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The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): The Government wish to give all the issues raised in Who Decides? very careful consideration before deciding the way forward. No decisions have yet been taken on whether there should be legislation and, if so, when it should be introduced.
The Minister of State, Scottish Office (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): The Scottish Parliament will inherit the three-year spending plans announced in the Comprehensive Spending Review in July 1998 but the annual negotiations around the annually managed expenditure will be a matter for the Scottish Executive. The settlement for Scotland in future public expenditure planning rounds will continue to be allocated by the UK Government using the Barnett formula, in consultation with the Scottish Executive.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: All parliamentary papers of the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the Welsh Assembly will be made available to the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament at the time of publication. In addition, copies of all papers will be placed on the Internet at the time of publication.
Lord Macdonald of Tradeston: In response to the publicity surrounding Dr. Pusztai's research, the Director of the Rowett Research Institute implemented a Medical Research Council-based protocol for the handling of such situations. This involved the setting up of an Audit Committee, including external independent members, to review the experimental data.
The Audit Committee's Report, published by the Director of the Rowett Research Institute on 28 October 1998, concluded that the results were "far too variable to reach statistical significance and too inconsistent to draw any conclusions". Dr. Pusztai produced an alternative report in response to the Audit Committee's comments. The alternative report together with the Audit Committee's response to that report was published by the Rowett Research Institute on 16 February 1999.
The Scottish Office is initiating the setting up of a new National Resource Centre for Gaelic teaching materials. The centre is being set up as a company limited by guarantee and is independent of the Scottish Office. The Scottish Office on behalf of the management committee of the centre has recently placed advertisements for a Gaelic-speaking Manager to be employed by the centre. The advertisements were placed in the Gaelic language only.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): It is not possible to say how many genetically modified animals there are in England and Wales. The Animal (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 regulates the production and breeding of genetically modified animals but the Home Office only collects statistics on the production of such animals, and not how many of them are still alive at any time. Most of the genetically modified animals produced in England and Wales are laboratory rodents. No genetically modified animals enter the food chain.
No genetically modified animals, including fish, have been released into the environment in the UK. Under Council Directive 90/220/EEC, genetically modified animals could not be released in the UK without a thorough risk assessment which would include measures required to prevent cross-breeding where necessary.
Lord Donoughue: The research projects currently funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food into the cause of, and possible solutions to, tuberculosis in cattle are being conducted by the following institutions:
The assessment for new drugs is based on safety, quality and efficacy. The assessment of novel, including GM, foods is based on establishing that they do not present a danger to the public; that the public are not misled in any way about them; and that they do not disadvantage the public in terms of their nutritional content.
The report outlines the measures which have been taken to protect public health since June 1998, including legislation on the slaughter of sheep and goats suspected of having transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, notifications to the British Cattle Movement Service, cattle identification and the compulsory cull of offspring of BSE cases supporting the Date-based Export Scheme for UK beef. It summarises the results of action to enforce existing public health measures, and reports the launch of the Cattle Tracing System. An update on the number of cases of nvCJD is included. There is also a section on the protection of animal health covering controls on animal feed.
The epidemiology section shows that the epidemic of BSE in the UK continues to decline. The number of clinically suspect cases of BSE reported in Great Britain has continued to fall and for 1998 was 23.5 per cent. less than for 1997 and 60 per cent. less than for 1996. A continued improvement is expected for the future. The section shows that 63 per cent. of UK herds with adult breeding cattle have never had a case of BSE. Furthermore, 84 per cent. of beef suckler herds have never had a case of BSE. Reported incidence also shows that herds with more than four cases of BSE account for almost three-quarters of all BSE cases, but represent less than one-eighth of all herds.
The section on the European perspective reports the EU Commission's agreement to the Date-based Export Scheme for lifting the EU export ban for UK beef from cattle born after 1 August 1996. It also covers the resumption of beef exports from Northern Ireland, permitted for meat from export certified herds.
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