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Varietal Genetic Use Technologies

David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what the Government's criteria are for assessing the potential socio-economic impact of varietal genetic use restriction technologies. [58602]

Mr. Morley [holding answer 14 March 2006]: The UK has a position established at the CBD meeting in 2000 on varietal genetic use restriction technology which involves application of the precautionary principle and a scientific assessment of individual applications. Our position remains unchanged.

We would assess any application for approval in the EU of a genetically modified organism (GMO) incorporating varietal genetic use restriction technologies according to the criteria set out under European legislation. These criteria
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include an assessment of the potential environmental impact but not specifically socio-economic impacts although such assessment is included in the Cartagena protocol which the UK has ratified. This also gives individual developing countries the right to decide whether to apply this technology.

Under article 31 of Directive 2001/18/EC the Commission is bound to provide every three years a report which includes, among other things, an assessment of the socioeconomic implications of deliberate releases and placing on the market of GMOs.

Currently no approval exists for any GMO incorporating such technologies in the EU, nor does any application for the approval of such a GMO exist.

Waste Strategy

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what performance by her Department has been against each of the targets in the Waste Strategy 2000. [59602]

Mr. Bradshaw [holding answer 17 March 2006]: Good progress has been made since this Government's strategy on waste, was published in May 2000. Latest figures for 2004–05 show that recycling and composting rates for household waste have doubled to 22.9 per cent., putting local authorities on course to meet the 2005 national recycling and composting target of 25 per cent. In 2003–04, 28 per cent. of municipal waste had some sort of value recovered from it. Despite expected further increases in recycling the 2005 target of recovering value from 40 per cent. of municipal waste seems unlikely to be met.

The amount of most kind of wastes going to landfill has decreased—down from 82 per cent. to 72 per cent. for municipal waste (1998–89 and 2003–04) and from 50 per cent. to 44 per cent. for industrial and commercial waste (1998–89 and 2002–03), putting us on course to meet our 2005 target of reducing the amount of commercial and industrial waste landfilled to 85 per cent. of that landfilled in 1998. More detailed information on performance against targets can be found in the annex to the consultation document on the review of England's Waste Strategy available on:


Ambulance Staff (Assaults)

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to reduce physical assaults on ambulance personnel. [59971]

Ms Rosie Winterton: In November 2003 a comprehensive range of measures were introduced by the NHS Security Management Service (NHS SMS), to proactively and reactively tackle the problem of violence against national health service staff, including those that work in the ambulance services.
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These initiatives include the introduction of local security management specialists (LSMS) to provide all NHS health bodies, including ambulance service trusts, with professional skills and expertise locally to tackle security-related problems, including violence against NHS staff. A specific training syllabus for the prevention and management of violence is being developed for ambulance personnel and is to be launched in 2006. The NHS SMS, working in partnership with the Home Office, is evaluating how the use of technology and other interventions can be used to better protect ambulance staff. The project is due to report later in 2006.

Breast Cancer

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects all cancer networks to have fully implemented HER2 testing for women with breast cancer. [59932]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 20 March 2006]: Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, is working with cancer networks to ensure HER2 testing arrangements are put in place as soon as possible. He will be reporting to my right hon. Friend shortly on progress and a summary of the position will be made available in due course.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the capacity of cancer networks to offer HER2 testing to women diagnosed with breast cancer and who could benefit from the drug Herceptin; and whether she plans to ensure all cancer networks have access to at least one such testing facility. [60395]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Professor Mike Richards, the National Cancer Director, is working with cancer networks to ensure that testing arrangements are put in place to enable all women who require it to be tested for HER2 status. This work is ongoing and a summary of the position will be made available in due course.

Child Obesity

Mr. Andy Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what meetings she has had with the Secretary of State for (a) Education and Skills and (b) Culture, Media and Sport since 1 January to discuss child obesity; [59954]

(2) what mechanisms are in place to co-ordinate action on child obesity between her Department and the Departments of Culture, Media and Sport and Education and Skills. [59955]

Caroline Flint: Since 1 January 2006, no meetings have taken place between the Secretaries of State for Health, Education and Skills and Culture, Media and Sport. However, regular meetings have been held between senior Departmental officials to discuss issues related to child obesity.

Regarding mechanisms to co-ordinate action, an obesity programme board was set up in July 2005, to oversee and performance manage the delivery of the obesity public service agreement target as well as to
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facilitate and encourage co-ordinated cross-government action. The board meets regularly, consists of senior representatives from the three target-holding Departments as well as other Government departments with an interest and reports to the health improvement board and to the primary board in the Department for Education and Skills. The cross-government Every Child Matters: Change for Children Group" is also kept informed. In recognition of the need for cross-government action, other joint working between Departments includes work on the healthy schools programme, on restricting promotion of unhealthy food to children, and on promoting physical activity.

Community Hospitals

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has (a) to build and (b) to close community hospitals in the South West London and St George's NHS Trust region. [58925]

Jane Kennedy: As confirmed in the recent White Paper 'Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services', the Government fully intends to fulfil its manifesto commitment to develop a new generation of modern National Health Service community hospitals over the next five years. To make this possible an initial capital investment of £100 million to build, rebuild, or refurbish at least fifty community hospitals has been identified.

However, configuration of local service provision facilities remains a matter for primary care trusts. Therefore, the Department does not centrally hold information on local plans, such as for South West London or St. George's Healthcare NHS Trust region, to build or close community hospitals. Paragraph 6.44 of the white paper explains that the Department will be inviting:

Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she has taken to monitor proposals to close inpatient beds in community hospitals in (a) Kingston and Surbiton, (b) South West London and (c) London. [58926]

Jane Kennedy: The Department does not monitor proposals to close in-patient beds. The planning of health service capacity, including in-patient beds, is for strategic health authorities to lead locally, within the framework of the Department's guidance on capacity planning. The planning of in-patient beds needs to take account of services available from other parts of local health and social care systems, including primary, community, rehabilitative and long-term care.
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