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7 Mar 2000 : Column WA131

Written Answers

Tuesday, 7th March 2000.

General Pinochet

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 16 December 1999 (WA 47) that no person or persons were responsible for a leak of the conclusions of the second hearing on General Pinochet by the House of Lords but that this was the result of skilful journalism, how the Government think skilful journalism could make such accurate and highly detailed predictions with no inside information.[HL1189]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The findings of the leak enquiry were conclusive and I have nothing further to add to my Written Answer given to the noble Lord on 16 December 1999, Official Report, (WA 47).

Equal Opportunities Commission

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many men and how many women currently serve on the Equal Opportunities Commission?[HL1255]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): There are currently 14 members on the board of the Equal Opportunities Commission, of whom four are men and 10 (including the Chair) are women.

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OFSTED Press Statements

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are concerned with the accuracy of press statements issued by OFSTED relating to OFSTED's reports and, in particular, the inclusion in such statements of matters outside its responsibilities.[HL1276]

Baroness Blackstone: Press statements made by OFSTED are a matter for HM Chief Inspector of Schools.

Chernobyl Disaster and Cancer Deaths

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, whether there were any increases in 1986 or subsequent years in the number of:

    (a) deaths caused by cancer, including leukaemia; or

    (b) cases of cancer, including leukaemia.[HL1238]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Director of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Laird from the Director of Social Statistics of the Office for National Statistics, Mr John Pullinger, dated 7 March 2000

The Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has been asked to reply to your parliamentary Question on increases in the number of deaths caused by cancer or cases of cancer, including leukaemia, following the Chernobyl disaster of 1986. I am replying in Dr Holt's absence.

The attached table contains the available information on newly diagnosed cases of, and mortality from, all cancers and leukaemia from 1986 onwards. The age-standardised rates take into account the changing age structure of the population over time.

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Incidence and mortality* from all cancer1 and leukaemia2 in England and Wales, 1986-98 (persons)

All Cancer Leukaemia
Incidence Mortality Incidence Mortality

* Adjusted for years 1986-92 inclusive to allow for changes in the method of assigning underlying cause of death in 1993.

1 All malignant neoplasms (International Classification of Diseases Ninth Revision (ICD9) codes 140-208, excluding non-melanoma skin cancer (ICD9 173)).

2 All leukaemias (ICD9 codes 204-208).

3 Directly age standardised using the European standard population per 100,000.

4 Provisional data for incidence.

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Long-term Care Insurance

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have sought or received views on the regulation of long-term care insurance from:

    (a) the insurance industry;

    (b) the Personal Investment Authority;

    (c) the Financial Services Authority;

    (d) organisations representing elderly people; and

    (e) the Consumers Association; and, if so, what they were; and[HL1214]

    Further to the statement by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 21 February about the Treasury's committee on long-term care costs (H.L. Deb., col. 90):

    (a) what are the committee's terms of reference;

    (b) who are its members;

    (c) which, if any, of its members represent elderly people and which represent consumers;

    (d) how many times it has met; and

    (e) when it is expected to report.[HL1215]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government received views on regulation of long-term care insurance through the report of the Royal Commission on Long Term Care for the Elderly. The Secretary of State for Health announced in another place that the Government would explore with the financial services industry how it could best design financial products to pay for long-term care to see if they could be made more attractive to a wider audience.

The committee includes members from the Treasury, Department of Health, Inland Revenue, No. 10 and the Financial Services Authority (FSA), as well as academics and representatives of consumers, the elderly and the industry.

The terms of reference are:

    "The Committee is invited to follow up the statement of 2 December by Alan Milburn, Secretary of State for Health, in which he said:

    'we intend to explore with the financial services industry how it could best design long-term care insurance products, and other financial products, to see if they could be made more attractive to a wider audience.'

    The Committee should seek to define financial services products which offer reliable, efficient and effective means of saving to pay for long-term care costs. The products may be any kind of retail financial services vehicle, including immediate needs facilities.

    In developing product design criteria, the Committee is asked to consider:

    -- cost

    -- reliability

    -- ease of understanding

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    -- competition

    -- the trade-off between simplicity and one-stop shopping

    -- the claiming process.

    The Committee is also asked to recommend how providers could be encouraged to market acceptably designed products, e.g. through:

    -- disclosure

    -- benchmark(s)

    -- minimum standards (e.g. kitemark)

    -- code(s) of conduct

    -- invitation to tender.

    The Committee should aim to report by early summer.

    When the Committee reports, the Treasury will then consider whether marketing of long-term care savings products should be regulated under the Financial Services and Markets Bill, currently before Parliament. Separate public consultation on this point would be required." The Committee has so far met once.

National Cycle Network

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will concentrate aid for the National Cycle Network on (a) the areas of highest unemployment and (b) safe routes to school, particularly, where these can be connected to the national network.[HL1248]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The National Cycle Network (NCN) is being promoted by the charity Sustrans. It will provide a network of around 10,000 miles of safe and attractive routes for cyclists around the UK. Sustrans determines its own network of routes in consultation with local authorites.

The Government gave strong support to the original bid by Sustrans for funding from the Millennium Commission, which resulted in a £43.5 million grant from the National Lotteries Fund in 1995.

Sustrans is making good progress with the NCN. We are continuing to assist the development of the network and will be helping with the Millennium launch later this year. We have also assisted on a range of policy, legal, and administrative issues. The Highways Agency is working with Sustrans on the provision of safe and convenient crossings of trunk roads.

As the network develops, it will provide a number of additional safe routes for cyclists both for the journey to work and to school. Local authorities will also be looking for opportunities to link local cycle routes to the national network.

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