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Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Dubs: The appointment of examiners is a matter for the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) as an examining body. CCEA adhere to the GCSE and GCE Code of Practice which is common to all examining bodies and which sets out the relevant requirements for examiners. Examiners are required to have relevant subject experience and so all examiners of the GCSE and A-level papers in religious studies are therefore teachers of the subject. In addition, under the code it is desirable that an examiner should be a teacher of the syllabus: CCEA's examiners have not taught all of the options of the A-level syllabus but can augment their expertise by additional recruitment as they consider necessary.

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider professional expertise in religious studies from the tertiary sector is adequately represented on the various committees or working groups of the Council for Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment currently engaged for (a) GCSE; (b) A-level; and (c) AS-level examinations in Northern Ireland.[HL2495]

Lord Dubs: The Department of Education has consulted the Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum, Examinations and Assessment (CCEA) and as a result I am content that every effort is made by the council to ensure broad and balanced representation on its examining teams from the various sectors of education. In establishing its examining team the council must balance the need for representation from the tertiary sector with representation from those who have experience teaching the syllabus and preparing candidates for the examination. For example, the council's Religious Education Committee included three members from the tertiary sector. The Chief Examiner for GCSE teaches religious studies at tertiary level, as does the reviser for the A and AS-level examination.

Lord Eames asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many students from Northern Ireland are currently completing examinations in religious studies with examining boards in England, Scotland and Wales.[HL2496]

Lord Dubs: Information on the number of students from Northern Ireland who are currently completing examinations in religious studies will not be available until this year's examinations have been completed. The numbers of Northern Ireland school pupils who completed examinations in religious studies with examining boards in England, Scotland and Wales in 1997-98 was:


    England:7,682


    Scotland: 0


    Wales:1,266


    Total:8,948

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NHS: Electronic Exchange of Information

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether computer software currently being used by NHS Direct allows for clinical information to be exchanged via computer with other organisations in the National Health Service.[HL2635]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): A number of clinical decision support systems are currently being piloted during the development phase of NHS Direct. The intention is to introduce a single national system.

A key priority for its procurement will be the ability of the system to electronically exchange information with other organisations in the National Health Service.

Social Security Benefits: Pathway Project

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the status of the Pathway project to computerise social security benefit through the Post Office.[HL2489]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): To date, 204 post offices have been automated in the north-east and south-west of England. The Benefits Agency, Post Office Counters Ltd. and ICL Pathway continue to work together to progress the project.

Foresight Programme

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress is being made in promoting the involvement of government departments in the Foresight programme.[HL2687]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The latest Whitehall Foresight progress report was published on 26 May. Copies have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The report provides examples of what departments are doing to promote Foresight and to respond to Foresight priorities and recommendations. It also outlines departments' initial plans for participation in the new round of Foresight which started on 1 April. Overall, it reflects significant forward progress since the last report published in June 1998.

Depleted Uranium

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether depleted uranium shells are being used by any NATO forces in Serbia and Kosovo.[HL2139]

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): I would refer the noble Lord to the Answer I gave to the noble Countess, Lady Mar, on 4 May 1999, (Official Report, col. WA 71).

Former Yugoslavia: Likely Length of War

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their advice about the likely length of the war in the former Yugoslavia given by their military advisers now differs from that given in advance of the bombing campaign by (a) their military advisers and by (b) other advisers.[HL2513]

Lord Gilbert: I am withholding this information under exemptions 1 and 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information relating to Defence, Security and International Relations and to Internal Discussions and Advice respectively.

Weapon Systems: Operational Use

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many new weapons or weapons systems (a) were used in Operation Desert Fox by the joint United Kingdom/United States forces engaged in it, and (b) are being used by the NATO forces now operating in the former Yugoslavia; and whether the firms who have manufactured these weapons or weapon systems have or had representatives present alongside the forces using the weapons.[HL2293]

Lord Gilbert: Paveway III laser-guided bombs were used in an operation for the first time by the RAF in Operation Desert Fox. The Royal Navy's Tomahawk Land Attack Missile and the RAF's RBL755 cluster bomb have seen their first operational use in the current campaign against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Representatives of the respective contractors were not present alongside the forces using the weapons.

It is for the other nations concerned to comment on their own weapon systems.

Hill Sheep Breeds

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their policy to discourage the production of native British hill sheep such as the Scottish Blackface and Welsh mountain breeds because they fail to meet conformation standards for lamb; and, if so, what is their policy for the farmers who breed these animals and for the environment.[HL2585]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue) : It is not the policy of this Government to discourage the production of the UK's hill sheep breeds which have a valuable role to play in preserving genetic diversity and

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managing the hill environment. However in view of the economic crisis facing all sheep producers we believe it is essential that they tailor their supply and carcass quality to the requirements of the domestic and export market places and will encourage them to do this.

Organophosphates: Implementation of Carden Report

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action has been taken to implement the recommendations in paragraph 6.10 of the report to Ministers by the Official Group on Organophosphates (the Carden committee).[HL2561]

Lord Donoughue: The recommendations to expand the range of independent expertise of the Veterinary Products Committee (VPC) and of the Medical and Scientific Panel (MSP) and the Human Suspected Adverse Reactions Appraisal Panel of the VPC have largely been implemented.

Professor Malcolm Harrington, Professor of Occupational Health at the University of Birmingham, was appointed to the Veterinary Products Committee with effect from 1 May 1998. Unfortunately, due to a clash with other commitments, he has tendered his resignation and applications to fill the vacancy for an occupational health specialist are currently under consideration.

Appointments to the Medical and Scientific Panel of the VPC took effect on 1 January 1999 as follows: Professor Nicola Cherry, Professor of Epidemiology and Occupational Health at the University of Manchester; Professor Raymond Cartwright, Director of the Leukaemia Research Fund Centre for Clinical Epidemiology at the University of Leeds; and Dr. Stephen Levy, Head of Toxicology and Risk Assessment, Medical Research Council, Institute for Environment and Health.

Appointments to the Human Suspected Adverse Reactions Appraisal Panel of the VPC also took effect on 1 January 1999 as follows: Professor P. K. Thomas, Professor of Neurology in the University of London at the Royal Free and University College Medical School and Institute of Neurology, Queen's Square; and Dr. John Cherrie, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Hygiene at the University of Aberdeen and the Institute of Occupational Medicine, Edinburgh. No application was received to fill the vacancy for a medical epidemiologist and applications will be invited in the next round of appointments.

Appointments to the Pesticide Incidents Appraisal Panel are, of course, a matter for the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). However, I understand that HSE expects to announce the addition of three independent experts to this panel within the next three months.

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