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Food: Illegal Meat Imports

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): As part of ongoing work to tackle illegal imports of products of animal origin (POAO), Defra and Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) have always worked in co-operation with stakeholders, major airlines and airport authorities. They have been made fully aware that meat, food and plants can carry animal/plant pests and diseases, which can pose a risk to our environment and our agricultural and horticultural industries.

As part of our joint strategy for raising travellers' awareness of the rules on personal imports of POAO, high visibility posters in line with the European Union (EU) model prescribed in Commission Regulation 745/2004 are displayed at ports and airports. These advise incoming passengers that meat and dairy products from non-EU countries are prohibited and have recently been refreshed and updated. Appropriate sites, including in baggage reclaim areas, are agreed with BAA and the other airport and port operators.

HMRC has local representatives who are in contact with BAA and other airport and port operators to discuss and negotiate various issues, including where posters are sited. For example, during 2005-06, in response to avian influenza outbreaks in a number of countries, HMRC arranged with BAA and other operators for additional temporary “bird flu” posters to be displayed at UK ports and airports. These were placed in passenger terminals at arrivals and departures and highlighted the risk of bringing illegal meat and meat products into the UK. BAA and other operators also provide facilities for the storage and removal of any seized POAO items.



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Freedom of Information

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The convention should set an overarching framework of minimum standards, allowing parties to the convention to set out in their legal systems a more extensive right of access should they wish to do so. For example, the convention would give parties the option, rather than making it mandatory, of applying the convention to information held by legislative bodies, judicial bodies and private bodies that exercise public functions should they wish to do so. Courts and tribunals are not within the scope of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 in respect of their judicial functions and the Government have no plans to bring them within scope. With regard to private bodies carrying out public functions Section 5 of the Freedom of Information Act provides the possibility of bringing such bodies within scope of the Act. The Government's consultation on Section 5 closed on 1 February 2008 and the Government are currently considering the responses to consultation.



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Health: Blood Donation

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007 (Statutory Instruments No. 1263) came into force on 30 April 2007. During the drafting of these regulations, consideration was given to the matter of blood donation from gay men.

This led to specific provision being made in the regulations, which are available at www.opsi.gov.uk/si/si2007/20071263.htm.

Health: Murder of Patients

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Shipman inquiry published six reports with a total of 228 recommendations, at a cost to public funds of £21 million. The relevant reports were published after the offences at Leeds General Infirmary which took place in 2002.

Systems for protecting patients and the general public have been greatly improved in recent years and further improvements are under way in the light of the lessons learnt from the Shipman murders. However, as the Shipman inquiry itself pointed out, it will never be possible to guard completely against the criminal activities of a future Shipman, only to ensure that such activities are very quickly identified. I understand that the Yorkshire and Humberside Strategic Health Authority is arranging for an independent investigation of the events at Leeds General Infirmary and it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further at this stage.

Health: Smallpox Vaccine

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department arranged for smallpox vaccination of a cohort of frontline health workers who would deal with any initial suspected or confirmed case of smallpox if it were to occur. The target cohort was reached in 2005 and comprised a total of 516 vaccinated personnel of whom 147 were doctors, 164 were nurses, 100 were ambulance staff, 32 were scientists and 73 held other related healthcare occupations.

None of these had adverse complications that required vaccinia immunoglobulin.

A further programme of revaccination is due to commence in 2008.

Health: Specialist Register

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Between its establishment on 30 September 2005 and 1 March 2008 the Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board (PMETB) has issued just over 12,500 decisions on applications for specialist or general practitioner registration. Nearly all have had an input from the assessors of the specialist training committees of the relevant medical Royal Colleges or Faculties. Of these, PMETB has not accepted 55 adverse recommendations (0.4 per cent).

International Development

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: Ministers and senior officials from London and the UK Delegation to the World Bank in Washington hold regular meetings with interested non-governmental groups and public bodies to discuss World Bank issues. During 2006 and 2007 some of these meetings covered the 15th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA 15). We also held additional meetings with non-governmental groups throughout 2007 specifically to discuss the UK's approach to the IDA negotiations.

There was a half-day session between the World Bank, IDA donors and African civil society opinion-formers as part of the second IDA 15 replenishment meeting in Maputo in June 2007. In October the

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World Bank organised a workshop for UK civil society to consult on its progress report on conditionality. Also in October, the lead negotiators from the UK and other donors met with civil society groups in Washington to discuss the replenishment in the margins of the third replenishment meeting. The draft outcome document of the negotiations was placed on the World Bank's website for public comment. The comments were discussed at the final replenishment meeting in Berlin in December and some were incorporated into the final version.

Lord Beaumont of Whitley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: The Department for International Development (DfID) total expenditure since 1997 is set out in the table below showing both actual expenditure and expenditure in real terms based on 2006-07 prices. Both methods show that DfID expenditure increased in all but one year, 2004-05.

From 2004-05 EC aid to a group of 10 countries that joined the EU in 2004 was no longer attributed to DfID resulting in a decrease in total expenditure for that year.

Table of total DfID expenditure in actual and real terms (£ thousands)
Fiscal yearTotal DfID expenditureDeflatorTotal DfID expenditure at 2006-07 prices

1997-98

2,061,917

80.366

2,565,658

1998-99

2,360,474

82.400

2,864,653

1999-00

2,572,925

84.063

3,060,710

2000-01

2,798,686

85.260

3,282,531

2001-02

2,917,834

87.301

3,342,269

2002-03

3,351,732

90.033

3,722,782

2003-04

3,956,378

92.642

4,270,609

2004-05

3,914,711

95.200

4,112,091

2005-06

4,463,666

97.211

4,591,729

2006-07

4,922,669

100.000

4,922,669

North Korea

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: Informal discussions were held with representatives of the Directorate-General for Humanitarian Affairs and AidCo on 13 November in Pyongyang. The overall position on EU assistance to North Korea remains as set out in the Answer provided by my noble friend Baroness Vadera on 10 October 2007 (Official Report, col. WA 16).



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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: The last visit by a Government official to North Korea to look at humanitarian aid was in November 2007. No general assessment of the humanitarian situation was made on the visit. The primary purpose of the trip was familiarisation with the work of European non-governmental organisations in providing health and water supply services.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: In principle, €500,000 has been allocated to North Korea under this budget line.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: Department for International Development (DfID) officials are considering a proposal from UNICEF for a water supply project. If it is approved, funds will come from the budget for humanitarian assistance.


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