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16 Oct 2002 : Column 891W—continued

Older People's Taskforce

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the (a) former members of and (b) new appointees to the Older People's Taskforce; and if he will make a statement. [74317]

Jacqui Smith: The former members of the older people's taskforce are:

The new appointees to the older people's taskforce are:

The older people's taskforce plays an important role advising the Department on the implementation of policy for older people's services across the NHS and social care.

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Health and Social Workers (Overseas Recruitment)

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what procedures are in place to ensure that overseas-recruited (a) health workers and (b) social workers who are working with children have not been convicted of an offence that relates to crimes against children. [74318]

Jacqui Smith: Health Service Circular HSC 2002/008, Pre and Post Appointment Checks for All Persons Working in the NHS in England, instructs National Health Service bodies through the Secretary of State's power of direction to carry out a comprehensive range of pre and post appointment checks before appointments are confirmed. This includes the appointment of staff recruited from overseas. Where the post involves care of children within the terms of the Protection of Children Act, employers must check the Protection of Children Act List before making the appointment. In addition, before taking up such a post, applicants must inform the appointing NHS body if they have been convicted or charged with a criminal offence in the United Kingdom or in any other country. Failure to do so may be a dismissible offence.

The Criminal Records Bureau will soon be launching an advisory service to employers about the availability of criminal record checks in a variety of countries.

Equally it is the duty of individual social care employers to carry out necessary checks to ensure that employees recruited from oversees are fit to practice.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to issue a code of practice for social services departments recruiting social workers from other countries; and if he will make a statement. [74532]

Jacqui Smith: There are no current plans to issue a special code of practice covering recruitment from other countries. The onus is on the employer to ensure that all recruits meet appropriate standards, wherever they originate from.

At present the general social care council offers an ''international recognition service'' which can provide advice to employers on the status and standing of qualifications gained in other countries, for example that a certificate is or is not a professional qualification in social work in its country of origin. It is then for the employers to complete the usual recruitment checks verifying the information given by the applicant.

Mr. Burstow: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish the conclusions of his assessment of the performance of the Director for International Recruitment in the year 2001–02. [71733]

Mr. Hutton [holding reply issued on 22 July 2002]: I refer the hon. Member to the response I gave him on 22 July 2002, Official Report, vol. 389, column 875W

Hospitals (Smoking Ban)

Mr. Greg Knight: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will introduce a ban on smoking in hospitals and in hospital grounds. [71683]

Ms Blears: Many National Health Service trusts have already banned smoking in their hospitals and hospital grounds and the government have set milestones for

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implementing smoking policies across the NHS as part of the national service framework on coronary heart disease.

The government is currently considering a comprehensive survey to provide a clear and up to date picture of the current situation across the NHS and to assist in determining what further action should be taken.

Any decisions on further action will need to be taken against the background that the purchase and smoking of cigarettes is not illegal in this country.



Dr. Naysmith: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport into which of the north/south implementation bodies established as part of the British–Irish Agreement the Commissioners for Irish Lights has been incorporated. [73396]

Mr. Jamieson: The Agreement between the Government of the United Kingdom and the Government of Ireland establishing Implementation Bodies of 8 March 1999, provides that one of the North/South Implementation Bodies, the Foyle, Carlingford and Irish Lights Commission, will exercise the existing functions of the Commissioners of Irish Lights in respect of providing and maintaining aids to navigation along the coast of the whole of the island of Ireland and its adjacent seas and islands. The Agreement provides that the legislation required to transfer those functions to the Body will be brought forward as soon as possible.

However, following consideration of the matter by a working group of officials from my Department, the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister and relevant Irish Government Departments, it has become apparent that complex issues surround such a transfer. The North/South Ministerial Council has asked the relevant Ministers and Departments in the Northern Ireland Executive and the Irish Government to examine the alternative possibilities and bring back proposals to the Council.

Cliffe Airport

Bob Spink: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will estimate the number of additional houses that would be needed if the Cliffe airport option is adopted as (a) two runways and (b) four runways. [74066]

Mr. Jamieson: Our analysis suggests that with forecast housing growth, relatively high rates of unemployment, in and out commuting from the relevant catchment areas, the airport's employment needs could be met with fairly limited additional housing development.

A more detailed assessment of the housing implications (including an assessment for 2015—at which stage only two of the four runways are assumed to be in place) is set out in the SERAS Land Use and Urbanisation study (section A7). Copies of all the above reports are available in the House libraries.

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Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what targets he has set for decent housing and reducing homelessness. [71955]

The Deputy Prime Minister: As a result of the 2002 Spending Review, we have a Public Service Agreement target to bring all social housing into decent condition by 2010, and to increase the proportion of private housing occupied by vulnerable groups that meets the decent homes standard.

We are working with local authorities to ensure that by March 2004, no homeless family with children is housed in B&B accommodation other than in an emergency.

Rural Communities

Mr. Todd: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what planning guidance is given to local authorities to permit the maintenance and development of small rural communities. [71956]

Mr. McNulty: National Planning Policy Guidance encourages local planning authorities to promote healthy, viable rural communities and advises that most new development in rural areas should be focused on accessible local service centres, which may include a group of small villages.

European Structural Funds

Helen Jackson: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what proposals he has to ensure the efficient delivery of Objective One European programmes to support local economies. [71957]

Mr. McNulty: Structural Fund programmes are delivered through formal Managing Authorities working directly with local partnerships. In England the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister is the Managing Authority for all Objective 1 and Objective 2 programmes but devolves implementation to the Government Offices (GOs).

Officials provide policy guidance and advice in order to aid effective delivery of the financial and physical programme targets.

Programmes are frequently evaluated and best practice arrangements are in place and extend beyond Objective 1.

Regional Government

Mr. Andrew George: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what representations he has had in response to the Government's White Paper on Regional Government, Your Region: Your Choice. [71958]

Mr. Raynsford: To date, the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has received around 1,100 representations on the White Paper, of which around 200 commented on stakeholder involvement with elected regional assemblies.

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In addition, we have received around 1,500 postcards as a result of a campaign organised by the Cornish Constitutional Convention, which seeks a referendum on establishing a Cornish Assembly.

Mr. Stephen O'Brien: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the Regional Government White Paper. [71975]

The Deputy Prime Minister: The White Paper Your Region, Your Choice takes forward our Manifesto commitment to allow the English regions the opportunity to choose whether to establish an elected assembly. We intend to introduce a Bill to provide for regional referendums and associated local government reviews as soon as Parliamentary time allows.

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