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Health: E. coli

Question

Asked by Lord Roberts of Llandudno



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): The report of the E.coli public inquiry set up by the National Assembly for Wales and chaired by Professor Pennington was published on 19 March 2009. The Food Standards Agency (FSA) is considering its response to the report and the recommendations. The issues will be discussed further at the FSA's open board meeting in April. While the recommendations are targeted at organisations that serve people in Wales, where appropriate, action will be taken across the United Kingdom.

Health: Pharmaceutical Services

Question

Asked by Earl Howe

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): This year, the Government will start discussions with all interested parties on initial proposals for the content of the pharmacist supervision regulations to allow their views to inform the further development of these proposals and the drafting of a formal public consultation paper. Depending on progress in these informal discussions with pharmacy interests, we hope to be in a position to launch formal consultation in early 2010.

Health: Schizophrenia

Question

Asked by Lord Dykes

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): We welcome the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence's (NICE) updated guidance on schizophrenia and expect it to help further improve the quality of treatment and care for people with schizophrenia.

General practitioners or consultant psychiatrists can prescribe any medicine or treatment which they consider to be necessary for the treatment of their patients under the National Health Service, provided that the local primary care trust or NHS trust agree to supply it on the NHS. It is for clinicians to decide the most appropriate form of treatment for their patients, and in doing so they are expected to take NICE guidance fully into account.

Housing

Question

Asked by Lord James of Blackheath



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Statutory guidance on the allocation of social housing accommodation was published in November 2002 and sets out that local authorities must allocate social housing in accordance with Part VI of the Housing Act 1996. Further statutory guidance on how local authorities should offer a choice of accommodation to their applicants was published in August 2008.

Local authorities are responsible for framing their own social housing allocation schemes for determining priorities and for defining the procedures to be followed in allocating social housing accommodation, but they must ensure that reasonable preference is given to certain categories of people as set out in the 1996 Act. These include people who are homeless; people who are occupying unsanitary, overcrowded or unsatisfactory housing conditions; people who need to move on medical or welfare grounds; or people who need to move to a particular locality, where failure to meet that need would cause hardship.

The code of guidance, Allocation of Accommodation, is available at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/allocationaccommodationcode, and Allocation of Accommodation: Choice Based Lettingsis available at www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/ lettingscodeguidance.

Human Rights

Questions

Asked by Lord Laird

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): The Government have made no representations to the Government of Ireland on this matter.

Asked by Lord Laird

Lord Malloch-Brown: The Government have not offered any advice or support to the Government of Ireland over the past 12 years on the issues of human rights and equality.

Iraq

Question

Asked by Lord Astor of Hever



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The Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform & Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Davies of Abersoch): In accordance with government policy on trade and regulation of defence exports, Her Majesty's Government are supporting the United Kingdom defence and security industry in bidding for contracts for the re-equipment of the Iraqi armed forces. This support has involved hosting delegations of senior Iraqi officials and officers in the UK, logistical support to companies visiting Iraq, inviting delegations from Iraq to attend the Farnborough international air show and defence systems and equipment international exhibition, and engaging at ministerial level.

Licensing: Music

Question

Asked by Lord Clement-Jones

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): There are no implications that appear to arise for those parts of the Licensing Act 2003 dealing with regulated entertainment from the event at Liverpool Street Station. The application of the definitions provided in Schedule 1 to the Licensing Act is a matter for licensing authorities in the first instance. Whether a proposed activity is licensable has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. It appears from reports of the filming that the licensing authority and the police were involved in planning the event. I can see nothing that suggests that they exercised their powers inappropriately in this case.

Local Democracy, Economic Development and Construction Bill [HL]

Question

Asked by Baroness Hamwee

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Part 1 of the Local Democracy Economic Development and Construction Bill covers a number of different policy areas, mainly arising from the White Paper Communities in Control. The implementation of Part 1 will be monitored through the management of the wider empowerment programme

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and our monitoring of delivery against public service agreements including PSA 21, which is concerned with building more cohesive, empowered and active communities. It is not possible to disaggregate the costs of monitoring Bill provisions from the wider empowerment programme management.

Local Government: Superannuation Schemes

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): Local government pension arrangements are financed principally by contributions paid by its employee members and employers. No government grant is hypothecated to cover local authority pension costs.

Marine Environment: Gibraltar

Question

Asked by Lord Kilclooney

The Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Lord Malloch-Brown): On 12 December 2008, the European Commission adopted Decision 2009/95/EC, adopting a second updated list of sites of Community importance under the Habitats Directive (92/43/EEC). It has now come to our attention that, under the decision Spain has put forward, a candidate site encompasses British Gibraltar territorial waters. As the UK is the only member state competent to propose a site covering British Gibraltar territorial waters, we do not recognise the validity of the adopted site. We have already made representations to both the European Commission and Spain on this matter and are currently considering our options to redress this issue.

Ministry of Justice: Vacancies

Question

Asked by Lord Chadlington



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Justice (Lord Bach): As of 25 March 2009, the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) had 162 external vacancies advertised. This represents 0.19 per cent of the MoJ workforce.

NHS: Foundation Trusts

Question

Asked by Lord Bradley

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): There are 225 acute and mental health trusts eligible to apply for National Health Service foundation trust (NHS FT) status.

As at 1 March 2009 there are 115 NHS FTs.

Applications for NHS FT status must receive the support of the Secretary of State before being passed to Monitor, the independent regulator of NHS FTs, for consideration. In 2009 the following NHS trusts have asked the Secretary of State to support their applications:

George Eliot Hospital NHS Trust;

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership NHS Trust;

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Trust;

Sandwell and West Birmingham Hospitals NHS Trust; and

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Trust.

NHS: Hospital Trust Boards

Question

Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Neither the executive nor the non-executive directors of a National Health Service trust board or NHS foundation trust board are elected.

Over half of the board of governors of an NHS foundation trust must be elected by the members of the trust, other than those members who come within the staff constituency.

Arrangements regarding the register of members are a matter for each individual NHS foundation trust subject to the general provision of data protection rules.



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NHS: Pharmaceutical Services

Questions

Asked by Earl Howe

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): Discussions on generic substitution are currently under way with key national stakeholders. It is not possible to confirm whether or not there will be a formal consultation until we have completed this discussion stage.

The department is currently considering a scheme for generic substitution that would require negative resolution secondary legislation, but this is of course subject to confirmation of final proposals.

The scheme would not be mandatory in the sense that prescribers would not be able to exercise clinical choice; provision will be made to allow the prescriber to opt out of substitution where, in his clinical judgment, it is appropriate for the patient to receive a specific branded medicine. Provision may also be made to exclude certain categories of medicines for clinical reasons in the interests of patient safety.

Asked by Earl Howe

Lord Darzi of Denham: The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the department discussed generic substitution during the confidential negotiations on the 2009 Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme. Its introduction is now the subject of more widespread discussions with affected parties but it will not be mandatory.

NHS: Triage Assessment

Question

Asked by Baroness Finlay of Llandaff



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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): It is the responsibility of every National Health Service organisation to ensure the safety and quality of the services they are responsible for on behalf of the communities they serve.

On 18 March 2009, David Nicholson, NHS chief executive, wrote to the chairs, chief executives, medical directors and nurse directors of all NHS organisations in order to ensure the recommendations in the report by the Health Care Commission into the Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust are fully understood by their boards and that any local actions identified as necessary are implemented immediately. In particular, he asked the boards of all primary care trusts to assure themselves that the accident and emergency services they purchase on behalf of their patients meet the standards that patients and the public rightly expect from the NHS.


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