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OPERATION GRANBY: PYRIDOSTIGMINE BROMIDE

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Henley: Pyridostigmine bromide, when given as a nerve agent pretreatment, as in Operation Granby, is not given as a medicinal product in accordance with normal procedures for prescribing medicines. Pyridostigmine bromide is taken by service personnel when a threat of chemical warfare exists. It was not issued on a named patient basis.

OPERATION GRANBY: VACCINES

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Henley: Details of the specific medical countermeasures employed by British forces against the potential biological warfare threat during Operation Granby remain classified. All vaccines administered to British forces during Operation Granby were offered on the basis of voluntary informed consent. Any vaccines without a UK product licence were licensed in their country of origin, fully tested in the UK and cleared for use.

OPERATION GRANBY: ALLEGED CHEMICAL INCIDENT

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Henley: My department has no record of an incident taking place on the night of 20–21 January 1991 during Operation Granby. There are, however, records of an incident on 19 January 1991 in the Al

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Jubayl area when CAM (Chemical Agent Monitor) and RVD (Residual Vapour Detector) indicated the presence of blister agent (Mustard). NAIAD (Nerve Agent Immobilised Enzyme Alarm and Detector) did not respond, thus ruling out the presence of nerve agent.

An immediate follow up by Explosive Ordnance Device (EOD) and chemical reconnaissance teams failed to find any evidence for chemical attack which, had it taken place, would have included ground contamination (blister is a persistent agent) and weapon debris.

The identity of the compounds which caused CAM and RVD to respond on 19 January 1991 is therefore not known. Clearly it was not nerve agent since NAIAD did not alarm; neither was it blister since there was no ground contamination. It was assessed that the most likely cause of this incident was a damaged coalition aircraft jettisoning JP4 fuel which is consistent with reports of air activity at the time.

AIR TRAINING CORPS: SQUADRON AND GLIDING SCHOOLS

Lord Trefgarne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the present number of squadrons and voluntary gliding schools within the Air Training Corps and whether the numbers are set to change.

Lord Henley: At present, there is a ceiling of 920 Air Training Corps squadrons in the United Kingdom, which is fully committed. Overseas there are seven of a possible 10 squadrons. The ceiling of United Kingdom Squadrons is under review by the Air Officer Commanding Air Cadets. There are 27 volunteer gliding schools operational from an establishment of 30. All of these are based in the United Kingdom. There are no current plans for any change.

OPERATION GRANBY: VACCINE AND MEDICATION RECORDS

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a complete record of all vaccines and medication administered to British forces who served in Operation Granby was entered on their medical records, and whether these records, are available to their military or civilian general medical practitioners.

Lord Henley: Standard peacetime procedures involve records of vaccines and prescribed medication being kept on every individual's service medical documents. Under operational conditions individual service medical records are not held locally for logistic reasons, and a field medical documentation system is invoked. During Operation Granby vaccinations or prescribed medications were entered on a nominal roll for later transfer to individual records. Given the rapid repatriation and demobilisation of personnel at the end of the conflict, it is likely that some individual medical records were not fully annotated. Service medical records are the property of the department, but can be

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made available to service medical officers or civilian general practitioners on request.

INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS OF ACCESS TO HEALTH AND SAFETY INFORMATION: LEGISLATION

Lord Lestor of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend, during this parliamentary session, to introduce legislation creating individual rights of access to health and safety information and to personal information.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Earl Howe): The Government remain committed to legislation on these subjects at the earliest convenient opportunity.

NEXT STEPS INITIATIVE

Lord Colnbrook asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the progress of the Next Steps initiative.

Earl Howe: The Government today published the fifth Next Steps Review—Cm 2750. It brings together information on the 102 agencies within Government, and the executive organisations of HM Customs and Excise and the Inland Revenue, which now constitute 62 per cent. of the Civil Service. Within central government, agencies are delivering the Citizen's Charter commitment to improved customer service and value for money. The review highlights how under the charter, agencies focus on the needs of the users of their services and gives examples of what individual agencies have achieved. Thirty Charter Marks have been awarded to agencies in the first three years of the competition, reflecting the commitment of agency chief executives and their staff to high standards of customer service.

The review reports the targets set for agencies and their performance against them in 1993–94 and lists key targets for 1994–95. In 1993–94 agencies met around 80 per cent. of their key targets, compared with 77 per cent. last year. Most targets have also become progressively more demanding year on year.

The Government's aim is that every public service should be provided in the most appropriate and cost-effective way. All the executive functions of the Civil Service are therefore being examined against the following tests: whether they need to continue to be performed at all; whether they need to remain the responsibility of Government; where the Government does need to remain responsible for an activity, does the Government have to carry out the task or can it buy in from outside providers; and whether they should become the responsibility of an agency within Government. The review reports further progress in this work.

Once established, agencies are subject to periodic review, now normally after five years of operation. To ensure that the widest possible range of views are taken into account, both the initial examination of an activity and these reviews are publicly announced, including through the Next Steps Review. The review also

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demonstrates many ways in which agencies are entering into partnership with the private sector, for example, by contracting out existing work to the private sector under a partnership arrangement or through joint ventures.

Over the last six years, the Next Steps initiative has fundamentally altered the way in which the Civil Service is managed. It is a key part of the programme of change outlined in the White Paper The Civil Service: Continuity and Change. The White Paper also proposed extending throughout the Civil Service many of the principles of Next Steps, including maximum clarity about objectives and targets, delegation of management responsibility and a clear focus on outputs and outcomes. The aim is a flexible and cost-effective Civil Service well-equipped to provide support for Ministers on policy matters and in the management of public services which meet the needs of their users.

ORGANOPHOSPHORUS: POISONING INCIDENTS

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many reports of suspected adverse reactions to organophosphate pesticides were recorded by the Health and Safety Executive for each of the 10 years.

Lord Inglewood: The number of poisoning incidents involving organophosphorus pesticides investigated by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for each of the last 10 years is set out in the following table. The table does not show proven cases of adverse reactions to organophosphorus pesticides, but merely those reported to, and investigated by, HSE.

Poisoning incidents involving organophosphorus pesticides investigated by HSE

Year Number of Incidents Number of People Involved
1984 30 54
1985 21 25
1986 9 12
1987 17 51(1)
1988 13 19
1989–90 24 35
1990–91 29 45
1991–92 21 127(2)
1992–93 13 16
1993–94 16 27

(1) 32 in one incident (laboratory fumigation)

(2) 100 in one incident (pesticide store fire)



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