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Written Answers

Volume 697: debated on Monday 17 December 2007

Written Answers

Monday 17 December 2007

Afghanistan: HIV/AIDS

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What contributions they are making towards the tackling of HIV/AIDS in Afghanistan. [HL869]

There are an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 Afghans living with HIV. Although not directly engaged in tackling HIV/AIDS or the wider health sector in Afghanistan, DfID does monitor the situation in consultation with other donors active in this area, and provides funding to the multi-donor Afghanistan Reconstruction Trust Fund (ARTF), which helps to pay the salaries of government-employed health workers.

In support of HIV/AIDs, the World Bank has committed $10 million, the World Health Organisation $1 million, the Asian Development Bank $1.5 million and France $200,000. Additional funds of $11 million have also been requested recently from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria—GFATM)—to which DfID contributes.

DfID will continue to look to donors active in this sector to provide adequate support as part of its plans to co-ordinate aid behind the forthcoming Afghanistan National Development Strategy—ANDS—due in March 2008. The ANDS is the Afghan Government's own plan for development over the next five years.

The Ministry of Public Health established a Department of AIDS Control in 2005. The national strategy for AIDS control, developed by the Government of Afghanistan, which will run until 2010, includes some key elements for the prevention of AIDS in Afghanistan, including: strengthening the country's system for AIDS detection; obtaining political commitments to fulfil the strategy; improving co-ordination; and raising local awareness of AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

Agriculture: Foot and Mouth Disease

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-And-Mouth Disease) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2375), the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Export Restrictions) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2489) and the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-and-Mouth Disease) (No. 3) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2712) concerning restrictions resulting from foot and mouth disease, whether the importation of live animals susceptible to foot and mouth from member states in the European Union was allowed between 25 August and 13 September; and, if so, why the restriction against such imports was reimposed on 13 September. [HL794]

These domestic regulations implemented European Community legislation, which also required other member states to ensure that live animals of susceptible species were not dispatched to the restricted area within the UK. This area comprised the whole of Great Britain.

On 25 August 2007, these measures were relaxed and the ban on dispatching animals from other member states applied only to the protection zones and the surrounding surveillance zone. On 13 September, following the additional outbreak of foot and mouth disease, the restricted area in the UK was once again extended to the whole of Great Britain.

Therefore, between 25 August and 13 September, member states were able to dispatch live animals to any parts of Great Britain outside of the surveillance zone.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-And-Mouth Disease) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2375), the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Export Restrictions) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2489) and the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-and-Mouth Disease) (No. 3) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2712) concerning restrictions resulting from foot and mouth disease, why the word “Dispatch” in SI 2375 was replaced in the latter two by “Export”; and why the section on equidae was removed in SI 2489 and not reinstated in SI 2712. [HL795]

The word “dispatch” and the word “export” appear in the same set of regulations but are defined differently. This is to clarify the difference between the movement of goods within Great Britain (dispatch), and the movement of goods from Great Britain to other EU member states and third countries (export).

Commission Decision 2007/588/EC, which was implemented in England by the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Export Restrictions) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2489), removed restrictions relating to equidae.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

With reference to the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-And-Mouth Disease) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2375), the Foot-and-Mouth Disease (Export Restrictions) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2489) and the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-and-Mouth Disease) (No. 3) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2712) concerning restrictions resulting from foot and mouth disease, why the prohibition against personal exports was excluded from SI 2489 and reintroduced in SI 2712; whether any such personal exports took place between 25 August and 13 September; and, if so, what they were composed of and in what quantities. [HL796]

Personal exports were allowed between 25 August and 13 September, as the foot and mouth disease restrictions only applied to a small area surrounding the initial outbreak. Information concerning the type and quantity of personal exports from Great Britain (GB) is not recorded, however.

Restrictions, including the personal export ban, on the whole of GB were reinstated on 13 September, following the discovery of further outbreak in Windsor, Maidenhead and Surrey.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Why the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-And-Mouth Disease) (Wales) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2330) implement European Commission decision 2007/552/EC while the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-And-Mouth Disease) (No. 2) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2375), which applies to England, implements European Commission decision 2007/554/EC. [HL798]

): Animal health is a devolved matter, and England and Wales implement Commission decisions dealing with disease outbreaks separately. England and Wales have each implemented Commission Decision 2007/552/EC, through the Import and Export Restrictions (FMD) Regulations 2007 SI 2007/2331, and the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-and- Mouth Disease) (Wales) Regulations 2007 (SI 2007/2330 (W189). Commission Decision 2007/554/EC revoked Decision 2007/552/EC. Accordingly, both England and Wales replaced the above-mentioned implementing legislation with the Import and Export Restrictions (FMD) (No.2) Regulations SI 2007/2375 and the Import and Export Restrictions (Foot-and-Mouth disease) (No 2) (Wales) Regulations (SI 2007/2385 (W. 196).

Agriculture: Movement of Animals

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether paragraph 5(3) of the Movement of Animals (Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Order 2007 (SI 2007/2809) is intended to cover premises under the same ownership; and, if so, whether premises under the same ownership separated by a public highway that is on the limit of the temporary control area are included. [HL797]

Article 5(3) of the Movement of Animals (Restrictions) (England) Order 2002 (SI 2002/3229), as amended by the Movement of Animals (Restrictions) (England) (Amendment) Order 2007) (“the order”), provides for any premises which are partly inside and partly outside a temporary control area to be deemed wholly within that area. The order defines premises as including land with or without buildings.

The extent of a premises depends on a number of practical factors for the purposes of disease control, but not on the ownership of the land. The movement of animals will usually be from one premises to another premises. In this context, different parcels of land, separated by other parcels of land, are defined as different premises.

Animal Welfare: Squirrels and Toads

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What action Natural England is taking to protect red squirrels and natterjack toads on the north-west Merseyside coast. [HL774]

Natural England is working to safeguard the long-term future of red squirrels and natterjack toads by recognising and protecting the Sefton coast as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, Special Area of Conservation and international wetland (Ramsar) site. Also by working with the other landowners on the coast, through the Sefton Coast Partnership (SCP), it helps to manage these habitats and species, namely through:

Working with the SCP in the recent production of a nature conservation and biodiversity strategy.

Supporting the Mersey Community Forest with its initiatives to promote woodland to the benefit of red squirrel populations.

Utilising environmental stewardship grants to promote positive management for a wide range of species and habitats.

Providing advice to other landowners on the management of their land for wildlife.

Contributing funding and technical expertise to the North Merseyside Biodiversity Partnership to deliver its local biodiversity action plan. This includes action plans for both the red squirrel and natterjack toad with specific actions to conserve these species.

Contributing funding and technical expertise to the North Merseyside ‘Biobank' Local Record Centre which aims to store species distribution records across North Merseyside.

Managing the two national nature reserves (Ainsdale Sand Dunes and Cabin Hill) to support their populations of the red squirrel and natterjack toad.

Armed Forces: Healthcare

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What consideration they have given to the memorandum on Access to Health Services for Military Veterans sent by Christopher Long, chief executive of the Hull Teaching Primary Care Trust, to all general practitioners and physicians in its area on 8 October; and whether they will be commending his approach for use more widely among primary care trusts. [HL31]

The Government welcome the recognition by Hull Teaching Primary Care Trust of the service given to their country by the Armed Forces. The Government announced on 23 November the expansion of National Health Service priority treatment to all veterans for injuries and ill health sustained as a result of active service.

British Coal Compensation

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the arrangements whereby the Law Society has been paying to claimants in the British Coal litigation the compensation previously awarded to them for inadequate professional service by the adjudicator (Legal Complaints Service), and thereupon taking an assignment of each such debt to facilitate recovery from the solicitors concerned on conclusion of proceedings before the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal; and, if so, what steps they will take to encourage such solicitors to make the required payments to their former clients. [HL800]

The legal profession is independent and self-regulating. Therefore, the conduct of solicitors who have represented clients claiming under the coal health compensation schemes is the responsibility of the Law Society.

Following the Law Society's announcement that it will make ex gratia advances on awards that have been made in the complainants favour in miners' compensation cases, 44 individuals have received a total of £35,000 to date. The Law Society recognises that these are exceptional cases and is therefore considering ways to relieve these vulnerable claimants of the burden of seeking enforcement of the awards through the courts.

Bridget Prentice and Malcolm Wicks sent a joint letter to all the solicitors involved in the scheme to remind them again of their obligations to pay back money to claimants where this was taken without their consent.

The Government have welcomed this initiative by the Law Society as it recognises the vulnerability of these miners and their families and helps to ease their burden. There are provisions in the Legal Services Act 2007, which will enable approved regulators to deal more effectively with cases of widespread wrongdoing in the future.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have made an assessment of the regulatory proceedings pursued against solicitors in the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal arising out of their conduct of claims in the British Coal litigation; and, if so, how many such cases are (a) commenced, (b) pending, and (c) concluded; and what was the outcome of each case. [HL804]

The legal profession is independent and self-regulating. Therefore, the conduct of solicitors who have represented clients claiming under the coal health compensation schemes is the responsibility of the Law Society.

Information from the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) states that 21 solicitors firms have been referred to the SDT. The SDT has considered matters involving our firms. These matters are now concluded with the following outcomes:

case 1—one solicitor was fined £7,500 and ordered to pay 80 per cent of the Law Society's costs, 11 July 2006;

case 2—two solicitors were each fined £2,500 and three solicitors were reprimanded, 12 March 2007;

case 3—one solicitor was fined £15,000; proceedings against seven other partners were withdrawn with the tribunal's consent, 25 June 2007; and

case 4—this hearing did not relate to alleged misconduct; the tribunal made compensation enforcement orders that had been requested by the Law Society, 1 June 2006.

The combined efforts of the LCS and SRA have led to well over £3 million being repaid to miners. This figure is expected to rise as investigations continue. There are provisions in the Legal Services Act 2007, which will enable approved regulators to deal more effectively with cases of widespread wrongdoing in the future.

Children's Plan

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How children and young people now looked after by local authorities will be included in the new national Children's Plan; and how the status of and support for foster parents and workers in residential children's homes will be improved. [HL961]

The Children's Plan sets out our plans for a step change in the way children, young people, parents and families—including foster carers and those working in residential children's homes—are supported to deal with the challenges they face. Our White Paper, Care Matters: Time for Change (2007), sets out the detail of how we will achieve this for children in care and those who look after them.

We are working on a number of policies to improve the status and support of foster carers and residential workers. For foster carers, we have introduced a national advice line (Fosterline), measures to improve the support and information given to foster carers subject to allegations and a national minimum allowance. We will be funding a national rollout of Fostering Changes, a training package to help foster carers deal with challenging behaviour, and plan through the Children's Workforce Development Council to extend the training, support and development standards for foster carers and to link these to the national minimum standards for fostering service providers. The Children and Young Persons Bill introduces provisions to improve the enforcement of standards in children's homes and we will be piloting a social pedagogic approach to working with children in residential homes.

Department for International Development: MoD Liaison

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Department for International Development has a dedicated liaison officer working with the Ministry of Defence. [HL766]

The Department for International Development (DfID) does not have a dedicated liaison officer in the Ministry of Defence (MoD). However, in the last month, DfID and MoD officials have agreed in principle a secondment framework to enable more staff exchange.

DfID works closely with MoD, for example in countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan, and in the Stabilisation Unit—formerly the Post-Conflict Reconstruction Unit. This is a tri-departmental joint unit of MoD, DfID and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with staff from these departments and others.

Drug Tariff

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the current and projected total costs of the review of Part IX of the Drug Tariff. [HL543]

The cost to date (end of August 2007) to carry out both phases of the review of the Arrangements under Part IX of the Drug Tariff is £1.9 million.

Phase 1 (Dressings and Reagents) was successfully implemented in October 2006 and savings of £24 million per annum are being achieved.

Phase 2 (Arrangements under Part IX of the Drug Tariff for the provision of stoma and incontinence appliances and related services) is currently subject to a public consultation which is anticipated to close on 28 December 2007.

It is not possible to forecast the total cost of the review at this stage.

Economic Partnership Agreements: ACP Countries

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What transitional arrangements they propose to protect African, Caribbean and Pacific countries after 1 January 2008 from any negative impact of economic partnership agreements they may have entered into with the European Union. [HL824]

Economic partnership agreements—EPAs—can be good for development and help countries trade their way out of poverty. They will provide 100 per cent duty-free quota-free access to European Union (EU) markets, and more simple and liberal rules of origin that will make it easier for ACP countries to export goods.

African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are not expected to open up their markets to the European Union immediately. They have transition periods of up to 15 years to remove their tariffs on EU imports, and are able to protect around 20 per cent of their products. This should allow new arrangements to be put into place before the ACP countries open their markets.

In order to be aware of any negative impacts of EPAs, the UK has pushed for appropriate mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing implementation as well as development impacts, with special attention to the most vulnerable ACP countries and communities, to be a key part of the EPA texts.

If negative impacts are found or predicted, ACP countries will be able to use the safeguard mechanisms included in EPAs. These provide for the possibility that the market access provisions can be temporarily curtailed where it can be demonstrated that there is a surge of imports and that they are causing serious injury or market disruption to either ACP or European Union suppliers.

Embryology

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 28 June (WA 159), whether they now have more up-to-date information on in vitro fertilisation treatment cycles and human embryos created since 1991, and the number of children born using human embryos created since 1991; and what percentage of non-frozen and frozen embryos created since 1991 have resulted in live births. [HL837]

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) has a policy of continuing to correct data as new information becomes available, such as new information arising from the HFEA's historic audit project. Revised information, including data for 2005, is shown in the table.

Total number of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment cycles, embryos created and treatments resulting in live births 1991 to 2005 1

Year (calendar)

Treatments involving fresh (non-frozen) embryos

Treatments involving frozen embryos (2)

Non-treatments (3)

Treatment cycles

Embryos created

Treatment cycles with live birth outcome

Treatment cycles

Treatment cycles with live birth outcome

Non-Treatment cycles

Embryos created

1991

5948

26543

822

696

105

-

-

1992

16022

75456

2114

2233

252

-

-

1993

18860

92809

2757

2939

376

-

-

1994

21345

106425

3144

3491

402

-

-

1995

24753

126078

3856

4548

542

-

-

1996

27427

148682

4764

5994

691

-

-

1997

27811

146066

4933

6178

707

-

-

1998

29078

163206

5584

6445

781

-

-

1999

28212

163840

5832

6602

844

805

575

2000

28591

170408

5982

6877

907

976

728

2001

28813

176954

6173

7416

1017

898

603

2002

29780

178627

6707

7640

1070

760

728

2003

30069

179885

6924

7449

1178

716

968

2004

32146

185581

7116

7959

1166

697

1059

2005

33591

191462

7741

8306

1313

770

1241

Notes:

(1) 2005 is the most recent year for which information is available.

(2) Embryos used in these cycles may have been created in previous years as part of fresh treatment cycles.

(3) These are IVF cycles that, although started, did not progress to embryo transfer. These embryos may have been used in a patient's later frozen treatment cycles or for embryo donation. No data are held for years 1991-98.

Source: HFEA

Employment: Pathways to Work

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How contracts for Pathways to Work will reward providers for working with those whose disabilities place them furthest from the labour market and others who may need more support to get into employment. [HL514]

Providers will receive a payment for every person claiming incapacity benefits who obtains a job through participation in Pathways to Work. A job in this context is defined as paid employment of at least eight hours a week expected to last for a minimum of 13 weeks. Providers will receive a further payment for each person who achieves sustained employment. A person is deemed to be in sustained employment if, after 26 weeks, they are off benefit and have been off benefit for at least 13 of the previous 26 weeks. Providers also receive a service fee for delivering the core elements of the programme, for example work-focused interviews and condition management programmes.

Farm and Wildlife Advisory Groups

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In which counties in England the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has links with farm and wildlife advisory groups (FWAGs); and what Government funds are made available to the FWAGs in each county. [HL818]

Within the network of public bodies sponsored by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Natural England has most links with FWAG. Natural England has a working relationship with FWAG in all counties in England.

The two main sources of funding provided by Natural England to FWAG are by grant made available under the conservation advice programme, and by contracts won through competitive tendering under the England catchment sensitive farming delivery initiative (ECSFD) and farm demonstration programme. The value of these contracts is commercially confidential. In addition, Natural England has entered into a number of secondment contracts with FWAGs.

Other government bodies may enter into contracts with FWAGs, and they are eligible to apply for grants from public sector funds such as the landfill communities fund and the aggregates levy sustainability fund.

The value of the grant provided by Natural England to FWAG this current financial year is £357,447 (excluding VAT). This was allocated to government office regions as follows:

Region

Allocation (£)

North-East

27,635.74

North-West

41,453.62

Yorkshire and Humberside

41,453.62

East Midlands

41,453.62

West Midlands

41,453.62

Eastern

41,453.62

South-East

41,453.62

South-West

69,089.36

National printing costs

12,000.00

Total

357,447

The grant is not broken down by county.

Health: C. Difficile

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 29 October (WA 15) on deaths caused by infecting National Health Service patients with Clostridium difficile, what action was considered or taken by Health Ministers, either during the period covered by the answer or subsequently, against any of the primary care trusts with the highest number of infections. [HL30]

The department has issued a wide range of guidance and best practice to support local health communities in improving the control and management of infections such as Clostridium difficile infection (CDI). This includes:

mandatory surveillance of CDI introduced in 2004 to help to establish the extent of the problem;

the Health Act 2006: Code of practice for the prevention and control of healthcare associated infections came into force on 1 October 2006 and requires National Health Service bodies to have appropriate management and clinical governance systems in place to deliver effective infection control. The Healthcare Commission assesses trusts against the code and can issue improvement notices, requiring that failures are remedied where it finds that the code is not being observed in any material respect;

Saving Lives: a delivery programme to reduce healthcare associated infections included an updated high impact intervention on CDI and antimicrobial prescribing a summary of good practice, which is particularly relevant for managing CDI; and

the introduction of a new “bare below the elbows” uniform code for NHS staff.

The NHS has been performance-managed at an individual organisational level against the original methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) target, to halve the number of MRSA bloodstream infections by April 2008. Many measures which tackle MRSA will also affect other healthcare associated infection (HCAI) rates.

In order to increase the focus on tackling CDI, we have now set new requirements for the period to 2010-11 under the new Better Care for All Public Service Agreement, to deliver a 30 per cent reduction by 2010-11 in CDI compared with the numbers in 2007-08. This will be performance-managed at an individual organisational level through local delivery plans.

The department’s HCAI improvement teams offer tailored support to individual trusts. We have doubled the funding for the HCAI improvement teams this year and expanded their remit so the teams are now providing support to those trusts that have high numbers of patients with CDI as well as those with the most challenging MRSA targets. The improvement teams have already worked with 146 trusts.

Health: Cervical Cancer

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many cases of cervical cancer were diagnosed in each of the past five years in women aged under 26 years in (a) the United Kingdom; (b) England; (c) Scotland; (d) Wales; and (e) Northern Ireland; and how many of these cases (i) were diagnosed through a cervical screening test; (ii) did not have a cervical screening test; and (iii) had a cervical screening test but were not diagnosed through this route. [HL513]

Cervical screening is not a test for cancer but for abnormalities which, if left undetected and untreated, may develop into cancer

The following table gives the number of cases of cervical cancer diagnosed in women aged under 26 for the last available five years in the United Kingdom and England. Separate figures for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are not available.

Registrations of newly diagnosed cases of cervical cancer, females aged 0 to 25, United Kingdom and England, 2000-04

2000

2001

2002

2003

2004

United Kingdom

85

73

80

95

77

England

66

62

62

82

60

Source: Office for National Statistics, Welsh Cancer Intelligence and Surveillance Unit, the Scottish Cancer Registry and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry

It is currently not possible to tell how many of these women were diagnosed through a cervical screening test, did not have a cervical screening test or had a cervical screening test but were not diagnosed through this route.

Health: EU Proposals

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What effect the proposed European Union directive to allow European Union residents to receive non-emergency healthcare free of charge in all 27 member states will have on the organisation and finances of the National Health Service; and what is their likely response to the proposed directive. [HL618]

No proposals have been published to date. The existing case law already gives entitlements for patients from other European Union countries to travel to the United Kingdom (UK) in order to receive treatment. Anyone travelling to the UK specifically for healthcare will have to pay upfront the full National Health Service cost of treatment, and the Government are committed to ensuring that, where UK patients travel abroad for care, the NHS retains the ability to decide what care it will fund.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they intend to have the proposed directive on free non-emergency healthcare debated and voted upon in both Houses of Parliament before the issue is debated and agreed in Brussels. [HL619]

No draft directive has been published to date. Any proposals will be subject to scrutiny by the House of Lords European Union Select Committee and the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee. In future discussions on any proposal, the department will work to protect the United Kingdom's interests, emphasising the need for any European legislation in this area to be proportionate.

Health: Prostate Cancer

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What response they will make to the Prostate Cancer Charter for Action report arguing the case for clinical nurse specialists in prostate cancer. [HL596]

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has identified clinical nurse specialists as core members of the urology multidisciplinary team in its Improving Outcomes in Urological Cancers guidance issued in 2002. It is for cancer networks to work in partnership with strategic health authorities, National Health Service trusts and postgraduate deaneries to put in place a sustainable process to assess, plan and review their workforce needs and the education and training of all staff linked to local and national priorities for cancer including the implementation of NICE improving outcomes guidance.

Health: Speech and Language Therapists

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have issued guidance stating that speech and language therapists working wholly outside a hospital environment should be obliged to wear short-sleeved clothes at all times when treating patients and should not wear watches or jewellery; and, if so, what are the reasons for these rules. [HL839]

Determining policy on uniforms and workwear is a matter for each National Health Service trust. The department has published Uniforms and WorkwearAn evidence base for developing local policy to assist employers in developing their policy.

Houses of Parliament: Pay and Allowances

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they propose to implement the findings of the Senior Salaries Review Body triennial review of parliamentary pay, pensions and allowances commissioned on 24 July 2006. [HL936]

An announcement on the Senior Salaries Review Body review of parliamentary pay, pensions and allowances will be made in the new year.

Immigration: Healthcare

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When they will publish their review of access to National Health Service healthcare for vulnerable migrants; and whether they will ensure that pregnant women of limited means are never refused care, and that the same applies to children. [HL331]

The review of access to the National Health Service by foreign nationals, which is being conducted in conjunction with the Home Office, is ongoing. It is due to be completed by the end of the year, after which there will be a full public consultation exercise on any proposals. The review is looking at a range of issues including maternity treatment and the treatment of children.

Current guidance to the NHS is clear that immediately necessary treatment, which should automatically include all maternity treatment, must never be refused, regardless of whether the patient concerned is ineligible for free treatment or has no money to pay.

Immigration: Pregnant Women

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What assessment they have made of the 2006 London Project report, sponsored by Médecins du Monde, and, in particular, its recommendation that pre- and post-natal care should be provided for migrant women, regardless of their immigration status. [HL535]

Guidance to the National Health Service is clear that maternity treatment should always be considered as immediately necessary and provided regardless of whether or not the woman is entitled to receive it free of charge or doubts about whether she could pay if subsequently found to be chargeable under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended. This includes routine antenatal treatment, delivery and postnatal treatment. In conjunction with the Home Office, the department is currently reviewing the rules governing access to the NHS by foreign nationals. This will include the issue of maternity treatment. The review is due to be completed shortly and will then be followed by a full public consultation.

Jobcentre Plus

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What are the opening and closing hours of (a) the offices, and (b) the telephone lines for Jobcentre Plus for each day from 22 December 2007 to 6 January 2008, including any regional variations for opening and closing hours across the country. [HL860]

We remain committed to ensuring that we provide the best possible service for all our customers over Christmas.

Our main Jobcentre Plus offices and telephone services will open as follows:

Scotland

24 December

Open

25 and 26 December

Closed

27, 28 and 31 December

Open

1 and 2 January 2008

Closed

3 December 2008

Open

England and Wales

24 to 26 December

Closed

27, 28 and 31 December

Open

1 January 2008

Closed

2 January 2008

Open

Crisis loan services will be operating throughout this period. Our opening times are designed to allow all telephone claims to be processed so that customers can collect payment from the post office before it closes for Christmas. Customers who need a crisis loan after the telephone service has closed will be referred to their local Jobcentre which will take the customer through the application and decision-making process.

Our crisis loan telephone service operating times will be as follows:

Scotland

Up to 1 pm 24 December

Open

From 1 pm on 24 December to 27 December

Closed

28 December and up to 1 pm on 31 December

Open

1 to 2 January 2008

Closed

3 January 2008

Open

England and Wales

Up to 1 pm 21 December

Open

From 1 pm on 21 December to 27 December

Closed

28 December and 31 December

Open

1 January 2008

Closed

2 January 2008

Open

Marine Environment: Lyme Bay

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many responses have so far been received to the consultation on measures to protect marine biodiversity interests in Lyme Bay from the impact of fishing with dredges and other towed gear. [HL717]

As of 11 December 2007, Defra has received 2,724 responses from participants in the Wildlife Trusts' pro-forma online e-petition, and 91 other responses. It is too early to have carried out any analysis on the subject matter of these responses.

Passports: Interviews

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many personal passport interview offices are operating; and where they are located; and [HL822]

How many personal passport interviews have taken place at each of the personal passport interview offices; and how many applications have been successful. [HL823]

As at 10 December 2007, 41 interview offices dealing with first-time passport customers are in live operations—the table below lists all 41 offices. We anticipate that 62 offices will be fully operational by end December 2007, with a further six opening by end February 2008.

As at 10 December 2007, IPS has conducted 15,800 completed interviews and 94.1 per cent of these interviews have resulted in a passport being issued within three days of completion of appointment; 2.8per cent have not been completed and 3.1 per cent have required further examination.

Newport

Peterborough

Newcastle

Glasgow

Belfast

Manchester

Birmingham

London

Dover

Leeds

Plymouth

Portsmouth

Liverpool

Middlesbrough

Stoke-on- Trent

Lincoln

Swansea

Cheltenham

Sheffield

Yeovil

Newport IOW

Northampton

Carlisle

Coleraine

Crawley

Armagh

Bournemouth

Ipswich

Shrewsbury

Wrexham

Scarborough

Stirling

York

Aberystwyth

Derby

Edinburgh

Aberdeen

Chelmsford

Luton

Maidstone

Omagh

Police: Community Support Officers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proposals they have for (a) extending the responsibilities of, and (b) funding, community support officers when present arrangements expire in 2008. [HL806]

Police community support officers—PCSOs—are an invaluable addition to policing and have a primary focus on engaging with their local community, providing high visibility reassurance policing and dealing with low-level crime and anti-social behaviour. Their responsibilities are primarily determined locally by chief constables to suit local policing priorities.

From 1 December 2007, the Government have introduced a list of standard powers for PCSOs to ensure that all staff designated in this important role will have achieved a minimum standard of training and attained the appropriate level of competency. This will provide consistency of approach throughout England and Wales and provide clarity on the role of and expectations on PCSOs.

On 23 November, my right honourable friend the Home Secretary announced a project aimed at the greater standardisation of equipment, uniforms, training and career development. The Association of Chief Police Officers has commissioned the National Policing Improvement Agency—NPIA—to lead this project, which will report shortly. The project will work to ensure that the PCSO role is clear and understood and it will allow forces to learn lessons and enshrine good practice across the country. Since effective community engagement is a challenging and demanding task, requiring both mature and highly capable individuals, the Home Office will also now introduce a code of practice setting out that PCSOs should be at least 18 years old.

My right honourable friend informed Parliament in a Written Ministerial Statement of 6 December 2007 (Official Report, col. WS 224), of her proposals for allocation of police grant for England and Wales from 2008-09 to 2010-11. A total of £324 million will be made available in 2008-09, ring-fenced for neighbourhood policing including for police community support officers. The proposals include an increase of 2.7 per cent in each of the CSR years.

Police: Ethnic Minority Officers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

How many ethnic minority police officers left the Metropolitan Police Authority with less than two years' service in the last year for which figures are available. [HL862]

The available data relate to the 2006-07 financial year, when 16 ethnic minority police officers with less than two years’ service resigned from the Metropolitan Police Service. Additionally, there were no such officers who left the force via transfer, retirement, dismissal or death.

Prisoners: Children

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the comments by Baroness Scotland of Asthal on 12 June (Official Report, col. 1628), whether they have made an assessment of the impact of imprisonment on the children of convicted offenders; whether they now have accurate data on children affected in this way; and, if not, when they expect to have this information. [HL850]

Information about the children of prisoners is not held centrally and only estimates are available. We will shortly publish the findings from a review of offenders' children carried out jointly by the Department of Children, Schools and Families and the Ministry of Justice. This review has looked at the extent to which the children of prisoners have poorer outcomes and what should be done to ensure they are effectively supported. When we have the findings of this review and the Social Exclusion Task Force's forthcoming Families At Risk publication, we will consider what additional data is needed to take this forward.

Prisoners: Visits

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will do more to publicise the availability of financial support for prison visits by next of kin who have limited means. [HL854]

The assisted prison visits scheme which provides financial support to prisoners next of kin is published as a Prison Service Order 4405 providing rules of the scheme. This document is accessible on the Prison Service website for the general public to view and a downloadable information booklet is also available in a range of foreign languages. Governors and directors are also required to ensure that the scheme is advertised in visitor centres, visits halls and waiting areas, the prison library, and through prisoner induction programmes. A number of voluntary sector organisations are also aware of the scheme and can provide information. These include the citizen's advice bureau, Action for Prisoners' Families and the Prisoners' Families Helpline. However, a review is going to be taking place shortly to identify any further means of communication with prisoners, their next of kin and their family.

Questions for Written Answers: Unanswered Questions

asked the Leader of the House:

Why at 6 December the Government had left unanswered 64 Written Questions due to have been answered by that date. [HL883]

My office has reminded departments of the importance of Questions for Written Answer and the need to address the number of outstanding Answers.

I will discuss this matter with ministerial colleagues and continue to ensure that Questions for Written Answer are answered accurately, wherever possible within the 14-day deadline.

Schools: Leaving Age

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What financial provision has been made in forward estimates to cover the costs of raising the school leaving age to 18. [HL880]

The estimated costs of raising the participation age were set out in the impact assessment published alongside the Education and Skills Bill on 29 November. In total the costs of RPA over and above 90 per cent participation are around £774 million in present value terms (in 2016-17 prices). These are dominated by the direct participation costs of more young people being in education and training which are estimated to be around £583 million in a steady state. The projected costs associated with the Bill over the next three years are included within the total CSR funding. The majority of the costs for raising the participation age will occur in subsequent spending review periods and will be dealt with initially through the spending review 2009.

Social Care

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they have assessed the impact of the toughening of the eligibility criteria for social care operated by local authorities across England on the overall level of healthcare and quality of life in the past five years; and [HL616]

What patterns have emerged in the past five years with regard to the operation of the eligibility criteria used by local authorities in England in respect of the provision of adult social care; and what are the reasons behind such trends. [HL617]

It is for individual local authorities to decide on the eligibility criteria for receiving adult social care services. Local authorities manage and direct their own resources in accordance with local priorities and the needs of the communities to which they are accountable. The department does not collect information on each council's eligibility criteria and has therefore made no assessment of patterns emerging in the past five years with regard to the operation of the eligibility criteria used by local authorities in England in respect of the provision of adult social care.

Terrorism

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Answer by Lord West of Spithead on 6 December, what organisation and individuals were consulted on the proposed pre-charge detention aspects of the Counter-Terrorism Bill; and when those consultations were held.[HL861]

This information was published on 6 December in the summary of consultation responses (Command Paper 7269). This information can be found on the Stationery Office website and the Home Office security website (www.homeoffice.security.gov.uk).

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will investigate whether the greater use of the threshold test, rather than the full code, in charging terrorist suspects can include greater use of administrative detention for short periods at home, rather than in prisons or police stations. [HL885]

The threshold test is already fully used in terrorist investigations. It is the test used by the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether or not to charge a suspect pending receipt of sufficient evidence to allow the full Code for Crown Prosecutors test to be applied. The test is not relevant to any decisions taken by a judge as to whether or not a defendant is held in custody either before or after charge.

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether they will guarantee that any changes in the anti-terrorism pre-charge detention procedures will exclude the concept of anticipatory or precautionary justification devoid of evidential support. [HL886]

While an arrest may have a preventive or disruptive effect on a terrorist or network of terrorists, and while this may be the impetus for executing arrests at any point during an investigation, legislation does not allow continued detention on this basis. Once a person has been arrested, their continued detention can only be authorised on the grounds that it is necessary to obtain, examine or analyse evidence or information with the aim of obtaining evidence.

The purpose of the extended detention time is to secure sufficient admissible evidence for use in criminal proceedings. We have no plans to change this.

Waste Management: Monsanto

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether, in 2004, the Environment Agency or the Environment Agency Wales were aware of a memorandum by the chief counsel for Monsanto of 1970 and memoranda from 1972 in which Monsanto admits shared liability with Redland Purle as to the Brofiscin site. [HL765]

The Environment Agency has not seen any memorandum by the chief counsel of Monsanto of 1970 or any memorandum from 1972 in which Monsanto admits shared liability in the information it has considered to date.

Waste Management: Solutia Bankruptcy

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the Environment Agency or the Environment Agency Wales were aware that Solutia Inc had informed the United States Bankruptcy Court that the presence of certain chemical contaminants found in waste disposal sites would be a proof of Monsanto involvement, and that these chemicals were identified by Komex, Celtic and Atkins in their reports on the Brofiscin site. [HL754]

The Environment Agency has not been advised of any filing or statement made to the United States Bankruptcy Court by Solutia Inc that the presence of certain chemical contaminants found in waste disposal sites would be a proof of Monsanto involvement.

Water Supply: Pollution

asked Her Majesty’s Government:

On what date the Environment Agency Wales (EAW) became responsible for the prevention of pollution to groundwater, surface water and the environment in Wales; and from which organisations EAW inherited those responsibilities. [HL753]

The Environment Agency was established pursuant to the provisions of the Environment Act 1995. In Wales, the Environment Agency is now an Assembly Government Sponsored Body. On 1 April 1996 it assumed functions under a wide range of environmental legislation that were previously carried out by the National Rivers Authority, HM Inspectorate of Pollution and the local authorities as waste regulatory authorities.

World Bank: International Development Association

asked Her Majesty's Government:

When decisions are taken on contributions to the World Bank International Development Association (IDA), what consideration is given to the decision-making process the World Bank uses to allocate funds from the IDA to recipient countries; and [HL768]

Whether consideration is given to the import placed on environmental sustainability in the World Bank's country policy and institutional assessment tool when it decides on contributions to the International Development Association. [HL769]

The latest replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA) is about to conclude. The UK, together with other donors, will agree the level of funding and a policy framework. During this replenishment, discussion has focused on country-level effectiveness, fragile states and IDA's role in assisting countries to tackle climate change.

We consider a number of factors in deciding funding to IDA. These factors include IDA's effectiveness in reducing poverty which in turn is linked to IDA's allocation system, known as the performance-based allocation system—PBA. Each year IDA allocates the bulk of its resources using the PBA. The PBA gives weight to both the needs and performance of all countries that are eligible to receive assistance from IDA. A country's performance is measured by the country policy and institutional assessment—CPIA. Environmental sustainability is one of 16 criteria in the CPIA.

The IDA negotiations in 2007 have (a) reaffirmed the centrality of IDA's allocation system; (b) simplified the system to make it more transparent; (c) discussed the link between allocations and country-level outcomes; and (d) confirmed that more IDA resources are being directed to countries where results are being achieved.

Young Offenders

asked Her Majesty's Government:

What proportion of the cost of keeping a young person in custody is spent on education; and how this compares with the amount budgeted per pupil in the state school system. [HL465]

In young offender institutions, 15 per cent of the cost of keeping a young person in custody is spent on education. In secure children's homes, contractors running these establishments report it is also 15 per cent and in secure training centres it is 11 per cent. The actual spend per pupil in the secure estate in the different types of institution varies between around £8,100 and £27,700. The amount budgeted per pupil in English state schools for 2007-08 is £4,525.