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Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to commission a national epidemiological study into chronic fatigue syndrome/ME. [77854]

Mr. Hutton: There are currently no plans to commission a national epidemiological study into chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). A number of definitions, disease descriptions or diagnostic criteria have been proposed to describe CFS/ME and there is no general agreement as to which should be used. This makes the results from studies on the prevalence of CFS/ME difficult to interpret and there is no agreement on the incidence of the illness.

The heterogeneity of the definitions for CFS/ME was an issue that was raised at the first meeting of the CFS/ME Working Group and is likely to be a topic for further discussion as work progresses. If a definitive diagnostic criteria for CFS/ME can be defined requests for a national epidemiological study would need to be considered in line with other competing priorities.

Departmental Budget

Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was his Department's budget in cash terms and at 1998-99 prices for (a) 1992-93 to 1998-99 and (b) his estimate for 1999-2000 to 2001-02. [77333]

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Mr. Denham: The information requested is contained in the table.

£ million
YearCashAt 1998-99 prices

Mental Health Institutions (Deaths)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) guidelines and (b) regulations his Department has regarding (i) the notification of relatives and (ii) the information, support and guidance offered to relatives after a death in a mental health institution. [77338]

Mr. Hutton: Support and guidance offered to relatives after a death are contained in Health Service Guidelines (92)8 issued in January 1992. This guidance covers the procedures National Health Service trusts should have in place for dealing with patients who die in hospital and with a patient's relatives before and after the death.

Organ Transplants

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list those countries from which organs for transplant have been received in the past 12 months. [78001]

Mr. Hutton: In the period 1 March 1998 to 28 February 1999 a total of 99 organs were received from France, Spain, Italy, Cyprus, the Republic of Ireland, Eurotransplant (comprises Germany, Austria, Netherlands and Luxembourg) and Skandiatransplant (comprises Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden).

Fuel Duty Increases

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate he has made of the additional costs to ambulances and other medical vehicles in West Sussex resulting from fuel duty increases in the Budget; [77914]

Mr. Hutton: In 1996-97, the last year for which information is available, the cost of motor fuels as a proportion of total hospital and community health service spending, which includes ambulance trusts, was 0.12 per cent. The additional cost resulting from the Budget increase would have raised that figure to less than 0.13 per cent. Because of boundary factors it is

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not possible separately to identify figures for West Sussex. It is, however, clear that the effect of the increase will be very small relative to the other price inflation factors affecting the National Health Service each year. Any additional costs will be absorbed within the very significant real-terms increases in health authority allocations for 1999-2000 announced in November 1998.

NHS Vehicles (Road Fuel Gas)

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many road vehicles deployed in the NHS are fuelled by road fuel gases; and what plans he has to encourage the use of more such vehicles. [77916]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not available centrally.

Road vehicles deployed in the National Health Service satisfy a diverse range of requirements. Vehicle operators include ambulance services, NHS Supplies, fleet vehicles for staff (including medical/nursing and support services etc.), and contractors working on behalf of the NHS.

NHS transport/fleet officers do consider environmental aspects in the procurement and operation of the vehicles they manage. These decisions will be determined at local level taking into account availability of environmentally friendly road fuels and cost effectiveness in relation to the service to be provided.

This has been reinforced by the White Paper "A New Deal for Transport: Better for Everyone" and the NHS is well aware of the need to take its requirements on board. NHS Estates (an executive agency of the Department) has also issued a "Healthy Transport Toolkit" to inform and commend green transport plans to the NHS. The Department intends to continue to encourage green transport initiatives within the NHS, including the use of environmentally friendly road fuels.


Working Time Directive

Mr. Tyrie: To ask the President of the Council how many civil servants in her Department have been invited to waive the Working Time Directive requirement to work less than 48 hours a week on 17 consecutive weeks; how many civil servants in her Department have refused to waive the requirement; and what is the total cost of compliance with the Directive. [76802]

Mrs. Beckett: Nine members of the staff of the Privy Council Office have signed an agreement to disapply the 48-hour limit. None has refused to do so. The cost of compliance with the Directive is negligible, in view of the small size of my Department.

Scottish Parliament

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council what guidelines have been agreed concerning the composition of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council when sitting to determine the vires of Acts of the Scottish Parliament. [76950]

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Mrs. Beckett: It will be for the Senior Lord of Appeal in Ordinary to determine which members of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council sit to hear and determine cases under the Scotland Act 1998. However, the Government would expect a convention to develop along the lines of Scottish appeals to the House of Lords, where there would always be at least one Scottish judge, and in practice perhaps more, sitting on the Judicial Committee for Scottish devolution cases.

Millennium Compliance

Miss McIntosh: To ask the President of the Council what provision has been made for millennium compliance-related problems for 9 September 1999; and if she will make a statement. [77131]

Mrs. Beckett: 9999 was sometimes used as a close down, halt or standby code by programmers and some people think that September 1999 may be confused with this code. Action 2000 advise me that they have not found any cases where 9/9/99 will cause equipment to fail, and do not expect that date to have a significant impact.

On a wider point, there are many dates which may cause computers problems. Such problem dates should be tested for as appropriate. All companies should be aware of the key dates when the year 2000 will first hit their systems: for many it will be 1 April 1999 with the new financial year. Government Departments and Agencies have included testing for other relevant dates in their own programmes. The preferred dates which should be used for testing are included in the relevant British Standards Institution (BSI) advice.


Select Committee Reports

Mr. Wilshire: To ask the President of the Council when she was first informed of the existence of a leaked copy of the draft report of the Foreign Affairs Committee Sierra Leone Inquiry. [73934]

Mrs. Beckett [holding answer 1 March 1999]: On the morning of 23 February 1999.

Early Day Motions

Mr. Steen: To ask the hon. Member for Roxburgh and Berwickshire, representing the House of Commons Commission, what was the cost of the processing and publication of Early Day Motions in each of the last three years; how many staff were employed to administer them; and at what cost. [77568]

Mr. Kirkwood: I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible and place a copy of my reply in the Library of the House.

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