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Civil Service Pension Scheme

Mr. Cousins: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what are the approved additional voluntary contribution providers under the Civil Service Pension Scheme; how many outstanding contracts there are with each provider; when these AVC providers were first selected; when that selection was reviewed; and what was the source of the professional advice as to that selection and renewal. [10921]

Mr. Leslie: The Equitable Life Assurance Society and the Scottish Widows' Fund and Life Assurance Society were appointed as AVC providers for the civil service by the Treasury in December 1988. Responsibility for the civil service additional voluntary contribution scheme transferred to the Cabinet Office on 1 April 1995 under the Transfer of Functions (Treasury and the Minister for the Civil Service) Order 1995, SI 1995/269. The continuing suitability of both providers for investment under the civil service AVC scheme is subject to regular review by the Cabinet Office taking account of expert professional advice. Bacon and Woodrow are the appointed civil service AVC scheme advisers to the Cabinet Office.

Member of the civil service pension scheme are provided with a wide choice of AVC investments. Both providers offered a with-profits investment route; a deposit based fund; and unit linked investment through a wide range of investment funds. There are approximately 6,800 active contributing civil service AVC members with Equitable Life and 8,800 members with Scottish Widows.

During 2001, a competitive selection process was carried out to identify a further AVC providers for the Civil Service. The Standard Life Assurance Company was selected. It will offer members investment in with-profits and through a wide choice of unit linked funds.

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Mental Health

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to reform the Mental Health Act 1983; and if he will make a statement. [9507]

Jacqui Smith: We published the White Paper "Reforming the Mental Health Act" in December 2000. The White Paper made clear our intention to reform mental health legislation and bring it into line with the contemporary patterns of care and treatment including the changes and new investment set out in the NHS Plan, and to improve the provisions for high risk offenders, including those who are dangerous and severely personality disordered.

New legislation will be introduced as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to increase recruitment of mental health professionals in London. [9505]

Jacqui Smith: We are implementing a range of measures to improve recruitment and retention in the National Health Service for all staff, including in London. Examples include investing in fair pay, encouraging the NHS to become a better employer, increasing training commissions for all professional groups, providing additional funding to support those undertaking a return to practice programme, and supporting more effective, collaborative international recruitment where appropriate.

For example, between April 2001 and the end of September 2001, 138 mental health and learning disabilities nurses returned to the NHS, 18 of these were in London.

Furthermore, a workforce action team (WAT) was set up by Ministers to look at the workforce, education and training issues to support implementation of the National Service Framework (NSF) for mental health and the NHS Plan. Their final report was published in August and it has been warmly welcomed in the field as a practical and useful piece of work.

Included in the WAT programme of work was a key area group looking at recruitment and retention issues. The Group made some 23 recommendations for action which the mental health care group workforce team, working in conjunction with the human resources directorate of the Department and the relevant professional bodies, will be considering as part of an implementation plan to take forward the work of the WAT.

In conjunction with this work, the National Director of Mental Health has set up a specific working group to look at ways of improving recruitment and retention of psychiatrists. Representatives from within the Department, the Royal College of Psychiatry and others are contributing and investigating both long and short-term interventions.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how much money the Government have spent on the Mind Out for Mental Health campaign; and what steps have been taken; [9510]

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Jacqui Smith: In the financial year 2000–01, the Department spent £573,000 on the mind out for mental health campaign. £900,000 is allocated to the campaign in the year 2001–02.

The mind out for mental health campaign is a sustained programme of activity with partners in the voluntary sector, the media and business working together to change attitudes and behaviour surrounding mental health. Through such partnerships (both on a national and local level), and through high profile communications and events, mind out for mental health is reaching out to key audiences. For example, mind out for mental health is working with UK Youth, the Guides and the Scouts to develop an activity pack to help groups explore mental health issues. It is also working with journalist colleges in the development of training seminars and packs for student journalists. In addition, a stop the stigma information pack has been developed for individuals or local groups—a step by step guide to planning effective action to help change attitudes towards those with mental health problems. A copy of this action pack has been placed in the Library.

"Working Minds" is the employer programme of mind out for mental health. This part of the campaign works in partnership with employers to create positive shifts in workplace attitudes and behaviour surrounding mental health. Its objectives are far greater than helping people with mental health problems to find employment; the programme seeks to bring about a fundamental, long-term change in employers' policy and practice so that people with mental health problems are able to participate fully in the workplace. Its success will be measured against this objective.

Mr. Heald: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the success of guardianship under section 7 of the Mental Health Act 1983; and if he will make a statement. [9520]

Jacqui Smith: The results of the first stage of a multi-centre research study commissioned by the Department in 1997 showed that guardianship is generally not widely used. There is, however, marked variation in use with some authorities being more proactive. The reasons for variation in use of the order and further exploration of the outcome and satisfaction with the use of guardianship is being explored in the second phase of the study. We expect to receive a report on the second phase work in the next month.

Maternity Services

Mr. Lilley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if the transfer of maternity services from Hemel Hempstead hospital to Watford will be temporary; [9377]

Jacqui Smith: The decision to transfer the special care baby unit, maternity and in-patient gynaecology services from Hemel Hempstead to Watford hospital was made following difficulties in recruiting specialist paediatric nurses to the special care baby unit. The decision to transfer these services was made in the best interests of patient care and safety.

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This transfer is a temporary arrangement which will be kept under constant review as further attempts are made to recruit the necessary staff.

In the meantime, two reviews are being undertaken across Hertfordshire which may have an impact on acute children's services, namely the Hertfordshire children's services review and the Hertfordshire and south Bedfordshire acute services review.

Any proposed permanent changes to acute children's services which may result from these reviews will need to be the subject of formal public consultation.

Any contested change of service will be considered by the new and independent reconfiguration panel.

Hearing Aids

Miss Kirkbride: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the full cost is of providing a hearing aid. [9596]

Jacqui Smith: The Department is collecting information on the cost of providing hearing aids as part of the annual Reference Costs Collection, which provides unit cost information for a wide range of national health service treatments and procedures. The information is expected to be published in November and will be available on the Department's internet site at refcosts.htm.

Child Protection

Margaret Moran: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many child deaths have been notified under Part 8 reviews under the "Working Together" Guidance under the Children Act 1989 in which domestic violence was involved, in the past six years. [9608]

Jacqui Smith: The information requested is not collected centrally. However, research has highlighted that children are likely to be at risk of physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse if they live in households where there is domestic violence. We also know that exposure to domestic violence can have a serious impact on a child's development and well-being. We are committed to raising awareness of domestic violence and its impact on children. We have done this through commissioning resources such as the Making an Impact—Children and

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Domestic Violence Training Pack, which helps front-line staff to deal effectively with families where domestic violence is occurring. We have also been careful to recognise the links between child protection and domestic violence in the revised Working Together to Safeguard Children child protection guidance and in the Framework for the Assessment of Children in need and their Families.

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