women taking the morning
after pill, not only in respect the age of the children
and women but also in respect of their ethnicity and race?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: it is important that we
keep as much information as possible in order to inform
our future polices and programmes. The Government's sexual
health strategy, which will be launched in due course, will
focus on information requirements.
Earl Howe: does Minister remember from the debate
at the end of January that one of my concerns in relation
to the morning after pill being available in pharmacies
is that continuity of healthcare can be compromised. What
is the situation in the health action zones where a young
person under the age of 16 requests the morning after pill
from a pharmacist? Does the pharmacist have an obligation
to refer that young person to a GP? What transfer of information
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I do not believe that a
pharmacist has an obligation to refer such a young person
to a general practitioner. But whatever conversation takes
place between the pharmacist and the young person, that
provides an opportunity for information to be imparted about
safe sexual health practices. I believe that that happens.
Earl Ferrers: if the Minister agreed with the observation
made once in this House by a distinguished member of the
party opposite, Lady Summerskill, that the best contraceptive
was the word "No"?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: there are those who believe
that "Just say no" policies will lead to a reduction
in sexual activity among young people and reduce teenage
pregnancy rates. I do not believe that there is any evidence
to show that.
House of Lords Report 8 March 2001
Lord Hylton: will the Government study the progress
made in the state of Illinois in reducing the incidence
of teenage pregnancies, including Project Reality.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: the teenage pregnancy programme
is based on evidence of what is likely to be most effective.
We are aware of abstinence programmes in the United States,
including Project Reality. However, a recent expert review
found no robust evidence that these programmes are effective.
Lord Hylton: is the Minister aware that, not only
in the state of Illinois but throughout the United States,
young people are receiving the message that it is in their
own interests to abstain from sexual relations until marriage?
Has this not had a marked effect on reducing teenage pregnancies
and abortions? Is there not a strong case for putting in
place similar programmes in this country?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I have studied a paper
produced by the Resource Centre for Adolescent Pregnancy
Prevention in the United States. It undertook a review of
the published studies in this area. The centre found that
only a limited number of studies were sufficiently robust
to stand up to analysis. Indeed, the only study sufficiently
robust to enable a comparison to be made between one approach
and another found that the programme did not delay adolescent
sexual activity. Like many noble Lords, we are concerned
about the level of teenage pregnancy in this country. An
important part of our own programme is a strategy to help
young people to resist having sex before they are ready.
However, the strategy also involves helping teenagers to
understand and avoid the risks of unprotected and uninformed
sex. I believe that a rounded programme in this area is
likely to be more effective.
Earl Howe: does the Minister agree that, when a teenage
girl finds that she is expecting a baby, it is important
that she is able to gain access to advice about the options
open to her? Can the Minister say whether the forthcoming
Adoption Bill will contain measures to ensure that girls
receive advice not simply about abortion, but also about
the opportunities for adoption?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: the noble Earl has raised
an important point and agreed with him that young girls
in that situation should have access to a range of advice
so that they can make informed choices. I would wish to
see that all is done to ensure that that is the case.
Baroness Blatch: does the noble Lord agree that to
offer so freely to girls who have become sexually active
at such an early age the morning-after pill, either through
school or over the counter at a local pharmacy, is a policy
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: we have debated this matter
thoroughly and at length in your Lordships' House. The fact
is that in the event that a young woman wishes to seek emergency
contraception, the rules that have been approved by this
House allow for professional advice to be given. Ultimately,
faced with the prospect of an unwanted pregnancy and the
availability of emergency contraception, I believe that
such contraception should be made available.
The Earl of Listowel: does the Minister agree that,
in the efforts being made to delay adolescent sexual activity,
everything possible should be done to improve the sense
of self-esteem of young people through education, meaningful
youth activity and so forth?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: such efforts should move
alongside a rounded approach to sexual health and education.
That is why the Teenage Pregnancy Strategy, developed by
this Government, is very much concerned with taking a holistic
view of these matters.
Baroness Gardner of Parkes: can the Minister expand
on his address to the Pharmaceutical Service's Association
committee dinner, at which he was the guest speaker? He
said that he would like all pharmacies to contain an area
for private consultation. Can he reconcile that comment
with his statement of a moment ago saying that opportunities
for confidential consultation were already available?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: I am not aware that I said
that confidential booths were available in every pharmacy.
However, it is certainly my hope that, with the introduction
of local pharmaceutical services, we can put in place an
incentive programme that will encourage community pharmacies
to install private consultation areas. Having seen some
community pharmacies introduce them, I am sure that that
is the best way forward. It will enable us to look to community
pharmacists to give even more advice to the public.
Lord Rea: has the Department of Health paid due attention
to the sex education programmes in the Scandinavian countries
and in the Netherlands, which have the lowest teenage pregnancy
rates in Europe?
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: One point to note about
countries that are more successful in this area is that
they have had very proactive sex education programmes. Also
young people in some of those countries seem much more willing
to discuss sex and health education matters with their parents.
I am keen to see parents in this country encouraged to do
the same. It is a great disappointment that the research
suggests that fewer than a quarter of the young people in
the UK talk with their mother about sexual relationships,
and only 10 per cent with their father. It would be a jolly
good thing if we could do better than that.
House of Lords Report 26 March 2001
Teenage lone parents
Caroline Flint MP asked the Secretary of State for
the Environment, Transport and the Regions how many foyer
projects have been established for teenage lone parents
since 1997; how many teenage lone parents they accommodate;
and where they are located.
Robert Ainsworth MP (Minister for the Environment,
Transport and the Regions) replied that the Edmund's
Court Foyer in Birmingham, which opened in July 1997, has
48 bedspaces for teenage lone parents. Aberdeen Foyer, which
opened in April 1998, also has a number of units held exclusively
for teenage lone parents to use. Many other foyers across
the country also have a small number of flats or converted
units, which would be appropriate for use by this group.
Written answer 5 March 2001
Human Fertilisation and Embryology regulations
Lord Alton of Liverpool: asked Her Majesty's Government
why they did not inform the House of Lords on 22 January
that Lawyers acting on behalf of the Secretary of State
for Health intended to tell the High Court on 26 January
that they would need five months to prepare scientific evidence
in defence of the regulations on human embryos arising out
of the Donaldson Committee Report.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: an application for permission
for the Pro-Life Alliance to bring a judicial review was
considered in the High Court on Friday 26 January. The application
was adjourned to allow time for both parties to prepare
their cases before the resumed application for permission
and the substantive arguments were heard together on or
after 15 June this year.
The court order set out a timetable for this process, including
time for statements to be made by both sides about the scientific
principles on which each side would rely. Lawyers for the
Secretary of State for Health did not ask for five months
to prepare a statement on the scientific principles but
were granted six weeks to do so by the court.
Written answer 9 March 2001
Human Fertilisation and Embryology Regulations
Lord Rawlinson of Ewell asked Her Majesty's Government
what was the outcome of the proceedings in re Bruno Quintavalle
v. The Secretary of State for Health heard in the High Court
on 26 January, the same day that the Human Fertilisation
and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2000 were
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: On Friday 26 January the
High Court ordered that the question of whether permission
should be granted for Mr Bruno Quintavalle and the Pro-Life
Alliance to bring a judicial review should be adjourned
and considered at a full hearing to be held on or after
15 June. At the full hearing the court will decide whether
the application should proceed. If this is permitted, the
court will then go on to consider the substantive issues.
The application concerns the Human Fertilisation and Embryology
(Research Purposes) Regulations 2001, and the definition
of 'embryo' in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act
The House of Lords debated and approved the Human Fertilisation
and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations on Monday
Written answer 14 March 2001
Early Day Motion 351, 14/2/01, 82 signatures
|Mr Paul Marsden
Mr Joe Ashton
Mr Tony Banks
Mr Harry Barnes
Mr Roy Beggs
Mr Harold Best
Mr Tom Brake
Mrs Helen Brinton
Mr Russell Brown
Dr Vincent Cable
Mr Martin Caton
Ms Judith Church
Mr Tony Clarke
Mr Robin Corbett
Mr Jeremy Corbyn
Mrs Ann Cryer
Mr Tam Dalyell
Mr Keith Darvill
Mr Ron Davies
Mr Terry Davis
Mrs Janet Dean
Mr Andrew Dismore
Dr Stephen Ladyman
Mrs Jackie Lawrence
Mr Bob Laxton
Mr Richard Livsey
Mr Elfyn Llwyd
Mr Robert McCartney
Mr John McDonnell
Mr Bill Michie
Dr Doug Naysmith
Mr Bill Olner
Mrs Diana Organ
Mr Gordon Prentice
Mr Bill Rammell
|Mr David Drew
Mr Huw Edwards
Mr Bill Etherington
Mrs Margaret Ewing
Mr Ronnie Fearn
Mr Mark Fisher
Mrs Lorna Fitzsimons
Dr Ian Gibson
Dr Norman A Godman
Mrs Llin Golding
Mr James Gray
Mr Win Griffiths
Mr John Gunnell
Mr Mike Hancock
Mr Alan Hurst
Dr Brian Iddon
Mr Eric Illsley
Sir Geoffrey Johnson Smith
Mr David Kidney
Ms Oona King
Ms Tess Kingham
Mr Syd Rapson
Mr Chris Ruane
Mr Alan Simpson
Mr Simon Thomas
Dr Jenny Tonge
Mr Jon Trickett
Mr Paul Tyler
Dr Rudi Vis
Mr Brian White
Mr Dafydd Wigley
Mrs Betty Williams
That this House recognises the anguish caused by infertility;
calls on Her Majesty's Government to ensure that a full range
of modern infertility services is made available to couples
on the NHS on the basis of need and not based on where they
live; additionally takes note of the clinical guidelines commissioned
by Government and prepared by the Royal College of Obstetricians
and Gynaecologists; and urges Her Majesty's Government to
ensure that infertility treatment is provided in line with
these guidelines in all parts of the country.