Child Health and Maternity

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:23 pm on 7th February 2002.

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Photo of Tim Loughton Tim Loughton Shadow Spokesperson (Health) 3:23 pm, 7th February 2002

It is clearly the case that, if the choice is between MMR and nothing, more people will be exposed if they do not choose the triple vaccination.

I have said all along that the triple vaccination is the best option; single jabs are not as effective. There are questions marks about the timings between them. There are also question marks about the licensing of vaccinations that come from France and other countries, the way that they are administered and the charges for administering them. The Government must address those questions.

Despite the Minister's reassurances, hundreds of parents are telephoning private clinics to get hold of the individual vaccinations. How much less effective they are than the triple vaccination is a matter for debate, but they are better than nothing. The Government are currently offering all or nothing, which is the worst policy of all.

I have spoken for long enough but, not surprisingly, my final comments on MMR have been the most topical and contentious and will continue to be so. In practice, there is a crisis of confidence among many hundreds of thousands of our constituents, and we must restore that confidence to ensure that vaccination coverage is as thorough as possible.

This is an important debate. We are dealing with many complicated issues and, when it comes to children, we need a comprehensive approach. As I said, the measure of the success of the Government's programme will not be the number of committees and the structures that they set up, or the number of tsars whom they appoint, but the health improvement outcomes that result from it.

We all agree, I am sure, that the health of our nation's children is one of the most important aspects, if not the most important aspect, of the national health service and health care in this country. I welcome the contribution that this debate can make to raising the profile of these matters.