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11 Dec 1997 : Column WA39

Written Answers

Thursday, 11th December 1997.

Party Political Donations

Lord Campbell of Alloway asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the oral Answer given by Lord McIntosh of Haringey on 13 November, whether they will disclose the donors, trustees and beneficiaries of the blind trusts which contribute to party political funding.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The trustees and beneficiaries of Labour Party trusts are already public. The Prime Minister has proposed to the leaders of other political parties that all parties agree to making available in confidence to the Neill Committee the details of all donations over £5,000 to party funds since 1992. The Labour Party would be prepared to ask the trustees to include donations to blind trusts, such as the Labour leader's office fund, in this evidence. The leader of the Liberal Democrats has indicated his willingness to consider this approach. The leader of the Conservative Party has said he is unwilling to do so.

Millennium Dome: Contracts

Lord Sefton of Garston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who let the first contracts for the construction of the millennium dome in March; when it was decided to proceed with the dome as distinct from the "millennium experience"; and who would have been responsible for any loss incurred before the final decision was taken on 19 June 1997.

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The first contracts for the construction of the millennium dome were let by the operating company who were, at the time, called Millennium Central Ltd. The final decision to proceed with the dome was taken on 20 June when final planning permission was granted from the London Borough of Greenwich. The Millennium Commission would have been responsible for meeting the costs associated with the project (at the time, around £50 million) had the decision been taken to cancel the exhibition at Greenwich.

BSE

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give a breakdown by region of the 5,684 new cases of BSE in Great Britain which were reported in the 52 week period ending on 14 November.

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The breakdown by region of the 5,684 new cases of BSE in Great Britain reported in the 52 week period

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ending on 14 November 1997 is shown in the following table.

RegionNumber of BSE cases reported(1)
Eastern560
Midlands & West1,156
Northern750
South East595
South West1,969
Wales443
Scotland211
Total5,684

(1) These are reported BSE suspects, not confirmed cases.


Vitamin B6 Controls: Representations

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What representations they have received from:
    (a) Consumers for Health Choice;
    (b) the Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy;
    (c) the Council for Responsible Nutrition;
    (d) individual scientists with a particular expertise in the field of nutrition; and
    (e) other consumer, practitioner or retail organisations,

    about the restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 supplements; and whether they will indicate how many, and what percentage, of those representations
    (i) supported; and
    (ii) opposed the proposed new regulations.

Lord Donoughue: The Government have received a number of letters from Consumers for Health Choice, the Society for the Promotion for Nutritional Therapy and the Council for Responsible Nutrition about the proposed controls on vitamin B6 in dietary supplements. Ministers and officials have also met with representatives of these organisations to discuss the proposed controls. The Government have also received a large number of representations from other organisations and individuals. These have included organisations representing consumers, practitioners and retailers. No assessment has been made of whether any of the individuals who have submitted representations could be regarded as being experts in nutrition.

No record has been made of the number of representations received which either supported or opposed the new controls. However, almost all have either opposed, questioned the basis of, or expressed reservations about the proposed controls.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many letters and other representations they have received since 1 July about the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 from:

    (a) Members of Parliament; and

    (b) others,

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    and how many in each case:

    (i) supported the restrictions; or

    (ii) called for a review of the decision.

Lord Donoughue: Since the beginning of July the Government have received approximately 1,200 items of correspondence from Members of Parliament and 10,000 letters, many in standard form, from others concerning their proposed control on dietary supplements containing vitamin B6. No record has been made of those supporting or opposing the proposed controls. However, almost all of the letters received have either opposed, questioned the basis of, or expressed reservations about the proposed controls.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any representations or requests from the United States Embassy or from American health food manufacturers about the implications of the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 supplements; if so, what those approaches were; and what response they intend to make.

Lord Donoughue: No representations have been received from the United States Embassy about the proposed controls on vitamin B6 in dietary supplements. A number of manufacturers of dietary supplements have made written representations on this subject and it is believed that at least one of those has links with the United States. The nature of the representations received vary, but most either opposed, questioned the basis of, or expressed reservations about the proposed controls. The Government's response will have varied according to the nature of the representation received, but in most cases it will have included an explanation of the background to the issue and a statement of the Government's policy on it.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the compliance cost assessment undertaken in connection with the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 supplementation included an assessment of the increase in business for those providing alternative drug regimes for women experiencing pre-menstrual tension; and what account they took of these commercial considerations when assessing the advice of the committee on toxicity.

Lord Donoughue: A draft compliance cost assessment in connection with the proposed controls on vitamin B6 in dietary supplements is being prepared and will be included with the draft regulations required to give effect to the new controls when these are sent out for consultation. No assessment of the possible increase in business for those providing alternative drug regimes for women experiencing pre-menstrual tension was made when the Government considered the advice of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment nor was this

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or any other commercial consideration a factor in the Government's decision.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What individual experts in nutrition, other than members of the committee on toxicity, have contacted them (a) to express support for, or (b) to register opposition to, the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6.

Lord Donoughue: The Government have received a large number of representations from individuals about the proposed controls on vitamin B6 in dietary supplements. No assessment has been made of whether any of these individuals could be regarded as being experts in nutrition.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any representations they may have received from PMS Help in relation to the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 included a declaration of family or other links to Dr. K. Dalton; and whether they are aware of any such links.

Lord Donoughue: It is clear from the correspondence that we have received from PMS Help that Dr. Katrina Dalton is one of its patrons. The Government are aware of this and of the family link between Dr. Dalton and PMS Help.

Vitamin B6 Controls: Compliance Cost Assessment

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have yet completed the compliance cost assessment in connection with their proposed new restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6 supplements; and whether that assessment will include an estimate of the impact of the restriction on the retail sector.

Lord Donoughue: Information on the impact of the proposed controls on vitamin B6 in dietary supplements has been sought from organisations representing retail interests and will be included in the compliance cost assessment which is in the process of being prepared.


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