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Telephone Lines

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if it is her objective that the minimum service standard for mainland telephone lines in the UK should be ISDN; and if she will make a statement. [23356]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 17 December 2001]: The Office of Telecommunications (Oftel) sets the minimum service standard for mainland telephone lines in the UK as part of the Universal Service Obligation on BT, taking into account the appropriate European legislation. I am therefore asking the Director General of Telecommunications to write to the hon. Member to address this point.

Broadband Development

Mr. Peter Duncan: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how much of the fund for broadband development has been allocated; and over what period it is expected to be fully allocated. [23266]

Mr. Alexander [holding answer 17 December 2001]: I set out allocations for the UK broadband fund on 9 October 2001. The Regional Development Agencies and devolved Administrations are in discussion with my officials to develop action plans. The fund will be allocated over the period 2002–04.

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Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what recent discussions she has had with Consignia concerning its business prospects; and if she will make a statement. [23811]

Mr. Alexander: The Department has regular discussions with Consignia about a range of strategic issues facing the company. Last year's Postal Services Act gave the company greater commercial freedom so that it could improve its services and performance. We expect the management and the unions, which have been asking for more commercial freedom for years, to work together to use the freedom we have given them to deliver a better service to customers.


Dr. Tonge: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what advice she gives to UK companies considering investment in Sudan. [23684]

Nigel Griffiths: The advice Trade Partners UK provides to UK companies considering trading or investing in Sudan is based on the nature of the inquiry and the specific area of business of the company concerned.

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Mr. Nicholas Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons the European Union has increased the quota allocation for imports from Pakistan's clothing and textile industry; and what assessment she has made of the impact on Pakistan's economy of the increased allocation. [23920]

Nigel Griffiths: The EC increased Pakistan's quotas for textiles and clothing as part of Commissioner Lamy's initiative to improve market access for these products on a reciprocal basis, taking into account the impact on Pakistan's economy of the events of 11 September and their aftermath. Given the importance of textiles and clothing to the Pakistani economy, the impact is likely to be of significant benefit.

Post Office Card Accounts

Mr. Laws: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it is her policy to cap the number of post office card accounts; and if she will make a statement. [23591]

Malcolm Wicks: I have been asked to reply.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister for E-commerce and Competitiveness on 17 December 2001, Official Report, column 119W.

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 271W


Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

Kali Mountford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he intends to publish the fifth report to Parliament on the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme. [24400]

Ms Blears: The fifth Report to Parliament on the Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme (PPRS) was published today. Copies have been placed in the Library.

The PPRS: Fifth Report to Parliament covers the operation of the 1999 scheme, which was introduced in October 1999. It explains the Government's objectives for the scheme, how the scheme is managed and operated, including pricing policy, and gives detailed consolidated

18 Dec 2001 : Column: 272W

information on company annual financial returns. The report also sets out the contribution made to the economy by the United Kingdom based pharmaceutical industry.

Health Authority Boundaries

Ms Munn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to announce the outcome of the recent consultation on proposed boundaries for new health authorities in England. [24399]

Mr. Hutton: I can announce today that, following 22 simultaneous consultation exercises across the whole of England, we are proposing to establish 28 new health authorities from 1 April 2002, when the existing health authorities will be disestablished. Subject to progress with the NHS Reform and Health Care Professions Bill these new health authorities are expected to become strategic health authorities by next October. The table indicates the new health authorities and their constituent existing health authorities.

New health authorityHAs involved
Norfolk, Suffolk and CambridgeshireCambridgeshire
Bedfordshire and HertfordshireBedfordshire
EssexNorth Essex
South Essex
North West LondonBrent and Harrow
Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounlsow
Kensington, Chelsea and Westminster
North Central LondonBarnet, Enfield and Haringey
Camden and Islington
North East LondonBarking and Havering
East London and the City
Redbridge and Waltham Forest
South East LondonBexley, Bromley and Greenwich
Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham
South West LondonCroydon
Kingston and Richmond
Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth
Northumberland, Tyne and WearGateshead and South Tyneside
Newcastle and North Tyneside
County Durham and Tees ValleyCounty Durham and Darlington
North and East Yorkshire and Northern LincolnshireEasting Riding and Hull
North Yorkshire
South Humber
West YorkshireBradford
Calderdale and Kirklees
Cumbria and LancashireNorth Cumbria
East Lancashire
Morecambe Bay
North West Lancashire
South Lancashire
Greater ManchesterBury and Rochdale
Salford and Trafford
West Pennine
Wigan and Bolton
Cheshire and MerseysideLiverpool
North Cheshire
South Cheshire
St. Helen's and Knowsley
Thames ValleyBerkshire
Hampshire and Isle of WightNorth and Mid-Hampshire
Isle of Wight and Portsmouth and South East Hampshire
Southampton and South West Hampshire
Kent and MedwayEast Kent
West Kent
Surrey and SussexEast Surrey
East Sussex, Brighton and Hove
West Surrey
West Sussex
Avon, Gloucestershire and WiltshireAvon
South West PeninsulaCornwall and Isles of Scilly
North and East Devon
South and West Devon
Somerset and DorsetDorset
South YorkshireBarnsley
North Derbyshire
North Nottinghamshire
South Derbyshire
Leicestershire, Northamptonshire and RutlandLeicestershire
Shropshire and StaffordshireNorth Staffordshire
South Staffordshire
Birmingham and the Black CountryBirmingham
Coventry, Warwickshire, Herefordshire and WorcestershireCoventry

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Mental Health Act

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will bring forward the draft Bill for reform of the Mental Health Act 1983. [22957]

Jacqui Smith: We published the White Paper "Reforming the Mental Health Act" in December 2000. The White Paper made clear our intention to reform mental health legislation and bring it into line with the contemporary patterns of care and treatment including the changes and new investment set out in the NHS Plan, and to improve the provisions for high risk offenders, including those who are dangerous and severely personality disordered.

This is a high priority for the Government. New legislation will be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

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Hospital Patients (Children)

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what educational provision exists for over 16-year-old children in hospital; and if he will make a statement. [22488]

Margaret Hodge: I have been asked to reply.

The Learning and Skills Council (LSC) has a duty to secure the provision of proper facilities for the education and training of 16 to 19-year-olds including those who may have missed out on education due to prolonged illness.

The Connexions Service also provides integrated information, advice, guidance and personal development opportunities for all young people aged 13 to 19 in England, including giving more in depth support to those who are at greatest risk of not making a successful transition to adulthood.

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In addition, the DfES published in November this year, new statutory guidance "Access to Education for children and young people with Medical needs" which sets out minimum national standards for the education of children who are unable to attend school because of medical needs. The guidance advises that all agencies should try to enable a pupil to continue any course being taken on entry to hospital or while ill or injured at home. Local education authorities (LEAs) also have the power to provide suitable education otherwise than at school for young people over compulsory school age but under the age of 19. A local education authority (LEA) should normally arrange continuing education for young people over compulsory school age but under 18 where he or she is a "year behind" if they need to study for a further year to complete an examination course.

From April 2002, local LSCs will allocate resources to LEAs for provision delivered in school sixth forms and LEA maintained 16–19 institutions. I expect this to ensure a genuinely coherent approach to post-16 provision.

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