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10 Dec 2008 : Column 166Wcontinued
Mr. Amess: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the number of people who were not eligible for free NHS treatment but who received free NHS services in (a) Southend Primary Care Trust, (b) Essex and (c) England in each year since 1997; and what estimate he has made of the costs of providing such services in each area in each year. 
Mr. Bradshaw: National health service hospital treatment is only provided free of charge to those people who are ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom or who are exempt from charges under the provisions of the National Health Service (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989, as amended. Hospitals have a duty to identify those who are not entitled to free treatment, charge them for that treatment and, where possible, to recover the costs of treating them if treatment has had to be provided to them urgently.
Successive Governments have not required the national health service to provide statistics on the number of overseas visitors seen, treated or charged under the provisions of the charging regulations nor any costs involved. Therefore, it is not possible to provide this information.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what recent progress has been made in the reconfiguration of NHS Pathology Services in England; and if he will make a statement. 
Ann Keen: Lord Carter of Coles, chair of the Independent Review of NHS Pathology Services in England, has delivered to Ministers his report on the second phase of the Reviews work. The report is due to be published this month, together with the Departments initial response to the Reviews recommendations.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in the review of prescription charges and exemptions; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: We have asked the President of the Royal College of Physicians (Professor Ian Gilmore) to carry out a review of prescription charges that will consider how to implement the commitment to exempt patients with long-term conditions from prescription charges. The review is in its initial stages and is due to make its recommendations to ministers in summer 2009. The terms of reference for the review are to:
consider how to implement the Government's commitment to exempt patients with long-term conditions (LTCs) from prescription charges over the next few years following the exemption for cancer patients, which will be introduced in 2009;
engage with patients and their representatives, clinicians, the public, health care organisations and other interested groups to ensure the widest range of views contribute to the review's findings;
consider how to define the range of long-term conditions affecting patients that should be exempted from prescription charges; and
consider how exemption from charging can be best phased in, with due regard to what is in the best interests of patients, the
potential impact on the wider health care system, implications for existing policies on management of long term conditions, implications for public expenditure.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of NHS prescriptions issued in 2007 attracted a charge. 
Dawn Primarolo: The Department does not know the number of prescriptions that have been issued, only the number of prescription items dispensed.
Prescription information taken from the Prescription Cost Analysis system, supplied by the Prescription Pricing Division of the NHS Business Services Authority, indicate that in 2007 a total of 11.4 per cent. of prescription items (90.8 million) dispensed in England attracted a charge. Of these, 7.1 per cent. of prescription items (56.7 million) were charged at the point of dispensing and 4.3 per cent. of prescription items (34.1 million) were attributable to pre-payment certificates.
Mr. Graham Stuart: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much each primary care trust in Yorkshire and the Humber spent on consultations in each of the last five years; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Bradshaw: The information requested is not held centrally.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of women between the ages of 16 and 21 were known to be sexually active in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Dawn Primarolo: Survey data published by the Office for National Statistics Contraception and Sexual Health 2007-08 Omnibus Survey Report No. 37 found that 80 per cent. of women aged 16-24 reported one or more sexual partners in the last year. The data are not analysed into smaller age bands.
Mike Penning: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much was spent by the NHS on treatment and prevention of genital warts in the latest period for which figures are available. 
Dawn Primarolo: Funding to support sexual health services is not allocated separately to primary care trusts (PCTs) but is contained within the mainstream revenue allocations made to PCTs. It is the responsibility of PCTs to commission the health services they need to meet the health requirements of the local populations they serve. Genital warts can be diagnosed and treated in a variety of settings but currently data are only collected from genito-urinary medicine clinics, so it is therefore not possible to accurately forecast how much PCTs spent on the treatment and prevention of genital warts.
John Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in the development of local stroke care networks. 
Ann Keen: The National Stroke Strategy mandates the establishment of stroke care networks. All proposed networks originally proposed have now been established and are expected to be fully functional by spring 2009. Details of the networks can be found on the Stroke Improvement programme website.
Jenny Willott: To ask the Secretary of State for Health with reference to the Answer of 17 June 2008, Official Report, column 799, on cardiovascular incidents, what steps his Department (a) has taken since that Answer and (b) plans to take to ensure that the manufacturer of Vioxx fulfils its responsibilities to people in the UK who have been affected; and if he will make a statement. 
Dawn Primarolo: The then Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for Care Services, my hon. Friend the Member for Bury, South (Mr. Lewis) met with representatives of Merck Sharpe and Dohme UK Ltd on 10 July 2008 where he highlighted the concerns raised by hon. Members on behalf of their constituents. A representative from Merck and Co., Inc. was also present at that meeting.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received reports of who fired first in recent skirmishes between forces of Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda across their mutual border. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 8 December 2008]: The military situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is comparatively calm for the time being. Fighting between the National Congress for People Defense (CNDP) and DRC government forces was last reported on 17 November, when the two sides clashed around the town of Rwindi in North Kivu province. Since then, the rebel leader Laurent Nkunda has fulfilled commitments to withdraw from positions captured in recent fighting. However, skirmishes have taken place between the CNDP and other militia groups more recently.
We continue to follow events in eastern DRC closely, and urge all parties to return to processes to achieve a political solution to the issues underlying the violence.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what his policy is on whether there should be direct negotiations between General Nkunda and President Kabila of Democratic Republic of Congo; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 8 December 2008]: The situation in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) requires a political solution acceptable to all sides. We strongly support the efforts of former President Obasanjo, the Special Envoy of the UN Secretary General, to achieve such a solution through mediation between key figures in the region. Peace agreements have been reached between leaders in the region. It is important that these are observed.
We would welcome dialogue between the DRC government and Laurent Nkunda. However, talks between them should take place within the framework of the Goma Process, which remains an essential element of a lasting peace in the region.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reports he has received of participation in recent fighting in Democratic Republic of Congo since the signing of a ceasefire of (a) government troops and (b) members of the CNDP and other militia. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 8 December 2008]: During recent fighting, UN observers reported that shots had been fired across the border between the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. We understand from the UN's mission in DRC that Congolese forces fired several mortars into Rwanda on 29 October; the Rwandan military responded with fire from three T55 tanks. The incident did not escalate any further.
We have urged both the Rwandan and DRC governments to pursue political solutions to the problems in eastern DRC to ensure the full implementation of the Nairobi and Goma agreements. Effective co-operation between the two governments is crucial to ending the conflict. The progress they have made towards resolving the issues posed by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) militia's continued presence in eastern DRC and towards improving their bilateral relations is welcome.
Mr. Oaten: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent reports he has received on alleged abuses by the government of Democratic Republic of Congo of the human rights of members of opposition parties; and if he will make a statement. 
Bill Rammell [holding answer 8 December 2008]: Human Rights Watch published a report on 25 November 2008 called We Will Crush You, The Restriction of Political Space in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It accuses Kabila's government of using brutal and repressive tactics to stifle opponents since the first round of presidential elections in July-August 2006.
We remain concerned about allegations of human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo and we continue to raise these issues with the authorities. We are working with European partners to monitor the treatment of leading detainees and the conduct of proceedings against them, share information on cases and make representations where appropriate.
Mr. Tyrie: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs with reference to the answer of 26 November 2008, Official Report, column 1787W, on rendition: Diego Garcia, whether his Department has carried out a records search for the purposes of determining whether UK territory or airspace had actually been used for the purposes of rendition. 
Bill Rammell: I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by the then Foreign Secretary, my right hon. Friend the Member for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) on 12 December 2005, Official Report, column 1652W.
Since 2005, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has conducted a number of thorough reviews of our files on rendition. Prior to 2008, given that we had firm assurances from the US that they had not and would not use our territory or airspace for rendition without our permission, these reviews focussed on the question of whether requests for rendition had been made. But, given the thoroughness of these reviews, had they revealed any instances where rendition had occurred, we would have informed Parliament.
However, following the new information received from the US this year that, contrary to previous assurances, there had been two instances of rendition through Diego Garcia in 2002, we conducted a further review of records to compile a list of flights where we had been alerted to concerns regarding rendition and ascertain whether we had any evidence that UK territory may have been used for renditions. This included looking back at the process and findings of the previous reviews. No such information was discovered.
Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps his Department took to assist UK citizens caught up in the blockade of Bangkok's two main airports. 
Bill Rammell: During the occupation of Bangkok's two main airports by People's Alliance for Democracy protestors, our embassy officials ran a call centre to offer advice to British nationals in Thailand. The call centre also offered to collect details from those worried about getting a flight home and pass those on to airlines as and when emergency flights were being scheduled. Officials were present at Phuket and Chiang Mai airports to provide assistance, and others travelled to U-Tapau military airport once flights began leaving from there. Consular officials helped British nationals obtain urgent medical prescriptions and assisted them in obtaining financial support from family and friends in the UK. Throughout the disruption, embassy officials have been in constant contact with the Thai authorities and have worked closely with the Tourist Authority of Thailand to ensure those British nationals who needed assistance, received it. Officials also toured hotels to communicate with British nationals.
We have been in close contact with all the airlines encouraging them to uphold their responsibility to their ticket holders. I spoke to the United Arab Emirates ambassador on 28 November about problems British
nationals in Bangkok were experiencing with Emirates; our ambassador in Abu Dhabi also made additional contact with the head of Emirates in Dubai. The Secretary of State for Transport spoke to the British Airways chief executive on 3 December. As a result of our interventions some carriers did lay on additional flights from alternative airports in Thailand, and others arranged for their passengers tickets to be valid on other airlines with better capacity.
With the reopening of Suvarnabhumi International Airport a British embassy helpdesk has been established, and officials have been liaising closely with airlines in order to give British nationals the best chance of getting a seat home as soon as possible.
Mr. Maude: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what the annual turnover of the Downing Street gift shop is. 
Kevin Brennan: I refer the right hon. Member to the answer the Prime Minster gave to the hon. Member for Shipley (Philip Davies) on 13 October 2008, Official Report, column 881W.
Mr. Hunt: To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster pursuant to the answer of 5 June 2008, Official Report, columns 1138-44W, on Central Office of Information: advertising, what the (a) name, (b) cost and (c) purpose was of each advertising campaign carried out by the Central Office of Information in each of the last three years. 
Mr. Byrne [holding answer 8 December 2008]: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Central Office of Information. I have asked the chief executive to reply.
Letter from Alan Bishop, dated December 2008:
Re: Advertising Costs
As Chief Executive of the Central Office of Information (COI), I have been asked to reply to your recent Parliamentary Question asking what the (a) name, (b) cost and (c) purpose was of each advertising campaign carried out by COI in each of the last three years .
The information that you have requested has been placed in the Library.
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