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Egypt: Religious Freedom

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Officials raised their concerns about the case of Mr Hegazy with the Egyptian embassy on 27 February 2008. It explained that Mr Hegazy's conversion application was not successful as he did not follow the correct legal processes. However, we welcome the positive ruling by the Egyptian Supreme Administrative Court on 10 February 2008 allowing 12 Christian converts to Islam to reconvert back to Christianity.

We regularly raise human rights issues with the Egyptian Government, including religious freedoms, and will continue to do so. My honourable friend the Minister for the Middle East, Kim Howells, raised religious freedom issues directly with the visiting Speaker of the Egyptian Parliament on 21 January 2008. We also look forward to these issues being discussed at the forthcoming EU-Egypt political sub-committee established under the European Neighbourhood Policy Action Plan.



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EU: Parliamentary Scrutiny

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The House of Lords Committee (HL Paper 27) recommendations on a restricted scope and the country of origin principle were incorporated into the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (amending the Television Without Frontiers Directive).

EU: Senior Commission Posts

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government are working to ensure that the number of UK nationals recruited to the EU institutions, including those who might in due course be promoted to senior positions, reflects our proportion of the total EU population. We continue to raise the current recruitment procedures, including the language requirements, with those responsible in the EU institutions with a view to ensuring that the arrangements do not discourage UK nationals from applying.

EULEX

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Yves de Kermabon has been appointed as head of mission of the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX Kosovo). The head of mission will exercise command and control of EULEX Kosovo at theatre level and will be directly responsible to the civilian operations commander in the general secretariat of the council. The civilian operations commander reports to the council through the Secretary-General/High Representative. Under the responsibility of the council, the political and security committee will exercise political control and strategic direction of the mission.



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Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Malloch-Brown: The Joint Action, adopted on 4 February, sets out the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo's (EULEX Kosovo) mission statement. This is that EULEX Kosovo shall assist Kosovo authorities, judicial authorities and law enforcement agencies in their progress towards sustainability and accountability and in further developing and strengthening an independent multi-ethnic justice system and multi-ethnic police and customs service, ensuring that these institutions are free from political interference and adhering to internationally recognised standards and European best practices. EULEX Kosovo, in full co-operation with the European Commission assistance programmes, shall implement its mandate through monitoring, mentoring and advising, while retaining certain executive responsibilities.

Falkland Islands: Defence

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): As in the UK, there is no compulsory military service in the Falkland Islands. The Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) is a locally maintained volunteer defence force unit, funded by the Falkland Islands Government, working alongside the UK military units based at Mount Pleasant, to ensure the security of the islands. Falkland Island nationals, British citizens, British overseas citizens and Commonwealth citizens aged between 17 and 55 are eligible to apply to join the FIDF. According to the 2006 Falkland Islands census, approximately 1,600 men and women may have been eligible to apply to join the FIDF, subject to medical clearance and selection procedure.

The FIDF is of company strength. The current membership is 75 volunteers.

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government are responsible for the security of all their overseas territories, which includes the Falkland Islands. This is reflected in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's objectives and the Ministry of Defence's Defence Plan 2007. The Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF) is a locally maintained volunteer defence force unit, the responsibility

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of, and funded by, the Falkland Islands Government (FIG), working alongside the UK military units based at Mount Pleasant to ensure the security of the islands. The FIDF currently receives £420,000 per year in funding from the FIG. UK military forces conduct a number of joint exercises with the FIDE. Most recently this has included a disaster planning operation in South Georgia in October 2007. UK military forces in the Falklands think highly of the FIDF's level of professionalism and, above all, their invaluable local knowledge.

Flooding

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): A low-risk watercourse is classified as such because there is a low risk of many properties being affected by any flooding that occurs.

Food: Poultry Imports

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The use of antimicrobial treatments (AMT) on poultry during processing is not permitted in the EU. If poultry produced in a third country (eg the USA) has been treated with AMT it may not be imported to the EU. We understand the United States continues to use antimicrobials in poultry production.

However, in accordance with EU legislation, imports of live poultry from the USA is permitted. Each consignment must be accompanied by appropriate veterinary certification.

Forced Marriage

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

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Our discussions with these Governments have focused on the suffering caused by forced marriage and the need for all countries to tackle the problem. This has led to practical partnerships ensuring UK citizens facing forced marriage can be assisted as quickly and effectively as possible. Encouragingly a draft Forced Marriage Bill was introduced in Pakistan in 2007. However, it was not adopted by its Parliament during 2007, and it is not yet clear whether it will be reintroduced in 2008.

Government: Departments

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: Each government department is responsible for managing its own workforce. Latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show the reduction in the size of the Civil Service over the past year. Full information including details for each department are included in the Public Sector Employment—Quarter 3 2007 report. This is available on the ONS website (www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/pse1207.pdfs). The breakdown by government department reflects all the machinery of government changes announced in summer 2007. Further information is not held centrally.

Health: Cardiac Rehabilitation

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): A payment by results development sites project, sponsored by the department and involving the British Heart Foundation, the British Association of Cardiac Rehabilitation and a number of hospital sites, has recently been established. This project will determine the costs associated with the provision of a comprehensive package of cardiac rehabilitation and put forward suggestions on how those costs should be reimbursed to providers of services. The project will run throughout 2008-09.



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Health: Clinical Physiologists

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Government are planning to introduce statutory regulation for healthcare scientists, and clinical physiologists form part of the group. There are several strands of work that are being brought together in order to achieve this, working in discussion and consultation with the other three health departments, the profession and the service.

We do not expect the process of statutory regulation to begin before 2009.

Health: Hydrotherapy

Baroness Thomas of Winchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): This information is not held centrally. It is for primary care trusts to commission health services locally.

Health: Multiple Sclerosis

Lord Mackie of Benshie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Eligibility for continuing care is made on an individual basis. Each assessment takes into account the healthcare needs of the patient concerned. Eligibility for continuing care is not based on the age of the patient or their medical condition.

Health: Prescription Drugs

Lord Maclennan of Rogart asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Before regulatory action is taken to withdraw a medicine from the market or restrict its availability, a rigorous assessment of the latest evidence on its risks and benefits is conducted. Advice is sought from the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), the Government's independent scientific advisory committee on medicines safety. The CHM is supported by expert advisory groups whose membership includes specialists in clinical therapeutics as well as drug safety.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will also liaise with key stakeholders, including health professional and patient organisations, on the implications of withdrawing a medicine from the market or restricting its availability. A public consultation exercise is conducted on any proposals to change legal categorisation.

On the basis of CHM advice the licensing authority then reaches a decision on the proportionate regulatory action to be taken to safeguard public health. A summary of the minutes of the CHM and its expert advisory groups' deliberations is made available on the MHRA's website and further steps are taken as necessary to communicate the rationale for the regulatory action to health professionals, patients and the public.

Health: Transplants

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Three centres are currently designated by the National Commissioning Group (NCG) to offer ventricular assist devices to patients as a bridge to a transplant. These centres are at the Harefield, Freeman and Papworth Hospitals. Later this year, the NCG is expected to consider an application to continue this arrangement with these three centres and two additional centres, which are in Birmingham and Manchester.

Immigration: Buddhist Monks

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): At present the appropriate entry category in the Immigration Rules for Buddhist

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monks would be as a “Minister of Religion, missionary or member of a religious order”. The entry clearance fee is £200 and leave to enter is granted for an initial period of 12 months. Under the new points-based system (PBS) which is being gradually rolled out, such applicants will have to apply for entry either as a Minister of Religion under Tier 2, or as a temporary religious worker under Tier 5.

On 30 January my right honourable friend the Minister for Borders and Immigration (Liam Byrne), in his Written Ministerial Statement, set out the Border and Immigration Agency (BIA)'s proposed fees for 2008-09 (Official Report, cols. 15WS-18WS). The proposed fees for entry under Tier 2 and Tier 5 of the PBS are £205 and £99, respectively. The fees will be set in subsequent legislation as the PBS is rolled out and will not be final until approved by Parliament.


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