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NHS Performance Assessment: Abortion Services

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The performance framework is still at the consultation stage. It is too early to say whether any of the indicators proposed in the consultation document will be published in league tables.

Late Abortions: Protection of Live Infants

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has issued to all its Fellows and Members guidance on late abortions, which they define as abortions over 21 weeks gestation.

In addition, private sector clinics and hospitals must receive the Secretary of State for Health's additional approval to carry out late termination of pregnancy (20-24 weeks gestation). Arrangements must be made with a neonatal unit on site or at a nearby hospital for the immediate transfer of any live born infant. The clinic/hospital is required to provide all the necessary emergency treatment for any live born infant, pending transfer to the neonatal unit. This requirement is contained in the Compendium of Guidance, key extracts from which were sent to all health authorities and National Health Service trusts in 1995.

Clinics are monitored for compliance with the department's requirements.

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Exhaust Emission Reduction: Health Benefits

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What health benefits they estimate will accrue over the next five and 10 years due to improved exhaust emissions from road transport.[HL480]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government have successfully pressed for tighter standards on fuel and vehicle emissions in Europe for the year 2000 in the Auto-Oil programme and have started to look at further measures for 2005 to ensure that improvements in air quality are sustained well into the next millennium. The recent report by the Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollutants estimated that the deaths of between 12,000 and 24,000 vulnerable people may be brought forward, and between 14,000 and 24,000 hospital admissions and readmissions may be associated with short term air pollution each year.

While a reduction in air pollution would be expected to lead to a reduction in deaths and hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory illness, unfortunately, at present, we are unable to estimate the extent of the health gains projected from reductions in air pollution from particular sources, as the science is not yet developed sufficiently to quantify this effect. As the science develops, we will be able to make better estimates of the impact of our policies.

Bovine TB in Cattle and Badgers: Monitoring Group

Lord Peston asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they can give further details of membership of the Expert Group recommended by the Krebs Report on Bovine Tuberculosis in Cattle and Badgers.[HL510]

The Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Lord Donoughue): The membership of the independent Expert Group to oversee the experiment recommended in Professor Krebs' Report to assess the effectiveness of badger culling in reducing TB breakdowns in cattle herds has been announced. Professor John Bourne will chair the Group and Dr. Christl Donnelly will serve as Deputy Chairman. In addition, Sir David Cox, Professor George Gettinby, Professor Ivan Morrison and Dr. Rosie Woodroffe have all kindly agreed to serve as members.

The terms of reference for the Group are: "To advise Ministers on implementation of the Krebs Report on bovine TB in cattle and badgers by:

    overseeing the design and analysis of the randomised experiment to test the effectiveness of badger culling as a means of controlling bovine TB;

    regularly monitoring the progress of, and outputs from, the experiment and assessing any important differences in results between the treatments;

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    monitoring the data on the M bovis situation in areas and species outside the experiment;

    reporting to Ministers on progress; and

    advising, as requested, on related issues.

We are currently consulting on how the report's recommendations should be implemented. Firm decisions on implementation of the report's recommendations will not be made until the end of this consultation period and until further consideration has been given to the public expenditure, legal and practical implications. We shall make another announcement once this further work has been done. In the meantime, the Expert Group has been asked to press on with its work on the detailed experiment design.

The group has a key role in providing independent expert advice as we carry this important work forward. In addition, the Government will seek to ensure that close contact is maintained with all the key interested parties, including wildlife, conservation and farming organisations on implementation of the Krebs report."

Education (Student Loans) Act 1998

Baroness Serota asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When the Education (Student Loans) Act 1998 will come into force and when regulations will be made under it.[HL537]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Sections 1, 4, 5, 6(1) and 7 came into force on Royal Assent on 27 January 1998. Sections 2, 3, and 6(2) and the schedule to the Act will come into force on 1 March 1998. The Education (Student Loans) Regulations 1998 were laid before the House on Friday 6 February.

The regulations protect borrowers and debt purchasers by fixing the key terms of all loans taken out under the Education (Student Loans) Act 1990 both before and after 1 March 1998. The regulations also provide for new repayment terms for disabled borrowers. These terms were formerly exercised at the discretion of the loans administrator.

Autistic Children: Educational Provision

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many children with autism are currently not receiving the schooling or other educational provision appropriate to their special needs and are in the care of staff with no specialised training for teaching them; and [HL459]

    In respect of children with special educational needs and particularly autism, what is the current policy and provision for:
    (a) assessing children to identify such special needs;
    (b) specialist provision for such children at school;
    (c) specialist training for teachers; and

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    (d) assessing the satisfaction of parents of such children with their children's education.[HL460]

Baroness Blackstone: Schools and local education authorities are under a duty to identify children with special educational needs, including those with autistic spectrum disorders, and to make provision which the needs of individual children call for. In doing so, schools and LEAs must have regard to statutory guidance contained in the Code of Practice on the Identification and Assessment of Children with Special Educational Needs. The Government do not collect centrally figures by type of special educational need.

Placements of children with statements must be able to provide the facilities and equipment, staffing arrangements and curriculum required to meet their individual needs, as specified in the child's statement.

There are no requirements for teachers of children with autism to hold specific qualifications, but training for such teachers is a priority in the current year's SEN element of Grants for Education Support and Training. Returns for previous years show that LEAs have been increasingly using GEST funding to support autism-related training, and that in 1996-97 some 1,155 teachers were trained under this programme.

Parents have the right to appeal to the independent Special Educational Needs Tribunal against a wide range of decisions by LEAs in respect of their child's needs. The report by the President of the Tribunal shows that, in the year ended August 1997, 6 per cent. of appeals to the tribunal related to children with autism.

The SEN Green Paper Excellence for all children suggested autism as one area of provision where the department could promote research into best practice and disseminate the results. The DfEE has accordingly commissioned as urgent review of autism research, and is co-operating with the Local Government Association on research into the comparative outcomes from different educational interventions for children with autism.

National Curriculum Key Stage 1 Results 1997

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish a list for schools in England, derived from the results of National Curriculum tests for Key Stage 1 for 1997, showing for each school in each local authority the number of 7 year-old pupils obtaining Levels 3, 2A, 2B, 2C and 1, together with the number of pupils failing to achieve Level 1 for whatever reason and the average level attained per pupil for each of the tests for mathematics, reading, and writing, showing data separately for the reading task and reading comprehension test.[HL374]

Baroness Blackstone: My department collects and publishes annually national results for Key Stage 1 reading, writing and mathematics tests. The 1997 results were published on 25 September 1997. On 2 February 1998 we also published Key Stage 1 results for 1997

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aggregated at local education authority (LEA) level. Copies of the national and LEA level Key Stage 1 results for 1997 have been placed in the Libraries. The Government have no current plans to publish school level results of National Curriculum assessments for Key Stage 1, but LEAs are free to do so if they wish and they have been encouraged to maximise the information they give locally.

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