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Volume 949: debated on Tuesday 2 May 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to be able to relax the conditions regulating the rights of individuals suffering asbestosis to appeal to medical arbitration tribunals when their applications for industrial disability benefit are refused by pneumoconiosis medical panels; how many people have appealed since the new appeal arrangements were introduced; how many appeals have been successful and how many unsuccessful; and how many appeal applications are pending.

A limited right of appeal to medical appeal tribunals against the diagnosis decisions of pneumoconiosis medical boards was introduced in January 1977. Proposals for relaxing the conditions have now been put to the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council for consideration at their meeting on 8th May and I expect to be making a statement as soon as their recommendations are received.Figures for appeals and references in all types of pneumoconiosis cases are as follows, with asbestosis cases shown in brackets:

It is not possible to provide a definitive and exhaustive list of Questions which I might exceptionally decline to answer, other than on grounds of cost. Each Question is, and will continue to be, considered on its merits but, by way of example I, or my predecessors, have in the past declined to disclose:

Personal information about individual beneficiaries or patients obtained in the course of administering the social security schemes or through other Departmental channels, for example, my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) on 30th November 1977.—[Vol. 940, c. 276–7.]
The reasons for appointing individual members of health authorities, for example, the reply of the right hon. Member for Leeds, North-East (Sir K. Joseph) to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield) on 4th February 1971.—[Vol. 810, c. 448.]
Figures relating to abortions by place of treatment or for areas smaller than regional health authorities, for example, my hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright) on 28th February 1978—[Vol. 945, c. 191]; and my right hon Friend's reply to my hon. Friends the Members for Thornaby (Mr. Wriggles-worth) and Birmingham, Selly Oak (Mr. Litterick) on 8th December 1975.—[Vol. 901, c. 81–2.]
Information relating to the day to day running of the General Practice Finance Corporation, for example, the reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr. Huckfield) on 24th March 1969.—[Vol. 780, c. 206.]
Commercially confidential information relating, for example, to Government contracts in the National Health Service, for example, my hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Daventry (Mr. Jones) on 18th October 1976.—[Vol. 917, c. 282.]
In addition, the names of holders of consultant distinction awards are not published at present, but as my hon. Friend said in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Barking (Miss Richardson) on 3rd March 1978 [Vol. 945, c.

415–6] we are discussing confidentiality along with other aspects of the distinction awards scheme with the representatives of the medical profession.