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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Whitty): The Market Town initiative, announced in the Rural White Paper in 2000, continues to make progress, even if in some areas slower than in others. In Alnwick the main limitation on fund availability has been the time taken to put forward its action plans and projects. However, the long-term benefit and the effectiveness of local plans are what matter most.
One North East, the Development Agency for the north east region, has set aside £2.6 million for the initiative in Northumberland over the three years 200102 to 200304. This will be allocated to the eight towns in the regional programmeincluding Alnwickaccording to the quality of the projects put forward to the Northumberland Strategic Partnership by the individual town partnerships. One North East's single programme has been allocated sufficient funds for the initiative to continue indefinitely after 2004.
Lord Whitty: Horticulture Research International (HRI) is the subject of a quinquennial review which is examining its performance and organisational status. The report of the independent review team was published on 23 September for public consultation. The department is currently considering stakeholder comments and we expect to announce the way forward shortly. We are seeking to work closely with HRI and its stakeholders to ensure that the organisation has a viable future.
Lord Whitty: On 11 September 2000 Horticulture Research International (HRI) announced the closure of its operation at Stockbridge House, North Yorkshire as part of a restructuring of its business agreed with the then Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF).
MAFF, as owner of the site, subsequently made arrangements to sell the land on the open market. This was in accordance with Treasury rules which require departments to dispose of surplus assets at the best price reasonably obtainable in the market. Following HRI's withdrawal from the site on 31 March 2001, MAFF allowed Stockbridge Technology Centre to
The land was subsequently sold to Stockbridge Technology Centre, which made the best offer. The district valuer considered that its offer was fair and reasonable. The sale was handled by professional agents acting on behalf of the department.
Ministers and officials were involved in a number of discussions with HRI and others concerning the events described above. However, they did not "bring about" the sale of the land to the current owner. As explained, the land was sold in accordance with Treasury procedures for the disposal of surplus assets.
What is the number of disabled children in the United Kingdom.[HL6]
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys research published in 1989 estimated that overall there were 360,000 children under the age of 16 in Great Britain who had one or more disabilities.
Of these, the survey estimated that 91.2 per cent of these children lived with their parents, 0.6 per cent with other relatives, 2.4 per cent in foster homes and 4.4 per cent attending boarding schools either as termly or weekly boarders, while 1.5 per cent lived in communal establishments. (NB. Does not add to 100 per cent owing to rounding.)
The Children's National Service Framework (NSF)External Working Group developing standards for disabled children is considering as part of its work how best to improve the statistical information available on disabled children.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: A wide range of family support services is provided by the local authorities and the health service. Services include advice, guidance and counselling; short-term breaks; day care; home help; domiciliary care; nursing and medical support; social events and outings for parents and children; child care and family centres. The Government, through various programmes, including implementation of the NHS Plan and Quality
There is also a range of welfare benefits available to families to help with the additional costs of caring for disabled children, depending on their individual circumstances. These include disability living allowance and invalid care allowance. In addition, the Government fund the Family Fund Trust (FFT) which supports families of severely disabled children under 16 with grants for items such as holidays and leisure breaks, washing machines and tumble dryers, bedding and clothing. The FFT operates throughout the United Kingdom. The Government are funding the charity Contact a Family to run a free national telephone help and advice line for disabled children, parents and carers.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: The United Kingdom is a signatory to the 1967 European Convention on the Adoption of Children, which restricts joint adoption to married couples. In the light of the Adoption and Children Act 2002, it is the Government's intention to denounce this outdated convention.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Quarterly national emergency re-admission and delayed discharge headline figures are made available on the Department of Health's website. The address is http://www.doh.uk/nhsquarterlyreview.
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: It is for individual national committees to decide, in the context of the issues under discussion, whether representatives from commercial manufacturers should be invited to address a committee or take part in a review.
How many extra (1) consultants and (2) school nurses have been recruited in (a) England and (b) Wales to tackle attention deficit hyperactivity disorder cases.[HL37]
Lord Hunt of Kings Heath: Figures are not available concerning consultants and school nurses who have expertise in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The figures that are available for England are shown in the table and show an increase in the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists to date of 40 (9 per cent) since 1997.
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Source: Department of Health Medical and Dental Workforce Census.
Notes: Figures refer to staff in post on 31 March 2002 in the hospital, public health and community health service sectors in England.