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Human Genetics Commission

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Advertisements seeking candidates for chair and members of the Human Genetics Commission and the Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission appeared in the following publications on the following dates:

The Guardian: (30 June 1999 and 3 July 1999); The Times (1 July 1999); New Scientist (3 July 1999); Belfast Telegraph (7 July 1999); News Letter (7 July 1999); Irish News (7 July 1999); Nature (8 July 1999); Western Mail (8 July 1999); Liverpool Daily Post (8 July 1999).

The advertisement appears throughout the month of July on the Guardian's Jobs Unlimited Website and New Scientist and Nature's recruitment webpages.

The advertisement was also placed on Office of Science and Technology and Department of Health websites and will run until 31 July 1999 (the closing date for applications to be returned).

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Nomination for chairman and members of the Human Genetics Commission are still being received and are expected to continue to do so up to the closing date. However, as of 21 July 1999, 129 nominations have been received for members and 18 for chairman. However, in many instances a particular individual may have been nominated by more than one person or organisation and individual organisations or persons may have made more than one nomination.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Over 500 individuals and organisations were notified by letter drawing their attention to the advertisement for recruitment of chairman and members of the Human Genetics Commission. These consisted of the large number of departmental contacts with professional, ethical, religious, consumer, patient and other groups and organisations as well as all those individuals or organisations which had contributed to the original

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consultation on the biotechnology regulatory framework.

A full listing of those notified has been placed in the Library.

Smallpox Virus: Retention

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have taken any action in response to the maintenance by the United States of the smallpox virus and its decision in 1997 to devote $322 million to make new vaccines for the military; and whether they have studied the implications for world health of other countries, such as Israel, maintaining variola stocks.[HL3380]

Baroness Hayman: The United Kingdom has followed closely the scientific debate on smallpox in recent years. Along with the United States and other like-minded countries, we have concluded that stocks of variola virus held under the auspices of the World Health Organisation in the US and Russia should be retained to permit further work that will help protect mankind should smallpox ever again pose a threat to public health. The United Kingdom is unaware of any stocks of the virus located in other countries.

The decision to retain variola virus stocks was shared by WHO member states at the World Health Assembly in May, where a resolution was passed to authorise temporary retention of stocks, until at least 2002. This delay is for the purpose of further international research into antiviral agents and improved vaccines, and to permit high priority investigations of the genetic structure and pathogenesis of smallpox.

Her Majesty's Government also maintain close links with the US on all aspects of chemical and biological defence. Discussions are well advanced on our participation in the US defence vaccine acquisition programme, under the auspices of a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding on chemical and biological defence between the UK, the US and Canada.

Free School Milk

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the event of the European Union discontinuing the school milk subsidy scheme, whether they will undertake to protect free welfare milk so that local authorities can continue to be fully reimbursed for nursery class milk.[HL3736]

Baroness Hayman: Under the Welfare Food Scheme, children aged under five years may receive free of charge one third of a pint of milk on each day they spend two or more hours away from their home in certain approved day care facilities, including nursery schools. The benefit is delivered through day care providers supplying the milk and reclaiming the cost.

The rules of the scheme are currently set out in the Welfare Food Regulations 1996 (as amended). These provide for the value of any subsidy, such as the European Union School Milk Subsidy, to be deducted

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from the nursery milk claim. This reduces the net cost of the milk due to be reimbursed by the Department of Health. If the day care providers are not eligible for a subsidy or if the EU School Milk Subsidy were to be withdrawn, then, under current legislation, they would be reimbursed the full cost of the milk.

Department of Health: New Deal Scheme Recruits

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many young people on the New Deal Scheme have been taken on by the Department of Health since April 1998.[HL3827]

Baroness Hayman: The Department of Health signed up to the New Deal programme in July 1998 and we recruited the first person under the scheme in December 1998. Since then the Department has recruited 10 further people, making a total of 11. Of these, five are in the 18-24 year old category.

Council of Europe and WEU Assemblies: UK Delegation

Lord Evans of Watford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there are any changes in the composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the Assembly of the Western European Union.[HL3963]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Baroness Knight of Collingtree DBE replaces the right honourable Sir Alastair Goodlad KCMG as a full representative of the delegation. Following the resignation of Lord Grenfell from the delegation, the right honourable Lord Clinton-Davis has been appointed as a substitute representative from the government benches.

Animals: Use in Defence Research

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the third annual report on the use of animals in defence research.[HL3964]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): The independent Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, chaired by Dr. Jeremy Lucke, has recently published its third annual report. The committee was set up in 1996 specifically to keep under review the care and welfare arrangements of animals used in defence research. We are placing a copy of the report in the Library of the House.

The use of animals in defence research is concerned with providing the Armed Forces with safe and effective protection against hazards they may encounter while

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conducting their duties, and is kept to the absolute minimum.

The committee's report highlights the work being done by the Defence Evaluation and Research Agency to find alternatives to the use of animals. In particular, the increasing use of in-vitro studies will lead to a reduction in the number of animals used. For example, use of such technology has meant that experiments to test the effectiveness of decontaminant and barrier creams against a chemical warfare agent, which would otherwise have needed up to 90 animals, were satisfactorily performed without using any animals at all.

There is still much to be done in developing technologies which allow the use of animals in experiments to be further reduced. We welcome continuing scrutiny by the Animal Welfare Advisory Committee and aim to minimise the use of animals as far as possible against the continuing requirement to research effective measures to counter the hazards faced by the armed forces in the conduct of their duties.

Ballistic Missile Defence Pre-feasibility Study

Baroness Mallalieu asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library a copy of the unclassified version of the summary of the ballistic missile defence pre-feasibility study.[HL3968]

Lord Gilbert: We are placing in the Library today a declassified version of the report which presents the findings of the Ministry of Defence UK Ballistic Missile Defence Pre-feasibility Programme. In addition to the report itself, we are placing in the Library two related documents, an executive summary of the report, and a statement of work, setting out the scope of the pre-feasibility study.

Kosovo: British Forces Winter Accommodation

Lord Evans of Watford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements they will make for the winter accommodation of British forces in Kosovo in respect of (a) corimec cabins, (b) new hard-walled buildings and (c) requisitioned buildings; and what is the latest date by which (i) these decisions must be taken and (ii) the purchase and construction cycle must start and finish.[HL3965]

Lord Gilbert: On Friday 23 July, the Defence Procurement Agency placed a contract with Hunting Engineering Ltd to supply, build, maintain and operate temporary field accommodation for our forces in Kosovo at an estimated cost of about £110 million. This will comprise hard walled living accommodation, appropriate to the range of weather conditions encountered in the area, together with administrative

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and other facilities. We are planning for the accommodation to be fully deployed by December, and will thus, we hope, obviate the need for British forces to occupy requisitioned buildings.

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