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Military Low Flying

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Kevan Jones): The amount of low flying training carried out in the UK Low Flying System (UKLFS) during the training year 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009 was the minimum required for aircrew to reach and maintain their ability to fly at low level. The number of low flying training hours conducted was 51,888 hours, a reduction of 1,263 hours on the previous training year. This level of activity has been relatively constant over the last three years. The amount of operational low flying (between 250 feet and 100 feet) by fixed wing aircraft has further reduced by 34 per cent. from the previous training year, and there has now been a reduction of 64 per cent. over the last three years.

I have today placed in the Library of the House a report giving a detailed account of the low flying training that has taken place in the UK Low Flying System for the training year 1 April 2008 to 31 March 2009.

This year some changes have been made to the way in which the information in the report is presented; the most significant of these is that the data on the amount of low flying for dedicated user areas, principally used for helicopter training, are now being presented on the same basis as that for the rest of the low flying system.

Additional copies of "The Pattern of Military Low Flying Across the UK 2008-09" are available on request from the following address:

Alternatively it can be viewed on the MOD's website: aviation/lowflying

Judicial Review Appeal

The Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. Bob Ainsworth): This important case arose from the tragic death of Private Jason Smith from heatstroke in Iraq in 2003 and was brought by Private Smith's mother. The Court of Appeal gave its judgment for the respondent on 18 May this year, while granting the Secretary of State permission to appeal to the House of Lords.

There is no longer any dispute over the question which initiated the case. The MOD has previously accepted that there are limited circumstances when armed forces personnel come within the UK's jurisdiction for the purposes of the European convention on human rights when they are deployed overseas. These include the circumstances of Private Jason Smith's death, where Private Smith was at all times within a British Army
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camp and British Army hospital and no third party nationals were involved in his death. It has already been agreed that a new inquest should be held into the cause of Private Smith's death which will be fully compliant with article 2 of the European convention on human rights. Jason Smith's death remains the source of great regret, and the MOD will continue to offer its wholehearted support to the coronial process, and every possible sympathy and attention to Mrs. Smith.

But the case as it has developed has raised issues of potentially very wide legal significance. These concern the extent to which actions under the Human Rights Act 1998 (which gave further effect to rights drawn from the European convention on human rights) can be brought in cases involving military personnel deployed on operations outside the United Kingdom. Given the importance of the issues raised by the Court of Appeal's judgment to how we plan and conduct military operations and to the men and women of the armed forces, I have decided that the right course would be to appeal to the House of Lords in order to obtain as much clarity as possible on the legal framework applying to operations overseas. As at all stages of the case, the Government will bear the costs of both sides in the litigation, whatever the outcome.


Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Phil Hope): The Government have made two commitments in recent years on the treatment of children and young people aged under 18 years on adult psychiatric wards. I wish to report to the House on the progress made on these commitments.

The first commitment, made in November 2006, was that within two years no child under the age of 16 would be treated on an adult psychiatric ward.

The second commitment is to commence section 31(3) of the Mental Health Act 2007 in England by April 2010. This provision, which applies to voluntary (informal) patients as well as formal (detained under mental health legislation) patients, places a duty on hospital managers to ensure that patients aged under 18 are treated in an environment in hospital which is suitable having regard to their age (subject to their needs). The hospital manager has to consult a person who appears to them to have knowledge or experience of cases involving patients who have not attained the age of 18.

In its 12th Biennial Report the Mental Health Act Commission welcomed these commitments and commented that

In order to prepare for these two commitments £31 million capital was made available in 2007-08 to 17 projects specifically designed to eliminate the inappropriate use of adult psychiatric wards by children and young people. I can report that five projects have been completed with further projects, which will provide
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31 new beds, 35 refurbished beds, and 13 beds relocated to purpose-designed facilities, in various states of completion.

In addition, the Department commissioned the National Mental Health Development Unit (NMHDU) to work on children and young people's issues within the Mental Health Act 2007 implementation programme. One of the main objectives of this work has been to support local areas to prepare for section 31(3) of the Mental Health Act 2007.

A number of products have been produced including:

The Legal Aspects of the Care and Treatment of children and Young People with Mental Disorder : A Guide for Professionals

The Safe and Appropriate Care Standards for Young People on Adult Wards

In Our Words DVD

Working Together to Provide Age Appropriate Environments for Mental Health Patients Aged under 18

The Age Appropriate Environment System Dynamic Planning Tool

The Mental Health Act- essential information for Parents and Carers

Headspace Toolkit

Additionally a series of training workshops aimed at CAMHS staff have been provided across England.

Year-on-year figures of bed days for under 18s show that consistent progress is being made. The number of bed days for under 16s and 16-17-year-olds on adult psychiatric wards has significantly reduced. In 2006-07,
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12.2 per cent. of bed days for under 18s were on adult psychiatric wards whereas the figure for 2008-09 was 8.1 per cent. I would like to congratulate strategic health authorities, commissioners, and providers on the progress made.

The bed day figures for under 16s on adult psychiatric wards dropped to zero in Q3 2008-09 meeting the Government's commitment. However, the latest quarterly figures (January-March 2009) for bed days for under 18-year-olds receiving mental health treatment in England show three instances of under 16-year-olds having been treated on adult psychiatric wards, each for one day only.

It is not acceptable for young people to be put in this situation and those few areas where these latest cases have arisen must take action to prevent this happening again. In all these cases action has been taken to investigate the circumstances leading to an under 16-year-old being placed on an adult psychiatric ward and to press those responsible to put arrangements in place to ensure that in future similar situations are dealt with in line with the Government's commitment. The appropriate place for vulnerable young children is in an environment which is designed for children and young people. In the case of under 16s our view is that the appropriate place is a CAMHS ward.

To conclude, over the past five years the Government have been committed to improving access for children and young people with mental health problems in universal and specialist settings. What these incidents highlight are the need for continued efforts to improve access to emergency and specialist age appropriate inpatient services for under 18s which are close to young people's homes, and services to maintain young people in the community when it is safe to do so, following the example in adult services of outreach and crisis teams. The Government remain committed to developing mental health services further.

Bed days for under 18 year olds receiving mental health treatment in England within the NHS.

QuarterUnder 18- year- old on NHS CAMHS ward16 to 17-year-old on NHS Adult Psychiatric WardUnder 16- year- old on NHS Adult Psychiatric Ward




















































The figures shown above include the latest revisions to past quarterly returns and therefore differ from those previously published.
(*)This figure does not include a case which has come to the Department's attention in a whole life eating disorder unit and which was not reported to the Department by formal channels. Action is being taken to ensure that eating disorder units abide by the Government's commitment.

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Home Department

Criminal Records Bureau (Annual Report)

The Minister for Policing, Crime and Counter-Terrorism (Mr. David Hanson): I announce that copies of the 2008-09 annual report and accounts for the Criminal Records Bureau have been laid before the House today. Arrangements are now in hand for publication.


Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Justice (Bridget Prentice): I have today laid before Parliament the Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations 2009.

Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian Regulations 2007 (2007 Regulations), set out the prescribed instruments that must be used to create a lasting power of attorney (LPA) for property and affairs or for personal welfare.

A consultation "Reviewing the Mental Capacity Act 2005: forms, supervision and fees" ran from 23 October 2008 until 15 January 2009. The consultation included draft LPA forms and invited comments on the revisions.

The forms underwent further revision to take on board comments received through consultation and further user testing has been undertaken with stakeholders and members of the public who had no prior knowledge of the forms.

The amendments to the 2007 regulations replace existing prescribed forms for instruments intended to create a property and affairs LPA or a personal welfare LPA with new prescribed forms. The tiles of the new forms detour slightly from the terms used in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and are purely for presentational purposes. Property and affairs becomes property and financial affairs while personal welfare becomes health and welfare. Respondents to the consultation were in favour of the changes as they felt that they are a better description of the two types of LPA's.

It is intended that the new prescribed forms will be in place from 1 October 2009.

The Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations 2009 provide transitional arrangements for the use of the prescribed forms in the 2007 regulations provided the form is executed before 1 April 2011.

The Lasting Powers of Attorney, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Public Guardian (Amendment) Regulations 2009 also make two minor changes to the 2007 regulations to correct errors.

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