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Ministry of Defence: New Deal Initiative

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: As at 1 July 1999, the MoD has employed 18 people from the New Deal initiative. There are currently 17 New Deal candidates in post, and a further four awaiting pre-employment checks. The Employment Service is attempting to fill another 37 posts identified as suitable for New Deal candidates.

Japanese Prisoners of War

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Gilbert: I thank my noble friend for giving me the opportunity to clarify this matter. The Minister for the Armed Forces is not making an announcement on the subject of former prisoners of war of the Japanese and I very much regret any confusion and concern which my inadvertent statement may have caused.

Artificial Limb Services

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): The total cost of artificial limb services, extrapolated from sample service costs for 1998-99, is currently £65 million. Having reviewed Disablement Service Centre contracts and predicted levels of annual uprating, the NHS Supplies Authority estimates that prosthetic company

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contracts now amount to around £36 million which includes around £9.7 million for components. The balance covers the NHS costs of clinical care (including multidisciplinary teams), service accommodation and administrative costs.

The budget for prosthetic company contracts in 1997 was £32.7 million. Information on NHS budgets for artificial limb services during 1997 is not available.

In the absence of data on the 1997 NHS budget the variation cannot be provided.

Between 1997 and 1999 the budgets for prosthetic company contracts have increased from £32.7 million to £36 million, representing an approximate 10 per cent. increase. Component costs remain consistent at around £9.7 million.

We are unable to provide data or the breakdown as requested between 1979 and 1999.

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the supply company providing the new range of silicone covering materials currently being developed for the National Health Service.[HL3896]

Baroness Hayman: "RSL Steeper" has developed a new range of silicone materials for artificial limbs for potential supply to the National Health Service.

Food Standards Agency

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a chairman and board members will be recruited for the Food Standards Agency in preparation of the agency's vesting day.[HL4034]

Baroness Hayman: This work is in hand. Parliamentary approval for the recruitment and current year fee and accommodation costs of the chairman and members of the Food Standards Agency will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Department of Health Class II, Vote 2. Pending that approval, urgent expenditure estimated at £600,000 will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.

Meat Hygiene Service

Viscount Exmouth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether slaughterhouse owners and operators are entitled to have access to the Meat Hygiene Service operations manual for the purpose of study and verification; and whether it will cause one copy of the manual to be supplied to each licensed premises for the exclusive use of slaughterhouse operators.[HL3100]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): Slaughterhouse owners and operators have access to the Meat Hygiene Service Operations Manual via the official veterinary surgeon designated to their plant.

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Additional copies and subsequent updates can be purchased from the MHS should slaughterhouse owners or operators wish to have copies of their own.

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many slaughterhouses and poultry processing plants they expect to close as a direct result of the increase in veterinary hours imposed on their operators; and whether this will represent, overall, an improvement in the hygiene of the meat supply.[HL3103]

Lord Donoughue: It is not known how many, if any, slaughterhouses and poultry processing plants will close as a direct result of the increase in veterinary hours. Plants close for a number of reasons dependent upon the circumstances pertaining at each plant. As we do not know which, if any, plants will close, it is not possible to identify whether this will represent an improvement in the hygiene of the meat supply.

Lord Stanley of Alderley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether slaughterhouses owners and operators are entitled to ask for verbal directions and advice given to them or their staff by official veterinary surgeons to be confirmed in writing as soon as practicable after they have been given; and whether they will instruct the Meat Hygiene Service to make arrangements to ensure that such directions and advice are so confirmed.[HL3104]

Lord Donoughue: Where appropriate and necessary, slaughterhouse owners and operators are entitled to ask for verbal directions and advice given to them or their staff by official veterinary surgeons to be confirmed in writing as soon as is practicable. However, it would be impractical for OVSs to confirm in writing every instruction or piece of advice that they impart during their day-to-day work in slaughterhouses.

Lord Blyth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What formal system is in place for meat hygiene inspectors employed by the Meat Hygiene Service to complain about the competence and performance of official veterinary surgeons in slaughterhouses and poultry processing plants; and what measures exist to prevent inspectors who complain from being victimised; and [HL3192]

    Whether they will set up a telephone help-line to enable meat hygiene inspectors to make complaints about the performance and competence of official veterinary surgeons.[HL3193]

Lord Donoughue: Meat Hygiene Service staff have access to both a formal grievance procedure and a procedure for dealing with violence and intimidation in the workplace. These are considered to be sufficient.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is appropriate for an experienced meat hygiene inspector to take instructions from a junior

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    veterinary surgeon who holds the post of official veterinary surgeon as to the judgment of meat fitness during post-mortem inspections.[HL3206]

Lord Donoughue: Yes, it is. This is because the ultimate decision and responsibility as to the fitness of a carcass for human consumption rests with the official veterinary surgeon.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much the meat industry has contributed to the pension fund for Meat Hygiene Service staff in the last financial year; and how much it is estimated that it will contribute in the current financial year.[HL3227]

Lord Donoughue: The meat industry does not make any contribution to the MHS pension fund.

The total pension fund contributions made by the Meat Hygiene Service during 1998-99 were approximately £1.9 million.

Under the Treasury Fees and Charges Guide and the legislation which sets out the costs that can be recovered through meat hygiene inspection charges, staff pension costs are included as permissible costs. Approximately £1.1 million of the MHS pension costs were recovered through industry charges in 1998-99 and a broadly equivalent figure will be recovered in 1999-2000.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Donoughue on 16 June (WA 28), whether a Meat Hygiene Service operations manual is issued to owners or operators of every licensed slaughterhouse and cutting plant to enable them to follow the procedures for appeals against hygiene assessment scheme scores.[HL3255]

Lord Donoughue: Slaughterhouse owners and operators have access to the Meat Hygiene Service operations manual via the official veterinary surgeon designated to their plant. Additional copies and subsequent updates can be purchased from the MHS should slaughterhouse owners or operators wish to have copies of their own.


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