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Written Answers

Monday 18 June 2012

Elections: Registration

Question

Asked by Lord Laird

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Lord Wallace of Saltaire on 22 May (Official Report, col. 41–2), whether electors declaring a Commonwealth nationality on registering to vote will be asked to declare their immigration status, and, if so, how; and whether proof of eligibility will be required in the case of those Commonwealth nationals qualifying to register, by virtue of a statement that they have leave to enter or remain in the United Kingdom.[HL530]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: In future when applying to register to vote under individual electoral registration, application forms will clearly set out the eligibility requirements for registration, and Commonwealth citizens who apply to register will have to declare their immigration status.

As now, electoral registration officers will have the power to require further information if they have any doubts about the eligibility of any applicant. We are exploring with UKBA the possibility of systematically verifying immigration status.

Fire Services: Funding

Question

Asked by Lord Storey

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Baroness Hanham on 11 June (WA 164), whether the savings made by Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service will be taken into consideration in future funding allocations.[HL764]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Communities and Local Government (Baroness Hanham): In 2010 the Government consulted on the option to include fire and rescue authority efficiency data within the fire needs formula. This option was not supported by the majority of the fire and rescue authorities, mainly due to concerns around the quality of the data.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Authority was one of the respondents that expressed concern about the data.

Health: Cardiology

Questions

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they plan to include in the NHS outcomes framework an indicator identifying the mortality from cardiovascular disease in individuals over 75 years of age.[HL667]

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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): There are no plans to include an indicator on mortality from cardiovascular disease in individuals aged 75 and over. This is because of the difficulties in determining the cause of death in older people because they often have multiple conditions. However, to ensure that the National Health Service is held to account for doing all it can to prevent avoidable deaths in older people, one of the overarching indicators included in domain 1 of the NHS outcomes framework is “life expectancy at 75”. This indicator captures ages 75 and over and al1 conditions.

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether clinical commissioning groups will be required to monitor over time the outcomes achieved in the management of atrial fibrillation and of acute episodes of cardiac ischaemia and infarction.[HL668]

Earl Howe: The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was asked to develop potential comparative outcome measures, which have been published for consultation. They include measuring ambulance response times following suspected myocardial infarction, the timeliness of thrombolysis following suspected myocardial infarction, and measuring cardiac rehabilitation. In addition, NICE outlined the early detection and treatment of atrial fibrillation as a potential measure for the COF, pending development of a suitable indicator. The evidence base, which includes the results of the consultation and further testing, has been considered by its COF independent advisory committee at its public meeting on 21 and 22 May.

NICE will publish the recommendations of its independent committee in August 2012. The NHS Commissioning Board will consider the recommendations and aims to publish the framework for 2013-14 in autumn 2012.

Health: Neurology

Questions

Asked by Baroness Harris of Richmond

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what support will be provided to clinical commissioning groups to enable them to commission high-quality cost-effective services for people with neurological conditions. [HL700]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the NHS Commissioning Board will support the work of specialist clinical networks for neurological conditions.[HL701]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Clinical guidelines published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) already exist for a number of neurological conditions and these provide evidence-based recommendations for commissioners. Quality standards for a number of neurological conditions will also be developed by NICE

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and these will act as markers of high-quality, clinically and cost-effective patient care.

The NHS Commissioning Board Authority is supporting emerging clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in considering how they commission certain services such as for neurological conditions. Once established, the NHS Commissioning Board will use the NHS outcomes framework and NICE quality standards to develop a commissioning outcomes framework (COF) that will help drive improvements and hold CCGs to account for the quality of the services that they commission. The COF is a framework of indictors of the quality of health services that will be commissioned by CCGs and is not a set of requirements for commissioners. The NHS Commissioning Board may use the measures in the COF to form the basis for national guidance.

Commissioners will also be supported by clinical networks advising on single areas of care and new “clinical senates” in each area of the country will provide multi-professional advice on local commissioning plans.

Work is being undertaken by the NHS Commissioning Board Authority to determine how clinical networks should be developed and established in the new commissioning system. Proposals describing how networks will be implemented in the new system have been developed with stakeholders and have been shared widely. The proposals include clear criteria for determining which networks will be prescribed for specific conditions and patient groups. A further announcement will be made shortly about the networks which are likely to be prescribed by the National Health Service nationally to support local commissioners and providers to improve their services. In addition, local clinical networks may be established by agreement between commissioners and providers in line with local priorities.

Neurological commissioning support (NCS), which has been developed with the support of a number of neurological charities, has been well received by existing commissioners. NCS has produced a quality neurology audit and evaluation tool, which allows commissioners to receive a comprehensive evaluation of how an organisation fulfils all of the quality requirements specified in the national service framework. They have also developed Neuronavigator, a tool to help commissioners to understand the complexity of support and services that need to be provided for people affected by a long-term neurological condition.

Health: Vaccinations

Question

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to the recommendations of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation for a universal flu vaccination programme for children.[HL706]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation continues to consider the possible routine influenza vaccination of children and has not yet made final recommendations. Once the committee

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has submitted its advice and recommendations, the department will consider them carefully and respond.

Health: Venous Thromboembolism

Question

Asked by Lord Walton of Detchant

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether clinical commissioning groups will be required to monitor over time the incidence of episodes of venous thromboembolism.[HL669]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The commissioning outcomes framework (COF) will provide clear, comparative data on the quality of services commissioned by clinical commissioning groups.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) was asked to develop potential comparative outcome measures, which have been published for consultation. They include measuring adult patients who have had a venous thromboembolism (VTE) risk assessment on admission to hospital, using the clinical criteria of the national tool, and emergency readmissions for people with VTE. In addition, NICE outlined VTE mortality and the incidence of hospital-related VTE as potential measures for the COF, pending development of suitable indicators. The evidence base, which includes the results of the consultation and further testing, has been considered by its COF independent advisory committee at its public meeting on 21 and 22 May.

NICE will publish the recommendations of its independent committee in August 2012. The NHS Commissioning Board will consider the recommendations and aims to publish the framework for 2013-14 in autumn 2012.

NHS: Clinical Commissioning Groups

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why clinical commissioning groups are on average larger than the primary care trusts they will replace in south- west England, north-east England and London. [HL703]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): It is for prospective clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) to determine the best size at which effectively to exercise their functions and meet the needs of their patients. The NHS Commissioning Board will be responsible for ensuring that CCGs are of sufficient size to ensure that they can discharge their functions and that they have an appropriate area, for example, in relation to their responsibilities for arranging emergency and urgent care services within their boundaries and for commissioning services for any unregistered patients who live within their area. They will also need to work coherently with local partners to best serve local health needs.

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Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government why clinical commissioning groups that decide against putting services out to tender could face legal challenges from private companies as suggested by the director of NHS Provider Transition in May 2012.[HL707]

Earl Howe: Clinical commissioning groups will decide when to use competitive tendering as a means of improving NHS services, within a framework of regulations under Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012. We do not intend that regulations under Section 75 would prescribe when commissioners should use competitive tendering. Instead, our preferred approach is to require that commissioners must act transparently and be able to demonstrate the rationale for their decisions in patients' best interests. A provider could complain to Monitor where it considered that a commissioner had acted in breach of Section 75 regulations and the commissioner may be required to justify its decisions.

The department intends to consult on policy proposals for these regulations over the summer.

NHS: Procurement

Questions

Asked by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how procurement rules will ensure that social enterprises have fair opportunities to bid for NHS contracts.[HL704]

To ask Her Majesty’s Government when they plan to consult on procurement regulations in the National Health Service.[HL708]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): Section 75 of the Health and Social Care Act 2012 provides for the Secretary of State to make regulations on requirements for commissioners to adhere to good practice in the procurement of healthcare services. The department intends to consult on policy proposals for these regulations over the summer.

Our policy intention is that the regulations would promote fair opportunities for social enterprises through requirements for commissioners to ensure that procurement processes are transparent, proportionate and non-discriminatory.

Non-departmental Public Bodies

Question

Asked by Lord Willoughby de Broke

To ask Her Majesty’s Government how many new non-departmental public bodies have been created since the last general election.[HL175]

Lord Wallace of Saltaire: Since May 2010, so far 92 quangos have been directly abolished and another 103 merged together to leave 50. Our overall plans will get rid of a third of public bodies and will save the taxpayer £2.6 billion over the spending review period.

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Since May 2010, the Government have established and classified nine new non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) which were not previously in existence in another form. Six of these are independent monitoring boards which must, by law, be set up each time a new prison or probation trust is established. Departments must submit a full business case for any NDPB which clearly demonstrates the need for its independence. Further information on the size and spend of the NDPB sector will be published in the autumn. Overall numbers of NDPBs are substantially down since the general election and continue to fall.

Nuclear Security

Question

Asked by Lord Foulkes of Cumnock

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what meetings Ministers from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills have had since May 2010 with representatives of (1) Nuclear Risk Insurers Ltd, and (2) other United Kingdom nuclear risk insurers.[HL663]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (Baroness Wilcox): No such meetings have taken place

Police: Business Interests

Question

Asked by Lord Condon

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what action they will take in response to the reported finding by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary that significant numbers of police officers have second jobs and business interests; and what steps they will take to ensure that such second jobs are consistent with the high ethical standards required of police officers.[HL599]

The Minister of State, Home Office (Lord Henley): The Government welcome the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) response to the report by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, Without Fear or Favour—A Review of Police Relationships, which addressed this important issue. ACPO's proposals are currently being discussed in the business interest working party within the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales, and the Home Secretary will consider the board's recommendation in due course.

Ports

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Earl Attlee on 30 April (WA 421), how the proposed grants to the port of Falmouth and Mersey/Liverpool for dredging comply with their policy that ports operate in a market-led sector; what is the source of those grants; whether

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such grants are for maintenance or new dredging; and whether such grants have been cleared under European Union state aid rules.[HL653]

Earl Attlee: In the case of the proposed Mersey capital dredge, regional growth fund money has been set aside for this purpose but remains subject to state aids clearance and to due diligence.

No proposal for a grant to the Port of Falmouth has been received by the Her Majesty's Government. I understand that Cornwall County Council is considering possible options for supporting the proposed capital dredge, but is aware of the need to ensure fair competition and compatibility with state aids rules should any such proposal go forward. The proposed dredge remains subject to marine consenting including the assurance of consistency with the requirements of the habitats directive.

Railways: BRB (Residuary) Ltd

Question

Asked by Lord Berkeley

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether, as part of their proposals to abolish BRB (Residuary) Ltd (BRBR) under the Public Bodies Act 2011, they will transfer current BRBR land holdings at Uckfield ‘Sussex’ necessary for any reopening of the line to Lewes, new station and car park, to Network Rail so that it can be retained for any future line reopening.[HL651]

Earl Attlee: Subject to the outcome of the consultation on the abolition of BRBR, it is the intention that the majority of BRBR land holdings should transfer to London and Continental Railways Ltd (LCR), a company wholly owned by the Secretary of State for Transport. This includes the site at Uckfield.

It is not the intention that many properties should transfer to Network Rail (NR) because NR is not a government entity. Nevertheless, a small number of assets (those listed in the impact assessment) are proposed to transfer to NR to correct apparent anomalies, such as properties within the line side fence; bridges spanning the operational railway; the operational test track at Old Dalby; and several railway war memorials.

Strategic land ownerships will be retained under the control of the Secretary of State through LCR.

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Schools: Academies

Question

Asked by Lord Beecham

To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is the estimated cost to local education authorities of meeting the legal expenses of schools seeking to convert to academy status for (1) 2011–12, and (2) 2012–13; and what is the rationale for requiring councils to do so.[HL384]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Schools (Lord Hill of Oareford): An estimate of the legal costs for local authorities involved in the conversion of schools to academy status is not available for either of these years. The costs will vary depending on the complexities of local arrangements and are, for example, associated with their responsibilities to conduct the TUPE consultation, land transfer and to draw up the commercial transfer agreement.

Many of these responsibilities are part of their usual duties. In the main, they are legal requirements or statutory responsibilities that must be performed by local authorities.

We have sought to minimise costs by making the process simple and straightforward. Each conversion is also assigned a dedicated project lead who will aim to hold early discussions with the local authorities and the schools involved to agree an approach in order to make the conversion process as efficient and cost- effective as possible.

Torture

Question

Asked by Lord Avebury

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will undertake a consultation on the training of clinicians in the assessment of claimed victims of torture.[HL629]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Earl Howe): The content and standard of healthcare training is the responsibility of the independent regulatory bodies.

Through their role as the custodians of quality standards in education and practice, these organisations will ensure that high-quality patient care is delivered by high quality health professionals and that healthcare professionals are equipped with the knowledge, skills and behaviours required to deal with the problems and conditions they will encounter in practice.