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Bed Blocking

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures will be taken under the cash for change initiative to reduce bed blocking. [9059]

Jacqui Smith: Local authorities will receive funding allocations through a special grant under Section 93 of the Local Government Act 2000. The grant is to be used to enable local authority community care services to work with national health service partners to significantly reduce the number of people who are ready to leave hospital but are unable to do so. Local authorities will achieve this by increasing the availability of care home places and support services which enable people to return to their own home.


Mr. Pickthall: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will allow people on Incapacity Benefit to receive free prescriptions; [8506]

Ms Blears [holding answer 23 October 2001]: No. Incapacity Benefit is not income related and it would not, therefore, be appropriate to extend automatic exemption from prescription charges to recipients of this benefit. No assessment has been made of the extent to which people on Incapacity Benefit do not make use of prescriptions. People on low income who are not otherwise exempt from charges, can apply for free prescriptions under the national health service low income scheme.

Feng Shui

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money has been spent employing feng shui experts in his Department in the last 12 months. [9239]

Ms Blears [holding answer 24 October 2001]: The Department has not employed any feng shui experts and has not expended any money on this service within the last 12 months.

Hospital Beds

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average daily number of available beds, in wards open 24 hours, for (a) short stay and (b) long stay patients in each year since 1995–96. [10520]

Mr. Hutton: The information is not collected centrally in the format requested.

Bed data including average bed availability rates are available in the annual publication "Bed availability and occupancy—England: Each Financial Year to 1999–2000", copies of which are available in the Library. Alternatively information can be downloaded from the Department's website at

Restaurant Food

Mr. Jenkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will assess the nutritional value of restaurant food. [9730]

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Ms Blears: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that they have an on-going programme to determine the nutrient content of a wide range of foods on a regular basis. Analytical surveys in 1994 and 1997 included foods and meals sampled from takeaway outlets or restaurants. There are plans to update this work soon.

This obviously is subject to the qualification that there will be significant variation in the nutritional balance between individual restaurants and individual restaurants' meals.

From a nutritional point of view, the composition of individual foods is less important than the nutrient content and overall balance of the diet as a whole. A varied and balanced diet, which includes plenty of fruit, vegetables and starchy foods, should provide all of the nutrients that a healthy individual requires.

Departmental Spending (Deprived Areas)

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much of the expenditure by his Department in each of the years (a) 1996–97, (b) 1997–98, (c) 1998–99, (d) 1999–2000, (e) 2000–01, (f) 2001–02 and (g) 2002–03 (estimated) was allocated with reference to the index of multiple deprivation; which expenditure programmes are allocated with respect to this index and other measures of relative geographic deprivation; and if he will make a statement. [8933]

Mr. Hutton: No national health service resources are allocated using the index of multiple deprivation. The weighted capitation formula used to inform revenue allocations to health authorities includes a number of health and socio-economic variables. These are listed in "Resource Allocation: Weighted Capitation Formulas", copies of which are available in the Library.

No personal social services resources are allocated using the index. The personal social services standard spending assessment formulas, which are used to allocate most of personal social services resources, include a number of socio-economic variables. These are listed on the following web site: finance/ssa/0102/lgfr/index.htm.

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will answer the question tabled by the hon. Member for Yeovil on 20 July [ref 296]. [9962]

Mr. Hutton: I wrote to the hon. Member on 21 August.

Residential Care (Wales)

Hywel Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase funding to the National Assembly for Wales for residential care in Wales. [9267]

Mr. Touhig: I have been asked to reply.

Allocation of funds from the Welsh block is a matter for the National Assembly for Wales.

The Assembly Minister for Health and Social Services, Jane Hutt, has recently announced that £8 million is to be provided to help health and social services authorities in Wales to meet immediate pressures this winter. Within

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that, up to £5 million will be made available for measures which are aimed at avoiding hospital admissions, supporting people in their own homes after discharge and helping local authorities in commissioning additional capacity in residential and nursing homes.

Child Protection

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children have been killed since 1 January 1995 during contact visits with violent parents in England and Wales; how many children have been killed since 1 January 1995 in circumstances where the parents had separated due to domestic violence and were disputing contact or residence in England and Wales; what the names and ages of each child killed were; and in how many of these cases contact or residence orders had been made by the courts. [9610]

Ms Rosie Winterton: I have been asked to reply.

Information about the number of child deaths during contact visits, where an application for contact or residence is outstanding or where a residence or contact order is in force, is not available. I am looking into what information we can collect in this area. The Government acknowledge the concerns about the safety of both children and the resident parent in cases where domestic violence is a known factor and, in addition to an interdepartmental working group, has set up a ministerial group to consider this matter fully.


London Weighting

Pete Wishart: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will estimate the total value of London weightings and London living allowances for his Department; and if he will make a statement. [6812]

Mr. Paul Murphy: My Department does not pay a London weighting or living allowance. Staff permanently based in London are on different (higher) pay scales than those based elsewhere. Staff serving temporarily in London are reimbursed accommodation and travel costs and receive a 10 per cent. recruitment and retention allowance.

Civil Servants (Retirement Age)

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the compulsory retirement ages which apply to employees of his Department and of executive agencies and other public sector bodies for which it is responsible, broken down by grade or job title. [7232]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Civil servants working within my Department (who are all secondees from other Departments) would ordinarily retire at 60 if they were members of the Senior Civil Service (SCS) or between 60 and 65 years if they were at a grade below the SCS. I am responsible for no other agencies or bodies.

Refurbishment Projects

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what (a) building and (b) refurbishment projects are

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planned by his Department in (i) the current and (ii) the next financial year; and what the costs will be of each project. [6595]

Mr. Paul Murphy: Plans are not yet complete. However work in the current year will include the provision of disabled access and the completion of a programme of redecoration begun in 2000–01.

Ms Walley: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the top 10 companies to which his Department contracted out their construction and refurbishment work in the last 12 months. [6609]

Mr. Paul Murphy: There has been no construction work in this period.

Design and project management of refurbishment work has been provided through the National Assembly for Wales' contract with the managing agent Dalkia Energy and Technical Services Ltd. The actual work was carried out by Vale Building Services Ltd.

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