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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Lord Filkin): In December it was announced that, subject to the European Parliamentary and Local Elections Pilot Bill achieving Royal Assent, the north-east and East Midlands regions would pilot all postal voting at the combined European parliamentary and local elections in June 2004. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs, Mr Christopher Leslie can today announce that it is our intention that two further regions will also hold all-postal pilots. These regions will be Yorkshire and the Humber and the north-west.
My honourable friend is pleased to be able to announce these further regions so that the important work of preparing for the pilot elections can begin in earnest. We have identified Yorkshire and the Humber and the north-west after discussion with electoral administrators and look forward to those regions, alongside the north-east and East Midlands, helping us to progress our electoral modernisation agenda.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): The Chancellor of the Exchequer has today announced that Her Majesty the Queen has been graciously pleased to approve his recommendation that a commemorative crown should be issued in 2004 to mark the 100th anniversary of the Entente Cordiale between Britain and France.
Collector versions of the coin will be released at a premium above face value and, during the course of the year, the coin will also become available at its face value of five pounds from banks and post offices.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Public Health (Miss Johnson) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
I am pleased to announce that, after a two-year period of consultation and consideration, we propose to seek Parliament's approval for regulations, under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, to enable people conceived by donated sperm, eggs or embryos in future to know the identity of their donor.
We propose that donors who donate from 1 April 2005 will do so on the understanding that any child born as a result of their donation will be able to obtain from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority identifying details about them when the child reaches the age of 18. This will not apply to people who have donated before that time. It means that the first donor-conceived people to receive identifying information about their donors would do so in 2023.
In addition, as we announced on 28 January 2003, the regulations will provide for non-identifying information about donors to be given, on request, to donor-conceived people who were born after the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's register came into effect in 1991. This will be available to 18 year-olds in 2010. The non-identifying information will be standardised so that, from 2022, all donor-conceived people who request it will be able to receive the same categories of information.
The decision that it is right to remove donor anonymity has been informed by a public consultation on the provision of information to donor-conceived people; a programme of work with clinics and donors; consideration of the position in other countries; and a comparison with the information available to adopted people. We have also listened to the voices of donor-conceived people. Our conclusion is that the interests of the child are paramount, and that the position of donor-conceived people should be aligned more closely with that of adopted people, with access to identifying information about their donor when they reach age 18.
We intend to use the opportunity of the removal of anonymity to encourage a change in the culture of sperm, egg and embryo donation. By bringing more openness to it, we want to see wider recognition of the value and importance of such donations, and greater public appreciation of the dramatic difference that the donors can make to lives and families. To support the transition to identifiable donors, we will raise consciousness of the need for donors and the contribution they make to our society through a campaign for public awareness.
However, any cutting-edge legislation, no matter how successful, at some stage needs to be reconsidered and any necessary readjustments made to ensure that it continues to be effective. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act is no exception. Developments in new technologies, changes in public perception of ethical issues, and the effect of international developments ail have an impact and need to be considered.
I have concluded, therefore, that it is time to review the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. The review will begin in 2004 and will include a full public consultation exercise in 2005. The review will be carried out by the department, and will include taking account of the work of the Science and Technology Committee, which is considering human reproductive technologies and the law and plans to report later this year. We welcome the work of the committee.
The review will be wide-ranging, but will exclude certain issues such as embryo research, stem cells and cloning which have been extensively and conclusively debated in Parliament in recent years. The issues that we envisage the review addressing include the range of procedures covered by the Act, checking the safety and efficacy of techniques, ethical considerations and effective regulation.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Bach): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr Ivor Caplin) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.
As part of the Government's commitment to investigate Gulf veterans' illnesses openly and honestly, data on mortality of veterans of the 199091 Gulf conflict are regularly published. The most recent figures, for the period 1 April 1991 to 31 December 2003, were published on 15 January 2004. The key tables from that publication are set out below. Table 1 gives the causes of death to UK Gulf veterans over that period; table 2 shows the deaths due to malignant neoplasms among UK Gulf veterans. As with previous information, the data for Gulf veterans are compared to that of a control group, known as the Era cohort, which is made up of Armed Forces personnel of a similar age, gender, service, regular/reservist status and rank who were not deployed.
|ICD Chapter||Cause of death||Gulf||Era||Mortality Rate Ratio||95% Confidence Interval|
|All cause coded deaths||619||627||0.98||(0.881.10)|
|I||Infectious and parasitic diseases||6||3||1.99||(0.4312.30)|
|III||Endocrine and immune disorders||1||6||0.17||(0.001.37)|
|VI||Diseases of the nervous system and sense organs||10||11||0.90||(0.342.35)|
|VII||Diseases of the circulatory system||88||113||0.77||(0.581.03)|
|VIII||Diseases of the respiratory system||11||8||1.37||(0.503.92)|
|IX||Diseases of the digestive system||16||20||0.80||(0.391.62)|
|IV, XXVI||All other disease-related causes3||5||14||0.36||(0.101.04)|
|EXVII||External causes of injury and poisoning||354||306||1.15||(0.991.35)|
|Motor vehicle accidents||124||101||1.22||(0.931.60)|
|Water transport accidents||5||1||4.98||(0.56235.34)|
|Air and space accidents||26||19||1.36||(0.732.60)|
|Other vehicle accidents||0||1||0.00||(0.0038.81)|
|Accidents due to fire/flames||0||2||0.00||(0.005.30)|
|Accidents due to natural environmental factors||2||2||1.00||(0.0713.73)|
|Accidents due to submersion/suffocation/foreign bodies||17||7||2.42||(0.956.89)|
|Late effects of accident/injury||0||2||0.00||(0.005.30)|
|Suicide and injury undetermined whether accidentally or purposely inflicted||113||108||1.04||(0.791.37)|
|Injury resulting from the operations of war||3||4||0.75||(0.114.41)|
|Other deaths for which coded cause data are not yet available||9||12|
|Overseas deaths for which cause data are not available||4||4|
Notes:1 Service and Ex-Service personnel only.2 Causes have been coded to the World Health Organisation's International Classification of Diseases 9th revision (ICD-9), 1977.3 Includes cases with insufficient information on the death certificate to provide a known cause of death.
ICD Chapter Anatomical site Gulf Era Mortality Rate Ratio 95% Confidence Interval
140149 Malignant neoplasms of lip, oral cavity and pharynx 6 4 1.49 (0.357.19)
150159 Malignant neoplasms of digestive organs and peritoneum 25 31 0.80 (0.451.40)
150 Malignant neoplasms of oesophagus 9 4 2.24 (0.629.95)
153 Malignant neoplasms of colon 4 11 0.36 (0.081.22)
160165 Malignant neoplasms of respiratory and intrathoracic organs 17 26 0.65 (0.331.25)
162 Malignant neoplasms of trachea, bronchus and lung 15 24 0.62 (0.301.24)
170175 Malignant neoplasms of bone, connective tissue, skin and breast 16 14 1.14 (0.522.52)
172 Malignant neoplasms of skin 7 6 1.16 (0.334.18)
179189 Malignant neoplasms of genitourinary organs 4 7 0.57 (0.122.24)
190199 Malignant neoplasms of other and unspecified sites 23 31 0.74 (0.411.31)
199 Malignant neoplasms of brain 15 15 1.00 (0.452.18)
200208 Malignant neoplasms of lymphatic and haematopoietic tissue 21 14 1.49 (0.723.17)
200202 Lymphomas 10 8 1.24 (0.443.63)
204208 Leukaemias 9 6 1.49 (0.475.10)
235239 Neoplasm of uncertain behaviour or unspecified nature 3 3 1.00 (0.137.43)
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