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Sheep Annual Premium

Lord Kimball asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The reformed sheepmeat regime agreed by the EU Council of Ministers in December sets the rate of the sheep annual premium at 21 euros per eligible animal (around £13), with a supplement of 7 euros (around £4.30) payable in less favoured areas. In addition, the new regime introduces a sheep national envelope which can be used to provide extra support to sheep producers and to encourage environmentally sustainable farming practices. Member states may increase the size of their national envelope by reducing sheep annual premium payments by up to 1 euro per eligible animal. Using these provisions, the Government could increase or reduce the basic rate of the sheep annual premium by up to 1 euro (approximately 62p). We are currently considering options for implementing the sheep national envelope in England and whether to make any adjustments to the sheep annual premium. Rebo

Defra Publication Essentials of Life

Lord Kimball asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: Defra's work affects the lives of everyone and the activities and policies of many other departments, businesses and community groups. It is important that the department establishes and maintains high quality dialogue and communications with all those with whom we deal. Working for the Essentials of Life attempts to describe in accessible language and using professional presentation and design our work and how it affects others. The costs of printing and distributing 15,000 copies equates to approximately £2.96 per copy, a cost which is justified if we communicate more effectively and clearly with people.

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Bovine Embryos and Live Cattle: Imports from North America

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the ban on the importation of embryos and live cattle from North America will be lifted; and [HL3912]

    What is the scientific evidence for the imposition of a ban on the importation of embryos and live cattle from North America. [HL3913]

Lord Whitty: Her Majesty's Government have not imposed a ban on imports of bovine embryos and live cattle from North America.

The European Parliament and European Council introduced legislation in May last year laying down rules for the prevention, control and eradication of certain transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs). The legislation was introduced in response to the recommendations of the Office International des Epizooties (OIE—the international animal health organisation) and advice from the Commission's scientific comittees. The legislation (and the transitional measures which came into effect in October last year) includes requirement that imports into the EU of bovine embryos and live cattle must be accompanied by certification confirming that the feeding of ruminants with protein derived from mammals has been banned and that the ban has been effectively enforced. Some exporting countries, such as Canada and the USA, are currently unable to meet these new requirements. jenny

Climate Change

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What work the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is doing on the impacts of climate change.[HL3991]

Lord Whitty: The UK Climate Change Programme outlines the Government's approach on adaptation to climate change. An important component of this is the ability to assess possible impacts and adaptation options. To address this, the department has provided a further three years of funding for the UK Climate Impacts Programme to help the public and private sector carry out studies to assess what climate change may mean for them and how to prepare for it.

To help such assessments, new climate change scenarios for the UK will be published on 26 April 2002. These contain important information on how the UK's climate may change in future as a result of greenhouse gas emissions. Copies of the scenario reports will be placed in the Libraries of the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

In addition, the Government have recently begun an inter-departmental process to consider the implications of climate change. The department is

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participating in this activity and has also commissioned a survey of the implications of climate change for its policies and operational responsibilities. The study should be completed this year. maria

French Poultry Slaughterhouses

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether inspection by the European Commission of French poultry slaughterhouses has found any improvement since the Commission's adverse reports in 1999. [HL3018]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We are advised on matters of food safety by the Food Standards Agency.

The European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office carried out a follow-up inspection mission to France in October 2000 to ascertain whether improvements had been made following a previous inspection mission in 1999 concerning the production of poultry meat. The report of the 2000 inspection mission concluded that there had been no significant improvements. It is the responsibility of the European Commission to ensure that member states fulfil their obligations under EU rules. Only poultry meat which has been produced in accordance with EU hygiene rules may be health marked and placed on the market within the European Union. jenny


Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    From what date the United Kingdom Haemophilia Doctors' Organisation has advised them and patients that recombinant is the treatment of choice for haemophilia patients on grounds of safety; what consideration was given to that advice when Lord Hunt of Kings Heath said on 6 February (HL Deb, cols 629–630) that there is no evidence "that there is an issue of safety between different products"; and what consultation the Department of Health has had with the organisation since his assurance.[HL3488]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: In 1997 the United Kingdom Haemophilia Doctors Organisation (UKHCDO) produced guidelines recommending that recombinant clotting factors should be the treatment of choice for patients with inherited bleeding disorders. The Department of Health and UKHCDO consult on a regular basis.

I said on 6 February 2002 (at col 630), "As I said, the advice that I have received is that as yet there is no evidence to suggest that there is an issue of safety between the different products".

It is generally accepted by United Kingdom clinicians that recombinant and plasma derived clotting factors are equally effective in treating clotting

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disorders. In guidelines produced by the United Kingdom Haemophilia Doctors Organisation, comparisons between the two types of product revolve around their relative safety, bearing in mind that no medicinal product can ever be completely free from risk. An advantage of recombinant products, where they are entirely free of human albumin, is that they eliminate the risk from blood borne viruses and the theoretical risk from vCJD. However, plasma derived clotting factors are tightly regulated by European and United States authorities to minimise the risk of viral transmission. This is achieved by the screening of donor blood and the anti-viral measures taken during manufacture. By ceasing to use UK plasma in the manufacture of blood products, the Government have already taken steps to reduce the unknown risks from vCJD.

Repubic of Ireland Residents: British Passports

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government

    Whether they consider that they are acting in the spirit of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 in terms of parity of esteem by not making passports available to residents of the Republic of Ireland when the Irish Government make Irish passports available to residents in any part of the United Kingdom. [HL3215]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: I refer the noble Lord to the reply given by the Lord Bassam of Brighton on 9 October 2000 (Official Report, col. WA10, Question reference HL3944).

Northern Ireland: Victim Support

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government

    Whether the recommendation of the Victims Commissioner (Sir Kenneth Bloomfield) that in the longer term the interests of victims should be made the concern of a standing commission or protector or ombudsman for vicitms has been implemented; and, if so, what progress has been made. [HL3576]

Baroness Farrington of Ribbleton: Government have not pursued the recommendation but the matter is still open. Following publication of the report, government appointed a Minister for Victims. Des Browne, who took over from Adam Ingram in July 2001 and who meets regularly with victims and victims' groups to hear their stories and the issues that concern them. He is keeping the strategy for responding to victims' needs under regular review.

The role envisaged by Sir Kenneth Bloomfield was primarily that of watchdog over the services and advice available to victims. The Northern Ireland Executive is taking much of this work forward and its cross-departmental Strategy for Victims was launched on 11 April 2002.

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