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29 Jun 2004 : Column 158W—continued

Foot and Mouth

Paul Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs when the decision was made to consider vaccination in the event of a future outbreak of foot and mouth disease; and for what reason the decision was taken. [180307]

Mr. Bradshaw: Following the 2001 outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), an independent inquiry by the Royal Society recommended that "emergency vaccination should now be considered as part of the control strategy from the start of any outbreak of FMD". The Government accepted this recommendation and has since been working to ensure emergency vaccination is a fully viable disease control strategy in the event of a future outbreak.
 
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GM Crops

Mr. David Stewart: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to commission further independent testing of GM crops. [179509]

Mr. Morley: The Government are committed to continuing their funding of research to underpin risk assessment of genetically modified organisms, and we will commission individual research projects as necessary. Details of current and planned projects are published on the Defra website. However, it is for those developing GM crop plants to provide sufficient evidence of the safety of individual GM events as part of the dossier supporting an application for consent to market a GM crop.

The devolved Administrations have responsibility for tests and trials of GM crops carried out in Scotland and Wales.

Pest Control

Paddy Tipping: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if she will make a statement on her policy on allowing general licences to shoot pests; and what plans she has to amend this in connection with wild birds. [179717]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 23 June 2004]: Within Great Britain, all wild birds are protected under section 1 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, which generally prohibits the killing, injuring or taking of any wild bird. However, section 16 of the Act sets out the
 
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categories under which the Department can issue derogation licences in order to control certain necessary conduct, which would otherwise be prohibited.

Defra is conducting a pre-consultation exercise on the general licences that allow the killing or taking of certain birds. It is important that our licences remain robust; fit for purpose, and accord with the "EC Wild Birds Directive" 1 .

We believe that the most effective method of licensing in certain circumstances is via general licences. These licences allow persons wishing to undertake action to do so immediately where there is no other satisfactory alternative and where action is imperative. The consultation paper can be viewed at the Defra website www.defra.gov.uk . The consultation period is due to end on the 14 July, after which the licences will be reviewed taking into account the consultation responses.

Rod Licences

Chris Ruane: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many rod licences were granted, broken down by age category, in each of the last 10 years. [180025]

Mr. Bradshaw: The following table sets out the total numbers of angling rod licences issued in England and Wales over the last 10 years, giving the breakdown by age groups for each year since 1999–2000. This breakdown is not available for years prior to 1999–2000.
12–1617–2425–3435–4445–5455–6465+Total
1994–951,003,381
1995–961,000,646
1996–971,171,914
1997–981,196,417
1998–991,143,883
1999–20009,079180,539175,406240,815213,837159,657140,1301,119,463
2000–0126,661160,263170,783231,911205,834153,561129,7311,078,744
2001–0265,667158,071186,824243,236209,117155,211126,5271,144,653
2002–03101,456144,645194,140252,434213,789158,395123,5561,188,415
2003–04131,130140,701208,202266,110223,179167,398124,3951,261,115

HEALTH

Brain Tumours

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what plans he has to increase the geographical spread of facilities to treat brain tumour patients; [181317]

(2) what steps his Department is taking to increase the availability of specialised professional support for brain tumour patients. [181361]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The Department has commissioned the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop service guidance on tumours of the brain and central nervous system for use in the national health service in England and Wales. The guidance will address services for the diagnosis, staging and treatment, follow up, rehabilitation and specific elements of supportive and palliative care that meet the particular needs of patients with brain and central nervous system tumours and of their families and carers. The guidance will support the planning, organisation and commissioning of services to ensure the best possible outcomes for patients. The guidance will specifically address the role of multi-disciplinary teams in the patient pathway. NICE expects to publish the guidance in August 2005.

It is for local health communities to decide how best to provide services for their local populations.

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) emotional, (b) practical and (c) financial support is provided by the Government for (i) those suffering from brain tumours and (ii) family carers of brain tumour patients. [181362]

Miss Melanie Johnson: Support for patients with cancer—of whatever type—and their carers is provided through the relevant services in the national health
 
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service and through the increased funding that the Government has invested in the service, including that committed in the NHS cancer plan.

The Department has commissioned the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) to develop service guidance on tumours of the brain and central nervous system for use in the NHS in England and Wales. The guidance will address services for the diagnosis, staging and treatment, follow up, rehabilitation, specific elements of supportive and palliative care that meet the particular needs of patients with brain and central nervous system tumours and of their families and carers and communication and information resources. NICE expect to publish the guidance in August 2005.

Additionally, the recently published guidance from NICE on improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer will benefit all patients with cancer, including those with brain tumours.

Benefits for patients with cancer are provided through the Department for Work and Pensions. The Department goes to considerable lengths to publicise available benefits and is engaged in a modernisation programme to improve delivery of benefits, such as disability living allowance and attendance allowance, including the introduction of shorter and more accessible claim forms.

The Department makes grants to voluntary organisations to provide information and support to carers. Carers are entitled to an assessment to determine their needs as carers and eligibility for support including short-term breaks. To support carers financially, the carers allowance was introduced in 2001.

Cannabis

Mrs. Gillan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action has been taken on the implications of cannabis smoking for respiratory health since the publication of the British Lung Foundation report, A Smoking Gun. [179327]

Miss Melanie Johnson: The harms caused by cannabis smoking are kept under expert review. Since the British Lung Foundation report the Department has commissioned and published an update of "Dangerousness of Drugs" (2003), an independent expert review of the harms caused by drugs of misuse, which addresses the risks associated with smoking. In addition, the FRANK campaign and website, "talktofrank", have raised awareness of these risks, increasing knowledge among young people of the illegality of cannabis use and the fact that it is a harmful substance.

The Department has also set up an expert working group made up of members of the scientific committee on tobacco and health and the advisory council on the misuse of drugs to consider the issues of cannabis and tobacco smoking, and has commissioned research into the smoke produced by these substances, on the advice of this group, with results due later this year.


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