Scottish cervical cancer vaccine pledge

In collaboration with the Press Association

Scotland could become the first country to offer the HPV vaccine for free, politicians have said.

The vaccine protects against the viruses that cause the majority of cervical cancers.

The commitment, contained in Labour's manifesto for the forthcoming Scottish Assembly elections, remains subject to expert recommendations.

If approved, the plan would distribute the vaccine to 12 to 14-year-old girls if their parents give approval, said Labour first minister Jack McConnell.

"A national programme of free vaccinations could reduce the incidences of cervical cancer, saving the lives of thousands of women," said Mr McConnell.

"This will help to prevent many cases of cervical cancer," said medical director of Cancer Research UK, Professor John Toy.

"Cancer Research UK is pleased to hear any commitment that, subject to the recommendation of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the vaccine will be made available to young women."

Cervical cancer is the second most common form of the disease among women aged under 35 in the UK.