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21 Jan 2009 : Column WA201



21 Jan 2009 : Column WA201

Written Answers

Wednesday 21 January 2009

Act of Settlement 1700

Question

Asked by Lord Dubs

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): To bring about changes to the law on succession would be a complex undertaking involving amendment or repeal of a number of items of related legislation, as well as requiring the consent of legislatures of member nations of the Commonwealth. We are examining this complex area although there are no immediate plans to legislate. In the mean time, the Government have always opposed discrimination in all its forms, including against Roman Catholics, and we will continue to do so.

Afghanistan

Question

Asked by The Earl of Sandwich

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The UK provided £1.4 million support to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) in 2007-08, and is working closely with other donors to determine collectively how the IDLG can best be supported in the medium term. This assistance has helped the IDLG develop its strategic work plan, a draft sub-national governance policy, and supported infrastructure and staffing improvements. The UK has allocated up to $590,000 this financial year to help implement the Afghan Social Outreach Programme (ASOP) in Helmand. By supporting both the IDLG's broad mandate on sub-national governance and ASOP directly, the UK's objective is to help develop an acceptable and accountable local governance structure.

Airports: Drinking Water

Questions

Asked by Lord Monson



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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The provision of free drinking water in public buildings including airports is not generally obligatory but is the responsibility of the building operator. Nevertheless, most airports do provide free water.

Asked by Lord Monson

Lord Adonis: There are no regulations setting out what airlines must provide in terms of meals or refreshments. Therefore, the decision to provide drinking water free of charge is at the discretion of airlines, as it is for rail, coach and ferry operators.

Church of England

Question

Asked by Lord Dubs

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Government have no plans to review the relationship between the Church of England and the state. The Church of England is by law established as the Church in England and the Monarch is its Supreme Governor. The Government remain committed to this position.

Commission for Integrated Transport

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Commission for Integrated Transport's budget for the current financial year is £1,260,000. The chairman's remuneration is £5,431 (reduced from £30,000 at his request); the two vice-chairs receive £24,000; and 12 further board members each receive £5,431.

Crime: Dangerous Driving

Question

Asked by Lord Bradshaw



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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The Government have no plans to increase the penalties for dangerous driving which causes criminal damage.

There is no current specific offence of dangerous driving which causes criminal damage. Indeed, as criminal damage is by definition damage that was caused intentionally, most dangerous driving that causes damage to property would not be classed as causing criminal damage.

The offence of dangerous driving carries a maximum sentence of two years’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine and mandatory disqualification; the courts could take damage caused as an aggravating factor to this offence. An alternative or additional charge would be for causing criminal damage, the maximum sentence for which is 10 years’ imprisonment.

Crime: Domestic Violence

Question

Asked by Baroness Miller of Chilthorne Domer

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): We do not hold information on the average length of a contract for independent domestic violence advisers (IDVAs) because they are not employed by government.

The Ministry of Justice allocates a limited amount of funding to run IDVA services which are managed locally. The Ministry is committed to provide three years of funding to the area where the IDVA service is located with the understanding that the amount awarded will be matched locally, that continued funding is dependent on good performance, and that the IDVA service will be mainstreamed into local area budgets within this time.

Funding is derived from victims’ surcharge receipts and currently provides for 125 services most of which support the 104 specialist domestic violence courts (SDVCs). Those services that have had three years’ funding will not receive further funding in 2009-10.

Crime: Metal Theft

Question

Asked by Baroness Greengross

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): This information is not held by the Department for Transport but by the British Transport Police, which can be contacted at: British Transport Police, 25 Camden Road, London, NW1 9LN, e-mail: [email protected]



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Crime: Youth Offending

Question

Asked by Lord Elton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Youth Justice Board has developed the guidance document Prolific and Other Priority Offender Strategy. This document has been provided to every youth offending team in England and Wales.

Cuba: Prisoners

Question

Asked by Lord Patten

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The next round of the EU political dialogue with Cuba has not yet been scheduled.

During the first meeting of the new dialogue in October, held between EU troika Ministers and the Cuban Foreign Minister in Paris, progress on human rights was highlighted as a key issue for the EU. The EU also raised the issue of political prisoners and access to Cuba's prisons.

In a meeting with the Cuban ambassador in November, my honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Gillian Merron, also raised UK concerns about political prisoners in Cuba.

Fishing: Health and Safety

Questions

Asked by Earl Attlee



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The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): Although the Health and Safety at Work etc Act and the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 regulations do apply to fishermen in certain limited circumstances (eg when unloading vessels in port), the safety of fishermen on fishing vessels at sea is governed by the Merchant Shipping Act 1995 and various sets of merchant shipping and fishing vessel health and safety regulations.

These maritime health and safety regulations, which implement EC health and safety directives, are in the main similar in form to the regulations introduced by the Health and Safety Executive for land-based workers and similarly require assessments of risks to be undertaken by employers albeit that in some instances the risks on fishing vessels are different from those for land-based workers.

In line with the EC health and safety directives, which they implement, these regulations apply to workers. In this context “worker” is generally defined as meaning a person employed under a contract of employment, and includes a trainee or apprentice other than a person who is training in a sail training vessel. This definition does however exclude genuinely self-employed fishermen.

Fluoridation

Questions

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): I can confirm my replies were based on legal advice.

Asked by Earl Baldwin of Bewdley

Lord Darzi of Denham: Because increasing the concentration of fluoride in water to 1 part per million, where it does not occur at this level naturally, protects people from dental disease. Responsibility for undertaking consultations on water fluoridation is delegated to strategic health authorities under Section 89 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

Health: Confidentiality

Question

Asked by Baroness Gould of Potternewton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The National Health Service Constitution published on 21 January 2009 includes seven principles that will guide the NHS. The third principle refers to the NHS commitment to innovation and to the promotion and conduct of research to improve the current and future health and care of the population.

The NHS Constitution also commits the NHS to two pledges relating to informed choice. In the explanation for these pledges, the accompanying handbook makes the following statement about research.

Research is a core part of the NHS. Research enables the NHS to improve the current and future health of the people it serves. The NHS will do all it can to ensure that patients, from every part of England, are made aware of research that is of particular relevance to them. The NHS is therefore putting in place procedures to ensure that. patients are notified of opportunities to join in relevant ethically approved research and will be free to choose whether they wish to do so.

The procedures under development will not allow the NHS to disclose a person's confidential records to researchers without consent and are intended to inform patients about research so that they can choose whether to take part. The procedures will ensure that, when the NHS supports preparations to notify patients of opportunities to join in relevant ethically approved research, staff who use care records to select those patients are bound by a duty of confidentiality and use confidential information no more than necessary for the purpose. Special permission under Section 251 of the NHS Act 2006 is required before health service bodies may disclose a person's confidential records without consent to researchers not engaged in that person's care.

Health: Drugs

Questions

Asked by Baroness Masham of Ilton

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) reviews medication errors on an ongoing basis, and prioritises the production of guidance and recommendations

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based on the level of harm reported to its Reporting and Learning System, other national and international reporting systems and published literature.

The agency has also produced a series of design guides in the “Design for Patient Safety” series, which aim to improve the labelling and packaging of pharmaceutical products. These have been issued to pharmaceutical companies to assist them in producing products that minimise the risk of mis-selection and other patient safety incidents. These materials are also used by National Health Service medicines procurement groups to purchase products which are safer in use. A design guide on “The Dispensing Environment” which identifies ways that good design of the dispensing environment can help improve the accuracy of the dispensing process has also been produced by the NPSA.

The department, the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the NPSA have received communications from Astellas Pharma Ltd, a manufacturer of immunosuppressant medicines, about prescribing and dispensing errors relating to Advagraf and Prograf. The MHRA has, as part of an EU-wide action, agreed to send a “dear doctor/healthcare practitioner” letter to the relevant NHS staff, and made proposals for changes to the packaging for Advagraf to emphasise that it differs from Prograf. In addition, MHRA included the issue in its December edition of the Drug Safety Update, with a further article in the January 2009 edition. These should help to make prescribers, pharmacists and patients aware of the brand being prescribed, whatever the manufacturer, and the associated dose regimen. MHRA has also highlighted the issue to other information providers, including the British National Formulary and the National Prescribing Centre.

Human Rights


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