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Apart from the HQ, the EGF is not a standing force, but will be generated and deployed on an ad hoc basis as needed. It is designed to be capable of deploying a police task force of up to 800 police officers, including a rapidly deployed HQ in the field, within 30 days. The police units that will form the EGF are drawn from existing national police resources from the five participating states; current commitments suggest that the EGF could reach a total nominal strength of 2,300.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Food Standards Agency remains the central competent authority in the United Kingdom responsible for the negotiation, implementation, application and enforcement of food hygiene legislation.
Whether Ministers and officials have had contacts with Mr Carne Ross since the termination of his Foreign and Commonwealth Office appointment in September 2004; and, if so, whether such contacts included discussions on Iraq. [HL1676]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Triesman): We owe a duty of confidence to serving and former members of staff. It would not be appropriate to comment on any contacts between Ministers and officials with serving or former members of staff, which are conducted on an in-confidence basis.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): The DfES intends to publish the disability equality impact assessment of the further education system reforms, including the provisions outlined in the Further Education and Training Bill, during 2007.
How many gangmasters have so far been licensed; who ensures that they comply with minimum wage rates and prescribed orders of conduct; and how many prosecutions of gangmasters and labour contractors have so far been initiated. [HL1838]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As at 6 February 2007, the Gangmasters Licensing Authority (GLA) has licensed 940 gangmasters. A further 64 licence applications are being processed.
Any person employed to work in agriculture, anywhere in England and Wales, is entitled to be paid at least the appropriate agricultural minimum wage rate set out in the Agricultural Wages Order. This includes all foreign nationals legally entitled to work in the United Kingdom.
19 Feb 2007 : Column WA181
How many serving British Armed Forces personnel have illnesses arising from the Gulf War 1990-91 which have only manifested themselves in recent years; and whether any such illnesses have manifested themselves in serving personnel in the past two years. [HL1879]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): I refer my noble friend to the Answer that I gave on 30 January 2007 (Official Report, cols. WA 35-36) to my noble friend Lord Roberts.
What representations they have received on the urgency of the need for increased funding for motor neurone disease research over the next two years; what replies they have made; and what action they are taking. [HL1566]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The department has received a number of representations on this subject, mostly from or prompted by the Motor Neurone Disease Association. The response to them has described the nature and level of government investment in research into the disease, and the fact that the Dementias and Neurodegenerative Disease Network (launched in September 2005 as part of the UK Clinical Research Network) will give patients from every motor neurone disease clinic in England the opportunity to take part in national clinical trials. In addition, the department will respond to a request for matched funding from Government to support the association's research strategy.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Since April 2001, all acute National Health Service trusts in England have been obliged to report all cases of methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteraemias under the mandatory surveillance scheme.
National, regional and individual trust data were published for the years 2001-02 to 2005-06 (the latest available data) in the Health Protection Agency's Mandatory Surveillance of Healthcare Associated Infections Report 2006, available at www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/hai/MandSurvHCAI2006.pdf.
MRSA data for the period up to September 2006 have been published on the Health Protection Agency website, available at www.hpa.org.uk/infections/topics_az/hai/Mandatory_Results_Jan_2007.htm.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: This information is not collected centrally. National Health Service mental health trusts are not included in the mandatory surveillance schemes for healthcare-associated infections, including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
How many multiple sclerosis nurses were in post at the beginning of 2006; how many are currently in post; and what are their expectations about the growth or fall in numbers of multiple sclerosis nurses in 2007. [HL1892]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The annual National Health Service workforce census does not separately identify multiple sclerosis nurses from the rest of the nursing workforce. It is for NHS employers and strategic health authorities to determine how many multiple sclerosis nurses are required to meet local service needs.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Information is collected, available via the quality and outcomes framework website at www.ic.nhs.uk/services/qof/, on the number of patients registered with a general practitioner and diagnosed with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. In addition, data are collected, via the Hospital Episode Statistics (HES) system, on hospital activity for those diagnosed with a wide range of respiratory conditions, including asthma. That information is available on the HES website at www.hesonline.nhs.uk.
Why they are proposing that urology patients should no longer receive home delivery of appliances and other complimentary services relating to Part IX of the Drug Tariff in contrast to their decision in relation to stoma patients. [HL2021]
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The department has been reviewing Part IX of the Drug Tariff since October 2005. Two consultations are currently open that seek views on proposed arrangements for the provision of stoma and incontinence appliances, and related services, to primary care. Both consultations close on 2 April 2007. They are entitled: Arrangements for the Reimbursement Pricing of Stoma and Incontinence Appliances under Part IX of the Drug Tariff;and Arrangements for the Remuneration of Services Relating to Appliances within Part IX of the Drug Tariff. The proposals contained within the consultation documents reflect the information that had been made available to the department by the date of publication of the consultations themselves, particularly by dispensing appliance contractors. As the department is in the process of consultation, no decisions have been made about any of the arrangements, and all responses and the views contained therein will be carefully considered. It is also a stated objective of the review that patient care will be maintained or, where appropriate, improved.
How many Members of the House of Lords, by party and from the Cross-Benchers group, occupy salaried positions in government departments, government agencies and public bodies funded in part or wholly from national taxation. [HL1735]
Lord Davies of Oldham: There are 20 members of the House of Lords who hold salaried ministerial office. In addition, one special adviser is a member of the House of Lords. All are from the governing party. The other information requested is not held centrally.
What consideration they are giving to the representations made by Asylum Link Merseyside to the Department for Education and Skills about the restriction of access by refugees and asylum seekers to English for Speakers of Other Languages courses. [HL1920]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): Documents submitted to the Home Office and forwarded to the Department for Education and Skills in November 2006 have been passed to officials leading the race equality impact assessment on the proposed changes. Information is being fed into that process and will be taken into account when the final report is published later in February.
The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): The investigation into the circumstances of the recent disturbance at Harmondsworth immigration removal centre is being carried out by Mr Robert Whalley CB, a retired senior civil servant. The investigation will establish the lessons to be learnt from this event for the management of the immigration detainees and of the immigration detention estate. It will take full account of the separate police inquiries that are continuing and will be conducted in a way that does not impede any criminal prosecution. Subject to ensuring that any possible criminal prosecutions are not prejudiced, I will arrange for the outcome of the investigation to be available to the House.
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Defra earnings and hours survey collects information about the hours worked by agricultural workers. This information is available on the Defra website; however, migrant workers are not separately identified.
Where agricultural workers are supplied by a gangmaster, the gangmaster will require a licence from the Gangmasters Licensing Authority to operate legally. To obtain a licence, a gangmaster must satisfy the conditions attached to a licence. These require that any accommodation provided by the gangmaster should conform to current legislation. There should be no evidence of poor or overcrowded conditions or failure to conform to local housing regulations on housing of multiple occupation. Any charges for accommodation must be compliant with the national and agricultural minimum wage regulations. The Gangmasters Licensing Authority will be monitoring compliance with these licence conditions and will report on the operation of the licensing scheme annually.
What support they are providing for local authorities and voluntary organisations working with migrant workers who have fallen ill or lost their jobs and are threatened by destitution and homelessness. [HL1886]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Some migrant workers would retain eligibility for local authority housing and income-related benefits if they lost their job as a result of illness or accident or became involuntarily unemployed, and consequently should not face destitution or homelessness. However, to assist the small number that do end up sleeping rough on the streets, the Government have given £497,000 to date to central London local authorities to support their work with this group and in recognition of the potential impact on their homelessness services from mainly A8 nationals. No funding has been given direct to the voluntary sector to date.
Ministers have agreed that officials should put together proposals for targeted work to address homelessness among nationals from the new European accession states (A8s), involving work both with voluntary organisations, particularly in London, and with organisations in the source countries to facilitate returns.
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