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Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the change in the last 10 years in the totals of (a) women and (b) men under the age of 24 years who are smokers of tobacco; and if he will make a statement. [26474]

Ms Jowell: The available information is in the table.

Prevalence of cigarette smoking amongst persons aged 16 to 24, England, 1986 to 1996


Notes: 1. Percentages rounded to the nearest whole figure. Source: Office for National Statistics General Household Surveys.

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Any rise in young people's smoking is cause for concern. Measures to reduce smoking will be published in our White Paper on tobacco control later this year.

Prescription Charges (Exemptions)

Mr. Truswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to consider the addition of (a) asthma and (b) other chronic conditions to the list of those whose sufferers are exempt from NHS prescription payments. [26346]

Mr. Milburn: All aspects of prescription charges are being examined as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review which will report in the summer. The Review in the Department of Health is being undertaken in the context of our manifesto commitment:

Hospital Waiting Lists

Mr. Boswell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements exist for central recording of patients requiring elective surgery who are excluded from hospital waiting lists because there is little likelihood of their treatment. [26510]

Mr. Milburn: None.

Millennium Compliance

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 27 January 1998, Official Report, column 204, if he will estimate the number of (a) kidney dialysis machines, (b) intensive care cots for premature babies and (c) intensive care units which cannot be repaired or replaced before 31 December 1999. [26721]

Mr. Milburn: Although little firm information is yet available as to which models of medical equipment may be affected by year 2000 problems, the Medical Devices Agency (MDA) expects them to be few in number. The MDA is not aware of any reason why it should not be possible for affected items to be upgraded appropriately or replaced in due time.

Dental Services

Mrs. Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate by health authority area the number of patients who will be de-registered from their dentists as a result of the new regulations in (a) numerical and (b) percentage terms. [26851]

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Mr. Milburn: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Truro (Mr. Taylor) on 22 December 1997, Official Report, columns 527-28.

Continence Pads (VAT)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the terms of reference given to officials in their review of VAT charging on continence pads supplied by the NHS; and if he will make a statement. [26971]

Mr. Milburn: Officials have been asked to identify ways of overcoming any financial effects which may have resulted from the Value Added Tax Order which came into effect on 1 January 1998.

Broadmoor Hospital

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what occasions tests using hormones have been carried out on patients at Broadmoor Hospital since 1968. [24760]

Mr. Boateng [holding answer 22 January 1998]: There are no summarised records of tests using hormones carried out on patients at Broadmoor Hospital since 1968. It is known that a study was conducted at Broadmoor Hospital between 1971 and 1973 under the auspice of the Special Hospitals Research Unit of the Department of Health and Social Security to measure the effect of hormones in the treatment of deviant sexual behaviour. 12 male patients participated in the study on a voluntary basis. The study's findings were published in the British Journal of Psychiatry (volume 125, September 1974). No records of any other tests involving hormones have been traced but hormones are used in the treatment of patients at Broadmoor Hospital on a regular ongoing basis, for example hormone replacement therapy.


Prison Ships

17. Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what assessment he has made of the advantages and disadvantages of prison ships. [24628]

Ms Quin: The Prison Service has only one ship, Her Majesty's Prison Weare, based in Portland. This ship was obtained as an exceptional measure to cope immediately with an unprecedented surge in the prison population.

The Weare provides suitable accommodation equivalent to one medium-sized prison and thus helps to avoid costly and inappropriate use of police cells.

However, there are no plans to use further prison ships.

Public House and Club Licensing

18. Sir Teddy Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to make a decision on the further extension of public house and club hours. [24629]

Mr. George Howarth: The previous Government carried out a consultation exercise in 1996 on the subject and it identified important concerns about the relaxation

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of licensing hours. Those concerns, and the issues they raise, require careful consideration. This is one of a number of licensing issues which we are looking at. I cannot at this stage say what the outcome will be or when a decision will be reached.

European Year Against Racism

19. Mr. McNulty: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he is taking to encourage the active participation by organisations in the United Kingdom in the European year against racism. [24630]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: I am pleased to report that thousands of organisations throughout the United Kingdom were involved in this initiative which ended on 31 December. After May I chaired the National Co-ordinating Committee which brought together representatives from business, industry, voluntary organisations and community and faith groups. My Department funded a public information unit at the Commission for Racial Equality which offered help and advice to thousands of organisations across the country and we also provided financial support to a number of organisations running projects under the Year. Hundreds of organisations put in bids for the £300,000 we made available after May to promote the European Year Against Racism.

Community Sentences

20. Mr. Ainger: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he plans to improve public confidence in community sentences. [24632]

Ms Quin: The Crime and Disorder Bill contains proposals which will both increase the range of community sentences available to the courts and create a new framework for the effective supervision of community sentences imposed on juvenile offenders. We are looking to the probation service both to improve its enforcement of community sentences and implement the forthcoming guidance from her Majesty's Inspectorate of Probation about supervision programmes which are effective in reducing repeat offending. We are also looking to the Comprehensive Spending Review, which is now in progress, and the prisons/probation review, in particular, to identity further measures to strengthen the credibility of community sentences as effective and demanding forms of punishment.

European Convention on Human Rights

21. Mr. Green:> To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received on the implications for privacy law of his plans to incorporate the European convention on human rights into United Kingdom domestic law. [24633]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: We have received a number of representations from media organisations and others about the possible implications for them of the Human Rights Bill. Most of the main points at issue have been discussed in the course of debates on the Bill in another place.

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