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7 Dec 2006 : Column 666W—continued

Margaret Beckett [holding answer 5 December 2006]: The road to Pattika—the only practicable overland route—had been reconnoitred on two occasions by British High Commission officials in advance of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales’s visit, and approved. Due to the large number of
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accompanying press, our High Commission in Islamabad hired additional vehicles and drivers from a local company to convey the party to Pattika. The High Commission had also explored the option of chartering a helicopter to transport the press party. However, the press party rejected this before arriving in Pakistan in preference for the overland route on grounds of cost; the press party reimbursed the High Commission the full cost of hiring these additional vehicles. They were accompanied throughout by British High Commission officials.

Andrew Mackinlay: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations were made in advance of the visit of HRH Prince of Wales by the UK High Commission in Pakistan to the Pakistan authorities on the conveying of press accreditation passes by police officers to Pattika; and if she will make a statement. [107514]

Margaret Beckett [holding answer of 5 December 2006]: No representations were made to the Pakistan authorities in advance of the visit of His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales by our High Commission in Islamabad on the conveying of press accreditation passes by police officers to Pattika. The travelling UK press party accompanying the visit were already in possession of their press accreditation. Security arrangements made for members of the local press were a matter for the Pakistani authorities.

Public Appointments

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs which public appointments have been made by her Department to former Ministers who have served in the Government since May 1997. [105763]

Mr. Hoon: The right hon. Paul Boateng was appointed British High Commissioner to South Africa in May 2005.

The right hon. Helen Liddell was appointed British High Commissioner to Australia in July 2005.

My noble Friend Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean was appointed as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on deportation from the UK, from 1 October to 31 December 2005.


Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what assistance her Department offered to UK citizens in Tonga during the recent civil unrest. [107098]

Mr. McCartney: The New Zealand High Commission in Nukualofa, with whom we have a consular assistance agreement, assisted in the departure of two British Nationals from Tonga during the recent unrest.

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UN Peacekeepers: Criminal Justice

Mr. Clifton-Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations she is making on bringing United Nations peacekeepers accused of rape or exploitation while on UN service to justice in their home nation; and what reports she has received on the bringing to justice of people accused of such acts in (a) Haiti and (b) Liberia. [104795]

Dr. Howells: The UK continues to support the actions of the UN Secretary-General to implement a “zero-tolerance” approach to sexual exploitation and abuse in all UN missions. The UN is now focusing on five key areas to ensure that peacekeepers who commit crimes are brought to justice and to prevent further abuse:

The UK is working closely with the EU and other partners to ensure that work is concluded successfully in all these areas. Our permanent representative to the UN participated in a high-level conference on eliminating sexual exploitation and abuse by UN and non-governmental organisation personnel, organised by the Department for Peacekeeping Operations in New York on 4 December 2006.

We will also be working in the special session of the UN General Assembly's Committee on Peacekeeping Operations later this month to ensure that progress is made towards agreeing the model MOU between the UN and troop-contributing countries.

On the recent allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse in Liberia and Haiti, the Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, Jane Holl Lute, stated on 4 December that

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We will be monitoring the progress of UN follow-up to these allegations closely.

In Liberia, the Government, together with national and international partners, launched a campaign on 4 December to combat sexual exploitation and abuse.


Audiology Services

Andrew Stunell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects to publish the action plan to reduce waiting times for audiology services referred to in Tackling Hospital Waiting: The 18 Week Patient Pathway; and if she will make a statement. [105925]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Our intention is to publish the action plan early in 2007.

There are currently long waits for audiology services across the country. A working group is looking at a range of solutions to these waits that could be included in the action plan. A key element of the plan will be the procurement of 300,000 additional pathways from the independent sector.

Avian Influenza

Sandra Gidley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment she has made of the risk of a new strain of the H5N1 avian influenza virus causing a pandemic of human influenza. [103610]

Ms Rosie Winterton: Our assessment of the risk of a pandemic emerging is based on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO).

The WHO pandemic alert level remains at pre-pandemic alert phase three, which pertains to there being very limited human to human transmission. Although there have been no major changes in the behaviour of H5N1 viruses in humans or animals since they emerged a decade ago, it is possible that they could change. This could lead to more efficient transmission among humans.

The WHO continues to monitor the situation carefully.

Bonus Payments

Keith Vaz: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was paid in bonuses to civil servants in her Department in each financial year of the last five years; how many civil servants received bonuses each year; and what criteria must a civil servant in her Department fulfil (i) to be considered for a bonus on top of their regular salary and (ii) to be awarded a bonus. [100770]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: The number of staff who received bonus payments in 2004-05 and 2005-06 and the total amount of bonus paid is set out in the following table.

Number Amount (£)







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The Department changed payroll provider contracts in 2003-04 and the cost of retrieving bonus information between 2001-02 and 2003-04 would be disproportionate.

For senior civil servants, the Department’s published senior pay strategy outlines the requirement for bonuses to be awarded for delivery of personal objectives or other short-term personal contributions to wider organisational objectives. Individuals are required to agree their priorities with their manager at the beginning of the performance year. Line managers then make recommendations for performance bonuses which are subsequently considered by the Department’s pay committees at the end of the performance year. The pay committee, which meets annually, will make a final decision on whether the bonus should be awarded, relative to the performance of others.

For staff within the integrated structure, the Department operates a Special Bonus scheme whereby managers may award a bonus to recognise an outstanding contribution in a particularly demanding situation. A temporary and substantial increase in job loading, dealing with pressures arising from temporary vacancies or job requirements, a high level of commitment and resolution to get a job done, difficulties requiring a special effort to overcome, or a contribution over and above what would normally be expected for the job and of the person, or team, concerned.

Breast Treatment

Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health further to her answer of 30 November 2006, Official Report, column 911W, on breast treatment, whether her Department remains committed to a target for all people with breast problems to be seen by a specialist within two weeks. [105277]

Caroline Flint: The Government set out their commitment to go further on cancer waits in their 2005 election manifesto.

Proposals for going further on cancer waits, including seeing all patients with breast symptoms within two weeks, will be taken forward as part of the cancer reform strategy being developed by the national cancer director.

Cancelled Operations

Mr. Vaizey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients in (a) Oxfordshire and (b) Wantage constituency have had operations cancelled at short notice in the last 12 months. [106568]

Andy Burnham: The Department does not collect the number of operations cancelled at short notice. The Department collects the number of operations cancelled at the last minute for non-clinical reasons. A last minute cancellation is a cancellation on the day patients were due to arrive, after the patient has arrived in hospital or on the day of their operation. The information is set out in the table.

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Cancelled operations for non-clinical reasons, quarter three 2005-06 to quarter two 2006-07
Organisation Number of last minute cancellations for non clinical reasons

Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre national health service trust


Oxford Radcliffe hospitals NHS trust


Department of Health, QMCO

Cardiovascular Risk Factors

Dr. Murrison: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she expects the National Screening Committee’s 2006 recommendations for cardiovascular risk factor screening to be implemented. [104375]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The National Screening Committee has recommended that screening certain subgroups of the population for type 2 diabetes is feasible, but that it should be part of a broader programme to detect and manage vascular risk factors.

Strategic health authorities’ local delivery plans include information on the development of at risk registers for coronary heart disease. These have focused up to now on those with a 30 per cent. 10-year risk of developing coronary heart disease, but for 2007-08 this will be amended to the new definition of a 20 per cent. 10-year risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD). This is consistent with the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) technology appraisal of statins, published in January 2006, which found that this was a clinically and cost-effective threshold for intervening with statins for the primary prevention of CVD.

NICE is currently working on guidance on lipid management, due out next year. That guidance will also address the issue of risk assessment for CVD in the United Kingdom population.

Care of the Elderly

Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many complaints were made to NHS institutions about care of the elderly while receiving treatment in 2005-06. [104304]

Mr. Ivan Lewis: Between 1 April 2005 to 31 March 2006, 1,511 written complaints were received about elderly (geriatric) services in hospital and community health services.

This type of information is not held for primary care services.


Sarah McCarthy-Fry: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment the Department has made of the effect on carers of the recent National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence decision on Alzheimer’s drugs. [106134]

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Mr. Ivan Lewis: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence’s appraisal of drugs for Alzheimer’s disease included an assessment of the impact of benefits accruing to carers from the use of these drugs. The Department has made no separate assessment.


Mr. Davey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many NHS patients were prescribed Carisoprodol in each year since 2000. [106270]

Andy Burnham: Information is not available in the form requested. The Department does not hold data on the number of people who are prescribed medication. However we hold data on the number of prescription items for Carisoprodol dispensed in the community, in England, and the net ingredient cost (NIC):

Items (Thousand) NIC (£000)



















Data is taken from the prescription cost analysis system.

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