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Volume 512: debated on Tuesday 29 June 2010

17. What recent representations he has received on the appropriateness of the remit of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence; and if he will make a statement. (4475)

Since 7 May, the Department has received about 120 representations from hon. Members, noble Lords and members of the public on a range of issues concerning the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, including its remit.

May I urge the Secretary of State to get NICE to go back to what most people think it is for, which is monitoring the cost-effectiveness and clinical effectiveness of drugs? Many people do not think that it does a particularly good job on that, anyway, but it is currently indulging in empire building, with its ridiculous drivel in recent weeks about smoking breath tests for pregnant women, compulsory sex education for five-year-olds and subsidies for food companies to make healthier food. Surely it ought to go back to what it should be doing, and do it better, rather than empire building, as it is doing.

In 2005 the previous Government charged NICE with producing public health guidance as part of its work. As I establish a more integrated and effective public health service, I shall consider how the advice of NICE fits into that strategic framework.