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John Penrose: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many drug-related admissions to (a) hospitals and (b) accident and emergency departments there were in North Somerset in (i) 2003, (ii) 2004 and (iii) 2005. 
|A&E admissions(11)||Total admissions|
Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has commissioned research in a number of areas relevant to the safety assessment of genetically modified (GM) foods. This research is undertaken by independent research scientists and the work is peer reviewed before the reports of the research are made publicly available through the FSA's library. Details of the research are published in the annual reports of the FSA's research and surveys programmes and also available on FSA's website at: www.food.gov.uk/science/research/researchinfo/foodcomponentresearch/novelfoodresearch/g01programme/ and at: www.food.gov.uk/science/research/researchinfo/foodcomponentresearch/novelfoodresearch/g02programme/.
GM foods are thoroughly assessed for safety on a case by case basis before they can be authorised in the European Union and this involves scrutiny of the scientific evidence concerning potential risks to human health. In addition, the FSA seeks advice from the advisory committee on novel food and processes on any new information that has implications for the safety of
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GM foods. Details of the advisory committee's evaluations of GM food safety research are available on its website and in its annual reports. The assessments of new GM food products are conducted at EU level by the European Food Safety Authority, which also publishes reports and opinions on the scientific data that it has evaluated.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to improve the collection of data in respect of sexual health interventions in (a) primary care and (b) genito-urinary medicine clinics. 
Caroline Flint: There is a variety of sexual health related surveillance data currently produced and routinely distributed to service providers and commissioners. These include data on sexually transmitted infections and waiting times for genitor-urinary medicine (GUM) appointments, which are collected and published by the Health Protection Agency and the Office of National Statistics published data on conceptions.
We recognise, however, that further improvements to the collection and availability of data are needed in order to meet the challenges of improving sexual health. To this end, the Department is currently funding a project to develop a common data set for sexual health with the aim of it being approved as a national health service information standard later this year. The standard is being assured by the Information Standards Board to ensure interoperability with other standards, fitness for purpose and implementability.
The common data set will apply to all settings providing sexual health services, including primary care, and will provide, among other improvements, much better residence based information at local level. It is anticipated that the common data set will ultimately be collected through the systems being put in place by the national programme for information technology in the NHS (Connecting for Health) and that data will be made available for surveillance, performance monitoring and other purposes.
Mr. Ian Austin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer to Question 15379, on influenza, what mechanisms she has put in place to monitor international research into the causes of influenza. 
Caroline Flint: The national expert panel on new and emerging infections, set up in 2003 on the recommendation of the Chief Medical Officer, advises the Department on both national and international threats from infection to public health and on research. The panel's terms of reference and other details are available on the Department's website at:
The Medical Research Council (MRC), an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Technology, has a long-established and central role in influenza research. The World Health Organisation's international influenza centre, part of the MRC's National Institute for Medical Research, works with a network of collaborating laboratories to detect and characterise new influenza viruses wherever in the world they emerge, and contributes to international research.
Mr. Ancram: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the proportion of processed food in the United Kingdom which contains (a) added sugar, (b) Aspartame and (c) neither. 
Caroline Flint: The Food Standards Agency does not hold information on all processed products on sale in the United Kingdom, and their ingredients. No estimate has been made of the proportion of these foods that contain added sugar, aspartame or neither of these substances.
Legislation defines that aspartame is only permitted to be used in certain categories of foodstuffs, in particular energy-reduced or no-added-sugar varieties. Intake estimates have been conducted that assume aspartame is used at the maximum permitted level in all foods permitted to contain the sweetener. These have shown that consumers, including young children, are unlikely to exceed the acceptable daily intake for this sweetener.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the oral statement of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for public health in Standing Committee E of 6 December 2005, Official Report, column 70, what exemptions must be made to a ban on smoking in workplaces and public places to satisfy compatibility with the European Convention on Human Rights; 
(2) if she will place in the Library a copy of the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State's reply to the Joint Committee on Human Rights letter on the subject of her proposals for a smoking ban being incompatible with Article 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights. 
Caroline Flint: The European Convention on Human Rights requires a fair balance to be struck between the rights of those who seek smoke-free areas and the rights of those who smoke. That balance may be different in different states and it may change from time to time. However, the Convention does not make requirements in relation to particular categories of premises.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights' report, Legislation Scrutiny: Third Progress Report", published on 19 December 2005, includes a letter from the Chairman asking a number of questions about what will be needed for the Health Bill to satisfy compatibility requirements. The Secretary of State will be responding to that letter in due course and a copy of the reply will be placed in the Library. A copy of the report is available in the Library.
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