Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: This has been identified as a research priority by MAFF. A call for proposals to perform these studies has been included in the TSE Research Requirement's Document which was published by MAFF on 4 April 2000. Suitable BSE brain samples have also been supplied to a UK laboratory which has developed such transgenic mice.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: MAFF-funded studies are currently under way to look at early disease processes in the guts of mice and cattle following oral infection with BSE. A study of the gut in sheep with natural scrapie is also ongoing in which any signs of infection other than scrapie are being noted together with any association with prion protein.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Strain typing would not identify the nature of the presumed agent: it identifies the strain of TSE present. Scientists working in the field have concluded that there is one strain of BSE as identified by mouse bioassay and molecular typing of the prion protein. The link with vCJD was strengthened when it was shown that the molecular typing of vCJD was the same as BSE. The strain of BSE identified by mouse bioassay and PrP typing remains constant when animals other than cattle are infected with BSE. In addition, the lesion profile within the brains of cattle with natural BSE has been monitored in birth year cohorts starting with the 1992 cohort. The lesion profile in cattle has remained constant, indicating that only one strain is present.

12 Apr 2000 : Column WA46

Scrapie

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any large scale studies are in progress for the molecular strain typing of scrapie in sheep.[HL1892]

Barones Hayman: Molecular strain typing needs to be performed under rigorous conditions in a laboratory to give interpretable results. MAFF has supported several studies which have attempted to repeat or scale up this process. MAFF has recognised the need to explore further the definition of strain both in mouse bioassay and by molecular methods and has included this in its Research Requirements document published on 4 April 2000. In addition, the strains present in the brains from 141 sheep with natural scrapie are currently being determined using mouse bioassay, and a further 94 are planned.

Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any studies are in progress or contemplation to screen brain tissue from food animals other than cattle and sheep for the presence of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.[HL1893]

Barones Hayman: No studies are in progress, and currently there are no plans, to screen brain tissue from food animals other than cattle and sheep for the presence of transmissible spongiform encephalopathies.

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House and on the Internet full details of all research into transmissible spongiform encephalopathies currently funded by the Government including:


    (a) the subject of the research;


    (b) the researcher in charge of it;


    (c) the institution for which the researcher works;


    (d) the expected completion date of the research; and


    (e) the funding provided by the Government.[HL1894]

Baroness Hayman: The MRC website (www.mrc.ac.uk/) lists all current UK publicly funded research. The full document is also available to all Members in the Library of the House. This includes projects funded by MAFF, the Department of Health, Scottish Executive Rural Affairs Department (SERAD), the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC). Current projects are listed by title, with a contact name and location, and costs for

12 Apr 2000 : Column WA47

1998-1999 and 1999-2000. Recently completed projects are also listed by title, with a contact name and location, and total costs. Anticipated completion dates are also listed, although some of these projects are reassessed at this time for further funding.

Personal Service Providers: IR35 Provisions

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the e-czar has expressed any views as to the effect and practicality of the Government's IR35 provisions (on the treatment for tax and National Insurance purposes of the provision of services through intermediaries such as personal service companies); if so, what those views are; and whether they are being taken into account by Ministers in the determination of policy in this area.[HL1933]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Mr Alex Allan has received many representations on this issue and has posted his views on the Discussion Forum area of his website--www.e-envoy.gov.uk. He has made it clear that he supports the Government's policy of stopping unfair avoidance of tax and National Insurance contributions.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What effect the Government's IR35 provisions have had on one-person personal service companies in knowledge-based industries, particularly in terms of such individuals electing which country's tax regime they will be subject to.[HL1934]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: We have no reason to believe that there has been a significant change of behaviour as a result of the new provisions for personal service providers, which simply ensure that everyone pays income tax and National Insurance contributions on a fair and reasonable basis.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria the Inland Revenue will apply in determining exemptions from their IR35 provisions.[HL1935]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The new legislation will be applied only to income generated from activities which carry the normal characteristics of employment. The same case law tests as to whether someone is employed or self-employed for tax and National Insurance purposes will apply to everyone, whether they work through a service company or not.

The criteria which determine employment status for tax and National Insurance purposes are based on a long history of case law. An overview of these criteria

12 Apr 2000 : Column WA48

is available in the Inland Revenue February 2000 Tax Bulletin, or on the Inland Revenue website at www.inlandrevenue.gov.uk/ir35.

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the IR35 provisions are consistent with the Chancellor's determination to establish the United Kingdom as a knowledge-based economy.[HL1936]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: People in this country pay tax and National Insurance contributions depending on whether they are employed or self-employed. We believe that these rules should apply equally to everyone: it is not fair that it should be possible to avoid them simply by setting up a one-man company.

We can only support the people who are genuinely self-employed, who take risks and create employment, if we make sure that tax measures designed to encourage enterprise do not go also to people who are really no different from employees. By tackling avoidance activity, we will be able to target our support for small businesses more effectively, whether in the knowledge-based sector or elsewhere.

Openness in the Public Sector

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will accept the recommendations made in the report of the Advisory Group on Openness in the Public Sector.[HL2044]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): My right honourable Friend the Home Secretary set up the Advisory Group on Openness in the Public Sector last year to advise him on how he might facilitate a cultural change to greater openness in the public sector. The advisory group reported to him in December and he has carefully considered both the report and its recommendations.

The recommendations address the practical matters necessary to bring about cultural change and to implement a Freedom of Information Act. They set out a broad agenda for action which my right honourable Friend the Home Secretary is happy to endorse in full. He will be looking to see how we can best give effect to that agenda and he commends the report and recommendations to all public authorities which will be brought within the scope of the freedom of information regime described in the Freedom of Information Bill now before Parliament. A copy of the report has been placed in the Library and is also available in the Home Office website www.homeoffice.gov.uk.

12 Apr 2000 : Column WA49


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page