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Written Answers

Volume 589: debated on Monday 11 May 1998

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Written Answers

Monday, 11th May 1998.

Social Exclusion Unit

asked Her Majesty's Government:What work the Social Exclusion Unit will undertake on school exclusions and truancy. [HL1842]

My right honourable friend the Prime Minister launched the Social Exclusion Unit last December with a remit to co-ordinate and improve government action to reduce social exclusion. As one of its first priorities, the Prime Minister asked it to report by Easter on how to make a step change in the scale of truancy and exclusions from school and to find better solutions for those who have to be excluded. The unit has worked closely on this task with other government departments, drawing on outside expertise and research, as well as a wide programme of visits and meetings and a written consultation exercise.The Government have now reached their conclusions. These decisions, and the underlying analysis, are set out in the unit's report

Truancy and School Exclusions, published today. Copies of the report are available in the House Libraries. The report sets out what we know about the scale of truancy and exclusion. Our information on both is imperfect. For truancy, figures compiled from registration statistics suggest that around 1 million pupils take at least one half day off without authority. But in confidential surveys pupils admit to much higher levels: one survey suggested nearly one in ten 15 year-olds truanted at least once a week.

The numbers permanently excluded from school stand at around 13,000 a year and have been rising fast. Over 100,000 are excluded temporarily. Eighty three per cent. of excluded pupils are boys, and half are aged fourteen or fifteen. African Caribbean children are six times more likely than average to be excluded, and children in care 10 times more likely. The causes of both problems are complex. Parents are responsible for ensuring that their children attend school, and poor parental supervision is often the cause of truancy. Peer group and community attitudes are also important, as are anxiety about exams, poor basic skills, fear of bullying or boredom with school. The reasons for exclusions vary widely, from relatively minor issues which should not have warranted such a response, to serious, even criminal, behaviour. The rise in exclusion has been attributed to a wide mix of factors, including poor basic skills, limited aspirations and opportunities, high levels of family stress, as well as lack of training and support in schools, and pressures on academic standards. More often than not, excluded children do not get reintegrated into school quickly. Those who are educated outside school rarely receive a full timetable and many get little more than a few hours tuition per week, and are otherwise left to their own devices.

Both truancy and exclusion are strongly associated with a range of other problems including unemployment and homelessness, but above all with crime. An Audit Commission study showed that nearly half of all school age offenders have been excluded from school and a quarter truanted significantly. The problems cut across departments and agencies and therefore require coherent solutions that involve not only schools, but also the police, social services, as well as parents. There is much good practice to learn from. Where it is followed, exclusion and truancy have been greatly reduced. As a result there are wide variations in the levels of exclusion and truancy between regions and between schools with similar intakes and results.

The report published today draws on the lessons of what works. It commits the Government to the goal of cutting levels of both exclusions and truancy by a third by 2002. The measures to deliver this span a range of departments and local agencies as well as schools, parents and pupils, reflecting the multi-dimensional nature of the problem. The national target will be underpinned by local authority level targets for truancy and exclusion reductions. The Government will consult on the detail of how targets should be set. The Secretary of State for Education and Employment will introduce an amendment to the School Standards and Framework Bill to permit school level targets for the worst performers on truancy. The Crime and Disorder Bill introduces parenting orders for parents who fail to ensure their children attend school. The Home Secretary will introduce an amendment to the Bill to give the police a new power to pick up truants in areas where the local education authority has agreed with the chief constable designated places to where they may be taken.

To cut down on inappropriate exclusions, the Government will lay down clear rules on when exclusion is justified and give them legal force. There will be special Ofsted inspections for schools with particularly high levels of exclusions. Children excluded from school during the two GCSE years will stay in their original school for league table purposes, so there is no advantage in excluding poor performers.

The number of children from ethnic minorities who are excluded will be measured and reported at school level. The DfEE task group on raising achievement of ethnic minority pupils will look at what can be done to promote community mentoring in ethnic minority communities. There will be a major push to improve the school performance of children in local authority care, with more detailed proposals announced later this summer.

The Government will develop proposals to target more resources on preventive work with children at risk of exclusion. Local education authorities will also have incentives to provide more support to schools. There will be a requirement that all excluded pupils receive full-time education so that their discipline or other problems are tackled in controlled environments and they are not abandoned to roam the streets. Decisions on the extra funding that is necessary, and on how funding will be organised, will be taken in the comprehensive spending reviews. Full provision will be phased in over no more than three years. In addition, education action zones will have a special focus on areas with particularly high levels of exclusion and truancy to give extra encouragement for innovative approaches to bringing them down. A ministerial task force under the Minister for School Standards will oversee the implementation of these policies. Together these measures will ensure that far fewer young people lose time from school. In the short term, children themselves will benefit from keeping up with their education. The wider community will benefit from less crime. In the long term, there will be benefits as fewer young people leave school without qualifications. These measures will require schools, police, and parents to play a part in ensuring that education is no longer optional, and they will end a situation where failure to attend school has been tolerated and sometimes even condoned.

"Mistakes By The Inland Revenue": Booklet

Mistakes by the Inland Revenue have been sent out since 31 January. [HL1710]

This information is not available. The booklet is despatched to taxpayers on request and is also available from tax enquiry centres.

Firearms Smuggling: Customs Seizures

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by Sir John Cope on 7 June 1993 (HC

WA 39–40), what measures Customs and Excise officers are taking to stop the flow of illegal weapons imports from Europe, and particularly eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, into the United Kingdom; and whether they will publish a table in the Official Report stating, since 1984, the year, number of handguns, rifles, shotguns, CS gas canisters, stun guns and other categories of firearms, which have been intercepted. [HL1629]

All UK Customs anti-smuggling staff receive enhanced training in the recognition of firearms and their component parts as well as in anti-smuggling search techniques. Customs also use dogs specially trained to detect firearms and explosives. Customs are very much aware of the threat of firearms being smuggled from Europe and in particular from central and eastern European countries. Customs checks at internal EU frontiers are focused on protecting society by enforcing import prohibitions and restrictions, which include firearms. There is a continuous Customs presence at high risk ports and airports. Sharply focused checks based on risk profiles are carried out by specialist anti-smuggling teams who operate flexibly both in time and location to provide a highly visible and unpredictable deterrence nation-wide. The effectiveness in intercepting suspect travellers and consignments relies heavily on intelligence provided from a variety of local, national and international sources.

To this end under the UK Presidency of the EU the UK hosted a seminar on 9–10 February (The European Seminar on Trafficking in Arms—ECTA '98), organised by the Security Service, HM Customs and the police service. The principal objective of the seminar was to effect a signficant reduction in the supply of arms to organised crime and terrorists in the EU through enhancement of co-operation and information exchange between member states' competent authorities. Some 130 people from 30 countries, including 11 EU accession countries and representatives from the European Commission, Europol and Interpol attended the seminar.

The following table sets out the number of firearms seized by Customs since 1994.

Year ended 31 March

Hand Guns

Rifles

Shot Guns

Self Defence Sprays

Stun Guns

Totals

198490815510152111,225
19851505271742385
19861081561114130446
19871,07128211142911,521
1988168316276309790
1989130552839573681
19901,489144444143012,392
1991253535491,132482,017
199217612682692531,129
199313841392,5804273,225
199494338495,810596,350
1995261491117,221797,721
1996*13,342611245,46417819,169
1997264268323,4521204,136
Totals18,5522,00961328,0171,98151,172
*The large number of hand guns seized was due to a single seizure of 13,260 flares incorporating barrels which are regarded as firearms within the meaning of the Firearms Acts.

Parliamentary Questions

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, when parliamentary Questions are capable of being answered by either "Yes" or "No", they will make it their practice so to answer them. [HL1641]

Association Of Chief Police Officers: Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 April (

WA 199), why they omitted to place in the Official Report the table of funds or assistance contributed by each police authority requested for the years 1994–95, 1995–96, 1996–97 that was given to the Association of Chief Police Officers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and whether they will now place this table in the Official Report; and [HL1646]

Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 April ( WA 199), whether they will publish in the Official Report a full copy of the accounts of:

  • (a) the Association of Chief Police Officers, England, Wales and Northern Ireland; and
  • (b) the Association of Chief Police Officers, Scotland; for the last year for which the accounts are available; and [HL1647]
  • Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 16 March ( WA 104), whether they were aware in advance of the payment of £10,000 to the setting up of the Chief Police Officers Staff Association (CPOSA); what reasons were given by the Association of Chief Police Officers, England, Wales and Northern Ireland, when requesting the funds; to what other trade unions and staff associations does the Home Office contribute financially; and how much has been contributed by the Home Office to CPOSA since the Association of Chief Police Officers became incorporated as a limited company on 1 April 1997. [HL1648]

    In my Written Answer on 21 April (WA 199), I explained to the noble Lord that the contributions to the costs of the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) secretariat were made under the common police service funding arrangements. The funding arrangements for the common police services have changed in recent years. In 1994–95 the police authorities' contribution was 49 per cent. of the total net cost of common police services. This was apportioned between police authorities on the basis of a per capita charge based on the authorised establishment of each force. From 1995–96 to 1997–98, the costs of common police services were taken into account when the level of police grant was set for police authorities. From 1996–97, police authorities have made voluntary contributions towards the costs of the ACPO secretariat.I refer the noble Lord to my Written Answer on 2 April 1998 (

    WA 64) in respect of the Association of Chief Police Officers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland and my noble friend Lord Sewel's Written Answer on 1 April 1998 ( WA 35) in respect of the Association of Chief Police Officers for Scotland, concerning the most recent accounts for these two organisations. This remains the most recent information available.

    The payment of £10,000 made by the Association of Chief Police Officers for England, Wales and Northern Ireland to the costs of setting up the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association is a matter for ACPO.

    The Home Office contributes to the salaries of national officials and some running costs of the Police Superintendents' Association of England and Wales, to similar costs of the Police Federation of England and Wales and separately to the individual constituent bodies of the staff side to the Police Negotiating Board for the United Kingdom, i.e. the Chief Police Officers' Staff Association, the Superintendents' Associations of England and Wales and Northern Ireland, the Association of Scottish Police Superintendents, the Police Federations of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, in respect of their administration and travelling and subsistence costs.

    The Home Office will contribute £2,000 towards the costs of CPOSA in connection with its staff side activities of the Police Negotiating Board in 1998–99.

    Europol Convention And Protocols

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Which conventions or protocols relating to Europol have (a) been agreed; (b) are in force; and (c) have been proposed by the European Commission; and in respect of each, what have been, or are expected to be, the parliamentary procedures used for their ratification, together with the relevant dates; and what relevant reports or proceedings relating thereto have been published and made available to the public. [HL1669]

    The Europol Convention has been agreed, as have two related protocols: one on the interpretation of the convention, by way of preliminary rulings, by the European Court of Justice; and one of the privileges and immunities of Europol, its organs and staff. None of these instruments is yet in force as they first need to be ratified by all member states of the European Union, some of which have not yet quite completed the necessary parliamentary procedures.These instruments have been proposed by successive presidencies of the European Union, not by the Commission which, under the Maastricht Treaty, has no right of initiative in respect of justice and home affairs matters. The parliamentary procedure for ratification of the Europol Convention and both related protocols required draft Orders in Council to be approved by each House of Parliament. Such orders are subject to affirmative resolution. The orders relating to the Europol Convention and the Protocol on Preliminary Rulings by the European Court of Justice were considered in another place on 3 December 1996 by a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation, and on the Floor of this House on 9 December 1996. The order relating to the protocol on privileges and immunities was debated in another place by a Standing Committee on Delegated Legislation on 4 December 1997 and on the Floor of this House on 15 December 1997. Records of all the above proceedings were published in the

    Official Report.

    Eu Committee On Justice And Home Affairs: Uk Representative

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What are the names and offices of any United Kingdom representatives of the committee of officials authorised by Article K4 of the Treaty of Maastricht in preparation for, and providing in respect of, any matter of justice and home affairs; and to whom are their reports and minutes made available. [HL1671]

    The United Kingdom representative on the committee set up under Article K4 of the Treaty on European Union is Mr. Timothy Walker, Director General of the Immigration and Nationality Directorate of the Home Office.The treaty provides that the committee's task is to give opinions for the attention of the Council and to contribute to the preparation of the Council's discussions in the areas referred to in Article K1 as matters of common interest in the fields of justice and home affairs and in the areas referred to in Article 100c of the European Communities Treaty (visas). Reports and other documents discussed by the committee are normally submitted through the Committee of Permanent Representatives to the Justice and Home Affairs Council. The public may apply to the Council for copies of the documents, and any such applications will fall to be considered under the relevant Council decision. The calendar of meetings is now available on the internet, and work is in progress to make the agendas of K4 meetings and other papers available in the same way.

    Motoring Offences: Convictions

    Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    For the most recent five-year period for which details are available, how many drivers were convicted of:

  • (a) one offence;
  • (b) two offences;
  • (c) three offences;
  • (d) four or more offences;
  • and what was the annual total of convictions. [HL1637]

    Such information as is available is given in the table. This relates to the number of convictions for summary motoring offences. A breakdown to show how many persons were convicted of different numbers of offences is not available for Scotland or Northern Ireland, and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost for England and Wales for a five-year period.However, a small sample of cases in which convictions for summary motoring offences were recorded in the London area in 1996 has been examined. Of these, 33 per cent. involved one conviction, 32 per cent. two convictions, 22 per cent. three convictions and 13 per cent. four or more convictions. The figures relate to the number of convictions at a single court appearance. It is not possible to analyse the number of offences attributable to individual drivers who many have appeared in court more than once.

    Convictions for summary motoring offences—United Kingdom

    England and Wales

    Scotland (provisional)

    Northern Ireland

    19921,525,440102,43320,787
    19931,483,03693,10821,863
    19941,489,06994,17521,474
    19951,497,05091,02920,102
    19961,454,03485,05018,147

    Identity Cards

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 28 April (H.L. Deb., col. 144), whether they will list the benefits and disadvantages of a national identity card scheme for the United Kingdom. [HL1718]

    The possible benefits and disadvantages of different types of national identity card schemes were discussed in the 1995 Green Paper Identity Cards: A consultation document, and the 1996 Home Affairs Committee Fourth Report on Identity Cards. The Government will continue to look at the arguments, but have not as yet reached any conclusions.

    Asylum Applications

    Official Report a table showing the number of persons who applied for asylum in each week during 1996, 1997 and 1998 to date, together with the moving annual total for each 52-week period. [HL1726]

    I regret that information on applications for asylum lodged in the United Kingdom is not available by week within the statistics. The available breakdown, by month of application, is given in the table.

    Asylum applications1received in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, with totals for each 12 month period, January 1996 to March 1998
    Number of principal applicants
    Month of applicationNumber of applications in each monthTotal applications in preceding 12 months
    1996
    January3,310n/a
    February2,850n/a
    March3,145n/a
    April2,070n/a
    May1,755n/a
    June1,730n/a
    July2,515n/a
    August2,140n/a
    September2,185n/a
    October2,810n/a
    November2,450n/a
    December2,68529,640

    Asylum applications

    1

    received in the United Kingdom, excluding dependants, with totals for each 12 month period, January 1996 to March 1998

    Number of principal applicants

    Month of application

    Number of applications in each month

    Total applications in preceding 12 months

    1997

    January2,71529,045
    February2,47528,670
    March2,16027,685
    April2,66528,280
    May2,59029,120
    June2,58529,975
    July3,07030,530
    August2,93031,325
    September2,85031,990
    October2,99032,170
    November2,34532,065
    December3,12032,500

    1998

    January2,86032,645
    February2,65032,820
    March3,20033,855

    1 Figures rounded to the nearest 5.

    n/a = Not applicable.

    Prison Service Drug Strategy

    asked Her Majesty's Government:When they will publish a revised drug strategy for the Prison Service.

    We will be placing a copy of the new Prison Service drug strategy, Tackling Drugs in Prison, in the Library, together with a review of the current Prison Service drug strategy, and research findings underpinning that review.

    Mobility Equipment Fund And Drivers Fund

    asked asked Her Majesty's Government:What recent consideration has been given to the adequacy of government funding for the Mobility Equipment Fund and the Driver's Fund established to help customers of Motability with the more severe disabilities; and when they expect the long-term future of the two funds to be determined. [HL1611]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security
    (Baroness Hollis of Heigham)

    The Government are committed to maximising the potential of severely disabled people through mobility solutions to enable them to enjoy the same opportunities for education and employment as others, and are aware of the continuing pressure there has been on the Mobility Equipment Fund and Drivers Fund over recent years. A review of the Mobility Equipment Fund began in May 1997 to examine the adequacy of arrangements in respect of provision of mobility solutions for severely disabled people who were not being helped from Motability's charitable funds, and research is shortly to commence among past customers of the scheme. On completion of the review, expected at the end of 1998, the Government will be better placed to make judgments on the future of the funds.

    Self-Employed: Pension Contributions

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What would be the impact on current National Insurance contribution rates of including the self-employed in SERPS on the same terms as they contribute to the basic pension. [HL1537]

    The table below gives the increase in the joint National Insurance contribution rates in respect of employed earners which would be required if the self-employed are made eligible for SERPS but face no additional contributions themselves.

    Per cent.
    YearCurrent BaselineIncrease RequiredTotal Contribution Rate
    2000–0117.70.017.7
    2010–1117.40.017.4
    2020–2116.80.116.9
    2030–3117.20.317.5
    2040–4115.80.416.2
    2050–5114.00.514.5

    Notes:

    1. Estimates have been prepared by the Government Actuary based on the Third Quinquennial review (National Insurance Fund Long Term Financial Estimates HC 160).

    2. The current baseline refers to the pension system as provided for in the 1995 Pensions Act.

    3. The contribution rates given are those required to balance the NI fund by producing sufficient income to match expenditure on benefits and administration in each year shown.

    4. The contribution effects assume that the self-employed pay Class 2 and Class 4 contributions on the same basis as they do now. If the self-employed themselves were to meet the cost of any entitlement to SERPS, it would be necessary to make policy assumptions concerning the restructuring of self-employed National Insurance Contributions in order to achieve this.

    5. Assumptions are as follows:

  • (a) Price uprating of benefits and earnings limits.
  • (b) SERPS accruals for the self-employed would commence in 2000–01.
  • (c) No allowance has been made for any contracting out by the self-employed.
  • (d) The illustrative rates exclude the NHS allocation.
  • Serps: Contracting-Out Terms

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What sized pension would accrue to those who contract out of SERPS for the rest of their working life and invest the rebate in an appropriate personal pension at the ages of 25, 35 and 45 respectively. [HL1540]

    Based on the assumptions used by the Government Actuary in his Review of Certain Contracting-Out Terms (Cm 3888), an individual investing only the National Insurance contribution rebate in an appropriate personal pension (APP) would receive a pension broadly equivalent to that which they would get from the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS). In practical terms, the amount of pension will depend on actual investment performance. If the rate of return was higher than that assumed by Government Actuary's Department, it would produce a higher pension.

    Personal Pension Contributions

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What level of contribution to a personal pension scheme would be needed to produce a pension of two-thirds of final salary of £15,000, £21,000, £30,000 and £40,000 per annum respectively. [HL1541]

    The information requested is set out in the table.

    The approximate levels of continuous flat-rate weekly contributions to a personal pension scheme between the ages of 25 and 65 that would be needed to produce a pension of two thirds of a final salary
    Final salaryAnnual pensionWeekly contribution
    £15,000£10,000£39
    £21,000£14,000£55
    £30,000£20,000£79
    £40,000£26,667£105

    Notes:

    1. The figures use the assumptions made by the Government Actuary for the purpose of calculating National Insurance rebates as set out in the Government Actuary's report in command paper Cm 3888 (Review of certain Contracting-out Terms).

    2. The actual level of contribution required to reach a given amount of pension will depend on actual investment performance. If the rate of return was higher than assumed by the Government Actuary, the actual contribution required to achieve the same pension would be lower.

    3. The contribution levels have been rounded to the nearest pound and are expressed in 1997 prices. The annual pension levels are expressed in terms of 1997 income levels.

    4. The amount of pensions shown is the personal pension only. Any basic State pension or SERPS entitlement is not included in the annual pension shown above.

    5. The figures relate to an individual aged 25 in 1997.

    6. It is assumed that the individual remains contracted-in to the State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) throughout the period during which contributions to the personal pension are made and so does not receive any rebates for contracting-out.

    Landlord And Tenant Act 1954: Originating Applications

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Chancellor on 9 March (

    WA 14), how many originating applications to the courts in England and Wales under Section 24 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 were set down for hearing in 1997; and how many proceeded to a full hearing. [HL1663]

    The figures requested are not held centrally and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

    Asylum Appeals

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many asylum appeals have been decided in the last 12 months; and how many of those were successful. [HL1679]

    The number of adjudicator appeals determined between April 1997 and March 1998 was 22,184. My department does not collate information on how many appeals are successful and so could only provide the information requested at disproportionate cost.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether consideration is being given to providing a filter system to reduce the number of asylum appeals. [HL1680]

    Rights of appeal against adverse asylum and immigration decisions are set out in the relevant legislation. Once an appeal has been lodged, it must be determined on merits. However, the Government are considering a number of proposals aimed at improving the appeals system. Our intention is to publish a consultation paper as soon as possible.

    Raf Feltwell: Deep Space Tracking Facility

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the airspace checking facilities at RAF Feltwell are under full British control; and whether the United States uses of RAF Feltwell are exclusively for NATO purposes. [HL1722]

    The Deep Space Tracking Facility at RAF Feltwell is under the command of the United States Air Force Space Command. It is not part of a particular NATO programme, although Her Majesty's Government and other NATO governments have access to data collected by the station.

    Navigation Warfare Demonstration: Uk Involvement

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the nature and purpose of the "Navigation Warfare" programme in which they, and British firms, were reported by the Earl Howe (13 February 1997—Ministry of Defence Reference 3178H) to be participating with the United States Defense Department. [HL1724]

    Good progress is being made in establishing arrangements for UK involvement in the Navigation Warfare Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration, the purpose of which is to protect access to Global Positioning System signals.

    Veterinary Drugs: Registration Fees For Merchants And Saddlers

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What fees are to be paid by merchants and saddlers for registration in 1998–99 with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain under the Medicines (Exemptions for Merchants in Veterinary Drugs) Order 1998. [HL1817]

    The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
    (Lord Donoughue)

    The Schedule of Fees for Registration is given in the table:

    Previous feeNew fee
    Application in respect of each premises££
    Category 1 agricultural merchants
    1. For registration under article 5234243
    2. For retention of registration under article 5133138
    3. For restoration of registration under article 5201209
    Category 2 agricultural merchants
    1. For registration under article 8145151
    2. For retention of registration under article 88790
    3. For restoration of registration under article 8129134
    Saddlers not registered under article 5 or 8
    1. For registration under article 12112112
    2. For retention of registration under article 126565
    3. For restoration of registration under article 129797

    Expert Group On Vitamins And Minerals

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the membership of the Expert Group on Vitamins and Minerals announced on 18 December 1997. [HL1816]

    Ministers from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, the Department of Health and the territorial departments have approved the appointment of the following members to the Expert Group:

    Chairman

    • Prof. H. F. Woods BSc BM BCh Dphil FRCP(Lon) FFPM FRCP(Edin) Hon FFOM
    • Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, University of Sheffield

    Members

    • Prof. P. Aggett MB ChB FRCP Msc DCH
    • Head of the Postgraduate School of Medicine and Health, University of Central Lancashire
    • Prof. D. S. Davies BSc PhD BCh FRSC FRCPath HonMRCP
    • Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology Imperial College School of Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital
    • Prof. A. A. Jackson BA MBBCHIR MD FRCP
    • Professor of Human Nutrition at the Institute of Human Nutrition, University of Southampton
    • Dr. B. J. Kirby OBE MB ChB FRCP FRCPed
    • Reader in Medicine and Consultant Physician, Post Graduate Medical School at the University of Exeter
    • Prof. M. J. S. Langman BSc MD FRCP
    • Professor of Medicine, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre, Birmingham
    • Prof. A. G. Renwick BSc PhD DSc
    • Professor of Biochemical Pharmacology, University of Southampton
    • Ms Barbara Saunders BA(Hons) FCP
    • Freelance Consumer Consultant
    • Dr. A. Thomas PhD FRCP MB ChB
    • Consultant Physician with special responsibility for the elderly, Plymouth Hospitals NHS Trust
    • Dr. A. Williams BSc LRCP MRCS MB BS MRCP (UK) D.Phil(Oxon) FRCP (London) FRCPCH
    • Senior Lecturer and Consultant in Neonatal Paediatrics, St. George's Hospital, London

    The observers to the group, selected front those nominated by interested parties, will be:

    Observers

    • Prof. David Richardson BSc(Hons) MSc PhD FIFST FRSM
    • Head of Nutrition Sciences and Communication, Nestle UK Limited
    • Dr. Derek Shrimpton MA PhD F.I.Biol. C.Biol FIFST
    • Consultant in Nutrition and Food Science
    • Ms Sue Davies BSc(Hons)
    • Senior Policy Researcher for the Consumers' Association
    • Dr. Marilyn Glenville BEd MA PhD
    • Chair of Foresight—the Association for Pre-Conception Care and Chair of the governing council for the British Association of Nutritional Therapists.

    Vitamin B6

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have received a copy of the Report

    Dietary Reference Intakes published by the Institute of Medicine of the American Academy of Sciences on 7 April; and whether they intend to take into account the conclusions of that report in the context of their consultation exercise on the proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6; and [HL1732]

    Whether they accept the assertion in the recent letter to the Minister of Food Safety from Dr. John Hathcock that the American Academy of Sciences Report on Dietary Reference Intakes constitutes the most authoritative assessment of the safety of vitamin B6 in existence. [HL1735]

    We have received a pre-publication copy of the report by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine on Dietary Reference Intakes. We have already made it clear that we will take account of the NAS report and any new scientific evidence submitted in response to the consultation exercise on its proposed restrictions on the retail sale of vitamin B6.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they intend to ask the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment to review its advice on the safety of vitamin B6 supplements in the light of the report by the American Academy of Sciences which concluded that there are no credible reports of adverse effects from intakes of vitamin B6 of 200 mg or less; and [HL1733]Whether they intend to respond to the conclusion of the recent American Academy of Sciences Report on

    Dietary Reference Intakes that the weaknesses of the study by Dalton and Dalton, which was relied upon heavily by the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment in formulating its advice on vitamin B6 safety, "rule out the use of these data to base a UL [upper limit]". [HL1734]

    The Chairman of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) has already considered issues arising out of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report on Dietary Reference Intakes and his initiated discussions on these with the chairman of the Institute of Medicine's sub-committee on upper reference levels of nutrients, Dr. Ian Munro. The NAS's views on the safety of vitamin B6 will be considered in more detail by the COT along with any new scientific data that may be submitted during the current consultation on the draft regulations required to implement the proposed controls on dietary supplements containing vitamin B6. The COT's response will be published.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they intend to meet any of those scientists involved in the writing and pre-publication review of the recent American Academy of Sciences Report on

    Dietary Reference Intakes to discuss the conclusions of that report in relation to the safety of vitamin B6. [HL1736]

    Arrangements are being made for a meeting between officials from MAFF and the COT Secretariat at the Department of Health with Dr. John Hathcock of the US Council for Responsible Nutrition—an association of the dietary supplements industry—and others who were involved in the writing and pre-publication review of the recent American Academy of Sciences Report on Dietary Reference Intakes.

    Integrated Healthcare

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Following the welcome given by Ministers to the report

    Integrated Healthcare: A Way Forward for the Next 5 Years? published in October 1997, what discussions the Department of Health has now had with the chairmen of the groups who prepared the reports, to discuss:

  • (a) the need for more research; and
  • (b) the provision of healthcare services to patients. [HL1689]
  • Professor John Swales, the director of research and development at the Department of Health, met Professor Stephen Holgate, who chaired the working group which prepared the research aspects of the Integrated Healthcare report, on 10 December to discuss its proposals. A meeting with Dr. David Peters, who chaired the working group which prepared the service delivery mechanisms aspects of the report, will be arranged following the Integrated Healthcare conference on 28 May which my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health is to address.

    President Of Armenia: Message Of Congratulations

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have congratulated the newly elected President of the Republic of Armenia on his election; and, if not, whether they intend to do so. [HL1742]

    The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office
    (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean)

    Her Majesty the Queen sent a message of congratulations to the newly elected President of the Republic of Armenia, Robert Kocharian, on 8 April 1998.