HC Deb 30 January 2002 vol 379 cc438-40W
Tim Loughton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what screening took place of members of the working party of the Medical Research Council on links between MMR vaccine and autism to avoid potential conflicts of interest; [24315]

(2) if he will list members of the Medical Research Council working party on the MMR vaccine and autism; and what declarations of interest they have made. [24311]

Yvette Cooper

[holding answer 8 January, 2002]: In March 2001 the Department commissioned the Medical Research Council to undertake a wide-ranging and inclusive review of the current understanding of the causes and epidemiology of autism. The measles, mumps and rubella vaccine was only one of many suggested causes that were considered and is a small part of the whole report.

The full report of the MRC review is available on the MRC's website www.mrc.ac.uk.

The scientific experts of the review group were drawn mostly from outside the field of autism or MMR research. A third of the members comprised a lay group drawn from organisations representing the interests of people and families with autism, together with some who had other broad consumer interests.

Along with its scientific assessment of the current knowledge of autism and recommendations for future research strategies, the MRC review included the code of conduct for the review groups, eligibility criteria for experts and lay members, and procedures for managing perceived and potential conflicts of interest. These were discussed and agreed by all members during the review process. Declarations of interest were sought early in the review from all members and from additional external advisers. They were kept up-to-date and a summary was provided at all review group meetings. Lists of members and the summary of their declarations of interest are published in the report at appendix 1, annex 3. The full declarations were available for scrutiny by members throughout the review.

We have full confidence in the integrity of the review process.

David Hamilton

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many MMR vaccines have been given in each health region in the last 12 months. [31334]

Yvette Cooper

Information is not available for the number of measles, mumps and rubella vaccinations given. Information about coverage rates for children immunised against MMR by region is contained in the Statistical Bulletin "NHS Immunisation Statistics, England: 2000–01". A copy of the bulletin is in the Library and can also be found on the Department's website www.doh.gov.uk/public/sb0l2l.htm.