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Use of Military Force

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The position set out in the Answer I gave to the noble Lord on 16 November (WA 139), and reaffirmed in my Answer of 7 May (WA 114), remains unchanged.

Bosnia Herzegovina: Train and Equip Programme

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The "Train and Equip" programme is a bilateral matter between the US and the Government of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Military Professional Resources Incorporated, the firm that conducts the Train and Equip programme, is a private sector company and is licenced by the US State Department. Her Majesty's Government are not involved in this programme. The programme has been suspended since April because of the lack of progress on an integrated Federation Army.

Haemophiliacs Infected with Hepatitis C

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): We have received a letter from the Haemophilia Society on this issue. However, the representations made by the society have not convinced the Government to alter their decision that haemophiliacs infected with hepatitis C through National Health Service treatment should not receive special payments. I will write to my noble friend addressing the specific points made by the Haemophilia Society.

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Meat Hygiene

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether local authority food safety law enforcement officers who are dealing with a complaint from a member of the public about unfit meat where the nature or condition of the meat is such that it would be reasonable to assume that the cause of the unfitness was or should have been apparent at the time the carcass was inspected in the slaughterhouse, are empowered to enter the slaughterhouse from which that meat originated in order to check whether the control systems in place were and are adequate, in the context of a due diligence defence being offered by the seller of the meat; and whether they are empowered, in carrying out their investigations, to check the effectiveness of Meat Hygiene Service personnel and their procedures; and[HL3231]

    Whether local authority food safety law enforcement officers are empowered to enter slaughterhouses with a view to checking the standards of meat processing and supervision, in the course of investigations into outbreaks of food poisoning, where there are reasonable suspicions that the sources of contamination may reside in slaughterhouses.[HL3232]

Baroness Hayman: An authorised officer of a food authority has the power to enter a slaughterhouse to ascertain whether there have been any contraventions of the Food Safety Act 1990, and to take action to ensure that food failing to comply with food safety requirements is dealt with appropriately. This would normally be done in close liaison with the Meat Hygiene Service (MHS) and would take into account the controls operated by the MHS within the premises. Food authorities have no powers to check the effectiveness of MHS personnel or their procedures.

Food Standards Agency

Earl Grey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is appropriate for the headquarters of the proposed Food Standards Agency to be located in a building the ground floor of which is a branch of a national supermarket chain.[HL3308]

Baroness Hayman: The building which is being leased to provide the headquarters for the proposed Food Standards Agency is part of a mixed office and commercial refurbishment and development in the Holborn area. In line with planning consents, the developer is letting the ground floor separately for retail use, including a retail chemist and a supermarket. The choice of tenants is a commercial matter for the developer, and it would have been inappropriate for the Government to attempt to influence his decision.

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Earl Grey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of the annual income of the Meat Hygiene Service will contribute to the annual running of the proposed Food Standards Agency; and whether the agency would require additional funding if the Meat Hygiene Service was not absorbed into its structure.[HL3310]

Baroness Hayman: The Government propose that the Meat Hygiene Service should become an Executive Agency of the Food Standards Agency (FSA). Its funding will thus be accounted for separately from that of the Food Standards Agency. Meat Hygiene Service charges collected under the Meat (Hygiene and Inspection) (Charges) Regulations 1998 cannot be used to fund non MHS activities, such as the FSA running costs.

Salmonella Poisoning

Lord Palmer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    By how much salmonella food poisoning has decreased in 1998 compared with 1997; and for what reasons.[HL3326]

Baroness Hayman: Data collected by the Public Health Laboratory Service (PHLS) shows that the number of laboratory confirmed cases of salmonella in England and Wales fell from 32,596 in 1997 to a provisional figure of 23,420 in 1998.

Not all salmonella infections are the result of food poisoning. Some infections are spread, for example, from person to person or through direct contact with animals or their waste. In outbreak situations investigations often discover a likely common source of infection. However, because the vast majority of infections are isolated sporadic cases, it is not always possible to identify the source of infection.

The PHLS and the Veterinary Laboratories Agency are currently investigating the factors that may explain the recent trends in salmonella infections in England and Wales, and this research will be published in due course.

Smoking on Television

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their view that smoking by fictional characters in popular television soap operas such as Coronation Street and EastEnders is likely to cause young people to smoke.[HL3267]

Baroness Hayman: The Government believe that viewers, especially children, should be protected from broadcast material portraying smoking as a glamorous or attractive activity. The regulatory codes therefore give guidance about the depiction of smoking and drinking in programmes. Programmes should not include smoking or drinking unless the context or dramatic veracity require it. Particular care is needed with programmes likely to be seen by children.

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Dioxins: Carcinogenicity

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence has been published in the last three years as to the carcinogenicity of dioxins of the type, and at the concentrations, thought possibly to be present in Belgian food products recently withdrawn from the market.[HL3246]

Baroness Hayman: There are a number of compounds classed as "dioxins". The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC, 1997) and the Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COC, 1998) have reviewed the published evidence, from animal and human studies, for the carcinogenicity of 2, 3, 7, 8-tetrachlorodibenzo-p-dioxin (TCDD), which is the most toxic of these compounds.

The COC concluded that it would be prudent to assume that TCDD is a probable weak human carcinogen. The IARC concluded that TCDD should be regarded as a human carcinogen.

There is no published evidence as to the human carcinogenicity of levels and types of the other "dioxins" which are thought to have predominated in contaminated Belgian foods.

Special Advisers: Pay

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the increases to the Special Adviser pay bands for 1999-2000; and how many advisers are in each pay band by department.[HL3470]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office, (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The minima and maxima of the Special Adviser pay bands have each been increased by 2.8 per cent. with effect from 1 April 1999, the same increase as for the Senior Civil Service pay bands. The three pay bands are now:

Band A--£26,728 to £46,260

Band B--£41,120 to £61,680

Band C--£55,512 to £78,186

The number of Special Advisers in each pay band is as follows:

DepartmentNumber in Bands
ABC
No. 10(1)3107
Agriculture, Fisheries & Food1
Cabinet Office(2)21
Chief Whip's Office2
Culture, Media & Sport11
Defence11
Education & Employment(3), (4)21
Environment, Transport & the Regions(5)31
Foreign & Commonwealth Office2
Health11
Home Office2
International Development2
Leader of the House of Lords2
Lord Chancellor's Department1
Northern Ireland Office2
President of the Council11
Scottish Office(6)1
Social Security 11
Trade & Industry2
HM Treasury(7), (8)111
Welsh Office2
Total153314

(1) Plus Jonathan Powell and Alastair Campbell, who are paid outside the band structure, and Iain Anderson, who is an unpaid adviser.

(2) Plus Keith Hellawell, UK Anti-Drugs Co-ordinator, who is paid outside the band structure.

(3) Plus Michael Barber, the Standards and Effectiveness Adviser.

(4) Includes two part-time posts; one additional adviser has been appointed at a salary to be determined.

(5) Includes two part-time posts.

(6) One additional adviser has been appointed at a salary to be determined.

(7) Plus the three members of the Council of Economic Advisers (two in Band C and one in Band B; one of them part-time).

(8) One additional adviser has been appointed at a salary to be determined.


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