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Milk Substitutes

Volume 14: debated on Thursday 3 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether he takes any steps to monitor compliance with the present voluntary agreement between the manufacturers of milk substitutes and his Department in relation to the World Health Organisation's code for the marketing of milk substitutes;(2) if he is satisfied that the present agreement between manufacturers of milk substitutes and his Department, whereby the companies self-regulate promotional activities, is sufficiently monitored by his Department.

No such agreement exists between the Department and the manufacturers of milk substitutes. The manufacturers do, however, operate a self-imposed code of conduct, and discussions are presently taking place to determine how this form of self-regulation could be adapted to take account of the recently adopted World Health Organisation code.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether Her Majesty's Government have any specific objection to the World Health Organisation's code for the marketing of milk substitutes;(2) whether it is still his policy to implement the World Health Organisation's code for marketing milk substitutes in the United Kingdom.

Her Majesty's Government support both the aims and objectives of the World Health Organisation as embodied in the organisation's code for the marketing of breast milk substitutes, which we intend to implement as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether her Majesty's Government are taking any steps to encourage British companies to conform to the World Health Organisation's code for marketing milk substitutes in respect of their exports from the United Kingdom.

The application of the World Health Organisation's code is the responsibility of individual member States within their own national boundaries.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether Her Majesty's Government are preparing legislation to implement the World Health Organisation's code for marketing milk substitutes in the United Kingdom, or whether they intend to extend the present voluntary agreement;(2) pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton),

Official Report, 9 June, c. 74, which interested parties have been consulted in his consideration of how best to implement in the United Kingdom the World Health Organisation's code for marketing milk substitutes.

It is not the Government's intention to prepare legislation to implement the World Health Organisation's code for breast milk substitutes. The code's implementation is at present the subject of discussions between Government Departments and the relevant United Kingdom manufacturers. Further consultation with the manufacturers, health professions, consumer groups and other interested parties will be taking place in the near future.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps he is taking to ensure that information regarding any provision of financial and technical assistance for the purpose of implementing and monitoring the World Health Organisation's code for marketing milk substitutes is made available to overseas Governments;(2) if he will initiate a programme to encourage improved infant feeding practices, and to provide technical and financial assistance to overseas Governments wishing to implement the World Health Organisation's code for marketing milk substitutes and to monitor compliance with it.

The World Health Organisation is best placed to respond to requests from its member States for advice on implementing the provisions of the code, and the Government do not, therefore, intend to initiate any action along the lines suggested.My right hon. Friend the Minister for Overseas Development would no doubt give consideration to requests from Governments of developing countries for assistance in this field in the context of our overall aid and technical co-operation to those countries.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to initiate discussions between the European Economic Community and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in fostering mutual assistance and co-operation in the area of the implementation and monitoring of the World Health Organisation's code for the marketing of milk substitutes.

The European Parliament has already, on 15 October 1981, adopted a resolution which among other things recommended that the EEC-ACP joint committee examine whether any possibility exists for mutual assistance and co-operation between the member States and the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries in this area.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list all subsidies received by manufacturers of infant formulae in the United Kingdom, from any official source, either British or European.

I have been asked to reply.There are no United Kingdom or European Economic Community subsidies on the manufacture of infant formulae, but, when these products are exported to third countries, they may attract an export refund. Such refunds are financed by the European agricultural guidance and guarantee fund. As far as United Kingdom grants and subsidies are concerned, manufacturers of infant formulae are treated no differently from other manufacturers and may therefore receive aid under the Industry Act or employment subsidy if the necessary criteria are met.