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Question

Asked by Baroness Tonge



30 Apr 2009 : Column WA67

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Department for International Development (DfID) has not received specific reports concerning a rise in foetal abnormalities in Fallujah, although we are aware of some reports of a rise in foetal abnormalities in recent years in Iraq. Due to the unstable security situation and consequent constraints on access by aid agencies to affected populations, there are currently no reliable independent data on this.

Iraq: Gay People

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The UK Border Agency continually monitors the situation in all asylum intake countries, gathering information from a wide range of recognised and respected sources, including governmental and non-governmental organisation and media reports. No credible reports of mistreatment will be ignored.

Asylum and human rights decision-makers take full account of this information when deciding whether an individual would be at risk on return to their country of origin and therefore whether they are in need of international protection.

The UK Border Agency will only seek to enforce the return of individuals who do not need such protection.

Legal Aid

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Northern Ireland Legal Services Commission is responsible for determining. applications for civil legal aid in Northern Ireland and does so in accordance with the provisions of the Legal Aid, Advice and Assistance (Northern Ireland) Order 1981. The applicant in this case was in receipt of legal aid and one counsel was engaged on his behalf.

Licensing Act

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): The application of the Licensing Act 2003 (the Act) is a matter for licensing authorities in the first instance. Where licensing authorities are required to make decisions on the application of the regime to particular events, they have to take into account the specific circumstances of each case, with a view to promoting the licensing objectives. This means that the application of the Act to music and dance will not necessarily be uniform in all circumstances. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has no current plans to amend either the definitions of regulated entertainment within the Act or the relevant sections of the guidance issued under Section 182 of the Act.

Mental Health: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Responsibility for health service issues in Northern Ireland, including the Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability, rests with the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Metal Detection

Question

Asked by Lord Redesdale

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change & Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): No recent discussions have been held with Natural England about the advice they provide to landowners who apply for permission to hold metal detecting rallies under those agreements that have been renewed into Entry Level Stewardship (ELS) since October 2008.

Natural England issues comprehensive advice on metal detecting on its website, together with advice in the ELS handbook. Natural England requires 12 weeks’ advance notification for large-scale events.



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For agreements starting since October 2008, the ELS handbook advises that with the exception of Scheduled Monuments, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs), and known archaeological sites under grassland, metal detecting is allowed on land within an ELS agreement provided this is undertaken in accordance with the best principles contained in the latest version of the Code of Practice for Responsible Metal Detecting in England and Wales, and that all finds are reported to the Portable Antiquities Scheme.

Muslims

Question

Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Department for Communities and Local Government has provided funding to the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB) to enable the development of a consistent set of standards for mosques across the country in order to improve their services and work with communities. This funding is as follows: £75,600 in 2007-08; £116,000 in 2008-09; and £58,000 in 2009-10.

NHS: Allergy Services

Questions

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department provided £60,000 in 2008-09 to support a dedicated project manager to take forward the proposed improvements in allergy service provision in north-west England. This resource will also be used to support the official launch of the North West Allergy Network in autumn 2009. Further resources to progress work are currently under consideration by the department.



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In 2008-09 north-west primary care trusts (PCTs) provided £110,000 to University Hospital of South Manchester NHS Foundation Trust for the part-year appointment of a full-time consultant adult allergist with additional nursing and other support staff. A further £115,000 was allocated in 2009-10 to account for the full-year effect of these appointments. A total of £256,000 has been allocated in 2009-10 to Alder Hey NHS Foundation Trust and Central Manchester University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust (£128,000 each) for the part-year appointment of full-time consultant paediatric allergists, nursing and other support staff. North-west PCTs are currently considering how to develop a means by which allergy services can be developed, supported and sustained through a tariff- based approach.

The Manchester Academic Health Services Centre (MAHSC) is a collaboration between the NHS and the University of Manchester and will help drive improvements in the quality of healthcare, including in allergy services. Academic allergists, who are world leaders in their field of expertise, will play a key leadership role in the north-west pilot allergy project in education, training and research. They will also support the development of standards and monitoring mechanisms, working with clinical colleagues, for allergy service providers within the north-west project.

The north-west regional model for the provision of allergy services will involve the development of agreed regional protocols for the referral and management of services in primary, secondary and tertiary care. In addition, NHS Manchester, the lead PCT for the pilot, has started work to review the opportunities for service design in primary care to improve access, experience and outcomes for patients with allergies.

NHS: Pharmaceutical Services

Questions

Asked by Earl Howe

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Initial discussions with key stakeholders and interested parties are still under way and are expected to continue into early summer. These discussions are informing the

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development of the Government's proposals on introducing generic substitution, including whether any medicines and, if so, which should be excluded from the arrangements, what “opt-outs” should apply and what safeguards need to be put in place.

Northern Ireland Office: Hire Cars

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The following table shows how much the Northern Ireland Office, excluding its agencies and executive NDPBs, paid to suppliers of private hire cars in each financial year since 2000-01, where costs have been charged to the private hire car expenditure code.

Financial YearAmount Paid (£'000)

2000-01

221

2001-02

109

2002-03

252

2003-04

355

2004-05

407

2005-06

342

2006-07

385

2007-08

227

2008-09

83

There are also private hire car costs within general travel expenditure codes. To extract these costs, and verify that they related to private hire cars, would exceed the disproportionate cost threshold of £750.

During 2007-08 the department adopted a policy to make greater use of taxis rather than private hire cars where it is more cost-effective. This policy has led to an increase in taxi costs but has generated estimated whole year net savings of £150,000.

Figures are not held for the period prior to 2000-01.

Northern Ireland Office: Mobile Phones

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has a policy that sets out criteria for the provision of departmental mobile phones to staff. Heads of division or unit are responsible for authorising

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the allocation of mobile phones having assessed the need against the criteria. The qualifying criteria are as follows:

Working outside Normal Hours - The jobholder needs to be contactable outside normal hours to deal with work-related matters and/or the jobholder needs to make work-related calls outside normal working hours; or

Working off-site - The jobholder is regularly required to work while away from NIO premises and without access to a landline (e.g. official travel) and needs to be in contact with or contactable by the office.

Northern Ireland Office: Taxis

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The statement in the Answer provided on 18 March, Official Report, col. WA 51, that the information had been placed in the Library was made in error.

I apologise for any confusion this caused.

Northern Ireland: Weapons

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): The Decommissioning Scheme, based on Section 3(1) of the Northern Ireland Arms Decommissioning Act 1997, provides that it is for the Independent International Commission on Decommissioning to determine the method by which arms are put completely beyond use.

There are a number of methods at the disposal of the commission to enable it to exercise its duties. Where decommissioning has involved the destruction and disposal of weapons, the issue of ownership does not arise.

Population

Question

Asked by Lord Laird


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