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Ambulance Service

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to reduce the retirement age of operational staff in the Ambulance Service. [156168]

Ms Stuart: There are no plans at this time to reduce the retirement age of operational ambulance staff.

4 Apr 2001 : Column: 234W

Statutory Instruments

Jane Griffiths: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many statutory instruments were laid before Parliament by his Department each year from 1993 to 1998, inclusive. [156522]

Ms Stuart: The number of Statutory Instruments (SIs) laid before Parliament by the Department each parliamentary session from 1992-93 to 1997-98 inclusive is set out in the table.

4 Apr 2001 : Column: 235W

Parliamentary sessionNumber of SIs laid before Parliament
1992-93165
1993-94228
1994-95165
1995-96127
1996-9745
1997-98148

Nursing Care (Shropshire)

Mr. Paul Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people will benefit from the planned free nursing care in nursing homes in Shrewsbury and Atcham; and if he will make a statement. [156496]

Mr. Hutton: An estimated 220 people will benefit from the planned free nursing care in nursing homes in Shrewsbury and Atcham 1 . The Health and Social Care Bill, which has now cleared the House of Lord's Committee stage, will ensure that in future everyone who needs care from a registered nurse will have it paid for by the national health service.


Food Supplements

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what steps his Department has taken to ensure continued free access to food supplements; and if he will make a statement; [156693]

Ms Stuart: We accept there is a need for European Union rules on food supplements to tackle trade problems. This is because member states have a range of regulatory systems, with differing requirements. Generally these are more restrictive than the United Kingdom's safety based approach. We are pressing for a safety based approach to regulation of these products at EU level, in the interests of maintaining consumer choice.

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The Food Standards Agency (FSA), which is representing the Government in negotiations for harmonised EU legislation on food supplements, has consulted interested parties on the effects of the Commission's proposal. Representations have been received from consumer organisations, individuals, nutrition therapists and professional public health groups, food supplement manufacturers and their trade associations, retailers and enforcement bodies. All these groups support our view that the market should be open to products which are safe and properly labelled. A number of consultees have pointed out that the proposed legislation could significantly restrict the range of vitamin and mineral substances which could be used in food supplements, and the availability of high dose supplements. We are pressing for amendments to the draft directive to take into account the wide range of safe products available in the UK.

Clear, accurate labelling is essential to help consumers make informed choices. The FSA is pressing for a number of improvements to EU food labelling rules. These include mandatory, easy to use nutrition labelling and an effective and practical system for the verification and approval of health claims at EU level. The agency is also calling for the arrangements for health claims to allow the use of disease risk reduction claims where they are valid and presented in an appropriate context.

Medicinal Products

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the proposed EU Directive for traditionally used medicinal products; and what representations he has received on the matter. [156689]

Ms Stuart: A letter dated 18 December 2000 from the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) to the European Commission (EC) set out the United Kingdom's comments on the preliminary draft of the directive on traditional medicinal products. The MCA has recently received from the EC a second draft of the directive, due to be discussed at the meeting of the European Pharmaceutical Committee on 5 April. Copies of both documents have been placed in the Library. Representations on the directive have been received mainly during the regular dialogue the MCA holds with representatives of herbal interest groups. These constructive discussions have covered most aspects of the directive, including the possible criteria for assessing traditional use, the position of non European herbal traditions, and aspects of safety, quality and information to the consumer.

Oxted and Limpsfield War Memorial Hospital

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to defer possible sale of land at Oxted and Limpsfield war memorial hospital until the outcome of the present inquiry by the ombudsman is known. [156665]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 2 April 2001]: Surrey and Sussex Healthcare National Health Service trust will not consider the sale until after the outcome of the ombudsman's inquiry is known and the full business case has been considered by the south-east regional office of the NHS Executive.

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Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures he is taking to ensure the physical security of Oxted and Limpsfield war memorial hospital. [156663]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 2 April 2001]: The physical security of the Oxted and Limpsfield war memorial hospital is the responsibility of the Surrey and Sussex Healthcare National Health Service trust. The trust is in the process of implementing a number of measures which are aimed at ensuring the external and internal security of the hospital and these should be completed by 6 April 2001.

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to reply to the letters of 7 February and 21 March regarding Oxted and Limpsfield war memorial hospital from the hon. Member for East Surrey. [156664]

Ms Stuart [holding answer 2 April 2001]: A reply to the hon. Member's letter of 7 February was sent on 27 March 2001. The letter dated 21 March 2001 was received by the Department on 27 March 2001. The issues raised are currently being considered with a view to a reply being dispatched within the Department's service first target of reply to all correspondence within 20 days.

4 Apr 2001 : Column: 238W

National Alcohol Strategy

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will publish the national alcohol strategy. [156875]

Ms Stuart: We remain committed to the publication of a cross-government strategy to tackle alcohol misuse, and we are working with key stakeholders across government, the alcohol field and the alcohol industry to ensure that this commitment is delivered.

The NHS Plan, published in July 2000, said that the Department would be implementing the strategy by 2004. The Department expects to publish a consultation paper in due course.

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government are taking with regard to the advertising of alcoholic drinks targeted at those under 18; and if he will make a statement on the arrangements for self-regulation in the alcoholic drinks industry. [156874]

Ms Stuart: The Government and the drinks industry are concerned about advertisements for alcohol drinks which are targeted specifically at people under the age of 18. There are voluntary codes of practice drawn up by the drinks industry, the Advertising Standards Association and other media organisations which ban advertising aimed at children and younger people.