New Forest East

HEALTH – EU & FOOD SUPPLEMENTS – 25 January 2005

Dr Julian Lewis: During my hon. Friend's trip to Downing Street, was he able to throw any light on why this Labour Government are so keen to stop these health products being available on the market at the same time as they are decriminalising cannabis and being madly in favour of legalising all-hours super-casinos and all-hours binge drinking?

[Chris Grayling: The only explanation that I can come up with is the Government's determination to follow the European harmonisation agenda at all costs. There is no other rational explanation for this. ... The Commission wants common standards across Europe. What it actually wants is Euro-vitamin pills, available for sale throughout the single market. It intends to set out by 2006 the rules that member states will have to apply. ... The provision has to go to a committee and be agreed by countries such as France and Germany. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment is already saying that it wants vitamin C doses to be limited to 225 mg – less than a quarter of the strength of a typical tablet in this country. It wants to cut the content of zinc tablets to one tenth the level that our own Food Standards Agency says is acceptable.]

* * *

Dr Lewis: Surely if ever there was a case to put to the test the concept of subsidiarity, this is it. Why on earth are individual countries not qualified to take such decisions for themselves? I hope that my hon. Friend will mention at some point in his speech – if we give him the chance to complete it –, where people can sign up by email to the campaign to save these health foods. If they visit that website, they will also doubtless imbibe its many other beneficial features.

[Mr Grayling: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for that intervention; I hope that those listening to this debate will take his advice and look at that website. He is right about the principle of subsidiarity.]

[NOTE: For details of the supplements campaign, click here.]