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Self-invested Personal Pensions

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: These questions relate to one aspect of the reforms to pension tax simplification, which sweeps away the eight existing complex tax regimes and replaces them with a single
 
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universal regime for tax-privileged pension savings. This new regime will provide greater flexibility to some 15 million pension savers.

Currently most pension funds are permitted to invest in residential property, including property overseas, and many do. The new simplified regime will also allow small self-administered schemes (SSASs) and self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs) to invest in residential property from 6 April 2006. These are specialist pension vehicles, typically taken out by wealthier individuals and are held by only around 200,000 people compared to over 15 million contributing to pensions. Creating a single set of allowable investments across all pension schemes fits the requirement to create a single regime for tax privileged pension saving and corrects an existing distortion by giving investors greater choice rather than creating a new one in favour of property.

Any additional cost to the Exchequer will depend on uncertain behavioural responses to these reforms—whether or not individuals who will be able to invest in a wider range of assets choose to invest more than they do now.

The Government will keep this aspect of the tax system, as with all others, under review.

Hotels and Boarding Houses: Grading Signs

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The display of out-of-date grading signs by hotels, or other establishments, is both confusing for consumers and an abuse of the voluntary accommodation grading schemes. However, where the sign is owned by the business itself, the matter is one of trading standards, and addressing it is the responsibility of the appropriate local authority.

The Government and the grading organisations are working to minimise consumer confusion caused by out-of-date signage. It is VisitBritain's policy to report abuses to local trading standards offices and, for some time, VisitBritain has retained ownership of grading signs so they may be reclaimed where businesses leave its grading scheme or have their gradings changed. VisitBritain and the other four grading organisations—VisitScotland, the Welsh Tourist Board, the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Club—also agreed to the adoption of common grading standards in May 2004. When fully implemented, this should further improve consumer confidence in the schemes.

Health and Safety Executive

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) has a statutory duty to consult on all proposals for health and safety law. It has a well developed consultation system which provides an opportunity for all interested parties, including members of the public, to challenge proposals at an early stage of policy development. The consultation process takes place before formal proposals are submitted to Ministers.

A formal challenge procedure for regulations that have come into force is not considered necessary. The HSE keeps its regulations under review and representations from members of the public contribute to the review process. The HSE operates a policy of openness and effective communication with the public.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The Pesticides Incident Appraisal Panel's objective is "to provide an overview of alleged ill health attributed to pesticide exposure so that new issues and trends can be identified, and to inform the pesticides approval process". It operates with the information available from HSE investigations, once they have been completed, and will be dependent on the availability and relevance of this information.

Biochemical data are one of a range of factors taken into consideration by the panel and can sometimes be useful in linking pesticide exposure to symptoms. However, it is often not available and not always appropriate—the strength of evidence is made clear in the panel's assessments. The absence of biochemical data does not necessarily prevent the assessment contributing to the purposes of the scheme.

The panel continues to provide useful information. It currently costs in the order of £30,000 per annum and is considered to be cost-effective.

Oil Reprocessing

Lord Sutherland of Houndwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): From data obtained from the ORA (Oil Recycling Association), and UKPIA (United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association) approximately 400,000 tonnes of used oil is reprocessed each year in the UK.

Most of this is used as recovered fuel oil and is burnt as a furnace fuel used (roughly 50/50) between the power generating and road stone manufacturing sectors.
 
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This activity is regulated by the Environment Agency under IPC (Integrated Pollution Control).

A small portion (about 20,000 tonnes) is reprocessed into lubricating oil.

Jet Lag

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Department of Health is not funding research into the effects of jet lag.

The research sub-group of the Department of Transport's Aviation Health Working Group has established research priorities and is supporting a research programme in relation to air travel and health. The sub-group has considered the possible inclusion of research into jet lag in the programme, but has decided against on the grounds that other topics, including deep vein thrombosis and aircraft cabin air quality, have a higher priority.

Student Nurses

Baroness Cumberlege asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: Information for England on the percentage of pre-registration student nurses who have left their university course is given in the following table. No data are available for 2001-02. The attrition data for the 2002-03 academic year administered by the Higher Education Statistics Agency are in the process of being analysed.
YearPercentage withdrawn
1996–9720.38
1997–9820.16
1998–9918.16
1999–200013.44
2000–016.21




Note:


These data are based on a snapshot in time of a particular cohort(s) and therefore each year there will still be students who have yet to complete their course.






Foot and Mouth Disease

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): A full investigation was carried out at the time because of the obvious epidemiological implications. No evidence whatsoever was found to support the claims of sheep (infected or otherwise) being dumped on Burnside Farm in January 2001.

Subsequent investigations indicate that it is possible that no more than two sheep carcases were delivered to Burnside Farm for burning sometime during November or December 2000. There is no evidence whatsoever to indicate that either of these carcases was infected with FMD virus. We remain satisfied that the conclusions of the report of the Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic in 2001, that was published in June 2002 and placed in the House Library, are sound.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Whitty: Defra vets became aware of Robert Waugh's allegation in early March 2001. A full investigation was carried out at the time because of the obvious epidemiological implications. No evidence whatever was found to support the claims of sheep (infected or otherwise) being dumped on Burnside Farm in January 2001.

Subsequent investigations indicate that it is possible that no more than two sheep carcases were delivered to Burnside Farm for burning sometime during November or December 2000. There is no evidence whatever to indicate that either of these carcases was infected with FMD virus. We remain satisfied that the conclusions of the report of the Origin of the UK Foot and Mouth Disease Epidemic in 2001, that was published in June 2002 and placed in the House library, are sound.



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