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NHS: Consultants

Sir Michael Spicer: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what amendments he proposes to table during the passage of the Health and Social Care Bill to rectify the omission of the names of current NHS consultants from the Specialist Register when it was created. [225994]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Health and Social Care Act received Royal Assent on 21 July 2008. The Government will lay before Parliament the draft Medical Profession (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2008. This is an Order in Council under section 60 of the Health Act 1999 subject to affirmative resolution. The draft order contains a provision, which will reinstate the powers of the General Medical Council to grant late entry to the Specialist Register to those consultants who did not join the register when it was created.

Paracetamol: Children

Mr. Jamie Reed: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what investigations his Department plans to undertake to evaluate the possible effects on children of taking paracetamol suspension type medicines; [224731]

(2) whether his Department will be introducing new guidelines for the retailing of paracetamol suspensions. [224735]

Dawn Primarolo: The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) continuously monitors the safety of all medicines in the United Kingdom and, where necessary, takes suitable action to safeguard public health.

As new evidence comes to light, the MHRA seeks advice on safety issues from its independent scientific advisory group—the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM). If action is needed, following an assessment of the risks and benefits of the medicine, then a number of regulatory options are available, including: withdrawal of a product from the market; and, amending the labelling and Patient Information Leaflet (PIL).

In relation to the use of paracetamol in children, a paper was published in The Lancet on 20 September 2008 which explored the possible link between asthma in children aged six-seven years and earlier use of paracetamol. This issue has previously been considered on a number of occasions by the predecessor to CHM,
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the Committee on Safety of Medicines, and its Sub-Committee on Pharmacovigilance, which concluded that a causal relationship had not been established. The data from the most recent paper is under careful consideration by the CHM, and appropriate regulatory action, including the issuing of guidance, will be taken if necessary in the light of the advice obtained.

Parkinson’s Disease: Medical Treatments

Mr. Grogan: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in which primary care trusts Duodopa has been prescribed for the treatment of Parkinson’s disease in the last 12 months. [225272]

Dawn Primarolo: Between June 2007 and July 2008, Duodopa was prescribed in Central Lancashire, Leeds and Nottinghamshire County Teaching Primary Care Trusts.

Patient Choice Schemes

Mr. Laurence Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the choose and book service; and if he will make a statement. [226581]

Mr. Bradshaw: The Department has not undertaken a specific assessment of the effectiveness of choose and book.

The Department does collect data on the number of general practitioner referrals to first out-patient services booked via choose and book each month. The end of month position for August 2008 showed that 49 per cent. of all out-patient referrals were made through the choose and book system.

To date over 10 million patients have been referred through choose and book of which over 8.5 million have been referred to out-patient care.

Trusts using choose and book are reporting significant improvements in operational efficiency and service delivery. For example, Kettering General Hospitals NHS Trust reported that choose and book helped to cut their missed hospital appointments by approximately a third.

Standish Hospital

Mr. Drew: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the arrangements are for the protection of the Standish Hospital site; what assessment he has made of the effectiveness of the placing of guardians there; and what investigation he has undertaken into the competence of (a) Camelot and (b) Safe Estates in relation to this site. [225864]

Mr. Bradshaw: The current arrangements for the protection of the Standish Hospital site are 24-hour manned security together with alarm arrangements and boarding of the property, including metal shuttering.

The Department was concerned that the use of guardians was not providing the desired level of site security. A tendering exercise, with appropriate evaluation, was therefore undertaken to put in place the current arrangements.

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Borders: Personal Records

Mr. Spellar: To asks the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer of 10 September 2008, when the agreement between the EU and the United States on the processing and transfer of passenger name record data by air carriers to the United States' Department for Homeland Security will next be reviewed. [225003]

Mr. Wills: The review is expected to begin before the end of this year.

Children: Protection

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make it his policy, acting as central authority under the Hague convention, where a family has had further children since emigrating with one or more children subject to an interim or final care order, to seek to transfer jurisdiction for child protection to the family's current habitual residence. [225035]

Bridget Prentice: The role and functions of the Central Authority are established through International law. The Central Authority has no power to transfer jurisdiction. Only a court seized of proceedings regarding a child may do so, and then only in accordance with international law.

Where a child is subject to an interim or final care order, and the family removes the child from the UK against the wishes of the local authority with care of the child, the local authority is entitled to use the Hague convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction to obtain return of the child from the jurisdiction to which he or she has been taken. The Central Authority is legally obliged by that convention to transmit an application for return of the child to the jurisdiction to which the child has been taken. These matters are not susceptible to policy review because they arise as a result of the UK's international legal obligations.

Upon return of the child under the convention, the courts here have jurisdiction to deal with all issues regarding the welfare of the child, and will take into account the importance of the child's family and sibling relationships. The mechanism in the convention providing for swift return of a child wrongfully removed is important in ensuring that children's cases are heard by the courts of the jurisdiction where they are habitually resident, which will be best placed to assess the child's welfare. Further, it ensures that people cannot seek to evade proceedings and orders by removing the child to another jurisdiction in the hope of escaping the attention of the authorities or getting a more favourable outcome from the court of another country which is less well-placed to assess the child's welfare than the courts of his or her habitual residence. This is essential for child protection.

If a parent or parents of a child subject to a care order wish to emigrate they can apply to the court prior to the emigration for an order allowing the move. In determining that decision the court can hear from all appropriate parties. If such an order is made the family is free to move and the courts of the new jurisdiction would assume jurisdiction for the child once its habitual residence was established there.

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Consent to Medical Treatment: Children

John Hemming: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice if he will make an estimate of the average age at which a child has been considered to be Gillick competent and able to instruct a solicitor in family court proceedings relating to his or her medical treatment. [225034]

Bridget Prentice: Data about cases in which children have been considered to be Gillick competent and able to instruct a solicitor in relation to medical treatment are not collected in a way which would enable an estimate to be provided of the average age of children in such cases.

Courts Service: Land

Tom Levitt: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what plans he has to dispose of land owned by HM Courts Service at Spring Bank, New Mills. [224705]

Bridget Prentice: HM Courts Service is currently seeking to dispose of the freehold interest in the land at Spring Bank, New Mills as the planning consent for a new courthouse has expired and the site is now considered surplus to operational requirements. We remain committed to provision of court services to the High Peak area.

Courts: Northern Ireland

Mr. Gregory Campbell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what his most recent estimate is of the required expenditure for the courts estate in Northern Ireland over the next three years. [226213]

Bridget Prentice: The Northern Ireland Court Service settlement for the CSR period 2008-09, 2009-10 and 2010-11 includes a capital allocation of £7 million/£7.4 million/£7.4 million respectively. This allocation will cover expenditure on essential buildings maintenance and other capital projects including ICT systems.

The Court Service has initiated a review of its future estate requirements for the medium to longer term which will inform the Department's bid in the next CSR spending round.

Criminal Proceedings: Interpreters

David Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what recent steps he has taken to ensure that there is an adequate number of qualified interpreters available for criminal proceedings. [224784]

Bridget Prentice: We have taken forward a range of measures aimed at improving both the quality and the availability of interpreters in the criminal justice system. In particular, we have sponsored a conversion course aimed at immigration interpreters from EU accession countries. The purpose of this is to upgrade their qualifications so they can register on the National Register of Public Service Interpreters which will enable them to work for the criminal justice system in this country. We have also supported bids for European funding from organisations interested in working in this area, resulting in two universities being granted funding to develop training in this area and explore video-interpreting.

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Crown Dependencies: Meetings

Andrew Rosindell: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice (1) what meetings he has held with representatives of the Isle of Man in the last 12 months; [222966]

(2) what discussions he has had with the president or members of the states of Alderney in the last 12 months; [222967]

Mr. Wills: The Secretary of State has held no meetings with representatives of the Isle of Man in the last 12 months. I met with the Isle of Man's Chief Minister, Chief Secretary and Director of External Relations on 5 December 2007 in London and met with representatives of the Isle of Man Government, including the Chief Minister, in the Isle of Man on 29 September.

There have been no discussions between the Secretary of State and the President or members of the States of Alderney in the last 12 months.

Debt Collection: Parking Offences

Mrs. Lait: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what representations he has received on the powers bailiffs have to collect monies for unpaid parking fines under the provisions of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007. [225722]

Bridget Prentice: Bailiffs’ powers currently stem from common law and numerous pieces of legislation resulting in an array of mechanisms depending on the type of debt or type of agent responsible for enforcement.

The Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act 2007 introduces a single piece of bailiff law which brings together in one place the legal structure for all warrant enforcement, written in terms that are easily understandable and which clearly outline the rights and responsibilities of creditors, debtors and enforcement agents.

To implement these provisions, underpinning rules and regulations will be required. A recently completed scoping exercise, which involved a series of meetings with relevant stakeholders, identified issues that require further public consultation. It is anticipated that the consultation will generate representations from a wide range of stakeholders, including the enforcement industry, local authorities, other Government Departments and lobby groups. Our proposed approach to progressing this and achieving implementation of the Act is being developed and we anticipate that this part of the work will be completed shortly.

Although formal consultation on the regulations has yet to begin, correspondence is regularly received on the enforcement reforms contained within parts 3 and 4 of the Tribunals, Courts and Enforcement Act. However, due to volume, it is considered time disproportionate to review all correspondence to identify representations specific to unpaid parking fines.

Departmental Manpower

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice pursuant to the answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Horsham of 23 June 2008, Official Report, columns 54-55W, on departmental manpower,
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(1) what records his Department's human resources department holds on the number of (a) permanent staff without fixed posts and (b) staff classified as priority movers; [222194]

(2) what records the human resources departments of his Department's agencies hold on the number of (a) permanent staff without fixed posts and (b) staff classified as priority movers. [222195]

Mr. Wills: There are 53 MoJ permanent staff who are classified as priority movers, or who are currently without fixed posts. They are employed within the Department's agencies, including Her Majesty's Courts Service, The Tribunals Service, Office of the Public Guardian and Her Majesty's Prison Service. A break down for those currently without fixed posts are:






Tribunals Service




All are in active employment, and their redeployment is being managed by their line managers and the Human Resources Directorate within the Ministry of Justice, and across the wider civil service.

Each case is actively managed in accordance with published departmental policy and procedures.

Departmental Public Relations

James Duddridge: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many staff from public relations or public affairs firms or consultancies were seconded to (a) his Department and its predecessor and (b) its agencies in each of the last five years. [222197]

Mr. Wills: The Ministry of Justice has not seconded any staff from public relations, public affairs firms or consultancies from within its former Department for Constitutional Affairs agencies and associated offices or from Her Majesty's Prison Service or National Offender Management Service and the Office for Criminal Justice Reform within the last five years.

Departmental Research

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what proportion of his Department's budget and that of its predecessor was used for research within its areas of responsibility in each of the last 10 years. [218073]

Mr. Wills: The information requested is in the following table.

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