The department is leading a review of the No Secrets statutory guidance on safeguarding of older and vulnerable people. The public consultation phase of the review closed on 31 January 2009, following unprecedented levels of engagement from a wide range of organisations and individuals, including older people and those with mental health needs and learning disabilities, together with their representatives. There was also active participation from several thousand professional workers in the police, social work, the National Health Service and voluntary, legal and housing sectors. The department is presently analysing some 500 detailed written responses which were received.

Social Care: Companies


Asked by Lord Taylor of Warwick

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): All social care providers, whether in the public, private or voluntary sectors and whether they provide care directly to service users or on behalf of local councils, are required to register with the independent regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The CQC regulates—registers and inspects—all providers according to statutory regulations and national minimum standards (NMS), which govern the quality and safety of care and are intended to ensure that service users can live in a safe environment, where their rights and dignity are respected and staff are properly trained.

The previous regulator of social care, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI), reported that the quality of care, measured against the NMS, improved in every year since they were first introduced.

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The CQC has a wide range of enforcement powers under the Care Standards Act 2000. These include issuing notices requiring improvement within a specified time period, prosecuting providers for failing to provide proper care and even closing down a provider by cancelling its registration.

From 2010, the CQC will be introducing a new system of registration under the Health and Social Care Act 2008. This will give it additional powers to fine providers and suspend those which are not providing acceptable levels of care.

Local councils are responsible for the provision of social care services and for the quality of those services, whether provided directly or via contracting with private and independent organisations. Anyone who is not satisfied with the quality of care they receive from their council is entitled to pursue the matter via the social services complaints procedure and ask the Local Government Ombudsman to investigate.

Sport: Free Swimming


Asked by Lord Greaves

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Communications, Technology and Broadcasting (Lord Carter of Barnes): A full list of eligible local authorities, giving details of participation, is available on the DCMS website at:

Non-participating local authorities gave a range of reasons for non-participation, including, for example, that the funding offered was, in their view, insufficient, or they were unable to meet the terms and conditions attached to that funding.

St Helena: Airport


Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Tunnicliffe: In the current climate we must weigh up the short-term financial costs of an airport for St Helena compared with alternative access options.

We want to hear how interested parties view the advantages and disadvantages of this option before making a decision. The Government will not delete Option B.

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Asked by Lord Jones of Cheltenham

Lord Tunnicliffe: The Secretary of State for International Development will consider the full range of views expressed through the consultation before making a decision on the most appropriate access option for St Helena in the current economic climate. Those with an interest in access to St Helena, or in the overall use of the Government's development budget, are welcome to submit a response.

The consultation is being conducted in line with the Government Code of Practice on Consultation, and the guidance published by the Better Regulation Executive (Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform). Consultation is not a public vote, but rather a qualitative exercise to seek evidence to help deliver the most effective and efficient policy within the constraints set. All submissions from interested parties will be taken into account and given due weight. A summary of all responses received will be published by 31 October, before the final decision on access to St Helena is made.

Sudan: Asylum Seekers


Asked by Baroness Northover

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord West of Spithead): All asylum claims including those from non-Arab Darfuris are considered on their individual merits against the background of the latest country information and relevant caselaw. Where an individual is identified by the case decision making process and the independent appeals process not to be in need of international protection, they would be expected to leave the UK voluntarily and the UK Border Agency would not attempt to prevent such returns. However, enforced returns of non-Arab Darfuris to Sudan have been suspended since July 2008 and will continue to be suspended until a forthcoming country guidance case has been determined by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal.

Asked by Baroness Northover

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Lord West of Spithead: Every applicant who registers an asylum claim with the UK Border Agency is required to go through a screening process to establish the applicant's identity and nationality. Where relevant to the asylum claim, the applicant's ethnic origin will be further investigated at an in-depth asylum interview to discuss the reasons for seeking asylum. An assessment of the available evidence will then be made in the light of the country of origin information and any expert evidence submitted by the applicant.

A decision will then be reached as to the individual’s protection needs under the 1951 Refugee Convention and the European Convention on Human Rights.

Asked by Baroness Northover

Lord West of Spithead: We are committed to providing protection for those individuals found to need it in accordance with our obligations under international law. We closely monitor the situation in Sudan and, based on the latest available evidence, do not accept that all Darfuris should be afforded asylum in the UK. Neither do we accept that it is unsafe to return all Darfuris to Khartoum. Protection needs vary between individuals, which is why each asylum claim is carefully considered on its individual merits.

Asked by Baroness Northover

Lord West of Spithead: At present, we are not enforcing the return of non-Arab Darfuri asylum seekers until a forthcoming country guidance case has been determined by the Asylum and Immigration Tribunal. Our general position however remains that we believe the right approach is to consider protection need on an individual case basis.

We do not accept that we should make the presumption that each and every asylum seeker who presents themselves as being from a particular country, regardless of their individual circumstances, should automatically be afforded the protection of being allowed to remain in the UK.

Tennyson Obih


Asked by Lord Maginnis of Drumglass

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Darzi of Denham): It would be inappropriate to disclose any information about an individual patient's diagnosis or treatment as it would be a breach of patient confidentiality.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority (SHA) has confirmed that it will be commissioning an independent investigation into this case. This investigation will be independent of those organisations and individuals who have been involved in the care and treatment of Tennyson Obih. Once the independent investigation is completed, the SHA will make public any recommendations, which will be considered by the local National Health Service. The implementation of any resulting action plans will be monitored by local commissioners.



Asked by Baroness Warsi

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Andrews): In January 2009, the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) and the Research, Information and Communications Unit (RICU) commissioned a creative media agency, Bold Creative, to develop a communications toolkit for local delivery partners. This built on work that had been done by Bold Creative the previous year under the auspices of the West London Alliance (led by the London borough of Hammersmith and Fulham), which included a 12-month period of research and consultation with West London communities.

The communications toolkit is intended as a practical reference manual for local authorities and partner agencies, including members of local strategic partnerships, to help them to implement effective communications around the Prevent agenda. The toolkit provides step-by-step guidance on best practice in areas such as developing and implementing local Prevent communications strategies, identifying target audiences and the most effective channels for reaching them, planning effective campaigns and communications activities, and reacting to media and wider community interest in Prevent-related issues.

The first draft of the toolkit will be circulated among key stakeholders for their comments in the coming weeks, with a view to publishing the final document by the end of May.

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Young Offenders: Dyslexia


Asked by Lord Laird

The Lord President of the Council (Baroness Royall of Blaisdon): During the last three years at Hydebank Wood, 635 young offenders have been screened for indicators of dyslexia. Of these, 197 had one or more indicators for dyslexia.

Screening is carried out by teaching staff as part of a wider educational assessment and it is not therefore possible separately to identify the costs. Staff at Hydebank Wood use Quick Scan, a computerised screening tool developed for students in further education. As well as identifying indicators for dyslexia, it also provides an analysis of students’ strengths and weaknesses in a range of educational disciplines.

Relevant information from the assessment is passed to those teachers who will be working with the
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individual, enabling them to make appropriate, reasonable adjustments to their lessons. This information is also made available to agencies working within Hydebank Wood, via the prisoner’s individual resettlement plan.

Individuals are not screened for indicators of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but where a prisoner self-reports, or where staff believe this may be beneficial, they can be referred to specific programmes within the prison facilitated by Northern Ireland Attention Deficit Disorder. These programmes are designed to help them manage their condition. Prisoners can also be referred to a GP if healthcare staff and the prisoner believe that medication may be helpful.

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The Criminal Justice System does not monitor separately reoffending rates for those showing indications of dyslexia or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

NIPS do not currently hold information on how many prisoners screened for indicators of dyslexia have self-reported learning difficulties other than dyslexia, or what those difficulties are. However it is hoped to trial additional screening tools at Hydebank Wood in the autumn, which will give better information on prisoners displaying indicators of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.