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Ms Lynne: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what plans he has to change the method by which medical research projects into breast cancer are assessed as appropriate for funding by the Medical Research Council.
Mr. Robert G. Hughes: I have told the hon. Lady on several occasions that it is for the Medical Research Council to assess research applications, and to allocate resources according to the quality of the proposals it receives.
Mrs. Roche: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many overseas visits the Chancellor of the Duchy and the Parliamentary Secretary made between 1 January and 30 June; during how many of them he and the Parliamentary Secretary participated in fund-raising activities for the Conservative party; and in which countries these activities took place.
Mr. David Hunt: The then Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster made two overseas visits, to Belgium and Japan, in an official capacity between 1 January and 30 June 1994. The then Parliamentary Secretary made only one overseas visit in the same period, to Belgium. Fund-raising activities for the Conservative party are not part of our official duties.
Column 22and technology laid out in the White Paper "Realising Our Potential" and have announced a number of initiatives to this end, of which the innovative manufacturing initiative was the latest. A foresight forum was held in September to consult business and S and T communities and participants praised the success of the networks formed by the technology foresight panels.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will ensure that British Coal land leased to miners' welfares will be outwith any disposal scheme; and if he will ensure that its future use for sport and recreational use is safeguarded.
It is the Government's objective, however, that land currently in active use for sport and recreation is retained for those purposes.
Mr. Eggar: In general, the property, rights and liabilities of British Coal which relate to the on going business will transfer to successor companies. Certain liabilities of British Coal relating to the period before privatisation--for example, liability for personal injury and disease as announced on 6 June--will remain in the public sector.
This was explained in the information memorandum which was provided to prequalifiers for the sale.
Mr. Clapham: To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will ensure that proceeds from the coal industry's assets are used to tackle the aftermath of the industry's decline; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if the Export Credits Guarantee Department, while under Government ownership, was ever subject to a claim for payment from Stone Platt International, Platt Hollingsworth, Platt Saco-Lowell, John D. Hollingsworth, Longclose Engineering, Platt Longclose, Stone Platt Industries or Platt Brother, relating to the export of textile machinery supplied to PT Westra Inda, Texmaco-Polysindo of Indonesia or companies owned by Texmaco of the Philippines or any related companies under the ownership or control of Mr. Marimutu Sinivasan which was subsequently not made in full; and if he will make a statement;
(2) what settlements the Export Credits Guarantee Department reached with PT Westra Indra, Texmaco-Polysindo of Indonesia or companies owned by Texmaco of the Philippines or any related companies under the ownership or control of Mr. Marimutu Sinivasan relating to non-payment for textile equipment received from British suppliers; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Needham: I can confirm that an agreed settlement of certain outstanding amounts due to the United Kingdom organisations mentioned by my hon. Friend and guaranteed by ECGD has been reached. Details are commercial in-confidence between the parties and I am, therefore, unable to disclose further information to my hon. Friend.
My right hon. Friend the President of the Board of Trade announced on 19 July, Official Report, columns 179 80, that consultants were to explore further the possible contracting out of most of the activities of Companies House. Their report has now been received and is being considered.
Sir Thomas Arnold: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what role his Department plays in preventing the growth of monopoly in (a) commercial ship building, (b) major warship building and (c) defence prime contracting.
Mr. Jonathan Evans: The Director General of Fair Trading keeps markets under review and, if appropriate, will refer them to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for investigation. Any concerns the hon. Member has should be directed to him.
Mrs. Roche: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs during how many of the overseas visits made by his Ministers between 1 January and 30 June those Ministers participated in fund-raising activities for the Conservative party; and if he will name the Ministers and the countries in which these activities took place.
Mr. Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister if he will arrange for publication in the Official Report of a copy of the letter on the Al Yamamah agreement with Saudi Arabia to the hon. Member for Blaenau Gwent referred to in his answer of 3 November, Official Report , column 1257 .
The Prime Minister: As stated by my right hon. Friend the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, the Cabinet Office will provide the support staff for the committee on the intelligence and security services, Official Report , 22 February 1994, column 247 .
(2) if the committee on security services will be able to travel abroad to take evidence.
The Prime Minister: The expenditure for the intelligence services committee has been allocated under the Cabinet Office vote, class XIX. The annual cost of the committee is expected to be approximately £100,000. As my right hon. Friend the former Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, explained-- Official Report, 22 February 1994, column 247 --this sum will be met from within existing provision. It includes provision for foreign travel where necessary for the committee to fulfil its functions.
The Prime Minister: Subject to the provisions of the Act, the committee will determine its own procedure. The date of the first meeting will therefore be a matter for the chairman and the committee. The committee is required to make an annual report to me on the discharge of its functions.
(2) what restrictions there are on the people from whom the committee on the security services will be able to hear evidence.
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the statements made by the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office--my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Grantham (Mr. Hogg)-- Official Report, Standing Committee E , 24 March 1994, columns 250 54; 29 March 1994, columns 259 60; and Official Report, 27 April 1994, columns 336 37 . I have nothing further to add.
The Prime Minister: I have been in consultation with the Leader of the Opposition, the right hon. Member for Sedgefield (Mr. Blair), over the membership of the committee and expect to be able to make an announcement shortly.
Column 26the responsibility for the specific issue involved. Where policy matters involve a number of Departments' interests, Government Departments work closely together.
Sir David Knox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent representations she has received concerning the proposed Medicines for Human Use (Marketing Authorisations, Pharmacovigilance and Related Matters) Regulations and the future availability of herbal medicines.
Mr. Canavan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether she will consult all interested parties before taking final decisions on regulations concerning the availability of herbal remedies and essential oils for aromatherapy;
(2) whether she will make a statement on Government proposals regarding the availability of herbal remedies and essential oils for aromatherapy;
(3) whether she will take steps to ensure the continued availability at a reasonable price of harmless herbal remedies and essential oils for aromatherapy.
Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether traditional herbal remedies will in future require registration; what representation she has received on this issue; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: Herbal medicines currently exempt from product licensing requirements under section 12 of the Medicines Act 1968 will continue to enjoy this exemption. The exemptions and public health safeguards under section 56 of the Act also remain. The position on the sale of aromatherapy oils also remains unchanged. There should, therefore, be no effect on the prices of these products.
We have received representations on the issue of herbal medicines from herbalists and manufacturers of those medicines, their representative organisations and from members of the public. Officials will be holding further meetings with the organisations involved before new regulations are finalised.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she intends to take to ensure that future European directives or European court decisions do not provide a definition of industrially produced products
Column 27which threatens in any way the continued availability of herbal remedies; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: We are confident that we have safeguarded the position of herbal medicines in the United Kingdom, under European Community law. We will continue to work with other European Community member states and the European Commission to ensure that herbal medicines remain available to the many people in the United Kingdom who use them and to maintain existing public health safeguards.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are routinely taken by the Medicines Control Agency to ensure that in bringing forward proposals for new regulations or legislation to reflect new European directives and regulations its proposals are no more stringent than the minimum which is required; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: Where the United Kingdom enters into European Community undertakings our policy is to implement fully but not to over- implement. We routinely consult industry and others with an interest in the control of medicines. This includes inviting comments on any new burdens on business. Our aim is to minimise such burdens and we take all comments into account in finalising legislation.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are taken by the Medicines Control Agency to ensure that any proposed new European directives allow the United Kingdom the greatest flexibility in the interpretation and implementation of those directives; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: Where it is appropriate for the European Community to legislate, the United Kingdom seeks to ensure in negotiations that the text agreed is fully consistent with our policy objectives. The United Kingdom's policy is to implement fully our European Community undertakings, but not to over-implement.
Mrs. Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information she has concerning the guidance given to the Medicines Control Agency by the deregulation unit of the Department of Trade and Industry and the extent to which the agency communicates with the unit about the drafting of proposed new regulations; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: The Department of Trade and Industry has published a number of guidance documents for Departments and their agencies on deregulation. There are regular contacts between the Department of Health and the Department of Trade and Industry on deregulation issues.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she is now able to add to the answer given on 18 April 1990 to the hon. Member for Dumbarton (Mr. McFall) by the hon. Member for Mid-Worcestershire (Mr. Forth) concerning the work of Barry Richardson and cot deaths; and if she is now in a position to give a definitive response to his findings;
(2) what is her response to the work of Barry Richardson, the Robens institute at Surrey university and others linking cot deaths to abnormally high levels of antimony in the blood and tissue of victims.
Mr. Sackville: A hypothesis by Mr. B. Richardson, that sudden infant death syndrome was caused by toxic gases generated by fungal action on plastic cot mattresses, was examined in detail by an expert working group set up by the Chief Medical Officer in 1990. The group considered Mr. Richardson's evidence, evidence from work specially commissioned for it from the Laboratory of the Government Chemist and the International Mycological Institute, and other scientific evidence including published work. It concluded that the hypothesis was not supported by the evidence. Its report was published in May 1991 and copies are available in the Library.
The Department of Health has seen no further evidence to contradict the group's conclusion, in particular those relating to the suggestion that antimony and other chemicals are released by fungal action from cot mattresses. Trace levels of antimony are widely distributed, including food, water and tobacco smoke.
The work reported form the Robens institute has provided no answers, but raised some questions which need proper investigation. The Chief Medical Officer has asked for additional information, and will convene a small expert group to steer further work.
The advice to parents and carers of small children remains that of the successful "Back to Sleep" campaign:
Lay your baby on its back
Don't expose your baby to cigarette smoke
Avoid overheating the baby
Follow good hygiene--keep all clothing and bedding clean and fresh.
(2) in how many cases she has exercised her discretion on the repayment of special transitional grant in respect of meeting the independent sector condition; and if she will name the authorities concerned.
Mr. Bowis: Final audit returns for 1993 94 are not required until 31 December 1994. In considering any action to be taken as a result of those returns we will take into account representations made by local authorities, including any made by those authorities listed in LASSL(94)3, copies of which are available in the Library.
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the implications for statutory services of local authorities using their base-line budgets to meet their new community care duties under the National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 because they have already spent their special transitional grant allocation;
(2) what representations she has received from those local authorities which have already spent their 1994 95 special transitional grant;
(3) what steps she has taken to monitor the commitment effect of expenditure incurred during the 1993 94 financial year in terms of the adequacy of the special transitional grant in individual local authorities for the current financial year;
(4) what steps she has taken to establish how many local authorities have already spent their special