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The following items are from Children & Parliament, autumn 1997. Children & Parliament is an abstracting service based on Hansard and produced by the National Children’s Bureau. It covers all parliamentary business affecting children and is available on subscription via the internet. TheChildren & Parliament web site provides direct links to full text Hansard, government department sites, the sites of the Office for National Statistics, Ofsted, and other relevant organisations. For further details contact Lisa Payne, Editor,Children & Parliament, National Children’s Bureau, 8 Wakley Street, London EC1V 7QE (tel: +44 (0) 171 843 6000; fax: +44 (0) 278 9512). (The Hansard reference is given in parentheses.)

• The Medical Research Council annual spending on diabetes research is some £3 million and the Department of Health Policy Research Programme spent £272 000 on such research in 1996–97.

(14 Oct 97, Col 399.)

• The third part of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 is to be implemented as soon as is practicable. A government task force is to study issues related to securing disability rights and the setting up of a disability rights commission.

(21 Oct 97, Col 605–608.)

• Extra money for schools announced in the budget will amount to £1 billion each year for education and a single sum of £1.3 billion for buildings and equipment to cover the current year and the next four years. The money will be spent on books, equipment, teacher training, measures related to discipline and truancy, class size reductions for 5 to 7 year olds, and building repairs.

(15 Oct 97, Col 440–444.)

• Questioned about the right of a general practitioner to refuse to take on a lesbian parent, the Minister of State for Health referred to 1992 General Medical Council guidance condemning discrimination on grounds of age, sex, sexuality, race, colour, beliefs, perceived economic worth, or the likely work load for doctors because of the patient’s clinical condition.

(21 Oct 97, Col 202.)

• All local authorities are expected to draw up a plan for preschool education to be implemented from April 1998. Places for all 4 year olds will be available by September 1998. Early education is to be integrated with day care.

(16 Oct 97, Col 550–552.)

• The 1976 Adoption Act makes no special provision for adoption by lesbian/gay couples. A joint application may be made only by married couples. Unmarried couples may not apply jointly but one of the pair may do so as an individual.

(3 Nov 97, Col 74–75.)

• In 1996–97 government grants for asylum seekers with children amounted to £4.1 million; for adults without children it was £5.6 million, and for children without adults £3 million.

(13 Nov 97, 18 Nov 97, Col 652–653, 173–174.)

• The government commissioned a review of safeguards against the abuse of children in care. The resulting Utting report presents “a woeful tale of failure at all levels to provide a secure and decent childhood for some of the most vulnerable children”. Over a third of children in residential care are not being educated. Young children, disabled children, and those with emotional and behavioural problems are most at risk of abuse. The report makes 20 main recommendations to safeguard children.

(19 Nov 97, Col 327–338, 585–596.)

• A bill due to have its second reading in February 1998 would require information about lead in pre-1960 paint to be provided to people who buy paint stripping equipment and fluids. It would also provide for children under 3 living in older houses to be tested for potential lead poisoning.

(19 Nov 97, Col 343–345.)

• The Department for the Environment, Transport, and the Regions is funding research on the safety of children’s journeys to and from school.

(14 Nov 97, 18 Nov 97, Col 696–697, 137–138.)

• A Health Education Authority campaign is aimed at encouraging women of child-bearing age to take more folate in order to reduce the risk of neural tube defects.

(26 Nov 97, Col 996–997.)

• In 1996–97 there were 1.7 million lone parents in Great Britain and in February 1997 some 1 020 000 lone parents were receiving income support.

(4 Dec 97, Col 328–329.)

• An April 1997 survey showed that 23% of children aged 0–13 in the back seat of a car were not wearing seat belts; in the front seat 6% were not. In 1988 the corresponding figures were 47% and 9%.

(10 Dec 97, Col 27–28, 29.)

• The government’s new Social Exclusion Unit is part of the Economic and Domestic Affairs Secretariat in the Cabinet Office and will, at first, concentrate on truancy and pupil exclusion, homelessness and rough sleepers, and sink housing estates. It is to be set up for two years in the first place.

(8 Dec 97, 9 Dec 97, Col 408–410, 20–22.)

• Some 21% of schoolchildren have special educational needs and 3% have statements of their needs.

(5 Dec 97, Col 580–637.)

• The government has promised £200 000 to the United Nations to help the UN special representative on children and armed conflict to start work.

(10 Dec 97, Col 1000.)

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