Previous Section Index Home Page

25 Feb 2009 : Column 890W—continued


Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department (a) has undertaken, (b) plans to undertake and (c) has evaluated on (i) the side-effects of (A) Vioxx, (B) SSRI antidepressants and (C) Salmeterol and (ii) the use of complementary and alternative medicines to treat the conditions such drugs were developed to address; and if he will make a statement. [256529]

Dawn Primarolo: As with all medicines authorised in the United Kingdom, the safety of Vioxx (a selective COX-2 inhibitor for the treatment of arthritic conditions and acute pain), the selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) antidepressants and salmeterol (a long-acting adrenoceptor beta agonist, or LABA, used in the management of asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) are kept under close and continuous scrutiny by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) using a wide variety of data sources. These include spontaneous adverse drug data from the UK and worldwide, clinical trials and epidemiological studies, worldwide published medical literature, data from the manufacturer and information from worldwide regulatory authorities.

If a new safety issue is identified, the MHRA thoroughly evaluates all relevant data with input from UK and European Expert Advisory Committees, as necessary. Action is taken where appropriate to minimise risk to patients, optimise safe use and issue updated prescribing advice.

Vioxx (rofecoxib) was voluntarily withdrawn by the manufacturers in 2004 when the risk of thrombotic cardiovascular events became apparent. Although no formal research was undertaken directly by the Department, all available safety information was continuously evaluated by the MHRA as it emerged. Throughout these reviews, additional data and analyses were requested from the company where necessary to facilitate thorough assessment. Product information for prescribers and patients was updated during the course of these reviews, in line with expert advice.

In response to public concern, in May 2003, an Expert Working Group was established to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the available data relating to the safety of SSRI antidepressants, in particular, the risk of suicidal behaviour and withdrawal reactions. The Expert Group considered the findings of laboratory, clinical and observational studies along with information relating to reports of patient experiences. In relation to the risk of suicidal behaviour, the MHRA conducted a study using the UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD). Full information on the data considered as part of this review has been published in the group’s report which is available on the MHRA’s website at:

A copy has been placed in the Library.

Since completion of this review, every effort has been made by the MHRA to evaluate new data as they have arisen and issue updated prescribing advice as appropriate. This has included updated advice regarding safety of use of paroxetine in pregnancy following findings from new international studies that certain birth defects are more common in babies whose mothers took paroxetine early in pregnancy. Further advice has also been issued regarding the risk of suicidal behaviour to reflect the findings of review of data from clinical trials conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration.

25 Feb 2009 : Column 891W

The MHRA has evaluated the risk of side effects associated with use of salmeterol on a number of occasions, leading to updates to product information and communications to remind health care professionals of the appropriate use of LABAs in the treatment of asthma. The balance of risks and benefits of LABAs was recently reviewed and considered to be favourable in the treatment of asthma in adults and adolescents, provided they are used with inhaled corticosteroids.

The MHRA have not received any applications for marketing authorisations for complementary or alternative medicines for the treatment of major conditions such as osteoarthritis or asthma, therefore the MHRA has not undertaken or evaluated any research in this area. The MHRA do not have any specific plans to undertake such research but would assess all data associated with any application, should one be received in the future.

Some years ago, the MHRA considered a number of applications for marketing authorisations for products containing St. John’s Wort (‘Hypericum perforatum’ L.) for mild to moderate depression. The data submitted by the companies intending to market the products, including any UK and international research, were thoroughly reviewed. However, the applications were refused due to lack of adequate evidence of safety and efficacy.

Northern Ireland

Departmental Internet

Mr. Harper: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish a copy of his Department's website accessibility plan. [257222]

Mr. Woodward: Accessibility standards of the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) website are included in the Northern Ireland Office Departmental Disability Action Plan.

The NIO website follows the internet standards of coding and design as set out by the World Wide Web Consortium. The website complies with WAI-AA standards, (World Accessibility Initiative AA standard). This means that the website conforms to level Double A for all priority one and two checkpoints defined in the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Accessibility standards are regularly reviewed.

Departmental Vehicles

Mr. Paterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to the answer of 19 January 2009, Official Report, columns 1068-9W, on departmental vehicles, what the cost of leasing the vehicles was in each of the last five years. [257342]

Mr. Woodward: The Department's expenditure on leased vehicles, excluding Agencies and Executive NDPBs, in the last five years is shown in the following table.

Expenditure (£)











25 Feb 2009 : Column 892W

Where possible, when a lease is up for renewal, the NIO considers all options in reducing costs to the department while maintaining the standard required.

Culture, Media and Sport

Local Government Finance

Mrs. Spelman: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport which of the recommendations made by the Independent Licensing Fees Review Panel relating to local authority revenue and costs have been implemented to date. [256715]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The Independent Licensing Fees Review Panel made recommendations on future fee levels, and identified a shortfall between local authority costs and income during the period of transition. The response to these matters needs to be agreed across Government and I hope to be able to respond shortly.

National Lottery: Complaints

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport pursuant to the answer of 3 February 2009, Official Report, column 984W, on National Lottery: complaints, what information is routinely collected by Camelot and the National Lottery Commission on disputes between retailers and players. [256417]

Barbara Follett: Complaints to the National Lottery Commission are dealt with on a case-by-case basis. It would not be possible to establish how many of the cases dealt with have involved a dispute between a player and retailer without a manual review of the correspondence for each case. This task could be undertaken only at disproportionate cost.

The information routinely collected for any complaint or inquiry received by the Commission is:

Camelot has advised us that all player complaints are also recorded and dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The information collected varies according to the case in question.


Banks: Finance

Mr. Austin Mitchell: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what capital adequacy ratio banks are required to maintain. [254944]

Ian Pearson: The capital adequacy ratio is the ratio of a bank’s capital expressed as a percentage of its risk-weighted assets.

The regulatory minimum ratio derives from the Basel 2 Accord, implemented in the European Union via the Capital Requirements Directive (CRD) which came into force on 1 January 2008 (Directives 2006/48/EC and 2006/49/EC). The framework consists of three pillars.
25 Feb 2009 : Column 893W
Pillar 1 sets the minimum capital requirements required to meet credit, market and operational risks. Pillar 2 requires firms and supervisors (in this case the Financial Services Authority—FSA) to take a view on whether a firm should hold additional capital against risks not covered in Pillar 1. Pillar 3 requires firms to publish certain details of their capital and risk management.

Full details of these capital requirements can be found in FSA “GENPRU” and “BIPRU” rulebooks, available via the FSA’s website.

The regulatory minimum capital adequacy ratio under Pillar 1 is 8 per cent. of total capital, of which a minimum of 4 per cent. must be tier 1 capital, which includes ordinary shares and reserves. In practice firms’ regulatory capital may be higher than this, and firms may also decide to hold more capital than the regulatory minimum.

As the FSA made clear in its statement of 19 January, the purpose of the recent bank recapitalisation exercise was to ensure that participating institutions held sufficient capital to ensure a buffer against challenging economic conditions. This did not constitute creating new statutory capital requirements for the UK banking sector.

Consolidated Fund

Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much was paid into the Consolidated Fund from fines in each year since 1997. [258370]

Yvette Cooper: The Consolidated Fund does not separately identify revenue surrendered to the Exchequer relating to fines. Public bodies involved in the collection of fines will hold the information on their revenue and will publish accounts of their activities.

Income Tax: Northern Ireland

Mark Durkan: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people resident in each constituency in Northern Ireland were employed in the Republic of Ireland and were liable for UK income tax in (a) 2005-06, (b) 2006-07 and (c) 2007-08. [257580]

Mr. Timms: Where a person is resident for tax purposes and domiciled in the United Kingdom, they pay tax on their worldwide income and gains in the United Kingdom on an arising basis subject to the application of any double taxation agreement.

It is not possible to identify the country in which income arises or the nature of the income on which foreign tax has been paid. However, the number of individuals tax resident in Northern Ireland and claiming foreign tax credit relief for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are provided in the following table. This provides an upper limit to the number of individuals resident in Northern Ireland and employed in the Republic of Ireland. Information for 2007-08 is not yet available.

25 Feb 2009 : Column 894W
Number claiming foreign tax credit relief
Constituency of residence 2005-06 2006-07

Belfast, East



Belfast, North



Belfast, South



Belfast, West



East Antrim



East Londonderry



Fermanagh and South Tyrone






Lagan Valley



Mid Ulster



Newry and Armagh



North Antrim



North Down



South Antrim



South Down






Upper Bann



West Tyrone



Loans: Interest Rates

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what interest rate is used to assess the taxable benefit arising on beneficial loans; and whether this rate is changed in line with the Bank of England base rate. [258763]

Mr. Timms: The official rate of interest used to assess the taxable benefit arising on beneficial loans has been reduced from 6.25 per cent. to 4.75 per cent. with effect from 1 March 2009. The rate is set by reference to prevailing average bank and building society mortgage rates.

Members: Correspondence

Mr. Baron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the hon. Member for Billericay’s letter of 7 January 2009 on his constituent Mr D. Randall. [258756]

Ian Pearson: I have replied to the hon. Member.

Mr. Baron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the hon. Member for Billericay’s letter of 14 January 2009 on his constituent Mr D. Williams. [258757]

Ian Pearson: I have replied to the hon. Member.

Mr. Baron: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he plans to respond to the hon. Member for Billericay’s letters of 17 November 2008 and 22 January 2009 on his constituent Mrs N. Finley. [258758]

Mr. Timms: I replied to the hon. Member on 14 January.

Next Section Index Home Page