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Fine Art Degrees

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): The latest available figures are for 1997-98, and they show that 3,266 students graduated in fine art from higher education institutions in the UK. Figures for 1998-99 will be published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency in February. The department does not prepare projected estimates of graduates by subject.

Iraq: Health Problems

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Officials from the Department for International Development (DfID) have been in discussion with the World Health Organisation (WHO) concerning possible projects to improve epidemiological surveillance in Iraq, to establish links between medical teaching institutions in Iraq and similar institutions outside Iraq, and to improve Iraq's cancer registration system. It is understood that the Government of Iraq has now approved these projects and WHO will shortly be requesting funding from governments. Her Majesty's Government will consider this very carefully when it is received.

Gulf War Illnesses: Research Proposals

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Since 1997, the Medical Research Council (MRC) has received seven full proposals for research into whether the health of Gulf veterans has been adversely affected by their service in the Gulf conflict. Two proposals have been accepted for funding. Decisions to recommend proposals to MoD for funding are based on a full scientific assessment of the proposals through peer review. Scientific feedback, including the reasons for rejection, is provided direct to the applicants, in confidence, by the MRC.

Incapacity Benefit: Linkage for Incapacity in Youth Qualifiers

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the new linking rule to people over 20 years of age who originally qualified for Incapacity Benefit through the new incapacity in youth provisions (Section 64 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999) will operate; and[HL613]

    Further to the remarks by the Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 13 October 1999 (H.L. Deb., col. 467) whether guidance will be provided to clarify what is intended by the phrase "a lengthy period".[HL614]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): Section 64 of the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act will allow people who left Incapacity Benefit (IB), having originally qualified for it under the new incapacity in youth provisions, to re-qualify in certain circumstances where they do not have enough National Insurance contributions to re-establish entitlement and they also fall outside the normal linking rules.

Under the normal linking rules, the right to return to the same level of IB without having to satisfy the relevant qualifying conditions is lost after eight weeks. The linking period is extended to 52 weeks for people who leave benefit for work, and to two years if they claim Disabled Persons' Tax Credit or left benefit for a training for work course.

The new rule, which will allow those who qualified for IB under the incapacity in youth provision to re-claim benefit after the age of 20 without having the National Insurance contributions required of others over the age of 20, is intended to protect those who leave benefit for work but who earn below the lower earnings limit (LEL), and those who go abroad. Regulations to be laid before Parliament in the early summer will set out in detail how the provisions will operate and comprehensive guidance will be provided for benefit decision makers.

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Denigration by Design Reviews

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish responses from the Chief Medical Officer and the Director of the Benefits Agency Medical Service to the reviews Denigration by Design by Margaret Williams, sent to them on 16 December 1999; and, if so, when.[HL618]

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Baroness Hollis of Heigham : Both the department's Chief Medical Adviser (CMA) and the Medical Director in Medical Services which are delivered by SEMA Group on behalf of the Benefits Agency have received copies of the reviews Denigration by Design. As the views expressed in the reviews were two people's personal views on an individual and his work, as opposed to a scientific review of the available published literature, neither the CMA nor the Medical Director felt it appropriate to comment on the reviews.

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