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Transport Directives Awaiting Implementation

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Hayman: Set out below is the information which is available centrally. Comprehensive information could only be collected at disproportionate cost. The list excludes directives the implementation of which is not yet required. If the noble Lord has a particular directive in mind, and indicates this, we would be happy to write with details.

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    95/18/EC on the licensing of railway undertakings, 95/19/EC on the allocation of railway infrastructure capacity and charging of infrastructure fees: We have been consulting the railway industry on the implementation of these directives and hope to raise a statutory instrument shortly.

    96/50/EC on the harmonisation of conditions for obtaining national boatmasters' certificates for the carriage of goods and passengers by inland waterway in the Community: Although the UK originally took the view that transposition of this directive was unnecessary as the matter was covered by existing legislation, the position has been re-examined and work on implementing legislation is now in progress.

    96/53/EC, laying down for certain road vehicles circulating within the Community the maximum authorised dimensions in national and international traffic and the maximum authorised weights in international traffic: This is largely a consolidation of several directives which have already been implemented into UK law. Consultation on a revised draft statutory instrument will take place shortly.

    96/87/EC, dangerous goods by rail and 96/86/EC, dangerous goods by road: These are Commission directives amending certain provisions of Directives 94/55/EC and 96/49/EC in relation to which text of international road and rail regulations should be used as the basis of harmonising the national legislation in member states. The necessary implementing legislation will be made by 1 January 1999.

    97/26/EC amending 91/439/EC on driving licences: Largely implemented with just a small amendment outstanding.

    93/29/EC on identification of controls, tell tales and indicators for two-or-three-wheeled vehicles, 93/30/EC on audible warning devices for two-or three-wheeled vehicles, 93/31/EC on stands for two-wheeled vehicles, 93/32/EC on passenger hand holds on two-wheeled-vehicles, 93/33/EC on protective devices to prevent unauthorised use of two-or three-wheeled vehicles, 93/34/EC on statutory marking for two-or three-wheeled vehicles, 93/92/EC on installation of lighting and light signalling devices on two-or three-wheeled vehicles, 95/01/EC on maximum design speed, maximum torque and maximum net engine power of two-or three-wheeled vehicles: Have not yet been put into the Construction and Use Regulations, although we have complied with certain EU requirements by putting them into the Type Approval Regulations. We plan to complete passage in 1998.

    95/28/EC on the approximation of laws of member states relating to the burning behaviour of materials used in interior construction of motor vehicles: There is a current research project on fire safety and we wish to consider the findings of this before deciding whether to recognise or mandate

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    the requirements. The directive should already have been recognised in the Designated Approvals Marks Regulations.

Customs and Immigration Staff at Waterloo International Station

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the number and grades of staff employed on customs and immigration duties at Waterloo International Station.[HL80]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Customs employs 67 staff at Waterloo International Terminal. Their grades are:

    1 band 9

    5 band 7

    3 band 6

    33 band 5

    25 band 4

The United Kingdom Immigration Service tell me that at 1 January 1998 there were 133 Immigration Service staff employed at Waterloo International Terminal. Their grades are:

    2 HM Inspector

    12 Chief Immigration Officer

    111 Immigration Officer

    1 Higher Executive Officer

    1 Executive Officer

    1 Administrative Officer

    3 Administrative Assistant

    1 Typist

    1 Messenger

Vitamin B6

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the recent letter to the Chairman of the Committee on Toxicity, signed by the 47 Members of the House of Commons, questioning the validity of the Committee's recommendations on the safety of Vitamin B6 and urging a further review of the science.[HL233]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has considered the safety of Vitamin B6 on two separate occasions and we are confident that it has reviewed all the relevant papers on toxicity of Vitamin B6 as well as those unpublished papers supplied by interested parties.

The Government have every confidence in the rigour with which the COT reviewed the data and we have no plans to ask the COT to consider the issue for a third time.

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Passive Smoking

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have about the effects of

    (a) smoking and

    (b) passive smoking on a female child aged two where

    (i) the mother smokes in her home in front of the child; and

    (ii) the child is taken into a public house;

    and whether they will place in the Library of the House any studies which show the effects of

    (aa) smoking and

    (bb) passive smoking on the health of a two year-old child.[HL183]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We are not aware of any studies on the effect of passive smoking on the health of a female two year-old. However, we understand that the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH), which will be publishing its report to the Chief Medical Officer in the spring, will set out the scientific assessment of the risks to children from passive smoking. The relevant section of the report will be based on Department of Health sponsored research overviews of passive smoking and childhood respiratory disease, and these papers are currently being published in the journal Thorax.

Asthma in Children

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have on the number of children suffering from asthma; and how this compares with five years ago.[HL182]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: There are no comprehensive data on the number of children with asthma. On the basis of all the information available, it has been estimated that "the prevalence of asthma sufficiently severe to require regular medical supervision is from 4-6 per cent. in children". This estimate is quoted in Asthma: An Epidemiological Overview (Central Health Monitoring Unit, 1995), which brought together a broad range of the best statistics on asthma. Copies are available in the Library.

According to the report of the Health Survey for England 1996, which was published on 12 January, 21 per cent. of children at some time in the past had been diagnosed as suffering from asthma. Copies of this report are also available in the Library. Similarly, in a study of asthma in Great Britain among children aged 12 to 14 years, carried out as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC) and recently published in the British Medical Journal, 20 per cent. of the children surveyed had had a diagnosis of asthma at some time.

In the United Kingdom in 1995-96, the most recent year for which full data are available, there were an estimated 54,300 hospital in-patient episodes of care for

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children aged 16 years or under with a primary diagnosis of asthma. This compares with an estimated 64,500 episodes in 1991-92. The same child may be counted more than once if he or she has more than one episode of care.

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the number of children whose asthma was caused by their parents smoking.[HL184]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government have no basis on which to estimate the number of children whose asthma may have been caused by their parent's smoking. It is recognised that exposure to environmental tobacco smoke causes asthma attacks and exacerbates the symptoms of asthma. The scientific evidence to support environmental tobacco smoke being a cause of asthma is still being assessed, and this topic will be considered in the Scientific Committee on Tobacco and Health (SCOTH)'s report to the Chief Medical Officer, to be published in the spring.

Central School for Speech and Drama Speech Therapy Course: Closure

Lord Rix asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their response to the statement of the governing body of the Central School of Speech and Drama, following the recent decision to transfer responsibility from the Department for Education and Employment to the Department of Health, that as they will no longer be able to pool funds to meet costs they intend to discontinue future courses of Clinical Communication Sciences BSc (Hons) for speech and language therapists; and[HL243]

    How they reconcile the closure of the speech therapy course at the Central School for Speech and Drama with their statement in the recently published Green Paper Excellence for All Children on special educational needs (October 1997) that speech and language therapy is now recognised as a key player in the education of children with special needs and the growing proportion of elderly people who have difficulty communicating due to conditions such as Parkinson's disease and strokes; and[HL244]

    How they propose that the increased demand for speech and language therapy will be met if the trend towards closure of courses continues and what plans they have to ensure there is no further reduction in the limited number of courses available.[HL245]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Department of Health values the contribution that speech and language therapy services make to the health and education of children with special needs and to the rehabilitation and support of people with disabilities affecting their ability to communicate.

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There is no evidence to suggest that the announcement of the closure of the speech and therapy course at the Central School for Speech and Drama is directly connected with the funding changes which will take place in response to the Dearing Report.

The Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists, which validates all speech and language therapy courses, and Department of Health officials are aware of the withdrawal of this course and discussions will be taking place to make sure that existing students' needs have been taken into account and that the supply of speech and language therapy graduates to the National Health Service is not affected.

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