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Written Answers

Volume 455: debated on Monday 8 January 2007

Written Answers to Questions

The following answers were received between Wednesday 20 December 2006 and Friday 5 January 2007

Education and Skills

Childhood Obesity

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what research he has commissioned into the link between childhood obesity and consumption of fizzy drinks. (110093)

I have been asked to reply.

The Department, which is co-ordinating action on obesity, has not commissioned nor has specific plans to commission research on the effects of consumption of different food products on weight gain, excess weight and obesity among schoolchildren.

The Food Standards Agency is developing a strategy to help consumers achieve energy balance.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Anschutz Entertainment Group

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether (a) officials and (b) Ministers in her Department have met representatives of the Anshutz Entertainment Group. (110017)

[holding answer 18 December 2006]: Ministers and officials met representatives of Anshutz Entertainment Group on the following occasions:

Date

February 2003

Official(s)

July 2004

My right hon. Friend the Deputy Prime Minister and officials

November 2004

Official(s)

February 2005

Official(s)

April 2005

Group Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment and officials

April 2005

Official(s)

July 2005

Official(s)

Anti-conversion Laws

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of anti-conversion laws in (a) Malaysia, (b) Indonesia, (c) Pakistan and (d) India; and what assessment she has made of the recent development of women's rights in each of these countries. (109089)

The Malaysian Federal Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. However, Muslims are subject to Shari'a law with respect to family matters which includes apostasy. Muslims can only change their religion with the permission of a Shari'a Court who will often not allow this, and may order periods of rehabilitation and other penalties for those who attempt to do it. In addition, the application of Shari'a is a state, rather than federal matter and so varies around the country—the State of Negeri Sembilan allows apostasy. This complicated issue impacts on a minority of people who wish to leave Islam—a recent survey by an academic found that there were only 100 applications to the Shari'a Courts to apostatise between 1994-2003. The majority of applicants are from people who had previously converted to Islam for the purpose of marriage.

There are no anti-conversion laws in Indonesian civil law. The constitution of Indonesia guarantees freedom of religion.

There are anti-conversion laws in India. However, to date, nobody has raised with us specific cases of abuse, where anti-conversion laws have been used to prevent someone from willingly changing their religion.

There is no anti-conversion legislation in Pakistan, although converts from Islam to other religions are subject to various social pressures and harassment and the blasphemy laws are often abused in this context.

The Government, along with our EU partners, follow closely developments in states where anti-conversion laws exist. We condemn all instances where individuals are persecuted because of their faith or belief, wherever they happen and whatever the religion of the individual or group concerned. We urge all states to pursue laws and practices which foster tolerance and mutual respect and to protect religious minorities from discrimination.

The Malaysian Federal Constitution was amended in 2001 to provide against discrimination on grounds of gender.

The Malaysian Government ratified Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1995 and presented their first report to the CEDAW committee earlier this year. There are concerns that the rights of women in divorce and inheritance are not equal to those of men in the Shari'a Courts. There are also concerns that the proposed new Islamic Family Law Act will do little to alleviate this, with a widespread perception that it is even more detrimental to the status of Muslim women than existing laws, including making polygamy easier. However, the Government are re-examining the bill following concerns by non-governmental organisations and are consulting women's groups on the revision.

The Indonesian Government, through the Ministry of Women's Affairs, are actively working to increase the participation of women. In general, women play a significant and growing role in Indonesian society.

In India, there is increasing awareness of women's rights issues. The Government are working with a number of organisations, including the National Commission for Women, to highlight and address these issues. One example includes a sponsored visit to the UK earlier this year by the chairperson of the National Commission for Women.

We welcome the passing of the Women's Protection Bill in Pakistan, which marks a significant step forward on the “enlightened moderation” agenda. We will follow with interest the progress of further proposed reforms to improve women's rights.

China

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has made to (a) the EU and (b) her counterpart in Beijing on China's fulfilment of its World Trade Organisation commitments. (109088)

We want to encourage China to act as a responsible member of the international community and support its closer integration into the international system, including through multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO). To that end, Ministers raise WTO issues regularly in bilaterals with their Chinese counterparts, as indeed I did in July in my visit to China. Most recently, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry visited China from 26 to 30 November. He emphasised the need for China to play an active role in the current WTO round and to continue opening up its markets.

The WTO is an important pillar of the multilateral system and we encourage all WTO members to abide by their WTO obligations. At the EU General Affairs and External Relations Council on 11 to 12 December, EU Foreign Ministers adopted conclusions welcoming the Commission Communication “EU-China: Closer Partners, Growing Responsibilities” and the Commission working paper “Competition and Partnership”. The Commission documents stress the mutual benefits of enhanced trade and economic relations between the EU and China, and the importance of China fully implementing its WTO obligations. The UK worked with other member states to ensure that the Conclusions reflect our position.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) for the release of Marie Therese Nlandu detained on terrorism charges after election to the DRC Parliament; and if she will make a statement. (109834)

Our ambassador in Kinshasa has spoken to the Interior Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo and advisers to President Kabila on several occasions regarding the detention of Marie Therese Nlandu. We and European partners raised our concerns that Mme Nlandu's human rights, particularly her access to legal representation, were not being respected.

Subsequently Mme Nlandu was granted access to a lawyer and has now been charged with several offences and is due to stand trial. We have pressed that her case be dealt with fairly and quickly. We will continue to monitor her situation and treatment.

Departmental Annual Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the purpose was of the expenditure denoted in relation to (a) Reuniting Europe, Table 15 and (b) Universal Postal Union, Table 18 of her Department's 2006 annual report. (109460)

The Reuniting Europe Programme supports EU enlargement. The programme funds projects in candidate countries, the Western Balkans and the European neighbourhood, with a particular focus on improving governance, judicial reform, tackling corruption and encouraging economic growth. The programme supports the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Strategic Priority 4—building an effective and globally competitive EU in a secure neighbourhood.

The UK is one of the five major financial contributors towards the work of the Universal Postal Union (UPU), paying £960,000 in 2005. The UPU sets the standards and rules for international mail exchanges and makes recommendations aimed to stimulate growth in mail volumes and improve the quality of service for customers. It is the primary forum for co-operation between postal-sector players worldwide, and fulfils advisory, mediation and liaison roles, as well as providing technical assistance where required. UPU activities are funded jointly by the 191 member states. The UK contribution to the UPU reflects the importance we accord to the international conveyance of mail within the context of a universal postal service obligation.

Engagements

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official meetings were held by the Minister for State for the Middle East during his recent visit to Washington; and if she will make a statement. (110280)

My hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Middle East (Dr. Howells) had meetings with senior officials from the United States State Department, Department of Defense and National Security Council and participated in a lunchtime discussion on Afghanistan at the United States Institute of Peace. He also met Senator Carl Levin, Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Discussions covered areas of mutual interest including Afghanistan.

Ethiopia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the prospects of the Government of Ethiopia handing back the offices of the Ethiopian Bible Society to their original owner. (109267)

We are aware of this property dispute and our ambassador in Addis Ababa raised this issue with the Mayor of Addis Ababa recently. We will continue to make appropriate representations but this is a private matter which we hope can be resolved through negotiation with the relevant Ethiopian Government agencies.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Ethiopian Government about political violence and intimidation. (109857)

Our ambassador in Addis Ababa and embassy officials have frequent discussions with Ethiopian Government officials and Prime Minister Meles, most recently on 25 November, about the internal political situation, the detention of opposition leaders and civil rights. We continue to urge the Government of Ethiopia, and opposition, to exercise restraint, return to inclusive peaceful dialogue and continue the democratisation process.

But ongoing sporadic violence in rural areas of Ethiopia demonstrates the continuing political and social divisions in the community. We will continue to raise these matters bilaterally and together with EU partners, through the article 8 dialogue.

Iraq

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which officials in her Department have given evidence to the Iraq policy review processes conducted in the United States by the (a) Iraq Study Group, (b) National Security Council and (c) Pentagon; and if she will make a statement. (110127)

Our ambassadors in Washington and Baghdad held discussions with the Iraq Study Group in the course of its work.

The US Administration is currently conducting its own internal review of US policy. No Foreign and Commonwealth Office officials have given evidence to the National Security Council or the Pentagon. To our knowledge, they are not formally ‘taking evidence’ from anyone, but we are in constant dialogue with US officials about Iraq—in Washington, Baghdad and elsewhere.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether a formal review of UK policy in Iraq is taking place within the Foreign Office; and if she will make a statement. (110281)

The Government keep their policy on Iraq under constant review, above all in response to events on the ground and the views of the sovereign Government of Iraq. I set out our strategy to the House on 22 November 2006 in the course of the debate on the Queen’s Speech, Official Report, columns 548-58. There will be a further opportunity for the House to address the issue in next month’s debate on Iraq and the Middle East.

Lebanon

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she has received from her Israeli counterpart on the impact of the current political instability in Lebanon on the implementation of UNSCR 1701. (110128)

I have discussed with my Israeli counterpart the situation in Lebanon. Israel’s concerns about the need for full implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701 are well known. Israel’s Foreign Minister made clear, when visiting the UK on 21 November, that Israel shares the UK view that the democratically elected Government in Lebanon should be able to exercise sole authority throughout the country, and parties in Lebanon should co-operate with the Government to that end.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the impact of the current political instability in Lebanon on the implementation of UNSCR 1701; and if she will make a statement. (110129)

In a letter to the Security Council dated 1 December, reporting on the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1701, the UN Secretary-General has noted that the military and security situation in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon’s area of operation has further stabilised. The cessation of hostilities continues and there have been no serious incidents or confrontations.

The UN Secretary-General also reported that in parallel with the withdrawal of Israeli forces, Lebanese troops in co-ordination with the UN Interim Force, have deployed throughout the south of Lebanon in areas vacated by the Israeli Defence Force (IDF). Liaison and co-ordination between the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the Lebanese armed forces and the IDF has been very effective in addressing military and security issues.

The Government of Lebanon have a number of important tasks under UN Security Council resolution 1701. Clearly, domestic political stability will be required to continue to carry out these tasks. We have urged all parties in Lebanon to co-operate with the elected Government in seeking the stability that Lebanon needs to secure its future.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps have been taken in Southern Lebanon on the disarmament of Hezbollah in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1701; and what role the Lebanese armed forces have played in this respect. (110282)

The UN Secretary-General, in his letter of 1 December to the Security Council reporting on implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1701, said that liaison and co-ordination between the UN Interim Force in Lebanon, the Lebanese armed forces and the Israeli Defence Force has been very effective in addressing military and security issues within southern Lebanon. The Lebanese armed forces have confiscated some weapons belonging to Hezbollah.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs pursuant to the answer of 27 November 2006, Official Report, column 473W, on Lebanon, which parties are represented on the informal co-ordination group in Beirut. (110297)

The informal nature of the coordination group is such that it has no fixed membership. In addition to the UK, the United States, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Poland, the Czech Republic, Sweden, Denmark and the delegation of the European Commission have attended meetings or asked to be informed of the group's work so as to help them target their own support to Lebanon's security sector. Group members have encouraged participation from other countries—European, non-European and Arab—engaged in or considering assistance to this sector.

Madagascar

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representation the UK has in Madagascar. (109083)

UK diplomatic links with Madagascar are conducted through a non-resident ambassador based in Port Louis, Mauritius, and an Honorary Consul based in Antananarivo (we are currently seeking accreditation for these officials), and through contact with the Malagasy embassy in London.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether she plans to reopen an embassy in Madagascar following the decision of the Madagascan authorities to open an embassy in London. (109327)

Middle East

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions her Department plans to hold with (a) Iraq, (b) Jordan and (c) Libya on establishing British Army bases there on long-term leases. (110147)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office has no plans to hold talks with Iraq, Jordan and Libya on establishing British army bases on long-term leases.

North Korea (Nuclear Capability)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the nuclear capability of the Democratic Republic of North Korea; and if she will make a statement. (109714)

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) claims to have reprocessed the 8,000 spent fuel rods removed from the 25 megawatt reactor at Yongbyon in 1994. If these claims are true, the DPRK could have extracted sufficient plutonium for up to five nuclear warheads from this spent fuel.

North Korea's partially successful nuclear test on 9 October has added to our concerns over its nuclear programme. Their actions jeopardise regional stability in north-east Asia and pose a clear threat to international peace and security. The measures set out in UN Security Council Resolution 1718 send a clear message that the international community will not tolerate acts of this nature.

We continue to believe the DPRK is pursuing efforts towards production of highly enriched uranium (HEU), based on centrifuge enrichment technology which the Pakistani scientist AQ Khan has admitted supplying to the DPRK. But we have no information on how successful these attempts to produce HEU have been.

Palestine

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the Government have made representations to the Israeli authorities on the effect of (a) the Annexation Wall and (b) the failure to renew temporary access permits for staff and students on the future of the Arab Orphan School in Atarot, East Jerusalem. (113021)

We have not made any representations to the Israeli Government about this issue. However, during his visit to the region on 11 to 13 December, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for International Development raised our concerns about the barrier with Israeli Foreign Minister Livni.

We are concerned at the restrictions on freedom of movement in the occupied territories. We understand the current difficulties that Palestinian students are facing to enter Israel in order to continue their education. On 19 December the Israeli Supreme Court gave the Israeli Government 60 days to determine clear criteria to grant Palestinian students special permits to allow them to enter Israel for a period of over six months.

Parliamentary Questions

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many parliamentary written questions her Department received in each parliamentary session since 2001; and how many of these questions (a) were not answered because of disproportionate cost, (b) were not answered, (c) received answers referring back to a previous answer (i) asked by the hon. Member and (ii) asked by another hon. Member and (d) were grouped together for answer. (107462)

This information is not held centrally and could not be obtained without incurring disproportionate cost. I can however provide (in the table) a breakdown of the number of questions answered in each year; the number of ordinary written questions answered on time; and the number of named day questions answered on the allocated day.

Parliamentary Session

Total number of ordinary written questions

Total number of ordinary written questions answered within one week

Total number of named day questions

Total number of named day questions answered on allocated day

2001-02

2,379

1,776

1,043

854

2002-03

2,779

2,102

591

440

2003-04

2,508

1,954

548

386

2004-05

1,592

827

323

183

2005-06

4,248

3,460

952

723

2006-07 (to date)

254

242

68

59

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what target her Department has for the maximum acceptable amount of time to answer parliamentary written questions; and what percentage of parliamentary answers met that target in each parliamentary session since 2001. (107463)

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) places great importance on parliamentary questions and undertakes to answer all questions promptly. FCO Ministers and officials endeavour to answer named day questions on the allocated day and ordinary written questions within one week. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him today (UIN 107462).

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions in the past three years her Department (a) initiated and (b) attended, when called by another Department, handling strategy meetings to deal with written parliamentary questions tabled by the hon. Member for Thurrock. (107909)

[holding answer 12 December 2006]: My Department has neither initiated, nor been invited to attend, handling strategy meetings to deal with written parliamentary questions tabled by my hon. Friend.

Somalia

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions she has had with her (a) EU and (b) US counterparts on ways to strengthen the UN arms embargo against Somalia; and if she will make a statement. (110269)

We hold regular talks with our EU and Security Council partners, including the US. We are considering ways to strengthen the arms embargo and improve its implementation. We have urged all parties inside Somalia and neighbouring states to respect the arms embargo and do nothing to provoke violence in Somalia. UN Security Council Resolution 1725, unanimously adopted on 6 December 2006, emphasised the continued contribution made to Somalia’s peace and security by the arms embargo and demanded that all member states fully comply with it.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the UK has offered any support to the forthcoming African Union protection and training mission to Somalia. (110270)

I refer the right hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs (Mr. McCartney) gave to the hon. Member for Cotswold (Mr. Clifton-Brown) on 19 December 2006, Official Report, column 1801W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international agreement there is on the scale of the African Union protection and training mission to Somalia mandated by UN Security Council Resolution 1725 (2006); and if she will make a statement. (110271)

Work on planning the mission is ongoing. UN Security Council Resolution 1725 requested the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Commission of the African Union and the secretariat of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, to report on the implementation of the mandate within 30 days.

Sudan

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans the Government have to work with European partners to introduce targeted sanctions on perpetrators of violence in Darfur. (110234)

The UK is a leading proponent of targeted measures, through both the EU and the UN Security Council, to help bring the conflict in Darfur to an end. The EU has had an arms embargo on Sudan in place since 1994. We will support further EU action to help resolve the crisis in Darfur.

UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1591 imposed targeted sanctions, an assets freeze and a travel ban, on individuals deemed to be obstructing the peace process or who commit atrocities in Darfur. UNSCR 1672 applied targeted sanctions to four individuals from all sides. We have made clear that more names will follow.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions the Government have had with (a) the US Administration and (b) European partners on implementation of (i) a no-fly zone over Darfur, (ii) targeted sanctions against perpetrators of the violence in Darfur and (iii) increasing areas in which humanitarian programmes may be operated in Darfur. (110237)

We maintain a regular dialogue, at the highest level, with the US and with European partners on Darfur. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister raised Darfur with President Bush during his recent visit to Washington, and my right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary discussed Darfur with European counterparts during the European Council on 14 and 15 December.

We are pressing Sudan to implement the decisions of the recent meetings in Addis Ababa and Abuja, including accepting UN assistance for the AU force, maintaining the ceasefire and renewing its political dialogue with the rebels. The Government of Sudan should be clear that they have a choice between co-operating in this way or facing tougher measures if they do not. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, a no-fly zone is one of the options available to the international community should the Government of Sudan fail to co-operate.

We also continue to look at the case for designating further individuals to targeted sanctions under UN Security Council Resolution 1591.

We continue to make clear to the Government of Sudan that they must co-operate in full with the humanitarian effort in Darfur. We welcome the recent extension of the visa moratorium for all UN and non-governmental organisation agencies operating in Darfur.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what her Department’s policy is on the proposal for a no-fly zone in Sudan. (110243)

We are pressing Sudan to implement the decisions of the recent meetings in Addis Ababa and Abuja, including accepting UN assistance for the African Union force, maintaining the ceasefire and renewing its political dialogue with the rebels. The Government of Sudan should be clear that they have a choice between co-operating in this way or facing tougher measures if they do not. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has said, a no-fly zone is one of the options available to the international community should the Government of Sudan fail to co-operate.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the United Nations Human Rights Council mission to Darfur; what representations she has made to UN member states on Sudanese Government co-operation; and what reports she has received from (a) the UK ambassador to the UN and (b) the British embassy, Khartoum. (110377)

The Government welcome the holding of the UN Human Rights Council's special session on Darfur on 12 and 13 December and its decision to send an expert human rights mission to Darfur. The Sudanese Government must give the mission their full cooperation. The mission will report back to the Human Rights Council in March.

The UK worked hard throughout the recent special session to ensure the agreement of other members of the Human Rights Council and of the UN on the need to tackle effectively human rights violations in Darfur. Our ambassador in Khartoum regularly raises our human rights concerns with the Sudanese Government. We are in constant touch with our missions to the UN in New York and Geneva.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received from the UN Mission in Sudan on (a) kidnapping of AMIS military personnel and (b) the hijacking of vehicles belonging to (i) African Union and (ii) non-governmental organisations. (110379)

We have received numerous reports of attacks against African Union Mission in Sudan (AMIS) personnel in Darfur including, most recently, one report of kidnapping of AMIS personnel last week which has now been resolved. We have also received reports of attacks against AMIS vehicles by both sides in the conflict. AMIS bases were also threatened by groups of civilians recently in both El Fasher and El Geneinah. It has been reported that in the past four months alone there have been 29 humanitarian vehicles hijacked in Darfur. There have also been frequent hijackings of non-governmental organisation vehicles.

We utterly condemn recent attacks on civilians, on AMIS personnel and on aid workers in Darfur. We are calling on both the Government of Sudan and the rebels to stop fighting immediately and resume a political dialogue aimed at bringing the non-signatories into the Darfur Peace Agreement. We are also urging the Sudanese Government to take immediate steps to implement the commitments they made in Addis Ababa on 16 November.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment she has made of the current security situation at El Fasher. (110380)

There were clashes in El Fasher on 4 December and in the following days between Arab militia and rebels connected with Minni Minawi, resulting in fatalities on both sides. The UN evacuated its non-essential staff and those of non-governmental organisations in the town. The situation was unstable for several days following these clashes, with sporadic shooting especially at night and some robbery and harassment in the market. However, in the last few days a large number of militia have left the town, the Government of Sudan has increased their patrolling and the situation is now calm.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what the outcomes were of the recent meeting of the Tripartite Mechanism in Khartoum; and what reports she has received on plans to implement the UN support package to AMIS. (110381)

The joint UN/African Union (AU)/Sudanese Government Tripartite Mechanism is awaiting the appointment of a Sudanese Government representative and has not yet been formalised. However, there was a meeting between the parties involved last week.

We are in touch with the AU, the UN and with the Sudanese Government about implementation of UN support for the AU Mission in Sudan (AMIS), which is currently focused on implementing the Light Support Package, as set out in the conclusions of the High Level meeting on Darfur held in Addis Ababa on 16 November. It is crucial that AMIS is bolstered by the phased UN support package agreed by the AU Peace and Security Council if it is to be effective in promoting peace and stability in Darfur. We will continue to press the Government of Sudan to agree to this, urge our international partners to do the same and go on providing support to AMIS.

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what Government policy is on the proposed introduction of a no-fly zone over Darfur. (112747)

I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Stroud (Mr. Drew) today (UIN 110243).

Terrorism (Victims)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what role her Department has in the ongoing establishment of the charitable fund to help British victims of terrorism; and if she will make a statement. (110253)

I refer the right hon. Member to the reply given to him and my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock Chase (Dr. Wright) by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. Woodward) on 11 December 2006, Official Report, column 816W.

Work on establishing the fund is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Tessa Jowell). Officials at both our Departments have worked closely together on the issue, and I look forward to her announcement of its launch during the coming months.

WMD Dossier

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will publish the first draft of the Weapons of Mass Destruction dossier authored by John Williams, then Director of News in her Department, on 9 September 2002. (107884)

There are no plans for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to publish the draft document written by John Williams.

Zimbabwe (Refugees)

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what estimate her Department has made of the number of refugees from Zimbabwe entering (a) Botswana, (b) the Republic of South Africa, (c) Mozambique and (d) Zambia in the last 12 months. (109725)

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by my hon. Friend the Minister for Climate Change and the Environment, then Minister of State for Trade, Investment and Foreign Affairs on 28 February 2006, Official Report, column 636W. It is clear that, as the situation in Zimbabwe declines, the exodus of Zimbabweans into the region continues. It is increasingly a cause of concern for neighbouring countries.

Transport

Car Sharing

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what information he holds on (a) local authority and (b) business car sharing schemes in (i) England, (ii) the North East and (iii) Gateshead, East and Washington, West; and if he will make a statement; (106931)

(2) what steps are being taken by his Department (a) to encourage the establishment of and (b) to support existing car sharing schemes; and if he will make a statement.

Through the Local Transport Planning system and other initiatives, the Department encourages local authorities to set up authority-wide car share schemes and to promote car sharing as part of site specific workplace travel plans.

The Department also publishes a range of best practice guidance on workplace and school travel planning which covers, car share schemes, and in 2005 published specific guidance on car share schemes “Making Car Sharing and Car Clubs Work”.

Government initiatives such as requiring travel plans for new developments and the School Travel Initiative are increasing the number of workplaces and schools with travel plans.

The Highways Agency are also promoting workplace travel plans for sites near the strategic road network and are developing proposals to pilot the use of dedicated car share lanes on the M62 and M1.

Car share schemes are being set up nationally by commercial operators, by local authorities for their staff or the wider public and by businesses, schools and other organisations as stand-alone initiatives or as part of a travel plan. The Department does not collect or hold information on the number and location of car sharing schemes, therefore, which are being operated across the country.

Gateshead Council's published material on its travel plan includes car sharing and the MetroCentre in Gateshead run a car share scheme for people employed there.

Consultancy Fees

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport which 10 consultancy fees charged to his Department since May 1997 were the most expensive. (107181)

Individual fees are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost. However, the following table shows the 10 highest value consultancy contracts in place since the Department was created in May 2002.

Contractor

Contract title/description

National Centre for Social Research

The National Travel Survey

Ove Arup, KPMG LLP, Halcrow Group, Babtie Group, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Robson Rhodes and Ernst and Young

To assist the Department on its policy, programme and projects with particular regard to providing improved commercial skills, value for money and delivery outcomes

Citigroup

Project Ariel—Corporate finance advice in relation to Network Rail financing

Atos Origin IT Services UK Ltd.

Transport Direct Portal—Consultancy element

AEA Technology PLC

Delivery of the National Cycling Strategy Board for England's annual work programme

Mott MacDonalds

High Speed Trains 2—Project management

CMC Partnership (UK) Ltd.

Consultancy Framework for DVLA

TRL and Loughborough University

On the spot accident data collection Phase 3

PA Consulting Group

Road Information Framework—Programme and Project Management Services

Linklaters

Cross Rail—Specialist Legal Adviser

Darlington

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what approvals his Department has given for expenditure in Darlington since 1997. (108170)

Darlington has benefited greatly since 1997 from Government support for its transport needs.

Between 1997 and March 2006 Darlington borough council received around £22.2 million in block grant for capital investment for its local transport plans. An assessment of Darlington's second Local Transport Plan running until 2011 and a further funding package of support was published in a written statement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on 18 December 2006, Official Report, columns 132-33WS.

In April 2004, Darlington was allocated £3.24 million over five years as a Sustainable Travel Town. In October 2005 the borough was awarded Cycling Demonstration Town status and allocated £1.5 million over three calendar years.

In the whole of the North East region a total of £457 million has been set aside over the next 10 years for local authority major schemes and Highways Agency schemes of regional importance.

In the advice from the North East to Government on the allocation of these funds, a £33 million scheme to improve the bus network across the Tees Valley, including Darlington, was identified as a priority. The Government have not yet approved this scheme but have confirmed that it would expect it to be added to the regional programme subject to the promoters producing a satisfactory business case that demonstrates value for money and deliverability.

Darlington has benefited from rail and trunk road improvements both across the North East and nationally, but funding for these is neither recorded nor allocated on an individual transport authority level.

The borough has also received very substantial central funding through revenue support grant. This is not allocated by the Government between individual council services.

Departmental Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many temporary employees are contracted to work for his Department; what the total annual salary bill is for such employees; and what the figures were in 1997. (107124)

The Department for Transport was formed in May 2002. The temporary employees currently contracted to work in the Department and its agencies are shown in the following table. Where the information is available the table also shows the annual salary bill for the Department and its agencies for the period 2005-06 for such employees.

Number of temporary workers contracted to work as at 30 November 2006

Annual salary bill for such employees for 2005-06 (£)

Department for Transport (c)

75

1

Maritime and Coastguard Agency

2

2

Vehicle Certification Agency

2

2

Vehicle and Operator Services Agency

3

3

Driver Vehicle Licensing Agency

25

278,784

Highways Agency

173.5

5,465,642

Driving Standards Agency

117

80,472

Government Car and Despatch Agency

0

16,714

1 The information can be obtained only at disproportionate cost 2 No information available. 3 The Annual Report provides figures for agency/consultancy support.

Eddington Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made of the compliance of out-of-town grocery shopping with the recent Eddington report on transport. (110240)

[holding answer 19 December 2006]: Planning Policy Guidance 13 on planning and transport gives a clear preference for locating new retail development in town centre sites first, followed by edge of centre sites and only then out of centre. This is part of a framework of measures aiming to reduce the need to travel and promote more sustainable transport choices, thereby tackling urban congestion. Government policy on out-of-town shopping is therefore consistent with the Eddington study, which identifies this as a priority.

Health

A and E Admissions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what projections she has made of the number of accident and emergency admissions at Worthing hospital in each of the next five years. (107881)

Acinetobacter

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of infection with the bacteria Acinetobacter there were in the NHS in (a) 2003, (b) 2004 and (c) 2005, broken down by NHS trust. (110335)

Microbiology laboratories are invited to report cases of Acinetobacter bloodstream infections to the Health Protection Agency. Data are not available by trust.

The numbers of Acinetobacter bloodstream infections in England, Wales and Northern Ireland reported in the past three years are shown in the table.

Number

2003

1,130

2004

1,117

2005

1,127

Notes: 1. Acinetobacter spp bacteraemia in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland: 2001 to 2005 Communicable Disease Report (CDR) Weekly2006; 16 (42) 19 October 2006. 2. http://www.hpa.org.uk/cdr/archives/2006/cdr4206.pdf Source: Health Protection Agency.

Acquired Brain Injuries

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding her Department provides for individuals with acquired brain injuries. (112712)

The Department does not allocate funding on the basis of individual medical conditions. It is a matter for primary care trusts (PCTs) to decide how funding allocated to them should be used to provide services for their local population.

Acyl CoA Dehydrogenase Deficiency

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to introduce screening for medium chain acyl CoA dehydrogenase deficiency. (109813)

The United Kingdom national screening committee has concluded that the evidence, including that produced from the pilots in England so far, supports the introduction of newborn screening for this condition in principle, but is undertaking further work to support possible implementation.

Admittance Decisions

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to table 63a on page Ev 169 of her Department's Memorandum to the Health Committee, HC 1692-i, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the trend in the number of people removed from a decision to admit; (106176)

(2) pursuant to table 63b on page Ev 169 of her Department's Memorandum to the Health Committee, HC 1692-i, what assessment she has made of the reasons for the trend in the number of people who (a) self-defer and (b) are suspended from the waiting list;

(3) pursuant to table 68 on page Ev 178 of her Department's Memorandum to the Health Committee, HC 1692-i, what assessment she has made of the trend in the column ‘other referrals to first outpatient appointment (consultant led)'.

The number of patients removed from waiting lists rose steadily throughout the 1990s, peaking in 1999 then falling and stabilising. The waiting list rules are clear that patients should be removed from lists if they are no longer waiting or are unavailable for treatment. Patients should also be removed from a provider's list when they are transferred to a different provider for treatment.

The trends in self-deferrals and suspensions closely follow the trend in the inpatient waiting list. The list peaked in 1998, as did self-deferrals, with suspensions peaking in 1999. The reductions in recent years reflect improved management by the National Health Service, which has contributed to the smaller waiting lists and faster times that patients experience today.

The unusually high rates of growth in other referrals, those not from general practitioners or general dental practitioners, in the first three years of the period are likely to reflect improvements in data quality resulting from better recording of this type of activity.

Since 1998-99 the average growth in other referrals is 6 per cent. This growth may be explained by the increasing specialisation of consultants, with more patients being referred from consultant to consultant, and by increases in referrals to consultants from the likes of physiotherapists.

Alcohol Harm Reduction Strategy

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what moneys were attached to the alcohol harm reduction strategy (a) at its inception and (b) for the 2006-07 financial year; and what moneys have been announced for the future strategy. (100654)

The health commitments in the alcohol harm reduction strategy for England were reinforced by the “Choosing Health” White Paper. As with other health commitments, primary care trusts (PCTs), working in partnership with other local agencies, are responsible for assessing local need and for funding service provision. The Department has supported primary care trusts through guidance on local programmes of improvement, published in November 2005.

The Department is spending £1.7 million in 2006-07 on the “Know your Limits” campaign, which seeks to prevent binge drinking. The Home Office is contributing additional funding.

The Department plans to spend £1.5 million in 2006-07 and £1.7 million from 2007-08 on trailblazer projects to develop interventions and brief advice for hazardous and harmful drinkers in primary care, accident and emergency, and criminal justice settings.

We estimate that £217 million was spent on alcohol treatment by PCTs and local authorities in 2003-04.

We have previously announced that £15 million has been included in PCTs’ general allocations from 2007-08 to help improve local arrangements for commissioning and delivering alcohol interventions.

Spending on prevention of alcohol-related disorder is a matter for the Home Office. Funding for school and college-based education is a matter for the Department for Education and Skills.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been spent on advertising the risks associated with alcohol addiction in each year since 1997. (110319)

There has been no major campaign expenditure on safe alcohol consumption in the financial years 1997 to 2005, so costs given relate to literature and website activity only. However, the Department and Home Office developed a joint alcohol communications campaign in October 2006. The Department is contributing £2 million to the cost of this campaign.

We have financial information on safe alcohol consumption expenditure only for the last four years, as figures pre-2002-03 were held on an old financial system which is no longer accessible.

Alcohol campaign (£ million)

2002-03

0.097

2003-04

0.045

2004-05

0.342

2005-06

0.064

Alimta

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will take steps to ensure that the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence's decision about Alimta is communicated to mesothelioma sufferers as soon as it is known; (109066)

(2) when the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence is expected to reach its decision on whether Alimta should be approved for use in the NHS.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) announced on 19 December 2006 that the appeals lodged against NICE's appraisal of pemetrexed disodium (Alimta) for the treatment of mesothelioma had been upheld. The appraisal will be returned to NICE's Appraisal Committee for further work. Final guidance is now expected later in 2007 and NICE will ensure that this is widely publicised.

Ambulance Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the (a) average and (b) target response time is for ambulance attendance at the scene of an incident following a 999 call. (110256)

The Department does not collect information on the average response times to emergency calls by national health service ambulance trusts. The Department only centrally collects data, from NHS ambulance trusts, which allows response time standards to be monitored. The response time standards are as follows:

Category A / presenting conditions which may be immediately life threatening and which should be responded to within 8 minutes irrespective of location in 75 per cent. of cases. A fully equipped ambulance should attend incidents classified as category A within 19 minutes of a request being made for transport, 95 per cent. of the time;

Category B / presenting conditions which though serious are not immediately life threatening and should be responded to within 19 minutes in 95 per cent. of cases;

Category C / presenting conditions which are not immediately serious or life threatening—since 1 October 2004 local NHS organisations have had responsibility for managing and monitoring the ways in which local services respond to these calls,

and

GP Urgent Calls / as specified by a GP—to receive a response at scene within 15 minutes of the time stipulated by the GP, 95 per cent. of the time.

The data that the Department collects on ambulance response times are published on an annual basis in the statistical bulletin, Ambulance services, England. The most recent data are available in the Library and at

www.ic.nhs.uk/pubs/ambulanceserv06

Asthma

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will provide free prescriptions to chronic asthmatics. (109973)

The Government have announced that they will undertake a review of prescription charges and report the outcome of this review by the summer recess 2007. This review will include options to:

revising the list of medical exemptions to prescription charges;

introducing a flat rate prescription charge with no exemptions; and

basing exemption to prescription charges solely on income.

These options will be considered on the basis that any changes to prescription charge exemptions, if implemented, are cost-neutral for the national health service.

Blue Badges

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which primary care trusts pay general practitioners for completing blue badge application forms. (105263)

This information is not held centrally.

The completion of ‘blue badge’ reports, and any associated examination, is not part of the work that a primary medical services contractor is required to do as part of their contractual arrangements with the primary care trust.

Cancer Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department has taken to encourage the (a) cancer networks, (b) strategic health authorities and (c) work force development directorate to implement National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on specialist nurses. (106343)

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has published a series of guidance for the national health service, setting out recommendations on how services should be arranged for patients with cancer. This series of guidance is called improving outcomes guidance (IOG) and covers each main tumour type.

The IOG series sets out that clinical nurse specialists should be core members of the expert teams that co-ordinate care for cancer patients.

It is for cancer networks to work in partnership with strategic health authorities and work force development directorates to assess, plan and review their work force needs and the education and training of all staff, including specialist nurses, linked to local and national priorities for cancer, including implementation of NICE improving outcomes guidance.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research is being undertaken by her Department into the efficacy of the ResQPOD device as an aid to cardiopulmonary resuscitation; and if she will make a statement. (109879)

None directly, although a study currently being undertaken by the South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust refers to the ResQPOD device1. Details can be found on the National Research Register at:

www.dh.gov.uk/research.

A report published in 2005 of a study by Staffordshire Ambulance Trust on the use of an impedance threshold device2 can be found on PubMed at:

www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez.

1 Outcome from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest: a pilot randomised controlled trial comparing survival after standard or inspiratory impedance threshold values augmented cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

2 Use of an impedance threshold device improves short-term outcomes following out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

Carisoprodol

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency expects to publish its updated assessment on carisoprodol; (106272)

(2) when the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency expects to update the Patient Information Leaflet for carisoprodol;

(3) when her Department was first notified of possible side effects of carisoprodol linked to metabolism;

(4) what guidelines she issues on the length of time the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency should take to re-evaluate a drug where concerns have been raised about it;

(5) how many patients have reported side effects from using carisoprodol not listed on the patient information leaflet;

(6) what research (a) her Department and (b) the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency has commissioned on the side effects of carisoprodol.

Carisoprodol, brand name Carisoma, is a muscle relaxant authorised as an add-on therapy to the symptomatic treatment of acute musculoskeletal disorders associated with muscle spasm. Clinical trials carried out by the marketing authorisation holder for carisoprodol were evaluated at the time of licensing to ensure that it met appropriate standards of safety, quality and efficacy to justify its use as a muscle relaxant. Full guidance on prescribing and the use of carisoprodol, including possible side- effects, is provided in the product information for prescribers, the Summary of Product Characteristics, and the patient information leaflet.

Since the marketing of carisoprodol, although no formal research has been commissioned, the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) have kept under review its safety in routine clinical practice.

Up to 29 November 2005, a total of 31 reports of suspected adverse drug reactions (ADRs) have been received in association with carisoprodol. The majority of these (28 out of 31 reports) were received prior to 1982. Of the 31 reports, a total of 20 reports describe suspected side-effects from using carisoprodol that are not listed in the patient information leaflet. Urticaria, three reports, and chills, two reports, are the only unlisted suspected side-effects associated with carisoprodol reported in more than one patient. It is important to note that a report of a suspected ADR does not necessarily mean that the drug caused it.

In June 2005 the MHRA was alerted to concerns about the effect that an individual’s genetic makeup may have on how they metabolise carisoprodol and that this may have implications for the likelihood of experiencing potential side-effects associated with its use. Following a review of the available data, the Summary of Product Characteristics and the patient Information leaflet have been updated to reflect these new data and to add a warning that patients who are so called “poor metabolisers” for a specific enzyme, Cytochrome 2C19, involved in the metabolism of carisoprodol may be at an increased risk of certain side-effects such as drowsiness.

In parallel with this action, the overall balance of risks and benefits of carisoprodol has been raised at European level. The MHRA in conjunction with its European counterparts is currently re-evaluating the risk and benefits of carisoprodol and considering what implications this may have for its clinical use. As soon as the European review is completed the results will be made publicly available.

The use of carisoprodol in the UK is limited and the British National Formulary, a joint publication of the British Medical Association and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, advises doctors that carisoprodol may not be considered as a drug of first choice although its use may be justifiable in certain circumstances.

The length of time for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to re-evaluate a drug by completing of a risk: benefit review depends on the public health impact of the safety or efficacy concerns and is commensurate with the need for a thorough evaluation of the available data.

Cervical Cancer

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to introduce a vaccination programme against the human papilloma virus subtypes responsible for causing cervical cancer. (103203)

The Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation is currently considering the evidence on human papilloma virus vaccines. It will provide advice to Ministers and once received, Ministers will consider the advice.

Child Health Interim Application

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the status of the Child Health Interim Application; whether it is still being supported by manual systems; and whether it is able to issue COVER reports. (102662)

The Child Health Interim Application (CHIA) is currently live in 10 primary care trusts (PCTs) in the London area. Supporting manual systems continue to operate for some aspects of the system's functionality, which remain under development. Software to enable PCTs to generate COVER reports from the live system is expected to be deployed into the live system in April 2007. Meanwhile, COVER reports for each PCT, using live CHIA data, are being produced centrally on a quarterly basis in line with Health Protection Agency submission requirements. However, due to a backlog of data, which have not yet been loaded on to the CHIA system, some PCTs have requested their data are not published until local data quality queries have been addressed.

Successful deployments of child health systems by the national programme for information technology have already taken place in 48 PCTs across the programme's north-east and eastern cluster areas. The system enables production of the required statutory reports, and a robust data migration and checking procedure is in place, ensuring successful migrations of demographic and clinical data to the new system, which provides a fully integrated patient record across primary care. Experience has shown that the key variable around successful implementation and operation is the quality of local record keeping standards and processes.

Childhood Obesity

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will undertake research into the effect of the consumption of fruit juices on excess weight and obesity among schoolchildren. (110099)

The Department, which is co-ordinating action on obesity, has not commissioned nor has specific plans to commission research on the effects of consumption of different food products on weight gain, excess weight and obesity among schoolchildren.

The Food Standards Agency is developing a strategy to help consumers achieve energy balance.

Clinical Coding

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the expected cost is of the clinical coding audit programme in 2007-08. (109611)

The Audit Commission estimated the annual cost of their recommendations for a clinical coding audit programme at £6.7 million per year. This is detailed in “Payment by Results assurance framework: Pilot results and recommendations” published by the Audit Commission on 7 December 2006, which is available in the Library. The Department is still discussing the final details of the scheme and its scope in 2007-08 with the Audit Commission and it is likely that the final costs will be lower than those contained in the report.

Community Matron Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the effectiveness of the community matron scheme. (105650)

A central assessment of the effectiveness of the community matron scheme has not been made. This is because monitoring the effectiveness of programmes of this nature is best done locally, by NHS trusts, working with their partners and stakeholders. However, the National Primary Care Research and Development Centre, was funded to carry out an in-depth evaluation of the Evercare pilot, the precursor to the community matron service. This work enabled important lessons to be incorporated into the setting up of community matrons.

Community Services (Bexley)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding proposed reductions in NHS community services in the London borough of Bexley. (108564)

Records show that the Department has received no representations regarding reductions in national health service community services in the London borough of Bexley.

Community Treatment Orders

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 5 December 2006, Official Report, columns 377-78W, on community treatment orders, what she has received so far; what is still awaited; and when she expects to receive the full report. (109798)

The Department has received updates on the research into international experiences of community treatment orders. The research has not been completed yet. The Department is awaiting the report of the findings from the researcher and hopes that it will be submitted in the new year.

Compensation Payments

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was paid in compensation payments by her Department in 2005-06; and what the reason for the payment was in each case. (108211)

Consultant Contracts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much has been received as payments for fee paying services by consultants in each NHS hospital trust in each financial year since the implementation of the contract. (109881)

The information requested is not collected by the Department. The inclusion of fee paying services in job plans and the payments for these is a matter for agreement between employers and consultants.

Continuing Care

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 11 December 2006, Official Report, column 856W, on NHS continuing care, how many people were in receipt of NHS continuing care on 31 March 2006 in each primary care trust in England per (a) 10,000 weighted heads and (b) 10,000 unweighted heads. (109666)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people who were awarded NHS continuing care funding ceased to receive continuing care following a first review. (112718)

Information on the number of people who ceased to receive continuing care following a first review is not held centrally.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will provide direct payments to families to pay for care of relatives who are designated band 1 in the continuing health care package. (109971)

No. If a person is assessed as being entitled to national health service fully funded continuing care, the NHS will cover the full cost of the health and personal care package required. It is not possible for any individual to buy NHS care, whether they are using money of their own or money made available to them from the public purse.

Correspondence

To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Chairman of the Appointments Commission will write to the hon. Member for Warley as requested on 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1321W, on the West Midlands Ambulance Service. (110446)

I am advised that the Appointments Commission is in receipt of my right hon. Friend’s original question and that a response will be sent as soon as possible.

Dacorum Primary Care Trust

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many district nurses were employed by Dacorum Primary Care Trust in each month since 1997. (105248)

The following table shows the number of community services nurses in the Dacorum PCT area from 2001 to 2005 which is the latest data available as at 30 September each year.

Dacorum primary care trust area total

Headcount

2001

167

2002

135

2003

151

2004

154

2005

176

Note:

The data are provided by the PCT. It may be the case that the PCT may have recoded some staff during the specified period.

Source:

The Information Centre for health and social care Non-Medical Workforce Census

David Southall

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will take steps to prevent Dr. David Southall from working in NHS hospitals; (105417)

(2) what discussions her Department has had with the University Hospital of North Staffordshire on the employment of Dr. David Southall.

Ministers are not in a position to intervene in the employment of individual clinicians. Decisions on employment are a matter between the employing trust and the clinician.

It is for the General Medical Council to determine whether a particular doctor is fit to practise.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what investigations have taken place in the NHS into the research practices of Dr. David Southall. (109163)

The Government commissioned a full review of the research arrangements at North Staffordshire hospital in 1999, in response to concerns about how research had been conducted there by Dr. David Southall, among others. The review, chaired by Professor Rod Griffiths, reported in May 2000 and the Government accepted all the recommendations of the “Report of a review of the research framework in North Staffordshire Hospital NHS Trust”, The Griffiths Report. The report recommended a substantial audit of the use of continuous negative extrathoracic pressure, a research intervention, to see if claims of significant benefit or damage could be substantiated. The findings were published in The Lancet on 1 April 2006 as “Outcome after neonatal continuous negative-pressure ventilation: follow-up assessment” by Katherine Telford et al.

In its capacity as employing organisation of researchers, North Staffordshire Hospital National Health Service Trust made its own internal inquiries in order to inform its employment procedures. The reports of these internal inquiries were not placed in the public domain by the trust.

Dehydration

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research she has commissioned into the (a) prevalence, (b) effects and (c) causes of dehydration among (i) schoolchildren and (ii) adults. (109046)

Dementia

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the Government's plan to implement the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's guidelines on dementia. (109905)

It is for health and social care to implement the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's guidelines on dementia.

The Department is committed to promoting improvements in services for people with dementia and their carers. The guidelines will be very important in supporting improved standards of health and social care for people with dementia and their families. We will be taking a close interest in the development of these services.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what drug treatments are recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence for the treatment of dementia with Lewy body disease. (109906)

On 22 November 2006, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) issued a joint clinical guideline on the treatment and care of people with dementia. This made a number of recommendations on pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatments for symptoms affecting mood and behaviour. It recommends that donepezil, galantamine and rivastigmine may be offered to a small number of patients with dementia with Lewy bodies if these symptoms are causing severe distress.

Departmental Commercial Director

To ask the Secretary of State for Health who is on the appointments panel for the commercial director of the Department. (108664)

The panel will be chaired by Stella Pantelides, Civil Service Commissioner. The other members of the panel will be Hugh Taylor, Acting Permanent Secretary, David Nicholson, NHS Chief Executive, John Oughton, Chief Executive of the Office of Government Commerce, and one other member to be confirmed.

Departmental Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many of her Department’s (a) computers and (b) laptops were stolen in each of the last nine years; and what the total value was of stolen computers and laptops in this period. (109208)

The number of computers and laptops which were stolen or lost and the cost in the period April 1997 to March 2006 is shown in the following table:

Financial year

Computers

Cost (£)

Laptops

Cost (£)

1997-98

0

0

23

43,098.68

1998-99

2

1,828.00

19

40,068.70

1999-2000

2

1,726.00

18

36,260.35

2000-01

2

1,244.83

23

46,917.62

2001-02

1

821.33

35

62,275.69

2002-03

2

1,882.82

26

40,997.26

2003-04

0

0

34

51,459.53

2004-05

1

800.00

23

32,783.94

2005-06

0

0

18

20,599.97

Total

10

8,302.98

219

374,461.74

Grand total

382,764.72

Departmental Finance

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much her Department paid to DHL in each financial year between 1997-98 and 2005-06. (104180)

The total amounts paid to DHL are shown in the following table.

£

DHL Express (formally International)

DHL Logistics

2002-03

429.16

2003-04

506.86

2004-05

866.03

2,949.03

2005-06

Information for earlier years is archived and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Diabetes

To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will ensure that blood glucose testing strips are made available on NHS prescription for insulin-dependent diabetics in all areas. (108977)

Blood glucose testing strips are available on the national health service and we have no plans to remove them from NHS prescriptions. Blood glucose testing strips are available free of charge to those people with insulin-dependent diabetes.

Digital Hearing Aids

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she will take steps to shorten the waiting times for patients to receive digital hearing aids from the NHS; (108324)

(2) what recent assessment she has made of the waiting times for patients to receive new digital hearing aids from the NHS.

The Department does not collect information centrally on the fitting of digital hearing aids. However, we recognise that waits for audiology services in some parts of the country are unacceptable.

In order to improve access and reduce waiting times for audiology services, a national action plan is being developed for publication in early 2007.

In addition to the development of the action plan, the Department has also announced the procurement of up to 300,000 audiology pathways to provide assessment, fitting and follow up.

Both of these measures will assist in significantly reducing waiting times and will greatly benefit those who receive hearing aids.

Doctors and Nurses

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) doctors and (b) nurses were employed in Wantage constituency in each year since 1997. (104920)

The number of doctors and nurses employed in the Wantage constituency is not held centrally.

Data on the numbers of staff working in the national health service are collected direct from the trusts. These trusts can be comprised of a number of hospital sites in different locations.

Doncaster Royal Infirmary

To ask the Secretary of State for Health for how many babies born at Doncaster Royal Infirmary compensation was paid for brain damage in each year between 1980 and 1989. (109054)

Drug Misuse

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many incidents of drug misuse-related illness have been treated by the NHS in (a) Greater London and (b) England in each year since 2000. (104161)

It is not possible to identify all illnesses treated by the national health service which are due to drug misuse. Illnesses can be caused by or can be affected by drug misuse but we are not able to indicate this with all cases. Drug misuse related illnesses are not defined within one specific hospital diagnosis code.

National data from codes of primary diagnosis, which indicate the main reason for a patient's admission to hospital related to misuse of alcohol and/or drugs (both legal and illegal), or the results of that abuse and those that relate to maternal and fetal problems due to the use of alcohol and drugs have been placed in Library.

The following table provides details on the numbers of problematical drug users in structured treatment for 1998-99 and the subsequent years for which data is available.

1998-99

2003-04

2004-05

2005-06

Number in structured treatment in England

85,000

1125,545

2160,450

3181,390

Numbers in structured treatment in London

n/a

22,165

27,692

32,629

1 48 per cent. increase on 1998.

2 89 per cent. increase on 1998, 27 per cent. increase on 2003-04.

3 113 per cent. increase on 1998, 13 per cent. increase on 2004-05.

Note:

The Department introduced a revised and more accurate methodology for counting the numbers in treatment, in October 2004. Figures are not available for the years 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02, 2002-03 although the potential for providing estimates based on data collecting using the earlier methodology is being explored.

Emergency Treatment

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the effect of the likely reconfiguration of services in West Hertfordshire Acute Hospital Trust on thrombolysis targets. (105165)

The national service framework standard states that people suffering from heart attack should receive thrombolytic therapy within 60 minutes of calling for professional help. The Healthcare Commission's target is for each national health service trust to deliver a 10 per cent. increase per year in the proportion of people suffering from a heart attack who receive thrombolysis within 60 minutes of calling for professional help.

The Department has been informed by NHS East of England that the West Hertfordshire Healthcare Trust does not expect reconfiguration to have an adverse effect on achieving these targets.

A joint scheme between the ambulance service and the trust's cardiology clinicians has had successful results to date concerning the way in which patients are treated, and where they are taken if they require treatment for thrombolysis. This involves the initiation of treatment and transferral of patients to the appropriate centre, for example Paddington.

Foster Report

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many responses she received from psychotherapists in relation to the Foster Report. (105637)

The consultation on the regulation of health professionals closed on 10 November, and we received over 2,000 responses. These responses are now being analysed, and we are unable to provide numbers of respondents by profession until the analysis has been completed. A report on the consultation will be published as soon as possible.

Foundation Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, columns 920-21W, on NHS foundation trusts, whether she plans to have any discussions with Monitor on the number of compulsory redundancies made by NHS foundation trusts in the first six months of 2006-07. (109699)

Foundation trusts are not required to provide information on the number of compulsory redundancies. There are no plans to review these requirements for work force information with Monitor.

Genito-urinary Clinics

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of attenders at genito-urinary medicine clinics was recorded as not having been given an appointment within two weeks in the August 2006 audit of GUM clinic waiting times by the Health Protection Agency. (106127)

The August 2006 audit of waiting times for genito-urinary {GUM) clinics, for which data are available showed that 13 per cent. of attendees were offered an appointment within two weeks (0 to 13 days). The percentage of patients that were not seen within two weeks (0 to 13 days) and not offered an earlier appointment is 12 per cent. This compares to 29 per cent. of attenders not seen within two weeks in May 2004. Good progress is being made to our target of access to GUM clinics within 48 hours: the August audit showed that 57 per cent. of patients were seen within 48 hours and this rose to 65 per cent. in the November audit which has just been published.

Gershon Review

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what efficiency savings the Human Tissue Authority has made as a result of the Gershon Review; and if she will make a statement. (109569)

The Human Tissue Authority (HTA) is a new executive non-departmental public body. From its inception it has implemented Gershon principles to ensure that costs are kept to a minimum. The following corporate support functions are outsourced:

Facilities management (including accommodation);

IT services;

IT development (including web services);

Financial services;

HR services; and

Legal services

GP Referrals

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether GPs will have a choice whether to send patients to an NHS hospital or through the capture, assess, treat and support system to independent treatment centres when referring them for treatment. (109117)

The clinical assessment and treatment services is a primary care-based referral and assessment service and will be available for patients who do not need the specialist skills of secondary care or an elective procedure as part of an integrated modern clinical pathway. Referring clinicians are not required to refer patients to a particular service provider but should help each patient make the best choice for his or her needs.

Haemophiliacs

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of surviving haemophilia sufferers who have been infected with contaminated blood. (109464)

The information requested is provided in the table:

1Hepatitis C

2HIV

Estimated number of haemophilia patients infected through contaminated blood products who are alive

2,538

361

1 Estimated data from the United Kingdom Haemophilia Centre Directors’ Organisation National Haemophilia Database

2 Data from the Macfarlane Trust

Health and Personal Social Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to table 5 on page Ev 10 of her Department's Memorandum to the Health Committee entitled Public Expenditure on Health and Personal Social Services 2006, HC 1692-i, published on 21 November 2006, if she will publish the table with all figures from the financial years 1997-98 to 2005-06; and if she will provide estimates for the 2006-07 financial year. (106169)

The Health Select Committee briefing data (table 5) was constructed using data collected from national health service trusts as part of the in-year financial monitoring system. The data are not audited, and have more limited detail than the information collected from the annual accounts. It is not possible therefore to publish the equivalent table for previous years.

Health Care Professionals (Recruitment)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many employment agencies have been removed from the list of agencies adhering to the code of practice for the international recruitment of healthcare professionals since the code was first published. (107217)

Since the code of practice for the international recruitment of healthcare professionals was first published 12 recruitment agencies have been removed from the list of agencies adhering to the code of practice.

After the introduction of the strengthened code of practice in December 2004, agencies were given a year to submit applications to be included on a new code of practice list of agencies adhering to the strengthened code. 149 agencies on the existing list failed to submit an application and were not included in the new list which was established in December 2005.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many times the code of practice for the international recruitment of healthcare professionals has been breached; how many times (a) alleged breaches have been investigated and (b) the code has been enforced (i) since the code was first published and (ii) since it was revised in 2004; and on how many occasions penalties were enforced by the application of penalties in each case. (107218)

All allegations of breaches of the code of practice for the international recruitment of healthcare professionals are investigated.

Information received from NHS Employers indicates that 10 commercial recruitment agencies have been removed from the list of agencies adhering to the code of practice for breaches of the code. Of these two were removed before the strengthened guidance was published in December 2004.

In addition 12 national health service trusts have also been identified as being involved in breaches of the code of practice. NHS Employers writes to all trusts found in breach of the code of practice. These letters are copied to the strategic health authority responsible for the performance management of the trust.

Health Providers

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the qualifications required to carry out the roles of (a) health visitor, (b) district nurse and (c) child psychologist have changed since 1997. (109062)

The content and standard of training for health visitors and district nurses is a matter for the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and relevant higher education institutions in collaboration with the Royal College of Nursing and other stakeholders. Health visitors and district nurses are obliged to undertake continuing professional development, and are required to declare they have met the NMC continuing professional development standard on a three-yearly basis in order to maintain their registration.

With regard to child psychologists, by its Royal Charter granted in 1965 the British Psychological Society is charged with maintaining standards of professional education and knowledge.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the roles of (a) health visitors, (b) district nurses and (c) child psychologists working within the NHS have changed since 1997. (109063)

The primary role of the health visitor is the promotion of health and providing preventive healthcare. Since 1997, this has continued to be the focus of their role. Policies such as Liberating the Talents 2002, the Chief Nursing Officer’s review of the nursing contribution to vulnerable children 2004 and the National Service Framework for Children, Young People and Maternity Services 2004 all reinforce the preventive contribution of health visitors, in particular for the most vulnerable children and families. Many primary care trusts are working with the profession to ensure that their role evolves in line with wider changes, such as the expansion of Sure Start Children’s Centres.

The role of the district nurse has changed in line with changing patient need and health policy. They are now caring for more people with long-term conditions, and managing a skill-mixed team of nurses. They are playing a vital role in enabling people with high levels of nursing needs to be cared for in their own homes.

We have no knowledge of any significant change to the role of child psychologists since 1997.

Health Trusts

To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what circumstances health trusts are required to offer reconfiguration plans for public consultation; who is responsible for deciding the circumstances; and to whom that person is accountable. (110155)

For all proposals concerning substantial changes to general service delivery, there is a duty to ‘involve and consult' patients and the public conferred on national health service organisations by section 11 of the Health and Social Care Act 2001. It is the responsibility of the relevant health organisation to decide which proposals should be consulted on and the strategic health authority to oversee the formal consultation process.

The local authority's Overview and Scrutiny Committee (OSC) considers the proposals as part of the formal consultation process and has the power to refer any proposal to the Secretary of State if it believes the proposal is not in the interests of the health service or the local community or if the consultation with the OSC has been inadequate. The Secretary of State can refer the matter to the independent reconfiguration panel for advice, require further consultation or endorse the decision of the local NHS organisations responsible for them.

Health Visitors and Community Nurses

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) health visitors and (b) community nurses there are in each primary care trust in England. (109654)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether primary care trusts are required to ring-fence funding for the provision of (a) health visitors and (b) community nurses. (109655)

Funding is not ring-fenced within the revenue allocations to primary care trusts (PCTs). It is PCTs’ responsibility to decide how to use the funding allocated to them to meet the health needs of their local populations.

Hearing and Sight Tests

To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she plans to introduce hearing and sight tests for children when they first attend secondary school. (105710)

There are currently no plans in place to introduce sight or hearing tests for all children first attending secondary school.

It is recommended that all children should be screened for visual impairment between four and five years of age. Once this programme is in place, the school entry vision screening programme aimed at seven-year-olds should cease.

Although most cases of hearing impairment should be identified before school entry, there will be some cases that are missed, and the UK National Screening Committee has recommended that screening for hearing loss at the time of school entry should continue while further research is undertaken.

Heart Disease and Stroke Services

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her Department's report of 5 December 2006 on the clinical case for reconfiguration in the context of heart disease and stroke services, what extra spending would be required to improve available services in accident and emergency departments to bring the required number of hospitals up to the proposed level of emergency treatment capacity. (109395)

As the report states, accident and emergency (A and E) units are not always the best places to treat heart attack and stroke victims.

For treatment of heart attack, the key facility required is a catheterisation laboratory. The Department and the new opportunities fund have provided funding of £125 million to build 90 new or replacement catheterisation laboratories in England, increasing the capacity previously available by more than 50 per cent. The emerging findings from our national study of primary angioplasty show that the best times are achieved by ambulance paramedic triage and taking patients direct to the catheterisation laboratory without going via the A and E department.

It is more appropriate for stroke victims to be taken directly to a stroke unit rather than to an A and E unit. Early analysis of best evidence provides an estimate that to provide immediate scanning for all stroke patients and increase uptake of thrombolysis to 4 per cent., currently being achieved by the centre with the highest thrombolysis rate in England, will cost £6.7 million to £8.7 million. To increase uptake to 10 per cent. (currently being achieved by leading centres around the world) the estimated cost is £10.9 million to £12.9 million. However, analysis also demonstrates that this investment will result in considerable long-term savings, and allow a significant number of stroke patients not only to survive, but to live fully independent lives.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her Department's report of 5 December on the clinical case for reconfiguration in the context of heart disease and stroke services, what the proposed maximum pain to treatment time is for (a) heart attack and (b) stroke patients. (109397)

The national service framework for coronary heart disease set a target that thrombolysis, treatment with clot-busting drugs, should be given to heart attack patients within 60 minutes of calling for professional help. Good progress has been made with meeting this target but there has been less progress in reducing the time from pain to call. Public awareness of symptoms is a key issue here. The Department is supporting the British Heart Foundation's recently launched campaign to raise awareness of heart attack symptoms. Primary angioplasty is most effective when delivered within three hours of onset of symptoms but will provide some benefit up to 12 hours after they have developed.

Thrombolysis for stroke patients must be delivered within three hours of onset of stroke. The licence for the thrombolytic drug for stroke is only for delivery within three hours. It must be noted that a stroke may not involve pain so increasing awareness of the symptoms of stroke is an important part of delivering thrombolysis. The Department is currently supporting the Stroke Association FAST campaign which provides a clear and simple test to identify a stroke.

Hospital Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many letters she has received from residents of Oxfordshire on the closure of community hospitals in the county. (104922)

The Department is aware of 63 letters received since July 2005 from residents of Oxfordshire on the closure of community hospitals in the county.

Hospital Closures (Media Interest)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what methodology was used to arrive at predictions for media interest (a) now, (b) in the summer, (c) in the autumn and (d) in the future as indicated on the heat maps released by her Department on 7 November; which organisations carried out the research which was used to draw up the predictions for media interest; how much these organisations were paid; for what reasons her Department analysed media interest surrounding potential hospital closures; whether her Department has any plans to conduct further research into the media interest surrounding hospital closures; and if she will make a statement. (103353)

The Department produced a set of maps following discussions with strategic health authorities (SHAs). These gave an indication of local media coverage of health service issues by SHA. The maps have not been updated.

Copies of the maps are available in the Library and can be viewed on the Department's website at

http://www.dh.gov.uk/PublicationsAndStatistics/FreedomOfInformation/EreadingRoom/fs/en.

In addition, the Department routinely monitors local media interest in the NHS and will continue to do so.

Hospital Staff

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) hospitals, (b) hospital doctors, (c) nurses and (d) other hospital staff working with patients there were on (i) 2 May 1997 and (ii) the most recent date for which figures are available. (106391)

The number of medical and dental staff and qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff employed by the NHS on 30 September 1997 and 2005 is shown in the table.

There is no specific definition of a hospital. An estimate of the current number of hospitals has been made using information from the National Administration Codes Services (from Connecting for Health) by extracting sites which have hospital or infirmary in their title. The total number of “hospital” sites, on this basis, is in the order of 1,200.

Hospital and community health services (HCHS): medical and dental and non-medical staff by grade and year—England at 30 September each year

Number (headcount)

1997

2005

All medical and dental staff

66,836

90,630

Qualified nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff

254,110

316,599

Note: Data include acute, elderly and general care, paediatric nursing, maternity services, psychiatric, and learning disabilities nurses. Community nursing staff are excluded. Source: The Information Centre for health and social care Medical and Dental Workforce Census. The Information Centre for health and social care Non-Medical Workforce Census.

Hospital-acquired Infections

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what funding her Department has provided to support research into the eradication of (a) MRSA and (b) clostridium difficile; (106282)

(2) what research her Department has (a) commissioned and (b) examined on the possibility of (i) MRSA and (ii) clostridium difficile being airborne infections.

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical research is the Medical Research Council (MRC). The MRC is an independent body funded by the Department of Trade and Industry via the Office of Science and Innovation.

The MRC funds a considerable programme of research that underpins scientific understanding of hospital-acquired infections including methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), clostridium difficile and other antibiotic resistant pathogens. A summary of the financial support given as part of that programme specifically to research on MRSA is shown in the table.

£ million

2000-01

0.8

2001-02

1.4

2002-03

1.4

2003-04

0.7

2004-05

0.9

Total

5.2

In addition, the MRC also currently supports two PhD studentships on the pathogenesis and immune response to clostridium difficile.

The Department has recognised the public health importance of rising antimicrobial resistance for many years. During the first half of 2003 the Department commissioned a £2.5 million strategic programme of research aimed at improving scientific understanding of antimicrobial resistance. £590,000 of that total sum was spent between 2004 and 2006 supporting three research projects specifically dealing with MRSA.

The publication of the Department's report “Winning Ways—working together to reduce healthcare associated infection in England” in December 2003 was accompanied by the announcement that £3 million would be allocated to fund a new research programme on healthcare associated infections.

Of the projects now being supported by this fund, two are specifically related to MRSA:

a study of the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of MRSA screening and monitoring on surgical wards using a new molecular test; and

a randomised crossover trial of a new, rapid method of MRSA detection compared with conventional screening, looking at efficacy and the effect upon hospital MRSA infection rates, transmission rates and the use of hospital resources.

Some £900,000 is being provided to support these two projects.

The Department is also supporting a £90,000 study related to improving understanding of possible community-acquired MRSA; has funded a national confidential study of suspected deaths from healthcare-associated infection at a cost of £254,000; and a £216,000 study of bacteraemia in children caused by MRSA.

The Department is not sponsoring research specifically focused on airborne transmission of hospital-acquired infections.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to tackle MRSA; and if she will make a statement. (108438)

Tackling MRSA is a priority for Government and the national health service. We have set a target to halve the number of MRSA bloodstream infections by 2008 and each acute trust has its own target. The Department and its partner organisations have developed a range of mutually reinforcing activities that ensure combating the spread of MRSA is embedded in everyday procedures and policies, in particular:

all acute trusts are signed-up to the ’Saving Lives’ package of best practice which, if implemented in full, should combat MRSA spread in the acute sector. It is supplemented by the ’Essential Steps’ initiative, designed for non-acute care settings;

mandatory MRSA surveillance, which continues to be developed/enhanced;

the first ever national hand hygiene programme for hospital staff ‘cleanyourhands’, has progressed to its second year;

a root cause analysis tool was published in September 2006 to help trusts investigate and better understand how and why MRSA bloodstream infections occur and hence where they should focus their action to prevent them;

a statutory code of practice which requires NHS bodies to have appropriate management and clinical governance systems in place to deliver effective infection control came into force on 1 October;

enhanced advice on screening patients at risk was published on 16 November; and

acute trusts have been invited to apply for additional capital resources to help tackle healthcare associated infections, with £50 million set aside for this purpose.

Additionally, tailored support is available for those trusts in the most challenging positions. Improvement teams will during 2006-07, work with about 50 trusts, so as to help identify those issues that prevent reduction in infections at the local level, and help them develop action plans to speed up and sustain progress.

Healthcare: Immigrants

To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent by social services departments in each local authority on provision for (a) adults and (b) children who have no recourse to public funds because of their immigration status in 2005-06; how many adults and children were receiving such services; and if she will make a statement. (110181)

The Department does not collect the information requested in respect of adults.

Children’s social services are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Skills.

Independent Treatment Centres

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the utilisation of each of the independent sector treatment centres was as a percentage of contracted value in 2005-06; and what it has been so far in 2006-07. (102982)

The percentage values for individual independent sector treatment centres (ISTCs) are commercially sensitive and release at this time would adversely affect the Department’s ability to achieve best value from these contracts. An average across the programme was nearly 80 per cent. in 2005-06.

The Department procured independent sector capacity on the basis of capacity planning exercises conducted through strategic health authorities where the additional capacity in elective treatment and diagnostics required to meet key public service agreement waiting times targets was estimated. Where the estimates of demand have not been met so far in a contract the Department is working with the national health service and independent providers to ensure contracts deliver best value over the life of the contract.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what records of infection rates in independent treatment centres she requires operators of independent treatment centres to report to her Department; and if she will publish such records. (105249)

Infection rates in independent sector treatment centres are not collected centrally currently. However, independent sector providers providing national health service services within wave one of the independent sector treatment centre programme are contractually obliged to report any serious untoward incidents, including infections, to the Department.

Providers are also obliged to report outbreaks of infectious diseases to the Healthcare Commission under the provisions of the Private and Voluntary Health Care Regulations 2001. As part of the phase two procurement key performance indicators will include returns on MSRA and other hospital acquired infections

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with (a) strategic health authorities and (b) primary care trusts in the North West on the second wave of independent treatment centres. (109119)