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Defra: Helen Ghosh

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Lord Bach): Following an open competition, Helen Ghosh was appointed Permanent Secretary to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on 7 November 2005 for an indefinite period. In line with other Permanent Secretaries, her appointment is expected to continue for a term of about four years.

Baroness Byford asked Her Majesty's Government:

Lord Bach: Helen Ghosh, who was appointed Permanent Secretary on 7 November, is employed and paid on a part-time basis of four and a half days (32 hours) a week instead of five days (37 hours full-time rate). We welcomed Helen Ghosh's proposal to work part time: it bears out the Government's belief in the value of flexible working and demonstrates commitment to provide opportunities for all employees to achieve a better work-life balance.
 
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Helen Ghosh's contract mirrors other senior civil servants' contracts in that it states that her working pattern may be varied by agreement, or as the requirements of the post dictate. She is also required to work such additional hours as may from time to time be reasonable and necessary for the efficient performance of her duties but she is not entitled to the payment of any extra hours worked beyond 37 hours.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995: Mobility Aids

Lord Berkeley asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Work and Pensions (Lord Hunt of Kings Heath): There are several types of cycles on the market designed for use by disabled people. However, we have made no assessment of the extent to which they, or other forms of cycles, are used as mobility aids and information to inform such an assessment is not held centrally. The extent to which cycles benefit the mobility of disabled people when compared with other forms of mobility aids has therefore not been determined.

Similarly, we have made no assessment of the status of cycles as a mobility aid in relation to duties under Part 3 or Part 5 of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995.

Part 3 of the Act includes provisions which place duties on service providers not to discriminate against disabled people and to make reasonable adjustments for disabled people in the way that they provide their services. Since 5 December 2005, the duties in Part 3 have started to be extended in stages to more areas, including private clubs, public bodies in their carrying out of public functions, and letting of premises. An adjustment for a disabled person who required a cycle as a mobility aid would need to be considered by those with duties under the Act when deciding what may be a reasonable adjustment to make. Factors such as the cost and practicability of making an adjustment, and the resources available to the service provider, private club or landlord may be taken into account in deciding what is reasonable in any individual situation.

Part 5 of the Act concerns accessibility regulations for all land-based public transport (trains, buses, coaches and taxis) rather than private modes of transport.
 
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Driving Offences: Fixed Penalty Notices

Viscount Simon asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): Available information held centrally in England and Wales and Scotland on the number of fixed penalty notices issued does not distinguish the offence of failure to identify the driver of a motor vehicle, contrary to Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988, from other types of offence. The information requested is not presently collated in Northern Ireland.

Drug and Alcohol Treatment: Residential Services

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Minister of State, Home Office (Baroness Scotland of Asthal): There are presently 122 residential treatment centres for adult drug and alcohol misusers in England and Wales with a total of 2,595 beds. A breakdown by region and gender is shown in the table below.
RegionNumber of centresTotal number of bedsNumber of male only bedsNumber of female only beds
North-east4110289
North-west193207949
Yorkshire and Humberside81762412
East Midlands44966
West Midlands351244
East of England6148625
London214537128
South-east2554613518
South-west28695211112
Wales44712
Total12212,595258432754




Further information is available from the National Treatment Agency's online residential treatment directory.


The Department of Health and National Treatment Agency have plans to increase the number of beds from 2006-07 but it is not possible to say


1 Nine are drug only and 11 alcohol only.


2 116 are drug only and 188 alcohol only.


3 38 are drug only and four alcohol only.


4 Six are drug only and four alcohol only.






East Jerusalem

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Sainsbury of Turville): As my right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary said after the General Affairs and External Relations Council on 12 December, we discussed the EU analysis on east Jerusalem submitted to Ministers by heads of mission in the region as well as by various committees here in Brussels. We decided, given the changed circumstances in Israel and the occupied territories, that this would not be endorsed or published and instead that we would continue to make strong representations to the government of Israel about the matter in the normal way.

Education: Ability and Talent

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Education and Skills (Lord Adonis): "Ability" is defined in statute by Section 99(5)(b) of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as,

The National Foundation for Educational Research has produced a widely accepted definition of ability:

The Government's policies on gifted and talented education support learners with one or more abilities developed to a level significantly ahead of their year group in their school, as well as those with the potential to develop abilities to such a level. In this context, "gifted and talented" has been used to denote abilities in one or more curriculum subjects, in creative arts and in sports.


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