§ Harry Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to the answer of 10 March 2003,Official Report, columns 103–05W, on midwifery, (1) what the attrition rate was for midwifery students in each year since direct entry to midwifery was introduced; and what proportion of midwives who completed their training and became eligible to register as midwives (a) registered and (b) practised in each of those years; 
(2) how many individuals are (a) eligible to register as midwives, (b) registered as midwives and (c) practising as midwives. 
§ Mr. Hutton
The Department holds information for attrition from direct entry midwifery courses from the 1994–95 cohort onwards. A table showing information on students' progress for each complete cohort from 1994–95 is shown as follows:
Midwives training progress as at October 2001 Percentage Year Eligible to register1 Discontinued (attrition)2 Interrupted3 Active4 1994–95 81.2 17.2 0.1 1.5 1995–96 76.9 17.9 0.5 4.7 1996–97 73.0 21.8 1.5 3.7 1997–98 76.3 17.1 0.9 5.7
1 Those midwives who have completed their training and are eligible to register with the English National Board and therefore apply to join the NHS.
2 Students who have left the course (attrition).
3 Students whose training has been interrupted (for individual reasons)
and may continue at a later date.
4 Students who are still in training
English National Board for Nursing and Midwifery
Information from the Nursing and Midwifery Council on midwives on the register and intending to practise is available from the website at www.nmcuk.org.uk. Information on midwives going on to practise in the National Health Service after completing training is not collected centrally.
§ Harry Cohen
To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the rights, acquired during accession negotiations, of Polish midwives to practise in the UK and elsewhere in the European Union; what consultation took place(a) with relevant UK bodies, including the Royal College of Midwives and (b) within and between government departments; what representations he has received regarding this; what assessment he has made of its impact on public health; and if he will renegotiate what freedom there is to this matter during the remaining stages of the accession process. 
§ Mr. Hutton
The agreement on Polish midwifery qualifications was reached at the Copenhagen European Council in December, as part of an overall package that came within the budgetary ceiling for enlargement agreed at Berlin in 1999. Negotiations on the Treaty are now closed. Once ratified, the Accession Treaty, which will be signed by Heads of State and Government in Athens on 16 April, will provide for the recognition of Polish midwifery qualifications on the same basis as for those awarded by other member states.
Qualifications awarded following training begun after accession will comply with minimum community requirements and be automatically recognised. In other cases, evidence of recent and substantial professional experience in Poland may be required.
The Department has neither consulted United Kingdom bodies nor received representations from them on this matter. I very much welcome the contribution to public health made by overseas-qualified staff. Once registered in the UK, all midwives are subject to equally demanding standards of conduct, practice and local statutory supervision.