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Second Homes: Rural Areas

Andrew George: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what assessment she has made of the effect of second homes and holiday lets on the social cohesion of small rural communities. [152097]

Mr. Iain Wright: This is an issue on which the Government are seeking to improve the evidence base. The National Housing and Planning Advice Unit, established in November 2006, has recently announced plans to conduct research to explore the impact of second homes across the country—including in small rural communities—working with the Department for Food and Rural Affairs and Communities and Local Government.

Sewers: Repairs and Maintenance

Robert Neill: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government whether the Government provides funding to local authorities in England specifically for the maintenance of drains. [152054]

John Healey: The Government provide funding for local authority responsibilities in relation to drains maintenance as part of the general formula grant.

Social Sector Working Party on Housing: Meetings

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government what she next expects the Social Sector Working Party on housing to meet. [151885]

Mr. Iain Wright: The Chairman of the Social Sector Working Party is arranging the next meeting of the Working Party for September.

Travelling People: Caravan Sites

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government how many Travellers in England were recorded as occupying unauthorised encampments in each year since 1997. [152405]

Mr. Iain Wright: Communities and Local Government publishes data on the number of Gypsy and Traveller caravans on both authorised and unauthorised sites, on a twice yearly basis. This information is available on our website:

The table shows the number of Gypsy and Traveller caravans on unauthorised encampments in England published on a twice yearly basis since 1997.

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Total number of unauthorised encampments in England

January 1997


July 1997


January 1998


July 1998


January 1999


July 1999


January 2000


July 2000


January 2001


July 2001


January 2002


July 2002


January 2003


July 2003


January 2004


July 2004


January 2005


July 2005


January 2006


July 2006


January 2007


Prime Minister

Departments: Recruitment

Mrs. May: To ask the Prime Minister how much his Office paid in fees to recruitment agencies for (a) temporary and (b) permanent staff in each year since 1997. [151666]

The Prime Minister: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Parliamentary Secretary to the Cabinet Office, my hon. Friend the for Lincoln (Gillian Merron) today.

Departments: Written Questions

Norman Baker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make an assessment of conformity of Answers he has given to written parliamentary questions with Cabinet Office guidance on the matter; and if he will make a statement. [152108]

The Prime Minister: Section 1 of the Ministerial Code provides guidance to Ministers on answering parliamentary questions.

Minister for Women

Pensions: Family Credit

Steve Webb: To ask the Minister for Women and Equality pursuant to the answer of 2 July 2007, Official Report, column 945W, on pensions: family credit, how many current recipients of state-earnings-related pensions (a) in total and (b) born in each year from 1939 to 1947 have an enhanced pension in respect of previous receipt of family credit; and if she will estimate the average amount of enhancement for those currently benefiting. [147988]

Mr. Mike O'Brien [holding answer 9 July 2007]: I have been asked to reply.

The information is not collated centrally and can be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

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Northern Ireland

Departments: Flint Bishop Solicitors

Mr. Hoban: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether (a) his Department and (b) its agencies have made payments to Flint Bishop Solicitors since 1997. [151401]

Mr. Woodward: The Northern Ireland Office and its agencies have not made any payments to Flint Bishop Solicitors.

Police: Inquiries

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of the Police Service Northern Ireland officer-time has been spent on historical inquiries in the last two years; and if he will make a statement. [150934]

Paul Goggins: The PSNI is committed to providing all material in its possession to assist the inquiries to carry out their legal obligations. To deliver on this commitment, the organisation has sought to maximise the role of PSNI support staff in order to maintain the operational effectiveness of its police officers. To achieve this, PSNI has committed resources to dedicated units and teams such as:

These units and teams currently employ 288 staff, the majority of whom are support staff. 19.5 PSNI officers have dedicated roles within these teams which interact directly with colleagues across the organisation on a regular basis.

There is no straightforward way to establish the percentage of time spent on historical inquiries. Providing an accurate response to the question asked would entail disproportionate time and resources.


Junior Doctors

13. John Barrett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of junior doctors who have not been successful in securing a training post for 1 August. [151801]

Alan Johnson: 14,681 applicants in England were not successful in round 1. However, round 2 is ongoing and all applicants in substantive national health service employment will continue to have employment until 31 October. As most applicants are currently NHS employees and will still be needed in the NHS, most unsuccessful applicants should be able to find or return to a service post.

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For those appointable doctors who are not successful at the end of round 2 we have prepared an extra package of support which includes:

In this way, any junior doctor who has been judged to be appointable by an interview panel of senior doctors will have access to a training or educational opportunity next year.

In addition, we are currently in discussions with Foundation Programme Directors and Deans to see what options might be available for Foundation Programme doctors who complete the programme but are unsuccessful in securing specialty training posts.

We are also opening up discussions with the BMA, the Academy of Royal Colleges and other representatives of the medical profession to discuss whether there is any risk that high academic achievers may be missed by the end of the recruitment process and if so how we can avoid that happening.

NHS Reconfiguration

16. Mr. Hands: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent assessment he has made of the progress of the reconfiguration of NHS institutions. [151804]

Ann Keen: The NHS is changing because medicines and treatments are changing. If we do not keep up with the times, services will not keep on improving. Local services are changing for the benefit of patients. That means safer surgery, quicker recovery times, shortened lengths of stay in hospital, more people receiving hospital-style treatment in their own homes, and more investment in local services.

Changes to local services are however a matter for the local NHS.

Minor Injury Units

17. Richard Younger-Ross: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the future role of minor injury units. [151805]

Mr. Bradshaw: The national health service locally is best placed to understand the needs of patients and staff, working with them and other key groups to plan, develop and improve services. The key is ensuring appropriate, timely and safe access to care for patients.

There was some temporary reduction in Minor Injury Unit opening hours last year as part of the financial recovery plan and the formation of Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT). The PCT is now in surplus and is conducting a full review with Devon county council with its social community services.

Primary Care Services

18. Ms Butler: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has to improve access to primary care services; and if he will make a statement. [151806]

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Mr. Bradshaw: I would like to draw my hon. Friend’s attention to the written statement given today by my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health.


19. Clive Efford: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the role of polyclinics in the NHS. [151807]

Mr. Bradshaw: Polyclinics provide the opportunities for care closer to people’s homes, rather than in hospitals. Whether a particular area would benefit from a polyclinic will be a decision for the health service locally, in consultation with the public and national health service staff.

BCG Vaccination

20. Jeremy Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of availability of the BCG vaccination; and if he will make a statement. [151808]

Dawn Primarolo: The Chief Medical Officer’s letter of 6 July 2005 announced that the universal Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccination programme was being replaced by a programme targeted at children in high risk groups.

Contracts are in place for the continued supply of BCG vaccine for those who require it.

Maternity Units

21. Miss McIntosh: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received on maintaining the number of maternity units in England; and if he will make a statement. [151809]

Ann Keen: Since January 2006, we have received over 25,000 pieces of correspondence concerning local NHS service change. Of these, we know that 619, for example, were part of a campaign against the proposed closure of Stroud Hospital maternity unit.

Waiting Times

22. Ian Lucas: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent discussions he has had with the Health Minister of the Welsh Assembly Government on waiting times for Welsh patients treated by the National Health Service in England. [151810]

Mr. Bradshaw: There have been no recent discussions between Department of Health Ministers and the Welsh Assembly Government on this matter. However, cross-border matters such as this one are discussed at regular meetings between the Welsh Assembly Government and Wales Office Ministers, of which the Department is kept aware, and at regular meetings of officials.

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