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Drug Prescription by Dentists

Lord Colwyn asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Review of Prescribing, Supply and Administration of Medicines is currently under way, chaired by Dr. June Crown, and is considering a wide range of issues regarding the prescribing, supply and administration of medicines. The review is due to report to Ministers next year.

There is no provision in current legislation for pharmacists to supply prescription only medicines to a patient following a telephoned request from a dentist. We are not aware that this is a widespread problem.

Service Personnel and NHS Waiting Lists

Lord Swinfen asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The priority individual patients are given once on a waiting list is a clinical matter.

However, hospitals accepting patients who have moved into their area have been asked to consider what account they are able to take of the time patients have already spent on waiting lists at other hospitals.

Officials of the Ministry of Defence and the Department of Health have jointly recognised that service personnel and their dependents may be concerned about transferring to a new waiting list for

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hospital treatment as a result of a posting within the United Kingdom, or when returning from overseas. Officials will examine individual cases of extended delay in receiving treatment.

Smoking-related Disease: Treatment Costs

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Following the recent assertion by the Health Minister that the bill for treating people with smoking-related diseases was now estimated to be between £1.4 and £1.7 billion per annum, what proportion of those so treated were smokers.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The estimate of £1.4-£1.7 billion is the expenditure incurred by smokers because they smoke. Hence all those whose treatment incurred this expenditure are smokers.

Expenditure on diseases to which smoking makes some contribution ("smoking related diseases") is necessarily higher.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, following the publication of revised estimated costs to the NHS of smoking, they will publish the costs to the NHS of other lifestyle activities, including the costs of illness, injury, deaths and adverse social consequences (including murder and assault) from the effects of alcohol and diseases (especially respiratory diseases) and accidents arising from the use of motor vehicles.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The information is not available in the form requested.

Compulsory Competitive Tendering

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to issue new guidance on the conduct of compulsory competitive tendering.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We have today published a new Departmental Circular No. 16/97 (Welsh Office 62/97) which gives local authorities guidance on the conduct of compulsory competitive tendering (CCT).

The guidance reflects the new regulations on CCT laid before Parliament on 21 November. These amended

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the existing framework for CCT in England and Wales to make it more flexible and encourage local authorities to move to a Best Value-based approach to service delivery. The new guidance will alow authorities to pursue the principles of Best Value in a manner consistent with the purpose of the CCT legislation (that is, that local authorities only carry out work if they do so competitively) and provide more flexibility to tendering.

A draft of the guidance formed part of a package of proposed changes to CCT which went out to consultation on 25 July. The new circular takes account of the views of 112 local authorities and related organisations, professional bodies and private sector interests who responded specifically to the draft. A further 19 responses were received by the Welsh Office. Copies of the responses are held in the DETR's library.

The guidance sets out the Government's views on how CCT should be carried out in the period before Best Value is implemented. It emphasises the importance of ensuring that competition is undertaken in an open and transparent manner and that service users and service providers are consulted on the level and standard of services to be provided. Local authorities should secure services which are economic, effective and efficient and in which considerations of price and quality are properly balanced. Competing bids need to be evaluated objectively and authorities need to deal fairly with potential contractors to ensure that tendering practice does not advantage any one potential supplier or suppliers.

The new guidance applies immediately to those services currently subject to CCT. My right honourable friend the Secretary of State will take into account the extent to which there has been a contravention of the guidance in determining whether or not authorities have acted anti-competitively.

Best Value Duty

Lord Williams of Elvel asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will announce the decision about which local authorities will pilot the duty of Best Value.

Baroness Hayman: My honourable friend the Minister for Local Government and Housing will announce these decisions later this week. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions will write to all local authorities and other organisations who submitted proposals to pilot Best Value. We shall place a list of proposals, together with a record of the decision taken on each proposal, in the Library on the day of the announcement.

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