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Medical Infusion Devices: Malfunction Incidents

Lord Carter asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): Over the last 28 months there have been no deaths reported to the Medical Devices Agency resulting from malfunction of infusion devices, however there have been seven deaths reported associated with the misuse of infusion devices.

The Medical Devices Agency has investigated all reported incidents involving infusion devices and issued individual safety warning notices and recommendations for corrective action to hospitals as necessary. Also the agency has persuaded manufacturers to improve the design of infusion devices and participated in national and international safety standards committees. In addition, the agency has issued revised comprehensive advice to the Health Service (Device Bulletin DB9503 May 1995) which includes recommendations, based on experience gained from investigating reported incidents and evaluating new devices, on training, purchasing and management, including user record keeping. Copies of this document are available in the Library. Two comparative evaluation reports covering infusion devices currently for sale are about to be published.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have made or will make a statement covering the use, testing, deployment, intended use and avoidance of further proliferation of nuclear weapons and whether they will seek a convention similar to that relating to chemical weapons to prohibit the development, production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons and on their control and destruction; and meanwhile whether they will undertake not to be the first to use a modern nuclear weapon in war.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Earl Howe): We have no plans to conduct a nuclear weapon test explosion and are working actively to conclude negotiations on an effective comprehensive test ban treaty in the first half of this year. Last year the United Kingdom made a substantial contribution to securing international agreement for the indefinite extension of the non-proliferation treaty (NPT), which is the cornerstone of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime. In addition, we support the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the international export control regimes. Within Europe, nuclear weapons continue to remain a powerful force for preserving stability. We remain committed to maintaining a minimal nuclear deterrent and do not believe that a nuclear weapons convention or no-first use undertaking would be consistent with our security requirements.

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Civil Service and Armed Forces: Entry Requirements

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers given by Viscount Cranborne on 7th December 1994 (H.L. Deb., Col. WA 98) and on 5th April 1995 (WA 22), what progress has been made by the Cabinet Office in reviewing whether the rules for the armed forces which make distinctions, exclusions or preferences on the basis of national extraction (as distinct from nationality or residence) can be relaxed, in line with the changes made on the civilian side of the Ministry of Defence.

Earl Howe: The review of the recruitment policy for the armed forces regarding the nationality of an applicant's parents is being undertaken by the Ministry of Defence. This review is still in progress but is expected to be completed within six months.

The Cabinet Office review to which the Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne) referred in the last paragraph of his Written Answer of 5th April (WA 22) concerned an internal review of Cabinet Office recruitment policy in relation to place of birth and parental nationality rules for its own staff. That review was completed later in 1995 and, as a result, those rules were withdrawn with effect from 1st September 1995 for recruitment to the Cabinet Office generally though they may be applied in exceptional circumstances to safeguard the national interest.

Global Positioning System

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy remain unconcerned with the knowledge that the Global Positioning System is under exclusive United States Department of Defense control and whether any alternative independent system is currently being researched and procured.

Earl Howe: The United Kingdom's armed forces are trained and equipped to carry out operations without the benefits of the Global Positioning System. We have no plans to research or procure a comparable British system.

Sierra Leone: Military Training

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many British personnel are engaged in training members of the Sierra Leone armed forces; what is the nature of the training provided, and what plans they have for continuing this aid in 1996-97.

Earl Howe: There are at present no British military personnel in Sierra Leone engaged in training members of the republic of Sierra Leone Military Forces (RSLMF). A British military liaison officer is currently in Freetown providing advice on restructuring the RSLMF. On current plans we intend to maintain this post in 1996-97.

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RAF Flying Training Scheme

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the RAF flying training scheme is adequate to provide sufficient aircrew to ensure flexibility to meet unforeseen contingencies.

Earl Howe: The RAF flying training scheme is adequate to meet the requirements of Britain's defence policy, as set out in the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1995. The Statement sets out our response to unforeseen contingencies.

Millennium Exhibition

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What part they will play in relation to the Millennium Exhibition.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Government very much welcomes the announcement by the Millennium Commission of its decision to stage a national millennium exhibition in Greenwich. This visionary and exciting scheme will enable the whole nation to mark this significant event in a wholly appropriate way. It should also encourage large numbers of overseas visitors to join in our national celebrations during the millennium year.

Arrangements for the millennium exhibition are the responsibility of the independent Millennium Commission. The exhibition will be funded by the Commission from its share of National Lottery proceeds

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and from private sector contributions. Given its scale, the event will, however, raise many issues to which the Government have to respond.

In order to ensure that the Government's participation in this significant national event is well planned and co-ordinated, my right honourable friend the Prime Minister has asked the First Secretary of State and Deputy Prime Minister, to convene a Ministerial Group with the following terms of reference:

"to oversee the Government's role in relation to the Millennium Festival and to take forward any necessary planning of the Government's involvement in this event."

In addition to the chairman, members of the group will be as follows:

    Chancellor of the Exchequer

    Secretary of State for the Home Department

    Secretary of State for the Environment

    Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

    Secretary of State for National Heritage

    Lord Privy Seal

    Secretary of State for Transport

    Secretary of State for Scotland

    Secretary of State for Wales

Other Ministers will be invited to attend for items in which they have a departmental interest.

The Government will do all they can to assist the Millennium Commission to ensure that the millennium festival is an outstanding successful national event.

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