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The Medical Foundation for AIDS and Sexual Health's Recommended standards for sexual health services (2005) (which was funded and endorsed by the Department of Health) highlights that services and information should be developed to meet the needs of particular groups of people who are at risk of sexual health inequalities, including those who cannot or do not access mainstream services.
Lord Warner: Primary care trusts were invited to complete an audit of contraceptive services earlier this year. The data are still being analysed and the results will be published in our forthcoming best practice guidance on reproductive health later this year.
The Office for National Statistics does not compile estimates of the balance of payments on an industry basis; neither is there an internationally recognised definition of the fashion industry. Therefore, the information requested is not available from official sources.
Whether they have made an assessment of organisations involved in anti-angling campaigns; which regions have been most adversely affected by such campaigns; what prosecutions have taken place; and in what locality; and HL7521]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Environment Agency is responsible for promoting angling and its environmental, economic and social benefits. The issue of anti-angling activists is a matter of civil breach of the peace and is therefore a matter for the police. I am unable to comment on any prosecutions.
While the Government support a person's right to legitimate, peaceful protest, people also have a right to be free to carry out their lawful business or recreation without fear of intimidation and violence, however much that activity is disliked by others.
What is totally unacceptable are the campaigns of intimidation and violence against individuals and law-abiding businesses by animal rights extremists. The Government have in place a cross-departmental strategy to eradicate the threat of animal rights extremism.
We are ensuring that sufficient attention is paid to the threat from animal rights extremists, whoever the target, and that law enforcement agencies continue to be effective in maintaining the necessary spotlight on the issues.
Police forces treat all incidents related to animal rights extremism very seriously, including activity targeting recreational angling. The police will continue to monitor campaigns and respond accordingly to any increase in unlawful incidents.
What action they are taking or propose to take following the decision of the European Commission to ban the sale of products from Bowland Dairy Products of Barrowford, Nelson, Lancashire, and to order national Governments to trace and destroy any old stocks of cheese from the company.[HL7604]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): In accordance with their community obligations, the Government will make the implementing legislation necessary to implement and enforce the decision in the United Kingdom. Government departments will continue to work with the European Commission to address the issues raised by this case.
What is their response to the decision of the European Union Food and Veterinary Office to inspect the British dairy sector in November following the investigation involving Bowland Dairy Products.[HL7605]
Lord Warner: European Commission experts are required by law to carry out general and specific audits in member states to verify that member states official controls are carried out in accordance with European rules. The Commission's Food and Veterinary Office may undertake such audits at any time.
Member states are required to co-operate fully with the European Commission experts, and the Food Standards Agency will, on behalf of the Government, do this in relation to the dairy sector audit planned for November.
Following the publication of the European Commission's review of the derogations in annexes II and III of Council directive 2003/96/EC dated 30 June in respect of tax rates on fuel used by private pleasure craft and private pleasure air navigation, whether they intend to apply to the Commission for a continuation of the derogation to allow the use of low-tax fuel; and, if so, what are the specific policy considerations that are required in paragraph 3 of this review to support such an application.[HL7681]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget Statement that the Government would apply for formal renewal of the derogations allowing for a reduced rate of fuel used by private pleasure craft, for private air navigation, and for waste oil reused as fuel. In line with the timetable set out by the European Commission, the UK has now submitted formal applications for the renewal of these derogations.
These applications highlight the disproportionate compliance and administrative costs that would arise if the derogations were not renewed, as well as the negative economic impact in the sectors concerned, compared with the limited revenue and environmental benefits that might be gained from ending the derogations.
Whether the Department for Constitutional Affairs has any arrangements to enable staff of that department to raise, in confidence, concerns about matters of financial reporting, disclosure of other information or value for money; and, if so, whether they will give details of the arrangements.[HL7612]
Whether the Ministry of Defence has any arrangements to enable staff of that department to raise, in confidence, concerns about matters of financial reporting, disclosure of other information or value for money; and, if so, whether they will give details of the arrangements.[HL7614]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): The Ministry of Defence does have arrangements in place to enable staff to report, in confidence, any concerns relating to financial reporting, irregularity including fraud and theft, or issues involving value for money. All members of staff are required to report any concerns to their immediate line management or chain of command. This requirement is entirely consistent with the provisions of the Civil Service Code and the onus placed upon line managers to address failings or concerns brought to their attention.
Whether the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has any arrangements to enable staff of that department to raise, in confidence, concerns about matters of financial reporting, disclosure of other information or value for money; and, if so, whether they will give details of the arrangements.[HL7652]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has robust procedures in place and trained officers to support staff who wish to raise a concern about possible financial malpractice. The procedures incorporate feedback from the National Audit Office (NAO) earlier this year. They include details of the FCO's whistleblowing policy, the role and names of our six nominated officers, and contact numbers for the various hotlines. The procedures are regularly updated and circulated to staff, as well as covered in appropriate training courses.
All FCO staff are encouraged to raise concerns about financial malpractice to the FCO's financial compliance unit or to the dedicated operational integrity section in UKvisas, tasked with the prevention and investigation of corruption in the operation of the immigration controls in posts overseas. Any concerns are treated in confidence and in accordance with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998.
Whether HM Treasury has any arrangements to enable staff of that department to raise, in confidence, concerns about matters of financial reporting, disclosure of other information or value for money; and, if so, whether they will give details of the arrangements.[HL7668]
Lord McKenzie of Luton: In accordance with the Civil Service Code, the Treasury has arrangements in place for staff to report to a nominated officer any concerns they might have about being required to act in an improper way, or any evidence they might have of criminal or unlawful activities by others. Copies of the Treasury's guidance on whistleblowing and the fraud response plan drawn up by internal audit have been placed in the Library of the House.
What assessment the Medical Research Council has made of the findings to date of the research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States on microglial activation following neurotoxic exposure: the self-propelling cycle of neuroinflammation in neurodegenerative disease and their possible relevance to illnesses among British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War; and [HL7696]
What assessment the Medical Research Council has made of the findings to date of the research at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health in the United States on non-invasive imaging of inflammation in the central nervous system, and their possible relevance to illnesses among British veterans of the 1990-91 Gulf War.[HL7697]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Medical Research Council, through the Military Health Research Advisory Group (MHRAG), conducted a review of research into Gulf veterans illness in 2003. A number of UK and international studies in neurotoxicity were assessed, but this review did not include an assessment of research at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in the United States.
In January 2005 the Medical Research Council facilitated a workshop to consider the recommendation of the 2003 MHRAG review to replicate US neuroimaging studies in the UK involving Gulf veterans or another military population with comparable symptoms. A number of relevant US studies were assessed, none of which was undertaken at the Johns Hopkins University.
Whether they will place in the Library of the House the research papers and other documents which underlie the choice by English Nature of a distance of five kilometres as that within which restrictions should be placed on housing development near the southern English heathlands.[HL7574]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): I have today placed a copy of Natural England's draft publication, Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area: Mitigation Standards for Residential Development, in the Library of the House. This publication sets out Natural England's reasoning for advocating a zonal approach to mitigating the potential effects of increased housing around the Thames Basin Heaths special protection area. Its reasoning is based upon published research reports and visitor surveys which are referenced in this publication.
Whether, as part of their strategy to prevent illegal immigrants entering the United Kingdom, they will encourage operators of cross-channel ferries to install closed circuit television systems on vehicle decks.[HL7657]
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The layout of the vehicle hold combined with the volume of vehicles would make CCTV ineffective for the purposes of identifying clandestine illegal entrants within the vehicle decks.
However, since the implementation of juxtaposed controls, the United Kingdom Immigration Service has deployed a number of technological devices both within the United Kingdom control zones at the ports of Calais and Dunkerque and elsewhere to aid the detection of would-be clandestine illegal immigrants.
How much it costs to eradicate a given area of Japanese knotweed; and what are the estimated annual costs of its eradication (a) to the construction industry; (b) to public authorities owning and maintaining the public realm; and (c) in total, in (i) the United Kingdom, and (ii) England.[HL7632]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): In 2003, the review of the non-native species policy working group estimated the cost of a Japanese knotweed eradication programme in Great Britain to be approximately £1.56 billion using current techniques. Such a programme would not be realistic in practical or financial terms.
It is extremely difficult to estimate annual eradication costs to industry or public bodies because the exact distribution of Japanese knotweed is uncertain, as is, as yet, the best method of undertaking any such eradication were it to be attempted. There are currently no detailed data available.
Lord Rooker: Defra is contributing £160,000 to a four-year scientific research project (due to report in 2007), in collaboration with Cornwall County Council, the Environment Agency and others, into the biological control of Japanese knotweed. The study will undertake the necessary research to establish whether biological control is a feasible method for the long-term, sustainable management of Japanese knotweed in the UK.
The research has looked at a wide range of possible agents from the home range of Japan and has so far been narrowed down to two potential host-specific agentsa fungus and an insect. Host range testing for these two agents continues to ensure they will attack only Japanese knotweed.
The cost of a national eradication programme using current techniques is prohibitively expensive, estimated in the Defra review of non-native species policy to be in the region of £1.56 billion. However, the Environment Agency takes local measures if flood defences are compromised (using risk assessment and local knowledge). In Cornwall, a more proactive programme has been implemented by the agency in association with the Cornwall Knotweed Forum.
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