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Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists Abortion Guidelines

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The impartiality of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists National evidence-based clinical guideline on the care of women requesting induced abortion was ensured by its production method. The guideline was prepared using an accepted methodology based upon a thorough and systematic literature search. The recommendations were graded according to the level of evidence, using a scheme recommended by the National Health Service Executive. There was also formal peer review of the document and appraisal by the Health Care Evaluation Unit at St George's Hospital, which has been commissioned by the NHS Executive to appraise such guidelines.

Professor Collinge's Proposed Study: Involvement of Ethics Committee

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Ethics committees exist to review any proposed research projects involving human subjects with the aim of ensuring that the

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dignity, rights, safety and well-being of all actual or potential research participants are safeguarded. Such committees will consider the potential impact of any such research on the subjects both in the short term and, where relevant, in the long term. The Government believe that the goals of research, however important or time critical, should not be permitted to override the health, well-being and care of research participants.

As researchers make headway and results in due course start to emerge from this study, they will at the same time need careful interpretation before any conclusions are published. Findings from the study will have to be subject to the normal processes of validation and peer review by the relevant scientific experts, including the Spongiform Encephalopathy Advisory Committee.

CJD: Tests to Demonstrate Infection

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will permit insurance companies to require that candidates for life insurance be tested for incipient new-variant CJD.[HL1661]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Insurance companies would be unable to introduce such a step, as no acceptable test currently exists for the demonstration of infection before the onset of clinical symptoms.

Smoking and Food Preparation

Lord Laird asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 20 March (WA 12), which agencies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are responsible for the enforcement of the smoking prohibition where food is prepared for public consumption; and how many prosecutions have been brought in the last five years in each of the four areas.[HL1702]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Local authorities are responsible for enforcing food hygiene legislation prohibiting from smoking persons working in food preparation areas of food businesses. Information on the number of prosecutions in this respect is not held centrally. However, prosecution is not usually the initial response to contraventions of food hygiene legislation.

NHS Specialised Services: Annual Reports

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 29 February (WA 65-6), when the

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    advice on the structure and contents of the annual reports on the new regional specialised commissioning arrangements will be finalised.[HL1708]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The advice on the structure and content of regions' annual reports on commissioning specialised services has now been finalised and issued to regions. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 29 February (WA 65-6), what steps they are taking to ensure that their advice on the structure and contents of the annual reports on the new regional specialised commissioning arrangements are followed so that performance can be seen to be measured consistently across the National Health Service.[HL1709]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Regional directors are accountable for regional commissioning specialised arrangements and as such are responsible for ensuring that their region's annual report on commissioning specialised services conforms with advice given on the structure and content of annual reports.

Lord Clement-Jones asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by Lord Hunt of Kings Heath on 29 February (WA 65-6), whether they will circulate their advice on the structure and contents of the annual reports on the new regional specialised commissioning arrangements and the annual report of the National Specialist Commissioning Advisory Group to relevant user organisations and disability charities.[HL1710]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Regions have been asked to produce annual reports on the regional specialised commissioning arrangements. Individual regions' annual reports will be in the public domain and will be made available to local bodies including user organisations. Each region will be inviting comments on its annual report and as such there will be an opportunity for user organisations to comment on the structure and content of future annual reports.

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Jobseeker's Allowance: Disallowed and Sanctioned Claimants

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What were the findings of the qualitative research on disallowed and sanctioned claimants for jobseeker's allowance, mentioned by Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 17 March (HL Deb, col. 1917); and[HL1632]

    What information is contained in the research on disallowed and sanctioned claimants for jobseeker's allowance mentioned by Baroness Hollis of Heigham on 17 March (HL Deb, col. 1917) on the means of subsistance available to claimants so disallowed or sanctioned.[HL1633]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Social Security (Baroness Hollis of Heigham): The research to which the noble Earl, Lord Russell, refers has been published in a report entitled Jobseeker's Allowance Evaluation: Qualitative Research on Disallowed and Sanctioned Claimants. Phase Two: After Jobseeker's Allowance. Among other issues, the research explores clients' strategies for, and experiences of, coping financially following a disallowance or sanction. These strategies include claiming JSA hardship payments, and/or reliance upon support from informal sources.

The report was published on 16 November 1998 as DfEE Research Report No. 86, and a copy of the report was placed in the House of Lords Library on this date.

Reduced Benefit Directions for Parents with Care

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will set out in a table the number of reduced benefit directions currently in force against parents with care, the amount of the reduction, the duration of those directions and the total amount of benefit not paid.[HL1670]

Baroness Hollis of Heigham: The information is in the table.

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Details of Reduced Benefit Directions (RBD) at quarter ending (QE) November 1999

Quarter RBD was imposedNumber of whole quarters RBD in place to dateEstimated duration of RBD (weeks)Number of cases on 5% scan of Income Support Computer SystemNumber of cases (grossed up)Average weekly amount of benefit not paid (£)Estimated total benefit not paid up to QE Nov 99 (£,000)
Nov 9906.51392,78020.20365.0
Aug 99119.51112,22020.25876.6
May 99232.52775,54020.473,685.4
Feb 99345.53162020.06566.0
Nov 98458.53570019.94816.5
Aug 98571.53468020.09977.0
May 98684.51326020.56451.7
Feb 98797.51122020.56441.0
Nov 978110.51122020.56499.8
Aug 979123.51020020.56507.8
May 9710136.5918020.55505.0
Feb 9711149.548020.56245.9
All cases with RBD in place at Nov 9935.668513,70020.329,937.7

Notes:

1. Figures produced using ASD 5 per cent scan of Income Support Computer System, which is run at the end of Feb, May, Aug and Nov each year. Grossed figures are, therefore, subject to a degree of sampling error.

2. Scan does not hold start date when RBD imposed for each case, so taken to be mid-point of quarter.

3. Analysis may miss a small number of cases where RBD in place for only a very short period between the end of successive quarters.

4. Average amount includes cases where the full RBD cannot be deducted.


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