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It is because the HFEA has regard to the interests of women that it commissioned Professor Adam Balen to update his report on OHSS, as referred to in my Written Answer of 22 July 2008 (WA 246). The report compares the HFEA record of perceived risk of OHSS with larger data sets from across Europe. Therefore, as outlined in my Written Answer of 22 October 2008 (WA109-110), the HFEA is of the view that there would be minimal value in assessing 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).
Further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 16 October (WA 6768) and 22 October (WA 109), why the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has not commented on the stipulations put on licences granted to Sydney IVF Ltd if members of the authority have provided
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Lord Darzi of Denham: As indicated in my Written Answer of 22 October 2008 (WA109), the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has provided information and advice regarding policy issues to the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. However, the HFEA informs me that it does not see it as its proper function to comment on individual licensing decisions made by regulators or licensing bodies outside the United Kingdom.
Whether they have commissioned any surveys to determine the location of estuaries with the potential for electricity generation using a tidal barrage or a tidal lagoon; and, if so, when each such study is due to finish. [HL5807]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): A Sustainable Development Commission (SDC) study, Tidal Power in the UK, published in October 2007, explored a number of estuaries with the potential for electricity generation using tidal power. These included, among others, the Mersey, Wyre, Thames and Severn estuaries. The SDC report identified the potential for a scheme in the Severn estuary to generate some 5 per cent of the UK's electricity. Following this the Government are now conducting a feasibility study of a tidal power scheme, including the possibility of a tidal lagoon or barrage, in the Severn estuary. The study is due to finish in early 2010 and, subject to internal review, will publish interim findings for public consultation early in the new year.
Tidal Power in the UK can be found at www.sd-commission.org.uk/pages/tidal-power.html and was funded by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR), the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG), the South West of England Regional Development Agency (SWRDA), the Scottish Executive, and the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Investment (Northern Ireland).
The North West Development Agency has also provided funding towards feasibility work on tidal power in the Mersey estuary, available at www.merseytidalpower.co.uk/ and an investigation of the feasibility of tidal power in the East Irish Sea (www.joulecentre.org/research/grants_tapping_the_ tidal_power.htm).
Further detail on the tidal power resource in the UK can also be found in the UK marine renewable energy atlas, with the tidal power resource estimates available at www.renewables-atlas.info/.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The 5 A DAY message, to eat at least five portions (400g) of a variety of fruit and vegetables each day, was developed based on a recommendation from the World Health Organisation (WHO), following evidence that populations consuming at least 400g of fruit and vegetables per day can reduce the risk of deaths from chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, and some cancers by up to 20 per cent. In the United Kingdom, the Department of Health's Committee on Medical Aspects of Food Policy and Nutrition (COMA) (now called the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN)) also reviewed the evidence and in 1998 endorsed the above recommendation. The 5 A DAY message reflects these recommendations and advises consumers to eat at least five 80g portions (400g) of fruit and vegetables per day.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department is aware that some primary care trusts (PCTs) have local schemes to help ensure that patients get the most clinically appropriate treatment, making sure that people can get high-quality care closer to home and that they are not referred unnecessarily to hospital. This is a matter for individual PCTs and information on the number of such schemes is not collected centrally.
David Colin-Thome, national director of primary care, wrote to strategic health authority (SHA) chief executives on 24 October 2008 to reinforce the importance of ensuring that any local general practitioner referral incentive schemes promote the most clinically appropriate care. He asked SHAs to be alert to this issue and, where any concerns are raised, satisfy themselves that local schemes improve quality and appropriateness of care for patients. A copy of the letter has been placed in the Library.
Further to the remarks by Baroness Thornton on 21 October (Official Report, col. 1113), when they expect the further regulations on a statutory pharmaceutical pricing scheme to be laid; and whether, in deciding the timetable for those regulations, they will allow the pharmaceutical industry sufficient time to choose between the new voluntary pharmaceutical price regulation scheme and the statutory scheme; and [HL6002]
Whether they will take into account the responses to the forthcoming public consultation on the proposed loss of exclusivity mechanism in the new voluntary pharmaceutical price regulation scheme before amending the Health Service Branded Medicines (Control of Prices and Supply of Information) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1938); and [HL6003]
What plans they have to repeal Regulation 3(2)(b) and (c) in relation to therapeutic and international reference pricing when they amend the Health Service Branded Medicines (Control of Prices and Supply of Information) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1938) and [HL6004]
What plans they have to ensure that new products that are new active substances will have freedom of pricing on entering the market when they amend the Health Service Branded Medicines (Control of Prices and Supply of Information) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1938); and [HL6005]
What plans they have to increase the reference price of branded medicines covered by the Health Service Branded Medicines (Control of Prices and Supply of Information) Regulations 2008 (SI 2008/1938) in light of the changed macroeconomic conditions since 29 February. [HL6006]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department's consultation on a statutory scheme to control the prices of branded National Health Service medicines ended on 25 September 2008. The Government are currently considering the responses to that consultation and reflecting on further discussions it has held with the industry. Further announcements will be made once that process is complete.
There are no plans to increase pharmaceutical prices in response to the recent change in macroeconomic conditions. The pharmaceutical industry generates significant cash flows, and does not generally rely on debt to finance operations1. The pharmaceutical industry is not expected to face increased difficulty in financing operations as a result of restrictions in credit markets.
Further to his Written Answer on 20 March (WA 61), what progress has been made in ensuring the wider dissemination of the booklet The Work of the House of Lords to visitors to the Palace of Westminster; and how many copies have been distributed in the Palace since February. [HL6063]
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): To date 6,500 copies have been distributed internally, of which 500 have been distributed at Peers Entrance and Peers Lobby. Nearly 60,000 copies have been distributed externally to date and further distributions will take place.
What grants are available to encourage energy conservation by owners of houses with (a) no foundations, (b) no cavity walls or (c) little or no loft space, and what further initiatives they plan to take to increase the number of people employed in energy conservation work. [HL5805]
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Finding innovative, cost-effective and attractive ways of insulating hard-to-treat homes will be core to both our carbon saving and fuel poverty alleviation ambitions. The carbon emissions reduction target (CERT), although specifically designed to deliver carbon savings as cost effectively as possible, includes incentives to encourage suppliers to promote more costly measures appropriate for hard-to-treat homes, such as solid wall insulation. This has resulted in some 40,000 solid-wall homes benefiting from insulation in the past three years, with a further 100,000 expected to be treated by 2011.
There will also be a focus on improving the energy efficiency of hard-to-treat properties, including via solid wall insulation, through the green neighbourhoods scheme, announced by Hilary Benn in April; and the new £350 million community energy saving obligation on energy suppliers and electricity generators announced by the Prime Minister on 11 September.
We are working closely with energy suppliers and the insulation industry to maximise insulation activity under CERT this winter. There are now some 4,000 people able to carry out insulation work, plus support staffan increase of almost 500 staff since April 2008. The Prime Minister's announcement on 11 September of a £1 billion homes energy saving programme will also increase the need for people employed in energy conservation work. The new energy efficiency employment (EEE) initiative, also announced in September, will match people made redundant from the contracting house building industry with employment opportunities
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What representations they are making, or will make, to the Government of India concerning the recent introduction of laws in a number of states that make it difficult for citizens to leave Hinduism.[HL5246]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): While anti-conversion laws are an internal matter for the Indian authorities, officials from our High Commission in Delhi continue to monitor religious freedom in India and have previously raised the issue with the Indian authorities.
A wide range of issues including minority rights and religious freedom were raised at the last round of the EU-India human rights dialogue which took place in New Delhi on 15 February. Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials also discussed issues of religious freedom with the Indian National Human Rights Commission on 15 April. The Government will continue to work with the Government of India in supporting efforts to tackle human rights issues.
What changes they are considering, or have recently considered, to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; what is their estimate of how long it would take to bring into force any changes; and what is their approach to reform of the covenant. [HL3998]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government are not considering, nor have they recently considered, any changes to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. We do not consider that the covenant needs to be reformed.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government are concerned about the continuing exclusion of Roma in many European states and particularly in Italy earlier this year. However, the Italian Government had amended their original proposal, so that all citizens would require fingerprinting when applying for a new identity document. The Government and the European Commission accept that the amended proposal no longer discriminates against the Roma ethnic group. Our ambassador in Rome has been assured by the Italian Minister of the Interior that his Government's main objective is to raise the living standards of Roma in Italy, and in particular to help get Roma children off the streets and into schools.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We have held discussions with the Kennel Club about the coastal access provisions in the Marine Bill which aim to improve public access to the English coast for walkers including for those who may be accompanied by a dog.
We have no plans to specifically consult dog owners but Defra undertook a public consultation on the draft Bill where members of the public were welcome to comment on the proposals. A summary of the responses has been published on Defra's website.
We also intend to undertake a public consultation on the proposed contents of an order to amend the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 as it will apply to coastal land. I expect this to include proposals regarding the restrictions on dogs.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government are working closely with our European partners to press for the restoration of democracy in Mauritania following the coup d'etat on 6 August. The Cotonou agreement covers political relations, trade and development co-operation between the EU and 78 Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries, and is a central focus of our current work on Mauritania. Article 96 of the agreement provides for appropriate measures when the essential and fundamental elements of the agreement (such as democracy) have been infringed. The EU wrote to the Mauritanian regime in September to initiate the process and met with Mauritanian officials on 20 October to discuss the procedures. The Mauritanians failed to provide acceptable proposals for the restoration of democracy, and were given one month to do so.
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The UK is also working with other international partners to try to secure a return to democracy in Mauritania. NATO allies suspended military activities to be carried out with Mauritania in September, and are reviewing activities on a case by case basis.
Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government condemned the coup in Mauritania on 6 August and called for the release of the president and the restoration of democratic institutions, and we have been working with EU partners to press for the restoration of democracy in Mauritania. On 20 October, the EU met with representatives from the Mauritanian regime to discuss procedures under Article 96 of the Cotonou agreement, which provides for appropriate measures when the essential and fundamental elements of the agreement (such as democracy) have been infringed. Mauritanian proposals did not meet EU requirements, and they were given one month to provide the EU with proposals for the restoration of the constitutional order which satisfy EU requirements. If the Mauritanians fail to do this within a month the EU will close consultations and appropriate measures, including possible targeted sanctions, will be considered. These measures may cover any aspect of the EU-Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) relationship, but there will be an analysis of their impact, and humanitarian and emergency assistance should not be affected.
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