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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 22 June 2004

EDUCATION AND SKILLS

Temporary Suspension of Adoptions from Cambodia

The Minister for Children (Margaret Hodge): I am announcing a temporary suspension of adoptions of Cambodian children by UK residents.

The temporary suspension is being introduced in response to concerns raised by and investigated by officials from the DfES who visited Cambodia, by the British Embassy in Cambodia and, separately, by other stakeholders about the intercountry adoption process in Cambodia.

I believe that the safeguards in the Cambodian adoption system are currently insufficient to prevent children being adopted without proper consents being given by their birth parents and improper financial gain being made by individuals involved in the adoption process.

The specific areas of concern include:

The temporary suspension will take effect immediately and will be imposed on all UK applications to adopt children from Cambodia where the prospective adopter has not yet received a matching report from the Cambodian authorities. This is the latest point in the adoption process in Cambodia where a temporary suspension could take effect before a Cambodian adoption certificate is issued.

Although the UK authorities could intervene where a prospective adopter applies to bring a child into the UK there is a considerable risk that the child might be left in the situation where they have been legally adopted in Cambodia, and as such are no longer an orphan but are unable to enter the UK with their adoptive parents. This would pose a significant risk to the individual child and would clearly be unacceptable.

I intend to consider reviewing the temporary suspension when the Cambodian Government pass new adoption legislation or if there is another development I
 
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consider to be significant, for example if Cambodia were to implement the 1993 Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Co-operation in respect of intercountry adoption.

Only in exceptional circumstances will I consider that the temporary suspension should not apply in a particular case. Any decision relating to a particular case will of course take account of what is in the best interests of the child and all the facts of the particular case.

HEALTH

National Health Service Continuing Care

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Dr. Stephen Ladyman): I am publishing today figures that detail the progress made on investigations into cases where individuals may have been inappropriately denied national health service care.

Strategic health authorities have been required to investigate cases where individuals may have been inappropriately denied fully funded NHS continuing care since 1996. Where investigations have revealed that care should have been provided the NHS has been recompensing, or will recompense, individuals for the cost of that care. This process has formed part of the Department's response to the health service ombudsman's report into long term care, which was published in February 2003.

The process began with each SHA reviewing and aligning the criteria for NHS continuing care within its area and ensuring that these criteria conformed with the legal position.

The Department requested that investigations, as far as possible, were completed by 31 March 2004. The number and complex nature of new cases presenting themselves during the three months from January to March 2004 posed significant challenges to meeting that deadline, but the NHS has remained committed to completing investigations as accurately and thoroughly as possible. At the end of March the NHS had completed 57 per cent. (6,713) of all outstanding investigations. This number is greater than the number of cases that the NHS was aware of at the end of December 2003, and demonstrates the NHS's commitment to completing cases promptly once they are received. The Department will check that those cases outstanding at the end of March have been completed as of the end of July. From then onwards I will expect any cases to be completed within two months of all the information on the case being received by the SHA. The situation in each SHA is summarised in the table.

Following the work carried out by SHAs in reviewing, revising and investigating the provision of fully funded NHS continuing care, awareness and application by the NHS is improving. The NHS expects to pay a total of over £180 million when all the cases received by the end of March 2004 have been investigated and restitution made for incorrect decisions. There is a timely appeal process for current cases, so that the need for a retrospective recompense process will decline.
 
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SHA NameNo. of CasesEligible forRecompenseInvestigations CompletedInvestigations Underway
Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire SHA0281370
Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire SHA34102110
Essex SHA1014626
North West London SHA10181191
North Central London SHA86461
North East London SHA016911
South East London SHA6018390
South West London SHA6219421
Northumberland, Tyne & Wear SHA27126172
County Durham and Tees Valley SHA1048178
North & East Yorkshire & North Lincs SHA2926693
West Yorkshire SHA25130219
Cumbria and Lancashire SHA15154186
Greater Manchester SHA5102240
Cheshire & Merseyside SHA107774422
Thames Valley SHA4181202
Hampshire and Isle of Wight SHA30386121
Kent and Medway SHA2418644
Surrey and Sussex SHA515860
Avon, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire SHA43612349
South West Peninsula SHA25433120
Dorset and Somerset SHA14448467
South Yorkshire SHA13823278
Trent SHA023679
Leics, Northants and Rutland SHA2920222
Shropshire and Staffordshire SHA3841219
Birmingham and The Black Country SHA1021373
West Midlands South SHA8237187
Total—England7706,7135,011

Toft Report

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Miss Melanie Johnson): In July 2002, the Government's chief medical officer, Sir Liam Donaldson, commissioned Professor Brian Toft to investigate the circumstances surrounding four adverse events that had occurred in the reproductive medicine units at the Leeds teaching hospitals NHS trust. This followed reports of a mix-up in treatment that led to mixed-race twins being born to a white couple.

Professor Toft's report is published today. He concludes that a mixture of inadvertent human error and systems failure was involved.

He makes a number of recommendations for the trust, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority and the Department. He also recognises that significant progress has already been made to address the issues his recommendations raise.

Responses by the trust, the HFEA and the Department to the recommendations directed specifically at them are also published today.

The Government recognise fully the distress that these mistakes and failings have caused to patients and their families, and the importance of ensuring that
 
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lessons are learned to minimise the likelihood of them happening again. We are grateful to Professor Toft for a thorough investigation, and welcome his report.

Copies of Professor Toft's report, and the responses to it by the trust, the HFEA and the Department have been placed in the Library.

DEFENCE

Army Base Repair Organisation

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Mr. Adam Ingram): The following key targets have been set out for the Army Base Repair Organisation for financial year 2004–05.
Key Target Details Target
KT1—financial performance—return on capital employed (ROCE).The measurement of ABRO's ROCE.To achieve a return, averaged over the period 1 April 2004 to 31 March 2005, of at least 3.5 per cent.
KT2—delivery performance.The measurement of revenue projection.To complete delivery of 100 per cent. of the planned revenue projection (£150 million) in FY2004–05, and in each of the next three years.
KT3—business systems.The measurement of the introduction and operation of TABS and the imperative to detach from the current supply system.To introduce and have operational the ABRO business system (TABS) and to have detached from the ESPPA supply system by 31 March 2005.
KT4—efficiencyThe measurement of the reduction in price of ABRO output.To reduce the average equipment repair price, across the whole programme, by 20 per cent. against the 2002–03 baseline.
KT5—winning workThe measurement of ABRO winning work.To maintain a closing order book of at least£80 million for FY2004–05 and to maintain this level for the next three years.


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