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The Lord Bishop of Lincoln asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This information is not available in the form requested. Returns from Prison Service establishments indicate that, in 1998-99, the last year for which complete figures are readily available, there were 11,891 in-patient admissions to prison health care centres for reasons principally associated with mental ill health.

The Government are committed to improving standards of care and treatment for prisoners with mental health problems. All prisons and the local health authorities in which they are situated have been asked, in line with the programme of reform set out in The Future Organisation of Prison Healthcare (March 1999), by March 2001 at the latest, to assess jointly prisoners' health needs and identify appropriate services to meet them and effective means of delivery.

These should include in-reach into prisons from community health teams as part of the broader development of mental health services as set out in the National Service Framework for Mental Health. Implementation of improvements through individual prison health plans is scheduled to begin from April 2001, although reforms are well under way in a number of prisons already.

The NHS Plan includes commitments that, by 2004, the 5,000 prisoners with a serious mental illness who are at any one time in prison should be receiving more comprehensive mental health services; all prisoners with severe mental illness will be in receipt of treatment; no prisoner with serious mental illness will leave prison without a care plan and a care co-ordinator; and within the new NHS/Prison Service partnership some 300 additional staff will be employed.

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Complete information is not available in the form requested. The information in the table has been collated from a number of databases held centrally, based on returns from Prison Service establishments.

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Number of occasions inmates referred to dentist by prison medical officer.

    1996-97: 93,755

    1997-98: 104,718

    1998-99: 108,446

Information is not collected centrally about average waiting times to see a dentist.

In most cases dental services to prisoners are provided by visiting general dental practitioners working under NHS general dental services arrangements. Some individual prisons contract for dental services with another provider, usually the Community Dental Service, but sometimes with an individual dentist.

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What proportion of doctors employed by the Prison Service have general practitioner training. [HL7]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: This information is not available in the form requested.

Since 29 March 1999, any doctors newly appointed to undertake any kind of primary care in prisons have been required to hold a certificate from the Joint Committee on Postgraduate Training for General Practice (JCPTGP) or its equivalent.

A working group on prison doctors has been established which is expected to report to Ministers in summer 2001. This group will consider amongst other issues the qualifications and training needs of all doctors working in prisons.

The Lord Bishop of Lincoln asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the range of alternative therapies that are available to prisoners to supplement conventional medical treatments, at the latest possible date, broken down by establishment.[HL8]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: Prison Service establishments were instructed in November 1999 that only a limited range of alternative or complementary therapies (acupuncture, osteopathy, chiropractic, yoga and meditation) may be made available to individual prisoners, on the recommendation of the prison doctor. Other such therapies may be made available only in circumstances where a good case can be shown and with the prior approval of the joint Prison Health Policy Unit. Information is not routinely collected centrally about the provision of alternative or complementary therapies at individual establishments under these arrangements.

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Electoral Procedures: Pilot Schemes

Lord Bruce of Donington asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What pilot schemes of electoral procedures they have approved for the local elections in May 2001.[HL87]

Lord Bassam of Brighton: My right honourable friend the Home Secretary has approved the following pilot scheme applications for May 2001:

Hertfordshireelectronic counting (2 divisions)
Norfolkall-postal ballot (7 divisions)
Readingall-postal ballot (3 wards)
Staffordshireall-postal ballot (8 divisions)
West Sussexall-postal ballot (1 division)

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: Annual Report

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will publish the Annual Report of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority. [HL59]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has published its ninth annual report. The report has been laid before the House in accordance with the requirements of Section 7(3) of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Copies have been placed in the Library.

Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000: Implementation

Baroness Hilton of Eggardon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they intend to implement the provisions of the Children (Leaving Care) Act 2000. [HL60]

Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The Children (Leaving Care) Act received Royal Assent on 30 November. Local authorities will need sufficient time to prepare thoroughly for implementation once the regulations and guidance are published. Following representations from local government, the Action on Aftercare Consortium (AOAC), Association of Directors of Social Services (ADSS), Local Government Association and others, we have therefore decided that the legislation will take effect from October 2001, to allow sufficient time for these processes. In the meantime, we shall continue to use the Quality Protects programme and the Quality Protects Special Grant to encourage and finance local authorities' work to bring their local policies into line with the Act and to put systems in place to be ready for full implementation. My right honourable friend the

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Deputy Prime Minister will shortly be announcing revised details of Revenue Support Grant allocations for 2001-02.

BSE in Continental Europe: Counter-measures

Lord Morris of Castle Morris asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of discussions on combating the spread of BSE in Europe at the Agriculture Council on 20 and 21 November and the special meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers on 4 December.[HL61]

The Minister of State, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (Baroness Hayman): My right honourable friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food represented the United Kingdom at the Agriculture Council on 20 and 21 November and the special meeting of EU Agriculture Ministers in Brussels on 4 December.

The special meeting had been called to follow up and build upon the measures to combat the spread of BSE decided at the November Council's meeting in response to developments in several continental member states. As a result of the decisions at these two Councils, as well as those taken in the interim by the Commission under its own powers, the EU has put in place in the 14 other member states strengthened protection against BSE which in key respects reflects measures already applying in the UK.

At its November meeting the Council agreed to introduce BSE testing for bovine animals of over 30 months that were either at risk or entering the food chain.

On 21 November the Standing Veterinary Committee voted in favour of a Commission proposal giving effect to the Council agreement by requiring among other things random samples of at risk animals--6,500 in GB and 2,500 in NI annually--to be tested from 1 January 2001, and by requiring all animals over 30 months of age which we slaughtered for human consumption to be tested by a rapid BSE test from 1 July 2001.

On 30 November the SVC agreed Commission proposals to extend the definition of specified risk materials to include all bovine intestines. This has relatively little effect in the UK, where bovine intestines of animals over six months were already defined as SRM.

More recently, the special December Council further extended these public health protection measures and also took steps to restore consumer confidence in European beef and support the market.

By qualified majority (Germany and Finland opposing) the Council adopted a proposal temporarily extending across the EU the prohibition on the feeding of mammalian meat and bone meal to all farm animals, introducing similar prohibitions related to most other processed animal and poultry products and prohibiting the use of fishmeal in ruminant rations.

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The Council also agreed to support a scheme for the removal from the market of over thirty month animals which have not been tested for BSE. By analogy with the over thirty month scheme already applying in the UK, this will both aid public health by preventing untested older animals from reaching consumers and

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support the market by removing from sale animals which, in the current low state of consumer confidence in Europe, have no viable outlet. The detailed rules of the scheme will be discussed at a Beef Management Committee meeting on 12 December with a view to coming into force on 1 January.

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