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Agriculture: Government Strategy

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: We have placed in Libraries of both Houses a paper outlining the Government's strategy for agriculture as discussed at the Prime Minister's summit today.

Diazinon-based Sheep Dips

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: A considerable amount of work will be needed to check this information. However, it is known that currently there are two manufacturers of diazinon used in sheep dips. They are Nippon Kayaku Co Ltd, Tokyo and Ciba Geigy, Basle. No commercial formulation of a veterinary medicinal product containing diazinon as the active ingredient currently uses epichlorhydrin as a stabiliser. The Veterinary Medicines Directorate was informed by the marketing

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authorisation holders of the removal of epichchlorhydrin from the formulation of their products. I will write to the noble Countess when the detailed information she has requested is available.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What independent research has been conducted into the chemical reactions that occur in formulations of diazinon-based organophosphate sheep dips when they are stored under variable conditions, when the concentrates are mixed according to manufacturers' instructions in water of variable PH and temperature and when the mixed dip is left standing; and, if such research has been conducted, whether the results have been published. [HL1707]

Baroness Hayman: Data to support the information on stability needed to satisfy the requirements of Council Directive 81/852/EEC are submitted by the manufacturer. For stability data, the information required is set out in Section F of the Directive. The data are specific to the product concerned. The Licensing Authority does not carry out independent research of this nature. The information required includes data to support the shelf life, recommended storage conditions and specifications at the end of the shelf life. Where a finished product requires reconstitution prior to administration, details of the proposed shelf life for the reconstituted product are also required. Where a finished product is liable to give rise to degradation products, the applicant must declare them, indicate characterisation methods, test procedures and acceptable levels.

Food Safety and Antimicrobial Resistance

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered the wide-ranging recommendations made by the Advisory Committee on the Microbiological Safety of Food (ACMSF) in their report on Microbial Antibiotic Resistance in Relation to Food Safety which was published in August 1999. [HL1716]

Baroness Hayman: The Government have given careful consideration to all the recommendations of the ACMSF and have accepted those that call for government action. For the other recommendations, the regulations that are already in place or the activities that are underway have been outlined in the Government's response.

The response to the report highlights the importance that the Government attach to the issue of antimicrobial resistance. Additionally, it indicates the considerable amount of work that is already under way in this field to prevent, reduce or delay the

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development of antimicrobial resistance in food-producing animals. This includes a number of research and development projects in this area, funding for which will amount to £3.7 million over the next three years. The results from these projects will direct future policy decisions and thus further minimise the risk to public health.

Copies of the Government's response have been placed in the Library.

Agriculture and the Euro

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the positive and negative effects over the next decade on the British agricultural industry of the advent of the euro, whether or not the United Kingdom adopts the euro. [HL1543]

Baroness Hayman: The launch of the euro in eleven European Union (EU) countries has major implications for UK firms of all sizes across a number of business sectors, including agriculture. That is why the Government established the Euro Preparations Unit (EPU) in the Treasury. Since its inception in December 1997, EPU has run a major business information campaign on the euro and published euro factsheets and case studies, which help SMEs in particular to take account of the euro now that it is a business reality. Further information can be found in the Treasury's regular euro progress reports, the most recent of which was published in November 1999. Copies of these reports are available in the Library of the House.

Cattle Brain Tissue Analysis

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hayman on 17 March (WA235), which test was used in the survey of 4,163 cattle; and (a) what were the results of this survey or (b) when will these results be made public[HL1616]

Baroness Hayman: Of the brains removed, a total of 3,951 were in a suitable condition for examination by all the tests that were to be applied. The results from the microscopic analysis of brain tissue showed that 18 cattle had signs of BSE infection and 3,933 were negative and showed no sign of infection. These results were put to the House on 16 July 1999. Subsequently, the Prionics western blot test has been used on all samples and this test has confirmed the initial findings. No additional positive brains were identified. Samples will also be examined using the DELFIA test. Testing by DELFIA, and consequential interpretation of the results, has been delayed by the need to have the test evaluated by the European Commission. However, all 18 of the positive brains identified so far are positive by DELFIA. Final interpretation of the data must await the completion of DELFIA testing and evaluation.

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Vehicle Number Plates

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have for new regulations relating to number plates.[HL1792]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The department has recently concluded public consultation on proposals for new regulations relating to the display of vehicle number plates. Details of the department's response in the light of the comments made will be placed in the Library of the House tomorrow.

Food Standards Agency

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they have made concerning the establishment of the Food Standards Agency.[HL1793]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The provisions establishing the Food Standards Agency under the Food Standards Act 1999 are due to come into force on 1 April. The Food Standards Agency will act as a non-ministerial department which will be accountable to Parliament through Health Ministers. As of 1 April, we shall have day-to-day responsibility for parliamentary business relating to food safety and standards matters, including questions from Peers. We shall also be responsible for dealing with relevant correspondence from Members of this House. Details of the Food Standards Agency's role and organisation will be placed in the Library.

NHS Research and Development

Lord Stallard asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they intend to take forward the reform of research and development in the National Health Service.[HL1794]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are today announcing a programme of modernisation to give strategic direction to the management of research and development in the National Health Service.

High quality modern health care depends on high quality research-based evidence. These changes bring the management of R&D in the NHS into line with the principles set out in The new NHS (Cm 3807, December 1997). They provide a quality framework within which all R&D funded from NHS resources will respond to the principles and needs of the NHS.

The Department of Health will take the lead in expressing priorities for the national effort in health services research, on behalf of the NHS. The NHS will work with other funding bodies and the universities to

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deliver advances in knowledge that the NHS needs for evidence-based practice and policy.

Collaboration will replace unproductive competition. There will be no time-consuming NHS-wide bidding for NHS R&D allocations from April 2001. Instead, the Government will use a modernisation fund to encourage research partnerships and networks in areas of high priority for the NHS. We want to ensure that consumers of health services are involved at every stage in the research process. New guidance will reinforce the standards of governance and performance management required of R&D in the NHS.

The NHS is part of the national science base. These reforms ensure that the NHS and the Department of Health meet the obligations of their partnership with other research funding bodies. Within this framework, the NHS will target resources on providing a suitable environment for high quality research conducted within strategies that take account of its priorities and needs.

The paper Research and Development for a First Class Service: R&D funding in the new NHS sets out a new statement of policy and principles together with plans for implementation. Copies have been placed in the Library. It is also available on the Department of Health's website.

These reforms build on a new review led by Professor Michael Clarke on behalf of the Central R&D Committee for the NHS. We are today making his report available on the Department of Health's website. As well as the management and funding of R&D in the NHS, Professor Clarke's review considered NHS priorities for R&D related to cancer, the elderly, heart disease and stroke, mental health, and primary care, and took account of a review of research priorities for accidental injury. We are placing these reports on the department's website. We intend to make early progress with the R&D priorities for cancer, heart disease and stroke, and mental health.

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