Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

Integrated Product Policy

Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The Government have not adopted a formal national strategy for integrated product policy (IPP) at this stage. However, we are contributing to the development of a policy framework for IPP at EU level, in line with conclusions adopted by the Council of Ministers in June last year. We have also set up the Advisory Committee on Consumer Products and the Environment (ACCPE) to advise on the development of IPP approaches in the UK and how they can most effectively be put into practice to reduce the impacts of consumer goods. Further consideration will be needed in the light of ACCPE's second report, Action for Greener Products, published earlier this month, and a White Paper on IPP which the European Commission has undertaken to produce this summer.

An example of where elements of IPP thinking are already being applied successfully in the UK is in some of the main electrical and electronic product sectors, for which Defra runs a strategy and practical

14 May 2002 : Column WA37

implementation programme called the Market Transformation Programme. This has been working with manufacturers and other stakeholders to achieve savings in the energy used by major domestic goods and by commercial equipment. The lessons learned in this programme are now being tried out to address other environmental issues such as water consumption related to domestic goods and equipment.

Heddon-on-the-Wall: Tests forFoot and Mouth

Lord Willoughby de Broke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the tests for foot and mouth disease carried out by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs veterinarians in February 2001 at Mr Bobby Waugh's farm at Heddon-on-the-Wall, Northumberland, were positive or negative; and whether the results of those tests have been made public.[HL4130]

Lord Whitty: The results of the tests for foot and mouth virus in February 2001 at Bobby Waugh's farm are likely to form part of the evidence at the current trial.

Smallpox Vaccines

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the statement by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath that the procurement of smallpox vaccines fell outside the usual rules governing competitive tendering because the procurement concerns national security (HL Deb, 18 April, col 1075), whether they regard the announcement by PowderJect Pharmaceuticals that it had been awarded a contract for the supply of smallpox vaccines as a breach of national security.[HL3978]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The announcement by PowderJect to the Stock Exchange concerned the award of a £32 million contract and its collaboration with Bavarian Nordic and was not considered to be a breach of national security.

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they considered the use of the accelerated tendering procedures permitted by European Union procurement rules for the purchase of smallpox vaccines; and, if so, why those procedures were not adopted.[HL3979]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: As smallpox has been eradicated since the 1970s, its re-introduction is likely to occur only as a result of terrorist activity. This therefore raises issues of national security.

In seeking to establish which vaccine-manufacturing companies might be able to provide new vaccine to meet our requirements we took the view that purchase of the new vaccine should not be subject to the usual open competitive tendering process, including the accelerated process under the European

14 May 2002 : Column WA38

Union procurement rules. There are specific exemptions allowed for this in procurement legislation on the grounds of protection of the basic and essential interests of national security. John B

Equality Proposals

Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What initial conclusions the Government have reached on the long-term arrangements for offering governmental advice, guidance and support on equality matters.[HL4324]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The Minister of State in the Cabinet Office (Mrs Barbara Roche) has today formally announced the start of a project considering the long-term options for the UK's equality machinery. It is intended that this project will report its initial findings in the autumn.

Our first step will be to look at the feasibility of a single equality body.

The project will consider the work of the existing commissions (the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), Commission for Racial Equality (CRE) and the Disability Rights Commission (DRC)) and existing discrimination legislation and put them in the context of new legislation for equal treatment in employment and training on grounds of age, sexual orientation and religion.

We are keen to work closely with other experts in the equalities field on this project. The Government want to be sure that the long-term structures for equality in the UK are carefully thought out and designed to meet the needs of all, individuals and businesses alike.

The existing commissions have over different timescales made an admirable and significant contribution to equality in this country. We need to ensure that the expertise and reputation of the commissions is preserved whatever the outcome of the review, and we shall be involving and consulting them at every stage to ensure this happens.

If the outcome of the project and consultation does lead to recommendations for significant change, it is not expected that any new structures will be operative in the lifetime of this Parliament.

The terms of reference for the project have been placed in the Library.

Members' Correspondence: Handling by Departments

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How long each government department takes to reply to correspondence from:

    (a) Members of the House of Lords; and

    (b) Members of the House of Commons; and[HL3491]

14 May 2002 : Column WA39

    Whether they will instruct all government departments that all letters from Members of both Houses of Parliament should be replied to within six weeks of receipt and, in cases where a full reply cannot be sent within that period, a letter explaining delay must be sent.[HL3492]

The Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Cabinet Office, on an annual basis, publishes a report to Parliament on the handling of Members' correspondence by each department, detailing target dates for reply, volume of correspondence received and percentage of replies within targets. All departments and agencies have targets for replies of six weeks or less.

The annual report for 2001 is due to be published shortly.

Parallel details regarding correspondence from Members of the House of Lords are not currently recorded centrally.

14 May 2002 : Column WA40

The Cabinet Office has published Handling Correspondence from Members of Parliament: Guidance for Departments and Handling Correspondence from Members of Parliament: Good Practice Guidance (copies available in the Library of the House) which set out the general and best practice principles departments should follow when replying to correspondence from Members of the House of Commons.

There is currently no separate guidance regarding the handling of correspondence from Members of the House of Lords.

To rectify this anomaly, officials in the Cabinet Office will write to departments asking them to ensure that with effect from 1 June 2002 they apply response targets to all correspondence from Members, including Members of the House of Lords.

The guidance will also be amended to make clear that it covers correspondence from both Houses.

   Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page