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Opencast Mining (Environmental Effects)

Mr. Dobson: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the research carried out by his

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Department, since January 1994, into possible environmental health problems caused by opencast coal operations indicating (a) the commissioning dates of the investigations, (b) the name of organisations or agencies commissioned to undertake investigations and (c) the expected dates for publication of results; and if he will provide summaries of the investigations undertaken.[11357]

Mr. Gummer: The Departments of Health and Environment commissioned a joint research project on the impact of particulate matter from opencast coal sites on public health in August 1996. The research is being undertaken by the university of Newcastle medical school and the work is expected to be complete in late October 1998. This work is still in its early stages and I will write to the hon. Member with details of what it involves.

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SCOTLAND

Private Health Providers

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list for each health board the names of the private health providers with which they have had contracts, the value of each contract, and the number of patients covered by each contract for (i) 1993-94, (ii) 1994-95 and (iii) 1995-96. [10967]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: The information requested is not collected centrally on a routine basis.

In response to a request by the hon. Member, the information in the table was obtained specifically from health boards. The further details requested by the hon. Member cannot be provided centrally without risking a breach of patient confidentiality.

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1995-961994-951993-94
Health BoardNumber of patientsTotal value of contractsNumber of patientsTotal value of contractsNumber of patientsTotal value of contracts
Argyll and Clyde586178,585298222,245Nil-
Ayrshire and Arran811,990,000831,750,000601,500,000
Borders16224,97632224,842Not disclosed31,431
Dumfries and Galloway347168,45017648,000Nil-
Fife6567,184Nil-Nil-
Forth Valley(1)>1,175980,800(1)>713657,358(1)>295368,475
Grampian5116,250138207,80110118,000
Greater Glasgow110398,23528110,700615404,758
Highland1290,362537,86026141,850
Lanarkshire1852,832,3221622,616,0801502,486,963
LothianNil-8550,9019087,133
OrkneyNil-Nil-Nil-
ShetlandNil-133,250Nil-
Tayside58471,78945278,07119276,997
Western IslesNil-23,950Nil-

(1) Precise figure not disclosed.


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Newcastle Disease

Mr. Flynn: To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people have been affected with Newcastle disease in Scotland in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. [11546]

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton: No cases have been recorded in the last five years.

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

NHS (Emergency Capacity)

Mr. Spearing: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister, pursuant to his oral answer of 14 January concerning emergency capacity in the national health service, Official Report, column 130, if he will make a statement on the extent of this capacity indicating the basis on which the amount of such capacity is calculated, and the approximate costs of maintaining spare beds. [11439]

The Deputy Prime Minister: It is the responsibility of health authorities and national health service trusts to ensure that NHS emergency services can meet demand. In the last financial year, over 3.5 million patients received

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emergency in-patient care in NHS hospitals. Within the context of overall growth in the NHS, we have recently made available additional funding to help meet key service objectives in the current financial year. This funding includes money for intensive care beds and to improve discharge arrangements, thus making extra beds available.

Consultants

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, pursuant to his answer of 13 January, Official Report, column 13, which Departments (a) have implemented and (b) have not implemented their action plans in response to the efficiency unit's report on external consultants. [11440]

Mr. Freeman: Each Department is best placed to provide the most up-to-date account of its progress in implementing the recommendations of the efficiency unit's report; I refer the hon. Gentleman therefore to the answers supplied by Departments to his recent questions about progress on implementation.

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Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, pursuant to his answer of 13 January, Official Report, column 13, if he will make a statement on the assessment made by the efficiency unit of the monitoring of Departments' expenditure on consultants. [11441]

Mr. Freeman: The efficiency unit estimates that ministerial Departments and the Attorney-General's Office spent approximately £510 million on external consultants in 1995-96 at 1996 prices. This figure excludes spending by the Department for Education and Employment. When this latter figure is available, I will write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in, the Library.

Many factors effect the level of departmental spending on consultants and expenditure should not be taken as a sole indicator of the impact of the efficiency unit's scrutiny report, the prime purpose of which was to increase control and accountability and to secure improvements in procurement and project management.

Efficiency Training

Mr. Milburn: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what have been the costs of efficiency training for managers in the civil service and agencies; and how many staff have participated in each of the last five years. [11443]

Mr. Freeman: In line with the civil service White Paper, "Continuity and Change", responsibility for efficiency planning and the training of staff is delegated to Departments. The information requested is not held centrally.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Arts Council

Mr. John D. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the appointment of the Public Affairs Officer to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland was made; how many persons applied for the position; in which newspapers the position was advertised; and how many of the applicants were perceived to be (a) Protestants and (b) Roman Catholics. [10780]

Mr. Ancram: The appointment of the public affairs officer with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland was made on 12 May 1995. There were 38 applicants for the post. The vacancy was advertised in the Irish News, Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph. Of the 38 applicants, 21 were perceived to be from the Protestant community, 15 from the Roman Catholic community and two non-determined.

Mr. Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons applied for the position of education and training officer to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland; in which newspapers in (a) the UK and (b) the Republic of Ireland this vacancy was advertised; and how many of the applicants were perceived to be (i) Protestants and (ii) Roman Catholics. [10781]

Mr. Ancram: The post of education and training officer with the Arts Council of Northern Ireland was first advertised in August 1995. Of 18 applicants, only one was

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considered suitable but declined the appointment. The post was re-advertised in October 1996 and there were 28 applicants.

On both occasions, the vacancy was advertised in the Irish News, Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph. The vacancy was not advertised in any Republic of Ireland newspapers.

Of the 18 applicants in August 1995, five were perceived to be from the Protestant community and 13 from the Roman Catholic community. Of the 28 applicants in October 1996, eight were perceived to be from the Protestant community, 18 from the Roman Catholic community and two non-determined.

Raising School Standards Initiative

Mr. Worthington: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the schools involved in the raising school standards initiative and the criteria by which they were chosen. [10939]

Mr. Ancram: Secondary schools were identified for inclusion in the initiative by means of a performance index, which took account of both the number and level of GCSE and vocational qualifications over the three years 1990-91 to 1992-93. Primary schools were selected for invitation to participate in RSSI on the following basis:




I will write to the hon. Member listing the participating schools.


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