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Post Mortem Removal of Organs: Report into case of Mr Cyril Mark Isaacs

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Government are publishing today their response to the Isaacs report, which followed an investigation by Her Majesty's Inspector of Anatomy, Dr Jeremy Metters CB. We advised the House about the publication of the Isaacs report on 12 May.

The inspector's report addressed the case of the late Mr Cyril Mark Isaacs and the retention of his brain for research purposes following a coroner's post mortem in 1987 without the knowledge or consent of his widow, Mrs Elaine Isaacs. Mr Isaacs's case proved to be part of an arrangement whereby the coroner's office in north Manchester would identify brains suitable for a research programme at Manchester University. The inspector also found evidence that brains were used following post mortems on adults in other locations.

The report made 34 specific recommendations that bear on the responsibilities of the Department of Health, the Home Office and the Department for Education and Skills. We have considered these carefully and we are today publishing our joint response and copies have been placed in the Library.

We pay tribute once again to Mrs Elaine Isaacs for bringing her husband's case to public attention and to Dr Metters for his thorough investigation and report.

We are very grateful to the Retained Organs Commission and to National Health Service trusts for the arrangements they put in place to deal with inquiries from the public arising from the publication of the report. We understand that the commission's helpline has taken over 860 calls and, of these, some 580 were specific enquiries about organ retention from a deceased person which are being passed to the relevant NHS trusts for investigation.

While there is still work to be done, the programme of action on the removal, retention and use of human organs and tissue that we have put in hand since we accepted recommendations by the Chief Medical Officer in 2001 has already achieved significant

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improvements. Following extensive consultation, we published on 25 April a comprehensive, interim framework of guidance and other materials to reflect transparent new systems founded on consent. The interim framework comprises: a statement on the use of human tissue and organs under the current law, a code of practice Families and Post Mortems, post-mortem consent forms and leaflets, a code of practice on import/export of human body parts and a summary report on the responses to the consultation document Human Bodies Human Choices. Steps have also been taken to modernise the practice of pathology and to improve the management of joint NHS and academic posts. In addition, the inquiry findings will be taken into account in the development of relevant policy initiatives bearing on death investigation and coronial services which are currently being taken forward by the Home Office.

We also intend to bring forward legislation establishing a comprehensive new framework for the removal, retention and use of organs and tissues from both adults and children.

Medicines Commission and Medicines Act Advisory Bodies: Annual Report 2002

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Medicines Commission and Medicines Act Advisory Bodies annual report for 2002.[HL4035]

Lord Warner: We have received the annual report of the Medicines Commission for 2002, which has been laid before Parliament today in accordance with the requirements of Section 5(2) of the Medicines Act 1968.

Bound volumes have been placed in the Library containing the 2002 reports of the Medicines Commission, the Committee on Safety of Medicines, the Advisory Board on the Registration of Homoeopathic Products, the British Pharmacopoeia Commission, the Independent Review Panel on Advertising, the Independent Panel for Borderline Products and the Veterinary Products Committee.

We are glad to acknowledge the valuable work done by the distinguished members of the Medicines Act advisory bodies and thank them for the time and effort dedicated in the public interest to this important work.

Medicines Control Agency: Annual Report and Accounts 2002–03

Baroness Nicol asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will publish the Medicines Control Agency annual report and accounts for 2002–03.[HL4036]

Lord Warner: We have received the annual report and accounts of the Medicines Control Agency for 2002–03 which has been laid before Parliament today in accordance with the requirements of Sections 5(2) and 5(3) of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921. Copies have also been placed in the Library.

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Genetically Modified Products

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they have conducted consultation meetings about the future of genetically modified products.[HL3725]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Government is sponsoring the GM public debate ("GM Nation?") so that people can have their say on GM issues. The debate is being managed by an independent steering board at arm's length from government. The public phase of the debate was launched on 3 June and six regional launch events were held between 3 and 13 June. Further meetings have been arranged by organisations and individuals across the country and people can also participate via the debate website (www.gmnation.org.uk). The deadline for people to submit their views is 18 July.

The Food Standards Agency has also carried out a number of activities as part of its contribution to the GM public debate. Many of these activities were carried out in public and the outcome can be accessed on the agency's website (www.food.gov.uk).

The Agriculture and Environment Biotechnology Commission (AEBC) was set up in June 2000 with a remit to provide the UK Government and devolved administrations with independent, strategic advice on developments in biotechnology and their implications for agriculture and the environment. As part of this process the AEBC has held a number of consultation meetings with stakeholders and the public.

Applications for consents to place particular GM crops and foods on the European market are also subject to mandatory public consultation under the relevant EC legislation.

Horticulture Research International

Baroness Gould of Potter Newton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will make an announcement on the restructuring of Horticulture Research International.[HL3981]

Lord Whitty: Further to my Answer of 20 January 2003, I wish to report further developments in respect of the restructuring of Horticulture Research International (HRI).

I am pleased to report that Defra has reached agreement with the University of Warwick about the future of HRI Wellesbourne and Kirton. We believe that the agreement will provide a stable and sustainable future for HRI and meet the core recommendations of the independent quinquennial review team.

Subject to finalising the details of the agreement and confirmation of the conclusion of a Defra business case that it represents best value, we expect the settlement with the university to contain the following key elements:

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    (a) HRI will continue to serve the horticulture industry as part of the university.


    (b) Defra will grant the university a guaranteed research contract for an agreed programme of work. The contract will be for eight years at a total annual value of £5 millon in years 1 to 6, £3.5 million in year 7 and £2 million in year 8;


    (c) Defra will transfer HRI's sites at Wellesbourne, Warwickshire and Kirton, Lincolnshire to the university with effect from 1 April 2004, subject to "clawback" arrangements to protect the public purse;


    (d) The university will make a financial contribution equivalent to the value of the dwellings and agricultural land at Wellesbourne as assessed by the Valuation Office Agency;


    (e) Following a programme of redundancies, the remaining HRI staff at Wellesbourne and Kirton will transfer to the employment of the university on TUPE terms with effect from 1 April 2004;


    (f) The university will inherit ongoing redundancy and pension liabilities of transferring staff; and


    (g) Defra will make a financial contribution to outstanding works required in respect of the Wellesbourne and Kirton estates.

We plan to exchange letters of intent with the university as soon as practicable followed by a business transfer agreement in the autumn, subject to negotiations and the Defra business case.

The independent quinquennial review team recommended that HRI Efford should close. The University of Warwick has indicated that it does not wish to acquire the site. Defra and HRI have carefully considered the review team's recommendation alongside other options and, regrettably, concluded that Efford should close in October. Staff at Efford will have access to the same support services as those similarly affected at other HRI sites and will receive redundancy compensation in line with agreed terms and procedures. The land and buildings at Efford are a valuable public asset which will be sold on the open market and the receipts invested in the wider restructuring of HRI. HRI will ensure that existing contracts at Efford are honoured. Defra will facilitate discussions with the horticulture industry and the research community about the need, if any, to make specific alternative provision for the research capability presently offered by Efford.

Negotiations are continuing between Defra and the East Malling Trust for Horticultural Research about the establishment of East Malling and Wye as an independent research station. The East Malling Trust has made proposals which we plan to discus with it later in July. It is in everyone's interests to ensure that the new research station would be financially viable on the basis of a mixed portfolio of funding as recommended by the quinquennial review team. We aim to decide the future of East Malling and Wye by the end of September at the latest.



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