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Dental Services (Prisons)

Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the provision of NHS dentists in prisons. [128159]

Mr. Hutton: In most cases dental services to prisoners are provided by visiting general dental practitioners working under NHS general dental services arrangements. Some individual prisons contract for dental services with another provider, usually the Community Dental Service, but sometimes with an individual dentist.

As part of the prison health care reforms now under way, all prisons and the health authorities in which they are situated are assessing prisoners' health needs and drawing up health improvement plans, which include dentistry. These assessments will help inform how dental services can best be delivered in the future.


Mr. Kidney: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what evaluation he has made of the on-line information service for carers, Starthere, referred to in the National Strategy for Carers; [128263]

Mr. Hutton: Many carers will not have access to the Internet and will therefore be more likely to use other sources of information (such as: telephone helplines, carers' centres, leaflets in general practitioners' surgeries etc.). However, on-line services are an increasingly important element of information and support to carers as "Caring About Carers", the report of the National Carers Strategy, makes clear.

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The Department launched the Government's carers' website ( in February 2000 to allow the increasing numbers of carers who are on the Internet (or those supporting them such as carers' workers) easy access to a range of relevant Government information. There are links to National Health Service, Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Social Security, Department for Education and Employment and Employment Service sites as well as those of carers' organisations. The Department of Health controls and updates the website to co-ordinate the links to make them easy for carers to use. The process of assessing the availability of on-line information is therefore an on-going one. The website has been very well received by carers and professionals.

The Department does not conduct detailed evaluations of all available on-line information services for carers. Starthere receives funding under s64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 and is being monitored and evaluated accordingly. Recent research undertaken in pilot sites in The Whittington Hospital and GPs' surgeries in North London revealed a very high level of satisfaction.

I am aware of the very helpful Staffordshire Carers' Information website (Resources Bank to Support the Caring Role at Staffordshire University Lichfield Centre) and my officials are making arrangements for a hyperlink from our website to be made to it.

Maternity Leave (GPs)

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the arrangements are for maternity leave for GPs; and if he will make a statement. [128283]

Mr. Denham: The payments due to a GP on maternity leave are available for a maximum period of 14 weeks. The period for which a GP may need to be absent from her practice prior to, and after, the birth, is a matter for individual assessment. A GP who is absent for a period longer than this, before or after the confinement, will be eligible for payments under the sickness payments scheme

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provided that these further absences are due to illness, whether or not this is caused by or attributable to her pregnancy or the birth of the child.

Certain additional payments may be made to a woman GP during absences due to her pregnancy and her childbirth. Payments will be intended to reimburse her in part for the cost of a locum necessarily engaged to look after her patients.

Salaried GPs are treated as employees and therefore receive statutory maternity pay.


Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people are currently registered as wholly or partially disabled (a) nationally, (b) in Teesside and (c) in the constituency of Middlesbrough, South and Cleveland, East; and if he will make a statement. [128513]

Mr. Hutton: Information is not available in the requested format. The table shows the number of people on registers of blind and partially sighted persons, deaf or hard of hearing persons or on registers for people with physical disabilities (general classes). Registration is voluntary and is not a pre-requisite to the provision of services. Figures should not, therefore, be taken as an indicator of prevalence nor of the number of people who are in contact with social services.

Persons on disability registers as at 31 March 1993, 1997 and 1998
Rounded numbers

Register of people with general disabilitiesRegistered as blind or partially sightedRegistered as deaf or hard of hearing
Middlesbrough 7401,550
Redcar and Cleveland(4)26,000 700(5)--
Stockton on Tees 7002,240
Hartlepool 3701,220

(4) The figures for 1993 refer to the former county of Cleveland

(5) Not available


DH returns SSDA 911, SSDA 902, SSDA 910

Corporal Punishment

Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact on religious liberties of the proposal to ban the use of implements in the physical punishment of children by parents included in the document "Protecting Children, Supporting Parents". [129076]

Mr. Hutton: The consultation document "Protecting Children, Supporting Parents" was informed primarily by our recognition of the importance of the family and the need to strengthen it, through support to families with children.

Over 800 replies were received in response to the consultation, a number of which were from faith-based organisations and from individuals who cited the importance of their faith in informing their response. These responses will be considered carefully alongside all of the other responses.

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Mr. Maclean: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in what circumstances the use of an implement in the exercise of physical punishment of children by their parents would be considered unreasonable, as proposed in the consultation document "Protecting Children, Supporting Parents". [129082]

Mr. Hutton: In the consultation document "Protecting Children, Supporting Parents", published in January 2000, six questions were raised for consultation within the context of three possible future options for change. These are all based on the proposal that the defence of reasonable chastisement be set out on a statutory basis. The questions are then raised as to whether the following circumstances can be made reasonable:

Those of the over 800 responses received which address these questions will be considered as part of the process of analysing the contributions of respondents.


Joannou and Paraskevaides Group

Mr. Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what construction contracts his Department has awarded to the Joannou and Paraskevaides Group in the last three years. [123144]

Mr. Wills [holding answer 22 May 2000]: The Department for Education and Employment has awarded no construction contracts to the Joannou and Paraskevaides Group in the last three years.

Examination Results

Mr. Hilary Benn: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment if he will list in respect of each of the last three years (a) the percentage of pupils achieving 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE and (b) the average points score at A level for pupils attending (i) specialist schools and (ii) comprehensive schools (excluding specialist schools) in England. [127867]

Mr. Wicks: The information requested on GCSEs and GCE A level is shown in the following table. However, it is not possible to make year-on-year comparisons, as the number of specialist schools has increased each year; therefore, the schools in each of the categories have changed.


(a) Percentage of 15-year-old pupils achieving
5 or more GCSE grades A*-C
(i) in specialist schools50.852.253.3
(ii) in comprehensive schools excluding specialist schools41.642.344

More detailed analysis is available for specialist school performance from the year each school became specialist up to 1998. The annual average improvement in the proportion of pupils achieving at least 5 or more GCSEs

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A*-C for specialist schools between 1994 and 1998 was 1.11 percentage points; for non-specialist schools it was 0.75.

(b) Average GCE A/AS point score of candidates aged 16-18 entered for 2 or more GCE A/AS
(i) in specialist schools17.418.218.3
(ii) in comprehensive schools excluding specialist schools16.316.616.8

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