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Farm Diversification

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what business rate relief is available to farmers who diversify their businesses; and if he will make a statement. [152305]

Ms Quin [holding answer 5 March 2001]: As part of their programme to assist farming and help the agricultural industry, the Government have recently consulted on introducing rate relief for new non- agricultural business on farms. Legislation will be introduced as soon as parliamentary time allows.


BCG Vaccine

Mr. Gardiner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to target BCG vaccine towards areas with a particularly high incidence of TB when the vaccine is in short supply. [146326]

Yvette Cooper: It is our policy to direct BCG supply to those most at risk.

BCG vaccine against tuberculosis is currently available for those individuals at higher risk of tuberculosis. Routine immunisation of all school children at age 10-14 was suspended in September 1999 following manufacturing problems encountered by the sole United Kingdom licensed source, Celltech Medeva. By the autumn school term last year sufficient supplies were available to allow health authorities to restart school immunisations in the London region, as the area with the highest rates and number of tuberculosis cases.

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Although stocks are now being delivered, we need to be assured that we have sufficient amounts to restart and support the routine schools programme in all parts of the country without further interruption.

We are currently in the process of writing to all district immunisation co-ordinators to identify how much vaccine will be needed to restart the schools programme. Once this information is known, we will be able to make a judgment on when the programme can resume, and make an announcement.


Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice he has sought on the statistical risks involved in eating (a) French beef products and (b) beef-on-the- bone in the period leading up to the ban on beef-on- the-bone. [146402]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 22 January 2001]: Responsibility for the provision of advice on food safety matters rests with the Food Standards Agency (FSA).

The FSA commissioned Dr. Christl Donnelly to research the risks associated with French beef and her paper was published in Nature on 14 December 2000, as was a letter from the FSA Chairman Sir John Krebs. Dr. Donnelly estimated that the risk from imported French beef from cattle aged no more than 30 months old at slaughter is essentially zero (no cattle within 12 months of developing clinical BSE). If the Over-30-Month-Rule is not fully enforced, the risk rises in proportion to the frequency of the breach. Dr. Donnelly estimated that if compliance with the Rule is 75 per cent., which Sir John Krebs considered to be reasonable on the basis of informal indications to the FSA from local authorities, the risk from French imports would be of the same order of magnitude as the current estimate for Britain's domestic beef.

The FSA estimated that comparable if not greater risks to United Kingdom consumers could arise from imported meat products that contain French beef.

The risk that applied in the period leading up to the UK's ban on beef-on-the-bone was estimated by the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC) at its 2 December 1997 meeting. At that meeting, SEAC considered the experimental finding in BSE infected cattle that dorsal root ganglia (DRG) became infective in the pre-clinical phase of the disease and that in one experiment bone marrow appeared to be infective. SEAC reviewed a risk assessment which estimated that 24 per cent. of the total infected DRG were attributable to bone-in beef. The remaining DRG related to infectivity arises from the ganglia that cannot be removed from cuts of joints of meat in the normal boning out process. The Committee estimated the risk to people from DRG in food to be "very small", and commented that

However, the Committee also noted that given the major uncertainties about many aspects of the transmission of the disease in cattle to humans the actual figure could be anywhere between 0 and 10 nvCJD cases being induced by eating infected DRG.

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The risk from UK beef has declined since 1997. In July 1999 the Chief Medical Officer assessed the additional risk of lifting the UK's bone-in beef ban as

Consultants and Advisers

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much his Department spent on external consultants and advisers in each year since 1979. [150479]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 15 February 2001]: Departmental expenditure on external consultants and advisers, by financial year since 1992-93 is in the table.

£ million

Financial yearExpenditure

(20) This figure covers the period April 2000 through January 2001

Figures for the period 1979 to 1992 are no longer held locally and retrieving the figures from central archives would incur delay and disproportionate cost.

The trend for the Department is downward but part of the explanation for the decreasing trend in departmental expenditure is the adoption of a new definition of consultancy, agreed by Ministers during 1997-98 and implemented in-year. This definition removed confusion between contracted services and consultancy proper; the figures for earlier years are therefore artificially inflated by including some doubtful categories. The significant reduction in 1998-99 is explained by being the first full year in which this distinction had been made.

Resuscitation Policies

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will (1) instruct the National Care Standards Commission to inspect all establishments for which it is responsible to ensure that (a) resuscitation policies which respect the rights of clients for whom they are responsible are in place, (b) such policies are understood by relevant staff and accessible to them and (c) such policies are subject to robust audit and monitoring arrangements; [151465]

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Mr. Hutton: The National Care Standards Commission will regulate a wide range of social care and independent healthcare providers. Regulations and national minimum standards are being developed to reflect the different nature of each of the services to be regulated. Depending on the nature of the service being provided, a resuscitation policy will be required for some providers but not others. For example we will require independent healthcare providers to have a resuscitation policy in which patients' rights are central, which is readily available to staff, patient's relatives and carers, and of which staff are informed. These policies will have to be kept under review to ensure their continued effectiveness.

We published the national minimum standards for "Care Homes for Older People" on 2 March. These require care home providers to discuss with service users their wishes concerning terminal care. The standards also require them to provide staff with first aid training or employ nurses who will have basic life support training.

There will, however, be providers for whom a resuscitation policy will not be necessary, such as fostering agencies or voluntary adoption agencies.

It will not be necessary to extend the requirements in National Health Service Circular 2000-028 to local authority social services departments as the providers they contract with will have to be registered by the commission and therefore required to meet the relevant standards. This new regulatory framework will also require local authority owned care homes to be registered for the first time and these too will be required to meet the national minimum standards.

Ministerial Visits (Peterborough)

Sir Brian Mawhinney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the Ministers in his Department who visited any of the constituencies which are in the Peterborough Unitary Authority area between 1 January 2000 and 14 February 2001, indicating in each case (a) the date of the visit, (b) the constituencies included in the visit and (c) if the local Member met the Minister. [151026]

Ms Stuart: [holding answer 26 February 2001]: The available information is given in the table:

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Date of visit Minister VisitHon. Member met
14 March 2000Mr. Denham Minister of StateNorth Peterborough Primary Care TrustHelen Brinton
Peterborough Walk in Centre
14 March 2000Mr. Denham Minister of StateSouth Peterborough PCTNone
1 August 2000Lord Hunt of King's Heath Parliamentary Under-SecretaryPeterborough HospitalNone

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