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The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Home Office (Lord Williams of Mostyn): The review of the Treatment of Vulnerable or Intimidated Witnesses has now been completed and copies of the report of the Interdepartmental Working Group, which is being published for consultation purposes, will be placed in the Library tomorrow.
Lord Sewel: Three health boards are considering pilot schemes for integrating all aspects of the continence services provided to patients in their area. Under these schemes the needs of patients would be assessed by clinical specialists in continence, in accordance with national guidelines, giving patients improved access to products appropriate to their needs.
There are no direct costs to community pharmacists as a result of these proposals, although there is a potential loss of revenue in terms of dispensing fees. The purpose of the pilots is to explore the most cost-effective means of providing improved incontinence services to patients.
The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): We have decided to implement the remaining provisions of Part III of the Disability Discrimination Act in two stages.
From October 1999, service providers will have to take reasonable steps to change practices, policies or procedures which make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service; provide auxiliary aids or services which would enable disabled people to use a service; and overcome physical barriers by providing a service by a reasonable alternative method.
From 2004, service providers will have to take reasonable steps to remove, alter, or provide reasonable means of avoiding physical features that make it impossible or unreasonably difficult for disabled people to use a service.
In reaching our decision on the timetable for implementation, we have taken full account of advice from the National Disability Council, from organisations of and for disabled people and from business. We have also considered the responses to the 1996 consultation exercise. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Employment and Equal Opportunities has today written to the National Disability Council asking them to review the code of practice in order to take account of the new duties on service providers. I anticipate that public consultation on the council's revised code of practice and the Government's proposals for a small number of regulations under the Act will begin no later than the beginning of August 1998 and last for three months.
Baroness Blackstone: The average size of primary classes in maintained schools taught by one teacher was 27.7 pupils in January 1998 (provisional), compared with 27.5 in January 1997. This reflects budget decisions taken by the previous government. Average infant class sizes will fall this September as we have allocated £22 million in specific grants to local education authorities to reduce infant class sizes and £40 million for capital to build additional classrooms. This will enable schools to employ around 1,500 teachers and build an extra 600 classrooms, to the benefit of over 100,000 pupils who will be kept out of large classes.
Baroness Blackstone: The Government announced in November 1997 their plans to consult on the law relating to the use of physical punishment by parents. The Government are also currently consulting on the future framework of regulatory standards for early education and daycare. The structure of the new regulatory framework will be informed by the outcome of the consultation on the law. In advance of the outcome of these consultations, the Government have no plans to withdraw the Department of Health's Circular LAC (94)23, responsibility for which has now been assumed by the Department for Education and Employment.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): We have today announced the introduction of new non-statutory procedures for authorising marine dredging. They are intended to address concerns raised previously by the Crown Estate, environmental organisations and the
We also announced that the Government intend to introduce statutory procedures for authorising the extraction of minerals by marine dredging by March 1999. These will implement the requirements of EEC Directive 85/337/EEC (as amended by EEC Directive 11/97/EEC) on Environmental Impact Assessment in so far as it applies to the extraction of minerals by marine dredging. There will be appropriate consultation on the provisions.
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): Reports of literature reviews addressing the following aspects have now been submitted to the Department of Health in their final form following peer review:
Psychological and Psychiatric Aspects--Dr. Andrew Johns (Institute of Psychiatry)
Therapeutic Aspects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids--Dr. Philip Robson (Oxford University)
Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Government's approach to pay is part of our wider economic strategy aimed at ensuring a future with low inflation, rising living standards and higher and stable levels of employment. Pay awards for National Health Service staff will be considered within this context.
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