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Mr. Leslie : Applications for registration are made to individual Electoral Registration Officers (EROs), appointed by local authorities, who are responsible for compiling the electoral register as accurately as possible. The annual canvass form which is sent to all households provides information about who is eligible to register. An ERO may require a person applying to register to give additional information if they are in doubt as to whether that person is eligible to be registered. It is an offence under the Representation of the People Act 1983 to fail to comply with a request for information from an ERO, or to provide false or inaccurate information to a registration officer. The electoral register is available for public inspection which enables checks to be made that only eligible electors are on the register.
Ms Rosie Winterton: An Official Journal of the European Commission Notice, issued in June 2002, invited suppliers to express an interest to provide a new digital radio network and associated hardware. This was separated into four "lots", which together would provide the complete new service for the ambulance service.
18 expressions of interest were received. Following a short evaluation, eight were invited to respond to an output based specification. Following this exercise, four responses were received, one of which dropped out soon after. From the remaining three, only one supplier was able to provide Lot 1 (digital infrastructure), while all three were able to provide Lot 2 (Fixed and Hand Portable Radios), Lot 3 (Control Room Dispatcher Equipment) and Lot 4 (Total Integration of all Lots at Ambulance Trusts).
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Mr. Caton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how the Government will ensure that usable spectrum is available to bidders competing to provide a new national radio network for the ambulance service. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Radiocommunications Agency (RA), as the spectrum manager for public safety spectrum, has been working hard to meet ever increasing demands placed on the finite spectrum resource.
The PSSPG published guidance in order to assist interested parties in identifying available public safety spectrum and advising as to other issues that should be taken into account. This was the case with the Ambulance Service procurement exercise. It is recognised that only the 380385 MHz and 390395 MHz spectrum is in the harmonised format for digital technologies and all of this is required in spectrum 'hot spots' to meet the existing airwave requirement. While spectrum in this band is available on a carefully co-ordinated regional basis, it was considered that the capacity to meet a second national network that can be planned and protected to meet the exacting requirements of public safety did not exist.
Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the incidence of autism in children who were vaccinated with the combined measles, mumps and rubella vaccine (a) before attaining the age of three and (b) after attaining the age of three. 
Miss Melanie Johnson [holding answer 5 January 2004]: In the last few years a number of epidemiological studies have examined the postulated link between MMR and autism and have found no association. Some of these studies (Taylor et al, 1999; Farrington et al, 2001; Madsen et al, 2003, Jick & Kaye, 2003) have specifically looked at rates of autism in populations who have had MMR and populations who have not had MMR. These studies did not find an increased reported rate of autism in MMR immunised children when compared with children who had not had MMR. Moreover, the recent study by Farrington et al, 2001 showed no temporal association between MMR and onset of autism at any time following MMR.
Taylor B, Miller , et al. Autism and measles, mumps and rubella: no epidemiotogical evidence for a causal association. The Lancet 1999; 353:20269.
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Madsen KM, Hivid A, et al. A population-based study of measles, mumps and rubella vaccination and autism. New England Journal of Medicine. 2002; 347:14771482.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of births were by caesarean section in the latest period for which figures are available; and what the percentage was (a) five, (b) 10 and (c) 15 years ago. 
Dr. Ladyman: The percentage of deliveries by caesarean section in the latest period for which figures are available and percentages for five, 10 and 15 years ago may be found in Table 3 of NHS Maternity Statistics, England: 200102 which can be found at www.doh.gov.uk/public/sb0309.htm. A copy of the bulletin is also available in the Library.
Dr. Ladyman: Central Government do not themselves routinely monitor the fee levels offered by councils. It is for local councils to develop an understanding of their local market and set fees accordingly. An annual analysis of fee levels is conducted by Laing and Buisson, independent consultants working in the care sector.
Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting times for patients to be seen for the first diagnosis at chest pain clinics after referral by a general practitioner were in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available. 
Miss Melanie Johnson: Roll out of rapid access chest pain clinics started in 2000 and national coverage was achieved in 2003. Monitoring of performance began in March 2001, when 75 per cent. of patients were seen within 14 days of referral. The most recent data, for August 2003, showed 86 per cent. of patients seen within 14 days.
Ann Keen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action is being taken to ensure that there are sufficient (a) palliative care and (b) hospice beds available for children with life-shortening illnesses. 
Dr. Ladyman: Funding for these services is available from primary care trusts, which are responsible for ensuring the level of health care provision required by their local population. Local authorities also fund
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services for disabled children. In addition, the New Opportunities Fund has provided £48 million over three years to over 130 projects in support of children with life-shortening illness and their families, and to develop more options for care. The national service framework for children, which is to be published later this year, will also address services for children with severe disability and illness.
Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the NHS Pensions Agency will reply to the letter of the hon. Member for Wrexham of 7 October 2003 relating to Mrs. Margaret Bryden (ref SD 40/080674/9387). 
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the average starting salary of a dentist leaving training and going into (a) an NHS practice and (b) private practice was in 2003; 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Newly qualified dentists who wish to work in the national health service general dental services are first required to undergo one year's vocational training. The Department does not collect information on the proportion of dentists who go into NHS or private practice after training. There are relatively few dentists who do all of their dental work privately. The Office of Fair Trading's report, "The Private Dentistry Market in the U.K." stated that about 210 dental practises are totally private, out of 11,000 dental practises. Currently the starting salary for a vocational trainee dentist is £25,776 per annum.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The available information, for the numbers of undergraduates in the United Kingdom admitted to dental schools and of those obtaining their first qualification, for the period 199798 to 200102, is shown in the table.
|Number obtaining first qualification||768||782||808||815||800|
Higher Education funding Council for England, Universities and Colleges Admissions Service
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