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8 Dec 1999 : Column WA87

Written Answers

Wednesday, 8th December 1999.

Law Commission

Lord Carlile of Berriew asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they are satisfied with the performance by the Law Commission of its statutory functions and with the progress towards legislation on the commission's reports.[HL94]

The Lord Chancellor (Lord Irvine of Lairg) : The Government recognise the value of the contribution to law reform made by the Law Commission. Where implementing Law Commission reports requires legislation, it is necessary for Law Commission Bills to be considered in the context of the Government's legislative programme as a whole. David Lock MP, one of my Parliamentary Secretaries, will chair a Committee of Ministers whose role is to develop a greater alignment between the Law Commission's programme of work and the Government's priorities for legislation, and to consider the way forward on outstanding Law Commission reports. Meanwhile, the Government continue to bring forward Law Commission Bills when parliamentary time permits. The Government have successfully legislated on two Law Commission reports this year: the Trustee Delegation Act 1999 and the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999. Another Law Commission Bill, the Trustee Bill, forms part of the Government's current programme.

Diabetic Care in the NHS

Baroness Massey of Darwen asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have for the development of diabetic care on the NHS. [HL282]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Expert Reference Group, which will advise my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health on the development of the National Service Framework for diabetes, met for the first time today. The group is co-chaired by Professor Mike Pringle, Chair of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and Mr Peter Houghton, Regional Director of the Eastern Regional Office of the National Health Service Executive.

Membership of the Expert Reference Group is as follows:

    Professor George Alberti, President of the Royal College of Physicians

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    Mr Zac Arif, Chief Executive of Teddington Memorial Hospital

    Ms Debbie Bamford, Chief Executive of Woking Primary Care Group

    Dr Peter Betts, Paediatrician from Southampton General Infirmary

    Mr Ian Donnachie, Chief Executive of Bradford Health Authority

    Dr Azhar Farooqui, General Practitioner and Primary Care Group Clinical Governance Lead, Leicester

    Dr Owain Gibby, Diabetologist, Royal Gwent Hospital

    Dr Trisha Greenhalgh, General Practitioner, London

    Ms Geeta Patel, a user of diabetes services and mother of triplets, Wolverhampton

    Dr Veena Soni Raleigh, Epidemiologist and Researcher, National Institute of Epidemiology

    Mr John Rostill, Chief Executive, Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust

    Mr Paul Streets, Chief Executive, British Diabetic Association

    Ms Sheridan Waldron, Dietitian, Leicester

    Ms Rosemary Walker, Diabetes Specialist Nurse, Suffolk and Chair, Royal College of Nursing Diabetes Nursing Forum

    Professor Rhys Williams, Professor of Epidemiology and Public Health, Nuffield Institute for Health, Leeds

    Dr Bob Young, Diabetologist, Hope Hospital, Salford.

Another user of diabetes services will be brought on to the group early in the New Year.

The scope of the diabetes National Service Framework will be broad, covering prevention, identification and management of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes, surveillance for and management of the complications that result from diabetes, including rehabilitation and continuing care, and the management of diabetes in pregnancy.

The diabetes National Service Framework will be published in 2001. It will ensure that top quality standards of care and treatment for diabetes are available in all primary care, local hospitals and specialist centres. This programme presents an opportunity to define practical, implementable and sustainable standards for the delivery of care, focused on the needs of people with diabetes. This will help us to eliminate unacceptable variations in care, while improving the overall quality of services. The diabetes National Service Framework will pay particular heed to the needs of those who are disproportionately affected by diabetes, such as people from ethnic minority communities.

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Electro Convulsive Therapy

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether in the context of their review of the Mental Health Act 1983 they are considering the amendment of Section 62, which permits electro-convulsive therapy to be administered to a patient without his or her consent; and, if so, in what way.[HL190]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): On 16 November the Government published a consultation paper on the reform of the Mental Health Act 1983; copies of which are available in the Library.

We are inviting views on the safeguards that should apply to the use of Electro Convulsive Therapy (ECT) generally, as a part of this consultation. We have also specifically asked respondents to consider whether this treatment should continue to be available on any future equivalent of Section 62, which concerns the administration of urgent treatment.

We are satisfied that, on the available evidence, ECT is a form of treatment that can save the lives of those suffering from severe, generally psychotic depression. However, we recognise the strong feelings that ECT arouses; that is why we are consulting on the level of safeguards appropriate to its use.

Joint Military Operations and Anti-personnel Mines

Baroness Williams of Crosby asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What joint operations or exercises involving United Kingdom forces have taken place outside the United Kingdom since 1 March with members of the armed forces of states that are not parties to the Ottawa Convention; and how many such joint operations involved the use or planning of the use of anti-personnel mines.[HL90]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): UK forces have taken part in seven joint operations and 36 joint exercises outside the UK since 1 March with members of the armed forces of states that are not party to the Ottawa Convention. None of these joint operations or exercises involved the use of anti-personnel mines.

Armed Forces Operational Ration Packs

Eark Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many 24-hour operational ration packs have been issued by the Ministry of Defence for operations and training in each of the last five years; and at what annual rate they are planned to be issued during each quarter of the year 2000.[HL109]

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Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: Records for the issue of 24-hour operational ration packs for operations and training prior to 1997 are incomplete. Figures are collated on the basis of the financial year rather than the calendar year; in 1997-98 a total of 1.2 million rations were issued and in 1998-99 ration issues totalled 1.6 million. We expect 1.9 million rations to be issued in 1999-2000 and 1.2 million in 2000-01. It is not possible to forecast precisely a quarterly rate of issue, as this depends on operational deployments and training demands, but issues of between 280,000 and 320,000 per quarter in 2000-01 would be expected.

Earl Attlee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How the man-day's holdings of Ministry of Defence operational ration packs have varied in percentage terms between May 1997 and November 1999 taking May 1997 as 100 per cent.[HL110]

Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean: As at November 1999, total stocks of operational ration packs have reduced by 7 per cent compared against the equivalent stockholding position in May 1997.

Political Honours Scrutiny Committee

The Earl of Northesk asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether a trustee of or contributor to a ministerial blind trust may be appointed to the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee.[HL6]

The Minister of State, Cabinent Office (Lord Falconer of Thoroton): Appointments to the Political Honours Scrutiny Committee are made by Order of the Privy Council on the advice of the Prime Minister. In offering his advice, the Prime Minister seeks to ensure that the committee's impartiality and political balance are maintained.


Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether their past experience of EDS computers has been satisfactory.[HL12]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: Each of the contracts which the Government has with EDS has measures of performance which are appropriate to the services to be provided in the individual case. Monitoring performance against those measures is the responsibility of the department concerned and is carried out throughout the life of each contract. The full range of the information produced by this monitoring is not held centrally.

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Ministerial Training

Lord Norton of Louth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What training is provided for Ministers of the Crown in the running of government departments.[HL46]

Lord Falconer of Thoroton: The Centre for Management and Policy Studies in the Cabinet Office is developing a programme for Ministers to support their work including an introductory seminar for new Ministers and joint seminars with senior officials to explore issues such as policy making.

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