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24 Feb 2005 : Column 784W—continued


Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister when the Minister of State for Housing and Planning expects to respond to the letter from the hon. Member for West Worcestershire of 11 January. [217684]

Keith Hill: I replied to the hon. Member on 23 February.

Empty Dwellings

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many empty dwellings there have been in (a) Lancashire and (b) Chorley in each of the last three years. [217588]

Keith Hill: The requested information is tabled as follows:
Total number of vacant dwellings at 1 April, 2002–04


ODPM Housing Strategy Statistical Appendices return and Housing Corporation Regulatory and Statistical Return.

Mr. Hoyle: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister for what average length of time (a) council and (b) housing association properties were empty in the last period for which figures are available. [217595]

Keith Hill: No data are available to calculate the exact average length of time a council or a housing association property is vacant. However, figures for various vacant periods are available and are tabled as follows:
Local authoritiesRegistered social landlords
Length of vacant at 1 April 2004Number of dwellingsNumber of dwellings/bedspaces
Three weeks or less12,2009,100
Between three weeks and six weeks8,9006,000
Between six weeks and six months15,70011,200
Between six months and one year6,5005,800
Over one year14,20012,600

ODPM Business Plan Statistical Appendices Annual Monitoring return and Housing Corporation Regulatory and Statistical Return

Sarah Teather: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister how many (a) interim and (b) final empty property management orders have been issued in London since the Housing Act 2004 entered into force, broken down by local authority. [217615]

Keith Hill: No interim or final empty dwelling management orders have been made since the Housing Act 2004 received Royal Assent as the provisions have not yet been commenced.

It is currently the intention of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister to commence the provisions on empty dwelling management orders in October 2005 following public consultation and the making of secondary legislation.

Green Flag Award

Mr. Don Foster: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister in respect of how many parks and green spaces (a) successful and (b) unsuccessful applications were made for the Green Flag Award scheme in each year since 1997; and how many parks and green spaces there are in England. [217796]

Phil Hope: The number of Green Flag Award successful and unsuccessful applicants since the Scheme's inception in 1997 are:
Number of:
successful applicantsunsuccessful applicants

24 Feb 2005 : Column 785W

An estimate of the total number of parks and green spaces in England was made in the "Public Parks Assessment" (May 2001), which suggested there were 27,000 parks covering 143,000 hectares.

Mobile Phone Base Stations

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make low-height base stations with wall-mounted antennae subject to normal planning and public consultation requirements; and if he will make a statement. [217701]

Yvette Cooper: The permitted development rights for electronic communications code system operators are set out in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) (Amendment) (England) Order 2001 (SI 2001 No. 2718). These permit some wall mounted antenna and exclude others. Those excluded will require planning permission.

Dr. Stoate: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will subject the planning process associated with the erection of mobile phone base stations to independent review as recommended by the National Radiological Protection Board Report, "Mobile Phones and Health 2004". [217703]

Yvette Cooper: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Hampstead and Highgate (Glenda Jackson) on 18 January 2005, Official Report, column 869W.

Sickness Absence

Mr. Hammond: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what initiatives his Department is taking to reduce the numbers of sick days taken by staff in the Department. [216621]

Yvette Cooper: Sickness absence is managed as part of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's objective of continually seeking ways to improve the health and welfare of its staff in a sensitive and supportive way.
24 Feb 2005 : Column 786W
While recognising that staff should return to work only when they are fit and ready to do so, we are committed to managing sickness absence effectively.

To improve the effective management of sickness absence in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, we are improving the mechanism used for collecting, analysing and monitoring sickness absences. Workshops for staff have commenced so that they can better understand the sickness absence procedures. In addition, we will promulgate the recommendations identified by the Ministerial Taskforce in their "Managing Attendance in the Public Sector Delivery Plan". A copy of the report can be found at


Bedside Telephones (Charges)

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the rates of telephone charges for patients using bedside telephones in NHS hospitals; and if he will make a statement. [216152]

Mr. Hutton: Bedside television and telephone services are now provided at around 75,000 beds in 155 national health service hospitals. Typically, the cost for an outgoing call made by the patient from the bedside is around 10 pence per minute (minimum 20 pence).

Crohn's Disease (Children)

Mr. Beggs: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children in England are diagnosed as suffering from Crohn's disease; what treatment provision is available to them; and what the average cost of treatment is per child. [216926]

Dr. Ladyman: Information on the numbers of children diagnosed with Crohn's disease and the average cost of treatment is not available. There were 2,491 admissions involving children and young people up to the age of 18 with a primary diagnosis of Crohn's disease to hospitals in England in 2003–04. Most patients will be treated with drugs, including steroids, to reduce inflammation or by means of special liquid feeds to rest the bowel. Surgery may be required to remove narrowed or damaged parts of the intestine. The cost of treatment will vary according to the severity of the condition and any complications. Examples of costs of selected hospital inpatient elective treatments for people with Crohn's disease are shown in the table.
Primary diagnosis of Crohn's disease: examples of costs and numbers

Healthcare resource groupNational average cost per elective (£)Number of in-patient finished admission episodes (all ages)Number of in-patient finished admission episodes (0–18 years)
P12—Major gastrointestinal or metabolic disorders1,8151,5401,540
F54—Inflammatory bowel disease—endoscopic or intermediate procedures in people under age 70 without complications1,0684,888392
F06—Diagnostic procedures; oesophagus and stomach605362151
F56—Inflammatory bowel disease in people under age 70 without complications1,0797,12699
F32—Large intestine—very major procedures4,58778974

1. A finished admission episode is the first period of in-patient care under one consultant within one healthcare provider. Please note that admissions do not represent the number of in-patients, as a person may have more than one admission within the year.
2. The primary diagnosis is the first of up to 14 (seven prior to 2002–03) diagnosis fields in the hospital episode statistics (HES) data set and provides the main reason why the patient was in hospital.
3. The main operation is the first recorded operation in the HES data set and is usually the most resource intensive procedure performed during the episode. It is appropriate to use main operation when looking at admission details, e.g., time waited, but the figures for "all operations count of episodes" give a more complete count of episodes with an operation.
4. Figures have not been adjusted for shortfalls in data (i.e. the data are ungrossed).
5. Healthcare resource groups (HRGs)—it should be noted that there may be many OPCS/ICD codes that map to a single HRG (a category into which similar treatments are grouped) and these are the national average costs at HRG level—they are not the costs of the individual codes within the HRG, so the actual costs of such OPCS codes, etc. may differ from those detailed.
Finished admission episodes: HES, Department of Health.
National average costs: Reference Costs 2003 [relating to the financial year 2002–03] for activity undertaken by national health service trusts in England, for NHS patients.

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