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Football Teaching to Girls in Schools

Baroness Anelay of St Johns asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): We believe it is important for all pupils to have the opportunity to take part in a wide range of PE and sports activities. We have set an aspiration that all schools should provide two hours of curricular or extra-curricular activities a week, and that should help to broaden participation. There are obvious benefits in encouraging girls' interest in activities such as football, where popularity is growing, in which their participation has not traditionally been strong. We encourage good practice through the Specialist Sports Colleges programme. There are a number of examples;

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one specialist college will become a girls' coaching centre early next year and another has set up teams for girls from local primary schools. Officials from my department are also seeking to meet the Football Association to discuss ways of increasing participation.

Student Support

Lord Harris of Haringey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What support will be available to students in England and Wales in the academic year 2000-01.[HL425]

Baroness Blackstone: The total level of support available to students in 2000-01 will be 2- per cent higher than for 1999-2000, in line with forecast price increases. I am today placing a memorandum in the Library giving details of the new loan, grant and fee rates for 2000-01. These rates will be incorporated in the Education (Student Support) Regulations, which cover support for eligible students under the current arrangements, and in the Education (Mandatory Awards) Regulations and Education (Student Loans) Amendment Regulations, which cover students who are still eligible for support under the previous arrangements. These regulations will all be laid before Parliament in due course.

Sexual Orientation: Anti-discrimination Policies

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which government department takes the lead on issues of discrimination based on sexual orientation; and what policies are being formulated to outlaw such discrimination.[HL305]

Baroness Blackstone: The Government are committed to combating all forms of unjustified discrimination, including discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation. The co-ordination of action on equality issues is the responsibility of the Cabinet Office. However, individual government departments develop policies on sexual orientation in the specific areas for which they are responsible.

The Sexual Offences (Amendment) Bill to equalise the age of consent and strengthen protection of young people from abuse of trust will be reintroduced this Session. The Home Secretary has made clear that the Parliament Act will be used if necessary to secure the Bill's passage. The Home Office is also conducting a comprehensive review of sex offences and penalties. One of the terms of reference is that all new offences will have to be compatible with the European Convention on Human Rights, as enacted by the Human Rights Act 1998, to ensure that they are fair and non-discriminatory. The Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions is taking

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forward the repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Bill which prohibits local authorities from promoting homosexuality. The Equal Opportunities Commission in conjunction with the Department for Education and Employment is drafting a non-statutory code of practice on discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation in employment. The evaluation of the effectiveness of this code will inform any future decision on the need for legislation.

Students: Meningococcal Vaccine

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether all students have now had the opportunity of being vaccinated with meningitis C vaccine.[HL156]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): Meningococcal A & C vaccine was recommended for higher education students starting their first year at university or college, either before the start of term or when they began at university/college. This programme began in early September and is largely complete. Over 575,000 doses of meningococcal A & C vaccine have been issued in total, which is well in excess of the target population. All first-year students should now have had the opportunity to be immunised. Further supplies are available for general practitioners.

The Health Education Authority (HEA) wrote to first-year students through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service, telling them about the arrangements for immunisation. The Department of Health wrote to universities and colleges asking them to ensure that arrangements were in place for the vaccine to be offered to all first-year students who had not been immunised before term started. The HEA sent packs of information, including special leaflets, to all universities and colleges so that they could target those first-year students who had not been immunised. Publicity was also provided through student focused media. The department is encouraging students who still wish to be immunised to arrange appointments with their GPs.

A survey carried out on behalf of the department at a representative selection of universities and colleges showed that 73 per cent of the students sampled reported that they had been immunised with meningococcal vaccine. This is a high up-take in circumstances where there is no routine vaccination programme in place.

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Great Ormond Street Hospital:Cardiac Operations

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many cardiac operations were performed by Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust during each of the quarters ending 30 September 1998, 31 December 1998, 31 March 1999, 30 June 1999 and 30 September 1999; and what has been the average number of such operations per week since 1 October 1999.[HL191]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The average numbers of cardiac operations performed by Great Ormond Street NHS Trust per week since 1 October 1999 is 7.6.

The table shows the numbers of finished consultant episodes for cardiac operations in Great Ormond Street Hospital NHS Trust for the quarters shown. The remainder of the information requested is not yet available.

Quarter ending 30 September 1998130
Quarter ending 31 December 1998134
Quarter ending 30 June 1999109

NHS Charter Review

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What action they are taking to follow up Greg Dyke's review of the NHS Charter.[HL242]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government are currently considering the recommendations from Greg Dyke's report and how these relate to new and developing health policies, public affairs issues and the Government's modernisation agenda. A draft charter for consultation will be issued for a three-month consultation period in the spring.

Direct Payments to People Over 65

Baroness Wilkins asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the extension of eligibility for direct payments to people over 65 announced in the White Paper, Modernising Social Services (Cmd. 4169), a year ago will be implemented.[HL313]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The consultation period on revisions to the direct payments policy and practice guidance ended on 10 December. We will lay regulations to extend direct payments to people aged 65 and over when we have considered the responses which we have received.

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Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre.[HL419]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Glenthorne Youth Treatment Centre in Birmingham has made an important and valued contribution to the treatment and care of some of the most difficult and disturbed young people with whom the child care system has had to deal and has been influential in the lives of many young people.

When the centre opened in 1978, except for St Charles, the other youth treatment centre in Essex, which has since closed, there were no comparable facilities for accommodating and treating such difficult and disturbed young people. Since then, however, local authorities have developed their own secure accommodation and have become skilled and experienced in dealing with many young people needing secure care. The Department of Health has undertaken a major building and refurbishment programme in recent years to strengthen the range and geographical spread of local authority accommodation by providing an additional 170 places for young people. There will be funding in the coming year to continue this programme of upgrading and refurbishment.

From April 2000, the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales will become responsible for commissioning and purchasing places in the secure juvenile estate for remanded and sentenced young people. The board has decided that it does not wish to use the Glenthorne centre for this purpose. As up to half the young people accommodated in the centre at any one time are placed there by the Prison Service it would be extremely difficult to continue to run the centre as a viable unit without these placements. There are also good child care practice issues to be considered. Because of the growth in experience and provision in the wider child care field, these young people can now be cared for in a number of appropriate locations and need not be labelled as "the worst in the country" by virtue of being placed in only one facility. For these reasons, we therefore intend to consult the staff and their representatives about the future of the unit, including its possible closure. The consultation period will last three months, at the end of which we will make our final decision on the future of the centre.

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