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Written Answers

Tuesday 1 July 2008

Armed Forces: Roadside Bombs

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): Roadside bombs are one of many operational hazards that place personnel at risk of developing PTSD. There are no known specific mental health issues associated with roadside bombs that would require special study. The characteristics of the mental illness that may be precipitated by such circumstances are common to other cases, whatever the specific cause.

The issue of PTSD in serving personnel is continuously monitored; both in the continuing cohort studies conducted by King's College, London and in identified cases attending the MoD's 15 departments of community mental health (DCMH) in the UK.

Aviation: Flight Paths

Lord Bradshaw asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Airspace planning and regulation is the responsibility of the independent Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). The process for making changes to airspace is governed by the CAA's airspace change process. Under this process it is for airspace change sponsors, for example NATS, to develop and consult on proposals. Detailed guidance is given on what impacts are to be taken into account, how they should be measured and who should be consulted. Informed by the consultation, the sponsor submits the proposal to the CAA's directorate of airspace policy for assessment against regulatory requirements. In determining whether to accept or reject a proposal, the CAA's process reflects the Secretary of State for Transport's directions and guidance to the CAA on the exercise of its statutory duties and environmental objectives.

The NATS consultation on proposed changes to Terminal Control North airspace closed on 19 June. However, it would be inappropriate for Her Majesty's Government to offer comment on these proposals while they are subject to response analysis under the independent airspace change process.



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Bloody Sunday: Saville Inquiry

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Rooker: As set out in my previous Written Answers dated 17 March (Official Report, col. WA 2), 30 April (Official Report, col. WA 24) and 11 June (Official Report, col. WA 100), the Government recognised that the costs quoted on the BBC's “Sunday AM” programme on 2 July 2006 were inaccurate and took the appropriate action to rectify this by informing Parliament of the correct figures on 20 July 2006.

Care Services: Hydration

Baroness Greengross asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Care providers are subject to statutory requirements under the existing regulations and national minimum standards (NMS). Regulation 16 of the Care Homes Regulations 2001 requires care homes to “provide, in adequate quantities, suitable, wholesome and nutritious food which is varied and properly prepared and available at such time as may reasonably be required by service users”. Food, in the regulations, includes drink.

Standard 15 of the NMS for care homes for older people, which the Commission for Social Care Inspection must have regard to when inspecting homes, includes the requirements that:

service users receive a varied, appealing, wholesome and nutritious diet, which is suited to individual assessed and recorded requirements, and that meals are taken in a congenial setting and at flexible times; andhot and cold drinks and snacks are available at all times and offered regularly.

The nutrition action plan, Improving Nutritional Care, was launched in October 2007. It sets out what standards and guidance are in place around nutrition and nutritional care. Implementation of the action plan is being monitored by the Nutrition Action Plan Delivery Board, which is helping to raise awareness about the importance of access to high-quality nutrition, particularly for older people.

Subject to parliamentary approval of the Health and Social Care Bill, the new Care Quality Commission will assume responsibility for the regulation of health and adult social care providers from April 2009.

We recently conducted a public consultation on a new framework for the registration of health and adult social care providers. Subject to the results of

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the consultation, we intend that, in order to become and remain registered, all health and social care organisations will have to ensure that people have access to safe and sufficient nourishment and that they do not suffer from malnutrition or dehydration.

The Care Quality Commission will monitor providers against the terms of their registration and will take appropriate enforcement action against non-compliance.

Crime: Foreign Security Officials

Lord Dholakia asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): Foreign security officials who come to the United Kingdom in support of sporting events are subject to United Kingdom laws. Foreign security officials who commit a criminal offence while in the United Kingdom, including assault on a member of the public, are liable to investigation and prosecution in the same way as those who are resident in the United Kingdom.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission deals with complaints and conduct matters against police officers and staff in England and Wales. The Government have no plans to extend the jurisdiction of the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Embryology

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): It will be for the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to form a view, taking account of the available evidence, and the research proposals submitted to it, on the potential of outgrown embryos and on the potential of cytoplasmic hybrid embryos.

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Darzi of Denham: Provision regarding the mixing of human gametes with the gametes of an animal for research purposes is provided for under new Section 4A(6)(b) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act, as introduced by Clause 4 of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Bill.

Genetically Modified Crops

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Rooker): The Government support the existing European Union controls on the release of genetically modified (GM) organisms. Under these, GM crops will only be approved for commercial use if a risk assessment indicates that the product in question should not have an adverse effect on human health and the environment. In addition, the cultivation of approved GM seeds must be monitored for possible unforeseen effects. We are not aware of any evidence to suggest that specific action would be required in relation to the profits that might be made by companies marketing GM seeds or agro-chemicals.

Health: Clinical Physiologists

Lord Rea asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Work is under way within the modernising scientific careers programme to ensure that the scopes of practice, routes of entry and education and training of the aspirant groups of healthcare scientists, including clinical physiologists, are fit for regulation purposes. Discussions to progress the process of statutory regulation will begin once the necessary developmental work has been taken forward.

Health: GP Surgeries

Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): On 30 September 2007, the number of general practitioner (GP) partnerships in England was 8,261, of which 1,594 are single-handed practices, and there are 65.7 practitioners (excluding GP registrars and GP retainers) per population of 100,000.

Since health is a devolved matter, data are collected separately in respect of Wales and comparable information should be sought from the Welsh Assembly on both the number of GP partnerships and single-handed practices in Wales.

Housing: Affordability

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): A new national definition of affordable housing appears in Planning Policy Statement 3—Housing, which was published in November 2006. The definition states:



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Local planning authorities are required to use this definition when preparing plan policies and determining planning applications for housing. This excludes “low cost market” housing—for example, homes which do not remain affordable on resale.

Housing: Home Information Packs

Lord Taylor of Holbeach asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): The Chatham House rule was invoked to encourage free and frank discussion between members of the stakeholder panel. This is essential to the proper functioning of the panel. It was agreed at the first meeting and reconfirmed during the fourth meeting of the panel that the Chatham House rule would be followed.

Immigration: Health Provision

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): The National Asylum Support Service has ceased to exist but the functions it carried out continue through the regional asylum teams. All asylum seekers are informed by the regional asylum teams about their entitlement to NHS treatment at their first reporting event.

Eligibility for free NHS care is based on ordinary residence in the UK. General practitioners have discretion to register patients for primary care and Department of Health guidance is that asylum seekers should be so registered. In England, asylum seekers awaiting a final decision on their claims are exempt from charges for NHS hospital treatment under the NHS (Charges to Overseas Visitors) Regulations 1989 as amended. Unsuccessful claimants may continue free of charge until they leave the country with a course of treatment which had already started before appeal rights were exhausted. In the recent case of YA (Palestine) v The Secretary of State for Health, the judge has ruled that failed asylum seekers may potentially be deemed “ordinarily resident” for the purposes of NHS regulations

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and therefore entitled to free treatment on the same basis as other residents. The Department of Health has appealed against this judgment.

The rules relating to healthcare for foreign nationals in England are currently being reviewed jointly by the UK Border Agency and the Department of Health. The review has looked at a range of issues regarding immigration and asylum, including the eligibility of failed asylum seekers and their children. Proposals will go out to public consultation shortly.

Similar provisions apply in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland and the Department of Health is intending to engage with the devolved Administrations following the completion of the review in England.


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