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Tony Baldry: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what representations she has made on the education fees charged to rural families in Ghana. [31668]

Clare Short: The Government are committed to the principle that primary education should be free. We are supporting the Government of Ghana's policy to deliver all Ghanaian children free, good quality basic education by 2005 through our education sector support programme. This amounts to £50 million over five years and helps to help achieve improved primary education outcomes through working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and other donors. Our assistance is also closely aligned with the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy, which includes a commitment to enforce the regulations on illegal school fees in primary schools.

Theft and Fraud

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what additional security measures are planned by her Department to deter and detect theft and fraud. [31788]

Clare Short: We are constantly monitoring the adequacy and effectiveness of our security arrangements. As part of the refurbishment of my Department's new building in London, we have installed new access control equipment, including security pillars and card readers which operate on the presentation of a valid security pass.

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Asset-control tagging of valuable and attractive DFID equipment has also been introduced. We propose to extend these systems to our other UK buildings.

The Internal Audit Department are due to review internal guidance for handling fraud and study individual cases to detect systems weaknesses and identify areas for improvement. Our corporate governance procedures require heads of department to confirm that they have identified all instances of fraud in their area of responsibility and have taken appropriate action.

Overseas Service Aid Scheme

Mr. Nigel Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what figures are held on the number of people recruited to the Overseas Service Aid scheme who had children born overseas while they served on this scheme; and how many people hold British citizenship by descent as a result of being born abroad while their parents were serving on this scheme. [30330]

Clare Short: The Department does not maintain these figures on the Overseas Service Aid Scheme which has been run down over a number of years.

It is highly unlikely that the information on British citizenship by descent was ever held in any systematic way. Any attempt to determine the figures, therefore, could only be at disproportionate cost to the Department.


Food Standards Agency

Ms Christine Russell: To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the Food Standards Agency annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2001 will be published. [34117]

Yvette Cooper: The Food Standards Agency's annual report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2001, was laid before Parliament today. Copies are available in the Library of the House. A version in Welsh as required by the Welsh Language Act 1993 is in preparation and will be published shortly.

Young Mothers

John Mann: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children were born to women under the age of 18 years, per year, between 1990 and 2001 (a) in the UK and (b) in Bassetlaw. [33510]

Ruth Kelly: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician. I have asked him to reply.

Letter from Len Cook to John Mann, dated 5 February 2002:

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Live births to women under the age of 18 years, 1990–2000

(a) UK(32)(b) Bassetlaw(33)

(32) Includes births registered in England, Wales and Scotland to non-residents of the country in which the birth was registered. Births to non-resident mothers in Northern Ireland are excluded from these figures.

(33) To women resident in Bassetlaw.


Office for National Statistics

Public Service Agreements

Mr. Bercow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the Public Service Agreement target of efficiency and other value for money gains in the NHS equivalent to 3 per cent. per annum of health authority unified allocations. [14902]

Mr. Hutton: Allocations to health authorities are based on an overall assessment of the resources required to cover inflationary pressures and deliver national targets. Allocations to health authorities in 1999–2000 and 2000–01 were made net of 3 per cent. efficiency savings. This means that health authorities needed to achieve the efficiency target to fully fund delivery of national targets and inflation.

A new Public Service Agreement target for value for money was agreed as part of Spending Review 2000:

The aim of this new target is to ensure that cost-savings are not at the expense of service quality. The year 2001–02 is the first year covered by this new Public Service Agreement target. We will be monitoring progress against this new target as data become available.

NHS Prescriptions

Dr. Kumar: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the fee paid to community pharmacists for dispensing NHS prescriptions. [27866]

Ms Blears: Remuneration paid to community pharmacies is intended to reward them for the national health service pharmaceutical services they provide. The total remuneration to be paid for services in any given year is known as the global sum. The global sum is distributed through a system of fees and allowances, some of which relate directly to the number (and type) of prescriptions dispensed, some of which do not. For 2001–02 the global sum for England and Wales is £806.6 million, an increase of 3.7 per cent. over 2000–01.

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The fees paid to community pharmacies for dispensing NHS prescriptions vary according to the item prescribed. The large majority of prescriptions attract the basic dispensing fee, the current rate for which is 87.4 pence per item.


Mr. Peter Ainsworth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the effect of the inhalation of bioaerosols on human health. [29621]

Yvette Cooper: The health effects of bioaerosol inhalation depend upon the type of biological material contained in the aerosol, its pathogenicity and virulence, the quantity inhaled and the susceptibility of the individual who inhales the aerosol. Health effects from the inhalation of a bioaerosol range from none to very serious, often fatal, disease. It is not possible to detail all the potential health effects of bioaerosol inhalation within the scope of this answer, as there are many pathogens that can be transmitted through the bioaerosol route. There are also non-pathogenic bioaerosols that can have adverse health effects varying from mild allergic reactions to acute asthma attacks.

While the health effects of many specific pathogenic microbial bioaerosols, such as those containing Anthrax spores, Legionella bacteria or Aspergillus fungal spores, are well known, the health response to non-specific diverse bioaerosols is less well understood. For these bioaerosols, such as those produced during harvesting or composting, which contain a mixture of micro-organisms in combination with organic and inorganic particles. The nature of the human response varies greatly and can also change as a result of sensitisation due to repeat exposure to the bioaerosol. For such bioaerosols there has been no detailed study undertaken into the associated health effects.

Consideration of the health effects of bioaerosols inhalation falls to a number of bodies within us.

The Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens (ACDP) advises Health and Agriculture Ministers and the Health and Safety Commission on the health risks to workers and the public from dangerous pathogens, including bioaerosol risks. The ACDP assesses risks and advises on the containment measures and precautions to be taken to minimise the risk of exposure to dangerous pathogens. The Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and the Control of Substances Hazardous to Health Regulations 1999 cover occupational exposure to bioaerosols. These place obligations upon employers to prevent, or minimise, the risk of exposure to harmful bioaerosols.

The Environment Agency are funding a range of research projects to evaluate the wider health effects of bioaerosols such as those that arise from incineration or composting of waste.

Inhaled bioaerosols containing naturally occurring pathogens can pose a particular threat to patients in hospitals. Specific environmental and general control strategies have been put in place to prevent exposure to this bioaerosol risk in hospitals through National Health Service Estates.

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