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Health Improvement (Young Men)

12. Ms Hazel Blears (Salford): What action he is taking to improve the health of young men. [147340]

The Minister for Public Health (Yvette Cooper): We are concerned about the problems facing young men. The Health Development Agency is currently examining what measures are most effective in improving the health of men, particularly young men, and we fund the CALM--campaign against living miserably--helpline, which is aimed at dealing with depression in young men and preventing them from committing suicide.

Ms Blears: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that reply. I am sure that she is aware that the figures for suicide and undetermined injury in young men are

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approximately four times greater than those for young women. It seems that we have a widespread problem of young men suffering depression and unhappiness, which clearly affects their health. I draw my hon. Friend's attention to a project in Salford called "Let's get serious". We have employed young men with a background of severe social problems to act as mentors to other young men in the community. That is working: their health is improving; they are getting clean of drugs; they are managing for the first time in their lives to make a positive contribution to the community. The project is very high risk because it is about trusting people with convictions and those who have been in deep trouble, yet the health action zone has had the courage to invest in those young men.

Will my hon. Friend assure me that in our national health service of the future, we will have the confidence to take risks and to invest in innovative, imaginative and creative projects that really do make a difference to people?

Yvette Cooper: My hon. Friend is right about the programme in the Manchester, Salford and Trafford health action zone. I know that the Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Ms Stuart), visited the project and was extremely impressed by its work. There is other impressive work concerning young men, particularly in many of the health action zones. We are keen to learn lessons from those innovative projects and spread them nationwide, and that is exactly what the Health Development Agency is doing. Clearly, we need to meet the serious health needs of young men suffering from social exclusion.

Mr. David Tredinnick (Bosworth): Is the Minister aware that more and more young men and women are turning to complementary and alternative medicine, such as homeopathy and herbal remedies, to improve their health, very often because they are worried about antibiotics? What will she do to end the postcode lottery in complementary care throughout the nation, whereby most people cannot get such care at all on the health service, but a few, in some locations, can?

Yvette Cooper: I know that the hon. Gentleman has tried on several questions to ask about complementary medicine, although I would not necessarily have expected

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him to raise the matter on this question. He knows that we are considering the House of Lords Select Committee report on complementary medicine, and I would be happy to meet him to discuss its proposals.

Renal Services

13. Mr. Peter L. Pike (Burnley): What recent representations he has received on treatment for kidney patients. [147341]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Denham): We have received a number of representations, including a report from the Kidney Alliance entitled "Towards Equity and Excellence in Renal Services", which is aimed at supporting health authorities and NHS trusts in the development of services for kidney patients. Of course, the NHS plan included a commitment to provide 450 new and replacement haemodialysis stations to treat another 1,850 kidney patients and provide better treatment for a further 1,200 existing patients by 2004.

Mr. Pike: I am glad that my right hon. Friend has read the excellent document produced last month by the Kidney Alliance, which deals with the need for additional renal facilities. He will know that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State opened the extension to the kidney unit at the Royal Preston hospital just before the end of the year. We welcome that, but we need additional satellite facilities in north-east Lancashire, perhaps in Burnley.

Mr. Denham: I acknowledge my hon. Friend's role in this issue, in which he takes an active interest. I acknowledge also the work of the Kidney Alliance, and especially that of its chairman, Mr. Austin Donohue. The alliance's report proposed seven national service standards. We have welcomed it as a useful tool for commissioners and trusts in the commissioning of services for kidney patients.

My hon. Friend has called for further investment in the region part of which he represents to develop dialysis services. I can confirm that the north-west will be receiving about £1.25 million of new capital in the coming year. That will increase the number of haemodialysis stations in the region.

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Points of Order

3.30 pm

Mr. Tam Dalyell (Linlithgow): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. As the House of Commons (Removal of Clergy Disqualification) Bill may not be exactly the most pressing problem facing the nation, has there been any request, and is there time, for some discussion on the riots that took place over lunchtime outside the British embassy in Tripoli, involving tear gas, and the ominous consequences of the Lockerbie judgment? Have you had any request from the Foreign Office for such a discussion, or is the disqualification of the clergy much more urgent?

Mr. Speaker: I have received no representations from the Foreign Office.

Sir Sydney Chapman (Chipping Barnet): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. You will recall that four weeks ago I raised on a point of order the overlong responses of Ministers at Question Time. You gave a timely reminder to Ministers and Back Benchers to shorten their questions and answers, which you again gave today. May I invite you to study the Hansard report of the Question Time just past, which I think will strengthen my view--I know it is shared by hon. Members on both sides of the House--that long ministerial answers cut the time that Back Benchers on both sides of the House have to ask legitimate questions? I accept that on one or two occasions today some supplementary questions were also rather long.

Mr. Speaker: The hon. Gentleman is a regular attender at Question Time. He knows that I have appealed to Ministers for short answers. I have appealed also to Back-Bench Members for short questions. I believe that I should be able to reach as many as possible of those hon. Members who have taken the bother to go to the Table Office to table a question and ballot for the Order Paper.

Mr. Ian Bruce (South Dorset): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Your strictures to the Government on releasing information first to the House seem again to be being ignored. On Thursday, a question was tabled for

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answer about employment agency regulations. From 7 am, there were reports on the BBC about what was going to happen with regard to the regulations. I spent all of Thursday trying to get that information from the Vote Office, without success. The Library was able to take the information off the net for me.

I have gone to the Vote Office again--we are now into Tuesday--but it does not have the draft statutory instruments which were announced by the Government via the BBC first thing in the morning, and then placed on the Order Paper at perhaps 3.30 pm. We still do not have the information. Will you look into the matter, Mr. Speaker, and ensure that the Ministers who are responsible apologise yet again to the House and say yet again that they will not release information to the BBC before it is available to Members?

Mr. Speaker: I will investigate the hon. Gentleman's complaint.

Mr. Anthony Steen (Totnes): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I greatly support the ruling that you gave a moment ago. I would have had the next question but for lengthy ministerial answers. Will you consider naming Ministers who respond with particularly long answers so that they receive a ticket, rather like a ticket that is given by a football referee?

Mr. Speaker: I will not go into that. However, it is nice to get support, particularly from the hon. Gentleman.

Mr. John Bercow (Buckingham): On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I should be grateful for your guidance. We all recognise and accept that you are not responsible for what Ministers say. However, will you confirm that Ministers should attempt directly to answer the question that is posed? Is it not unacceptable that when one of my constituents urgently requires an answer and an explanation from the Government about their policy on copaxone, the Minister of State, Department of Health, the right hon. Member for Southampton, Itchen (Mr. Denham), deliberately and flagrantly refused to deal with the matter?

Mr. Speaker: That is not a point of order.

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