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Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on progress of the EU proposal for a regulation on the addition of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to foods; what her objectives are for the negotiations on this legislation; what assessment she has made of the implications for the setting of maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements under article 5 of the food supplements directive of the proposed authorisation of the fortification of foods under this new regulation; and if she will make a statement. 
Caroline Flint: The proposed European Parliament and Council regulation on the addition of vitamins and minerals and other substances to foods has completed its first reading under the co-decision procedures and is due to begin its second reading in the European Parliament. The United Kingdom has achieved key objectives during the first reading phase of protecting traditional products and of introducing harmonised European Commission arrangements for assessment and possible action concerning the safety of substances other than vitamins and minerals. Our objective is to help steer this proposal to adoption to ensure consumer protection and harmonised rules within the single market.
The proposal provides for the setting of maximum amounts for vitamins and minerals in foods, not food supplements, which must take into account a scientific risk assessment and intakes from other dietary sources, including food supplements. Article 5 of EC Directive 2002/46/EC on food supplements already contains a similar provision.
There are, as yet, no EC proposals for the setting of maximum levels for vitamins and minerals, and the Government have made no assessment in relation to their application to food supplements or the fortification of foods. Once proposals come forward, a regulatory impact assessment will be prepared and published for consultation.
Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assistance will be made available to small and medium-sized enterprises from (a) the Government and (b) the European Union in relation to the costs of compliance with the provisions of the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive; and if she will make a statement. 
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency has to date held around 60 meetings to offer regulatory advice to individual companies on their initial plans to register traditional herbal medicines. These meetings are helping companies to use their resources effectively in preparing to meet the requirements of the new registration scheme. The Small Business Service offers guidance and information on new directives and regulations on its website at www.businesslink.gov.uk. The website also sets out the range of support, not linked to specific legislation, that is offered to small business.
11 Jan 2006 : Column 724W
Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will list all tests carried out for the unauthorised presence of Bt10 in imported (a) maize, (b) maize products and (c) processed foodstuffs intended for (i) animal and (ii) human consumption; and which tests were (A) positive and (B) negative; 
(2) if she will list all tests carried out for the presence of the illegal GM maize variety Bt10 at (a) British ports and (b) other entry points since March 2005; and which tests were (i) positive and (ii) negative. 
Caroline Flint: The sampling of animal feeds (corn gluten feed and brewers' grains) for Bt10 has been carried out by local authorities within their jurisdiction since March 2005. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) does not hold information on the samples taken or the number of samples tested. This information is held by the authorities, which carried out sampling. The FSA is not aware of any sample that was tested and found to be positive for the presence of Bt10 maize.
The FSA has carried out its own survey in order to increase the number of samples tested for Bt10 maize. The intention of this survey was to sample consignments of raw or minimally processed maize products for animal and human consumption coming into the United Kingdom from the United States of America either at ports or at importers or feed mill premises. Results will be published in early 2006 in accordance with FSA's guidelines on surveys to publish results within 20 weeks of sampling.
Mr. Byrne: General practitioner (GP) practices have been able to participate in practice based commissioning (PBC) since April 2005. Prior to this, practices have not been delegated indicative PBC budgets. Therefore, it is not possible to provide the data requested. The publication Practice Based Commissioning:" Engaging practices in commissioning' is available on the Department's website at:
www.dh.gov.uk/assetRoot/04/09/03/59/04090359.pdf. Paragraphs 19 to 22 and 33 of this publication address and provide guidance on the issue of GP practices overspending against their indicative practice based commissioning budgets.
In line with the policy of Shifting the Balance of Power", it is now for primary care trusts to plan, develop and improve general practitioner services. This includes making decisions about the location and relocation of general practitioner practices.
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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how compliance with section 15 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003 is monitored; and which NHS organisations (a) have reached, (b) are below and (c) have exceeded the cap applied under that section. 
Mr. Byrne: The terms of authorisation for national health service foundation trusts (NHSFTs) sets out the limitation on the level of income that can be derived from private patient charges in any financial year. This limitation is underpinned by section 15 of the Health and Social Care (Community Health and Standards) Act 2003. Each of the current 32 NHSFTs is therefore required under primary legislation and their terms of authorisation to limit the percentage of private patient income to the same level as it was when the organisation was an NHS trust in 200203, and cannot increase its income from private patients at the expense of NHS patients.
Monitor (the statutory name of which is the Independent Regulator of NHS Foundation Trusts) assesses whether NHSFTs are complying with their terms of authorisation using its compliance framework, which is available at www.monitor-nhsft.gov.uk. Compliance with the restriction on private patient activity is measured on an annual basis, I am informed by the chairman of Monitor that no NHSFT has so far exceeded its 'private patient cap'. To do so would mean breaching a statutory duty and the terms of authorisation, where Monitor could use its powers to intervene. Further details on the restriction of private patient income for NHSFTs can be found in Monitor's Review and Consolidated Accounts of NHS Foundation Trusts 200405, which was recently laid before Parliament and is also available on Monitor's website.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the oral evidence from Mr. Andrew Foster to the Health Committee on 1 December 2005, HC 736-i, on public expenditure on health and personal social services 2005, what the figures on agency staff are which are referred to at Question 128. 
Mr. Byrne: The figures referred to in the question are the provisional 200405 trust financial returns which show that the percentage of total national health service pay bill spent on agency staff has decreased from 5.1 per cent, in 200304 to 4.2 per cent, in 200405. This is the lowest percentage level in six years.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to question 172 of the oral evidence from Mr. John Bacon to the Health Committee on 1 December 2005, HC736-i, on public expenditure on health and personal social services, how many patients were waiting over (a) six months for in-patient treating and (b) 13 weeks for out-patient treatment in each week since 30 September. 
Mr. Byrne: The information requested is shown in the table. It is important to note that this weekly provider data are not subject to the same validation process as the monthly and quarterly commissioner data published by the Department and is therefore not as robust.
|Over six month in-patient waits||Over 13 week out-patient waits|
|25 September 2005||39,635||50,462|
|2 October 2005||36,119||43,666|
|9 October 2005||35,476||45,300|
|16 October 2005||34,001||44,402|
|23 October 2005||31,241||39,708|
|30 October 2005||27,473||33,769|
|6 November 2005||26,112||32,995|
|13 November 2005||24,781||32,253|
|20 November 2005||21,587||28,668|
|27 November 2005||17,084||22,059|
|4 December 2005||12,962||13,529|
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the oral evidence from Sir Nigel Crisp to the Health Committee on 1 December, HC736-i, on public expenditure on health and personal social services 2005, if she will break down the efficiency savings referred to at question 8 by cost area; how much of the saving was made (a) centrally and (b) in each strategic health authority area; and in what time frame she intends further savings to be made. 
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