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Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government take expert medical advice on the level of nutrients required by the population from the Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy (COMA). COMA's report "Dietary Reference Values for Food Energy and Nutrients for the United Kingdom" published in 1991 details the studies which led to the recommendations. A copy of the report is available in the Library.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government are aware that there are circumstances, defined in the British National Formulary, in which individuals with metabolic deficiencies require dosage with vitamin B6. A peripheral neuritis may occur in cases of vitamin B6 deficiency.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) made their recommendations after considering the totality of the published literature on vitamin B6 toxicity and submissions from industry and other interested parties on vitamin B6. Lists of the scientific papers considered by the COT have already been placed in the Library. The COT statement, published on 4 July, included examples of papers which demonstrated toxic reactions to excessive doses of vitamin B6. A copy of the statement is also available in the Library.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The paper by Berger, Schaumburg, Schroeder, Apfel and Reynolds (1992, Neurology, 42, 1367-1370) was one of those considered by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment in its review of vitamin B6 toxicity. The authors' conclusions that the results confirm earlier experimental and clinical reports that vitamin B6 produces a peripheral neuropathy contributed to the development of the committee's view. The study used a valuable combination of objective measures and subjective observations but it would be difficult to apply these to larger populations.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: We do not believe that a Royal Commission on child protection is required at present. The Government are firmly committed to high quality child protection services and research shows that the child protection system generally works effectively in dealing with serious cases of abuse. However, we believe that more emphasis needs to be given to meeting the needs of the most deprived children and their families, and to intervening at an earlier stage to support families experiencing difficulties. The welfare of children needs to be placed at the centre of the work of all agencies involved--social services, health, education, the voluntary sector, police, probation and the courts--and that services are directed to support those children and families whose needs are greatest. We are also firmly committed to breaking down the barriers which sometimes seem to have existed in the past between the work of agencies and between the work of Government departments. The National Commission of Inquiry into the Prevention of Child Abuse last year produced a wide-ranging and thought provoking report and we are giving careful consideration to its recommendations. In the light of these, and other work taken forward by the Department of Health, we are in the process of developing a number of strategies to ensure that children are protected from all forms of abuse.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): A recent court decision held that conditions imposed by a chief constable cannot be varied on application and that no right of appeal existed. The court noted that in law there was a distinction between variation of conditions subject to which a certificate is held, and variation of the certificate. It concluded that Section 29(1) of the Firearms Act 1968, as amended, contains provisions for amending the conditions subject to which the certificate is held, while Section 29(2) contains provision for the amendment of the certificate itself. In the first case a chief constable has an unfettered right to vary a condition; only in the latter case has the applicant a right of appeal to the Crown Court if he is in disagreement with the chief constable's decision. We have no plans at present to amend the law on this issue.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: I do not believe that placing drafts of individual Home Office circulars and guidance in the Library will be helpful and could even cause confusion about the status of any particular piece of guidance. Only final versions of guidance that are actually issued to police forces are placed in the Library. Next year we plan to revise the comprehensive document, Firearms Law: Guidance to the Police issued in 1989. We shall be consulting the main interested parties about this before it is eventually published.
Lord Williams of Mostyn: The criteria for recognition as a refugee, and hence the granting of asylum, are set out in the 1951 United Nations Convention relating to the status of refugees. The convention defines a refugee as a person who has "a well founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country".
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): It has been normal practice for statistics relating to decisions on applications for standard individual export licences for strategic goods to be placed periodically in the Library. However, a number of problems have been identified with the Export Control Licence Information Processing System, (ECLIPS), which came into operation in March 1995, on which details of such applications are recorded.
It should be made clear that the problems identified relate to the accuracy of recording and subsequent retrieval of information from the databases; they have not affected the processing of, and decision-making on, individual export licence applications. They fall into three main categories:
Data integrity problems also arise with the separately recorded data on applications for open individual export licences, on which information has not been included in the statistics placed in the Library.
New procedures have been put in place to ensure that all goods listed on export licence applications and their ratings will be recorded for all applications in future, and this work will be backdated to cover all applications on which a decision has been taken since 2 May.
In order to assist industry and minimise input errors work is in hand to allow companies to complete standard individual export licence applications electronically and it is hoped that this will be ready for testing in the New Year; and, in the same timescale, a new database is being developed to hold the data.
All this work is being undertaken in a rigorous timetable and the result will be a significant advance on the present situation. However, some goods on an application may be listed under a range of different terms or even brand names. While these can be searched by rating, comparison with a generic or specific description may only be possible in some cases by examining the original paper records.
As a result of checking answers given to parliamentary questions since this Government took office, three errors have now been identified affecting the answer to five separate questions; four asked by the honourable Member for Cynon Valley and one by the
However, while it would not be cost-effective to seek to correct all the data available in the Library, the data for the second half of 1996 is being corrected by examination of the paper records. This work will be completed as soon as possible and the aim is to place in the Library before the end of the year statistics covering this period, albeit subject to the above caveat. For the first time, these will include statistics on open individual export licences granted; copies of all current open general export licences will also be provided.
This Government are committed, in a spirit of openness, to reporting annually on the state of strategic export controls and their application.
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