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Alternative Medicine (Regulation)

Volume 501: debated on Tuesday 24 November 2009

10. What progress has been made on the regulation of herbal medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine; and if he will make a statement. (300148)

The consultation on whether—and if so, how—to regulate practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine and traditional Chinese medicine closed on 16 November 2009. We are considering our response to the consultation, and it will be published next year.

Is the Minister aware that the qualified practitioners at the Hydes Herbal Clinic on London road in Leicester—the oldest and largest such clinic operating in this country—want statutory regulation to interface with European legislation as quickly as possible? Will she guarantee that the clinic will still be able to treat, and to prescribe and prepare its own herbs?

I thank the hon. Gentleman for making that point. We have had some 5,000 responses to the consultation, which I welcome. We will move as quickly as possible, and, when taking our decision, we will balance public safety with the risks involved, and look at the principles of better regulation in deciding whether any action would be transparent, accountable, proportionate, consistent and targeted only where action was needed.