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Ms Shipley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the implications are of the comprehensive spending review with regard to enhancing the patient environment; and if specific capital budgets will be set for this. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 18 July 2002]: The information collected by the Department from the National Health Service is subject to ongoing change and review. The aim is to ensure that the value of all centrally collected information fully justifies the burden and cost it places on those in the NHS who provide it. The changes made to NHS organisations in April 2002 define new responsibilities within the service and information requirements are to be reviewed accordingly.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Mullin of 2 July 2002, Official Report, column 306W, on performance targets, what percentage of correspondence to his Department is answered within the 20 working days targets; and whether this target includes correspondence from hon. Members. 
Mr. Lammy [holding answer 18 July 2002]: In 2001 the Department responded to 60 per cent. of its Ministerial correspondence (including hon. Members) within its service first target of 20 working days.
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Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the overseas trips on departmental business that have been undertaken in each of the last five years by officials in his Department; and what the (a) cost, (b) purpose and (c) result was in each case. 
Mr. Lammy: All overseas travel by officials in the Department is undertaken in accordance with the principles set in Chapter 8 of the Civil Service Management Code, and the detailed rules and guidance set out in the Department Code covering Travel and Subsistence and its Expenses Guide. The detailed information requested about individual trips is not held centrally, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Collins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions in the last 12 months the requirement to engage in a competitive tendering process has been waived by his Department due to national security obligations under paragraph 6(h) of the supply regulations. 
Mr. Hutton: In the last 12 months the Department has on one occasion used the exemptions provided for in paragraph 6(h) of the Public Supply Contracts Regulations as grounds for not conforming to open competitive tendering.
Dr. Iddon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department has a designated consultation co-ordinator in accordance with the Cabinet Office Code of Practice on Written Consultations. 
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column 304W, on Remploy, what guidance his Department gives to primary care trusts to encourage them to purchase Remploy products. 
The NHS complies with government policy on procurement determined by the Office of Government Commerce. Contracts for goods and services are awarded following strict Official Journal of the European Community procedures and on the basis of value for money. This means that all public procurement of goods and services for the NHS is based on value for money, having due regard to propriety and regularity. Value for money is defined as the optimum combination of whole-life cost and quality (or fitness for purpose) to meet the user's requirement.
Ms Blears: It remains the Government's position that it will bring forward legislation to permit the name of the father to be put on the child's birth certificate where that child was conceived using the father's stored sperm after his death as soon as the Parliamentary timetable allows.
Mr. Lammy: Following the emergence of safety concerns in Europe, the issue of liver toxicity in relation to the use of medicinal products containing the herbal ingredient kava-kava was reviewed by the committee on safety of medicines (CSM) in December 2001. The herbal sector voluntarily withdrew stocks of products containing Kava-kava while the safety concerns were under investigation. In the light of further data that has since become available the CSM has recently given a provisional opinion that the possible therapeutic benefits of medicinal products containing kava-kava can not be considered to outweigh the safety risks and that consideration should be given to appropriate regulatory action.
The Medicines Control Agency (MCA) is currently aware of 68 cases worldwide of liver problems suspected to be associated with kava-kava. These include cases of liver failure resulting in six liver transplants and three deaths. There have been three reports of liver toxicity in the United Kingdom suspected to be due to consumption of kava-kava.
Following the committee's advice, the MCA will be consulting on proposals to make an Order under Section 62 of the Medicines Act 1968, prohibiting the sale, supply or importation of unlicensed medicines containing kava-kava. Regulatory action is in progress in relation to licensed medicines containing kava-kava.
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The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has also considered the CSM's assessment as kava-kava may be used as an ingredient in some foods. In parallel with the MCA, the FSA will consult on legislation banning food products containing kava-kava.
Pending the outcome of consultation and any regulatory action which may follow, the MCA and the FSA have indicated to the relevant sectors that they would welcome continuing support for the voluntary withdrawal of kava-kava products in the interests of public safety.
Ms Blears: My noble Friend, Lord Hunt, and I met representatives from the European Herbal Practitioners Association and a wide range of other herbal interest groups on 10 July. The primary focus of that meeting was the proposed European Directive on traditional herbal medicinal products.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he has taken a decision on referring cannabis to NICE for assessment once the clinical trials are completed; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Lammy: We referred the use of cannabis derivatives for treatment of the symptoms of multiple sclerosis to the National Institute for Clinical Excellence on 20 May 2002. The precise timetabling of the appraisal is a matter for the Institute.
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