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Armada PFI Project

Lord Tomlinson asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Bach: The Government gave a commitment under SDR to improve single living accommodation for service personnel. We are therefore pleased to announce that, following competition, Falcon, a consortium led by Interserve fm and Compass, has been selected as the preferred bidder for the Armada private finance initiative (PFI) project. Subject to the successful completion of negotiations, it is planned to award the contract in late July of this year.

The Armada project encompasses the provision of services in the fleet accommodation centre at HM Naval Base Devonport over a 25-year period. This includes property maintenance, infrastructure maintenance, catering, cleaning and responsibility for environmental aspects and ground maintenance, as well as the design, build, finance and operation of the fleet accommodation centre single living accommodation.

En-suite accommodation is planned for 55 senior officers, 195 junior officers, 600 warrant officers and senior ratings and 700 junior ratings, with 100 beds (non-en suite) retained for transient personnel.

Iraq: Contingency Planning

Lord Mitchell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further plans they have for contingency planning for possible military action against Iraq. [HL2144]

Lord Bach: In a Statement on 20 January (Official Report, cols 34–35) in another place, the Defence Secretary informed the House of the Government's decision to deploy a land force package led by Headquarters 1 (UK) Armoured Division to provide military capabilities for potential military action against Iraq. This deployment has made good progress.

We told the House that operational planning continued to evolve. In order to provide Headquarters 1 (UK) Armoured Division with further flexibility to respond to a range of possible tasks and circumstances, we now plan to deploy two additional units. Members of the 1st Battalion The Duke of Wellington's Regiment will deploy to provide additional infantry capability; 202 Field Hospital (Volunteer) will deploy to provide additional medical capability. We had originally envisaged that 202 Field Hospital (Volunteer) would replace 33 Field Hospital, which is already deployed. We now plan that 33 Field Hospital will remain in theatre, along with 34 Field Hospital and 202 Field Hospital (Volunteer), for the time being.

These changes involve some 850 personnel; the total size of the deployment remains about 45,000 personnel.

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University Fees

Lord Ouseley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether an equality impact assessment was carried out prior to proposals for the introduction of university fees for students; and, if so, what was the outcome. [HL1846]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Government are committed to ensuring that our proposals do not disadvantage students on equal opportunity grounds. An impact assessment on ethnic minorities of the policies proposed in the Higher Education White Paper is currently being undertaken. We intend to publish our findings later this year.

Public Health Laboratory ServiceMedia Services

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they plan to take to prevent loss of key staff from the Public Health Laboratory Service media services given the uncertainty about its future.[HL1990]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The service will continue to be managed by the Public Health Laboratory Service, to minimise risk and to allow time to put suitable alternative long-term arrangements in place. Staff will be consulted about such proposals. To address the possible loss of key staff, media production staff benefit from the same arrangements under the agreed Change Management Protocol as other PHLS staff, under which they have a guarantee of employment until 31 March 2004.

Managed Pathology Networks

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress they have made on the introduction of managed pathology networks.[HL1992]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Department of Health document Pathology—The Essential Service, Draft Guidance on Modernising Pathology Services supported the development of pathology networks as an effective means of delivering improved pathology services. There is general support in principle among those who responded to the consultation for developing appropriate networks in pathology ( Further guidance will be published shortly.

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NHS Laboratories: Accreditation

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they propose to secure clinical pathology accreditation for all National Health Service laboratories.[HL1993]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Following consultation on Pathology—The Essential Service, Draft Guidance on Modernising Pathology Services, the Department of Health is currently developing final guidance which will cover a range of issues, including laboratory accreditation. The new guidance will be published shortly.

Genetically Modified Cotton Crops

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will commission research into any dangers arising from genetically modified cotton crops, in particular from unlabelled cottonseed oil and cotton husks entering the human food chain.[HL2004]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Cottonseed oil from two genetically modified varieties of cotton received approval for food use in the European Union in July 2002. Before approval the oil underwent a thorough safety assessment by the independent Advisory Committee on Novel Foods and Processes. The committee concluded that the oil was as safe as oil produced from unmodified cotton. The Food Standards Agency does not therefore have any plans to commission such research.

Kava-kava Ban

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the organisations which responded to the recent consultation exercise undertaken by the Medicines Control Agency on the ban of Kava-kava in medicinal products; and whether they will indicate in the case of each respondent whether they (a) supported, or (b) opposed the ban; and[HL2027]

    What importance the Medicines Control Agency attaches to the level of experience of herbal remedies and alternative and complementary therapies of those who responded to its recent consultation exercise on the ban of Kava-kava products.[HL2028]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Fifty organisations responded to the Medicines Control Agency's consultation (MLX 286) on the proposal to prohibit Kava-kava in unlicensed medicines. Of these, 17 made no comment, 19 supported the proposal and 14 opposed the proposal or expressed reservations about specific aspects. Where permission for disclosure has

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been given, information about the responses of individual organisations is shown in the table.

All responses to the consultation were considered carefully, along with available evidence on the safety of Kava-kava, before the decision was taken to proceed with the proposal in the interests of public health. As with any such consultation, we recognise that varying views of respondents will have been informed by their experience and background. For example, some may bring to bear primarily general knowledge and experience while others may have specific expertise for example on public health, on the safety of medicines or the operation of the complementary medicine sector. Organisations making no comment

    Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland

    Association of Independent Multiple Pharmacies

    British Association of Dermatologists

    British Contact Dermatitis Group

    British Pharmacological Society

    College of Optometrists

    Faculty of Pharmaceutical Medicines

    Health and Safety Executive

    Health Development Agency

    Help the Aged

    Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Service Liaison Committee

    Medical Protection Society

    National Association of GP Co-operatives

    Scottish Consumer Council

    Society of Pharmaceutical Medicine

    The British Thoracic Society

    Welsh Consumer Council Organisations supporting proposal

    BUPA Hospitals

    Cosmetics, Toiletry & Perfumery Association

    Drug and Therapy Committee of Nuffield Hospitals

    Guild of Healthcare Pharmacists

    National Pharmaceutical Association

    NHS Greater Glasgow

    NHS Information Authority

    Northern Ireland Practice and Education

    Council Pharmacy Misuse Advisory Group

    Royal College of Anaesthetists

    Royal College of GPs

    Royal College of Midwives

    Royal College of Nursing

    Royal College of Nursing Scotland

    Royal College of Physicians

    Royal College of Physicians Edinburgh

    Royal College of Psychiatrists

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    Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain

    UK Clinical Pharmacy Association Organisations opposing proposal or expressing reservations


    Consumers for Health Choice

    British Herbal Medicines Association

    Council for Responsible Nutrition

    Hanover Health Foods

    Health and Diet Company

    Health Food Manufacturers Association

    International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists

    National Association of Health Stores

    National Institute of Medical Herbalists

    Quest vitamins



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