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The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) currently licenses, on a case-by-case basis, the screening of embryos where the intention is that the resulting baby's umbilical cord blood stem cells, or bone marrow stem cells, will be used to treat an existing sibling who has a life-threatening or serious illness.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill clarifies the scope of the HFEA to make such decisions by introducing five purposes for which embryos can be tested under a treatment licence. One of the purposes is for tissue typing (the creation of a saviour sibling). In practice tissue typing is only
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This may be the case when someone has a particularly rare tissue type. Even if there were a greater supply of cord blood available for treatment, it would still be possible that no match would be found. Therefore, it may still be necessary to use embryo testing to find an embryo that would result in a child with matched tissue whose cord blood cells could be used to treat a sick older sibling.
What assessment has been made by the Ministry of Defence of the effectiveness of using hydroxyl radical generators which reproduce the disinfecting qualities of open air in protecting service men and women from airborne pathogens. [HL1038]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, which provides scientific advice for the Ministry of Defence, has not undertaken any specific research to assess the effectiveness of hydroxyl radical generators which reproduce the disinfecting qualities of open air.
However, as part of its watching brief on new scientific developments, DSTL has undertaken preliminary studies to examine the effectiveness of commercially available disinfection equipment including that which generates vaporous hydrogen peroxide. One of these studies on behalf of the Government Decontamination Service has assessed the performance, and applicability, of these types of systems for the decontamination and remediation of buildings following a terrorist attack using chemical or biological weapons.
Whether the payment of legal aid fees in excess of £1 million in connection with the measles, mumps and rubella and measles and rubella vaccines litigation to Augustus Ullstein QC, Simeon Maskey QC and Jeremy Stuart-Smith QC was an appropriate use of public money. [HL978]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Decisions about funding in civil cases are entirely a matter for the Legal Services Commission (LSC). As such, Ministers do not intervene in or comment on decisions made about the grant of funding in individual cases. The LSC makes individual funding decisions in accordance with the governing legislation.
Whether the Legal Services Commission, in accordance with its press statement of 1 October 2003, has sent to the Medical Research Council research paid for by legal aid in connection with the measles, mumps and rubella and measles and rubella vaccines litigation. [HL976]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Legal Services Commission has not sent the research in the MMR/MR vaccines litigation to the Medical Research Council (MRC). It was proposed to release the research to the MRC. However this can only be disclosed with the consent of the clients, or the solicitors acting on their behalf. I understand that such consent has not so far been forthcoming.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 5 December (WA 202), in the light of devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland and Welsh Assemblies, and with 70 per cent of all legislation originating in the European Union, whether they will institute an inquiry into the necessity of having 646 elected Members of Parliament and 750 peers. [HL972]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government have no plans for such an inquiry, for the reasons set out in my noble friend's Answer. The number of Scottish MPs was reduced to 59 at the last election. Following the fifth general review of parliamentary constituencies in Wales, which was completed in January 2005, the total number of constituencies remained at 40. In its fifth periodical report, on 31 October 2006, the Boundary Commission for England recommended an increase of four constituencies, bringing the total number to 533. On membership of the House of Lords, the Government are committed to working to deliver the House of Commons' preference for a wholly or mainly elected second chamber. Among the questions which it will have to consider during that process will be the optimum size of the House.
In view of their commitment to tackling climate change, whether they will consider keeping a central register of enforcement by local authorities of energy efficiency requirements under Part L of the Building Regulations. [HL858]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Enforcement of the Building Regulations is a matter for each local authority in England and Wales. Most enforcement is carried out informally through the provision of advice and guidance. Local authorities have formal powers to prosecute breaches of Building Regulations or to serve a notice requiring work to be brought into compliance with the standards in the regulations. In the vast majority of cases it is not necessary for these formal powers to be used to ensure compliance.
To enhance the ability of local authorities to prosecute breaches of Part L of the Building Regulations in appropriate cases the Government intend within the next few months to lay regulations to extend the time limit within which such prosecutions must be taken
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Code for Sustainable Homes (the code) is a voluntary set of sustainable design principles covering performance of new homes in nine key areas, including energy and CO2 emissions, water, materials, surface water run-off, waste, pollution, health & well-being, management and ecology.
New homes that are assessed against the code receive a 1-6 star rating. A 1-star home is built to higher sustainability standards than those set out in current Building Regulations whilst a 6-star home is a truly sustainable, zero-carbon home. The criteria on how to achieve each star rating are set out in detail in Code for Sustainable Homes: Technical Guide, available on the Communities and Local Government's website at: www.communities.gov.uk/thecode.
In the November 2007 Thames Gateway Delivery Plan, we stated the Government's desire to establish it as an eco-region putting sustainability at the heart of everything we do there. While we have not forecast the Code for Sustainable Homes ratings for the homes in the Thames Gateway to 2016, we will be working with partners and stakeholders to support delivery of homes that meet exacting environmental standards.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill re-enacts the existing provisions set out in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 in relation to a child conceived as a result of assisted conception treatment and who is treated as the father of that child, where donor sperm is used. The woman's husband is the child's father, unless it can be shown that he did not consent to her treatment.
Clauses 36 and 37 of the Bill replace similar provisions in the 1990 Act which enable an unmarried man to be the father of a donor-conceived child if he is treated together with the mother in a licensed clinic. New provisions in the Bill require the couple each to have given consent by the time the embryo or gametes are placed in the woman, for the man to be treated as the father of any resulting child.
The Bill maintains the principle set out in the 1990 Act that if an unmarried couple carry out self-insemination with donor sperm outside a licensed treatment centre or non-medical fertility service, the male partner would not be the legal parent. In this situation, the man would have to acquire formal parental responsibility; for example, by adopting the child.
Clause 41 ensures that any man who acts as a sperm donor will not be treated as the legal father of any child born. Clause 38 reaffirms the position that where a person is treated as a child's father under the 1990 Act, no other person is to be treated as the father; for example, a sperm donor.
Precisely how many service personnel deployed in the present conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan respectively have (a) been killed; (b) been wounded or injured by enemy action or in accidents; and (c) contracted illnesses due to disease. [HL901]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Since the start of hostilities, there have been 174 UK military fatalities resulting from operations in Iraq and 86 resulting from operations in Afghanistan.
Between 1 January 2006 and 30 November 2007, centrally held records for Iraq indicate that 292 personnel were admitted to a UK or coalition medical facility having been wounded in action and 2,234 personnel were admitted suffering from disease or non-battle injury.
Between 1 January 2006 and 30 November 2007, centrally held records for Afghanistan indicate that 307 personnel were admitted to a UK or coalition medical facility having been wounded in action and 721 personnel were admitted suffering from disease or non-battle injury.
Work is currently in hand to verify and validate information on medical facility admissions prior to January 2006. Once these data have been compiled, they will be added to the Ministry of Defence website.
All of the above information is published and updated regularly on the Ministry of Defence website at: http://www.mod.uk/Defencelnternet/FactSheets/OperationsFactsheets
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): British officials engage with a variety of non-violent Islamic parties and groups across the Middle East and North Africa. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office makes the Government's view on individual Islamic parties and groups clear to parliamentarians, but it is up to individual parliamentarians to decide with whom they have contact.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): There is a pressing need to overcome the obstacles to re-opening Gaza's crossings, for humanitarian goods, trade and people. The quartet (US, EU, UN and Russia) has expressed concern over the continued closure of major crossing points. The UN is actively involved in trying to find a solution. The EU has called on all parties to work towards an opening of the crossings in and out of Gaza. I refer the noble Lord to the Statement made by my right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Secretary of State for International Development on 30 October detailing our concerns. The text of the Statement can be found at www.fco.gov.uk/servlet/Front?pagename=OpenMarket/Xcelerate/ShowPage&c=Page&cid=1007029391629&a=KArticle&aid=1193597605085&year=2007&month=2007-10-01.
My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for International Development discussed the situation in Gaza with the Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, during his recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories from 9 to 11 December.
Whether they will assist the negotiation of a comprehensive ceasefire for Gaza, with a view to making possible access in and out of the Gaza Strip, and to preventing further loss of life on all sides. [HL1048]
Lord Malloch-Brown: We remain extremely concerned by the political and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. We strongly condemn the continuing rocket attacks against Israel, which put Israeli lives at risk every day. However, measures taken by Israel in response must be consistent with international humanitarian law and must not cause suffering to innocent civilians.
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