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Pigs: Reproductive Research

Lord Jopling asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: Use of the Chinese pigs has made an invaluable contribution to understanding the genetic control of reproduction of pigs, and has also played a role in helping scientists to understand the pig genome, an area of research where the UK leads the world. The industry has taken a cautious approach to the incorporation of Chinese pig genes into commercial herds because of the poor carcass quality associated with the Chinese pigs. Research to overcome this problem is ongoing in a number of commercial pig breeding organisations.

Organophosphates: Control Measures

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: Council Directive 81/851/EEC on the approximation of the laws of the member states relating to veterinary medicinal products, as amended

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by Directives 90/676 and 93/40, places responsibility for applying the relevant provisions of the directive, as implemented in the law of the member state, on the competent authority of the member state.

In particular, Chapter VI of the directive requires the competent authority to undertake the necessary post-marketing supervision.

Piscivorous Birds and Salmon andSea Trout

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the research on piscivorous birds, currently funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, is due for completion; and whether this research will assess the impact of these birds on juvenile and smolt stage salmon and sea trout.[HL2596]

Lord Donoughue: The MAFF/DETR/Environment Agency joint programme of research on piscivorous birds consists of five projects. The last project to be completed consists of case studies to assess the impact of piscivorous birds, particularly cormorants, on inland fisheries in England and Wales and includes studies on salmon and trout parr but not smolts. The project is currently expected to be completed in November 1998.

Government Departments' Aims and Objectives

Baroness Serota asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the departmental objectives promised as an outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review when it was announced on 11 June last year.[HL2761]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: A booklet setting out the revised aims and objectives of government departments has been published today. Copies are available in the Printed Paper Office and the Library of the House. They provide a clear statement of what the Government are seeking to achieve through their public expenditure policies.

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Cabinet Committees Chaired by theLord Chancellor

Lord Oliver of Aylmerton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) of which Cabinet committees the Lord Chancellor is currently chairman;

    (b) of which Cabinet committees the Lord Chancellor is currently a member; and

    (c) of which committees, recognised in the answers to (a) and (b) above, or other Cabinet committees, his predecessor was either the chairman or a member in the 12 months immediately preceding the general election of 1997.[HL2481]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Lord Chancellor is chairman of the following Cabinet committees:


    Ministerial Committee on The Queen's Speech and Future Legislation (QFL);


    Ministerial Committee on Devolution to Scotland and Wales and the English Regions (DSWR);


    Ministerial Sub-Committee on Incorporation of the European Convention of Human Rights (CRP(EC));


    Ministerial Sub-Committee on Freedom of Information (CRP(FOI));


    Ministerial Sub-Committee on House of Lords Reform (CRP(HL));

The Lord Chancellor is a member of the following Cabinet committees:


    Ministerial Committee on Public Expenditure (PX);


    Ministerial Committee on Local Government (GL);


    Ministerial Committee on Home and Social Affairs (HS);


    Ministerial Committee on Legislation (LEG);


    Ministerial Committee on Constitutional Reform Policy (CRP).

The Lord Chancellor's predecessor, in the 12 months immediately preceding the general election, was not a chairman of any Cabinet committees but was a member of the committees listed below.


    Ministerial Committee on Home and Social Affairs (EDH);


    Ministerial Committee on The Queen's Speech and Future Legislation (FLG);


    Ministerial Committee on Legislation (LG).

Royal Parks: Illegal Trading

Lord Brougham and Vaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the hot dog vendors outside Buckingham Palace, in the Mall and in St James's Park have licences to trade; if not, why they are allowed to trade illegally; and what action is being taken to stop this trade.[HL2531]

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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Two kiosks are authorised to sell convenience food in St James's Park, along with the mobile ice cream sellers; these are clearly marked as licensed Royal Parks traders. The others are not licensed.

The problem of illegal trading in the Royal Parks has worsened since the surrounding local authorities obtained the power to seize the outlets and vehicles used by these traders. The Royal Parks Constabulary, who are responsible for the locations referred to, do not have these powers.

To address this problem, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport is seeking an opportunity to bring forward amendments to the Parks Regulations (Amendment) Act to give the Royal Parks Constabulary the necessary powers.

SERPS and Tax Relief

Baroness Castle of Blackburn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What would be the loss of revenue to the Treasury if employees' contributions to SERPs were to be given the same tax relief as that enjoyed by contributors to occupational pension schemes and personal pensions.[HL2618]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: SERPS is an unfunded scheme, with current national insurance contributions paying for today's benefits and pensions. However, by analogy with appropriate personal pension schemes which are funded, the cost of grossing up the employee part of the national insurance rebate, as if all those currently in SERPS had contracted out of SERPS and into personal pensions, is tentatively estimated at around £300 million a year at 1998-99 levels of earnings.

Breastfeeding

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the low rates of breastfeeding of infants in the United Kingdom, how they will follow up the European Community initiative launched in May; and how they will support the UNICEF's "Baby Friendly Initiative".[HL2438]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): At the invitation of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), my honourable friend the Minister of State for Public Health launched the United Kingdom Baby Friendly Initiative's (UKBFI) new community initiative to mark the start of National Breastfeeding Awareness Week, which ran from 17-23 May this year. This initiative centres around a seven-point plan which aims to protect, promote and support breastfeeding in community health care settings and will complement the UKBFI hospital initiative. The Department of Health continues to maintain close links with UNICEF and enjoys observer status on the UKBFI Steering Committee.

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The Government are fully committed to the promotion of breastfeeding, which is universally accepted as the best form of nutrition for infants. The Government's expenditure on the promotion of breastfeeding shown in the table is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of how much we invest in breastfeeding. I regret that in my reply of 1 June (col. WA 2) to Lord Avebury giving this information, the figures which I gave for the years 1996-97, 1997-98 and 1998-99 were inaccurate. The correct information is shown in the table and comprises publicity expenditure on promoting breastfeeding and grants awarded under Section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 to voluntary organisations concerned with promoting breastfeeding. It does not include the incidental expenditure of those attending meetings to discuss the promotion of breastfeeding. We are currently discussing the pattern of publicity expenditure for 1998-99, which includes an element for the promotion of breastfeeding. The 1998-99 figures shown in the table, therefore, relate to those budgets which have been finalised.

YearExpenditure
1992-93£99,800(3)
1993-94£123,200
1994-95£158,300
1995-96£151,700
1996-97£329,700
1997-98£180,600(4)
1998-99£79,900(5)

(3) Figures for Scotland not available.

(4) Estimated Outturn.

(5) Finalised budgets only.


We are concerned about the apparently low breastfeeding rates in this country. The low incidence of breastfeeding is especially marked in low income groups. That is why, when my honourable friend the Minister for Public Health launched the UKBFI Community Initiative, she also announced the research we are planning to fund from the department's research initiative on health inequalities aimed at identifying the barriers to breastfeeding in low income groups. This should help us to understand what influences a woman's decision whether to breastfeed or not. In turn, this will help us to develop and test new interventions aimed at increasing breastfeeding levels and improving the health of babies from low income families.


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