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To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the economic and social effects in Switzerland of making heroin legally available for addicts under medical supervision in the health service; and whether they plan to introduce a similar scheme under the National Health Service. [HL3056]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): An expert group convened by the National Treatment Agency for Substance Misuse to consider the issues in relation to injectable opioid treatment heard evidence from the Swiss experience of supervised consumption of prescribed heroin, presented by one of the Swiss researchers.
The department is providing funding for a randomised injectable opiate treatment trial (RIOTT), in line with the Government's Drug Strategy 2008 commitment to explore pilots of injectable heroin in controlled, clinical settings.
RIOTT is a United Kingdom study exploring the role of prescribed injectable diamorphine (pharmaceutical heroin) and injectable methadone in a number of supervised clinic settings for the treatment of opiate misusers who have not responded to other types of treatment.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how many (a) British Armed Forces personnel, and (b) British Armed Forces personnel deployed to Afghanistan, are registered to vote; and what action they are taking to increase those numbers before the next election. [HL3069]
The Minister for International Defence and Security (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): The latest report of the survey on service voter registration was conducted by Defence Analytical Services and Advice (DASA) in November 2008 and a copy of the survey is available in the Library of the House. The figures from the DASA Service voters survey for 2009 are currently being compiled.
The Armed Forces are currently running an additional information campaign encouraging all service personnel to ensure they have registered to vote. We are targeting in particular units that are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as well as those that will be in Afghanistan during an election period.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the activities authorised by Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority research licence R0152 include the use of donor nuclei from diabetic patients; and whether research licence R0152 specifically covers the use of donor nuclei from adults with a serious mitochondrial disease. [HL3059]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that the research licence R0152 includes the derivation of stem cell lines from embryos created by cell nuclear replacement using nuclei taken from a patient with type 1 diabetes. The licence was authorised by the HFEA licence committee, 16 March 2005.
To ask Her Majesty's Government why the most recent progress report for Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority licence R0145 (pertaining to an inspection on 15 May 2008) made no reference to mitochondria; why it stated on page 4 that there were no proposed licence variations; when the lay summary for licence R0145 was revised to "also study the mitochondria"; whether the centre had requested to incorporate any new activities in that licence between 15 May 2008 and 28 September 2009; and how the three lay summaries on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's website constitutes consolidation of project aims. [HL3062]
Baroness Thornton: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has advised that a progress report on research project R0145 received from the licensed centre in April 2009 informed the HFEA of a change to the project's objectives: determining how mitochondrial DNA mutations segregate between blastomeres and the derivation of human embryonic stem cell lines from embryos donated by couples in which the female partner carried mitochondrial mutations. The HFEA advises that the updated objectives did not change the licensed activities of the research project, and that the project continued to meet the statutory tests for the grant of a licence.
Following receipt of a renewal application in July 2009, the lay summary for R0145 was revised to reflect the change of objective, by adding the phrase "also study the mitochondria". A consolidated lay summary is on the HFEA website at www. hfea.gov.uk
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the remarks by the then Minister of State at the Department of Health, Dawn Primarolo, on 22 October 2008 (Official Report, Commons, col. 387), which scientific authorities indicated that the nucleus in a cell should be considered to be cytoplasm; how restricting regulating powers to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial diseases via the cytoplasm would not necessarily exclude transmission via the cell's nucleus; and whether cloning involves the transfer of a nucleus rather than the cytoplasm. [HL3061]
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the remarks by the then Minister of State at the Department of Health, Dawn Primarolo, in the Public Bill Committee on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill on 3 June 2008 (col. 28), whether it remains their intention to ban any alteration to nuclear DNA being permitted under regulations; whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 provides a regulation-making power for embryos to be used in treatment if they have been processed in a manner allowing the avoidance of serious mitochondrial diseases; and how the definition of such treatments precludes the transfer of an adult somatic cell nucleus into an enucleated egg. [HL3063]
Baroness Thornton: The remarks made by the then Minister for State on 22 October 2008 (Official Report, Commons, col. 387) were a response to an amendment tabled to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill. The proposed amendment was to a provision intended to prevent the transmission of serious mitochondrial diseases. The point being made by the Minister was that the proposed amendment could introduce uncertainty around definitions of cell structures, and could therefore potentially render the provision ineffective. The Minister asked that the amendment be withdrawn, which it was.
The Government, and Parliament, have made it clear that they are not prepared to countenance human reproductive cloning. The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) does so by prohibiting the placing in a woman of an embryo, egg or sperm that has had its nuclear or mitochondrial DNA altered.
The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990 (as amended) contains a regulation-making power to allow the use of embryos in treatment which have had applied to them a prescribed process designed for the very specific purpose of preventing the transfer of serious mitochondrial disease. It is not clear precisely what that process might be. Before any regulations concerning this were made there would be a full public consultation and debates in both Houses of Parliament.
The Minister of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The FITs scheme is intended to encourage deployment of additional small-scale, low-carbon electricity generation, particularly by individuals, householders, organisations, businesses and communities who have not traditionally engaged in the electricity market. For these investors, delivering a mechanism which is easier to understand and more predictable than the renewables obligation, as well as delivering additional support required to incentivise smaller scale and more expensive technologies, were the main drivers behind the development of this policy.
The feed-in tariff impact assessment, published on 1 February alongside the Government's response to the summer 2009 consultation, reported on the benefits and value-for-money case for the scheme. The document is available on the DECC website at www.decc.gov.uk/en/content/cms/consultations/elec_financial/elec_financial.aspx.
The estimated resource cost of the policy, cumulative to 2030, is £8.6 billion. Resource costs are the additional costs to society as a whole of the policy-that is to say the additional cost of renewable generation incentivised by FITs relative to conventional generation (assumed to be gas CCGT). Costs to consumers on the other hand are the costs ultimately assumed to be borne by electricity consumers given that FITs will be funded by a levy placed on electricity suppliers. The estimated cost to consumers, cumulative to 2030, is £6.7 billion.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they support the use of pilotless drones and other unmanned air vehicles for European Union border surveillance; and what is their assessment of any implications for asylum seekers having their applications assessed in Europe. [HL2949]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The UK has followed the development of unmanned aerial vehicles with interest. We continue to examine their potential for deployment to detect and deter unauthorised crossing of EU land and sea borders. The use of unmanned aerial vehicles for this purpose is being researched by the EU.
Improvements in EU border security are intended to deter illegal migrants from entering the EU, not to prevent genuine asylum seekers from receiving protection. EU member states are signatories of the Geneva Convention relating to the Status of Refugees and the principles of granting protection to those in genuine need are enshrined in EU law.
To ask Her Majesty's Government how the proposed budget of the European External Action Service of €45 billion over seven years will be spent; what will be the heads of expenditure; and whether they have assessed any risk of the new service duplicating the functions of the existing international representatives of the European Commission. [HL3125]
The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead): The budget for the European External Action Service (EEAS), including the heads of expenditure, has not yet been agreed. A Commission proposal on the budget of the EEAS is expected once the Council has adopted the decision establishing the organisation and functioning of the EEAS. The Government consider that the EEAS administration budget should aim to be budget-neutral. In October 2009 the European Council endorsed guidelines stating that "unnecessary duplication of tasks, functions and resources with other structures should be avoided" and that the establishment of the EEAS should be guided by the "principle of cost-efficiency aiming towards budget neutrality". EU delegations have replaced the existing network of Commission delegations around the world with staff from the Council Secretariat and member states incorporated.
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government hold regular discussions with all member states of the European Union on European economic matters, including the stability of financial markets.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure that executives of financial institutions take decisions which assist long-term financial stability instead of short-term profit. [HL3015]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Government have taken measures to ensure factors that contributed to the onset and severity of the financial crisis are not repeated.
Sir David Walker was commissioned to review corporate governance practices in the banking sector and his recommendations will be implemented throughout 2010, while the FSA remuneration code came into force on 1 January 2010 and covers the remuneration paid by large systemic banks operating in the UK. The Financial Services Bill also contains measures intended to strengthen the FSA's hand in its regulatory oversight of remuneration and provide the government with the powers necessary to make requirements for greater disclosure of pay. In addition, the Chancellor announced at Budget that the Government will consider whether institutional shareholder voting disclosure should remain voluntary or become mandatory, and that the Government will also consult on whether there are practical measures to facilitate the consent of owners to executive remuneration arrangements.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure the Financial Services Authority can appropriately supervise the activities of large financial groups in the stock market. [HL3019]
The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The Financial Services Authority (FSA) is an independent non-governmental body, given statutory powers by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000. This statutory independence means that the Government do not have control over the day-to-day running of the organisation.
The FSA completed the supervisory enhancement programme in August 2009 and continues to enhance the processes and people needed to deliver the intensive supervisory approach required for the very largest firms.
The FSA business plan for 2010-11 states that the FSA will appoint around 260 additional staff to work on supervisory processes. These staff will be targeted on specific areas of need, in particular high-impact
6 Apr 2010 : Column WA398
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Thornton on 23 February (WA 282-3), (a) why South Central Strategic Health Authority in its 2008 public consultation document on water fluoridation stated that the 2006 osteosarcoma study by Elise Bassin "was part of a larger study ", and did not state in the text (4.6) or references section (6.0) that their reference 13 was to a letter and not to a larger study; (b) whether that statement took account of good scientific practice; and (c) why the strategic health authority stated in 4.6 that the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit had completed detailed analyses of bladder cancer and osteosarcoma, when the referenced study  had not addressed osteosarcoma. [HL2920]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Thornton): I do not consider that the strategic health authority (SHA) has been misleading. The letter cited in the consultation document refers to a larger study in which two sets of cases have been collected over the period 1993-2000. The SHA was seeking to summarise research findings in a format accessible to the public. The reference to the bladder cancer study would have informed readers of the role of the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit from where they could gave obtained the unit's osteosarcoma study to which I referred in my earlier reply.
To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answers by Baroness Thornton on 23 February (WA 282-3), what further steps will be taken to assess the risks of osteosarcoma in young males who have resided in fluoridated areas, given that the 2006 study by Elise Bassin has not been refuted, and given the difficulty of analyses such as that by the West Midlands Cancer Intelligence Unit in detecting harms among populations; and whether the proposed study by the Bone Cancer Research Trust will address that question. [HL2921]
Baroness Thornton: I can confirm that the Bone Cancer Research Trust will address the question of whether there is an association between the fluoridation of drinking water and osteosarcoma. We will be examining the results of the study closely to see if there is any correlation with Dr Bassin's findings.
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