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Departmental Contracts

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the top 10 companies to which his Department contracted out their construction and refurbishment work in the last 12 months. [6425]

Dr. Moonie: I will write to my hon. Friend and a copy of my letter will be placed in the Library of the House.



Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated into relative survival rates following diagnosis of cancer in the UK and the rest of Europe. [63]

Yvette Cooper: The Department, through the European Union, is contributing to the funding of a set of studies known as the Eurocare studies. These are continually comparing cancer survival outcomes, treatment practice and diagnostic practice across Europe in patients diagnosed since the late 1970s. The Eurocare studies have produced evidence to suggest that, for many cancers, survival rates for patients a decade ago are lower in this country than in other comparable European countries.

The Department held a workshop in March 2000 to look at the Eurocare data on cancer survival rates, and there were two main conclusions. First, the poorer survival rates in the United Kingdom reported for many cancer types were to a large extent real. Secondly, for breast and colorectal cancer it appears that the poor

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survival rates in the UK can be attributed at least in part to patients having more advanced disease at the time of diagnosis. The NHS Cancer Plan of September 2000 took account of these conclusions, setting out the actions required to achieve earlier diagnosis and to ensure patients receive high quality treatment.

The Department funded pilot work on the UK component of further Eurocare studies of survival rates for breast, bowel and prostate cancer in early 2000. The Department is currently considering whether to provide further support for this study.

The Department has recently commissioned, under the Inequalities in Health initiative, a project that investigates inequalities in cancer incidence and survival for the population of England and Wales over 45 years of age. The focus will be on socio-demographic inequalities that cannot be estimated from cancer registry data.

Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many urgent referrals for suspected cancer were made by general practitioners; how many such referrals were not seen within the two-week target; and how many breaches of the two-week target there were, expressed as a percentage of the relevant number of referrals, in the NHS in England, broken down by health authority and each hospital trust for the year ended 31 March. [3222]

Yvette Cooper: The information available has been placed in the Library. Data on urgent cases of suspected breast cancer are available for 2000–01, and for other suspected cancers for the final quarter of that year.

The White Paper "The new NHS—Modern, Dependable" set the standard that everyone with suspected cancer will be able to see a specialist within two weeks of their general practitioner deciding that they need to be seen urgently and requesting an appointment. These arrangements were guaranteed for everyone with suspected breast cancer from April 1999 and were introduced for all other urgent cases of suspected cancer during 2000. Central monitoring of the all-cancer two week standard began on 1 January 2001. Figures will be available later this year.

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish data on the incidence of cancer in the Avon area using the same criteria as those used by Dr. Chris Busby in his investigation of the links between cancer and proximity to Oldbury nuclear power station. [5893]

Yvette Cooper: Ward level data contain patient identifiable information and are therefore not in the public domain. Access to these data is granted to researchers following approval of the research project by the ethics committee of the relevant health authority.


Mr. Gareth R. Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what examination his Department has undertaken of the study by the French Food Safety Agency of the potential for cancer caused by the long-term use of creatine. [3728]

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Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency is aware of the French Food Safety Agency (AFSSA) report on creatine supplementation published on 23 January 2001. The European Scientific Committee on Food (SCF) published its opinion on the safety aspects of creatine supplementation on 7 September 2000. This concluded that though no important adverse effects have been reported, large-scale, well controlled studies are lacking.

The SCF are considering additional information on creatine including the AFSSA report. The FSA will consider the SCF conclusions when they become available.

Nutriprem 2

Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent representations he has received regarding the prescription status of Nutriprem 2; [1169]

Ms Blears: We have had a number of representations from right hon. and hon. Members and others. We expect to announce our decision in due course.

MMR Vaccine

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has commissioned into possible links between gender and MMR vaccine damage. [1088]

Yvette Cooper: Studies undertaken by the Public Health Laboratory Service on adverse events after measles, mumps and rubella vaccine routinely include analysis of gender in both exposed individuals and non-exposed controls.

For example, two studies that have identified real adverse reactions to MMR vaccine look also at gender. No significant difference between the number of males and the number of females was identified when looking at the association between MMR vaccine and cases of idiopathic thrombocytopaenic purpura (ITP), whereas more males than females were found to have asceptic meningitis associated with the administration of brands of MMR vaccines containing Urabe strain mumps virus. This mirrored the higher rate of asceptic meningitis in males after wild mumps infection, (MMR vaccines containing the Urabe strain mumps were discontinued in the United Kingdom in 1992).

Although many studies have identified that more males are autistic than females, no studies have identified a causal association between autism and MMR vaccination.

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of children aged (a) 1 to 2, (b) 2 to 3 and (c) 3 to 4 years have been given MMR inoculations i) in total and (ii) in each region. [2821]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 9 July 2001]: Coverage of measles, mumps and rubella vaccine in the childhood immunisation programme is measured at age

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two and at age five. The most recent figures were published by the Public Health Laboratory Service in June and are as follows:

MMR percentage coverage figures for January to March 2001

1 dose by age 21 dose by age 52 doses by age 5
Northern and Yorkshire88.594.479.5
South East85.992.074.4
South West86.695.082.7
West Midlands87.894.978.0
North West86.593.375.3


Public Health Laboratory Service Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre

Mr. Boris Johnson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of children aged (a) one to two, (b) two to three and (c) three to four years have been given MMR inoculations in Oxfordshire. [6100]

Yvette Cooper: The information available about children immunised against measles, mumps and rubella is contained in the Statistical Bulletin "NHS Immunisation Statistics, England: 1999–2000". A copy of the bulletin is in the Library and can also be found on the Department's website

Healthy Eating

Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action she proposes to take to promote information and education for consumers on healthy eating. [1726]

Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the Department of Health work closely together in this area.

The National Health Service Plan sets out a programme of action on diet and nutrition, including a five-a-day programme to increase fruit and vegetable consumption and a National School Fruit Scheme as part of a national campaign to improve the diet of children. These initiatives will include information for consumers.

The FSA disseminates information and advice to consumers on a wide range of dietary issues through written material and their website It also promotes "Catering for Health", a joint FSA/Department of Health document providing guidance on healthy catering practices for those involved in training caterers.

The FSA and the Department of Health also work closely with the Department for Education and Skills to provide information on diet and nutrition to school children through school-based activities.

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