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Courts Martial

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: During the period 1 January 2001 to 31 December 2001, the Naval Prosecuting Authority decided not to proceed with trial by court martial in 11 instances where personnel had elected for trial by court martial rather than accept summary justice. In the Royal Air Force, where personnel elected for trial by court martial rather than accept summary jurisdiction, all the cases referred during 2001 proceeded to court martial. The Army Prosecuting Authority has approximately 750 cases per year referred to it for a decision on whether to proceed to court martial, but its records do not separately identify those where the individual has elected for trial by court martial. Arrangements will be made to collect this information in future.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: As at 31 May 2002, the numbers of Armed Forces personnel awaiting court martial are as recorded below. The periods of time were calculated from when commanding officers received court martial papers to serve on the accused.

Naval Service

Up to 8 weeks—15

8–16 weeks—46

16–26 weeks—15

26–52 weeks—8

Royal Air Force

Up to 8 weeks—25

8–16 weeks—101

16–26 weeks—3

26–52 weeks—1


The numbers of Army personnel awaiting court martial is not recorded in weeks. To require it to be so would incur disproportionate effort. However, the information is available in the following quarterly format:

Up to 3 months—107

3–6 months—122

6–9 months—229

9–12 months—162

12–15 months—111

15–18 months—50

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The Army has implemented a number of initiatives to shorten the waiting time in bringing cases to court martial. These include an improved monitoring system, prioritising investigations into more serious cases, a more flexible assize system to allow better use of court time and the establishment of an Office for Standards of Casework (Army) under a brigadier to monitor casework processes and promote improvements. The Army is fully committed to reducing further the time taken to bring cases to court.

ASTUTE Class Submarines

Lord Acton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Where the ASTUTE class submarines will be based. [HL4926]

Lord Bach: Both the first and second batches of ASTUTE class submarines will be based at HM Naval Base Clyde. The first batch is already on order and a decision on the procurement of the second batch of up to three further ASTUTE class submarines is expected later this year.

Strategic Sealift Capability

Lord Hardy of Wath asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What progress has been made toward finalising the arrangements for the UK's future military strategic sealift capability.[HL4975]

Lord Bach: We are pleased to announce that negotiations with AWSR Shipping Ltd have been concluded and a PFI contract that will run until 2024 has been signed. The full service will be available from 2003. AWSR will provide, operate, maintain and manage six roll-on-roll-off vessels and supply crews for the whole of the period of their contract; 180 new jobs for British seafarers will be created. After a phase-in period, crews will be sponsored reserves. Based on a projected usage, the service is worth some £950 million, of which some £800 million is likely to be spent in the United Kingdom.

All six ships will not be needed all the time for Ministry of Defence work. When not engaged on MoD tasks they will be available for commercial trade.

The service will play a central role in fulfilling our Strategic Defence Review commitment to enhance the Armed Forces' equipment lift requirements and allow the movement of the joint rapid reaction forces quickly to overseas theatres as required.

Radioactive Waste

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What advice they have received from the Royal Society on the management of existing radioactive

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    waste from nuclear power stations and military activities; what is this response; and whether existing arrangements are adequate.[HL4776]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Royal Society responded on 12 March to the consultation paper Managing radioactive waste safety published last September by the Government and the devolved administrations. A copy of this response has been placed in the Library of the House.

Our paper said that we must decide how we are going to manage up to 500,000 tonnes of solid radioactive waste over the next several thousand years and it proposed a programme of action for reaching that decision. We are now evaluating the outcome of the consultation. We shall shortly publish a summary of responses and announce what we plan to do next.

Small Farmers: EU Subsidy Scheme

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs' departmental report 2002, why there is any need to consider whether to implement the European Union's simplified scheme for payment of subsidies to small farmers.[HL4809]

Lord Whitty: The Government believe that the scheme offers the welcome possibility of simplifying subsidy claims for a small number of English farmers. However, there is a need to consider whether the significant costs of implementation represent the best use of available resources within the department at this particular time. I expect to make a final decision later in the summer.

Casualty Watch Surveys

Baroness Noakes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they believe that national Casualty Watch surveys are valuable; and, if so, which body or bodies are expected to carry out such surveys once community health councils have been abolished.[HL4664]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Government give careful consideration to Casualty Watch surveys but they need to be considered alongside other evidence to give a full picture of the patient experience of the National Health Service.

Patient surveys and reports from patients forums will in the future provide this evidence locally. Nationally the Commission for Patient and Public Involvement in Health will be able to ask patients forums across the country to carry out Casualty Watch type activity. This activity will not be limited to looking at accident and emergency departments; rather it will be able to review any issue that is of national concern following a review of patients forums

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annual activities. These reviews will therefore reflect the matters that are important to patients and will not be limited to single issues determined by the centre. The commission will be able to report its findings to the Secretary of State for Health and any other body it deems appropriate.

Mixed Sex Wards

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked her Majesty's Government:

    What is their definition of a mixed sex ward and a single sex ward; and[HL4784]

    Whether each hospital trust or individual hospital is free to use its own criteria as to what constitutes a single sex ward or whether there are guidelines laid down which are to applied to all National Health Service hospitals; and[HL4785]

    Whether, where mixed sex wards exist, patients are given the opportunity to refuse treatment in them in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Department of Health; and[HL4786]

    Whether inspections of hospitals are undertaken to assess the progress of eliminating mixed sex wards; and whether regular reports are made to Ministers on the results of those inspections; and [HL4787]

    Whether all mixed sex wards in the National Health Service hospitals, other than intensive care units, will have been eliminated by 31 December 2002; and, if not, why not.[HL4788]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: We have set a target of December 2002 for the provision of single sex accommodation in 95 per cent of trusts.

Guidance on maintaining privacy and dignity was first issued to the service in 1997 and since then trusts have been working towards clear targets to eliminate mixed sex accommodation.

There are three targets that trusts are working towards. These are:

    ensuring that appropriate organisational arrangements are in place to secure good standards of privacy and dignity for hospital patients;

achieving fully the Patient's Charter standard for segregated washing and toilet facilities across the NHS;

providing safe facilities for patients in hospital who are mentally ill which safeguard their privacy and dignity.

Guidance is set out in EL(97)3 and EL(97)53. A monitoring tool was issued with HSC 1998/143. In addition, guidance on achieving single sex accommodation Enhancing Privacy and Dignity has been issued to the NHS, together with Health Building Notes and Design Guides HBM 4 In-patient accommodation—Options for Choice. The guidance provides NHS trusts with design solutions for new accommodation to meet the requirements of privacy, dignity and safety.

1 Jul 2002 : Column WA16

The Government define appropriate levels of privacy and dignity as being wards split into single sex bays, or single rooms, with associated single sex toilet facilities.

The majority of hospital wards are usually subdivided into bays and single rooms which are designated as male or female and are therefore able to care for men and women without compromising privacy and dignity. Each NHS trust will decide how to configure their wards to meet local needs and case mix demands and to reflect the design of the ward.

It is the responsibility of each NHS trust to manage patient admissions in such a manner as to ensure that patient privacy is protected. Guidance on maintaining patient privacy and dignity was issued to the service in 1997. This advises that patients are given the opportunity to request alternative accommodation where accommodation offered is shared by men and women. Where a patient refuses admission into hospital because of shared accommodation, a further admission date into appropriate segregated accommodation is offered.

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