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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 10 September 2003



Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment he has made of the position of the Christian community in Iraq since the commencement of allied military action earlier this year. [128077]

Mr. Rammell: Staff in the British Office, Baghdad and UK secondees in the Coalition Provisional Authority have been meeting representatives of many Iraqi political and religious groups, including the Christian community, to hear their views. These meetings are continuing.

Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he asked his officials to ascertain the reliability and robustness of the information contained in the UNMOVIC working document on Iraq's proscribed Weapons Programmes, of 6 March. [128597]

Mr. Mullin: Yes.

Palestinian Refugees

Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with the governments of (a) Jordan, (b) Lebanon and (c) Syria on the situation of the Palestinian community in their countries; and if he will make a statement. [127814]

Mr. Rammell: We have raised this issue on a number of occasions with Arab governments. We do have concerns about the living conditions experienced by some Palestinian refugees. But ultimately this issue is a matter for negotiation between the parties concerned within the context of a comprehensive peace agreement.


Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held with the Government of Syria regarding their involvement in Lebanon; and if he will make a statement. [127812]

Mr. Rammell: We have a dialogue with Syria on a wide range of issues, Lebanon included. The relationship between the two countries is close. While Syria has a degree of influence in Lebanon, its presence has the support of the Lebanese Government and is arguably legitimate under agreements made at the end of the civil war. But we welcome the decrease in Syrian troop numbers and urge Syria to reduce numbers yet further.

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Immigrants (Viruses)

Mr. Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to ensure that immigrants are free from easily transmissible viruses, with particular reference to HIV. [128680]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Cabinet Office is currently co-ordinating work between relevant Government Departments, including the Department of Health, to review immigration and infectious diseases and access to National Health Service services. The review aims to establish the facts about health and public expenditure impacts and propose solutions should action be required. The review is ongoing and no decisions have been taken yet.

Organic Maize

Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment he has made of the average levels of fumicosin and aflatoxin in UK maize grain produced organically; [128695]

Miss Melanie Johnson: United Kingdom maize grain is either used as "corn on the cob" or for animal feed, usually as maize silage. There is no data available regarding the average level of fumonisins or aflatoxins in these products, whether conventionally or organically produced.

The Food Standards Agency is currently carrying out a survey of retail maize products, including "corn on the cob", for a range of mycotoxins, including fumonisins and aflatoxins. It is anticipated that the results of this survey will be available in December 2003.

Blood Cholesterol

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress has been made in encouraging health professionals to provide dietary and lifestyle advice on lowering blood cholesterol; [128540]

Miss Melanie Johnson: A number of lifestyle factors are known to be associated with raised blood cholesterol level, an important risk factor for heart disease, including diet (particularly a high intake of saturated fat), overweight and obesity and low levels of physical activity.

Improving diet, increasing physical activity levels and preventing and managing of obesity are at the heart of many of the Government's priority areas, as set out in the NHS Plan, Cross-Cutting Review on health inequalities, national service frameworks and the Priorities and Planning Framework.

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The Priorities and Planning Framework for 2003–06 includes targets for reducing coronary heart disease (CHD). One of these targets requires practice-based registers (for patients with CHD and diabetes) and systematic treatment regimes, including appropriate advice on diet, physical activity and smoking. This also covers the majority of patients at high risk of CHD, particularly those with hypertension, diabetes and a body mass index greater than 30.

The quality and outcomes framework within the new general medical services contract, being introduced from 1 April 2004, will reward general practitioners who monitor, and can demonstrate control of, the cholesterol level of patients suffering from chronic heart disease.

Two new initiatives will be key in fostering healthier lifestyles. The Department of Health is leading on the development of a cross-government Food and Health Action Plan. The plan will pull together all the issues that influence what we eat and will address food production, manufacture and preparation, access to healthier food choices and providing information for consumers about healthy eating and nutrition. This is complemented by wide ranging action on physical activity, which will be progressed by a cross-government Activity Co-ordination Team, jointly led by the Department and the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.

The Department of Health has a range of actions already in place aimed at improving diet and increasing physical activity levels. These include: action to increase breastfeeding; reform of the Welfare Food Scheme; the Five a day programme, including the National School Fruit Scheme in England, to increase fruit and vegetable intakes; a wide range of programmes in schools; joint Department and Food Standards Agency (FSA) work with industry to address the sugar, fat and salt content of the diet; and Local Exercise Action Pilots. The FSA also has an important role in improving our diets, as outlined in their Nutrition Action Plan. They provide advice on what constitutes a healthy diet and also address food labelling and claims.

Chauffeur Services

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the annual cost to his Department is of the chauffeur service. [127686]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The contract cost of the core services for 2002–03 from the Government Car Service was £424,100. This includes the cost of Ministerial cars and cars for the Permanent Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer.

Combination Drugs

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the potential for future use of combination drugs to prevent coronary diseases and heart attacks. [127633]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Dr. Roger Boyle, National Director for Heart Disease, has invited the lead researchers to attend a meeting in October to discuss the

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"polypill" proposals. Although there are some clear attractions, there are significant clinical, practical and financial implications that need to be explored further.



Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the trend has been in anti-semitic attacks on (a) property and (b) persons over the last year in (i) England, (ii) the West Midlands and (iii) Coventry. [126941]

Fiona Mactaggart [holding answer 8 September 2003]: The Government publish general statistics on racist incidents and racially-aggravated crime, but do not hold figures on specifically anti-semitic incidents. However, figures are made available by the Community Security Trust (CST), a body that advises and represents the Jewish community on matters of anti-semitism and security.


Arts Council

Mrs. Curtis-Thomas: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what recent discussions she has had with the Arts Council on the funding of sexually explicit material. [129504]

Estelle Morris : I have had no discussions with the Arts Council on this issue.


Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what investment is planned by her Department to help the British tourist industry recover from the effects of the war in Iraq; and what steps the Government proposes to take to boost tourism in the UK in the aftermath of the war. [128573]

Mr. Caborn: This year the Government are providing over £50 million to VisitBritain to encourage people in Britain and abroad to take their holidays here. In addition to on-going promotional work in its 27 overseas offices, VisitBritain is running two major overseas campaigns this year: a £2 million campaign launched in the summer with the industry to encourage US visitors to holiday in Britain, and a £4 million "City Breaks" campaign with the industry in Europe to be launched in the autumn. VisitBritain is also promoting domestic tourism in England and ran its first domestic campaign, 'Enjoy England', in April 2003. A further domestic campaign is planned for the autumn.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what measures the Government is taking to encourage British subjects to spend their holidays in the UK. [128578]

Mr. Caborn: This year the Government are providing VisitBritain with £10.4 million to lead and co-ordinate the domestic marketing of England as a tourist destination. VisitBritain's first domestic campaign, "Enjoy England", was launched in April 2003 and a

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three-year domestic marketing strategy for England will be published in the autumn. We are providing £3.6 million to England's Regional Development Agencies to fund the English Regional Tourist Boards. We are also providing £3.6 million over two years from the Invest to Save budget to support the EnglandNet project, which will create an on-line tourism network for England.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how much was spent by her Department, and the agencies for which she is responsible, to promote tourism in (a) the UK as a whole and (b) each of the UK regions in each year since 1997. [128579]

Mr. Caborn: The British Tourist Authority (BTA) was allocated baseline grant-in-aid by the Department as follows:

Grant to BTA (£ million)

In addition, £14.2 million was awarded in 2001–02 and a further £19 million in 2002–03 from the Reserve in

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order to help tourism recover from the impact of the foot and mouth outbreak and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. BTA did not allocate funds for individual regions of Britain, but promoted Britain as a whole in a way which maximised the impact of its campaigns in individual markets overseas.

The English Tourist Board (ETB), from 1999 the English Tourism Council (ETC), was allocated baseline grant in aid by the Department as follows:

Grant to ETB/ETC (£ million)

In addition, £3.8 million was awarded in 2001–02 from the Reserve, over half of which was then passed to the 10 Regional Tourist Boards in England, and a further £1 million from the Reserve in 2002–03. In 2002–03, the English Tourism Council was also awarded £3.6 million over two years from the Invest to Save Budget to support the development of the EnglandNet project to establish an online tourism network for England.

Grant in aid from the ETB/ETC was allocated to the English Regional Tourist Boards as follows:


1997–981998–991999–20002000–01 2001–02 2002–03
East of England493393397597840806
Heart of England467496460652900793
North West293293292413594575
South East England321287282363534544
South West Tourism439488476535814663

In both 2001–02 and 2002–03, this Department provided £1.9 million to the Greater London Authority for tourism. Tourism is a devolved matter and is the responsibility of the respective Administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Mr. Moss: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what plans she has to introduce an individual national tourism body for England. [128571]

Mr. Caborn: The Government have no plans to introduce an individual national tourism body for England. In April 2003 VisitBritain was created, combining the strengths and resources of the English Tourism Council and the British Tourist Authority. VisitBritain has responsibility for the promotion of Britain overseas and England to the domestic market. The England Marketing Advisory Board provides advice on the domestic promotion of England.

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