John Hemming's Web Log John's Reference Website
Friday, March 31, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Answers: 31st March 2006
Learn Direct

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much Learn Direct has spent on sponsoring the Jeremy Kyle show. (John Hemming)

A:Ufi, the organisation responsible for learndirect, is currently sponsoring a package of programmes on TV. This comprises 12 weeks of 'The Jeremy Kyle Show', on ITV and also 12 weeks of Sunday night drama (three weeks of 'Wild at Heart', six weeks of 'The Royal' and three weeks of 'Heartbeat'. The sponsorship extends to having the learndirect logo and name mentioned at the beginning and end of each programme and during the commercial breaks. These programmes have been chosen because they are watched by the people who Ufi want to reach. The total cost of sponsoring these shows is £425,000 which represents excellent value for the projected number of learners that Ufi expects to respond to the advertising. (Phil Hope, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Education and Skills)

Affordable Housing (Birmingham)

Q: To ask the Deputy Prime Minister what the terms of reference are of his inquiry into affordable housing in Birmingham; and whether (a) officers and (b) members of Birmingham city council will be consulted during the inquiry. (John Hemming)

A:The aim of the inquiry about provision of affordable housing in Birmingham was to establish how the city council could achieve optimal affordable housing outputs from the Government subsidy provided from the Regional Housing Board Affordable Housing Programme allocations in the immediate future and over the longer term.

The Housing Corporation has reported to me that it has discussed with Birmingham city council the effect of land costs for housing associations on the 2006–08 Affordable Housing Programme as there were concerns that high land costs were delaying housing associations from planning new social housing in the city. I understand that the Housing Corporation and Birmingham city council have made significant progress with regards to land costs and improving value for money which has resulted in an increase in the new homes that can be provided through the Housing Corporation's Affordable Housing Programme for 2006–08.

There remains a concern about the council's longer term approach as it progresses its plans to dispose of surplus housing land to provide new affordable homes or other community facilities. I therefore have asked officials in Government office west midlands to continue to investigate with the city council its approach to the sale of housing land, and the implications of this for the provision of affordable housing and wider neighbourhood regeneration in the city in the long term. (Yvette Cooper, Minister of State (Housing and Planning), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister)

Crime Prevention

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department pursuant to the oral answer of 13 February 2006, Official Report, column 1134, on crime prevention, if he will amend the guidance issued on the use of cautions. (John Hemming)

A:One of the main aims of the caution, as stated in the Cautioning of Adult Offenders Circular 30/2005 issued by the Office for Criminal Justice Reform is to reduce the likelihood of re-offending. It is not possible to set out definitive rules on the circumstances in which cautions are appropriate, because their use involves the exercise of discretion by the police who have to take into account a number of considerations in each case. These considerations include whether a caution is appropriate to the offence and the offender and whether it is likely to be effective in the circumstances.

The circular advises that both national and any locally held records must be checked before a caution is given. If the suspect has previously received a caution, then a further caution should not normally be considered. However, if there has been a sufficient lapse of time to suggest that a previous caution has had a significant deterrent effect (two years or more), then a caution can be used. If evidence of repeat cautioning, of the kind referred to in the hon. Gentleman's question, suggests this is an issue in a number of other areas, we will consider revisiting the guidance on this point. (Fiona Mactaggart, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Home Office)
 
Thursday, March 30, 2006
  INCT - The Implied National Council Tax
When Council Tax was first created the government had a figure called "Council Tax at Standard Spend" which was the figure they assumed would be the average Council Tax at Band D.

This was replaced by the Assumed National Council Tax for 2003/4. One of the problems for the government with these figures is that they make it quite clear that the government is financing local authorities on the assumption that Council Tax will increase beyond inflation.

In 2006/7, however they have stopped declaring the amount. It can, however, be calculated and the INCT (Implied National Council Tax) has gone up by 3.6% for England as a whole and 3.8% for Metropolitan Authorities between 2005/6 and 2006/7. This is, of course, more than inflation.
 
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
  St Patrick's Day Parade Birmingham 2006 Photo of Tipperary County Association
Tipperary County Association St Pats Parade 2006 Birmingham
John Hemming playing the guitar as a member of the Tipperary County Association's parade in March 2006.

My ancestor from Tipperary was born in 1841 and was in Birmingham in the 1880s.
 
Monday, March 27, 2006
  Treasury Hatchett Men sent into University Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust to do emergency cost surgery on New Hospital
An emergency meeting of Consultants has been called together for Thursday Evening to respond to demands from the Treasury for reductions in Costs in the proposed new Hospital on the QE Site.

An email was sent by management to 400 Consultants and Professors, on Monday morning, calling them together for a crunch meeting on Thursday Night to look at cost cutting. The bean counters from the Treasury are to be parachuted into the Hospital on Friday and Monday to do emergency surgery on the costs of the scheme.

Angry medical staff have contacted local MP John Hemming who has said:

"The reason there is this paniced search for cuts is because the NHS generally is in a financial mess. This is unfair for the UB NHS Foundation Trust which is one of the best run hospitals in the country. They have been in balance for 11 successive years, are high performing and the local PCTs have agreed that the finances for this scheme stacks up."

"It is wrong to make Birmingham suffer for the inadequacies of schemes in London. This hospital has been planned for some time and is important for the whole region. We should not be forced into having cuts in our local hospital services as a result of government incompetence."

"I am very worrried about the Treasury sending in the hatchet men and will be asking questions about this of the Health Minister."
 
  Council Tax Increase by Government 72%
Between 1992 and 2005/6 the Council Tax has been driven up by the government by a total of 71.8996%.

It has been government policy (both Labour and Conservative) to have an increase in the amount of revenue raised locally. This policy, like many others, has simply been maintained.

I raised this in the chamber today, but it was denied.
 
Sunday, March 26, 2006
  Loans and New Labour Government
The allegations so far about Funding and Government are perhaps not as extreme as that which implied that as a consequence of a Million Pound loan the government oddly decided not to ban adverts for smoking at Formula One Races.

The Bernie Ecclestone Million Pound Loan involved a payment which achieved lobbying access and as a consequence a change in the law.

If people are getting planning appeal decisions going their way and baronets as a consequence of similar loans then it is only really part of a trend. I was always quite surprised that Labour got away with the situation about F1. Still it in the end depends on the views of the voters. I think they are likely to be more concerned about the fact that the government is a disaster on a number of fronts than its continuing and worsening slease.
 
Saturday, March 25, 2006
  PbR Tariff released
About a week ago the price list for operations in the Health Service was finally released. I have not managed to review it as yet, but is seems substantially lower than the previous one.

This implies deficits in the Hospitals.

The big issue at the moment is to find out at the end of the Financial Year (next Friday) when the "music stops" what the real NHS deficits are.

One problem is that Organisation A may claim that Organisation B owes it £20 Million, but Organisation B denies that. This means that A counts the money and B doesn't. Overall whichever way it ends up there is a net deficit of £20 Million. This will not be clear until after the end of the Financial year when all these discrepancies are reconciled.

The response of the government in topslicing (and the West Midlands could be as high as 5%) shows that they are aware that there is a bigger problem than they are admitting.

A national average topslice of 3% would imply £1,929,270,000 being placed into reserve to cover deficits.

We shall see.
 
Friday, March 24, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Question: 29th March 2006
Predictive Diallers

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 7 March 2006, Official Report, column 1251W, on predictive diallers, what estimate she has made of the cost of establishing whether any public body for which her Department is responsible uses predictive dialling.(John Hemming)

A:My reply of 7 March 2006, Official Report, column 1251W, on predictive diallers was based on an estimate that it would cost between £3,000 and £6,000 (£5 to £10 for each public body concerned) to obtain this information from the bodies themselves. (Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)

Primary Care Trusts

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much purchaser protection adjustment she expects to be lost to each primary care trust in each of the next three years. (John Hemming)

A:holding answer 16 February 2006

The 2006–07 payment by results transitional adjustments for commissioners are based on giving primary care trusts 50 per cent. parity. No decision has yet been made on these adjustments beyond 2006–07. (Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)
 
Thursday, March 23, 2006
  NHS Dental Crisis Worsens
The implementation of the new Dental Contract is causing considerable chaos. Because of an error in the leaflet about the charges being paid for dentures the whole batch of leaflets about the new system have had to be withdrawn and reprinted. The Dentists Computer system is also not currently available which means that PCTs will encounter a cashflow problem as they will be unable to clawback charges. John Hemming MP said, "The DoH have budgeted for a 30% increase in charges to patients. They will have a cashflow problem if they cannot claim these back from the dentists. Their cash situation is particularly tight at the moment."

Documents leaked from the Department of Health that have been obtained by John Hemming MP show that the Department of Health is having considerable problems handling the developing NHS Dentistry Crisis

"The leak shows the Department are having a lot of problems handling the NHS Dental Crisis. One of the key changes is getting all the information centralised at the Department of Health. The notes say:
'For the introduction of the new contract a system of reporting from PCT to SHA to Department comms has been suggested so the Department can answer media questions without having to contact the PCT. The Department will produce a proforma for information requested, probably on a weekly basis for the next few weeks. It will be the sort of information the PCT should have anyway to answer local enquiries. Any good news stories or positive case studies would be welcomed by the Department.'
"This shows that the Department of Health are desperate for some positive stories to come out of the gradual phasing out of NHS Dentistry."

"The Department are also admitting problems with Polish Dentists ", said Mr Hemming
The Notes say:
'v. Funding for Polish dentists
Any funding for Polish dentists is part of the PCT’s allocations and if any dentist leaves before or after the three year contract then the money will remain with the PCT
There has been some difficulty with some Polish dentists underperforming and how this will relate to the new GDS contract.'

John Hemming said, "Although clearly as part of EU Enlargement people can move around the EU, It does worry me that government organisations are particularly targeting replacing UK dentists who have gone into debt to train as dentists en masse with cheaper dentists from Poland (or any other country). Polish dentists may be willing to work at £70 a day which is a lot cheaper than a plumber, but this approach is not a long term sustainable approach to providing reliable dentistry services. As people find out the costs of living in the UK they will stop doing this work and we end up in an unstable situation. The document leaked from the DoH makes this clear."

"The tightness of the finances are shown by the department's refusal to pay loss of earnings for Continual Professional Development training unlike the past."

"The Department are rightly preparing for large numbers of dentists not signing up to the contract. Their decision to allow people to sign the contract "subject to dispute" means, however, that there will be further bureaucratic nightmares that will seize up the arbitration system. It is a very unusual thing to have contracts signed where the terms are not actually agreed. This, however, will reduce the problems on 1st April.", said Mr Hemming.

"The contract itself is odd in that the PCT can cancel the contract at under a month's notice, but a Dentist has to give the PCT 3 month's notice or more."

"At 16th March only 1,648 Dentists out of the 6,007 who have agreed the new contracts actually know how much money they are being paid."

"An interesting decision of the department is that shortage of finance will not be permitted as a reason for refusing a contract. With PCT budgets being topsliced and the PPA withdrawn this will cause a further difficulties in that the PCTs have less and less control over their expenditure."

The following are extracts from the:
Senior Dental Leadership meeting – 16 March 2006
Notes of meeting
Devolving funds
There are at present two national pots of funds to be devolved worth £1M each
i. Travel and subsistence – a fact sheet soon to be available
ii. Audit money for Local Assessment Panels
These funds are from central budgets and there is no confirmation as to whether these will be paid next year but likely.
At present CPD and VT courses are claimed via the DPB, from money paid to them by the Department. In future this will be devolved to the PCTs. There will be a new FP84 form for dentists to claim travel (pegged at 23p per mile) but no longer loss of earnings payments. PCTs will have to have a system to pay dentists on the FP84.
Contract implementation
i. Progress in agreeing contracts
The numbers are going up rapidly, some are in dispute. If dentists are holding back, PCTs will need to have contingency plans to handle last minute decisions. Assurance to the public will also need to be available. SHA should hold a key role in solving the PCTs financial concerns.
ii. Progress in loading contracts
There should be no problems uploading the contracts with the DPB (BSA) but it is important it is done as soon as possible, otherwise problems will occur. At present 6,007 are in the system, of these only 1,648 have money values attached. Financial information has to be in the system by 31/3/06 otherwise dentist will not be paid. If money has yet to be agreed but a contract is to be issued, then send detail of contract as soon as possible and add money later. Please enter figures at 2005/6 prices on the contract as the uplift will be added automatically by DPB. (Even if sending post DDRB announcement on annual uplift). If this is not done the figures will be uplifted and create a financial risk to PCTs. CDO will be issuing information on payments to practitioners in the transitional period. Finance directors have been sent this information.
iii. Dispute resolution
Next week an advice sheet will be published on the PCC site as to how PCTs are to handle disputes. Local resolution is the first and most important step but can go to Litigation Authority. PCTs have to be open, clear and reasonable on any contracts in dispute and be able to defend their reasons (main disputes are over UDAs). It is very advisable not to say that a contract is not being issued due to lack of money from the Department. The Litigation Authority will not accept this as a legitimate reason for refusing what should be a strategic planning decision. PCTs may set themselves up for a financial risk if they argue the reason is lack of money. It would be helpful to have Board endorsement for any decision taken on refusal of contracts due to a strategic decision. SHAs should also be supporting these PCT decisions. Any dispute against primary legislation will not be accepted by the Litigation Authority (e.g. no audit payments made as none were paid in the test period).
iv. Replacing lost capacity
The tendering process is worthwhile, for value for money, if significant contracts are to be offered.
If a child only contract is being offered to a practice previously accepting all categories of patients (although not advisable) this can be done on a limited basis, so not locking the practice into a long term contract. Also the UDA value does not have to be the same. There would be a need to provide elsewhere the lost adult provision.
v. Changes being made to the model contract
There have been some changes made to the model contract by the Department and the BDA have been informed. None materially affect the contract, just a tidying up process. For contracts signed a variation order will be put on the web site for PCTs to issue.
Dentist to dentist referrals
The number of referrals will be monitored by the BSA.
Regulations only allow for referral for an entire course of treatment where the dentist accepting the patient will collect the patient charge and UDAs. If a dentist has seen a patient and made a decision after examination to refer, as they can not do the treatment, then the referring dentist will receive 1 UDA for the examination and collect the corresponding patient charge. The patient will be then seen as a new patient by the accepting dentist and start a new course of treatment at whatever band is appropriate.
Only with advanced mandatory services are split treatments allowed. The referring dentist would then collect the patient charges and UDAs. The accepting dentist would also be able to claim UDAs. This will only occur in cases such as surgical extraction of difficult teeth. Problems may occur in cross boundary referrals as patient charge revenue will be lost to the PCT doing the work. The BSA will be able to monitor this and the PCT may have to have an arrangement with the referring PCTs for cross charging if the sums are large. The SHA should be able to monitor this.
Replacement of lost appliances
Replacements will be charged at one third of band three. If a patient can not afford this there will be a form to fill in and the BSA will make a decision as to whether the replacement will be free (as in prior approval now).
Missed appointments
Good practice on how to handle missed appointments will be posted on the PCC web site. PCTs should agree how dentists should handle this.
Financial issues
i. General
It is recognised that budgets are tight. A number of PCTs are still holding back money for a) patient charge revenue, b) disputed contracts, c) dentists hold out on signing contracts. SHAs will look at redistributing any money PCTs do not commit.
ii. Forthcoming AWP
Previous AWP had some missing columns for PDS and Section 56. These have been looked at and will be on the next AWP. SHAs will written to with the final 05/06 prices and the adjustments that have been made. A formal AWP will be issued with 06/07 prices when the DDRB have announced the pay increase.
iii. Capital funding
It is possible that some capital funding may be available for PCT primary dental services (salaried). If there are any local developments that may benefit from capital investment then the Department should be contacted. The Department is also looking at any possibility for third party payments to practices (GDS). Any suggestion as to how this capital could be used should be sent to the Department.

iv. Central budgets
How these can be devolved to the NHS is being discussed (£3.7M occupational health service money, £1M clinical audit and a small amount of KITS money). This will be either in the general allocation to PCTs or ring fenced dental funds.
Travel and subsistence comes from a different central budget but its devolvement is also being discussed.

They will probably be devolved to SHA level.

v. Funding for Polish dentists
Any funding for Polish dentists is part of the PCT’s allocations and if any dentist leaves before or after the three year contract then the money will remain with the PCT

There has been some difficulty with some Polish dentists underperforming and how this will relate to the new GDS contract. Any contract variation is a matter for the PCT to agree. PDS agreements already have a generous UDA level so care has to be taken in negotiating down UDAs. Best way of handling this is by local negotiation.

vi. Vocational trainees
After April the present VTs will be paid by the BSA on the instructions of the PCT. The SHA will be cross charged for this as the budget allocations will have been removed from the PCT baselines.

No clarity as yet as to how the Deanery will be funded for equivalence training.

1,875 UDAs are applied to VTs in practice (15% less than they are now doing, on average). Any variation will need to be discussed by the PCT but money will not be taken away. These 1,875 UDAs will be split over two VT trainees and will need to be handled locally in the transition period. The money will stay the same.
Media handling
For the introduction of the new contract a system of reporting from PCT to SHA to Department comms has been suggested so the Department can answer media questions without having to contact the PCT. The Department will produce a proforma for information requested, probably on a weekly basis for the next few weeks. It will be the sort of information the PCT should have anyway to answer local enquiries. Any good news stories or positive case studies would be welcomed by the Department.
Fluoridation
A Bill is being taken through the European parliament on fluoridation in which some anti fluoridation MEPs have placed an amendment that may almost make it impossible to use fluoride in water or foods. The Department is monitoring this.
 
  Stealth Tax on Private Emails ?!?
The link is to Chapter A of yesterday's Budget. This includes raising £50 million next year (£100m, £150m subsequent years) from removing the exemption from income tax of loan of a computer.

If you take your laptop home then one presumes that is loan of a computer if you use it for private activity. It appears then that the HMRC will have to monitor how many private emails you send or how much other private useage you make.

If you, therefore, play a game of Freecell on a company computer it could be argued that you are borrowing the computer for that purpose and hence should pay a little extra tax.

I am not sure this is that workable a proposal.
 
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 22nd March 2006
Results Tariff

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the reasons were for the withdrawal of the national tariff for payment by results; when her Department will indicate what payment by results tariff will apply for financial year 2006–07; and if she will make a statement.(John Hemming)

A:Regrettably it was necessary to withdraw the tariff for 2006–07 in order to correct underlying errors in the calculation. We are now testing the revised tariff with the help of national health service colleagues, and will publish a corrected version as soon as possible. (Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)

NICE Appraisals

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health who authorised the signing of the contract between the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Southampton Technology Assessment Centre (SHTAC) that provides that the cost-effectiveness model prepared by SHTAC for NICE for consideration in the technology appraisal of donepezil, rivastigmine, galantamine and memantine for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease cannot be disclosed under the Freedom of Information Act 2000; and if she will make a statement. (John Hemming)

A:The contract, with the University of Southampton, for technology assessment review reports was authorised by the Department's director of research and development (R&D) and signed by an official on behalf of the Secretary of State for Health. It is a standard Departmental R&D contract, which invests intellectual property with the research contractor. Details of the relevant intellectual property policy is available on the Department's website at: www.dh.gov.uk/PolicyAndGuidance/ResearchAndDevelopment.
(Jane Kennedy, Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health)

Strategic Health Authorities

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health

(1) how much she estimates will be top sliced from strategic health authority budgets in the year 2006–07;

(2) if she will reverse the decision to top slice primary care trust budgets to meet financial targets.(John Hemming)

A:The requirement for national health service organisations to bank reserves with their strategic health authority (SHA) was announced by the Department in "The NHS in England: the operating framework for 2006–07".

The amount of reserve to be banked and the terms of the agreement will be agreed with their SHA. SHAs are responsible for the financial management of the organisations within their area and for delivering financial planning targets agreed with the Department. Holding financial reserves is a prudent approach to financial management, so the Department is encouraging SHAs to hold reserves because it will help them deliver their financial targets.

There are no plans to top slice SHA budgets, but any net overspending by organisations within a SHA area in 2005–06 will result in a reduced allocation in 2006–07 for that SHA in line with Government resource accounting and budgeting rules on the carry forward of over and under spending. (Jane Kennedy, Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health)
 
  Are New Labour Maoists?
Maoism supports the concept of "continual revolution". It seems that New Labour prefer instability to stability and see "continual reform" as a good mechanism for quality services.

Sadly they have turned up the heat of continual change on the health service. This is causing problems all over the country.
 
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 21st March 2006
Classrooms

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how many classrooms in schools have been built under private finance initiative schemes; what the size is of each new classroom; what guidance she has issued on the minimum size of classroom; and if she will make a statement. (John Hemming)

A:The Department does not hold information specifically on the number or size of new classrooms in PFI schools. We produce non-statutory guidance on the overall size of schools and of individual classrooms in the form of Building Bulletins 98 and 99: 'Briefing Framework for Secondary School Projects' and 'Briefing Framework for Primary School Projects', respectively. The application of this guidance to individual projects is a matter for local decision-making, although the Department strongly encourages local authorities to follow the area guidelines set out in its Building Bulletins. (Jacqui Smith, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills)

Gas Imports

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what increases in capacity to import gas are planned for winter 2006–07.(John Hemming)

A:There are currently three import projects due to commission for winter 2006–07. The projects are: the new Langeled pipeline from Norway, a new interconnector between Great Britain and the Netherlands and a further upgrade to the existing Interconnector between Great Britain and Belgium. The three projects when fully operational are expected to increase Great Britain's maximum daily import capacity by 133 million cubic metres. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister for energy, Department of Trade and Industry)
 
  Meltdown in NHS Finances
The link is to my speech yesterday about Health Finances.

Although there are problems at the moment which are in part hidden by the money-go-round in the health economy it does appear that the goverment are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that the problems are far greater in the coming financial year.

The government's big mistake is to reorganise everything when actually the system needs some stability.
 
Friday, March 17, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 17th March 2006
Post Office Card Account

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions how many people in Birmingham collect their (a) pensions and (b) benefit payments through the Post Office card account.(John Hemming)
A:holding answer UIN 53834 27 February 2006

The information is not available in the format requested.

Information showing the number of DWP benefit and pension payment accounts paid by direct payment into a Post Office card account for each parliamentary constituency has been placed in the Library. (James Plaskitt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Work and Pensions)

Departmental Procedures

Q: To ask the Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs if her Department will take steps to ensure that a photocopy of marked registers is kept locally for each constituency before the original is taken to storage. (John Hemming)
A:The Electoral Administration Bill will provide that at future parliamentary elections, it will be the responsibility of electoral registration officers to store and supply copies of the marked registers, locally. This is already the case for the local elections. (Harriet Harman, Minister of State, Department for Constitutional Affairs)

Tax Credits

Q: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer in each financial year since its inception how many people the tax credits computer system has recorded as deceased who were still living. (John Hemming)
A:This information is not available. (Dawn Primarolo, Paymaster General, HM Treasury)
 
  NHS Cash Crisis 'won't hit patients' !?!
Pull the other one.

The problem is that they are doing too many things at once. They are trying to handle a financial crisis, introducing completely new financial rules, reorganising the commissioners of most of the services (64.309 bn of about 69).

There will be costs from the reorganisation not savings. If they were serious about managing the service in a proper manner they would:

a) Stop the PCT reorganisation apart from those where there is a local call for reorganisation.
b) Either reverse the removal of PPA or change the tariff system for PbR.
c) Stop moving as much funding outside the NHS.

There are substantial costs to reorganisations. Redundancies cost money. Changing things in the public sector is, therefore, something that takes planning.

I think they will be forced to remove PbR to some extent as it is being used to ratchet up the costs.

There are good arguments for transactional payments, but there is no financial leeway in the system to cope with the consequences.

If an NHS organisation other than a Foundation Trust cannot pay its way then the NHS and Department of Health remains liable. The saga in Woolwich where the hospital has stopped paying its tax bill shows the difficulties. It will have to be paid at some stage.

There is also a tendency to slush money around the health economy. This is a zero net sum process whereby deficits merely get moved around.
 
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
  Gas Debate and Drugs
I was pleased to persuade The (Deputy) Speaker to have an Emergency Debate on the gas crisis - see link.

I will put my text on the Gas issues blog.

In the mean time I have now written a letter referring the Drugs overpayment to the National Audit Office. There are clear financial problems in the NHS and if the NHS is overpaying for drugs then that should stop.
 
  NHS Finances Debate
Surprisingly few MPs turned up at this. That meant I got a short unplanned speech in.

I thank my hon. Friend the Member for St. Ives (Andrew George) for arranging this debate. I also thank you, Mr. Amess, for calling me to speak, and I know that I have to end at half-past 10. I had not intended to speak, but when I saw how few Members were intending to participate, I thought that I could perhaps get in.

I particularly congratulate the hon. Member for North-East Milton Keynes (Mr. Lancaster) on identifying all the key points that are causing a major crisis in the finances of the health service. The hon. Member for Banbury (Tony Baldry) mentioned purchaser protection adjustment, and there is also the top-slicing of primary care trusts and the fact that we do not yet know what the tariffs will be. It is important to understand what impact that can have on hospitals.

There are certain ways in which trusts can press a button and get money from their PCTs. Some PCTs are finding that unusual things are being diagnosed and that that benefits the trusts. We cannot complain when trusts do that—they are simply using the processes that exist—but it puts other PCTs under financial pressure.

The top-slicing varies. The initial figures were between 2 per cent. and 6 per cent. and will perhaps end up at 1.5 per cent. or 2 per cent. The purchaser protection adjustment may be 2 per cent. For my trust, it is 2 per cent. this year, 3 per cent. the year after and 4 per cent.—compared with the current financial year, of course—in the subsequent year.

The big problem is that things are done at the last minute. Anyone who does financial planning in the public sector needs time to plan. In that respect, Ministers have responsibility for the shambles that they are creating in the health service because they are signing off last-minute changes to the finances. A large part of those finances are difficult to change, so those parts that can be changed suffer greater changes, and emergency care is one of them. Obviously, certain people put a greater demand on emergency resources, so a lot of effort will go into them.

It has recently been argued that managers should be sacked without compensation if they fail to manage finances—that is, they will not get a peerage. However, we really have to ask whether Ministers should be sacked without compensation for putting us in the current situation, because this is the calm before the storm. It is no good the Government saying, "It's all about local decisions," because it is not. The Government claim credit for putting lots of money into health services and say, "Isn't it brilliant?" They then cut the amount available and say, "It's nothing to do with us, guv—it's all to do with local decisions. You've closed the hospital. You've got to balance the books." However, the fact is that last-minute changes are causing the crisis.

Payment by results is turning into a massive shambles across the country. There are last-minute changes, there is no co-ordination and people have no time to plan. Frankly, we have to look very carefully at top-slicing and payment by activity [this should be the purchaser protection adjustment], which is about £320 million across the country. If we reverse that, there is a better chance of doing something over the next year. Otherwise, everything will be a total mess.
 
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Question: 14th March 2005
Iraq

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the policy of the Coalition is on the protection and identification of holy sites in Iraq. (John Hemming)
A:The Iraqi Government has responsibility for the identification and protection of holy sites in Iraq. The Coalition does, however, take very seriously the need to respect Iraq's religious, historical and cultural heritage. UK forces respect sites of cultural sensitivity wherever they are deployed in the world. As part of the Coalition in Iraq, UK forces provide support as necessary to the Iraqi security forces as they continue to build stability and security. (Adam Ingram, Minister of State (Armed Forces), Ministry of Defence)
 
Monday, March 13, 2006
  SEARCH FOR MOST FAMOUS INDUSTRIALIST STARTS WITH VOTING
SEARCH FOR MOST FAMOUS INDUSTRIALIST STARTS WITH VOTING
(ROUND TWO - THE REGIONAL HALL OF FAME)

The first round of voting for The Regional Wall of Fame reached a breathtaking climax last month, as the search to find the first faces to grace the wall was concluded by the general public; who, after a close contest voted authors David Lodge and Arnold Bennett as the most renowned authors from the Midlands. Now, it’s time for round 2 to begin, as we embark upon the search to find the most famous industrialist from the regions of Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, Worcester and the West Midlands. The shortlist has been drawn up, and the voting is about to begin! We are inviting members of the general public to participate again by calling our dedicated hotlines, and placing their vote for the person whom they think is the most renowned industrialist from the Midlands.

The list features 12 of the greatest industrialists, all of whom were either born in or resided in the Midlands area. The companies and the products they created have helped shape the way we live and work on a global scale. Many of the machines and ideas they patented not only helped kick-start an industrial revolution, but some of the processes and inventions they created played a substantial part in the development of manufacturing and industry, helping to make England a global force both commercially and innovatively.

Vote for Herbert Austin (Birmingham) - 09011962040
Vote for Matthew Boulton (Birmingham) - 09011962041
Vote for the Brintons (Worcester) - 09011962042
Vote for George Cadbury (Birmingham) - 09011962043
Vote for The Chances (Birmingham) - 09011962044
Vote for Abraham Darby 1st,2nd and 3rd (Worcester/Shropshire) - 09011962045
Vote for Sir Alfred Hickman (West Midlands/Staffordshire) - 09011962046
Vote for Noah Hingley (Birmingham) - 09011962047
Vote for Sir William Lyons (Birmingham/West Midlands) – 09011962048
Vote for The Tangyes (Birmingham) – 09011962049
Vote for James Watt (Birmingham) - 09011962050
Vote for Josiah Wedgwood (Staffordshire) - 09011962051

Once the votes have been collated the exhibits will be unveiled at City Plaza, Birmingham. In future months the Wall of Fame will be looking for the most renowned actors, light entertainers, comedians, Industrialists, musicians (pop, Jazz and classical) and politicians.

John Hemming (MP), originator of The Regional Wall of Fame said,
“As an entrepreneur myself, I would hope that this contest would inspire people to take up the phone and vote, the list above features some of the most recognisable captains of industry, many of whom, through their products have become known globally”

The deadline for the 2nd round of voting ends on March 31st 2006. Votes can also be processed via email at The Wall of Fame headquarters and sent to Ernie Hendricks hendrickse@parliament.uk or to John Hemming (MP) hemmingj@parliament.uk. Any media enquiries should be addressed directly to John Hemming (07958 398 388) or Ernie Hendricks 0121 256 1310. Mail can also be sent to Regional Wall of Fame, Osmond House, 78 Alcester Road, Moseley, Birmingham B13 8BB. All calls cost 10p per minute, of which The Regional Wall of Fame receives 3p, monies that will be used exclusively to promote and develop The Regional Wall Of Fame.

Herbert Austin (1866 – 1941)
Birmingham

He became an engineer after doing an apprenticeship in Australia, and was asked by Frederick Wolseley, a businessman, if he would supervise a sheep shearing equipment factory in a small workshop in Birmingham. The company also made bicycle components and small machine parts as sheep shearing equipment only sold at certain times of the year. In 1901 Herbert became a member of the board and in 1911 he became chairman. He was always interested in developing a petrol driven car and in 1905 he launched out into business for himself as the Austin Motor Company, setting up in Longbridge. The company flourished, but production ceased during the First World War and the plant made guns and aircraft. After the war, the company went on to make the successful Austin 7; it was around that time that Herbert became Conservative MP for Kings Norton. As he became wealthy he gave money to philanthropic causes supporting the hospitals in Birmingham. He was made a Baron in 1936 and given an honorary doctorate of law from Birmingham University in 1937. He had two daughters, one of whom had a son who was killed in action in 1915. The peerage of Lord Austin became extinct after his death in 1941.

Matthew Boulton (1728-1809)
Birmingham

Matthew Boulton, the son of a silver-stamper, was born in Birmingham in 1728. After the death of his father, Boulton purchased a piece of barren heath at nearby Soho, and opened a much larger coin-making works. In 1773, Boulton went into partnership with the inventor, James Watt. For the next eleven years Boulton's factory produced and sold Watt's steam engines. Boulton & Watt's machines were very popular because they were four times more powerful than those that had been based on the Thomas Newcomen design. James Watt continued to experiment and in 1781 he produced a rotary-motion steam engine. Whereas his earlier machines, with their up-and-down pumping action, were ideal for draining mines, this new steam engine could be used to drive many different types of machinery. Richard Arkwright was quick to see the importance of this new invention, and in 1783 he began using steam engines in his textile factories. Others followed his lead and after fifteen years there were over 500 of Boulton & Watt's machines in Britain's mines and factories. In 1786 Boulton applied steam power to coining machines. So successful was the process that as well as his supplying the home market, he produced coins for foreign governments as well.

Brintons of Kidderminster
Worcester

William Brinton first founded a business for the dying of cloth, fabric and spun yarns 1783, in Hill Pool, Kidderminster. In later years a factory was established by Henry, the son of William to make carpets which became very successful. By the time Henry became the Lord Mayor of Kidderminster in 1840, there were well over 2,000 carpet looms and 24 carpet manufacturers in Kidderminster and by 1876 the company was the biggest in the town with spinning facilities and was being run by Henry’s older son Henry Jnr. Developing and producing their own looms gave them an edge on competition and a reputation for producing quality carpets. The royal warrant was granted in 1957 in recognition of supplying carpets to the royal households. Brinton’s have made the worlds largest ever woven carpet, 135,000 square meters of custom designed axminster was supplied for the Chek Lap Kok International Airport in Hong Kong. In 2005 Brintons supplied 20,000 square metres of custom woven carpets for P&O’s Arcadia. The main operations have moved out of Kidderminster town center but an administrative presence still remains. Brintons have become an international company, selling carpets throughout the world, and is still a privately owned.

George Cadbury 1839 – 1922
Birmingham

Born in Edgbaston, George was the son of a tea and coffee dealer John Cadbury. The family were the first to sell cocoa in Britain in a powder so customers could add water or milk to make a tasty drink. Georges Quaker upbringing meant he dedicated a lot of time helping others less privileged than himself, he felt the need to give something back as an act of helpfulness. Cadbury strongly believed that if you looked after your employees they would look after your business. He built his workers houses and grouped them around cul-de-sacs and gardens to create a community. He also built a hospital, reading rooms and washhouses. In 1897 Cadbury made their first chocolate bar, it was called Cadbury’s Dairy Milk and soon became Britain’s best selling chocolate bar. His confectionary is now recognised world wide, and his contributions to Birmingham and the area of Bournville still stands today.

James and Robert Chance
Birmingham

The Chance brothers started a family business that lasted for six generations. The founder was Robert Lucas Chance, who purchased an existing glass making company in Spon Lane Smethwick in 1824. With his driving force and business acumen he established the largest enterprise in Great Britain for the manufacture of plate and window glass, lighthouse lenses and optical glasses. It was the founder’s nephew James Timmins Chance, whose ingenuity in mechanising the glass-making process gave the firm their pre-eminent position. The firm glazed the Crystal Palace and Houses of Parliament, made the white glass for the four faces of Big Ben and created ornamental windows for the White House in America. Chances manufactured stained glass windows, ornamental lampshades, microscope glass slides, painted glassware and lenses, lights and machinery for lighthouses around the world. Chances perfected the first optical lenses to block the harmful ultra-violet rays of the sun.

Abraham Darby (1st, 2nd and 3rd) (1678 - 1791)
Worcester/Shropshire

The Derby family’s business spun out across three generations, and were all connected with the Iron Industry. Abraham Derby the 1st was born in Dudley, Worcestershire, in 1678 the son of a Quaker family. Originally the creator of the Baptist Mill Brass Foundry in Bristol he soon turned his attention to Iron as he saw it as a cheap substitute to Brass for the manufacture of cooking utensils. He patented the idea of sand casting and after leasing an old Iron Furnace in Coalbrookdale he went on to perfect a technique for smelting iron ore by the use of coke. Soon the works in Coalbrookdale on the river Severn began producing iron of the highest quality. It was his son; Abraham Derby the 2nd who discovered how to make wrought iron from coke- smelted ore. This process produced a malleable wrought iron as opposed to a cast iron that could be rolled out in a rolling mill. Abraham the 3rd lived for just 41 years from 1750 but enhanced the company’s reputation by constructing the world’s first cast iron bridge, a 100-foot structure that had been prefabricated in his factory. The bridge is still in use today.

Sir Alfred Hickman (1830 – 1910)
West Midlands - Staffordshire

Alfred Hickman began his commercial career with his father G.B Hickman, the managing partner in the Moat Colliery, Tipton. The family acquired a steel works which prospered and led to Alfred becoming President of the British Iron Trades Council and president of Wolverhampton Chamber of Commerce. Alfred’s company Tarmac initially came from an idea from Edgar Purnell Hooley who noticed a barrel of tar had burst. The spilt tar had been covered with waste slag from nearby furnaces and had, by chance, produced a remarkable dust-free, hard-wearing surface. In a short time he had formed the company Tar Macadam to produce road surfaces. Hooley was not a business man and in 1905, the business was taken over. The new chairman was Sir Alfred Hickman - now a Member of Parliament for Wolverhampton, and also owner of the largest steelworks in the area. Sir Alfred had been taken with the idea of being able to turn the vast amount of waste product from his blast furnaces into money! The company was moved to Wolverhampton and re-named Tarmac - a name that would eventually become part of the English language and used the world over. The initial business was supplying road-surfacing materials but soon customers were asking Tarmac to lay the material and then actually build the roads, and so the company developed a construction operation.

Noah Hingley (1795-1877)
Birmingham

The firm of N. Hingley and Sons has existed as a family run business since the 1830’s. Based in Netherton, Dudley, Noah started in his father’s workshop, producing nails and small chains. The business soon grew to employ 1600 people in the area, mining coal, smelting iron ore and manufacturing wrought iron goods. In the early years the Hingley plant would become the leading manufacturer of wrought Iron anchors and chains. Under his son Benjamin, the company’s claim to fame lies with the making of the anchors for ships like Bismarck and the Titanic. The biggest anchor weighed in at 15tons and was hauled from Netherton Ironworks by 20 shire horses.

Sir William Lyons (Jaguar Coventry) (1901 – 1985)
West-Midlands

Renowned creator of the Jaguar car, he first started designing coachwork at the age of 21 when he became a partner of the Swallow Sidecar and Coach-building Co in 1927. The company offered coachwork designs for the Austin Sedan. In 1928 he moved his works to Coventry. The first success in manufacturing came with the SS1 and SS2, and soon afterwards the SS Jaguars. It was not until after the war that the name of his company changed completely to Jaguar Cars Ltd since the letters SS had bad connotations. With the XK120 and in later years the D types and E types, and wins at the Le Mans 24hr race, the brand became legendary; known for its classic good looks, build quality and performance. In 1956 William was knighted and eventually retired in 1972. He still visited the plant, where his opinions were always valued.

The Tangyes (1833 – 1906)
Birmingham

Richard Tangy was originally from Cornwall but came to Birmingham in 1852, he was involved actively with the Liberal party and also wrote books. He obtained a clerkship in a small engineering firm in the city where he gained a better understanding of engineering. He first started business as a hardware manufacturer and commissioning agent. With his two brothers who were also skilled mechanics, they carved out a niche for themselves manufacturing machinery. Their hydraulic lifting jacks were successfully employed in the launching of the steamship, The Great Eastern. A good employer, Richard introduced the system of Saturday half-holiday which was adopted in all English industrial works. The Tangyes family went on to sell their power machinery all over the world – hydraulic, gas, steam, oil and electricity. The business was turned into a limited company and in 1894 Richard Tangye was knighted. With his brother George Tangye, Richard also founded the Birmingham Art Gallery and the School of Art.

James Watt (1736 – 1819)
Birmingham

James Watt, the man responsible for calibrating ‘horse power’, was born in Greenock, Scotland in 1736. He became and instrument maker and soon developed a reputation as a quality engineer. He was sent a Newcomen steam engine to repair, and whilst putting it back together he discovered how he could make the engine more efficient by adding a condenser which was separate from the main cylinder. After an unsuccessful business venture, whereupon his partner went bankrupt, Watt teamed with the successful businessman from Birmingham Matthew Boulton. They sold Watts’s steam engine to colliery owners who used them to pump water form their mines. Other inventions included a rotary-motion-steam engine. Due to a patent granted by Parliament, the Boulton and Watt Company had a virtual monopoly over the production of steam engines, when he died the shrewd businessman was a very wealthy man.

Josiah Wedgwood (1730 – 1792)
Staffordshire

Born in Staffordshire he was always destined to become a potter and designer of crockery. He started as a ‘thrower’ in the pottery of his eldest brother, Thomas. Due to smallpox he had to have his right leg amputated and so was forced to abandon throwing. He instead turned his eye on modelling. He went to work for the firm of Thomas Wheildon of Fenton and from there he opened works of his own. He made the models himself and prepared the clay mixes. It was in 1769 that he opened a new factory in Stoke On Trent where he improved on the clumsy ordinary crockery of the day and in 1762 he became the Queens potter. He invented the pyrometer to measure oven temperatures and took a keen interest in factory organisation. When he died he left a £500,000 fortune and a thriving business. His pottery is still collected by collectors all over the world.
 
  Gas Balancing Alert on gasissues blog
People who are wondering why I have not commented on this blog about the Gas Balancing Alert (and probable emergency) should click on the link.

In the mean time my fingers did go rather cold on the St Patrick's day parade. I may find a photo somewhere on the web.

After that I spoke at a meeting in Digbeth. Today I have been looking at Birmingham issues and doing some preparing for the local elections (apart from looking at the Gas Supply problem).
 
Saturday, March 11, 2006
  A kitkat free advice bureau
I think today was the busiest advice bureau with 18 groups of people (some of which were one person). I had over 40 people present which made me so busy I could not find time to eat the Kit-Kat I had bought before starting.

I have had 40 people present before, but that involved three substantial groups adding to about 20 plus 20 others.

Because I don't run appointments I cannot be certain how many people I will see and some bureaux have been quite quiet.

We are trying to encourage people to phone, write or attend during the week. However, I work hard to make sure that I do the Saturday bureau myself. Officially it starts at 11 and runs for an hour. However, I normally try to start about 10.30am to clear the queue. I did manage to finish at 12.15pm which I thought was quite good.

I wanted to take my 5 year old swimming later as I have the St Patrick's day parade and a party event tomorrow which will prevent me taking her swimming.

It is looking worryingly cold tomorrow. The last time I played the guitar for St the Patrick's day parade my fingers got numb. A previous year was spectacularly wet.

Hopefully it will be reasonable weather tomorrow.
 
  MG Rover
The National Audit Office have produced a report that I have not as yet read about the relations between MG Rover and the DTI.

The first thing to note is that MG Rover produced good cars that themselves were produced at a profitable margin. They, however, sold too few and therefore could not maintain the number of staff they had.

Had the deal with SAIC gone ahead there would have been about 3,000 redundancies (half the plant). They could have made redundancies previously to bring the income and expenditure into line, but for whatever reason this did not happen.

The final failure of the company arose from the publicity surrounding its financial difficulties (which mainly came from the government) causing people to stop providing supplies on credit.

Were any deal to be possible through administration it would only have happened following substantial redundancies.

I do think a deal with SAIC would have been possible if the government had not withdrawn the offer of a loan.

What I find sad about the whole process is that it would have been possible for the company to have succeeded following the deal in 2000. However, key errors were made.

BDO are still working on their report. It is quite substantial and I don't know when they are supposed to report.
 
Friday, March 10, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Question: 10th March 2006
Predictive Diallers

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 30 January 2006, Official Report, column 187W, on predictive diallers, whether any public body for which her Department is responsible uses predictive dialling. (John Hemming)
A:The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost. (Liam Byrne, Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department of Health)
 
Thursday, March 09, 2006
  Last Minute PCT Cuts estimated at £1,280,000,000
I now know the exact total as to what is being cut from PCTs as a result of the removal of the Purchaser Protection Adjustment. That figure is £320,229,000.
If we use an estimate of 1.5% of the clawback/topslice from PCTs and assume that PCTs spend £64bn (actually £64.309 bn). Then that figure is £960M.

This gives a total last minute cut of £1.28bn,

The problem with this approach is that it puts all sorts of problems into the system whether people are well organised and cost effective or not.

Sadly I was not called to raise this at Business Questions earlier today although I did manage to raise the issue of the Aviation White Paper which is causing blight in Sheldon.
 
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 8th March 2006
Pharmacist Fees

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 13 February 2006, Official Report, columns 1759–64W, on pharmacist fees, what the difference is between the generic reimbursement prices and the prices at which (a) Simvastatin, (b) Lisinopril and (c) Amlodipine could be purchased by pharmacists and dispensing doctors; how much would be recovered by a discount inquiry on that basis for each drug; and if she will break down the information in table one by price category for each drug.(John Hemming)
A:holding answer 28 February 2006

As stated in my reply on 13 February 2006, Official Report, columns 1760–63, simvastatin, lisinopril and amlodipine are included in the new category M in the drug tariff which was introduced in April 2005. The new arrangements for the community pharmacy contractual framework, together with category M are managed to deliver funding for the contractual framework of £1.766 billion in 2005–06. Of this sum, £0.5 billion is derived from margins on medicines retained by community pharmacy contractors and as a result market prices available to contractors will in most cases be less than reimbursement prices paid to contractors. The Department has arrangements in place agreed under the pharmacy contractual framework to ensure that the contract sum is delivered. This is based on information from a sample of pharmacy contractors submitted on a commercial-in-confidence basis. (Jane Kennedy, Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health)

Private Finance Initiative

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 8 February 2006, Official Report, column 1325W, on the private finance initiative (PFI), what the net present value is of payments under the PFI contract for (a) Whipps Cross NHS Trust, (b) Peterborough Hospitals NHS Trust and (c) Walsall Hospitals NHS Trust; what the net present value is of the public sector comparator; and how much of the net present value of the public sector comparator is accounted for by the optimism bias.(John Hemming)
A:holding answer 27 February 2006

At both Walsall and Whipps Cross National Health Service Trusts, the costs of the private finance initiative option are not yet finalised so net present values of payments are not available.

The outline business case for Walsall NHS Trust is on their website at www.walsall.wmids.nhs.uk. This shows at page 97 that an allowance of 15 per cent. has been made for optimism bias at the time of publication (November 2004). Page 107 contains a table with the economic analysis of all the options considered by the trust; the public sector comparator is option six and shows the net present value as £2,670,240,000.

For Whipps Cross NHS Trust, the trust has halted their current scheme. They are in the process of revising their proposals which will then be submitted in a new outline business case. Figures from their previous outline business case are subject to significant change.

Peterborough and Stamford hospitals is a NHS foundation trust and their private finance initiative scheme is also still in procurement. In accordance with protocol on foundation trusts, requests for information on this trust should be directed to their chairman. (Jane Kennedy, Minister of State (Quality and Patient Safety), Department of Health)
 
  Another 5% cut in PCT budgets
The link is to the NHS Operating Framework 2006/7.

Section 2 is the key. This talks about achieving financial health. It basically means that Primary Care Trusts will have monies topsliced from their budgets to fund deficits elsewhere in the NHS.

In the West Midlands this is a figure of ... wait for it ... £373 Million. It ends up as about 5% of PCT budgets. This is to cover the deficits in the West Midlands.

I have just written a few questions for ministers, but I really don't think they know what they are doing.

This is, of course, a national issue.
 
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Questions: 7th March 2006
Head Teachers

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what recent assessment her Department has made of the level of morale among head teachers. (John Hemming)
A:Current indicators suggest that head teacher morale is generally good. A recent independent MORI survey published in 2005, found that the majority of head teachers were positive about their leadership role: nine in 10 said they felt confident in what they did and enjoyed it. However, we know the job is challenging which is why we have the NCSL to support and develop school leaders. (Jacqui Smith, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills)

Immigrant Children

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding was provided to support newly arrived immigrant children in the last year for which figures are available; and if she will take steps to increase such funding. (John Hemming)
A:Funding is available from three sources: local authority allocations of Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG); the Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant (EMAG); and Unaccompanied Asylum Seekers Carers (UASC) Grant. The formula used to calculate Schools Formula Spending Share for 2005–06 and previous years took account of the extra spending needed by those authorities with populations of children for whom English is an additional language, and from low performing ethnic groups. Approximately £435 million of the £24.6 billion Schools FSS for 2005–06 was distributed on the basis of numbers of children in these two categories. Since the formula for Dedicated Schools Grant starts from local authorities' spending on schools for 2005–06, that will also take account of the extra spending needed by authorities with such children. There will be increases in allocations of Dedicated Schools Grant per pupil of 6.8 per cent. and 6.7 per cent. for 2006–07 and 2007–08. The formula for distributing Ethnic Minority Achievement Grant also uses the proportion of children for whom English is an additional language, and from low performing ethnic groups. The total amount of funding for EMAG was: for 2005–06, £168 million; for 2006–07, £174 million and for 2007–08, £179 million. The figure for 2005–06 includes local authority matched funding; the figures for 2006–07 and 2007–08 are DfES grant, and reflect the transfer of matched funding from Dedicated Schools Grant for those years. We made available £11 million of UASC Grant in 2005–06, and plan to make available £12 million in 2006–07 and 2007–08. The grant is paid retrospectively in line with the number of UASC care leavers supported by each local authority.(Jacqui Smith, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills)

League Tables

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills what assessment she has made of the effect of school league tables on the year six curriculum. (John Hemming)
A:My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has not commissioned such an assessment. Pupils take National Curriculum tests in Year 6 to assess how well they have mastered the Key Stage 2 curriculum in English, mathematics and science—subjects of crucial importance to their success at secondary school. The fact that the test results will, in due course, be published should have no direct effect on the Year 6 curriculum, in these or other subjects. Evidence from Ofsted shows that good test results are associated with a broad curriculum and engaging teaching. (Jacqui Smith, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills)

Primary School Administration

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills if she will take steps to reduce the rate at which changes to the administrative procedures undertaken by head teachers of primary schools are introduced. (John Hemming)
A:We recognise that we ask a lot of primary school leaders. We are determined though that every primary school should provide all their children, whatever their background, with the support they need to be healthy; stay safe; enjoy and achieve; make a positive contribution; develop as confident and enthusiastic learners; and grasp the basic skills of literacy and numeracy....
This answer is a long one, please follow the link for the full answer
(Jacqui Smith, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills)

Primary School Administration

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Skills how much funding was available for special educational needs in primary schools in the last year for which figures are available; and if she will take steps to increase such funding.(John Hemming)
A:During the 2005–06 financial year, local authorities in England budgeted net expenditure of £4.1 billion for the provision of education for children with special educational needs (SEN). Certain elements of this budgeted expenditure are retained centrally by the local authority and SEN funding cannot be attributed to a particular phase of education. An overall figure for the budgeted net expenditure for special educational needs in primary schools is not therefore available. However, expenditure can be broken down as shown in the following table....
This answer is a long one, please follow the link for the full answer
(Jacqui Smith, Minister of State (Schools and 14-19 Learners), Department for Education and Skills)
 
Monday, March 06, 2006
  Police Mergers Rumble on
The police merger juggernaut is continuing to rumble on even though it will cost a lot to go forwards.

This is a good example of really bad government.
 
  So far so good
I am one of the people who welcomes Ming Campbell's aim to have more professionalism in the way in which the Lib Dems operate.

That, however, does not mean that I support the suggestions of requiring lone parents of children aged 11 to get jobs.

I was also uncomfortable with the proposals on the Royal Mail. We need to have an effective policy on how to maintain the network of sub-Post Offices and there was 95% agreement as to much of the resolution passed. There did, however, remain a 5% disagreement. The agreement relates to the outcomes, the disagreement relates to the process. However, this disagreement is not as great as that relating to requiring lone parents of children aged 11+ to work.
 
Thursday, March 02, 2006
  Dave's tests
The new Extra-Green "Dave" Cameron has professed his concern about all things green. He faces two key tests:

a) Will his party sabotage the microgeneration bill next week.
b) Will he accept that there can be no major expansion of air flight.
 
Wednesday, March 01, 2006
  Written Parliamentary Question: 1st March 2006
Nuclear Fuels

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the market price of each category of nuclear fuel was on 13 February. (John Hemming)
A:There is no fixed market price for categories of nuclear fuel. The price is commercially confidential information and is one which is agreed between the vendor and purchaser according to the terms of the contract. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry)

Nuclear Fuels

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his answer of 7 February 2006, Official Report, column 1073W, on nuclear fuels, how many tonnes of non-spent nuclear material were imported into the UK in the latest year for which records are available, broken down by country of export.(John Hemming)
A:I am advised by British Energy that the last fabricated fuel imported into the UK was from Germany in 2004 and comprised 36.467 tonnes of uranium for Sizewell B power station. (Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry)

Nuclear Fuels

Q: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry pursuant to his answer of 7 February 2006, Official Report, column 1073W, on nuclear fuels, if he will break down each of the volumes of uranium by isotope of uranium. (John Hemming)
A:BNFL and British Energy inform me that volumes of uranium used in their reactors, for years where figures are available, are broken down as follows:

BNFL British Energy
tU-235 tU-238 tU-235 tU-238
2002 —--- —---- 8.4 258.6
2003 3.067 420.49 8.5 260.5
2004 2.585 351.904 6.5 205.5
2005 2.970 405.29 —--- —---
(Malcolm Wicks, Minister for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry)
 

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better brent chart

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12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004 / 07/01/2004 - 08/01/2004 / 12/01/2004 - 01/01/2005 / 01/01/2005 - 02/01/2005 / 02/01/2005 - 03/01/2005 / 03/01/2005 - 04/01/2005 / 04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005 / 05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005 / 06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005 / 07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005 / 08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005 / 09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005 / 10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005 / 11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005 / 12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006 / 01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006 / 02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006 / 03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006 / 04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006 / 05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006 / 06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006 / 07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006 / 08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006 / 09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006 / 10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006 / 11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006 / 12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007 / 01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007 / 02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007 / 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 / 04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007 / 05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007 / 06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007 / 07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007 / 08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007 / 09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007 / 10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007 / 11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007 / 12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008 / 01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008 / 02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008 / 03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008 / 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 / 05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008 / 06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008 / 07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008 / 08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008 / 09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008 / 10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008 / 11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008 / 12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009 / 01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009 / 02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009 / 03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009 / 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 / 05/01/2009 - 06/01/2009 / 06/01/2009 - 07/01/2009 / 07/01/2009 - 08/01/2009 / 08/01/2009 - 09/01/2009 / 09/01/2009 - 10/01/2009 / 10/01/2009 - 11/01/2009 / 11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009 / 12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010 / 01/01/2010 - 02/01/2010 / 02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010 / 03/01/2010 - 04/01/2010 / 04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010 / 05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010 / 06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010 / 07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010 / 08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010 / 09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010 / 10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010 / 11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010 / 12/01/2010 - 01/01/2011 / 01/01/2011 - 02/01/2011 / 02/01/2011 - 03/01/2011 / 03/01/2011 - 04/01/2011 / 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011 / 05/01/2011 - 06/01/2011 / 06/01/2011 - 07/01/2011 / 07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011 / 08/01/2011 - 09/01/2011 / 09/01/2011 - 10/01/2011 / 10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011 / 11/01/2011 - 12/01/2011 / 12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012 / 01/01/2012 - 02/01/2012 / 02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012 / 03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012 / 04/01/2012 - 05/01/2012 / 05/01/2012 - 06/01/2012 / 06/01/2012 - 07/01/2012 / 07/01/2012 - 08/01/2012 / 08/01/2012 - 09/01/2012 / 09/01/2012 - 10/01/2012 / 10/01/2012 - 11/01/2012 / 11/01/2012 - 12/01/2012 / 12/01/2012 - 01/01/2013 / 01/01/2013 - 02/01/2013 / 02/01/2013 - 03/01/2013 / 03/01/2013 - 04/01/2013 / 04/01/2013 - 05/01/2013 / 05/01/2013 - 06/01/2013 / 06/01/2013 - 07/01/2013 / 07/01/2013 - 08/01/2013 / 08/01/2013 - 09/01/2013 / 09/01/2013 - 10/01/2013 / 10/01/2013 - 11/01/2013 / 11/01/2013 - 12/01/2013 / 12/01/2013 - 01/01/2014 / 01/01/2014 - 02/01/2014 / 02/01/2014 - 03/01/2014 / 03/01/2014 - 04/01/2014 / 04/01/2014 - 05/01/2014 / 05/01/2014 - 06/01/2014 / 06/01/2014 - 07/01/2014 / 07/01/2014 - 08/01/2014 /


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