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13 Sep 2006 : Column 2306W—continued

Ms Rosie Winterton: Officials in the Department regularly meet with officials from strategic health authorities to discuss a number of issues. These
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discussions are focused on the delivery of key targets for sexual health rather than funding issues which are a local matter for primary care trusts.

Speech and Language Therapists

John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are being taken by her Department to increase the number of speech and language therapists in England; and if she will make a statement. [90683]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Workplace planning is a matter for local determination. It is for individual primary care trusts to determine how to use the funding allocated to them to commission speech and language services to meet the health care needs of their local populations.

The number of qualified speech and language therapists employed in the national health service has increased by 1,888 (39 per cent.) since September 1997 and the number of students entering training to become a qualified speech and language therapist has increased by 75 per cent. since 1998-99.

Thrombosis

John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with the Chief Medical Officer regarding the forthcoming publication of the recommendations of the expert working group on serious thromboembolism. [81889]

Caroline Flint: The Government response to the House of Commons Health Committee's report on the prevention of venous thromboembolism in hospitalised patients was presented to Parliament by the Secretary of State for Health in July 2005. The response included a reference to a letter that the Chief Medical Officer had written to all doctors on this topic, and a commitment to set up an independent expert working group which would make its recommendations by summer 2006. The report and recommendations were submitted to the Chief Medical Officer on 17 July 2006. The Chief Medical Officer is now considering its findings and the next steps for implementation of any of the recommendations.

John Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether she expects the recommendation of the expert working group on serious thromboembolism to the published in July. [81890]

Andy Burnham: The independent expert working group on the prevention of venous thromboembolism in hospitalised patients was asked to submit its report and recommendations to the Chief Medical Officer by July 2006. The report was completed and submitted on 17 July 2006. The Chief Medical Officer is now considering its findings and the next steps for implementation of any of the recommendations.

Water Act

Charlotte Atkins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what assessment she has made of the likely impact of the delay in implementing outstanding sections of the Water Act 2003 on the work of strategic
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health authorities in undertaking formal consultations on water fluoridation; [90477]

(2) which sections of the Water Act 2003 are not yet in force; [90478]

(3) when she plans to bring outstanding sections of the Water Act 2003 into force. [90479]

Ms Rosie Winterton: We commenced sections 58(5), (6) and (8) of the Water Act 2003 in February 2005 to enable regulations to be made on the consultations that strategic health authorities (SHAs) will have to undertake before requiring a water undertaker to fluoridate their water and the indemnities available to water undertakers who fluoridate a water supply. We are in contact with SHAs so that we may commence the remaining provisions within section 58 when required.

Winchester and Eastleigh Healthcare NHS Trust

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the likely impact on (a) waiting lists, (b) bed availability and (c) out-patient care of the financial (i) position and (ii) action announced by Winchester and Eastleigh healthcare NHS trust. [91091]

Ms Rosie Winterton: It is for primary care trusts in partnership with strategic health authorities and other local stakeholders to determine how best to use their funds to meet national and local priorities for improving health, tackling health inequalities and modernising services.

Worthing Hospital

Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who instructed Tribal MGB of Chislehurst to carry out a valuation of the Worthing hospital site. [90775]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This is a local matter. The NHS South East Coast has advised that neither it nor national health service organisations in West Sussex have commissioned a valuation in respect of this property.

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received from (a) within the NHS and (b) the public about the future of Worthing Hospital and its services. [90829]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has received approximately 52 letters from members of the public on the future of Worthing Hospital and its services. It is not possible to determine how many of these letters might have been from national health service employees.

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information has been sent by her Department to the Prime Minister's Office on the future of Worthing's hospital. [90968]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The future of Worthing hospital is an issue for the local national health service.


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Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Algeria

Jeremy Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether under the Memorandum of Understanding she reached with the Algerian Government on the use of torture those deported from the UK to Algeria will be treated as if the UN Convention on Torture applied to them in Algeria. [91074]

Dr. Howells: There is no Memorandum of Understanding with the Algerian Government nor are we seeking one. A framework for deportations to Algeria was concluded during President Bouteflika's visit to London on 11 July 2006. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and President signed an Exchange of Letters on deportation—the letters have been placed in the Library of the House. This exchange will be supplemented by individual assurances in each case.

The Government are satisfied that these arrangements and the changing circumstances in Algeria allow the UK to deport individuals in a manner consistent with its domestic and international human rights obligations. The Special Immigration Appeals Commission recently dismissed an appeal against deportation by terrorist suspect ‘Y’, ruling that he would not face a real risk of inhuman or degrading treatment if he were returned to Algeria.

Algeria is a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Arms Trade

Chris Huhne: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what enquiries have been made into the way in which British export restrictions were evaded in the case of British made night sight equipment found in the hands of Hezbollah forces in South Lebanon; and what findings have resulted. [91045]

Dr. Howells: We have been in close touch with the Israeli Defence Force who have confirmed that British made night vision goggles were not found in Lebanon, as media reports have suggested. There were however two pieces of British equipment found. One was a commercially available remote video camera for which no export licence was required. The other was a thermal imaging system that was exported under licence in 1999. Proper procedures were followed at the time, including making a careful risk assessment. This concluded there was no reason to suspect that the equipment would be used for anything other than its described purpose.

All applications are assessed against the Consolidated EU and National Export Licensing Criteria and other prevailing circumstances at the time of application. If there is any risk that the equipment will be diverted from its stated end use, a licence will not be issued. If information comes to light about possible diversion of equipment after export, this will be taken into account when assessing future applications.

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment her Department has made of the Chinese Government's request for the lifting of the EU-China arms embargo; and if she will make a statement. [91070]


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Mr. McCartney: The EU has a common approach on this issue. The European Council announced a review of the EU arms embargo in December 2003, which is ongoing. As set out in the December 2004 European Council Conclusions, the result of any decision on the embargo should not be an increase in arms exports from EU member states to China, either in quantitative or qualitative terms. EU leaders also recalled the importance of the criteria of the Code of Conduct on arms exports, in particular criteria regarding human rights, stability and security in the region and the national security of friendly and allied countries. The Government continue fully to implement the arms embargo.

British Nationals (Foreign Prisons)

Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs for which British nationals in foreign prisons the Government has asked for clemency or for release in the past 15 years; and what the reasons were in each case. [90830]

Mr. McCartney: We do not ask for clemency or release for British nationals in foreign prisons but will support a plea for clemency made by a prisoner in certain circumstances. Our clemency policy is outlined in an answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, North and Fleetwood (Mrs. Humble) by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister of State (Brian Wilson) on 2 May 2001, Official Report, column 629W. Specific details on cases for which we have supported pleas for clemency are not held centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Additionally, for data protection reasons, we cannot give out names of individuals for whom we have supported clemency pleas.

Carbon Emissions

Mr. Hollobone: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps her Department is taking towards being carbon neutral. [91022]

Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave on 19 July 2006, Official Report, columns 490-91W, to the hon. Member for Eastleigh (Chris Huhne). The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is committed to achieving carbon neutrality on our estate by 2012.

Child Protection

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many new cases were handled by the Child Abduction Unit in each of the last five years; and what its operating budget was in each year. [90889]

Mr. McCartney: The Child Abduction Section at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) records statistics on cases of international parental child abduction or retention brought to its attention and where it has offered consular assistance to British nationals, rather than recording the total number of abductions from the United Kingdom. The FCO usually provides assistance in abduction and retention
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cases in countries which are not party to the 1980 Hague Convention on International Child Abduction. The Child Abduction Section was established in 2003 so statistics are not available before then.

Cases recorded

2003

240

2004

295

2005

208


The operating budget for the section was as follows:

Financial year Total budget (£)

2003-04

46,253

2004-05

181,167

2005-06

237,598

2006-07

250,659

Total

715,677


Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assessment has been made of the effectiveness of protocols and the aspects of the Hague Treaty regarding reciprocal recognition by foreign courts of custody and residence and contact orders made by UK courts. [90890]

Mr. McCartney: Since the UK-Pakistan Protocol was signed in 2003, the Child Abduction Section in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has recorded 72 cases of child abduction to Pakistan. Although we do not have statistics on cases prior to that time, we believe that the protocol has proven instrumental in concluding many child abduction cases and broader policy issues between the two countries that may otherwise have not been resolved. As far as Hague Convention signatory countries are concerned, the Hague Convention Special Commission in November will provide an opportunity for further assessment to be made on how the convention is working in practice.

Mr. MacNeil: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what international police liaison and intelligence arrangements are in place to assist efforts to ensure the location and legally mandated return from overseas of children or minors removed from, or encouraged or facilitated to leave, the jurisdiction of the UK courts in contravention of valid awards of custody or residence; and which countries are engaged in dialogue with the Department on securing improved co-operation and recognition of reciprocal agreements. [90891]

Mr. McCartney: When minors are removed from the UK in contravention of existing UK court orders, the UK police will work through Interpol to determine their location overseas. If the minor has been taken to a country that is a signatory to the Hague Convention, the normal procedures will be taken under the Hague Convention through the relevant central authority. When a non-Hague Convention country is involved, the matter has to be resolved through the courts in the respective countries. We encourage those countries not already signed up to the Hague Convention to consider becoming signatories. We are in regular dialogue with a number of non-Hague Convention countries on international child
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abduction, including Pakistan with which we have a bilateral judicial protocol in place which serves to return children to their country of habitual residence for matters of custody to be resolved there.

Cyprus

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent meetings she has had with the Government of Turkey to discuss that country’s occupation of part of Cyprus. [90962]

Mr. Hoon: My right hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary last met the Turkish Foreign Minister on 18 July 2006, when she discussed Turkey’s continued support for a comprehensive settlement in Cyprus. During my visit to Turkey on 11 September 2006, I also discussed prospects for progress towards a Cyprus settlement. We continue fully to support the efforts of the UN.

Darfur

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in establishing a multilateral force to take over from the African Union in Darfur; what recent assessment she has made of the situation in Darfur; and if she will make a statement. [90753]

Mr. McCartney: UN Security Council Resolution 1706, which the UK sponsored, was passed on 31 August and calls for a UN force to take over from the African Union (AU) in Darfur. This resolution demonstrates our continued commitment to practical and viable steps to resolve the humanitarian crisis in Darfur. The security situation in Darfur is deteriorating and there is an increase in violent attacks. We condemn the Government of Sudan's attempts to resolve the situation through military action, which is completely at odds with the Darfur Peace Agreement. The Sudanese Government must now move to co-operate with the UN and enable a UN force to succeed the AU force in Darfur.


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