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Mr. Carmichael: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what plans she has to implement the recommendations of the Marsh report into the veterinary profession's right to dispense prescription-only medicines. 
Mr. Morley: The then Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, my right hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East and Wallsend (Mr. Brown), appointed a group under the chairmanship of Professor Sir John Marsh CBE to carry out an independent review of dispensing by veterinary surgeons as part of the Government's Action Plan for Farming. Its terms of reference were to review the procedures by which prescription only medicines (POMs) for veterinary use are classified and sold in the United Kingdom and the impact current practices may be having on availability and prices, and to make recommendations to the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by 31 March 2001.
The chairman presented the Group's report to the then Minister on 16 March 2001 and it was published on 11 May. The Government's draft response to the report is under consideration and, in due course, will be circulated for comment to interested organisations and individuals before consideration is given to the implementation of any of the recommendations contained in the report.
Mr. Hurst: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many residential care homes in (a) the county of Essex and (b) the boroughs of Thurrock and Southend- on-Sea were (i) publicly-owned and (ii) privately-owned in each year from 1995 to 2000 inclusive. 
|As at 31 March||LA homes(11)||Independent homes(12)||LA Homes(11)||Independent homes(12)||LA homes(11)||Independent homes(12)|
(10) Information is presented for the former county of Essex (ie prior to re-organisation) for 1995 to 1998
(11) Local authority staffed homes
(12) Consists of voluntary, private, dual registered and small homes
(13) Not available as areas did not exist until 1 April 1998
RA form A, RAC
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Mr. Hutton: Data are not collected on the number of hospital doctors who leave the National Health Service. The number of unrestricted principals or equivalents (who most people will have as their general practitioner) who left the NHS for any reason between 199697 and 19992000 is in the table. Doctors who 'left' include resignations, retirements and short-term career breaks. Some of these doctors will 'rejoin' the NHS at a later date.
1. Unrestricted principals and equivalents includes general medical service unrestricted principals, personal medical service contracted GPs and PMS salaried GPs
2. Leaver data refer to those UPEs leaving between 1 October and 30 September
3. Leavers are defined as those UPEs who were employed in a particular census but were not registered in the following census. We do not know why these doctors left.
General and Personal Medical Services Statistics
|Residential care||Nursing care|
Department of Health Annual Statistical returns
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Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Health for what reasons his Department did not meet the deadline of December 1999 set out in circulars on 11 August 1999 (Health Service Circular 1999/180 and Local Authority Circular (99) 30) to give final advice on the lawful way to charge nursing home fees; and what factors underlay the delays in issuing this advice prior to March 2001. 
Jacqui Smith: The number of children identified as having autism is increasing. Although the full explanation for this increase is not clear, it is at least in part due to improvement in diagnosis by the clinical professions, including child mental health specialists and community paediatricians.
The Department has recently asked the Medical Research Council to conduct a detailed review of the current state of knowledge about autism and to suggest possible areas for further research. The aim is to obtain a clear and comprehensive picture of what is currently known about the incidence, prevalence and causes of autism and how strong the evidence is which underpins that knowledge.
Jacqui Smith: We have recently announced the establishment of a working party to develop new guidance on how the needs of young disabled children aged 02 and their families can be met. This guidance, which will
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be issued jointly by the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health will cover issues such as early diagnosis, intervention and support.
A group chaired by Professor Ann Le Couteur, the National Initiative on Autism, is looking at diagnosis and early interventions in autism. This is being funded by the National Autistic Society. We will consider what, if any, further action needs to be taken in the light of the group's report.
A number of diagnostic tools have been developed in recent years. These include the diagnostic interview for social and communication disorders whose further development is being led by the National Autistic Society.
Jacqui Smith: The Department receives returns from all local authorities in England on the numbers of blind and partially sighted people registered with local authority social services departments. The latest figures for the year ending 31 March 2000 show 157,820 registered blind people in England.
There are 4,763 blind and partially sighted people in the United Kingdom who are guide dog owners. Each year 700 people receive training for new or replacement guide dogs. It is not known how many of these people are registered blind.
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