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Wolfson Molecular Imaging Centre, Manchester

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: Department of Health Ministers have had no such contacts.

Genetically Modified Foods

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: All genetically modified foods approved for sale in the United Kingdom have undergone a rigorous pre-market safety assessment by independent scientific advisers. This is carried out on a case-by-case basis and takes into account the implications for certain sectors of the population, such as those groups mentioned above. These foods would not be approved if the safety tests raised concerns.

Scientific evidence does not support the view that the antibiotic resistance genes in modified plants could increase antibiotic resistance in humans.

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There is no evidence that the consumption of genetically modified food has caused an increase in allegenicity.

The available evidence does not indicate that GM DNA transfer to gut bacteria has adverse consequences for metabolism, organ development, and the immune and endocrine systems. DNA is consumed as part of our normal diet.

Cochlear Implants

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many, and which, primary care trusts currently inform adults requiring cochlear implants that there are no funds for the foreseeable future.[HL3667]

Lord Warner: While the Department of Health does not collect figures on the numbers of cases where funding for cochlear implants is delayed or refused, we understand that the Institute for Hearing Research surveys specialised centres about cochlear implant services. The last such survey was at the end of 2001. Primary care trusts came into existence in October 2001 and full-year figures for the services they fund are not yet available.

Great Western Railway Line Closure: 19 June 2003

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Great Western Railway line near Slough was closed for approximately 24 hours following the fire on 19 June; and who gave the instruction to close it for so long; and [HL3594]

    Whether the decision to close the Great Western Railway line on 19 June was reviewed at any point in the ensuing 24 hours; and [HL3595]

    Whether, following the closure of the Great Western Railway line on 19 June, any assessment was made of the safety implications and cost to travellers of using alternative routes or modes of transport.[HL3596]

Lord Davies of Oldham: On 19 June the Berkshire Fire Brigade discovered that oxy-acetylene cylinders were involved in a fire at a residential property close to the Great Western Railway line at Slough which were in danger of explosion.

The line was closed following a risk assessment, which included the economic and social costs, by the Berkshire Fire Brigade of the initial and ongoing incident carried out by their incident commander and was taken in accordance with the Fire Services Inspectorate's guidance on oxy-acetylene cylinders. Network Rail has advised that the Berkshire Fire Brigade required it to close the line.

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Early on the afternoon of 20 June, the Berkshire Fire Brigade, with the assistance of British Oxygen Company experts, re-examined the oxy-acetylene cylinders involved in the fire for any sign of "hot spotting". Shortly afterwards the line was re-opened.

River Craft Safety Checks

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What safety checks are made, and by which body, on river craft operating on the River Mersey in all its reaches.[HL3599]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) carries out an annual survey and at least one general inspection of all domestic passenger ships carrying more than 12 passengers. The MCA also undertakes random inspections on a cross-section of domestic non-passenger vessels in commercial use.

Navigation authority and competent harbour authority safety checks also apply. The Mersey Docks and Harbours Board is the competent harbour authority for the Port of Liverpool which covers the River Mersey up to Warrington Bridge. It carries out safety checks for vessels over 50 gross tons including carriage of VHF radio; carriage of radar; vessels with mechanical, equipment or structural defects; and vessels carrying hazardous cargoes.

The Manchester Ship Canal Company is the navigation authority for the River Mersey from Warrington Bridge to the Mersey Weir at Irlam on the Manchester ship canal. Pleasure vessels and those not classed and required to register for operation in the harbour and port of Manchester, are inspected by an approved marine surveyor for a certificate of seaworthiness. The harbour master of the Manchester Ship Canal Company has powers to inspect vessels.

Lord Fearn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What safety checks are made, and by which body, on river craft operating on the River Thames in all its reaches.[HL3600]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) carries out an annual survey and at least one general inspection of all domestic passenger ships carrying more than 12 passengers. The MCA also undertakes random inspections on a cross-section of domestic non-passenger vessels in commercial use.

Navigation authority and competent harbour authority safety checks also apply. The Port of London Authority (PLA) is the competent harbour authority for the River Thames as far as Teddington Lock and is responsible for the administration of the craft registration system and "fitness for purpose" inspections for all vessels submitted for initial registration and subsequent renewal. All commercial vessels that fall within the scope of the by-laws and PLA vessels are inspected. Power-driven vessels are

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inspected annually and non-power driven craft biennially.

Above Teddington Lock, the navigation authority is the Environment Agency. Independent marine surveyors examine all craft for issue of a boat safety certificate. All power driven vessels and houseboats are liable to informal or formal check inspections by navigation officers.

Regional Airports

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What priority is given to expanding regional airports to redress the economic imbalance between the South East and the rest of the United Kingdom; and what consultation Ministers have had with the regional airports on this matter.[HL3606]

Lord Davies of Oldham: In the 1998 integrated transport White Paper A New Deal for Transport—Better For Everyone; the Government stated that they would:


    "encourage the growth of regional airports to meet local demand for air travel where consistent with sustainable development principles".

We remain committed to that objective and will set out our proposals for regional airports in the forthcoming air transport White Paper.

The consultation which we have undertaken to inform preparation of the White Paper has been one of the biggest ever undertaken on transport and has included discussions with regional airports themselves and a wide range of regional and national stakeholders, business representatives, environmental and residents' groups. The consultation concluded on 30 June 2003.

Light Dues

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to modify or end light dues.[HL3639]

Lord Davies of Oldham: The Government issued a consultation document, entitled Light Dues Review: Meeting the Costs of Marine Aids to Navigation, last summer seeking the views of the maritime industry on the structure of UK light dues. One of our aims was to see whether we could identify changes to the current structure that would distribute costs more accurately among users.

The results of the consultation exercise were inconclusive, with no consensus of opinion on the way forward. In March the Government announced a programme of further work on a number of issues, which will allow further consideration of options for modifying the present light dues system. We have no plans to end light dues, and we remain committed to a cost-recovery system.



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