Draper Report

Health written question – answered on 10th February 2005.

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Photo of Ian Gibson Ian Gibson Labour, Norwich North

To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) when he expects the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines, to be published;

(2) when the data on which the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines is based was first received by his Department; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what assessment his Department has made of the data on which the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines is based; and if he will make a statement;

(4) what discussions his Department has held with (a) charities, (b) patient groups, (c) other organisations and (d) representatives of the power industry regarding the potential implications of the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines;

(5) if he will place in the Library a copy of the data on which the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines is based;

(6) if he will list the organisations with whom his Department has held meetings regarding the implications of the Draper Report on childhood cancer and electromagnetic field exposures from powerlines.

Photo of Miss Melanie Johnson Miss Melanie Johnson Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health

A draft paper by Dr. Draper of Childhood Cancer Research Group at Oxford University into possible links between power lines and childhood leukaemia was submitted to a scientific journal and officials in the Department in November 2004. In accordance with the usual practice, publication will follow the appropriate peer review process and the publication date rests with the publishers. It would be inappropriate to comment on unpublished data, but we will ask the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB) to consider the results when published.

The NRPB's Advice on Limiting Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields" (Documents of the NRPB Vol 15 No 2 2004) noted that below the guidelines

"an association between prolonged exposure to intense power frequency magnetic fields and a small raised risk of childhood leukaemia has, however, been found, the scientific reasons for which are presently uncertain. In the light of these findings and the requirement for additional research, the need for precautionary measures should be considered by Government".

On the basis of this commendation precautionary measures are currently being considered by departmental officials in association with a large number of stakeholders including other Government Departments, the devolved administrations, the electricity supply industry, the electricity supply regulators and a number of non-government organisations and public concern groups.

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