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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: The UK's return to the UN Register covering calendar year 1996 was submitted to the UN Secretary-General on 29 April 1997. A copy of the return has been placed in the Libraries of the House and is available to members of the public on request. As part of our commitment to increasing transparency in the field of defence exports, we shall work to strengthen the UN Register of Conventional Arms, encouraging greater disclosure of information on arms exports and arms transfers by all countries. We hope that the work of the UN Panel of Experts currently reviewing the operation and development of the register will contribute to achieving this objective.
Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: We will review over the next year the United Kingdom's position under various international human rights instruments. This will include the question of accession to protocols to the European Convention on Human Rights and the international covenant on civil and political rights, and acceptance of the rights of individual petition under other UN human rights treaties. We shall also examine whether any of the United Kingdom's reservations to human rights treaties can be withdrawn.
What reserve powers they envisage being retained by the Secretary of State for the Environment after
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We remain committed to the abolition of crude and universal capping. We are now working on a wide range of proposals to improve local accountability which will allow us to fulfil this commitment. In the meantime the Deputy Prime Minister intends to announce guideline budget increases for local authorities later this year. If necessary we will use our capping powers to ensure that local authorities stay within these guidelines.
Baroness Hayman: The Commission's press release confirmed that the Commission has now decided what its proposal should be. Because the proposal is not yet available in all the working languages of the Community, the Commission is not yet able formally to transmit the proposal to the European Parliament and Council and thus to the member states. However we have now had sight of an advance copy of the English text (minus diagrams). While we have not yet had time to study the details of the proposal, we believe that it should be welcomed as a useful single market measure. We understand that it recognises and makes provision for minibuses, midibuses and double decker buses. Detailed study of the provisions is required before any conclusions can be made on the adequacy and acceptability of the proposals. I will be submitting to the House an explanatory memorandum with the advance text as soon as possible.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The report of the Advisory Group on Osteoporosis, published in January 1995, was circulated widely to the National Health Service. It is for local health authorities to decide what priority to give to making bone density measurement available, based on local population needs. Local health authorities are also best placed to decide how to co-ordinate services to meet those local needs. A group led by the Royal College of Physicians is currently working on national clinical guidelines on the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Department of Health does not hold a list of the health authorities and NHS trusts that have implemented the recommendations of the report of the Advisory Group on Osteoporosis. The Department of Health circulated the report widely to the National Health Service when it was published in January 1995. It is for local health authorities to decide what priority to give to making bone density measurement available to those who need it, based on local population needs. It is also the responsibility of local health authorities to decide how best to co-ordinate services to meet those local needs. A copy of the National Osteoporosis Society's Osteoporosis Action Survey of February 1996 report has been placed in the Library. This survey was not commissioned by the Government.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government are aware of the devastating effect this condition can have on all men who suffer from it. Improving public awareness about treatment and prevention of illness will form part of our new public health programme, and osteoporosis will be covered specifically in a new men's health leaflet currently being drafted by the Department of Health. We will continue to work towards the recommendations of the expert Advisory Group on Osteoporosis, as outlined in its 1995 Report. We continue to fund the National Osteoporosis Society, which undertakes a wide range of public and professional educational activities, and who this year
Baroness Jay of Paddington: This information is not available. Data records on inpatient activity within NHS hospitals contain a primary diagnosis code which identifies the main condition treated or investigated. Additional data are available to record further details of a patient's condition (the 'secondary diagnoses', or a code relating to the cause of an accident or an incident of poisoning). Although there will often be a direct relationship between the primary and any secondary diagnosis, this cannot automatically be inferred. Hence, it is not possible from the data, to determine the number of fractures caused by osteoporosis and also attributable to steroid use.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government are seeking leave to appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal in Regina v. Westminster City Council and others ex parte A and others, concerning the use of the powers of the National Assistance Act 1948 to make provision for the accommodation of asylum seekers. A commitment has already been made to offer financial support to local authorities accommodating asylum seekers for the time being.
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