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Ordnance Replacement Costs

Mr. Blunt: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has made of the replacement costs of (a) Paveway II, (b) Paveway III, (c) RBL 755, (d) 1000lb bomb, (e) Alarm and (f) sea-launched cruise missile. [102674]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave him on 30 November 1999, Official Report, column 83W.


Civil Service Modernisation

Dr. Godman: To ask the Prime Minister if he has received the substantive report on progress in modernising the Civil Service which was promised in the "Modernising Government" White Paper; and if he will make a statement. [102987]

The Prime Minister: I am very pleased to be able to report that the Head of the Home Civil Service, Sir Richard Wilson, has sent me his report on Civil Service reform.

The world in which the Civil Service operates is changing. Information technology, the media, electronic communications, Europe, modernisation of the

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constitution, and public demand for higher quality services are all changing fast, and the Civil Service needs to change too.

Sir Richard and his colleagues have set out an excellent and exciting programme, which I fully endorse. It is designed to ensure that the Civil Service is fully equipped to deliver the Modernising Government agenda, and to meet the challenges of the 21st century. A Modernisation Fund of £100 million over two years has been set up to support the programme. Sir Richard and his colleagues will be leading these changes with the full support of the Government and, I hope, the House. I would like to pay tribute to the quality of the Civil Service. I believe that a sign of this quality is the fact that the Service has recognised for itself the need for further improvement and is now driving forward such an ambitious programme of reform. A copy of the Report has been placed in the Libraries of the House.


Sir Peter Tapsell: To ask the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Wednesday 15 December. [102584]

The Prime Minister: This morning, I had meetings with Ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I will have further such meetings later today.

Mid Essex Hospital Trust

Mr. Burns: To ask the Prime Minister what information the Government have compiled on the degree

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of compliance by Mid Essex Hospital Trust with the Government's undertaking that treatment for in-patients will be carried out within 18 months. [101942]

The Prime Minister [holding answer 9 December 1999]: The Government are committed to ensuring that no patient has to wait more than 18 months for treatment. To reinforce this aim Sir Alan Langlands, the National Health Service Chief Executive, has asked NHS trusts to review their waiting lists and to tighten their procedures.

As a result of this work, a number of patients at Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust have been identified as waiting over 18 months for treatment at the end of November 1999.

The figures for November 1999 are not due to be published until the week commencing 10 January 2000. However, Mid Essex Hospital Services NHS Trust, in conjunction with the North Essex Health Authority and the Eastern Regional Office, are taking steps to ensure that patients identified as waiting over 18 months are treated as soon as possible.



Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the hon. Member for South-East Cambridgeshire's letters of 23 August regarding Mrs. G. Hague, and 29 September regarding Mr. P. Hodgson. [102798]

Yvette Cooper: I shall let the hon. Member have a reply to his question as soon as possible.

Disablement Services

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many people are waiting for an eligibility assessment for an electronically powered indoor/outdoor wheelchair; [102318]

Mr. Hutton: The information requested is not available centrally.

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) artificial limbs and (b) wheelchairs were issued by the National Health Service in 1997-98. [102320]

Mr. Hutton: The National Health Service issued 1,276 powered indoor/outdoor wheelchairs in 1997-98. Information on how many artificial limbs were issued is not available centrally.

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NHS Dentists

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to encourage NHS dentists to keep (a) their skills and (b) the treatments they offer up to date. [102354]

Mr. Hutton: The General Dental Council has agreed proposals with the dental profession for a 'recertification' scheme whereby dentists would not be allowed to remain registered unless they showed evidence that they were participating in continuing education and training. We support these proposals and are drawing up an order to make the necessary amendments to the Dentists Act 1984 by means of Section 60 of the Health Act 1999.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when he received the recent surveys carried out by Voice for Choice on abortion services; and what steps are being taken to ensure that the criteria for obtaining an NHS abortion are standardised throughout England and Wales; [101933]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 9 December 1999]: Officials received a copy of the surveys on 6 December.

It is for local health commissioners to determine the appropriate level of gynaecological provision, including abortion services, in the light of the needs of their local populations. The national sexual health strategy which is currently being developed will look at all aspects of sexual health including access to services.

In addition the White Paper "The new NHS" outlines a number of steps which we will be taking to improve the consistency of service provision throughout the NHS. Health improvement programmes (HImPs) are being drawn up by health authorities in consultation with NHS trusts, primary care groups, primary care professionals, local authorities, the public and other partner organisations such as voluntary organisations. The HImP sets out the strategic direction on improving health and on delivering better health and social care as well as setting out the framework for action on commissioning services.

Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to give women in Northern Ireland the same rights to abortion as those given to women in England, Scotland and Wales. [101930]

Yvette Cooper [holding answer 9 December 1999]: There are no plans to extend the Abortion Act 1967, as amended, to Northern Ireland.

Secure Accommodation

Mr. Clappison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many additional places in local authority secure accommodation have been provided since 1 May 1997; and how many he plans to provide. [102766]

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Mr. Hutton: At 31 March 1997 there were 346 approved places in local authority secure accommodation in England and Wales. A further 110 places have since been made available. Eight more places will become available next year. Decisions have yet to be taken on the development of secure accommodation beyond this spending period.

NHS Direct

Mr. Chope: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to receive the further report by Sheffield University into the effectiveness of NHS Direct; and if he will place a copy of the report in the Library. [102776]

Ms Stuart: Sheffield University's second interim report into the effectiveness of NHS Direct is expected early in the New Year. The University's final report is expected in spring 2000. Copies of the reports will be placed in the Library.

Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre

Mr. Corbett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has for the Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre; and if he will make a statement. [103044]

Mr. Hutton: The Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre in Birmingham has made an important and valued contribution to the treatment and care of some of the most difficult and disturbed young people with whom the child care system has had to deal, and has been influential in the lives of many young people.

When the Centre opened in 1978, except for St. Charles the other Youth Treatment Centre in Essex, which has since closed, there were no comparable facilities for accommodating and treating such difficult and disturbed young people. Since then, however, local authorities have developed their own secure accommodation and have become skilled and experienced in dealing with many young people needing secure care. The Department of Health has undertaken a major building and refurbishment programme in recent years to strengthen the range and geographical spread of local authority accommodation by providing an additional 170 places for young people. There will be funding in the coming year to continue this programme of upgrading and refurbishment.

From April 2000, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales will become responsible for commissioning and purchasing places in the secure juvenile estate for remanded and sentenced young people. The Board has decided that it does not wish to use the Glenthorne Centre for this purpose. As up to half the young people accommodated in the Centre at any one time are placed there by the Prison Service it would be extremely difficult to continue to run the Centre as a viable unit without these placements. There are also good child care practice issues to be considered. Because of the growth in experience and provision in the wider child care field, these young people can now be cared for in a number of appropriate locations and need not be labelled as "the worst in the country" by virtue of being placed in only one facility. For these reasons, I therefore intend to consult the staff and their representatives about the future of the unit, including its possible closure. The consultation period will last three months, at the end of which I will make my final decision on the future of the Centre.

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