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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The Government welcome this report as an interesting and useful contribution to the debate about the disability-related extra costs of severely disabled
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people. The study is being given careful consideration. It is one among many in this area and uses one of a range of research methods which, because they are based on different assumptions, have generated a wide range of estimates.
The benefits paid as a contribution towards the disability-related extra costs of severely disabled people, disability living allowance and attendance allowance, are uprated in April each year in line with the movement of the retail prices index over the 12 months to the previous September. The Government have no plans to change these arrangements.
Whether the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 have been followed in tourism and leisure businesses in respect of designated wheelchair (a) accessible showers and shower seats; (b) accessible transport where courtesy vehicles are used to transport guests in package holidays; (c) access to conference rooms; and in respect of (d) acceptability of assistance dogs in restaurants and all public areas. [HL4803]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Lord McIntosh of Haringey): It is for individual tourism and leisure businesses to determine what action they need to take to meet the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) to deal with barriers and take reasonable steps to deal with them. Details of how individual businesses are meeting their obligations under the Act are not available but the Government want disabled people to take a full and active part in society and be able to enjoy a wide variety of holidays and tourism-related activities.
DDA is not prescriptive as to what a reasonable adjustment might be. Relaxing a ban on animals in order to allow assistance dogs, or improving physical access for wheelchair users to shower and use conference facilities, are examples of adjustments which may be reasonable in certain circumstances.
Visit Britain's National Accessible Scheme for serviced and self-catering accommodation sets out accessibility standards for mobility impairment, which includes those for showers and access to public areas including bars, restaurants, dining rooms, conference, banqueting and entertainment facilities. The scheme is voluntary and so far approximately 565 properties have a rating against the mobility standard.
The provisions, which are being introduced in the forthcoming Disability Discrimination Bill, will allow coaches used on tours and other excursions, as well as other transport services, to be brought within the scope of the provisions of Part 3 of the DDA.
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): From information held centrally, the department is disputing £4,209,375 of charges for livestock transportation during the 2001 FMD outbreak. The department is not aware of any other outstanding claims for livestock transportation payments.
Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Whitty on 23 February (WA 37), how many of the consultants and advisers employed by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs are former civil servants; and, of those, how many were previously employed by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food or the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. [HL4720]
Lord Whitty: The information requested cannot be provided as the department does not keep records of the employment of staff after they leave the department. The criteria for the selection of professional service providers in Defra are eligibility, economic and financial standing, and the ability and technical capacity to provide the services required at best whole life cost.
Whether any follow-up studies have been conducted into chronic autonomic nervous system effects in people who have reported ill health following exposure to organophosphate sheep dips and pesticide; and, if so, what are the results. [HL4792]
Lord Whitty: Defra has recently received the final report of a study carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. In accordance with Defra standard practice, it is currently seeking the opinions of peers on the information contained in the report and as soon as this process is completed the report will be published. As a part of this study, some volunteer subjects took part in a clinical assessment of neuropathy. However, following concerns raised by the Organophosphate Information Network (OPIN) that the study had misrepresented one of the volunteer's symptoms of ill health, Defra sought an independent clinical audit of the neuropathy study. Professor Kerry Mills of King's College Hospital,
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London, kindly agreed to carry out the audit. Defra currently awaits Professor Mills' advice on the validity of the neuropathy study.
Additionally, Defra has recently commissioned with University College, London, the recruitment phase of an epidemiological study of retired sheep farmers exposed to organophosphate pesticides. This is due to be completed by late summer 2005. If the recruitment exercise is successful and the required number of volunteers is identified, the analytical phase of the work will be commissioned. The second part of the study will determine the nature and severity of physical, neuropsychological and psychiatric symptoms of the retired farmers and compare these with a control group. This is expected to take a further two years.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): The Health and Safety Executive has funded a large study at the University of Manchester to investigate the effect of genetic variation on the susceptibility to chronic effects of organophosphates. Provisional results can be found at the Veterinary Medicines Directorate website at http://www.vmd.gov.uk.The final report is expected shortly. This is one study among a range of Government funded projects designed to investigate the possible health effects of exposure to low doses of organophosphates. A fuller description of the past and current research in relation to the possible health effects of organophosphates can be found at http://ops.csl.gov.uk.
Lord Warner: The Committee Examining Radiation Risks of Internal Emitters (CERRIE) was set up jointly by the Department of Health and the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), under the auspices of the Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE), which is the Government's independent expert advisory committee in this area. CERRIE published its report on 20 October 2004, and on the same day, COMARE published its own report endorsing CERRIE's conclusions. The department and DEFRA are currently reviewing and discussing with COMARE, the National Radiological Protection Board and the Environment Agency how CERRIE's conclusions should be accounted for in future decisions on radiological protection.
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