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Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance his Department follows on the maximum time taken to respond to hon. Members correspondence; and what performance against that target was in the most recent period for which figures are available. 
Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people were employed by his Department on 1 January in each of the last five years; and how many of these staff were (a) permanent employees, (b) temporary staff and (c) contractors. 
Dawn Primarolo: The information is taken from a variety of sources, although it is not possible to provide it for the reference date of 1 January. For 2007, it is published by the Office for National Statistics in Table 6 of the Quarterly Public Sector Employment First Release for the latest year (31 March 2007), these are available at:
|Civil service employment at 1 April 2005|
|Headcount permanent||Headcount temporary/ casual||Headcount total||Full-time equivalent (FTE) permanent||FTE temporary/ casual||FTE total|
|Civil service employment at 30 September 2006|
|Headcount permanent||Headcount temporary/ casual||Headcount total||FTE permanent||FTE temporary/ casual||FTE total|
Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10.
Statistics on the number of contractors employed by Departments are not published. The civil service statistics represent those employees paid directly from the Department's payroll. Any contractors employed via agencies and so not paid directly by the Department are not included.
Andrew Selous: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many and what percentage of employees in (a) his Department and (b) each (i) executive agency and (ii) non-departmental public body funded by his Department are above state retirement age. 
|Number of staff over state retirement age( 2) (where age is known( 1) )||Total number of staff (age known( 1) )||Percentage over retirement age|
|n/a = not available|
(1) Analysis has been carried out where age known
(2 )State retirement age is 65 for men and 60 for women
Numbers are rounded to the nearest 10.
Mandate 30 September 2006
The Secretary of State and other departmental Ministers all make regular visits to national
health service and social care facilities, including hospitals, general practitioner practices and primary and community services.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and the former Secretary of State my right hon. Friend the member for Leicester, West (Ms Hewitt) visited the following regions in an official capacity in the last 12 months:
The Government's response to the inquiry into Modernising Medical Careers, 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 16WS
The Government's response to the Joint Committee's report on the Human Tissue and Embryos (Draft) Bill (Cm 7209) 8 October 2007, Official Report, column 15WS
Lord Darzi's interim report Our NHS; Our Future; NHS Next Stage Review, 10 October 2007, Official Report, column 297.
The Government's response to the Healthcare Commission's report on the outbreaks of clostridium difficile at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust, 15 October 2007, Official Report, column 557.
The Government's response to the Chief Scientific Adviser's review of obesity Tackling Obesities: Future Choices, 17 October 2007, Official Report, column 825.
David Tredinnick: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the outcome was of (a) the meeting between the Food Standards Agency and the European Commission on 12 September 2007 to discuss the interpretation and implementation of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive and (b) the Working Group of the Council and Commission held on 24 September; 
(5) whether officials of (a) his Department and (b) the Food Standards Agency plan to liaise with their counterparts in (i) the Republic of Ireland and (ii) each other EU member state to discuss their position on the setting of maximum permitted levels of nutrients in food supplements; 
(6) if he will place in the Library a copy of the letters recently sent to the governments of (a) Guernsey and (b) Jersey by (i) the Food Standards Agency and (ii) the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency in relation to the trade in food supplements and herbal remedies; 
(7) when he expects the European Commission and Working Groups of the Council to bring forward figures for the permitted levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements; who is participating in those working group discussions to represent the United Kingdom; what steps he is taking to influence other member state governments outside the working group meetings; when last he met the European Commissioner to discuss these matters; and if he will make a statement; 
(8) what the conclusions were of the Food Standards Agency and Better Regulation Executive assessment of the regulatory impact on (a) specialist manufacturers, (b) specialist retailers and (c) other businesses of the setting of maximum permitted levels for vitamins and minerals in food supplements under the provisions of Article 5 of the Food Supplements Directive; and if he will offer compensation to small and medium sized enterprises which suffer adversely as a result of the implementation of this legislation; 
(9) what steps (a) the Food Standards Agency and (b) the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency plan to take in relation to the trade in food supplements and herbal remedies from the Channel Islands. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is responsible for food supplements issues and for negotiations relating to the European Commission (EC) Food Supplements Directive. No recent meetings have been held between Health Ministers and the European Commissioner concerning setting maximum permitted levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements under this directive. Meetings will be held with stakeholders in early 2008 to discuss this issue.
The bilateral meeting between the FSA and the EC on 12 September was held principally to gain insight into the Commissions intentions as regards the process by which maximum and minimum levels of vitamins and minerals in food supplements would be set. The Commission indicated that an orientation paper on setting maximum and minimum levels which it had issued in late July would be the starting point for discussions at working group level, which began on 24 September.
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