Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


22 Jul 1999 : Column WA113

Written Answers

Thursday, 22nd July 1999.

Human Cloning: Expert Advisory Group

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any of the appointees to the proposed new Independent Expert Advisory Group on Cloning will be expert in non-embryonic cell duplication techniques which may be used as alternatives in therapeutic cloning; and, if not, why not.[HL3701]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): We hope to be able to announce the terms of reference and membership of the Chief Medical Officer's expert advisory group on cloning shortly.

The Government's response to the Human Genetics Advisory Commission and Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority report on cloning, published on 24 June, included a statement that the Chief Medical Officer's expert group would, among other considerations, provide an opportunity to obtain views on alternatives to cloning embryonic cells.

Copies of the documents mentioned are available in the Library.

Oral Health: Policy

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, apart from the section on water fluoridation, the absence of any reference to dental and oral health in the White Paper, Saving Lives--Our Healthier Nation, can be seen as an encouragement to the 23,400 practitioners and 36,070 dental nurses, hygienists, therapists and technicians working within the general dental service.[HL3704]

Baroness Hayman: We made particular mention of the fluoridation of water because this has been shown to be the most effective method of reducing tooth decay. We do, however, recognise the contribution that other oral health promotion measures can make and have allocated £500,000 for funding exemplar projects in the current financial year. These include two projects aimed at encouraging families from ethnic communities to register with dental practices in order that they may benefit from both the treatment and preventive measures provided by the dental team. We are working on a dental strategy in which we will develop our policy on oral and dental health.

Fluoridation of Water

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of their statement in the White Paper, Saving Lives--Our Healthier Nation that "the present

22 Jul 1999 : Column WA114

    legislation on fluoridation is not working", what effect their decision to transfer the requirement to undertake public consultation on fluoridation from health authorities to local authorities will have.[HL3705]

Baroness Hayman: We wish the local authority, as the locally elected representative body, to be involved in the assessment of public opinion, but the main change required to remedy the flaw in the present legislation is for the water companies to be put under a statutory obligation to accede to requests to fluoridate where there is strong local support for doing so. As the White Paper indicated, we will introduce amending legislation to this effect provided the scientific review we have commissioned confirms that there are benefits to dental health and no significant risks.

Medical Devices Agency: Annual Report and Accounts

Baroness Gould of Potternewton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the 1998-99 Annual Report and Accounts of the Medical Devices Agency.[HL3813]

Baroness Hayman: The Report and Accounts of the Medical Devices Agency have today been laid before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Sections 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921. Copies have also been placed in the Library.

NHS Estates Agency: Corporate Plan

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Corporate Plan 1999/2000-2001/02, Key Tasks and Targets for 1999/2000 and Business Plan 1999/2000 for the NHS Estate Agency.[HL3810]

Baroness Hayman: We have agreed the Agency's Corporate Plan 1999/2000-2001/02, Key Tasks and Targets for 1999/2000 and Business Plan 1999/2000 and have placed copies in the Library.

NHS Estates Executive Agency: Annual Report and Accounts

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Annual Report and Accounts 1998-99 for the NHS Estates Executive Agency.[HL3812]

Baroness Hayman: The report and accounts have today been laid in accordance with the requirements of

22 Jul 1999 : Column WA115

Section 5 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921. Copies have also been placed in the Library.

NHS Pensions Agency: Annual Report and Accounts

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Annual Report and Accounts of the NHS Pensions Agency.[HL3811]

Baroness Hayman: The Report and Accounts have today been laid before both Houses of Parliament in accordance with the requirements of Sections 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921. Copies have also been placed in the Library.

Anti-smoking Measures

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much British taxpayers are contributing to the Government campaign against smoking.[HL3648]

Baroness Hayman: Measures set out in the White Paper Smoking Kills set out the Government's tobacco control strategy and promised more than £100 million over the next three years. This will include up to £60 million for smoking cessation services and up to £50 million on a programme of public information and education. Eight million pounds over three years in Scotland will be devoted to tackling reduction in smoking. Equivalent funding in Wales is subject to the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review for Wales.

Smoking-related Illnesses: Cost

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the current estimated costs to the National Health Service and Social Security of smoking-related illnesses.[HL3649]

Baroness Hayman: The annual cost to the National Health Service of treating smoking-related disease caused by smoking is estimated to be between £1.4 billion and £1.7 billion for England. Spending on social security benefits is affected by very many factors and it is not possible to isolate the benefit cost of smoking-related illnesses.

South African Driving Licences

The Earl of Clancarty asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 2 March (WA 182), from what date holders of current South African driving licences will be able to exchange such licences for United Kingdom driving licences.[HL3730]

22 Jul 1999 : Column WA116

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The legislation allowing the exchange of certain South African driving licences for British ones came into force on 2 July.

A.2, Blackheath: Traffic Island Lighting

Lord Higgins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why traffic islands on the A.2 on Blackheath have remained unlit for many weeks.[HL3707]

Lord Whitty: This is a matter for the London Borough of Greenwich as highway authority for this length of the A.2. We understand from the council that they were not aware of any problem with the lighting on the traffic islands but they will carry out a night-time inspection as soon as possible and put in hand any remedial action necessary.

M.4 Bus Lane: Journey Times

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) What was the average time taken for a bus to travel between Junction 4 and Junction 2 of the M.4 at weekday peak times before the introduction of the bus lane; and what is now the average time; and

    (b) How many buses, coaches and taxis travel on the M.4 between Junctions 4 and 2 on an average weekday; and how that number is spread over the day.[HL3000]

Lord Whitty: Before the introduction of the bus lane, the average time for a vehicle joining the M.4 at Junction 4 and travelling in lane 2 before leaving at Junction 2, during the peak periods 06.30 to 09.30 and 17.30 to 20.30 hours, was calculated from measurements of vehicle speeds as 12.4 minutes. Information is not available for different classes of vehicle.

On the assumption that buses now travel in the middle lane between Junctions 4 and 3 and in the outside lane between Junctions 3 and 2, their average journey time during weekday peak times is 9.1 minutes. This represents a saving on average of over three minutes. Monitoring has shown that cars are also making savings over the same distance of one minute during the morning peak and two and half minutes during the evening peak periods. It will be some time before we can be confident this information is directly comparable with that obtained before the bus lane was opened, as it refers to measurements at different times of the year.

It is not possible to give precise figures for the number of buses, coaches or taxis on the M.4 before the bus lane opened. The numbers now using this section of the motorway can only be determined by measuring the numbers using the bus lane between Junctions 3 and 2. After the first month of operation, on average 550 buses and coaches, 100 minibuses and 3,150 taxis used the bus lane each day. About 220 taxis per hour use the bus lane in peak periods and 150 per hour at other times. Bus,

22 Jul 1999 : Column WA117

coach and minibus use is relatively uniform through the day, typically about 45 per hour for buses and coaches together and 10 per hour for minibuses. There has been an increase of more than 5 per cent. in the number of vehicles using the bus lane since it was opened.


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page