Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page

31 Mar 1999 : Column WA41

Written Answers

Wednesday, 31st March 1999.

Electromagnetic Fields: Health Risks

The Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What research is being undertaken to assess the risks to human health from radiation given off by mobile telephones, microwave ovens and television sets; whether there is any discernible link between the number of cancer cases today and in 1950 when television was in its infancy; and what steps are being taken to warn or advise the general public about any necessary precautions.[HL1702]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Hayman): The Government obtain advice from the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) on the risks to health from exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMF). Following the review of many years of experimental work the NRPB published its Restrictions on Human Exposure to Static and Time Varying Electromagnetic Fields and Radiation, in Documents of the NRPB, 4,

No. 5, 7-63 (1993). Copies of the guidelines have been placed in the Library. These guidelines set clearly defined values in order to prevent acute adverse responses to electromagnetic fields. The NRPB's advice is that mobile phones, microwave ovens and television sets currently used in the United Kingdom comply with their exposure guidelines.

Reliable figures are available for age-standardised cancer rates since 1971. There is an apparent gradual increase which can be attributed in part to improvements in cancer registration. While most cancers have no suggested link with EMF, research into the alleged link between some types of cancer and EMF is currently being undertaken on a worldwide basis. The Government are currently supporting the World Health Organisation's project on electromagnetic fields and health. Information and advice on electromagnetic fields and health effects are available to the public through the publications of the NRPB.


Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they propose to take to combat the incidence of human tuberculosis.[HL1753]

Baroness Hayman: Steps have been taken to strengthen the surveillance, prevention and control of tuberculosis, including drug-resistant tuberculosis within the United Kingdom. The main measures for dealing with tuberculosis include promptly identifying cases, treating them and examining their contacts; the routine

31 Mar 1999 : Column WA42

immunisation of children in schools; screening people entering the UK from countries where the incidence is high and arranging BCG immunisation or treatment where necessary; immunising the new-born infants and children of immigrants from areas with a high incidence of tuberculosis and monitoring the population to keep up to date with trends in incidence. Last year detailed guidance on the prevention and control of HIV-related and drug-resistant tuberculosis was sent to all health authorities. In particular, the guidance advises on minimising factors that contribute to the transmission of infection and the development of drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many notifications of human tuberculosis were made in (a) 1995; (b) 1996; (c) 1997 and (d) 1998.[HL1751]

Baroness Hayman: The numbers of notifications of tuberculosis in the United Kingdom are published in the Annual Abstract of Statistics. Information for the years 1995 to 1997 are given in the table.

YearNumber of notifications of tuberculosis in the UK*

* Annual Abstract of Statistics. Sources: Scottish Health Service Common Services Agency; Department of Health and Social Services (Northern Ireland); Office for National Statistics.

This information is not yet available for 1998.

Viscount Long asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the average cost of treatment for (a) an individual suffering from ordinary tuberculosis; and (b) an individual suffering from multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.[HL1754]

Baroness Hayman: An estimate made last year suggested that the cost of treating an individual with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis is a minimum of £50,000, compared with around £6,000 for a case of drug sensitive tuberculosis (V. White, J. Moore-Gillon Resource Implications of Patients with Multi-drug Resistant Tuberculosis, Conference of the British Thoracic Society 1998).

Food Hazard Warnings

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many food hazard warnings, by category of food and type of warning, have been issued since the Food Safety Act 1990 came into effect.[HL1789]

Baroness Hayman: The current procedure for the issue of food hazard warnings from central Government to food authorities was introduced with the publication of Code of Practice No. 16 on 29 March 1993. The following table gives the information requested with effect from 29 March 1993 to and including 26 March 1999, for England and

31 Mar 1999 : Column WA43

Scotland. Similar action was taken, as appropriate, in Wales and Northern Ireland.

YearFHWs issued by category*Type of food affected
1993 (from 29 March)3 x BApple fool Shellfish Tonic drink
1 x CConfectionery
13 x DMargarine Beans Cakes Juice Soft drinks x 4 Lager x 2 Salami sticks x 2 Baby food
2 x D (Scotland only)Macaroon bars Cauliflower with lamb
19942 x AFrozen egg Shellfish
1 x BEwe's cheese
2 x CFood supplement (plus 1 update Milkshake syrup
13 x DCereal Juice x 2 Gripe mixture (plus 1 update) Waffles Chicken pies Bread Ice cream Fromage frais Rice Ham Peanut butter Chicken
19951 x AShellfish
3 x BKosher snack Bean curd Milk
4 x CSoup Juice Bean curd Soft drink
1 x C (Scotland only)Milk
12 x DCheese Beer Soft drinks x 2 Oil Meat snacks Pickle Baby food Yoghurt Juice Noodles Ham
19961 x A (Scotland only)Meat: E Coli 0157
6 x BCounterfeit alcohol x 2 Musselmeat Meat products Chicken Cheddar cheese (plus 1 update)
1 x B (Scotland only)Meat E coli O157 (plus 3 updates)
3 x CHerbal remedy Counterfeit alcohol x 2
8 x DSavour snack Raisins Alcoholic drinks x 2 Mascarpone cheese (plus 1 update) Cream Chips Almonds
1 x D (Scotland only)Milk
19971 x ABaby milk powder
5 x BCheddar cheese (plus 2 updates) Sandwich filling Custard (plus 1 update) Bread Cheese
1 x B (Scotland only)Meat pies (plus 1 update)
7 x CParacetemol Almond powder x 2 Baby food Chocolate Cereal Canned figs
4 x C (Scotland only)Scotch pies Chocolate raisins Cheese Confectionery
9 x DBaby milk powder Chocolate spread Bread Crackers Fromage frais Cereal Milk Spaghetti bolognese Pistachio nuts
2 x DEgg Soft drinks
19981 x AUnpasteurised cheese (plus 13 updates)
2 x BJuice Pancakes
1 x B (Scotland only)Mushrooms
1 x CMilk (plus 2 updates)
6 x C (Scotland only)Mincemeat (plus 1 update) Milk--pasteurisation plant (plus 1 update) Milk x 2 Meat--Specific Risk Material Mushrooms
9 x DSoft drinks Lager/beer Grapes Bottled vegetables Canned tomatoes x 3 Spaghetti in tomato sauce Brazil/pistachio nuts
1 x D (Scotland only)Pancakes
1999 (to and including 26 March)2 x BIce cream Unpasteurised cheese
1 x C (Scotland only)Milk (plus 1 update)
6 x DSardines in tomato sauce Canned tomato products Spaghetti in tomato sauce x 3 Pate
1 x D (Scotland only)Various products--Gamma butyrolactone contamination

* Code of Practice 16 identified the categories as follows:

A: for immediate action.

B: for information and suggested action.

C: for information and action as deemed necessary.

D: for information only--no action necessary.

The code was revised with effect from August 1997 when the categories became:

A: for immediate action.

B: for action.

C: for action as deemed necessary.

D: for information only.

31 Mar 1999 : Column WA45

NATO Command Structure

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the present NATO command structure is compatible with an offensive war capability.[HL1512]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): At their meeting in Brussels in December 1997, NATO Defence Ministers agreed a new NATO command structure to enable the alliance to perform the whole range of its roles and missions effectively and flexibly. Implementation of this command structure is under way.

Gurkhas: Terms and Conditions

Lord Douglas of Selkirk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are considering changes to the pay of the Gurkhas.[HL1615]

Lord Gilbert: We keep the terms and conditions for Gurkhas under regular review.

Gulf War: Exposure to Depleted Uranium

Lord Ironside asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many members and ex-members of the Armed Forces taking part in the Ministry of Defence medical assessment programme have undergone tests for health hazards related to the alleged exposure to depleted uranium during Gulf War service; and how many have tested positive to the presence of uranium or its derivatives in the samples taken.[HL1746]

Lord Gilbert: I refer the noble Lord to the detailed paper Testing for the presence of depleted uranium in UK veterans of the Gulf conflict: The Current Position,

31 Mar 1999 : Column WA46

which my honourable friend the Minister the State for the Armed Forces published on 19 March. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House.

Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page