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Whether Bob Collins, Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland, applied for the post or was headhunted; what was the role of the Irish Government in securing the appointment; how many persons were interviewed for the position; and how many of these were based in Great Britain. [HL1498]
The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): Mr Collins applied for the chief commissioner post and underwent the same appointments process as other candidates. The process was run in accordance with the guidelines set out by the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments (OCPA). He was not headhunted.
What communication they have had to date with the European Union Public Health Commissioner over the proposed European Union Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims Made on Foods; and whether they intend to discuss this regulation with the Commissioner while the United Kingdom holds the presidency of the European Union. [HL1382]
Lord Warner: This proposed regulation was mentioned on 10 February when the Commissioner met my right honourable friend the then Secretary of State for Health (Dr John Reid) and my right honourable friend the then Minister of State for Health (Mr John Hutton) to discuss a number of issues concerning the UK presidency in the second half of this year. There was a similar meeting on the same day with the then chairman and deputy chair of the Food Standards Agency, when again the EU proposal on claims was one of several topics mentioned.
The proposed regulation was more directly the subject of a telephone conversation between my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health and Commissioner Kyprianou on 2 June. It was also discussed when my honourable friend the Minister of State for Health Services (Ms Rosie Winterton) had dinner with the Commissioner that same evening.
No negotiations are anticipated on the proposed regulation until the Second Reading stage, which is not expected to begin until towards the end of the year. There are no plans to discuss the proposal further with the Commissioner during the UK presidency of the European Union.
What is their view of the benefits of a notification system as opposed to a prior approval process for health claims under the proposed European Union Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims Made on Foods; and whether they will advocate notification at second reading. [HL1383]
Lord Warner: The key benefit of the notification system as favoured by the European Parliament is that users of certain health claims would not have to await clearance from the Community before making a new claim for a food product. On the other hand, consumers would not have the assurance that all claims had been checked. Manufacturers would still have to prepare a scientific justification and might be required to withdraw products from the market subsequently judged to be unfounded or misleading.
Lord Warner: Besides the need to allow free movement of food products within the Community under common rules, it is important that consumers who wish to make healthy eating choices can rely on accurate, unambiguous information about the health-related characteristics of food products. The proposed regulation will improve protection from nutrition and health claims which are fraudulent or misleading.
What guidance they have received from the European Food Safety Authority over the criteria for prior approval of health claims under the proposed European Union Regulation on Nutrition and Health Claims Made on Foods. [HL1385]
Lord Warner: None. The authority would be required under the proposed regulation to produce guidance to applicants within six months of its adoption. It is important that early progress is made on drafting and that such guidance is proportionate to the risks from consumers being misled.
What guidance they will provide to schools to help them identify voluntary sector partners as part of the Extended Schools Initiative; and whether they will consider the example of Volunteer Reading Help in this process. [HL1306]
Lord Adonis: We have recently announced a further £680 million to support the development of extended services in schools, in addition to the £160 million already committed for this purpose. Most of the £680 million has been allocated to local authorities, for them to distribute in the light of their strategic plans: details are set out in the attached table. Schools will also receive £250 million direct, through their normal school funding arrangements. The detailed breakdown of the £250 million for individual schools will made available in autumn 2005.
The DfES recognises the significant role of voluntary sector and community organisations in supporting schools and local authorities (LAs) to deliver extended services. They will be key to the successful delivery of extended services and local authorities and schools will need to draw on their
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provision and expertise. Initial guidance for schools and LAs on partnership working with voluntary sector providers is available through the extended schools prospectus, launched on 13 June 2005. Also a "know how" leaflet entitled, Involving and Working with the Voluntary and Community Sectors, available through the extended schools website
(www.teachernet.gov.uk/extendedschools) offers practical guidance and information on partnership working, engaging with voluntary and community organisations and useful contacts. Schools and LAs will want to consider how the strengths and good practice from voluntary organisations that they work with can benefit pupils, parents, families and the community.
The NRT (National Remodelling Team) and ContinYou will be supporting local authorities in developing their extended services and in doing so will support them in brokering partnerships with the voluntary sector.
There are many voluntary and community sector organisations that schools will know through their existing contacts and other partnership working, such as through education improvement partnerships (formerly know as foundation partnerships). Local authorities, through established contacts, can provide advice about wider groups, agencies and services and neighbourhood-level initiatives that are willing to work in partnership to develop extended services.
Lord McKenzie of Luton: The Financial Services Authority published the recommendations of its review of its enforcement processes on 19 July. The FSA Board has endorsed the recommendations of the review in full and the FSA will implement those which do not require changes to its handbook by the end of 2005. The FSA has also published a consultation paper seeking views on those recommendations which would require changes to the handbook. This consultation will close on 19 September. The aim is for any changes to be made by the FSA board in October.
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