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19 Sept 2002 : Column 356W—continued

Food Safety

Joan Ruddock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the advice of the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, issued in MAFF News Release 83/97 and in MAFF Food Safety Information Bulletin December 1998, on preparation of fruit and vegetables for small children, has been revoked; and what his Department's policy is on the advice of the Food Standards Agency that fruit and vegetables do not need to be peeled before being given to young children in order to reduce pesticide residues. [71494]

Ms Blears: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has advised that washing or peeling fruit and vegetables is not required as a protection against pesticide residues (issued on the FSA's website,, on 26 March 2002). However, the FSA continues to advise that it is sensible to wash fruit and vegetables before eating for reasons of general food hygiene.

This follows the FSA's request to the Advisory Committee on Pesticides (ACP) to reconsider the then Deputy Chief Medical Officer's (CMO) advice to consumers about washing and peeling fruit and vegetables in relation to pesticide residues. The ACP assured the Agency and the Department that there are no active substances currently in use where an assumption about the need for washing and peeling was made as part of their approval. The ACP concluded that washing or peeling fruit and vegetables is not required as a protection against pesticide residues and this effectively supersedes the old advice.

The FSA's advice is that when pesticide residues are found in fruit and vegetables, in the vast majority of cases they do not give rise to any health concerns. Where, very occasionally a residue is found which could lead to the

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acceptable daily intake for the pesticide concerned being exceeded the FSA demands immediate action to remove that risk.


Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how he plans to reduce levels of childhood obesity. [72044]

Ms Blears: Both physical activity and eating habits play a role in overweight and obesity. We have put in place major cross-government programmes of work to ensure that children have access to a healthy diet, and have opportunities to be physically active. This includes £581 million from the new opportunities fund for a new physical education (PE) and sports programme and £42 million to extend the National School Fruit Scheme.

The national healthy school standard, part of the healthy school programme, contains a set of criteria relating to physical activity, and also supports the two hours PE entitlement announced in January 2001. £120 million will support the school sport co-ordinator programme, setting up a network of 1,000 co-ordinators.

Mr. Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements are in place to raise awareness about the problem of obesity; what recent representations he has received about obesity; and if he will make a statement. [68995]

Ms Blears: There are a variety of programmes on promoting healthy eating and physical activity, and reducing overweight and obesity which are being developed as part of the national service framework for coronary heart disease. This includes local Five-a-Day community initiatives, based in deprived areas, which provide education about the health benefits of fruit and vegetables, as well as improved access and availability. To increase awareness of the importance of diet and exercise among children, we have a healthy schools programme that aims to promote better health for all children and young people through education on a range of issues.

The Government also acknowledge the setting up of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Obesity, which will increase political and wider public attention to the issue. There are other organisations and charities such as the British dietetic association, the obesity awareness and solutions trust and weight concern who are raising awareness about the problem of obesity and are supported through the Department's Section 64 Grant Scheme.

Traumatic Brain Injury

Bob Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the accuracy of using ICD 10 codes to record traumatic brain injury in hospital accident and emergency departments; and if he will make a statement. [68874]

Mr. Lammy: The accident and emergency departments rarely use ICD-10 to record patients. The ICD-10 codes are generally used for admitted patients (either in-patients or day cases) The codes within ICD-10 for traumatic brain injury would be: an unspecified brain injury is S06.9 Intracranial injury, unspecified.

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However there are other codes encompassing brain injuries:

Newborn Hearing Screening Programme

Mr. Gray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which sites have been selected for the second phase of the newborn hearing screening programme; and how he intends to publicise them. [68929]

Jacqui Smith: The final detail for the second phase of the newborn hearing screening programme is near to agreement. Once this has been agreed the sites will be informed. Full details of the sites will be available on the National Screening Committee's website.

Child Protection

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will consider proposals from the NSPCC for the creation of a child safeguarding board and the establishment of multi-agency child safeguarding teams to increase the effectiveness of professionals working together. [72908]

Jacqui Smith: Evidence and submissions relating to issues raised by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children campaign have been heard by the Victoria Climbié Inquiry. The Government expect to receive the Inquiry's report later this year. The Inquiry's recommendations, will be given full and proper consideration by the Government.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding has been given to the child protection system in each year since 1997. [72910]

Jacqui Smith: It is for individual councils with social services responsibilities and National Health Service bodies to decide, in the light of their priorities, how much to spend on child protection services. Other statutory agencies, such as the police and education services, also commit resources to meeting their child protection responsibilities, while a number of voluntary organisations also provide child protection services.

However between 1996–97 and 2002–03 the Government increased social services funding by more than 20 per cent. in real terms and will make further annual average real terms increases available of 6 per cent. between 2003–04 and 2005–06.

Mr. Wray: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures the Government have taken (a) to make it easier for children to report abuse and neglect and (b) to raise public awareness of child abuse. [72911]

Jacqui Smith: The Government have revised and widely distributed their child protection guidance Working Together to Safeguard Children. This document sets out how all agencies and professionals should work together to promote children's welfare and protect them from abuse and neglect. It is addressed to those who work in the health and education services, the police, social services, the probation service, and others whose work brings them into contact with children and families. All

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those who work with children and families are expected to retain a clear focus on the welfare of the child and be alert to, and know how to respond quickly and decisively to, potential indicators of abuse and neglect. This greater awareness should make it easier for children to be heard when they report abuse and neglect.

In addition, a range of new mechanisms have been introduced that make it easier for children to report abuse and neglect. These include:

The Government are also providing funding to ChildLine, which was established to listen to children and young people and to offer them counselling, information, support and protection.

Area child protection committees are responsible for deciding what child protection information and advice to make available to members of their local community. However, leaflets advising adults what to do when they have concerns about the welfare of a child or that a child may be suffering, or at risk of suffering, abuse or neglect have also been produced on a national basis by a number of voluntary organisations. These include the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children's Handle with Care (about the dangers of shaking babies) and Partners in Protecting Children. In addition, there are a number of leaflets which provide advice to children, such as Kidscape's Stop Bullying and You Can Beat Bullying.

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