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Sierra Leone

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): UK Forces operate under clear cut Rules of Engagement which reflect UK domestic law. They may only resort to the use of lethal force when life is imminently threatened or when involved in an international armed conflict. The UK forces involved in recent operations in Sierra Leone resorted to the use of lethal force only when there was an imminent threat to life and only did so in a manner proportionate to the level of that threat.

MoD: Legal Advisers

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Ministry of Defence uses the services of the appropriate legal expert for the issue under consideration.

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Centre for Defence Medicine

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Defence Medical Services Centre for Excellence will be functioning; and when the Defence Medical Services Training School will be closed.[HL4266]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Plans for the Centre for Defence Medicine (CDM) are progressing well, with the main Service Level Agreement having been signed in early October. The CDM is due to open in April 2001 but we have already commenced the build-up of the Centre, with a small number of Service medical personnel having now taken up posts there. The CDM will develop progressively, over a period of five to 10 years, to its full strength. It is planned that the functions of the Royal Defence Medical College will transfer to the CDM, where they will be at the heart of the Centre, and that this process will be essentially complete by 2006. There are no plans for the Defence Medical Services' Training Centre at Aldershot to transfer to Birmingham.

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the shortfall of filled posts, listed by specialties, when the Defence Medical Services Centre for Excellence opens.[HL4267]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: There are not expected to be any vacancies in the Centre for Defence Medicine's (CDM) complement when it opens in April 2001.

Royal Army Medical Training Centre Site, Millbank

Lord Vivian asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many organisations have submitted tenders for the Royal Army Medical Training Centre site at Millbank, London; and how many of these organisations have been placed on the short list.[HL4268]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: A total of 18 tenders were received, and a short list of seven were invited to interview. After taking into account a number of aspects of the bids, including risk and compliance with the planning brief, two bidders, both proposing institutional use, were asked to give presentations to Ministers from interested departments to further inform the decision-making process.

Officer Training Corps

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which government department funds the Officer Training Corps.[HL4274]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The Ministry of Defence funds the Officer Training Corps.

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Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What difficulties the Ministry of Defence has experienced in promoting the Officers' Training Corps at this year's Freshers' Fair at Queen's University Belfast.[HL4275]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As the number of applications for promotional stands at the Freshers' Fair at Queen's University last month exceeded the space available, I understand that the organisers decided to give priority to organisations that subscribed at that time to the Students Union. Although the University Officers Training Corps was not therefore given space in the Freshers' Fair Hall, a recruiting stand was erected in the vicinity and members of the UOTC distributed advertising leaflets. I am pleased to report that the number of applicants for the UOTC has exceeded the number of vacancies available.

Army Base Repair Organisation, Sennybridge

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the operation of the Army Base Repair Organisation's workshop at Sennybridge.[HL4282]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: ABRO Sennybridge achieved 98.9 per cent of tasks within the agreed customer turn-round times, against a target of 95 per cent in financial year 1999-2000, and in the year to date achievement is running at 99.8 per cent. Her Majesty's Government are satisfied with the performance of ABRO Sennybridge. It provides a vital service to Land Command units stationed locally and those units utilising specialist training facilities in the vicinity.

Territorial Army Centre, Horsham

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean on 29 September (WA 199), what are their current plans with regard to the Territorial Army Centre at Horsham which was to be disposed of as part of the Strategic Defence Review.[HL4226]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Based on current plans we expect to dispose of the Horsham Territorial Army Centre by the end of this year.

Armed Forces Widow's Pensions: Retention on Remarriage

Lord Graham of Edmonton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the changes will be made to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme to introduce pensions for life for Armed Forces attributable widows.[HL4408]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We are very pleased to announce that the amendments to the Armed Forces Pension Scheme have now been approved with an effective date of 31 October 2000. This means that those in receipt of an attributable Armed Forces widow(er)'s pension will keep their pension should they remarry or begin to cohabit on or after this date.

Viagra: Use in Fertility Treatments

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have carried out into the dangers involved in using the drug Viagra in fertility treatments; what advice they have given to medical practitioners; and what knowledge they have of the use of Viagra in IVF treatments by the Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre.[HL4377]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Medicines Control Agency has not been made aware of any scientific data supporting the use of Viagra in in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). It is currently authorised (licensed) for use exclusively in men with erectile dysfunction. It is not authorised for use in women or in relation to IVF procedures. A doctor using Viagra for any medical situation or specific patient that does not fall within the licence (off-lable use), such as IVF in women, takes full responsibility for that particular patient. This includes the occurrence of any unforeseen side effects associated with such use of Viagra.

Smoking in Public Places: Control

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will require all hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation to be regarded as non-smoking except where specifically advertised; and[HL3978]

    Whether they have proposals to require all forms of public transport and related property with public access to be non-smoking[HL3974]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government have no plans to make all hotel and bed and breakfast accommodation and all forms of public transport and related property with public access to be non-smoking. Smoking policies are the responsibility of managers and providers of facilities. The Government hope and expect that they, like the licensed hospitality industry, will increase the availability of facilities for non-smokers.

The Government have reached agreement with representatives of the licensed hospitality trade--pubs, restaurants and hotels--on the need for continuing improvement in the provision of non-smoking facilities over the coming years. The industry has developed a Public Places Charter which will

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ensure that consumers are better able to choose whether to eat, drink or socialise in smoky atmospheres.

The Health and Safety Commission's recent announcement that it favours introducing an approved code of practice on passive smoking at work is aimed at protecting the welfare of employees from environmental tobacco smoke in the workplace.

Hospice Costs: NHS Contribution

Baroness Jeger asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What contributions are made from the National Health Service to hospices; and what proportion this represents of the total cost of the hospice movement, including specialised staff training courses in palliative treatment.[HL4196]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The running costs of hospices are currently £215 million. Of this, £65 million is provided by the National Health Service to voluntary hospices. This equates to 30 per cent of the total running costs of voluntary hospices. In addition, the NHS provides a further £34 million for NHS hospice running costs. The Government are committed to providing an additional £50 million for hospices by 2004, as announced in the NHS Cancer Plan published on 27 September. This will bring the total NHS spend on hospices up to £150 million, which will be equal to the amount provided by the voluntary sector. The £50 million investment will be used to end inequalities in access to specialist palliative care and enable the NHS to make a more realistic contribution to the cost hospices incur in providing agreed levels of service.

In order to ensure that the additional funding is allocated effectively and equitably, we will work with hospices and the NHS to define the core components of palliative care services.

We do not have information on the amount spent on specialised staff training courses in palliative care. However, most hospices do offer educational programmes and a national charity, Help the Hospices, plays a role in funding and organising training for all professions involved in palliative care.


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