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Scotland: Road Capital Budget

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sewel: The proposed motorways and trunk roads capital budget for Scotland for 1998-99 is £110.15 million, a 22 per cent. reduction in real terms from 1997-98. This reflects decisions about the scale of activity on major capital projects announced earlier this year, in conjunction with the implementation of our manifesto commitment to a strategic review of the trunk roads programme. A substantial part of the reduction has been redirected to other transport priorities, notably freight facilities grants to encourage the transfer of freight from road to rail and the external financing limits of Caledonian MacBrayne and Highlands and Islands Airports Limited. Capital expenditure on local roads in 1998-99 is a matter for local authorities to determine within the overall resources available to them.

Scotland: NHS Budget

Lord Selkirk of Douglas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sewel: Scotland's NHS budget will increase in real terms in the next financial year by 1.8 per cent.

Scotland: Prison Population

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Sewel: The average daily prisoner population in Scotland in each of the last five years (April to March) was follows:

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Scotland: Prisoners' Mental Illness Screening

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What arrangements are made to screen and treat prisoners with mental illnesses within the prison service in Scotland.

Lord Sewel: On admission to prison, every prisoner is assessed by a nurse and within 24 hours is also seen by the prison doctor for a full medical assessment, including current and past mental health history and treatment. If the doctor considers it necessary, and provided the prisoner gives his consent, contact is made with the prisoner's own doctor for further information on diagnosis, medication and treatment. Any treatment that the prisoner has been receiving in the community is continued if deemed appropriate.

All receiving prisons have access to psychiatric consultants who attend regularly and see those prisoners referred to them by the prison doctor. Day care facilities for mentally-ill prisoners are also available in certain prisons. In cases where it is considered that a prisoner with a mental illness cannot be cared for in prison, arrangements are made for that person to transfer to a psychiatric hospital. In appropriate cases, the prisoner may be compulsorily detained in hospital under the provisions of the Mental Health (Scotland) Act 1984.

Scotland: Opencast Mining Planning Applications

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the criteria on which the Secretary of State for Scotland relies when calling in planning applications for opencast mining.

Lord Sewel: The long established general principle under which the planning system operates in Scotland is that decisions should be taken at the most local administrative level unless there are strong reasons for taking them at a higher level, for example where issues of national rather than local importance are raised. Where an application for planning permission is brought to the Secretary of State's attention he will consider it on an individual basis with a view to deciding whether or not it raises issues which would warrant him calling in the application for his own determination.

Scotland: Opencast Mining

Lord Hogg of Cumbernauld asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their policy on opencast mining in Scotland.

Lord Sewel: The Government's energy policy aims to ensure the availability of secure, diverse and sustainable supplies of energy at competitive prices and

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while meeting environmental targets. In general the Government believe that this will be achieved, or at least enhanced, by diversity in the types of fuel supplied, in the source and suppliers of these fuels, and in the means of delivery. The Government are currently reviewing thier policy on fuel supplies to electricity generating stations.

The Government are also currently considering their approach to opencast mining in the context of the current review of planning policy for opencast coal.

Gene Therapy Advisory Committee

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to review the work of the Gene Therapy Advisory Committee.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Gene Therapy Advisory Committee has performed extremely successfully since its establishment in 1993. As is usual with all advisory bodies, which have operated for a number of years, we have asked a small team to undertake a review of GTAC's role and functions. We expect the review team to present its recommendations early in the new year.

The members are Mrs. Marcia Fry (Department of Health) Chair; Professor Kay Davies--Professor of Genetics, Oxford University; Dr. Brian Davis--Medicines Control Agency, Professor Jim McEwen--Multicentre Research Ethics Committee Chairman, Scotland; Dr. Peter Rigby--National Institute for Medical Research; Mr. Indarjit Singh--Member of British Medical Association Ethics Committee; and Dr. Richard Tiner--Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

Smokers: GP Consultations

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the figures announced on 8 November 1993, purporting to show that smokers need to consult general practitioners 8 million times a year more than non-smokers, were based on accurate figures or on estimates; and whether other factors including poverty, bad housing conditions and unemployment were also taken into account.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The figures released on 8 November 1993 by the Health Education Authority in The Smoking Epidemic--A prescription for change showed that smoking accounts for an additional 8 million general practitioner consultations per year in England and Wales. These were based on estimates from the 1988 and 1990 general household surveys. Respondents were asked how many GP consultations they had had during the two weeks before the survey

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and the numbers of GP consultations for smokers and non-smokers were compared. Adjustments to the estimates were made for age and sex so that potential excess costs were not exaggerated, but no attempt was made to adjust for other factors.

Child Protection Conferences: Records

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What safeguards exist to ensure the accountability of all concerned in social work case conferences, and in particular that the records of such conferences are not incorrectly kept, for example, by recording opinions as matters of fact.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Working Together under the Children Act 1989, the Government's inter-departmental policy guidance, makes clear the Government's expectations for the recording of child protection conferences. All child protection conferences must have someone whose sole task is to take notes and produce minutes of the meeting. A copy of the minutes should be sent to all those who attended the conference--including parents if present for the whole of the conference. People receiving the minutes are required to draw attention to any inaccuracies. The minutes should be despatched as quickly as possible. If the parent(s) did not attend the whole or part of the conference, they should get a copy of the summary or the full minutes depending on the Area Child Protection Committee (ACPC) policy. Again, parents can comment if they are inaccurate. The quality of the written records is monitored by the child protection conference chair and the line managers within each agency. Ultimately, the ACPC is responsible for monitoring the minutes. Working Together is issued to local authorities as guidance under Section 7 of the Local Government Act 1970. As such it does not have the full force of statute but should be complied with unless local circumstances indicate exceptional reasons which justify a variation.

NHS Medical Posts: Overseas Staff

The Earl of Munster asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What percentage of National Health Service medical posts is filled by overseas doctors, excluding those from the European Community.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The number and percentage of medical staff in Great Britain qualified

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outside the European Economic Area as at 30 September 1996 is shown in the table:

HospitalsCommunity Health ServicesGeneral Medical Practitioners
All staff 68,3204,36032,160
Qualified Overseas 15,4601,0405,050
Percentage Qualified
Overseas 22.6%23.9%15.7%


The HCHS Medical Workforce Census (30 September 1996) and the General Medical Practitioner Census (1 October 1996) which refers to unrestricted principals.


1. These data refer to actual doctors working in the NHS reported in the annual censuses of 1996.

2. All staff figures are rounded to the nearest 10.

3. Percentages are calculated on unrounded figures.

4. Only GB data are available.

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