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Haemophiliacs: Factor 8 and Deaths from Hepatitis C

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There are two documents referred to in the Observer article. The first is a letter about manufacturing practice dated 2 May 1979 from Dr Richard Lane, then Director of the Blood Products Laboratory, to an official in the Department of Health and Social Security. The second has been identified as

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a paper written by officials on 21 December 1979 advising Ministers on the future of the Blood Products Laboratory. Copies of both documents have been placed in the Library.

Breast Pumps

Baroness Goudie asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of health authorities and trusts have made sufficient breast pumps available for free loan to mothers of premature or sick babies who cannot feed at the breast.[HL387]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The provision of breast pumps in National Health Service trusts is a matter for local decision. Information about the proportion of health authorities and trusts making pumps available free to mothers of sick and premature babies is not held centrally.

Primary Care Groups: Complementary Medicine

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence they have of the effect of primary care groups on the provision of complementary medicine within the National Health Service; and if they do not have this information, whether they will commission a study to discover it.[HL478]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Primary care groups may include complementary medicine within the range of services they provide if they consider that this is appropriate to the needs of their patients and in line with the locally agreed health improvement programme.

As part of a larger exercise to monitor the work of primary care groups, a survey by Manchester University has asked them to indicate their intentions for commissioning complementary therapies. A report on this survey should be published in spring, and will inform a new research project by Sheffield University which will compare actual provision of complementary medicine by primary care groups in the coming year with its provision five years earlier.

In the meantime, officials at the Department of Health have conducted a separate informal survey of the attitude of primary care groups towards the provision of complementary medicine. If the results are typical, early indications are that at least half of all primary care groups provide some form of complementary medicine. The results are still being analysed, and will need to be compared with the result of the Manchester survey. In due course we will consider what lessons the results provide and how best to disseminate them to National Health Service service commissioners.

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British Fluoridation Society: Government Support

Earl Baldwin of Bewdley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answers by the Baroness Jay of Paddington on 8 April 1998 (WA 144) and the Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 6 December 1999 (WA 76):

    (a) When they first made a financial contribution to the British Fluoridation Society;

    (b) What were the contributions for the years not already listed in the above Written Answers; and

    (c) What has been the basis for the differing allocations year by year.[HL354]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The British Flouridation Society first received government support in 1975-76. Contributions before 1987-88 were:

YearAmount (£)

Allocations have varied in accordance with a business plan agreed with the Department of Health.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is a proper use of taxpayers' money to make grants of £154,000 during the past two years to the British Fluoridation Society, in view of the differing views on the moral, commercial and health aspects of water fluoridation; and[HL365]

    What scrutiny measures are in place to ensure that the £154,000 of taxpayers' money given to the British Fluoridation Society is under proper financial control; and[HL366]

    Whether the British Fluoridation Society (BFS) has supplied them with details of what use has been made and is being made of the £154,000 of taxpayers' money given to them; and what measures are taken to ensure that any information disseminated by the BFS using that money is accurate and impartial.[HL367]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The British Fluoridation Society (BFS) monitors relevant research, and maintains a database on safety, efficacy and legislative issues arising from the fluoridation of water. Since 1975 successive governments have funded the BFS to help promote and implement their policies on oral

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health and to provide objective, evidence based advice to all interested parties.

Like other recipients of government funds, the BFS works to an annual business plan agreed with the Department of Health and submits audited accounts.

Removal and Retention of Tissues at Post Mortem

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether there is any evidence of the removal of glands, particularly pituitary glands, from the bodies of deceased children without the consent of their next of kin.[HL326]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: As announced on 6 October, the Chief Medical Officer is conducting an investigation into the removal and retention of tissues and organs at post mortem. He will report his findings to the Secretary of State for Health in September.

Disabled 16 and 17 year-olds: Direct Payments

Baroness Wilkins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to implement their commitment to extend direct payments under the Community Care (Direct Payments) Act 1996 to 16 and 17 year-olds as announced by the Secretary of State for Health, the right honourable Alan Milburn, at the Annual Social Services Conference on 29 October; and whether this will require legislation.[HL312]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath : Primary legislation is required before local authorities can make direct payments to disabled 16 and 17 year-old children. The Carers and Disabled Children Bill was introduced in another place by my honourable friend the Member for Stalybridge and Hyde (Mr Pendry) on 15 December and will allow local authorities in England and Wales to make direct payments to disabled 16 and 17 year-olds.

Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

Lord Davies of Coity asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to publish the third report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme.[HL456]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The third report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) was published on 20 December 1999. Copies were placed in the Library.

The PPRS third report to Parliament covers both the operation of the 1993 PPRS until it ended in September 1999 and the introduction of the new scheme from October 1999. It provides an insight into

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the running of the PPRS; reports on considerations taken into account by the Government in formulating the 1999 PPRS; and describes the principal features of the new scheme, including the benefits expected to arise from it for the National Health Service and the British pharmaceutical industry.

London Taxis

Lord Lamont of Lerwick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proposals they have to improve the availability of taxis in London, particularly at night time; and[HL429]

    Whether the regulation of London taxi fares takes account of the comparison between fares in London and those in New York, Paris and Berlin; and whether London fares are higher.[HL463]

The Minister of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Macdonald of Tradeston): London taxi fares are set by the Secretary of State on the basis of a formula, established after consultation with the taxi trade. The formula reflects the operating costs of a taxi in the circumstances of London. The extra charges which taxi drivers add to each fare between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m. were increased by 50 per cent in April. However, we are conducting a research study into the supply of, and demand for, London taxis, especially at night, to help form further consideration. The study is not yet complete; results will be published.

DVLA Response Time

Lord Skelmersdale asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What efforts are they making to speed up the response time of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency.[HL274]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Lord Whitty): Approximately 80,000 items of mail are received at DVLA daily. For security and operational reasons, DVLA post is stored unopened in strict date order and is called for processing in that order. Currently there is a four-day queue of unopened mail, which is about normal for the time of year. The level of work awaiting processing is carefully monitored each day.

On the driving licence side, which accounts for 20,000 to 30,000 applications per day, DVLA undertakes to issue driving licences and return original documents to customers within three weeks (15 working days) of the date of receipt of their applications. This three-week standard has been met or bettered consistently throughout the year.

In cases where a driver declares a medical condition--amounting to some 1,100 applications a

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day--because of the increased complexities the service standard is five weeks for a car licence and seven weeks for a bus or lorry licence. Some current cases in these categories are taking longer. Action is being taken to bring this service up to standard and the position is steadily improving.

The advertised service standards for vehicle registration and licensing services have also been met or bettered during 1999.

There are no exceptional operational difficulties at the agency. Over the past 18 months major changes to both driver and vehicle computer systems have been successfully introduced.

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