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Heritage: Severalls Hospital

Lord Howarth of Newport asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): English Partnerships is in advanced negotiations with a preferred developer and will make an announcement when these are concluded. The buildings in English Partnerships’ ownership are largely occupied under leases and are maintained to an agreed standard. English Partnerships employs GVA Grimley, a major commercial agent, to manage the site on a day-to-day basis including arranging site security. The master plan for the entire site includes the retention of the listed building as well as some other existing buildings as part of the development. The design plan will incorporate the heritage aspects as well as retaining and enhancing the green space element. Design quality, public realm, open space and landscaping were all key issues in the development specification against which developers had to bid.

HIV/AIDS

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty’s Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for International Development (Baroness Vadera): DfID is currently working with UNICEF in support of national orphans and vulnerable children plans in 13 African countries. This is helping to ensure that plans for orphans and vulnerable children are fully in line with broader national HIV/AIDS plans, and with other social plans and programmes, especially education, health and social welfare.

The UK is also supporting the development of broad social protection interventions that will include children affected by AIDS in seven African countries and funding international and local NGOs to provide services directly to vulnerable children including food, shelter and psycho-social support. DfID’s funding through public partnership agreements also supports organisations to respond to the needs of children affected by AIDS. These organisations include PLAN UK, World Vision and Save the Children.

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Vadera: Taking Action, the UK’s strategy for tackling HIV and AIDS in the developing world, has a total commitment of £1.5 billion, of which at

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least £150 million is going towards supporting orphans and vulnerable children. We are currently updating Taking Action. The needs and rights of children affected by AIDS will remain a UK priority when the updated strategy is published next year.

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Vadera: The UK is not currently working with civil society to develop and implement such a system. UNAIDS collects national data through national AIDS spending assessments (NASA) on the part of national Governments and bilateral and multilateral agencies. National AIDS spending assessments provide indicators of the financial country response to HIV and AIDS and support the monitoring of resource mobilisation. In addition, DfID is supporting national AIDS councils in a number of countries to monitor and evaluate the impact of their national AIDS strategies.

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Vadera: Preventing and treating opportunistic infections are vital components of caring for and treating people, including children, living with HIV. A UK-supported trial in Zambia has shown that providing co-trimoxazole to children with HIV reduced mortality by as much as 43 per cent.

DfID is at the forefront of strengthening health systems and improving access to essential drugs. Co-trimoxazole is on the World Health Organisation’s essential drugs list and interventions that improve availability of essential drugs will improve access to it. Essential drugs are intended to be available within the context of functioning health systems at all times in adequate amounts, in the appropriate dosage forms, with assured quality, and at a price the individual and the community can afford.

DfID is also working with governments to strengthen their distribution systems for essential drugs. In Zambia, we are working with the World Bank to develop a pilot for innovative ways to improve delivery in the public distribution system.

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:



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Baroness Vadera: Mother-to-child transmission of HIV has been virtually eliminated in developed countries because women of reproductive age have access to high quality antenatal, maternity and family planning services, into which HIV prevention, treatment and care have been integrated. DfID is working to ensure that women in poor countries have the same choices and opportunities. DfID helps to tackle HIV-related mother and child mortality and to prevent mother-to-child transmission of HIV through our support to health system strengthening. For example, in Zambia, DfID is providing £5.5 million to support a multi sectoral response to tackling HIV, which includes support for prevention of mother-to-child transmission.

Baroness Northover asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Vadera: Infant diagnostics for HIV continue to be a challenge in resource-limited settings. The most common way to test for HIV is to identify antibodies to the virus but antibody tests are not reliable in very young children. In response to this a new approach to HIV diagnosis in infants has been introduced in some African countries since late 2006. This involves testing “dry blood spots”' collected in a way that does not need specialist equipment at the point of care. This technology offers a vital opportunity for timely access to lifesaving treatment and care services for children who are infected with HIV. However, these services are just getting started in many countries and therefore relatively few infants have been able to receive such tests.

The UK announced support of €20 million for UNITAID in September 2006, as part of a 20-year commitment, increasing to €60 million per year by 2010 subject to performance. This month, UNITAID together with UNICEF launched a joint initiative that will include support to early paediatric diagnosis to improve early access to paediatric HIV treatment for young HIV-infected infants.

Lifeboats

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Accidents of this type are required to be reported to the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the Department for Transport. According to its database, which contains records from 1991 to date, three accidents have been reported involving UK-flagged vessels during lifeboat drills, where an on-load release hook failed.

There are no reliable worldwide statistics available for accidents of this type.



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Local Government: Letters to Councillors

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Government are not aware of any such guidance. However, the Councillors Commission, which we established in February 2007 to look at how better to support councillors and make local democracy more responsive to local people, has considered the need for greater clarity of role and for associated training to be available to all councillors. The commission will make its recommendations to the Government in December.

Local Government: Local Strategic Partnerships

Baroness Scott of Needham Market asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Local strategic partnerships are partnerships which include local authorities, service delivery partners and representatives of the local business and third sectors. They are not bodies in law and they cannot take decisions that are legally the responsibility of local authorities. It is for members of local strategic partnerships (LSPs) to take their own legal advice and to act in accordance with the law.

Local Government: Unitary Councils

Baroness Scott of Needham Market asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Department for Communities and Local Government has not made any assessment of this issue.

The main provision made to support small unitary authorities is through the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA), which runs a managerial leadership programme.



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Madagascar: Sapphire Miners

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): We are concerned by recent reports of hardship and poor working conditions caused by rapid expansion of the gem-mining industry in Madagascar. The UK non-resident ambassador to Madagascar will raise the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development guidance for multinational enterprises and the UN global compact, which both address issues of labour and best practice, at his next meeting with representatives of the Malagasy Government.

Marine Environment: Lyme Bay

Lord Teverson asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): Since August 2006, Defra has received specific conservation information from a variety of sources including reports by the Devon Wildlife Trust, Natural England and Bangor University. Conservation information continues to arrive both as a result of scientific research and in response to the current consultation on measures to protect marine biodiversity in Lyme Bay reefs. Defra will examine all the evidence when reaching a decision on how best to achieve that protection.

Lord Teverson asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: Since August 2006, Defra has received information from a variety of sources on the economic costs and benefits of protecting the 60 square miles of Lyme Bay reefs. Included in this information is the Devon Wildlife Trust Homarus report, Estimate of Economic Values of Activities in Proposed Conservation Zone in Lyme Bay. Many organisations are contributing other economic information in response to the current consultation on measures to protect marine biodiversity in Lyme Bay. Defra will consider all the evidence when reaching a decision on how best to achieve that protection.



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Mortgages

Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Davies of Oldham: In 2004 the Government extended the scope of Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulation to cover mortgages. FSA regulation ensures that borrowers are afforded important protection and have appropriate means of redress.

The Government provide further assistance for homeowners facing financial difficulties through the provision of face-to-face debt advice. In addition, the Thoresen review is also considering options aimed at giving consumers greater access to generic financial advice and will publish its final report next year.

The Government also provide targeted financial support available through the DWP's support for mortgage interest (SMI).

The Government are in discussion with lenders to identify ways in which lenders can assist those experiencing difficulty and keep all legislation under review.

Northern Ireland Office: Written Answers

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: The Northern Ireland office received 1,603 House of Lords Parliamentary Questions in the past two Sessions.

The average time taken to answer a Question was 19 days. However, this figure includes Questions that were tabled in the final days of each parliamentary term that were not answered until the start of the new term.

The department attaches considerable importance to answering all Parliamentary Questions within the accepted time limits. Since devolution a number of measures have been introduced to improve performance, including issuing daily reminders and weekly performance reporting.


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