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Animal Experiments

Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has to meet the target set in the EU 5th Environmental Action Programme of halving the number of animals used in experiments by 2000; and if he will make a statement. [108180]

Mr. Mike O'Brien: The 5th Environment Action Programme did not set a baseline against which progress could be monitored. Nor did it set a plan for implementing

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the proposal. Most member states did not produce accurate statistics in 1993. Fundamental questions, such as whether it was a country-by-country or a Europe wide target, were not addressed. There is no mechanism for a year-on-year reduction.

A European conference was held in April 1997 to discuss the 50 per cent. target. The United Kingdom was represented by Home Office officials, a member of the Animal Procedures Committee, and interest groups. It was generally agreed that the 50 per cent. target was unrealistic, unhelpful and over-simplistic. The reduction target was recognised as ignoring the importance of refining experiments to minimise suffering. It was suggested that specific types of animal use (for example, the use of primates and aspects of regulatory testing) should be targeted.

Neither Directive 86/609/European Economic Community, nor the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, make provision for controlling the overall number of procedures. The Act requires that project licences be granted only if the benefits have been weighed against the costs and the purpose of the work cannot be achieved by other means. We cannot dictate how many applications for new project licences will be submitted, nor how many proposed programmes will satisfy the requirements of the Act, particularly the cost/benefit assessment. We are, however, ensuring that animals are used in scientific procedures only where this is fully justified and that the overall numbers of animals used is minimised as far as possible. We are also pressing for advances in the 3Rs of reduction, refinement and replacement.

Violent Offences

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to reduce the number of violent offences committed in England and Wales. [108287]

Mr. Charles Clarke: Under the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, 375 local partnerships have been established in every area across the country to develop local crime reduction strategies to address local demands. Over time these will provide a measure of crime more relevant to people's everyday experience. The Crime Reduction Strategy, launched by the Government last November, sets out how we are working with partnerships and the steps we are taking to reduce crime. The Government have a range of measures and initiatives to deal with violent crime in particular. They include the following:

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Crime Fighting Fund

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications to the Crime Fighting Fund for police recruits have been received. [108290]

Mr. Charles Clarke: All 43 police forces in England and Wales have submitted applications for funding for police recruits under the Crime Fighting Fund. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary will be announcing the results shortly.

Asylum Applications

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current size of the backlog of asylum applications. [108289]

Mrs. Roche: The current estimate for the backlog of asylum claims which were awaiting an initial decision at 31 December 1999 was 102,870.

Mr. Fraser: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what measures he is taking to reduce the backlog of asylum applications. [108288]

Mrs. Roche: A dedicated team has been set up to deal with pre-July 1993 applications and those between July 1993 and December 1995, in accordance with the criteria set out in the White Paper. We have nearly cleared the backlog of pre-1993 cases and expect to clear the backlog of 1993-95 cases by the summer of this year at the latest.

We have developed new processes to speed up the consideration of asylum applications and recruited numerous additional decision makers to process both new applications and those in the backlog dating from 1996 onwards. Output of asylum decisions has recently increased to record levels.


Cystic Fibrosis

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to provide free prescriptions to sufferers of cystic fibrosis; and if he will make a statement. [103651]

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Ms Stuart: We reviewed the prescription charging arrangements as part of the Comprehensive Spending Review and concluded that the present arrangements should remain for the rest of this Parliament.


Mr. Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the NHS's prescribing policies in relation to Aricept of (a) West Kent Health Authority, (b) Thames Gateway NHS Trust and (c) general practitioners in the Sittingbourne and Sheppey constituency. [106050]

Ms Stuart: Information about local policies on the treatment of Alzheimer's disease is not routinely collected and assessed centrally, but I understand that West Kent Health Authority is funding the prescribing of Aricept by consultants to patients with uncomplicated Alzheimer's disease. In developing its policy, the health authority took into account the evidence on clinical and cost effectiveness of Aricept, and did not consider it sufficiently convincing to support more widespread prescribing.

Aricept and other pharmaceutical treatment for Alzheimer's disease will be reviewed by the National Institute for Clinical Excellence as part of its first work programme. This work is expected to be completed by December 2000.

Influenza Immunisation

Mr. Pollard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for health professionals and ancillary staff to be offered influenza immunisation at no cost to themselves from this year onwards. [106133]

Yvette Cooper: Influenza immunisation is not routinely recommended for healthcare workers. Last year, as an exception in view of possible staffing problems should flu occur at the time of the long millennium break, National Health Service trusts were advised that they could include immunising healthcare staff as part of their winter planning. United Kingdom Health Ministers are advised on immunisation policy by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI). The JCVI reviews its recommendations, including immunisation of healthcare workers, annually.

False Teeth

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the population of (a) Pendle and (b) England had an entire set of false teeth by the age of (i) 40 years, (ii) 50 years, (iii) 60 years and (iv) 70 years (a) in 1990 and (b) for the latest year for which figures are available. [107616]

Mr. Denham: The Adult Dental Health Survey is a detailed survey carried out every 10 years into the nation's dental health. First release results for the 1998 survey are given for the percentages of the population with no natural teeth by age group for Northern England and England. Also shown are the equivalent percentages of the 1988 survey. Data for Pendle are not available.

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Table 1: Percentage of population with no natural teeth by age group, 1988 and 1998

Northern England England
Age group1988199819881998
75 and over90598056


Adult Dental Health Survey

Further information for 1988 is contained in the detailed report of the Adult Dental Health Survey 1988, published by HMSO, a copy of which is available in the Library. Chapter 15 gives information on: the time since loss of natural teeth, Table 15.1; and age of current upper and lower dentures, Table 15.4. The detailed ADHS report for 1998 is due to be published in March this year.

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