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Acute and Rehabilitative Care for the Old

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We want to get the right services--whether in hospital or in the community--to the right people at the right time. We have asked health and local authorities to improve multidisciplinary assessment of older people and to develop a range of recuperation and rehabilitation services for older people. Good recuperation and rehabilitation and continuing care services benefit the whole health and social care system and are crucial to the efficient and effective use of hospitals. Sixty-five million pounds of the funding announced in March for tackling waiting lists will be allocated to support "whole systems" action to achieve sustained reductions in waiting lists. It will do this by building on the success of the new ways of working pioneered this winter and through targeted investment in primary, community, mental health and social services.


Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: There are a number of websites on the internet which focus exclusively on breastfeeding, including one established by the Association of Breastfeeding Mothers, to which the Government currently provide financial assistance through the general scheme of grants to voluntary organisations under section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968. We currently have no plans to establish one exclusively featuring breastfeeding.

Nevertheless, this Government want to do more to reduce the marked inequalities in breastfeeding. That is why my honourable friend the Minister of State for Public Health launched this year's National Breastfeeding Awareness Week by announcing funding

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of £225,000 on research which aims to identify the barriers which these women face when deciding whether to breastfeed. The research, subject to contract, will be funded from the health inequalities research initiative, and hopes to contribute to identifying effective interventions which will encourage more mothers from deprived backgrounds to breastfeed in the future.

Duckett's Cheese: Sampling

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total number of cheeses produced by Mr. Duckett on or after 5 April, and held in any location, which were tested for E.coli 0157; whether these tests were from core or surface samples; and what were the results.[HL2843]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: In total, 202 samples of Ducketts cheese were taken. Ten tested positive for Escherichia coli 0157. All positive samples were taken from the core, and, in all but one of these cases, the surface was also sampled separately with a negative result.

Medicines Commission: 1997 Annual Report

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to receive the Annual Report of the Medicines Commission for 1997.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We have received the report, and copies have been laid before both Houses of Parliament on 24 July in accordance with the requirements of Section 5(2) of the Medicines Act 1968.

Bound volumes have been placed in the Library containing the 1997 reports of the Medicines Commission, the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the Advisory Board on the registration of Homoeopathic Products, the British Pharmacopoeia Commission and the Veterinary Products Committee.

We are glad to acknowledge the valuable work done by the distinguished members of the Medicines Act Advisory Bodies and thank them for the time and effort dedicated in the public interest to this important work.

Sexually Transmitted Diseases among Teenagers

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have recently consulted the medical profession on sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers, the risks connected with anal intercourse and proposed changes in the age of consent, particularly for homosexual acts; and, if so, with what results.[HL2840]

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Baroness Jay of Paddington: We have held no specific consultations with the medical profession on these issues.

Animals in Quarantine: Welfare

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made towards the introduction of regulations for the welfare of animals in quarantine kennels.[HL2812]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Officials have met the RSPCA and the Feline Advisory Bureau to discuss statutory standards for the welfare of animals in quarantine premises. A full public consultation will be held in due course, we expect during the autumn.

Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food: Reviews

Baroness Hamwee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the reviews currently being undertaken by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food will be published during the parliamentary summer Recess.[HL2778]

Lord Donoughue: We expect the report of the Advisory Group on Quarantine to be published very shortly, most probably during the parliamentary summer Recess.

Veterinary Residues: 1997 Annual Report

Lord Hughes of Woodside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Veterinary Medicines Directorate will be publishing the Annual Report on Surveillance for Veterinary Residues in 1997.[HL2891]

Lord Donoughue: The Government are committed to giving consumers the maximum possible information on the presence of residues in food, with appropriate advice on the significance of any results. The Annual Report on Surveillance for Veterinary Residues in 1997 was published by the Veterinary Medicines Directorate (VMD) on 20 July and it paints a very positive picture of the current situation in the UK.

The VMD operates a statutory national sampling and surveillance scheme and a complementary non-statutory programme. In 1997 some 42,000 samples were collected and subjected to around 57,000 analyses in Great Britain. The VMD reports the results of its surveillance quarterly in the Medicines Act Veterinary Information Service (MAVIS) and in much greater detail in this annual report. The results continue to show that the presence of residues of veterinary medicines from all sources in food is very low.

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The main points to emerge from the report are:

    99.5 per cent. of statutory samples tested in 1997 were free of detectable residues compared to 99.2 per cent. in 1996.

    More significantly, the "positive" samples fell from 0.24 per cent. in 1996 to 0.13 per cent. in 1997.

    This report, for the first time, gives details of the follow up investigations which are undertaken on all positive samples. Two successful prosecutions were taken and the report outlines initiatives which are being introduced to improve the chances of successful prosecutions in the future.

The report, which is available free of charge from the VMD, explains how the VMD obtains samples, how and where it analyses them and what it does with the results. It places the surveillance programmes into the current and future EC context and, to help the lay reader, includes a glossary of technical terms. The results are all placed into a toxicological context which the Government believe will reassure consumers that, because of the considerable margins of safety which are applied when maximum residue limits for veterinary medicines are established, the very low levels of residues currently found under the schemes are unlikely to pose a health risk.

Intervention Board: Performance Targets

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What key performance targets agriculture ministers have set the Intervention Board for 1998-99.[HL3006]

Lord Donoughue: In agreement with my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, we have set the following targets for 1998-99:

Percentage of claims processed within deadlines99.0%
Percentage of claims processed correctly98.5%
Cumulative running cost efficiency gains2.5%
Improvement in index of productivity4.0%
Ratio of disallowance to EAGGF funds handled0.40%
To maintain expenditure within vote provision, cash and running cost limits new value for money savings in procurement of goods and services7.0%
Yield: cost ratio of anti-fraud activities3.0:1.0

Agriculture Council

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 20 July.[HL3007]

Lord Donoughue: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the United Kingdom at the meeting of the European Union Council of Agriculture Ministers in Brussels on 20 July.

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The Austrian Presidency introduced its programme of work for the Council, the centrepieces of which are Agenda 2000, including wine reform, reform of the agrimonetary regime and animal welfare legislation.

In a debate on the Presidency's detailed plans for Agenda 2000, we welcomed its intention to press ahead with the negotiations in accordance with the timetable laid down by the Cardiff European Council, urging it to include detailed discussions on member states' ideas on the future of dairy quotas and compensatory aids and the application of subsidiarity to the proposed ceiling on direct payments to farmers.

During a brief discussion of the proposed reform of the agrimonetary regime, we stressed the need for equitable treatment between those countries entering the single currency next year and those not doing so, and for an early decision which would allow our farmers and traders ample time to prepare for introduction of the new regime on 1 January 1999.

In a debate on a possible EU trade agreement with the Mercusor countries and Chile, on which a Commission proposal is expected shortly, we noted the economic advantages which such an agreement could open up, while drawing attention to the need to avoid complications in relation to the negotatiations on Agenda 2000, the forthcoming WTO Round and EU enlargement. The Commission's proposal should be judged on its merits against this background.

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