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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): As my right honourable friend the Prime Minister made plain in another place on 12 December 2007 (Official Report, Commons, col. 303), our commitment to Afghanistan is for the long term.
In line with the Prime Minister's Statement, Lieutenant-General Wall was highlighting the importance of the comprehensive approach. He was explaining that there needs to be a greater recognition that Afghanistan's problems will not be solved by military means alone. Any requests for an increase in force levels will be considered very carefully in light of developments on the ground, especially in the context of our efforts to improve governance and take forward reconstruction and stabilisation in Afghanistan.
Recent polling by the Asia Foundation, while finding concerns about security and the direction of progress on their country, also found that a large majority of Afghans are content with their Government. We shall continue to work with the Afghan Government to develop their capacity.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): In relation to broadcasting, Parliament has charged Ofcom with maintaining standards, notably to protect children and to protect the general public from harmful and offensive material. Decisions on broadcast programme standards are a matter for Ofcom to determine according to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Communications Acts. It is a long-standing principle that the Government do not interfere in programme matters, either on arrangements for scheduling or on content.
Lord Carter of Barnes: Both the Ofcom broadcasting code and associated guidance are available on the Ofcom website at www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/codes/bcode/ bcode.pdf and www.ofcom.org.uk/tv/ifi/guidance/ bguidance/guidance2.pdf.
Lord Carter of Barnes: No. Ofcom is independent of the Government and responsible for safeguarding the public interest in broadcasting. Decisions on broadcast programme standards are a matter for Ofcom to determine according to the provisions of the Broadcasting and Communications Acts.
What replies they have received from the Premier League and the Football League to the letters sent by the Minister for Sport in April 2008 regarding the provision of facilities for disabled supporters at football grounds. [HL5750]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): The Government have not received any replies from the Premier League or the Football League to the Minister for Sport's letter. The letters asked both leagues to remind their member clubs about their obligations under disability discrimination legislation and urged them to ensure their stadiums complied with the Accessible Stadia Guidance. The letters did not specifically request a reply. However, the Minister will raise the issue when he next meets both parties.
The Chairman of Committees (Lord Brabazon of Tara): Individual Select Committees are not budgeted for separately, but the Committee Office estimates that attributable costs of the European Union Committee and its sub-committees in financial year 2007-08 amounted to approximately £2,043,000 in resource terms. These costs exclude a number of services provided on a House-wide or Parliament-wide basis which are not apportioned to individual activity centres and cannot be allocated with any accuracy, such as accommodation, utilities, security, Members expenses, catering, financial and human resources functions, and ICT services.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): Of the 128 feature films funded by the UK Film Council via its lottery funds, the following releases have, in some fashion, depicted suicide: Sylvia (2003), Control (2007) and WAZ (2007) .
The UKFC makes funding decisions based on the creative, cultural and innovative merits of the production. In addition to this, any film in receipt of funding from the government-backed UK Film Council is also required to satisfy the qualification requirements of the British Board of Film Classification for a certificate no more restrictive than 18.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Water fluoridation offers the potential to reduce inequalities in oral health amongst children and adults. A Systematic Review of Public Water Fluoridation, published by the University of York in 2000, concluded that the fluoridation of drinking water achieves a 14.8 per cent reduction in the proportion of children who are free of dental caries and that children in fluoridated areas had, on average, 2.25 fewer teeth affected by decay than children in non-fluoridated areas. This has been estimated as equivalent to an overall 40 per cent reduction in tooth decay.
In 2002, the US Task Force on Community Preventive Services published a report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine which concluded that, overall, lifelong residents of fluoridated areas had 34.6 per cent less tooth decay than lifelong residents of non-fluoridated areas.
Why the introduction of water fluoridation to all households in an urban area is not considered by the chief dental officer in his guidance letter of February 2008 (Gateway 9361), Appendix 2, Section 7, to be a substantial development of the health service or a substantial variation in the provision
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Lord Darzi of Denham: Our advice is that the health service referred to in Regulation 4 of the Local Authority (Overview and Scrutiny Committees Health Scrutiny Functions) Regulations 2002 is the health service which the Secretary of State for Health has a continuing duty to promote under Section 1(1) of the National Health Service Act 2006. However, the fluoridation of water supplies is an activity or service undertaken by the water undertaker under the Water Industry Act 1991 and is not a service under the NHS Act.
Further to the Written Answer by the Minister of State for the Ministry of Justice, Mr David Hansen, on 8 October (Official Report, Commons, 18788W) on departmental publicity, why an external public relations consultancy was hired to undertake the media engagement instead of the work being conducted by the Ministry of Justice. [HL6199]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): The Office of the Public Guardian, which is part of the Ministry of Justice, mounted a campaign to increase public awareness of the Mental Capacity Act. An external consultancy was used as the resources needed did not exist in-house at the time. The campaign ran for three months from August 2007.
Further to the Written Answer by the Secretary of State for Transport, Geoff Hoon, on 22 October (Official Report, Commons, 41819W) on departmental public relations, which public relations firms were used by the Department for Transport in 200708. [HL6201]
The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The following external public relations companies have worked on the Department for Transport's marketing activities in the 2007-08 fiscal year:Central DfTRED, Forster, Munro and Forster and Geronimo;DVLAGeronimo, Red Consultancy, and MGB Communications;VOSACouravel; and MCAKinross and Render.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Any request for funding for a treatment that the National Health Service does not normally pay for would have to be considered on an exceptional basis by the relevant primary care trust. This includes circumstances where a patient who has been funding additional treatment privately runs out of money.
The draft revised guidance published by the department on NHS patients who wish to pay for additional private care, on 4 November 2008, makes it clear that patients who pay for private care in these circumstances should not be put at any advantage or disadvantage in relation to the NHS care they receive. They are entitled to NHS services on exactly the same basis of clinical need as any other patient.
On 4 November, the Secretary of State announced a range of measures to widen access to drugs on the NHS, which will, in fact, reduce the demand from patients for additional private care (Official Report, Commons, col. 131). For those few patients who may still wish to buy additional private care, the draft revised guidance makes it clear that no patient should lose his or her entitlement to NHS care as a result of choosing to purchase private care separately. The draft revised guidance emphasises that the NHS should never subsidise private care with public money, as this would breach core NHS principles. It also says that patients' agreement to the likely costs should be sought in advance of any private care being provided.
The Secretary of State's announcement was in response to the report, Improving Access to Medicines for NHS Patients, by Professor Mike Richards, the National Clinical Director for Cancer, which can be found at www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Publications/PublicationsPolicyAndGuidance/DH_089927. Copies of the report have already been placed in the Library.
Whether, in the next review of indicators in the quality and outcomes framework, they will adjust relevant indicators to support diabetes testing in patients with established risk factors for the condition. [HL6233]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Assessment of diabetes risk is included in the Government's programme of vascular checks which is being rolled out nationally on a phased basis from April 2009. With regard to future changes in the
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What systems are used to ensure effective communication between locations at which diabetic retinopathy screening takes place, specialist centres interpreting potentially positive retinal images, and general practitioners' surgeries that will manage care based on the results; and [HL6234]
What outcomes are being measured to assess the extent to which the identification of cases of diabetic retinopathy through the national screening programme are resulting in changes to patient management. [HL6236]
Lord Darzi of Denham: The English national screening programme for sight-threatening retinopathy (NSP), set up to support local delivery of diabetic retinopathy screening, has developed clear protocols for communications between screening sites, specialist grading centres and general practitioners' surgeries. Such communication is reviewed as part of quality assurance.
The NSP has set 19 national quality standards for screening programmes to measure the effectiveness of all screening programmes. These can be found on the website www.retinalscreening.nhs.uk. These include standards for the timely referral of patients with retinopathy, informing general practitioners of results of screening and the timely assessment and treatment of patients with screen-positive results.
The NSP and the national clinical director for diabetes are working closely with a number of key stakeholders, including the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and the Association of British Clinical Diabetologists, to ensure screening for diabetic retinopathy is fully integrated with other aspects of diabetes and ophthalmology care.
Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The following figures, provided by the PSNI Central Statistics Unit, detail the number of murders attributed to republican groups within Northern Ireland. The figures do not attribute responsibility to a specific organisation.
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