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NHS Appointments Commission

Mr. Brady: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the independent appointments commission for NHS boards will (a) be established and (b) take responsibility for appointments. [154161]

Ms Stuart: Regulations for the National Health Service Appointments Commission have been laid before Parliament and will come into force on 1 April 2001. The Commission will be operational from that date and will be responsible for all chair and non-executive appointments to NHS trusts, health authorities and primary care trusts.

Avon Ambulance Service

Mr. Webb: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the most recent statistical evidence on the response times of the Avon Ambulance Service; and if he will provide corresponding information for (a) one year and (b) two years ago. [154215]

Ms Stuart: The quality of service standards for the Avon Ambulance National Health Service Trust from 1997-98 to 30 September 1999 was to respond to 50 per cent. of emergency calls within eight minutes and to 95 per cent. within 14 minutes. For urgent patient journeys the ambulance should arrive not more than 15 minutes after the agreed time in 95 per cent. of cases. The following table contains information about the percentage of responses against these targets for Avon Ambulance NHS Trust from 1997-98 to 30 September 1999.


Emergency call response Urgent patient journeys
YearWithin eight minutes(3)Within 14 minutes(4)Arrival not more than 15 minutes late(5)
1999 to 30 September53.690.9(6)66.9

(3) Target 50 per cent.

(4) Target 95 per cent.

(5) Target 95 per cent.

(6) For full year


Form KA34

Department of Health, Statistics Division SD2B

Following a review of standards in 1996 ambulance services were required to introduce systems to prioritise emergency calls. The new prioritisation procedures require that all emergency calls are classified as either immediately life threatening, Category A, or other emergency calls, Category B/C. A new standard was introduced which requires that, by the year 2001, ambulance services reach 75 per cent. of Category A calls within eight minutes. For Category B/C calls and urgent patient journeys the previous standards continue to apply. Avon Ambulance NHS Trust moved to the new system from 1 October 1999 and the following table contains information about the percentage of responses against these targets from 1 October 1999 to 31 March 2000.

16 Mar 2001 : Column: 763W


1 October 1999 to 31 March 2000
Category A emergency calls response
Within eight minutes(7)51.3
Within 14 minutes(8)88.3
Category B/C emergency call response
Within eight minutes(9)51.4
Within 14 minute(10)88.0
Urgent patient journeys
Arrival not more than 15 minutes late(11)(12)66.9

(7) Target 75 per cent.

(8) Target 50 per cent.

(9) Target 50 per cent.

(10) Target 95 per cent.

(11) Target 95 per cent.

(12) For full year


Form KA34

Department of Health, Statistics Division SD2B

Further details about the performance of Avon Ambulance NHS Trust and all other ambulance trusts are contained in the Department of Health Statistical Bulletin "Ambulance Services, England 1999-2000". A copy is available in the Library and also available at


Parliamentary Pensions

Mr. Clapham: To ask the President of the Council when the SSRB report on parliamentary pensions is to be published; and if she will make a statement. [154518]

Mrs. Beckett: As decided in the last Parliament, the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) now carries out regular reviews of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund (PCPF), generally timed to coincide with the triennial valuations of the PCPF by the Government Actuary. The SSRB has published its report today, and a copy has been placed in the Library of the House. Copies are also available in the Vote Office. I am most grateful to the Review Body for their thoughtful and thorough report.

16 Mar 2001 : Column: 764W

The SSRB has made eight recommendations:

As required by section 2 of the Parliamentary and other Pensions Act 1987 I shall consult about the changes to the scheme with the Trustees of the PCPF and with other interested parties. As is customary, the Government will hold a debate on an amendable motion. This will give the House a chance to consider this report and the draft regulations implementing the SSRB recommendations, also the associated report of the Government Actuary, which will, I understand, be published shortly.

It will be helpful for the House to know that the Government are proposing to accept all these recommendations except for recommendation 2. The cessation of widow(er) pension on remarriage or cohabitation is a common provision of public service pension schemes and is a provision which is generally only removed at member cost.

In relation to recommendation 8, the Government would expect the costs associated with any extension of survivor pensions to unmarried partners to be borne by the members of the PCPF, and not by the Exchequer.


People's Peerages

Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the President of the Council how many (a) applicants for a people's peerage and (b) candidates invited for interview were formerly hereditary peers sitting in the House of Lords. [151661]

Mrs. Beckett: This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost and in breach of the Appointments Commission's undertakings to treat all personal information in individual applications in strict confidence.

16 Mar 2001 : Column: 765W


Metropolitan Police Force

Mr. Cox: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent discussions he has had with the Mayor of London about the recruitment of police officers for the Metropolitan Police Force. [152683]

Mr. Straw: I met the Mayor of London on 4 October and 13 December 2000. Recruitment to the Metropolitan Police Service was among the matters discussed on each occasion, and it has been on a number of less formal occasions when I have met the Mayor.

Royal Parks Police

Mr. Peter Bottomley: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy to take the Royal Parks Police into the Metropolitan Police Service; and if he will make a statement. [153460]

Mr. Charles Clarke: The Royal Parks Constabulary is a non-Home Office police force; the sponsor Department with responsibility for this Constabulary is the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS). The recent review of the Royal Parks Constabulary recommended that the Constabulary should either become a ring-fenced division of the Metropolitan Police Service or that funds should be provided to allow proper management, accountability and policing by the Royal Parks Constabulary. The recommendation is currently being considered at official level with the Royal Parks Agency and the DCMS.

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