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Written Answers

Monday, 2nd October 2000.

Sudan

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What funding they have made available to assist with the anti-meningitis vaccination campaign in northern and southern Sudan in the light of the current pandemic. [HL3742]

Baroness Amos: We provided funding to the British Red Cross (£100,000) and Medicins Sans Frontieres (£250,000) during the epidemic in 1999. This year the situation is improved, but we are ready to consider additional support should we receive requests.

Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their position on the Memorandum of Understanding imposed by the Sudan People's Liberation Army on humanitarian activities in southern Sudan. [HL3745]

Baroness Amos: We oppose the Sudan People's Liberation Army's Memorandum of Understanding and the unacceptable conditions imposed by it. We have made it clear that it is for the humanitarian organisations themselves to decide whether or not to sign up, and that those who do not, should be allowed to continue their work unhindered. Humanitarian organisations in Sudan must be allowed to operate with neutrality and independence. We will continue to support those that do so.

Defence School of Transport

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the standards to which the Defence School of Transport operates are satisfactory. [HL3787]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): Instructional standards at the Defence School of Transport (DST) conform to all current testing requirements set by the Driving Standards Agency (DSA). Instructors on the Defence Driving Instructor course have been trained by the DSA and there are three instructors trained by the DSA as Large Goods Vehicle Driving Instructor Assessors for the purpose of testing MoD personnel to the required standard for entry to the DSA Voluntary LGV Driving Instructor register. The school has also achieved ISO 9001 accreditation for Quality Assurance. The MoD is therefore confident that the standards at the DST are satisfactory.

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Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the principal makes, models and types of vehicles used at the Defence School of Transport for training light goods vehicle and car drivers, instructors and examiners.[HL3788]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The information requested is as follows:

Vehicle MakerVehicle Model Vehicle Type
Defence Driving Instructor (DDI) TrainingLeylandDAF4 tonne Crew Cab
Defence Driving Examiner (DDE) trainingVauxhallAstraDiesel Estate Car
DDE trainingFordIVECO11/15 tonne cargo (dual control)

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any difference between the "system of driving" trained by the Defence School of Transport and the Driving Standards Agency: and, if so, what are the differences.[HL3789]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) does not conduct driver training, but is the authority for setting standards for all driving tests and offers guidance to civilian and military training organisations to achieve these test standards through whatever means are appropriate--for example, reference manuals and policy. The Defence School of Transport meets fully all DSA criteria.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the start standards for a student on the Defence School of Transport's Defence Driving Instructor Course.[HL3790]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Entry standards for personnel undertaking the Defence Driving Instructor Course at the Defence School of Transport are as follows:


    Must be substantive NCO or selected MoD civilian from a recognised driver training establishment.


    Minimum age of 21 years.


    Must have held a category B licence for a minimum of three years, a category C licence for a minimum of two years and a category C+E licence for a minimum of three months.


    Must have had no disqualifications within the previous four years.


    Must have no more than three current penalty points on their licence.

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Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What range of driving experience would a student on the Defence School of Transport's Defence Driving Instructor Course be expected to have.[HL3791]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A potential student on the Defence Driving Instructor Course at the Defence School of Transport will be expected to have: held a category B licence for a minimum of three years; held a category C licence for a minimum of two years; and held a category C+E licence for a minimum of three months.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the duration and content of the Defence School of Transport's Defence Driving Instructor Course; and what training would a civilian-approved driving instructor have that a Defence Driving Instructor would not have. [HL3792]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Defence Driving Instructor (DDI) Course runs for 15 training days (commonly three weeks). Students are required to pass a written theory test, a driving assessment, an instructional assessment, a cross-country instructional assessment and a recovery instructional assessment. Students are subject to continual assessment throughout the course. There are no training requirements for civilian instructors that are additional to these requirements; the civilian course requires a touch screen theory test rather than a written test, and does not require success in cross-country or recovery instructional assessments. Additionally, DDIs are given the result of their test at the end of the course, whereas civilian Approved Driving Instructors are given the results of each of the qualifying tests shortly after taking them.

Prostate Cancer

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their policy with regard to research into prostate cancer has changed since the Written Answers by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 4 April (WA 17-19).[HL3829]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): In March 2000 the Department of Health announced £1 million additional new funding for urgent research studies into prostate cancer as a mark of its concern over this disease.

Subsequently, the NHS Plan, published on 27 July, announced that the Government would increase by £1 million the resources devoted to prostate cancer for each of the next three years.

On 6 September the department published The NHS Prostate Cancer Programme. The programme committed the four fold increase in Department of Health directly commissioned funding for prostate

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cancer research. By 2003-4 the department will be directly funding £4.2 million of research a year (subject to quality proposals being obtained to meet research priorities). This means, that quality permitting, Department of Health direct funding for prostate cancer research will be:


    2000-01: £1,200,000


    2001-02: £2,200,000


    2002-03: £3,200,000


    2003-04: £4,200,000

The Expert Review Group on prostate cancer established by the Medical Research Council on behalf of the Cancer Research Funders Forum is finalising its report. One of the key recommendations identified by the Expert Group is the need to build up research capacity in prostate cancer by establishing one or more centres of excellence and improving research networks. The Medical Research Council on behalf of Cancer Research Funders Forum members has approached existing prostate research groups about taking this forward. Part of the additional funds announced by the department will be made available for this purpose.

The department will seek to develop prostate cancer research in a number of key areas:


    Distinguishing between fast and slow growing prostate cancers


    Improving early detection tests


    Assessing the benefits and harms of population screening


    Assessing the benefits and harms of different treatments


    Improving patients understanding of the issues around early detection tests and treatment

In addition, the Government are establishing a new NHS Cancer Research Network. Their initial aim is to double the number of cancer patients entering trials within three years. The department will make available an additional £5 million per annum from 2001-02 to set up and run the network, which will be fully implemented by 2004. Trials related to prostate cancer will be one of the high priorities for this new NHS Cancer Research Network.

Vehicular Access to Property over Common Land

Lord Evans of Temple Guiting asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce their proposals for resolving problems faced by property owners who have been presented with large bills in order to acquire a right of vehicular access to their homes over common land.[HL3971]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): The Government intend to make an announcement on this issue on 3 October. Full details of our proposals will be available in the Library of the House then.

Parliamentary Questions

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked the Leader of the House:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 12 July (WA 33) in relation to smoking and Government Ministers, whether it is in order for noble Lords, by means of the House of Lords Order Paper, to seek to persuade Ministers to alter their lifestyle in specific ways.[HL3609]

The Lord Privy Seal (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Guidance given on page 82 of the Companion to Standing Orders states that "it is considered undesirable to incorporate statements of opinion or the demonstration of a point of view" into the text of Questions on the Order Paper. The purpose of the Questions on the Order Paper should be to elicit information, and not to make an argument.

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