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Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on (a) the role of pathology services in the National Health Service and (b) what steps he has taken to increase recruitment and retention of staff in the pathology service. 
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Mr. Denham: Pathology services are an integral part of effective National Health Service diagnosis, treatment, patient care and screening programmes, they play an important role in protecting the public health in the new NHS.
The Department is currently developing a specific strategy for improving recruitment and retention; liaising closely with employers, the Royal College of Pathologists, professional bodies and trade unions to raise the profile of the work of pathology staff. In addition, the National Advisory Group for Scientists and Technicians has been charged to develop plans to improve workforce planning, education, training and career development.
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received from (a) the Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus Association, (b) the Pure Water Association and (c) other bodies regarding the chlorination of drinking water. 
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the study commissioned by his Department into the use of chlorine-treated drinking water, with particular reference to (a) its cost, (b) when the report is expected and (c) the reasons for his Department's decision to commission the study. 
In view of the Committee's advice, funding Departments (which include the Department of Health and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions), commissioned the Small Area Health Statistics Unit (SAHSU) at Imperial College to undertake a case-control epidemiological study to examine whether there are adverse reproductive outcomes associated with chlorination by-products in drinking-water. The study is part of core funding of SAHSU, and is not costed separately. The first part of the study, which is investigating the hypothesis of an association between chlorination byproducts and stillbirths, low birth weight, birth weight distribution and sex ratio, is expected to report in the autumn of 2000. A proposed second phase will investigate the hypothesis of an association with certain congenital anomalies (cleft lip/palate, and major defects of the heart and of the abdominal wall), and is expected to take about 16 months to complete.
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In addition, the Department of Health has commissioned the Medical Research Council Institute of Environment and Health to examine the techniques of systematic review and meta-analysis in environmental epidemiology and toxicology. The project, which costs £85,260, and which is expected to report by the end of 2002, will include consideration of epidemiological studies on chlorinated drinking-water and reproductive outcomes as one example of a body of research to which such techniques may be applied.
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 24 July 2000]: Chemical disinfection of drinking-water is an important part of the treatment of water to protect human health. There are, however, concerns that traces of the chemical by-products of disinfection processes may be harmful. Standing expert advisory committees, whose members are appointed by the Chief Medical Officer, have advised the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) at the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions on the evidence linking the consumption of chlorinated tap-water with cancers and with adverse reproductive outcomes. The Committee on Carcinogenicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment concluded that:
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14 July 1999. The letter included additional advice from DWI to the companies. The letter may be found on the internet at http://www.dwi.detr.gov.uk/regs/infolett/1999/ info1299.htm
Mr. Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions officials in his Department have had with their counterparts in other Governments regarding the chlorination of drinking water. 
Yvette Cooper [holding answer 24 July 2000]: There have been no recent discussions. However, officials keep in touch with scientific and regulatory developments in this area, through published literature, contact with scientists working in this field, involvement in preparation of World Health Organisation guidelines and evaluations, and through colleagues in the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.
Yvette Cooper: The most recent document concerning mobile phone base stations published by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) is "Exposure to Radio Waves Near Mobile Phone Base Stations" (NRPB-R321 published June 2000). A summary is available at www.nrpb.org.uk. The contents of this report have been noted and copies have been placed in the Library.
The Stewart report published on 11 May made wide-ranging recommendations. We issued our initial response on the same day. The Department is keeping an overview of action taken by the appropriate Government Departments to respond to the report's recommendations. Progress is as follows:
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