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Vitamin B6

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment considered both human and animal studies. The animal studies reinforced the evidence from clinical studies in humans, and applications of safety factors to both types of studies led to the same figure for a safe daily intake.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment were asked to advise on the safety of high doses of Vitamin B6 and not the nutritional requirements. The Committee on Medical Aspects of Food and Nutrition Policy advised that the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for Vitamin B6 is 1.4 mg/day. Surveys show that the average intakes of Vitamin B6 in the United Kingdom from food (excluding supplements) are well above the RNI.

Association of Chief Police Officers

The Earl of Haddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): I have arranged for copies of the accounts for the Association of Chief Police Officers for the years 1992-93 to 1996-97 to be placed in the Library. I placed a copy of the most recent accounts for 1996-97 in the Library on 2 April (WA 64). This is the first request we have received to provide a copy of the accounts of ACPO for the last five years.

Mr. Al Fayed

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Williams of Mostyn on 15 June (WA 111) whether, in the event of Mr. Al Fayed's current application for British citizenship being refused, they will, in the public interest, publish the reasons for such refusal, together with the reasons for previous refusals, as well as informing Mr. Al Fayed.[HL2374]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: No. It is not our practice to disclose information concerning individual applications for British citizenship.

Criminal Cases Review Commission:Case Review Managers

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they agree with the Criminal Cases Review Commission that it is not necessary to be a trained lawyer to be a case review manager investigating suspected miscarriages of criminal justice.[HL2366]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 Schedule 1, paragraph 4(1), the Criminal Cases Review Commission has discretion to appoint such employees as it thinks fit (subject to the consent of the Secretary of State as to their number and terms and conditions of service) to enable it to carry out its functions.

It would not be appropriate for Her Majesty's Government to comment on the Criminal Cases Review Commission's internal arrangements concerning recruitment.

Independent Commission on theVoting System

Lord Cocks of Hartcliffe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What criteria they used in choosing people to serve on the Independent Commission on the Voting System.[HL2389]

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Lord Williams of Mostyn: The members of the Independent Commission on the Voting System were selected to represent a broad spectrum of political views. They are all eminent and distinguished people, with a wide knowledge of the issues involved.

Prisons: Communicable Diseases

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made in reducing the risk of the spread of communicable diseases in prisons.

Lord Williams of Mostyn: The Government are committed to tackling drug misuse in prisons. In support of the Government's wider national strategy, Tackling Drugs to Build a Better Britain, the Prison Service launched its new drug strategy on 12 May. It builds on existing drug policies and seeks to reduce the number of prisoners testing positive for drugs as a result of mandatory drugs testing. Inmates proved to be misusing drugs are normally punished with a loss of privileges, additional days added to sentence or another penalty and injecting equipment is always confiscated when found. The Prison Service is also working to achieve our manifesto commitment to provide access to voluntary drug testing (so-called "drug-free wings") for all prisoners who request it, supported by treatment programmes to help them stay drug free.

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These and other measures are achieving considerable success in reducing drug misuse in prisons. However it is known that a minority of inmates persist in injecting and in sharing injecting equipment. This behaviour poses a substantial risk in terms of the spread of HIV, hepatitis and other communicable diseases, not only to prisoners themselves but to staff who encounter contaminated needles and to the wider community. To help counter such risks, disinfecting tablets have been readily available in Scottish prisons since 1993. They were also introduced in all prisons in England and Wales in 1995 but were withdrawn because of safety concerns. Those concerns have now been allayed following tests by the Health and Safety Executive. In the interests of public health, following consultation with the Department of Health and with the support of the Chief Medical Officer, the Prison Service will provide disinfecting tablets on a trial basis, together with a leaflet explaining how to use the tablets and providing information about hepatitis and HIV. The leaflet will warn prisoners of the dangers of injecting and outline help available to tackle their drug misuse.

The pilot scheme, which is planned to start in July 1998, will operate for three months in 11 selected prisons, and will make disinfecting tablets available to prisoners freely and anonymously. A variety of distribution methods suitable to the geography and regime of the different prisons will be trialled.

The pilot scheme will be evaluated by an independent academic team based at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. If successful, the initiative will be extended to all prisons in England and Wales.

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