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Human Cloning

Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many human cloning research licence applications have been received to date by the HFEA; in whose name the applications have been made; who the grants organisations are financing the proposed research; and who the peer reviewers assessing the applications will be. [50901]

Yvette Cooper: No applications for research involving cell nuclear replacement (therapeutic cloning) have yet been received by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority.

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Organ Donation

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact of the organ donation campaigns targeted at the Black and Asian communities. [52451]

Jacqui Smith: The South Asian campaign was launched in 1999 and an evaluation was carried out by the Department in August 2000. The evaluation indicated that awareness levels were rising within the South Asian community.

The Black campaign was launched in March 2002 and the Department will monitor the progress of this campaign carefully.

Ministerial Training

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent by his Department on voice coaching for Ministers and officials in each of the last five years. [52702]

Ms Blears [holding answer 26 April 2002]: Ministers have not received voice coaching provided by an external supplier and paid for by the Department in any of the last five years. Any voice coaching bought in for individual officials would represent individual minimal expenditure. A trawl for accurate data could be carried out only at disproportionate cost.

Colorectal Cancer

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representatives concerned with treatment of colorectal cancer sit on NICE appraisal panels assessing drugs used to treat colorectal cancer. [53297]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 29 April 2002]: Membership of the National Institute of Clinical Excellence appraisal panels are decided by the Institute. However, I understand that organisations representing patients and professionals had the opportunity to submit evidence, to nominate experts and patients to speak directly to the appraisal committee, and to participate in consultation on the committee's provisional determination. I understand that nominees of the Royal College of Surgeons (a reader in medical oncology) and the Royal College of Nursing (a colorectal cancer nurse specialist) attended the first meeting of the appraisal committee.


Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures the Government have taken to encourage people to walk more and use cars less for health reasons. [54792]

Yvette Cooper: We support measures to encourage businesses, schools and other organisations to develop and implement travel plans that include measures designed to reduce car use and increase walking to and from particular sites.

The national service framework (NSF) for coronary heart disease (CHD) contains a milestone that every local health community, as an employer, should develop "green" transport plans. To assist national health service bodies in developing a travel plan, the Department has funded four regional seminars for NHS staff, and the

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production of a travel plan newsletter. Local strategies on increasing physical activity, including walking, are also being developed as part of the NSF CHD.

In January 2002 the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (DTLR), in association with this Department, published "Walk in to Work Out", a pack which provides practical assistance on how to give people more choice about walking and cycling to work. A copy of this pack has been placed in the Library.

DTLR intends to publish a national walking strategy later this year which will cover the health benefits of walking. These benefits will also be featured in a series of regional seminars this summer for local authority walking officers, businesses and other interest groups.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospitals have specialist units for treating obesity; and what plans he has to increase their numbers. [54794]

Yvette Cooper: The national health service's future health improvement plans are expected to take account of guidance on effective strategies to address overweight and obesity in supporting the implementation of the national service framework (NSF) for coronary heart disease (CHD) and ultimately diabetes. This is to be agreed at a local level and should include the assessment for the need for specialist obesity units, which will be addressed locally.

As part of the NSF CHD milestones, all NHS bodies need to contribute to the delivery of local programmes of effective policies on overweight and obesity. The Department has commissioned the health development agency to produce briefing that will help primary care trusts to design effective policies and strategies on healthy eating, physical activity, overweight and obesity, and tobacco control.

Oral Cancer

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what correlation he has calculated exists between the incidence of undetected oral cancer and the number of NHS dentists in a given locality ; and if he will make a statement. [55444]

Yvette Cooper: It is not possible to measure the incidence of undetected oral cancer. However, we have investigated the number of dentists and the rate of admissions for oral cancer and have found no relationship between oral cancer and the number of dentists or dental availability.

This summer, the United Kingdom national screening committee (NSC) will also be considering outcomes from workshops to identify what part public awareness, professional development and research priorities can play in the issue of oral cancer. In forming any proposals they make to Ministers, the NSC draws on the latest research evidence and assesses new screening programmes against a set of recognised criteria to ensure that they are as beneficial as possible.

Children's Commissioner

Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer of 22 April 2002, Official Report,

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column 108W, if he will make a statement on the differences between the role of a children's commissioner and the role of a children's rights director. [55302]

Jacqui Smith: There is no one standard model for a children's commissioner. The models that have been adopted in other countries vary considerably, and arise from the specific needs and individual circumstances of each country. While only Wales, among the devolved Administrations, has established the role of a children's commissioner, the possible forms of such a role within Northern Ireland and Scotland, now being considered in those countries, show both similarities and differences to the model introduced in Wales.

The role of the children's rights director, located within the national care standards commission, was established by the Care Standards Act 2000. The primary role is to safeguard those children who are in receipt of a range of regulated services. These services include those provided by children's homes; independent fostering agencies; local authority fostering services; the welfare aspects of boarding schools; and, in due course, residential family centres, voluntary adoption agencies, and local authority adoption services. Regulations specifying the children's rights director's functions are expected to commence on 24 May 2002.

Shellfish Hygiene

Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what notification he has received as to the proposed dates for the visit by the European Commission Health and Consumer Directorate regarding shellfish hygiene; and which Government offices it will be visiting. [55018]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 9 May 2002]: The date for this visit has yet to be finalised, however discussions with the European Commission indicate that it is likely to take place in the middle of July. Once the dates have been agreed, the Food Standards Agency will produce an agenda, taking account of the comments of the Commission on where they wish to visit and what they wish to see.

Beta Interferon

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if the health service across England will be ready to implement the prescription-plus-monitoring scheme for beta interferons from its start date of 6 May; [55317]

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Ms Blears [holding answer 10 May 2002]: It has been estimated that up to 9,000 multiple sclerosis patients in England and Wales may be eligible to receive treatment under the risk-sharing scheme, which started on 6 May 2002. Some centres have now started prescribing under the scheme, though the guidance in HSC 2002/004 recognises that appropriate NHS infrastructure may not yet be in place in some localities. It may take 18 months or longer before all potentially eligible patients are assessed under the scheme. The list of locally agreed prescribing centres is not yet finalised. The scheme co-ordinator, whose appointment will shortly be announced, will collect information on progress and activity under the scheme.

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