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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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what assistance they have given this year to the Independent Directorate of Local Governance in Afghanistan, and the Afghan Social Outreach Program; and with what combined objectives. [HL497]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is obligatory for operators of commercial airports in the United Kingdom to ensure that drinking water is available to airline passengers and other airport users free of charge. [HL731]
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.
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.
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the annual cost to the taxpayer of the Commission for Integrated Transport; and what remuneration or other benefits its chairman and members receive annually. [HL628]
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.
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.
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.
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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Statement by Lord Bach on 10 December 2008 (WS 6667), what guidance will be given to local youth offending teams on how to identify the single priority group of young offenders deemed to pose the highest risk in their area for the purpose of prioritising its members through the criminal justice process. [HL553]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Malloch-Brown on 24 November (WA 234), when the next meeting of the political dialogue between the European Union and Cuba will take place; and whether at that meeting British representatives will raise the treatment of political prisoners in Cuba. [HL106]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the requirement for risk assessments under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 (SI 1999/3242) is the same for fishermen as for the general workforce ashore. [HL718]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 17 November 2008 (WA 166) and 17 December 2008 (WA 41), whether their classification of fluoridation schemes was based on legal advice. [HL640]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Lord Darzi of Denham on 17 November 2008 (WA 16566) and 17 December 2008 (WA 41) which state that water fluoridation is a service undertaken under the Water Industry Act 1991, why the Department of Health takes responsibility for it. [HL730]
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.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to address concerns of patient representatives about the proposed measures in the forthcoming
21 Jan 2009 : Column WA206
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.
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.
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
21 Jan 2009 : Column WA207
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.
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