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Disabled People: Leonard Cheshire Report

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We are studying Leonard Cheshire Disability's report and considering the policy implications of its findings. Much work is already progressing across government to tackle the barriers to independent living and enable disabled people to lead more active social lives. This includes our independent living strategy and individual budgets. These build on improvements we made to the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, which now requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to improve access to their services.

Disabled People: UN Convention

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

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): We are giving careful consideration to the implications of the recent decision of the House of Lords in the case of Lewisham v Malcolm. However, we do not consider that the decision should affect the UK's ability to ratify the UN convention.

Equality Commission: Northern Ireland

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer given to him on 6 March 2008, Official Report, col. WA 192.

EU: Lisbon Treaty

Lord Hanningfield asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): As with all litigation, costs will depend on a number of factors including the length of the case. The Government always ensure that they are represented at the appropriate level and secure an hourly rate which represents value for money for the taxpayer.

The judgment of the Divisional Court handed down on 25 June comprehensively dismissed Mr Wheeler's claim as being without merit. Costs were awarded to the Government against Mr Wheeler by the court. Details of the costs incurred by the Government as a consequence of Mr Wheeler bringing this action are not currently available but will be reduced by the costs awarded against Mr Wheeler by the court.

European Union Committee: Letters to Ministers

Lord Jopling asked the Leader of the House:

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): Mr Byrne apologises for the delay in responding to the chairman of the European Union Select Committee and he has now responded to Lord Grenfell. The Government value the important work done by Select Committees, and I am working with ministerial colleagues to ensure that delays of this kind do not occur in the future.

Family Planning: Northern Ireland

Baroness Blood asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Tunnicliffe: Monitoring the United Kingdom’s compliance (including that of the devolved Administrations) with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) is carried out by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. The United Kingdom reports periodically to the Committee. The most recent periodic report was submitted in May 2007 and was examined by the Committee at its session on 10 July 2008.

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Firearms: Licensing Management System

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): I refer the noble Lord to the reply I gave him on 17 March 2008, Official Report, col. WA6.

While the review is under way and progressing well, it is too early to say exactly when this will be completed.

Food: Pork and Bacon

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The department has developed its own action plan to meet the objectives of the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI). Sixty-five per cent of all pork procured is British and the aim is to increase this by 5 per cent over the coming year. While none of the bacon procured is British, this is currently being reviewed with the department’s supplier with the intention of procuring British bacon in the future.

The department’s supplier procures all food products, including pork and bacon, on behalf of the department and is committed to ensuring that its procurement satisfies sustainable and ethical practices. The supplier reviews its food procurement policy annually and the department undertakes monthly reviews with the supplier to track progress against the PSFPI. These reviews are used to discuss opportunities for domestic producers and the use of assurance marks, while keeping within the policy and legal framework governing public sector procurement. Advice on this is given in the guide Putting it into Practice, which is provided on the PSFPI website at:

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A report on the proportion of domestically produced food used by government departments and supplied to hospitals and prisons under contracts negotiated by NHS Supply Chain and HM Prison Service is available on the PSFPI website at: Up-to-date data will become available towards the end of the year when Defra plans to publish a new report.

The department is fully aware of, and acknowledges, the BPEX (British Pig Executive) report Is the Government Buying British and has recently written to BPEX to outline its plans to increase the procurement of British pork and bacon.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Lord Adonis): The Department for Children, Schools and Families and our catering provider, Aramark, are fully aware of the public sector food procurement initiative (PSFPI) in respect of their purchasing of pork and bacon. Since its creation on 28 June 2007, 24 per cent of the department’s pork and 0 per cent of its bacon has been purchased from British sources. Measures are in place to increase these percentages and Aramark and the trade sector manager of food service for the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board Meat Services/BPEX are currently in dialogue with one of their existing suppliers to develop a UK bacon that will be price competitive compared to imported options.

The department is constantly working in partnership with our provider to increase opportunities to address the six PSFPI objectives while keeping within the policy and legal framework governing public sector procurement. This includes design of menus that are nutritionally balanced, lower in saturated fat, salt and added sugar. In addition, menus are colour-coded, according to their nutritional/dietary content, to inform customers. All the catering suppliers have in place their own welfare and farm assurance schemes and are independently audited to ensure that they adhere to the standards and accreditations of which they are members. This includes the specific legislation that is in place for animal welfare. As a minimum, these suppliers are required to operate to BRC grade A in the UK.

The department is also aware of the recent British Pig Executive (BPEX) and National Pig Association (NPA) report, launched in the House of Lords in July 2008. Details of our pork and bacon purchased for 2006-07 are included in this. Defra plans to publish a new report with up-to-date data towards the end of the year.

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Additional information regarding data on farm-assured, organic, fair trade and seasonal produce is contained within the Defra report (revised in January 2008) Proportion of Domestically Produced Food Used by Government Departments.

Lord Hoyle asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The MoD has a permanent seat on the Government's Food Procurement Implementation Group, which is responsible for the public sector food procurement initiative and is active in supporting its work.

Under the MoD's current food supply contract, the annual pork requirement is for approximately 720 tonnes, of which 100 per cent is British and conforms to the British Pork Executive quality standard mark. Additionally, 41 tonnes of whole gammons were purchased last year which were also sourced from British pork. Currently, none of the bacon purchased is British. There is, however, an initiative in hand which may present the opportunity to purchase some of our requirements for bacon from Britain.

Information in respect of pork and bacon procured outside the MoD food supply contract, such as for contract catering/pay-as-you-dine establishments, is not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

All food purchased through the MoD food supply contract is subject to extensive and stringent quality standards, encompassing farm assurance, animal welfare, and health and nutrition. These meet, or exceed, all extant EC and legislative standards.

Purchasing policy is constantly reviewed, and work continues with the Meat and Livestock Commission to identify opportunities for increasing the volume of British meat while ensuring value for money, quality standards and availability.

Grid Computing

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): The UK has a strong grid-computing community in terms of both technology development and adoption. This community has benefited from the

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investments made through the e-science research programme which ran from 2001 to 2007 and was funded by the research councils and the then DTI.

Examples of adoption in the UK can be seen in numerous industries including finance, manufacturing, pharmaceutical and retail.

A national grid service (NGS) has been developed with the main support for the NGS currently provided through the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), supported by the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC). The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) currently provides support to this service via JISC and has contributed 50 per cent of the costs for the two-year period 2007-09. It is also now considering the role that the NGS can have in enabling leading research groups to carry out high-quality research in the UK.

The current focus of the Technology Strategy Board- funded Grid Computing Now! Knowledge Transfer Network is on specific issues including green IT and software licensing and how these impact on the public sector in particular.

The Technology Strategy Board is also currently developing a UK technology strategy for information and communication technologies, which will cover grid computing among other technologies, methodologies and models.

Health: Biosimilars

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Licensed biosimilar medicines will expand the number of drugs available to patients. Since the complex nature of biological medicines requires careful testing and specialised control of production, it is important that additional factors are taken fully into account when biosimilar medicines are manufactured and assessed. Special European Union regulations are in place to ensure that biosimilar manufacturers supply comprehensive data to demonstrate the quality, safety and efficacy of their product and its similarity to the original reference medicinal product.

All medicines, including biological medicines, should be prescribed by clinicians in accordance with the summary of product characteristics, which provides full information about the product, including its side effects and its use.

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All new medicines carry a black triangle symbol when they are first marketed in the United Kingdom. This denotes that the product is under intensive surveillance and this period usually lasts for two years. Biosimilar products are designated black-triangle medicines and carry the black triangle symbol in the British National Formulary. All biosimilar products should also have in place at the time of licensing a full risk management plan that describes what is known about the safety of a product and describes the activities required on behalf of the company to ensure that relevant safety information is collected in the post-marketing period.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain’s Professional Standards and Guidance for the Sale and Supply of Medicines provides advice to pharmacists on biosimilar medicines and states that, except in an emergency, a specifically named product should not be substituted by any other product without the approval of the patient or carer and the prescriber and, in the case of hospital drugs, the approval of the therapeutics committee, or in line with other similar locally agreed protocols.

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