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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The latest available figures (1996-97) reported by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development are 1- per cent for France, 6- per cent for Germany and 4- per cent for the Netherlands. However, these figures are not reported on a consistent basis, so to make direct comparisons would be misleading.
The Government are committed to saving £1 billion from bureaucracy over the five years from 1997-98. We are on course to do so--by the end of 1999-2000 almost £0.5 billion will have been saved from administration for investment in patient care.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): State pensions are being paid to new pensioners within the normal clearance target timescales. However, due to problems relating to the introduction of the NIRS2 computer system, the additional pension component is not being paid immediately in some cases. The Benefits Agency has put in place contingency arrangements to make clearical calculations of the additional pension component to retirement pension where appropriate. Extra staff have been provided for this.
The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): The Government have no plans to do so. As the Prime Minister also said on 1 February, any investment by government must be linked to long-term change in the structure of the industry and be part of an agreed overall strategy. The re-introduction of the subsidy to the rendering industry would meet neither of those criteria.
Baroness Hayman: The French action is in breach of European law. The Commission has a special role and special powers under the EC Treaty to ensure that member states abide by EU law. It has already begun legal proceedings against the French Government for their failure to lift their ban on the import of British beef. The UK Government have made it clear to the Commission that they expect these proceedings to be pursued vigorously.
In the light of this, the Government do not intend to bring a separate action in the French courts. To bring an action would add complication, and the French courts would undoubtedly refer the matter to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The Government do not believe that this separate action would bring about an earlier settlement to the dispute.
Baroness Hayman: The common agricultural policy, as currently structured, does not serve farmers, consumers and taxpayers well. That is why the Government pressed for a radical reform of the common agricultural policy throughout the Agenda 2000 negotiations. We continue to push for further reform.
Baroness Hayman: The documentation pack enabling farmers to make their 2000 IACS area aid applications, which includes an information booklet setting out guidance notes, will begin to be sent out to applicants in England by the end of February and to applicants elsewhere in the United Kingdom shortly thereafter.
Baroness Hayman: Epichlorohydrin was evaluated under the International Programme on Chemical Safety and the report (Environmental Health Criteria 33) was published in 1984. Animal studies indicated that the central nervous system did not appear to be the most significant target. The kidney was particularly sensitive to the toxic effects of epichlorohydrin and degenerative changes in the liver were also reported. The degenerative changes of the kidney described in rats and mice were not reported in humans.
Epichlorohydrin is mutagenic in most short-term assays and carcinogenic in long-term studies in experimental animals when administered by inhalation, orally or by subcutaneous injection. It can also sensitise the skin.
Baroness Hayman: No currently authorised diazinon-based veterinary medicinal or pesticide product contains epichlorohydrin and records show that no expired diazinon-based pesticide contained epichlorohydrin. Identifying whether any previously licensed veterinary medicinal product contained epichlorohydrin could only be done at disproportionate cost.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: In a letter dated 24 June 1998, Dr Alan Borg, the chairman of the Conference of Directors, National Museums and Galleries expressed the conference's support of the UK acceding to the UNIDROIT Convention.
Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Her Majesty's Government have no plans to impose import restrictions upon Khmer sculptures. If it was found desirable to do so, such restrictions could be introduced by modifying the open general import licence issued under the Import of Goods (Control) Order 1954 (as amended), a statutory instrument made under the Import, Export and Customs Powers (Defence) Act 1939 as amended by the Import and Export Control Act 1990.
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