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Written Answers

Volume 707: debated on Tuesday 3 February 2009

Written Answers

Tuesday 3 February 2009

Architectural Competitions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which departments have held architectural competitions for new buildings in the public sector; and how many times that has happened in the past 10 years. [HL933]

Armed Forces: Aircraft

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many A400M heavy lift aircraft they have ordered; and at what estimated cost. [HL709]

The UK has ordered 25 A400M aircraft. The estimated cost is £2,632 million as reported in the Major Projects Report 2008. This figure includes development, production and some training and initial support costs.

Armed Forces: Drugs

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether there has been any widespread taking of Modafinil or other similar drugs by Armed Forces personnel for the purpose of enhancing mental alertness. [HL869]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether any health and safety or public security policies govern the taking of Modafinil or other similar drugs for the purpose of enhancing mental alertness by (a) Armed Forces personnel; and (b) employees required to work long or irregular shifts. [HL870]

The Health and Safety Executive, Ministry of Defence and the Home Office advise me that there are no health and safety or public security policies that govern the taking of Modafinil or similar drugs for the purpose of enhancing mental alertness at work.

HSE guidance on managing shift work, published in 2006, includes advice for shift workers on how to manage their own health and well-being. This advice acknowledges the availability of drugs that influence alertness, and advises that these drugs are not used by shift workers unless they are under medical supervision.

Armed Forces: Helicopters

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which agency or agencies within the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence are responsible for holding spare parts for helicopters; and what steps they are taking to ensure that spares are held and recorded by a process which allows access to the right spares at the right time. [HL892]

Spares holdings are held in industry, in MoD depots, at main operating bases and in forward and deployed locations. Routine logistics processes throughout the spares supply chain ensure that the holding arrangements are constantly reviewed and optimised. All spares holdings are subject to formal processes to ensure they can be accounted for at all times. The optimum level of spares holdings is determined in conjunction with industry and is periodically refined based on information drawn from actual operating experience. The optimum numbers and locations for spares holdings vary with the nature of operations and are therefore subject to change.

Crime: Intellectual Property Theft

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they propose to reduce intellectual property theft in the audio-visual sector. [HL861]

The Government take the issue of intellectual property theft very seriously, and a great deal of work is already under way. Several initiatives will be of particular interest to the audio-visual sector.

The Intellectual Property Office has recently completed a consultation which considered the matching of online and physical copyright infringement (www.ipo.gov.uk/consult-gowers36.pdf). This included a proposed summary maximum penalty of £50,000 as deterrent. A report on this consultation will be published in the near future.

The Government also recently published the submissions received on a consultation on unlawful P2P file-sharing, along with a top-level summary (www.berr.gov.uk/whatwedo/sectors/digitalcon/p2presponses/page49707.html). The consultation called for comments on a range of possible regulatory options to address unlawful file-sharing, which has a significant impact on the UK's creative economy and on music and film in particular.

The Government are also in active discussion with representatives of the cinema industry in relation to illegal copying of films in cinemas, particularly through the use of camcorders and other devices.

On-the-ground enforcement is also a major issue. The Fake Free London campaign aims to reduce the level of counterfeiting and piracy in the run up to the 2012 Olympics. Funded by the Intellectual Property Office, and carried out in partnership with the police, trading standards and the film industry, a series of enforcement operations were carried out in three of the London Olympic boroughs in late 2008.

Department for Communities and Local Government: Christmas Cards

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what criteria are taken into account in identifying stakeholders to whom Christmas cards are sent by the Department for Communities and Local Government. [HL1037]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what was the cost of sending Christmas cards by the Department for Communities and Local Government in 2008. [HL1038]

The Christmas cards were sent out during normal course of business with other letters, and therefore no separate record was kept of the cost of mailing the cards. Post from the department is by default sent by second class post and we therefore estimate the cost of sending the department's Christmas cards at £216.

eCards are free to send.

Disabled People: Football Grounds

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether replies have been received from the Premier League and the Football League to the letters sent by the Minister for Sport in April 2008 regarding the provision of facilities for disabled supporters at football grounds. [HL807]

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Carter of Barnes on 17 November 2008 (WA 164), whether the Minister for Sport has met the Premier League and the Football League to discuss their member clubs' obligations under disability discrimination legislation to ensure their stadiums comply with the Accessible Stadia guidance; and if so, what the outcome of any such meeting was. [HL808]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will commission a survey of the extent to which member clubs in the Premier League and the Football League meet their obligations under disability discrimination legislation to ensure their stadiums comply with the Accessible Stadia guidance. [HL809]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what sanctions are available to enforce compliance with Accessible Stadia guidance by clubs in the Premier League and the Football League. [HL810]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will issue guidance to the Football Licensing Authority to make the provision of facilities for disabled supporters a condition for granting a licence to admit spectators to designated football matches under Section 10(12)(d) of the Football Spectators Act 1989. [HL811]

The Minister for Sport met with the Premier League on the 29 January and is due to meet the Football League on 3 February.

The Accessible Stadia guidance document is an advisory document and is not intended to be prescriptive nor inhibit alternative and creative solutions. Therefore, as I indicated on 3 November 2008 (Official Report, col. WA 16), save where there are specific safety concerns, assessments on implementing the guide's recommendations are not a matter for government.

The Government strongly support the provision of facilities for disabled supporters that are in line with the recommendations made in the Accessible Stadia guide. However, they do not believe that enforcing the provision of these facilities through the conditions attached to a licence to admit spectators is the best means available. Football clubs, as service providers, are also already under a legal duty under Part 3 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to make reasonable adjustments for disabled supporters.

The Government do not collect any information on compliance with the recommendations of the Accessible Stadia guide.

Food: Pork and Bacon

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Darzi of Denham on 19 January (WA 149–50), whether they will give statutory force to the Food Standards Agency voluntary guidance that bacon produced from imported pork should not be described as British. [HL1042]

European Commission labelling rules are under revision and one of the proposals addresses tightening criteria around voluntary country of origin labelling on meat and meat products, a principle supported by the Government.

In the mean time, there are no plans to give statutory force to the Food Standards Agency voluntary guidance but Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Ministers are currently holding a series of meetings with industry to promote uptake of the guidance.

Green Roofs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will increase financial and other support to promote the use of green roofs on commercial buildings and private dwellings. [HL980]

The Government provide no direct funding to promote the development of green roofs. However, the Government are committed to moving towards more sustainable low-carbon buildings that are more energy and water efficient, and support our wider climate change and sustainability goals.

The Government are particularly supportive of the use of green roofs as they increase and facilitate the use of sustainable drainage systems (SUDS). SUDS provide an effective control of rainwater runoff at source, freeing up capacity for drainage in the below-ground system, as well as benefiting water resources through groundwater recharge, rainwater harvesting and helping to improve water quality.

Those building homes to the sustainability standards set out in the code for sustainable homes may incorporate green roofs to achieve the surface water management, energy efficiency and ecology credits. Financial incentives available to encourage building to the code include the stamp duty land tax exemption for those who reach zero carbon/level 6. In addition, those new developments built on Homes and Communities Agency land or funded through the Government's national housing affordability programme are required to meet level 3 of the code for sustainable homes.

Health: Epilepsy

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they intend to appoint a national clinical director for epilepsy to address the gaps in NHS service provision alleged by Epilepsy Action's recent report, Epilepsy in England: A Time for Change. [HL1045]

Health: Research

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which department is accountable to Parliament for improving the access of those conducting clinical trials to individual patient records; and when they expect improved arrangements for such access. [HL1004]

It is the Government's policy that the National Health Service should do all it can to ensure that patients from every part of England are made aware of research that is of particular relevance to them. The department plans to put in place procedures to ensure that NHS patients are notified of opportunities to join in relevant ethically approved research and is currently working with its stakeholders to ensure that those procedures will be workable and acceptable.

Housing

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many new domestic dwellings were built for letting in (a) 2005, (b) 2006, (c) 2007, and (d) 2008; and how many new-build social housing units are planned in each year from 2009 to 2012 inclusive. [HL828]

The following table shows the number of new affordable homes built for social rent in England for each year from 2004-05 to 2007-08.

Year

New build homes for social rent

2004-05

18,790

2005-06

20,510

2006-07

21,500

2007-08

25,390

Data Source: Homes and Communities Agency Investment Management System (IMS), and Housing Strategy Statistical Appendix (HSSA) returns and P2 house building returns submitted to CLG by local authorities.

The Government remain committed to a substantial increase in social housing. The long-term aspiration remains to deliver 45,000 homes a year by 2010-11 and 50,000 a year during the next spending review period. These affordable homes will be funded mainly by the Homes and Communities Agency. It is too early, given current market conditions, to predict outputs in future years with certainty; however, delivery of social rented homes through the Housing Corporation is on trajectory for 2008-09.

Housing: Credit Card Payments

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have given to local authorities on whether to accept or encourage the use of credit cards for payment of arrears of council tax and rent. [HL935]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have given to local authorities on whether to accept the use of credit cards by housing tenants for payment of rent. [HL936]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what guidance they have given to housing associations and other providers of social housing on whether to accept or encourage the use of credit cards for payment of rent and rent arrears. [HL937]

The Council Tax Collection Good Practice Report of 2004 summarises good collection practice for council tax. Annexe F to the report provides examples of good practice found in local authorities, including payment by credit card. The report is published on the Communities and Local Government website at www.local.communities.gov.uk/finance/ctax/ goodprac.pdf.

My department published Improving the Effectiveness of Rent Arrears Management: Good Practice Guidance in June 2005. It is aimed at all social landlords and all levels of a landlord's rent arrears management service. This guidance is also available on the Communities and Local Government website at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/improvingeffectiveness.

On rent arrears, the guidance makes no explicit reference to debit or credit cards. It stresses the value of preventative measures. It advises landlords, among other things, to ensure that arrears repayment arrangements are realistic by undertaking with the tenant a detailed financial assessment of his or her income and expenditure.

On rent payment, the guidance advises that landlords should provide a diverse range of methods for tenants to pay their rent. These should be well-publicised, flexible, accessible and convenient to use. Whilst credit and debit cards are included in the range of possible payment methods mentioned, the guidance states that any review of payment methods should consider their effectiveness in minimising arrears.

The Tenant Services Authority (which succeeded the Housing Corporation as the regulator of social housing on 1 December 2008) is aware that the use of credit and debit cards to pay rent and rent arrears has raised concerns. The Tenant Services Authority supports flexible approaches to the payment of rent and other charges. For many tenants, for example those who may find travelling difficult, being able to use direct debits or online banking provides convenience and security. The Tenant Services Authority also recognises that it may not be cost-effective for landlords to handle relatively small amounts of cash. It has not issued any guidance to housing associations on this, as it is for each individual association to decide its own approach to managing rent payment.

Housing: Home Information Packs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Andrews on 18 December 2008 (WA 67), whether they intend to assess the overall cost of home information packs; and, if so, when that assessment will take place. [HL998]

An evaluation of the HIPs programme is currently planned for 2010. This will be an update of the HIPs Baseline Research Report, published in January 2007 and which is available on our website at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/hipbaselineresearch.

Immigration

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government following the meeting between Mr Jeremy Oppenheim of the Home Office, the Director of Social Services of the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames and others on 17 March 2008 to discuss the suspected employment of illegal immigrants by agencies providing care to the elderly, how many illegal immigrants were (a) identified, (b) detained, and (c) removed as a result of the operations discussed; what estimate was made of the number of illegal immigrants who had been employed by the agencies concerned; and what action has been considered or taken against the employers of those persons. [HL898]

The UK Border Agency and the London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames have continued to work closely since the meeting referred to. Investigation and enforcement action is still ongoing and, in order to avoid compromising that, I cannot provide the detail requested. I undertake to write to the noble Lord when it is appropriate to share more information.

Immigration: France

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many illegal immigrants based at the new immigration centre in northern France have been deterred from entering the United Kingdom illegally since it opened. [HL847]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, when the replacement immigration centre in northern France was established, there was any expectation that the British Government would have any responsibility for the illegal immigrants who occupied it. [HL848]

In December 2008, the French authorities opened a number of temporary shelters across the country for homeless people during periods of extreme cold weather conditions. Such a shelter was opened in Calais and subsequently closed in early January once the weather returned to normal winter conditions.

Given that the French authorities have sole responsibility for the operation of these temporary shelters, and that their operation is unrelated to immigration status, there is no specific information available on the question of deterrence.

Influenza Pandemic

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what funding they will give to specialised small and medium-sized enterprises for influenza pandemic preparations. [HL956]

Both private and public sector organisations are encouraged to put business continuity plans in place. This improves their resilience within a variety of disruptive events, not just pandemic influenza, and is part of routine business planning.

Guidance on developing such plans is available on the UK Resilience website at www.ukresilience.gov.uk/pandemicflu.aspx.

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill [HL]

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the anticipated extra costs to local authorities as a result of the introduction of Part 1 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill; and whether those amounts will be added to the revenue support grants paid to local authorities in the appropriate years of the three-year settlement that has already been announced. [HL1013]

Part 1 of the Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill includes proposed duties on local authorities relating to the promotion of democracy and the handling of petitions.

The anticipated extra costs to local authorities as a result of the duty to promote democracy were set out in an impact assessment published on the Communities and Local Government website when the Bill was introduced. Copies are also available in the House Library. The anticipated extra costs to local authorities as a result of the duty on local authorities to respond to petitions were set out in the summary impact assessment for the White Paper, Communities in Control: Real People, Real Power. This is available on the Communities and Local Government website.

These amounts will be paid into the revenue support grant in the financial year that the relevant provisions of the Bill are commenced by order of the Secretary of State. We anticipate this to be in the financial year 2010-11.

Local Government: Parish Councils

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which parish councils have redesignated themselves as neighbourhood, community or village councils. [HL1011]

To date, the Secretary of State has received notice under Section 12A of the Local Government Act 1972 from Great Coates Parish Council and Broughton Parish Council resolving to change the style of their councils to Great Coates Village Council and Broughton Community Council respectively.

Marine Management Organisation

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Marine Management Organisation will choose the respondents to their consultation on new marine legislation. [HL983]

Subject to the passage of the Marine and Coastal Access Bill through Parliament and Royal Assent, the Marine Management Organisation will be created as a government delivery body. Secondary legislation to implement the Marine and Coastal Access Bill will be drawn up by Defra and consulted on in the normal manner.

Northern Ireland Office: Bonuses

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by the Lord President (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon) on 18 December 2008 (WA 71) concerning bonuses for staff in the Northern Ireland Office, what consideration was given to the current financial situation before the bonuses were agreed. [HL795]

Bonuses in the Northern Ireland Office are paid for from budgets arising from successive spending review settlements.

Northern Ireland Parades Commission

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what grants the Northern Ireland Parades Commission made during 2008; to whom; why; and at what level. [HL1068]

This is an operational matter for the Parades Commission, which operates independently of government. I would encourage the noble Lord to write to the Secretary to the Parades Commission of Northern Ireland.

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether it is within the remit of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission to support a member of staff in obtaining qualifications; if so, in what circumstances; what consideration is given before such support is offered; and how it is offered. [HL969]

This is an operational matter for the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, which operates independently of government. The noble Lord may wish to write to the commission directly on these matters.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will give equal consideration, and appropriate coverage in their publications, to the views of the two dissenting Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission commissioners during their proposed consultation on the commission's advice on the scope for a bill of rights for Northern Ireland additional to the European Convention on Human Rights; and whether they will publish in detail the view of those commissioners of each suggested new right. [HL873]

The Government are committed to public consultation on the issue of a potential Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland. The Government are currently reflecting on the issues raised in the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission's report, published on 10 December 2008, and will decide on the form that the consultation will take in due course.

Planning: Eco-towns

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government which proposals are on the final short list for eco-town developments; and when they expect to announce the final list. [HL931]

The Government are currently consulting on the draft eco-towns planning policy statement (PPS), which lists in annexe A 12 locations with potential to be an eco-town. This was published on 4 November 2008 along with the sustainability appraisal, and copies are available in the House Library.

Later in the year, following the end of the consultation, the Government will publish the final PPS and list of locations with potential to be an eco-town.

Police: Northern Ireland

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proposals they have to close police stations in Northern Ireland; what is the reason in each case; and what consultations they are undertaking. [HL990]

That is an operational matter for the chief constable. I have asked him to reply directly to the noble Lord, and a copy of his letter will be placed in the Library of the House.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have instructed the police not to continue the investigations into (a) the Northern Bank robbery; and (b) the murder of Robert McCartney; and if so, why. [HL994]

No. I can advise that decisions with regard to investigations are an operational matter for the chief constable who acts with total independence.

Pollution

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will fund new research into soil and water pollution from products such as fabric softeners, washing powders and disinfectants. [HL979]

Defra is about to commission further research which aims to identify the contaminants present in wastes (including sewage sludge) spread to land and the sources of these contaminants.

Some of the chemicals contained in products such as fabric softeners, washing powders and disinfectants may reach soils via the application of sewage sludge to land. Our previous research into the risks from sewage sludge application to land did not highlight significant issues arising from organic chemicals from these sources.

In April 2008, Defra consulted on controls on phosphates in domestic laundry cleaning products, as there is evidence that phosphate pollution in freshwaters causes eutrophication which can lead to death of fish and other organisms. Following the consultation, a working group of key stakeholders was set up to provide evidence for a full impact assessment. An announcement on the way forward will be made shortly.

The consultation considered washing powders, but did not consider fabric softeners and disinfectants, as they do not contain significant amounts of phosphate and there is insufficient evidence to suggest that they cause significant pollution of watercourses.

Public Lavatories

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure adequate provision of lavatories for public use. [HL945]

The provision of public toilets is primarily the responsibility of local authorities. The Government have taken action over the past 12 months to highlight the importance of good quality public toilets, and the positive action that local authorities and others can take to improve public access to these facilities. This includes the publication of a strategic guide on Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets, and more detailed guidance on community toilet schemes and the SatLav text messaging service.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to ensure local authorities require the inclusion of lavatories for public use and prohibit the use of turnstiles to control access to those lavatories when granting planning permission. [HL946]

Decisions about toilet provision should form part of each local authority's strategic planning, taking into account varying needs at regional, district and local level. The strategic guide Improving Public Access to Better Quality Toilets highlighted a range of options available to local authorities and their partners. These include the use of planning obligations (sometimes referred to as Section 106 agreements) which can be attached to a planning permission to prescribe the nature of new development (eg by requiring provision of public lavatories), to ensure certain benefits or to secure a contribution (financial or in-kind) from a developer to mitigate the impact of a development.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the effect on disabled people, pregnant women and elderly people of turnstiles used as a means of controlling access to lavatories for public use in private developments. [HL977]

It is for local planning authorities to assess the impact of proposed developments as part of the planning application process, and new developments should comply with the relevant requirements of the building regulations. In addition, the disability discrimination legislation requires service providers to make reasonable adjustments to enable disabled people to access those services. This includes toilets provided for public use in private developments.

Taxation: Evasion

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures they will introduce to curb tax evasion in the United Kingdom by non-national individuals and companies. [HL841]

The Government are committed to combating tax evasion. This applies both in relation to non-UK tax residents, where we have arrangements in place for exchanging information with other countries for their tax purposes, and in relation to non-UK nationals who have a tax liability in the United Kingdom. In the latter case, the UK tackles tax evasion as part of its overall approach to tackling tax evasion by UK tax residents. The Government will continue to keep the issue under review.

Universities: Sponsored Researchers

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the remarks by the Minister for Borders and Immigration, Mr Phil Woolas, in the House of Commons Fifth Delegated Legislation Committee on 14 January (Official Report, House of Commons, col. 12), what statutory mechanism they will use to allow universities to continue to sponsor certain researchers notwithstanding the provisions of the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules 2008 (HC 1113). [HL959]

Section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971 provides the Secretary of State with the ability to lay before Parliament statements of the rules for regulating entry into and stay in the United Kingdom (UK). While the Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules 2008 (HC 1113) makes provision for leave to be granted to migrants coming to the UK under the government-authorised exchange sub-category of tier 5, temporary workers of the points-based system (PBS), information on the organisations that qualify as sponsors under this category is contained in the UK Border Agency's (UKBA) sponsor guidance.

The full sponsor guidance is available on the UKBA website at www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/employersandsponsors/pbsguidance and a copy of this document will be placed in the House Library. This document is amended periodically, and the next scheduled update in March 2009 will incorporate further information on the revised position of sponsored researchers under the PBS. In the mean time, information advising that individual higher education institutions that qualify as sponsors under the student tier, tier 4 of the PBS, has been added to the UKBA website. Members of the UKBA's joint education taskforce, comprising representatives of higher education institutions affected by this change, have also been informed.

Vehicles: Electric Power

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will accelerate programmes on research on fully performing electric motor vehicles. [HL887]

An industry-wide technology roadmap plotting the pathways to ultra-low-carbon including electric vehicles is being developed and finalised by the New Automotive Innovation Growth Team (NAIGT). Government are supporting the associated research agenda to accelerate their market introduction through the Technology Strategy Board-led low-carbon vehicle innovation platform, worth over £100 million of public sector support.

Under the innovation platform, a £10 million research competition has recently been announced for an ultra-low-carbon vehicle demonstrators targeting electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles to be on the road late 2009/early 2010, and a further £10 million ultra-efficient vehicle systems competition has also been announced to assist in the future practical development of commercially viable next generation electric vehicles and plug-in hybrid-electric road vehicles.

In addition to support provided through the innovation platform, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council continues to work with academe and industry to support high quality research through its programmes and responsive mode funding for underpinning research on battery technology, electric motors and control systems.

Working Time Directive

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether, in the light of the statement by Mr John Black, President of the Royal College of Surgeons, in the Sunday Telegraph of 18 January on the effect of the Working Time Directive on the National Health Service, they will inform the European Union that they will not implement the directive. [HL853]

The National Health Service has made excellent progress on implementing the European Working Time Directive (EWTD). Already, around two-thirds of doctors in training already work 48 hours a week or less. Based on estimates from the NHS we expect that by August this will have risen to around 96 per cent. The department and the NHS remain committed to implementing the EWTD for trainee doctors.

Patient safety and the quality of patient care come first for everyone involved. We are working with the medical profession and the NHS to support those services which have yet to implement the directive, while ensuring that service quality is the top priority.

For a very small number of specific services at local level, implementation is extremely difficult. This could, for example, be due to service reconfigurations, or to service isolation. In this small number of cases, the department will apply to the European Commission for derogation, which will allow this small number of local services an extra four hours in addition to the minimum 48. This element of flexibility represents good NHS management.

We understand those in the medical profession who are concerned about the quality of training for doctors in some specialties. We are committed to ensuring the quality of training for NHS doctors and want to work with the profession to see how best to do so.