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Carers Grant

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

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    (c) have received their allocation but did not submit plans to the Department of Health;

    (d) are awaiting receipt of their allocation having submitted plans pending approval by the Department of Health; and

    (e) have not received their allocation and did not submit plans to the Department of Health before the deadline of 3 November.[HL71]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: All 150 local authorities in England with social services functions have received carers grant allocations for 1990-2000, as outlined in the special grant report (No. 44). All 150 have also submitted carers' plans, which were required by 29 October 1999.

Payment of grant moneys by equal monthly instalments commenced on 15 April 1999.

The Department of Health is currently reviewing authorities' plans as part of its autumn performance review process.

Pensioners: Minimum Income Guarantee

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the increase in the minimum income guarantee for pensioners is accompanied by any measures to make the delivery of that guarantee more effective.[HL7]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We will announce our plans to encourage pensioners to take up their minimum income guarantee shortly.

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are able to estimate what proportion of pensioners eligible to benefit from the minimum income guarantee actually do so. [HL8]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Estimates of the proportion of pensioners taking up their minimum income guarantee from its introduction in April 1999 are not available. The latest statistics on take-up of the income related benefits were published on 24 September and cover the year 1997-98.

Women Entering Hostels: National Insurance Numbers

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hollis of Heigham on the 9 November (WA 145), what is the ground of their confidence that women in women's refuges should be able to supply national insurance numbers "even if they have left home

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    without being able to remove any personal possessions"; whether they have any information on the proportion of the population who know their national insurance number by heart; and whether there will be any exemption for those suffering from concussion.[HL9]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: We recognise that women entering hostels may not be able to supply their national insurance number, but they will be able to supply sufficient information--i.e. name, date of birth, previous addresses etc--for one to be traced or allocated.

Local authorities should consider each case on its merits--including the welfare and condition of the claimant and her family.

We have no information on the proportion of the population who know their national insurance number.

Companies Act Inspections

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that inspections under Section 432(2) and Section 442 of the Companies Act 1985 and the rules of conduct of inspectors are compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights.[HL35]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Yes. The inspectors' powers were upheld by the European Court of Human Rights in the Fayed and Saunders cases.

Chemical Warfare Mental Incapacitants: Agent 15

Lord Harrison asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made on the review of the information available on the chemical warfare mental incapacitants known as Agent 15.[HL148]

Lord Burlison: In accordance with the undertakings given by the then Secretary of State for Defence (Lord Robertson) on 9 February 1998 and by the then Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Dr Reid) on 22 April 1998, a review of the research on glycollates (of which Agent 15 is an example) and related compounds carried out at CBD Porton Down has been completed. A copy of the unclassified summary of this review has been placed in the Library of the House. The report explains that Agent 15 has been used in animal studies at Porton Down but not in any work involving humans. Research on related

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compounds (glycollates and benzilates) involving human volunteers found that all the observed effects of the compounds were resolved within four days.

A more extensive research programme involving human volunteers was undertaken at the time of the CBD research in the United States. Follow-up studies in 1980 led to the conclusion that subjects exposed to anticholinergic agents (glycollates) reported no

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differences in their current health status compared to control groups. However, the methods and the group sizes used were such that only large effects were likely to be uncovered.

There is no evidence that UK troops were exposed to Agent 15, nor that Iraq used Agent 15. There are therefore no plans for further research into this agent at this time.

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