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19 Jan 2006 : Column 1520W—continued

WTO Meeting (Hong Kong)

Ms Barlow: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress has been made following the roadmap for a final agreement to the Doha development round agreed to in Hong Kong; what steps the Government are taking to promote a pro-development agenda within the negotiations; and if he will make a statement. [42512]

Ian Pearson: The World Trade Organisation ministerial in December set a deadline of the end of April for modalities, and the end of July for tariff schedules. Strong political will and hard work will be needed to achieve these deadlines. The World Economic Forum in Davos, later this month, and the associated trade meetings, will provide the first opportunity for the major players to define their ambitions for the year and to set out a path to April.

The UK Government are strongly committed to a pro-development outcome and will continue to push hard for an ambitious development package.


Animal Testing

Susan Kramer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans there are to carry out an independent assessment of the use of animals in (a) drug safety testing and (b) medical research; and if she will make a statement. [41103]

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Jane Kennedy: There are no plans for an independent assessment of the use of animals as surrogate humans in either drug safety testing or medicinal research.


Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Healthwhat studies have been (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated by her Department on the potential dangers to health from the inclusion of aspartame in foodstuffs; and if she will list make a statement. [42625]

Caroline Flint: Aspartame was first reviewed in 1982 by the United Kingdom's Committee on toxicity, consumer products and the environment (COT), a committee of independent experts who advise the Government on the safety of food chemicals. New data on aspartame was reviewed by COT in 1992 and the UK Committee on the carcinogenicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment (COC) in 1996. The COT was satisfied that aspartame was acceptable for use in food and the COC considered there was no link between brain tumors and aspartame.

In 2001, the European Commission's Scientific Committee on food (SCF) revisited its previous safety assessment of aspartame and concluded that there is no evidence to suggest a need to revise the outcome of their earlier risk assessment.

In July 2005, the COC considered the findings of a study published by the Ramazzini Institute on the potential carcinogenicity of aspartame. The Committee made initial observations on the data and noted the data will be fully evaluated by the European Food Safety Authority. The Food Standards Agency will consider its position on aspartame in light of the advice from EFSA, when this is received.

Blood Type

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department takes to ensure that individuals are aware of their blood type. [42027]

Caroline Flint: The Department has no plans to ensure that individuals are made aware of their blood type.


Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) evaluated on the health effects of food additional to breast milk on babies aged between four and six months. [29594]

Caroline Flint: The Department recommends breast milk as the best form of nutrition for infants and recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of an infant's life. If a mother is unable to, or chooses not to breastfeed, a breast milk substitute should be used.

The Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition stated in 2003 that there is sufficient evidence that exclusive breastfeeding for six months is nutritionally adequate. The Department has not commissioned further research into the health effects of food additional to breast milk between four and six months.
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BT10 Contamination Incident

Alan Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the gross cost to public funds was of the recent BT10 contamination incident; and what proportion of costs incurred have been refunded by Syngenta. [42405]

Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency has not estimated the total cost to public funds associated with the recent BT10 contamination incident. No costs have been refunded by Syngenta.

Community Health Services

Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements she proposes to put in place for (a) reviewing and (b) managing clinical governance in areas where a variety of providers deliver community health services. [41890]

Jane Kennedy [holding answer 16 January 2006]: Primary care trusts (PCTs) are responsible for ensuring that community health services have satisfactory arrangements for clinical governance, whether they are provided by the PCT or commissioned from alternative providers. The Healthcare Commission's annual health check of PCTs will among other things assess how well they are discharging this responsibility.

Cosmetic Surgery

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate has been made of the total cost of the website providing information for people considering cosmetic surgery, as announced by her Department's Chief Medical Officer on 22 December 2005, broken down by cost area; and what her latest estimate is of the website's annual running costs. [41966]

Jane Kennedy: The Department wishes to promote patient safety by ensuring that people who are considering cosmetic surgery have access to reliable, evidence-based information to help them to make properly informed decisions. The Department therefore launched its information resource for patients considering cosmetic surgery on 22 December 2005.

The Department spent £5,000 on developing the text of this resource, which is not hosted as a separate website but is held in a dedicated section comprising of 58 pages within the main Departmental website. It is not possible to provide a breakdown of maintenance or development costs by section or page.

Mrs. James: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the regulation of the cosmetic surgery industry. [42045]

Jane Kennedy: Cosmetic surgery is currently regulated as a listed service under the Care Standards Act. Providers must adhere to the provisions of the Private and Voluntary Healthcare Regulations 2001 and are inspected by the Healthcare Commission.

The Department accepted the recommendations made in the report of the expert group on the Regulation of Cosmetic Surgery, published on 28 January 2005, and plans to regulate to improve patient safety for people receiving non-surgical cosmetic treatments involving botulinum toxin and dermal fillers.
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Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of the availability of diamorphine to the NHS. [41899]

Jane Kennedy: The Department is in close contact with both suppliers of diamorphine to the national health service and is continuing to monitor the supply situation carefully. The product is available from both Wockhardt UK and Chiron, but supplies are limited and are likely to remain so for the coming months.


Mr. Pelling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health which health authorities allow for the prescription of Femara. [41122]

Jane Kennedy: Femara (letrozole) is licensed for the treatment of early invasive breast cancer in postmenopausal women who have received prior standard adjuvant tamoxifen therapy. Prescribing of Femara is a matter for local decision; there are no national restrictions on the prescribing of this drug.
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The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is currently undertaking an appraisal of Femara as part of a wider appraisal of hormonal therapies for the treatment of early breast cancer. Information about NICE'S current work programme is available on the NICE'S website at

In 1999, the Department issued Health Service Circular (HSC) 1999/176, which asks national health service bodies to continue with local arrangements for the managed introduction of new technologies where guidance from NICE has not yet been issued. These arrangements should include an assessment of the available evidence.

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