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20 Mar 2008 : Column 1306W—continued

Iraq: Peacekeeping Operations

Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many seaborne attacks on coalition forces by armed gangs there were (a) in the Persian Gulf, (b) in the vicinity of Umm Qasr and (c) near the Basra oil terminal in each month of 2007. [193880]

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Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Throughout 2007 there were no reports of serious incidents involving attacks by non-state forces operating from the sea against coalition naval assets in these geographical areas.

Over the last year, there have been a number of incidents between coalition forces and naval forces from Iran, including the illegal detention on 23 March 2007 of Royal Navy and Royal Marine personnel operating from HMS Cornwall, and an incident on 6 January 2008 involving US Navy ships transiting the Strait of Hormuz.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when all Warriors deployed in (a) Iraq and (b) Afghanistan will be equipped with the latest Wrap Two defensive technology; and at what cost. [194428]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Warrior Additional Protection 2 (WRAP 2) is an incremental programme of protection measures which is ongoing. We have already fitted certain types of additional armour protection to all Warrior vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am withholding further information as its release would, or would be, likely to prejudice the capability, effectiveness or security of the armed forces.

To date expenditure of some £80 million has been approved under the WRAP 2 programme.

Radar: Wind Power

Mr. Ellwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer of 13 March 2008, Official Report, columns 665-6W, on radar: wind power, what assessment he has made of whether wind farms interfere with the interoperability of aerial defence systems. [195720]

Derek Twigg: We continually assess the possible impact of wind farms on the UK's aerial defences.

House of Commons Commission

Drinking Water

Norman Baker: To ask the hon. Member for North Devon, representing the House of Commons Commission what recent consideration the House authorities have given to providing filtered tap water as an alternative to bottled water in committee and meeting rooms; and what estimate has been made of the cost of providing (a) tap and (b) bottled water in these rooms in 2008-09. [Official Report, 26 March 2008, Vol. 474, c. 4MC.][194554]

Nick Harvey: The Administration Committee last considered the issue of the provision of drinking water in Committee and meeting rooms on 13 March 2007 and agreed to recommend that the current practice of supplying bottled mineral water to Committee rooms should continue. I understand that the Department of Facilities is re-examining the issue with the intention of providing further advice to the Administration Committee.

When the Administration Committee considered the provision of drinking water in 2007 the estimated annual cost of providing tap water in Committee and
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meeting rooms was between £7,000 and £6,000 depending on how the service was delivered. Part of the re-examination being carried out by the Department of Facilities focuses on how this cost can be reduced. The projected approximate cost of providing bottled water in Committee Rooms in 2007-08 is £10,000. Costs for 2008-09 should be broadly similar if there is no change to the current practice. Water is not routinely provided for other meetings except when ordered and paid for as part of a catering service. Data on separate purchases is not held in a consolidated form.



Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many women died as a result of their taking the RU486 abortion pill in each year since 1993, broken down by (a) age and (b) health authority area. [195278]

Dawn Primarolo: To date, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have received three reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) with a fatal outcome. Of these three ADR reports, two patients were in the age bracket 18-35 years and for one report the patient age was unknown. To protect patient identity it is not possible to provide data by year of death, age or primary care trust of residence.

As with all medicines, the safety of Mifegyne (mifepristone, also known as RU486) is continuously monitored by the MHRA.

Maternal deaths associated with termination of pregnancy that were reported to the Confidential Enquiry into Maternal and Child Health (CEMACH) in the period 2003-05 are discussed in CEMACH’s publication “Saving Mothers' Lives: Reviewing maternal deaths to make motherhood safer—2003-05” (December 2007). A copy of this publication is available in the Library. This shows one direct death following a medical abortion, which was associated with sub-optimal care.

Blood: Greater London

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many units of blood were collected in London in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06, (d) 2006-07 and (e) 2007-08, broken down by borough. [195114]

Dawn Primarolo: The following table gives the number of units of (whole) blood collected in London.

Financial year Whole blood collections in London postcodes( 1)







(1 )The National Blood Service is unable to provide a breakdown by borough.
(2 )To 17 March 2007.

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Information for year 2003-04—2004-05 can only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Justine Greening: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many registered blood donors there were in London in (a) 2003-04, (b) 2004-05, (c) 2005-06, (d) 2006-07 and (e) 2007-08, broken down by Borough. [195116]

Dawn Primarolo: The National Blood Service (NBS) have provided information on the number of registered blood donors in London. This information is contained in the following table.

Start of financial year Active whole blood donors from London postcodes( 1)

April 2003


April 2004


April 2005


April 2006


April 2007


(1) NBS are unable to provide a breakdown by borough.

Care Homes: Manpower

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance he has issued on the minimum staffing ratios for residential care homes for people requiring high dependency care that are wholly or partly funded from the public purse; and if he will make a statement. [195843]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Regulation 18(1)(a) of the Care Homes Regulations 2001 requires that:

In addition, where a home provides nursing and, whether or not in connection with nursing, medicines or medical treatment to service users, the Regulations specify that a suitably qualified registered nurse must be working at the care home at all times.

The Care Homes Regulations apply to all care homes, whether operated and owned by public bodies or private or voluntary providers and regardless of how residents’ care is funded.

Minimum staffing ratios are not specified. The National Minimum Standards for Care Homes, which the Regulator, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), must have regard to when inspecting care homes, include requirements that service users needs must be met by the numbers and skill mix of staff. Staffing numbers and the skill mix of qualified/unqualified staff must be appropriate to the assessed needs of service users and the size, layout and purpose of the home at all times. It is for CSCI to judge whether these requirements are being met.

Clinical Trials: Data Protection

Jim Dobbin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the (a) efficiency of and (b) protection of the public provided by the
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Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency with reference to the non-disclosure of the results of clinical trials of drugs by pharmaceutical companies. [195590]

Dawn Primarolo: Companies are legally obliged to submit all data from clinical trials to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) when making an application for a marketing authorisation. Although this clinical trial data is available to the MHRA and central to the licensing process, the law does not require it to be more widely available. However the Government support the principle of open access to information about health research and strongly encourage voluntary registration of trials on public registers.

It is equally important that any information from clinical trials that take place should be disclosed to the MHRA, regardless of where the clinical trials were conducted or how the medicine is currently licensed, if that information could have a bearing on safety.

We are satisfied that the MHRA takes all necessary steps to protect public health with regard to its assessment of clinical trial data made available to it. However recent investigations have shown that the law is insufficiently clear about pharmaceutical companies’ obligations in the case of clinical trials undertaken when a drug is already on the market. The Government are now taking action to change the law to make companies’ obligations clear and comprehensive.

Departmental Official Cars

Mr. Kemp: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what make and model of car (a) he and (b) each Minister in his Department selected as their official ministerial car; and what criteria were applied when making the decision in each case. [192379]

Mr. Bradshaw: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Member for Poplar and Canning Town (Jim Fitzpatrick) the Under-Secretary of State for Transport, on 10 March 2008, Official Report, column 8W.

Dietary Supplements

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the Government's objectives were in discussions in Working Groups of the European Union and in bilateral dialogue with other member state competent authorities on the setting of maximum permitted levels for nutrients in food supplements; whether those objectives have been met; and if he will make a statement. [195591]

Dawn Primarolo: Two working group meetings with member states have been held to date. The Commission’s principal aim was to obtain member states’ initial views on an orientation paper it had issued in the summer of 2007.

The objective of the FSA in these initial meetings has been to promote the use of scientific evidence in establishing maximum levels.

We have been advised by the FSA that general discussions in the two working group meetings revealed
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that while member states support the broad objective of setting maximum levels on the basis of safety and science, many are yet to establish views on a range of issues.


David T.C. Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many claims for discrimination, based on (a) sex, (b) race and (c) sexual orientation, were brought by members of his Department and settled (i) in and (ii) out of court in each of the last five years. [194981]

Mr. Bradshaw: There has only been one claim of discrimination against the Department during the last five years. The claim was of sexual discrimination and occurred during 2006. It was settled outside of employment tribunal and did not result in any further litigation.

Foetal Alcohol Syndrome

Norman Lamb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children were born with (a) foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and (b) foetal alcohol syndrome in each of the last five years, broken down by region. [195453]

Dawn Primarolo: I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Romsey (Sandra Gidley) on 20 February 2008, Official Report, column 807W.

Genito-Urinary Medicine: Waiting Lists

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of patients attending genito-urinary medicine clinics in (a) St. Albans, (b) Hertfordshire and (c) England were offered an appointment to be seen within 48 hours in each of the last three months for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [192980]

Dawn Primarolo: Information on the percentage of people offered an appointment to be seen within 48 hours at a genito-urinary medicine clinic, who were resident in the two Hertfordshire Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in Hertfordshire, East and North Hertfordshire PCT, West Hertfordshire PCT (which includes St. Albans) and England for the three months November, December 2007 and January 2008, is given in the following table.

Month England East and North Hertfordshire West Hertfordshire

November 2007




December 2007




January 2008




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Health: Disadvantaged

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps the Government has taken to improve the health of those living in deprived areas since 1997. [195844]

Dawn Primarolo: Health inequalities are unacceptable. We are improving the health of people in deprived areas, through our programme to tackle inequalities, which has a focus on the areas with the worst health and deprivation.

This commitment was strengthened further in September 2007, when my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced that the Department will publish a comprehensive strategy in 2008 for reducing health inequalities that will address unjustified gaps in health status and ensure fair access to national health service services for everyone and good outcomes of care for all.

We have seen life expectancy at birth increase in all areas to an England average for males of 77.3 years for males, and 81.6 years for females—the highest ever levels. However, improvement has been slower in more deprived areas.

The current cross-government national health inequalities strategy, “Tackling Health Inequalities: A Programme for Action”, was put in place to deliver the 2010 health inequalities target to narrow the gap in infant mortality, by social class, and life expectancy at birth, by geographical area.

We have established the spearhead group (SG) to provide a focus for the life expectancy element of the target, and inequalities elements of the national cancer and circulatory disease targets. The SG consists of the 70 local authorities (and 62 primary care trusts which map to them) which make up the fifth of areas with the worst health and deprivation indicators.

Latest data for 2004-06 show that since the target baseline (1995-97), the relative gap in life expectancy between England and the SG has increased by 2 per cent. for males and by 11 per cent. for females, so the target remains challenging. However, we are seeing some signs of progress with 41 per cent. of spearheads on track to narrow their own life expectancy with England by 10 per cent., by 2010 for either males or females or both. In addition, we have seen a 32.2 per cent. reduction in the absolute cardiovascular disease inequality gap and an 11.3 per cent. reduction in the absolute cancer inequality gap between the SG and England since the 1995-97 Public service agreement target baselines.

A review of the infant mortality element published in February 2007, will help improve delivery of local services to disadvantaged populations by working in partnership with local government and others. An implementation plan and good practice guide to promote the findings of the review was published in December 2007.

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