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Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: National Health Service franchising is a new approach being taken by the Department of Health to find the best available managers to take over the functions of the chief executive and, where necessary, other senior management positions in, and to identify organisations which might be called upon to exercise the functions of, some of the most poorly performing NHS trusts in England. The prime goal under new franchised management arrangements will be to address the particular areas where a trust has performed poorly and to demonstrate its capacity to sustain improved performance.
Until now, NHS franchises have only been awarded to suitably qualified people within the NHS. The department has now widened these opportunities to other areas of the public sector, the voluntary sector and the private sector, as well as to suitably qualified individuals, by inviting formal applications from both within and outside the NHS for inclusion on the NHS franchising register of expertise.
The names of the organisations on the National Health Service franchising register of expertise have been published today and a copy has been placed in the Library. It is also available on the Department of Health's website at www.doh.gov.uk/nhsfranchising. The register includes 62 NHS trusts whose three star status gives them automatic inclusion on the register, Trent Strategic Health Authority and eight private sector organisationsfive of which are based in Britain, one in Germany, one in Canada and one has its parent company based in Sweden.
The NHS Appointments Commission set up an independent panel, under the chairmanship of Sir William Wells, to assess the applications received from organisations and individuals who expressed an interest following national advertisements in May 2002. The criteria for entry to the register were designed to assess interested parties' expertise and commitment to the public service ethos necessary to turn round failing NHS organisations and services in the future. The criteria included a commitment to the ethos of public services, expertise in managing and improving performance in large and complex service delivery organisations and an excellent track record in both financial and human resource management.
The Good Hope Hospital NHS Trust, Birmingham, will also be franchised following an investigation around the mismanagement of waiting list figures. As a result the trust has been reclassified to zero star. The trust held a disciplinary hearing at which the chief executive was found guilty of gross misconduct and summarily dismissed. The data underlying the trust's star rating has been reviewed and the performance rating recalculated.
The department will shortly be inviting those on the NHS franchising register of expertise to tender for the franchises in these trusts early in the new year, along with the interim management team at Bath.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Baroness Ashton of Upholland): There are no plans to introduce the international phonetic alphabet into schools. Primary pupils, through the National Literacy Strategy (NLS), are already taught to read using a range of strategies including both synthetic and analytic phonics, as well as other strategies such as grammar and context. The NLS advocates the Searchlights model of teaching children to read which emphasises the central importance of early phonics but also accepts that children will attempt to make sense of a wide range of print and texts during the course of mastering the phonic code.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The advice would be that it should strive to improve its good record, using those sustainable waste management systems that suit local conditions. The possibility of allowing home composting to count towards recycling targets is under review, subject to finding methods to monitor it stringently and fairly.
Lord Whitty: The Government acknowledge that the composting of catering waste has an important role to play in helping local authorities to meet their recycling targets and the Landfill Directive targets to reduce the amount of biodegradable municipal waste that goes to landfill. However, composting and biogas treatment of catering waste are effectively banned at present by the Animal By-Products Order 1999 (as amended).
Drawing on the results of a risk assessment commissioned by the department, a draft amending the Animal By-Products Order went out for public consultation on 20 November. The overall objective of this work is to develop a set of rules that will allow composting of catering waste to take place economically while fully protecting animal and public health.
Lord Whitty: The Cabinet Office Strategy Unit has recently completed a report on waste entitled Waste not, Want not which sets out a range of options including giving local authorities freedom to introduce incentive-based schemes for households to reduce waste and recycle more. These schemes could include, for example, council tax discounts or reward schemes for people who recycle or compost regularly or variable charging for household waste collection. Some local authorities have already introduced such incentive schemes. The Government are currently considering their response to the report.
In Waste not, Want not the Strategy Unit recommended a three-year programme to help households compost at home as one way of reducing the amount of municipal waste produced. They also recommended that government develop proposals for best value indicators that incorporate success in reducing waste volumes. The Government are considering these recommendations and will be responding in due course.
The Minister of State, Department for Culture, Media and Sport (Baroness Blackstone): The report will be pubished today, Thursday 19 December 2002. My right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport has today placed copies of the report in the Libraries of both Houses.
Baroness Blackstone: We are pleased to announce that the video-on-demand industry has made excellent progress with the development of a binding code of practice, and it has written to my right honourable friend, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport with details of that code. My right honourable friend is satisfied that the code represents a system that will provide adequate protection for children, and to subscribers to video-on-demand services. My right honourable friend asked the industry to keep her informed of its progress in establishing the self-regulatory system set out in the code, so that it can come fully into effect on enactment of the relevant provisions of the Communications Bill.
Copies of the code of practice have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses and the text is also available on the DCMS departmental website at www.culture.gov.uk.
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