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Infertility Treatment: Provision Variations

Baroness Howells of St Davids asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The provision of infertility services causes concern to many couples.

We have listened carefully to the representations we have received from couples seeking infertility treatment, and from their Members of Parliament and interested bodies working in the field and we have been considering how we can best respond to these very genuine concerns about variations in provision. We are placing in the Library a report on a baseline survey of infertility services in the National Health Service in 1997 conducted by the Department of Health.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has produced three sets of guidelines for the management of infertility treatment. We are therefore asking the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to consider and update these documents to ensure that clinical guidelines based on the latest knowledge and best practice are available for use throughout the NHS.

We want to see an improved service and greater efficiency for the benefit of patients. We see the referral of these guidelines to NICE as a major step forward in infertility treatment by means of which we can act positively to improve services and reduce the postcode lottery in this area of health care.

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Employment and Social Policy Council, 27-28 November

Lord Goldsmith asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Employment and Social Policy Council held in Brussels on 27 to 28 November.[HL4841]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for Employment, Welfare to Work and Equal Opportunities and my honourable friend the Minister for Competitiveness represented the UK at the Employment and Social Policy Council held in Brussels on 27 to 28 November.

This was a busy Council, the most significant item being the agreement brokered on the Social Policy Agenda, which identifies the main priorities in the field of social policy for the next five years. The agreed text, to be sent to the Nice European Council for adoption, emphasises the goals agreed at the Lisbon Council in March, in particular in the areas of employment, social inclusion and the use of the open co-ordination approach.

Joint Committee on Human Rights

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked the Leader of the House:

    What progress has been made in setting up a Joint Committee on Human Rights; and whether it is likely that the committee will be set up by the end of this year.[HL4834]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): I understand that a Motion has now been set down on the Order Paper in another place, to be taken today, which asks that House to agree to the appointment of a Joint Committee on Human Rights. If the Motion is agreed, we would expect the committee to be set up early in the new Session.

Looted Art

Lord Janner of Braunstone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will provide any assistance to the Council of Europe following the Vilnius Conference on Looted Art in setting up a website to list all works of art with dubious provenance between the years 1933-1945.[HL4690]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We will consider any formal proposal that might be put forward to us, although I understand that Sotheby's is to assist the Council of Europe in setting up a central website on looted art. In the meantime I join with the noble Lord in expressing satisfaction that the UK is continuing to lead the world in researching the provenance of works in public museums and galleries and congratulate the

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National Museum Directors' Conference (NMDC) on the establishment in February this year of their website listing objects in the national collections where the provenance between 1933 and 1945 is incomplete. I understand that NMDC have recently updated their website to include information relating to some local authority, university and independent museums.

Commonwealth Games 2002: Shooting Event Arrangements

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they propose to make to enable British and other competitors at the Commonwealth Games in 2002 to bring firearms into the United Kingdom and for British competitors to be able to practise for pistol shooting events without incurring foreign travel expenses.[HL4624]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Secretary of State for the Home Department announced on 4 October 2000 that temporary authority would be granted for competitors to compete in shooting events at the 2002 Commonwealth Games. The Home Department and the national governing bodies of shooting, the National Rifle Association, and the National Small-Bore Rifle Association in association with Surrey police, have agreed an arrangement within the current firearm legislation which will enable British and foreign competitors to bring their firearms into the country for the duration of the Games.

The legislation will require that all visitors to this country will have to apply for a visitors firearms permit and those visitors must have a sponsor. The National Rifle Association will act as sponsors for all visitors firearms permits. This means each participating country's team manager will have to apply to the 2002 Commonwealth Games Office for an application form. Details will need to be provided on the numbers and types of all Section 1 and Section 5 firearms and shotguns to be brought into the country. Air rifles and air pistols do not need any form of visitors permits.

Applications for permits will be cleared within one month of receipt, accepting that Surrey police will have to deal with 42 countries. In this respect, the 2002 Commonwealth Games Office will expect applications to be returned to them no later than mid-May 2002. The Commonwealth Games Committee have already sent general guidelines on the use of firearms to all the participating countries.

All firearms will have to enter the country via London Heathrow airport and no exceptions to this rule will be allowed. Competitors will not be allowed to take firearms beyond Customs control at Heathrow, as they will be transported in special vehicles to the National Shooting Centre at Bisley.

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Once on the site at Bisley, these firearms will have to be transported from their armoury to the range by Commonwealth Games officials, and competitors will therefore only have access to them on the range for shooting or maintenance.

Her Majesty's Government will endeavour to treat all competitors equally whether from abroad or the UK in regard to the receipt of firearms into the country. However, the Home Office have confirmed that there will be no additional arrangements in place for them to compensate British competitors who incur travelling costs while practising abroad for shooting events.

However, in order to compliment the likely UK Sport funded World Class Performance Programme for UK Shooting (Olympic disciplines only), Sport England may continue with a specific Commonwealth Games preparation programme of Lottery funding to English shooters who are not covered by the UK Plan. It is possible therefore that if there are potential English medalists for the Commonwealth Games in the pistol shooting disciplines, they may be supported up to Manchester 2002 via some form of training and targeted competition programme overseas which are appropriate. This would be for Sport England to decide in conjunction with the English Target Shooting Federation.

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