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Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills on what occasions a statutory instrument sponsored by his Department has been reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments as defective since October 2005. 
Mr. Dhanda: Statutory instruments produced by the Department for Education and Skills were reported by the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments for defective drafting on six occasions during the period in question.
Beverley Hughes: Three Sure Start Local Programmes (SSLPs) covering 1,640 children under four and their families were set up in the Leicester South constituency between 2000 and 2003. All SSLPs are becoming Sure Start childrens centres and will offer services to children under five years of age and their families. There are three Sure Start childrens centres up and running in the Leicester South constituency covering 2,050(1) children under five and their families. Two of these centres build on existing SSLPs.
(1) 2,050 children include 771 children previously served by the two SSLPs that have become childrens centres.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when he expects to publish the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safetys guidance on abortion in Northern Ireland; which (a) individuals and (b) organisations were involved in drawing up the draft guidance; what the timetable is for the consultation; and if he will make a statement. 
The aim is to publish guidance on abortion in Northern Ireland early next year. In developing the guidance the Department has taken on board the views of representatives from a wide range of professional and specialty backgrounds including nursing and midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology, public health, psychiatry, clinical genetics, family
planning doctors and general practitioners. It is proposed to issue draft guidance to interested parties for consultation in September.
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who the members of the working party on guidance on abortion in Northern Ireland are; what relevant specialist qualifications each holds; what the career of each has been to date; what criteria were used in selecting them; how many and what percentage are on the public record as (a) supporting and (b) opposing abortion; when the working party has met; what the (i) location and (ii) duration of each meeting was; whether a record of each meeting was kept; who attended each meeting; if he will list public meetings organised by the working party; who addressed each meeting; at what cost; who attended each public meeting; whether a record of each public meeting was kept; what the cost was of each public meeting, broken down by (A) administrative costs, (B) costs of refreshments and (C) other costs; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Goggins: Members of the working party were not asked about their personal views on abortion as the intention was that the working party should comprise individuals from a wide range of professional and specialty backgrounds including nursing and midwifery, obstetrics and gynaecology, public health, psychiatry, clinical genetics, family planning doctors and general practitioners.
The working party has met twice. The first time was 4 May 2005 at The Mount in Belfast and the second time was on 19 December 2005 at Castle Buildings, Stormont. The meeting on 4 May was exploratory in nature, and to enable a free and frank exchange of views no formal record was taken. Minutes of the meeting on 19 December at Castle Buildings will be placed in the Library. This document includes details of members of the working party.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the decision to allow civil partnership couples the right to adopt children in Northern Ireland. 
Paul Goggins: No one has the right to adopt and the proposed new legislation will continue to uphold this principle. However, the law must establish basic criteria which a person must satisfy in order to be eligible to apply to adopt. Under Northern Irelands existing adoption legislation, the Adoption (Northern Ireland) Order 1987, a single person of either sex, irrespective of their sexual orientation, may apply to adopt a child. Only married couples may apply to adopt a child jointly. Civil partners, however, are unable to adopt either jointly or singly.
On 4 July I launched a public consultation Adopting the Future, which outlines a proposed strategy for adoption services in Northern Ireland. One of the proposals designed to increase the opportunities for children to be adopted is that civil partners and
unmarried couples (whether of different sexes or the same sex) living as partners in an enduring family relationship should be eligible to adopt jointly.
As is currently the case, where persons are eligible to adopt, they will be required to undergo a rigorous assessment of their suitability before any placement or adoption can take place. Every child deserves a safe and happy childhood. Where this is not possible within their own family or extended family, it is essential that every effort is made to secure permanence for the child as early as possible. If a couple in an enduring partnership can demonstrate that they can provide a child with a secure and happy home, where that child can thrive and be cared for into adulthood and beyond, the law should at least allow the couple to be assessed.
I am aware that this is a sensitive issue and would reiterate that these proposals are part of a consultation process. Everyone who has a contribution to make is welcome to do so and all views will be taken into consideration.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what precautions will be put in place by social services when children are placed for adoption in civil partnership settings. 
Paul Goggins: In order to be approved as adoptive parents, any prospective adopter or couple is required to undergo a stringent assessment process carried out by an adoption agency over a period of several months. The assessment includes:
Checks on medical history and police checks
Current conditions in the applicants lives
Motives for adoption
Knowledge and experience of children
Capacity for the parenting role
Expectations concerning the child
Identity and culture
Relations and other social networks
Personality and interests
Religion and attitude to life
Openness to individual difference
Proper assessment is the key to ensuring that only suitable people are ultimately able to adopt. There is a range of qualities a single person or a couple need to demonstrate before they can be approved as adoptive parents.
Where an adoption agency has decided that adoption of a child by a particular person or couple would be in that child's best interests, social services are required to monitor the placement and ongoing support is available until an adoption order is made. Ultimately, the court will decide whether or not to make the adoption order.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many arson attacks have been recorded on (a) homes, (b) commercial premises and (c) industrial premises in each of the last three years. 
|Dwelling premises( 1)||Commercial premises( 2)||Industrial premises( 3)|
|(1) Dwelling includes houses (occupied and unoccupied) and caravans used as dwellings. (2) Commercial premises include buildings such as shops, banks, licensed premises, restaurants, and petrol stations. (3) Industrial premises include buildings such as factories, warehouses, and haulage depots.|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Department of Social Development has taken to assist those receiving incapacity benefits to get back into work in rural areas in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement. 
Maria Eagle: The Department for Employment and Learning (DEL) helps employers fill vacancies and assists jobseekers to find employment through a network of 35 Jobs and Benefits offices (JBOs) and JobCentres located in towns and cities throughout Northern Ireland.
Within the JBOs, personal advisers carry out work-focused interviews to help those on working age benefits, including incapacity benefit (IB), identify any barriers to work and encourage them to address these, assess job-readiness and assist clients into work or training programmes or towards other support which will improve their options and capability for work. The process has recently been improved through the introduction of action plans for people who are ill, have a disability or are lone parents.
The Department has been piloting the Pathways to Work initiative in three areas (Ballymoney, Lurgan and Magherafelt) since 3 October 2005 and in Newtownabbey, Enniskillen and Newry since April 2006. The initiative builds on existing provision and offers early, sustained support from specially trained personal advisers with the aim of helping IB recipients consider a return to work. The support package includes innovative health rehabilitation programmes with a work focus, to help clients understand and manage their health condition. New financial incentives include a £40 a week return to work credit to help make work pay for those moving into a job paying less than £15,000 per annum.
The pilot will be expanded to a further four offices by the end of 2006, covering 30 per cent. of clients making a fresh claim to incapacity benefit. The choice of pilot locations has taken account of the rural/urban mix and the potential impacts on the client group in rural areas. It is recognised that the costs of attending mandatory interviews are likely to be greater for those living in rural areas so travel costs are paid and interviews are arranged at a time to suit the client.
Mrs. Iris Robinson:
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps the Department of
Health, Social Services and Public Safety is taking (a) to inform users of beta blockers of the proposed gradual withdrawal of this drug without causing distress or anxiety and (b) to ensure that general practitioners withdraw beta blockers gradually from patients with high blood pressure. 
Paul Goggins: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) recently produced clinical guidelines on the management of high blood pressure in adults; this includes new guidance relating to the use of beta-adrenoceptor blockers. Beta blockers are also used for a number of other clinical conditions. Beta blockers are not being withdrawn and remain a licensed medicine for use in Northern Ireland.
I recently announced the establishment of a formal link between NICE and the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, and will shortly confirm the arrangements for determination of the applicability of NICE guidelines to the HPSS in Northern Ireland. The Department will give specific consideration to the communication of information contained in this particular guidance
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people prescribed beta blockers in Northern Ireland in the last 12 months have ailments other than high blood pressure. 
Paul Goggins: Information is only available on the total number of beta-adrenoceptor blocking drug items dispensed in primary care in the past 12 months. Information is not available on the actual number of individuals that this relates to or the ailment for which the drug has been dispensed.
|Table 1: Number of beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs dispensed|
|Source: Prescription cost analysis, Central Services Agency|
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many patients prescribed beta blockers for high blood pressure in Northern Ireland are over the age of 55; and if he will make a statement. 
Paul Goggins: The information is not available for the clinical condition of high blood pressure or for the age group requested but only on the total number of beta-adrenoceptor blocking drug items dispensed in primary care in the past 12 months.
|Number of blocking beta-adrenoceptor drugs dispensed|
Prescription Cost Analysis, Central Services Agency
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people in Northern Ireland were prescribed beta blockers for high blood pressure in the last 12 months, broken down by board area. 
Information is only available on the total number of beta-adrenoceptor drug items dispensed in primary care in the past 12 months. This information is not readily available by health board
area, nor is information available on the actual number of individuals that this relates to.
|Number of beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs dispensed|
Prescription Cost Analysis, Central Services Agency.
|Total ingredient cost for beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs|
1. Total ingredient cost refers to gross cost before discount, except for drugs listed in the Northern Ireland drug tariff that have already had discount applied.
2. The costs provided only cover drugs dispensed in primary care. Costs of drugs prescribed and dispensed in hospital cannot be captured central due to the use of different hospital IT systems.
Prescription Cost Analysis, Central Services Agency.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has made of the potential effects on costs arising from the transfer of patients from using beta blockers to other drugs available for high blood pressure; and how long the transfer will take to implement. 
Paul Goggins: Information is not available for the clinical condition of blood pressure. It is anticipated that pharmacological costs may rise due to the transfer of patients from beta-adrenoceptor blocking drugs to ACE inhibitors. Cost impact assessments made by NICE indicate however that full implementation of the NICE guideline achieved over a number of years might produce some savings as a result of reduced numbers of strokes and ischaemic heart disease. No estimate has been made of possible corresponding savings that might occur in Northern Ireland.
The timescale for implementation of this change is dependent upon the needs of individual patients. It is particularly important that patients do not stop using their medication without seeking professional advice.
Mrs. Iris Robinson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people have experienced (a) side effects and (b) life-threatening side effects as a direct result of being prescribed beta blockers for high blood pressure in each of the last five years, broken down by board area. 
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