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What impact the increases in court fees in the Family Proceedings Order (SI 2008/1054) will have on access to courts for care proceedings involving attempts to force children to marry against their will. [HL3366]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The increases only affect fees paid for by local authorities, not individuals, and each local authority has been given additional money to pay for the increases.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Department publishes the Chief Medical Officer's annual report on the state of the public health, although responsibility for the contents rests with the Chief Medical Officer rather than the Government. This report is produced pursuant to Section 5 of the Public Health Act 1859.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The UK Stem Cell Bank does not hold any stem cell lines derived from human embryos cultured for more than 14 days as this would not be permitted under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990.
Whether they will encourage further research through the Natural Environment Research Council's support for the centre for hydrology at Lancaster into finding alternative heat and energy sources for domestic and commercial buildings. [HL3297]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) jointly funds the UK Energy Research Centre (UKERC) which in turn supports work undertaken at the Lancaster site of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH). The UKERC adopts a whole-systems approach to energy generation, supply and use, and the CEH leads projects under the UKERC's environmental sustainability theme. This research includes life-cycle assessment of energy-generation technologies, which will contribute towards the UKERC's Energy 2050 report, expected to be published next year. NERC and the other research councils responsible for funding the UKERC are currently considering funding a second phase of this activity from 2009.
Further to the Answer by Lord Rooker on 28 April (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 2), what was the purity of the organophosphate diazinon tested by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority reported in part 2, Preliminary Review Findings, volume 2 of 2 Technical Reports, June 2006; and how this compares with the quality of that found in organophosphate sheep dips at point of use in the United Kingdom. [HL3415]
The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The diazinon used for the Australian review was 90 per cent technical-grade material. Similarly, 90 per cent technical-grade diazinon is also used by the manufacturers of the three sheep-dip products available in the UK.
What is their response to studies carried out in the United Kingdom and in the United States on the relationship between levels of paraoxonase 1 in humans and their ability to detoxify metabolites of certain organophosphate products; and whether the research findings influence their assessment of the health effects of exposure of people to organophosphate sheep dips. [HL3416]
Lord Rooker: The preliminary advice from the Committee on Toxicity (COT) on the paraoxonase 1 research carried out in the United Kingdom was that individuals who metabolise organophosphates (OPs) most quickly are more likely to report ill health. This is the reverse of the tested hypothesis.
As a part of the preliminary advice, COT stated that there would be a need to review all the available research in order to advise on the current state of knowledge regarding OPs. Accordingly, the review is in progression and will include all work from across the scientific community, including that carried out in the USA. Completion of the review is not anticipated before late 2009. The final advice from COT on paraoxonase and the other aspects of the possible link between OPs and human health will become available once COT has considered all the evidence.
What research has been conducted since 1985 to determine the residue ratios of diazinon to diazoxon and persistence over time along the wool-processing product line; and whether any further research will be commissioned. [HL3417]
Lord Rooker: Samples of sheep kidney fat are analysed as part of the Veterinary Medicines Directorate's national surveillance scheme for residues of diazinon. The marker residue for calculating whether residues detected have breached the maximum residue limit, as laid down in Annexe I of Council regulation 2377/90, is the parent compound (diazinon). The analytical method used for the surveillance programme does not therefore check for residues of diazoxon and so no data are held.
Further to the Answer by Lord Rooker on 28 April (Official Report, House of Lords, col. 4), what sum has been allocated to the Committee on Toxicity for the literature review on organophosphates; when the review began; and why it will not be complete before the end of 2009. [HL3420]
Lord Rooker: Responsibility for the preparation of the literature review on organophosphates and drafting of papers for consideration by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) rests with the Health
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COT has requested that a systematic review of all the published data should be carried out, including those published prior to the previous report of 1999. This is to ensure comprehensive coverage of the literature. It is anticipated that several hundred papers will need to be obtained and assessed. Summaries will need to be prepared and submitted to COT. This is likely to take until autumn 2008. Also, the government research work that is expected to be completed near the end of 2008 will need to be considered. The secretariat will draft an outline statement in the light of the committee's discussion and will have to respond to queries from members. A complex topic of this size will need to be considered by the committee over several meetings.
The work will be carried out as expediently as possible, consistent with the need for comprehensive coverage of the data and adequate consideration by committee members. It is unlikely that this work will be completed before the end of 2009.
What steps they are taking to ensure that any underspending of multiprofessional training and education budgets by strategic health authorities in 2007-08 is returned to education and training in 2008-09. [HL3454]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): No steps are being taken by the department to ensure that any underspend in the 2007-08 multiprofessional education and training budget is returned to education and training in 2008-09. This is a local matter and it is the responsibility of strategic health authorities to spend the money according to local priorities.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Ministers have not been made aware of the wording in this decision. The decision of the tribunal was a judicial one and it is a fundamental part of our constitution that the judiciary is independent of the Government. Because of this, Ministers are only informed of decisions in exceptional cases when policy is affected.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary spoke to Israeli Defence Minister Barak on 2 April to follow up his announcements on movement and access, and to press for rapid implementation. The issue was addressed at a series of high-level meetings in London on 2 May involving Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad and Israeli Foreign Minister Livni. The quartet in its statement following the meetings noted some positive steps, including the removal of some roadblocks and an outpost by Israel, but noted that much more remained to be done.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the actions and policies of Israel are matters of ongoing concern which we regularly discuss with our European partners, including at the last EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on 29 April.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK is providing financial support for Commonwealth efforts to improve the Maldivian legislative electoral framework. Free, fair and credible elections are a crucial element of democratic reform in Maldives. I emphasised this to Dr Mohamad Asim, the Maldivian high commissioner, whom I met in March. We will continue to do so. I also made clear that the freedom of politicians and political parties to be able to campaign and debate was a cornerstone of democracy.
Whether they will provide extra funding to increase the proportion of Natural Environment Research Council Co-Operative Award in Science and Engineering studentships awarded above the present 30 per cent level. [HL3386]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) received an allocation of £1.236 billion from the science budget for the current CSR period. NERC is responsible for determining the priorities for support, including the funding allocated to studentships. NERC currently awards 30 per cent of its studentships in the form of Co-operative Awards in Science and Engineering (CASE) studentships. This proportion is above the average for the research councils as a whole. NERC continues to promote the benefits of CASE studentships.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Subject to the resolution of certain cost issues, the upgrade of the kitchen at Liverpool prison is scheduled to start in September 2008 and become operational in the late summer of 2009.
Whether the work of the European Union and the Council of Europe on the rule of law in eastern and south-eastern Europe is appropriately planned, co-ordinated and effective; and whether they will propose any reforms, particularly concerning the independence of lawyers and barristers. [HL3328]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The rule of law is a key UK priority in the Council of Europe (CoE) and for the EU in its external relations. All the countries of south-eastern Europe, except Kosovo, are members of the CoE and therefore subject to its standards on the rule of law and monitoring procedures. The Committee of Ministers of the CoE has a long-standing recommendation relating to the freedom for lawyers to exercise their profession.
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