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Baroness Hayman: The call-off contract has just been awarded to Biffa Waste Services Limited by the Disposal Sales Agency who will manage it on behalf of participating Government departments. My right honourable friend the Minister for the Environment has written to "green" Ministers to promote its use across Whitehall. This initiative is in keeping with the Government's consultation paper on the waste strategy for England and Wales.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Prime Minister placed an up to date list of Government reviews in the libraries of both Houses on 30 June. Publication of the results of reviews is a matter for the relevant Ministers.
What amounts of money have been apportioned each year for the last five years to England, Scotland and Wales under the Block Grant Settlement System.[HL2443]
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Changes in expenditure levels in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are determined by the long-standing population-based Barnett formula, which was adopted at the end of the 1970s and first used in 1978. It has been in continuous use since then and the Government set out the arrangements in the future in Chapter 7 of Scotland's Parliament (Cm 3658) and Chapter 4 of A Voice for Wales (Cm 3718).
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The increased preference of agents for holding assets in interest-bearing accounts largely reflects reduced costs of transfer between interest bearing and non-interest bearing money. Agents are now able to earn interest on their assets while forfeiting less liquidity than in the past.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The National Health Service Pension Scheme pays full pension benefits from age 60. There are also provisions within the scheme which allow members to take voluntary early retirement from age 50. The Ambulance Services Association has recently produced a report on pensions and retirement issues for front line ambulance staff. We are considering the report.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The information requested is not collected centrally. The Government are concerned about the incidence of violence against all staff in the National Health Service. On 23 June my honourable friend the Minister of State for Health announced a four-point plan to help local managers tackle the problem of violence to staff. Violence to NHS staff is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: Primary care groups will be based on natural geographical communities of people, typically covering around 100,000 population, and we expect general practitioners to join the group in which they can best represent the needs of their patients. It is important that GPs are involved in primary care groups which cover the natural communities that they serve. Primary care groups will have an important role in securing the health of the populations they serve, and the public need to know who is serving their health needs.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The existing elderly and respite care beds at Putney Hospital will be reprovided as part of the new community hospital to be developed on the main Queen Mary's Roehampton site. The closure involves a transfer of beds to a more suitable site, not a reduction in total bed numbers.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: No decisions have yet been made about what the new Charter will say. It is, however, considered good practice to ask patients how they wish to be addressed and respect that wish.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: Statistics collected by St. George's Hospital Medical School and published today show that there were 75 deaths in the United Kingdom in 1996 associated with volatile substance abuse (VSA). This is the second consecutive year in which there has been an increase over the 58 deaths in 1994 which had been the lowest level of mortality since 1981. We take any death associated with VSA very seriously and will consider whether further action is required which could help prevent such tragedies.
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has set up a working group to discuss this topic. The Institute for Environment and Health report and the questions posed in the Official Group on OPs--Report to Ministers were presented to the working group at its first meeting on 22 May.
When the working group has completed its review into whether prolonged low level exposure to organophosphates, or acute exposure to OPs of a lower dose than causing frank intoxication, can cause chronic ill health effects, the COT will publish a report.
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