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11 Dec 2003 : Column 594W—continued

Cabinet Office Website

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Cabinet Office website referred to in the Winter Supplementary Estimates; if he will publish the URL; and if he will make a statement. [142241]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The website referred to in the Winter Supplementary Estimates is the Department's own website, which is in the process of being migrated onto DotP ('Delivering on the Promise'), a centralised content management platform. DotP has been developed and hosted by the e-Delivery Team in the Office of the e-Envoy, which is part of Cabinet Office.

The Department's new website will go live early in the new year and will be available at

Dental Laboratories

Richard Ottaway: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list by county those dental laboratories which have registered with his Department under the Medical Devices Regulations. [142529]

Miss Melanie Johnson: This information could only be obtained at a disproportionate cost.

Sodium Depletion

Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what risk assessment his Department has conducted on depleted sodium levels in elderly people during hot weather conditions; [141465]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has not conducted any risk assessment on depleted sodium levels or issued any specific advice on salt consumption to older people during hot weather conditions.

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There is insufficient evidence to suggest that elderly people should modify their normal salt consumption during hot weather conditions. It is, however, important to maintain an adequate fluid intake.

Food Labelling

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will ask the Food Standards Agency to take steps to tackle misleading nutritional information in food labelling aimed at children. [143209]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) recognises that nutrition labelling can help parents choose food that contributes to a healthy diet for their children, but notes that currently there is no mandatory requirement for such information to be included on all food labels. The FSA would like to see such a requirement for all pre-packed food, including that aimed at children, and is pressing the European Commission to act on this. A proposal, which would revise the current legislation on nutrition labelling, is expected next year.

General Practitioners

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which (a) ambulance service and (b) acute NHS trusts have made representations about their capacity to assume additional responsibilities that may arise from the new general practitioner contract. [143190]

Mr. Hutton: No representations have been received.

Brian Cotter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many general practitioners were in training in (a) England and (b) North Somerset in each of the last five years. [142491]

Mr. Hutton [holding answer 8 December 2003]: The numbers of general practice registrars (GPRs) in England since 1998 and in North Somerset Primary Care Trust (PCT) since 2001 are shown in the table.

Information prior to 2001 is not available at PCT level.

GP registrars for England and North Somerset PCT
Number (headcount)

EnglandNorth Somerset PCT
June 20032,15711


Data as at 1 October 1998–99, 30 September 2000–02 and 30 June 2003.


Department of Health General and Personal Medical Services Statistics.

Genetic Information

Dr. Gibson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress is being made in developing a national policy on the use of genetic information by insurance companies after 2006; [142268]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: The Government have made clear their position on the use of genetic test results for underwriting life and health insurance in the October 2001 Government response to the report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee: Genetics and Insurance.

The Genetics and Insurance Committee (GAIC) is responsible for the evaluation of specific genetic tests and their relevance to particular types of insurance. The GAIC also provides independent scrutiny of compliance with the terms of the moratorium on the use of genetic test results by insurance companies, which runs until November 2006. If there is evidence of non-compliance with the moratorium by the insurance industry, then the Government are prepared to enforce it through legislation, if necessary.

The Human Genetics Commission (HGC) has been asked to work closely with the GAIC to provide Government with further advice in developing a longer-term policy on the use of genetic information by insurance companies.

The GAIC and HGC will also monitor the effectiveness of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) code of practice on genetics, which is mandatory for all ABI members.

The HGC and GAIC held a well-received joint public meeting in September 2003. A number of interested groups and members of the public attended this meeting, including representatives from organisations concerned with genetic disorders, as well as from insurance and re-insurance companies, and non-governmental organisations with an interest in this area. The HGC and GAIC are planning a further such meeting in 2004.

Research is also under way to consider the use of genetic information in insurance underwriting. This research will be completed by 2005.

GM Crops

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make a statement on the decision of the Food Standards Agency to vote to approve a licence for GM sweetcorn at the recent EU committee meeting; [143656]

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Miss Melanie Johnson: A vote on the authorisation of Bt11 sweetcorn was taken at a meeting of the Standing Committee on the Food Chain and Animal Health on 8 December. The Food Standards Agency represents the United Kingdom at this committee. As is always the case at such committees, the UK delegation presented a position on behalf of the Government, which was agreed after consulting Ministers from all relevant Departments.

The application for the authorisation of a line of genetically modified sweetcorn for food use was made in 1999 under the novel foods regulation (EC) No. 258/97. The dossier was reviewed by the European Union member states and then referred to the European Community Scientific Committee on Food (SCF). The SCF reviewed the application along with an additional dossier of information provided by the applicant, which responded to questions raised by member states. The SCF opinion was published in May 2002 and concluded that this line of GM sweetcorn is as safe for human food consumption as its conventional counterparts.

The UK supported the proposal for authorisation because the criteria laid out in the relevant legislation had been met, namely: the product does not present a risk to the consumer, does not mislead the consumer and is not nutritionally disadvantageous compared with other foods that it might replace.

Mersey Regional Ambulance Service

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library a copy of the report prepared by Ms Pearl Brown for the Mersey Regional Ambulance Service. [143487]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The report prepared by Ms Pearl Brown for the Mersey Regional Ambulance Service National Health Service Trust is not a Department of Health publication. The information requested is not held centrally by the Department of Health.

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what date (a) the Mersey Regional Ambulance Trust and (b) any member of its board received notification from the trust's solicitors that there was a prima facie case of gross misconduct against the chief executive; on what occasions this matter was discussed with the (i) chair and (ii) chief executive of the Strategic Health Authority; and what action was taken to investigate the matter following the advice from the trust's solicitors. [143490]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The matter to which the question refers is one of individual employment between the trust and the employee. The information requested is not held centrally at the Department of Health.

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