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Fluoridation of Water

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We will not now be finalising our policy on water fluoridation until we have considered responses to the Green Paper.

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Diabetic Pen Injection Devices: Payment for Needles

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the current state of their consideration of whether diabetics using pen injection devices should be required to pay for needles; and what further consideration is needed before they can announce a decision.[HL667]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Department of Health officials are in discussion with the major suppliers on issues relating to cost. We should be able to make decisions when those discussions have been concluded.

British Council of Organisations of Disabled People

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the level of government funding of the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People in each year since such funding began; what has been the real terms increase or decrease (expressed on a year-by-year basis); and whether they have any plans to increase government funding in the next financial year.[HL591]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Department of Health has funded the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People since 1985-86. Total funding from the department for each year, together with the real terms increase/decrease year-on-year, is shown in the table. Funding for 1998-99 has yet to be decided.

YearAmount (£)Real Terms Increase/Decrease +/-

Iraq: Protection of Ground Forces

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have undertaken to provide ground troops for a United States or United States-United Kingdom attack on Iraq or as part of a follow-up to a United States-United Kingdom bombing attack on that country; and if so what immunisations are being provided for British troops who may be sent to Iraq, in case the United States uses its new burrowing

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    nuclear-armed weapon to destroy possible caches of biological weapons or their precursors in Iraq.[HL587]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): We have no plans to provide ground forces for an attack on Iraq. We recognise, however, that Saddam Hussein has in the past made use of chemical weapons. A range of defensive measures are available to protect UK forces in the region against chemical and biological warfare agents. These include physical and medical countermeasures, the use of which is kept under constant review in the light of available advice.

Gulf War: Morbidity Reports

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what establishment the daily morbidity reports compiled during Operation Granby were despatched, whether they are retained and, if they are, whether they would be made available to researchers investigating illness in members of Her Majesty's Armed Forces who served in the Gulf.[HL230]

Lord Gilbert: During Operation Granby, daily morbidity reports were sent from British units in the Gulf to the Chemical Defence Establishment at Porton Down, now known as the Chemical and Biological Defence (CBD) Sector of the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency. The intention was to collect data which would alert MoD in the event that a CBW attack occurred which was not detected by other means. The raw data from these reports were analysed at CBD and reported to MoD at regular intervals. CBD's reports and some of the raw data are held at CBD Porton Down. CBD found no evidence that any undetected CBW attack had occurred; copies of their reports will be made available to the study teams carrying out epidemiological research on behalf of the MoD into Gulf veterans' illnesses and can be provided to other bona fide research teams on request.

A separate morbidity reporting system, designed to detect outbreaks of infectious disease within the Army was also implemented. Reports were analysed by HQ 1 Armd Div in-theatre. Collated information relating to some Army units is still held by the MoD in hard copy. This information will also be made available to bona fide research teams.

Gulf War Medical Assessment Programme: Clinical Audit

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their intention to commission a clinical audit of the Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) for those suffering Gulf War illnesses in view of the adverse reports from several veterans who have attended the MAP; if so, when; and, if not, whether they will do so as a matter of urgency.[HL569]

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Lord Gilbert: The Ministry of Defence announced plans to conduct a thorough audit of the Medical Assessment Programme (MAP) during the course of this year in the detailed policy statement Gulf Veterans' Illnesses: A New Beginning, which was published last July. It remains our intention to commission an external body to carry out such an audit during 1998. The audit will focus on all aspects of patient care and the service provided and will address the range of tests and examinations currently undertaken at the MAP and the issue of whether treatments currently recommended are appropriate and benefit patients' health. The audit will form the basis of further work which we intend to have done in conjunction with the Department of Health concerning the general patient care of Gulf veterans.

Strategic Defence Review: Military Training Requirements

Viscount Addison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will establish an independent review of military training requirements to assess the implications of the Strategic Defence Review for training in the United Kingdom, making particular reference to the effect on the National Parks of England and Wales.[HL584]

Lord Gilbert: Military training requirements are being taken into account in the Strategic Defence Review. We have also sought the opinions of environmental and countryside groups, which will help to inform our conclusions. At present we have no plans to hold an independent review.

Lifelong Learning

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the consultation paper on lifelong learning.[HL745]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State is today laying before Parliament a Green Paper on lifelong learning, The Learning Age (Cm 3790). He is also placing in the Library copies of the Government's response to the report of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education under the chairmanship of Sir Ron Dearing and the response of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Education and Employment to the report of the Further Education Funding Council's Widening Participation Committee under the chairmanship of Helena Kennedy QC, now Baroness Kennedy, all of which are being published today.

Lifelong learning is at the heart of the Government's education and training policies. Higher education and further education play key roles in lifelong learning. The Learning Age sets out the Government's vision for a learning society in which learning is easily available, valued and enjoyed--an everyday feature of life for

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all people of all ages--and we have the skilled and qualified workforce that will be essential in the 21st century.

The Learning Age aims to engage employers, trades unions, individual men and women and those who deliver and plan education and training to work with us to develop a "learning society". I hope our proposals and the questions we pose will stimulate a large response.

Over-quota Fish Catches

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 12 January (WA 187), what procedure should be followed by fishermen if their catch includes over-quota fish as a mixture of species.[HL678]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Under the conditions set out in UK fishing vessel licences, over-quota fish must not be retained on board, transhipped or landed. Such fish should be returned to the sea. Where the discarding of fish is prohibited in the waters of third countries, any over-quota fish should be discarded immediately on return to Community waters.

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