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Child Migrants

Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department has taken in respect of the welfare of former British child migrants since the publication of his Department's response to the Third report of the Health Committee, Session 1997-98, HC 755; and what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of such measures. [138171]

Mr. Hutton: In the Government's response to the Health Select Committee's Report on the Welfare of Former Child Migrants, a commitment was given to provide practical help to former child migrants.

We agreed to increase funding for the Child Migrants Trust to £500,000 over three years (1999-2002) to assist former child migrants in tracing their relatives and also to provide counselling services.

It has also set up a Support Fund (£1 million over three years managed by International Social Services) to enable first time re-unions between former child migrants and their immediate relatives in the United Kingdom through paying travel and subsistence cost. The International Social Services (ISS) have so far received 209 applications, of which 181 have been successful.

We have also funded a central information index to help child migrants trace their roots. The Index was installed in November 1999 and to date they have received 181 applications.

Departmental officials met with the Agent General for Western Australia, Clive Griffiths on 17 August 2000 formally to receive a copy of the Western Australian Former Child Migrant Referral Index. This Department reciprocated by handing over those records from the UK Central Information Index which were specific to Western Australia. We will continue to work with Australian colleagues to ensure that maximum benefit is derived for child migrants from the information held on the Index.

Although no specific assessment has been made of the effectiveness of these measures the Child Migrants Trust and International Social Services along with the National Council for Voluntary Child Care Organisations, who set up the Child Migrant Information Index provide my officials with regular progress reports on the services they are supplying.

Bed Blocking (Suffolk)

Mr. Ruffley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospital beds are being blocked by patients fit enough to be moved out of hospital (a) in the Suffolk Health Authority and (b) in the West Suffolk NHS Hospital Trust. [138411]

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Ms Stuart: The quarterly monitoring figures for second quarter of 2000 show that Suffolk Health Authority had 165 patients over the age of 75, who were ready for discharge but still occupying a hospital bed.


Source: Common Information Core Quarterly monitoring returns based on health authority quarterly activity.

Out-patient Waiting Times

Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on variations by region for out-patient waiting times and referral arrangements. [137265]

Mr. Denham: We are aware of variations in out-patient waiting times and are working to improve matters. In July each acute National Health Service trust in the country received a "Step-by-step guide to improving out-patient services", a copy of which is available in the Library. At the same time Trusts were instructed to introduce partial booking systems into clinics with waits in excess of 13 weeks. These systems improve the efficiency of out-patient clinics and reduce long waiting times. We have also recently announced further details of our "Action On" programme, with funding targeted at specialties with the longest waits--orthopaedics, ear nose and throat, dermatology and ophthalmology (cataracts).

To make the best use of resources it is important that only patients who need to see a consultant are referred to hospital. All acute NHS trusts are implementing Out-patient Improvement Plans which include schemes to improve the appropriateness of referrals through collaborative working between hospital consultants and general practitioners. In addition, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence and the shadow Modernisation Agency are piloting a guide to appropriate referral from general to specialist services for common medical conditions.

Mr. St. Aubyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of new patients referred to medical, surgical, oncological, obstetric, gynaecological and other out-patient clinics in the West Surrey health authority were seen by (a) a consultant in the discipline and (b) a junior doctor, in the last year for which figures are available. [137266]

Mr. Denham: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for New Forest, West (Mr. Swayne) on 10 November 2000, Official Report, columns 432-33W.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Falkland Islands

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit the Falkland Islands. [136397]

Mr. Battle: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence visited the islands in March this year, and I hope to arrange a visit in the new year.

Saint Helena

Dr. Marek: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the occasions

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on which the Governor of Saint Helena took executive action without the approval of the island's Legislative Council in each of the last two years, indicating those occasions on which prior consultation with his Department took place. [137343]

Mr. Battle: The Governor of St. Helena has used his reserved power under Section 34(1) of the St. Helena Constitution Order on two occasions in the past two years; 31 March 1998 and 31 March 1999. On each occasion he used his powers, on the advice of the Executive Council, to implement the budget after the Legislative Council had refused to pass it. He acted properly in line with the Constitution and with the full support of the Department on each occasion.

Iraq

Sir Sydney Chapman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his estimate is of the value of humanitarian goods the UN Sanctions Committee is currently holding back from delivery to Iraq. [137681]

Mr. Hain: The total revenue available under the Oil for Food programme since its inception in 1996 is over US$37 billion. This year alone, Oil for Food revenue is expected to reach more than US$16 billion. The current value of Oil for Food contracts on hold because of concerns over dual use is approximately US$2.3 billion. The UK accounts for about US$0.3 billion of this, which is less than 1 per cent. of the total value of Oil for Food revenue. The UK, as a responsible member of the UN Iraq Sanctions Committee, scrutinises contracts very carefully to ensure that goods are not supplied to Iraq in violation of Security Council resolutions. Holds are normally lifted after assurances have been received about the end-use or in-country monitoring of these goods. It is noteworthy that at the end of October Iraq's bureaucracy was holding back the delivery of US$1.1 billion worth of goods already approved by the Sanctions Committee.

Tibet

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations he has received in respect of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. [137922]

Mr. Battle: The Government continue to regularly receive representations from hon. Members, non- governmental organisations and members of the public about the situation in Tibet.

Ministerial Visits

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans he has to visit (a) Peking and (b) North Korea. [137924]

Mr. Battle: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has no plans at present to visit either China or North Korea.

Kursk Submarine

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, pursuant to his answer of 1 November 2000, Official Report,

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column 536W, what representations he has made to Russia in respect of claims that a British submarine was involved in the Kursk disaster. [137927]

Mr. Vaz: The Secretary of State made no representations to Russia in respect of claims that a British submarine was involved in the Kursk disaster. The Secretary of State for Defence, who led on this issue, has already assured the Russian Defence Minister, that there were no Royal Navy submarines in the area at the time the Kursk sank.

China

Dr. Julian Lewis: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his assessment is of the human rights situation in (a) the People's Republic of China and (b) Hong Kong. [137923]

Mr. Battle: While there has been some improvement in economic and social rights in China, the overall situation continues to be a matter of serious concern. Over the last two years there has been a marked deterioration in the respect for key civil and political rights including freedoms of assembly, conscience and expression. Fair treatment in the legal process is routinely abused through the use of arbitrary detention, "re-education through Labour" and excessive sentences against democracy activists, Falun Gong Leaders, Tibetan and other activists. We address these concerns through a policy of critical dialogue including Ministerial exchanges and regular bilateral human rights talks with the Chinese.


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