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9 Dec 2002 : Column 145W—continued

Food Supplements

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will make it his policy to seek an amendment to the Food Supplements Directive prior to its full implementation to allow member states to permit onto their own national markets those products which fall outside the technical restrictions of that Directive but which the competent authority accepts as safe and appropriately labelled; and if he will make a statement. [84523]

Ms Blears: The Government has no plans to seek any amendments to the Food Supplements Directive. It has already secured provisions which enable Member States to allow the continued sale of products which do not comply with the compositional requirements up to 31 December 2009.

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nutrients and nutrient sources on the United Kingdom market are absent from the list of permitted nutrients included in the annexes to the Food Supplements Directive; and what estimate he has made of the cost of (a) commissioning the research and (b) producing a dossier to the standards required by the European Scientific Committee for Foods for consideration for approval to be given for the addition of such missing nutrients to the annexes in the future. [84525]

Ms Blears: According to information provided by industry, the list of permitted nutrients included in the annexes to the Food Supplements Directive excludes six nutrients (six minerals) and some 270 individual nutrient sources used in food supplements currently on the United Kingdom food supplements market. The costs of producing dossiers will largely depend upon the amount of new safety data that needs to be gathered, and will vary between individual cases.

Mr. Andrew Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has received from (a) industry and (b) the Food Standards Agency a list of those nutrients missing from the lists of approved nutrients and nutrient sources contained within the annexes of the Food Supplements Directive; what information he has received from industry as to which of those nutrients are the subject of projects to prepare adequate dossiers for consideration by the European Union Standing Committee for Foods; and what steps he intends to take to ensure the remaining nutrients are added to those annexes in the future. [84574]

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Ms Blears: United Kingdom industry representatives have sent to the Food Standards Agency a list of those nutrients missing from the lists of approved nutrients and nutrient sources in the annexes to the Food Supplements Directive. The same representatives have also sent to the Agency a list of dossiers being considered by industry for preparation and submission to the EU Scientific Committee for Foods (SCF). These dossiers cover 51 sources of 17 vitamins and minerals. As required by the Directive, the Food Standards Agency will forward to the Commission any such dossiers submitted to the Agency by industry for submission to the SCF.

Mobile Phones

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department has undertaken into the effects of radio waves on leukaemia cells, with particular reference to mobile phone users. [85018]

Ms Blears: The Department has not undertaken research into the effects of radio waves on leukaemia cells.

The independent expert group on mobile phones examined exposures from both mobile phones and base stations and experimental and epidemiological studies on possible health effects. It concluded that the balance of evidence to date suggests that exposures to radio waves below national and international guidelines do not cause adverse health effects to the general population.

The expert group also proposed that gaps in knowledge were sufficient to justify a precautionary approach to the development of this technology and made recommendations for further research. A comprehensive research programme has now been established in this country under an independent programme management committee (PMC). Out of more than 120 submitted applications the PMC has approved 1 5 research proposals to date. This research includes studies of the effects of radio waves on cells and studies of the incidence of leukaemia and other cancers in populations. Information can be found on the mobile telecommunications and health research web site ( The World Health Organisation's international electromagnetic fields project lists the research being carried out in a number of other countries (see )

GM Foods

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the budget for the Food Standards Agency debate on GM foods; who will be contracted to conduct the debate; and how the Government's own debate on GM foods will interact with that of the FSA. [85148]

Ms Blears: The Food Standards Agency is providing an independent contribution to the Government's debate on genetically modified (GM) foods. The Agency's contribution will consist of several elements including a citizen's jury and surveys on attitudes of young people and those on low incomes to GM foods, the details of which have yet to be finalised. The Agency has estimated that this will cost approximately

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#110,000. It has agreed to provide updates to the independent GM debate steering board and the results of the Agency's work will be discussed in public at an FSA Board meeting before the Government's GM debate concludes.


Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many inter-country adoptions there were by British citizens in each of the last three years, broken down by country. [85527]

Jacqui Smith: This information is not held centrally. Children habitually resident outside the United Kingdom may be adopted by British residents in the child's state of origin where the adoption order is recognised under UK law or brought to the UK by British residents for the purposes of adoption in the UK courts. British citizens living outside the UK may also adopt children habitually resident outside the UK through procedures agreed with the child's state of origin. Figures are only held for the number of applications involving a home study assessment in the UK and sent to the Department for processing. Not all of these applications are by British Citizens.

The table shows how many overseas adoption applications the Department has received in each of the last three years.

Country nameNumber of applications
Applications received by country from 1 January 2000 to 31 December 2000
Sri Lanka2
Total applications received351
Applications received by country from 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2001
Bosnia and Herzegovina1
Hong Kong1
South Africa1
Sri Lanka7
Total applications received327
Applications received by country from 1 January 2002 to 2 December 2002
Chile 1
Guatemala 17
India 19
Lithuania 1
Mexico 1
Nepal 1
South Africa2
Sri Lanka1
Total applications received269

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Agency Staff

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total cost was of hiring agency staff to carry out operating department practitioner duties (a) in England and (b) in the north-west region in the last year for which figures are available. [85434]

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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 5 December 2002]: The Department collects information on the cost to the national health service of temporary workers, by category but not the duties undertaken nor the hospital department they are employed in.

Ambulance Personnel

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many former ambulance personnel are on retirement pensions; and how many ambulance personnel there are in service. [82172]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 27 November 2002]: The information requested is not collected centrally. The number of staff who have taken a retirement pension since the establishment of ambulance trusts, up to 8 November 2002, is 1,645. The number of ambulance staff in service at 30 September 2001 was 16,920.

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many assaults on ambulance staff were recorded in each of the past five years. [85770]

Mr. Hutton: Information on the type of and levels of violent incidents by individual staff group is not collected centrally, but may be held at a local level by national health service employers. Data on violent incidents involving all staff in the NHS was not collected on a national basis prior to 1998.

The results of the 2000–2001 survey of reported violent or abusive incidents, accidents involving staff and sickness absence in NHS trusts and health authorities in England have been placed in the Library, along with a report setting out the Government's proposed action in light of the findings. The survey found that there were an estimated 13 reported violent or abusive incidents per 1,000 staff per month in ambulance trusts, compared to an estimated ten such incidents for all NHS trusts.

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