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Mark Durkan: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will carry out a review of provision of therapy services for victims of child sexual abuse in Northern Ireland; and if he will allocate additional resources to ensure that all victims are provided with services and support. 
Paul Goggins: A sexual violence strategy is currently being developed for Northern Ireland. In developing the strategy the need for an assessment of existing medical, counselling and social support services is being explored.
Lady Hermon: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland pursuant to his letter of 19 October 2005 (COR/443/2005) on the Child Support Agency, when the chief executive of the Child Support Agency will be in a position to reply to the hon. Member for North Down. 
Dr. Alasdair McDonnell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what response his Department plans to make to the findings of the Health Protection Agency in relation to the effects on childhood leukaemia rates of living near electricity lines and pylons. 
Paul Goggins: The Stakeholder Advisory Group on extremely low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic fields (SAGE) was set up in response to the Health Protection Agency (HPA) advice and is sponsored by the Department of Health with funding contributions from the charity Children with Leukaemia and National Grid plc. SAGE has brought together stakeholders
to identify and explore the implications for a precautionary approach to ELF EMF and make practical recommendations for precautionary measures.
Stakeholders include representatives from UK Government Departments, industry, independent academics, regulators, public concern groups and associated professional groups. Government will be pleased to receive the SAGE report and will give it full consideration when it is completed in due course.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to encourage the wider use of calorie-free sweeteners as part of his strategy to reduce childhood obesity in the Province. 
Paul Goggins: The report of the Fit Futures taskforce on tackling obesity in children and young people was published in March of this year. The report included over 70 recommendations designed to deliver the public service agreement target to stop the increase in levels of obesity in children by 2010.
The wider use of calorie-free sweeteners was not advocated by the Fit Futures taskforce and does not form part of plans to reduce childhood obesity. Foods containing sweeteners are acidic and can contribute to dental erosion when sipped over long periods of time. They may also serve to encourage or maintain a preference for sweet foods. Children, especially young children, could be at risk of taking in more than the acceptable daily intake of sweeteners.
Paul Goggins: Information relating to percentages of children who are (a) overweight and (b) obese is not currently available for all children in Northern Ireland. However such information is available for all Primary 1 pupils from the Northern Ireland Child Health Systems. Table 1 below shows the percentage of Primary 1 pupils in Northern Ireland, 2003-04, who were overweight or obese.
|Table 1: Northern Ireland: 2003-04|
| Source: Child Health System (NI) 2003-04.|
Paul Goggins: Priorities and Budget 2006-08 contains a public service agreement target to stop the increase in levels of obesity in children by 2010. The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the Department of Education and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure share responsibility for the achievement of this target.
Paul Goggins: The report of the Fit Futures taskforce on tackling obesity in children and young people was published in March of this year. The report included over 70 recommendations designed to deliver the public service agreement target to stop the increase in levels of obesity in children by 2010. A response from the Ministerial Group on Public Health to the report, including a comprehensive, cross-departmental implementation plan is currently being developed.
Action to address key recommendations has, however, already commenced. The Department of Education, in conjunction with the -Education and Library Boards, began the implementation of New Nutritional Standards for School Meals in September 2005. Over 800 schools are now participating in this initiative and the remainder will be included by the end of 2006. Under the Extended Schools element of the Children and Young People funding package, £10 million is available each year in the period 2006-08 for allocation to schools in disadvantaged areas. The focus of Extended Schools will include healthy lifestyles and tackling childhood obesity.
As part of the Sport in Our Community Programme, the Sports Council for Northern Ireland is making a major investment to encourage more children to develop the basic physical movement skills required to facilitate sustained involvement in sport and a healthy and active lifestyle. In addition, the Health Promotion Agency has launched Every Step is a Forward Step, to promote the health benefits of physical activity and to encourage members of the public to undertake regular, moderate physical activity.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the volume of soft drinks which was consumed per day on average by (a) adults and (b) children in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months. 
Paul Goggins: Figures provided the Northern Ireland Food and Drinks Association (NIFDA) indicate that the average person in Northern Ireland drinks 122 litres of carbonated soft drinks per year, 13 litres more than people in the Republic of Ireland and 17 litres more than people in the UK as a whole.
No specific data is available regarding the volume of soft drinks consumed by children. However, information from the 2005 Child Wellbeing Survey indicates that 38.4 per cent. of children aged 8 to 11 years consume soft drinks at least once per day.
Nationally, the most recent information available on consumption of soft drinks by children dates back to the 1997 National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) of young people aged 4 to 18 years. This survey, carried out in England, Wales and Scotland, showed that average consumption of soft drinks by the 4 to 18-year age group in Britain in 1997 was 441g/day. Just over half of this (264g/day) comprised standard (i.e. other than low calorie) varieties.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what recent discussions he has had with the Food Standards Agency regarding the implications of calorific content of soft drinks on childhood obesity. 
Paul Goggins: My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has not had any recent discussions with the Food Standards Agency specifically relating to the impact of the calorific content of soft drinks on childhood obesity.
The Food Standards Agency Northern Ireland (FSA NI) was recently involved in the production of a report into childhood obesity presented to the Ministerial Group on Public Health, titled Fit Futuresfocus on food activity and young people!
The Fit Futures taskforce considered in detail the issue of food provision within schools, including the provision of food and drink through vending machines, and has recommended that food and nutrient-based standards should be introduced for all food in schools.
A cross-departmental working group has been set up in order to progress this issue. The FSA has developed a healthy drinks vending toolkit and other relevant resource materials to support the initiative.
The FSA nationally has commenced discussions with stakeholders on a strategy to address the calorie levels in certain food to help consumers achieve energy balance; the levels of sugar in some foods, including soft drinks, is being explored as part of this strategy.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans there are in Northern Ireland for statutory regulation of chiropractors from (a) the rest of the UK and (b) EU countries. 
Paul Goggins: There are no plans for further regulation as chiropractors in Northern Ireland like their colleagues in the rest of the United Kingdom are statutorily regulated under the Chiropractors Act 1994.
1. Chiropractors who practise in EU countries that have statutory regulation can apply to the GCC register under EU General Directive 89/48/EEC.
2. Where a EU country does not have statutory regulation of chiropractors the applicant may still be eligible for registration under the GCC (Registration of Chiropractors with Foreign Qualifications) Rules 2002. This allows applicants who hold a recognised qualification to apply for registration and would include passing a test of competence.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much has been spent in the Province on (a) drug treatment and (b) dietary advice for those at risk of elevated cholesterol levels in each of the last five years. 
|Cost of drugs (£ million)|
One of the classes of cholesterol-lowering drugs, known as the statins, can also be bought over the counter at community pharmacists, under pharmacist supervision, and this spend is not available. Most health professionals, such as GPs and nurses, would offer advice on a range of measures to improve health including advice on reducing cholesterol levels but the cost cannot be separately identified. Similarly, there is also hospital expenditure on cholesterol-lowering drugs, but the amounts in question are not identified.
Paul Goggins: Too many people in Northern Ireland are admitted to hospital unnecessarily or have their discharge delayed because the community services are not available to support them at home. A key element of our programme of reform for the Health and Personal Social Services (HPSS) is the expansion of community-based health and social care so that people can have access to quality services close to their own homes.
These will include a range of diagnostic, treatment, rehabilitation and social care support services specifically designed to support people to live independent lives and reduce unnecessary reliance on acute hospital services.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many complementary therapists are practising in Northern Ireland who are affiliated to a general practitioner practice; and what legislation is in place to ensure those offering this type of alternative medicine are qualified to do so. 
Osteopaths are statutorily regulated under the Osteopaths Act 1993 and chiropractors are statutorily regulated under the Chiropractors Act 1994. There is no statutory regulation of any other form of complementary or alternative therapy. Legislation which regulates doctors, nurses, midwives, health visitors, the professions registered by the Professions Allied to Medicine Act 1960 and pharmacists covers their practice of complementary or alternative therapies, or provision of advice by them to the public about such products.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what the average sickness rates were for staff employed at each district council in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years. 
The information on sickness rates within district councils is not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, the Local Government Auditor, under the provisions in Article 26 of the Local Government (Northern
Ireland) Order 2005, is in the process of collecting information about absenteeism for 2005-06. This information will be published and a copy will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he plans to introduce legislation in Northern Ireland containing provisions on sentences analogous with those in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 in England and Wales for those convicted of serious sexual or violent offences. 
Mr. Hanson: The indeterminate and extended sentences legislated for in the Criminal Justice Act 2003 are under consideration in the current review of the Sentencing Framework in Northern Ireland. Protection of the public will be central to my thinking in the development of a new Framework.
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