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Baroness Hayman: The Government will, as part of its modernisation programme, strive to ensure that all patient care is delivered quickly, consistently and at the highest possible standards. The provision of artificial limbs is very specialised. Each limb is designed to fit the individual user in a way which takes account of their lifestyle needs.
Our priority is to ensure that in this, as in other NHS services, products both meet the needs of the individual concerned and offer value for money. To this end NHS Supplies have recently set up a group of all those involved in the supply of prosthetics, including users, to determine good practice and improve performance throughout the NHS Supply function.
Baroness Hayman: We have made clear in the White Paper "The new NHS Modern--Dependable" published on 9 December 1997 that, by 1 April 1999, all general practitioners (and their patients) will be represented within a primary care group. The final shape, the functions and the level at which primary care groups will perform will reflect local circumstances. All appropriate mechanisms will be in place to allow primary care groups to become operational on 1 April 1999.
Baroness Hayman: The main Government agency for funding research into the causes and pathogenesis of health problems is the Medical Research Council (MRC) which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department of Trade and Industry.
The MRC is funding one study which is about to be completed at the University of Manchester entitled The role of noradrenaline in the neuropsychological pathogenesis of the chronic fatigue syndrome. The MRC also supports a considerable amount of basic research that would underpin any search for the pathophysiology of myalgic encephalomyelitis.
The Department of Health has not commissioned any research in this area, and has no present plans to do so. We are however working with the Linbury Trust on issues related to the treatment and management of the problem.
Baroness Hayman: The first three pilots of NHS Direct were set up in March 1998. My honourable friend the Minister of State for Health announced a second wave on 4 August, which will be up and running in the first half of 1999 and take coverage of NHS Direct up to over 40 per cent. of the population. Fourteen million pounds has been allocated to funding NHS Direct in this financial year and at least £35 million will be spent during the 1999-2000 financial year on the second wave. A third wave will follow before national roll-out in the year 2000. We will be examining suitable funding levels for NHS Direct as part of our evaluation of these pilots and, on current estimates, we expect NHS Direct to cost something between £1 and £2 per head of the population annually.
Baroness Hayman: Exploitative child labour, wherever it occurs, is unacceptable. Current domestic legislation on the protection of children who work is being updated to ensure conformity with European standards. Furthermore, a review of these arrangements will address particularly the protection of working children's health, safety, welfare and general development. This review will report by the end of the year.
The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The provisions for monitoring and follow-up are, of course, very important in ensuring that the provisions of the Convention are both implemented, and adhered to, by all parties.
The UK delegation did not oppose arrangements for such monitoring and follow-up. Rather, it expressed a preference for one of three tabled options. The majority of OECD Member States preferred an alternative option, which was accepted by the UK without demur.
Lord Simon of Highbury: The United States prohibits the import of shrimps from countries which do not apply a regulatory programme comparable to its own for the protection of sea turtles from shrimp fishing nets. In May 1998, a WTO dispute settlement panel upheld a complaint made by India, Malaysia, Pakistan and Thailand against the United States that this prohibition was inconsistent with GATT rules. On 13 July the US lodged an appeal against this finding. Appeal proceedings should generally be completed within 60 days and always within 90 days.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): I refer the noble Lord to the reply given by Baroness Hayman to Lord Berkeley on 11 June 1998 (WA 103) and the letter from the Chief Executive of the Government Car and Dispatch Agency to Lord Berkeley on 16 June 1998 (WA 125).
Lord Whitty: Following the roads review, 44 schemes have been put on hold pending consideration by the regional planning conferences in developing draft regional planning guidance. To assist them in preparing sustainable transport strategies and identifying priorities for trunk road investment the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will be commissioning and funding a number of studies to identify multi-modal solutions to the most urgent problems on the trunk road network. The regional planning conferences will be consulted on these study proposals.
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