Nutritional Supplements

Oral Answers to Questions — Agriculture, Fisheries and Food – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 6th February 1992.

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Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West 12:00 am, 6th February 1992

To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps his Department is taking on proposals for new EC legislation or regulations on nutritional supplements; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

We are currently consulting all the interests concerned on a Commission discussion paper on possible controls. Our response to the Commission's paper will be formulated in the light of that detailed consultation.

Photo of Dennis Canavan Dennis Canavan , Falkirk West

Is the Minister aware of the continuing concern among natural health therapists and others about the inadequate consultation so far by the Government on this important matter and of the allegations of serious omissions and inaccuracies in the Denner report, which was supposed to be based on previous consultations? In view of the fears expressed about the possibility of serious restrictions being placed on the availability of certain nutritional supplements as a result of the new EC regulations, will the Minister give us an assurance that the Government will conduct far wider and genuine consultations on the discussion paper that has been produced by the European Commission?

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I assure the hon. Gentleman that we conducted wide discussions on Dr. Denner's excellent report which was the basis for consultation. We consulted more than 160 separate organisations on that. We now have an EC discussion paper and we shall consult all those organisations as well. Everyone—and anyone—is invited to make representations to us. I urge people to talk to us as quickly as possible so that we can have meaningful discussions in the EC. We shall continue to consult organisations as the negotiations progress.

Photo of Mr David Ashby Mr David Ashby , North West Leicestershire

Is not the problem for my hon. Friend that there are so many diverse views on nutritional supplements that it is hard to know from which set of experts one should take advice? From which set of experts will he take advice in this respect? Will it be the organised medical practitioners as we know them today or those who are practising in the area? Their views are as relevant as anyone's.

Photo of David Maclean David Maclean Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food)

I accept that many experts have a relevant view here. Let me state a couple of fundamental principles that we hold dear. We believe that anyone who wants to buy mineral pills or vitamin supplements has the right to buy them, provided that they are safe. On the other hand, I strongly believe that if people consume a normal, adequate and balanced diet, they should receive almost all the vitamins that they need, unless they are under doctor's orders. As I said to the hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan), we shall consult widely all the various interests and, no doubt, other European countries will receive representations from manufacturers, from users and from suppliers.