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The following items are fromChildren & Parliament, winter 1998/spring 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 ( 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, UK (tel: +44 (0) 171 843 6000; fax: +44 (0) 278 9512). (TheHansard reference is given in parentheses.)

  • All school pupils in England and Wales are protected against corporal punishment under section 131 of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998. It will be for the Scottish Parliament and the Northern Ireland Assembly to decide whether to extend this protection to other parts of the United Kingdom.

(16 Dec 1998, Col 153–4.)

  • Sixteen to 18 year olds who are unintentionally homeless and vulnerable must be given priority by local housing authorities but the Department for the Environment, Transport, and the Regions does not provide any specific assistance.

(16 Dec 1998, Col 534.)

  • Under new arrangements for 1998–99 Disabled Students Allowances for young people in full time further and higher education will no longer be means tested and the amounts claimable have been increased.

(16 Dec 1998, Col 549–50.)

  • Schools that provide milk for their pupils must charge all parents for it except those who receive income support or income based job-seekers allowance.

(17 Dec 1998, Col 389, 677.)

  • A bill to set up a disability rights commission received its second reading in the House of Lords. A majority of commissioners will be disabled people and their duties will be to combat discrimination against disabled people and to promote equal opportunities. They will keep under review the workings of the Disability Discrimination Act. When the commission is established the National Disability Council will be abolished.

(17 Dec 1998, Col 1461–97.)

  • In response to a question about government commissioned research into attention deficit hyperactivity disorder the Minister of State for Public Health referred to work on treatment at Kings College Hospital, London, studies on cognitive and behavioural strategies at the MRC Child Psychiatry Unit in London, and genetics studies at the Institute of Psychiatry and the University of Manchester.

(14 Jan 1999, Col 250–1.)

  • From September 1999 children in primary schools will have daily mathematics lessons of up to an hour. A pilot study on reading skills showed that children performing below average gained ground by some 8–12 months in 2 years with a daily “literacy hour”.

(14 Jan 1999, Col 257, 250.)

  • A joint working group of the Departments of Health and of Education and Employment will consider how to improve speech and language therapy provision for children with special educational needs. They will also take on board other therapies such as physiotherapy.

(19 Jan 1999, Col 427.)

  • The new National Family and Parenting Institute will be an independent charity and will set its own terms of reference. It already has a work programme for its first year which will be government funded.

(20 Jan 1999, Col 106–7.)

  • The National Screening Committee is expected to report during 1999 on whether universal neonatal hearing screening should be introduced.

(21 Jan 1999, Col 550–1.)

  • A new Bill will recognise the need for new adoptive parents to take time off work to be with the children so that parents and children can adapt to their new family life together.

(21 Jan 1999, Col 541.)

  • The new National Family and Parenting Institute will be required to make sure that its services are relevant to, reach, and are taken up by, ethnic and racial minority organisations.

(25 Jan 1999, Col 69–70.)

  • The Prison Service is developing new standards for the care of young people under the age of 18 in prison. Guidance on the prevention of suicide in prisoners is to be reexamined.

(26 Jan 1999, Col 200–1.)

  • The government insists that it is still necessary from time to time to mix young offenders and adult prisoners contrary to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

(27 Jan 1999, Col 250.)

  • An amendment to the Children Act 1989 will mean that an unmarried father who registers his child’s birth jointly with the mother will automatically acquire parental responsibility. At present unmarried fathers can only acquire such responsibility either by agreement with the mother or by obtaining a court order.

(27 Jan 1999, Col 159.)

  • NHS Direct is a 24 hour telephone helpline staffed by nurses. Three pilot schemes, in Milton Keynes, Preston, and Newcastle began in March 1998 and by December they had received over 60 000 calls, some 40% of which were about children, usually from young mothers. Independent research showed that almost all (97%) callers were satisfied with the service. Plans to cover 60% of the country by April 2000 have been brought forward to December 1999 and the government is to add another £10 million from the NHS modernisation fund to the £44 million already promised for the financial year 1999–2000.

(2 Feb 1999, Col 727–35, 1436–45.)

  • The government’s new national strategy for people who care for sick or disabled relatives or friends includes: a £140 million grant to local authorities to fund breaks for carers, council tax reductions for adapted homes, new information about carers from the 2001 census, plans to help carers get back to work, promotion of carer-friendly employment, provision for young carers including help at school, more help for disabled children, and more training about young carers for social workers.

(8 Feb 1999, Col, 21–33, 27–39.)

  • A network of “Childcare Champions” has been set up by the Benefits Agency to help with the provision of childcare services.

(16 Feb 1999, Col 678–9.)

  • Summer schools to improve numeracy and literacy in children are being expanded. The 1999 plan is for 300 schools and 9000 pupils to take part in the numeracy project and for 900 schools and 27 000 children to participate in the literacy scheme.

(9 Mar 1999, 10 Mar 1999, Col 103, 219–20.)

  • As a result of the Programme of Action for meeting special educational needs it is expected that more children with such needs will be able to attend mainstream schools. Nevertheless the government sees a continuing and vital role for special schools.

(10 Mar 1999, 11 Mar 1999, Col 218–19, 314.)

  • During 1999 the government is to issue guidance to local authorities about their responsibilities towards children leaving their care. New legislation will impose a duty to assess and meet the needs of care leavers until they are 18 and possibly, later, until they are 21. All authorities are expected to provide care leavers with a simply written guide to available services.

(11 Mar 1999, Col 86.)

  • A motion urging for more to be done to help children who care for others was signed by 103 Members of Parliament.

(15 Mar 1999, Early Day Motion no. 432.)

  • Fifty-one Members of Parliament have signed a motion in support of the NSPCC campaign against child abuse.

(16 Mar 1999. Early Day Motion no. 434.)

  • Agreement has been reached on two new European Community Directives, which set strict limits on pesticide concentrations in infant formulae and baby foods.

(16 Mar 1999, Col 638.)

  • Youth offending teams are being piloted in 16 local authorities and are to be introduced in all areas of England and Wales by April 2000.

(16 Mar 1999, Col 590.)

  • Under the Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995 carers have a right to be assessed. General practitioners and primary care teams should inform carers about this right and the Carers National Association has launched an “Ask for an assessment” campaign. The number of assessments made will be a social services performance indicator.

(17 Mar 1999, Col 724–6.)