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Mycobacterium Bovis Infections

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: In the 1950s, prior to controls being undertaken, cattle to human transmission was thought to be responsible for over 2,000 human deaths a year and many more non-fatal infections. The main route of transmission was believed to be milk. Following the introduction of pasteurisation of milk and controls in cattle including the tuberculin testing of cattle, the numbers of confirmed human Mycobacterium bovis infections have fallen to around 40 a year, averaging 1.2 per cent of confirmed tuberculosis cases between 1993 and 1998. Many of these infections are in older people and are thought to represent reactivation of old disease. When infection occurs in children it is recently acquired. Between 1994 and 1998 only one of 342 (0.3 per cent) confirmed cases of TB in children aged 0 to 14 years was identified as Mycobacterium bovis. It is not clear whether this particular infection was contracted from infected milk or meat.

Following the Krebs report on TB in cattle, the Chief Medical Officer and the Chief Veterinary Officer have set up quarterly liaison meetings to review the number of cases of Mycobacterium bovis in humans and animals.

Severely Disabled People and Income Support

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Our White Paper Modernising Social Services recognised that the scale of variation in discretionary charges for non-residential care is unacceptable. We are considering all the options for changing the current system, and will

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consult representatives of service users, carers, local authorities, and other interested parties.

Millennium Dome: Future

Baroness Thornton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the final shortlist for the proposed uses for the Millennium Dome after the Millennium Celebrations will be announced.[HL2496]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government has announced today that two proposals have been selected to go through to the final stage of the competition. Detailed proposals and indicative financial offers were invited from the bids shortlisted in January. These two bids were chosen from a strong field of the five bids remaining in the competition.

The bids in the final shortlist are Dome Europe, an advanced leisure, business and retail attraction, proposed by the Principal Finance Group of Nomura International plc, and Legacy plc, a high technology industrial campus of workspace, leisure and retail uses, proposed by Robert Bourne.

In reaching this decision, the Government has evaluated the bids against the published criteria and has taken into account the views of umbrella organisations in the area and the public responses to a national consultation exercise held in April. Details of the public consultation results have been placed in the Libraries of the House.

We will now work with the bidders to develop these proposals further and will proceed to a decision in the summer on the winning proposal.

EU Employment and Social Affairs Council

Lord Dubs asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Social Affairs Council held in Brussels on 8th May.[HL2482]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My right honourable friend the Minister for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunties represented the UK at the Employment and Social Affairs Council held in Brussels on 8th May. There were two items on the agenda: the Broad Economic Guidelines 2000 (BEGs), prepared by Economic and Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) in accordance with Article 99 of the Treaties establishing the European Community; and Article 13 (non-discrimination).

In the discussion on the Broad Economic Guidelines, the UK supported the emphasis on structural reform but argued that more attention should be given to tackling social exclusion. The Presidency undertook to write to ECOFIN summarising the views of the Employment and Social Affairs Council and said that he had received an assurance that ECOFIN would not be invited to

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finalise its draft of the BEGs until it had received the views of the Social Affairs Council.

The Presidency reported on the negotiations on the two proposed Directives and the action programme brought forward under Article 13 (non-discrimination). The Presidency noted that a number of issues remained to be resolved but hoped to register progress at the SAC on 6th June.

Armed Forces Discipline Acts: Consolidation

Lord Brett asked Her Majesty's Goverment:

    What progress has been made on the consolidation of the Service discipline Acts.[HL2481]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): We recognise the importance of updating the legislation governing discipline in the Armed Forces. It has been the intention for some time to consolidate the Army and

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Air Force Acts 1955 and the Naval Discipline Act 1957. We have been taking stock of the consolidation in the light of the changes to the present legislation made by the Armed Forces Discipline Bill and the likelihood of further changes in the quinquennial Armed Forces Bill in the next Session. A further consideration is the Government's intention, indicated in the Strategic Defence Review, to replace the three present Acts with a single tri-service Act. It is planned that the substantive development of this important project should get under way as soon as the quinquennial Bill is enacted and that, when the work is complete, the resulting legislation should be introduced when the parliamentary timetable allows. As a consequence, legislation consolidating the present Acts would be likely to have an effective life of only a few years.

We have therefore concluded that the most sensible approach would be to subsume consolidation within the development of the tri-service Act, the purpose of which will be to provide legislation that better meets the requirements of the three services in an increasingly joint environment.

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