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Special Advisers: Political Donations

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: All special advisers are required to comply with the restrictions on their involvement in political activities set out in Schedule 1 (Part 2) to the Model Contract for Special Advisers. They are also required to seek advice on handling conflicts of interest. There is no requirement for any civil servant, including special advisers, to declare political donations made by them, nor have we any plans to introduce such a requirement.

Ministerial Statements: Prior Media Briefing

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether informing the media of the contents of statements they intend to make to Parliament constitutes a breach of the terms of paragraph 27 of the Ministerial Code.[HL2534]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Paragraph 27 of the Ministerial Code makes it clear that, when Parliament is in session, Ministers will want to bear in mind the desire of Parliament that the most important announcements should be made, in the first instance, to Parliament. It is for individual Ministers to determine the timing and content of announcements.

Millennium Dome: End-of-Year Celebration

Lord Brabazon of Tara asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they expect to organise an end-of-year celebration in the Dome; and whether there have been any discussions with broadcasting bodies about broadcasting such an event.[HL2682]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Government have no plans to organise an end-of-year celebration in the Dome. This is a matter for the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC).

Mr David Quarmby

Baroness Buscombe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, has any plans to meet Mr David Quarmby.[HL2680]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: David Quarmby has been a member of the board of the New Millennium Experience Company (NMEC) since 1997. In my role as shareholder of NMEC, I have met Mr Quarmby on many occasions and I will continue to do so.

Millennium Dome: Sale

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the sole shareholder has considered accelerating the sale of the Dome before December 2000.[HL2672]

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Lord Falconer of Thoroton: There are no plans to accelerate the current timetable for the sale of the Dome. The Government plan to announce a preferred bidder this summer, with handover to be completed as soon as possible after 31 December 2000.

NMEC: Trading Position

Lord Dixon-Smith asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 24 May (H.L. Deb., col. 774) that it is a matter for the board of the New Millennium Experience Company to determine whether or not it is trading while insolvent, whether the sole shareholder of the Dome intends to call for an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the trading position.[HL2684]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: I have no plans to call an Extraordinary General Meeting to discuss the New Millennium Experience Company's (NMEC) trading position.

Children in Care

Baroness Young asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many girls in care became pregnant in 1999; and what percentage of girls in care became pregnant before they reached the age of 16; and[HL2629]

    How many children in care are known to be suffering from sexually transmitted diseases; and[HL2631]

    How many children in the care of local authorities are now housed in bed and breakfast accommodation.[HL2630]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Department of Health does not collect data on the number of children in care who become pregnant or who are known to be suffering from sexually transmitted diseases. While it was based on a fairly small-scale study, a National Children's Bureau report in 1992 found that a quarter of care leavers had a child by the age of 16.

In March 1999, 1,100 looked-after children were placed in lodgings or living independently--this figure includes those housed in bed and breakfast accommodation, although that figure is not collected separately.

NHS Use of Imported Human Tissues

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether human body parts such as skin, tendons, heart valves, bones and dura matter are imported into the United Kingdom for use in the National Health Service; and if so, from which countries, with what safeguards, and at what annual cost.[HL2645]

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The National Health Service is largely self-sufficient in tissues such as skin, tendon and heart valves, relying on material from tissue banks within the NHS. Exceptionally, small amounts of tissues are imported to meet individual patient's needs. Details of the quantity and cost of imported tissues are not held centrally.

Tissue banks accepting material from overseas must make sure that the Committee of Microbiological Safety of Blood and Tissues for Transplantation's "Guidance on the microbiological safety of human tissues and organs used in transplantation" has been followed by the bank of origin. If the tissues do not pass through a United Kingdom tissue bank, the clinician who uses the tissue is responsible for making sure the guidance has been followed.

Dura mater is no longer used in the NHS.

Mycobacterium Bovis

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What scientific evidence there is that Mycobacterium bovis may be present in the milk of cows that have not been shown to be tuberculosis reactors.[HL2566]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are advised that the Food Standards Agency is not aware of any scientific evidence that Mycobacterium bovis may be present in the milk of cows that have not been shown to be tuberculosis reactors.

Paediatric Pathologists and Toxicologists

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many paediatric pathologists and how many paediatric toxicologists are currently employed by public services in England and Wales.[HL2569]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The information requested is not collected centrally.

We are aware of shortages of specialist paediatric pathologists. This is the result of a number of factors. There is an overall shortfall in those specialising in histopathology, there have been problems in establishing higher specialist training places, trainees do not wish to go into the discipline and it requires extra training over and above that required in histopathology.

For 2000/01, we intend to establish 40 new higher specialist training places in histopathology, with new money from the Medical and Dental Education Levy. We have written to National Health Service trusts and

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health authorities explaining the importance that we attach to the delivery of extra training places in the light of commitments on improved cancer services. We are looking to Regional Offices to use their influence to encourage them to co-operate with Regional Postgraduate Deans in providing the necessary funding and establishing posts. At the same time, the Royal College of Pathologists and the Regional Postgraduate Deans are looking at ways to attract more higher specialist trainees into histopathology in general and paediatric training posts in particular.

Soil Association Organic Status Awards

Lord Vinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the new Food Standards Agency will take steps to examine and assess the scientific rationale used by the Soil Association when awarding organic status to various food products.[HL2361]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Lead responsibility for policy and legislation on standards of organic food production lies with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. The Food Standards Agency has no plans to take the steps described in the near future.

UN "Women 2000" Conference

Baroness Pitkeathley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What contribution they are making to the United Nations conference "Women 2000: Gender, Equality, Development and Peace for the Twenty-First Century". [HL2698]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): We have published today and will be placing in the Library two documents: Equality in practice and Women and Men in the UK: facts and figures 2000.

Equality in practice is a short, practical document which shows how the UK Government are improving women's lives at home and overseas by focusing on five vital areas: women and the economy, making equality happen, education, health and the resolving of crime and violence. It also describes some of the work being carried out with partner countries and organisations in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean and Eastern Europe.

Women and Men in the UK: facts and figures 2000 tells the story of women and men's changing position in society. It highlights both change and continuity with facts and figures. It is a record of women's achievements and a reminder of what more still needs to be done. The UK Government are working to create a more just society, one in which women and men are equal. To achieve this, we have to understand what has and has not changed. These facts and figures are vital to inform our thinking and policy making.

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European Communities Select Committee

Lord Shore of Stepney asked the Chairman of Committees:

    In what year the Select Committee on the European Communities was first established and with what terms of reference; and when the present Sub-Committees A, B, C, D, E, and F of the European Union Committees were established and with what subject matters they are dealing. [HL2658]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): The Select Committee on the European Communities was established in May 1974, following the United Kingdom's accession to the EC the previous year. The committee's original terms of reference were:


    "To consider Community proposals, whether in draft or otherwise, to obtain all necessary information about them, and to make reports on those which, in the opinion of the Committee,

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    raise important questions of policy or principle and on other questions to which the Committee consider that the special attention of the House should be drawn."

The committee originally appointed five sub-committees. The number of standing sub-committees has varied over the years between five and seven. In addition, ad hoc sub-committees have been appointed to consider specific topics. The remits of the sub-committees have evolved gradually in line with changes in the European Communities/Union. The matters dealt with by the six sub-committees of what is now the European Union Committee are:


    A Economic and Financial Affairs, Trade and External Relations


    B Energy, Industry and Transport


    C Common Foreign Security Policy


    D Environment, Agriculture, Public Health and Consumer Protection


    E Law and Institutions


    F Social Affairs, Education and Home Affairs.



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