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Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government believe in the importance of providing information. The use of helplines is one of a number of communications

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methods which can be used. A recent example is the proposal in the White Paper The New NHS: Modern and Dependable to introduce new 24-hour advice lines to provide easier and faster advice and information through the National Health Service. We will pilot this through three care and advice helplines to begin in March 1998. We are aiming for the whole country to be covered by the year 2000.

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Who was asked to tender for the CALM helpline; how the original contract was awarded to Network Scotland; and why the most used helpline in Britain--SANELINE--was not asked to tender.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The contract was awarded to Network Scotland on the basis of value-for-money and fitness for purpose. This organisation has a proven track record in operating helplines on sensitive issues--most notably the Sexwise line, offering counselling on sex and emotional matters for young people; the National AIDS Helpline and the National Drugs Helpline. Four other organisations were invited to tender for the CALM helpline.

The scale of the project required a European-wide invitation to tender for which there was insufficient time to meet the deadline of a 15 December launch.

It was therefore, decided that this project should be managed by the Central Office of Information, which was able to organise a tender from suppliers assembled under a European Union framework agreement which had previously been established as a result of an advertisement for direct marketing services to government in the Official Journal of European Tenders. SANELINE do not appear on the framework list and were therefore ineligible for consideration.

Care of the Mentally Ill

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they intend to amalgamate the health and social services budgets for the provision of the mentally ill in light of the seven reports over 30 years that have all concluded this would provide for a more efficient service for the mentally ill.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: We are keen to develop closer working between health and social services. The National Health Service White Paper, A New NHS, introduces a number of steps to promote closer working, including plans to strengthen the duty of partnership between all parts of the NHS and social services, new provision for local authority chief executives to participate in health authority meetings, and a requirement that joint investment plans be produced from 1999-2000 for continuing community care, including mental health.

We will consult during 1998 on further ways of achieving closer local working relationships, including joint operation and planning of budgets.

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Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the total NHS expenditure on private in-patient care for NHS psychiatric patients requiring in-patient psychiatric care but for whom there are no beds available.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: As the grounds for referral of a patient to a private in-patient facility are not simply based on the availability or otherwise of a National Health Service bed, it is not possible to say what the expenditure might be in the circumstances outlined.

Lord Rowallan asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money is being released from community care funds following the death of former long-stay patients placed in the community; and whether the money has been directed towards the care of new long-term patients.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The net reduction in the 1997-98 Old Long Stay (OLS) special allocation, which funds the care in England of patients with mental illness admitted to hospital before 1 January 1971 and patients with learning disabilities admitted before 1 January 1970, was £20 million. Patient deaths is one of the factors in this net reduction but this element is not separately identified in the information held centrally.

1997-98 general allocations to health authorities were enhanced by this £20 million to ensure that spending on mental health and people with learning difficulties could be maintained. For 1998-99 no reductions were made in the OLS special allocation to health authorities.

Judgments: Legal Databases

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they permit judgments of United Kingdom courts to be reported on legal databases in a manner that indicates whether such judgments have been over-ruled or distinguished in subsequent judgments; and, if not, why not.

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg): There are no government restrictions imposed upon the reporting of judgments of United Kingdom courts on legal databases. It is for database owners to decide whether it is commercially viable to include information that indicates whether a judge has been over-ruled or distinguished and government do not influence this.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What restrictions they impose upon the reporting of judgments of United Kingdom courts on legal databases.

The Lord Chancellor: There are no government restrictions imposed upon the reporting of judgments of United Kingdom courts on legal databases.

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Public Record Office Charges

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the annual profits made by the Public Record Office for each of the past five years and the proportion of those profits attributable to income received from photocopying charges.

The Lord Chancellor: The Public Record Office has made no annual profit in the past five years. Charges for photocopies and all other charges are set to recover full cost with no profit element.

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What charges are imposed by the Public Record Office, per page, for photocopying public records; and how such charges are calculated and regulated to ensure that they are no more than is appropriate and necessary.

The Lord Chancellor: The current charges for electrostatic copies from original documents are set out in the Public Record Office (Fees) Regulations 1997 (Statutory Instruments 1997/400) a copy of which is available in the Library.

The charges for photocopying of public records are calculated on the basis of full cost recovery in accordance with H.M. Treasury rules. Full cost is the total cost of the service including copying costs, costs of sales and overheads.

The charges are made under the provisions of the Public Records Act 1958 section 2(5). They are reviewed annually to take account of likely changes in cost and demand. Proposed changes are considered by the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Council on Public Records, agreed by the Lord Chancellor and H.M. Treasury and implemented by statutory instrument. Every effort is made to keep the cost of copying to a minimum. However the public records are unique and their nature and format often makes them unsuitable for conventional copying methods: considerable care has to be taken to ensure that they are safely handled in order to preserve them for posterity. In some cases specialised equipment and labour intensive handling techniques are required and these inevitably have an impact on costs. The office is gradually increasing the amount of material made available to readers in surrogate format (for example, microfilm, electronic image) so that more copies can be made by cheaper self-service methods.

Human Rights Legislation Implementation: Judicial Training

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their estimate of the total costs of giving training to members of courts and tribunals about the implications of the forthcoming Human Rights Act; and how it is intended that funds should be allocated for this purpose across the United Kingdom.

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The Lord Chancellor: The cost of judicial training in preparation for implementation of the Human Rights Bill is estimated to be £5.0 million: £4.5 million for England and Wales; £450,000 for Scotland and £50,000 for Northern Ireland. Continuation training will be provided after implementation as necessary.

Consolidation Bills

Lord Mackay of Drumadoon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which consolidation Bills they plan to introduce during the current parliamentary session.

The Lord Chancellor: The Petroleum Bill has already been introduced. Three other consolidation Bills, on the Audit Commission, the Armed Forces and European parliamentary elections, may also be introduced, dependent on the progress of other legislation.

Administrative Decisions: Public Information

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the citizen has a legitimate expectation that the Government and public authorities will generally provide reasons for administrative decisions directly affecting the citizen's rights and interests.

The Solicitor-General (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Government recognise that giving reasons for administrative decisions contributes to good administration. The current Code of Practice on Access to Government Information commits government departments and certain public bodies to give reasons to those affected by administrative decisions.

The recent White Paper, Your Right to Know, proposes that a wider range of pubic bodies should be required to make "active" disclosure. Part of this requirement will be a general statutory duty to give reasons. The limitations on the duty will be the same as those on the corresponding duty to provide information on request.

Whether under the present law there is a duty to give reasons in any particular case, or an expectation that reasons will be given, depends on the circumstances of the decision and is a matter for the courts.

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