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What is their response to the chairman of the Haemophilia Society's recent representations to the Department of Health regarding sustained funding for provision of clotting factors; and whether they will confirm their commitment to recombinant treatment for all haemophilia patients in the current decade and beyond. [HL1634]
Lord Warner: Officials at the Department of Health have been closely monitoring the implementation of this programme over the past two years. The Government remain committed to this programme and we are currently considering options for future funding of this important treatment.
31 Oct 2005 : Column WA5
Whether they will delay taking any action on the dimensions or weights of heavy goods vehicles until the breaches of the drivers' hours regulations are addressed by those providing and using road haulage. [HL1884]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Black Rod has a general responsibility for enforcing rules, including dress codes, agreed by the House and its committees. Staff acting under his authority, including refreshment department staff, have a role in reminding Members of agreed dress codes, but, ultimately, Members themselves are responsible for maintaining these standards.
Who will assess claims for compensation payments following the events of 19 September in Basra, Iraq; who will approve such payments; and under what heading of public expenditure they will be charged; and [HL1766]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): As a result of the events of 19 September in Basra, two claims for personal injury and two claims for property damage have been received.
Claims are usually assessed and approved, on the basis of whether or not the Ministry of Defence has a legal liability to pay compensation, by the Ministry of Defence area claims officer in Iraq. Payments are accounted for under the resource account heading of administration, payments and cash losses.
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Lord Warner: The Department of Health does not routinely commission methicillin resistant staphylococcus aureus testing but would use only suitably accredited laboratories. In most instances this would be laboratories with clinical pathology accreditation but for environmental sampling United Kingdom Accreditation Service accreditation may be appropriate.
Whether they will publish their estimates of the current and prospective capabilities of the Russian Republic and the People's Republic of China to launch nuclear weapons; and whether they will publish their estimates of the relative capabilities of Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom in this respect. [HL1539]
Lord Drayson: Russia currently deploys strategic nuclear weapons in its land, sea and air-based systems. Russia has some 600 ground based inter-continental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), more than 200 submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and about 700 air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) in service, giving the capability to deliver over 3,500 warheads. Additionally, Russia could deploy between 3,500 and 5,500 non-strategic nuclear warheads. Under the terms of the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) Russia is obliged to reduce the number of strategic warheads to between 1,700 and 2,200 by the end of 2012.
Despite the pending reductions in size of its strategic nuclear forces, brought about by economic constraints and treaty obligations, Russia continues to modernise its nuclear arsenal. For the land-based leg of its triad, it is currently deploying the new SS-27 (Topol M) ICBMs in silos; a road-mobile version of the SS-27 is due to be produced. Russian statements have indicated that some older missiles in the currently deployed ICBM force could remain in service until 2030. A new SLBM (Bulava) has recently been test-fired and will probably be deployed with a new class of submarine.
China's strategic nuclear capability is its silo-based ICBM force, currently assessed as around 20 missiles strong. It also deploys larger numbers of nuclear-armed intermediate and medium range ballistic missiles, all of which are believed to carry single warheads.
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China is working on a range of new mobile nuclear delivery systems, a sea-based strategic missile, and potentially nuclear-capable ALCMs. The intention is to possess a strategic nuclear triad, enhancing the survivability and deterrent value of its strategic force.
We do not make estimates of French nuclear capabilities. French nuclear policy has been set out by President Chirac, for instance in his speech of 8 June 2001 (available via www.elysee.fr/elysee/francais/interventions/discoursetdeclarations/2001/juin/juin2001.12666.html). Planned expenditures are set out in the draft Defence Programme Law for 2006, which is available via the French Ministry of Defence's website, at www.defense.gouv.fr/sites/defense/base/breves/projetdeloidefinancespour2006.
The UK's nuclear weapons policy and posture was set out in the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, which announced a reduction in our stockpile of operationally available nuclear warheads to fewer than 200 and confirmed that the single UK nuclear submarine on deterrent patrol would normally be at several day's notice to fire and has the capacity to carry up to 16 missiles. Decisions on the way forward for the UK's minimum nuclear deterrent capability are likely to be needed during the lifetime of this Parliament.
Lord Warner: We are aware of one study published on a pneumococcal-meningococcal combined vaccine (Buttery JP, Riddell A, McVernon J, Chantler T, Lane L, Bowen-Morris J, Diggle L, Morris R, Harnden A, Lockhart S, Pollard AJ, Cartwright K, Moxon ER. "Immunogenicity and safety of a combination pneumococcal-meningococcal vaccine in infants: a randomized controlled trial". Journal of American Medical Association. 2005 Apr 13;293(14):1751-8).
The authors compared the immune response of children given the combined pneumococcal-meningococcal vaccine at two, three and four months of age to giving the vaccines separately. The immune response to the meningococcal component of the combined vaccine was lower when compared to the response to the meningococcal vaccine given separately. There was also evidence that the combined pneumococcal-meningococcal vaccine may have reduced the immune response to other vaccines given at the same time.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Drayson on 17 October (WA111), whether the Ministry of Defence has varied (a) the minimum medical standards for recruits to the University Air Squadrons; and (b) the total annual training hours that University Air Squadron members are required to undertake. [HL1797]
Lord Drayson: University Air Squadron members are required to meet the minimum medical requirements for Royal Air Force entry to a ground branch. This has not been varied by the changes recently made.
University Air Squadron members are required to attend one evening per week during term time and complete 40 hours of ground training in the first year of membership, reducing to 30 hours in the second year and 20 hours in subsequent years. University Air Squadron members are also required to attend for a period of 15 days continuous training. This annual training requirement has not been varied.
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