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Written Answers

Volume 712: debated on Wednesday 8 July 2009

Written Answers

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Children: ContactPoint

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of whether the ContactPoint database will affect the privacy of children and their carers. [HL4632]

ContactPoint is an online directory to enable the delivery of co-ordinated support for children and young people. It will be the quick way for practitioners to find out who else is working with the same child. ContactPoint will contain basic identifying information about all children and young people in England up to their 18th birthday and contact details for their parents/carers and for services working with the child or young person—nothing more. It does not and will not contain any financial information (such as bank details) or case information (such as case notes, assessments, medical records, exam results, comments or subjective observations).

We have always sought a balance between children's and families' rights to the services to which they are entitled, and their individual rights to privacy, and we take our responsibilities under the European Convention on Human Rights very seriously. We have ensured that ContactPoint complies with the relevant legal obligations and had a public consultation on the draft ContactPoint regulations in 2006. The primary legislation and ContactPoint regulations were scrutinised by Parliament.

ContactPoint has a significant set of security measures and controls in place and meets recognised industry and Government assurance levels for security. We have an ongoing commitment to security and regular testing will be carried out. All ContactPoint users have to state clear reasons for access and all use of the system will be subject to monitoring and audit. Sanctions are in place for misuse under the provisions of the Data Protection Act and Computer Misuse Act.

Courts: Fees

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will require the Legal Services Commission to review the system of payment for junior counsel's services in the Family Court, to ensure that they are remunerated fairly in proportion to the cases in which they appear. [HL4573]

The Legal Services Commission (LSC) are reviewing the system of payment for counsel's services in the Family Court as part of the Family Legal Aid Funding from 2010 consultation which closed on 3 April 2009.

The proposed family advocacy scheme in the consultation proposes paying the same fee for the same work regardless of whether the advocate is a self employed, or in-house barrister or solicitor, and we proposed an intermediate rate which we believe is fair to all advocates. The scheme includes higher fees for more complex work: for example, by paying for additional interim hearings or paying extra for lengthy final hearings. Some respondents to the consultation were concerned that the proposed scheme did not contain sufficient graduation to reward more complex cases. The LSC has been working closely with stakeholders on further development of the scheme. It is likely that the final scheme will have more graduation and complexity, than that originally proposed.

Digital Britain

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the Digital Britain report examined how much energy is required to run a digital radio and how much to run an analogue radio for the same length of time. [HL4662]

The Digital Britain final report stated that the energy consumption of digital radios is now broadly comparable to that of analogue, but cheaper digital equipment has yet to achieve parity. The Government have committed to work closely with manufacturers to examine this and other aspects of the environmental impact of the digital radio upgrade. A full analysis will form part of the impact assessment to be produced as part of the planning for the implementation of the digital radio upgrade.

Education: Sponsorship

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what steps they are taking to encourage the private sector to sponsor financial education in schools. [HL4643]

The Department for Children, Schools and Families is working closely with the Personal Finance Education Group (PFEG) in helping schools to plan and teach personal finance relevant to students' lives and needs. It is widely recognised as a leading force in the delivery of personal finance education within schools in England covering the 4 to 19 age range and receives cross sector support from business, government and the educational establishment. It currently receives private sector support through a number of projects.

The What Money Means is a ground-breaking research and development project funded by HSBC Bank plc (£3.4 million). This is in addition to the £10 million committed by the DCSF over three years (2008-11) to support personal finance education in schools through the My Money programme.

During the five year project (January 2007 to December 2011) What Money Means works with local authorities to develop and deliver a range of different approaches to personal finance education in primary schools, and offers training and support to local authorities and schools in how to translate these approaches into classroom practice and integrate them into the authority's future strategic planning.

A minimum of 36 local authorities over the five years of the project will be engaged in this project directly and receive support from a dedicated (PFEG) consultant.

There is also a ground-breaking volunteering programme and partnership between PFEG and the financial services sector titled “Use Your Expertise”. It aims to match the unique skills of people working in financial services with schools to help make financial education real and relevant for young people.

The following organisations have currently signed up to this scheme:

Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW);

the Personal Finance Society;

the Coventry Building Society;

Rathbones; and

the Co-op.

Finally, the PFEG Quality Mark accreditation system which is sponsored by Prudential also ensures that resources and materials for teaching financial capability are suitable, effective and of the highest educational quality—whether for year 1 or year 13. To date, more than 50 carefully selected resources have been awarded the Quality Mark, a number of which have been provided by financial service organisations as part of their corporate and social responsibility programmes.

Emergency Services: Common Talk Groups

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how many officers of the London Ambulance Service have been trained to use the Common Talk Groups on the Airwave communications network. [HL4704]

To date, 647 staff have been trained in the use of the Common Talk Groups on the Airwave communications network system as part of an ongoing training plan which runs ahead of the system going live in different operational areas. This training will be provided to a total of about 3,000 staff over the next few months.

Gurkhas

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average monthly payment to members of (a) the Gurkha pension scheme, and (b) the Armed Forces pension scheme. [HL4750]

The latest available figures for the Armed Forces pension scheme (AFPS) relate to financial year 2007-08. This period has therefore been used for the figures given for the average monthly payments made under both schemes:

Gurkha pension scheme—£122.64; and

AFPS—£578.41.

The figures are based upon average pensions paid to former members of the Armed Forces, their spouses, and dependants. These averages are not comparable because of different lengths of service, different rank structure between the Brigade of Gurkhas and the wider Army and, chiefly, because Gurkhas begin drawing on their pensions much earlier than British soldiers with equivalent service. For example, a Gurkha rifleman or corporal with 15 years’ service (approximately 85 per cent of those receiving GPS payments) can claim an immediate pension after 15 years’ service (from age 33) whereas equivalent service under the AFPS would not attract pension payments until age 60.

Health: Cancer

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what action they have taken to ensure the implementation of the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidance on improving supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer. [HL4781]

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence published guidance on supportive and palliative care for adults with cancer in March 2004. The National Cancer Action Team is working closely with cancer networks to monitor and support the implementation of this guidance by the end of December 2009. Plans for the implementation of this guidance are now in place in every cancer network, and it is expected to be fully implemented by the December 2009 deadline.

Health: Non-UK Residents

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much was paid in each year since 1997 to the Governments of (a) Latvia, (b) Poland, and (c) Lithuania, for healthcare for United Kingdom citizens. [HL4568]

To ask Her Majesty's Government how much they received in each year since 1997 from the Governments of (a) Latvia, (b) Poland, and (c) Lithuania, for healthcare for their citizens. [HL4569]

The following table shows the actual cash payments made to Latvia, Poland and Lithuania in the financial years since their accession to the European Union (EU) in 2004 for the healthcare of United Kingdom citizens in accordance with EU Regulation (EC) 1408/71.

Payments by UK under EU Regulation (EC) 1408/71

Financial Year

Latvia

Poland

Lithuania

2003-04 amount (£)

0

0

0

2004-05 amount (£)

0

0

0

2005-06 amount (£)

0

0

0

2006-07 amount (£)

0

0

0

2007-08 amount (£)

397

8,560

294,451

2008-09 amount (£)

19,175

1,096,101

21,585

Claims for medical costs are typically submitted by member states one to three, and sometimes more, years in arrears. Payments made in one year do not necessarily relate to claims for that year nor do they reflect the full value of claims for that year.

In the financial years up to and including 2008-09, the United Kingdom did not receive any cash payments from Latvia, Poland and Lithuania for the healthcare of their citizens since their accession to the EU in 2004.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the terms of their bilateral healthcare agreement with the Republic of Ireland for the payment of costs for pensioners and healthcare services for all ages. [HL4570]

Under the terms of a bilateral healthcare agreement between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, both countries make payments to cover the cost of healthcare provided to each other's tourists, workers, pensioners and dependants of the latter two groups. In terms of healthcare for tourists and workers, payments are made by both countries on an actual cost basis. In terms of pensioners and their dependants and dependants of workers, payments are made by both countries on an average cost basis.

Human Rights Act 1998

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Lord Bach on 1 July (WA 57), whether they will consult on the issue of what constitutes a function of a public nature in sufficient time to enable them to introduce legislation to be passed during the present Parliament. [HL4833]

The Government remain committed to consulting on this issue. Should the consultation process conclude that primary legislation is required, this would be introduced when parliamentary time allowed.

Local Authorities: Contingency Planning

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what money they provided to local authorities in England and Wales in (a) 2006–07, (b) 2007–08, (c) 2008–09 and (d) 2009–10, to allow them to meet their duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004; and what money they will provide to local authorities in England and Wales in 2010–11 to allow them to meet those duties. [HL4283]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of how local authorities in England and Wales have used the money provided to them by the Government in 2006–07, 2007–08, 2008–09, 2009–10 and planned for 2010–11 to meet their duties under the Civil Contingencies Act 2004. [HL4292]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the expenditure by local authorities in England and Wales, separate from that of money provided by the Government, on emergency preparedness and response in 2006–07, 2007–08 and 2008–09. [HL4293]

The Government increased their contribution for local authorities' civil protection activities in England and Wales from £19.3 million in 2004-05 to £40.7 million in 2005-06 to reflect the new duties established by the Civil Contingencies Act 2004.

Since then, civil protection funding has been integrated into the formula grant for local authorities. The amounts for individual services and functions, including civil protection, are not hypothecated within the grant. Each local authority decides how much of its formula grant it will allocate to individual services.

As the Government grant is not hypothecated, it is also not possible to separate the amount authorities spend from the income they raise locally. However, the Local Authority Revenue Expenditure and Financing—Final Outturn Statistical Releases, published by the Department for Communities and Local Government, sets out total local authority expenditure on emergency planning in England (which may include other activity not covered by the Act). This shows an increase from £31.5 million in 2004-05 to £43.1 million in 2005-06, £51.1 million in 2006-07, and £58.5 million in 2007-08 (the latest figure available).

NHS: Foundation Trusts

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they will require NHS hospital trusts that do not apply to become Foundation Trusts by March 2011 to open up their clinical and non-clinical services to outside competition from public or private sector providers. [HL4760]

Strategic health authorities (SHAs) are looking at options for those National Health Service trusts which will not be able to make an application for foundation trust status by 31 December 2010. Options may include mergers and reconfigurations to create viable organisations able to achieve foundation status. The aim is that all National Health Service hospitals should ultimately offer services to the foundation trust standard. SHAs have been asked to present options by the end of 2009.

NHS: Primary Care Trust Finances

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether strategic health authorities can require the merger of primary care trust commissioners if they consider that the commissioning performance of particular trusts is unsatisfactory, not serving the best interests of the local population or wasting public money; and, if so, whether such mergers would require the agreement of the Competition and Collaboration Panel. [HL4742]

In June 2008, the department published Developing the NHS Performance Regime1, which sets out expectations of strategic health authorities (SHAs) in identifying underperformance, supporting recovery and the options for managing commissioner failure. A copy has already been placed in the Library. These options include recommending a statutory merger, which would be subject to Secretary of State approval in individual cases. Subject to published materiality thresholds2, where a proposed merger involves provider services the SHA would be expected to refer the proposal to the Co-operation and Competition Panel for advice and in order to inform the approval process. The Co-operation and Competition Panel would advise on the proposed merger of provider services as to compliance with the Principles and Rules for Co-operation and Competition3, which permit mergers where demonstrated to be in patient and taxpayers' best interests. A copy has already been placed in the Library.

Notes:

1 Developing the NHS Performance regime, Department of Health, June 2008.

2 Co-operation and Competition Panel, Consultation on draft interim merger inquiry guidelines, January 2009.

3 The NHS in England: The operating framework for 2008-09 Annex D—Principles and rules for co-operation and competition.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what proportion of general practitioner practices are engaged in practice-based commissioning as envisaged by their 2005 manifesto commitment to develop such commissioning; and what proportion of primary care trust commissioning budgets in each strategic health authority area is spent on practice-based commissioning in the latest financial year for which information is available. [HL4743]

The department does not collect information on the proportion of general practitioner (GP) practices that are engaged in practice-based commissioning (PBC).

However, the department carries out a quarterly survey of around 2,000 GP practices to gauge views on PBC. The last survey results were published on 27 March 2009 and show that 92 per cent of practices are part of a PBC group.

Information on the proportion of primary care trust commissioning budgets in each strategic health authority area that are spent on practice-based commissioning is not collected nationally.

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government when they expect primary care trust commissioners to have all their hospital trusts operating balanced budgets without one-off payments and without historic debts, in light of the Government's funding of the National Health Service up to the end of the financial year 2010–11. [HL4746]

In the 2008-09 draft accounts five National Health Service (NHS) trusts reported an operating deficit.

Whilst the financial plans have now been agreed for 2009-10, the financial plans for 2010-11 have not yet been agreed. We are working through the 2010-11 financial plans with the strategic health authorities, with a view to minimising the number of organisations with historic debt and who are not in recurrent balance at the end of 2010-11.

We do not collect information in respect of one-off payments.

NHS: Primary Care Trusts

Questions

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what measures of performance are available to the public to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of primary care trust community services, particularly those providing district nursing and health visitors similar to those provided for acute hospitals. [HL4649]

To ask Her Majesty's Government what are the primary care trusts that are regarded by strategic health authorities as having “business ready” autonomous provider organisations; and when they envisage the remainder will achieve this status. [HL4650]

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they plan to require primary care trusts to subject new “business ready” autonomous provider organisations to a process of open competition to improve efficiency, effectiveness and value for money. [HL4651]

In January 2009, the department published Transforming Community Services: enabling new patterns of provision1, which describes our expectations of primary care trusts (PCTs) in achieving internal separation of commissioner and provider functions.

Strategic health authorities (SHAs) are responsible for overseeing this process, at local level, and for agreeing development plans to ensure all PCTs provider arms have moved into a contractual relationship with the PCT commissioning function by October 2010. Data on the progress of individual PCTs towards achievement of these aims are not currently held centrally.

Under the principles and rules for co-operation and competition in the National Health Service2 (NHS), it is for individual PCTs to decide and agree with their respective SHA which services should be subject to direct competition, the extent of such competition, and how this should be secured (having regard to these principles and rules).

We currently have no plan to depart from policy to require that PCTs subject their provider arm to a process of open competition.

Also, on 24 June 2009, we launched the Transforming Community Services Quality Framework: Guidance for Community Services3, which sets the direction for implementing the quality framework within community services. We have identified an initial set of 76 potential indicators to describe quality community services and we are now seeking views on these. The intention is that these indicators, once validated, will be published by the NHS Information Centre as part of the indicators for quality improvement and will be made more accessible to the public through publishing relevant indicators on NHS Choices.

Notes:

1 Department of Health, Transforming Community Services: enabling new patterns of provision, January 2009.

2 The NHS in England: The Operating Framework for 2008-09 Annex D—Principles and Rules for Co-operation and Competition.

3 Department of Health, Transforming Community Services Quality framework: guidance for community services, June 2009.

NHS: Tariffs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what plans they have to introduce changes to the acute hospital tariff to discourage patients being inappropriately placed in acute hospital beds, as identified by the NHS Chief Executive on page 40 of his 2008–09 annual report. [HL4666]

The development of the national tariff continues to be guided by the desire to incentivise the provision of high quality care in the most appropriate setting.

In 2010-11 we intend, for the first time, to set a small number of tariffs based on clinical best practice rather than average costs. The outcomes of this work will inform future thinking on the approach to tariff-setting for admitted patient care, and in particular how this mechanism can be used to recognise best practice patient pathways and further incentivise the provision of care in the most appropriate setting.

Offender Management: Budgets

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what will be the budget for each Director of Offender Management in England and Wales for the current financial year. [HL4625]

The operating budget for each Director of Offender Management region in England and Wales is:

East Midlands

£312,564,672

East

£263,521,449

London

£317,304,202

North East

£161,503,899

North West

£427,874,764

South East

£453,671,901

South West

£215,477,689

Wales

£101,191,129

West Midlands

£284,794,603

Yorkshire

£287,324,035

Pensions

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether HM Treasury will publish an annual pensions statement setting out current and future funding requirements. [HL4641]

Since 2002 HM Treasury has regularly published long-term projections of expenditure on state pensions and public sector pensions. The latest projections were published in March 2008 in the Long-Term Public Finance Report, a copy of which has been deposited in the Library of the House. The next Long-Term Public Finance Report will be published in 2009.

Prisons: Northern Ireland

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government further to the Written Answer by Baroness Royall of Blaisdon on 23 June (WA 272–3) concerning the team appointed to renew the equity monitoring procedures of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, why, although the names of the members were listed in a public document, they will not provide the names. [HL4565]

The roles of the review team members, not their names, were listed in the public document. As previously stated, it is not normal practice to publish the names of the prison service personnel unless this information is already in the public domain.

Schools: Special Educational Needs

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average cost of educating a child under 11 with special educational needs in (a) a special school, and (b) a mainstream primary school. [HL4579]

Waste Management: Brofiscin Quarry

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether all appropriate persons have been identified by the Environment Agency Wales in relation to pollution at Brofiscin Quarry; and when remedial action is expected to take place. [HL4564]

The Environment Agency has not yet formally concluded its “appropriate person” determination in respect of Brofiscin Quarry.

Encouraging voluntary remediation is an important objective of the contaminated land regime and the Environment Agency is continuing to explore opportunities for such an approach. The remedial options appraisal outlines the remedial assessment actions required. These actions began in autumn 2008 and are planned to take place over a three-year period.