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(2) what the additional cost, over the costs for Community Health Councils, will be of establishing the Patient Advocate and Liaison Service structure. 
Ms Stuart: Chapter 10 of the NHS plan proposed that community health councils be abolished and new structures set in place to increase patient and citizen empowerment across all sectors of the health service. Following the launch of the NHS plan in July a public undertaking was given to involve national and local stakeholder groups in developing the detail of the new structures. A series of seminars through November and December have been held. These seminars focused on the various elements of the new arrangements and involved key representative groups. A clear statement of the outcome of the exercise will be given in the new year.
Ms Stuart: Chapter 10 of the NHS plan proposed that community health councils be abolished and that new structures set in place to increase patient and citizen empowerment across all sectors of the health service. A number of representations have been received about the future of CHCs and the new structures.
A series of national and regional seminars focusing on the various elements of the new arrangements and involving key national and local representative groups have been held in November and December. A clear statement of the outcome of the exercise will be given early in the new year.
Mrs. Ewing: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will detail the services and provision made available by his Department in England to those diagnosed with autistic spectrum disorder. 
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Mr. Hutton [holding answer 18 December 2000]: It is the responsibility of local statutory authorities to determine the pattern of services in their area in the light of their knowledge of local needs and priorities.
The Department has issued guidance to encourage the development, at a local level, of a range of well co-ordinated health and social services for people with learning disabilities and autism and their carers.
Mr. Gill: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the effect on abattoir numbers of increased meat inspection charges scheduled for introduction in April 2001. 
Ms Stuart [holding answer 18 December 2000]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that it has not made any official assessment of the impact on abattoir numbers of any increase in overall inspection charges arising from the planned introduction of full veterinary inspection supervision in full throughout abattoirs from April 2001. However, the Meat Inspection Charges Task Force, which reported to the FSA in June this year, concluded that this, in conjunction with the existing meat inspection charging arrangements, would lead to the
Ms Stuart [holding answer 18 December 2000]: Our response to the report of the Meat Inspection Charges Task Force was made on 28 November when, in the context of the publication of the Rural White Paper, it announced new additional aid worth £8.7 million in 2001-02 to offset meat inspection costs in order to secure the future of small and medium sized abattoirs.
I am advised that, as a consequence, the Food Standards Agency will consult early in the new year on the secondary legislation necessary and on how it proposes to implement with effect from April 2001 the Task Force's main recommendation to change the basis of the meat inspection charges system.
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potential receiving clinicians have agreed that transfer is appropriate and in respect of whom my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has, where necessary, consented to transfer.
Helen Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made in developing a national strategy for women in need of secure hospital accommodation; and if he will make a statement. 
Mr. Hutton [holding answer 18 December 2000]: Work is under way on the development of a strategy aimed at providing safe, appropriate and secure services that meet the needs of women patients. The strategy should be completed by October 2001 at the latest.
Mr. Paice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the impact on the future of small and medium sized abattoirs of (a) the resources announced in the Rural White Paper and (b) the proposals of the Maclean Committee. 
Ms Stuart [holding answer 18 December 2000]: I am advised by the Food Standards Agency that the Meat Inspection Charges Task Force (the Maclean Committee) concluded that the Government should provide some degree of financial support in order to prevent the closure of large numbers of small and medium sized abattoirs and cutting plants. It therefore recommended that the current method of charging for meat inspections on an hourly rate basis should be changed and that, instead, all abattoirs and cutting plants should be charged the lower of either the standard (headage/throughput) fees laid down in the EU Charges Directive or their actual inspection costs (subject to the minimum charge of 45 per cent. of the standard headage/throughput charges, as required by the Directive).
We have accepted this recommendation. The additional aid announced on 28 November in the context of the publication of the Rural White Paper (£8.7 million in 2001-02) together with the existing subsidy on meat inspection charges (£9 million in 2001-02) will help to fund implementation of the new method of charging. Any shortfall in the funding will be met from within Food Standards Agency resources.
The Task Force considered that acceptance of this recommendation by the Government would ensure that Meat Hygiene Service inspection charges were not the main reason for plants going out of business, which appeared to the Task Force to be the case under the existing charging system. However, the Task Force also considered that implementing its recommendation would not in itself keep uncompetitive meat plants in existence.
The PPRS: Fourth Report to Parliament covers both the conclusion of the 1993 scheme and the operation of the first year of the new scheme from October 1999. It provides an insight into the running of the PPRS; reports
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on the Government's broad objectives for the 1999 scheme; and describes the principal features of the new scheme, including the benefits for the National Health Service and the British pharmaceutical industry.
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