Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, if the sheep have come to the abattoir from a market in a lorry that contains batches from different farms, how do you find out from which farm the headless carcass has come, once the ear tag has been removed?

Lord Bach: My Lords, that is a very good question, if I may say so. You have to go back to the market records. It was certainly a question that I asked before I attempted to answer this Question. The market records show how many different farms supplied that market with sheep on that day. So you have to go one stage further back to the farms that supplied sheep to that market on that day.

The Countess of Mar: My Lords, the Minister has caught himself in his own trap. Would he agree that, if several batches of sheep come from a market, tracing an individual sheep to an individual farm is impossible once the animal has had its head chopped off?

Lord Bach: My Lords, I do not agree at all with the noble Countess. There is traceability, whether the sheep comes from a farm or from a market. It takes slightly longer if it comes from a market, but, if a notifiable disease was discovered, there would be action within a very few hours.

Lord Swinfen: My Lords, is the noble Lord saying that all the farms that supplied the sheep would have to be inspected?

Lord Bach: Yes, my Lords, of course they would.

Cancer: Bowel

2.57 pm

Baroness Hayman asked Her Majesty's Government:

What steps they are taking to ensure the successful rollout of the National Bowel Screening Programme in April 2006.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My Lords, the Government have stated their commitment to a national bowel cancer screening
 
13 Feb 2006 : Column 996
 
programme. On 30 January 2006, the new health White Paper, Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services, reaffirmed that the programme would be rolled out from April 2006. The Department of Health's central budgets for 2006-07 are being finalised, and announcements will be made as soon as possible. The NHS cancer screening programmes are taking all the necessary action to ensure the successful rollout of the programme.

Baroness Hayman: My Lords, I am grateful to my noble friend for that partially reassuring Answer, particularly in the light of persistent reports that the programme would be abandoned or delayed. Can I press him to go further regarding budgeting and be more specific about when and how the £37.5 million allocated to make the programme a success and save 1,000 lives a year will actually be available to the NHS to ensure a successful rollout in April?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I am not surprised to be pressed by my noble friend on the issue. I am confident that the necessary funding will be provided in 2006-07 to ensure the staffing of the national rollout, as promised in the White Paper. We will make an announcement shortly.

Baroness Greengross: My Lords, does the Minister not agree that the age limits imposed regarding this sort of screening are arbitrary? Will the money spent on that screening programme be guaranteed, so that it will not vary from one primary healthcare trust to another, rather as the first Starred Question today indicated would be the case in other areas of work?

Lord Warner: My Lords, we have committed ourselves to the screening programme being rolled out nationally by 2009, and that process will be set in hand. I am sure that PCTs will support the funding and use it appropriately when the national screening programme is in place. The ages for screening in this area are determined by advice given to us by the national cancer screening programme, but they are kept under review.

Lord Acton: My Lords, is my noble friend aware that, in the light of new evidence, Professor Shuker of the Open University said last month:

Do the Government agree, and, if so, will they investigate and publish how much red meat it is safe to eat?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I never know how much red meat their Lordships like in many of these areas, but I can tell my noble friend that the Food Standards Agency is aware of that research. It has not issued specific advice on safe weekly or annual consumption of red meat, but it continues to recommend that red meat can be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet. Noble Lords will be aware that meat is a good
 
13 Feb 2006 : Column 997
 
source of iron, zinc, B vitamins and protein, and, as part of its review, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition will be looking at this area.

Baroness Barker: My Lords, can the Minister give more information about the five programme hubs announced in August 2005 as part of this programme, which include testing laboratories and places where people can get analysis kits? Can he tell us where they are, by whom they are provided and what criteria will be used to monitor their performance and progress?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I do not have the precise locations of the programme hubs in my head, but I will write to the noble Baroness. They will provide call and recall services and send out the testing kits and results. They will be underpinned by 90 to 100 local screening centres, which will provide endoscopy services for the 2 per cent of men and women who may have a positive test.

Baroness Morgan of Drefelin: My Lords, does my noble friend agree that the bowel cancer screening programme that we are discussing now forms an essential cornerstone of the Cancer Plan launched in 2000? Does he share my concerns about the potential uptake by people from ethnic minorities of bowel screening? I understand that research undertaken by the University of Warwick has shown that, although it is possible to achieve the 60 per cent uptake required for the success of the programme, that figure can mask very poor uptake among people from south Asia and the Muslim community in particular.

Lord Warner: My Lords, my noble friend is right. The NHS bowel cancer screening programme will be one of the first such programmes in the world. But she is also right that we need to try to ensure that its services reach all groups. A bowel cancer communications group was set up in 2005. It is looking at communications, and leaflets will be sent out with each invitation, translated into a number of languages. Lessons are also being learnt on how to get through to hard-to-reach groups, based on the experience from breast and cervical screening programmes.

Earl Howe: My Lords, does the Minister accept that uncertainty over the rollout of the programme is having a detrimental effect on patients and those who care for them? In the light of his Answer, will he do all he can to allay that uncertainty and to advance the announcement about the programme as swiftly as possible?

Lord Warner: My Lords, I certainly accept that there has been a degree of uncertainty because of some speculative comments. However, the Government have always said that they would start roll-out from April 2006, and, as the noble Earl knows, we are a Government of our word.
 
13 Feb 2006 : Column 998
 

Pension Protection Fund (Risk-based Pension Protection Levy) Regulations 2006

Pneumoconiosis etc. (Workers' Compensation) (Payment of Claims) (Amendment) Regulations 2006

Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 2006

Social Security (Contributions) (Re-rating and National Insurance Funds Payments) Order 2006

Guaranteed Minimum Pensions Increase Order 2006

Budget (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

Rates (Capital Values, etc.) (Northern Ireland) Order 2006

3.05 pm

The Minister of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Rooker): My Lords, I beg to move the seven Motions standing in the name of my noble friend on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the draft regulations and orders be referred to a Grand Committee.—(Lord Rooker.)

On Question, Motions agreed to.

National Lottery Bill

Lord Davies of Oldham: My Lords, I beg to move the first Motion standing in my name on the Order Paper.

Moved, That the Bill be committed to a Committee of the Whole House.—(Lord Davies of Oldham.)

On Question, Motion agreed to.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page