HL Deb 28 June 2001 vol 626 cc18-9WA
Baroness Turner of Camden

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What was the outcome of the meeting of the Health Council which took place on 5 June. [HL35]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

Susan Deacon MSP, Minister for Health and Community Care in Scotland, represented the UK.

Council reached political agreement to adopt unanimously a common position on the six-year framework programme on public health, which will replace the existing eight individual programmes. A compromise was reached over the budget level at 280 meuros, which will be the basis of negotiation with the European Parliament, whose previous position has been for a higher figure. On the mechanism for coordinating health monitoring and rapid reaction to health threats, Council agreed to the use of the term "structural arrangements" instead of "structure" as the Commission had still to put forward their proposals on this point. Agreement was also reached on including rare diseases within the scope of the programme.

Council agreed the Recommendation on drinking of alcohol by young people. The Recommendation proposes education and information and self-regulation of promotion, marketing and retailing to reduce alcohol abuse by children and adolescents. Council adopted Conclusions inviting the Commission to put forward proposals for a Community strategy on alcohol which would complement national policies. The majority of member states highlighted the need for Community action on gathering and disseminating data and information. The UK warned of the need to focus on alcohol-related harm rather than consumption per se and that any action should be proportionate and respect subsidiarity principles.

Commissioner Byrne presented revised proposals for a tobacco advertising Directive which would ban tobacco advertising in the press, publications, radio, Internet and sponsorship (including free distribution) with a cross-border element. He stressed the compatibility of these proposals with the ECJ judgement striking down the previous tobacco advertising Directive.

The Commission gave an oral update on the epidemiological situation of vCJD and developments in research, surveillance and information exchange at Community level. The UK provided information on progress with developing support for CJD patients, measures to protect against person to person transmission (e.g. single-use instruments for tonsil surgery) and tenders for research into diagnostic tests for vCJD and BSE. Council adopted Conclusions, which call on member states to build on existing work on surveillance and prevention for all TSEs as they affect human health.

A series of information items reports were received on health in other policies and the health dimension of the Northern Dimension Action Plan. There were calls for a second Health Council in each Presidency and information provided on a hospital partnership approach to the treatment of HIV/AIDS victims.