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Fisheries Council

Lord Sawyer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Donoughue: The Fisheries Council met in Luxembourg on 10 June. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary represented the UK together with my noble friend Lord Sewel, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Scottish Office.

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The Council adopted proposals introducing and allocating in 1999 two new Total Allowable Catches (TACs) for North Sea spurdog and northern prawn. It also allocated for 1999 two existing TACs for blue whiting fished in Western waters and the Bay of Biscay. The UK secured an 81 per cent. share of the Spurdog TAC and 27 per cent. of the Northern Prawn TAC. On blue whiting we negotiated an increase of 5,000 tonnes in the proposed UK allocation. A further 7,000 tonnes was allocated to the UK under the Bay of Biscay TAC, with the option of taking this in Western waters as a linked stock. This makes an effective total allocation of over 42,000 tonnes and gives the UK a 24 per cent. share of the two TACs, the highest of any member state. The introduction and allocation of these TACs will enhance the conservation of stocks in the North Sea and Western waters.

My honourable friend the Parliamentary Secretary drew the attention of the Council to the significance of forthcoming scientific advice sought by the Commission from the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) on the need for precautionary restrictions on fishing activity to protect vulnerable seabird populations which depend on sandeels. The Commission promised to work quickly on appropriate measures once the ICES advice was available.

The Commission introduced its second annual report on progress in the EU in following up on the recommendations of the 1997 Bergen Intermediate Ministerial Conference on the integration of environmental concerns in fisheries management in the North Sea. This report was remitted for further study.

The Commission made an interim report on the cost benefit study it is undertaking of the EU's Third Country Fisheries Agreements and the Council adopted Conclusions urging the Commission to pursue talks with Morocco on co-operation in the fisheries sector following the expiry in November of the present EU-Morocco Fisheries Agreement.

After lengthy discussion, a Presidency compromise on the reform of the structural funds in the fisheries sector failed to secure a Qualified Majority. This issue will fall for further consideration by the Council in October.

UK Exports to EU Member States

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Simon of Highbury on 17 May (WA 16), whether they agree with the information given in the "supply and use" tables on pages 148 and 149 of the 1998 edition of the United Kingdom National Accounts (the "Blue Book"), and in the article Inflation and Growth in a Service by Ms DeAnne Julius in the Bank of England's Quarterly Bulletin published in November 1998.[HL2744]

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The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The answer given on 17 May (WA 16) is wholly consistent with the information given in the "supply and use" tables in the United Kingdom National Accounts (the "Blue Book") and the article by Ms DeAnne Julius. None of these gives the value-added component of British exports of goods and services to the other European Union countries in 1996.

Haemophiliacs Infected with Hepatitis C: Special Payments Refusal

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Baroness Hayman on 24 May (H.L. Deb., cols. 631-632), where it was officially stated that the social stigma of HIV, and the danger of infecting partners, were important considerations in the grant by the then government of special payments to National Health Service patients infected with HIV during treatment.[HL2723]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health gave the view of this Government when he wrote to the Haemophilia Society on 28 July 1998. He said, with regard to the decision not to introduce a special payment scheme for people with haemophilia infected with hepatitis C through National Health Service treatment, that the circumstances of the people infected with HIV were different. He added that the stigma surrounding HIV at the time the decision was taken, the fact that it was generally considered a sexually transmitted disease and that haemophiliacs could have inadvertently infected their partners were all important considerations which do not apply to hepatitis C.

NHS Allergy Services

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which are the NHS allergy clinics in the United Kingdom, indicating in each case the time a patient suffering from a potentially life-threatening allergy is likely to have to wait before seeing a consultant.[HL2792]

Baroness Hayman: The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) maintains and publishes a list of allergy clinics in the National Health Service that are run by its members. The list for 1998-99 includes 87 such clinics in the United Kingdom. The British Allergy Foundation also holds details of a further 30 clinics in the United Kingdom that are run by non-members of the BSACI. The Department of Health does not have information on the time taken to see a consultant at each clinic.

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Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What recent instructions have been given to NHS trusts about the priority that should be given to spending on allergy services.[HL2793]

Baroness Hayman: We have not issued any instructions to National Health Service trusts about the priority to be given to spending on allergy services. We do recognise that at present service provision is patchy and we are concerned about the present level of services available for the treatment of allergies in the NHS. Officials recently met representatives of the relevant professional and patient representative bodies to discuss the future of allergy services; possible action will be discussed at a follow-up meeting to be arranged. It is however the responsibility of individual health authorities to assess the health care needs of their residents and to secure access to a range of services which aim to meet those needs. Each health authority therefore decides how great is the need for local allergy services, based on local priorities and resources.

Lord Onslow of Woking asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest estimate of the annual rate of increase of allergic diseases per cent. of the population of the United Kingdom.[HL2794]

Baroness Hayman: We have made no such estimate. Professor John Warner, Professor of Child Health at the University of Southampton, has estimated that allergic diseases are increasing at a rate of around 1 per cent. of the population per year.

ASSIST Programme

Lord Desai asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the Assistance to support Stability with In-Service Training (ASSIST) programme performed in its first year; and whether, as a result of this performance, any changes to the programme are envisaged.[HL2996]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The ASSIST programme was established on 1 April 1998 to replace the UK Military Training Assistance Scheme (UKMTAS) with the main purpose of refocusing support to the Government's priority of promoting respect for human rights and good governance.

Notable results in the first year included: a course in China run together with Save the Children Fund, designed to fight child trafficking; direct human rights training for the Russian military; a workshop on conscientious objection in Novograd; and a women and children protection course in the Philippines.

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The transition to new objectives made a good start in FY 1998-99 with 84 per cent. of spending being compatible with the new ASSIST criteria. For the next financial year, as pre-existing commitments reduce, we shall be increasing this percentage and further refining the ASSIST criteria.

New objectives will include:

    The addition of an objective to promote the re-establishment of appropriately structured and armed forces in post conflict situations (internal and external) and in newly democratised countries;

    Promotion of the security of the Overseas Territories;

    The inclusion of training for peacekeeping in accordance with UN guidance;

    Co-operation with NGOs and other representatives of civil society on security sector assistance;

    Increased emphasis on counter proliferation and combating small arms trafficking;

    Enhancement of the professionalism of the armed forces has been withdrawn as an independent objective within the criteria.

We have set up an ASSIST Challenge Fund to be used for flagship projects. To enable greater continuity and planning, we have agreed that ASSIST will continue for at least three years. We are also liaising with the MoD and DfID to ensure that ASSIST's programmes complement those departments' programmes in related areas.

A copy of the new ASSIST criteria will be placed in the Library.

Airborne Stand-Off Radar

Baroness Young of Old Scone asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in determining the outcome of the competition for the Airborne Stand-Off Radar.[HL2995]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): A consortium led by Raytheon Systems Ltd has been chosen as the preferred bidder for the development, production and in-service support of ASTOR, the Airborne Stand-Off Radar system. The consortium includes Short Brothers, Motorola UK Ltd., GEC Marconi Avionics and Marshall SV.

The ASTOR Main Operating Base will be at RAF Waddington.

The project management team will be located in the United Kingdom, and the prime contractor will place work representing 100 per cent. of the contract value with UK firms. The project will be managed by the Defence Procurement Agency under Smart Procurement

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principles, with an Integrated Project Team involving representatives from industry and the Services. The likely value of the contract is about £800 million.

Millennium Dome Opening: Guest List

The Earl of Carlisle asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to invite to the Opening Ceremony of the Millennium Dome on

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    31 December 1999 the Ambassadors and Heads of Legation from all those nations which have diplomatic representatives accredited to the Court of St. James.[HL2665]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The New Millennium Experience Company is currently consulting a number of organisations, including government, about the composition of the guest list for the Opening Celebration at the Dome on 31 December 1999. An announcement will be made in due course.

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