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Arable Area Payments: Field Margin Measurement

Lord Marlesford asked Her Majesty's Government:

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The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): Agriculture ministries in most or all member states and regions of the European Union supply IACS claimants with area information about their land. This may take the form of a map, an aerial photograph, a printout showing areas of fields claimed in the previous year, or a combination of more than one of these. However, it is only farmers themselves who are in a position to determine the actual proportion of the total area of their land that they are entitled to use as the basis of their IACS claims each year, and throughout the EU it is they who are responsible for ascertaining what those areas are. The IACS regulations, rightly in the Government's view, do not prescribe uniformity in the determination of areas used for the basis of aid claims.

Instead, member states have the option of allowing farmers to claim, where appropriate, the total area of a field as shown on an official map or alternatively the area actually utilised. The option of claiming the total field area has been of value to UK farmers, since it avoids the need for them to incur costs associated with determining actual cropped areas, but the European Commission has indicated that its continued availability can only be justified if the extent of uncropped areas around field margins is kept within reasonable limits.

Long-term Care of the Elderly

Lord Lipsey asked Her Majesty's Government:

    (a) when they plan to announce their response to the Royal Commission on long-term care of the elderly;

    (b) whether they have received any representations on the Royal Commission's report; and, if so, how many; and

    (c) whether any such representations opposed the regulation of long-term care insurance; and, if so, how many.[HL1213]

The Parliamentary Under-Secreatry of State, Department of Helath (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Secretary of State for Health announced in another place on 2 December that the Government were broadly accepting one of the Royal Commission's main recommendations by establishing a National Care Standards Commission. We are also implementing several of the Royal Commission's other recommendations--such as extending direct payments to people over 65. We are looking at more costly changes as part of the Year 2000 Spending Review, which will be completed this summer. We will then publish a White Paper.

A large number of representations to the Government on a variety of issues refer to long-term care. Nine hundred and eighty letters to the

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Department of Health have specifically focused on the Royal Commission's report. Many of the representations have broadly supported the recommendations in the Royal Commission's majority report; others have been critical and some have put forward alternative proposals. The Government will be exploring with the financial industry how they could best design long-term care insurance products to make them attractive to a wider audience.

NHS Doctors: Resignations

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many doctors, other than those who have reached retirement age, have ceased to work for the National Health Service in the years 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999; what percentage of working doctors this figure represents for the year in question; and what is the split of this figure between men and women doctors.[HL1216]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The information requested is not collected centrally.

Former NHS Doctors: Resumption of Employment

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to encourage doctors who have ceased to work for the National Health Service, other than those who have retired, to return to National Health Service practice.[HL1217]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Government are making progress on modernising services and modernising employment practice in the National Health Service to retain staff. We are developing more supportive, flexible and family friendly working practices; extending and improving investment in lifelong learning and professional development; tackling violence and racism in the workplace; and involving staff in the way services are delivered and in the changes and developments that affect their working lives.

In particular, the salaried doctors scheme will enable doctors to work in general practice, who would otherwise have to buy into a practice: improvements to the general practitioner retainer scheme will increase the hours that GPs can work while out of mainstream employment and enhance the educational component to ease future reintegration into the workforce; and the Personal Medical Services Primary Care Act pilots will enable a flexible range of employment opportunities to be offered and the development of new ways in which services are delivered.

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NHS Sickness Absence 1998-99

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the average number of days of sickness absence taken by (a) nurses; (b) healthcare assistants and nursing auxiliaries; and (c) other employees, in each National Health Service Trust for each Health Service Region in the years 1998 and 1999.[HL1218]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The information available centrally is shown in the table. We have agreed national improvement targets in sickness absence rates of 20 per cent. by 2001 and 30 per cent. by 2003.

Average sickness absence rates and estimated number of days of sickness absence for directly employed NHS staff
England 1998-99

RegionNumber of staff (thousand WTE)Average sickness absence rate (%)Estimated annual number of days of sickness absence (million)
All staff7304.6%7.8
Qualified nursing & midwifery (N&M) staff2455.2%2.9
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants1037.0%1.7
Other staff3813.8%3.4
All staff634.4%0.6
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff215.2%0.3
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants116.7%0.2
Other staff323.5%0.3
All staff1224.3%1.2
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff425.0%0.5
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants136.0%0.2
Other staff663.3%0.5
North West
All staff1074.6%1.1
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff375.7%0.5
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants157.0%0.2
Other staff553.6%0.4
Northern & Yorkshire
All staff994.7%1.1
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff345.2%0.4
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants136.0%0.2
Other staff524.2%0.5
South East
All staff1104.0%1.0
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff364.3%0.4
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants155.5%0.2
Other staff593.5%0.5
South West
All staff714.4%0.7
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff245.0%0.3
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants126.7%0.2
Other staff363.5%0.3
All staff775.5%1.0
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff255.6%0.3
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants128.7%0.2
Other staff404.8%0.4
West Midlands
All staff805.1%0.9
Qualified nursing & midwifery staff265.4%0.3
Unqualified N&M staff and healthcare assistants128.3%0.2
Other staff424.2%0.4


Estimated days off from sickness absence are based on 230 working days per year per full-time employee.


Department of Health's September 1998 Sickness absence, accidents and violence survey.

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Local Election Pilot Schemes

Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Which pilot schemes have been approved for the May 2000 local elections.[HL 1146]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Provisional approval has been given to the schemes that follow. A final decision will be taken on each scheme once the Representation of the People Bill has received Royal Assent. Early voting Blackburn Blackpool Chester Coventry Kingston upon Hull Knowsley (three wards) Manchester Norwich* Pendle Plymouth Redditch St Helens (six wards) Stoke on Trent Sunderland* Telford and the Wrekin (two wards) Watford* All-postal ballots Bolton (three wards) Doncaster (one ward) Gateshead (two wards) Norwich (two wards)* Salford (one ward)* Stevenage (two wards) Swindon (four wards) Wigan (three wards) Electronic Voting/counting Broxbourne Bury (one ward) Salford (two wards)* Stratford on Avon Three Rivers Warrington Extension of postal vote entitlement Amber Valley (two wards) Eastleigh Gloucester (three wards) Milton Keynes Extension of hours of poll Leeds Mole Valley

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Mobile polling facility Norwich* Sunderland (eight wards)* Watford* Windsor and Maidenhead (two wards) Weekend voting Watford* Freepost Watford* *Councils running more than one scheme.

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