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Gulf Veterans: Mortality Data

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence (Don Touhig) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

As part of the Government's continuing commitment to investigate Gulf veterans' illnesses openly and honestly, data on the mortality of veterans of the 1990–91 Gulf conflict are published regularly. The most recent figures, for 1 April 1991 to 31 December 2005, are published today as a national statistic on the Defence Analytical Services Agency website.

The data for Gulf veterans are compared to those of a control group known as the "Era cohort" which is made up of Armed Forces personnel of a similar profile in terms of gender, service, regular/reservist status and rank, who were not deployed to the Gulf. As in the previous release, the "Era" group has been adjusted for a small difference in the age profile of those aged 40 years and over, to ensure appropriate comparisons.

Key points to note in the data are:

The full notice can be viewed at

Health and Social Care: Public/Private Partnership

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Lord Warner): My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

A new public/private partnership is to be formed through a joint venture between the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) (a special health authority established on 1 April 2005 with responsibility for managing and developing NHS and social care data resources) and Dr Foster Ltd, a commercial provider of healthcare information.

The joint venture takes the form of a new company, to be called Dr Foster Intelligence. Fifty per cent of the company will be owned by the HSCIC, 50 per cent by a new private company, Dr Foster Holdings LLP. All the existing health service-related business of Dr Foster will migrate to the joint venture, together with some of HSCIC's existing services. The HSCIC is
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investing £12 million in the joint venture—a direct injection of £4.4 million equity into Dr Foster Intelligence Ltd to fund working capital requirements, and a payment of £7.6 million to Dr Foster as a further contribution to working capital in Dr Foster Intelligence Ltd and to compensate the shareholders of Dr Foster Ltd.

The aim of the joint venture is to improve use and accessibility of information across the health and care system, in support of the overall aim of giving people more choice and control over health and social care. It will compete with other providers of management information solutions to support better commissioning, choice, quality and efficiency—all areas of the reform programme where better use of information by patients, users, professionals and managers is vital.

Dr Foster Intelligence Ltd will be managed as a private company, with a board of six members: three from HSCIC and three from Dr Foster Holdings LLP. It will compete for business on the open market in the health and care system; and it will have no privileged access to data provided by HSCIC. It will be launched officially on 13 February.

The statutory functions of the HSCIC are unchanged. It will retain responsibility for data collection and for ensuring equitable access to public information and will continue to manage national statistics. It will be a principal shareholder in Dr Foster Intelligence Ltd; but it will be free to work with other organisations in the development of data services and products. It will establish an information suppliers' forum and will be transparent in the rules governing access to and use of information from the health and care system. A consultation document setting out the details of this approach will be issued in February. This is a positive and welcome example of the public and private sectors combining to work in partnership in support of better services for patients and the public.

Ministry of Defence: Air Combat Service Support Units

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson): My right honourable friend the Minister of State for the Armed Forces (Adam Ingram) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

Air Combat Service Support Units provide logistics and communications support to RAF aircraft and units on deployed operations. In July 2004 we announced that we had decided to form these units into two hubs: a logistics hub and a communications hub, to enable the more effective use of defence resources. Accordingly, logistics units would move to RAF Wittering (Cambridgeshire); and communications units would move to RAF Scampton (Lincolnshire) alongside air surveillance and control system (ASACS) units.

The build-up of the logistics hub at RAF Wittering has proceeded well and is scheduled to be completed by April 2006. Increased site preparation cost
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estimates at RAF Scampton have caused us to review whether this location remained the best value-for-money option for a communications hub. This work has now concluded and, subject to trades unions consultation, I have decided that the RAF communications hub will be formed at RAF Leeming (North Yorkshire) instead of RAF Scampton as this will be significantly more cost-effective.

This means that communications personnel would move from RAF Sealand to RAF Leeming by April 2006. Communications personnel from RAF Brize Norton and RAF High Wycombe would move to RAF Leeming in 2007. The future location of ASACS units, currently at RAF Scampton, RAF Kirton-in-Lindsey and RAF Boulmer will be the subject of further work.


The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department (Fiona Mactaggart) has made the following Written Ministerial Statement.

The summary of responses to Paying the Price: A Public Consultation Paper on Prostitution and a co-ordinated strategy for prostitution have been published today. Copies have been placed in the Library and are available from the Home Office website at

The consultation exercise was the starting point for the development of a realistic and coherent strategy to deal with prostitution and its serious detrimental consequences for individuals and communities. The Government have considered in detail the arguments for and against managed areas and have concluded that they would create misery for the communities in which they were located, could attract other criminal activity and would not necessarily improve safety or conditions for those involved in prostitution. They would also imply an acceptance of street prostitution. Instead the Government's approach is to address all aspects of the street sex market to significantly reduce the numbers of those involved and to restore respect and safety to local communities.

The strategy provides a framework for local areas to disrupt street markets and to crack down on commercial sexual exploitation. It aims to reduce the numbers of those selling sex through preventive measures which will safeguard children and young people at risk of commercial sexual exploitation, and through the development of routes out for those already trapped in prostitution. It aims to reduce the demand for sex markets by sustained enforcement of the law against kerb crawlers. The strategy also focuses on the need to crack down on the groomers, the traffickers and others who control prostitution through the robust legal framework laid down in the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

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