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Fluorescent Tubes: Recycling

Lord Ponsonby of Shulbrede asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The call-off contract has just been awarded to Biffa Waste Services Limited by the Disposal Sales Agency who will manage it on behalf of participating Government departments. My right honourable friend the Minister for the Environment has written to "green" Ministers to promote its use across Whitehall. This initiative is in keeping with the Government's consultation paper on the waste strategy for England and Wales.

Government Departmental Reviews: Publication Dates

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Prime Minister placed an up to date list of Government reviews in the libraries of both Houses on 30 June. Publication of the results of reviews is a matter for the relevant Ministers.

UK Regional Expenditure Criteria

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Changes in expenditure levels in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are determined by the long-standing population-based Barnett formula, which was adopted at the end of the 1970s and first used in 1978. It has been in continuous use since then and the Government set out the arrangements in the future in Chapter 7 of Scotland's Parliament (Cm 3658) and Chapter 4 of A Voice for Wales (Cm 3718).

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Non-interest Bearing Accounts

Lord Sudeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 1 June (WA 8-9), what is the evidence that any attempt to reverse the trend from agents holding a smaller proportion of their assets in non-interest bearing accounts would place a burden on consumers and firms.[HL2534]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The increased preference of agents for holding assets in interest-bearing accounts largely reflects reduced costs of transfer between interest bearing and non-interest bearing money. Agents are now able to earn interest on their assets while forfeiting less liquidity than in the past.

If agents were forced to increase the proportion of their assets held in non-interest bearing accounts, this would mean losing interest earned on balances formerly held in interest-bearing accounts.

Ambulance Service: Retirement Age

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are giving any consideration to lowering the retirement age of 65 for Ambulance Service staff as is the case with other stress-related occupations.[HL2510]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The National Health Service Pension Scheme pays full pension benefits from age 60. There are also provisions within the scheme which allow members to take voluntary early retirement from age 50. The Ambulance Services Association has recently produced a report on pensions and retirement issues for front line ambulance staff. We are considering the report.

Ambulance Service: Assaults on Staff

Viscount Brentford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many employees of the Ambulance Service have been attacked, both physically and verbally, in the course of their duties during the past ten years.[HL2508]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The information requested is not collected centrally. The Government are concerned about the incidence of violence against all staff in the National Health Service. On 23 June my honourable friend the Minister of State for Health announced a four-point plan to help local managers tackle the problem of violence to staff. Violence to NHS staff is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.

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Primary Care Groups

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have advised health authorities that, in setting up primary care groups, general practitioners' surgeries should be required to join the group in that area where their surgery is based.[HL2530]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Primary care groups will be based on natural geographical communities of people, typically covering around 100,000 population, and we expect general practitioners to join the group in which they can best represent the needs of their patients. It is important that GPs are involved in primary care groups which cover the natural communities that they serve. Primary care groups will have an important role in securing the health of the populations they serve, and the public need to know who is serving their health needs.

Putney Hospital

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the proposed closure of Putney Hospital will result in a loss of beds to the National Health Service.[HL2475]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The existing elderly and respite care beds at Putney Hospital will be reprovided as part of the new community hospital to be developed on the main Queen Mary's Roehampton site. The closure involves a transfer of beds to a more suitable site, not a reduction in total bed numbers.

Patient's Charter: Use of Christian Names

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 30 June (WA 75), whether they will, in their review of the Patient's Charter, replace the section which states that staff should ask patients whether they want to be called by their first or last names with an instruction that patients should always be addressed by their surname and title except where the patient has given express permission to be addressed by their preferred Christian name.[HL2606]

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Baroness Jay of Paddington: No decisions have yet been made about what the new Charter will say. It is, however, considered good practice to ask patients how they wish to be addressed and respect that wish.

Volatile Substance Abuse

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the most recent figures available on deaths associated with the practice of volatile substance abuse.[HL2661]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Statistics collected by St. George's Hospital Medical School and published today show that there were 75 deaths in the United Kingdom in 1996 associated with volatile substance abuse (VSA). This is the second consecutive year in which there has been an increase over the 58 deaths in 1994 which had been the lowest level of mortality since 1981. We take any death associated with VSA very seriously and will consider whether further action is required which could help prevent such tragedies.

Copies of the report are available in the Library.

Organophosphates: COT's Response to Questions

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a report of the results of the examination by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) of the review of the Medical Research Council Institute for Environment and Health: Organophosphorus esters: an evaluation of the chronic neurotoxic effects; including particularly the COT's answers to the questions posed in paragraph 3.24 of Official Group on OPs--Report to Ministers.[HL2586]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has set up a working group to discuss this topic. The Institute for Environment and Health report and the questions posed in the Official Group on OPs--Report to Ministers were presented to the working group at its first meeting on 22 May.

When the working group has completed its review into whether prolonged low level exposure to organophosphates, or acute exposure to OPs of a lower dose than causing frank intoxication, can cause chronic ill health effects, the COT will publish a report.

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