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The Lord Advocate (Lord Hardie): It is already common practice for the views of relevant agencies to be sought prior to the issuing or updating of guidance to Procurators Fiscal concerning certain branches of environmental or other statute law. Although at present there are no plans for the issuing of further guidance or updating of existing guidance to Procurators Fiscal relating to prosecutions under Part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, the views of Scottish Natural Heritage may be sought when the issuing or updating of such guidance to Procurators Fiscal is next considered.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): It is estimated that the increase in expenditure on the Minimum Income Guarantee and Housing Benefit in respect of widows and widowers
The Secretary of State for Social Security has asked me to reply to your recent parliamentary Question asking about the effects of the strengthening of the gateway to income support described at paragraph 2.14 of Safeguarding Social Security (CM 4276) on the speed with which new claims for income support are met.
The evidence requirement (ER) was introduced for income support (IS) claims on 6 October 1997. The legislation allows the customer a month from first indicating an intention to claim to submit the evidence, and still have their claim treated as made on the earlier date. It may help if I explain that, until the ER is satisfied, the claim is not valid. As soon as an IS claim has satisfied the ER it is passed to the adjudication officer. It is from then that BA's clearance times are counted.
An example of this would be where a new claim to IS is submitted on 1 April without all of the required evidence. The evidence is supplied on Monday 12 April and the adjudication officer issues the decision on Friday 16 April. The clearance time would be five working days. In this example the customer could supply evidence as late as 30 April 1999 and still receive IS from 1 April 1999, as long as the normal conditions of entitlement are satisfied.
The agency currently measures speed of clearance as the percentage of claims cleared in five days and 13 days. Prior to the introduction of ER, the agency target for clearance in five days was 63 per cent. and for 13 days it was 87 per cent. For 1996-97 both these targets were met.
The second tier target was not altered with the introduction of ER. It has remained at 87 per cent. In 1997-98 and 1998-99 (to February 1999) the performance has dropped below target by about 1 per cent.
Whether they will be approaching Consumers for Health Choice to nominate lay membership of the proposed Independent Panel to review the working of the Medicines (Advertising and Monitoring of Advertising) Amendment Regulations 1999 (S.I. 267); and [HL2086]
Which bodies and organisations they intend to consult about the appointment of individuals with (a) medical, (b) scientific (c) legal and (d) consumer, and (e) other backgrounds to the Independent Panel to review the working of the Medicines (Advertising and Monitoring of Advertising) Amendment Regulations 1999 (S.I. 267).[HL2087]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): Nominations are welcome from any organisation or individual bearing in mind the range of expertise needed by the panel to fulfil its functions. The panel will not be responsible for the review of advertising of dietary supplements or unlicensed herbal remedies, as such products are not subject to the Medicines (Advertising) Regulations. However, this will not preclude the nomination of suitably qualified persons with an interest in dietary supplements and herbal remedies as, once elected, members do not represent organisations but contribute by their individual expertise and judgment to the advice given to the Licensing Authority, United Kingdom Health Ministers.
The Medicines Control Agency has drawn up a list of about 140 organisations to be asked for nominations to the panel but the list is not exhaustive and copies of the consultation letter can be obtained directly from the MCA by other interested parties. A copy of the list is attached to each consultation letter and is also available on request. We expect the letter to be sent out next week.
Baroness Hayman: The regulations came into force on 5 April 1999 and we have no present plans to make any amendments. If at any time it becomes necessary to make amendments to the regulations we will, of course, consult interested parties on our proposals.
Baroness Hayman: The proposals outlined in consultation document MLX/239 have been incorporated into the Medicines (Advertising and Monitoring of Advertising) Amendment Regulations 1999, S.I. No. 267, which came into force on 5 April 1999.
With regard to consultation document MLX/249, the Medicines Control Agency is presently considering the responses to the proposals with a view to making recommendations to Ministers. In the light of those recommendations we will consider whether or what legislation should be put before Parliament. Due to the variety of concerns expressed, we are working to a longer timetable than was originally proposed.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): As a result of the shortage of veterinarians in the UK willing to undertake meat hygiene work, a programme of progressive changes has been devised to permit full compliance with the veterinary supervision requirements of EU meat hygiene rules within as short a timescale as possible. Progress will depend on the ability of the Meat Hygiene Service to secure additional veterinary
Lord Donoughue: The European Union law relating to meat hygiene, and the legislation which implements such law in Great Britain, are not designed to prevent suitably qualified official veterinary surgeons from carrying out meat inspection duties, but rather the reverse. EU and GB law requires meat inspection duties to be carried out by an official veterinary surgeon or, in the case of certain defined tasks, by an inspector acting under the supervision and responsibility of an official veterinary surgeon.
Lord Donoughue: Information on the numbers of deaths or injuries arising from belly clipping cattle before slaughter is not available. However, the Government are aware of recent press reports about such incidents. As a result, officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and from the Health and Safety Executive will be meeting shortly to discuss the issue.
The slaughter of dirty and/or wet livestock can compromise the hygienic operation of the slaughterhouse. Research has shown that there is a relationship between the visible contamination of the coat/hide and the microbial status of the finished carcase. The Meat Hygiene Service Clean Livestock Policy is therefore aimed at improving the cleanliness of livestock presented for slaughter. However, neither the Clean Livestock Policy, nor the recently published MAFF advice to farmers on how to produce clean animals, lays down any requirement for cattle to be clipped prior to slaughter; both simply advise that such clipping may be one of a number of methods of cleaning up animals before they are marketed or sent for slaughter. In recognition of the dangers involved in clipping cattle, the MAFF advice makes clear that great care is needed during clipping to avoid injury to the animal or to farm staff, and that animals should be securely restrained in a crush.
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