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Written Answers

Volume 478: debated on Friday 18 July 1986

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Written Answers

Sdi Participation Office: Industrial Support Unit

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, as previously indicated, the Ministry of Defence SDI Participation Office has set up an industrial support unit; and if so, what is its membership, what firms are represented, and what proportion of firms approached this represents.

An industrial support unit is being set up within the SDI Participation Office. The unit will support all firms wishing to participate in the research programme. The director of the unit took up his appointment on 1st July. Further appointments will follow. About 200 firms were invited to nominate candidates.

Technology Transfer Programme

Aviation Week and Space Technology on May 5th 1986 that the technology transfer programme being planned to assist industry in obtaining unclassified SDI-related technology is available only to United States "entities".

This is not a matter for Her Majesty's Government. If the US Government are planning a programme of the kind suggested by the noble Lord, that is for them; and it would be entirely natural for the programme to be confined to US entities. In the UK, a body known as Defence Technology Enterprises Limited (DTE) was set up last autumn to assist with the commercial exploitations of defence research across the board.

Strategic Defences: Us-Uk Accord

asked Her Majesty's Government:What, in the event of the United States deciding to go ahead with strategic defences as advocated by the United States Secretary for Defense, Mr. Weinberger, and of the United Kingdom deciding that the deployment of strategic defences would be dangerous and destabilising, would be the status of the technologies developed by British Government laboratories, or by British firms under contract to the United States SDIO.

The noble Lord will be aware of the four points which lie at the heart of the accord reached between my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and President Reagan at Camp David in December 1984. It would not be appropriate to speculate upon the outcome of the research or our attitude to it as the noble Lord asks.

South African Black Children: Malnutrition

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are aware of reports that 30,000 black children die of malnutrition each year in South Africa; and whether they will give their support to other Commonwealth countries in condemning this situation.

We are aware of reports from the organisers of Operation Hunger that up to 50,000 children under the age of 5 die in South Africa each year and that this figure would probably double is sanctions were imposed against South Africa. General economic sanctions would be bound to lead to hardship. That is why we believe that we should take positive measures to assist black South Africans. We are increasing substantially the level of our bilateral aid programme and, with our European partners, adopting a concerted programme of assistance for the victims of apartheid.

Product Licence (Parallel Import) Scheme

asked Her Majesty's Govern ment:How many of the 24 companies that arc being considered for prosecution, or are being investigated for alleged infringement of the Product Licence (Parallel Import) scheme, are imported distributors and how many are retail pharmacies.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security
(Baroness Trumpington)

All the companies involved are trading in medicinal products by way of wholesale dealing. They obtain their supplies from either importing companies or direct from European Community member states. Information about their link or association with retail pharmacies is not generally pursued as part of our investigations. Alleged breaches of Medicines Act requirements involving retail phramacies would be dealt with by the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

Chernobyl Accident: Tests On Foodstuffs

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will make a statement about the latest results of testing undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on foodstuffs other than sheepmeat following the accident at Chernobyl.

In addition to monitoring sheep and lambs from Cumbria, the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has continued to test other foodstuffs which could have been affected by the Chernobyl accident. I am arranging for a copy of the data available since such information was last published on 20th June to be placed in the Library of the House.The data show that radio-iodine is no longer of radiological significance, and amounts of radiocaesium, which takes rather longer to decay, are continuing to fall steadily in all food products, including sheep, The special measures we have taken in Cumbria will ensure that all sheep being marketed are within internationally acceptable levels.We can therefore report on the basis of current and previous monitoring results that the position on foodstuffs produced in this country for home consumption and export is entirely satisfactory.