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Organophosphate Exposure: Treatment Recommendations

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for England took a number of actions to bring the report of the joint working party of the Royal College of Physicians of London and the Royal College of Psychiatrists to the attention of general practitioners (GPs) and commend to them the advice contained within it. These included a Department of Health Press Release on 11 November 1998 and an article in CMOs Update 21 in February 1999 (a quarterly publication sent to all doctors in England). The CMO also wrote to the President of the Royal Colleges of GPs (RCGP) emphasising the importance of the report and encouraging him to publicise it to RCGP members.

The CMO decided that the National Poisons Information Service (NPIS) is best placed to fulfil the role recommended in the report of the joint working party of providing specialist support and advice to GPs.

The Cardiff NPIS Centre holds monthly clinics at which a medical toxicologist and an occupational health physician are present. The staff at the centre encourage GPs who contact the centre with an inquiry which may be organophosphate (OP)-related to refer the patient to the monthly clinic. They will see OP patients from any part of the country.

The Department of Health is currently reviewing advice and guidance to doctors on the management of this group of patients in the light of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment's review of the scientific evidence on OPs commissioned by Ministers and published on 26 November 1999. A decision on whether further measures may be appropriate will be made in the new year.

DHS: Human Rights Act Audit

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress the Department of Health is making in its Human Rights Act 1998 audit.[HL356]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Government departments are undertaking a broad assessment of the likely impact of the Human Rights Act 1998 on their work, as part of the preparations for implementation on 2 October 2000. This task is in progress in the Department of Health.

People Disentitled to Benefit

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether Baroness Hollis of Heigham intended to assert that people disentitled to means tested

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    benefits do not suffer from "linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown" (H.L. Deb., col. 721); and, if so, on what sources of information this assertion was based.[HL211]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): People who become disentitled to benefits do so because they fail to comply with a limited number of very clear conditions of entitlement. At the heart of poverty and social exclusion are the problems of unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health and family breakdown. Our aim is to tackle this by ensuring all our children get a high quality education, encouraging people to work, helping people to aquire skills for a modern labour market, and by making work pay.

Local Transport Infrastructure

Baroness Warwick of Undercliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will announce the allocation of capital resources for expenditure on local transport infrastructure in 2000-01.[HL423]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): This is the second year of the three-year £2.4 billion package for local transport under the Comprehensive Spending Review, including £700 million of additional expenditure.

The total allocation for 2000-01 will be £754.9 million, which will provide for major improvements to local transport infrastructure.

Schemes approved or provisionally approved include innovative proposals for integrating public transport; providing greater travel choice; and providing new bypasses to take through traffic away from local communities, thus improving their quality of life.

We have also made provision of £301 million for highway maintenance--up 24 per cent on this year's figure and in line with our commitment to reverse previous cuts in this area. In addition, we have increased general allocation for public transport, minor road improvements, walking, cycling and safety schemes.

In addition, we are providing an extra £18 million for local authorities to improve public transport ahead of the introduction of congestion charging or workplace parking schemes.

Local Transport Plans replace the Transport Policies and Programmes regime and are the cornerstone of our integrated transport policy. They provide for a longer-term, more strategic approach and greater certainty of funding for local authorities.

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Copies of the press notice containing a full analysis of the settlement have been placed in the Library of the House.

Objective 2 Designation: Cumbria

Lord Inglewood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will include the following wards in Cumbria in the new objective 2 designation currently under discussion with the European Commission; and, if not, why not:

(a) Barrow Borough CouncilNewbarns
(b) Carlisle City CouncilArthuret, Brampton
(c) Copeland Borough Council Millom (Newtown), Mirehouse, St Bees
(d) Eden District CouncilHesket
(e) South Lakes District CouncilUlverston East, Ulverston West [HL247]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The UK's proposals for objective 2 coverage were submitted to the European Commission on 8 October. Newbarns, Arthuret, Brampton, Millom (Newtown), Mirehouse East, St Bees, Hesket, Ulverston East and Ulverston West could not be included in the proposals as they did not qualify against the criteria or the requirements of the Structural Funds Regulation. Mirehouse West qualified and is included in the proposals.

Vodafone/Mannesmann Takover Bid

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To what extent they believe that the German Government's support for Mannesmann against the hostile takeover bid from Vodafone AirTouch is consistent with their third way principles.[HL288]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Takeovers are a matter for the shareholders of the companies concerned, subject to consideration by the appropriate regulatory authorities. Whether the German Government's position is consistent with their principles is a matter for them. However, what is essential is that the actions of governments, companies or anyone else are consistent with national and European law. I understand that the two companies themselves have said publicly that they would wish the market, rather than governments, to decide on the merits of the case.

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Organophosphate Sheep Dips: Suspected Adverse Reactions

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the suspected adverse reactions to organophosphate sheep dips reported to the Veterinary Medicines Directorate indicated the onset of symptoms before the end of 1992 and after that date; and whether any of the reports involved children.[HL322]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): A bar chart of human suspected reactions (SARs) to organophosphorus sheep dips showing the year of the onset of symptoms has been published in the report of the meetings in 1998 of the Appraisal Panel for Human Suspected Adverse Reactions. A copy of the report is in the Library of the House. There are approximately four times as many reports recording the onset of symptoms up to the end of 1992 than after that date. From 1984 to date there have been 18 reports of suspected adverse reactions to OP sheep dips which concern persons under the age of 18.

Over Thirty Months Scheme for Cattle

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For how long they anticipate the Over Thirty Months Scheme for cattle will continue.[HL323]

Baroness Hayman: In due course it may be appropriate to discuss the Over Thirty Months Scheme with European partners following advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee on the over thirty month rule. In the meantime the Government's planning assumption is that the scheme will continue for the foreseeable future.

Meat Industry Red Tape Working Group

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to receive the report of the Meat Industry Red Tape Working Group.[HL421]

Baroness Hayman: We received the report of the Meat Industry Red Tape Working Group and we have placed copies in the Libraries of the House.

We are very grateful to the working group for their hard work in completing their report so quickly. We asked them to think radically and to suggest ways of doing things better. We note that a key recommendation is to modernise the approach to safeguarding meat hygiene to match the advances in food hygiene science. This supports the contention we have held for some time that the system, much of which is the subject of EU legislation, needs revision to ensure that it is effective and streamlined but at the

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same time provides the fullest safeguards for consumers. The report makes a considerable number of other recommendations for both short and long term action. We shall therefore be considering the report very carefully with colleagues. We will give our considered response in the new year.

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