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The HFEA does not hold information centrally about the percentages of embryos specifically created for research and which were cultured as outgrowing embryos. HFEA inspection reports record information about the research projects being undertaken at any particular centre. The inspection reports are available on the HFEA website.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Darzi of Denham: I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 10 February 2009 (WA176). I have nothing further to add to that Answer.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has advised me that the information requested is not collected for retention on its register.

The department has conducted a literature review and has consulted a researcher in the field as to the safety of the cryopreservation of embryos.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised me that its Scientific and Clinical Advances Committee is of the view that although the embryonic masses that form when embryos outgrow their structure would not develop a primitive streak, it is possible that primitive streak like cells may be detectable. The HFEA and its Scientific and Clinical Advances Committee are as one on this question.

Minutes of the committee's meetings are published on the HFEA's website.

Equality

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have made no formal representations to the Government of Ireland since 1997 concerning human rights. However, human rights issues have been discussed, at ministerial and official level, during meetings of the British-Irish Inter-governmental Conference since its establishment in 1999.

Food: Labelling

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Food Standards Agency published voluntary best practice guidance on origin labelling in 2002. This guidance aims to establish clear and transparent origin labelling across the food sector. Uptake of the guidance was reviewed in 2006 and the guidance was revised and re-issued in 2008. The Government are keen to encourage further uptake of this guidance and as part of this will be commissioning further work this year to assess industry uptake of the guidance.

Food labelling is an area of European Commission competence. A food information regulation was proposed by the Commission in 2008 and is being discussed in both the European Parliament and the European Council. Discussions are at an early stage on the origin labelling elements of the proposal.



23 Mar 2009 : Column WA95

Foreign Policy

Question

Asked by Viscount Waverley

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): Ministers are held to account for foreign policy decisions through all the normal mechanisms: debates in both Houses; Parliamentary Questions; the work of Select Committees, security committees and the Intelligence and Security Committee. It would be for Parliament to decide whether additional mechanisms are needed.

G20: Conference

Question

Asked by Lord Judd

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We are keen to ensure that the voices of developing regions are heard at the London summit of G20 leaders. That is why we decided to invite Prime Minister Meles of Ethiopia as chair of New Economic Partnership for African Development and Prime Minister Abhisit in his capacity as the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. Jean Ping, of the African Union (AU) Commission, and Dr Surin, chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, will also accompany further to extend the representation from developing regions. I attended the AU summit at the end of February to seek views from African Leaders directly.

We recognise the importance of protecting the poorest during the economic downturn and are pushing for a renewed and strengthened commitment to refrain from protectionist measures, with a monitoring mechanism to hold countries to account for this pledge. Actions at the London summit to stabilise the financial system and build foundations for sustaining and strengthening global growth are essential in order to achieve this. In that sense it will be more important to ensure that growth during the economic recovery helps the poor as well as helping more developed countries.

Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes



23 Mar 2009 : Column WA96

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government are aware of the work that the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust does in promoting the conservation of game and wildlife, and conducting research into game and wildlife management.

Wildlife management, which necessarily encompasses elements of both protection and control, is vital to maintain healthy populations of our native species. We support all efforts to manage other interests, such as game, in a way that is mutually beneficial to both that interest and wildlife.

Gypsies and Travellers

Question

Asked by Baroness Whitaker

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Through the Pacesetters programme, the department is working with 18 National Health Service organisations and local communities in different parts of England to improve the health status of Gypsies and Travellers. The work is based on a range of projects aimed at raising the awareness of NHS staff to the needs and circumstances of these communities, improving access to primary and secondary care, and ensuring that individual health records for community members are up-to-date. The projects are being evaluated by the University of Sheffield and results will become available in 2010-11. Evidenced good practice and learning will be disseminated widely throughout the NHS.

Health: HIV/AIDS

Questions

Asked by Earl Howe

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department funded the production of a guide, HIV for non-HIV specialists: Diagnosing the undiagnosed, published in 2008,by the Medical Foundation for AIDS And Sexual Health (MedFASH) . Following this publication,

23 Mar 2009 : Column WA97

the department is also funding MedFASH for a linked project Tackling HIV testing in healthcare settings, aimed at increasing HIV testing in non-HIV specialist settings.

To support the rollout of the UK National Guidelines for HIV Testing 2008, produced by the British HIV Association, the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV and the British Infection Society, the department is funding eight new pilot projects to explore HIV testing in a variety of settings, in order to reduce the level of undiagnosed HIV and late diagnosis of HIV in the population.

The department also supported the publication of HIV in Primary Care, an essential guide to HIV for GPs, practice nurses and other members of the primary care team, also produced by MedFASH in 2004.

HMS “Vanguard”

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The report of the inquiry into the incident involving HMS “Vanguard” and “Le Triomphant” is expected shortly. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Defence will then consider what and how to report to Parliament, bearing in mind the need to protect information in the interests of national security.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have made no representations to the Government of Ireland on this matter.

Asked by Lord Laird



23 Mar 2009 : Column WA98

Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government have not worked with any stakeholders in promoting human rights in Ireland.

Internet: Radical Websites

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The legislation that allows a request to be made that unlawfully terrorism-related material is modified or removed from the internet is Section 3 of the Terrorism Act 2006. Section 3 allows for the service of a notice by a constable, where he or she is of the opinion that unlawfully terrorism-related material is available on an electronic service such as a website, on the person(s) responsible for that material. The notice requires that the unlawfully terrorism-related material is removed or modified within two working days.

However, the preferred route of the police is to use informal contact with the communication service providers to request that the material is removed. To date no Section 3 notices have been issued as this informal route has proved effective but statistics covering the number of sites removed through such informal contact are not collected.

Media: Interviews

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Under current broadcasting arrangements, responsibility for what is broadcast on television and radio rests with the broadcasters and the organisations that regulate broadcasting—the Office of Communications (Ofcom), the BBC Trust and the Welsh Fourth Channel Authority (S4C). It is a long-standing principle that the Government do not interfere in programme matters, either on arrangements for scheduling or on content.

Passports

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The records of passport applications received at our embassy in Dublin are held in paper form and also on the electronic passport issuing system.

The electronic system is not configured to calculate the number of people with addresses in the Republic of Ireland granted British passports, as requested by the noble Lord in his earlier Question. This would have to be done manually by checking all 53,222 of the paper applications for British passports issued by our embassy in Dublin over the past five years.

The disproportionate cost threshold is set at £700. Consular Directorate at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office assessed that the additional work required to manually search for this information would breach this threshold.



23 Mar 2009 : Column WA100

Pensions

Question

Asked by Baroness Thomas of Winchester

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): Data on the clearance times of pension credit, measured from the initial date of contact, are currently not reported.

The tables below detail the average actual clearance time (AACT) for pension credit, monthly for the past two years, by pension centre. The AACT is calculated by dividing the total number of working days taken to clear cases by the total number of cases cleared.

Pension Credit Clearance Times
Average Actual Clearance Time National Target—15 Days
NationalBurnleyCwmbranDundeeLeicesterLondon

Mar 07

16.4

17.2

13.3

14.5

14.4

21.1

Apr 07

15.7

16.2

11.5

14.8

17.1

19.5

May 07

15.0

15.0

9.2

14.4

19.9

17.7

Jun 07

15.0

14.9

8.9

13.6

20.4

16.0

Jul 07

16.8

14.5

9.3

15.3

21.3

15.3

Aug 07

16.5

15.9

9.4

14.1

26.0

13.7

Sep 07

16.7

17.2

9.8

13.2

25.2

12.3

Oct 07

15.4

13.3

8.3

11.1

25.9

10.2

Nov 07

15.8

11.5

8.1

11.2

31.7

11.4

Dec 07

16.3

12.5

8.7

13.3

23.4

13.8

Jan 08

16.3

11.8

9.6

12.3

17.1

14.6

Feb 08

14.8

10.4

9.7

11.4

14.5

13.4

Mar 08

13.2

10.6

9.3

10.7

12.8

12.5

Apr 08

14.2

11.5

9.4

12.4

14.1

13.3

May 08

14.1

11.3

9.3

11.6

16.8

12.3

Jun 08

14.5

11.7

9.2

11.8

17.5

11.8

Jul 08

15.6

10.9

8.9

12.2

18.7

12.7

Aug 08

14.9

10.2

9.4

11.9

16.0

11.6

Sep 08

14.1

10.1

9.0

11.8

22.0

12.9

Oct 08

13.8

11.6

8.9

14.6

21.0

12.1

Nov 08

14.8

13.7

9.5

16.9

14.7

13.6

Dec 08

14.9

13.7

9.1

17.8

14.7

14.9

Jan 09

16.5

16.6

9.3

22.6

14.0

14.5

Feb 09

15.8

16.6

9.5

19.5

13.8

13.5


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