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The following items are fromChildren & Parliament, spring/summer 1999.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 (http://candp.ncb.org.uk). The Children & Parliament web site provides direct links to full textHansard, 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, UK (tel: +44 (0) 171 843 6000; fax: +44 (0) 278 9512). (The Hansardreference is given in parentheses.)

  • Thirty-six MPs had signed a motion calling on the government to promote more public education on the dangers to children of parental smoking and to support general practitioners in their attempts to reduce smoking by parents.

(23 Mar 1999, Col 182–183, 198)

  • New nutritional standards for school meals should be published in the autumn of 1999. A joint Department of Health/Department for Education and Employment National Diet and Nutritional Survey of 4–18 year olds has been performed and the results should be reported towards the end of 1999.

(31 Mar 1999, Col 737–738, 828)

  • The Home Office and the Department for International Development are working with countries in Asia, particularly Nepal and Thailand, to develop measures to protect children from exploitation and “sex tourism”. (13 Apr 1999, Col 618-620)

  • During a 3 year Quality Protects programme a team of Regional Development Workers will join with the Social Services Inspectorate to help local authorities to deliver children’s social services of high quality.

(13 Apr 1999, Col 113–114, 111)

  • An existing European guideline states that medicines likely to be used for children should be supported by clinical trials in the appropriate age group. It is aimed to have a single guideline adopted by Europe, the USA, and Japan.

(19 Apr 1999, Col 669–678)

  • Tattooing may not be done on people under the age of 18. Four MPs had signed a motion calling for a similar ban on body piercing other than for the wearing of ear rings.

(21 Apr 1999, Early Day Motion no 569)

  • The Adoption (Intercountry Aspects) Bill, given an unopposed second reading in April, will regulate adoption between countries. Local authority adoption services will need to take on board intercountry adoptions. The Hague Convention on Protection of Children and Cooperation in Respect of Intercountry Adoption will be ratified, child trafficking will be prevented, and children adopted from abroad will have the same legal status as children adopted within the UK. The adoption process will be speeded up and will be more child focused.

(23 Apr 1999, Col 1140–1202)

  • The 26 health action zones will receive £10 million this year to help people in deprived areas to stop smoking. Smokers receiving benefit, including lone parents on income support, will get one week’s free nicotine replacement therapy.

(23 Apr 1999, Col 1212–1216)

  • The use of children as soldiers is a war crime in the statue of the International Criminal Court. UK government assistance to Sierra Leone amounting to £10 million was given on the condition that Sierra Leone would not enlist children under 16 in the armed forces.

(28 Apr 1999, Col 179)

  • The Control of Fireworks Bill, which had its first reading in May, seeks to ban the sale of fireworks to the public.

(11 May 1999, Col 116–118)

  • For the next 3 years the government will provide £7.5 million each year through the Standards Fund programme to support school education about drugs.

(19 May 1999, Col 388–389)

  • The main targets of the antidrugs coordinator’s strategy include reducing access of young people to heroin or cocaine by 25% by the year 2005 and by 50% by 2008, reducing the number of 11–16 year olds using class A drugs by 20% by 2002, and increasing participation of drug misusers in treatment programmes.

(25 May 1999, Col 161–173)

  • It is estimated that some 6000 people in the UK have sickle cell disease. The Department of Health has provided funding to organisations and is considering the need for a national health promotion programme for the haemoglobinopathies.

(7 Jun 1999, Col 121–122)

  • In answer to a question about school medical services the Under Secretary of State for Health replied that they will have a major role in meeting children’s mental, physical, and emotional health care needs and many of the government’s policy initiatives are dependent on an effective school health service.

(8 Jun 1999, Col 271)

  • Under the School Access Initiative the government has allocated £25 million since 1996 and will allocate another £100 million over the next 3 years to make mainstream schools accessible to disabled pupils.

(10 Jun 1999, Col 391)

  • Masterclasses for gifted and talented children are being piloted in 10 schools and there are to be 40 summer school pilot projects. Schools in the 25 education action zone pilot areas will have to designate one member of staff to monitor gifted children.

(10 Jun 1999, Col 766–768)

  • The government believes that some local authorities could and should do more to facilitate adoption. Adoption should be reinstated as an option for the placement of some children in care, objectives being to maximise the use of adoption, reduce delays, and reduce the number of changes of main carer.

(16 Jun 1999, Col 349–355)

  • A national monitoring scheme for court cases involving child witnesses has been in operation since April 1999. The purpose is to make sure that such cases are dealt with as quickly as possible and to identify ways in which improvements can be made.

(29 Jun 1999, Col 136)

  • From October 1999 an amendment to the Consumer Protection Act 1987 will make it an offence to sell gas cigarette lighter refills to people under the age of 18.

(28 Jun 1999, Col 86 [Press Notice 189/99])

  • A review by the Prison Service of the care of mothers and their babies or children in prison was published on 6 July and contains 62 recommendations. An action plan is to follow in the autumn.

(6 Jul 1999, Col 484, 81)

  • The government is to provide £90 million over the next 3 years to improve the provision of child and adolescent mental health services.

(6 Jul 1999, Col 804)

  • In the House of Lords a questioner asking about the possible contribution of water fluoridation to the high perinatal mortality in an English city was informed that research was being focused on known risk factors applicable to that city rather than on speculative investigation.

(9 Jul 1999, Col 130)

  • In 1991 about a quarter of people in prison in Britain had been taken into care as children.

(15 Jul 1999, Col 319–320)

  • The Children’s Rights Commissioner Bill will establish a children’s rights commissioner in England.

(14 Jul 1999, Col 417–418)

  • The Protection of Children Act 1999 received royal assent on 15 July.

(15 Jul 1999, Col 648, 601)

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