My Lords, I thank the noble Lord, Lord Campbell of Pittenweem, for tabling this debate. It seems reasonable to me that, as the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, they should agree to the terms under which this happens. The terms should be clearly explained to everyone who has a vote so that they can decide what to do. Many people did not want to leave and it has turned out to be very complex. It will change the way people have to live, which may cause endless frustrations, unless the negotiations are seen to be satisfactory. It will be interesting to see whether the Minister can give your Lordships any assurances today over concerns we may have about leaving the EU.
I declare my interest as president of the Spinal Injuries Association. Many of our members are severely paralysed, and some cannot move or feel from the neck down. Some have had catastrophic accidents, while others may have had medical conditions. On Tuesday this week, we had our all-party parliamentary group AGM. Our members are most concerned by the difficulties and insecurities that are emerging in the workforce due to Brexit. Many of our members who live in the community have personal carers from the EU. Unlike many of the British, who have their own homes and therefore do not want to live-in or work at weekends, people from the EU, who make good personal carers, come to work and save money by living in. They go on interesting holidays and save money to build a house when they go home. Our members were very worried when they heard about a report that recommended that only the brightest and the highly paid would be allowed into the UK to work. Of course we need those people, to work in research and in universities, but our members need good, honest people—not high-flyers—who will enable them to live in their own home and give them help when they need it.
It is regrettable that, upon its departure from the EU, the UK will cease to be a full member of the European Medicines Agency, which deals with safety in medicines and medical trials. It has already left London and gone to Amsterdam, which is sad, as we are leaders in this field. The Royal College of Nursing membership has made it clear that the implications of Brexit for the health and care system will be numerous. There are risks that are not credibly addressed and that may damage population health, as well as severely impact on their ability to provide safe and effective care for their patients in both the short and long term.
We need more doctors, nurses and all sorts of staff, such as radiologists. We need safe health systems. Already, we have lost many EU workers because of Brexit. Do the public know what is happening, even now, before we have left?