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Written Answers

Volume 691: debated on Tuesday 8 May 2007

Written Answers

Tuesday 8 May 2007

Constitutional Reform Act

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, during the transitional period before the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 is fully in force, appointments of Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, who will become judges of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, will be made in accordance with the procedures prescribed for the appointment of judges of the Supreme Court. [HL3436]

Corruption

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What is their response to the allegation in the Guardian on 24 April concerning their representatives and the chairman of the anti-corruption watchdog of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Professor Pieth. [HL3465]

My right honourable friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs, Ian McCartney, wrote to the Guardian on 26 April in response to the allegations, which are untrue.

EU: Berlin Declaration

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they consulted all or any of the European Union member states concerning the Berlin declaration; and, if so, with what result. [HL3468]

The German presidency drafted the 50th anniversary Berlin declaration following consultation with all member states. Signed by the presidents of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, it is a non-binding political declaration.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the text of the Berlin declaration was agreed at a full meeting of the Cabinet; and, if not, by whom or by which government body it was agreed. [HL3469]

The German presidency drafted the 50th anniversary Berlin declaration following consultation with all member states. Signed by the presidents of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, it is a non-binding political declaration. European issues are discussed regularly by my right honourable friend the Prime Minister and ministerial colleagues within the Cabinet.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Which European Union member states (a) supported the Berlin declaration; (b) opposed the declaration; and (c) were undecided. [HL3470]

The German presidency drafted the 50th anniversary Berlin declaration following consultation with all member states. Signed by the presidents of the European Council, the European Commission and the European Parliament, it is a non-binding political declaration.

EU: Trade

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the average annual trade balance with the European Union member states over the period 2001 to 2006. [HL3516]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, Director of Macroeconomics and Labour Market, to Lord Stoddart of Swindon, dated 8 May 2007, in the absence of the National Statistician.

The average annual trade deficit for goods with the European Union member states over the period 2001 to 2006 was £27.7 billion. This includes trade with Bulgaria and Romania, which joined the EU on 1 January 2007. The latest data are published on the National Statistics website at www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Product.asp?vlnk=613.

Health: Dermatology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action they are taking to ensure that doctors appointed by primary care trusts as general practitioners with a special interest in dermatology have the necessary training and qualifications to carry out the role. [HL3333]

Addressing the training needs of health professionals’ working is the responsibility of the appropriate regulatory bodies. They set standards for the pre-registration training of doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, approve the education institutions that provide the training and determine the curricula.

Health: Podiatry

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have any plans for ensuring urgent access to podiatric care for diabetics, irrespective of where they live, under the National Health Service; and [HL3424]

What steps they are considering to establish a national foot assessment scheme to ensure that patients with the same level of need have the same access to podiatric care under the National Health Service. [HL3425]

There are no plans to issue central criteria for access to podiatric services or to establish a national foot assessment scheme. It is for primary care trusts in partnership with local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, outlined in the national service frameworks (NSFs), and to commission services accordingly. This process provides the means for addressing local needs within the health community, including the provision of podiatry.

Guidance for access to podiatric services is available in the NSFs for older people, diabetes, and long-term conditions. Further information is available in the National Diabetes Support Team Diabetic Foot Guide. These documents are available in the Library.

Our Health, Our Care, Our Say sets out the future direction for healthcare. The implementation will address improved access to allied health professions, including podiatry. We are establishing pilot sites for the introduction of self-referral to physiotherapy. Lessons learnt from these pilots will be applicable to other therapies and we will be working closely with the professions on this.

Health: Private Prescription Forms

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What guidelines they have issued to primary care trusts concerning the administration charges for the provision of private prescription forms. [HL3432]

The National Health Service prescription form supplier levies a charge on primary care trusts (PCTs) for supplies of FP10PCD prescription forms for the private prescription of Schedule 2 and 3 controlled drugs. PCTs in turn may charge private prescribers a modest sum for these prescription forms.

This practice is outlined in the department's guidance, Safer Management of Controlled Drugs (CDs): Private CD Prescriptions and Other Changes to the Prescribing and Dispensing of Controlled Drugs (CDs)—Guidance for Implementation, copies of which have been placed in the Library, and it is available on the department's website at www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/ Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_4131465.

Health: Stem Cell Therapy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of total stem cell research funds go into adult stem cell or cord blood stem cell research. [HL3341]

Statistics on what proportion of total stem cell research funds go to adult stem cell or cord blood stem cell research are not held centrally by my department.

Stem cell research shows great promise for understanding the basic development of different cell types. They also show considerable promise for new therapies. This is why the United Kingdom continues to support all forms of stem cell research based on the quality of the science.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will support cord blood stem cell research both in the private sector and in universities. [HL3343]

The United Kingdom Government continue to support all forms of stem cell research based on the quality of the science.

In the March 2005 Budget, the Chancellor announced the establishment of the UK Stem Cell Initiative (UKSCI). This was a task force, led by Sir John Pattison and drawing on membership from the academic and commercial sectors, charged with developing a vision and costed strategy, covering the period 2006-15, in order to make the UK a global leader in stem cell research. The UKSCI report, consisting of 11 recommendations to the Government, was published in December 2005. In response, the Government accepted the recommendations in full. As a result, the Government have allocated an additional £50 million, bringing total investment up to £100 million, for stem cell research between 2006-08. This figure includes support for both public and private sector research.

Heritage Lottery Grant

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many culture museums received heritage lottery grant in 2004, 2005 and 2006; and how many of these museums are in north-west England. [HL3390]

The Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) collects data for museums and galleries only. HLF awards to museums and galleries for the UK and the north-west in 2004-05 and 2005-06 are shown below.

Information for 2006-07 is still being gathered and will be made available shortly.

HLF awards to museums and galleries

Financial year

North-west (number of awards)

UK (number of awards)

2004-05

12

189

2005-06

17

182

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many buildings within Victorian parks in England and Wales have received heritage lottery grants in 2004, 2005 and 2006. [HL3391]

Since 1994, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) has awarded a total of over £440 million to historic public parks. Fifty-two public parks in England and Wales received HLF grants in 2004-05, and 36 in 2005-06. The HLF does not separately record the buildings that form part of the public parks projects it funds, but many include work to buildings within the park, including houses, cafés, bandstands and other buildings. The HLF does not classify the public parks that it funds by historic period. Information is not yet available for financial year 2006-07.

Justice: European Court of Human Rights

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will consider reforming the law so as to allow the reopening of proceedings in appropriate cases following judgments of the European Court of Human Rights. [HL3416]

It is possible in criminal cases to apply to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) following a successful application to the European Court of Human Rights. For cases to which the Government were party in domestic proceedings, which have then been the subject of a decision of the Strasbourg court against the United Kingdom, the Government would be expected to take such measures as necessary to rectify the position as part of the implementation of the judgment. The Government do not believe that it would be appropriate to make general provision for the reopening of cases between private parties following a successful application by one party to the Strasbourg court. There is a substantial risk that a general ability to reopen proceedings would adversely affect the rights and interests of other parties to domestic proceedings: an application to the Strasbourg court by a unsuccessful litigant in domestic proceedings could take some years to be resolved finally, during which period the other parties, who would not ordinarily be party to the Strasbourg case, could not rely on the conclusion reached in the domestic proceedings remaining final. There is power to include retrospective provisions in remedial orders under the Human Rights Act or in primary legislation to remedy a convention incompatibility.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, when considering how to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Hirst v United Kingdom on prisoners' voting rights, they will have regard to the way in which the Government of the Republic of Cyprus have amended legislation to give effect to the judgment by conferring the right to vote on all prisoners remanded in custody. [HL3417]

Prisoners on remand within the UK already have the right to vote, as conferred by Section 7A of the Representation of the People Act 1983. This was introduced in 2000, prior to the European Court of Human Rights judgment in Hirst v the United Kingdom.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How they intend to implement the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights on the common law of contempt of court in the case of Kyprianou v Cyprus. [HL3418]

I refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave on 7 November 2006 (Official Report, col. WA 119). The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights did not regard it as necessary or desirable in Kyprianou v Cyprus to review generally the law on contempt and the practice of summary proceedings in Cyprus and other common-law systems. The decision by the Grand Chamber was made on the facts of the particular case and the Government do not believe that any change in UK law is needed as a result of this judgment.

NHS: Finances

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether money was taken from or put into the budgets of Suffolk primary care trusts in the last financial year to balance the financial position of the National Health Service across the east of England; and, if so, how much money was taken or received; and [HL3318]

Whether money was taken from or put into the budgets of Norfolk primary care trusts in the last financial year to balance the financial position of the National Health Service across the east of England; and, if so, how much money was taken or received; and [HL3319]

Whether money was taken from or put into the budgets of Bedfordshire primary care trusts in the last financial year to balance the financial position of the National Health Service across the east of England; and, if so, how much money was taken or received; and [HL3320]

Whether money was taken from or put into the budgets of Hertfordshire primary care trusts in the last financial year to balance the financial position of the National Health Service across the east of England; and, if so, how much money was taken or received; and [HL3321]

Whether money was taken from or put into the budgets of Cambridgeshire primary care trusts in the last financial year to balance the financial position of the National Health Service across the east of England; and, if so, how much money was taken or received. [HL3322]

A table showing primary care trust (PCT) top-slice forecast outturn, baseline allocation and percentage of top-slice allocation at quarter three, 2006-07, was made available in the Library in a written response to the honourable Member for Harrogate and Knaresborough (Phil Willis) on 19 March 2007 (Official Report, col. 737W).

Returning the National Health Service to overall financial balance has been a key priority in 2006-07. As part of the strategy to achieve this, strategic health authorities (SHAs) have top-sliced resource allocations made to their PCTs, thereby creating SHA reserves.

We have asked SHAs to make sure that, as far as possible, PCTs with the greatest health need are the first to be repaid. However, any repayment is dependent on affordability within the SHA economy, and is inextricably linked to the speed and stability of financial recovery in the NHS as a whole.

Office for National Statistics

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When the Office for National Statistics intends to undertake the household wealth and assets survey described in chapter 5 of Social Trends No. 36; and when its initial findings are expected to be published. [HL3534]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.

Letter from Colin Mowl, Director of Macroeconomics and Labour Market, to Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, dated 8 May 2007, in the absence of the National Statistician.

The survey in question commenced in July 2006, and initial findings, based on the first year of data, will be published in December of this year.

Official Meetings: Attorney-General

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many times the Attorney-General has met Lord Levy over the past three years (a) on official business, and (b) at social functions. [HL3378]

(a) None.

(b) To the best of my knowledge there have been three social occasions within the last three years at which both Lord Levy and I were present (along with many other people). On these occasions conversation between us was very brief and amounted to no more than an exchange of greetings.

Sri Lanka: Missing Persons

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will make representations to the Government of Sri Lanka concerning the Reverend Victor Emmanuel Yogarajan, his sons Daniel and David and Mr Joseph Sugandakumar, all missing since 1 March from Negombo, north of Colombo. [HL3478]

We have made no specific representations to the Sri Lankan Government concerning the Reverend Victor Emmanuel Yogarajan, his sons Daniel and David and Mr Joseph Sugandakumar. We will, however, continue to raise our concerns about human rights and about the situation faced by the civilian population in Sri Lanka as a result of the conflict. Both my right honourable friends the Foreign Secretary and the Minister of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Kim Howells, have done so recently.

Sudan: Darfur

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What timetable has been established for the recruitment of the 3,000 soldiers to be deployed as part of the heavy support package of the United Nations soldiers to be deployed in Darfur as part of the United Nations Mission in Sudan (UNMIS); and whether this deployment is conditional on the call made by UNMIS of 25 April for a cessation of hostilities before the heavy support package is implemented. [HL3494]

We would like the heavy support package (HSP) to be deployed as soon as possible, and are pressing the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations, which is responsible for setting the timetable, to ensure that this happens.

The military element of the HSP of 3,000 personnel will provide engineering, medical, logistics and aviation capacity to pave the way for the African Union (AU)-UN hybrid force. We understand that, once pre-deployment preparations are complete, deployment should take three to four months. The timing will depend on how rapidly the UN can generate forces from contributing nations for the HSP and build the infrastructure for the deploying force. Deployment will not be easy given Darfur's environment and the oncoming rainy season.

The UN and AU expect all parties to the conflict in Darfur to stand by the commitments made in Ndjamena and Abuja, which include abiding by a ceasefire. A fully functioning ceasefire is not, however, a precondition of the deployment of UN support for the AU in Darfur.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the claims of the Sudan Liberation Movement on 24 April that the Government of Sudan have been actively recruiting Arab tribes from Niger to constitute a new militia in Darfur and Chad. [HL3495]

We are not currently aware of militia recruitment from Niger to fight in Darfur. We are investigating the claims of the Sudan Liberation Movement.

We are continuing to press the Government of Sudan to comply with their obligations under UN Security Council Resolution 1706 to disarm all militia operating in Darfur. If they do not comply, we will move towards further sanctions and an extension of the existing UN arms embargo in the UN Security Council.

Visas: Abkhazia

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What instructions are given to entry certificate officers based in the British embassy or consulate in Moscow on how to deal with visa applications from residents of Abkhazia travelling on Russian passports. [HL3507]

There are no specific instructions given to staff at our entry clearance issuing posts in the Russian Federation as regards residents of Abkhazia. All applicants holding Russian passports are required to meet the relevant requirements of the Immigration Rules and are treated equally, without bias.