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The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Clinton-Davis): The Government have recently reviewed the role and effectiveness of the Inter-Agency Committee on Marine Science and Technology (IACMST) and concluded that it is effective in performing its main function of ensuring that co-ordination takes place across government on marine science and technology issues. IACMST will therefore continue for the next three years, with a further review of its future taking place at that point.
In response to the more detailed findings of the review, IACMST will increase its focus on international marine activities and on science and technology relating to marine vessels and structures, alongside its traditional emphasis on the marine environment and oceanography. IACMST will also produce a guide for business on responsibilities for marine science and technology within departments and agencies; will continue to work closely with the Marine Foresight Panel; and will begin a review of individual members' strategies for marine science and technology.
Copies of a report setting out the review's conclusions in more detail are available in the Library of the House. This report also mentions some of the main activities currently being undertaken by IACMST, including its co-ordination of a wide range of UK events to mark 1998 as the International Year of the Ocean.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): A report with details of all public appointments made to bodies sponsored by the Department of Health is published today. It contains details of 3,794 individuals appointed to 586 bodies at 1 March 1998. It relates to chairs and non-executives in National Health Service trust and health authority boards, members of Executive Non-Department Public Bodies (NDPBs) and for the first time, contains details of those who serve on the 41 Advisory NDPBs which give specialist technical and professional advice to the department.
Of those people named in the report, around 1,000 have been appointed by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health since 1 May 1997, predominantly to NHS trusts and Executive NDPBs.
All these appointments have been made on merit to the exacting procedures laid down by the Commissioner for Public Appointments, which ensure an open and transparent process and encourage people from all walks of life to come forward.
We have honoured the Government's commitment to increase the local accountability of NHS boards, by publicly advertising posts and by seeking nominations from local authorities and Members of Parliament. We have appointed people who live within the local community wherever possible and have substantially increased the participation of women and people from ethnic minorities. In the year to 1 May 1998, 36 per cent. of chairs, and 52 per cent. of non-executives appointed were women and 9 per cent. of appointees were drawn from the ethnic minority population.
We have significantly changed the make-up of NHS trust boards to reflect the abolition of the internal market and the new local partnership which we expect NHS trusts to develop. Of those people appointed since 1 May 1997, over 30 per cent.--the largest single group--are NHS users, carers or voluntary workers.
We intend to maintain this progress and are currently in the process of appointing around 300 people to serve on health authority boards. When completed, details of these new appointments will be placed in the Library and published on the Internet. Copies of the Department of Health Public Appointments Annual Report 1998 are available in the Library.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government recognise the harm that can be caused by alcohol misuse. That is why, in the Green Paper, Our Healthier Nation, we said that we would be developing a new alcohol strategy. We intend to produce a coherent strategy which reinforces our messages about sensible drinking and provides an effective framework for action to tackle alcohol misuse in all its forms.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Government are pleased to announce the first meeting of the Disability Benefits Forum took place today. This is an important step forward to ensure a proper dialogue between government and disability organisations.
The terms of reference of the forum are: To consider possible options for changes in the gateways to benefits for long-term sick and disabled people and carers, and how to ensure that help is directed to those who need it.
|Peter Adeane:||National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux|
|David Behan:||Local Government Association|
|Ian Bruce:||Royal National Institute for the Blind and co-chair of the Disability Benefits Consortium|
|Jane Campbell:||National Centre for Independent Living|
|Nicole Davoud:||Independent disability consultant|
|Marilyn Howard:||Independent disability consultant|
|Professor R. Grahame:||Chairman of the Disability Living Allowance Advisory Board|
|Jill Harrison:||Carers National Association|
|Rachel Hurst:||Rights Now!|
|Carol Lee:||People First|
|Colin Low:||National Federation of the Blind of the UK|
|Dr. Lotte Newman:||Former President of the Royal College of General Practitioners|
|Lorna Reith:||Disability Alliance|
|Roy Sainsbury:||University of York--Social Policy Research Unit|
|Pauline Thompson:||Disablement Income Group|
|Richard Wood:||British Council of Organisations of Disabled People and co-chair of the Disability Benefits Forum|
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