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Tax Harmonisation

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Article 93 of the EC treaty allows the Council, acting by unanimity, to adopt provisions for harmonisation of indirect taxes "to the extent that such harmonisation is necessary to ensure the establishment and functioning of the internal market". Given this unanimity requirement, the UK has a veto.

11 Apr 2000 : Column WA30

Law Officers' Departments Departmental Report

Baroness David asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Law Officers' departments departmental report is to be published.[HL1969]

The Attorney-General (Lord Williams of Mostyn) : I can confirm that copies of my departmental report have been placed in the Libraries of the House today.

Lords Ministers: Special Advisers

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Falconer of Thoroton on 23 March (WA 36), what are the terms of employment of the Government's special advisers working in the House of Lords.[HL1771]

The Minister of State, Cabinet Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Special advisers, including those working to government Ministers in the House of Lords, are appointed under terms and conditions set out in the Model Contract for Special Advisers. A copy of the contract has been placed in the Libraries of the House.

Gulf War Veterans: Epidemiological Study

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What evidence apart from death certificates was used for the mortality section of the epidemiological study into morbidity and mortality of Gulf War veterans conducted by Professor Nicola Cherry of Manchester University.[HL1811]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): The evidence used for the Manchester University mortality study is a matter for the researchers. The sources used will be detailed in a paper which has been accepted for publication in a peer reviewed scientific journal. The Ministry of Defence has assisted the research team by providing relevant personal and service data and information held about deaths.

In addition, because the Ministry of Defence is routinely informed only about deaths that occur in service, special arrangements have been made with the Office of National Statistics to gather comprehensive information about the deaths of Gulf veterans and a randomly selected control group who were in service on 1 January 1991 but did not deploy to the Gulf. This information is shared with the research team at Manchester University.

11 Apr 2000 : Column WA31

BMW and Rover

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Sainsbury of Turville on 29 March (WA75) about the losses incurred for BMW by the Rover Group, what were the total sales of Rover cars and of other products of the Birmingham plant in each year from 1995 to 1999; and, of the totals, how many were sold abroad.[HL1878]

The Minister for Science, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): The total sales of cars (Rover 25, 45, Mini and MGF) originating from Rover's Longbridge Plant (Birmingham) were:

    1995: 367,532

    1996: 382,035

    1997: 392,972

    1998: 334,242

    1999: 251,157.

BMW/Rover was unable to provide us with figures for Longbridge vehicles sold abroad. However, the sales/export figures for Rover Group cars (including Land Rovers) are:

YearTotal sales unitsExports% (approx.)

CJD: Transmission

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 27 March (WA 59), what is the "strong epidemiological evidence to suggest that classic CJD is not transmitted through blood"; which of the many variants of "classic CJD" this evidence applies to; and whether they will place copies of the relevant papers in the Library of the House.[HL1864]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The following, peer reviewed articles, relate to this subject and will be placed in the Library:

    T F G Esmonde et al, 1993, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and blood transfusion, Lancet 341; 205-207;

    P Brown, 1995, Can Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease be transmitted by transfusion?, Current Opinion in Haematology, vol 2, pp 472-477;

    C M van Duijn et al, 1998, Case-control study of risk factors of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in Europe during 1993-95, Lancet 351: 1081-1085;

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    Ricketts MN et al: Is Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease transmitted in blood?, Energ Infect Dids 1997:3, 155-166; and

    Heye N et al: Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and blood transfusion, Lancet 1994; 343; 298-299.

These studies cover all types of CJD. Sporadic (classic) CJD, however, accounts for some 85 per cent of non-variant cases.

The European Committee for Proprietory Medicinal Products (CPMP) reviewed the evidence in December 1995 and advised that there was no experimental or epidemiological evidence that classical CJD is transmitted by blood transfusions or plasma-derived products. A recall policy was not considered justified for plasma derived products from plasma pools incorporating a donation implicated for classical CJD. It reaffirmed that advice in March 1997. CPMP concluded on the basis of currently available information from epidemiological and experimental studies that there is no scientific justification for changing from the current CPMP position on classical CJD. CPMP further stated there to be no evidence that classical CJD is transmitted via blood or plasma derived products. This issue was also subsequently considered by the US Food and Drugs Administration, which came to the same conclusion.

New-variant CJD

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 27 March (WA 55-6), whether they will provide data on those who have died from, or been diagnosed with, new-variant CJD in the United Kingdom as to:

    (a) the status of nucleotide-21 preceding the prion ATG start codon;

    (b) the status of codons 26, 56 and 174 of doppel;

    (c) the dates of onset and confirmation for those patients diagnosed with new-variant CJD but still living;

    (d) the definition of "onset"; and

    (e) the age of the patients at onset to the nearest month.[HL1807]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The genetic information requested is not available. However, extensive studies of polymorphisms in and around the prion protein and doppel genes have been under way for some time at the St Mary's Prion Unit, London. The results of these investigations will be published in the scientific literature, subject to peer review, in due course.

Confirmation of a diagnosis of vCJD is currently obtained by postmortem neuropathology. There are therefore no "confirmed" patients still living. The dates of onset for patients still living and defined as "probable" to the nearest month are as follows:

    November 1996

    February 1998

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    June 1998

    July 1998

    July 1998

    October 1998

    February 1999

    March 1999

    April 1999

    May 1999

    May 1999

    June 1999

"Onset" is defined by the National CJD Surveillance Unit as the timing and nature of the first symptoms reported by the patient's relatives and obtained from the patient's medical, psychiatric and general practitioner case notes. On average, some eight months elapse between date of onset and a patient being diagnosed "probable".

Age at onset for the 12 probable vCJD patients who are still alive (years/months) is as follows:

    12 years 8 months

    15 years 10 months

    18 years 2 months

    19 years

    21 years 11 months

    22 years 9 months

    24 years 1 month

    25 years 1 month

    29 years 10 months

    30 years 4 months

    33 years 4 months

    36 years 7 months

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cases of new-variant CJD in humans have been strain-typed; and what were the results of these experiments.[HL1867]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The following two published papers address these questions:

    1. Transmissions to mice indicate that 'new variant' CJD is caused by the BSE agent (Bruce et al); and

    2. The same prion strain causes vCJD and BSE (Hill et al) (Nature, Vol 389, 2 October 1997). Further research is under way.

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