Previous Section Index Home Page



Mr. Yeo: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the implications of the EU ban on pithing on the safety of abattoir employees. [144340]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 8 January 2001]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that it has undertaken an extensive public consultation on the potential impact of a ban on pithing. The risk to worker safety through involuntary kicking of stunned animals and the need for structural changes to abattoir premises in order to enable slaughtering to be carried out safely

27 Mar 2001 : Column: 559W

without pithing were among the points raised in response. We have recognised these concerns and have delayed implementation of the ban until 1 April 2001 to allow abattoir operators more time to make the necessary adjustments to premises.

Safety in the workplace is the responsibility of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The HSE has, in collaboration with the Meat Trades Joint Working Party, developed guidelines and procedures which will help to minimise any potential risk to abattoir employees.

Tablet Blister Packs

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it the policy of the Government to seek to ensure that blister packs of medicinal tablets imported into the UK must have the day of the week identified in English; and if he will make a statement. [153042]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 9 March 2001]: The requirements for the labelling of medicinal products are set out in Directive 92/27/EEC. Printing the days of the week on blister packs is not one of these requirements. In considering the proposals from importers for the labelling of imported products, the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) must ensure that these comply with the terms of the Directive. If they do, the MCA cannot prohibit the importation of the products nor insist that where the days of the week are present in a foreign language they should be translated.

It is therefore the policy of the MCA, where the days of the week are present on the blister strip in another language, to ask importers to provide a translation either on the labelling or within the patient information leaflet. In general the industry is co-operating with this policy. The MCA will continue to pursue it with individual importers on a case by case basis during the evaluation of their applications and with their trade associations.

Dental Services

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost is per patient treated under (a) the Cornwall Personal Dental Services Pilot and (b) the General Dental Service in England and Wales as a whole. [153963]

Mr. Hutton: In 1999-2000 the average cost per patient treated under the Cornwall Personal Dental Service (PDS) pilot was £65.50 and under the General Dental Service (GDS) in Cornwall the average was £42.10 per patient. A corresponding average for the GDS in England and Wales is not available because children having only an examination are not separately recorded as their treatment costs are covered in capitation payments.

An accurate comparison of figures is not possible because PDS work differs from the GDS average mix. For example, several PDS pilots deal with specialist dentistry and most do not register patients. The Cornwall PDS pilot includes general anaesthetics, special needs and orthodontic services. It is an access centre and operates through a network of 20 sites across the county, complementing the service provided by local GDS dentists. It has proved very popular with patients and is now seeing about 2,000 patients a month.

27 Mar 2001 : Column: 560W

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Llwyd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans the Government have to include provision for mental health services among farmers in proposals for assistance in respect of the foot and mouth outbreak; and if he will make a statement. [155328]

Mr. Hutton: The Department is working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF) in support of the development of the rural stress action plan (RSAP), which offers support to help alleviate stress in rural areas. Through the RSAP, MAFF has already made available £500,000 to support farmers as part of the Prime Minister's action plan for farming.

The RSAP group, which includes representatives from Government, the voluntary mental health sector and national farming organisations met again on 20 March this year to discuss details of future assistance, particularly in respect of the current foot and mouth outbreak. In addition, the Department of Health has also provided the Rural Stress Information Service and MIND with funding through the Section 64 scheme for projects developing support networks and access to information, care and support for people in rural areas.

Food Labelling

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the red tractor symbol meets his Department's requirements in respect of country of origin food labelling. [155471]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 26 March 2001]: The "British Farm Standard", denoted by the red tractor symbol, is a voluntary scheme developed by the National Farmers' Union. The presence of the red tractor symbol on a food product indicates compliance with specific farm assurance schemes. Under European competition rules, use of indications like the red tractor symbol (and other similar indications), which are indications of quality, not origin, cannot be restricted to national produce.

Asylum Seekers

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he takes to ensure that the basic needs of young asylum seekers are met, with particular reference to the duties of social services departments. [155933]

Mr. Hutton: Local authority social services departments have a duty under the Children Act 1989 to provide services for children in need in their area. The definition of a child in need is set out in section 17(10) of the Act including for example disabled children. If a young asylum seeker falls within that definition, social services departments have the same responsibilities to provide services to them as to other children who are also in need.

This means that local authorities must ensure that the welfare of all relevant children are safeguarded and promoted. They must assess the needs of each individual child and provide services as appropriate to meet the assessed needs. Our £885 million Quality Protects programme is designed to improve the management and delivery of children's social services and ensure that our objective of improving the life chances of children in need is met.

27 Mar 2001 : Column: 561W

Primary Care Trusts (Dorset)

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he has taken to ensure that the appointments process to the boards of primary care trusts in the Dorset health authority area has been conducted in accordance with the Nolan rules. [155810]

Ms Stuart: All chairs and non-officer members of primary care trusts in the Dorset health authority area have been appointed following a selection process that accords with the commissioner for public appointments' guidance on public appointment procedures. These appointments were advertised locally and all candidates were interviewed by a panel including an independent member. The recommendations made to Ministers included confirmation that the proper procedures were followed.

Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Government will publish its response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee 6th Report of Session 2000-01 on Complementary and Alternative Medicine. [155983]

Yvette Cooper: The Government's response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee's 6th Report on Complementary and Alternative Medicine is published today and copies will be placed in the Library. The Government welcome the Committee's Report and believe its main recommendations will help protect the interests of patients and other consumers.


London Underground

Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if he will make a statement on the London Underground public- private partnerships. [155958]

Mr. Prescott: Bob Kiley and I today had a full exchange on the state of progress on the PPP negotiations. Mr. Kiley had earlier written to me following the recent talks between the Government and Transport for London. I have now replied to Mr. Kiley setting out the changes to the PPP which both parties had discussed and which the Government had been prepared to consider. These were offered in an attempt to reach an overall agreement on the PPP consistent with Mr. Kiley's aim for "unified management control". I am placing a copy of my letter to Mr. Kiley in the Library.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what training was given to London Underground station staff between December 2000 and February 2001 inclusive on procedures to evacuate passengers from crowded station platforms in emergencies. [154564]

Mr. Hill: London Underground inform me that they operate a programme of continual training for all of their station staff. They state that the training in evacuation procedures is an important part of this ongoing programme. Station Assistants and Station Supervisors are

27 Mar 2001 : Column: 562W

taught evacuation procedures as part of their initial training. When deployed to their first station after training they then have to undertake additional training (including evacuation) to become familiar with that station. London Underground inform me that evacuation plans for central stations are required to be practised every six months and that all station staff have to be included in such training practices. This additional training has to be repeated each time a Station Assistant or Supervisor transfers to another station.

Mr. Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions if a risk assessment has been carried out on the likely severity of injuries to standing passengers in the event of an accident on the Circle and Hammersmith and City Line Underground. [154559]

Mr. Hill: Yes. I understand that London Underground have well-developed safety risk control systems, which are the subject of continuous improvement. Risk assessments have been carried out for a wide range of possible incidents on all Underground Lines. In all cases the risk to standing passengers has been assessed as 'very low'. This is considered by London Underground to be 'as low as reasonably practical' under regulations set down by the Health and Safety at Work, etc Act 1974.

Next Section Index Home Page