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Baroness Blackstone: Ministers from the Department for Education and Employment met with the Bishop of Blackburn and other representatives of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham and representatives of the Catholic Education Service on a number of occasions before the Government issued the draft sex and relationship education guidance and tabled an amendment to the Learning and Skills Bill on 16 March.
Whether, in relation to the Human Rights Act 1998, they will clarify the position of independent schools where attendance by pupils at church is compulsory, in the event that a pupil claims a human right not to attend.[HL1834]
Baroness Blackstone: It will ultimately be for the courts to decide whether, in relation to any complaint brought against an independent school over its rules covering pupils' sexual activity or church attendance there has been a breach of the Human Rights Act 1998. The Independent Schools Council has expressed the view that the Act will not prevent its schools from having clear rules on these matters.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Findings from the Health Technology Assessment (HTA) project referred to are not yet available. The pilot research phase has been extended for scientific reasons and results should be available in autumn 2001.
Since 1997, the Government have committed over £800,000 to new research projects on prostate cancer through the MRC and through the Department of Health. The department has actively sought to support such work in prostate cancer and has not rejected any high quality proposals for work in this area.
Following the seminar last year at No. 10, a Cancer Research Funders' Forum has been established to help improve the co-ordination of cancer research in the United Kingdom. It is being run by the MRC and includes DH representatives and the major cancer research charities.
At the department's request, the forum considered the issue of prostate cancer at its first meeting on 10 January. It agreed to set up an expert group on prostate cancer which will identify gaps in current research and suggest ways of filling them. The expert group met for the first time on 25 February and expects to report within months.
The Government have recently appointed a National Cancer Director, Professor Mike Richards, who will spearhead our concerted drive on cancer. He will work in partnership with doctors, nurses, general practitioners, other health professionals and the voluntary sector to improve prevention and modernise cancer services to help ensure equitable access to high quality cancer care. This will include a close interest in the development and progression of research.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government fund health and medical research in a number of ways. The Department of Health funds research and development to support its work on policy development and evaluation in health and social care. The department also manages the National Health Service research and development funding which is used to support research and development of relevance to the NHS in hospitals, general practice and other healthcare settings and to fund the NHS research and development programme. In addition, the Medical Research Council (MRC)--which receives most of its income via grant-in-aid from the office of my right
The table given in col. WA 166 gave estimates of expenditure for six different cancers. The latest figures available for Department of Health and MRC expenditure in those six cancers are for financial year 1998-99. The figures are:
Project details of work directly funded by the department or supported through NHS R&D funding can be found on the National Research Register (NRR). This is available in the Library and most medical libraries on CD Rom and on the Internet: http://www.doh.gov.uk/nrr.htm. The NRR also contains many details of projects/trials funded by the MRC and other funders.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): It is HSE policy that all allegations of ill health as a result of pesticide exposure are fully investigated. HSE has followed and continues to follow this policy with respect to the complaints regarding Mersley Farm.
It is also HSE policy to refer cases of alleged pesticide related illness to the Pesticide Incidents Appraisal Panel (PIAP) which has the role of contributing to epidemiological surveillance of pesticide safety. By taking an overview of these cases, a statistical picture can be obtained which is used to inform the approvals process. The majority of Mersley Farm cases have now been referred to PIAP. All will be assessed by the panel.
More specific epidemiological studies are not a routine part of HSE's
investigation work. They would not normally be appropriate in the context of complaints of
this type involving usually no more than a few individuals. However, HSE is currently
considering whether there would be any benefit gained from an epidemiological study
relating to Mersley Farm. The feasibility of undertaking an informative epidemiological
investigation will be assessed over the next six months. The findings will be made public and
followed up as appropriate.
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