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Departmental Cars

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The information requested is not held by the Home Office. I refer my noble friend to the Answer given by my noble friend the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, on 24 July (Official Report, WA 15-16).

Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The 1999 Recruitment, Retention and Vacancy Survey did

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not separately identify Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers (MLSOs).

The National Advisory Group for Scientists and Technicians has been charged with developing plans to improve workforce planning, education, training and career development amongst that group of staff. The Department of Health is also developing a specific strategy for improving recruitment and retention, liaising closely with employers, professional bodies and trade unions to raise the profile of the work of scientists.

All non-review body staff have been offered an above inflation three-year pay deal (from April 1999). From 1 April 1999, trainee MLSOs received pay increases of up to 26 per cent and newly qualified MLSOs 7.1 per cent. From April 2000, all biomedical scientists (which includes medical laboratory scientific officers) have received 3.25 per cent or £300, whichever is the higher, and a formula for pay for the year 2001-2002 is agreed.

The National Health Service pay system is in need of modernisation. We are working in partnership with trade unions to negotiate a new NHS pay system which will offer all NHS staff a more attractive career structure, greater use of their skills and higher earnings for those who contribute most to the service and support modernisation of the NHS.

Passive Smoking

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they propose to undertake any new initiatives on the dangers to health of passive smoking.[HL3416]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government will continue to monitor the available scientific data on this subject and will ensure that the appropriate information is included in the ongoing tobacco education campaign.

The continued development of initiatives such as the Public Places Charter in the licensed hospitality sector will also help to publicise the issues.

The Health and Safety Commission has consulted on the introduction of an Approved Code of Practice on smoking in the workplace and the Government are awaiting their advice.

Smoking in the Catering Industry

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will undertake an education programme designed to discourage smoking in the catering industry.[HL3418]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are no plans to target specific industries in the development of the current tobacco education programme.

Smoking in commercial food preparation areas is prohibited under Chapter VIII of the Food Safety

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(General Food Hygiene) Regulations 1995 and guidance has been published on compliance with the regulations.

Human Embryo Cloning: Report

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What consideration they are giving to the findings of the Committee chaired by Dr Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, into the cloning of human embryos; what timetable they are working to in framing their response; whether they will seek further evidence, especially on the use of adult stem cells as an alternative to the use of stem cells from human embryos; and whether they will publish the Donaldson report; and [HL3543]

    What plans they have to enable both Houses of Parliament to debate the scientific and ethical questions which arise from the findings of the Donaldson Committee into human cloning; and whether any use of human embryos for the manufacture of clones will require amendment to the 1991 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act or whether such authorisation may be permitted by licence without fresh Parliamentary authority; and [HL3544]

    Whether they will seek to change the law which has allowed scientists at Sheffield University to import embryonic cells from Wisconsin; what is being done to monitor the use to which these cells are being put and to prevent further trafficking in embryonic stem cells; and [HL3545]

    Whether the impact of embryonic stem cell tissue accords with the findings of the Polkinghorne Committee's recommendations, which were accepted by the previous administration; and [HL3546]

    Whether they intend to ban the import of stem cell tissues derived from human embryos obtained illegally or against currently agreed ethical principles, as they have done in the case of the import of animal products obtained illegally or against currently agreed ethical principles. [HL3548]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: These are all matters within the Terms of Reference of the Chief Medical Officer's Expert Group on Therapeutic Cloning.

The Expert Group has completed its work on the potential benefits, risks and the ethical issues raised by developments in stem cell research and cell nuclear replacement. The Government are now considering the report's recommendations.

Embryonic Stem Cell Tissue Imports

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they were aware that Sheffield University had decided to import embryonic stem

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    cell tissues; and whether Sheffield University consulted the Department of Health or the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in advance of their action. [HL3547]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health is aware of the work being conducted on stem cells by Sheffield University. The importation of embryonic stem cell tissue is not regulated by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 so there was no requirement for the University to consult with either the Department of Health or the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

NHS Pensions Agency: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Annual Report and Accounts of the National Health Service Pensions Agency. [HL3682]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have approved the report and accounts, which have today been laid before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of section 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921.

Copies have been placed in the Library.

Life Expectancy Inequalities

Lord Morris of Manchester ask Her Majesty's Government:

    Which of their policies for minimum incomes and health specifically address the need to reduce widening inequality in the expectation of life between unskilled workers and professional workers.[HL3422]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Inequalities in life expectancy are due to a variety of factors: income distribution, education, public safety, housing, employment, transport and pollution as well as those relating to behaviour.

Changes we have made to the tax and benefit systems, the introduction of the National Minimum Wage and action to reduce the number of deaths from coronary heart disease and stroke and cancer are aimed at improving the health of everyone and the worst off in particular.

Other action across government is identified in Saving Lives: Our Healthier Nation, published in July 1999, and Opportunity for All: Tackling Poverty and Social Exclusion, published in September 1999. Copies are available in the Library.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What acts they are taking with other member states of the European Union to reduce inequality in

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    the expectation of life between unskilled workers and professional workers.[HL3423]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The recently published health strategy for the European Community aims to meet emerging health trends and challenges across Europe. The strategy recognises the serious threat posed by wide variations and inequalities in health status.

One of its objectives is to achieve an integrated health strategy which links all health related activities including those in other policy areas which have an impact on health. This is the first time all health related activity has been brought together in such a coherent way by the Commission.

The European Commission views the programme as a key initiative that will provide added value at a European level but makes clear that health care delivery remains the responsibility by member states. The United Kingdom Government emphasised the importance of this in its initial reaction to the Communication at the Health Council on 29 June.

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