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Mr. Benyon: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many minutes of free telephone calls service men and women are allowed each week whilst serving on operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
Mr. Ingram [holding answer 19 December 2006]: The free welfare telephone allowance for service personnel serving on operations has recently been increased from 20 to 30 minutes per week at a cost of some £l million.
Mr. Ingram: The systems in place to investigate possible cases of fraud and corruption in the special air service (SAS) are in line with those of the wider Army. Like all other members of the armed forces, SAS personnel are covered by the military criminal justice system and are subject to the service discipline Acts. Primary responsibility for investigating any allegations of fraud or corruption will lie with either the Royal Military Police Special Investigation Branch or the Ministry of Defence Police Fraud Squad, depending on the nature and jurisdiction of the alleged offence. There has been one investigation into possible fraud in the SAS in the last three years and this is ongoing.
Mr. Hancock: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 5 January 2007, Official Report, column 110W, on thermal imaging, what his timetable is for the delivery of additional sights to front line troops. 
Mr. Ingram: An order has been placed to deliver 100 lightweight thermal imaging sights to the Army by the end of February and a further 300 sights by the end of March. The subsequent delivery of this equipment to operational theatres is a matter for military commanders.
Des Browne: One unit now deploys into the Bosnia and Kosovo theatre and is known as the Pan Balkans Infantry Battalion. Currently this role is filled by the 1st Battalion, the Welsh Guards, who have an average tour interval of 18 months.
Daniel Kawczynski: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the estimated cost is of the six Type 45 destroyers to be procured by his Department; and what the estimated cost was of the eight which were originally planned to be procured. 
Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 7 November 2006, Official Report, column 1502W, on weaponry, which of the weapons listed are capable of being physically carried by personnel in theatre on foot. 
General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG). Calibre 7.62 mm
81 mm Medium Mortar
Javelin Anti Tank Guided Weapon
Long Range Rifle. Calibre 8.6 mm
Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much the Bio Products Laboratory spent on the purchase of 24 plasma collection centres belonging to Life Resources Incorporated in the United States in the last five years; what revenue benefit to NHS Blood and Transplant these investments have produced; and what assessment she has made of the future of these facilities. 
In December 2002, the Department purchased the United States (US) plasma collector Life Resources Incorporated. This acquisition included the purchase of 24 centres collecting blood plasma from donors across the US. A press release issued on 17 December 2002 provides details of the acquisition including cost and is available at:
A US holding company, DCI Biologicals Inc, was established to manage the business. DCI Biologicals reports to the United Kingdom parent company, Plasma Resources UK Limited, owned by the Secretary of State for Health.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in reducing (a) total cholesterol and (b) low density lipoprotein cholesterol levels among patients at high risk of cardiovascular disease in England; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Information is not available in the form requested. However, the new general medical services (GMS) contract specification encourages primary care practices to identify patients who have suffered from coronary heart disease (CHD), strokes and diabetes and to control cholesterol in those patients. The following tables show the percentage of available points achieved against these indicators across England, demonstrating that general practitioner practices are making good progress in improving control of cholesterol in patients with cardiovascular disease.
|CHD 8the percentage of patients with CHD whose last measured total cholesterol (measured in the last 15 months) is 5mmol/l or less|
|QOF year||Overall percentage CHD 8 for England|
|Stroke 8the percentage of patients with TIA or stroke whose last measured total cholesterol (measured in the last 15 months) is 5mmol/l or less|
|QOF year||Overall percentage stroke 8 for England|
|DM 17the percentage of patients with diabetes whose last measured total cholesterol within previous 15 months is 5mmol/or less|
|QOF year||Overall percentage DM 17 for England|
Some patients may be excluded from the indicator because of exceptions and exclusions. Only patients registered with a general practice participating in QOF will be included.
Mr. Love: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will consider adopting the recommendations of the Joint British Societies guidelines on the prevention of cardiovascular disease in clinical practice in relation to (a) total cholesterol levels and (b) low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels for higher risk patients; and if she will make a statement. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: Department policy on cholesterol targets is set out in the national service framework for coronary heart disease (CHD), and reflected in key drivers of practice such as the quality and outcomes framework of the general medical services contract.
The Joint British Societies guidelines are welcomed as a contribution to policy development but they do not update the Departments policy. The principal mechanism for this is the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). NICE is currently working on guidance on lipid management, due out later this year. That guidance will set out any revisions to current policy on targets for controlling cholesterol.
Mr. Baron: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received from (a) organisations and (b) members of the public on the draft National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance for treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis; how many of these representations relate to the possible effect of such guidance on children and young people; and what plans she has to ask NICE to address concerns raised about the draft guidance. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) published its draft clinical guideline on chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis for consultation on 29 September 2006. Since that date the Department has received, as of 17 January, 12 written representations concerned with this guideline. Of these, 11 were from hon. Members and the remaining one was from a member of the public.
NICEs consultation on this guideline closed on 24 November. Comments arising from consultation will be considered by the guideline developers and posted on the NICE website after the final guideline is published.
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has not issued specific guidance in this area, but the NHS Data Dictionary produced by Connecting for Health uses the definitions given in the United Kingdom Government data standards catalogue to identify individuals by gender.
Mr. Fallon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the effective date is for annual pay awards to her Departments staff; and what the actual implementation date was in each of the last five years. 
|Pay year||Month in which payment made|
|(1) Two-year deal.|
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Department has undertaken a number of activities to promote equality issues in the national health service (NHS), including the forthcoming gender equality duty, and particularly to support the NHS in meeting its responsibilities under the gender duty. The Departments strategy for promoting gender equality in the NHS is to set action on gender issues within the overall framework for planning and delivering the Departments and the NHSs priorities.
The Department has worked closely with NHS organisations to prepare them for the gender duty when it comes into force in April this year. A detailed programme of work is in place to ensure the implementation of the gender duty across the whole health sector. These include:
Developing and publishing a gender equality duty guide to assist NHS organisations to meet the duties of the gender duty legislation. This will be available at the end of January.
Publishing Promoting Equality and Human Rights in the NHSa Guide for Board Members, which is aimed at helping non-executive board members take forward the issues of equality and human rights with regard to patients and the workforce. The guide outlines the legislative framework and the principles that underpin equality and human rights. It demonstrates the business case for promoting and delivering equality and human rights, and includes a set of prompts for boards to take stock of how fairly their organisations treat their patients and workforce. The guide incorporates current and imminent legislation and includes all board members. This guide is available on the Departments website.
Working with inspectorate bodies and the Equal Opportunities Commission to ensure that gender equality issues are integrated into inspection arrangements and sector- specific guidance is provided to help the health sector promote gender equality;
organising a conference for the NHS in November 2006. This was aimed at creating and enhancing awareness of the meaning of gender and its relevance to health, increasing understanding of the general and specific duties of the gender duty and providing information and guidance on the implementation of the specific duties.
The Departments equality and human rights group is leading a project aimed at supporting the equalities agenda through the development of single equality schemes (SES) in the NHS. The project has been set up in anticipation of possible further duties in relation to age, religion and belief and sexual orientation and plans to encourage work to pull together the different equality strands without compromising any of the individual elements in a cross-cutting and coherent fashion. Project leads provide support in terms of expertise in the field of equalities legislation, facilitating partnerships and joined- up working, research, sharing of good practice and producing guidance. Project leads also provide specific guidance on the gender and disability duties. The organisations involved are committed to producing a single equality scheme and will collectively produce learning that identifies the different steps required to meet both current and likely duties which will be meaningful to the host of diverse organisations within the NHS. Development and outcomes from all the programmes outlined above will be shared and disseminated throughout the NHS.
The pacesetters programme headed by the equality and human rights group is a programme that places equality including gender equality at the heart of NHS business, organisational objectives and core values, impacting upon future health planning, performance management and delivery. The Group is working with up to five strategic health authorities to deliver equality and diversity improvements and innovations resulting in:
patient and user involvement in the design and delivery of services;
reduced health inequalities for patients and service users; and
working environments that are fair and free of discrimination.
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance has been issued to primary care trusts on ensuring services provided for the NHS by independent contractors comply with the requirements of the Equality Act 2006 gender duties. 
Ms Rosie Winterton: The Departments commercial directorate has negotiated with its contractors a requirement for all independent sector providers of services to operate in accordance with all applicable law including the Equality Act 2006.
The Department is currently developing a gender equality duty guide to assist national health service organisations meet the duties of the gender duty legislation. This guide outlines partnership working between NHS organisations, its partners and its contractors and the need to secure agreement from partners or contractors to give due regard to gender equality in relation to the work of the partnership to allow it to meet its statutory gender duty. This guide will be available at the end of January.
Dr. Stoate: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidance she has sent to providers of NHS sexual health services about meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2006 gender duties. 
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