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Written Ministerial Statements

Tuesday 18 October 2005


Judicial Appointments Commission

The Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs (Ms Harriet Harman): My noble Friend the Secretary of State has made the following written ministerial statement:


Government Indemnity Scheme

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport (Mr. David Lammy): The provision for the Government Indemnity Scheme is made by the National Heritage Act 1980. The scheme facilitates public access to loans of works of art and other objects for public display made to museums, galleries and other such institutions by private owners and non-national institutions. It does this by indemnifying lenders against loss or damage to their loan. Loans covered by the scheme must be for public benefit. The scheme also covers loans of such objects for study purposes within borrowing institutions where this would contribute materially to the public's understanding or appreciation of the loan. Examples of this are enhancing interpretation or explanation to the public of objects, or bringing into the public domain the conclusions of any study.

In the six month period ended 31 March 2005, the following undertakings to indemnify were given under section 16 by the relevant Departments for objects on loan to national and non-national institutions. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport issued 970 undertakings, the Scottish Executive Education Department issued 186 undertakings and the National Assembly for Wales issued 159. This made a total of 1315 undertakings given under section 16. The Museums Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) issued a total number of 64 undertakings to non-nationals.

The value of contingent liabilities in respect of undertakings given at any time under section 16 and which remained outstanding as at 31 March 2005 for the
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Department for Culture, Media and Sport are £1,773,389,217.55. The value of section 16 contingent liabilities as at 31 March 2005 for the Scottish Executive Education Department are £656,814,466.00 and £80,350,537.00 for the National Assembly for Wales. The total value of contingent liabilities issued by MLA to non-nationals is £978,419,161.00

The value of non-statutory Undertakings given to Her Majesty in respect of loans from the Royal Collection and which remained outstanding as at 31 March 2005 are £133,424,160.00, £32,494,000.00 for the Scottish Executive Education Department and £4,720,000.00 for non-national museums issued by the MLA.

The grand total value of loans out by national institutions and to non-national institutions as remained outstanding at 31 March 2005 is £1,052,080,325.76.


Chaplains (Armed Forces)

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Don Touhig): In his written ministerial statement of 7 December 2004, my predecessor announced our intention to appoint the first chaplains to the Armed Forces from the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faith communities. These are the faiths, other than Christian, that are most represented in the Armed Forces.

Following a national recruitment campaign earlier this year, I am delighted to announce that chaplains from the Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim and Sikh faith communities have now been appointed. These chaplains will be employed as Ministry of Defence civil servants, but will be fully integrated members of the existing Service Chaplaincy organisation.

I am confident that their presence will contribute enormously to encouraging and promoting religious understanding and acceptance within the Armed Forces, and that they will provide comfort, support and valuable advice to individual service personnel who share their faith.

Details of the new chaplains will be released both internally and externally once they take up their fall formal duties following completion of a short period of induction and familiarisation training, during which they will learn about the Armed Forces and the work of the Service Chaplaincy organisation.


NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Jane Kennedy): The NHS Purchasing and Supply Agency's annual business plan has been published today and copies have been placed in the Library.
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The business plan highlights the Agency's achievements in 2004–05 and sets out the key tasks and targets for the coming year.

This comprehensive plan has been formulated within the context of the Agency's ongoing remit to lead the modernisation of the National Health Service purchasing and supply function and the arms length body review and the supply chain excellence programme. The Agency will undertake a stronger and more focused role in all areas critical to the delivery of NHS purchasing and supplies. The business plan sets out clearly how the Agency will achieve these aims.

Primary Care Trusts/Strategic Health Authorities

The Secretary of State for Health (Ms Patricia Hewitt): National Health Service spending is rising from £33 billion in 1997–98 to over £90 billion in 2007–08. This increased investment, together with reform and dedicated work by NHS staff, is transforming our hospitals, with reduced waiting times and lists, improved accident and emergency services and more up-to-date buildings and equipment.

Some 90 per cent., of people's contact with the NHS is in primary care and the challenge now is to improve primary and community services. It is better for patients and taxpayers if long-term conditions like diabetes and heart disease and care for our ageing population—the big challenges facing the NHS in the 21st century—are dealt with in the local community, rather than in hospitals.

The focus of services needs to shift more towards prevention, moving more services—like diagnostics, minor operations and other treatments—out of hospital wherever it is safe and effective to do so, and ensuring all communities get the services they need. We need to continue to reduce administrative costs, releasing further resources for frontline care.

This needs stronger primary care trusts to design, plan and develop better services for patients, to work more closely with local government, and more effectively to hold hospitals and general practitioners (GPs) to account. GPs should also play a more effective role in developing better services for patients and be more accountable to their local communities for spending taxpayers' money. That is why the Government are rolling out "practice-based commissioning", which will ensure that GPs help deliver better local services for patients. It will also deliver better value for money as GPs help patients avoid going into hospital unnecessarily, and spend the money they save on improving community services, including preventative measures.

To take this agenda forward in a planned way, with manageable timescales, "Commissioning a Patient-led NHS" was published on 28 July. Its purpose was to streamline strategic health authorities, strengthen primary care trusts and engage GPs with practice-based commissioning—all in the cause of improving services to patients. Rather than impose change from the centre, we asked SHAs to submit local proposals for consultation to the Department by 15 October. We asked them to work with local people and stakeholders, including honourable and right honourable members.
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The proposals have now been received, and are being analysed against the criteria set out by the NHS Chief Executive (Sir Nigel Crisp) on 28 July:

On 26 August, the Department sent a letter to all SHA chief executives stressing that proposals should consider the context of local health needs, and that different solutions from different SHAs would be encouraged, as long as they were justifiable against the above criteria. He also stressed the need to engage local stakeholders and partner organisations from the outset.

An external panel representing key interests has been established to advise Ministers on whether the proposals meet the criteria. The panel is chaired by Michael O'Higgins, managing partner and member of the international board of PA Consulting Group. Members include:

After this consideration, any proposals for changes to PCT boundaries will then go out for a three month statutory consultation to all local stakeholders and staff interests. This consultation will begin in early December 2005. No decisions on future local configurations will be taken until after this full statutory local consultation has been completed.

Changes to SHAs will precede changes to PCTs and any changes to the latter will not commence before April 2006. Any changes to PCTs' role in providing services will take place over a longer timescale and will be subject to consultation in the usual way. Any such changes will build on the results of the forthcoming White Paper on "Community Health and Social Care Services", based on the current listening exercise, "Your Health, Your Care, Your Say". Staff will be fully involved in deciding new arrangements and identifying which services will be best for patients. Any staff transferring to a new employer will, of course, be entitled to appropriate legal protection of their terms and conditions of employment. The social partnership forum have decided to set up a working group led by NHS employers to fully engage all trade unions in all workforce issues arising from the commissioning a patient-led NHS change programme.

A chronology of the CPLNHS programme, and a list the relevant key documents, has been placed in the Library.
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