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14 Jun 2010 : Column WA63

Written Answers

Monday 14 June 2010

Agriculture: Sheep Tagging

Question

Asked by The Duke of Montrose

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): Electronic identification of sheep is an EU requirement, but its administration and implementation is an issue for the devolved Administrations.

It would not be feasible, given the volume and speed with which animals are handled at markets and slaughterhouses, to require them to put in place exception management procedures to identify animals whose identification has not been recorded.

We are, however, aware that there are concerns about the ability of electronic reading equipment to capture individual information on every animal sent to central point recording centres (CPRCs), particularly where this could impact on keepers' single farm payments. In England, we will not penalise a keeper for incomplete data in respect of animals sent to a CPRC.

Animals: Microchipping

Question

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Henley): A requirement that all dogs are microchipped was one of the proposals in the recent public consultation exercise on dangerous dogs that closed on 1 June. We will consider the responses received before making any decision. We have no plans to consider the feasibility of compulsory microchipping for other household pets.

Compulsory microchipping is already a requirement for horses (injectable microchips) and sheep (electronic eartag or bolus). The Commission is currently considering the introduction of electronic identification for cattle but, if adopted, this is likely to be voluntary.



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Banking: Kaupthing Singer and Friedlander

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): This is a matter for the Financial Services Authority. I have passed the Question on to them and they will reply to you directly by letter.

Businesses: Government Contracts

Question

Asked by Lord Lucas

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Government are working on a number of initiatives to make it easier and simpler for small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) to bid for public sector contracts, including:

all new central government tender documents for contracts over £10,000 to be published on a single website from September 2010, with this information to be made available to the public free of charge;streamlining of the procurement process;splitting contract opportunities into smaller lots;ensuring collaborative procurement strategies cater for SMEs wherever appropriate; andproviding free online training for SMEs in bidding for public sector contracts-Winning the Contract.

Chagos Islands

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): There were no representatives of the Chagos islanders at the meeting on 3 June between my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary and the Prime Minister of Mauritius.



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Bilateral discussions about the British Indian Ocean Territory are between the sovereign states concerned, ie the United Kingdom and Mauritius. While we welcome the views of other interested parties on issues on the agenda, it is not the practice for outside representatives to attend such discussions.

Education: Languages

Question

Asked by Baroness Coussins

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): We are currently considering our priorities for the national curriculum, including what subjects it should cover and how teaching can be supported. We will be announcing our plans in due course.

Elections: Voting System

Question

Asked by Lord Campbell-Savours

Lord Taylor of Holbeach: Under the alternative vote, voters rank candidates in order of preference. Alternative vote systems can vary according to whether voters may mark a preference for as few or as many candidates as they wish or whether voters are required to rank all candidates in order of preference. Where electors are not required to mark preferences beyond a first preference, whilst the winning candidate will always require more than 50 per cent of the ballots remaining in the count on the final round to be elected, this may not always amount to more than 50 per cent of the total ballots cast.

Energy: Meters

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): We are committed to accelerating the rollout of smart meters. We plan to publish a substantial package of detailed proposals this summer.



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Energy: Wind Turbines

Question

Asked by Lord Vinson

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Energy and Climate Change (Lord Marland): The Government take an active concern in ensuring security of supply in the electricity market.

DECC estimates suggest that 27 gigawatts of wind generation could be operational by 2020. National Grid also provides seven-year forecasts of generation capacity and demand, updated and published annually.

Several methods are expected to be available by 2020 to balance the intermittent nature of the available wind generation. These include standby generation, storage, import and export to other countries, and demand-side response.

Under the current market arrangements, the balance of these measures depends on the investment decisions of commercial players in the electricity market.

EU: Financial Assistance to Member States

Question

Asked by Lord Pearson of Rannoch

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Paragraph 2 of Article 125 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union offers scope for the definitions attaching to the prohibitions in Articles 123, 124 and 125 to be more clearly defined by the Council. Nevertheless, Article 125 clearly provides that the Union shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of any member state and that a member state shall not be liable for or assume commitments of another member state. It is our interpretation that the article cannot be used to require member states to provide financial support to other member states in financial difficulty.

EU: Treaties

Question

Asked by Lord Stoddart of Swindon



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The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): Our commitment is to ensure that any proposed future treaty that transfers areas of power or competences from the UK to the EU will be subject to a referendum. The use of any major ratchet clause which amounted to such a transfer will also be subject to a referendum. We will provide more detail on how we expect such a referendum to be run when we introduce the Bill to Parliament.

Food: Taxation

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Commercial Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Sassoon): The Chancellor keeps all taxes under review but currently has no plans to introduce a tax on unhealthy foods.

Gaza

Questions

Asked by Lord Hylton

Baroness Verma: The Prime Minister and the Foreign Secretary have made clear to their counterparts in the Israeli Government the need for full access for humanitarian aid into Gaza, and to ease import and export restrictions of materials and goods, to enable the reconstruction of homes and livelihoods.

We are also discussing with our international partners how best to achieve an easing of the access regime and what assistance we could provide.

We also continue to call on Hamas to end its interference with the operations of NGOs and United Nation agencies that are working to improve the lives of ordinary Gazans.

Asked by Lord Hylton

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Howell of Guildford): We do not comment on whether or not legal advice has been given.



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Gypsies and Travellers

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): An annual update to Parliament on Gypsy and Traveller policy across government was a recommendation of the independent task group on site provision and enforcement. The new Government are currently considering the timing of their response to this recommendation.

Health: Costs

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The United Kingdom paid the Republic of Ireland €1,294,429,025 for the period 2003-06 and €806,364,378 for the period 2007-09 under European Social Security Regulations 1408/71 and 574/72. For 2003-2006, the UK claimed a total of £55,706,853 and for 2007-09, a total of £48,471,756. Under arrangements agreed between Governments, the UK contribution is net of that owed by Ireland. Details of payments for 2009-10 will be subject to negotiation.

The reason for the differences in payment to and from Ireland is that the UK has far more pensioners for whom it is responsible in Ireland than vice versa.

Health: Drugs

Questions

Asked by Lord Mawhinney



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has a well established procedure for moving medicines from prescription-only (POM) status to over-the-counter (OTC) when it is safe to do so. Over-the-counter medicines include both those supplied from registered pharmacies by or under the supervision of a pharmacist (P) and those on general sale (GSL) available through outlets such as supermarkets and convenience stores. The decision to reclassify a product from POM status to P availability is taken following a comprehensive evaluation of the risks and benefits of availability under the supervision of a pharmacist. The independent expert advisory committee, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM), is asked to give advice and there is a period of public consultation before taking the decision to reclassify the product.

Six medicines have been reclassified to P in the past 12 months. Two of these reclassifications have been supported by a pharmacy protocol, a questionnaire and training materials supplied by the marketing authorisation holder which pharmacists may use to help ensure that these medicines are supplied in appropriate circumstances. These products are:

Flomax Relief MR capsules containing tamsulosin hydrochloride 0.4 mg for the treatment of the functional symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men aged 45-75; andCyklo-f tablets containing tranexamic acid 500 mg for the reduction of heavy menstrual bleeding experienced over several cycles by women with regular cycles.

Professional guidance is routinely issued by the pharmacists' regulatory body, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB), on standards to be met in the supply of reclassified products in new therapeutic categories. The professional guidance and support materials are intended to be used by the pharmacist and pharmacy staff to check that the product is suitable for the customer and identify any circumstances where referral to a doctor should be recommended. This may involve seeking personal health information from the purchaser. The extent to which pharmacists use these materials is up to their professional discretion.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has not been notified of any complaints in relation to products reclassified from POM to P where pharmacists have refused to supply the product because the purchaser would not reveal personal health information or was not convinced that such personal

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information would be treated as confidential. Complaints of this nature would normally be directed to the RPSGB.


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