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1 Nov 2006 : Column 478Wcontinued
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports she has received on the expulsion of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General of the UN in Sudan from that country; and what assessment she has made of the likely effect of his expulsion on (a) a peace deal being secured in the region and (b) human rights in Sudan. 
The Government condemns the decision by the Sudanese Government to expel Jan Pronk, the UN Secretary-Generals Special Representative to Sudan. This step will contribute nothing to solving the problems of Sudan: Khartoum needs to co-operate with the UN to steer the comprehensive peace agreement to a successful conclusion and to bring an end to the appalling conflict in Darfur. We are in close contact with the UN
Secretariat on their response and have protested directly to President Bashir. We call upon the Sudanese Government to reconsider its decision.
But notwithstanding the next steps over this regrettable decision, UN efforts must and will continue to address the suffering of the people of Sudan.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent assessment she has made of democracy in Thailand; what assessment she has made of the effect of the political situation in Thailand on human, political and civil rights in that country; what discussions she has held on the restoration of democracy in Thailand; what representations she has made on the return to democracy in that country; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Hoon: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Minister for the Middle East gave to the hon. Member for The Wrekin (Mark Pritchard) on 9 October 2006, Official Report, columns 457-458W, and the reply given to the hon. Member by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Trade on 19 October 2006, Official Report, column 1398W.
Through our embassy in Bangkok and in conjunction with our international partners, we have made clear to the interim Thai administration that we regret the coup, that we call for an early lifting of martial law and other restrictions on political and individual liberty, and that we encourage the swift re-establishment of democracy.
With our EU and other partners, we shall continue to monitor closely the political situation in Thailand and its effect on human, political and civil rights, as well as the rule of law.
Mr. Walter: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if she will make representations to the Chinese government on the whereabouts of a party of Tibetan refugees travelling through the Nangpa La Pass between Tibet and Nepal on 30 September 2006. 
Mr. Hoon: The Office of the UN High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) in Nepal confirmed that 43 of the party of Tibetan refugees travelling through the Nangpa La Pass on 30 September 2006 arrived in Nepal; 41 have since travelled to India with UNHCR assistance. Following the reported shooting of one or more Tibetans on the Nangpa La Pass on this date, we have been working both bilaterally and with the EU to seek an urgent and transparent investigation by the Chinese government, including on the whereabouts of the remainder of the party. The EU raised the incident with the Chinese government at the EU-China Human Rights Dialogue, held in Beijing on 19 October 2006.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions she has had with the Permanent Representative of the UK to the UN on the election to the Security Council of a South American Member; what steps she plans to take on the matter; and which candidate she supports for the seat. 
Dr. Howells: My right. hon. Friend the Foreign Secretary has instructed the UK mission to the UN on how the UK should vote in the elections. However, it is long standing UK policy never to reveal voting intentions or decisions for UN Security Council elections. We are giving all candidates our fullest consideration, taking into account their contributions to the work of the UN, particularly on issues of international peace and security.
The UK places the greatest importance on the continued effectiveness of the Security Council and we hope that whoever is elected will contribute positively to its work.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made with the election of a South American member of the UN Security Council. 
Dr. Howells: As of 26 October, there have been 41 inconclusive ballots for the election of the Latin American and Caribbean seat on the Security Council for 2007-08. Neither Guatemala nor Venezuela has yet gained a two-thirds majority of those members of the General Assembly present and voting to be elected to the Council. The next ballot was scheduled for Tuesday 31 October.
Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent representations her Department has made to the government of Zimbabwe on (a) economic instability and inflation, (b) government instability, (c) human, civil and political rights, (d) treatment of prisoners, (e) treatment of children and (f) HIV/AIDS infection in that country. 
Dr. Howells: The situation in Zimbabwe is desperate, including the important issues raised by the hon. Member. We have raised our concerns directly with the Zimbabwean Government on many occasions. I summoned the Zimbabwean ambassador, Mr. Gabriel Machinga, in September, to protest against human rights abuses. Our ambassador in Harare has pressed senior Zimbabwean Government representatives, including the Reserve Bank Governor, on the urgent need far economic reform. We have taken action with EU partners, including a formal complaint over the arrests and detention of more than 400 women and children following Valentines day protests.
Working with local partners, the UK has committed £20 million to work on HIV prevention, anti retroviral therapy and behavioural change services.
Mr. Skinner: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people have been diagnosed with Alzheimers disease in the last ten years in (a) England and (b) the East Midlands. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The information requested is not held centrally.
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to ensure that clinicians continue to be able to exercise flexibility in prescribing drugs for people with Alzheimers disease following the guidance issued by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence. 
Andy Burnham: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has not yet published its final revised guidance to the national health service on drugs for the treatment of Alzheimers disease.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many pieces of correspondence her Department has received about the availability of drugs for Alzheimer's disease on the NHS since March 2005 from (a) hon. Members, (b) peers and (c) members of the public. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: Due to the way we record correspondence, we can only provide information going back as far as March 2005 at disproportionate cost. However, we can provide information on correspondence received since August 2005.
Since August 2005, we have received the following amount of correspondence about the availability of drugs for Alzheimers disease on the national health service:
1,425 letters from hon. Members;
two letters from peers; and
383 pieces of correspondence from members of the public.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps her Department is taking to ensure an adequate supply of qualified audiologists. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: A range of workforce supply initiatives are in place to ensure the national health service workforce continues to meet service needs. These include: improving pay and conditions; encouraging the NHS to become a better, more flexible and diverse employer; increasing training; investing in childcare and continuing professional development; attracting back returners and running national and international recruitment campaigns.
A BSc course in audiology was introduced in 2003-04.
The first cohort of BSc audiology students entered training in 2003-04 and is expected to graduate in 2006
The Departments commercial directorate is currently scoping a procurement of audiology services from the independent sector, as part of the independent sector treatment centre programme, which will add significant capacity and resource to audiology services in order to help tackle waiting lists. The procurement will be advertised during November, with service commencement during the latter half of 2007.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will take steps to encourage all eligible women to attend breast screening appointments; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Mammography is the most reliable method of detecting breast screening early but, like other screening tests, it is not perfect. Women invited to participate in the breast screening programme need to understand the potential benefits and harms in doing so and to be able to make an informed choice about whether or not they wish to proceed.
Information provided to women must be honest, comprehensive and understandable. That is why the NHS cancer plan stated that all eligible women will receive a national information leaflet on breast screening, which is now sent out with each invitation for screening and can be viewed at www.cancerscreening.nhs.uk
To raise awareness about the availability of breast cancer screening, NHS cancer screening programmes issued a regional communications pack to all local breast screening programmes in 2004. The packs include advice on raising the awareness of screening, including posters, and supplement local activity to promote the availability of breast screening. We encourage all women to make an informed choice on whether to accept their invitations to be screened.
Mr. Evennett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the average waiting time for cancer treatment in the London borough of Bexley was in (a) 1997 and (b) 2001. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The information for 1997 is not held centrally by the Department.
The first published data on the 31-day target for referral to treatment for rare cancers and for the 31-day target for diagnosis to treatment for breast cancer was 2001-02 quarter four as shown on the following table. Data have been used from Bromley Hospital National Health Service Trust, Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust and Queen Marys Sidcup NHS Trust. Queen Marys Sidcup did not have any rare cancer referrals in 2001-02 quarter four.
|Number of patients treated for childrens cancer, testicular cancer and acute leukaemia, and proportion of patients starting treatment within 31 days of GP referral, in Bexley region 2001-02quarter 4|
|Total number of patients treated during the quarter||Percentage of patients treated within 31 days of referral|
|(1) Figures are for Bromley Hospital NHS Trust and Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust. Source: CWT-Db, Department of Health|
|Number of patients treated for breast cancer, and proportion of patients starting treatment within 31 days of diagnosis, in Bexley region 2001-02quarter 4|
|Total number of patients treated during the quarter||Percentage of patients treated within 31 days of referral|
|(1) Figures are for Bromley Hospital NHS Trust, Queen Elizabeth Hospital NHS Trust and Queen Marys Sidcup NHS Trust. Note: The NHS Cancer Plan sets out new goals to reduce waiting times for diagnosis and treatment. The ultimate goal is that no one should wait longer that one month from an urgent referral for suspected cancer to the beginning of treatment except for a good clinical reason or through patient choice, it is hoped to achieve this by 2008. For some uncommon cancers like acute leukaemia, childrens and testicular cancer, this is what most patients already experience. For those patients that are routinely referred but subsequently diagnosed with cancer there will be a maximum one month wait from diagnosis to treatment by the end of 2005. There will also be a maximum two month wait from urgent GP referral to treatment for all cancers by 2005. There is a series of staged milestones towards this goal: Maximum one month wait from urgent GP referral to treatment guaranteed for childrens and testicular cancers and acute leukaemia by 2001. Maximum one month wait from diagnosis to treatment for breast cancer by 2001. Maximum two month wait from urgent GP referral to treatment for breast cancer by 2002. Maximum one month wait from diagnosis to treatment for all cancers from 2005. Maximum two month wait from urgent GP referral to treatment for all cancers from 2005. Source: CWT-Db, Department of Health|
Mr. Roger Williams: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will widen the remit and scope of investigations by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to include an assessment of the wider benefits of treatments to the carers and families of patients. 
Andy Burnham: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) already takes factors such as benefits to carers into account in its technology appraisals where it is appropriate to do so.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many primary care trusts had submitted advanced plans for community health services to strategic health authorities as of 31 September, 2006; and if she will make a statement; 
(2) how many representations her Department has received from North and East Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire strategic health authority regarding the implementation of the White Paper Our Health, our Care, our Say with specific reference to community hospitals; and if she will make a statement; 
(3) how many primary care trusts had bid for a portion of the £750 million of capital made available by her Department for community hospitals as of 30 September 2006; and if she will make a statement; 
Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many applications have been received from primary care trusts for money from the Community Hospitals Fund; and if she will make a statement. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The Department is committed to allocating £750 million of capital to primary care trusts (PCTs) for new community hospitals and services over the next five years. For the first allocation round, the deadline for PCTs to submit bids to their respective strategic health authorities (SHAs) was 30 September 2006. The deadline for SHAs to submit to the Department any bids they support is 21 October 2006.
Informal dialogue between the Department and SHAs has indicated that at least nine PCTs had submitted bids to their respective SHAs by 30 September 2006.
Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to dissolve Connecting for Health. 
Caroline Flint: Arrangements are currently in hand for NHS Connecting for Health to become a time-limited executive agency of the Department.
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