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Lord Ahmed asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Under the Abortion Act 1967, as amended, a woman is legally entitled to an abortion, regardless of her religion, if two registered medical practitioners agree there are grounds for one. The Department of Health funded the publication Assessing health needs of people from minority ethnic groups (Royal College of Physicians and Faculty of Public Health Medicine, 1998) which has a chapter on sexual and reproductive health. This highlights that cultural and religious traditions have a bearing on the decisions women make regarding contraception and abortion. The Department of Health also recently published a sexual health and HIV commissioning toolkit which states that all sexual health services and support should be offered in non-judgmental, respectful and sensitive ways.

Nursing and Midwifery Council

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are still committed to encouraging the Nursing and Midwifery Council to establish a third part of its register under the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 dedicated to particular public health practitioners, including health visitors; and[HL1694]

    Whether the Department of Health has ruled out, or the effect of any relevant regulation is to rule out, any particular names for the third part of the register under the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001, should one be established; and[HL1695]

    Whether any names for the third part of the register under the Nursing and Midwifery Order 2001 have been particularly required or recommended by the Department of Health; and[HL1696]

    Which titles of practitioners in the public health field, regulated by the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Department of Health believes should be protected; and what steps they are taking in conjunction with the Nursing and Midwifery Council to ensure this.[HL1697]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Nursing and Midwifery Council has recently had a public consultation that covers the issues raised by the noble Lord. The Department of Health has responded on behalf of the Government to that consultation. Copies of the response are available in the Library.

Paediatric Continence

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether paediatric continence will be addressed in the proposed children's national service framework.[HL1701]

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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Early development of the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services has shown that the standards set will be relevant to, although not specifically about, the management of paediatric continence. One key theme being developed is improving the management of common childhood illnesses and health concerns.

Food Standards Agency: Annual Report and Accounts 2001–02

Lord Campbell-Savours asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Food Standards Agency annual report and accounts for 2001–02 will be published.[HL1875]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Food Standards Agency's annual report and accounts 2001–02 was laid before Parliament today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Illegal Meat Imports

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to their reply to the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee's seventh report on illegal meat imports published on 24 October 2002, whether the risk assessment promised for the autumn has been published and, if so, when; whether the prohibition of personal imports of meat and meat products extends to the diplomatic community; and when the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs intend to publish the action plan for 2003–04.[HL1641]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): We had hoped to deliver the results of the risk assessment on illegal meat imports in the autumn. However, it is an innovative piece of work. The project is a complex task that has required the gathering and modelling of a vast quantity of information, which has taken longer than anticipated to complete. The report is therefore currently undergoing final quality assurance and peer review, prior to publication in the next few weeks. The European Community rules on the personal importation of meat and meat products do extend to the diplomatic community. As the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and Optional Protocols of 18 April 1961 states: "Without prejudice to their privileges and immunities, it is the duty of all persons enjoying such privileges and immunities to respect the laws and regulations of the receiving state."

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We are working towards the preparation of a revised and updated action plan for 2003–04. It will take account of progress to date, lessons learned, improved intelligence, the results of our risk assessment, and the changes in responsibilities for detection and deterrence. We are aiming to publish in March.

Equidae: EC Decision

Earl Peel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of the new European decision by which equids will have to have a passport, whether it would be preferable for the decision to require that no equid be sold into the meat trade unless it has a passport. [HL1702]

Lord Whitty: Requiring only equidae sold to the meat trade to have a passport would not meet the requirements of Commission Decision 2000/68/EC, adopted in December 1999, which requires all equidae to have a passport.

British Cattle Movement Service

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many transactions by the British Cattle Movement Service were recorded in 2002; and how many were queried by producers. [HL1722]

Lord Whitty: The British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) recorded 18.95 million transactions with its customers during 2002. During this year it received 386,000 phone calls, 97,000 letters and 18,000 e-mails from customers. Assuming that virtually all of these communications will have been, in one way or another, about transactions recorded it should be noted that at worst only 2.6 per cent of transactions were queried. Some will have been replies to queries raised by the BCMS and the remainder will have been spontaneous inquiries from customers. Any of these contacts could have given rise to a series of further queries being raised by either side. We cannot identify from within these totals the number of transactions spontaneously queried by keepers.

The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How a producer is to know whether his cattle movement card has arrived and been satisfactorily registered by the British Cattle Movement Service. [HL1725]

Lord Whitty: Any registered cattle keeper can access their records on the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) cattle tracing scheme system through the BCMS website at The website allows the keepers to check the data held by the national database and contains details of any queries the BCMS has about transactions. The service is free, available 24 hours a day and requires no special software to access other than a standard web-browser.

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The Earl of Caithness asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the British Cattle Movement Service has been approved by the European Commission.[HL1727]

Lord Whitty: Representatives of the EU Commission visited the British Cattle Movement Service (BCMS) in November 2001 to conduct an audit to confer fully operational status with effect from 1 April 2002. We still await the publication of this decision and understand there is some discussion within the Commission about the procedures that have been used by Commission officials in conducting these audits in the UK and other member states. My officials in the department are actively pursuing the issue with the Commission.

Animal Movements Regime

Lord MacKenzie of Culkein asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for publishing the findings of the cost/benefit analysis of the 20 day movement standstill.[HL1818]

Lord Whitty: The Government are publishing today the emerging findings from the risk assessment and cost/benefit analysis of animal movement standstills. The studies were commissioned in response to the recommendations made in July 2002 by the Lessons Learned and Royal Society inquiries and have been carried out for Defra by Risk Solutions and the Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics Research Unit (VEERU) at the University of Reading. In a Written Answer on 23 January (WA 120) I set out the Government's intention to reduce the standstill for cattle, sheep and goats to six days with effect from 4 March. A supporting document explaining that decision, and referring to the emerging findings from the Risk Solutions and VEERU studies, has already been placed in the Library and posted on the Defra website.

UK Market Capitalisation

Lord Roberts of Conwy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What has been the estimated decline in the value of publicly quoted British companies (a) in the United Kingdom and (b) in the rest of the world since 1997, both in money and percentage terms. [HL1778]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: According to figures from the London Stock Exchange, the domestic market capitalisation of the UK at the end of January 2003 was £1,055 billion, compared with £1,012 billion at the end of 1996. This represents an increase of around £43 billion or 0.4 per cent. Data on the collective market capitalisation of UK companies listed overseas are not readily available.

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