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Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many fathers have been imprisoned in the last 30 years based on expert witness evidence of Munchausen syndrome by proxy. [152114]

The Solicitor-General [holding answer 30 January 2004]: I have been asked to reply.

Neither the prison service nor the Crown Prosecution Service keeps records of cases in accordance with the type of expert evidence given at trial.

Since the release of Angela Cannings by the Court of Appeal and its published judgment, the Attorney General has instigated a number of measures. Over the last 10 years, a total of 258 convictions over the last 10 years for the murder, manslaughter or infanticide of a child under two by its parent have been identified. Of those, a total of 72 relate to persons still serving a custodial sentence. These will be accorded the utmost priority. Currently, some 365 boxes of evidence relating to 52 high priority cases have been recovered from central storage and dispatched to CPS areas for them to conduct an initial review. The remaining high priority cases are being recovered from the areas themselves.

Once the review becomes fully underway, the offences comprising the 258 convictions and the issue at trial will become clearer. Once that stage has been reached and more information is known on these cases it may be possible for me to write further to you with additional information that you seek.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when he received a letter from Jan Loxley-Blount warning of the occurrence of misdiagnosis of Munchausen syndrome by proxy and subsequent miscarriages of justice. [152029]

Margaret Hodge: The first correspondence from Jan Loxley-Blount that the Department for Education and Skills has on record is dated 17 May 2000.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills when the term Munchausen syndrome by proxy changed to fabricated or induced illness; and what the reasons for the change were. [152030]

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Margaret Hodge: The consultation document: "Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced" issued in June 2001 addressed this issue at paragraph 1.4:

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills (1) what measures he intends to put in place to reduce the numbers of parents wrongly accused of Munchausen syndrome by proxy; [152032]

Margaret Hodge: The Government Guidance "Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced" was published in August 2002. It is supplementary guidance to "Working Together to Safeguard Children" (1999), the Government's interagency guidance on child protection. The Guidance

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sets out a clear process for all agencies to follow in relation to cases involving fabricated or induced illness in a child. It requires evidence-based decisions to be taken at each stage of the process by a multi-agency, multi professional team.

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many children have been removed from their parents since changes to social services guidance in 1998 which made reference to Munchausen syndrome by proxy. [152015]

Margaret Hodge: The Government did not issue any guidance to social services in 1998 in relation to Munchausen syndrome by proxy. In February 1998 it issued a consultation paper entitled "Working Together to Safeguard Children: New Government Proposals For Inter-Agency Co-operation". This document did not contain any reference to Munchausen syndrome by proxy. Following the consultation, "Working Together to Safeguard Children" was issued in 1999. Subsequently, supplementary guidance, "Safeguarding Children in Whom Illness is Fabricated or Induced", was issued in August 2002.

We do not hold information about the numbers of children looked after where they have had illness fabricated or induced. However, statistics from the Department of Health's statistics of Children Looked After by Local Authorities for the Year Ending 31 March 2002, about all children who started to be looked after in each year from 1998 to 2002, are as follows:

Children who started to be looked after during the years ending 31 March 1998 to 2002 by legal status on starting(29)—England

Legal status1998199920002001200219981999200020012002
All children(30)29,70028,40028,60025,10024,600100100100100100
Care order4,2004,3004,3004,3004,1001415151717
Interim care order3,3003,5003,8003,9003,8001112131516
Full care order91088051045027033221
Youth Justice legal statuses1,6001,4001,30084072055533
On remand or committed for trial1,4001,2001,20076068054433
Detained under PACE(31)200180150604011100
Supervision order101020201000000
Detained for child protection3,1003,3003,3002,7003,0001112121112
Police protection1,5001,5001,6001,5001,60055667
Emergency protection order1,6001,8001,7001,3001,40066656
Under child assessment order10010200000
Freed for adoption8011020202000000
Voluntary agreement under S20 CA 1989 (single placements)20,50019,10019,50017,20016,7006967686868
Others legal status140160700001000

(29) Only the first occasion on which a child started to be looked after in the year has been counted.

(30) Figures for children looked after in this table exclude agreed series of short-term placements.

(31) Children detained in local authority accommodation under section 38(6) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act.

Muslim School Children

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many (a) primary and (b) secondary schools have been assessed as having more than (i) 50, (ii) 75 and (iii) 90 per cent. of pupils who are classified as Muslim; and for how many of these schools this is a consequence of admissions criteria based on religious denomination. [154817]

Mr. Stephen Twigg: Information on the religion of pupils is not collected centrally.

In January 2003 there were 1,647 primary schools and 115 secondary schools reporting selective intake where the main criterion for offering a place was based on religion. This is equivalent to 9.2 per cent. of maintained primary schools and 3.3 per cent. of maintained secondary schools.

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The religious character of two primary schools and two secondary schools was Muslim (as at January 2003).

Post-16 Education

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what discussions he has had with the Learning and Skills Council on engagement with industry in post-16 education. [154538]

Alan Johnson: As a member of the national Skills Alliance the Learning and Skills Council has a major part to play in securing the effective implementation of our Skills Strategy. The Strategy sets a new framework for tackling our long-standing skills gaps and meeting the needs of industry.

Savings Schemes (Secondary Schools)

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what savings account schemes

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operate in secondary schools; and what steps his Department is taking to encourage and support the development of such schemes. [154944]

Mr. Miliband: The Department does not hold information about savings account schemes operating in secondary schools and has no plans to support the development of such schemes.

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what provisions there are in the national curriculum to provide education on the management of personal finances and savings to secondary school pupils. [154946]

Mr. Miliband: Personal finance education, which includes budgeting and saving, is provided in the curriculum through the framework of personal, social and health education. There is also provision for schools to teach financial management through other subjects such as mathematics.

Personal Finance Education Guidance for schools was produced by the Department in July 2000.

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