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Iraq

Mr. Winnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the latest position on the provision of food and medicines in Iraq; what reports he has received on the number of children

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suffering in Iraq because of the lack of adequate medicines and other health supplies; and what plans he has to assist them. [83293]

Mr. Fatchett [holding answer 4 May 1999]: The export of food and medicines has never been prohibited under sanctions. We are aware of claims that large numbers of children are dying every month. We have some concerns about the original sources of this information and the way the data have been interpreted. According to the most recent UN report on the implementation of "oil for food", the UN humanitarian programme is making a real difference to the humanitarian situation in Iraq. It made clear that in the north, where the UN is responsible for distribution, there were very few if any shortages of essential drugs, and malnutrition was decreasing. In the centre and south, however, the Iraqi Government refuse to engage constructively in the programme. They refuse to make efforts to prioritise properly what is purchased for the programme, to target it towards the most vulnerable, or to improve the poor distribution system.

We are determined to do what we can to improve all aspects of the humanitarian situation. Together with the Netherlands, the UK has tabled a draft Security Council resolution which attempts to translate the work of the three UN Iraq panels into action. On the humanitarian side, our draft resolution brings together a whole range of measures including lifting the ceiling on Iraqi oil exports under "oil for food", streamlining Sanctions Committee approval procedures, allowing local procurement and the payment of local costs, and commissioning expert advice on how to increase Iraq's oil production. These measures should make significant improvements to the humanitarian situation in Iraq.

Venice Commission

Mr. Crausby: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the United Kingdom will join the Council of Europe's European Commission for Democracy through Law, the Venice Commission. [83556]

Mr. Tony Lloyd: HMG have given thorough consideration to the merits of the United Kingdom becoming a member of the Venice Commission and have decided to do so with immediate effect.

The Commission is a consultative body of independent experts whose principal work is in advising the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe on constitutional reform. It provided legal advice to the international negotiators in the run-up to and during the Kosovar negotiations in France in February and March this year. The Commission has been a major contributor to electoral and constitutional reform in Albania and Croatia, and is assisting the Office of the High Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina on constitutional reform and the revision of the Parliamentary Electoral Law.

Tibetan Hunger Strikers

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will request the First

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Secretary based in Geneva to visit the three Tibetans on hunger strike in Place des Nations. [82827]

Mr. Fatchett: We are concerned about the well-being of the hunger strikers who have drawn attention to the issue of human rights in Tibet. We hope that they will end their fast. We have no plans to visit them.

Tibet

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reference he made to the situation in Tibet in his verbal address to the 55 UN Commission on Human Rights. [82859]

Mr. Fatchett: Along with our EU partners, we remain deeply concerned about the human rights situation in Tibet. In Geneva, these concerns were expressed in statements by the EU Presidency, on behalf of all EU Member States, on 23 March, 31 March and 23 April.

Japan

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many employees of BNFL are employed in, or attached to, the British Embassy in Japan; and if he will list such persons and the nature of their relationship to the embassy. [83039]

Mr. Fatchett: The British Embassy in Tokyo has one secondee from BNFL, Mr. Tom McLaughlan, who serves as Counsellor (Atomic Energy).

Nuclear Waste

Mr. Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions his Department has had with Tokyo Electric Power Company concerning the possibility of allowing Japanese intermediate nuclear waste to be stored at Sellafield indefinitely. [83264]

Mr. Fatchett: There have been no discussions between my Department and the Tokyo Electric Power Company concerning the indefinite storage of Japanese intermediate nuclear waste at Sellafield.

HEALTH

Children's Hospice Services

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the (a) allocation by his Department and (b) expenditure by each health authority for supporting children's hospice services in each of the last four years. [78877]

Mr. Hutton: Health authorities receive general allocations to allow them to commission health services for their resident populations, including services to meet the needs of children suffering from life threatening and terminal conditions provided through children's hospices. Information on the amount health authorities spend from their general allocation on these services is not collected centrally.

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Pollution

Mr. Dafis: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what studies his Department has (a) carried out and (b) commissioned on the effects of pollution on health since January 1998; which of these have been published to date; and when he expects the remainder to be published. [82679]

Ms Jowell: The Department has carried out and commissioned a number of studies on the health effects of pollution since January 1998, some through the Medical Research Council and others jointly with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. Copies of the details of these studies have been placed in the Library. It is not the Department's policy to publish the findings separately, though researchers are encouraged to publish their findings in peer-reviewed journals and in the scientific press on completion of the studies. The vast majority are disseminated in this way.

The Department together with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions has co-funded an indoor air pollution research programme as well as research into the non-auditory health effects of noise and the health effects of chemicals in the environment. Together with the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, the Health and Safety Executive, the Scottish Office, the Welsh Office and the Department of Health and Social Services in Northern Ireland, the Department has agreed to contribute towards a contract with the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine to form the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU). SAHSU has carried out research on the effects of air pollution on health since January 1998.

The Department also manages the National Health Service research and development levy which is used to support research and development of relevance to the National Health Service in hospitals, general practice and other health care settings, and to fund the NHS research and development programme. In addition, the Medical Research Council--which receives most of its income via grant-in-aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry--funds medical research as part of the Government's funding of the science and engineering base.

In addition to those projects lists, the Department expects to issue a major call for proposals on the effects of air pollution on health over the summer.

Advertising (Medicines)

Mr. Robert Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health by what procedure a substantive issue could be brought before the courts by (a) the Licensing Authority, (b) the advertiser and (c) other parties once a determination had been made and a notice issued to cease advertising under Schedule 13 of the Medicines (Advertising and Monitoring) Amendment Regulations 1999 (SI 267). [82824]

Ms Jowell: Where a determination has been made and a notice issued to an advertiser to refrain from publishing an advertisement, but the advertiser fails to comply with

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the notice, the Medicines Control Agency, on behalf of Health Ministers, may prosecute him under paragraph 7 of the Schedule for failure to comply with the notice. The MCA may also apply to the courts for an injunction under regulation 6 of the Monitoring Regulations. The advertiser, or any party who can demonstrate to the courts that he has a legitimate interest, may apply under Order 53 of Schedule 1 to the Civil Procedure Rules 1998 for judicial review of decisions made at any stage of the procedure laid down in the Schedule to the Monitoring Regulations. Parties may also seek a declaration from the High Court that an action of theirs is lawful under Order 15 rule 16 of Schedule 1 to the Civil Procedure Rules.


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