HC Deb 11 March 2004 vol 418 c1640
4. Mr. Paul Burstow (Sutton and Cheam) (LD)

If she will make a statement on the work on public health conducted jointly by her Department and the Department of Health. [160280]

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Margaret Beckett)

My Department works with the Department of Health on a range of key issues connected with public health, including fuel poverty, poor environment quality, animal health, services in rural areas, food and exercise. It will play its part in "Choosing Health", which is the consultation on action to improve people's health that was launched last week.

Mr. Burstow

I am grateful to the Secretary of State for that answer. Can she tell us what assessment has been made of how to manage the surplus of fat that results from dairy processing to produce low-fat butter and milk, and what discussions have taken place with the Department of Health at ministerial and official level on that? Given the obesity epidemic that is sweeping our nation, would it not be sensible to bank the health dividend and ensure that that fat does not find its way back into the food chain?

Margaret Beckett

The hon. Gentleman makes an interesting point. As I have said, my Department is engaged in much work and discussion, including workshops and seminars, and I shall pass on the hon. Gentleman's observations.

Mr. Mark Lazarowicz (Edinburgh, North and Leith) (Lab/Co-op)

Does my right hon. Friend agree that one of the best ways to promote public health would be for food companies that encourage unhealthy diets in children to stop doing that? Is she trying to persuade her Cabinet colleagues to support recommendations to address the imbalance in television advertising, so that healthier eating, rather than unhealthy eating, is promoted?

Margaret Beckett

I know that those issues are being considered not only by other Departments but by the Food Standards Agency. People are looking at the concerns that have been expressed on those issues and trying to get the balance right.

Mr. Russell Brown (Dumfries) Lab)

There is growing concern that low-level ground vibration from wind farms has the potential to have an adverse effect on public health. Has my right hon. Friend asked the Department of Health or an independent body to examine low-level vibration from wind turbines and its possible effects, or does she intend to do so?

Margaret Beckett

I have not, but I will.