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22 Oct 2008 : Column WA105

22 Oct 2008 : Column WA105

Written Answers

Wednesday 22 October 2008

Armed Forces: Coroners' Inquest

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Where a service inquiry is held into the circumstances surrounding a death, the Ministry of Defence recognises that the bereaved families of service personnel have an interest in its conclusions. Ministry of Defence policy will continue to be to offer a copy of the inquiry report to the next of kin. Where there is an inquest, the coroner is normally passed a copy of the full report in confidence to assist him in the preparation of his own inquiry.

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Taylor of Bolton: The decision to convene a service inquiry will normally be made within five days of either the incident itself or, where applicable, receipt of the reports of other investigative agencies from which it can be determined if anything of consequence may be learned by convening a service inquiry. Service inquiries into air occurrences are convened within 48 hours of the incident. Once a service inquiry has been convened we aim to make the report available within 40 weeks. However, the length of time an inquiry takes is determined partly by the nature of the incident under investigation and partly by the complexity of the case. Service inquiries will include those into covert operations, technical investigations into aircraft crashes, and incidents in hostile environments including those at sea. The need to adjourn an inquiry pending a police investigation and difficulties securing witnesses while on operations or travelling overseas could also of course cause delay.

Armed Forces: F35 Aircraft

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The UK position is that we have an incremental acquisition strategy where we will seek approval to purchase Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) at key points in the JSF programme consistent with technical maturity and affordability. The next decision for the purchase of three aircraft to facilitate participation in the operational test and evaluation of JSF in the USA is currently planned for January 2009. Unit production costs for JSF are dependent on the number and timing of aircraft purchases for all partner nations and the delivery profile.

Armed Forces: Operation Herrick 9

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The endorsed force-level figure for Operation Herrick 9 is 8,067 service personnel. The exact number of personnel in theatre will naturally fluctuate on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, including leave (rest and recuperation), temporary absence for training, evacuation for medical reasons, and the roulement of forces.

Details of the force laydown were set out in my Written Ministerial Statement on 8 July 2008 (Official Report, cols. WS 29-30). Since many units contain individual augmentees from various services, it is not possible to provide precise numbers broken down by service, as these details are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. As of 1 October 2008, there are some 690 reservists from all services deployed in Afghanistan.

Personnel from the Royal Navy fulfil a wide variety of combat support and combat service support roles in theatre. In addition members of the Royal Marines routinely deploy on land operations in the combat role. Indeed, 3 Commando Brigade took over responsibility for Taskforce Helmand on 8 October this year.

Armed Forces: Women

Lord Moonie asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): In the Royal Navy, with the exception of submarine and Royal Marine trades, all technical trades are open to females. There are currently 10,780 female sailors employed in 14 technical trades. This equates to 12.8 per cent of the officer corps and 17.6 per cent of other ranks. All technical trades include sea appointments.

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In the Army, all technical trades (51) are open to female soldiers. As the Army was the last service to transition to JPA the full extent of trade fields has not yet been validated and the data are not of sufficient quality to release publicly. However, there are currently 5,240 (72 per cent) female soldiers who are employed in arms and services that have a high percentage of technical trades within them. I will write to the noble Lord when this information has been validated on JPA.

All 36 technical trades in the Royal Air Force are open to female personnel. Of the 5,110 female personnel, 860 (17 per cent) are employed in technical trades.

Banking: Directors and Executives

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): As part of their investment, the Government have agreed a range of commitments with banks accessing the capitalisation scheme. The Government expect that no cash bonuses will be paid to directors in the current year. Going forward, and to ensure that taxpayers' interests as shareholders in the bank are protected, and the performance of the company enhanced, directors' remuneration will be linked to long-term value creation and take account of risk.

The terms have been agreed on a case-by-case basis with banks accessing the recapitalisation scheme, although elements are common to all participating banks.

Charity Commission

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Patel of Bradford: The powers of the Charity Commission for England and Wales were last formally reviewed in the development and passage of the Charities Act 2006. The Act gives the commission statutory objectives, functions and duties, and some new powers. There is also a statutory requirement for an evaluation of the Act to be commissioned by November 2011, and for the results to be reported to Parliament.

The commission has a set of key performance indicators, agreed with HM Treasury, and reports against these each year in its annual report. In addition, the commission has appeared before the Public Administration Select Committee to give evidence on its performance and specific areas of work.

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Climate Change: Emissions

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): For Phase 1 of the EU Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS), the European Commission approved two types of opt-outs for UK installations: one for installations with climate change agreements (CCAs) and the other for installations that were already in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme (UK ETS).

Within the UK, a total of 389 installations chose to opt out, 330 on the basis of their CCAs and 59 on the basis of their involvement in the UK ETS. The UK ETS opt-outs were required to enter the EU ETS on 1 January 2007, when the UK ETS ended. Seven of these were cement-sector installations, 34 offshore installations and six food-sector installations.

The allocated allowances and verified emissions of these UK ETS opt-outs account for the percentage differences from 2006 to 2007.

When comparing 2006 and 2007 EU ETS results a comparable increase in the number of installations did not occur. The reason for this is that the UK ETS installations were all given EU ETS national allocation plan IDs and assigned zero allocations and emissions in the EU ETS in 2006. In 2007 the allocated allowances and verified emissions increased while the number of installations in the sector stayed the same.

Cyprus: British Troops

Lord Morris of Aberavon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Renovation and repair of the Ledra Palace Hotel continues. Repairs to the east and west wing roofs are complete; loose masonry on the building exterior has been removed; ground floor public areas, kitchens and dining facilities have been refurbished; electrical rewiring has been completed and the main power supply replaced; and

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air conditioning has been installed throughout the ground floor. Ten accommodation rooms have also been refurbished with a further 10 nearing completion. Current plans estimate that renovation work will be complete by around the end of 2009, and will meet accommodation standards for members of the Armed Forces in the UK.

The work is being carried out by the Republic of Cyprus in an arrangement with the United Nations; we do not have visibility of the associated costs, but there is no direct cost to the UK for this work.


Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The United Kingdom Stem Cell Initiative was completed in 2005. Prior to that there were no links between officials working on the UK Stem Cell Initiative and the Embryo Research Licensing Committee of the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). Neither have Department of Health officials provided advice to the NHMRC since then.

I understand from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) that members of the HFEA executive and the (then) chair, Suzi Leather, have had teleconferences with colleagues in the fertility regulatory sector in Australia including representatives from the Embryo Research Licensing Committee. These discussions have included the provision of information about the activities of a UK centre that had a cell nuclear replacement research licence.

HFEA members on the authority's Scientific and Clinical Advances Advisory Group have provided advice, at the NHMRC's request, on a proposed biological definition of embryo.

In addition, the HFEA has informed us that it is possible that authority members may also have liaised with the NHMRC's Embryo Research Licensing Committee on the regulation of work involving therapeutic cloning in their individual capacities, rather than as representatives of the authority.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has informed me that it keeps a record of cancelled treatment cycles where the risk of ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome (OHSS) has been reported. As I stated in my reply on 13 October 2008 (cols. WA 31-32), in 2007 this applied to 611 out of a total of 35,946 cycles. This gives an indication of the perceived risk of OHSS across the United Kingdom. The HFEA has advised me that it is of the view that there would be minimal value in assessing those national data on perceived risk against the actual incidence of OHSS in one fertility centre, as reported in Human Fertility (vol. 10, issue 3, pages 183-87).

Professor Balen's report (published in 2005 and updated this year) compares the HFEA record of perceived risk of OHSS with larger data sets from across Europe. The HFEA commissioned Professor Balen to write a report on OHSS as part of its review of sperm, egg and embryo donation in 2004. The report provides an overview of OHSS, its incidence and the spectrum of the condition. The report is the result of an extensive literature review into OHSS, including the article in Human Fertility mentioned above. As a result, the HFEA does not intend to compare the figures in the Human Fertility article with the figures outlined in the report.

Health: Drug Tariff

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The highest band was 30,000 to 50,000 items and two dispensing appliance contractors dispense more than 50,000 prescription items per month. The department is now analysing responses to its final consultation,

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including views on the proposed cap to the infrastructure payment. About 450,000 people use stoma and urology appliances.

The in-year costs for the review are shown in the table. These costs were for the services of professional advisers. The department's costs are part of its ongoing operational budget. Costs in 2005 and 2006 also covered the review of arrangements under Part IX of the Drug Tariff for the provision of chemical reagents and some dressings in primary care, as well as the provision of stoma and urology appliances and related services.


£0.10 million


£1.20 million


£1.24 million

2008 year to date

£0.63 million

Health: Influenza Vaccines

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): None of the influenza vaccines for the 2008-09 season contains thiomersal as an added preservative. One influenza vaccine (Fluvirin) states in its summary of product characteristics that it contains traces of thiomersal that are left over from the manufacturing process.

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