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The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): Offices are allocated to each of the political parties and to the Cross-Bench Peers. The use of desks within such offices is a matter for the Chief Whip of the party concerned or for the Convenor, as appropriate.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: As our manifesto made clear, Labour's anglers' charter affirms our long standing commitment to angling and the objective of protecting the aquatic environment. Government Ministers are considering how best to take forward the proposals it has made. As requested, I am placing copies of the anglers' charter in the Libraries of the House.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: According to the Labour Force Survey, 26 million people are in employment in Great Britain. Employment in the UK over the last 20 years has varied considerably with the economic cycle, with employment falling by almost 1½ million in the last recession. The Department of Social Security estimates that around 6 million people of working age are currently on benefits and without work. The Government aim to increase employment on a sustainable basis through stability in monetary and fiscal policy, improving the skills of the workforce, and helping those excluded from the labour market to move from welfare to work.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Chancellor of the Exchequer made clear in his Budget Statement on 2 July that, after consulting regulators, it was his judgment that the tax could be paid without any impact on prices, investment or the quality of service to consumers or, in his view, on employment.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Government are discussing with the Association of British Insurers the best way to take forward the draft Industrial Assurance Acts Deregulation Order in the light of the recommendations made by the House of Lords Delegated Powers and Deregulation Committee.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The UK forest standard will be part of the UK's programme for applying the principles agreed at the Earth Summit in Rio. It will provide a benchmark for the sustainable management of forests and it will include guidance on how critical operations such as felling and planting should be planned and carried out. The first draft was circulated
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The Government's overriding objective in the field of international development is the eradication of poverty. We are committed to supporting the OECD Development Assistance Committee's targets of halving the proportion of the world's population living in absolute poverty by the year 2015 which were drawn from the conclusions of the UN Conferences such as those on Population, Social Development and Women. The DAC targets include social development goals, including universal primary education by 2015, progress towards gender equality and the empowerment of women, and improvements in health care systems and mortality rates.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Department for International Development has assumed all the responsibilities previously carried out by the Overseas Development Administration, as well as those relating to the administration of the know how fund.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Scarman Trust currently occupies the same premises as Charter 88, which provides the charity with various administrative and financial support services. It has
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): It is impossible to estimate what costs would be incurred by the Department of Health or the Norfolk and Norwich Healthcare NHS Trust (the NHS body that has signed this contract) if the contract were to be cancelled. Any estimate of costs would have to make a series of assumptions about what would have happened if the contract had gone ahead. However, costs would probably be substantial. Under the terms of the contract, the trust would be exposed to possible claims from the private sector project company. Such claims would be consistent with any other broken commercial contract in that the project company would be in a position to claim for costs and the loss of their profits over the entire period of the contract. In addition, the trust might well incur extra running costs in opting for a different solution, and the wasted time and expense incurred to date in developing this scheme would be considerable.
All these costs would be wasted money that would have done nothing to improve the delivery of healthcare to local people. Most importantly it would mean that local people would have lost the chance to have a new hospital.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The results of the National Health Service Breast Screening Programme are contained in The National Health Service Breast Screening Programme Review 1996 (UK results) and the Department of Health Statistical Bulletin 1997/3 Breast Screening Programme, England: 1995-96. Copies of both these documents are in the Library.
New review evidence on screening for prostate cancer was published earlier this year. The research (commissioned through the NHS Research and Development Programme) rigorously evaluated screening for prostate cancer to assess whether it does more harm than good. The National Screening Committee (NSC) scrutinised and considered most carefully the evidence on the accuracy of current technologies to screen for prostate cancer and how good they are at finding out who has the disease and who has not, whether or not there is effective treatment for those affected by the disease and the psychological and physical harm that could result from population screening. Patient and ethical issues were also considered.
The NSC concluded that: "there is not yet a case for population screening as there is no evidence of benefit but definite evidence of psychological and physical harm resulting from population screening. The committee advise that a population screening programme should not be provided by the NHS."
Department of Health Ministers have accepted the recommendations of the NSC, and an Executive Letter (EL(97)12) was issued to the National Health Service on 23 June. A copy is in the Library.
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