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Northern Ireland: Multiculturalism

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Government policy in Northern Ireland in relation to developing a multicultural society is reflected in the current draft Race Equality Strategy, which provides a vision of Northern Ireland where: "racial diversity is valued and respected, where racism is not tolerated and where we can all live together and enjoy equality of opportunity and equal protection." Any security savings which such a policy gives rise to are welcome but are not its main motivation.

The Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure is actively involved in the development of this strategy.

The consultation document on the draft Northern Ireland Race Equality Strategy is currently available in the Library.

Northern Ireland Departments: Complaints of Maladministration

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Amos: Complaints of maladministration against a Northern Ireland department cannot be referred to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration but such complaints may be referred to the Assembly Ombudsman for Northern Ireland. A complaint by a North/South implementation body against a Northern Ireland department would be outside the scope of the jurisdiction of the Assembly

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Ombudsman. There is no statutory mechanism by which such bodies may pursue complaints against departments.

Ministers and Officials: Media Contacts

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their response to the Sixth Report of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, whether they will make it standard practice to disclose any meetings they have with proprietors of newspapers or broadcasters, or persons acting on their behalf.[HL5254]

Baroness Amos: No. I refer the noble Lord to my Answer of 21 October to the noble Lord (Official Report, col. WA 157). Ministers and civil servants meet and speak to many people during the course of a working day. It would not be appropriate to routinely release details of such contacts.

Legislation: Statements of Principle

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that in future legislation avoids enacting too much hypothetical detail but instead contains statements of principle, as recommended in the report of the Committee on the Preparation of Legislation.[HL5331]

Baroness Amos: Statements of principle have their uses and examples can be found in various Acts in recent years. Parliamentary draftsmen will continue to use this technique where it is helpful to do so. But where detailed provisions are required the addition of general statements can cause uncertainty and ambiguity. The Government agree with paragraph 11.5 of the 1975 report of the Committee on the Preparation of Legislation that draftsmen should not sacrifice legal certainty for simplicity of language.

Cambridge–St Ives Guided Busway

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total estimated cost, including cost of buses, legal services, land purchase, development and construction, of the guided busway proposal to link Cambridge and St Ives; and[HL5369]

    What environmental impact assessments have been done for the proposed St Ives–Cambridge guided busway; and whether they will place a copy of these in the Library of the House.[HL5370]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Cambridgeshire County Council has estimated the total cost of the proposed bus rapid transit scheme as £73.8 million. This includes £54.8 million for construction, £2.7 million for preparation costs, £5.6 million for land, and £2.3 million for design and supervision. All these costs have been adjusted for risk and an allowance of

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£8.4 million has been made for inflation. It has been assumed that the private bus operators will provide 77 additional buses by 2031, at an estimated cost of £11.5 million.

The county council will need to carry out an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the project before applying for an order under the Transport and Works Act. It is also required to submit an environmental statement (ES) to the Department for Transport as part of its application, setting out the likely environmental impacts of the project and the mitigation measures proposed. All application documents, including the ES, have to be deposited in the Libraries of both Houses.

HW Points Machines

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Davies of Oldham on 20 October (WA 156), whether Network Rail knows who is the design authority for the "HW Points Machine".[HL5383]

Lord Davies of Oldham: This is an operational matter for Network Rail. However, Network Rail informs me that it has received written assurance from Alstom Transport that Alstom Bologna, Italy, is the design authority for all type HW Points Machines.

Iraq: Oil Sector Repairs

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

    Whether existing and future contracts to repair Iraq's oil sector have been and will be made on the basis of open competition tendering; and, if not, why not.[HL5255]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Contracts for rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq's oil sector are currently the responsibility of the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE). An initial contract was placed with KBR, part of the US Halliburton, without competitive tendering. This was based on the fact that KBR had an existing contract with the USACE, won previously under open, competitive tender. We understand that this contract was extended to cover oil facility repair work which had to be completed in the short term and that a competition would be held as soon as possible to replace this. An open, competitive invitation to tender for two contracts—one covering repairs in northern Iraq and another for the south—was issued by the USACE in July this year. Following changes to the scope of this work, awards are now expected in December.

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Morning-after Pill

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What warnings or other protection against adverse reactions are available to people under 18 who take the morning-after pill, or for whom the morning-after pill is made available; and what guidance is provided to parents of such children to help them deal with such reactions.[HL5334]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): Guidance about the possible side effects associated with taking the morning-after pill or emergency contraceptive, Levonelle, is provided in the patient information leaflet included in the medicine pack. This includes advice on the action that should be taken if nausea and vomiting are experienced after taking Levonelle. The possible side effects of Levonelle are also included in the information that is provided to health professionals (the summary of product characteristics) who are encouraged to discuss these side effects with the individual before treatment is provided.

Pharmacists are supplied with a "protocol" that contains a checklist of advice that should be given to each individual when she is given Levonelle. This protocol includes the need to give information about the most common side effects that may occur.

Earlier this year healthcare professionals were reminded about the possible risk of ectopic pregnancy after failure of Levonelle treatment via the Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) newsletter, CMO Update, which is available to women through the Medicines Control Agency (MCA)/CMO websites.

As with all licensed medicines, the safety of Levonelle is continuously monitored by the MCA, with independent expert advice from the Committee on Safety of Medicines. In the event of any important new safety information emerging, the MCA will take action to ensure that this is accurately reflected in the product information and communicated to health professionals and individuals using the product.

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency: Staff

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many staff are expected to be employed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in the financial year 2004–05, according to the most recent plans agreed with HM Treasury.[HL5382]

Lord Warner: The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is working on its forward plans including staffing, and these plans will be available by March 2004. The current budgeted full-time equivalent staff numbers for 2003–04 are 792.

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Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: Annual Report and Accounts 2003

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Twelfth annual report and accounts 2003.[HL5517]

Lord Warner: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's Twelfth annual report and accounts 2003 were laid before Parliament today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

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