HC Deb 25 March 1988 vol 130 cc243-4W
Mr. Murphy

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any evidence that the low-calorie sweetener aspartame is the cause of blindness, dizziness, severe headaches or confusion.

Mrs. Currie

I am aware of recent claims that aspartame can cause these effects. I have therefore requested the scientific evidence on which these claims are based. Any such evidence will be considered and the advice of the Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT) which advises the Government on the safety of food additives, will be obtained as necessary.

We keep under review the safety in use of food additives. The COT has reviewed the scientific data on

Combined marginal income tax and benefit withdrawal rates 1988–89
Working heads of tax units (000s) Great Britain
Numbers facing combined rates of over 50 per cent—in bands
Per cent. Families with children Pre-Budget Couples and single people Total Families with children Post-Budget Couples and single people Total
100 0 0 0 0 0 0
90 to 99 55 5 60 45 0 45
80 to 89 370 10 380 285 15 300
70 to 79 85 20 100 150 20 170
60 to 69 0 0 0 1 0 1
50 to 59 0 0 0 0 0 0


(i) Pre-budget figures are based on a 27 per cent. basic rate of tax and allowances up-rated by the retail prices index only.

(ii) Figures are rounded to the nearest 5,000 except 1 which are fewer than 2,500. Rows may not add clue to rounding, and, in particular, the numbers floated off income-related benefits by the Budget total 30,000 not 25,000 as the table suggests.

(iii) Unlike answers to previous questions, the figures above fully reflect lower rate national insurance contributions. In addition, the figures are based on slightly revised estimates of earnings growth to 1988–89.

(iv) The total number of working heads of tax-units with more than 24 weekly remunerative hours is approximately 17 million. Those shown aspartame several times since it was first approved for use, but it has not altered its advice that aspartame is safe in use.