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Jim Dowd: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will assess the merits of introducing proposals for a statutory traffic light of food labelling should the Food Standards Authority be unable to reach a voluntary code within the industry. 
Caroline Flint: At its meeting on 9 March, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) board agreed recommendations for a voluntary front-of-pack signpost labelling scheme. The FSA is not advocating a legislative approach as it considers that working closely with industry is the most suitable means to stimulate change. Both the FSA and the Department are encouraged that certain supermarkets are taking up the voluntary scheme and that an increasing number of companies are considering applying this traffic light-based signpost labelling to processed food products.
Food labelling is governed by European Union legislation. The European Commission recognises that there is a need for simplified nutrition labelling and is reviewing the Nutrition Labelling Directive (90/496/EEC). One aspect of this review will be how to reflect the consumer demand for clear front-of-pack nutritional information.
Jane Kennedy: I received a draft of the report of the review of non-medical professional regulation on 30 December and a further draft on 6 March. I will make a statement when I publish the decisions we take on the report in due course.
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many doctors participated in (a) the general practitioners' returners scheme and (b) the flexible careers scheme in each year since they were introduced; and how much each cost in each year. 
Between November 2002 and December 2005, 376 general practitioners participated in the returner scheme. During the same period, 1,562 general practitioners participated in the flexible careers scheme.
29 Mar 2006 : Column 1064W
The schemes were devolved to strategic health authorities from January 2006. The central funding provided to support the schemes is shown in the table.
|Returners||||400,000||1.5 million||7 million|
|Flexible careers||||3.6 million||16.7 million|
Mr. Byrne: As stated in paragraph 25 of the recently published White Paper, Our health, our care, our say: a new direction for community services", the Department aims to provide more care in more local and convenient settings. This will partially be achieved by introducing a new generation of community hospitals and other facilities, such as health centres, with strong ties to social care.
The White Paper makes clear that any current proposals on the future of community hospitals in an area should follow the principles that it sets out. The Department wrote to strategic health authorities (SHAs) on 16 February outlining how SHAs should test primary care trust (PCT) community hospital proposals against these principles. A copy of this letter has been placed in the Library.
Interested PCTs will be able to bid for capital support for reinvestment in the new generation of community hospitals and smaller facilities. A document will be published after Easter providing further guidance to PCTs on generating support for a new generation of community hospitals and smaller facilities.
Dan Norris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps will be taken by her Department to maximise the take-up rate of influenza vaccinations by those eligible during autumn 2006 and winter 200607. 
Caroline Flint: As in previous years, we will run a comprehensive marketing campaign targeting those in at risk groups. The campaign may utilise opportunities through advertising, national television and radio, press activity and public relations activity using media and stakeholders to increase awareness and uptake.
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 21 March 2006]: The best interests of children will be served by a scheme of assessment and treatment, provided in agreement between local health and education services, which takes into account the full range of possible ways of helping children with the symptoms associated with descriptions of Irlen syndrome. This is something that local education and health authorities should take forward in view of their responsibilities for services in their areas.
Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many Type II variations to marketing authorisations targeted for approval within 90 days in the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency business plan are taking longer than the target time for approval; and by how much each has exceeded this period; 
Steve Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many Type II variations to marketing authorisations took longer than 90 days for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency to approve in the last period for which figures are available; and how long each took. 
Jane Kennedy: In the most recent full-year for which figures are available, 200405, the assessment targets of 90 or 120 days (applicable where there are changes to the indications for use of the product) were 100 per cent. achieved, with the equivalent figures for the 90 day target for the years 200103 being 99 per cent.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is unable to provide reliable figures for more recent assessment of Type II variations due to transitional implementation issues associated with the introduction of a new information management system. Overall approval times have lengthened, mainly due to delays in validating applications, and assessment targets are not being met in a proportion of cases. However, urgent cases are being processed promptly. The MHRA is aware of the impact these delays are having on pharmaceutical company business and is taking a number of steps to improve its service levels. These include organisational restructuring, re-training of staff, voluntary schemes for extended working hours and information system performance enhancements.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what estimate she has made of the cost of the work undertaken on the Mental Health Bill since the publication of its second draft in 2004; 
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the basis was for her Department's recent decision on the draft Mental Health Bill; what discussions were held on the decision; and when the decision was agreed. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government have spent a number of years consulting on how to update mental health legislation to keep pace with the growth of modern community-based services, to address concerns over public safety and to be compatible with obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights. This includes pre-legislative scrutiny of the draft Mental Health Bill 2004. The Government have taken into account concerns over the length and complexity of the 2004 draft bill and decided recently to introduce a shorter, streamlined bill which will be easier for clinicians to use.
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