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Coral Reef Systems and Climate Change

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: The effects of rising sea temperatures and pollution on coral reefs are well documented. The 1995 report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded that increased coral bleaching will occur as a result of an increase in average global atmospheric temperature. In 1998, high sea-surface temperatures caused by El Nino resulted in one of the worst coral bleaching events ever recorded in the Indo-West Pacific Oceans between April and June of that year.

The Government published the UK Climate Change Programme on 17 November. This sets out the Government's approach to tackling climate change, including action to raise awareness about the impacts of climate change.

The United Kingdom plays an active role in fora concerned with the conservation of coral reefs, including the International Coral Reef Initiative and the Biodiversity Convention. The UK has committed substantial funding to support the development of improved understanding and better management of coral reef ecosystems. This includes support to the International Oceanographic Commission to establish the South Asia node of the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network, which will, inter alia, raise community-level awareness of coral reef status and resource management issues.

My right honourable friend the Deputy Prime Minister has taken a personal interest in raising awareness of the links between oceans and climate change. This includes pressing for improved international co-ordination on oceans matters at the United Nations and elsewhere, as well as highlighting the importance of coral reef-related resources to the livelihoods of many island communities.

Traffic Calming Measures and Child Casualty Reduction

The Earl of Listowel asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Whitty: In a 1996 report on a before and after study of traffic calming measures in selected 20 mph zone schemes that had been commissioned by my department, the Transport Research Laboratory said it had found that child pedestrian and child cyclist accidents had fallen by 70 and 48 per cent respectively overall. Local authorities have carried out many 20 mph schemes since then and have not required my

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department's prior approval to the speed limit since the powers were delegated last year. No national estimate has been made of the number of child deaths and injuries that have been saved as a result of such schemes but my department is convinced of their value. It therefore plans to allocate over £3 million for local authorities to spend on 20 mph zone schemes in the current financial year, in addition to their existing programmes of measures to help reduce child road casualties.

Mixed Sex Wards and the Case of Edward Butler

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have considered the implications of the conviction at Liverpool Crown Court of Edward Butler who, when a patient in a mixed sex ward at Southport and Formby District General Hospital in March this year, sexually assaulted a female patient in the same ward; and whether the hospital authorities aided and abetted the crime by placing Mr Butler on a mixed sex ward; and [HL4653]

    Whether mixed sex wards have now been phased out at Southport and Formby District Hospital; and, if not, why not. [HL4654]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The ward in which the assault took place consists of single sex bays and single rooms and thus is not classified as "mixed sex". All patients have access to single sex washing and toilet facilities. Southport & Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust carried out a risk assessment immediately after the incident, which included a comprehensive review of patient management and security, and has introduced revised procedures. Nursing patients in single sex bays on specialist wards enables more people to receive optimal levels of care, allows greater flexibility of admission and results in fewer empty beds.

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will now order all hospital authorities to expedite the elimination of mixed sex wards. [HL4655]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We are maintaining pressure to ensure that the vast majority of health authorities achieve the elimination of mixed sex accommodation in line with government objectives by 2002. Arrangements for increased performance management and more regular monitoring have been set in place to keep this issue high on the agenda and to ensure that privacy and dignity are improved in those places where it will take longer to achieve single sex accommodation.

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Munchausen's Syndrome by Proxy: Methods of Identification

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Chief Medical Officer has formed a task force to study Munchausen's syndrome by proxy; if he has, what are the terms of reference; who has been appointed to chair the task force; who are the members; what are their interests; and whom they have consulted, or will consult. [HL4700]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Chief Medical Officer has not formed a task force to study Munchausen's syndrome by proxy. However, the Griffith's review (Review of the Research Framework in the North Staffordshire NHS Trust) recommended that the Department of Health convene an expert and

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inter-disciplinary panel to review methods of identification of children who have either had illnesses induced or fabricated by their carer, including the use of covert video surveillance, within the framework of the Government's interagency guidance for child protection Working Together to Safeguard Children (1999). In response to this recommendation, which the Government accepted, a steering group has been formed to develop draft guidance. It is intended that this guidance will be put out for public consultation in spring 2001 with a view to publishing the final document in summer 2001. External members of the steering group include representatives from professional associations covering nursing, paediatrics, social services, psychiatry, police and professions allied to medicine. The panel is chaired by a senior official from the Department of Health.

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