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Drinking Water (Schools)

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the requirement for water in the (a) dietary needs and (b) intellectual achievements of young people in schools. [154646]

Yvette Cooper: All schools are required to provide safe drinking water, which is a basic requirement for good health. The Department has not assessed the influence of water on the intellectual achievements of young people. However, compulsory National Nutritional Standards for school lunches, which will be in force from 1 April 2001, recommend that drinking water should be available to all pupils every day, free of charge. Breaks within the school day give children ample opportunity to drink water and maintain their fluid intake.

Doctors (Investigations)

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many doctors were investigated by the GMC in the last three years broken down by (a) sex and (b) racial origin. [154542]

Mr. Denham: A comprehensive answer to this question is not readily available from the General Medical Council. However, they are in a position to provide some information immediately and I have requested that they write to the hon. Lady directly with the information to hand. A copy of the letter will be placed in the Library.

Asperger's Syndrome

Liz Blackman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on plans to address the needs of people with Asperger's Syndrome following the publication of the Learning Disability White Paper. [155301]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 March 2001]: In late 1999 we commissioned Dr. Tony Holland of Cambridge University to undertake a review of the current state of knowledge on Asperger's Syndrome. We have just received a revised version of his report which incorporates comments from the National Autistic Society, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nursing and other interested organisations.

We have already responded to Dr. Holland's principal recommendation on prevalence of Asperger's Syndrome by asking the Medical Research Council to obtain a clear and comprehensive picture of what is currently known about the incidence, prevalence and causes of autism and how strong the evidence is which underpins that knowledge.

His other recommendations are being actively considered in the context of the needs of people across the autistic spectrum as a whole, including the implications of "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century".

26 Mar 2001 : Column: 458W

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which sections of Chapter 8 of "Valuing People: A New Strategy for Learning Disability for the 21st Century" apply to people with a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and an IQ over 70. [155254]

Mr. Hutton: The work on diagnosis, screening and early intervention in autism referred to in sections 8.37 to 8.42 applies across the whole of the autistic spectrum, including Asperger's Syndrome, as does the work which the Medical Research Council is taking forward on its incidence, prevalence and causes. Importantly, section 8.41 points out that children with autism are children first and that whether or not they have a learning disability as well they should benefit from our proposals for improving services for all disabled children.

Chapter 8 also refers to other Government initiatives such as the Care Standards Act 2000 (8.3), the Social Care Institute of Excellence (8.4) and the Youth Justice and Criminal Evidence Act 1999 (8.13) which will help a wide range of people including those with autistic spectrum disorders.

Mrs. Browning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which statutory service has primary responsibility for (a) children and (b) adults with a diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome and an IQ over 70. [155255]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 23 March 2001]: It is the responsibility of local statutory authorities to determine the pattern of services in their area in the light of their knowledge of local needs and priorities. Health and local authorities should ensure that the particular health, education and social care needs of each child or adult with an autistic spectrum disorder are met with genuine choices for both clients and families, through the most appropriate community based services, in a cost-effective way.

Current legislation provides that where a health authority or National Health Service trust form the opinion that a child under five has special educational needs (SEN), including those due to autistic spectrum conditions, they shall bring it to the attention of the local education authority (LEA). The legislation also provides that where it appears to an LEA that any health or local authority could help with the identification and assessment of, and provision for, children with SEN, it may request the help of that local or health authority.

Children and adults with Asperger's Syndrome are individuals whose needs vary. Primary responsibility for meeting those needs will vary accordingly. We continue to work to promote effective collaboration between agencies.

Porton Down

Mr. Matthew Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 6 March 2001, Official Report, columns 188-89W, on Porton Down, if he will place in the Library a list of the titles and authors of the authoritative reviews on which his Department's message was based. [154762]

Yvette Cooper: The information requested is in the Library.

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Years of Life Lost Formula

Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received about the Years of Life Lost formula; and if he will place them in the Library. [155111]

Mr. Denham: A small number of representations have been received about the Years of Life Lost formula. I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Regent's Park and Kensington, North (Ms Buck) on 26 February 2001, Official Report, column 443W.

A paper has been prepared on the Years of Life Lost formula which is available on the departmental website at in the published papers icon listed under Rawp6. I am placing copies of this paper in the Library.

Accident and Emergency Services

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what schemes for the modernisation and improvement of accident and emergency and associated services have been carried out in hospitals serving the Richmond, Chingford and Woodford Green, North Essex, South Cambridgeshire, South Suffolk, Devizes, South-West Devon, Tiverton and Honiton, Woodspring, Wells, Bramshill, North-East Hampshire, Horsham, Maidenhead, Maidstone and The Weald, East Surrey and Tunbridge Wells parliamentary constituencies, indicating the sums invested and summarising the works in each case. [155356]

Mr. Denham [holding answer 23 March 2001]: The information requested has been placed in the Library.

Beta Interferon

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of patients in the Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals Trust who have been recommended for treatment with beta interferon who are awaiting the NICE recommendation; and what has been the change between (a) the first decision to recommend the drug to NICE and (b) since the announcement of the postponement of the decision. [155387]

Mr. Denham: We have made no such estimate about local services.

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of persons who could have benefited from treatment with beta interferon and will not do so as a result of the decision to refer the use of the drug to NICE. [155388]

Mr. Denham: Because there appeared to be genuine uncertainty over the appropriate use of beta-interferon, which was reflected in different prescribing patterns across the country, we asked the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to conduct an authoritative appraisal of the evidence on beta interferon as part of its first appraisal programme. We expect NICE to produce its authoritative guidance in November.

Foot and Mouth

Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the meetings and conferences

26 Mar 2001 : Column: 460W

organised by his Department and agencies of his Department which have been (a) cancelled and (b) postponed owing to foot and mouth disease; and if he will make a statement. [155360]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 23 March 2001]: The information requested is not held centrally and could be collated only at disproportionate cost.



Mr. Drew: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the financial help being made available to hauliers. [152747]

Mr. Timms [holding answer 8 March 2001]: I refer my hon. Friend to the Budget 2001 document. This outlines several measures that will benefit hauliers.

The total value of the Budget transport package to hauliers is £660 million, equivalent to a 7p per litre cut in fuel duty for hauliers. This valuation includes the benefit to hauliers from the cut in duty on ultra low sulphur diesel, the first allocation from the £100 million Haulage Modernisation Fund and the reforms to lorry vehicle excise duty.

In addition, the Government have already paid out over £210 million to hauliers in the form of lorry VED rebates since last December, following the Chancellor's announcement in the 2000 pre-Budget report.

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