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Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Four additional parts of the draft Bill have today been made available to the Joint Committee on Financial Services and Markets. These relate to official listing, collective investment schemes, disclosure of information and insolvency. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): The evaluation of Clinical Terms Version 3 (the Read Codes) is being carried out in three stages. The first stage has now been completed and copies of the report have been placed in the Library.
The second stage of the evaluation is currently under way and will produce a methodology for long-term evaluation of the clinical terminology in live use in the National Health Service. This methodology will then be used in stage three of the evaluation, which will involve continuous evaluation of the effective use of clinical terminologies in the NHS.
As a result of recommendations made in the report, the NHS Executive intends to mandate the use of a coded clinical terminology (currently Clinical Terms Version 3) and has entered into an agreement with the College of American Pathologists to create a new international standard which combines CAP's SNOMED tm with the Clinical Terms Version 3 (Read Codes).
Baroness Hayman: Last December the Government received the joint Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority/Human Genetics Advisory Commission Report Cloning Issues in Reproduction, Science and Medicine. There are no proposals in the report to permit human cloning. It does, however, ask the Government to consider extending the purposes for which embryos may be used in research to include developing methods of treatment for mitochondrial diseases and therapy for diseased or damaged tissue and organs, using cloning techniques.
The report also recommends, among other things, that the current safeguards be recognised as wholly adequate to forbid human reproductive cloning in the United Kingdom, but goes on to suggest that the Government might wish to consider the possibility of introducing legislation that would explicitly ban human cloning.
The issues raised in the report require serious consideration and the Government will respond in due course. In the meantime, we understand that a debate in the House on the use of embryos in cloning procedures is to take place on Wednesday 28 April.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): We have no plans to make specific arrangements for such cases. Our aim is to prevent fraud and error getting into the system rather than detecting it after benefit has been put into payment. This can involve asking the customer to provide documentation to establish their or their dependants immigration status and confirm their identity.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Precautions taken must be judged as being sufficient by government experts and the Advisory Committee on Releases to the Environment before any approval is given. Netting is not used to reduce pollen flow in field trials.
The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): E.coli 0157 is believed to be present at a low level of prevalence in cattle and sheep. Surveys have started which aim to establish the level of prevalence of E.coli 0157 in cattle, sheep and pigs presented for slaughter at abattoirs.
Lord Donoughue: Both strategies are important. It is therefore one of the ministry's aims to reduce the level of infection of foodborne pathogens at all stages of the food chain, including in farm animals. At present, the necessary knowledge is not available to enable programmes to be introduced for the reduction of many such organisms. The Government are undertaking research with a view to improving knowledge in this area.
Lord Donoughue: Research has been undertaken into the nature of the immune response in humans to infection with tuberculosis. It is not known why some individuals with apparently normal immunity go on to develop tuberculosis disease while others do not.
The nature of immune response to M.bovis in badgers and cattle has been studied in order to help develop vaccine or diagnostic tests. The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is financing genetic studies in badgers, but as yet there is no evidence that some animals are more resistant than others to tuberculosis.
Lord Donoughue: As I made clear in the reply that I gave to the noble Earl, Lord Baldwin of Bewdley, on 18 November 1998 (Hansard, col. 1269), whether a product is subject to food or medicine legislation is a matter of law not policy. Those products which fall within the legal definition of food must comply with the law relating to food. Among other things, this effectively requires that products are safe.
As regards the situation in Europe, the EC Commission is considering the possibility of harmonising the controls on vitamin and mineral supplements but is not yet committed to legislating in this area. In responding to a discussion paper issued by the Commission in June 1997, the UK made it clear that any new controls on vitamin and mineral supplements sold under food law should be based on safety considerations.
Lord Donoughue: We received a number of responses to our consultation from the Co-operative Movement which commented on the levy proposals. These suggested that alternative methods of funding the agency be found or, failing that, that the levy should be graduated rather than be a flat rate.
We are now reviewing these responses, along with all the others received during the consultation, and will consider carefully all the comments made before deciding how to proceed.
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