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Food Supplements Directive

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Warner: On 14 October representatives from food supplement industry trade associations met with representatives of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to discuss requirements for dossiers supporting addition of nutrient sources to the lists appended to the Food Supplements Directive. The meeting was constructive. EFSA representatives indicated that applicants should submit data establishing the identity and purity of the nutrient source, and any available safety data. EFSA would then advise whether further data were required, taking into account similarities with substances which have already been approved either as nutrient sources or as additives. This, together with advice that combined dossiers for similar substances are welcome, means that dossier preparation costs for many of the "missing" substances will be significantly lower than previously estimated. The Food Standards Agency is writing to inform interested parties of the outcome and will continue to liaise with EFSA and European Commission representatives on this issue.

Nutrient Safety

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Lord Warner: The Food Standards Agency has been in regular dialogue with stakeholders. This has included meeting manufacturers' associations and other stakeholders to advise on the requirements for submission of dossiers on nutrient sources to European Food Safety Authority, and advising, where requested, on the types of research needed to fill data gaps on the safety of individual vitamins and minerals.

Arms Dealers

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now review the law to ensure that United Kingdom citizens overseas involved in brokering arms deals are brought within the jurisdiction of United Kingdom law.[HL5191]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The secondary legislation which will be made under the Export Control Act 2002 will introduce controls affecting UK persons anywhere in the world who traffic or broker in arms to embargoed destinations, or in torture equipment or certain long-range missiles to any destination.

The Government will review the legislation within three years of the new controls coming into force. The review will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the new controls, the effectiveness of the proposed enforcement regime and the extent to which the "solutions" did actually solve the problem.

Small Firms Loan Guarantee Scheme

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will simplify the small firms loan guarantee scheme so that small and medium-sized companies can have better access to early-stage funding.[HL5203]

Lord Sainsbury of Turville: From 1 April 2003 to 30 September 2003 take-up increased by 40 per cent over the same period last year. The DTI continues to monitor the operation of the SFLG to ensure that it remains relevant and accessible to small businesses.

Business Link

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they will take to remedy the potential conflict of interest in the operation of Business Link, in its dual role as a broker of advisory services to small firms and as a provider of such services.[HL5225]

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Lord Sainsbury of Turville: Business Link operators (BLOs) seek to address gaps in the provision and quality of locally delivered business support services and integrate local Business Link services with what is on offer from other local providers.

All BLOs offer an account management brokerage and referral service and they are encouraged to broker or subcontract as much of their service provision as possible. The brokerage service is most frequently and effectively employed servicing those customers receiving high intensive assistance. This frequently involves the drawing in of specialist expertise from the national Business Link consultants register.

SBS will continue to press BLOs to increase the level of brokerage or subcontracting of business support services to local and/or specialist providers, as a means of ensuring more effective business support in response to customer needs.

Tax and Pension Credits

Lord Taylor of Warwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much benefit from the new child tax credit and pension credit systems is unclaimed; and what steps they will take to encourage it to be claimed.[HL5155]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): Of the 6 million families expected to benefit from the new tax credits in the full year, it is estimated that 5.9 million families were benefiting from the child or working tax credits, or were receiving the equivalent level of child support through income support or jobseeker's allowance, at 31 October.

A high-profile publicity campaign has been running since September 2002 to alert people to their entitlement to child tax credit and working tax credit and to encourage them to claim.

The campaign has so far included national television advertising, local radio advertising across the UK, advertisements in the national press as well as online publicity and the use of direct mail.

Leaflets and posters in English and nine community languages have been produced and are available free to community organisations, post offices, doctors' surgeries and libraries. Leaflets are available in large print, and can be obtained on request in braille or audio.

An information pack, including sample material and ordering details has been sent out to intermediaries. A similar pack has also been sent to Members of both Houses of Parliament and the devolved administrations. Further publicity will include television, press, radio and online advertising as well as direct mail.

Pension credit was introduced in October 2003. I understand from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) that the latest information for its predecessor, minimum income guarantee, is for

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2000–01. The amount unclaimed for that year in Great Britain is estimated to lie between £470 million and £820 million, as published by DWP in Income Related Benefits Estimates of Take-up in 2000–01.

The Government have a target for at least 3 million pensioner households to be in receipt of pension credit by 2006. We want all those eligible for pension credit to take up their entitlement.

A direct mail pack to pensioner households is at the heart of the DWP's marketing campaign for pension credit. The Pension Service began writing to pensioner households in April, to explain pension credit and to invite advance applications. In addition, around 1.8 million people in receipt of the minimum income guarantee were told at the beginning of the year that they would be transferred automatically to pension credit ready for payments to be made from October. By June 2004, all pensioner households will have been contacted.

These direct mail arrangements are being supported by a national TV and press advertising campaign, which began on 3 September. The controlled and measured marketing campaign is designed to produce a steady build-up of pension credit applications.

The pension credit application line, which became operational on 7 April, enables trained staff to help pensioners through the application form and complete it for them over the telephone. Calls are free (except for some mobile phones) and friends and family can use the application line and apply on pensioners' behalf if they are unable to make the call themselves.

The Pension Service is able to offer alternative ways of applying to suit individual circumstances, including a textphone number and a paper application form. An application form can be downloaded from the pension credit website. Pensioners can also be put in touch with the Pension Service's local service and can be seen face-to-face either in a local surgery or, where appropriate, in the pensioner's home. The Pension Service is also working with partner organisations at national and local level to encourage take-up of the new entitlement.

Civil Registration

Baroness Barker asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have not provided the House of Lords Printed Paper Office with sufficient copies of the consultation document, Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change, for Members of the House.[HL5181]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Registrar General who has been asked to reply.

Letter from the Registrar General, Len Cook, dated 10 November 2003.

As Registrar General for England and Wales, I have been asked to reply to your recent question on the number of copies of the consultation document Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change provided to the House of Lords Printed Paper Office. (HL5181)

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Prior to publication, it was decided that the General Register Office would assume responsibility for publishing and distributing the consultation document. This would allow us to sell copies on a cost-recovery basis at a price of £10 per copy. It was hoped that, by setting as low a price as possible, the document would be more widely accessible to the many individuals and small groups who have an interest in civil registration issues, thereby encouraging responses to the consultation.

It was an oversight on our part whereby the House of Lords Printed Paper Office did not have sufficient published copies of Civil Registration: Delivering Vital Change. Once my officials were made aware of this problem it was arranged that, as a temporary measure, photocopies of the web version would be made available for Members of the House. Arrangements were made for a further supply of the published version to be placed in the Printed Paper Office during the final week of October.

This was the first time we have worked with the regulatory reform process, and we did not have a documented procedure for this stage of it. I apologise for this.

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