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General Practitioners

Mr. Goodman: To ask the Secretary of State for (1) Health how many general practitioners there were in (a) England and (b) Buckingham in each year since 1980; [5639]

Mr. Hutton: The information regarding the number of general practitioners in England and Buckinghamshire in each year since 1980 is shown in table 1. Information regarding leavers is available only from 1990–91. This information is shown in table 2.

Table 1: Unrestricted principals and equivalents (UPEs)(51) in England and Buckinghamshire FHSA/HA 1980 to 2000(52)

YearEnglandBuckinghamshire FHSA
UPEs in post

(51) UPEs includes GMS unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs and PMS salaried

(52) Data as at 1 October 1980 to 1999 and 30 September 2000


Department of Health General Medical Personal Service Statistics

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Table 2: Unrestricted principals and equivalents (UPEs)(53): Leavers(54) from England and Buckinghamshire FHSA/HA 1990–91 to 1999–2000(55)

YearEnglandBuckinghamshire FHSA/HA(56)

(53) UPEs include unrestricted principals, PMS contracted GPs and PMS salaried GPs.

(54) Leavers and defined as those UPEs reported in the Department of Health's annual GP census in one year but not reported the following year. Leavers will include both career breaks and wastage.

(55) Date relate to those leaving between 1 October and 30 September.

(56) Excludes UPEs who moved to another FHSA/HA.


Department of Health General and Personal Medical Services Statistics

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many GPs were appointed last year. [4424]

Mr. Hutton: Between October 1999 and September 2000 1,203 unrestricted principals and equivalent general practitioners joined the National Health Service in England.

Health Visitors

Chris Grayling: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is on the recognition of health visitors as specialist nurses. [4929]

Mr. Hutton: The recognition of health visitors is a matter for the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting. The proposals for replacing the council with the Nursing and Midwifery Council include the retention of current arrangements.

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Health Committee

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will reply to the third report of the Health Committee, Session 2000–01, HC 307. [4991]

Mr. Hutton: We expect to publish our response to the report before Parliament rises on 20 July.

Health Trusts and Boards (Membership)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what machinery is used for reviewing the panel of members of the public accepted as eligible for membership of health trusts and boards; and if he will make a statement. [4917]

Ms Blears: Since 1 April 2001, appointments of chairs and non-executives to the boards of National Health Service trusts, health authorities and primary care trusts have been the responsibility of the NHS Appointments Commission. Details of the appointment process are therefore a matter for the Commission.

Care Homes

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 12 July 2001, Official Report, column 590W, concerning care homes, if he will place a copy of the interim report in the Library; and if he will list the research projects and their purpose and reporting dates. [5366]

Jacqui Smith: The purpose of the research projects commissioned from the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) is to:

These reports will be delivered by the end of the year. I understand from PSSRU, which retains intellectual property rights in the research, that publications arising from these streams of work will be published by the end of the year. I will ensure that copies are placed in the Library when publication takes place. Existing studies by PSSRU, on which these projects build, have already been published.

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Freedom of Information Act

Tony Wright: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he expects to announce a timetable for implementation of the Freedom of Information Act 2000. [5088]

Mr. Wills: The Freedom of Information Act received Royal Assent on the 30 November 2000 and so has to be fully implemented by 30 November 2005. However, the Government are firmly committed to implementation of the Act before this deadline which we set for ourselves.

As of yet, there is no timetable for implementation within this deadline but the Lord Chancellor will be under a statutory duty to report to Parliament on progress towards implementation by 30 November this year. Before a timetable for implementation of the Act can be announced, there are consultations which need to be completed with the Information Commissioner, most notably with regard to the work needing to be done on publication schemes.

Tony Wright: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) how many bodies subject to the open government code of practice have indicated that they could not fully implement the Freedom of Information Act 2000 by July 2002; [5086]

Mr. Wills: It is not a question of bodies or the Information Commissioner expressing doubts as to meeting any particular date for implementation, but simply that no one can be certain, as yet, as to when all of the preparatory work towards implementation of the Act will be completed.

My officials are currently in consultation with the Information Commissioner and public authorities, including the several hundred currently covered by the code of practice on access to Government information, in order to determine how soon it is practicable for them to be able to implement the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

One of the major issues which has to be resolved before a definitive date for implementation of the Act can be set is the obligation on all public authorities to produce and maintain a publication scheme setting out what information they are proactively making available.

Before public authorities can make a definitive judgment as to when they can have their publication schemes ready, and hence when the Information Commissioner will be able to devise a timeframe for approval of the schemes, the Commissioner has to decide what she expects from the content of the schemes. To this end, the Commissioner arranged a conference, held in Manchester on 17 July 2001, to discuss the content and format of publication schemes.

In addition there are five bodies taking part in a pilot publication scheme programme in conjunction with the Commissioner, as she announced on the 16 July 2001.

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These bodies are the Ministry of Defence, the Department for International Development, the Health and Safety Executive, the Medicines Control Agency and the Public Record Office. The pilot programme should be completed by the end of this year.

Simon Hughes: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department which provisions of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 are yet to come into force; what the planned timetable is for their introduction; what orders remains to be brought forward relating to the Act; and if he will make a statement. [5113]

Mr. Wills: The provisions of the Act set out in section 87(1) came into force on 30 November 2000, when the Act was passed. These provisions relate to:

The provisions set out in section 87(2) of the Act came into force on 30 January 2001. These relate primarily to the creation of the post of the Information Commissioner.

Certain provisions relating to the amendment of the Data Protection Act, as provided for by the Freedom of Information Act 2000, were brought into force on 14 May by a Commencement Order in Statutory Instrument 2001 No. 1637, made on 30 April 2001.

All other provisions of the Act are not yet in force. The Act must be fully implemented by 30 November 2005 and, as yet, there is no other timetable than this outer date. However, the Government are committed to bringing the Act into force before this deadline and to ensuring that the time taken to ensure that implementation is a success will be used well.

Some powers contained in the Act will need to be exercised before the Act comes into force, for example the Codes of Practice to be made under sections 45 and 46 of the Act will need to be agreed.

Others, such as the ability to amend Schedule 1, contained in section 4, or the ability to amend or repeal statutory bars to disclosure, contained in section 75, are on-going processes. These will have to be exercised regularly when, for example, new non-departmental public bodies are created, or decisions are taken that specified statutory bars could be amended or repealed.

Powers, such as that to provide for environmental information regulations in relation to the Aarhus Convention, contained in section 74, will only need to be exercised once or very infrequently.

Discussions are under way on the terms of those Orders or regulations which need to be made before the Act can be fully implemented. Drafts of the two Codes of Practice have been circulated for public consultation.

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