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The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Her Majesty's Government are alert to the potential threat to the UK of all forms of chemical and biological warfare. Contingency plans are maintained to minimise the consequences in the event of an attack. The most effective defence against the terrorist threat is good intelligence, efficient procedures to contol the entry of people and materials into the UK, and the means to respond effectively to incidents.
This threat is being considered by an interdepartmental group led by the Home Office and including the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Ministry of Defence with a remit to establish the vulnerabilities, threats and risk to the UK as a whole. Planning assumptions will be reconsidered in the light of the results of these considerations.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Professor Hitchcock performed 55 brain tissue transplant procedures on patients with Parkinson's disease whilst at the Midland Centre for Neurosurgery and Neurology prior to its amalgamation into the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Trust early in 1996.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The foetal tissue used in experimental operations on Parkinson's disease by Professor Hitchcock was obtained from aborted foetuses. Consent was obtained from the biological mothers.
What evidence there is that the use of embryonic stem cell tissue may be more efficacious in the treatment of Parkinson's disease than the transplant of foetal tissue.[HL1486]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Chief Medical Officer's Report, Stem cell research: Medical progress with responsibility, published last year, considered the potential of embryonic stem cells as a source of new tissues for the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. Such research is at a very early stage and it may be several years before therapeutic benefits are available.
The Government are not aware of any hospital or institute currently involved in research using embryonic stem cell tissue in the treatment of Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease in the United Kingdom.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We will respond to the letter from Professor David Harnden. The substance of the reply is on record. (Adjournment Debate in another place, Official Report, 27 March 2001, cols. 229WH-236WH).
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Bassam of Brighton): Her Majesty's Government confirm that they received on 21 March 2001 a response from lawyers acting on behalf of the Government of Nigeria to the queries raised by them in September 2000. These are now being considered by Counsel acting on behalf of the Secretary of State, who will advise the Secretary of State in due course.
Her Majesty's Government remain anxious to assist the Government of Nigeria and welcome the responses now received. They emphasise however that any action they take must be in accordance with United Kingdom domestic law in relation to such assistance.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): All government departments have responsibility for some policy areas which are covered by common policies adopted by the European Union.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: We regularly discuss the situation in Israel and the Occupied Territories with our European Union partners. These discussions often focus on the Israeli policy of closures and the serious concerns we have about this policy on political, legal and humanitarian grounds. The Stockholm European Council reaffirmed the EU's position that Israel must lift the closures.
It is hard to justify the closures purely on security grounds, as Israel has argued. The closures radicalise the Palestinian population and fuel violence in the Occupied Territories. They cannot, therefore, achieve their stated purpose.
The internal closures are also imposed as a collective punishment. Both Prime Minister Sharon and Foreign Minister Peres have made clear that closures will be lifted in areas where there is no violence and strictly imposed where violence continues. The external restrictions, especially on the import of building materials and the export of agricultural products, would also seem to have no relevance to the maintenance of security. Collective punishments are prohibited under the Fourth Geneva Convention.
We have called upon Israel to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War of 12 August 1949.
Baroness Scotland of Asthal: Guaranteed access to NATO's planning capabilities means that the EU will have guaranteed permanent access to NATO's planning capacities without case-by-case NATO authorisation.
Presumption of availability in respect of other NATO assets and common capabilities means that NATO will in principle be ready to provide such support, but will decide case-by-case on the release of assets for an EU-led operation. A list of the relevant capabilities and common assets has not yet been drawn up.
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