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Written Answers

Volume 713: debated on Thursday 22 October 2009

Written Answers

Thursday 22 October 2009

Air Quality

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which local authorities in Greater London are in breach of the legal requirement to declare an air quality management area for all places within their area where European Union limit values for (a) particulate matter, (b) nitrogen dioxide, and (c) named other regulated air pollutants which are not on the Mayor's draft air quality strategy are exceeded. [HL5652]

Under Part IV of the Environment Act 1995, local authorities are required to review and assess air quality in their authorities for seven key pollutants as set out in the air quality strategy. Where levels of these pollutants are above the air quality objectives set out in the strategy, they must carry out a more detailed assessment of air quality and, if necessary, declare an air quality management area (AQMA) and prepare an action plan to deliver air quality improvements in line with the local air quality management (LAQM) process.

Below is a table showing that all London boroughs have declared AQMAs for nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and/or particulate matter (PM10) pollutants that breach air quality objectives. For all other relevant pollutants listed in the strategy, London boroughs have met the required air quality objectives. Local authorities including London boroughs are not required to declare AQMAs for pollutants outside the seven listed in the strategy as applicable to them.

Greater London Borough

Status

Date Declared

No of AQMAs

NO2 Limit Value affected (hourly or annual)

PM10Limit Value affected (24- hour or annual)

Source

Barking

Current

16/12/2008

1

Both

24-hour

Transport

Barnet

Current

18/04/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Bexley

Current

01/03/2007

1

Annual

Both

Transport/Industry

Brent

Current

16/12/2006

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Bromley

Current

15/03/2007

1

Annual

 

Mixed Roads

Camden

Current

20/09/2002

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Corp of London

Current

26/01/2001

1

Both

24-hour

Transport

Croydon

Current

24/04/2003

1

Annual

 

Transport

Ealing

Current

14/12/2000

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Enfield

Current

31/03/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Greenwich

Current

01/07/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport/Industry

Hackney

Current

29/06/2006

1

Both

24-hour

LTP Roads

Hammersmith

Current

03/11/2000

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Haringey

Current

01/07/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Harrow

Current

14/01/2002

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Havering

Current

11/09/2006

1

Annual

24-hour

Not determined

Hillingdon

Current

01/09/2003

1

Annual

 

Transport

Hounslow

Current

07/03/2006

1

Annual

 

Mixed Roads

Islington

Current

19/01/2001

1

Both

24-hour

Transport

Kensington

Current

01/11/2000

1

Both

Both

Transport

Kingston

Current

02/01/2003

1

Annual

Both

Transport

Lambeth

Current

01/09/2007

1

Both

Both

Transport

Lewisham

Current

01/07/2001

4

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Merton

Current

17/11/2003

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Newham

Current

25/03/2002

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Redbridge

Current

31/12/2003

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Richmond

Current

31/12/2000

1

Annual

Both

Transport

Southwark

Current

01/06/2003

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Sutton

Current

30/03/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Tower Hamlets

Current

06/12/2000

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport/Industry

Waltham Forest

Current

31/10/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport

Wandsworth

Current

01/01/2001

1

Annual

24-hour

Transport/Industry

Westminster

Current

09/03/1999

1

Both

Both

Transport

Bees

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the National Bee Unit will develop a diagnostic tool to be placed on a website and accessible to the public, especially beekeepers. [HL5736]

The National Bee Unit (NBU) at the Food and Environment Research Agency manages a database of beekeepers in England and Wales called Beebase. The Beebase website contains comprehensive information on disease recognition and control, including a varroa mite population tool that helps beekeepers with colony treatments. There are also interactive maps showing disease incidence, which are available to the public and beekeepers. The provision of further diagnostic tools for beekeepers is being developed as part of the Healthy Bees plan.

Embryology

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Drayson on 5 May (WA 95–96), whether it remains the case that the provision of financial inducements persuading women to provide eggs for research at Newcastle should not establish a precedent for other cases, as stated in a press statement from the Medical Research Council on 13 September 2007. [HL5713]

The Medical Research Council (MRC) stated, at the time of confirming an award to the research project “Improving the efficiency of human somatic cell nuclear transfer” to the University of Newcastle, that the award should not establish a precedent for other cases. The project involves the MRC reimbursing part of the treatment costs of women undergoing IVF at the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life who chose to donate some of the surplus eggs produced to be used in the research.

Due to the exceptional nature of this research project the MRC also funded an independent social science study to be undertaken alongside the research project to learn from women's experiences and to inform future research involving egg donation and payment of IVF treatment costs. The study, “An investigation of the experiences of potential in vitro fertilisation (IVF) donors in egg sharing for SCNT”, which will provide a robust social and ethical evaluation of the views, values and experiences of those women who choose to donate eggs for research, is expected to end on 30 April 2011.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Triesman on 29 October 2007 (WA 144), what were the conclusions of the previously funded investigation into the experiences of potential in vitro fertilisation patients providing eggs for cloning; and how the findings of that study were used to inform subsequent revision of patient information and consent forms. [HL5714]

The Medical Research Council (MRC) stated, at the time of confirming an award to the research project “Improving the efficiency of human somatic cell nuclear transfer” to the University of Newcastle, that the award should not establish a precedent for other cases. The project involves the MRC reimbursing part of the treatment costs of women undergoing IVF at the Newcastle Fertility Centre at Life who chose to donate some of the surplus eggs produced to be used in the research.

Due to the exceptional nature of this research project, the MRC also funded an independent social science study to be undertaken alongside the research project to learn from women's experiences and to inform future research involving egg donation and payment of IVF treatment costs. The study, “An investigation of the experiences of potential in vitro fertilisation (IVF) donors in egg sharing for SCNT”, which will provide a robust social and ethical evaluation of the views, values and experiences of those women who choose to donate eggs for research, is expected to end on 30 April 2011.

Government Initiatives: Advertising

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which initiatives of the Cabinet Office or its agencies have been advertised in each of the past five years; how much was spent in each case; and which were carried out via the Central Office of Information. [HL5324]

The department's financial systems do not separately identify the costs of advertising initiatives and vacancy adverts, nor does it identify expenditure against specific projects. It would therefore be possible to provide information on the costs of specific advertising initiatives only at disproportionate cost.

A list of the initiatives managed by COI is listed below:

2003-04

GICS Recruitment Advertising 2003-04.

2004-05

GISITI (Preparing for Emergencies) 2004-05;

Directgov Brand Guardianship 2004-05;

Ministerial Presentation Materials 2004-05;

Directgov Advertising Campaign 2004-05; and

Faststream Recruitment 2004-05.

2005-06

Direct Gov 2005-06;

Direct Gov—Connecting with Citizens 2005-06;

Direct Gov—Consumer Campaign 2005-06; and

Cabinet Office Miscellaneous 2005-06.

2006-07

Talking to Me 2006-07; and

Directgov 2006-07.

2007-08

GCN Live Events 2007-08;

Talking to Me 2 2007-08;

Honours Advertising Campaign 2007-08; and

Cabinet Office Recruitment and Classified Advertising 2007-08.

Housing: Mortgages

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have given to banks on interest-only mortgages, particularly in respect of foreclosure and accelerated capital recovery where no default has occurred or where there is surplus asset value over liability. [HL5559]

The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is the body responsible for setting rules in relation to mortgages. In 2004, the Government extended the scope of FSA regulation to include first-charge residential mortgages. The FSA's regime requires lenders to treat customers fairly and treat repossession as a last resort.

On 19 October, the FSA published a review of its mortgage market regulation, including proposals to help to ensure that lending is sustainable. This review announced that the FSA will publish specific proposals in January to toughen up rules on arrears handling as well as banning administration charges where a borrower is adhering to an arrangement to repay arrears, and prohibiting the charging of early redemption charges on arrears fees. It is available to view at http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/discussion/dp09_03.pdf.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on mortgages on residential property in the United Kingdom of proposals by the European Commission to harmonise rules governing access to mortgages; and whether the proposals will adversely affect those on lower incomes wishing to purchase homes. [HL5710]

On 15 June 2009, the European Commission published a consultation paper on responsible lending and borrowing in EU mortgage and consumer credit markets. The Government and FSA jointly responded to this consultation paper in August 2009, following discussion with the UK mortgage industry, trade bodies and consumer groups. This document is available here: http://www.fsa.gov.uk/pubs/international/ response_lending_and_borrowing.pdf.

NHS: Independent Sector

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 15 July (WA 232) and the Secretary of State for Health's speech to the King's Fund on 17 September in which he said “the NHS is our preferred provider”, whether it remains their policy that NHS commissioners should commission services from providers who can best meet the needs of their patients and population, regardless of whether they are NHS, voluntary sector or independent sector providers. [HL5572]

The Secretary of State's speech to the King’s Fund on 17 September is consistent with existing commissioning policy. National Health Service commissioners will continue to commission services from providers who can best meet the needs of their patients and population, regardless of whether they are NHS, voluntary sector or independent sector providers. The “NHS as the preferred provider” is about getting the best care for patients and looking after the NHS staff who care for them. This does not represent a change in commissioning policy but signals an improvement in commissioning practice. It is the important job of the commissioner to test whether services provide best value and real quality. Where a provider is not delivering quality, existing providers will be given the opportunity to improve these services before opening up the market to new potential providers.

NHS: Service Providers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following the speech by the Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham, to the King's Fund on 17 September, what assessment they have made of the compatibility of the Secretary of State's remarks with European Union competition legislation. [HL5573]

The Secretary of State's speech to the King's Fund on 17 September is consistent with published policy on co-operation and competition within the National Health Service. Outside of acute elective care, where national policy requires a model of competition driven by patient choice, it is for primary care trusts (PCTs) to decide when and how to use competition as a lever for improving services. Where PCTs utilise competition in the procurement of health services, then this must be compliant with national policy as set out in the PCT procurement guide. This guidance reflects cross-government policy on public procurement and is consistent with the European EU treaty principles of transparency, proportionality, non-discrimination and equality of treatment.

Pollution: Airborne Particles

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government why they have not submitted a time extension notification to the European Commission for dangerous airborne particles (PM10) in Gibraltar; and when they plan to do so. [HL5684]

Following public consultation, the UK Government submitted a notification to the European Commission in April for additional time to meet the PM10 limit values for those few parts of the UK where there have been exceedences since 2005 (http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/quality/air/airquality/eu-int/eu-directives/airqual-directives/notification.htm).

Environmental issues in Gibraltar are a matter for the Government of Gibraltar. A supplementary time extension notification for PM10 exceedences in Gibraltar is in preparation and expected to be ready in spring 2010. The Government of Gibraltar are working to complete data assessments on identifying the sources of exceedences and the contribution of natural sources.

Premature Deaths

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many people in Greater London are estimated to have died prematurely as a result of exposure to particulate matter (PM10) on 3 April. [HL5753]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average number of life years lost per statistical victim dying prematurely in England and Wales for each of (a) short-, medium- or long-term exposure to particulate matter (PM10), (b) alcohol abuse, (c) drug abuse, (d) road traffic accidents, (e) obesity, and (f) smoking. [HL5757]

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the UK Statistics Authority. I have asked the authority to reply.

Letter from Jil Matheson, National Statistician, to Lord Berkeley, dated October 2009.

As National Statistician, I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Questions asking:

1. How many people in Greater London are estimated to have died prematurely as a result of exposure to particulate matter (PM10) on 3 April. (HL5753).

2. What is the average number of life years lost per statistical victim dying prematurely in England and Wales for each of (a) short-, medium- or long-term exposure to particulate matter (PM10), (b) alcohol abuse, (c) drug abuse, (d) road traffic accidents, (e) obesity, and (f) smoking. (HL5757)

The accurate reporting of deaths by specific causes depends on the complete recording of all relevant causes of death by medical practitioners and coroners. Medical practitioners are required to complete the medical certificate of cause of death (MCCD) to the best of their knowledge and belief. Internationally accepted guidance from the World Health Organisation requires only those conditions that contributed directly to death to be recorded. The MCCD is not designed to collect information on risk factors or exposures related to the development of disease, such as exposure to particulate matter or smoking behaviour. It is therefore not possible to provide an answer to question 1 above, or question 2, parts (a) or (f), based on information collected at death registration.

Calculations done for the review of the air quality strategy1 estimated that, if all manmade fine particulate matter (PM2.5) present in the UK in 2005 were removed for the lifetime of‘ people born in 2005, the average life expectancy per person would be seven to eight months greater than if the level of manmade PM2.5 had remained at 2005 levels for a lifetime. This calculation represents the effect of long-term exposure to fine particles. A similar calculation has not been done for PM10.P

Studies of short-term exposure to PM10 do suggest a link with increased mortality but the studies do not give direct information on the life lost per person. It is thought that those affected are already seriously ill but that many of the deaths are brought forward by several months rather than just days or weeks. There are too few studies of the effects of medium-term exposure for calculations such as those above to be made. All information on the estimated impact of particulate matter on life expectancy mortality has been provided by the Health Protection Agency (HPA). Neither ONS nor the HPA is aware of any figures that have been produced on how many people in Greater London are estimated to have died prematurely as a result of exposure to particulate matter (PM10) on 3 April.

ONS publishes annual figures on the number of years of life lost due to a selection of specific causes of death2, including land transport accidents. Table 1 below presents figures for years of life lost due to land transport accidents, including numbers of deaths, mean age at death and years of total life (to age 75) lost, by sex, for 2007 (the latest year available). Figures are not readily available for years of life lost due to alcohol abuse, drug abuse or obesity.

Figures are available for the number of premature deaths, defined as deaths under the age of 75 for (i) deaths with an alcohol-related cause, (ii) drug misuse deaths where the underlying cause was drug poisoning and where any drug controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was mentioned on the death certificate, and (iii) deaths with obesity as the underlying cause of death, for England and Wales in 2008 (the latest year available), and are provided in Table 2 blow. These figures are presented to offer some information on the scale of premature deaths from these conditions in England and Wales.

The figures provided in Table 2 relating to obesity reflect the number of deaths certified as due to obesity conditions. However, these figures are likely to underestimate the actual number of deaths in which this factor is involved since obesity may play an important role in deaths due to other conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, but it is rarely recorded on the death certificate.

1 http:/www.defra.gov.uk/environment.quality/air/airquality/publications/stratreview-analysis/index.htm

2 Latest figures are available for 2007 in the Mortality Statistics: Deaths registered in 2007 publication, available from http://statistics.gov.uk/statbase/product.asp?vlnk+=15096

Table 1 Years of life lost due to land transport accidents: numbers of deaths, mean age at death and years of total life (to age 75) lost, by sex, 2007 1, 2, 3, 4

Underlying cause of death

Sex

Deaths

Mean age at death

Total life (to age 75) years lost

Land transport accident

Male

2,191

40

77,000

Female

728

50

19,000

1 Figures for England and Wales include deaths of non-residents.

2 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

3 Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes V01 to V89, which includes deaths from all transport accidents with the exception of water, air and space, other and unspecified transport accidents.

4 Figures for years of life lost are extracted from the Mortality Statistics: Deaths registered in 2007 publication. Of the causes of death mentioned in the question, figures are only available where the underlying cause of death was a land transport accident.

Table 2 Number of deaths from alcohol-related conditions, drug misuse, land transport accidents and obesity, England and Wales, 2008 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Persons

Underlying cause of death

Deaths

Alcohol-related conditions

6,655

Drug misuse

1,703

Land transport accident

2,256

Obesity

298

1 Figures for England and Wales include deaths of non-residents.

2 Figures are for deaths registered in each calendar year.

3 Alcohol-related deaths were defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes shown in Box 1 below.

4 Drug misuse deaths were defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes shown in Box 2 below and where a drug controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 was mentioned on the death certificate.

5 Cause of death was defined using the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) code E66 (obesity).

Box 1 Alcohol-related causes of death—International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10)

Cause of death description

ICD-10 code(s)

Mental and behavioural disorders due to use of alcohol

F10

Degeneration of nervous system due to alcohol

G31.2

Alcoholic polyneuropathy

G62.1

Alcoholic cardiomyopathy

I42.6

Alcoholic gastritis

K29.2

Alcoholic liver disease

K70

Chronic hepatitis, not elsewhere classified

K73

Fibrosis and cirrhosis of liver (excl. Biliary cirrhosis)

K74 (excl. K74.3-K74.5)

Alcohol-induced chronic pancreatitis

K86.0

Accidental poisoning by and exposure to alcohol

X45

Intentional self-poisoning by and exposure to alcohol

X65

Poisoning by and exposure to alcohol, undetermined intent

Y15

Box 2 International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10) codes used to define drug-related poisoning deaths by underlying cause

Cause of death description

ICD-10 Code(s)

Mental and behavioural disorders due to drug use (excluding alcohol and tobacco)

F11-F16, F18-F19

Accidental poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances

X40-X44

Intentional self-poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances

X60-X64

Assault by drugs, medicaments and biological substances

X85

Poisoning by drugs, medicaments and biological substances, undermined intent

Y10-Y14