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25 Feb 1998 : Column WA95

Written Answers

Wednesday, 25th February 1998.

Iraq: UK Aid Programme

The Earl of Sandwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will ensure that any increase in the oil-for-food programme in Iraq is not at the expense of the United Kingdom bilateral programme through British non-governmental organisations.[HL706]

Lord Whitty: The UK co-sponsored the new Security Council Resolution 1153 to implement the UN Secretary-General's recent recommendation to improve and expand the oil-for-food scheme. However, the UK does not finance the oil-for-food programme in Iraq, it is funded entirely from Government of Iraq oil revenues. We are supporting Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) which target the most needy people or carry out de-mining operations. We will be discussing future plans with NGO partners in the light of the proposed increases in the oil-for-food scheme.

Higher Education: Response to Scottish Committee of Inquiry Report

Lord Carmichael of Kelvingrove asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When it will publish its response to the Report of the Scottish Committee of the National Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Scottish Office (Lord Sewel): The Minister of State with responsibility for Education at the Scottish Office has today placed in the Libraries of both Houses copies of Her Majesty's Government's response to the report of the Scottish (Garrick) Committee of the National (Dearing) Committee of Inquiry into Higher Education.

My honourable Friend the Minister of State and I would like to commend Sir Ron Garrick and his committee for their work in producing such a comprehensive report in a comparatively short time. Her Majesty's Government looks forward to working with the higher and further education sectors in implementing the agreed recommendations and the main Dearing report, to which it relates.

Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors: Self-Regulation

Lord Judd asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How far the purpose and terms of reference of the current review of the working of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Acts are consistent with the health policy priorities set out in their recent White Paper, The New NHS (Cm 3807).[HL619]

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The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The recent White Paper, The New NHS, includes a commitment to building on and strengthening the existing systems of professional self-regulation to ensure that they are open, responsive and publicly accountable, and recognises the key role of the regulatory bodies. The current independent review of the Nurses, Midwives and Health Visitors Act presents an important opportunity to stimulate debate on providing the nursing, midwifery and health visiting professions with an appropriate framework for professional self-regulation which provides protection to the public.

Late Abortions: Protection of Live Infants

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Baroness Jay of Paddington on 10 February (WA 165), whether, in cases of infants born alive as a result of late abortions, the Secretary of State requires that arrangements must be made with a neonatal unit or at a nearby hospital; what checks, if any, are made to ensure that all such infants are transferred from the clinic/hospital; and whether they will publish in the Official Report or place in the Library of the House any figures showing the number of infants given this treatment, with the numbers of those who survived and those who did not.[HL609]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: All private sector clinics and hospitals approved by the Secretary of State for Health to carry out termination of pregnancy between 20 and 24 weeks' gestation must agree to comply with certain requirements of approval. One requirement is that arrangements must be made with a neonatal unit on site or at a nearby hospital for the immediate transfer of any infant born alive. The clinic/hospital is required to provide all the necessary emergency treatment for any infant born alive, pending transfer to the neonatal unit. This requirement is contained in the Compendium of Guidance, key extracts of which were sent to all health authorities and National Health Service trusts in 1995.

Clinics approved by the Secretary of State are inspected by departmental officials. Arrangements for late terminations are checked as part of the inspection. Information on any live births is not collected.

Abortions: Reduction

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are taking steps to reduce the number of abortions in Great Britain.[HL620]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The decision to seek a termination is a difficult and often agonising one for any woman. The Government are keen to find ways of reducing the number of unintended and unwanted conceptions which may, in some cases, lead to abortion.

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The National Health Service provides a wide range of family planning services through general practitioner services and family planning clinics. This includes advice and counselling on family planning as well as the provision of contraceptives. All methods of contraception available under the NHS are obtainable free of charge.

Through Section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968 the Government fund voluntary organisations working in the field of family planning and contraceptive services, including the Family Planning Association (FPA), Brook Advisory Centres, the Sex Education Forum and Marriage Care. They also fund the Contraceptive Education Service (CES), which aims to raise awareness and understanding among the general public and professionals about contraceptive methods and services.

In November 1997 the Government announced a national programme to tackle the high rate of teenage conceptions in England. The principal aim of this programme is to reduce the number of teenage conceptions by supporting young people in deferring sexual activity and improving access to advice and counselling services, including contraception for those who are sexually active.

Abortions on Girls under 16

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many of the abortions performed on girls under 16 years in each of the last five years were performed without the knowledge or permission of a parent or guardian.[HL621]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: This information is not collected centrally.

An abortion should only be performed on a girl under 16 without the permission of a parent or guardian if, in the clinical judgment of the doctor concerned, it is in the patient's best medical interest and she has sufficient maturity and understanding to appreciate what is involved.

Abortion Methods

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When and how each of the current methods of abortion used in British abortion clinics were developed; and by whom; and[HL646]

    Whether any abortion techniques developed in Nazi concentration camps have been, or are currently being, used in British abortion clinics and hospitals; and[HL647]

    Whether they will seek to obtain from Yad Vashem in Jerusalem documentation concerning abortion techniques developed in Nazi concentration camps using Jewish and gypsy prisoners; and[HL648]

25 Feb 1998 : Column WA98

    Whether they will seek to obtain from the United States Holocaust Memorial Council and Museum documentation concerning abortion techniques developed in Nazi concentration camps using Jewish and gypsy prisoners.[HL649]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Precise information on when and how each of the current methods of abortion used in British hospitals and clinics was developed, and by whom, is not available. We have no information on whether any abortion techniques developed in Nazi concentration camps have been, or are currently being, used in British hospitals and clinics.

Clinicians are concerned to ensure that their practice is safe and acceptable, as judged by an authoritative and responsible body of professional opinion. The development and adoption of methods of treatment, including treatment for abortion, is informed and guided by continuing critical appraisal of the findings of research reported in authoritative journals.

Burford Community Hospital

Lord Walton of Detchant asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they support the proposal of the Oxfordshire Health Authority to close the Burford Community Hospital, which serves both in-patients and out-patients in West Oxfordshire and where a major capital building programme to provide a day unit, costing £210,000, was completed and opened in April 1997.[HL669]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Oxfordshire Health Authority and Oxfordshire Community Health National Health Service Trust are currently reviewing community hospitals with the aim of providing a fairer distribution of resources across the county while achieving essential savings of £1.5 million over four years.

The proposals will be considered at a joint board meeting on 25 February and the suggested options will then be subject to a three-month period of public consultation, when everyone will be able to make their views known.


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