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Land Registration Act: Entry into Force

Lord Aberdare asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Section 1 of the Act, together with the associated parts of Section 4 and Schedules 1 and 2, will be brought into force on 1 April 1998 by the Land Registration Act 1997 (Commencement) Order 1997 (SI 1997/3036) which was made on 9 December 1997. The remaining provisions of the Act came into force on 27 April 1997.

Lord Chancellor's Residence: Works of Art

Lord Freyberg asked the Chairman of Committees:

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): These loans have been arranged between the Lord Chancellor and the lending galleries and are not a matter for the House authorities.

Defence Supplementary Estimate

Lord Gregson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Government have decided that, subject to parliamentary approval of the necessary Supplementary Estimate, an addition should be made to the defence budget to cover the additional costs of operations by UK forces in Bosnia in the current financial year. These costs are estimated to be £189 million. Some £11 million will be met from technical adjustments, leaving £178 million which will be met from the Reserve.

A Spring Supplementary Estimate is, therefore, to be presented to Parliament to take on to Vote the additional provision of £178 million. The Supplementary estimate will also make adjustments between the defence operating costs programme (mostly Votes 1 and 2) and the defence equipment programme (Vote 3) to reflect the expected pattern of expenditure on the defence programme generally.

Because of the adjustment between operating costs and the equipment programme, the additional funding will be drawn on to Class 1, Vote 3 and token increases of £1K will be taken on Votes 1 and 2. The cash limits on votes 1 and 2 will, however, be reduced and that on vote 3 increased by more than the amount of the

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additional funding to reflect the realignment. The cash limit changes will be as follows:


Class 1 VoteCurrent cash limitChangeRevised cash limit

The impact of these changes on the Ministry of Defence Operating Cost limit is as follows:


Class 1 VoteCurrent cash limitChangeRevised cash limit

Because the increase on the defence budget cash limit will be met from the Reserve, which is part of the Government Control total, it will not add to the planned total of public expenditure.

Depleted Uranium

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What health and safety category has been allocated to materials using depleted uranium technology; what is the relevant EU legislation; and whether they will place in the Library of the House of Lords a copy of the health and safety regulations issued to civilian and military personnel concerning the proper use, handling and transportation of DU munitions and other materials in the United Kingdom.[HL432]

Lord Gilbert: Under the United Nations system of classification for dangerous goods, depleted uranium falls into Class 7, radioactive, as a material of low specific activity. The most relevant piece of EU legislation is Council Directive 80/836/Euratom, as amended by 84/467/Euratom, laying down basic safety standards for the protection of workers and the general public against the dangers arising from ionising radiation. This EU legislation was largely implemented in the UK by the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985, a copy of which was placed in the Library of each House in that year. Other legislation contributed to full implementation of the Directive. A revised Directive, Directive 96/29 Euratom, which will repeal those of 1980 and 1984 with effect from 13 May 2000, was adopted on 13 May 1996. The Health and Safety Commission has recently agreed to the publication of a Consultative Document containing proposals for revising the Ionising Radiations Regulations 1985. Other relevant domestic legislation will be amended or augmented as necessary.

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Directive 80/1107/EEC on the protection of workers from risks related to exposure to chemical, physical and biological agents at work is also relevant. This Directive is implemented in Great Britain in part by the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1994. Because of its chemical toxicity, depleted uranium is subject to the provisions of these regulations as a substance hazardous to health.

With regard to the safety advice issued within MoD concerning the safe handling and use of depleted uranium munitions, I refer the noble Countess to the Answer I gave in my letter of 2 February, subsequently published in the Official Report on 17 February, cols. 17-22. In addition, I have made arrangements to have placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of Joint Service Publication 392, Instructions for Radiological Protection. Chapter 48 deals with radiological protection arrangements for uranium.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any British troops were exposed to any of the products of combustion from depleted uranium (DU) ammunition from friendly fire; contact with enemy tanks, other vehicles or equipment damaged by DU munitions; or other contamination created by disturbance of sand by atmospheric conditions and troop vehicle movements; and, if they were, what measures they are taking to monitor their health status.[HL473]

Lord Gilbert: Some British Service personnel may have come into contact with the products of combustion of depleted uranium during, or immediately following, the Gulf conflict. No specific measures are being taken to monitor their health, although some of them may have attended the MoD's Medical Assessment Programme, MAP. None of those veterans who have so far been examined by the MAP has to my knowledge displayed any symptoms consistent with exposure to depleted uranium.

A very small number of British troops, who expressed concern that they might have inhaled DU dust during training in the Gulf before the start of hostilities, were subjected to Whole Body Monitoring in February 1991 by the Defence Radiological Protection Services, DRPS, at the Institute of Naval Medicine. This process failed to detect any DU contamination in these individuals.

Vitamin B6

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent their proposed restrictions on the retail sale of Vitamin B6 are consistent with the recent remarks of the Secretary of State for Health on Radio 4's Today programme about the need to end the concept of the "nanny state" and to provide consumers with the information they need about risks in order that they may make informed personal choices.[HL567]

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The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The proposed limit of 10mg per daily dose applies to the level of Vitamin B6 in dietary supplements sold under food law. Such products will also carry a warning about the risk of harmful effects from consuming high doses of Vitamin B6 over extended periods. Higher dose products licensed as medicines for the treatment of specific clinical conditions will continue to be available from pharmacies and on prescription for those who need them. These arrangements will ensure that consumers have access to information on the risks associated with Vitamin B6 that will allow them to make an informed personal choice about its use.

Vitamin B6: Dr. Dalton's Study

Baroness Wharton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to review their plans for restrictions on the retail sale of Vitamin B6 in the light of the observation on 3 February by Dr. K. Dalton that her study on Vitamin B6 was a preliminary communication.[HL610]

Lord Donoughue: The Government have no plans to review the proposed controls on the level of Vitamin B6 in dietary supplements sold under food law in the light of the observation made by Dr. K. Dalton.

Vitamin B6: Representations to the COT

Baroness Wharton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Minister for Food Safety was able to determine which representations from scientists should be copied to the Secretariat of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT), and whether they will now make available to COT copies of all 10,200 representations received since July 1997.[HL611]

Lord Donoughue: Most of the representations received on the Government's proposed controls on Vitamin B6 in dietary supplements, many of which are in the form of standard letters, do not comment in detail on the scientific basis of the advice provided by the COT. The Chairman and members of the COT are already familiar with the criticisms of their review that are made in such representations. In these circumstances, there would be no benefit in copying all of the representations to the COT. Those representations which appear to present new information on the safety of Vitamin B6 and are supported by detailed scientific arguments have been copied to the COT secretariat as a matter of course.

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