In the House...
Speeches and parliamentary questions in the
While speaking in the chamber of the House is a high profile activity for an MP, much other work is done elsewhere, such as Gerry's work on the Public Accounts Committee and others, as well as a large casework load for constituents.
07/11/02 Child Support
06/11/02 Operations Costs
05/11/02 Surgical Procedures (Safeguards)
05/11/02 Acute Beds
29/10/02 NHS Trust Mergers (Durham)
16/07/02 Local Government Finance
16/07/02 Bureaucracy for teachers, lecturers' pay
10/07/02 Police Driving
08/07/02 Seat Belts
02/07/02 Drug and Alcohol Screening
01/07/02 Road Tax
01/07/02 Public Transport (Safety)
23/05/02 Rise in residential fees
23/05/02 Tuition Fees
09/05/02 Early Retirement (Teachers)
19/04/02 Local Government
12/04/02 Higher Education Funding
18/03/02 Gerry hounds hunters
18/03/02 Higher Education
01/03/02 Achievements of the National Lottery
25/02/02 Tuition Fees
25/02/02 Part-time Employment (Universities)
25/01/02 Private Beds
24/01/02 Public Accounts
08/01/02 Statemented Pupils
18/12/01 Child Support Agency
05/12/01 Foot and Mouth
04/12/01 Durham Magistrates Bench
29/11/01 Pay Claims (NUM)
28/11/01 Benefits Uprating
21/11/01 Statemented Pupils
19/11/01 Police (Early Leavers)
14/11/01 Private Treatment
13/11/01 Health Care (Durham)
05/11/01 Illegally Imported Alcohol
31/10/01 Police Recruitment
31/10/01 Car Theft
31/10/01 Prisoners (Drugs)
11/07/01 University Hospital of North Durham
Malcolm Wicks: I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible with the information requested and place a copy of my letter in the Library.
Mr. Hutton: Information on the average cost of a wide range of treatments and procedures carried out in the National Health Service is included in the national schedule of reference costs. Reference costs for 2001-2002 were published on 1 November. They may be found at www.doh.gov.uk/nhsexec/refcosts.htm (new window) and a copy has been placed in the Library. The Department does not collect information on the average cost of operations carried out in private hospitals.
Mr. Hutton: The Department does not collect information on the number of surgical procedures that take place in the private sector. We expect doctors who work both in private and public sector, like all doctors, to behave in a professional manner. The General Medical Council's ethical guidance Good Medical Practice states that doctors must not put pressure on patients to accept private treatment and must always act in their patients' best interests when making referrals and providing or arranging treatment or care.
Mr. Hutton: The average daily number of beds in acute wards in England since 1996 is:
Department of Health form KH03
The NHS Plan made a commitment to increase the number of beds in general & acute wards by 2,100 by 2004.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): At a recent meeting between Durham Members and the county council, the social services department told us that it had not received money promised by the Government for the releasing of beds, and that the money had been retained by the primary care trusts. At Prime Minister's Question Time a while ago, the Prime Minister said that the money would release beds. Will the Minister's Department investigate, and find out exactly what happened to the money and whether it was spent on releasing beds?
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): I will certainly look into that. Durham county council received £1.8 million by way of a new special grant this year to help it to tackle problems relating to delayed discharge. We expect the money to be used to tackle that problem, and for no other purpose.
Mr. Leslie: In 1998-99, 78 out of 433 authorities incurred a Net Revenue Expenditure at or below SSA. In 1999-2000 there were 52 and in 2001-01 there were 54.
SSA includes Police Grant in the case of police authorities and, in 2000-01, General GLA grant in the case of the Greater London Authority.
Estelle Morris: I tend to think that teachers use the term "bureaucracy" - as do I - as shorthand for extra work, extra demand and extra pressures. That does not always involve paperwork, although I accept that there is a lot of paperwork in the system now. I have always accepted that the Department has a responsibility to do better than we do, and constantly to strive to cut it back. Although we have put extra flexibility into the standards fund, we still have fairly complex reporting arrangements. That is why we have decided, only this week, to write to schools shortly to say that they will be required to report on expenditure from the standards fund only once a year. That will result in a sizeable cut in the amount of bureaucracy to which they are currently subjected. So, we must do better, but we do try, and we are doing better.
This is a huge and complex system. We want to invest money in reform and, because we have a responsibility to ensure that the money is spent well, we must have an accountability mechanism in place. I entirely accept, however, that we must do more to make that process leaner.
On university lecturers, we put extra resources into universities last year so that they could begin to reverse the trend of underfunding. For the first time, they saw an increase in their funding after the diminishing resources that they had received year after year. It will be up to the universities, but I hope that university lecturers' pay will benefit from the settlement that we have been able to award this year.
Mr. Denham: The available information is set out in table and relates to the number of injuries and deaths involving police vehicles engaged in immediate/ emergency response or pursuit only.
|Deaths||Serious injury||Slight injury|
(i) The information has been provided by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), to which forces submit statistical returns.
(ii) Data are missing from one force in 1998-99 and 1999-2000; and from two forces 2000-01.
(iii) All figures are for financial year.
(iv) The figures are numbers of deaths/injuries, not numbers of accidents.
(v) The figures include both police and civilian casualties.
(vi) The figures for 2001-02 are provisional only. Data are missing from four forces.
Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police vehicles committed traffic violations and what was the (a) nature of these violations and (b) number of prosecutions arising from them in the last 12 months. 
Mr. Denham: The information is not collected centrally.
Mr. Jamieson: The law does not require passengers to wear seat belts in the rear seats of coaches but advice in the Highway Code is that they should be worn where available. Unlike the case of drivers of cars, goods vehicles and the smaller minibuses, it would be unreasonable and potentially unsafe for drivers of these larger vehicles also to be responsible for seat belt wearing by passengers under 14 years.
Mr. Jamieson: There are no statutory screening tests for employees of transport companies.
The Government are aware that many transport operators already have strict policies that may include screening programmes.
Mr. Steinberg: To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to introduce drug screening tests alongside breathalysers for traffic offences. 
Mr. Jamieson: Drug screening is already used by the majority of police forces who have trained officers in the techniques of drug recognition and tests of impairment. Devices that detect the presence of drugs chemically are being developed and tested by a number of commercial companies. If these prove successful and appropriate, they may be used to assist the police at the roadside. Under current legislation the police do not have the same power to test drivers at the roadside for possible drugs as they do for alcohol. It is the Government's intention to amend the legislation to enable this.
Mr. Jamieson: A roadside survey of Vehicle Excise Duty evasion is currently taking place and the results will be known in the autumn.
The last such survey took place in June 1999. This showed the level of VED evasion as 3.9 per cent. of revenue due. This equated to £191 million in 2001-2. This was offset by £110 million recovered through enforcement activities.
Mr. Jamieson: Since 1998 all coaches specifically used to transport pupils to and from school have been required to be fitted with seat belts.
Mr. Cook: My hon. Friend raises an issue of concern to many Members who have been approached by constituents, and I fully understand and share his concern. The problem is known to the Department of Health, which has written to a number of homes that are raising their prices. Ultimately, they are private commercial institutions, and pricing is under their control, but the measure was introduced as public policy to relieve pressure on residents in those homes and their families. I very much hope that the people who run those homes will recognise that residents and their relatives should benefit most from that public money.
Margaret Hodge: The available information is shown in the following table. Data for 2001-02 will be available in April 2003.
|Financial Year||Tuition Fee Income|
(1) Covers tuition fee income from all students (home, EU and other overseas) on full-time and part-time undergraduate and postgraduate
Mr. Timms: The numbers of members of the Teachers' Pension Scheme who retired on the grounds of ill health in each of the years in question were:
Information about the number of applications that were rejected is available only from 1996 when an electronic handling system was introduced.
Dr. Whitehead: Tables showing the SSA settlements for all local authorities, together with the percentage changes against the SSA figures for the previous year, adjusted for changes in the functions and funding of authorities, where appropriate, for 1998-99, 1999-2000, 2000-01, 2001-02 and 2002-03 have been placed in the Libraries of the House.
Margaret Hodge: Publicly planned expenditure for higher education in England is set out in the annual Grant letter issued to the Higher Education Funding Council for England. The data set used in calculating the out-turn for public and student contributions to fees differ from that used in calculating publicly planned expenditure on fees. The tuition fee data for planned expenditure are for all students, including students from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, at English HE institutions, while for out-turn the figures are based on students from England at English HE institutions. The two sets of data are not therefore directly comparable. The figures, excluding all planned tuition fee income, are:
|Publicly planned expenditure excluding fees(1)||Out-turn excluding fees(2)|
(1)Figures reflect Grant Letter announcements and include ear-marked capital, allocations for access and widening participation paid via institutions, HE expenditure for the British Academy and directly funded DfES small programmes. They exclude public and student contributions to tuition fees and funds paid to students for their maintenance support.
(2)The differences between planned and actual expenditure are explained in part by the different coverage used for tuition fees and by in year adjustments.
"If 'country sports' really are a sport, how come the same side always wins? Does this always come as a surprise to the participants? Do the hunters look on excitedly with their fingers crossed to see whether the fox rips the dogs to pieces or vice versa? You don't get the fox being interviewed on Sportsnight beforehand, saying: 'Well Brian, I'm really confident about this one. I've had a couple of fights in the run-up; there was that easy win against Mr. Rabbit, but this is the big one I've been training for'.Foxhunting is as much a sport as badger baiting or cock fighting was, and it is just as barbaric. One form of cruelty that is often overlooked in this debate is the unnecessary suffering caused to the thousands of dogs used in fox, deer, hare and mink hunting. I am in no doubt as to the immense suffering caused to wild mammals when they are chased to exhaustion, brutally savaged by a pack of hounds or forced to fight underground with terriers. The Burns inquiry into hunting with dogs in England and Wales has been mentioned often today, as we might expect. It concluded that hunting with dogs "seriously compromises the welfare" of the foxes, deer, hares, and mink. What is often forgotten, however, is the plight of hunting hounds and terriers. No one has mentioned that today.
'So you're not worried that the bookies have you at a 1,000:1 against beating this pack of foxhounds?'
'What, you mean there's more than one of them? Er, excuse me - I've just got to call to my agent'."
The plight of the foxhound starts early in its short life. Contrary to what the Countryside Alliance would have us all believe, it is not natural for foxhounds to hunt foxes. It sickens me to say that puppies that do not show aptitude for hunting, or whose colouring or body shape does not meet the requirements, are usually shot by the kennelman. Foxhounds fortunate enough to make the grade as puppies are trained to chase and kill foxes during the cub-hunting season. It is a particularly unpleasant aspect of hunting that involves the chasing and killing of fox cubs for the purpose of teaching young hounds to kill.
Hunts will head for wherever the scent of their quarry takes them, which is what makes the route of hunts for live quarry so unpredictable. Many hounds are run over on the roads, or even hit by speeding trains after straying on to railway lines. Others are injured on barbed-wire fences, or are lost from the pack for days on end.
In November 1999, six hounds were electrocuted and killed as the New Forest Foxhounds trespassed across a railway line. The incident was witnessed by passengers on the London to Bournemouth train that ran over the dead bodies of the hounds. Not only did the incident cause the senseless loss of the lives of six hounds; the delay caused to the train led to further huge delays. Sixty-one other trains were delayed.
The Wiltshire Times reported the needless deaths of three beagles from the Wiltshire and Infantry Beagles at Steeple Ashton, near Trowbridge. A car hit two of them as they chased their hare across the A350 between West Ashton and Stoney Gutter, and one sustained fatal injuries. Another dog was killed at a nearby roundabout, and the third fatality occurred as the dog tried to make its way back to the pack.
Mr. Andrew Turner: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Mr. Steinberg: No. I have not enough time.
That is not all. There is no gentle retirement home for these poor animals. When hounds reach the age of six or seven, about half their normal life expectancy, most are simply shot by the very people whom they have served loyally since their birth. That makes a mockery of the hunts' claim that in the event of a ban on hunting with dogs they will have no alternative to shooting them: they shoot them anyway. It is estimated that between 3,000 and 5,000 hounds are killed in that way by hunts each year.
For some time the Countryside Alliance has used its dogs to blackmail the public by arguing, for instance, that all hounds would need to be destroyed in the event of a ban. Being a dog lover, I have looked into that claim. According to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, a mass slaughter of hounds in such circumstances would be irresponsible and unnecessary. The RSPCA has pledged to do all that it can to prevent such needless destruction at the hands of the hunts. The committee of inquiry into hunting with dogs found that
"any need to put down hounds or horses, in the event of a ban, could be minimised if there was a suitable lead-in time before it was implemented".
The Government's Hunting Bill, produced in March last year, provided for such a lead-in period - although I believe that responsible hunts should start to wind down their breeding programmes immediately to reduce the number left in the event of a ban.
When the time comes for hunts to disband, three options will be open to them: to disband and rehome their hounds, to disband the hunt but keep their hounds, and to convert to drag hunting. I believe that a switch to drag hunting is the preferable option, as it would allow the hunt to continue the so-called sport, the pageantry and the social side while allowing the hounds to continue to be kept in packs. Hounds that cannot be rehomed with drag hunts should be assessed for their suitability for rehoming elsewhere. The RSPCA has offered to work with hunts to help find alternative homes for puppies and grown dogs.
Perhaps the most brutal and callous form of cruelty inflicted on dogs in the name of sport occurs in what is known as terrier work. Most registered foxhunts use the services of terriermen or fox diggers - people employed to find, dig out and kill foxes that have found an underground refuge during a hunt. That activity has become a "sport" in its own right, attracting thousands of enthusiasts who kill an estimated 50,000 foxes a year just for the fun of it.
Most people are familiar with the illegal practice of badger digging, in which terriers are sent underground to find badgers. That often results in appalling injuries to both dog and badger. Fox digging works in exactly the same way; the only difference is that fox digging is legal, because foxes are not afforded the same legal protection as badgers.
The legal loophole that allows the digging out of foxes while outlawing the same practice in the case of badgers has provided those engaged in the illegal practice of badger baiting with a convenient alibi. In recent years there have been several court cases in which suspected badger baiters have escaped - or attempted to escape - conviction by claiming that they were hunting for foxes rather than for badgers.
Only last month, a gang of suspected badger baiters escaped conviction owing to the very same loophole. The six men, who were accompanied by 12 dogs - 12 dogs for one fox! - were found by police at the entrance of what was believed to be a badger sett in Wales. They claimed that they had been digging for a fox that had gone to ground. The court heard that two of the dogs had been seen trying to get into a tunnel at the bottom of the hole, and that a squealing noise could be heard. When one of the dogs was pulled out of the tunnel it was heavily bloodstained, and was later found to have badger hairs in its mouth. A veterinary surgeon who examined the dog said
"The injuries to the dog were consistent with dogs fighting a badger".The six were acquitted by magistrates who felt it could not be proved that the men were hunting badgers rather than foxes.
When a fox finds an underground refuge during a hunt, terriers are sent into the earth to locate it. If a terrier finds the fox an underground battle may ensue between the two animals, in which both dog and fox can suffer horrific injuries. The fox is then either flushed from the earth by the terrier, or dug out and shot at close range by a waiting terrierman.
Not surprisingly, there have been several successful prosecutions of a number of terrier owners for failing to seek veterinary treatment for terriers injured during such encounters. I am pleased to say that a recent case of that type led to recognition from the High Court that those who send terriers into earths where an underground battle may ensue as the terrified quarry tries to defend itself can be guilty of cruelly ill-treating their dogs - not to mention the suffering inflicted on the fox. These can hardly be regarded as the activities of animal lovers.
Hunting wild animals with dogs inflicts immense cruelty on both dogs and wildlife, and is totally unjustifiable. It can be prevented only by the introduction of a complete banning of such barbaric and bloodthirsty so-called sports.
Finally, let me make a few observations about the so-called middle way. Again, I quote from John O'Farrell in The Guardian.
"In fact the government is promoting a middle way which would involved foxhunting only being permitted under licence. This would be like solving the problem of burglary by issuing housebreaking permits and requiring the burglars to close the door behind them."Proponents of the middle way tell us that it is not a compromise, and I agree. That is about the only sensible thing they say. It is not possible to make hunting "slightly" barbaric, or to allow animals to be "almost" torn apart. I cannot see for the life of me what difference it will make to the fox that is torn to shreds if those doing it are licensed. It is plain stupidity: it is a hunter's fallback, and it rubber-stamps cruelty. It is merely -
Madam Deputy Speaker: Order. The hon. Gentleman's time is up.
Margaret Hodge [holding answer 8 March 2002]: Publicly planned expenditure for higher education in England is set out in the annual grant letter issued to the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
|Publicly planned expenditure(1)||Outturn|
(1) Figures reflect grant letter announcements and include public and student contributions to tuition fees, ear-marked capital, allocations for access and widening participation paid via institutions, HE expenditure for the British Academy and directly funded DfES small programmes. They exclude funds paid to students for their maintenance support.
(3) Figures not yet available.
Miss McIntosh: Why not?
Mr. Steinberg: Is the hon. Lady saying that if we had a Conservative Government in 20 or 30 years' time, they would stop that sort of expenditure and not keep the new opportunities fund, which has given millions of pounds to constituencies throughout the country for many different schemes, which would never have been paid for by the taxpayer, neither under this Government or the previous one?
Miss McIntosh: I fear I would be ruled out of order if I set out the objectives of a future Conservative Government. When the time comes, we shall have plenty of opportunities to discuss our priorities.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): We are always quick to criticise and complain, but we rarely offer congratulations. That is why I wanted to speak in the debate. I am sure that we all dream of being a winner in the national lottery, and I am equally sure that most people have some experience of the many excellent and worthwhile projects that have come to fruition as a direct result of the revenue generated by the national lottery and disbursed by the distributing bodies to support good causes such as sport, arts, charities and heritage.
It is too easy to sensationalise the more dubious awards that have been made by the distributing bodies. We all have our own views about how lottery money could be better spent, and on worthwhile projects which we think it should be used to assist. I admit that I have shared such views on many occasions - for example, about the huge amounts spent on projects that I regard as elitist.
We all have our own opinions about the amounts spent on the more questionable projects on which the media have focused, including the millennium dome. Although I understand the well-intentioned aims of the project, I admit that I joined many other people in pondering the many other laudable schemes that could have been assisted with the resources that were spent on the dome. However, I believe that the smaller, perhaps less sensational schemes have made a real difference to people's lives.
Very few hon. Members could honestly say that their community has not received some form of assistance from one of the good causes for a local project. Those range from relatively small schemes to the much bigger initiatives. The fundamental point - let us be quite clear about this - is that without the income generated by the national lottery, such schemes would not have been possible, and those who benefit from them would not be doing so.
Let us think about the projects funded for arts provision; valuable and important heritage schemes; the improvements and developments that have been made possible in sport; and the excellent charitable schemes that have been realised as a direct result of the national lottery. All hon. Members could cite several examples to demonstrate my point.
We all have our own ideas about what we will do when - or, perhaps more importantly, if - we win the lottery. When we pay our £1 or whatever, we all think of that with great relish. However, we probably do not think twice about the approximately 28 per cent. of the revenue generated from the sales that is handed over to the national lottery distribution fund, and how that money is being used. The lottery has made a real difference not just to the lucky winners who scooped the millions or the thousands, but to everyone who has benefited directly or indirectly from projects funded by the six distributing bodies.
Numerous community groups, sportsmen and women, and arts groups, not to mention charities, have been the recipients of financial assistance that has allowed excellent work and projects to be initiated, and in some cases to continue. New sports facilities have been built, equipment has been purchased and excellent development work has been undertaken. Many arts projects have been funded, and restoration schemes have ensured that local treasures have been safeguarded for the future.
Community associations and groups have been rewarded for their valuable efforts, ranging from schemes for toddlers and young children right through the spectrum to the more senior members of our society. Schemes are being funded from which everyone throughout the country can benefit. Yes, we can all criticise, but perhaps it is time that we all took stock and realised just how much revenue is being ploughed back into every city, town, village and community as a result of the weekly flutter that most of us have.
I wanted to speak in the debate to highlight some of the achievements that have made a difference in my constituency, City of Durham, which is obviously the place closest to my heart. I hope that after I have described some examples, the lottery funds do not dry up! We have done quite well in Durham up to now.
A first-class specialist gymnastics facility, which will provide a much-needed centre of excellence for the gymnasts in the area, has been made possible. I know that the facility will make a huge difference to gymnasts in Durham and the region. For years its development has been an aspiration. It is questionable whether that would have been fulfilled without the input of £320,000 of national lottery funding. The hon. Member for Vale of York (Miss McIntosh) spoke about the Olympic games. Who knows, we might see a future gold medallist as a result of that gymnasium.
Another excellent facility that has been opened in my constituency is an indoor bowling facility, which was made possible as a result of £450,000 of lottery funding. The new building provides a centre for bowling development for all members of the community, young and old, and has led to a huge growth in bowling in the area. Both of these projects, incidentally, were also funded by grants from the Foundation for Sport and the Arts, for which I am extremely grateful. That organisation still has an important role to play in the distribution of grants to local organisations. We should not forget that, while we are congratulating the national lottery.
In 2000, Durham Sport, based in City of Durham, became the first sports partnership to receive £100,000 of revenue funding from the sports lottery fund for its active sports programme. The programme will lead to more young people taking part in many kinds of sport, more coaches being trained to deliver sporting activity to young people, and more junior clubs being developed to retain young people in sport. All hon. Members are aware of the recent reports about increasing obesity in young people and concerns that the country is not producing sufficient high-class performers. The programme in Durham will address both those important issues with the support of the national lottery.
To tackle the needs of the more senior members of our society, Age Concern in County Durham has been the recipient of £208,000 of funding via the National Lottery Charities Board, as it was then, which has made possible the establishment of offices in various locations in the county. That has enabled the organisation to work more effectively at local level, mapping existing provision, identifying unmet needs and working towards the development of new services.
As a result of lottery funding, the Durham Light Infantry museum has been refurbished, remodelled and its exhibits redisplayed. The museum, managed by the county council's arts, libraries and museums service, is a major tourist draw in our historic city. The £1.5 million refit has attracted considerable critical acclaim. The museum, which is set in the parkland of Aykley Head, is now fit for the 21st century. The remodelled displays and associated activities programmes are focused on the family, especially younger people and school parties. The Durham Light Infantry regiment may have been disbanded in 1968, but its history is indelibly linked with the identity of my constituents. The staff are therefore ensuring that future generations understand their spiritual inheritance.
Durham county council is a firm believer in the value of cultural services to the local community. It may be some years since the small village of Cassop- cum-Quarrington was mentioned in the House, but I can report that its local history society, with the support of the national lottery, has established a mobile visual display outlining the history and past events of the parish.
This comparatively modest initiative is contributing to a regionwide digitisation project managed by the county council, which is entitled "Tomorrow's History". It is creating a local heritage database covering every community in the north-eastern region, from Berwick to Guisborough and from Haltwhistle to Hartlepool. That would not be happening without the national lottery.
Community initiatives in the villages of Brandon, Shincliffe and Bowburn in my constituency have greatly benefited from the regional initiative. The same project has encouraged the Durham Dialect Association to survey communities spanning all age groups to illustrate the survival of the local vocabulary, pitmatic included. The expression "Whey aye, man" will, I hope, continue to be used for many years to come.
Age Concern has contributed to "Tomorrow's History" on intergenerational work for senior citizens. It is collaborating with school children on local history topics. Once again, that is because of the national lottery.
I shall mention work that is going on in other small villages throughout my constituency - for example, Bearpark, New Brancepeth and Ushaw Moor - as a consequence of new opportunities fund moneys that the arts, libraries and museums department is utilising to broaden community access to learning, working with local community associations.
Last summer, archaeology was actually brought to life in a small village called Coxhoe, with a "time detectives" local equivalent for youngsters as part of the learning strand of the new opportunities fund. This, and many other schemes, are countywide, but of immense benefit to my constituents. For example, the elements drama development programme is encouraging youth theatre, commissioning new work and stimulating the touring of professional plays in the rural areas of my constituency.
Last year, a new play, "Set in Stone" explored the harrowing account of a Durham first-world-war soldier, who was shot at dawn for alleged cowardice. Thankfully, this man's name is now remembered in the rolls of honour, the evidence leading to his death being questionable to say the least. The national lottery has helped to right an 80-year-old wrong.
Last year, the arts, libraries and museums department established "The Forge", an arts in education development agency, again with the benefit of lottery funding, this time through the regional arts lottery programme. I cannot speak too highly of the work of this organisation in local schools, for example. It is providing the springboard for collaboration with the recently established Sunderland and Durham creative partnership that I hope will encourage more creative activity among schoolchildren in the area.
There are six libraries in my constituency and the county council's policy is clear: libraries are the hub of community activity. I shall quote from the former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, my right hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Smith), who said:
"Libraries contribute to four of this Government's most important policy objectives. They underpin education, providing essential support for schoolchildren, students and lifelong learners; they enhance public access to the world's storehouse of knowledge and information; they promote social inclusion by helping to bridge the gap between those who can afford access to information and those who can't, and increasingly have a role to play in the modernisation and delivery of public services."Lottery funding has enabled libraries in my area to play their full part in meeting those objectives. Investment from the new opportunities fund has enabled the provision of additional PCs, scanners and printers, the extension of an upgraded data transmission network and, most importantly, the training of all library staff to the European computer driving licence standard. All the libraries in County Durham have had free internet access since 1998. They are the base for lifelong learning programmes in association with local colleges. They provide mediated information and advice, and are the hub of community activity.
All in all, the national lottery has stimulated new ways of thinking, new collaborations and exciting new initiatives. I believe that the Durham pleasure gardens, which fell into disuse in the early years of the century, could well be restored, at least virtually, through a partnership between the archaeology section of the arts, libraries and museums service and its Northumberland counterparts, because they are jointly developing virtual models of archaeology sites in the North-East, again with the assistance of lottery money.
On something entirely different, only last weekend, a new bridge - the first new bridge for more than 40 years - was erected across the Wear in Durham. The Millennium Commission, Durham City council and Durham county council are funding that £460,000 bridge, which links Framwellgate Waterside with the Sands, as part of the city's millennium city project. The bridge would never have been possible without national lottery funding.
Of particular significance to the people of Durham, and to those who are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to visit such a magnificent city, is the Durham millennium city development. This wonderful and fantastic scheme has transformed the city centre. It will be a legacy to the efforts of all those involved in bringing it to fruition, and to the significant funding input from the national lottery via the Millennium Commission. There was a grant of more than £13 million from the commission, which has been matched by the local authority.
I hope that when Members visit Durham they will also visit that new development. It has regenerated an area of the city that was little more than a car park on a derelict site for more than 30 years. The development has acted as a catalyst for the redevelopment and improvement of the central part of Durham. I am sure that many Members have fond memories of Durham. Only yesterday, I was away with members of the Public Accounts Committee; two members of it were at Durham university. Many Members know Durham well, including the city. When they revisit, I hope that they will see what I am talking about.
The scheme includes the fantastic Gala theatre, the state of the art Clayport library, a new tourist information centre, a visitors' centre, access to information and advice for everyone, and space for community groups. The City council, in attracting investment for the development, has realised a dream for the people of Durham. That development has been a local Labour party manifesto item for as long as I can remember or for as long as I have been in politics, which is 30 years. Now the scheme has come to fruition.
The Gala theatre has been designed as multi-purpose building. It can house theatre shows but it converts to a dance hall, a conference centre or an exhibition hall, to name but a few uses. It is a venue for everyone for seven days a week, from early morning to well into the evening. At long last, it will give the people of Durham the opportunity to experience different forms of entertainment without having to travel out of the city, which they have had to do for many years.
On the opposite side of the Millennium square is the new Clayport library, which will offer a huge range of facilities. The lifelong learning centre will provide ideas and opportunities for learning or leisure, work or hobbies, stimulation or relaxation. It occupies three floors, with full access for the disabled to all levels. Here we can learn, brush up on our IT skills, browse for a book from the 18,000 volumes that are on loan and explore on-line the catalogue of the county's 800,000 stockholdings. Information can be sought from a mixture of traditional reference works or from the latest in electronic formats, and visitors will feel at home in one of the 60 study places. A community resource centre, incorporating office and meeting facilities for community and voluntary organisations, provides community services in one easy to access location.
I must declare an interest because I have recently moved my constituency office into the new building. The development has given a much-needed facelift to what was a rather drab part of the city, and the careful selection of facilities will ensure that the people of Durham can really benefit from what it has to offer for many years to come.
One of the potential knock-on effects includes an increase in revenue from visitor activities, as the facility will offer the many visitors to the city a number of further opportunities. I do not need to state that the additional permanent local jobs that have already been generated and will be generated by the scheme are very much welcomed.
Durham City council's endeavours to implement an extensive redevelopment programme, geared to the regeneration of the city centre, have been especially apparent in recent years, with a number of key projects being completed. The realisation of the Durham millennium city project was a significant part of that regeneration, which would never have taken place without the crucial funding offered by the national lottery. It was always a dream that would never be accomplished; now, thanks to the national lottery, it has been accomplished. Just as Durham cathedral has been a magnificent landmark in the city, the millennium city development was a wonderful way to mark the beginning of the new millennium.
I have mentioned only a few examples of the many excellent schemes that have been made possible in Durham as a result of national lottery funding; I could have gone on to mention many more. I am personally aware of the huge difference that the national lottery has made to the facilities and services that are on offer to my constituents in a wide range of areas, including sport, recreation, arts, heritage projects, education and projects affecting the lives of entire communities. Virtually everyone in my constituency has benefited from the national lottery in some way. That is a significant achievement in anyone's terms. I hope that it will last for a long time to come and that we will continue to benefit from national lottery grants.
Margaret Hodge: All tuition fees, whether paid by students or the taxpayer, are paid directly to higher education institutions. Introducing contributions to tuition fees in 1998 has helped the Government to fund the further expansion of the sector while maintaining and increasing the unit of funding per full-time equivalent student from 2001-02. The estimated total amount of private contributions to tuition fees collected by English institutions from 1998-99 to 2001-02 is £963 million. Over the same period, the total of publicly planned expenditure for higher education institutions was over £21 billion. The increase in publicly planned funding from this Department between 1998-99 and 2001-02 was £1,124 million, an increase of 12 per cent. in real terms. Planned public expenditure for the higher education sector in England in the six years to 2003-04 is set to grow by £1.7 billion. This represents a cash increase of 37 per cent. and a real terms increase of 18 per cent.
Margaret Hodge: The available information for the three most recent years, covering part-time academic staff, is shown in the table. Details of the actual number of hours worked is not held centrally.
Part-time academic staff(1) recruited by HE institutions in the UK
|Number of part-time staff recruited(2)||2,940||3,260||3,420|
|Those from outside the EU||100||140||160|
(1) Covers staff who are wholly financed by the institution, and include those who whose primary employment function, according to their contract, is teaching, research, or teaching/research. Only covers part-time staff whose total work commitment exceeds 25 per cent. of a full-time equivalent.
(2) Including staff recruited from other HE institutions.
Higher Education Statistics Agency's Staff Record. Numbers have been rounded to the nearest 10.
If someone in the private sector fails, they may lose their job. In the public sector, perhaps the worst that can happen is that they come before the hon. Member for City of Durham, or my hon. Friend the Member for Bognor Regis and Littlehampton, but we will give them a hard time. We will not flinch from doing so because it is their job to provide the best public services throughout the nation.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): Does the hon. Gentleman agree that the NHS seems to be the only organisation in the country in which someone who fails can get a £95,000 bonus?
Mr. Leigh: The Committee has studied that case recently, and will produce a report to which the Government will have to reply. I cannot go into too much detail until that has happened, but we were horrified by the case, and held a very hard-hitting hearing on it. It is simply not acceptable that people who fail in the public sector can be shuffled off--even into another job, in the NHS--so that those who are trying to investigate them cannot do that. We have to sort that out. We must ensure that people do not have a job for life just because they are in the public sector. Those who use the NHS have paid for their health care, and they deserve the best. If people are fiddling the waiting lists, they will have to go, and they will have to pay the price.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): I do not present as sleek a figure as I had hoped following the obesity report. Obviously the recommendations are not working.
I greatly enjoy serving on the Committee. The work is the most interesting that I have experienced in nearly 15 years as an MP. The Committee does a genuinely worthwhile job. I must admit that I have served on other Select Committees that I felt were a waste of time, because Governments--Labour as well as Conservative--never seemed to listen. This Committee's work seems very relevant, and we receive positive responses, which makes our work worth doing. I become cynical as I grow older, but serving on the PAC strikes me as an excellent way of spending my time.
I thank all the Committee's staff for doing a tremendous job, and for being so helpful and obliging. Sometimes people who are getting old, as I am, forget what they have done. They forget that they already have their papers, and ask for them again. We never have any problem on such occasions, because our staff are so helpful. I also thank the National Audit Office for its help and expert advice. Its outstanding professionalism goes without saying, and it makes life a lot easier.
Yesterday we received a delegation from the South African Public Accounts Committee, which asked, among other things, whether we were given any secretarial support. I said that we were not, but I should have said that we can call on 750 auditors at any time. We could be described as the most-briefed Committee in the House, with the best possible support.
Let me join the Committee's Chairman, the hon. Member for Gainsborough (Mr. Leigh), in extending my thanks and good wishes to Ken Brown, the Clerk, who retired earlier this year. His influence and personality will remain with the Committee for many years. He is greatly missed, and I wish him a long and happy retirement. He was a genuinely nice man, and there are not many people of whom that can be said. I thought a great deal of him.
I wish good luck to our last Chairman, the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (David Davis), who has taken what must now be an almost impossible job. Did I say that I wished him luck? I am not sure that I wish him too much luck--a little bit of luck, perhaps.
I also congratulate our new Chairman on his recent appointment following the general election. We are monitoring him carefully to see that he does his job well. So far we have given him 9½ out of 10, so he is okay.
Unlike the Chairman, I do not want to trawl through all that we have done. I want to concentrate on three reports on the national health service and some of the issues in them that we have identified as giving cause for concern. Many of those issues were discussed at a valedictory hearing with Sir Alan Langlands, the departing chief executive of the NHS.
It is clear to me that the NHS executive has experienced great difficulties in overseeing and monitoring the activities of many NHS bodies. Consequently, management failings have caused serious problems in the service, resulting in the waste of billions of pounds over the last 10 years or more. In, I think, 1996, the previous Government introduced regional executives, but I do not believe that they ever succeeded in doing the job that they were meant to do. In my view, their purpose was to link the centre with those working at local level; but they were unaccountable, and often failed to pass on authoritative guidance from the NHS executive to trusts. In many instances, the priorities of both this Government and the last were not apparent locally.
One example of the executive's lack of success in preventing management failings is the control of hospital-acquired infection in acute NHS trusts. Our Chairman mentioned that. A hospital-acquired infection may result in prolonged or permanent disability, and a small proportion of patients die. Such infections add to patients' discomfort and to the length of their stay in hospital, which itself causes problems.
Hospital-acquired infection was the subject of a PAC report entitled "Inpatient Admission, Bed Management and Patient Discharge in NHS Acute Hospitals", about which I shall say more shortly. It was a damning report, which severely criticised the management at all levels. As the Chairman said, the cost to the taxpayer is some £1 billion a year--an incredible amount. In view of that, and in view of the suffering experienced by about 100,000 patients each year, one would have thought that trust managers would make the problem a priority. According to a National Audit Office report, however,
"in a number of NHS Trusts Chief Executives may have a low level of awareness of infection control issues and . . . may be unaware of the extent and cost of hospital acquired infection and how it is being addressed in their NHS Trust".One trust allocated the measly sum of £500 or so to its infection control team in 1998, while another allocated £1 million. That illustrates the discrepancy mentioned by the Chairman.
In many NHS trusts, hospital-acquired infection has generally had a low profile. Although the Department of Health has launched initiatives, particularly in the past two years, we found that a quarter of trusts' service agreements with health authorities did not cover infection control services, and that when they were covered they were often inadequate. We found that, contrary to guidelines issued by the Department in 1995, direct involvement of chief executives in strategic management and supervision was very low. We also found that 21 per cent. of trusts had no infection-control programme, and that only 11 per cent. of the programmes that did exist had been approved by chief executives.
That is a perfect illustration of the NHS executive's failure to convey the seriousness of some NHS problems. We noted that there was scope for savings of some £150 million a year if infection rates could be reduced by a mere 15 per cent., but that the issue was not taken seriously by senior managers of trusts. Not only is this costing the taxpayer huge amounts; tragically, people are losing their lives.
Last Thursday, going home in the train, I was making some notes in preparation for my speech. Incredibly, when I opened the Evening Standard I was confronted by an article on this very subject. It was headed:
"Doctor's campaign against 'filthy' wards"and, below that,
"GP takes action after hospital superbug kills his wife".I shall quote extensively from the article, because it sums up the tragedy and the fact that not enough is being done about it, although we have taken up the issue.
The article says:
"A retired GP has launched a campaign to improve hygiene in hospitals after his wife died from a superbug she picked up on a 'filthy' ward while recovering from a routine operation."The retired GP in question was Dr. Roger Arthur. The article continues:
"His wife Patricia, 73, died in St Helier Hospital in Carshalton last month from the superbug methicillin-resistant streptococcus aureus, or MRSA, an infection which kills 5,000 hospital patients a year and is a factor in the deaths of 15,000 more.
Dr Arthur says the real figure may be much higher.
The scale of the problem is highlighted in the fact that, at the time of Mrs Arthur's death, St Helier had a dedicated MRSA ward, designed to keep affected patients in isolation--but it was full.
She had gone to St Helier for surgery to remove a benign obstruction in her bowel. Her husband said: 'The operation was a success and she was discharged after eight or nine days.
I noticed she had a bit of a cough but she seemed fine. However, when we got home she seemed to become ill and within 10 hours I could see she was going downhill fast. We went back to the hospital and they did some tests. The doctor came back and told us that it was MRSA.'
Mrs Arthur died from the infection four days later.
Dr Arthur, from New Malden, has little doubt how his wife became infected. He said: 'The ward she was on was absolutely filthy. There were sweet papers, fluff, old bits of Elastoplast and the tops of disposable syringes behind the bed when we came in, and still there when we came out.
I ran my finger along the windowsill by my wife's bed. There was a thick layer of dust and a vase with dead flowers. There were cleaners around but they seemed to be cleaning the middle of the floor and not bother anywhere else.
I was told there was a ward for MRSA patients but that was full, so people with the infection were remaining in normal wards and infecting other patients.'
St Helier Hospital was the subject of a damning report last August by the Commission for Health Improvement, which said levels of cleanliness were 'seriously compromised', with wards smelling of urine and mortality rates significantly higher than the national average.
A Department of Health spokesman said: 'The Government takes the issue of hospital-acquired infections very seriously and believes infection control and basic hygiene should be at the heart of good management and clinical practice in the NHS. A compulsory national surveillance service is being developed and a first phase, focusing on MRSA, was launched in April 2001.'"
That Department of Health spokesman may well be right. However, the PAC met Sir Alan Langlands and Liam Donaldson, chief medical officer, to discuss the report on 6 March 2000. Two years later, the problems are still occurring and that is not good enough. The Government's response was quite encouraging, but it is clear that there is much to be done. When we read about such a case, it is obvious that something must be done pretty quickly.
Everything that Dr. Arthur says was borne out in our report. Over the past eight years, isolation facilities have been significantly reduced, which must have contributed to the problem quite significantly. The majority of hospital-acquired infections are caused by bacteria. Some infections spread from person to person. Antibiotics have been used successfully for more than 50 years to control and to overcome bacterial infections. That has led to the emergence of highly resistant strains of bacteria. They are commonest in hospitals where high antibiotic usage allows organisms to evolve. The close concentration of people with increased susceptibility to infections allows the organism to spread.
MRSA poses one of the biggest threats to infection control in hospitals. In some, it is endemic. Cleanliness is paramount but I was staggered to read in the report--I could not believe it--that effective hand washing or hygiene was very poor in hospitals. It says:
"A number of studies have generated data that confirm that Doctors who decontaminate their hands between seeing patients reduce hospital infection rates. Yet many observational studies, mainly conducted in intensive care units, show low rates of hand washing especially among Doctors. Insufficient washbasins, supplies of liquid soap and paper towels, are some of the reasons that have been given for this."
I have no reason to believe that the NAO report is not correct. If even the doctors cannot do that, and they know the problems that it will cause, that is outrageous. For many years I was a head teacher at a nursery school. One of the first things we taught the children about hygiene was that they must wash their hands very carefully. Goodness gracious me: if we are teaching young children of four and five to do that, it is a shame that doctors themselves cannot do it. It is incredible that doctors are contributing to that horrific scenario. However, new clinical governance arrangements are being introduced. I hope that that appalling situation will be addressed vigorously.
As I have said, the PAC has commented on the need for better co-ordination within and between NHS organisations. In our report on in-patient admissions and bed management, we were concerned at the delay in many hospitals in discharging patients owing to poor co-ordination within hospitals and with outside agencies, which meant that some hospital beds were occupied virtually unnecessarily.
The NAO report highlighted 20 areas where performance at many trusts could be improved to match the lead of others. That would result in fewer cancelled operations and shorter waiting times for emergency patients, and reduce delays in discharging patients from hospital, which in turn would yield significant savings and free up resources for improving other aspects of patient care.
Often patients are brought into hospital far too early. Incredibly the report showed that if there were a 10 per cent. increase in same-day admissions, it would release about 180,000 bed days for alternative use. Few hospitals had effective systems for monitoring and co-ordinating key resources such as beds and theatre time.
In particular, the Committee was concerned that in more than 90 per cent. of trusts bed managers obtained their information on bed availability only through physical inspection and telephoning wards throughout the day. That seems archaic in a modern NHS. On any given day, around 6,000 over-75s who are ready to be discharged from hospital are blocking beds and costing the NHS £1 million.
In fairness, the Government have recognised the scale of the problem and are taking action. For example, only last week, my local social services department was informed that it had been allocated £1.886 million to ease bed blocking in the next financial year. There is a severe problem. The Government are doing something about it but we must ensure that even more is done.
Mr. George Osborne: The hon. Gentleman is right that efforts are being made to improve the discharge of patients from hospitals, but does he agree that we need a joined-up approach, to use the jargon? We need to look at the closure of care homes and of places in care homes in wider society, because that provides less opportunity for discharging people from hospitals.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): The hon. Gentleman is right. I do not intend to get into a political battle with him over the issue, but he should remember that the Conservative Government encouraged the increase in the number of private care homes, which are now being sold off for property development, reducing the number of care places. I will not go into that. Let us try to keep it non-political this afternoon but I agree that there must be a joined-up approach and much more co-ordination between the NHS and local social services departments. More care places must be found.
The real problem is clearly outlined in the report, which informs us that the number of general and acute beds fell from 200,000 in 1986 to 138,000 in 1997, a loss of 62,000 beds. For years I was warned by health authority officials that efficiency gains of 3 per cent. a year that had been demanded since the 1980s would eventually have a detrimental effect on local health services. As a result, beds have been lost and there has been an increase in bed occupancy and reductions in staff. The efficiency savings became cost-cutting exercises. The cumulative effect of those efficiency savings has been an increase in bed occupancy from about 70 per cent. to over 90 per cent., which leaves little capacity to cope with peak demand.
I shall now be a little controversial. I do not think that matters have been made any better--in fact, they may have been made a lot worse--by the new private finance initiative projects, which appear to result in the loss of further beds. We are told that bed numbers in those projects are agreed by health managers and independent experts. I have had a lot of experience--I am not being arrogant, because one of the first PFI hospitals in the country was at Durham.
It is not the so-called experts who make the decisions about bed numbers, but the financial consortiums. I know that from my own experience. The new university hospital in Durham opened recently and, for the six or seven years since the building of the hospital became a possibility, I was told that it would have enough beds. However, within a week of the hospital's opening, it was clear that it did not have enough beds, and that there was a severe shortage. That is not surprising. The number of NHS beds has fallen by around 2 per cent. a year since 1980, but admissions have risen by some 3.5 per cent. in the period. Given those statistics, it is no wonder that there is a bed shortage.
The NHS is under constant scrutiny by the PAC. As a consequence, there has been a significant improvement in management over the years. There is no doubt that, during the past few years, there has been a significant strengthening in accountability and performance monitoring in the NHS. That is partly due to the excellent reports that we receive from the National Audit Office, and the work that the Committee does. That may sound arrogant, but I believe that the PAC's work has helped encourage the improvements.
Government spending is not as straightforward as it was years ago. It used to be that only Government Departments spent millions or billions of pounds on services, but now executive agencies and quangos spend billions of pounds of public money every year. For the sake of continued accountability, efficiency and best value, the NAO and the PAC must scrutinise all public spending.
In the previous Parliament, we failed to persuade the Government to legislate to ensure that. However, Lord Sharman, who was commissioned by the Government to carry out a review of Government audit and accountability, has recommended that the NAO should be appointed automatically as the auditor of all newly created executive non-departmental public bodies--in other words, quangos. I was pleased with that recommendation, and I hope that the Government accept it.
That has already been happening in practice. For example, the NAO was given the job of auditing the new Learning and Skills Council and the Postal Services Commission. However, I believe that that appointment should have been automatic. In that way, Parliament would be able to ensure that all such organisations were accountable to it, and therefore that all public expenditure was accountable to Parliament.
Mr. Timms: The number of statemented pupils permanently excluded from maintained primary, maintained secondary and special schools in Durham LEA and England in the school year 1999-2000 were 19 and 1,494 respectively.
The number of statemented pupils who received fixed term exclusions in Durham local education authority in the school year 1999-2000 was 277.
This represents 16 per cent. of the total number of pupils excluded for a fixed term and 0.38 per cent. of the total school population in Durham.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many, and what percentage, of pupils at (a) Key Stage 1 and (b) Key Stage 2 in Durham are statemented. 
Mr. Ivan Lewis: The number of statemented pupils in Durham local education authority at Key Stages 1 and 2 has been estimated at 300 and 780, respectively in 2001.
Letter from Doug Smith to Mr. Gerry Steinberg, dated 12 December 2001:
The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions in replying to your recent Parliamentary Question about the Child Support Agency, promised a substantive reply by me. You asked three questions; our estimate of the money owed to parents with care by non resident parents in the City of Durham, our estimate of how many CSA assessments will be processed at the end of this financial year and how many cases in the Durham area have been dealt with by the CSA since it was established.
I am sorry but we don't collect information in a way that will permit me to make a sensible estimate of the amount of maintenance that is owed to parents with care by non-resident parents in the Durham area. I can, however, provide answers to your other questions.
I estimate that around 16,500 cases in the Durham area have been dealt with by the CSA since November 1995. This is drawn from a sampling exercise which only started in November 1995 so my figures cannot precede that date.
During the current financial year the Agency is expecting to process 380,000 assessments arising from new maintenance applications and 715,111 assessments arising from changes to existing maintenance arrangements.
I hope this is helpful.
Malcolm Wicks: In common with other Government agencies, the CSA can make payments to compensate its clients for financial loss suffered as a result of maladministration. This compensation scheme can cover maintenance payments lost as a result of administrative failures in the agency. Compensation payments cannot, however, be made to cover maintenance withheld by non-resident parents where the CSA has acted correctly in seeking to enforce liability.
Nigel Griffiths: The DTI, Small Business Service and DEFRA have not made estimates of: the numbers of jobs lost; the number of businesses that will be lost in the next 12 months; or the numbers of businesses that have ceased trading in the small business sector as a result of foot and mouth disease. It would be difficult to arrive at such figures, given that in many cases there will be a number of factors influencing a decision to reduce the size of a business or to cease trading, for example prospects for an individual business prior to the foot and mouth outbreak.
Mr. Wills: The political balance of the Durham Bench is as follows: Conservative voters 11.4 per cent, Labour voters 38.6 per cent., Liberal Democrat voters 4.5 per cent., uncommitted or voters for other parties 43.2 per cent. and not known 2.3 per cent
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): I fully accept what my hon. Friend the Minister says, but there are a number of elderly canteen workers in my constituency who failed to get their compensation claims in in time. They see the colleagues with whom they worked receiving generous compensation, and it was not the workers' fault that the claims were not submitted in time. Does the Minister think that he could come up with a small amount of compensation to ensure that these people get a fair solution to the problem? It is within his power and he should do it in the name of fairness.
Mr. Wilson: As I have just explained, in resolving one unfairness I would create another unfairness--unfairness to everybody else who has a tribunal claim time bar. There is no general power to waive the fact that no claims were registered. There must be specific grounds that would give a basis for these claims which would satisfy any accounting officer or auditor. We are looking at this and constantly meeting with miners' representatives. I recognise the sense of injustice, but the fundamental problem is that these claims were never registered. Perhaps the people who failed to register these claims should begin to take some responsibility. I simply point out that the NUM has had a generous payment made to it for its administrative role in what would appear to be generally not registering claims.
Mr. Darling: My hon. Friend raises an important point. I can do no better than refer him to page 6 of the pension credit document, which he can send to his constituents. The passage clearly reads:
"Nobody will lose Housing Benefit or Council Tax Benefit as a result of the Pension Credit."I strongly commend the paper. It is a handy size for putting into an envelope, if my hon. Friend would care to send it to his constituents.
Jacqui Smith: We have no plans for legislation in these areas.
Following a consultation process the Health and Safety Commission has recommended the introduction of an Approved Code of Practice on smoking in the workplace. We are giving careful consideration to this proposal.
Control of smoking in public places is the responsibility of the management of such premises. The Public Places Charter, agreed with the hospitality industry, provides customers with clear information on the type of smoking policy operating in a particular establishment, and allows them to make an informed choice.
Mr. Timms: The information requested is not collected centrally.
Mr. Denham: As part of the process of monitoring progress on "Dismantling Barriers", Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary has requested information from forces about the number of officers who left during 2000-01. This is the first year for which information has been collected in the current format and some forces have been unable to provide the information requested. The following table is based on the information so far available. It covers only 26 of the 43 police forces in England and Wales and may not be representative of the police service as a whole.
|Percentage of total leavers|
|Less than 2 years||7|
|2 years--less than 5 years||12|
|Five years--less than 10 years||13|
|10 years and over||68|
(*) Percentages calculated using data from 26 forces in England and Wales: Avon and Somerset, Bedfordshire, Cheshire, City of London, Cleveland, Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall, Dorset, Dyfed-Powys, Essex, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Hertfordshire, Kent, Lancashire, Merseyside, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, Suffolk, Sussex, Thames Valley, Warwickshire, West Midlands and Wiltshire.
Leaving: all leavers, medical or ordinary retirement, dismissals, resignations, transfers and deaths.
Length of service is calculated as at 31 March 2000 and includes service in other police forces as well as in the force an officer left.
Mr. Hutton: The table sets out the number of independent acute medical and surgical hospitals and beds in the United Kingdom from 1997 to 2001.
Laing's Healthcare Market Review 2001-2001, Laing and Buisson
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many patients have been admitted to NHS hospitals from non-NHS hospitals in the last five years.
Mr. Hutton: The table sets out the number of admissions from non-national health service run hospitals to NHS trusts in England, 1995-96 to 1999-2000.
(1) A breakdown by type of non-NHS institution was not available prior to 1996-97, so the figure for 1995-96 is for total admissions to NHS trusts from non-NHS institutions, including, but not exclusively, hospitals.
Hospital Episode Statistics (HES), Department of Health
The Minister of State, Department of Health (Mr. John Hutton): North Durham Health Care NHS Trust was formed on 1 April 1998. Since then, its income has grown by an average of 9 per cent. year on year. The trust met all its waiting list targets in 2000-01, and the new state-of-the-art University hospital of North Durham was completed on time and within budget.
Mr. Jones: Does my hon. Friend agree that the success of the North Durham Healthcare NHS Trust is due, in no small part, to the chairmanship of Mr. Kevin Earley? Does he accept that Mr. Earley's removal from the chairmanship without any local consultation has left the trust leaderless and does nothing to help deliver the good health care that we expect in North Durham?
Mr. Hutton: I certainly agree that the trust has performed, not least in getting the new hospital built on time; I am sure that the chairman of the trust made a significant contribution to that. However, it was right to move responsibility for appointments to an independent appointments commission. The procedures have been approved by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. Today, the NHS Appointments Commission confirmed that there will be a new chairman of the trust, and an announcement will be made in the near future.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): From his answer, my hon. Friend is obviously aware that Kevin Earley, who was chair of the trust, has been unceremoniously dumped after doing an excellent job in delivering the new hospital to us. My hon. Friend the Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones) has tabled questions to the Secretary of State, asking who was invited to interview by the new NHS Appointments Commission, which organisations were consulted and why Kevin Earley was not reappointed. Every single question went unanswered. Was that because Mr. Earley crossed civil servants in the north-east of England and, disgracefully, was sacked as a result? Is that not an example of transparency--
Mr. Speaker: Order.
Mr. Hutton: I am sorry, I cannot explain why those questions were not answered, but I shall certainly look into it. However, that has nothing whatever to do with the points that my hon. Friend made. We decided to set up the NHS Appointments Commission; that was the right thing to do. As I have made clear to the House, the commission's appointments procedures have been approved by the Commissioner for Public Appointments. How the NHS Appointments Commission goes about its task is a matter for it to decide, but I am quite sure that it did the right thing on this occasion.
Mr. Boateng [holding answer 26 October 2001]: Estimates of alcohol fraud were published in the report by the Comptroller and Auditor General "Losses to the Revenue from Frauds on Alcohol Duty" (HC 178) in July 2001.
Details of the Government strategy to tackle alcohol fraud will be published in due course
Beverley Hughes: The number of prisoners released on parole in the last three years is:
Mr. Denham: The recruitment of police officers is the responsibility of the Chief Officer of each force. No central records are kept of the overall cost of recruiting, training and equipping a police officer.
When rates of payment to be made under the Crime Fighting Fund in 2000-01 were agreed with the Association of Chief Police Officers and the Association of Police Authorities, £1,000 was included for recruitment and £7,000 for the initial residential training for each new recruit. In 2001-02 the payment for recruitment has been up-rated to £1,030 per recruit.
Mr. Denham: Data held centrally do not distinguish car thefts from thefts of any type of motor vehicles.
An analysis of a sample of offenders sentenced for thefts of motor vehicles in 2000 reveals that 26 per cent. had one or more previous convictions for a similar offence.
Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what his estimate is of the offending rate for car theft for (a) 14, (b) 15, (c) 16, and (d) 17-year-old (i) males and (ii) females in each of the last three years for which figures are available. 
Mr. Denham: Information for 1997, 1998 and 1999 taken from the Home Office's Cautions and Court Proceedings Databases showing the number of persons aged (a) 14, (b) 15, (c) 16 and (d) 17, broken down into (i) males and (ii) females, cautioned by the police or convicted at all courts for: (a) theft of a motor vehicle, (b) aggravated vehicle taking, (c) being carried knowing vehicle to have been taken or driven away, unauthorised taking and carrying away of a motor vehicle (Theft Act Section 12(1) as amended by the Section 37 Criminal Justice Act 1998), per 100,000 population for each age is given in the table. Data for 2000 will be available later in the year.
|Offence type and gender||1997||1998||1999|
|Theft of a motor vehicle|
|Aggravated vehicle taking|
|Unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle(*)|
(*) Including offences of "being carried knowing vehicle to have been taken or driven away"
Beverley Hughes: Information on the use of illegal drugs in Prison Service establishments is provided by the random Mandatory Drug Testing (MDT) programme. Information as to how many prisoners tested positive more than once is not held centrally however.
The table sets out the number of random MDT samples which tested positive over the last three full financial years and for this year to 31 August.
|Year||Number of positive random MDT results||Total number of random MDT tests|
(*) Year to 31 August 2001.
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Mr. Gerry Steinberg (City of Durham): Is my right hon. Friend aware that a new state-of-the-art private finance initiative hospital has opened recently in my constituency? Apart from the main worry that there may not be enough beds, is he aware that patients, staff and visitors to the hospital have to pay high parking charges, resulting in mayhem in the surrounding streets? Is he also aware that patients are being ripped off by the consortium, with extortionate charges being made for television and telephone usage, and that they even have to hire vases for flowers? Unbelievably, many patients suffer the indignity of having to walk from their ward to the theatre for their operation, because the private consortium charges £30 for a portering service. Is that--[Interruption.]
Mr. Speaker: Order. I think I will let the Leader of the House answer.
Mr. Cook: I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his helpful question. [Laughter] Of course I understand the concern that some charges cause. I have seen the same happen in my constituency, where car parking charges have been introduced by a hospital that has nothing to do with the private finance initiative. I would have hoped that my hon. Friend and his constituents welcomed the fact that they have a new hospital. Half a dozen other towns in Britain also have a new hospital, built in record time, as a result of the PFI. Owing to the involvement of private finance, we are now in a position to offer the NHS the largest hospital building programme in its history, and of that we are proud.
Mr. A. J. Beith (Berwick-upon-Tweed):....To refer back to the question put by the hon. Member for City of Durham (Mr. Steinberg), does the Leader of the House agree that when the Government consider the role of the private sector in public services, especially the private finance initiative, they must look at the full range of evidence so that no individual PFI ends up by costing the public more than a publicly funded alternative?
Mr. Cook: I am happy to tell the right hon. Gentleman that value for money is one of the two major aspects that are examined when any scheme is considered. All schemes are evaluated against that. One of the issues that has introduced risk and unpredictability to the cost of hospitals is the time in which they are delivered. So far, all six PFI hospitals that have been constructed have been delivered on time, within time, and thus without the risk of the additional costs that have previously caused problems in the health service.
Reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO