Previous Section Index Home Page


National Blood Service

Ms Perham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made with the reform of the National Blood Service. [83390]

Mr. Hutton: The National Blood Service is a vital part of the National Health Service and, as such, is expected to provide high quality, cost efficient services. Over the past year, following the report we commissioned from Professor Cash on the Liverpool Blood Centre, the NBS has been working to improve the quality of the services it provides to blood donors, clinicians and patients. But, to achieve lasting improvement, it also needs to modernise the management of the service, both nationally and locally and to develop a clear strategic direction within which all parts of the service can operate. We have therefore approved proposals, submitted by the National Blood Authority, to effect these changes and to ensure a first class future for the National Blood Service.

The existing 3 zone structure into which the National Blood Service is currently organised will be replaced by a single integrated structure. This will improve the performance of the service by creating a greater sense of strategic direction, shared ownership of priorities with the wider NHS and clearer accountabilities. In addition, local services will be enhanced by the appointment of a Blood Centre Head who will lead local service delivery to hospitals and patients.

Copies of the National Blood Authority's plans have been placed in the Library.

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Information Meetings

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what network will provide the services provided by the information meeting pilots after 31 May. [82917]

Mr. Hoon: After the pilot information meetings have ceased to operate on 31 May, the Government will consider the lessons to be drawn from the pilot projects, including any lessons as to the types of suppliers best suited to providing such meetings in the future. No decisions on this subject have yet been taken.

Mr. Ben Chapman: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what proposals he has

5 May 1999 : Column: 420

for future forms of information meetings following the pilot testing; and when the new system will be established. [82916]

Mr. Hoon: The pilot information meetings are the subject of a major research project. It is, therefore, premature to specify any form for information meetings or date for implementation.

Courts (Disabled Persons)

Mr. Levitt: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if the proposed new helpline for court users with disabilities will be accessible for hearing impaired and speech impaired people through the provision of (a) a textphone facility and (b) the acceptance of calls via the RNID Typetalk service. [83068]

Mr. Hoon: The helpline is not accessible through a textphone service. However, Court Service Users do have access to a textphone service situated at a number of locations, although they are not linked to the helpline. The Court Service disability helpline will accept calls through the RNID Typetalk service.

Office for the Supervision of Solicitors

Mr. Sutcliffe: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department what representations he has made to the Law Society about investment in the improvements to the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors. [82756]

Mr. Hoon: Spending by the Law Society on the Office for the Supervision of Solicitors is a matter for the Law Society. However, the Lord Chancellor and I have met the President of the Law Society to discuss the performance of the Office in general terms. The Government propose to take powers in the Access to Justice Bill to establish a new office which will be able to intervene effectively to improve complaints handling by the legal professional bodies.

Sandeep Kaur

Mr. Garnier: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department, pursuant to the letter dated 22 March from the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, the hon. Member for North Warwickshire (Mr. O'Brien), when he expects a hearing before the Immigration Appeal Tribunal in the matter of Sandeep Kaur v the Secretary of State for the Home Department. [83093]

Mr. Hoon: Although no fixed date has been given, the Appeal will be heard during June in Birmingham.

Public Record Office

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list (a) the storage space occupied by the enumerators' books for the 1921-1971 decennial censuses for England and (b) the estimated cost of micro-filming each of these censuses at current prices. [83308]

Mr. Hoon: (a) The storage space occupied by the enumerators' books for the 1921-1971 decennial censuses for England and Wales is 662 linear metres. It is not possible to provide a separate figure for England. (b) It

5 May 1999 : Column: 421

would not be possible to estimate the cost of micro-filming each of these censuses at current prices without incurring disproportionate cost.

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department if he will list those hon. Members who, since September 1998 have communicated with the Lord Chancellor's Department about the 1921, 1951 and 1961 census returns and have been informed by the Public Record Office that access to these census returns is covered by the Census Act 1920, as amended by the Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991. [83309]

Mr. Hoon: Since September 1998, the Lord Chancellor's Department and the Public Record Office have corresponded with the following hon. Members concerning public access to the 1921, 1951 and 1961 census returns and informed them that access to these census returns is covered by the Census Act 1920, as amended by Census (Confidentiality) Act 1991: the right hon. Member for North-West Cambridgeshire (Sir B. Mawhinney), my right hon. Friend the Member for Chesterfield (Mr. Benn), the right hon. Member for Skipton and Ripon (Mr. Curry), the right hon. and learned Member for Sleaford and North Hykeham (Mr. Hogg), the hon. Member for South Suffolk (Mr. Yeo), and the hon. Member for Solihull (Mr. J. M. Taylor).

Mr. Yeo: To ask the Minister of State, Lord Chancellor's Department how many linear metres of storage space at the Public Record Office are now (a) occupied by records and (b) vacant. [83307]

Mr. Hoon: At the Public Record Office, Kew (a) 153,300 linear metres of storage space are occupied by records and (b) 29,100 linear metres are vacant.

WALES

Class Sizes

6. Mr. Syms: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about class sizes in (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools in Wales. [82090]

Mr. Michael: In January 1998, the average class size in primary schools was 27 pupils for ordinary classes, 26 for nursery classes and 10 for special classes. Overall, 33 per cent. (97,508) of primary school pupils were in classes with 31 pupils or more. The average class size in secondary schools was 21 pupils.

Significant progress has been made in implementing our commitment to reduce all infant class sizes to 30 pupils or less by the end of this Parliament. £11.3 million has been awarded in grant for 1999-2000. It is estimated that this will solve almost 90 per cent. of the problem of large infant classes in Wales.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Public Services

10. Mr. Simon Hughes: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the earliest date on which the Government will reconsider the powers allowed to the Welsh Assembly to raise additional resources for public services. [82094]

5 May 1999 : Column: 422

Mr. Michael: The Government have no plans to alter the financing arrangements for the National Assembly as set out in the 1998 Government of Wales Act.

My priority is to make the Assembly deliver bread today not jam tomorrow. The first challenge to the Assembly is to prove itself by being imaginative and effective with the powers it has been given.

Farming Incomes

11. Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about farming incomes in Wales. [82096]

Mr. Jon Owen Jones: The latest estimates of incomes for full-time farmers in Wales were published in February 1999. The figures show the Cash Income for dairy and livestock farms in Wales is forecast to fall by 21 per cent. in 1998-99, to £17,900.

Following the transfer of functions, this issue will be a matter for the National Assembly.

Small Firms

12. Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales when he last met representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses to discuss the situation of small firms. [82097]

Mr. Michael: The Under-Secretary, my hon. Friend the Member for Neath (Mr. Hain), met representatives of FSB Wales formally on 15 February for the launch of their Manifesto for the National Assembly. We both meet representatives of small businesses regularly, including the FSB at both the all Wales and regional branch levels. I expect this constructive dialogue to continue under the National Assembly for Wales which will have the prime responsibility for consultation with business.


Next Section Index Home Page