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Three Valleys Water

Mr. Harry Greenway: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to combat the threat to health from water in those parts of London and the south-east supplied by Three Valleys Water; and if he will make a statement. [18782]

Mr. Gummer: Cryptosporidium is a parasite found in man and animals which has been recognised relatively recently as a cause of diarrhoea. It can be transmitted in many ways, including by contact with animals and people,

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and by food and water. Cryptosporidiosis, the illness arising from exposure to cryptosporidium, is a self-limiting condition in most adults, but it can last for several weeks. Infants, the elderly and people with weakened immune systems are at greater risk than the general population.

Following a waterborne outbreak in 1989, an expert group was set up under the late Sir John Badenoch and produced a report. The research they recommended was put in hand and the expert group published a further report on the results in 1995. The group made a number of recommendations on good practice, particularly on monitoring and the operation of water treatment. They stressed the importance of co-ordination between water companies, local authorities and health authorities and the formation of outbreak control teams. This has become standard practice. Both reports by the expert group were widely circulated to water companies, local authorities and health authorities. They concluded that properly operated water treatment processes are usually very effective in removing cryptosporidium from water.

The management of the threat to health of consumers affected by this incident is a matter for Three Valleys Water in consultation with the relevant health authorities and local authorities. Boiling the water will kill cryptosporidium. Three Valleys Water has issued precautionary advice to boil water and this advice will remain in force until Three Valleys Water and the relevant health and local authorities are satisfied that the water is safe to drink without boiling.

The drinking water inspectorate has commenced a full investigation to establish whether the recent outbreak of cryptosporidiosis is linked to the water supply. If so, the inspectorate will consider whether a prosecution should be brought against Three Valleys Water for supplying water unfit for human consumption.

Finally, I have agreed with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health that we should convene an expert group under a new chairman to establish what lessons can be learnt from recent incidents involving cryptosporidium.


Dr. Strang: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many households have been accepted as homeless by local authorities in rural areas in England in each year since 1979; [18694]

Mr. Clappison: The data collected from local authorities on households accepted as homeless under the homelessness legislation does not differentiate between households from rural and non-rural areas. Summary prints showing the reported acceptances in each local authority area in England, and the total for England as a whole, for the years 1979 to 1995 are in the Library. The figures for the years 1979 to 1982 are not strictly comparable with those for the later years because of changes to reporting arrangement made in 1980, for non-metropolitan districts, and 1982, for London boroughs and metropolitan districts.

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Noise Maps

Mr. Meacher: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to fund the development of noise maps. [18701]

Mr. Gummer: The Government remain to be convinced that national noise mapping would be a cost-effective use of resources.

My Department has, however, recently commissioned research to study local authority practice in noise assessment and mapping, and the costs involved.

Ringway Parliamentary Support Group

Mr. Neil Hamilton: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the meetings which Ministers have held in an official capacity with the Ringway parliamentary support group. [18401]

Mr. Gummer: No meetings have been held in the past 12 months with the Ringway parliamentary support group.


Nurses and Doctors

Mr. David Nicholson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) nurses and (b) doctors there were in the NHS in England (i) at the latest available date and (ii) in 1990. [18457]

Mr. Malone: The information requested is shown in the table.

NHS hospital and community health services medical, nursing and midwifery staff and general medical services general medical practitioners and practice nurses
England 1990 and 1995

HCHS medical staff and GMS general medical practitioners(13) (headcount)73,72080,820
HCHS nursing and midwifery staff and GMS practice nurses(14) (whole-time equivalents)344,260346,670
Not included in the above:
HCHS learners(15)58,8406,900
Project 2000 students(15)3,00033,000


(13) Figures exclude hospital practitioners and clinical assistants to avoid double counting.

(14) Excluding agency staff.

(15) Learners are nurses on traditional nurse training courses, and are directly employed by the NHS HCHS. Project 2000 training was introduced in 1989 and has gradually replaced traditional pre-registration nurse training. Project 2000 students are funded by bursaries, they are supernumerary not employees, and are thus excluded from the count of NHS HCHS nursing staff. Figures for Project 2000 students are headcounts and should not be added to other nursing figures in the table which are whole-time equivalents.

HCHS figures are as at 30 September each year.

GMS figures are as at 1 October each year.


Department of Health's annual medical and dental and non-medical work force censuses and bi-annual general medical services census.

Sir John Stanley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS (a) doctors and (b) nurses there were in 1979; and how many there are at the present time. [18939]

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Mr. Malone: The information requested is given in the tables.

High-cost Drugs

Mr. Illsley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have been refused prescription of (a) growth hormone, (b) interferon beta, 1B and (c) erythropoietia on the grounds of cost in each of the last two years. [17384]

Mr. Malone: Data are not collected on the number of patients refused particular treatments.

Infant Formula Milk

Mr. Martyn Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what microbiological testing of infant formula baby milk is (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by Government Departments; and if he will make a statement; [18456]

    (2) what responsibility his Department has with regard to microbiological testing of infant formula baby milk; and if he will make a statement. [18454]

Mr. Horam: It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure that the food they produce is safe, in compliance with all appropriate food safety legislation. Local authority environmental health departments are

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responsible for enforcing this legislation. The Government, in line with European Union policy, promote microbiological safety through adoption of the hazard analysis critical control point approach.

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