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Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: No formal consultation was carried out but the Government have been and continue to be in regular contact with the major users of HASS.

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IT Disposal in Government Departments

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in order to comply with their obligations under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive, they will consider asking Computer Aid International to take all personal computers no longer required by government departments for re-use in developing countries.[HL3264]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Government are undertaking a full consultation process and the views of the noble Lord will certainly be considered carefully.

DTI IT equipment is disposed of by our supplier in accordance with its green disposal policy, which encourages both reuse where possible and recycling.

Export Controls

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    To which countries sales of digital computers, machine tools, microwave components and pre-cursor chemicals have been authorised in the past five years; and whether this included Syria and Iran.[HL3392]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Where the goods are controlled for strategic reasons, details of all relevant export licences are published by destination in the Government's Annual Report on Strategic Export Controls. Copies of the 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001 annual reports are available from the Libraries of the House. The 2002 annual report will be published shortly.

Genetically Modified Crops

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to:


    (a) the call by the British Medical Association in Scotland for trials of genetically modified crops to be stopped immediately to safeguard public health; and


    (b) the move by Devon and Lancashire County Councils and three other local authorities to restrict genetically modified foods and crops.[HL2749]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): (a) Approval of genetically modified crop trials in Scotland is a matter for the Scottish Executive, subject to EU regulations.

(b) Local authorities are entitled to make their own choices and to take their own decisions in relation to the use of genetically modified organisms on their own land or in goods supplied to them. However, relevant EU and UK legislation is based on the general presumption that authorized genetically modified

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food and crop products may be marketed without restriction throughout the Community, provided all appropriate measures have been taken to avoid adverse effects on human health and the environment.

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the statement by the United States Government that genetically modified crops do not increase yields; and that by the directors of Oxfam, Christian Aid, Save the Children, Cafod and Action Aid on the relationship between genetically modified crops and poverty and malnutrition in the developing world; and, if so, what response they made.[HL2824]

Lord Whitty: These statements are being considered, alongside other evidence, by the Prime Minister's Strategy Unit as part of its study on the overall costs and benefits of GM crops. This study will contribute to the ongoing public dialogue on GM issues, and the Strategy Unit is expected to publish its final report in June 2003. More information can be found at www.strategy.gov.uk/2002/GM/summ.shtml

Technetium-99: Discharge into Irish Sea

Lord Faulkner of Worcester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What directions they have given the Environment Agency regarding the discharge of technetium-99 into the Irish Sea from Sellafield.[HL2757]

Lord Whitty: In 1999, at the time that the discharge limit for technetium-99(Tc-99) was reduced from 200 TBq/year to 90 TBq/year, we asked the Environment Agency to carry out a review of Tc-99 discharges and report its findings in advance of those for the main review of all other radioactive discharges from the Sellafield site. Following public consultation on its proposals the agency published its proposed decision for Tc-99 in September 2001. In December of last year, we announced our agreement with the agency's proposals which, when implemented, would result in the Tc-99 discharge limit being reduced to 10 TBq/year in 2006.

Depleted Uranium

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

    How many sites are licensed to use depleted uranium in manufacturing of any kind; and what guidance is given on waste disposal of material emanating from those sites.[HL3216]

Lord Whitty: In England and Wales there are approximately 150 premises in the manufacturing sector that hold certificates of registration, under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993, from the Environment Agency in relation to the keeping and use of depleted uranium. The vast majority are simply users of articles manufactured from depleted uranium,

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eg industrial radiography source containers. The agency's central records list only five premises, other than sites licensed under the Nuclear Installations Act (Amended) 1965, that are engaged in manufacturing and are specifically authorised to dispose of depleted uranium wastes. In addition to the five sites referred to above, the agency is aware of manufacturing activities involving depleted uranium at licensed nuclear sites such as AWE Aldermaston. A number of nuclear sites (for example BNFL Springfields) and some Royal Ordnance sites (for example ROSM Featherstone and Cardiff) were previously engaged in the manufacture of depleted uranium components, but have now ceased manufacturing.

In England and Wales the disposal of depleted uranium waste is controlled by means of certificates of authorisation issued by the agency under the Radioactive Substances Act 1993. Specific conditions and requirements relating to disposal are detailed in the certificate. During the regulatory process of applying for a certificate specific guidance is provided by the agency to each applicant.

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

    On how many sites where depleted uranium has been used there have been incidents that have been investigated by the Environment Agency.[HL3217]

Lord Whitty: During the past 10 years the Environment Agency (EA) has been involved in the investigation of only one incident at a site where depleted uranium has been used and this was for the purposes of producing munitions. One investigation has also been undertaken at another site, but this was where it had been illegally tipped.

NHS Staff: Flexible Retirement

Baroness Finlay of Llandaff asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How comprehensive are the provisions in place for National Health Service professionals to take flexible retirement; and how many have taken up this option.[HL3007]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Department of Health (England) is actively encouraging National Health Service professionals to consider flexible retirement options.

The flexible retirement initiative was launched in July 2000 to ensure that the NHS makes the most of valuable experienced staff at the same time as enabling them to extend their earning lives. Flexible retirement has been included as evidence for organisations in the Improving Working Lives Standard, which all trusts should have achieved by April 2003. The Flexible Careers Schemes for general practitioners and hospital doctors can also be used to support individuals in taking flexible retirement.

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Two guidance booklets, in the series Working Lives Flexing Retirement, one for staff and one for managers are available on the Improving Working Lives website (www.doh.gov.uk/iwl). Two more in the series planned for GPs and hospital doctors are due to be published in June. There is also a Flexing Retirement Helpline (01253 774440) for all National Health Service staff who want to review their retirement options and how they will affect their pension.

Data are not available on how many National Health Service professionals have taken up flexible retirement options.

Pro-life Groups: EU Monitoring

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the scope, budget and staffing of the unit set up by the European Union to monitor the activities of pro-life groups.[HL3072]

Lord Warner: The Government have no information about, or knowledge of, such a unit.

NHS National Programme for Information Technology

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the budget for the National Health Service National Programme for Information Technology.[HL3121]

Lord Warner: Central funding for the National Programme for Information Technology in the National Health Service is to be made available as follows: £370 million in 2003–04, £730 million in 2004–05 and £1.2 billion in 2005–06. This funding will be supplemented by local investment, currently running at £850 million a year from baseline allocations.


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