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Wythenshawe Hospital Heart Transplant Unit

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government: What representations they have received about the future of Wythenshawe Hospital's heart transplant unit; and what replies they have made. [HL1080]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have received nine representations from Members of Parliament on behalf of their constituents. They will receive replies setting out the position as explained by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Ms Stuart) in another place on 31 January (cols. 132-36WH) and an assurance that a discussion setting out proposals for the remaining units will be issued soon.

NHS Trusts: Financial Arrangements

Lord Gladwin of Clee asked Her Majesty's Government: What financial arrangements are being made in connection with the 26 National Health Service trusts dissolved in 2000-01 and the new National Health Service trusts and primary care trusts established in that year. [HL1147]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Pursuant to the dissolution of 26 National Health Service trusts on 1 April 2000 and 1 October 2000 and their reconfiguration through the establishment of 10 new NHS trusts, we propose to create originating capital for the new NHS trusts equal to the net assets transferred to them and therefore to remit the outstanding debt of the dissolved trusts.

A number of primary care trusts were also established during the year. Public Dividend Capital is not required for the establishment of new primary care trusts as they are subject to a different financial regime. Net assets transferred from dissolving NHS trusts to primary care trusts are reflected in the general fund of the primary care trust.

These operations will involve no overall loss to the Exchequer. Her Majesty's Treasury has presented a minute to the House giving particulars and circumstances of the proposed remission which it has approved in principle.

War Pensions

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government: What determines the review periods for those in receipt of war pensions; why it has been decided that the pensions of Gulf war veterans are now to be reviewed every two years when they initially advised in writing that their next review would take place in five years; and what is the total average cost of each medical review. [HL1033]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): There has been no decision that assessments/awards for Gulf war veterans are to be reviewed routinely every two years. The period of a war pension award represents the length of time over

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which it is judged that the assessed level of service-related disablement will be stable. Periods are based on individual case specific facts, taking account of the nature and natural history of the disabling condition and any planned treatment.

The average medical unit cost of each medical review is currently £98.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the War Pensions Agency allows claims for some medical conditions from some Gulf war veterans, while other veterans who claim for the same conditions find their claims disallowed, despite the fact that they are supported by medical evidence.[HL1034]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: Awards of war pensions are not made for a list of medical conditions but for any disablement due to or made worse by service in the Armed Forces. Claims are considered individually and decisions are based on overall evidence, including medical and other facts, relevant law and contemporary medical understanding of the claimed disablement.

Environment Council, 8 March

Lord Varley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Environment Council held in Brussels on 8 March and what was the voting record at the Council.[HL1204]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): My right honourable friend the Minister for the Environment represented the UK at the Environment Council in Brussels on 8 March, accompanied by Sam Galbraith, Scottish Executive Minister for Environment, Sport and Culture. The UK, along with other member states, except Germany, who abstained, voted in favour of the common position on the proposed directive on motorcycle emissions. Council adopted three sets of conclusions.

The presidency proposed a compromise text on a directive to limit emissions from motorcycles in two stages, 2003 and 2006. In supporting the proposed text on tighter limits from 2003, providing between 60 and 70 per cent reduction in hydrocarbons and 30 to 60 per cent reduction in carbon monoxide, member states accepted my amendment to extend the deadline for "enduro" bikes to assist the small UK manufacturers in adapting to the new limits. Germany proposed binding limits for 2006 to be agreed now, in advance of the Commission's proposed limits due by the end of 2002, which will be based on a new test cycle currently under development. The UK, along with the majority of member states, agreed to accept Germany's proposed limit values for 2006 as indicative non-binding limits only and Council achieved a Common Position, with German abstention, that meets both our environmental and manufacturers' needs.

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Short Council conclusions on climate change were agreed reaffirming the EU's commitment to reaching agreement on the Kyoto Protocol at the resumed COP6. Following a presentation by the Commission of a Communication preparing for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+10) in 2002, Council conclusions were agreed listing strategic objectives for the summit. Council conclusions were also reached on a Communication reviewing future bathing water policy. These will guide the Commission in preparing its proposal for a revised directive.

A public policy debate was held on the Sixth Environment Action Programme, which will set out the EU's environmental priorities for the next 10 years, primarily climate change, nature and biodiversity, environment and health and sustainable management of natural resources and waste. It was clear from the debate that there was a general wish to make the programme more specific by adding some key objectives and deadlines, although since the proposal has only recently been published, there were not many concrete suggestions. Delegations also generally wish to see a short, clear programme. The negotiations on this dossier will proceed throughout the remainder of the Swedish Presidency with the aim to reach Common Position at the June Council.

A policy debate was also held on a White Paper on a future EU chemicals strategy. This proposes a new framework for risk assessment and management of both existing and new chemicals. It follows an initiative launched by the UK under its Presidency in 1998. Member states expressed broad support of the Commission objectives. The next stage will be detailed consideration of the practicalities of how these objectives can be met. The Presidency aim to complete Council conclusions in June to direct the Commission in developing proposals for an effective and workable system.

The Commission and Presidency updated Council on progress on an EU sustainable development strategy. The Commission presented its Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy, which seeks to address the environmental impact of products at all stages of their life-cycle. The Presidency gave progress reports on a number of current legislative proposals expected to reach common position at the June or October 2001 Environment Councils. The Commission reported on progress in drafting a new proposal on the traceability and labelling of GMOs. The Council also had an informal discussion on climate change at the end of the day's business.

Countryside Schemes

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people have been employed in organising the various countryside schemes in each of the past three years.[HL613]

The Parliamentary Under Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): A wide range of bodies employ people to organise schemes in the countryside. Details

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are not held centrally and to collect this information would involve disproportionate cost.

Chemicals Policy: EU White Paper

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are their priorities for inclusion in the anticipated European Union White Paper on chemicals policy.[HL781]

Lord Whitty: Her Majesty's Government started the review of chemicals policy during its Presidency of the European Union in 1998. The White Paper on chemicals policy was published in February. Member states will respond to the White Paper's proposals in forthcoming Council working group discussions. The Swedish Presidency aims to achieve agreement of Council conclusions by June. These will provide the basis for the European Commission to develop proposals for new legislation. Her Majesty's Government aim to include a number of important principles in the Council's conclusions.

First, it is important to gather essential information on existing chemicals by agreed deadlines, giving equal emphasis to human health and the environment. Industry must have an increased role in assessing the hazards and risks posed by their chemicals. In gathering information, some animal testing will be necessary, but it must be minimised. Data sharing must be encouraged, and the European Union should therefore work with existing international initiatives to collate information on chemicals so as to avoid duplication of testing.

Secondly, there must be a clear timetable and mechanism for decision-making and action on chemicals that pose an unacceptable risk. It is important to avoid a bureaucratic procedure that involves large-scale routine and unnecessary testing and which fails to make timely decisions once concerns have been identified.

Thirdly, the public must also have a right to know what chemicals are in products and the risks they pose. Manufacturers and downstream users should have the responsibility to provide information to their customers about chemicals.

Chemicals are crucial to society. It is important to balance the need to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment with the need to maintain a competitive UK and EU chemicals industry in a challenging global market. Innovation to replace chemicals that pose unacceptable risks must be encouraged.

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