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17 Dec 2008 : Column WA55

Northern Ireland: Human Rights Commission

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: The noble Lord will recall he asked this Question in the last Session. I have nothing further to add to my reply that stated:

Under the Northern Ireland Act 1998 the Secretary of State is obliged, when making appointments to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission, to secure so far as practicable, that the commissioners as a group are representative of the community in Northern Ireland.

The composition of existing commissioners is taken into account when appointments are made, so that this obligation can be met.

The Secretary of State has complied with this obligation in every appointment that has been made to the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.

Peru: Forests

Question

Asked by Lord Hanningfield

Lord Tunnicliffe: Joan Ruddock, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Energy and Climate Change, discussed forests with the Peruvian Environment Minister, Antonio Brack Egg, on 4 December. Peru is in discussion with the Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) of the World Bank about support to protect forests. The UK has contributed £15 million to the FCPF, and £0.5 million has been committed for a regional economics of climate change study for South America which will include Peru.

Piracy

Question

Asked by Lord Tebbit



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Taylor of Bolton): HMS “Cumberland” detained eight suspected Somali pirates whom we believe had hijacked a Yemeni fishing vessel. All eight have been transferred to the Kenyan authorities where they will stand trial for piracy offences under Kenyan law.

Post Offices: Card Account

Question

Asked by Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay

The Financial Services Secretary to the Treasury (Lord Myners): The EC deposit-guarantee schemes directive (94/19/EC) sets the minimum terms on which depositors are protected throughout the European Union and European Economic Area. Some member states have introduced higher limits. The directive is in the course of being updated and is expected to introduce increased compensation limits by the end of December 2008. The precise terms are currently being finalised.

Postgraduate Medical Education and Training Board

Question

Asked by Lord Taylor of Holbeach

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): There was a delay in preparing the 2003-04 accounts. The accounts for the subsequent years could not be finalised until the 2003-04 accounts had been prepared and this delayed the presentation of these accounts.

The 2006-07 and the 2007-08 accounts have been recently agreed by their external auditor and will be laid before Parliament after the Christmas Recess.

Prisoners: Mental Health

Questions

Asked by Lord Howie of Troon



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): There are 102 National Health Service mental health inreach teams in prisons providing NHS services, to which all prisons have access. Mental health treatment and care is delivered in prison, as is general health treatment (for example, for prisoners with diabetes or heart disease) unless urgent NHS treatment is needed, in which case prisoners are transferred to the NHS outside of the Prison Service.

A person whose mental illness is too severe to justify their remaining in prison is transferred to NHS secure services. In 2007, 926 prisoners with severe mental illness were transferred to hospital, compared to 723 in 2002, an increase of 28 per cent.

Commissioning responsibility for mental health care and treatment within the prison estate transferred fully to primary care trusts (PCTs) in 2006. All prison mental health services are now mainstreamed within the NHS.

Funding is not ring-fenced for prison healthcare, and it is for each PCT to decide upon spending levels for specific healthcare treatments and services, including offender mental health, and to commission these services.

Asked by Lord Howie of Troon

Lord Darzi of Denham: Information is not available in the requested format. The decision to transfer a prisoner to hospital is not based upon diagnosis of a severe mental illness, but on whether, in the opinion of two psychiatrists, the individual's mental health condition at the time warrants transfer.

Data are available on the number of prisoners who have been waiting for more than 12 weeks for a transfer to hospital, on a quarterly basis from June 2003 to March 2008, and is shown in the table.



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Number of prisoners with a severe mental illness, and who had been waiting longer than 12 weeks for transfer from prison to hospital, in England 2003-08
Reporting PeriodNumber of individuals waiting longer than 12 weeks for a transfer to hospital

June 2003

58

September 2003

39

December 2003

39

March 2004

40

June 2004

49

September 2004

36

December 2004

51

March 2005

51

June 2005

62

September 2005

58

December 2005

40

March 2006

43

June 2006

44

September 2006

43

December 2006

38

March 2007

44

June 2007

46

September 2007

51

December 2007

41

March 2008

25

Prisoners: Offspring

Question

Asked by Lord Chadlington

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): As of 30 November 2008 there were 50 children living with their mothers in a mother and baby unit (MBU) within a women's prison. They may stay in an MBU until the age of 18 months (depending on the individual circumstances), although there is room for flexibility in the best interests of the child, which may mean a child staying in an MBU until two years of age. They are then gradually integrated into the care of approved family or carers in the community. This could include social services where no suitable carer exists.

Railways: Land

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

The Minister of State, Department for Transport (Lord Adonis): The former east goods yard at Frome was released for sale to Network Rail in 2003 but in 2007, following protracted negotiations, it declined to purchase the site. A further consultation was carried out in 2007 and, following representations from Somerset County Council and Mendip District Council, BRB (Residuary) Ltd through its property review group agreed to a conditional release of the site to the local authorities.



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Following correspondence with Mendip Council, the council replied on 7 May 2008 confirming that neither it, nor Somerset County Council, was in a position to fund a purchase. In consequence the land was released for open market sale and sold in November 2008.

Two other sites in Frome owned by the company have been released in recent years following consultation and sold on the open market. A third, part of the former west goods yard, has been retained for possible transport use.

Smoking: Cigarette Packets

Question

Asked by Lord Lester of Herne Hill

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The department sought views on whether cigarette pack size should be increased in its recent consultation on the future of tobacco control. The department has considered the evidence and views of stakeholders on this issue, and has assessed that the public health benefits of such action remain unclear. The Government will keep tobacco packaging under close review into the future.

St Helena

Questions

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Tunnicliffe: We announced on 8 December 2008 (Official Report, cols. WS 46-47) that there will be a pause in negotiations over the St Helena Airport contract. We anticipate that this pause will continue

17 Dec 2008 : Column WA60

into the new year. This is to allow ongoing discussions, including on value for money of St Helena access options, particularly in light of the changed economic climate.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Tunnicliffe: The operating life of the RMS “St Helena” could be extended for a varying number of years depending on the extent of refurbishment undertaken.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Tunnicliffe: We announced on 8 December 2008 (Official Report, cols. WS 46-47) that there will be a pause in negotiations over the St Helena Airport contract. We anticipate that this pause will continue into the new year. This is to allow ongoing discussions, including on value for money of St Helena access options, particularly in light of the changed economic climate.

Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Tunnicliffe: We announced on 8 December 2008 (Official Report, cols. WS 46-47) that there will be a pause in negotiations over the St Helena Airport contract. We anticipate that this pause will continue into the new year. This is to allow ongoing discussions, including on value for money of St Helena access options, particularly in light of the changed economic climate.


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