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5 Feb 2007 : Column 716W—continued

Courts: Nottingham

Mr. Allen: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what assessment she has made of the reasons for the delay in establishing courts in the community in Nottingham; and what steps she is taking to end this delay. [118093]

Vera Baird: Following public consultation, Community Justice court sittings dealing with cases from the Aspley and St. Ann's areas of Nottingham will commence in the city's magistrates court in May. Court sittings for one of these areas will then be held within a community building as soon as suitable accommodation can be found.

Work is ongoing in the community to find the right building where the court use is compatible with any other current community uses, so that the community will welcome the court.

As the Government said in the paper, “Delivering Simple, Summary, Speedy Justice”, published in July 2006, they also want to pilot alternative court provision within the community and the Nottingham Community Justice Initiative will engage with the local community and work in partnership with the range of criminal justice agencies, support services and community groups to solve the problems caused by offending in the local area. It is therefore right that we proceed with what is principally an approach, rather than a building, until both can be combined.

Mr. Allen: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what criteria her Department has set for determining whether premises are acceptable to serve as community courts; and what assessment she has made of the availability of suitable premises in Nottingham. [118094]

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Vera Baird: Representatives of the Nottinghamshire Local Criminal Justice Board have visited a number of buildings put forward by the Nottingham city council to assess their suitability for use as a criminal court. That assessment was intended to enable the board to decide whether the building could, with or without modification, meet minimum requirements. These include minimum health and safety standards to ensure the safety and security of court users, judiciary and other visitors to the building; compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act; and separate rooms to enable solicitors to take instructions from their clients.

In addition to this, each of these buildings is used by many other organisations including crèches and youth groups and they are used as meeting places for older people. The board therefore recognises that even after identifying a building which has some potential for use as a court, the community users must be engaged in discussion before any final decision is made. If this involves alteration of the building, such alterations must be carried out in a way which does not adversely affect the other uses of these amenities.

Accordingly, the board is making careful assessments of all the premises identified for consideration and being sensitive to the needs of existing users. It is committed to finding a suitable community building for these sittings as soon as possible and will work with the city council to achieve this. In the meantime, these cases will commence being heard at the magistrates court in May.

Electoral Register

Geraldine Smith: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what steps she is taking to ensure that people living in houses of multiple occupation receive information on being included on the electoral register. [118014]

Bridget Prentice: Section 9 of the Electoral Administration Act 2006 placed a new duty on Electoral Registration Officers (EROs) to take all necessary steps to maintain the electoral register, which includes:

It is for the EROs to decide on the best steps to use in conjunction with their local knowledge, when making contact with persons in houses of multiple occupation.

Freedom of Information: Fees and charges

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what the legal basis is for applying a standard research fee to Freedom of Information applications for census records. [117934]

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Vera Baird: The National Archives’ research fees are prescribed by the Lord Chancellor in concurrence with the Treasury and contained in a statutory instrument. This is in accordance with section 2(5) of the Public Record Act 1958 and with section 9(5) of the Freedom of Information Act 2000 which permits organisations to use alternative statutory fees-setting regimes.

The National Archives’ standard research fee of £15 per quarter hour was last approved by Parliament in March 2005 and the search fee for Freedom of Information applications for information from a 1911 census return is in line with this. Census material from 1841 to 1901 can be accessed online.

Legal Aid: MMR

Mr. Baron: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs whether the Legal Services Commission has sent to the Medical Research Council research paid for by legal aid in connection with the MMR/MR vaccines litigation. [118260]

Vera Baird: The Legal Services Commission has not sent the research in the MMR/MR vaccines litigation to the Medical Research Council.

Public Information

Mr. Todd: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if she will make a statement on her Department’s response to the Office of Fair Trading’s report, ‘The commercial use of public information’. [112016]

Hilary Armstrong: I have been asked to reply.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by the Minister for Trade, my right hon. Friend the Member for Makerfield (Mr. McCartney), on 8 January 2007, Official Report, column 315W.

Public Records Act

Mr. Hancock: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs what plans she has for the renewal of the Public Records Act 1958, Instrument of Extended Retention No. 38 of July 1996 as it refers to RG 15 and RG 16. [117998]

Vera Baird: Instrument No. 38, Retention of Public Records dated 23 July 1996, retained RG15 and RG16 to 31 December 2006. Instrument No. 81, Retention of Public Records, dated 12 January 2006, now retains RG15 and RG16 for a further 10 years.


Alcoholic Drinks: Misuse

Jim Cousins: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what level of alcohol dependence was identified in each region of England in the alcohol needs assessment report; and what estimate she has made of the number of people who are alcohol-dependent in each region. [118520]

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Caroline Flint: The alcohol needs assessment research project (ANARP) report provided the following information. This is the best available estimate of alcohol-dependent people by region.

Epidemiological profile of alcohol use disorders in England (psychiatric morbidity survey): dependence (audit 16-40)
Region Percentage of adult population

North East


North West


Yorkshire and Humber


East Midlands


West Midlands


East of England




South East


South West




Estimate of the actual number of dependent drinkers per region
Region Estimated numbers

North East


North West


Yorkshire and Humber


East Midlands


West Midlands


East of England




South East


South West


Total for England


Data Sets

Derek Wyatt: To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether general practitioners and hospital computer systems share a common address base for their patients. [116306]

Caroline Flint: National health service patient address and other demographic information has historically been compiled in individual local records held by general practitioners and hospitals. Information, including changes of address, is sometimes shared in the course of referrals, but data held by one NHS body may not always reflect changes notified to another.

Over time, a single authoritative source of patient demographic data, known as the personal demographics service (PDS), will be used by all general practitioners and hospital computer systems in England. Access to the PDS will reduce clinical risks arising from a failure to match patients with their clinical record, and help minimise cases of correspondence and documents being misdirected. Early evidence from one trust has shown a sixfold reduction in misdirected mail addressed using PDS-held data.

The PDS, which first went live in June 2004, already contains information for all the patients within England, and is currently accessible across the NHS, with over 310,000 users, and receives over 26 million inquiries per month. The volumes are growing over time, with increasing patient benefits and efficiency improvements.

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There will be no physical or electronic links between the PDS’s other non-NHS databases, and other Government departments and public agencies will not be able to access the data it contains.

Dental Services: Leeds

Greg Mulholland: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what funding she plans for the provision of NHS dental care in Leeds in each of the next three years; [117982]

(2) what plans she has to improve access to NHS dentistry in Leeds; [117983]

(3) how many people are registered with an NHS dentist in (a) the city of Leeds and (b) West Yorkshire. [117984]

Ms Rosie Winterton [holding answer 1 February 2007]: The 2007-08 primary care dental care allocations for primary care trusts (PCTs), including Leeds PCT, will be confirmed shortly. Allocations for subsequent years will be decided later in the light of the results of the 2007 comprehensive spending review.

Registration data no longer form part of the new dental contract information. However, the new measure is patients seen within the last 24 months. The information relating to the NHS Yorkshire and the Humber strategic health authority together with the former PCTs in the Leeds area can be found in the following table:

Patients seen in the two years ending 30 September 2006 in the specified strategic health authorities (SHA) and PCTs

Yorkshire and The Humber SHA


Of which:

East Leeds PCT


Leeds North East PCT


Leeds North West PCT


Leeds West PCT


South Leeds PCT


Information includes orthodontic activity.
1. The Information Centre for health and social care.
2. NHS Business Services Authority.

Over the past year the PCT has commissioned additional dental services to fully replace services provided by the small proportion of dentists who chose not to take up new dental contracts on 1 April 2006. In addition, the PCT is also looking at plans to continue to improve access in areas of greatest oral health need and areas where general access is a problem such as North West Leeds. To help facilitate this the PCT has identified almost £1 million of capital funding.

Drug Analysis

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to the answer of 20 December 2006, Official Report, column 1707W, on drug analysis, when the current technical and data issues with Sentinel and the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency electronic reporting of adverse drug reactions will be resolved; [115580]

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(2) when the publication of up-to-date drug analysis prints on the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency website will be resumed; [115581]

(3) when the major upgrade of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency’s drug safety monitoring will be completed. [115595]

Caroline Flint: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency Medicines (MHRA) introduced the new drug safety monitoring module of the Sentinel database in May 2006. The technical and data issues relating to the production of drug analysis prints are being resolved within a planned programme during 2007. The MHRA is committed to resolving these issues as soon as possible.

The MHRA continues to provide anonymised aggregated adverse drug reaction data on request in response to specific inquiries from health professionals, the public and pharmaceutical companies.

Foreign National Doctors

Mr. Waterson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the cost was of employing foreign national doctors in the NHS on short-term, temporary contracts in each of the last two years. [116564]

Ms Rosie Winterton: This information is not collected centrally.

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