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2 Jul 2001 : Column WA29

Written Answers

Monday, 2nd July 2001.

Prisoners: Prevention of Self-harm

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they endorse the recommendations in Chapter 7 of the recent internal review by HM Prison Service of suicide and self-harm by prisoners and their prevention; whether they endorse the three-year implementation strategy in Annex A to the review; what action they are taking to ensure that the recommendations and implementation timetable are implemented; and which, if any, recommendations they do not endorse and why.[HL44]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Rooker): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department announced on 5 February (cols. 441-42W) the acceptance by the Director General of the Prison Service and by Ministers of all the review's recommendations and details of a three-year strategy from April 2001 to put them into effect. The strategy is under way, with £8 million planned investment this financial year. Arrangements are in place for pilot schemes in five establishments, with a focus on the early period in custody, including physical improvements to reception and induction areas. Full-time suicide prevention co-ordinators for most of 30 high risk establishments have been appointed and received initial training.

The Safer Custody Group has been established within the Prison Service to implement the strategy. Reducing prisoner suicides is a high priority for Ministers and the Prison Service and will be the subject of regular discussions.

Sporting Events: Drug-taking

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What measures they are taking to deter the use of Class A drugs at major sporting and entertainment events.[HL46]

Lord Rooker: The policing of individual sporting events is a matter for discussion and agreement between the police and individual event organisers.

While it is true that there was some evidence of drug taking at Royal Ascot, this was at a very low level. Of the 233,000 people who attended the four-day event, there were 27 arrests, mostly for public order offences, and only two for drug related offences, compared to seven arrests for drug related offences at last year's event.

In the case of Royal Ascot, the policing operation fulfilled its objective of ensuring that the public were able to enjoy the occasion in safety, free from crime and anti-social behaviour.

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Northern Ireland: Fuel Tax

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they consider that reducing taxation on fuel in Northern Ireland would improve revenue, prevent smuggling and increase employment; and whether they intend to take action.[HL03]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: Under existing EU legislation, it is doubtful that we could introduce duty rate differentials between different regions in the UK.

Air Travel: Cramped Seating

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    In view of concerns about the adverse health effects of cramped aircraft seating, the present air passenger duty arrangements appear to act as a disincentive to airlines in providing more spacious seating for economy class passengers.[HL28]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The changes in air passenger duty introduced in Budget 2000, which came into force on 1 April 2001, apply a reduced rate of duty for passengers travelling in the lowest class on any aircraft. The introduction of more spacious seats throughout the lowest class of cabin on an aircraft would not affect the liability to the reduced rate of duty.

Aviation Health Working Group

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What benefits are expected to flow from the activities of the inter-departmental Aviation Health Working Group; and over what time period.[HL26]

The Minister of State, Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): The Aviation Health Working Group has agreed the following terms of reference:

"The Aviation Health Working Group will meet on a regular basis and will work in partnership with other interested parties to give effect to the Government response to the House of Lords Inquiry into Air Travel and Health. Particular responsibilities identified in the response are to:

Provide a forum for interested Government departments and agencies to consider issues relevant to aviation health;

Provide an interface with the air transport industry, health experts and other interested parties on aviation health issues of mutual interest;

Evaluate the need for research into issues related to air travel and health, and consider the role of Government in supporting such research;

Ensure Ministers are kept informed and receive comprehensive advice on aviation health matters;

Monitor developments that impinge on the health of those travelling by air.''

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The group has so far met on three occasions. The initial focus of its work was to produce government-approved advice on the risks of deep vein thrombosis for air travellers. Preliminary short advice has already been circulated to airlines and tour operators, and more detailed advice will be issued to general practitioners and the airline industry and made available through the NHS Direct website shortly. The aim of producing such advice is to ensure that passengers have access to detailed information on the risk of deep vein thrombosis to allow them to make informed choices before they fly. The group has been particularly impressed with some of the material provided by UK airlines for their passengers in the form of pamphlets or videos.

Representatives from airlines and other interested parties attended a meeting of the group on 4 May 2001. At this meeting the airlines gave information on current practice in relation to issues such as in-flight medical emergency equipment and noise on-board aircraft. The group is now considering whether current practice in these areas meets the needs of passengers and crew members.

The group will also give detailed consideration to the need for further research on aviation health matters once the scoping study that is currently under way is completed in July 2001.

Baroness Wilcox asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, given the strengthened role for the Cabinet Office in the delivery of cross departmental policies, that office will be represented on the inter-departmental Aviation Health Working Group.[HL27]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The permanent members of the group are the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, the Department of Health, the Civil Aviation Authority and the Health and Safety Executive. The Cabinet Office is kept informed of the group's work and can attend where appropriate.


Lord Campbell of Croy asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are considering action to improve early diagnosis and treatment of diabetes in the light of the report Too Many, Too Late from the organisation Diabetes UK.[HL69]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): We recognise the importance of detecting and treating diabetes as early as possible. The UK National Screening Committee, which advises government on all aspects of screening policy, is considering whether there is a case for the introduction of a targeted screening programme for Type 2 diabetes. Its conclusions will inform the implementation of the Diabetes National Service Framework for England, which will be published later this year.

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NHS: Recruitment

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many doctors and nurses were employed in the National Health Service in the year 2000; and over what period of years the Government are planning to achieve their recruitment target of an extra 10,000 doctors and 20,000 nurses.[HL75]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: There were 97,400 doctors and 335,950 nurses working in the National Health Service in England as at 30 September 2000.

The Government plan to increase the number of doctors by 10,000 and nurses by 20,000 by 2005.

CJD Surveillance Unit Report

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they expect to publish the ninth annual report of the National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit.[HL101]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit's ninth annual report has been published. The report documents the unit's findings in relation to sporadic, familial and iatrogenic Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), and also variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD), up to 31 December 2000. Copies have been placed in the Library and made available on the unit's web site at

House of Lords: Former MPs

Lord Shore of Stepney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many members of the House of Lords are former Members of Parliament; and, of these, how many are former Ministers, with former Cabinet Ministers shown separately.[HL50]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Williams of Mostyn): On 6 July 2001, there will be 174 members of the House of Lords who are former Members of the House of Commons. Of these, 107 will have served as junior Ministers (although at least six of the 107 were never Ministers in the Commons but became Ministers in the Lords).

Of the 174, 66 were at some time members of the Cabinet (although at least two were never Cabinet Ministers in the Commons but became Cabinet Ministers in the Lords; and some of the 66 became Cabinet Ministers without previously having been junior Ministers).

These figures do not include Law Officers, parliamentary private secretaries or junior whips as Ministers.

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