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Written Answers

Monday, 8th February 1999.

Prison Population: Projections

Lord Windlesham asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What effect the Home Secretary's recently announced decision to bring into force Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997 will have on the projections of long-term trends in the prison population as published in Issue 1/99 of the Home Office Statistical Bulletin on 20 January.[HL757]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The projections published on 20 January in the Home Office Statistical Bulletin 1/99 already include an estimate of around 4,000 added to the prison population over 10 years as a result of the implementation of Section 4 of the Crime (Sentences) Act 1997.

Digital Hearing Aids

Lord Ashley of Stoke asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they consider it necessary to ascertain that digital hearing aids are safe and effective.[HL831]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): All hearing aids are defined as medical devices under the European Medical Devices Directive. This directive has been enacted in United Kingdom legislation as the Medical Devices Regulations 1994. The regulations require medical devices to meet appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy. The manufacturer has to demonstrate compliance with these regulations. Depending upon the potential risk posed by a device, compliance may involve a self-declaration of conformity, independent type testing or quality auditing of the manufacturing facility.

Fluoridation of Water

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In the light of the scientific evidence which suggests that some people are allergic to fluoride (Fluoride 1993; 26,4:267-273), what alternative provision is being made for those who receive fluoridated water in this country.[HL790]

Baroness Hayman: The British Society for Allergy and Clinical Immunology (BSACI) advises that there is no evidence that fluoridation adversely affects the immune system. BSACI and the American Association for the Study of Allergies agree that there is no evidence of allergy or intolerance to fluoride as used in the

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fluoridation of community water supplies. We do not therefore see a need for any alternative provision.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which scientific studies indicate that dental fluorosis is only a cosmetic side-effect of water fluoridation and not an early indication of systemic toxicity.[HL791]

Baroness Hayman: A useful summary is contained in the "Findings and Conclusions" section of Review of Fluoride: Benefits and Risks (Department of Health and Human Services USA 1991). We have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Hayman on 3 September 1998 (WA 24) and 21 January 1999 (WA 120), how they know what are "typical intakes of fluoride at levels experienced by the population of this country", if monitoring of fluoride exposure from all sources by means of urine samples, as recommended in the Report of the United Kingdom Mission (1953) cited in the Written Answer by Baroness Hayman on 26 January (WA 144), and bone assays where appropriate, is not carried out.[HL792]

Baroness Hayman: The derivation of estimates of fluoride intakes is explained in Chapter 36 of the sixth (1994) and later impressions of the Department of Health Report on Health and Social Subjects 41 "Dietary reference values for food energy and nutrients for the United Kingdom". The 1994 report included an estimate that adults had a mean intake of 1.82 mg per day in non-fluoridated water areas and 2.90 mg per day in fluoridated areas, assuming an average consumption of 1.1 litres of water daily. We are considering how we might supplement this information by testing systemic levels of fluoride in a sample of the population.

Chemicals in Consumer Products: Safety

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What legislation governs type, quantity and quality, labelling requirements and market surveillance of potentially toxic chemicals with which consumer products are impregnated.[HL669]

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): Some chemicals are prohibited under the Classification, Package and Labelling of Dangerous Substances Directive, while others are not allowed for use in consumer products under the Restrictions on the Marketing and Use of Certain Substances and Preparations Directive.

The safety of chemicals not prohibited under these directives and intended for use in consumer products is regulated by the Chemicals (Hazard Information and Packaging for Supply) Regulations 1994, which require

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manufacturers to use labels to warn of any hazards, and offer advice on the necessary precautions in handling the product.

Market surveillance for consumer products under the above controls is carried out by local authority trading standards departments.

Organophosphorus Chemicals in Consumer Products

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list all consumer products, apart from human and veterinary medicines, pesticides and chemical weapons, which contain organophosphorus chemicals either as their active ingredient or as an additive.[HL670]

Lord Simon of Highbury: Organophosphorus compounds are found in consumer products such as flexible polyurethane foams, resins and coatings, PVC, rubber, paint and cellulose acetate and coatings. The organophosphorus compounds used in such consumer products should not be confused with the highly toxic pyrophosphates, such as tetraethyl pyrophosphate, which are used in insecticides.

A full list of all consumer products containing organophosphorus chemicals could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Procurement Policy

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they last conducted a comprehensive review of their procurement policies; and[HL730]

    Whether they will set up a single government procurement agency; and[HL732]

    Whether they are satisfied that their policy towards procurement by government departments and agencies produces a good value for money.[HL731]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: On 17 November 1998, Peter Gershon, Managing Director of Marconi Electronic Systems, was asked to review civil procurement in the light of the Government's objectives on efficiency, modernisation and competitiveness. He will report to the Prime Minister within a few weeks.

Hyde Park: North Carriage Drive Closure

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Royal Parks Agency have decided, without consultation, to close the North Carriage Drive of Hyde Park for the summer months so as to facilitate the 12 pop concerts which they have decided, without local consultation, to allow a commercial firm to mount in Hyde Park and

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    Kensington Gardens; and whether this closure has been the subject of traffic or environmental impact assessment, and has been agreed by the relevant traffic authorities.[HL815]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Responsibility for the subject of this question has been delegated to the Royal Parks Agency under its Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch. I have asked him to arrange for a reply to be given.

Letter to Lord Kennet from the Head of Policy of the Royal Parks Agency, Ms Viviane Robertson, dated 8 February 1999.

In the absence of the Chief Executive, Mr. David Welch, I have been asked by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport to reply to your parliamentary Question about the closure of North Carriage Drive while concerts are held in Hyde Park.

We shall have to close North Carriage Drive at the time of the concerts, although we have not yet decided for how long we will need to close it. We have done this for a number of years when major events are being held in Hyde Park to allow contractors to install and dismantle the event site safely. I can assure you we will arrange the closures so that they cause the least possible disruption.

We are not required to carry out environmental or traffic impact assessments. Nor, since park roads are Crown roads, maintained and policed by the Agency, are we required to seek the agreement of the relevant local traffic authority. When planning the concerts we will inform the Metropolitan Police about the proposed road closure so that they can arrange to give adequate advance warning to motorists.

Peers' Attendance Record

Lord Geddes asked the Chairman of Committees:

    How many sitting days of this House there were in the 1997-98 Session of Parliament; and, in the same period, what was the average attendance record of (a) Life Peers; and (b) active hereditary Peers, defining "active" as those attending at least one-third of sitting days (or such other definition of that term as may be appropriate).[HL725]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): In Session 1997-98 there were 228 sitting days. The average attendance record of Life Peers during that period was 98 attendances per Life Peer. This is calculated by dividing the total number of attendances by Life Peers during the Session (52,213) by the total number of Life Peers who were eligible to attend at least part of the Session (535). The average attendance record of active hereditary Peers (defining "active" as those who attended at least one-third of sitting days) was 163 attendances per active hereditary Peer. (Source: House of Lords Information Office).

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