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12 Feb 2004 : Column 1674Wcontinued
I refer my hon. Friend to the answers I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Folkestone and Hythe (Mr. Howard) at Prime Minister's Questions on 11 February 2004, Official Report, columns 140506.
Mr. Meacher: To ask the Prime Minister with reference to the information received on 29 August 2002 that some of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction could be deployed within 45 minutes of an order to use them, on what date he published the information that this referred to battlefield weapons. 
Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister whether changes were made to the content of the Iraq weapons of mass destruction dossier between the version signed off by John Scarlett on 20 September 2002 and the version sent to the printer for publication; on what day the final version was delivered to the printer; and on what day the printing was done. 
The Prime Minister: John Scarlett set out to Lord Hutton the changes that were made to the dossier and explained how they were made to bring the text in line with underlying intelligence. The dossier was sent to the printers on 20 September. Further manuscript changes were made by Mr. Scarlett and his staff that day, acting under the delegated authority of the Joint Intelligence Committee, and are set out at Appendix 12 of Lord Hutton's report.
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Mr. Scarlett made further grammatical changes at the proof-reading stage at the printer and deleted a reference to the Iraqi football team under the sub-heading: "Saddam Hussein's Family" in part 3 of the document.
Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) of 4 February 2004, Official Report, column 772, if he will list the occasions between 1 January 2003 and 1 May 2003 when the 45-minute matter in respect of alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was raised with him. 
Glenda Jackson: To ask the Prime Minister pursuant to his oral answer to the hon. Member for Croydon, South on 4 February 2004, Official Report, column 772, when he knew that the 45-minute launch time referred to Iraqi battlefield chemical and biological weapons. 
Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Prime Minister (1) pursuant to his statement on 4 February on what date after 18 March 2003 he was first made aware that the 45-minute claim related to battlefield weapons or small calibre weaponry; 
The Prime Minister: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Members for Montgomeryshire (Lembit Öpik) Croydon, South (Richard Ottaway) and Tonbridge and Malling (Sir John Stanley) on 10 February 2004, Official Report, column 134546W.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Prime Minister what information the British Government passed to Dr. Hans Blix to assist in his search for weapons of mass destruction; what the results were of the weapons inspectors' investigations following up information passed on by the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement. 
The Prime Minister: Since 1991, successive Governments have assisted the work of UN inspectors in Iraq, including Dr. Hans Blix and UNMOVIC. The Government provided information on our understanding of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and their associated programmes, based on all available
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sources. Dr. Blix acknowledged this himself on 13 January 2003 when he said on the BBC World Service:
Information passed by the Government would have been incorporated with information obtained by the UN inspectors from their other sources. It is not possible to say what the results were of UN inspectors' investigations based only on information passed by HMG.
Llew Smith: To ask the Prime Minister what correspondence he has received from Nirex in respect of the issues raised by the proposed compensation of host communities chosen as locations for radioactive waste management repositories. 
The Prime Minister: As far as I am aware, I have received one letter from Nirex on this issue drawing attention to the Nirex report, published in 2002, entitled "Compensation in Radioactive Waste Management: Ethical Issues in the Treatment of Host Communities".
The Prime Minister: Sir John Chilcot GCB has served as Staff Counsellor for the Security and Intelligence Services (the Security Service, Secret Intelligence Service and GCHQ) since 1 April 1999. He was due to retire from the post on 31 March 2004. On 3 February, however, I appointed Sir John to the Committee to Review Intelligence on Weapons of Mass Destruction and he relinquished his role as Staff Counsellor that day.
I have now appointed John Warne CB, Director-General for Counter-Terrorism, Organised Crime, Drugs and International Affairs at the Home Office until September 2002, as his successor, with effect from 4 February 2004 and he will take on all new cases. Sir John Chilcot will continue to deal with those cases that he was handling prior to 3 February, and is confident that there is no conflict of interest.
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Miss Melanie Johnson: It has been scientifically established that the strains of agent causing bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) are indistinguishable, and the most plausible explanation, although not yet proven, is that BSE transmitted to humans via contaminated meat or meat products. In 2002, the World Health Organisation published consumer information, which states that the consumption of contaminated meat and other food products from cattle with BSE is presumed to be the cause of vCJD in humans.
The United Kingdom has in place stringent controls to minimise the risk of the BSE agent getting into the food chain. These include a ban on mammalian and other processed animal proteins being fed to farmed livestock; the specified risk material (SRM) controls that prohibit from human consumption those parts of the animal that might harbour BSE; and the over 30 months rule that does not permit most older animals to enter the food chain. The Beef Assurance Scheme does allow a few older animals into the food chain, if reared from grass in beef herds, subject to special rules. All measures currently in place are rigorously enforced, for example by members of the Meat Hygiene Service supervising activity at abattoirs.
Miss Melanie Johnson: An increase in deaths in the United Kingdom from sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) from about 10 per year in 1970 to about 40 a year in the 1990s has been reported. These rates are comparable to those observed elsewhere in the world, including countries free of bovine spongiform
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encephalopathy (BSE). The increased numbers reported probably reflects improved diagnosis, particularly in elderly patients.
Recent examination of the possible causes of the increased rates of sporadic CJD in Switzerland concluded that there was no evidence that the Swiss patients developed the disease as a result of exposure to BSE.
A laboratory study in an animal model published in 2002 (Asante et al 2002. EMBO Journal vol 21) raised the possibility that BSE infection may be linked with disease pathology characteristic of sporadic CJD in humans. Copies are available in the Library. The Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee (SEAC), the independent, international group of experts that advises the United Kingdom Government on all matters connected with transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, considered this paper in February 2003 and acknowledged that it was plausible but considered that the new work did not provide strong evidence to support the hypothesis.
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