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National Memorial Arboretum

Baroness Lockwood asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: We are pleased to advise this House that the Government have decided to make a grant-in-aid of £250,000 a year for an initial period of three years to the National Memorial Arboretum Company Limited towards the running costs of the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, Staffordshire. This will be subject to the Ministry of Defence and the National Memorial Arboretum Company Limited signing a management statement and financial memorandum which define the terms under which the grant-in-aid will be managed.

Hull

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker): The Government are providing support to local authorities in the Hull area in a number of key areas. On housing, major repairs allowance for the maintenance of council housing of over £16.5 million has been provided for 2003–04 in Hull. On neighbourhood renewal, NRF funding for Hull between 2001 and 2006 amounts to £31.8 million.

In April 2000 the Government granted £55 million over a 10-year period to the Preston Road NDC (New Deal for Communities) programme. The programme aims to deliver economic prosperity, safer communities,

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high quality education, decent housing and better health to the area and is contributing to the quality of life for residents in East Hull.

More generally the Government are working closely with Kingston-upon-Hull City Council, through an appointed lead official, to support improvement in the performance of the council and in the services it provides.

NHS: Private Patient Charging

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether National Health Service trusts are permitted to use marginal costing in arriving at charges made to private patients.[HL4442]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): National Health Service trusts should not cross-subsidise private sector work from the NHS.

Older People: Mortality Rates and Weather Conditions

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What estimate they have made of the higher prevalence of deaths among older vulnerable people during this year's exceptionally high summer temperatures; and what action they are taking in response to these deaths.[HL4569]

Lord Warner: The Office for National Statistics routinely publishes weekly estimates of deaths registered in England and Wales. These indicated 907 more deaths registered in the week ending 15 August, which included the day on which the hottest temperature was recorded. During the majority of other weeks in the summer, numbers of deaths registered were below the seasonal average. On average, 34 per cent of deaths registered each week during July and August occurred in those aged 75–84 and 31 per cent in those aged 85 and over. These proportions did not vary according to the temperatures recorded in each week, including week ending 15 August, and thus there is no evidence of a differential impact on older age groups.

To support National Health Service managers in anticipating circumstances of weather related high demand, the Department of Health, together with the Meteorologicial Office, ran a weather forecast/health demand trial project, Forecasting the Nation's Health, supported by Treasury "Invest to Save" funding, over the winter of 2001–02 and 2002–03. It used weather forecasts and research data to provide NHS managers with advance warning of the impacts of weather and other key factors on health, and therefore hospital

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workloads, in their area. This alerted them as to when and where to expect increased emergency admissions and allows them to plan the use of resources more efficiently. Originally, the project was developed to look at winter weather events but this summer it has been successfully adapted to forecast the hot weather and issue advance warnings to hospitals participating in the pilot project and the public. In particular, a press release "Ten tips for surviving summer sun", providing advice on preventative measures was made by the department acting on advice from the Met Office on 5 August, in advance of the extreme temperatures—with particular emphasis on advice for the old and vulnerable.

This work is without precedent internationally. The trial project has been completed and there are two external evaluations to look at the reliability and value of such workload forecasting for the NHS, following which the department will consider future development in this area.

Employment Law

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the refusal by a professional to become involved with the placement of children for adoption by same-sex couples on the grounds of conscience is grounds for dismissal.[HL4540]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): Employees who believe that they have been dismissed unfairly can complain to an employment tribunal, generally subject to a qualifying period of service. From 2 December 2003 it will be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on grounds of the employee's religion or belief. It is for the tribunals to decide whether any particular dismissal is fair or unfair in the light of all the circumstances and whether discrimination has occurred.

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What protection there is for a professional who for reasons of conscience is unable to agree to placing children for adoption with same-sex couples.[HL4541]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Employees who believe that they have been dismissed unfairly can complain to an employment tribunal, generally subject to a qualifying period of service. From 2 December 2003 it will be unlawful for an employer to discriminate against an employee on grounds of the employee's religion or belief. It is for the tribunals to decide whether any particular dismissal is fair or unfair in the light of all the circumstances and whether discrimination has occurred.

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Consumer Law: Faulty Goods and Guarantees

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What legal restraints apply to the failure by manufacturers to undertake repairs to or replacement of household refrigerators that break down within the guarantee period, when such breakdowns have health and other consequences for children, vulnerable elderly people or others in special need.[HL4568]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Current consumer law places the onus of responsibility for faulty goods primarily with the seller rather than the manufacturer. The law requires that goods must be fit for purpose and of satisfactory quality and if they are not, the consumer can request a full refund of their money within a reasonable time. Furthermore, for up to six years after purchase consumers can demand damages, or a repair or replacement. Any guarantee given by the manufacturer after 31 March is legally binding and can be enforced through the courts.

Sand Eels

The Duke of Montrose asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect the findings of the research on the effect of fishing for sand eels, currently being carried out for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs by a boat based at Grimsby, to be made public.[HL4577]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The two voyages by the vessel referred to were carried out under the fisheries science partnership between CEFAS and the NFFO. The findings will be made public once analysis has been completed and considered jointly by both members of the partnership.

Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their response to the Public Administration Select Committee's Third Report of Session 2002–03 Ombudsman Issues (HC 448) means that they have decided not to introduce legislation to create a public right of direct access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration; and, if not, what are their current intentions.[HL4363]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: The Government's position on legislation is set out in its response to the Public Administration Select Committee's report, Ombudsman Issues (HC 448). The issue of direct

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access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration will form part of the work referred to in the Government's response.

Civil Service: Departmental Openness Contacts

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a list of lead contacts and departmental openness officers in the departments referred to in paragraph (c) of their response to the Public Administration Select Committee's Third Report of Session 2002–03, Ombudsman Issues (HC 448). [HL4364]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Details of departmental openness contacts are already published in the Civil Service Yearbook. They are also published as an appendix to the Monitoring Report on the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information, published annually. Copies of these documents are available in the Libraries of the House.

As the Government response to the Select Committee indicates, the Cabinet Office is currently compiling a list of departmental contacts tasked with ensuring that the ombudsman receives prompt responses to requests for information. This list will be of use primarily to the ombudsman and her staff, but I shall send a copy to the noble Lord when it is ready.

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Channel Tunnel Rail Link

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What provision is planned for passengers to move the 400 metres between London Stratford international and domestic stations. [HL4570]

Lord Davies of Oldham: A number of options are under consideration between Union Railways (North), the designers of section 2 of the Channel Tunnel rail link, Chelsfield/Stanhope, the promoters of the Stratford City development and the London Borough of Newham, the local planning authority. A decision on the most appropriate form for the link has not yet been taken.

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is intended to move Eurostar's maintenance and servicing facility from North Pole to Temple Mills in London. [HL4571]

Lord Davies of Oldham: Operation of the Eurostar service following completion of section 2 of the Channel Tunnel rail link will require some form of maintenance and servicing facility at Temple Mills. My department is discussing with London & Continental Railways, the promoters of the Channel Tunnel rail link, what facilities should be provided at Temple Mills, and the implications for the present Eurostar facility at North Pole. No decisions have yet been taken.



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