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6 Apr 2010 : Column WA392

Drugs: Heroin


Asked by Lord Lea of Crondall

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): An expert group convened by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse to consider the issues in relation to injectable opioid treatment heard evidence from the Swiss experience of supervised consumption of prescribed heroin, presented by one of the Swiss researchers.

The department is providing funding for a randomised injectable opiate treatment trial (RIOTT), in line with the Government's Drug Strategy 2008 commitment to explore pilots of injectable heroin in controlled, clinical settings.

RIOTT is a United Kingdom study exploring the role of prescribed injectable diamorphine (pharmaceutical heroin) and injectable methadone in a number of supervised clinic settings for the treatment of opiate misusers who have not responded to other types of treatment.

Initial results were announced at a conference on 15 September 2009 and the results are due to be published in a medical journal shortly.

The department will consider the evaluation of the trial before any future decisions on the issue are taken.

Elections: Armed Forces


Asked by Lord Astor of Hever

The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The latest report of the survey on service voter registration was conducted by Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) in November 2008 and a copy of the survey is available in the Library of the House. The figures from the DASA Service voters survey for 2009 are currently being compiled.

The Armed Forces are currently running an additional information campaign encouraging all service personnel to ensure they have registered to vote. We are targeting in particular units that are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as well as those that will be in Afghanistan during an election period.

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Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the research licence R0152 includes the derivation of stem cell lines from embryos created by cell nuclear replacement using nuclei taken from a patient with type 1 diabetes. The licence was authorised by the HFEA licence committee, 16 March 2005.

The HFEA has advised that R0152 does not specifically cover the use of donor nuclei from adults with a serious mitochondrial disease.

Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Thornton: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that a progress report on research project R0145 received from the licensed centre in April 2009 informed the HFEA of a change to the project's objectives: determining how mitochondrial DNA mutations segregate between blastomeres and the derivation of human embryonic stem cell lines from embryos donated by couples in which the female partner carried mitochondrial mutations. The HFEA advises that the updated objectives did not change the licensed activities of the research project, and that the project continued to meet the statutory tests for the grant of a licence.

Following receipt of a renewal application in July 2009, the lay summary for R0145 was revised to reflect the change of objective, by adding the phrase "also study the mitochondria". A consolidated lay summary is on the HFEA website at www.

The centre did not request the incorporation of new activities to licence R0145 between 15 May 2008 and 28 September 2009.

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Asked by Lord Alton of Liverpool

Baroness Thornton: The remarks made by the then Minister for State on 22 October 2008 (Official Report, Commons, col. 387) were a response to an amendment tabled to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The proposed amendment was to a provision intended to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial diseases. The point being made by the Minister was that the proposed amendment could introduce uncertainty around definitions of cell structures, and could therefore potentially render the provision ineffective. The Minister asked that the amendment be withdrawn, which it was.

The Government, and Parliament, have made it clear that they are not prepared to countenance human reproductive cloning. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) does so by prohibiting the placing in a woman of an embryo, egg or sperm that has had its nuclear or mitochondrial DNA altered.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) contains a regulation-making power to allow the use of embryos in treatment which have had applied to them a prescribed process designed for the very specific purpose of preventing the transfer of serious mitochondrial disease. It is not clear precisely what that process might be. Before any regulations concerning this were made there would be a full public consultation and debates in both Houses of Parliament.

Energy: Microgeneration


Asked by Lord Vinson

6 Apr 2010 : Column WA395

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The FITs scheme is intended to encourage deployment of additional small-scale, low-carbon electricity generation, particularly by individuals, householders, organisations, businesses and communities who have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. For these investors, delivering a mechanism which is easier to understand and more predictable than the renewables obligation, as well as delivering additional support required to incentivise smaller scale and more expensive technologies, were the main drivers behind the development of this policy.

The feed-in tariff impact assessment, published on 1 February alongside the Government's response to the summer 2009 consultation, reported on the benefits and value-for-money case for the scheme. The document is available on the DECC website at

The estimated resource cost of the policy, cumulative to 2030, is £8.6 billion. Resource costs are the additional costs to society as a whole of the policy-that is to say the additional cost of renewable generation incentivised by FITs relative to conventional generation (assumed to be gas CCGT). Costs to consumers on the other hand are the costs ultimately assumed to be borne by electricity consumers given that FITs will be funded by a levy placed on electricity suppliers. The estimated cost to consumers, cumulative to 2030, is £6.7 billion.

Energy: Wind Turbines


Asked by Lord Bates

The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Decisions on the location of any new facilities are a commercial matter for Mitsubishi.

Asked by Lord Bates

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Decisions on the location of facilities are a commercial matter for the companies concerned.

EU: Border Surveillance


Asked by Lord Judd

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The UK has followed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles with interest. We continue to examine their potential for deployment to detect and deter unauthorised crossing of EU land and sea borders. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles for this purpose is being researched by the EU.

Improvements in EU border security are intended to deter illegal migrants from entering the EU, not to prevent genuine asylum seekers from receiving protection. EU member states are signatories of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the principles of granting protection to those in genuine need are enshrined in EU law.

EU: External Action Service


Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The budget for the European External Action Service (EEAS), including the heads of expenditure, has not yet been agreed. A Commission proposal on the budget of the EEAS is expected once the Council has adopted the decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. The Government consider that the EEAS administration budget should aim to be budget-neutral. In October 2009 the European Council endorsed guidelines stating that "unnecessary duplication of tasks, functions and resources with other structures should be avoided" and that the establishment of the EEAS should be guided by the "principle of cost-efficiency aiming towards budget neutrality". EU delegations have replaced the existing network of Commission delegations around the world with staff from the Council Secretariat and member states incorporated.

EU: Financial Stability


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government hold regular discussions with all member states of the European Union on European economic matters, including the stability of financial markets.

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Financial Institutions: Financial Stability


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government have taken measures to ensure factors that contributed to the onset and severity of the financial crisis are not repeated.

Sir David Walker was commissioned to review corporate governance practices in the banking sector and his recommendations will be implemented throughout 2010, while the FSA remuneration code came into force on 1 January 2010 and covers the remuneration paid by large systemic banks operating in the UK. The Financial Services Bill also contains measures intended to strengthen the FSA's hand in its regulatory oversight of remuneration and provide the government with the powers necessary to make requirements for greater disclosure of pay. In addition, the Chancellor announced at Budget that the Government will consider whether institutional shareholder voting disclosure should remain voluntary or become mandatory, and that the Government will also consult on whether there are practical measures to facilitate the consent of owners to executive remuneration arrangements.

Financial Services Authority


Asked by Lord Dykes

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is an independent non-governmental body, given statutory powers by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This statutory independence means that the Government do not have control over the day-to-day running of the organisation.

Following the internal audit report into its supervision of Northern Rock in 2008, the FSA launched the supervisory enhancement programme, fundamentally changing how it delivers supervision.

The FSA completed the supervisory enhancement programme in August 2009 and continues to enhance the processes and people needed to deliver the intensive supervisory approach required for the very largest firms.

The FSA business plan for 2010-11 states that the FSA will appoint around 260 additional staff to work on supervisory processes. These staff will be targeted on specific areas of need, in particular high-impact

6 Apr 2010 : Column WA398

and systemically important firms. The FSA will also continue to develop and implement its training and competence scheme to improve the quality and consistency of firm supervision.



Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): I do not consider that the strategic health authority (SHA) has been misleading. The letter cited in the consultation document refers to a larger study in which two sets of cases have been collected over the period 1993-2000. The SHA was seeking to summarise research findings in a format accessible to the public. The reference to the bladder cancer study would have informed readers of the role of the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit from where they could gave obtained the unit's osteosarcoma study to which I referred in my earlier reply.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Baroness Thornton: I can confirm that the Bone Cancer Research Trust will address the question of whether there is an association between the fluoridation of drinking water and osteosarcoma. We will be examining the results of the study closely to see if there is any correlation with Dr Bassin's findings.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

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