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Human Genetics Advisory Commission Working Party

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department to Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) and the Human Genetics Advisory

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Commission (HGAC) established a joint sub-group to draft the report, Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine, which was approved by both bodies. Its recommendations are set out in response to the next Question.

The members of this joint sub-group were nominated by the HFEA and the HGAC on the basis of their relevant knowledge and experience. Appointments to these bodies are made in accordance with the Office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments guidelines. The report states that one of the members of the sub-group is employed in the pharmaceutical industry.

Human Embryos: Cloning

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will rule out the use of human embryos in all cloning procedures.[HL272]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The Minister for Public Health said (Official Report, 26 June 1997, col. 615) that:

"We regard the deliberate cloning of human individuals as ethically unacceptable . . . However, we need to consider carefully whether a total ban on cloning techniques could affect valuable research that does not involve cloning of individuals".

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 expressly prohibits nuclear replacement of a cell of an embryo. Other forms of cloning cannot take place because the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has decided that it will not license any treatment involving such techniques or any research to develop cloning for human reproductive purposes.

A joint Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and Human Genetics Advisory Commission Report to Ministers on Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine was published on Tuesday 8 December. The report recommends that the safeguards in place are recognised as being wholly adequate to prevent human reproductive cloning, but suggested that the Government may wish to consider the possibility of legislation explicitly banning reproductive cloning regardless of the technique used, as a clear public statement on reproductive cloning in the UK. It also recommends that changes be considered to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, which strictly regulates the use of human embryos in research, to provide two further purposes for which research may be undertaken. These would permit research into mitochondrial diseases as well as treatment for diseased or damaged tissues or organs. We will consider the report carefully before responding to it in the new year.

General Pinochet

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 5 November (H.L. Deb., col. 370), whether the remarks made by the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry in a television interview on

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    18 October concerning General Pinochet were an expression of personal view and not government policy; and whether they will say (a) how viewers were expected to know that this was so, (b) whether any other of his remarks expressed only personal opinion, (c) whether it is their policy that Ministers being interviewed in their official capacity should mix personal and official views without distinction.[HL39]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The views expressed by my right honourable friend were personal, as was made clear by my noble friend Lady Symons of Vernham Dean (H.L. Deb., col. 370).

Agriculture Council, 14-15 December

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the Agriculture Council held in Brussels on 14 and 15 December.[HL354]

Lord Carter: My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the United Kingdom at a meeting of the European Union Agriculture Council in Brussels on 14 and 15 December.

The Council agreed by qualified majority (Belgium, Spain and Portugal abstaining) a Commission proposal to ban the use of four antibiotics in animal feed as from 30 June 1999. My right honourable friend welcomed the proposal as an appropriate response to advice, including from our own specialist scientific committees, that the use of antimicrobial growth promoters which may impair the efficacy of antibiotics used in human medicines should be phased out. He also welcomed the Council's statement stressing the need for an overall science-based approach to the issue of antibiotic resistance and calling for the Commission to submit a further report on the question of third country compliance with equivalent rules.

The Council also agreed by qualified majority (Italy and the Netherlands opposing, Portugal abstaining) two regulations establishing new agrimonetary arrangements to apply following introduction of the Single Currency on 1 January 1999. My right honourable friend supported these measures which will greatly simplify the agrimonetary system while reducing its costs and making it easier to operate. He was particularly pleased to secure provision that the impact of the ending of the freeze on green rates on 1 January, which benefited our farmers more than any other member state's, will be subject to a gradual transition over three years.

The Council reached unanimous political agreement on a proposal to send food aid to Russia, targeted towards regions most in need. My right honourable friend particularly welcomed this important gesture of EU solidarity with the Russian people.

A discussion of the Commission's proposal for reform of the wine regime concluded with agreement that final decisions should be taken in the context of the Agenda 2000 CAP reforms in the early part of next year. The Commission debated a proposal to establish

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EU-wide rules governing organic livestock standards, agreeing guidelines for further negotiations.

A package of proposals concerning the marketing of seeds was adopted by qualified majority (Denmark voting against). Council resolution on an EU forestry strategy was agreed unanimously, as was a decision approving a national aid to certain Greek co-operatives. The Commission also adopted unanimously a further postponement of the implementation of the 1997 Decision on Specified Risk Materials and a short deferral of implementation of new intra-Community health rules on trade in cattle and pigs.

Dr. Bishop

Lord Evans of Parkside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to reply to the letter sent on 5 October by the Lord Evans of Parkside to the Secretary of State for Health concerning Dr. Bishop of Warrington which was acknowledged on 7 October; and when they intend to reply to a further letter on the same subject which has not so far been acknowledged but which was sent on 26 November.[HL350]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): A reply was sent to my noble friend on 16 December including an apology for the delay and the lack of communication with him while detailed inquiries were made into the specific case he raised.

Brazil

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What the United Kingdom is doing to assist Brazil in the light of its current economic difficulties.[HL337]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We welcome and support the agreements between the Brazilian Government and the international community to restore confidence in the Brazilian economy. The UK's role in furthering this objective is explained in the written statement laid before both Houses today, pursuant to the International Monetary Arrangements Act 1983.

Unidentified Flying Objects

Lord Hill-Norton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Lord Chancellor on 14 October (WA 99-100) and by the Lord Gilbert on 19 November (WA 190), what is the location of the Ministry of Defence files covering the period 1970-1985 which contain information about UFOs; and what are the references and the titles of these files?[HL310]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): Thirty-eight files are held at the Public Record Office for release under the terms of the Public Records Acts 1958 and 1967, the 30-year rule applying:

AIR 2/18564 & 18565 UFO Reports--due for release 2002.

AIR 20/12067, 12297 to 12306 Unidentified flying objects-due for release 2001.

AIR 20/12399 to 12411 UFO reports--due for release 2003.

AIR 20/12544 to 12555 UFO reports--due for release 2004.

BJ 5/311 UFO: Met aspects--due for release 2001

Four files are held by the MoD records management branch pending acceptance and transfer to the PRO, PRO references and transfer arrangements awaiting confirmation:

AF/7463/72 UFO reports--provisionally assigned to PRO reference AIR 2/18831 for release in 2003.

AF/7464/72 UFO reports--provisionally assigned to PRO reference AIR 2/18872 for release in 2004.

AF/7464/72 Pt. II UFO reports--provisionally assigned to PRO reference AIR 2/18873 for release in 2005.

AF/7464/72 Pt. III UFO reports--provisionally assigned to PRO reference AIR 2/18874 for release in 2006.

In the absence of a thematic index of files stored in MoD's archives the identification of files has, of necessity, been limited to those created by the Air Staff Secretariat and predecessor branches. The following files have been identified and are earmarked for review by MoD at future dates, at which point they will be assessed for their suitability for preservation at the PRO. It is possible that some files created by other Headquarters divisions or establishments may contain papers on this topic. These could only be identified at disproportionate cost:

AF/S4f(A)/422--one file--UFOs, BBC Radio Oxford Programme.

AF/S4f(Air) U/506--one file--Statistical Analyses of UFOs.

AF/3459/75--one file--UFOs: Policy and Policy statements--1970.

AF/584 to 595--12 files--UFO reports.

AF/596 to 602--seven files--UFO reports.

AF/447--one file--UFO reports.

AF/607 & 608--two files--UFO reports.

AF/610 to 613--four files--UFO reports.

AF/616 to 619--four files--UFO reports.

AF/419--one file--BBC 2, Man Alive Programme: UFOs.

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D/DS8/75/2/1--six parts--UFO reports, correspondence.

D/DS9/75/2/2--12 parts--UFO correspondence.

D/DS8/75/2/3--six parts--UFO reports, edited copies.

D/DS8/75/2/4--three parts--UFO reports.

D/DS8/75/2/5--two parts--UFO reports.

D/DS8/75/3--one part--UFO, Parliamentary Correspondence.

D/DS8/75/6--one part--UFO, TV discussion.

D/DS8/75/7--one part--UFO, satellite debris.

D/DS8/10/209--seven parts--UFO briefs, reports and correspondence.

D/DS8/10/209/1--three parts--general briefs, reports, UFO correspondence.


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