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EU Trade Negotiations

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The respective roles of the European Commission and the Council of Ministers, in internal trade negotiations, are set out in the EU Treaty. The Commission negotiates under a mandate agreed by the Council.

World Trade Organisation

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Any proposal put forward by the UK in relation to the ongoing WTO negotiations would have to be agreed by EU member states and presented to the WTO by the European Commission.

However, as my noble friend reported to the House (on 17 September), "Commissioner Lamy, on behalf of the European Union, offered to abandon completely negotiations on investment and competition (at Cancun), a position that was fully supported by the Council of Ministers and, in particular, by the British Government".

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: We are considering these issues in discussion with the European Commission and other EU member states.

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Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What instructions they intend to give to senior officials attending the next general council of the World Trade Organisation in Geneva.[HL4708]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Senior officials from all WTO members must send a strong signal of their willingness to engage fully and constructively in the Doha round negotiations both before and at the next WTO general council in Geneva on 20-21 October.

Exports

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why British exports to the European Union have fallen to their lowest level in four years, despite the recent drop in the value of sterling against the euro.[HL4803]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Although the UK economy continues to perform well, we are a highly open economy and therefore not immune to the recent global slowdown. UK exports have been affected by the depressed level of demand in many of our main EU markets. Both the French and German economies contracted in the second quarter of 2003, by 0.3 per cent 0.1 per cent respectively, with Germany now having experienced two consecutive quarters of negative growth. However, despite the global slowdown, the UK experienced GDP growth of 0.6 per cent in quarter two.

Electricity Generation

Lord Jenkin of Roding asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What conclusions they have drawn from the European Union's study on the environmental cost of electricity, and, in particular, on the comparative external costs given for the different forms of electricity generation in the United Kingdom. [HL4805]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: The European Commission's recently published report in its ExternE series External Costs: Research results on socio-environmental damages due to electricity and transport contains useful estimates of the external costs associated with different electricity generation technologies and forms of transport.

The department is considering the report and has not yet drawn any conclusions from it. Analysis published at the same time as the energy White Paper in February 2003 provided estimates of the ancillary benefits associated with reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. A significant part of these benefits derives from improvements to public health. This paper is available at: www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climatechange/ewpscience/ewp ancillaryeffects.pdf

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The external costs associated with global warming are also covered in the White paper. The Government have a range of policies to encourage renewable energy as well as improving energy efficiency, which are designed to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by between an additional 15-25MtC by 2020 compared with our business as usual projection. Many of these policies can be achieved at costs which are likely to fall below the marginal external costs of coal and gas generation shown in the Commission's report.

Photodynamic Therapy

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why the Department of Health sent guidance to hospitals and primary care trusts saying that they did not have to find money for photodynamic therapy for nine months; and[HL4641]

    What is their assessment of the claim that thousands of people with age-related macular degeneration will go blind if photodynamic therapy is not available for nine months.[HL4643]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): In reviewing the final appraisal determination, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence's guidance executive also considered whether there were grounds for advising the Department of Health to vary the three-month direction. It considered there were grounds to do so on this occasion.

We are not delaying implementation of the NICE guidance on photodynamic therapy (PDT) for nine months. Patients are already receiving PDT treatment on the National Health Service and will do so in increasing numbers in the coming months.

It was the department's assessment, informed by advice from NICE, that the NHS would be unable to implement the guidance in full within the usual three-month period. We have previously varied the direction on five occasions when it was required to implement effectively the guidance to provide the service to patients.

The guidance issued to primary care trusts (PCTs) on PDT asks that PCTs should make funds available within nine months. We expect implementation to have been fully achieved within this timeframe with all eligible patients having access to available treatment. PCTs may complete implementation earlier should their service planning enable them to do so.

Within the nine months allowed for full implementation, commissioners are expected to expand the service in a planned way to ensure there is sufficient capacity which is appropriately located to meet patient need, a fully trained workforce and access to expert diagnostic services. This will include the creation of new—and the expansion of existing—PDT centres and expert reading centres.

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Long-Stay Hospitals

Lord Adebowale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) How many people have been moved from long-stay hospitals to alternative accommodation since the publication of the Valuing People White Paper;

    (b) which long-stay hospitals continue to provide accommodation for people with a learning disability; and

    (c) how many people with a learning disability remain in long-stay hospitals and alternative accommodation.[HL4644]

Lord Warner: We do not believe that it is right for people with learning disabilities to live in National Health Service hospital accommodation on a long-term basis. One of the objectives in the White Paper Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century (March 2001), which contains our proposals for improving services for people with learning disabilities, their families and carers, is the closure of the remaining long-stay hospitals by April 2004.

When Valuing People was published, some 1,500 people with learning disabilities were living in long-stay hospitals. The number is now around 750. Plans are in the development stage to move these people to appropriate alternative accommodation.

The remaining long-stay hospitals are:


    Aston Hall


    Chase Farm


    Earls House


    Fieldhead


    Gloucester Centre


    Gorse Hill


    Highbury


    Lea Castle


    Little Highwood


    Little Plumstead


    Long Leys


    Monckton


    Northgate


    Oak House


    Orchard Hill


    Princess Marina


    Prudhoe


    Ridge Hill


    St Catherine's


    St Ebba's

These long-stay hospitals have not previously been publicly named to protect the remaining patients from intrusion. This position was agreed with local management.

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The director of valuing people implementation intends to report in detail on the hospital closure programme to the Learning Disability Task Force in December.

Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many staff are expected to be employed by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in each of the next five years.[HL4776]

Lord Warner: The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is working on its forward plans, including staffing.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What will be the impact on the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency of the Medical Devices Directive.[HL4775]

Lord Warner: The Medical Devices Directive 93/42/EEC came into force on 14 June 1998 and provides the framework for regulation of medical devices across the European Union. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, as UK competent authority under these regulations, is responsible for ensuring that the provisions of the directive are met.


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