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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Prime Minister's article on 27 February did not indicate any change in the Government's policy in regard to genetically modified foods and crops, which is to ensure that health and the environment are adequately safeguarded by means of a strong regulatory regime and to proceed cautiously on the basis of science.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Conference in Edinburgh, which focused on the science of GM food safety, acknowledged that not everything was yet known about the potential effects of using this technology to produce new food products, particularly in the longer term. On environmental safety, the conference concluded that there has so far been insufficient work to be able to assess environmental impacts fully, especially in the biodiversity rich tropics. These conclusions support the cautious approach that we are taking and will continue to take in approving the use of GM crops and foods.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are no specific compositional rules on food supplements and no prior approval system exists to assess their composition. Nutritional supplements, like other foods, are subject to the general provisions of the Food Safety Act 1990 which make it an offence to sell food which is injurious to health. Certain bovine and ovine tissues are however covered by the controls on specified risk material, the purpose of which is to ensure that no food containing such material may be sold for human consumption in the United Kingdom. Specified risk material includes the brain and spleen of all sheep and the spinal cord and tonsils of cattle slaughtered in the UK aged over six months and the thymus and intestines of all cattle slaughtered in the UK for human consumption.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Validation of the methodology and data arising from the tonsil and appendix surveys falls to the Medical Research Council/Department of Health steering group for studies of detectable abnormal prion protein. That
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Details of government funded research projects currently under way into all transmissible spongiform encephalopathy issues are available to the public through the Medical Research Council website. In accordance with standard procedures supported by reputable scientific journals, all data resulting from government-funded research projects must be validated and peer reviewed. Results are then published once that process has been completed.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: All reported cases of progressive intellectual or neurological deterioration in children are investigated for potential variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease and details of any suspect cases are passed to the National CJD Surveillance Unit, Edinburgh. No definite or probable cases of variant Creutzfeldt Jakob disease have been found in children under the age of 13.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: United Kingdom people denied benefits to which they believe they are entitled may seek advice from the relevant UK authorities. Details are given in the leaflet Health Advice for
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government welcome this important report. It highlights unacceptable variations in the quality of diabetes services. It is those variations that prompted us to announce last year the development of a national service framework for diabetes. This will be a framework for England but the National Assembly for Wales expects to produce a very similar model for use in Wales. The national service framework will set national standards and define service models to improve the quality of care for people with diabetes.
We have sent copies of the Audit Commission report to members of the expert reference group who will advise Ministers on the development of the national service framework, and it will inform its work.
What they estimate to be the costs incurred by business as a result of holes in the road, using the £16.28 valuation of business time which applies in the evaluation of new road building; and [HL2007]
Whether the Department of Trade and Industry of the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is the lead department for policy on holes in the road; and [HL2008]
What is the estimated yield of a £1,000 per lane per day levy on those who dig holes in the roads; and [HL2009]
What arrangements are in force in other European countries to charge those who dig holes in the road for doing so; and [HL2010]
Whether they will commission an appropriate economic consultancy to assess the costs and benefits of charging statutory undertakers who dig holes in the road. [HL2011]
National Joint Utilities Group (on behalf of Transco*, BT*, Water UK (representing water companies)*, Electricity Association (representing electricity companies)*, Telewest Communications, and Cable & Wireless Communications);
Note: The local government authorities listed are those that replied individually to the department; in addition, there was a co-ordinated reply sent on behalf of authorities in general by the Local Government Association (LGA). In the utilities, organisations marked with an asterisk (*) are those members of the National Joint Utilities Group (NJUG) which sent individual replies to the department: as with the LGA, NJUG sent a co-ordinated reply on behalf of its members.
The average value figure of £16.28 an hour in 1999 prices I gave in reply to my noble friend's Written Question on 13 March (Hansard, col. WA 191) related to car driving employees when considering the effect of new road building schemes and road maintenance. The Government do not hold data on which to form estimates of the cost of utility street works to business interests, since notification of planned works is given to the highway authority concerned and there is no provision for authorities to pass on the information for statistical purposes.
The consultation document Reducing Disruption from Utilities' Street Works proposed, as a basis for discussion, a figure of £500 per day for overstaying by works in traffic-sensitive streets, with the possibility of a higher (perhaps double) figure for works in London. The consultation document also declared the Government's requirement of any system that the costs of operating it should be commensurate with the benefits derived from it. However, as information about the number and size of excavations in the road is not collected centrally, it is not possible at the present time for the Government to make a meaningful estimate of future yield.
A regulatory impact assessment will be prepared before the first regulations under Section 74 of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991 are introduced, and these regulations will be subject to the affirmative resolution procedure. In addition, we shall monitor the costs and benefits of the charging scheme.
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