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16 July 2008 : Column WA151

16 July 2008 : Column WA151

Written Answers

Wednesday 16 July 2008

Armed Forces: Pensions

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Following concerns raised by ex-servicemen’s organisations with the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice, Bridget Prentice MP, that they had not been consulted appropriately in relation to the proposed move of the Pensions Appeal Tribunal to a new, unified tribunal structure, the Minister suggested that it would be useful for them to discuss the move with the senior president of tribunals, Lord Justice Carnwath.

Lord Justice Carnwath agreed to the meeting, and a number of veterans’ organisations were subsequently contacted on 12 June by his office and invited to attend a meeting on 20 June. Representatives from the Royal British Legion; National Gulf Veterans and Families Association; War Widows’ Association of Great Britain; British Limbless Ex-Servicemen’s Association; British Nuclear Test Veterans Association; St Dunstan’s; and the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association attended the meeting.

No formal written advice was offered to the Minister following the meeting, although some limited feedback was provided to her private office.

The senior president’s role was entirely consistent with his constitutional position and his statutory functions under the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007.

Badgers and Bovine Tuberculosis

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Previous research undertaken by the Central Science Laboratory and Oxford University has shown that the only wild mammalian species which act as reservoirs of bovine tuberculosis, and thus are a risk to cattle, are badgers

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and some species of deer. Other species may be infected with TB but are end hosts (ie do not transmit the disease further).

Quantitative risk assessments commissioned by Defra demonstrate that the risk of cattle infection from deer is only likely to be significant if the prevalence of TB infection in deer is high. The indication from research is that the prevalence of TB infection in deer is not high and is estimated to be generally less than 5 per cent. The ecology and behaviour of wild deer makes it unlikely that they would have any close direct contact with cattle.

Defra has commissioned a wild deer density and disease prevalence study to ensure that our evidence base is robust enough to allow the department to take decisions on possible future disease control measures for wild deer.

Previous research has shown that there was a rise in hedgehog populations in areas in which badgers were culled in the randomised badger culling trial. There is no current research identifying links between badgers, the loss of hedgehogs and dwindling bee populations.


Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The national bus concession now allows off-peak travel on local buses throughout England. Local authorities in areas that border the devolved Administrations remain free to make their own arrangements to extend the concession to bus services that cross borders, at their own cost.

The Concessionary Bus Travel Act 2007 contains a power to introduce mutual recognition of concessionary bus passes across the UK. However, this would be a highly complex undertaking and not without cost and we have no immediate plans to implement it at this stage.

Criminal Justice: Women

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty’s Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The senior civil servant appointed to head up the cross-departmental Criminal Justice Women’s Unit is a deputy director, and the appointment is full time, reporting to a director with overall responsibility for women. The head of unit leads on managing and co-ordinating the work on women in the criminal justice system across all relevant departments.

Crown Prosecution Service

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Over the period 1 April 2007 to 31 March 2008 the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) employed 3,060 people in England who were legally qualified.

The average cost of employing legally qualified staff at the CPS in England for 2007-08 was £45,247 per annum.


Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): We have been advised by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that the scientific consensus formed was largely based on an extensive review of published literature on the scientific context and biological issues surrounding the creation of human-animal embryos for research, including nuclear reprogramming, the interaction of the nuclear and mitochondrial genome and the mixing of human and animal mitochondria.

The literature review also analysed alternative avenues of research and alternative sources of stem cells. In addition, the HFEA consulted a small number of stakeholders on specific scientific questions concerned with human-animal embryos. Responses were gathered from the HFEA's Scientific and Clinical Advances

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Group, the HFEA Horizon Scanning Panel and external stakeholders including the British Fertility Society, Human Genetics Alert and the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

No research has been published specifically on the potential of cytoplasmic hybrids to develop if implanted in a woman. This is because cytoplasmic hybrids cannot be transferred into a woman, as this activity is prohibited by the Reproductive Cloning Act 2001. The HFEA therefore did not consider any specific studies on this as part of their consultation. However, the HFEA did consider published literature on the development of cytoplasmic hybrid embryos in vitro and on the interaction between mitochondria and nuclear DNA. This included:

Illmensee K, Levanduski M & Zavos P (2006) “Evaluation of the embryonic preimplantation potential of human adult somatic cells via an embryo interspecies bioassay using bovine oocytes”. Fertility and Sterility 85(Suppl 1): 1248-60;Chen Y et al. (2003) “Embryonic stem cells generated by nuclear transfer of human somatic nuclei into rabbit oocytes”. Cell Res. 13(4): 251-63;Chang K H et al.(2003) “Blastocyst formation, karyotype, and mitochondrial DNA of interspecies embryos derived from nuclear transfer of human cord fibroblasts into enucleated bovine oocytes”. Fertility and Sterility 80: 1380-87;Bowles E J, Campbell K & St. John J (2007) Chapter 10, “Nuclear Transfer: Preservation of a Nuclear Genome at the Expense of Its Associated mtDNA. Genome(s)” Current Topics in Developmental Biology 77: 251-90; andSt John & Lovell-Badge (2007) “Human-animal cytoplasmic hybrid embryos, mitochondria, and an energetic debate” Nature Cell Biology 9: 988-92.

No published data on the potential of embryos cultured on feeder cells beyond 14 days were considered. This is because embryos are not permitted to be cultured in vitro beyond 14 days. This issue was therefore not considered to be relevant to the consultation.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: Provision regarding the mixing of human gametes with the gametes of an animal for research purposes is provided for under new Section 4A(6)(b) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, as introduced by Clause 4 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill (HFE). The “hamster test” is also provided for separately in

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the HFE Bill through provisions in Schedule 2 to the HFE Bill. The “predominantly human” provision is only a specific requirement of new Section 4A(6)(e).

Employment Agencies

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty’s Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: These are decisions for individual non-departmental public bodies. The Government do not hold this information centrally.

Energy: Nuclear Plants

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Baroness Vadera): It is for electricity generating companies to decide when to upgrade or build new transmission capacity and to make the appropriate arrangements with national grid. The published register only includes entries once an agreement has been entered into between the grid and the party concerned. It does not include details when an application has been made to the grid but not agreed.


Baroness Neville-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Attorney-General (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Following the development of a national strategy to enhance the prosecution of extremist radicalisers, led by the former Attorney-General, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) issued guidance on the prosecution of offences relating to violent extremism. The prosecution guidance was first issued in July 2007 and is kept under review. The guidance is available on the CPS website. The strategy was also underpinned by new working arrangements for the police and the CPS.

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The Government have published detailed guidance to support those working to deliver all aspects of the strategy of preventing violent extremism, The Prevent Strategy: A Guide for Local Partners in England (May 2008. Ref: 288324). It acknowledges that action by the police and the CPS through the courts is an important part of the prevent strategy.

Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund

Baroness Neville-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): A total of 140 Muslim organisations have successfully received funding in both rounds of the Faith Communities Capacity Building Fund. A list of all the successful groups granted funding in each round of the FCCBF is attached to annex A.

A comprehensive list of organisations granted funding is also available on the Community Development Fund website at:

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