Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Since the Sixth VAT Directive was implemented in 1977, the European Commission has sent the Council two Article 28(4) reports on the impact of the Article 28(3) derogations. The first report was presented on 17 January 1983, and resulted in member states adopting the 18th VAT Directive which abolished certain of the derogations between 1991 and 1993. The second report was presented on 2 July 1992 but has not been discussed since 1993. No date has been set for the end of the transitional period.


Lord Chesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts will be funded by the interest from an endowment of £200 million from the National Lottery, which will provide an annual income of up to £10 million.


Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The Government's policy towards Iraq has been made clear many times. Iraq must comply with its obligations under all relevant UNSCRs. It is not part of

24 Mar 1999 : Column WA164

our policy to work for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. Coalition patrols of the no-fly zones remain an essential humanitarian task in support of UN Security Council Resolution 688 as they prevent Saddam Hussein from using his air force against the Iraqi people in the north and south. UK forces assigned to this task are under the tactical control of the appropriate US commander on the ground. Military action by coalition aircraft in the no-fly zones over Iraq is only ever taken in self-defence in response to Iraqi attempts to shoot down or otherwise threaten our aircraft. Questions on US policy should be directed to the US administration.

Defence Mission Statement

Baroness Crawley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made towards a mission statement for the Ministry of Defence.[HL1720]

Lord Gilbert: The objectives for the Ministry of Defence were included in the volume of supporting essays published as part of the Strategic Defence Review. We have since revised the language of these objectives to make them more direct. The mission statement, which describes both the overall output and the main characteristics of the Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces, is set out below: The Defence Mission Purpose

The purpose of the Ministry of Defence and the Armed Forces is to:

    defend the United Kingdom, and Overseas Territories, our people and interests;

    act as a force for good by strengthening international peace and security. How we achieve it

To achieve this, we:

    make a vital contribution to Britain's security policy and its promotion at home and abroad;

    direct and provide a defence effort that meets the needs of the present, prepares for the future and insures against the unpredictable;

    generate modern, battle-winning forces and other defence capabilities to help;

    prevent conflicts and build stability;

    resolve crises and respond to emergencies;

    protect and further UK interests;

    meet our commitments and responsibilities;

    work with Allies and partners to strengthen international security relationships.

Success depends, above all, on our people. We must:

    recruit and retain the best people for the job from a diverse society;

    train, motivate and equip them properly;

    manage with care, ensuring that the demands on individuals and their families are reasonable;

    develop careers in defence and skills for life.

24 Mar 1999 : Column WA165

In all this we must:

    make every pound count for defence to ensure that the defence budget is used to best effect;

    develop a joint approach, harnessing the three Armed Services, defence civilians and all our resources to deliver the defence mission;

    be open, flexible and creative in the way we work;

    encourage British defence technology, science and industry;

    help protect the natural environment;

    be an active part of the wider community which we serve and in which we live.

This defence mission is implemented through a series of supporting objectives which were set out in the Strategic Defence Review White Paper.

Medicines: Safety for Children

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to improve the safety of the prescribing of medicines for children.[HL1636]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) assesses the safety, quality and efficacy of all medicines licensed for use in the United Kingdom. Their safety is monitored closely after licensing by medical and scientific staff at the MCA using the yellow card scheme for adverse reaction reporting by doctors and pharmacists. The findings of this scheme are translated into safety information which is provided to prescribers of medicines, including those used for children.

In addition, the MCA is funding, jointly with Trent National Health Service Executive, a pilot project to establish a regional monitoring centre based at Derbyshire Children's Hospital with the specific purpose of monitoring adverse reactions arising from paediatric use of medicines.

The UK played a leading role in the development of a European guideline to encourage the pharmaceutical industry to undertake appropriate clinical trials to support applications for licences specifically for the use of products in the treatment of children. The UK is also playing a leading role in the European Union's collaboration with the United States of America and Japan to produce a new guideline on the development of medicinal products in the paediatric population.

Beef Exports, Northern Ireland

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total quantity of beef exports from certified herds in Northern Ireland since the lifting of the beef ban on 16 March 1998.[HL1594]

24 Mar 1999 : Column WA166

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): There is only one company involved in the export of beef from Northern Ireland since the lifting of the ban. In the circumstances the requested information cannot be provided as it is commercial in confidence.

Artificial Insemination Regulations

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When work will resume on the revision of the regulations controlling artificial insemination of cattle and pigs.[HL1655]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The exercise was suspended last April to re-deploy staff to work on lifting the beef export ban. We are pleased to announce that we are now able to resume this work. One of our first jobs will be to write to interested parties inviting them to send in comments on outstanding issues. We aim to progress the work as quickly as possible thereafter.

Genetic Modification in Agriculture

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What response they have made to the Report of the Select Committee on the European Communities on EC regulation of Genetic Modification in Agriculture (2nd Report, Session 1998-99, HL Paper 11). [HL1716]

Lord Donoughue: The Government have welcomed the report as making an important contribution to the intense debate on the regulation of GMOs in agriculture through the presentation of a balanced and considered perspective on the key issues surrounding the application of biotechnology in agriculture and food production.

The Government's response in particular welcomes a number of the committee's recommendations. It makes the point that rigorous and wide-ranging assessment of risks to the environment and human health must continue to form the foundations of the regulatory process and that the Government are committed to ensuring that risk assessment provisions are strengthened and extended to include indirect and delayed environmental effects. The response also supports the committee's recommendations on monitoring on the grounds that this will allow a clear picture to be built up of the environmental effects of GMOs and enable the assumptions in the risk assessment to be verified.

The response further welcomes the committee's recommendations on labelling and makes clear that the Government are pressing the European Commission to develop further proposals on thresholds for adventitious

24 Mar 1999 : Column WA167

contamination and a list of materials from GM crops that will not require labelling.

Finally, the response states that the effective and timely revision of Directive 90/220 on the deliberate release into the environment of GMOs is a major priority for the Government. It offers the opportunity to reinforce the existing legislation to secure full protection for human health and the environment, while providing a stable and predictable regime which will maintain UK and EU competitiveness in the commercial exploitation of biotechnology and genome research. The European Parliament adopted its first reading Opinion in February 1999. The Government welcome the Opinion and support the Parliament's call for moves to reach a common position shortly.

A copy of the Government's response is available in the Library of the House.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page