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Agricultural Chemicals: Multiple Residues

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The Government are not currently funding any experimental research into the effects of multiple residues of agricultural chemicals in the human body and do not presently have proposals to commission such research.

The UK regulatory authorities responsible for the approval of pesticides make use of estimates of the dietary intake of pesticides from food to assess and manage any potential risk to consumers. The possibility that synergistic effects might arise from multiple exposures to different pesticides was looked at in the early 1990s when the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) considered a study on the possible interactions between 400 active ingredients of pesticides. The committee concluded that such interactions were at worst additive and has not recommended a further review of this subject.

Data on residues of pesticides in foods are taken from Government monitoring programmes, including analysis of total diet samples and individual domestic and imported food and feeding stuffs. A number of dietary surveys are used to estimate intakes of pesticide residues for the total diet using the UK consumer model. There is currently no evidence available to us to suggest that the cumulative intake of pesticides exceeds recognised safety limits.

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If interactions between a particular pesticide and other compounds are suspected when its approval is considered, that approval will not be granted (or maintained if the pesticide is under review) unless further data are submitted which remove that suspicion.

Government funded research has identified that the variability of residues of some pesticides in some commodities has the potential to erode safety standards. This has resulted in regulatory and advisory action already taken in the UK. The implications of these findings for human risk assessment will be the subject of an international conference in December 1998, organised by the Pesticides Safety Directorate. Millennium Volunteers Ltd.: Chairman

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many applications have been received for the post of Chairman of Millennium Volunteers Ltd., which was advertised in The Sunday Times on 16 June; when the appointment to the post is to be made; what will be the salary or honorarium; and what budget has been made available for Millennium Volunteers Ltd. by the Government.[HL3195]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Thirty five applications were received for the post of Chair of Millennium Volunteers. After further consideration of the most efficient options for national delivery of Millennium Volunteers in England, the Government have decided to establish an internal unit within the Department, to take forward the programme in partnership with the voluntary sector. No salary was attached to the position of Chair. £12.75 million from the windfall levy has been allocated to the programme in England. ECC Reports: Publicity

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked the Leader of the House:

    Whether the reports of the House of Lords' Select Committee on the European Communities receive adequate publicity and are circulated widely enough; and, if not, what action she intends to take to increase publicity for and increase circulation of the reports.

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Select Committee on the Committee work of the House (the "Jellicoe Committee") considered these questions in its report (HL Paper 35-I, Session 1991-92). The committee recommended that there should be greater promotion of European Communities Committee reports (paragraph 143) and that committees generally should do more to encourage coverage of their reports (paragraphs 159-161).

These recommendations have been actively pursued. The role of the Information Officer, appointed in October 1996, includes the provision of advice and assistance to committees. She has introduced new

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procedures for dissemination of press information. Since the start of the present Session the text of all reports has been available to the Internet ( These initiatives have met with considerable success in relation to some reports, but it must be emphasised that some reports on important but technical subjects are unlikely to attract wide coverage except in the specialist press. The European Communities Committee and its Chairman are keen to secure increased publicity for its reports, and the committee and its staff continue actively to seek to ensure that the publication of reports is made widely known and that copies reach those who are likely to be influential in the European legislative process. In particular, in recent years the committee has made increased use of contacts within the Commission and within the other national parliaments of the European Union. The committee's participation, since 1989, in the Conference of European Affairs Committees (COSAC) has ensured that the committee's reports are circulated widely among the national parliaments and governments of the other member states. Cloning: Research Funding

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Simon of Highbury on 27 July (WA 171-172), whether they will now say which companies have received funding to facilitate the development of cloning; how much was given; whether any of these companies are using government-funded research to develop human cloning; and how the Government's funding is divided between departments of state.[HL3138]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): As my noble friend Lord Simon of Highbury explained in his Answer of 27 July, cloning has been a widely used research tool in biological research since the 1970s. Given its pervasive and pivotal role in advancing biological research, it is impossible to state explicitly how much funding cloning as a distinct technology has received.

There has been much recent publicity about developments in nuclear transfer in animals to produce an animal sharing the genetic constitution of the nuclear donor. The Government have funded one company, PPL Therapeutics plc, a grant of £625,430 over three years for a single project involving nuclear transfer. This grant was offered by the Department of Trade and Industry in July this year.

The project does not involve the cloning of, or nuclear transfer to produce, human individuals. Such research is banned in the UK. As the Government recently confirmed in their memorandum on cloning to the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee (HC 1039), "Cloning of human individuals cannot take place in this country".

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UNESCO: Cultural Policies Conference

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the outcomes of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development held in Stockholm from 30 March to 2 April; and which elements of the Stockholm Action Plan they propose to implement.[HL3219]

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Baroness Amos: The outcome of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Conference on Cultural Policies for Development was the successful negotiation of an Action Plan. The Government recognise the importance of cultural factors in achieving lasting change and sustainable development and therefore welcome this Action Plan--we worked hard in Stockholm to make it relevant and achievable for all UNESCO member states. We are currently considering how UK policies and practices might best reflect the objectives and methods described in the Action Plan.

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