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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): We value the partnership that we have with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) and the work that it does to provide advice and help to people to make their lives safer. The £166,050 grant in 2009-10 from BIS represents only a small proportion of the total funding that RoSPA receives from government.
Given the current pressures on the public finances, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has to take difficult decisions on the programmes that it continues to support, and needs to ensure that work supported is aligned with the department's priorities.
Safety in the home is now part of the work carried out by other government departments-for example, the Department for Children, Schools and Families-and the £18 million Safe at Home scheme is run by RoSPA and targets support for vulnerable families.
The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has worked closely with RosPA over the past months to see where its expertise might better match the needs of the department but the evidence is not there to justify continuing the grant at its previous level. We will be meeting with RosPA shortly to discuss the detail of its 2010-11 work programme.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Children, Schools and Families (Baroness Morgan of Drefelin): Teachers are recruited directly by schools and local authorities according to their needs, but the Government specify the content of initial teacher training, and for this all primary trainees must have a grade C or above in GCSE (or equivalent) in mathematics, science and English. Primary school teachers are trained to teach across the whole range of curriculum subjects rather than as specialists, but before they can qualify they must have gained, or already have, a first degree (or equivalent) and have passed professional skills tests in numeracy, literacy and information technology.
Although teachers are not given initial training to be science specialists, this department is encouraging greater use of practical work and other enhancement and enrichment activities in science lessons in both primary and secondary schools. As part of this, the Association for Science Education has been contracted to run a support programme to improve the use of practical work in science in schools.
To meet the Williams review recommendation that every primary school should have access to a mathematics specialist teacher to champion maths and act as the nucleus for achieving best pedagogical practice, there is now a two-year professional development programme for current primary teachers to develop their subject knowledge, subject-specific pedagogy and ability to mentor and coach colleagues. As well as their generalist teaching duties, mathematics specialist teachers work with colleagues to improve mathematics teaching across the school and increase pupil engagement, confidence and achievement in mathematics. The first cohort of the programme began in January 2010.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the cost to date of immunisation against the spread of swine flu; what estimate they have of recovery of funding from the sale or return of unused vaccines; how many people died from the disease in the last
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Baroness Thornton: We are not able to give details of the cost of the swine flu vaccine due to confidentiality clauses in our contracts with the manufacturers. We are unable to return vaccines that have already been delivered. The options for handling the anticipated surplus of vaccine are currently being explored with the manufacturers. We will be seeking to minimise the overall cost to the British taxpayer.
The Chief Medical Officer has carried out a confidential investigation of swine flu-related deaths since the pandemic began. As of 21 January 2010, there had been 279 swine flu-related deaths in England. There has been no significant circulation of seasonal influenza in England in this same period.
The Health Protection Agency has a long-term established system to monitor excess deaths (deaths in excess of what would normally be expected for the time of year) based on data from the Office for National Statistics. Influenza is one important contributory factor to excess deaths each year. In the period April to December 2009, no excess mortality has been observed.
Throughout the swine flu pandemic, we have been advised by a wide range of experts from all relevant disciplines. Our decisions have been based on the information we had about swine flu; at the beginning there was very little information available but our knowledge about the disease has increased with time. The epidemiological advice we followed reflected the consensus view of the scientists who provided that advice.
Baroness Thornton: The department has never made forecasts of the number of deaths from swine flu or avian flu. Planning assumptions about a pandemic's course were used to inform preparedness planning, recognising that the precise characteristics and impact of a pandemic flu virus would only become apparent as the virus emerged.
It was published in 2007 and set out a number of assumptions for planning purposes which gave a range of possible scenarios. These assumptions were for an influenza pandemic of any kind, including the potential for a human virus evolved from current avian flu.
The department and Cabinet Office issued revised guidance to planners as information about the characteristics of swine flu became available. The assumptions were revised as more information became available and regular updates were issued to ensure United Kingdom planners were equipped with the most up-to-date information. We have been clear that the planning assumptions have never been a prediction of what would happen; they simply set out the reasonable worst-case scenario for planning purposes.
The CMO has carried out a confidential investigation of swine flu-related deaths since the pandemic began. As of 21 January 2010, there had been 279 swine flu-related deaths in England. Of these, approximately 20 per cent had no pre-existing diseases or underlying medical conditions.
Further detail is available in a report in the British Medical Journal, "Donaldson U, Rutter PD, Ellis BM, Greaves FEC, Mytton OT, Pebody RG and Yardley IE. Mortality from pandemic A/H1N1 2009 influenza in England: public health surveillance study. BMJ 2009;339 b5213."
Lord Brett: The Department for International Development's (DfID's) new three-year institutional strategy with UNICEF supports the implementation of UNICEF's own medium-term strategic plan. We want to support UNICEF's work for all vulnerable children including street children. UNICEF's plan includes work on the protection of children from violence, exploitation and abuse. This includes collecting and analysing data to improve understanding of the conditions of marginalised and vulnerable groups, and also work to ensure the views of children are captured in the policies and programmes that affect their lives.
To ask Her Majesty's Government what is their response to recommendations by non-governmental organisations and the International Development
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In developing our new institutional strategy with UNICEF, our concern was to support UNICEF's work for all vulnerable children, including street children. DfID does not have a specific policy focus on street children above other vulnerable children. Children usually live on the streets because of poverty in their communities and therefore our priority is reducing child poverty.
Our approach is to draw on UN agencies' own targets and commitments wherever possible. UNICEF does not have a specific target in its strategic plan on street children. However, our UNICEF strategy target on vulnerable children provides an opportunity to raise street children in our policy discussions with UNICEF.
To ask Her Majesty's Government whether the European Commission is considering ending the opt-out from the working time directive; and what their estimate is of the cost to the United Kingdom's economy and the effect on personal incomes if the opt-out is ended. [HL1438]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Lord Young of Norwood Green): Loss of the individual's right to opt-out of the 48-hour maximum working week (as set out in the working time directive) would cost billions in terms of lost pay to individuals, which is one reason why this Government would not support the end of the opt-out. Over 3 million employees choose to make use of this flexibility and we believe that it is right that they should be able to do so if they wish, provided the choice is voluntary.
We have always accepted, however, that other issues on the directive remain since the negotiations failed, in particular the need to address two ECJ judgments on treatment of residential on-call time and compensatory rest that continue to cause problems for many member states. We would be happy to engage with new Commission ideas on those issues but our view on the opt-out has not changed.
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