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It is not sufficient that an application satisfies the requirements of the Act for it to be granted. In reaching licensing decisions, the Secretary of State can and does take into account wider societal concerns. This is done on a case by case basis and ensures that ethical and scientific considerations are carefully and fully weighed and that a proper balance is struck when licensing decisions are taken.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill sets out consent requirements for the use of gametes in the creation of human embryos and human admixed embryos in vitro, and for the storage of human gametes.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 21 April (WA 234) regarding the paper by Yu-Chih Hsu in volume 231 of Nature, how the paper supports the decision by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to permit culture of human embryos for longer than 14 days given its description of contractions resembling a heart beat after 1014 days of mouse embryo cultivation in vitro; and [HL3226]
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 21 April (WA 234) regarding differences between retention of the structure of an inner cell mass on different surfaces, whether seeding a human blastocyst onto feeder cells more closely resembles a collagen surface or naked plastic. [HL3227]
Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has procedures in place to ensure that centres comply with Sections
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The culture of mouse embryos, as described by Hsu et al (1974), involved culture on a collagen surface with the intention of nurturing a 3D structure. As far as the HFEA is aware, this study is the only one in which contractions resembling a heart beat have been observed in mammalian embryos cultured in vitro. The gestation period of a mouse is 19 days, meaning at 10 to 14 days a mouse embryo would be over halfway through the normal gestation period.
When culturing inner cell masses which have outgrown from the structure of an embryo, centres must ensure that the method used does not allow embryos to develop past 14 days or the appearance of the primitive streak. The method used must result in a flat culture of cells and not a 3D structure. Embryos that have attached and outgrown on the surface of the dish no longer have the organisation structure of a viable embryo.
What are the effects of exposure to diazinon on the brain, heart, lungs, liver and kidneys in humans; and what research has been conducted into the chronic effects on those organs in subjects who have survived exposure. [HL3419]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The effects of diazinon poisoning in humans have been reported in a number of clinical studies following accidental or suicidal ingestion of diazinon. The major effects observed are related to excessive stimulation of acetylcholine receptors, which results in changes in the function of the brain, heart, respiratory tract and other organs. Changes in liver enzymes have also been reported. Patients who survive a severe acute poisoning crisis sometimes develop muscle weakness beginning one to four days later and this has occasionally resulted in fatal respiratory failure. There is some evidence that severe poisoning with organophosphates, such as diazinon, can lead to persistent impairment of brain function but effects on other organs have not been reported.
The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): The Government are working with the House of Commons Liaison Committee to agree the list of posts suitable for pre-appointment scrutiny by parliamentary Select Committee. Decisions on which committees will scrutinise which appointments are matters for Parliamentnot Government.
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The situation in Gaza is of serious concern. It was addressed at a series of high-level international meetings in London on 2 May involving Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad and Israeli Foreign Minister Livni. The quartet in its statement following the meetings called for an end to all violence and terror and urged all parties to take all feasible steps to ensure the protection of affected civilians in accordance with international law. We continue to make clear to all parties that further violence is in no one's interest.
Lord Malloch-Brown: My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary has had many discussions with the Israeli Government regarding the status of Gaza. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary discusses Gaza frequently with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni. At the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee meeting in London on 2 May, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza was discussed by members of the delegation. We have not spoken to the International Court of Justice recently regarding the status of Gaza. We unequivocally condemn the rocket and sniper attacks on Israel from Gaza. But any response by Israel should be in accordance with international law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention. We deplore civilian casualties on both sides. All parties must abide by their commitments under international law.
What representations they have made to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation regarding Israeli actions in Bethlehem, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and other world heritage sites. [HL3341]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK is concerned about excavation activities in the area around the Temple Mount/Haram a-Sharif. Negotiations between Israel and the relevant religious authorities are continuing under the auspices of the UN Educational, Scientific
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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Following the successful introduction of its national design review service, the Government's adviser on urban design, the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), is actively promoting the establishment of design review panels at a regional level. CABE is now taking steps to learn from its own national and regional design review service, and help replicate this at the local level. We are aware that there are an increasing number of local review panels being established by local planning authorities and other bodies, but these are not monitored centrally.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 24 April (WA 304) concerning contracts for mobile phones for the Northern Ireland Office, what is a generic Office of Government Commerce contract; and who decides whether to award such a contract. [HL3276]
Lord Rooker: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is an office of HM Treasury and through its trading arm, OGC Buying Solutions, it provides a professional procurement service to the public sector to enable organisations to deliver improved value for money in their commercial activity and procurement of goods and services. For the purpose of ensuring value for money it establishes arrangements, which departments such as the Northern Ireland Office may use, to draw down goods and services without the need to undertake a further procurement exercise. The decision on the award of the contract was made by OGC Buying Solutions.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 24 April (WA 304) concerning contracts for mobile phones for the Northern Ireland Office, what part equality played in the awarding of the contract. [HL3277]
Lord Rooker: The Office of Government Commerce (OGC) is an office of HM Treasury and through its trading arm, OGC Buying Solutions, it provides a professional procurement service to the public sector to enable organisations to deliver improved value for money in their commercial activity and procurement of goods and services. The OGC follows public sector procurement rules which provide, through open competition, equality and transparency of opportunity.
Lord Rooker: The Northern Ireland Office website is updated on a regular basisthat is, whenever a new publication, statistics and research, or other information that may be in the public interest, is produced.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 24 April (WA 304) concerning the funding of the Northern Ireland Bill of Rights Forum, why the budget of the division which sponsored the forum increased by over 100 per cent between 200203 and 200304. [HL3278]
Lord Rooker: The sponsoring division for the Bill of Rights Forum has responsibility for a wide range of policy areas. Its budget was increased to reflect the changing resource requirements for work within its remit during that period.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 March (WA 30), whether they are obliged to
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Lord Rooker: There is no statutory obligation on the Government to accept advice offered by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission. However, the Government will, of course, give such advice careful consideration.
Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 22 April (WA 2856) concerning the murders of Ulster Defence Regiment and Royal Irish Regiment members, whether all the murder inquiries are still in progress. [HL3233]
Lord Rooker: The Historical Enquiries Team within the police service is systematically re-examining all deaths, including those of UDR and RIR members, attributable to the security situation in Northern Ireland. Work has been completed in 15 of the 203 cases referred to in my Answer of 22 April (Official Report, cols. WA 285-6).
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