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On-product Environmental Claims

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has overall responsibility for promoting a good standard of environmental information in on-product claims. The Department of Trade and Industry is responsible for the consumer protection regimes under which action can be taken against false or misleading claims. The two departments work closely together on the development of policy across this area.

Choosing Green Report

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: The Minister for the Environment wrote to the Chair of the Advisory Committee on Consumer Products and the Environment, Dr Alan Knight, on 13 November 2000 welcoming the report and indicating how the Government proposed to take forward the committee's main recommendations for action. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library of the House. Since then the committee has received regular reports on progress from officials.

Drink Containers: Deposit Systems

Baroness Sharp of Guildford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many member states of the European Union have laws requiring deposits on all sales of (a) bottles and (b) cans of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. [HL3090]

Lord Whitty: We have looked at the position in a number of European countries regarding laws on deposit systems for drink containers. Of the member states of the European Union, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Holland and Sweden have laws involving deposits on cans and bottles. The schemes vary in detail but they all have the common aim of encouraging re-use and recycling and a reduction in the amount of one-way containers flowing into the waste stream. Barry

Sustainable Development

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Minister has overall responsibility for the preparations for the United Nations World Summit in Johannesburg in August 2002.[HL3106]

Lord Whitty: My right honourable friend the Secretary of State has lead responsibility for government policy on sustainable development, including preparations for the World Summit for Sutstainable Development (WSSD).

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister, who will lead the UK delegation at WSSD, has established a Cabinet Committee (MISC 18), chaired by my right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister, to co-ordinate and develop the Government's strategy for WSSD.

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which Minister has overall responsibility for sustainable development in the United Kingdom. [HL3108]

Lord Whitty: Sustainable development is a priority for the Government as a whole; all departments and all Ministers have a responsibility to contribute. Defra is the lead department and my right honourable friend the Secretary of State has overall responsibility.

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Albanian-speaking Unaccompanied Minors

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many Albanian-speaking unaccompanied minors were registered by each of the London boroughs in the years 1999–2001 respectively and (where figures are available) in other major local government areas in the United Kingdom. [HL2706]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Information on the number of unaccompanied minors by language spoken is not collected centrally. The London Asylum Seekers Consortium collects information on the estimated number of unaccompanied minors seeking assistance in each of the London boroughs according to country of origin, not language spoken. This information suggests that, in total, there are an estimated 242 unaccompanied minors from Albania and an estimated 1,261 from Kosovo (of whom the majority is likely to speak Albanian) currently seeking assistance in all London boroughs (as of 5 March 2002).

Figures for other major local government areas in the United Kingdom are not collated or held centrally. Barry

Summary of Current Cases by Country of Origin and Placing Authority

Country of OriginNumber of Cases
Barking and Dagenham43
City corporation of London1
Hammersmith and Fulham7
Kensington and Chelsea3
Waltham Forest27
Barking and Dagenham191
City corporation of London8
Hammersmith and Fulham50
Kensington and Chelsea39
Kingston upon Thames6
Richmond upon Thames31
Waltham Forest100

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Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which health authorities have developed strategies for dealing with problem gambling; and [HL2924]

    What plans the Secretary of State for Health has to recognise problem gambling as a health problem. [HL2925]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Pathological gambling is a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. National Health Service mental health services would be expected to offer assessment and appropriate support, treatment and onward referral to those with severe problem gambling.

Smallpox Vaccine

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many doses of anti-smallpox vaccine are held in the United Kingdom; and what plans they have to increase that quantity. [HL3008]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Strategic stocks of smallpox vaccine are held which could be rapidly deployed to contain any outbreak. However, it is not our policy to provide details concerning quantities of vaccine as this information could aid planning of a bioterrorist attack.

The United Kingdom policy on future smallpox vaccine manufacture is currently under review. The Department of Health is working closely with the Ministry of Defence in determining the UK's vaccine needs. We are also in discussions with other governments about stocks of vaccine.

Human Organs and Tissue Removal

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What limitations will be placed on the extraction of organs, bone marrow, cells or other tissue from a designed baby; and what protection will be provided

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    against the imposition of significant pain upon the designed baby during medical procedures to extract organs, bone marrow, cells or other tissue. [HL3070]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: All children who are unable to give informed consent to medical procedures, no matter what the circumstances of their conception, have considerable protection in law to safeguard their best interests.

In any lawful clinical intervention likely to involve pain, practitioners will need to consider what action to take, including the provision of suitable analgesia or sedation.

The Government are currently reviewing the law on the removal, retention and use of human organs and tissue from both living people and those who have died. A report will be published shortly for consultation.

Lancashire: Care Homes

Lord Greaves asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the purpose of the investigation by officials of the Social Services Inspectorate into Lancashire County Council's proposal to close 35 of its 48 homes for the elderly which has been ordered by Health Minister, Jacqui Smith MP; what is the timescale of the investigation; to whom it will report; and whether the findings will be published. [HL3083]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Social Services Inspectorate has been closely monitoring Lancashire County Council since it was placed under special measures in February 2000. Following the publication of the council's proposals to close a number of its care homes, the SSI is following closely the work undertaken by the council to assess its current care provision and to consult on future strategies with the National Health Service, local people and other interested parties. In line with the code of practice on open government, the analyses which the SSI will be passing to Ministers on a regular basis will not be published in order to permit frank discussions with the council.

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NHS Trusts

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What financial arrangements are being made in respect of (a) the NHS trusts dissolved and (b) the new NHS trusts and primary care trusts established in 2001–02.[HL3256]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Pursuant to the dissolution of 64 National Health Service trusts on 1 April 2001 and their reconfiguration through the establishment of 29 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 involved no overall loss to the Exchequer. Her Majesty's Treasury has presented a minute on 8 March to the House giving particulars and circumstances of the proposed remission which it has approved in principle.

Civil Service

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to introduce measures to strengthen the independence of the Civil Service. [HL2971]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): In their responses to reports from the Committee on Standards in Public Life and the Public Administration Select Committee, the Government committed themselves to introducing legislation for the Civil Service and to consultation in advance of legislation.

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