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Jeff Joseph Sale Moor Technology College

Mr. Goggins: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment when officials from the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority will meet the headteacher of the Jeff Joseph Sale Moor Technology College to discuss the proposed development of an ICT training course. [138169]

Mr. Wills: Officials of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority (QCA) would be pleased to meet with the headteacher of Jeff Joseph Sale Moor Technology College. Officials of the Department for Education and Employment, with colleagues at QCA, will arrange a meeting.

EU Council of Ministers

Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Employment what was the outcome of the Education/ Youth Council held in Luxembourg on 9 November; and if he will make a statement. [138396]

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Mr. Wills: Jane Davidson AM, Minister for Education and Lifelong Learning and I represented the UK at the Council of EC Education/Youth Ministers in Brussels on 9 November. Education Ministers gave political approval to a common position on a recommendation on mobility within the Community for students, persons undergoing training, volunteers, teachers and instructors. Political approval was also given to a Mixed Resolution containing a Mobility Action Plan. The Plan sets out a number of measures, which member states can select from according to national circumstances, to promote the mobility of teachers, academics, students and volunteers across Europe.

Ministers discussed a preliminary draft report on the future objectives of education systems. Council agreed that the report, which is to be presented by the Education Ministers to the Stockholm European Council in spring 2001, should aim to identify objectives and priorities common to education systems within member states and facilitate the sharing of information and exchange of good and best practice at a national level.

The Council adopted two opinions for the Employment and Social Policy Council on the Social Policy Agenda and draft employment guidelines.

Ministers received reports from the Commission and Presidency on: the conclusions of the Leiden seminar, organised by the Netherlands and French Presidency, on open methods of co-ordination and benchmarking of European education systems; follow up to the meeting of the EU and Latin American Ministers for Higher Education in Paris on 3 November; a memorandum on life-long learning; progress reached in the implementation of the European Year of Languages 2001; the renewal of the United States--Canada--EU co-operation agreements in the field of education and training and; the outcome of the Blois seminar entitled "Learn the history of Europe".

Youth Ministers held an open debate on the follow-up measures which should be taken following earlier consultations with young people in Europe. Council agreed the importance of involving young people at European level and the need to create regular opportunities for consulting with young people--including those not affiliated to recognised youth networks--at both national and European level. The debate was part of the Commission's consultation process linked to developing a White Paper on the future of youth policy.

Ministers received information from the Commission on the implementation of the Youth Programme and adopted a resolution on the social inclusion of young people.

The Presidency and the Commission raised the issue of the potential dangers facing young sportsmen and women through over-training, drug abuse and commercial exploitation. The Commission urged the Council to consider taking action to tackle this.

The Council heard a report from the German delegation on the need to tackle the problem of racism and xenophobia among young people.

A copy of the Council Minutes will be placed in the Library in due course.

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Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome

Mr. Beith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what recent representations he has received about Ehlers-Danlos syndrome; and what provision exists in the NHS for specialist clinical and research facilities for this condition; [135880]

Mr. Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the NHS's treatment of sufferers of Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. [136998]

Mr. Denham: The Department has received recent correspondence about the Connective Tissue Genetics Group (CTGG), which is based at the Institute of Medical Genetics in Cardiff.

The provision of treatment for Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome patients is part of the responsibility of health authorities who must make arrangements for the health of their population as they are closest to the people they serve and so best placed to respond sensitively to their needs.

There have been no recent discussions with the Minister of Health in the Welsh Assembly about EDS services. The National Specialist Commissioning Advisory Group (NSCAG) advises health ministers in England on the identification and funding of services where central intervention into local commissioning of patient services is necessary. NSCAG is working closely with the Specialised Health Services Commission (SHSC) for Wales to consider a national clinical EDS service that includes services of all current providers.

The Medical Research Council (MRC) has been providing research funding to the CTGG as a five year programme grant that is due to be completed in November 2000. The MRC would consider any new application for further research funding from CTGG. The MRC always welcomes high quality applications for support and these are judged in open competition with other demands on funding. Awards are made according to their scientific quality and importance to human health.

Chief Dental Officer

Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what grounds the former Chief Dental Officer took early retirement. [137574]

Mr. Hutton: Personnel records relating to public employment remain confidential under the terms of Part 2 of the Code of Practice on Access to Government Information.

Fungal Infection Treatment

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of research into treatment with synthetic human antibodies in order to counter deadly fungal infections; and if he will make a statement. [137412]

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Mr. Denham: The Medicines Control Agency has recently assessed an application to conduct a clinical trial designed to evaluate the use of a synthetic human antibody in the treatment of disseminated fungal infection.

Secure Units (Suicides)

Jackie Ballard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children and young people committed suicide in local authority secure units in each of the last 10 years. [137811]

Mr. Hutton: One child committed suicide in 1998. There have been no other suicides in local authority secure accommodation in the last 10 years.

Acute Hospital Beds

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many acute hospital beds there are in the Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth Health Authority area. [137795]

Mr. Denham: During 1999-2000 Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth Health Authority had on average 1,418 beds available. Since last December, the local health community has opened an additional 89 beds for this winter.

Agency Nurses

Mr. Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many agency nurses were employed in the NHS, and at what total cost, in each year since 1979 for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. [137120]

Mr. Denham: The information requested is given in the table.

NHS Hospital and Community Health Services (HCHS):
Agency nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff in England as at 30 September in each year

Whole time equivalents

(5) Not available--agency staff not collected in these years


Figures are rounded to the nearest 10


Department of Health Non-Medical Workforce Census

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Waiting Times (North Cumbria)

Mr. Martlew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on out-patient waiting times in the North Cumbria Health Authority. [137710]

Mr. Denham: The latest information for North Cumbria Health Authority for the quarter ending 30 June 2000 demonstrates that 82 per cent. of North Cumbria residents with a written referral from a general practitioner were seen within 13 weeks and that 98 per cent. were seen within 26 weeks.

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