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11 Feb 2004 : Column 1530Wcontinued
Keith Hill: The Housing Bill, which provides for the introduction of home information packs, is currently before Standing Committee E in the House. Earlier this month the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister published the findings of consumer and technical pilots of the Home Condition Report, summaries of the responses received to the consultation papers on the contents of the pack and how the pack should operate in low demand areas and research showing a potential labour force of between 10 to 18,000 people who could become home inspectors. Several Universities and colleges are already preparing courses for Home Inspectors. Following discussions with the industry the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has concluded that 1 January 2007 is an appropriate date to aim to introduce home information packs. This will send a clear message to our industry partners as to what needs to be done.
Mr. Raynsford: The National Procurement Strategy for Local Government, jointly published by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and the Local Government Association (LGA) in October 2003, encourages councils to achieve better value for money through effective and innovative procurement over the next three years. Among other things, it encourages councils to build sustainability into procurement strategies, processes and contracts. The Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) has published guidance on sustainability and local government procurement, aimed specifically at councils' needs in this area.
Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what assessment he has made of whether the scale of the development which it foresees in the Thames Gateway can be accommodated on previously developed brownfield sites. 
Keith Hill: One of the key features of the Gateway as a suitable location for sustainable development is the presence of a substantial reservoir of previously developed and brownfield land. The Gateway is estimated to contain some 2 per cent. of the land area of
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the south east but contains 17 per cent. of its current supply of previously developed land. The national target for development on previously developed land is 60 per cent.: in the period 19972000 an estimated 80 per cent. of new dwellings in the Gateway were built on previously developed land. The targeted investment now being mobilised through funding from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, the Department for Transport and Regional Development Agencies aim to maintain this trend by increasing the viability and potential development density on key sites in the Gateway.
The scale of development we have projected for the Gateway is based upon work with local partners on the presence and pattern of suitable development land. Details will be determined through the reviews of Regional Plans which is being undertaken by the three Regional Planning Bodies which cover the Gateway.
Bob Spink: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what new settlements are proposed within the Thurrock Urban Development Corporation area pursuant to paragraph 24 of Sustainable Communities: an Urban Development Corporation for Thurrock. 
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Keith Hill: Issues relating to new settlements and related housing growth in Thurrock are currently determined by Regional Planning Guidance 9 and are set out within Thurrock Council's Local Plan, as adopted in September 1997.
The East of England Regional Assembly is currently in the process of preparing new Regional Planning Guidance for the East of England (RPG14). This will contain housing growth targets for all local authority areas within the region, including Thurrock.
As the plan making body for Thurrock, it will be for the Council to interpret the requirements of RPG14 and to determine the location(s) and the manner in which housing growth will be accommodated in the borough.
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Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will estimate the percentage of NHS prescriptions involved in adverse drug reactions in the last year for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Data are not available to allow estimation of the percentage of national health service prescriptions which involved adverse drug reactions in the last year. Reports of suspected adverse drug reactions are collected by the Committee on Safety of Medicines/Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency through the spontaneous reporting scheme, the Yellow Card Scheme. The main purpose of the scheme is to identify new drug safety hazards and not to quantify their incidence.
Ms Rosie Winterton: We have encouraged self-regulation of private ambulance services and have made it clear to national health service organisations that, if they are using private ambulance companies, they must satisfy themselves that the organisation has suitably trained staff for the task and conforms to legal and other relevant standards.
Ms Rosie Winterton: Although training courses are delivered locally, paramedics and technicians employed by national health service ambulance services are trained in accordance with a national syllabus administered on behalf of the Department by the Ambulance Service Association and based on clinical advice from the Joint Royal Colleges Ambulance Liaison Committee.
Training in private ambulance services is a matter for each individual employer. Each has a general duty to ensure that its staff are suitably qualified and trained in order to provide the level of care which they are required to deliver. If private ambulance services are employed by the NHS, guidance to trusts requires that they satisfy themselves that the contractor's staff are suitably trained and experienced.
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David Taylor: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress has been made in reducing the number of analogue hearing aids used by NHS patients in (a) North West Leicestershire and (b) the East Midlands since January 2002; 
Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 10 February 2004]: Digital hearing aids are already available on the national health service for residents of Taunton Deane and West Somerset. A small number of digital hearing aids were made available in January 2004. However, the audiology department at the Taunton and Somerset NHS Trust will begin rolling out digital hearing aids comprehensively in March 2004 when 1,000 existing analogue users will start converting to digital technology.
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