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14 May 2008 : Column WA135



14 May 2008 : Column WA135

Written Answers

Wednesday 14 May 2008

Courts: Fees

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 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.

Children's services have a statutory obligation to protect the interests of children; it would be unlawful for them to avoid taking care proceedings for financial reasons.

Proceedings under the Forced Marriages Act are not affected by these fee increases.

Department of Health: Annual Reports

Lord Grocott asked Her Majesty's Government:

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 department also lays before Parliament a variety of annual reports pursuant to Acts of Parliament on behalf of other bodies such as the Food Standards Agency and the Health Protection Agency.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Energy: Alternative Sources

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Health: Organophosphates

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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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.

The Government must wait for the final advice from COT before the significance of the research into the possible link between organophosphates and human health can be fully considered.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Government have not conducted any research in this area and currently do not have any plans to do so in the future.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

In humans, research has been carried out on enzymes such as paraoxonase which hydrolyse diazoxon. However, the Government have not specifically commissioned studies of diazoxon in humans.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

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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Protection Agency side of the COT secretariat working with the DH Toxicology Unit. This will be done using existing resources and there are no additional funds available. The literature searches have been started. The secretariat is also liaising with VIVID and the PSD regarding published literature identified by these organisations.

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.

Health: Training

Baroness Tonge asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Immigration: Georgia

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.



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Israel and Palestine: West Bank

Baroness Tonge asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Israel: Human Rights

Baroness Tonge asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Maldives: Elections

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

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.

Natural Environment Research Council

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:



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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.

Prisons: Liverpool

Baroness Stern asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

Rule of Law

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

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.

The EU and CoE co-operate on the promotion of democratic stability and peace. They have more joint programmes in the western Balkans than any other region.


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