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Mrs. Eleanor Laing (Epping Forest): Will the Minister ensure that the money that the taxpayer has spent so far does not go to waste? It appears that the research that has so far been carried out has been to no avail, simply because it does not appear suitable to take forward the court case. Will she assure the House that taxpayers' money that has gone into the research on the possible link between MMR and autism will not be put to waste, but will be followed up so that we can finally reach a conclusion on this question?
Miss Johnson: The hon. Lady makes a good point, and I was saying that we hope that the money will not go to waste. I understand that most, if not all, of the expenditure is incurred by claimants, so much of the expenditure is effectively their property. They have the ability to put the information into the public domain, so the main onus does not rest with the Government.
I turn to the examination of cause regarding autism children. Detailed information about more than 200 children was obtained from families, GPs and specialists who look after children. Experts reviewed more than 100 cases of autism and bowel disease in children, but they could find no syndrome that made those children different from any others with autism. They found no evidence to implicate the vaccine or to give any cause for concern about its safety. It is worth pointing out that only one parent admitted that their child's symptoms had appeared before the MMR jab. However, there were written records from health professionals showing that there were concerns about nearly 40 per cent. of children's development before they received the MMR jab.
Exactly the same thing was seen in a study done by Professor Taylor, because there was clear evidence that some parents had originally acknowledged that their children had problems before the MMR jab but later said that the symptoms had appeared after it. That is not to say that parents do not tell the truth. It shows how fraught the situation can be, how difficult it must be for parents to deal with it, and how difficult it can be to assess evidence before and after such a jab.
Many scientific studies have failed to demonstrate a causal link between MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease. The Committee on Safety of Medicines has considered the safety of MMR vaccines on numerous occasions and its conclusion remains that available evidence does not support an association between MMR vaccine and autism or bowel disease. Therefore the identification of at-risk groups is neither relevant nor feasible and the hypothesis that there is a connection does not hold.
I am not sure how much time I have left, but I shall say a little about vaccinations in Japan. Japan does not use MMR vaccine, but that is because it cannot produce a vaccine with a mumps component that does not carry the risk of mumps meningitis. Japan uses single
The motion having been made after Seven o'clock, and the debate having continued for half an hour, Mr. Deputy Speaker adjourned the House without Question put, pursuant to the Standing Order.