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Mr. Lidington: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) nursing home beds per 10,000 population over 18, (b) residential places per 10,000 population over 18 and (c) mental health nursing home beds (EMI) per 10,000 weighted population there are in (i) the Buckinghamshire health authority area and (ii) England. 
Jacqui Smith: The information available is given in the table. Details relating to 31 March 2001 will be published at the end of November 2001, in the Statistical Bulletin "Community Care Statistics 2001: Residential personal social services for adults, England".
|(i) Buckinghamshire health authority area||(ii) England|
|(a) Registered nursing beds||36||50|
|(b) Residential places(8)||64||90|
|(c) Mental health nursing home care beds(9)||2||7|
(8) Information is presented for the combined area of Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes
(9) Registered nursing beds for client group of 'mental health' in general and mental nursing homes, private hospitals and clinics
Department of Health's annual returns
|3 month vacancy rates (Percentage)||Number of 3 month vacancies||Number of staff in post|
1. Three month vacancies are vacancies as at 31 March 200001 which trusts are actively trying to fill, which had lasted for three months or more (whole time equivalents).
2. Three month vacancy rates are three month vacancies expressed as a percentage of three month vacancies, plus staff in post from September 19992000 medical and dental and non-medical workforce censuses (whole time equivalent).
3. HA figures are based on trusts, and do not necessarily reflect the geographical provision of healthcare.
4. Numbers are rounded to the nearest ten.
5. Percentages are rounded to one decimal place.
6. England totals include staff form special health authorities.
7. Totals may not equal sum of component parts due to rounding.
8. Staff in post figures are taken from the Department of Health Non-medical Workforce Census, September 2000.
Department of Health Vacancies Survey
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Jacqui Smith: As at 30 September 2000 the number of whole-time equivalent personal social services staff employed by local authorities per 10,000 population was 22.1 in Buckinghamshire, 32.1 in Milton Keynes unitary authority and 43.4 in England.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will give his estimate for the number of looked after children in the care of local authority social services departments per calendar year in each of the last 10 years. 
1. Figures exclude children accommodated under an agreed series of short-term placements.
2. Numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred.
Department of Health annual statistical return SSDA 903
Jacqui Smith: The Adoption and Children Bill provides that adoption support services means counselling, advice and information in connection with adoption, and other such services as are specified in regulations. Our intention is that the adoption support services included in the regulations will include financial support.
The White Paper "Adoption: a new approach" published in December 2000, a copy of which is available in the Library, includes examples of the types of services that could be provided in a comprehensive adoption support services. These include the provision of support groups for those affected by adoption, facilitating contact between adopted children and birth parents, providing practical help (such as respite care) to adoptive families, and child therapeutic services. The aim is to ensure that all those affected by adoption, particularly adoptive
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families, can be helped to effectively access mainstream services and also be provided with support to meet needs specific to the adoptive placement.
The development of the national framework for adoption support is being informed by a stakeholder group and the work of the adoption and permanence task force. We intend to publish the framework for consultation in the spring and to finalise this in the light of the consultation responses prior to publishing draft regulations for consultation.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his assessment is of the likely impact of the Adoption and Children Bill within five years of enactment on (a) the number of children adopted, (b) the proportion of babies adopted as a percentage of the total and (c) the proportion of looked after children adopted as a percentage of the total compared with current figures. 
Jacqui Smith: It is not possible to provide figures for the position five years after the enactment of the Adoption and Children Bill. However, a number of the provisions in the Bill will encourage more prospective adopters to come forward. In particular, the independent review mechanism should build confidence in the assessment process for prospective adopters and the adoption support frameworks should ensure that those adopting can be confident that they will receive the assistance they need to make any placement work. The Adoption Register for England and Wales will also facilitate the matching of children waiting for new families with approved adopters and help to increase the numbers of children being adopted.
Jacqui Smith: We expect to see an increase in the numbers of children placed across local authority boundaries, particularly of older children and sibling groups, as a result of increased consortia working and the impact of the Adoption Register for England and Wales.
Jacqui Smith: The White Paper "Adoptiona new approach", a copy of which is available in the Library, makes clear that the Department will carry out a fundamental review of the assessment process for adopters and the operation of adoption panels. Work has begun to determine the scope of this project and it is our intention to establish a stakeholder group to input to the process early in the New Year. We will bring forward proposals for consultation during 2002 and implement the resulting changes as part of the wider Adoption and Children Bill implementation.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the likely cost of regulation of voluntary adoption agencies under the terms of the Adoption and Children Bill as it relates to the Care Standards Act 2000. 
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Jacqui Smith: Information on the anticipated costs of regulation was prepared and included in the recent consultation document "Frequencies of Inspection and Regulatory Fees", a copy of which is in the Library.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his policy is regarding fees which may be charged by adoption agencies in respect of the provision of services to persons providing facilities as part of the adoption service resulting from the Adoption and Children Bill. 
Jacqui Smith: Clause 11 of the Adoption and Children Bill enables the appropriate Minister (the Secretary of State in England and the National Assembly in Wales) to make regulations prescribing the fees which may be paid and charged by adoption agencies to organisations such as other adoption agencies and adoption support agencies in respect of the provision of services as part of the Adoption Service. We believe that the existing inter- agency fee system operated by adoption agencies should continue to operate as it does at the moment. However, we have promised to keep the inter-agency fee under review and this power will enable us to make any changes we may consider necessary at a future date.
However, the Bill enables the appropriate Minister to make regulations prescribing the fees which may be charged by local authorities to adopters and prospective adopters in respect of intercountry adoption. It is intended that the regulations will enable local authorities to charge fees to contribute towards their costs in providing information, preparing and assessing prospective adopters, obtaining medical reports and police checks and preparing post-placement and post-adoption reports in respect of intercountry adoption cases. These charges will not be permitted to include any element of profit.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what study he has made of cases of criminal assault against birth parents by their adopted children; and how many such cases he has studied. 
Jacqui Smith: There has been no such study. Concerns have been expressed about the small minority of cases where birth parents may be placed at some risk where access is provided to the birth records.
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Once an adoption order is made it would not be appropriate to track adopted children in this way. However, we are committed to securing long-term success and stability for adoptions. That is why in the White Paper "Adoptiona new approach", a copy of which is in the Library, we undertook to work with the relevant stakeholders to develop appropriate ways of obtaining regular information on the success of permanent placements, including adoption (for example, through voluntary anonymous surveys and through the provision of adoption support services). We will use this information to inform future policy developments and to help us to develop and set targets that focus on the success and stability of all permanent placements, both before and after the making of relevant Court Orders. We aim to set such targets by 200405.
Next year, we shall develop an integrated children's system, a key theme of our Quality Protects programme, which will bring together planning and record keeping for children in need in the community and those looked after by local authorities. It will provide a single, coherent record for the child's case history until adoption and will help planning and decision making. The aim is to improve individual local authorities' information and record keeping.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what the procedure for appeal against the findings of a panel will be and what complaints procedure will be available to the applicants in his proposals for setting up review panels in clause 12 of the Adoption and Children Bill; 
Jacqui Smith: To encourage more people to apply to adopt and to build confidence in the adopter assessment process, the White Paper "Adoptiona new approach" committed the Government to provide an independent review where an adoption agency intends to turn down a prospective adopter's application. A copy of the White Paper has been placed in the Library. The Bill includes powers enabling the appropriate Minister to make regulations to establish such a mechanism, which may be run by an independent body. The intention is that the independent review mechanism will review, at a prospective adopter's request, applications that adoption agencies have indicated they are minded to turn down. It is also intended to use the independent review mechanism to review adoption agency qualifying determinations about the disclosure of information concerning a person's adoption. It will remain the responsibility of the adoption agency to make a final decision after taking into consideration the recommendation of the independent review. Detail on how the review mechanism will work, the complaints procedure and the determinations that it will be used to review will be fully consulted on.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health under clause 12 of the Adoption and Children Bill, to which organisations he might delegate his functions in respect of the operation of review panels. 
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Jacqui Smith: To encourage more people to apply to adopt and to build confidence in the adopter assessment process, the White Paper "Adoptiona new approach" committed the Government to provide an independent review where an adoption agency intends to turn down a prospective adopter's application. A copy of the White Paper has been placed in the Library.
The Bill includes powers enabling the appropriate Minister to establish a mechanism, which may be run by an independent body, to review qualifying adoption agency determinations. Details of how the review mechanism system will work will be fully consulted on. Any organisation wishing to apply to operate the independent review mechanism will be required to demonstrate that it has the relevant expertise to enable it to perform this function.
Jacqui Smith: We have received representations from the British Agencies for Adoption and Fostering, the Local Government Association, the Association of Directors of Social Services, NORCAP, Adoption UK, Barnardos, and many other interested parties and private individuals.
Jacqui Smith: Clause 1(2) of the Adoption and Children Bill makes the child's welfare the paramount consideration of the court or adoption agency in any decision about the adoption of a child. It brings the welfare test into line with that in the Children Act 1989, with the important addition that the court or agency must consider the child's welfare throughout his life, in recognition of the lifelong implications of adoption. Under Clause 1(3) the court or agency must also bear in mind that in general any delay is likely to prejudice the child's welfare.
The "child's welfare" is not defined in the Bill, as is the position under both the Children Act 1989 and the Adoption Act 1976. Case law under the 1989 and 1976 Acts shows that the courts have given a wide interpretation to the term "welfare". Clause 1(4) sets out some of the issues that will be relevant in a "welfare checklist" that must be applied by the court or agency in determining the best interests of the child in any decision relating to adoption. It includes a requirement to have regard to the child's ascertainable wishes and feelings about the decision and to his particular needs. It also obliges the court or agency to have regard to the relationship the child has with his relatives, the prospects of and benefits to the child of this relationship continuing, the ability of his relatives to provide the child with a secure home and to meet his needs, and their views concerning the decision relating to the adoption of the child.
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Jacqui Smith: Chapter 6 of the Adoption and Children Bill covers all adoptions with a foreign element. This includes children habitually resident outside the British Islands brought into the United Kingdom by individuals habitually resident in the United Kingdom, whether they were adopted outside the United Kingdom or it is planned to adopt them in the United Kingdom. It also includes the taking out of the United Kingdom for adoption children who are Commonwealth citizens or habitually resident in the United Kingdom.
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Jacqui Smith: The Regulatory Impact Assessment on the Adoption and Children Bill was published on 19 October 2001, the date of introduction of the Bill. It is available in the Library and on the Department's website.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what his proposals are for which local authority should be responsible for the resourcing and provision of specialist educational provision for persons adopted outside of the original local authority's area. 
Jacqui Smith: The Adoption and Children Bill provides a power to make regulations setting out where the responsibility lies for assessment and provision of adoption support services in cases where a child is placed with an adoptive family living in a different local authority area. We will use this power to make regulations which put in place a clear system for the provision of adoption support services in these circumstances. We will also make regulations to ensure the appropriate flow of funding between local authorities in such cases. These regulations will form part of the new framework for adoption support which we are currently developing. We intend to consult fully on the framework and the draft regulations, to ensure that we get the detail right.
We also intend to issue guidance and directions to health authorities, primary care trusts and local education authorities to ensure the joined-up planning and provision of public services in connection with adoption.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the proportion of children subject to special guardianship orders which would be issued under Clause 110 of the Adoption and Children Bill as opposed to full adoption proceedings. 
Jacqui Smith: It is impossible to estimate accurately the proportion of children who are likely to be the subject to a special guardianship order as compared with adoption. However, we believe the order will be of particular benefit to older children who do not wish to be adopted, but who do want the greater security offered by special guardianship. We have made it clear that special guardianship orders will be accompanied by access to a full range of support services including, where appropriate, financial support, to help the placement succeed. The responses to the consultation on the report of the performance and innovation unit's on adoption 1 were overwhelmingly in favour of creating such an order. We will continue to consult fully on how best to introduce the special guardianship order to optimise its use, where appropriate.
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Jacqui Smith: The White Paper "Adoptiona new approach", a copy of which is in the Library, made it clear that special guardianship orders would be accompanied by access to a full range of support services including, where appropriate, financial support, to help the placement succeed. This is reflected in the Adoption and Children Bill. The details of these arrangements will be included in a draft national framework for adoption financial support which we intend to publish for consultation next spring.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has for encouraging the provision of intermediary services to people connected with adoption as a result of the Adoption and Children Bill. 
Jacqui Smith: The provision of intermediary services to people connected with adoption will be considered as part of the development of the adoption support framework promised in the White Paper "Adoptiona new approach", a copy of which is available in the Library.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he proposes to publish regulations relating to the provision of assessments and support services for people connected with adoption. 
Jacqui Smith: We intend to publish our proposals for the handling of assessments for adoption support and a draft framework for the provision of adoption support services, including financial support, for consultation in the spring. After considering the consultation responses we will publish for consultation the draft Regulations to give effect to our final proposals under Clauses 2, 3 and 4 of the Adoption and Children Bill.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the average time for completion of adoption for children identified as potential adoptees under the age of one in each of the last 10 years. 
Jacqui Smith: Information on the duration of the period between 'best interest decision' and date of adoption has been collected centrally only since 1 April 2000. In order to show a 10-year time series, the data in the table show the average duration between the date of start of care and date of adoption for children who were aged under one when care started.
1993 to 1997SSDA903
1998 to 2000SSDA903 and Key Statistics
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Jacqui Smith: Clause 1(4)(a) of the Adoption and Children Bill provides courts and adoption agencies with a legal obligation to ascertain the child's wishes and feelings about all decisions relating to adoption, and to take them into account considering the child's age and understanding. The precise procedure will be set out for adoption agencies in regulations and guidance, and for the courts in court rules and in guidance.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many foster parents are on the register of social services departments in each local authority in England and Wales; and how many were on the register in (a) 1990 and (b) 1995. 
We do have data supplied to the Department by councils from 199899 when they applied for training support project grants at the beginning of each financial year to train/assess foster carers to the Care NVQ Level 3. These figures detail the numbers of foster carers who were contracted directly by the council and via independent fostering agencies.
|Directly contracted by local councils||Contracted by LCs via independent agencies||Total|
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what advice he based his proposals to restrict the right of access to an adopted person's birth certificate and birth parent details granted in the Adoption Act 1976 as set out in Chapter 3 of the Adoption and Children Bill. 
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Jacqui Smith: Officials have advised me that section 51 of the Adoption Act 1976 has worked well in the vast majority of cases. However, since the 1976 Act there have been concerns about a small number of cases where there could be a risk to birth parents if they were traced through the birth records.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is his intention to change the number of (a) voluntary organisations and (b) informal groups providing adoption support services in England and Wales. 
Jacqui Smith: The Adoption and Children Bill includes new provisions requiring adoption support agencies to register with the National Care Standards Commission in England and with the National Assembly in Wales. Agencies in addition to adoption agencies which are registered with the National Care Standards Commission will be able to provide specialist support in connection with adoption. Registration in this way will ensure that such services are provided to a high standard.
The Bill's provisions on registration of adoption support agencies will provide an improved level of protection for people receiving adoption support services. Our intention is to regulate organisations and individuals providing professional support services, not to prevent people from providing informal support in their own homes.
We promised in our White Paper "Adoption: a new approach", published in December 2000, to develop new frameworks for adoption support and financial support. We will publish the frameworks for consultation in the spring. There may be a slight increase in the number of organisations providing adoption support as a wider range of services are made available under the frameworks.
Tim Loughton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proposals he has for the (a) selection of members, (b) qualifications and training of members, (c) payment of members, (d) scrutiny and (e) likely operating cost, in relation to review panels set up under Clause 12 of the Adoption and Children Bill; and at what stages he envisages review panels will operate. 
Jacqui Smith: To encourage more people to apply to adopt and to build confidence in the adopter assessment process, the White Paper "Adoptiona new approach" committed the Government to provide an independent
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review where an adoption agency intends to turn down a prospective adopter's application. A copy of the White Paper has been placed in the Library. The Bill includes powers enabling the appropriate Minister to make regulations to establish a mechanism, which may be run by an independent body, to review qualifying adoption agency determinations. Details of how the review mechanism system will work, including the composition of the body and its membership, will be fully consulted on.
Jacqui Smith: The cost of establishing and administering the independent review mechanism will be met centrally from the extra £66.5 million for adoption announced in the White Paper "Adoptiona new approach", a copy of which has been placed in the Library. We have promised to consult on the detail of how the independent review mechanism will operate, to ensure that we get it right. The running costs of the review mechanism will be taken into account in the forthcoming spending review.
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