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9 Jun 2008 : Column WA77



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Written Answers

Monday 9 June 2008

Afghanistan: Aid

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: The UK Government support many of the findings of the ACBAR/Oxfam report. The UK is on course to fully deliver on its aid pledges to Afghanistan, and urges other donors to do the same. The figures outlined in the ACBAR report are not totally correct; none the less the general points about failure to deliver pledges and poor aid effectiveness are well made. Improving aid effectiveness is a central part of the UK development effort in Afghanistan. Effective development assistance is essential to support military gains and weaken the insurgency and narcotics trade, especially in the south.

The UK actively lobbies other donors in Kabul to put more aid through the Government's budget and to have the international community engage in more local procurement. The UK will actively lobby for improved aid effectiveness at forthcoming donor co-ordination conferences.

Armed Forces: Tactical Landing Zones

Lord Astor of Hever asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The threat assessment for all tactical landing zones (TLZs) is continuously updated and is used to provide guidance on the measures required to provide adequate force protection. The deployed command will normally allocate force protection duties for a TLZ to the unit which has responsibility for the area in which the TLZ is located. This may be a unit from the RAF regiment, but could be a suitably trained Army or Royal Marine unit.

The brigade air liaison officer, working in conjunction with the air component commander and the brigade operations staff, will be responsible for ensuring that the unit tasked with providing force protection is trained and equipped for this role.



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Benefits: Overseas Recipients

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord McKenzie of Luton): The following benefits are payable outside the United Kingdom; state pension, widows benefit and bereavement benefit.

These are payable anywhere in the world, although they are only subject to annual increases in European economic area (EEA) member states and Switzerland, and countries with a reciprocal agreement (RA) with the UK that enables the increases to be paid; for example, the USA, Jamaica.

In other countries, the rate is frozen at either the rate on departure—customers already receiving benefit at the time of their departure to a frozen rate (FR) country—or award (customers already living in an FR country at the time of the award).

Incapacity Benefit (IB)

This is divided into IB short-term (IBST) (paid for the first 52 weeks) and IB long-term (paid from the 53rd week).

IB long-term and severe disablement allowance (SDA) are not exportable under UK national legislation unless persons abroad regulations, EC regulations (for EEA and Switzerland) or reciprocal agreement allowing for export apply.

The persons abroad regulations—benefit is not payable on permanent absences. It can be paid for up to 26 weeks in certain circumstances provided the absence is temporary.

The EC regulations (EEA/Switzerland)—benefit is fully exportable for the duration of the entitlement.

Reciprocal agreement (RA) countries—IBLT can be paid, subject to the particular agreement. SDA is not exportable under RAs.

Incapacity Benefit Short-Term (IBST) and Maternity Allowance (MA)

These are not exportable under UK national legislation unless persons abroad regulations, EC regulations (for EEA and Switzerland) or reciprocal agreement allowing for export apply.

Persons abroad regulations—not payable on permanent absences. It can be paid for up to 26 weeks in certain circumstances provided the absence is temporary. It is not payable for incapacities beginning in the other country.

EC regulations (EEA/Switzerland)—for IB short-term and maternity allowance can be considered for incapacities beginning in another state if the UK is responsible for the claim.

EC regulations (EEA/Switzerland)—for IBST is exportable in certain circumstances for a period of 52 weeks (followed by IBLT at week 53), MA for 39 weeks.



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Reciprocal agreement (RA) countries—can be considered for incapacities beginning in the other country, subject to the particular reciprocal agreement. Can be paid subject to the particular RA.

Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit (IIDB)

This may be exported and paid for any period during which a customer is absent from the UK, regardless of the country they are visiting or residing in.

Contributory Jobseekers Allowance

Customers who are getting contribution-based jobseekers allowance in the UK may be able to carry on getting it for up to three months while they look for work elsewhere in the EEA.

Winter Fuel Payments (WFP)

This is payable only to customers living in the EEA/Switzerland where entitlement arose before the customer left the UK.

Disability Living Allowance (Care Component), Attendance Allowance and Carer's Allowance (DLA, AA, CA)

These are all residence-based benefits. In general, a customer is required to be ordinarily resident and present in the UK, to have been present for at least 26 out of the previous 52 weeks and not be subject to immigration control. There are some exceptions under domestic law and, following the European Court of Justice judgment C-299/05, payment can be made under EC law to customers living in another EEA member state or Switzerland in certain circumstances.

British Overseas Territories: Environmental Sustainability

Lord Jones of Cheltenham asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Crawley: The Overseas Territories Environment Programme (OTEP), jointly operated by the Department for International Development (DfID) and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), is dedicated to supporting environmental sustainability in the UK Overseas Territories (OTs). It provides small grants to assist the territories with the implementation of their environment charters and with environmental management more generally. The DfID component of OTEP has supported 36 projects in six less advantaged territories and 10 multi-territory projects. The programme has successfully supported ecotourism development, environmental education programmes, monitoring and management of protected areas and conservation programmes for endangered species. An independent review of this programme in 2006 praised its leadership in supporting sustainable development in the OTs, particularly in conserving their rich biodiversity. The programme as currently approved will continue to support environmental projects to 2010.



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DfID is supporting the five UK territories in the Caribbean to develop and implement national climate change adaptation strategies and build capacity to assess and reduce vulnerability to climate change. This programme will continue to 2010.

In those territories where DfID provides budgetary and other financial support to help move towards economic self-sufficiency, we will continue to apply rigorous environmental standards to appraisal and implementation of development activities.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Intracytoplasmic injection of a human sperm into an animal egg would constitute the creation of a human admixed embryo under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill and such an activity would require a licence from the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. The Bill prohibits the implantation of human admixed embryos into a woman or an animal. Successful hybridisation is dependent on the extent of chromosomal rearrangement. In very closely related species, differences in the number of chromosomes do not always prevent successful hybridisation.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: Evidence given to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, and the pre-legislative committee of both Houses that scrutinised the draft Human Tissue and Embryos Bill, indicated that the use of human admixed embryos has potential for better understanding and treating of serious diseases. The Government took account of that evidence and the recommendations of the committees. Any licence application to create a human admixed embryo for research will need to prove that its use is necessary. No human admixed embryo created may be implanted into a woman or an animal, and may not be cultured for more than 14 days or after the appearance of the primitive streak.



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Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) may only issue a research licence for the purposes outlined in the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990, as amended by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (Research Purposes) Regulations 2001. A licence committee of the HFEA would refuse a research licence application if it was not satisfied that the proposed research was necessary or desirable for one of the prescribed purposes and that the use of an embryo was necessary.

The HFEA ensures that ethical aspects are taken into consideration when formulating policies. For example, the ethical implications of creating hybrids and chimeras were considered in depth in a recent consultation, which informed the final policy decision. The HFEA is advised on ethical issues, in all areas of its remit, by its Ethics and Law Advisory Group. The discussions and decisions of the Ethics and Law Advisory Group feed into the HFEA's policy development.

Applications for HFEA licensed research also have to pass through the ethical consideration by funding bodies and local research ethics committees (LRECs). Both the HFEA and the LRECs ensure that the research centre has procedures that are in place to obtain informed consent.

HFEA requirements and guidance on obtaining informed consent can be found in its code of practice.

Flags

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Department for Culture, Media and Sport's guidance on flying flags advises that the European flag should be flown on Europe Day, 9 May, on government buildings with two or more flag poles, provided they are flown alongside the Union flag with the Union flag in the superior position.

Lord Tebbit asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Lord Malloch-Brown: As set out in my Answer of 25 April, the European flag was adopted as the official emblem of the then European Communities by the heads of state and government in 1985. EU institutions have been using it since 1986. The legal status of the EU flag has not changed since then.

Food: Beef

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The Food Standards Agency (FSA) consults on all its impact assessments as they are developed and publishes them on its website at www.food.gov.uk/foodindustry/regulation/ria/. They are also available through the FSA's Information Centre, the Library, and from April this year, the Better Regulation Executive's impact assessment electronic library at www.ialibrary.berr.gov.uk/.

The FSA has not reviewed the regulatory impact assessment (RIA) it produced for the European food hygiene regulations which came into force on 1 January 2006. The European Commission has undertaken to review the operation of these regulations by May 2009. This will require a new impact assessment to be produced and will provide the United Kingdom with a timely opportunity to revisit the original RIA. The UK will engage fully in this review.

Global Health Partnerships

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): There has been a series of discussions between interested departments to make progress on these issues. The department has had additional discussions with No. 10 on ways forward and potential links between the response to the Crisp report and the global health strategy.


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