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EZ Test

Mr. Clappison: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what communication her Department has had with the UK distributors of the ecstasy kit, EZ Test. [44171]

Mr. Nigel Griffiths: As far as I am aware, there have been no communications between this Department and the UK distributors of this product.

4 Jun 1998 : Column: 321

Agenda 2000

Mr. Casale: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what assessment she has made of the impact on rural communities of the Commission's Agenda 2000 proposals for reform of the structural funds. [42724]

Mrs. Roche: It will not be possible to make such an assessment until the Commission publishes its detailed financial plans for individual Member States. The Commission's Agenda 2000 proposals are complex; we will also need further details from the Commission on the new Structural Fund framework, the related rural development measures, and proposed rural Community Initiative before we are able to make an assessment. One of the Government's objectives is to see that there is a sensible balance between rural and urban areas, which will be helped if Member States have flexibility in administering the funds.

Genetic Engineering

Miss Melanie Johnson: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what steps the Government have taken to act on the recommendation of the Review of the Inter-Relationships between the Science, Engineering and Technology Expenditure of Government Departments that they should review their mechanisms for inter- departmental co-ordination in respect of genetic modification. [44792]

Mr. Battle: The Government have recently completed a review of the role, membership, and operation of the Interdepartmental Group on Genetic Modification Technology (IGGMOT), the official level committee for the co-ordination of policy on genetic modification. Copies of the outcome of the review, which found that IGGMOT remains the best way to co-ordinate policy on genetic modification at official level across Government and should continue to exist with no change to its terms of reference, are available in the Library.

Export Credits

Helen Jones: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what has been the response to the ECGD's consultation paper, Finance for UK Capital Goods and Project Exports; and what action the Government propose. [44791]

Mrs. Beckett: ECGD has received an excellent response from the UK exporting and financial community to its Consultation Paper. The Minister for Trade will be leading discussions which ECGD will be having with banks and exporters to consider the various suggestions made. The focus will be on ways of enhancing exporter competitiveness and improving the cost-effectiveness of ECGD interest rate support. This work will inevitably take several months and extend beyond the scheduled 30 June expiry date of ECGD's current support facility, the Fixed Rate Export Finance scheme. Therefore, to ensure continuity of service to exporters and banks while this work is being undertaken, the Government have decided to extend the validity of the current scheme for six months until 31 December 1998.

4 Jun 1998 : Column: 322

International Market Council

Mr. Derek Twigg: To ask the President of the Board of Trade what topics were discussed at the EU Ministerial Council on the Internal Market on 18 May; and what matters were voted upon. [44790]

Mrs. Beckett: My noble Friend the Minister for European Trade and Competitiveness chaired the Internal Market Council in Brussels on 18 May 1998.

The Council considered three elements of the Single Market Action Plan, which aim to improve the operation of the Single Market. Council adopted conclusions on standardisation, which open the way to making the production of European standards quicker and more efficient; the Presidency drew conclusions following a discussion on how to improve transposition and enforcement of the Single Market legislation; and the Commission presented the latest Single Market Scoreboard, which showed that Member States are improving their performance on the transposition of Single Market directives into their national laws: at 1 May 1998 over 80% of Single Market Directives had been adopted in all 15 Member States compared with only 65% in June 1997.

The Council reached political agreement on a Regulation for a Commission intervention mechanism for the elimination of certain obstacles to the free movement of goods, and an associated Council Resolution which reaffirmed Member States' political commitment to preserving the free movement of goods. This includes notifying their economic operators, each other, and the Commission, of such obstacles and steps being taken to overcome them, and respecting tight deadlines imposed by the Commission in dealing with related infraction proceedings.

The Council discussed a new Regulation on the labelling of genetically modified soya and maize, which aims to provide information to consumers. It reached political agreement on much of the substance of the company law Regulation, which forms part of the European Company Statute. It reached political agreement on three common positions. It agreed (by a qualified majority with Sweden and Portugal voting against and Ireland abstaining) on a Directive on mutual recognition of qualifications, which consolidates the existing legislation providing for certain professionals to work in Member States other than their own. It agreed common positions by unanimity on draft Directives on the legal protection of conditional access services, ie, that is, services where access is conditional upon prior authorisation and payment, such as pay-per-view TV; and on the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous preparations, which consolidates existing health and safety legislation in this field, extending its scope slightly and promoting environmental protection.

The Council adopted four other sets of formal conclusions. These were on the Single Market for pharmaceutical products, asking the Commission to develop proposals to tackle Single Market problems; on public procurement, taking forward Commission proposals for modernisation of the rules; on Commercial Communications, endorsing a new Commission-chaired committee furthering the Single Market in advertising services; and on the improvement of the EU preferential tariff regime for certain developing countries.

4 Jun 1998 : Column: 323

Council also discussed the draft Directive on chocolate; and the Commission reported on the progress of the negotiations of a draft Directive extending product liability to primary agricultural products.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Methadone Deaths

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the number of deaths in Northern Ireland from methadone in each of the last four years; and if she will make a statement. [44012]

Mr. Worthington: None.

Smoking

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of teenage (a) boys and (b) girls in Northern Ireland was smoking tobacco (i) in 1988 and (ii) at the most recent date for which figures are available. [44014]

Mr. Worthington: The information is not available in the format requested. Available data are shown in the following table:

YearAge% Smokers
Boys198611-1517
198816-1925
199411, 13 and 1512
1996-9716-1923
Girls198611-1513
198816-1920
199411, 13 and 1514
1996-9716-1923

Occupational Health

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to make occupational health services available to staff working in primary care in the National Health Service. [43600]

Mr. Worthington: Primary care staff who are employed by HSS Trusts receive an appropriate occupational health service as defined in guidance issued by the Department of Health and Social Services. General medical and dental practitioners and their staff are not covered by such arrangements but any general practice may contract with a HSS Trust for the provision of an occupational health service.

WALES

Smoking

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what percentage of teenage (a) boys and (b) girls in Wales was smoking tobacco (i) in 1988 and (ii) at the most recent date for which figures are available. [44017]

4 Jun 1998 : Column: 324

Mr. Win Griffiths: Details of the percentage of teenagers (11-16 year old) who regularly (weekly) smoke tobacco in 1998 and 1996, the most recent date for which figures are available, are set out as follows:

Percentage

YearBoysGirls
19888.0011.30
199611.9016.20

Source:

Health Promotion Authority for Wales


Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the estimated gross cost of anti-smoking campaigns in Wales aimed at children and young people has been since 1988; and what assessment he has made of the impact of the campaigns on teenage (a) boys and (b) girls. [44016]

Mr. Win Griffiths: The main body in Wales responsible for undertaking anti-smoking campaigns is the Health Promotion Authority for Wales (HPAW), whose role is to work with others to promote good health in Wales.

The cost of anti-smoking campaigns since 1990-91 undertaken by HPAW aimed at children and young people is set out in the table. Detailed information is not available prior to 1990-91.

£000
YearExpenditure
1990-9186
1991-92350
1992-93343
1993-94345
1994-95281
1995-96240
1996-97369
1997-98219
1998-99(estimated) 227

Source:

Health Promotion Authority for Wales


The information relates to initiatives directed solely at smoking. Smoking cessation advice also features strongly in other general health promotion initiatives funded by HPAW.

Research by HPAW indicates that there has been some success in delaying the age at which young people begin to experiment with tobacco.


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