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Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

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Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The following table lists UK contributions to the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) during the period 1993-1995, the last year for which figures are available:

1993£7.0 million£7.5 million
1994£8.5 million£7.5 million
1995£10.0 million£10.0 million

Birth Control Trust

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they fund the Birth Control Trust, and if so, what was the level of funding for each of the last five years for which figures are available.

Baroness Chalker of Wallasey: The Birth Control Trust has been employed on occasion by other organisations to assist on government-funded work, but there has been no direct government funding for this organisation.

Psychotropic Drugs: Effects

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have studied the research by Workman and Cunningham, Shader, DiMascio and others, and Rosenbaum, Woods, Groves and Klerman which shows that prisoners and mental health patients are more likely to behave in a hostile or aggressive manner after being prescribed psychotropic drugs than before.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The Government are aware of much of this research. The fact that some anxiety-relieving drugs may cause a paradoxical increase in hostility and aggression is well known and is set out in the British National Formulary.

Lord McNair asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will commission a study to determine whether psychiatric patients who commit violent acts while being treated under community care demonstrated any violent behaviour prior to taking prescribed psychotropic drugs and, if so, whether the level and nature of violent behaviour has increased since medication was started.

Baroness Cumberlege: The national Confidential Inquiry into Suicides and Homicides committed by people with a mental illness, funded by the Department of Health, has been set up to examine in detail the circumstances leading up to and surrounding suicides

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and homicides committed by people under the care of, or recently discharged from, specialist mental health services. Its purpose is to identify factors in patients' management which may be related to the deaths and to recommend measures designed to reduce the number of such incidents.

Long-stay Hospitals: Closure

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will prevent the closure of any more long-stay hospitals for mentally handicapped people until the residents can be moved to accommodation where they will be at least as safe and happy as they were before.

Baroness Cumberlege: Proposals for hospital closures are subject to consultation by the local health authority, who should ensure that no person with learning disabilities is discharged from hospital until their needs have been assessed and arrangements made to meet them. These are issues best determined in the light of individual needs and local circumstances. Ministers intervene only where closure is opposed by the Community Health Council and they would then seek to ensure that the proposals will deliver a service at least as good as that provided by the long-stay hospital.

Village Communities for the Mentally Handicapped

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are aware of the reasons which led Dr. Lorna Wing to withhold her support from the Department of Health's recent evaluation of village communities for the mentally handicapped, and, if so, whether they consider that she was justified in so doing.

Baroness Cumberlege: Ministers are aware that Dr. Lorna Wing has expressed reservations about the research. These relate primarily to the "gaps" in currently available research identified by the first phase of the evaluation. Dr. Wing's views, along with other comments received, will help to inform the second phase of the evaluation.

Lord Pearson of Rannoch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to recent evaluation by the Department of Health of village communities for mentally handicapped people, whether they will now encourage local authorities and services to support and develop such communities when requested to do so by the families of the people concerned.

Baroness Cumberlege: The then Parliamentary Secretary (Mr. Bowis) wrote in July to Directors of Social Services and Chief Executives of district health

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authorities in England enclosing copies of the evaluation reports and asking them to use the information they contain to determine the pattern of services in their area. He expressed the view that the reports should inform discussions between health and social care commissioners, individuals with learning disabilities, their carers, and families. I share those views. Copies of his letter have been placed in the Library.

Asylum Seekers: Special Grant

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much money has been transferred to local authorities for the support of asylum seekers under the settlement announced by the Baroness Cumberlege on 4th March 1996.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Secretary of State for Health announced in another place on 6th June 1996, at col. 509 that the Department of Health has earmarked £25 million for the Special Grant to compensate social services departments for additional expenditure they may incur in support of children in need, as a result of changes or prospective changes to social security benefits for asylum seekers. The Special Grant Report, which was due to be debated on 26th June, had to be withdrawn because of the judgment by the Court of Appeal on the vires of the earlier benefit changes. A revised Special Grant Report will be laid and debated as soon as possible after the Recess.

Council of Europe Human Rights and Biomedicine Convention

Lord Ashbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What organisations in Britain were consulted about the provisions of what is now the Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine, and Britain's adherence to it.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Council of Europe issued a consultation draft in 1994, on which the Government sought views from the following organisations: Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Association of Community Health Councils for England and Wales, Association of Medical Research Charities, British Association of Occupational Therapists, British In-Vitro Diagnostics Association, BioIndustry Association, British Medical Association, British Pharma Group, British Psychological Society, Bulletin of Medical Ethics, Confederation of British Industry, General Medical Council, General Medical Services Committee, Health Visitors Association, Joint Committee of Professional Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting Associations, Joint Consultants Committee, Law Commission, Law Society, Medical Research Council, National Council for Nursing Ethics, Nuffield Council of Bioethics, Patients' Association, Public Health Consultative Committee, the Royal College of Anaesthetists, General Practitioners, Ophthalmologists, Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,

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Pathologists, Physicians, Psychiatrists, Radiologists, and Surgeons; the Royal College of Midwives, Royal College of Nursing, and the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting.

The current draft Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine has yet to be considered by the Committee of Ministers, who have the right to amend the text.

Lord Ashbourne asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support Article 17.2 of the Council of Europe Convention on Human Rights and Biomedicine (formerly known as the European Bioethics Convention), permitting the use of human subjects who cannot give valid consent for scientific research which is not for their own direct benefit.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Government recognise that without such research, undertaken only with strict safeguards, it is not possible to improve knowledge of the causes of childhood disease or of diseases and disorders causing mental incapacity. The Government support the present draft of Article 17.2.

Foetal Sentience: All-Party Pro-Life Group Report

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their attitude to the recent report published by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group report on Foetal Sentience; and

    Whether they accept the conclusions of the report of foetal sentience, published by the All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group that the anatomical structures subserving the appreciation of pain "are present and functional before the tenth week of intra-uterine life" and if not, whether they will state what brought them to that conclusion.

Baroness Cumberlege: The Department of Health is considering the written evidence distributed at the recent All-Party Parliamentary Pro-Life Group presentation on foetal sentience.

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