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EU: Asylum Seekers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Existing domestic legislation in Section 33 and Schedule 3 to the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act 2004 provides for the certification of asylum claims on safe third country grounds. This includes the return of asylum applicants to safe third countries outside the EU without first having their cases heard substantively within the EU. We consider that nothing in the directive prevents such returns and are satisfied that our domestic legislation is consistent with our international obligations. We do not, therefore, envisage implementing the safe third country provisions in the directive in a way which would prevent third country removals to safe non-EU countries.

EU: Regional Development

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister explained in his Statement to Parliament on 19 December, the European Council of 15–16 December 2005 succeeded in achieving agreement on the next EC budget for the 2007–13 financial perspective. As part of the package, the member states reached agreement on future structural and cohesion funds spending.

The Government have argued consistently that, following enlargement, it is right that the structural funds should be focused to a greater extent on the poorest EU member states. The agreement will enable the EU to address priorities in the new member states while still maintaining some funding for richer member states, in particular their poorer regions. The older EU member states (the EU15) will face reductions in spending compared with current levels, reflecting their comparative prosperity and the need to support the economic convergence of the new member states.

The degree to which member states can determine how structural funding is used in their regions will be determined by the separate structural fund regulations, which are still being negotiated. Each member state's national strategic reference frameworks (NSRF) will set out the broad objectives for future programmes within each member state. Within their strategic frameworks, member states will have considerable flexibility in directing structural fund spending in accordance with agreed EU aims for regional development. The Government are planning to consult on the UK's draft NSRF over the coming months.

EU: UK Contributions

Lord Stevens of Ludgate asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McKenzie of Luton: As the Prime Minister said in his Statement to the House on 19 December, the agreement reached at the European Council now means that after some 20 years of paying twice as much as France, UK and French contributions will now be in rough parity.

Based on the European Commission's forecasts and assumptions, and using the financial perspective table agreed on 17 December 2005, Treasury estimates for France and the UK's gross contributions, receipts and net contributions from 2007–13 are:
€ per capita, 2004 prices

2007–13Gross contribution after abatementReceiptsNet contribution

The UK's actual financing share, receipts and abatement are all dependent on a number of variables including the actual rate of spending in each policy area in each member state and the pound/euro exchange rate.

Extraordinary Rendition Flights

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, when read with Article 1, imposes a positive obligation on states to take measures designed to ensure that individuals within their jurisdiction are not subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. In so far as individuals on board civil or military aircraft in UK airspace or airports are within the UK's jurisdiction for the purpose of the convention, this positive obligation applies. The measures that are required to be taken in any given situation will depend upon the circumstances of the case.

Health: Fluoridated Water

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) report published in 2003 included a study of 24-hour urinary excretion of fluoride in a sample of adults aged 19 to 64 in Great Britain between July 2000 and June 2001. The report noted:

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In this age group the relevant concern is that excessive intake of fluoride over many years may lead to clinical skeletal fluorosis. This condition is associated with a long-term fluoride intake several times higher than the "safe intake for fluoride" cited in the NDNS report. Furthermore, urinary fluoride excretion over 24 hours is largely determined by fluoride intake in the previous few days; therefore, the range of recent daily fluoride intakes estimated by the authors of the report may be wider than the range of long-term average daily fluoride intakes in the population.

The report's findings do not imply that fluoride intakes in adults in Great Britain will lead to clinical skeletal fluorosis. The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment concluded in September 2003 that,

Thus, the results of both recent surveys are consistent with the absence of reports of clinical skeletal fluorosis attributable to fluoride intakes in Great Britain.

The requirement in Section 90(a)1 of the Water Industry Act 1991 (introduced by Section 58 of the Water Act 2003) is for strategic health authorities (SHAs) to monitor the health of populations receiving fluoridated water and applies to SHAs with existing fluoridation schemes. In producing guidance on how SHAs should implement this requirement, we will consider how intakes of fluoride should be monitored.

Hepatitis C

Baroness Masham of Ilton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): We have not made such an estimate. The provision of hepatitis C treatment is a matter for local National Health Service organisations. Information on annual expenditure on National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence recommended drugs for hepatitis C treatment in 2004 is contained in a bulletin for the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre which is available at Copies have been placed in the Library.
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