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20 Nov 2002 : Column 205W—continued

NHS Trusts (Deficits)

Mr. Redwood: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS trusts are running financial deficits; and what the likely aggregate amount is of the deficits this financial year. [81023]

Mr. Hutton: The audited information in respect of the financial performance of national health service trusts for 2002–03 will be published in their individual annual accounts. The audited information will be available centrally in autumn 2003.

Overseas Nurses

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent changes the Government have made

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to improve the system of registration for qualified overseas nurses who want to work in the NHS in England and Wales. [81010]

Mr. Hutton: Registration is the responsibility of the Nursing and Midwifery Council, which was established on 1 April 2002.


Mr. Roy: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the regulations whereby two or more prescription charges are payable when two or more medicines are prescribed in circumstances where medicines are in one pack and cannot be taken separately. [80130]

Mr. Lammy: Prescription charging arrangements are a devolved matter. In England a charge is payable for each quantity of a drug or item supplied. This rule applies regardless of whether the different drugs are supplied in one pack or more. We have no plans to change these arrangements.


Norman Baker: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to curtail the illegal production of smokies from sheep. [80868]

Ms Blears: Enforcement of this issue lies with local authority environmental health and trading standards officers. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is actively engaged in assisting local authority food law enforcement officers to combat the illegal production of smokies from sheep and goats. This assistance includes the issue of guidance to local authorities in June 2002 to clarify the legislation and the illegality of the product. A number of prosecutions have recently been initiated against producers, distributors and retailers of smokies. The FSA has also arranged a meeting with some of the local authorities involved with this issue and other stakeholders on 20 November 2002, to discuss the issue of smokies and the agency's co-ordinating role.



Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department if she will allow persons who (a) have a reasonable fear of domestic or other violence or (b) are deemed a security risk to be removed from the published version of the Electoral Register without losing their right to vote. [80785]

Yvette Cooper: I understand that the question of Xanonymous registration" is being considered by the Electoral Commission in its current review of registration issues, and a consultation document is in preparation. The Government will consider any recommendations the Electoral Commission makes very carefully. Under regulations made in July electors can ask for their names to be removed from the edited version of the register that is for sale, but an Electoral Registration Officer currently has no discretion to omit the names of those who are entitled to be registered from the full version. While the Government are concerned to

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ensure that vulnerable people are not put at risk, the electoral register is a public document and anonymous registration may make it difficult for members of the public and political parties to check whether eligible names have been included and ineligible names have not.


Linda Perham: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what the reason was for the delay in answering the letter of 9 January sent by the hon. Member for Ilford, North on behalf of Mr. Paul Michael Challis. [80508]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The delay was, as I stated in my letter to my hon. Friend dated 20 October, due to an administrative oversight. Once again, I apologise for the delay. I have asked that procedures for processing ministerial correspondence are reviewed in the light of this error.

Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when she expects the Divorce (Religious Marriages) Act 2002 to come into force. [80714]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Subject to the approval of the Family Procedure Rule Committee of the rules of court required to give effect to the Act, and Parliament, the Government intend to bring the Act into force in January or February 2003.

IT Security

Brian White: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what steps she has taken to review the security of the Department's IT system; and how many digital attacks there were on the Department's system in (a) October and (b) 2002. [80767]

Yvette Cooper: The Department is well advanced in its plans to implement an information security management system based on the BS7799 standard. This work has involved a major review and update of our IT security policy. We have undertaken risk reviews on all of our key information systems over the past 18 months, using the Cabinet Office approved CRAMM risk review methodology. A health check was undertaken on our data network in 2001 and a further health check will be undertaken in early 2003.

The number of cases of digital attacks detected was:

These attacks were all virus attacks. They caused no damage to our key IT systems and were all detected by our virus protection defences. There were no hacking attacks.

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Magistrates Court ,York

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department for how many days York magistrates court was closed during and following the flood in York in November 2000; what arrangements were made to transfer cases to other premises during the closure; what were the direct costs of transferring these cases and the indirect costs to the public purse of the loss of use of the York court; and what assessment she has made of the wider economic cost to those using York magistrates court and the lawyers representing them of the closure. [80995]

Yvette Cooper: The floods in York began to affect York magistrates court during the weekend of 4–5 November 2000. The courthouse did not close, and the courtrooms continued to operate. The cells were unusable from 4 November 2000 until 24 March 2001—a period of 140 days (20 weeks). Those cases involving defendants in custody were transferred to Selby magistrates court; all other cases continued to be dealt with at York.

Any additional revenue costs such as travelling expenses, heating/lighting at Selby were met from within the MCC's existing revenue budget.

No assessment has been made of the overall economic costs of transferring those cases to Selby.

Hugh Bayley: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department what damage was done to York magistrates court by the flood in November 2000; how much it cost to repair the damage; and whether the cost of the repairs was covered by insurance. [80996]

Yvette Cooper: The flood water entered the basement, the ground floor offices and the cell areas of the law courts, all of which were damaged and required repair. #35,000 was spent on replacing damaged furniture. The remaining costs—to repair the plasterwork and replace carpeting (a total of #55,000) were covered by the court's insurance policy.


Norman Baker: To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department (1) what legislative changes she proposes following the case of Goodwin v. UK and within what timescale; and if these changes will encompass issues relating to pension entitlement of transsexual people; [81114]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Government's plan for implementing the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in Goodwin v. The United Kingdom will be announced by the end of the year, following collective ministerial consideration of the recommendations of the Interdepartmental Working Group on Transsexual People. Pension entitlement is among the matters under consideration.