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Afghanistan/UK Enduring Relationship

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): I wish to inform the House that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and His Excellency Hamid Karzai, President of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, signed a joint declaration of
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an enduring relationship between the UK and Afghanistan on 19 July, a copy of which I have placed in the Library of the House.

2004 Annual Report on Strategic Arms Controls

The Minister for the Middle East (Dr. Kim Howells): The 2004 annual report on Strategic Export Controls will be published at 1400 today as a Command Paper. Copies will be placed in the Library of the House. The report includes information on licensing decisions made during 2004 as well as describing UK policy and international developments in export control regimes.

The annual report on Strategic Export Controls is an innovation of this Government. Our defence export licensing system is one of the most rigorous and open regimes in the world and the annual report symbolises our commitment to accountability and transparency. Since 2004 the Government have also produced quarterly reports. This will be the Government's eighth annual report (the first report was published in 1997). The report will be available on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website ( and also published through the stationery office. This year, due to the increasing volume of information on strategic exports that is being published by the Government, the annual report will be available on a CD ROM. This CD will also include quarterly reports in 2004, information on licence refusals and further information on trade licences issued.

Wilton Park's Annual Report and Accounts

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (Mr. Jack Straw): Wilton Park is an academically independent executive agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Its annual report and accounts for 2004–05 is published today.

Highlights of the last year include: the greatest ever number of conferences held by Wilton Park—58; an increase in the number of overseas conferences, including the first ones held in the Arab world and sub-Saharan Africa; continued high ratings from participants of the value of Wilton Park conferences (although these were slightly below a demanding target).

Wilton Park's performance against agreed targets for 2004–05 is shown below.
Total income£3.9 million£3.7 million
Excellent rating for programmes57 per cent.54.5 per cent.
Excellent rating for administration89 per cent.84.2 per cent.

Targets for 2005–06 are:

Target 1: Wilton Park should achieve an average "excellent" rating for their programme higher than the previous year's rating of 54.5 per cent.

Target 2: The impact of Wilton Park conferences on policy and opinion should receive the positive endorsement of its Academic Council and the FCO.

Target 3: Wilton Park should recover all its running costs from conference and commercial income. Total planned income for 2005–06 is £4.2 million
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Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Ms Rosie Winterton): The 2004–05 annual report for the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health, HC194, was laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library.

NHS Estates and Facilities Management Development Agency Annual Report and Accounts

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Jane Kennedy): We have received the NHS Estates and Facilities Management Development Agency annual report and accounts 2004–05 and copies have today been laid in accordance with the requirements of section 5 of the Exchequer and Audit Departments Act 1921.

The report describes the agency's performance against key tasks and targets and incorporates its accounts for that year.

Copies of the annual report and accounts 2004–05 have been placed in the Library.

Variant CJD

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Caroline Flint): Further to the statements made to the House by the then Secretary of State my right hon. Friend the Member for Airdrie and Shotts (John Reid), on 17 December 2003 and 16 March 2004 (and the written statements of 22 July 2004 and 9 September 2004) concerning variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) and blood, I wish to provide a further update on this subject.

Following cases of possible transmission of vCJD by blood transfusion, we have already put in place a series of precautionary public health measures.

In December 2003 we put in place arrangements for contacting recipients of blood from donors who went on to develop vCJD so that any necessary action could be taken.

Since April 2004 we have excluded anyone who has received a blood transfusion since January 1980 from donating blood.

In September 2004 we announced arrangements to identify and notify patients who had received certain batches of UK manufactured plasma products.

In the light of further advice I have received from two of my Department's expert committees, the CJD Incidents Panel (CJDIP) and the Committee on Microbiological Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (MSBTO), I am now announcing further public health precautions in relation to a small group of blood donors whose blood has been transfused to people who later developed vCJD.

The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, had asked the expert committees to consider the implications for donors where a recipient of their blood had developed vCJD. The recommendations of the committees are based on an assessment of risk undertaken by the Department of Health's analysts. The risk assessment is being published on the Department's website.

There are 110 donors in the UK whose blood was given to three people who later developed vCJD and for whom this blood might be a possible source of their
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infection. The advice of the committees is that, although we do not know whether these cases of vCJD could be related to the blood that they received, we should take precautionary steps to inform and support the individual blood donors concerned and to safeguard public health.

As an extension to the current precautionary measures, these people are being contacted by the National Blood Service and advised not to donate blood, tissues or organs. Current donors from this group of 110 are being contacted today and offered expert advice and support. The National Blood Service will contact the GPs of lapsed donors, that is those who have not donated blood during the last five years, and make arrangements to contact these people as soon as practicable.

The committees have also advised that the donors in question should be considered at risk of vCJD for wider public health purposes and that the donors and their clinicians should be informed of their risk status and asked to implement the public health precautions currently specified by the CJD Incidents Panel. This means that they should inform doctors, nurses and dentists of their status if they present for surgery or other invasive medical procedures.

These public health precautionary measures are the same as those applied to any patients considered by the CJDIP to be at risk of vCJD, including the individuals notified following the previous statements to the House.

There is another group of people for whom further public health precautions may need to be considered. This group is all the other recipients of blood from the currently identified group of 110 donors (estimated to be up to 3,000 individuals). At present, these people are already excluded from blood donation themselves by the measures implemented in April 2004. I have asked for additional expert advice on this group and I will take further action if necessary.

Blood donors should be assured that it is not possible to contract vCJD by giving blood. Blood donors are highly committed to helping others and we greatly value their contribution. The NHS depends on their continued commitment to donating blood which saves lives every day in this country.

The vast majority of the over two million current blood donors will not be involved in this new safety measure and need take no action. However, current and past blood donors who are concerned can contact the National Blood Service helpline on 0845 7711711. People who have received blood donations and other members of the public who are concerned should contact NHS Direct on 0845 850 9850.

As with our actions to date on the possible transmission of vCJD, we continue to follow a highly precautionary approach.

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