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25 Oct 2005 : Column 251W—continued

Land Mines

Mr. Blizzard: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the US Administration on the use of antipersonnel landmine production. [20252]

Mr. Ingram: None. This is a matter for the US Administration.

Manning Levels

Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on manning levels in (a) the Army and (b) the Royal Navy. [20674]

Mr. Ingram: A comprehensive analysis of manning levels in the UK armed forces is given in Tri Service Publication (TSP) 4: UK Armed Forces Quarterly Press Release. This publication contains a wide range of information including strength data and intake to and
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outflow from the UK regular forces. The most recent version of TSP 4 showing the position as at 1 July 2005 was published on 25 August 2005.

For more recent summary information on strength and requirement I refer the hon. Member to the 1 September issue of TSP 3: UK Armed Forces Strengths and Requirements, published on 13 October 2005.

Copies of both publications are available in the Library of the House.

Transport Aircraft

Mr. Moore: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the operational status is of the Royal Air Force's VC10 fleet; and if he will make a statement. [21711]

Mr. Ingram: The VC10 fleet is currently meeting all its operational and training tasks, comprising the air-to-air refuelling and air transport roles.


Council Tax Revaluation

Lembit Öpik: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what the total amount of additional tax revenue collected by his Department was following the council tax revaluation process in Wales. [17279]

Nick Ainger: This Department does not collect council tax. Council tax is collected by local authorities to fund services they provide to their communities. There is no direct relationship between the revaluation and the overall amount of tax revenue. That is determined by the budgets set by local authorities in the context of grants made available by the Assembly Government. There was a 9.5 per cent. increase in tax revenue in 2005–06 because of the budget decisions of local authorities. This is in line with the increase in tax revenue in previous years.

Health Services

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will define his responsibilities with regard to health services within Wales. [21388]

Mr. Hain: The role of the Secretary of State is to act as the voice of Wales in the Cabinet and in Parliament. My responsibilities include ensuring that the interests of Wales are fully considered when Government policy is developed at Westminster and working with the devolved Administration in Cardiff. I am also responsible for the passage of Welsh legislation through Parliament, and act as a champion and public voice for Wales. As Secretary of State for Wales I regularly discuss health issues with colleagues within Government and the Assembly, and with Members of Parliament representing Welsh constituencies.
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IVF Treatment (Hampshire)

15. Mrs. Maria Miller: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to ensure IVF treatment is available in North Hampshire in line with National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence guidelines. [20920]

Caroline Flint: It is for the North Hampshire Primary Care Trust to implement, in North Hampshire, the clinical guideline on the assessment and treatment for people with fertility problems produced by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. Primary care trusts do so in liaison with patients' groups and local health bodies, taking account of local healthcare priorities .


16. Michael Connarty: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made with the provision of recombinant clotting products for people with haemophilia. [20921]

Caroline Flint: The final phase of the roll out of recombinant clotting products for all haemophiliac patients commenced on 1 April 2005 and will be completed by 31 March 2006.

NHS Beds

17. Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many beds there were in the NHS in England in (a) 1997–98 and (b) 2004–05. [20922]

Mr. Byrne: In 1997–98 there were 138,047 general and acute hospital beds in the national health service in England, of which 107,807 were acute beds. In 2004–05 there were 136,133 G and A beds, of which 109,505 were acute beds.

The NHS plan target of increasing the number of G and A beds by 2,100 from the 1999–2000 baseline was met in 2003–04.

Emergency Care

19. Chris Mole: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to improve access to emergency care in the community. [20924]

Mr. Byrne: The Department is committed to making emergency and urgent care as local and accessible as possible. Community based general practitioners, out-of-hours providers, minor injury units and walk-in centres already provide the bulk of such care. Improving access further is a key part of the current public consultation Your Health, Your Care, Your Say".

Avian Influenza

22. Jonathan Shaw: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to prepare for a potential pandemic of avian influenza. [20927]

Caroline Flint: The UK Government's Influenza Pandemic Plan was published on 19 October. The plan sets out our approach: to support the development of a vaccine against pandemic influenza, to build a stockpile
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of antiviral drugs to treat those who may become ill and to provide information to health professionals and the public.

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what amounts of vaccine for an H5N1 strain of influenza she plans to stockpile for use in the first wave of an avian influenza pandemic before the actual strain has been identified; and whether she has issued a tender for a pandemic vaccine to be manufactured as soon as the strain is identified. [19132]

Caroline Flint: We plan to stockpile two to three million doses of H5N1 vaccine. The vaccine may offer some protection against a pandemic strain of influenza, if the pandemic is similar to the H5N1 strain currently circulating in South East Asia. The vaccine will be used for research and may be offered to health care workers if the risk of a pandemic rises significantly.

On 19 October, the Department announced that manufacturers were being invited to tender for a contract to supply future requirements for around 120 million doses of a vaccine specifically against the pandemic strain. We intend to use this vaccine to offer vaccination to the United Kingdom population and reduce the impact of a pandemic on society.

Bill Wiggin: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice is being issued to poultry owners on the possible effects of avian influenza on (a) their and (b) their families' health. [19140]

Caroline Flint: The Government recognise the need for sound practical and risk based guidance to be available to the keepers of poultry and other birds. A joint poultry industry and cross departmental working group has been established chaired by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), with representatives from the Department of Health, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the Health Protection Agency (HPA), Defra and the State Veterinary Service, and the poultry industry. The working group will publish guidance to poultry keepers and others shortly.

Responsibility for guidance lies jointly with the Department, the HPA and the HSE and generic advice for poultry owners, their families and others is provided on their respective websites.

St. George's Hospital, Tooting

23. Martin Linton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the change has been in the funding of St. George's Hospital, Tooting since 1997. [20928]

Jane Kennedy: Audited accounts of the St. George's Healthcare NHS Trust 1997–98 to 2004–05 show that income at the trust has risen by £160.4 million from £173.1 million in 1997–98 to £333.5 million in 2004–05.

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