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NCIS Service Authority: Assets

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under the provisions of Article 4(1) of the Police Act 1997 (Commencement No. 5 and Transitional Provisions) Order 1998, we have given notice to the Service Authority for the National

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Criminal Intelligence Service that certain Crown assets will be transferred to it, with effect from 1 April 1998. The transfer will be free of charge. The assets comprise:

AssetsEstimated value (£000)
Information technology and communications equipment3,147
Vehicles1,049
Furniture and miscellaneous items of office equipment313
Technical equipment208
Total4,717

In addition, my right honourable friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has given notice to

the Service Authority for the National Criminal Intelligence Service that he will transfer to it, on the same day and free of charge, vehicles with an estimated value of £301,000.


Police Information Technology Organisation: Assets

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assets will be transferred to the Police Information Technology Organisation on its establishment as a Non-Departmental Public Body under the Police Act 1997.[HL1347]

Lord Williams of Mostyn: Under the provisions of Article 4(1)(a) of the Police Act 1997 (Commencement No. 5 and Transitional Provisions) Order 1998, we have given notice to the Police Information Technology Organisation that certain Crown assets will be transferred to it, with effect from 1 April 1998, to coincide with its establishment as a Non-Departmental Public Body. The transfer will be free of charge. The assets concerned comprise:

AssetsEstimated value (£000)
Hendon Data Centre12,023
Information technology equipment and software associated with the Police National Computer21,287
Other office information technology equipment and software2,277
Furniture and miscellaneous items of office equipment742
Vehicles23
Total36,352

Four Year-olds: Teacher Qualifications

Baroness Blatch asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will list the qualifications they recognise as being appropriate for the teaching of

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    4 year-olds; and whether they consider a Qualified Teacher Status, with a degree from a Higher Education Institution, to be essential to every school teaching such children.[HL1182]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): There is a range of qualifications held by staff working in early years settings which equip staff with the necessary skills to deliver government-funded nursery education for 4 year-olds, including Qualified Teacher Status. In the context of the promotion of both early education and childcare, the Government have asked the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, together with the relevant national training organisations, to examine the qualifications framework for the sector. It is the role of the national training organisations to ensure coherence of the qualifications framework and to promote the value of qualifications in the sector.

From September 1999, all early years settings which are part of an LEA's Early Years Development Plan will have access to a qualified teacher to help with the planning of activities and the assessment of children's progress towards achieving the "desirable learning outcomes".

Defence Communications Services Agency

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the Defence Communications Service to become a Defence Agency.[HL1350]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Gilbert): From 1 April 1998 the Defence Communication Services Agency, DCSA, is established as a Defence Agency. The DCSA will be responsible for the provision of information transfer services to meet defence needs. It will enable the MoD's requirements for national and international information transfer services to be focused on one primary provider. The DCSA's chief executive will be Major General A. J. Raper CBE and its headquarters will be at Corsham, Wiltshire. The agency will employ 899 military and 618 civilian staff at locations in the UK and Germany.

The creation of the Agency will improve defence communications by focusing on the delivery of customer services rather than simply communication systems. It will also offer scope for rationalisation and provide a clear line of accountability for service delivery. The DCSA's aim will be, "To provide its customers with the optimum end to end wide area information services to meet defence needs".

The chief executive has been set the following key targets for the first year of operation:


    1. To deliver communication services which achieve 100 per cent. of the systems output performance standards specified in the Baseline Service Document.

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    2. To introduce by December 1998 a process for measuring the delivery of information services, assessing their effectiveness by surveying customer satisfaction and to develop the criteria for establishing an output service efficiency baseline in both areas.


    3. To plan the means of meeting customers' future requirements through the preparation of a Business Development Programme by March 1999.


    4. To achieve 2 per cent. cost savings through efficiency measures and to seek to improve further the value for money of delivered services through the preparation by March 1999 of a management and efficiency programme which plans for rationalisation and reinvestment following reviews of:


    inherited responsibilities and resources;


    business unit boundaries;


    agency-wide business processes;


    and takes account of the outcome of the Strategic Defence Review.

Residential Care Homes and Nursing Homes: Fees Increase

Lord Monkswell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the future levels of regulatory fees for residential care homes and nursing homes.[HL1348]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Department of Health received 189 replies to the consultation document on increasing regulatory fees for residential care homes and nursing homes issued on 19 January. One hundred and six respondents agree that fees should be increased, although many of these felt that the proposed increases were insufficient. Of the other respondents, 80 felt the proposed increases were excessive and the remaining three did not express an opinion about the level of increases.

Having considered the responses carefully, we have decided that fees should be increased as proposed in the consultation document with effect from 1 May 1998. We will be laying the necessary regulations before Parliament to bring these increases into effect.

Geriatric Beds

Baroness Robson of Kiddington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the breakdown of geriatric beds between acute rehabilitation and long stay care following the announcement by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health on 5 November 1997 that 32,000 geriatric beds were available on the NHS.[HL1254]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Department of Health does not collect information on the breakdown of geriatric beds between acute rehabilitation and long

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stay care. The latest information that is available is given in the table.

Table: Average daily number of available beds in geriatric wards in National Health Service trusts in England, 1996-97

Number
Elderly: Normal Care(1)30,000
Elderly: Limited Care(2)2,000
Elderly: Total32,000

(1)Where resources permit the admission of patients who might need all but intensive therapy.

(2)Where nursing care rather than continuous medical care is provided.


Ministerial Letters: Writing Paper

Lord Lucas of Chilworth asked the Leader of the House:

    Under what circumstances it is appropriate for a Minister to respond to a point raised on the Second Reading of a Bill on House of Lords, rather than departmental, writing paper; whether such an answer has the same force in the former case as in the latter; and whether a copy of such a letter should be placed in the Library of the House in the usual way.[HL1133]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): It is for Ministers to decide which writing paper to use when responding to points made in debates in the House. The authority of a ministerial letter is not affected by the heading of the writing paper. It is for Ministers to decide in each case whether to place copies of letters in the Library; again, such decisions are not affected by the nature of the writing paper.

The noble Lord will be aware of the guidance in the Third Report from the Select Committee on the House of Lords Offices (9 December 1997, HL Paper 49) that "House of Lords stationery may be used for all correspondence relating to the work of the House".


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