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GPs: Conscientious Objection to Abortion

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Referrals under the Abortion Act are part of the general medical services provided by general practitioners. Guidance issued by the British Medical Association states that practitioners with a conscientious objection to abortion who fail to refer on to another practitioner quickly could be alleged to be in breach of their terms of service. In these circumstances public statements about the GP's personal views on abortion are neither necessary nor appropriate.

Abortion Services: Inequality of Access

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: The level of gynaecological provision including abortion, like other provision within the National Health Service, is decided by individual health purchasers.

The White Paper The New NHS outlines a number of steps which the Government will be taking to improve the consistency of service provision throughout the NHS. Health improvement programmes (HIPs) will be drawn up by health authorities in consultation with NHS trusts, primary care groups, primary care professionals, the public and other partner organisations such as local authorities. The HIP will set out the strategic direction on improving health and on delivering better health and social care as well as setting out the framework for action on commissioning services. We will aim for maximum consistency while still allowing appropriate local and individual responsiveness.

Food-Borne Outbreaks of Illness: Food Vehicles

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Aggregate information for 1992-94 on food vehicles associated with outbreaks for this period can be found in a review of general outbreaks published in the Public Health Laboratory Service's (PHLS) Communicable Disease Review, vol. 6,

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R57-63. Data for 1995 and 1996 are available in a table which has been placed in the Library. Since 1996 data on general outbreaks of food-borne illness has been reported on a quarterly basis in PHLS' Communicable Disease Report. Quarterly outbreak reports can be found in the weekly Communicable Disease Reports: vol. 7, No. 37 (January-March 1997 published on 12 September 1997), vol. 7, No. 50 (April-June published on 12 December 1997), vol. 8, No. 11 (July-September 1997 published on 13 March 1998) and vol. 8, No. 24 (October-December 1997 published on 12 June 1998). Copies of the Communicable Disease Review and Communicable Disease Report are available in the Library.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: Risks

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give their best estimate of the relative risks of contracting Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease from (a) eating beef on the bone and (b) receiving a blood transfusion before July 1998.[HL2996]

Baroness Hayman: The Government's decisions on banning the sale of beef on the bone and on the extension of leucodepletion for all blood for transfusion were both taken in the light of advice from the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), taking account where appropriate of the views of the Chief Medical Officer. This advice together with the Government's response is published and copies are available in the Library.

Smoking Education Campaigns

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to highlight the dangers of addiction to smoking, when the treatment of smoking-related disease costs the NHS between £1.4 billion and £1.7 billion per year.[HL2976]

Baroness Hayman: The Government currently fund smoking education campaigns for both adults and teenagers, which includes information on the dangers of addiction to nicotine, at a cost of £6.5 million per annum.

The Government's future plans to tackle smoking-related disease will be set out in the White Paper on tobacco control to be published later this year.

Mental Health Act Review

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the Mental Health Act 1983.[HL3168]

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Baroness Hayman: We are setting up a review of the Mental Health Act 1983. The aim of this review will be to ensure that mental health legislation supports the safe and effective delivery of modern patterns of clinical and social care for people with a mental disorder and to ensure that we achieve a proper balance between individual rights and the requirements of the safety of both the individual and the wider community.

As a first step in this process, my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health is going to appoint a small team of experts to advise me on the areas of the current legislation which need to be revised or supplemented to support effective, modern mental health services. The group will comprise representatives from the legal profession, professional groups involved in the delivery of mental health services and user/public interests, and it will report to me next spring. We will specifically want their advice to include consideration of possible measures such as compliance orders and community treatment orders.

We aim to ensure that the legal framework that we will put in place for the new millennium is appropriate to deliver a full range of services in line with our proposals for a national service framework for mental health services and will provide a prompt and effective legal basis to ensure individuals get supervised care if they fail to comply with their medication or if their condition deteriorates for any other reason.

Medical Devices Agency: Report and Accounts

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the 1997-98 annual report and accounts of the Medical Devices Agency.[HL3166]

Baroness Hayman: We have received the report and accounts of the Medical Devices Agency and copies were laid yesterday before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Section 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921.

NHS Pensions Agency: Report and Accounts

Lord Randall of St. Budeaux asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will approve and publish the annual report and accounts of the NHS Pensions Agency.[HL3165]

Baroness Hayman: We have approved the report and accounts which has been laid before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Section 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921.

Copies have been placed in the Library.

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Human Rights Bill: Appellate Committee

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who will determine the composition of any Appellate Committee of the House of Lords to decide each particular appeal under the Human Rights Bill.[HL2886]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): Responsibility for determining the composition of the House of Lords in its judicial capacity, and of Appellate and Appeal Committees, lies with the Lord Chancellor. However, for many years it has been the policy of successive Lord Chancellors in practice to delegate this responsibility to the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. Thus it will be for him to determine which Lords of Appeal sit in the House of Lords to hear cases under the Human Rights Bill.

Scotland and Wales Bills: Privy Council Judicial Committee Appeals

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who will determine the composition of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council for hearing each particular appeal under the provisions of the Scotland Bill and the Government of Wales Bill.[HL2885]

The Lord Chancellor: Responsibility for determining the composition of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council lies with the Lord Chancellor. However, for many years it has been the policy of successive Lord Chancellors in practice to delegate this responsibility to the senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary. Thus it will be for him to determine which members of the Judicial Committee sit in the Privy Council to hear cases under the provisions of the Scotland Bill and the Government of Wales Bill.

Northern Ireland: Reviews

Baroness Maddock asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the reviews currently being undertaken by the Northern Ireland Office will be published during the parliamentary Summer Recess.[HL2788]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Northern Ireland Office (Lord Dubs): It is planned to publish three reviews: the Elections Review; the Review of Strategic and Financial Management arrangements in respect of the Northern Ireland Education and Library Boards; and a consultation paper on the Review of the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland.

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