Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 951: debated on Tuesday 13 June 1978

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answeres To Questions

Tuesday 13th June 1978

Social Services

Social Security Officials And Claimants

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps his Department is taking to improve relations between social security officials and claimants.

My Department provides a very large-scale and widely ranging service to the public, and relations between officials and claimants are generally good. Management is well aware of the delicate nature of some of the contacts and training reflects this. This is constant review of difficulties arising and measures to deal with them.

Pension Increases

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek to introduce legislation to make retirement pension increases payable from the date of their announcement.

No. It is the Government's duty to determine the appropriate new rates for retirement pensions and other benefits and the date from which they are to be paid. An announcement of the new rates has then to be made early enough before the uprating date to allow for the necessary legislation and administrative arrangements. The question of making the increase payable from the date of announcement does not therefore arise.

Doctors (Emigration)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many qualified doctors emigrated from Great Britain in the last year for which figures are available.

Information on permanent emigrants is not directly available as it is not known how many doctors leaving the country do so with the intention of returning subsequently. During the year ending 30th September 1975, 1,040 doctors born in the United Kingdom or Irish Republic left Great Britain, while 570 such doctors returned. These figures are subject to amendment as more information becomes available. Provisional figures for 1975–76 and 1976–77 indicate an annual outflow slightly below the 1974–75 level; the net outflow appears to be falling.

Health Centre, Knottingley

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made by Ministers considering the unused facilities at the Health Centre in Hazel Road, Knottingley.

I am considering the reports I have obtained from the Wakefield Area Health Authority and the Wakefield Family Practitioner Committee. I am also considering the points raised in my hon. Friend's letter of 30th April.

Pharmacists

25.

asked the Secretary or State for Social Services when he next expects to meet representatives of the retail pharmacists.

I have no plans at present for a further meeting with representatives of retail pharmacists.

Hospital Closures

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what reconsideration he has given, in view of protests from public bodies and representatives and private citizens, and of practicalities, to his policy for the closing of small hospitals.

Hospital closures arise as part of the general process of service development and change, particularly in the light of new hospital building. Our policy is to provide a comprehensive range of specialised services in district general hospitals, but there will be a continuing need for smaller local or community hospitals to serve patients not requiring the specialist facilities of a district general hospital.

Mental Health Act (White Paper)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the White Paper on the Mental Health Act to be published.

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the White Paper on the Mental Health Act to be published.

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the White Paper on the Mental Health Act to be published.

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he now expects to publish a White Paper on the workings of the Mental Health Act 1959.

58.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the White Paper on the Mental Health Act to be published.

60.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the White Paper on the Mental Health Act to be published.

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the White Paper on the Mental Health Act to be published.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will present to the House the proposals for a new Mental Health Act.

I would refer the hon. Members to my reply earlier today to my hon. Friends the Members for Preston, North (Mr. Atkins), Basildon (Mr. Moonman) and Harlow (Mr. Newens) and to the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine).

Mobility Allowance

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much the mobility allowance is worth to a car-owning taxpayer after payment of income tax at the basic rate and vehicle excise duty.

70.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people would be affected by the withdrawal of the disablement mobility allowance at the age of retirement, that is, 60 years for women, and 65 years for males; and if he will make a statement.

I regret that there is insufficient information on which to base a firm estimate, but, making broad assumptions, it is possible that some 6,000 to 8,000 people could be affected each year from 1980 onwards if the upper age-limits for mobility allowance remain as they are.

Psychiatric In-Patients

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many patients over retirement age occupy psychiatric beds.

It is estimated that on 31st December 1975, the latest date for which the information is available, there were about 12,000 men aged 65 or over and about 34,000 women aged 60 or over occupying beds in mental illness hospitals and units in England.

Hospital Waiting Lists

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average waiting period for a National Health Service patient requiring general surgery.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average waiting time between a general practitioner referring a patient for a hospital appointment with a consultant in ophthalmics, orthopaedics, ear, nose and throat or skin diseases and that patient's actual appointment.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average waiting period for a National Health Service patient requiring general surgery.

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average waiting period for a National Health Service patient requiring orthopaedic treatment.

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average waiting period for a National Health Service patient requiring orthopaedic treatment.

I regret that the information is not available. Obtaining such statistics would involve considerable extra manpower. Within each specialty, patients with very different conditions and of differing degrees of urgency would he averaged together. The results would not be sufficiently meaningful to justify the cost.I am much concerned with this problem and my Department and the health authorities are energetically seeking to bring about an improvement.

66.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he proposes to take on the recommendations of the Health Services Board for the establishment of common waiting lists in National Health Service hospitals.

There have been extensive consultations on the Health Services Board's recommendations with interested bodies, including the medical profession, health authorities, community health councils and other professional groups. I shall soon make proposals for action based on these consultations.

Benefits

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the increases in social benefits since October 1973 and the new social benefits introduced since that date.

Details of the increases in the main social security benefits for the period to November 1977 are set out in "Social Security Statistics 1976" which is available in the Library. The proposed increases in benefits for 1978 were given in my right hon. Friend's statement to the House on 12th April 1978, and, subject to the approval of both Houses of Parliament, will be introduced in the week beginning 13th November—except for mobility allowance, which goes up in July.The new benefits which have been introduced since October 1973 are:Non-contributory invalidity pension—from 20th November 1974 for men and single women; extended to married women from 17th November 1977.Mobility allowance—from 1st January 1976—at the rate of £5, which was increased to £7 on 16th November 1977 and will be increased to £10 from 5th July 1978.Invalid care allowance—from 5th July 1976—at the rate of £790, which was increased to £9·20 on 18th November 1976, to £10·50 on 17th November 1977 and will be increased to £11·70 from 16th November 1978.Child interim benefit—replaced by child benefit increase from 5th April 1977 —from 6th April 1976.Child benefit—which replaced family allowance—from 5th April 1977.

Child Benefit

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he is taking to inflation-proof child benefit in the same way as unemployment pay and other social security benefits.

As I explained to the hon. Member in my reply on 7th February—[Vol. 943, c. 528.]—the Child Benefit Act 1975 already provides that the Secretary of State shall consider each year whether, in the light of such factors as the national economic situation and the general standard of living, the rate of child benefit ought to be increased. Furthermore, the considerations governing the uprating of child benefit are not the same as for unemployment benefit. Child benefit is an addition to other income, generally wages, whereas unemployment benefit is provided against a cessation of earnings.

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the proportion of one-parent families who will benefit from the increases in child benefit rates announced in the Budget.

Yes. One-parent families not in receipt of social security benefits will, like two-parent families in the same position, have an increase in their income as a result of the upratings of child benefit in November 1978 and April 1978. Families in receipt of social security benefits will have an increase in income as a result of the social security uprating in November 1978.

Retirement Pension

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what increase in real terms there has been in the retirement pension since 1974.

The fairest comparison of the real value of retirement pensions is between uprating dates. When the Government took office in 1974, the rates of pension then in force were those introduced in October 1973. Between October 1973 and November 1977, when the rates were last increased, retirement pensions increased by over 15 per cent. in real terms. Between October 1973 and November 1978, when pensions are to be increased again, it is expected that the increase in real value will be 21 per cent.

Drugs (Dispensing)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with present arrangements for the dispensing of drugs.

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with present arrangements for the dispensing of drugs.

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with present arrangements for prescribing and dispensing drugs.

Yes. However, if the hon. Members have a specific problem in mind and will write to me with details, I will look into it.

British Dental Association

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last met representatives of the British Dental Association.

On Wednesday 17th May 1978, when agreement was reached to end the dispute over dentists' expenses.

Over-75S

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with health facilities for those aged 75 years and over.

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with social service provision for those aged 75 years and over.

We are satisfied that within the resources available at present both health and local authorities are doing their utmost to provide satisfactory care for the elderly. However, the increasing number of people aged 75 and over raises many important issues, which is one of the reasons why my right hon. Friend and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales will shortly be publishing a discussion document on the elderly.

Social Security System (Review)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to publish the review of the social security system.

We have recently received the report by officials on the review of the supplementary benefits scheme and propose to publish it shortly.

Prescriptions (Barbiturates And Tranquillisers)

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many National Health Service prescriptions for barbiturates and tranquillisers of all types were given in the latest available period of 12 months; and what was the cost.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 26th May.—[Vol. 950, c. 797–8.]

National Health Service (Royal Commission's Report)

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to receive the report from the Royal Commission on the National Health Service.

I understand that the Royal Commission hones to report during the first half of next year.

Whipps Cross Hospital (Maternity Unit)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, what action he has taken following the submission to him by the hon. Member for Chingford of the report by senior medical staff of the obstetrics department of Whipps Cross Hospital concerning the dangers to patients arising from the shortage of medical staff in the maternity unit.

The provision of maternity services at Whipps Cross Hospital is a matter for the Redbridge and Waltham Forest Area Health Authority. The authority has given detailed consideration to the report and I have written to the hon. Member on the points raised.

Cigarettes (Sales Promotion)

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a study of the health implications and the additional £5,000,000 campaign to promote cigarettes, including a £13,500,000 money-off door-to-door offer, evidence of which has been supplied to him: and if he will now take steps to ban door-to-door promotion of cigarettes.

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to a particular firm's project involving the distribution of promotional literature to 13,500,000 homes as part of a promotional effort which might cost £5 million in total. I would therefore refer him to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) on 26th May.—[Vol. 950, c. 795–6.]

Motability

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent discussions he has had with Motability.

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent discussions he has had with Motability.

My officials are in regular and close touch with Motability, but I have as yet nothing to add to my answer to the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) on 9th May.—[Vol. 949, c. 952–3.]

Casualty Treatment (Chelmsford And Colchester)

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the provision for treating casualties in the Chelmsford and Colchester Health Districts.

Hospitals in the Chelmsford and Colchester health districts providing accident and emergency services are under pressure due to the increase in the population in the area. The Essex Area Health Authority plans to provide additional facilities in the first phase of the Broomfield Hospital development. on which it is hoped to start building work in 1980.

Hospitals (Resources Allocations)

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that the present regional structure allows for a fair allocation of resources between the London teaching hospitals and other areas particularly in the South-East Thames Region.

The recommendations of the Resource Allocation Working Party were framed in the context of the present regional structure of health authorities. I am satisfied that the present structure allows for a fair allocation of resources within regions on the lines recommended by the working party, which involve judgments about the extent to which changes in the pattern of allocations are practicable from year to year having regard to local circumstances.

Children (Non-Accidental Injury)

57.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the present arrangements for preventing non-accidental injury to children.

Though it will never be possible to guarantee to protect every child against the risk of non-accidental injury, I believe that the arrangements which have been made throughout the country for the management of non-accidental injury cases and for ensuring that preventive or supportive action is taken at the earliest possible stage are helping to reduce that risk for many children.

Invalidity Benefit (Therapeutic Earnings)

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the present level of therapeutic earnings permitted to those on invalidity benefit; and what plans he has for raising it.

The present level is £10 a week and it is proposed to raise it to £11 a week from 13th November 1978.

Pharmacies (Northumberland)

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many pharmacies have closed or ceased to dispense National Health Service prescriptions in the Northumberland area during the last five years.

From 1st January 1975 to 31st December 1977, the net reduction in pharmacies providing National Health Service pharmaceutical services in Northumberland was seven. Owing to boundary changes at the time of National Health Service reorganisation, comparable figures for earlier years are not available.

Lambeth, Southwark And Lewisham Area Health Authority

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent discussions he has had with the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham Area Health Authority about the cuts which that authority is being required to make in its budget.

I have arranged to see the vice-chairman of the area health authority (teaching) together with the chairman of the South East Thames Regional Health Authority on 20th June.

Private Medical And Hospital Services

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further steps he intends to take to discourage the further growth of private fee-paying medical and hospital services.

Legislation provides for the separation of private practice from the National Health Service and the control of certain private hospital developments by the Health Services Board. I intend no further steps but I shall be watching the situation.

Chronically Sick And Disabled Persons Act 1970

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many requests he has received in the current year to use his default powers under Section 36 of the National Assistance Act where a local authority is alleged to have failed to meet its duties under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; what action he has taken; and if he will make a statement.

Specific requests for my right hon. Friend to use his de- fault powers have been received on three occasions since 1st January 1978. In one case, it was concluded that the use of such powers was not appropriate, in another inquiries are still continuing, and the third has only just been received.

71.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the arrangements for dealing with complaints by disabled people that their local authority has failed to carry out its duties under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; and if he will make a statement.

I am urgently considering the implications of the judgment of the Court of Appeal on 9th May in the case of Wyatt v. Hillingdon London Borough Council and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Sickness Benefit

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the current levels of sickness benefit.

The Social Security Benefits Up-rating Order 1978, which was laid before Parliament in draft on 25th May, contains our proposals for increasing social security benefits in the week beginning 13th November, 1978. It includes increases in sickness benefit rates which will go up by £1·05—from £14·.70 to £15·75—for a single person, and by £1·70—from £23·80 to £25·50—for a married couple.

Induced Births

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will initiate discussions with hospitals providing maternity services with a view to ensuring that mothers who do not wish to have births induced for non-medical reasons are not subjected to induction procedures.

A small team of officials from my Department who undertook a series of visits to maternity hospitals in 1975 found no evidence to suggest that induction was used for non-medical reasons, and I have no reason to suspect that this situation has changed. The team's report did, however, indicate a need, for greater discussion between hospital staff and mothers of the proposed use of induction and other modern obstetric techniques. It also suggested that dissatisfaction among some mothers may have been caused by their emotional and psychological expectations of childbirth not being fully met in the use of these techniques. These conclusions were discussed by the statutory advisory committees and drawn to the attention of the professions concerned. The booklet "Human Relations in Obstetrics" is being revised with the help of members of the statutory advisory committees, and the importance of full discussion with the mother of the use of induction or other modern techniques where these are proposed will be emphasised.

Rent Allowances

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if it is the policy of his Department to advise those seeking supplementary allowance for rent to take their landlords to the rent tribunal if the officer of his Department considers that the rent being charged is unreasonable.

No. A tenant will be advised of the availability of the services of the rent officer if he appears to have security of tenure and it is decided to restrict the allowance for rent in the supplementary benefit assesment on the grounds that the rent is unreasonably high. However, it is not the policy of the Supplementary Benefits Commission to advise a claimant who appears to have no security of tenure to approach the rent tribunal.

Cbi And Tuc

Q5.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Confederation of British Industry.

I met representatives of the CBI on 6th February. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.

I met representatives of the TUC and the CBI when I took the chair at a meeting of the NEDC on 1st February. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Confederation of British Industry and the Trades Union Congress.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to have a meeting with the Trades Union Congress and Confederation of British Industry.

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister when he will next meet the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans).

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress.

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress.

I refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, West (Mr. Dean) on 25th May.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if he will state his public engagements for 13th June.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 13th June.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 13th June.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public engagements for 13th June.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 13th June.

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 13th June.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

Q33.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 13th June.

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 13th June.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 13th June.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Leominster (Mr. Temple-Morris).

Spanish Prime Minister (Visit)

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if he will invite the Prime Minister of Spain to visit the United Kingdom.

Sr. Suarez visited London in October 1977. There are no plans at present for a further visit.

Tribune Alternative Economic Strategy

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if there is a copy of the Tribune alternative economic strategy purchased from public funds in the library at 10 Downing Street.

Zaire

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to pay a visit to the Republic of Zaire in the foreseeable future.

President Castro

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to meet President Castro of Cuba.

Chancellor Of The Exchequer (Speech)

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if the public speech by Mr Chancellor of the Exchequer on economic prospects on 21st March at Blackpool represents Government policy.

Q37.

asked the Prime Minister if the speech made by the Chancellor of the Exchequer at Blackpool on 21st May on economic policy represented the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

I assume that the hon. Member and my hon. Friend are referring to my right hon. Friend's speech to a rally of the Union of Post Office Workers at Blackpool on 21st May. The answer is "Yes".

Council Of Ministers

asked the Lord President of the Council how many EEC Council of Ministers' meetings have taken place during 1978; and on how many occasions oral statements have been made to the House following such meetings.

Between 3rd January and 9th June 1978 the Council of Ministers met on 25 occasions. Four meetings were the subject of oral statements; the remainder were the subject of Written Answers.

House Of Commons

Members' Salaries

asked the Lord President of the Council what has been the actual or estimated savings to the Treasury to date on the decision of the Government only to implement partially the most recent report of the Boyle Committee on hon. Members' salaries.

The difference in overall cost to date between full implementation and the restricted form of implementation voted for by the House is about £4 million.

Industry

Electronics Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what approval the Government have given to the National Enterprise Board for proposed investments in the electronics industry, particularly in micro-circuits; and whether he will make a statement.

In addition to the relevant investments described in the Board's annual report and accounts, laid before the House on 4th May, my right hon. Friend has given his consent, under Section 10 of the Industry Act 1975, to the Board acquiring voting equity in a new company in this industry. I understand that the Board will publish further details in due course.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the Government's policy on the future of the British electronics industry, particularly in the field of micro-circuits; and what assistance the Government propose to give to private industry in this field.

The electronics industry is an important sector of the Government's industrial strategy on which Government, industry and trade unions are co-operating. The developing strategy is reported regularly by the sector working parties concerned. Electronic components is a priority sector and micro-circuits its most important sub-sector, which already receives about £5 million of support yearly through the Department of Industry. A greatly enlarged support programme for micro-circuits is under development.

Chrysler Uk Limited

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has agreed to any changes in the plans for Chrysler UK Ltd., referred to in the agreement signed by him on 5th January 1976.

Yes. The Government's agreement with Chrysler was based on the Stoke, Linwood and truck plan and the C6 plan (SLT/C6), which covered the years 1976–79. However, I have always recognised that Chrysler's plans must be relevant to changing commercial circumstances, and after careful consideration and discussion with those concerned, I have formally agreed to the replacement of SLT/C6 with a revised set of plans.These new plans are embodied in documents that have been initialled by Chrysler Corporation, Chrysler UK and the Department of Industry. A supplemental deed has amended the 5th January 1976 agreement to give effect to the new plans. A copy can be seen in the Library.The new plans agreed with Chrysler give detailed data on industry size, sales, model development, capital expenditure, manpower levels, earnings and funding for the years 1978 and 1979. There are also outline plans for the years after 1979. Although I am unable to reveal the new plans in detail, as this would be against the company's commercial interests, I can say that they show continuity of production and employment at all Chrysler's factories in the United Kingdom, and include a new medium-sized car to be produced at their Ryton plant. No additional cost to public funds is involved.For sound commercial reasons, Chrysler will not introduce a new small light car next year at the company's Linwood plant as originally envisaged.I am satisfied that the plans are now more favourable as well as being more practicable, and offer better prospects for the future of Chrysler operations in this country and for the security of the Government's loans to the company.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the position about a further planning agreement between the Government, the respective trade unions and Chrysler Corporation after the present one ends; what will be the role of the trade unions in any new planning agreement; and what consultations on industrial democracy will be offered to the employees.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 12th June 1978] gave the following information:The planning agreement is signed by the Government and Chrysler UK Ltd. Discussions between trade unions and management representatives on the planning agreement working party are continuing and I expect a second agreement to be signed by the summer shutdown in August. Chrysler Corporation is not involved in the discussions. Employee representatives will continue to be closely involved in discussions under the second planning agreement and will participate in regular discussions on the company's future plans.

Energy Conservation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is yet in a position to make a statement about the scheme to promote energy saving in industry and commerce which was mentioned by the Chancellor in his Budget Statement.

Present LevelsRevised Levels
GrantLoanTotalGrantLoanTotal
££££££
New house3,1004,2007,3004,0005,5009,500
House improvement7502,2002,9507504,0004,750
Farm building (erection or improvement)1,0001,0002,0001,7501,7503,500

My Department is today announcing the details of a new energy conservation scheme under which grants will be made available to industry and commerce, throughout the United Kingdom, for improving their heating plant and insulation of premises.Under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972, the Government have set aside £25 million for the scheme, which will be selective and will run for two years. Grants of up to 25 per cent. will be offered for these energy-saving measures. With the attractive terms being offered, it is hoped to encourage a wide response and a consequent overall saving in energy worth many time the amount of our investment in the longer term.Full details of the scheme are now available from my Department, and an extensive national publicity campaign, due to start almost immediately, will give the necessary guidance on how to obtain information about the scheme.

Scotland

Maternal Mortality

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the maternal mortality per 100 live births for the years 1976 and 1977 in Scotland.

The maternal mortality rate per 100 live births in Scotland in both 1976 and 1977 was 0·02.

Crofters (Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is now in a position to announce the results of his review of the maximum levels of grant and loan assistance available from the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland under the Crofters, &c., Building Grants and Loans Scheme; and if he will make a statement.

I have now completed the review and I propose to increase the levels of assistance as indicated in the table below.

The maximum grant for house improvements under this scheme remains at £750, but the complementary local authority house improvement grant, which is also available to crofters, was recently increased to the new maximum of £2,750. These new levels of assistance will be available from today to new applicants as well as to any existing applicants who have not yet started work.

Back-Court Improvements

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) when a decision will be made on the question of housing association back-court improvements being funded by the Scottish Development Department as with rehabilitation work on properties below the tolerable standards;(2) what consultations he has had with Glasgow District Council about the growth of and funding of schemes for back-court environmental improvement.

My officials have been considering the practical problems associated with having the environmental

Immigration to Scotland from overseas International Passenger SurveyPatients on doctors' lists moving to Scotland from rest of United Kingdom
1971–7210,00054,600
1972–7313,30057,700
1973–7413,40057,800
1974–7511,00057,900
1975–7614,60056,600
1976–7712,40051,200

Argentina (Ministerial Visits)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many Ministers from his Department have been in Argentina on official visits in June 1978; and if he will make a statement.

One. My right hon. Friend visited Argentina on the occasion of Scotland's participation in the World Cup competition.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many times he visited Argentina to watch Scotland play in the World Cup; how many officials accompanied him; and what was the total cost to public funds.

My right hon. Friend is visiting Argentina once, accom- improvements in housing action areas funded through the Housing Corporation, which they are just about to consult. There have been no formal consultations with Glasgow District Council on this issue.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons are estimated to have immigrated into Scotland in each of the last six years (a) from the rest of the United Kingdom and (b) from outwith the United Kingdom.

The information available does not provide accurate figures of total immigration into Scotland. There are, however, some sample figures available on immigration into Scotland from countries overseas, derived from the International Passenger Survey. Grossed-up estimates based on these sample figures are shown in the table below, as are figures of patients on doctors' lists moving into Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom as recorded through the National Health Service Central Register.panied by one official. The total cost will be about £3,400.

Special Branch

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of information supplied to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central in the Adjournment debate of 24th May, he will state (a) the number of officers in the Scottish headquarters of the Special Branch in Glasgow, and (b) the number of Special Branch officers elsewhere in Scotland.

As in England and Wales, police forces in Scotland each have their own special branches. There is accordingly no such thing as the Scottish headquarters of the Special Branch. In the eight Scottish forces, there are about 70 officers engaged in special branch work.

Mentally-Ill And Handicapped Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what provision exists in Scottish health authority areas for training the additional specialised staff required to supply the necessary support for the mentally handicapped and the mentally ill living at home or in hostels.

Courses leading to the Certificate of Qualification in Social Work are provided at the universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling; at the Dundee, Jordanhill and Moray House Colleges of Education; Paisley College of Technology; Queen's College, Glasgow; Queen Margaret College, Edinburgh; and Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology, Aberdeen.The number of students undertaking social work training has increased from 337 in 1970 to 828 in 1977. In addition, courses leading to the Diploma in Training and Further Education of Mentally-Handicapped Adults were introduced in 1975 at Clydebank Technical College and Kirkcaldy Technical College. A Certificate in Social Service Scheme has been established at Langside College, Glasgow, and further schemes of this type are at present being planned.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he accepts the need for provision of funds to enable the improvement of availability of day centres for the mentally handicapped in Scotland; and if he will make a statement.

I recognise the need for more day centres for mentally handicapped adults in certain areas. The provision of such facilities is the responsibility of regional and islands councils, which have discretion as to the extent to which they should allocate their available resources for this purpose. The local authority social work building programme for 1978–79 includes 19 adult training centres, which will provide approximately 1,350 additional places. A further 14 adult training centre projects are at present being planned by local authorities for inclusion in the forward building programme to 1982.Provision has also been made in public expenditure programmes for local authority current expenditure on social work to continue to grow at a rate which should enable authorities to commission new facilities, and this is reflected in the annual rate support grant settlements.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report how much has been spent on after care for the mentally sick in each regional health authority in Scotland in the last year; and how this compares in real terms with each of the last five years, taking 1972 as base 100.

The information is not available, as almost all the services of a health board are concerned in part with the after-care of the mentally sick, and it is not practicable to isolate the expenditure involved.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report how much has been spent on the care of the mentally handicapped in each regional health authority in Scotland in the last year; and how this compares in real terms with each of the last five years, taking 1972 as base 100.

The information is not available, as almost all the services of a health board are to some extent involved in the care of the mentally handicapped, and it is not practicable to isolate the expenditure involved. Though the main burden falls on mental deficiency hospitals, there are mentally-handicapped patients in some mental illness hospitals, and they are also cared for, where appropriate, in other hospitals and in the community.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Animals (Exports)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what consultations have taken place, with whom, when, and with what result, on the recommendation of the report of the Committee on the Export of Live Animals for Slaughter, Command Paper No. 5566, published in March 1974, on the recommendation that the export of live farm animals for slaughter should be confined to approved slaughterhouses as defined in paragraph 105 of the report;

(2) what consultations took place with member States of the EEC, when, and with what result, concerning the recommendation of the report of the Committee on the Export of Live Animals for Slaughter, Command Paper No. 5566, published in March 1974, that the export licence should include a provision for it to be signed by a veterinary inspector at the slaughterhouse as proof that the conditions of the licence had been observed;

(3) what consultations have taken place, with whom, when, and with what result on the recommenlations of the report of the Committee on the Export of Live Animals for Slaughter, Command Paper No. 5566, published in March 1974, that veterinary inspection should be carried out at the point of disembarkation to ensure that animals are fit to continue their journey to an approved destination and that they should be rested, fed and watered as required;

(4) what consultations have taken place, with whom, when, and with what results, on the recommendation of the report of the Committee on the Export of Live Animals for Slaughter, Command Paper No. 5566, published in March 1974, that a veterinary inspector at the receiving slaughterhouse should certify that animals were slaughtered in accordance with agreed conditions.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him yesterday, which explained when and with whom consultations took place.The exporting and farming interests consulted were in general agreement with the Committee's recommendation that exports should be allowed only to slaughterhouses which had satisfied certain minimum criteria. Some welfare interests supported this proposal, others considered that it was unenforceable or that conditions in Continental abattoirs were in any case unacceptable.As regards the recommendation that a veterinary inspector at the receiving slaughterhouse should certify that the animals were slaughtered in accordance with agreed conditions, the welfare interests expressed doubts about the degree of co-operation which would be forthcoming from the receiving slaughterhouses. The farming and exporting interests supported the recommendation.

The Committee's recommendation that a veterinary examination should be carried out at the port of disembarkation to ensure that the animals were fit to continue their journey to the approved destination and that they should be rested, fed and watered as required, was opposed by the welfare interests. They expressed concern that implementation of this recommendation would result in animals travelling very long distances. The exporting and farming interests generally agreed with the recommendation.

As I explained yesterday, the Government announced that after careful consideration they had decided to concentrate on long-term European measures, which the Committee had concluded to be the most effective means of safeguarding the animals' welfare, and not to bring in the proposed interim arrangements.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Isle of Ely, Official Report, 22nd May 1978, c. 430, whether he will now take steps to have the estimate provided of the total manpower involved in controlling health and welfare regulations of livestock for export.

Ministry officers are estimated to have spent about 1,900 man-days on this work during the first three months of 1978.

Fish And Chips

asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food if he has received representations from the National Federation of Fish Fryers protesting at the demand of the European Commission that in future the British should sprinkle only wine vinegar on their fish and chips; and what reply he has given it.

Consultations were held with trade associations, including the National Federation of Fish Fryers, two years ago on the possibility of action by the European Commission in the vinegar sector. As a result the Ministry is well acquainted with the associations' views, but the Commission has not so far submitted any proposal to the Council of Ministers on this subject.

Dutch Elm Disease

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of elms in Great Britain he estimates have been killed by Dutch elm disease; whether the spread of the disease shows any signs of abating; and whether he is satisfied with the present extent of efforts to replace the dead elms with comparable trees.

It is estimated that about 11 million elms have been lost out of a total original population of about 28 million to 30 million. The disease shows no signs of abating. Measures being taken by local authorities in the lightly affected areas are helping to slow down its progress, but there are no known means of eradicating it. Because elms are mainly to be found in hedgerows, replanting is more the concern of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. While recognising that much remains to be done, I understand that he is satisfied with the initiatives being taken by the Countryside Commission, local authorities and private owners in this direction.

Agricultural Output

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what proportion of agricultural output in EEC member States derives from liquid milk; and what proportion derives from other dairy products.

Available figures do not differentiate between liquid milk and other dairy products. Of the agricultural output of the member States of the EEC the following percentages are derived from milk in general:

Belgium17
Denmark26
Federal Republic of Germany23
France17
Irish28
Italy10
Luxembourg37
Netherlands27
United Kingdom22

Agricultural Land

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of agricultural land is devoted to dairy farming in each of the EEC member States.

Agricultural Investment

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of agricultural investment is devoted to dairy farming in each of the EEC member States.

Social Services

Psychiatric Nursing Services

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the present proportion of qualified to unqualified nursing staff in psychiatric nursing services.

The proportion of qualified nursing staff working in psychiatric—mental illness—hospitals and in psychiatric units or separate psychiatric wards of non-psychiatric hospitals was 55: 45 at September 1976. Centrally collected figures do not distinguish between registered mental nurses and State enrolled nurses (mental) and other qualified nurses.

Benefits

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list (a) the benefits administered by his Department, (b) the estimated number of people entitled to claim each benefit, (c) the actual number of people receiving each benefit at present, (d) the percentage "take-up" this represents, (e) the present cost of each benefit, (f) the cost of administering each benefit, (g) the estimated cost of each benefit if the "take-up" figure for each was 100 per cent., and (h) the amount spent on advertising the existence of each form of benefit in the past year.

Information is not held in precisely the form requested. The first table below provides a list of cash benefits administered by my Department and shows for each the number of recipients and costs at the latest dates for which information is held. The second table gives the available information on take-up of cash benefits.

Number of recipients

Benefit expenditure

Administration Costs(2)

Expenditure on advertising(3)

Cash benefit administered by DHSS

at latest date

Number(1) (thousands)

1976–77 £million

1977–78 £million

1976–77 £million

1976–77 £thousands

1977–78 £thousands

Unemployment benefitFeb. 78602558·963259·9
Sickness benefitJune 764701,075·71,31378·9?
Invalidity benefitJune 76479
Maternity allowanceMarch 778182·3916·6
Maternity grantMarch 77587(4)
Death grantJune 77557(5)15164·3
Guardian's allowanceDec. 773·82·220·1
Child's special allowanceDec. 770·8
Widow's benefitMay 7741443446810·2
Retirement pensionNov. 768,3375,651·36,56677·4
Old person's pensionNov. 768035·8350·2
Supplementary benefitFeb. 783,0171,5261,963221·6
Non contributory invalidity pension:
For men and single womenJune 7613033·9512·5
For married women(6)May 783673
Attendance allowanceDec. 77300129·21704·6
Invalid care allowanceApril 785·64
Mobility allowanceMay 78718·2201·1(7)103104
Industrial injury benefitJune 7650246·227728·3
Industrial disablement pensionSept. 76202
Industrial death benefitDec. 7631
Child benefit increase(8)May 78262875750103
Family allowance/child benefit(9)May 787,149544·328·8(11)
Child interim benefit(10)April 77207
Family income supplementFeb. 789417·6251176244
War disablementDec. 77298282·930910
War widows or other dependants Dec. 7799
New pensions scheme51226

Notes:

( 1) Except for maternity and death grants, the figures in this column represent the number of recipients on the given date.

( 2) Administration costs, which include the costs of other Government departments, are not available for later than 1976–77.

( 3) Includes the major television advertising campaign normally run for the annual uprating of family income supplement; excludes the cost of printing leaflets.

( 4) Total grants for 12 months ending March 1977.

( 5) Total grants for 12 months ending June 1977.

( 6) Introduced in November 1977.

( 7) Mainly costs of work on the phased take-on of beneficiaries.

( 8) Started in 1977–78.

( 9) Child benefit replaced family allowance in April 1977.

( 10) A temporary benefit for 1976–77 only.

( 11) Includes cost of preparatory work on child benefit scheme.

The latest information on the take-up of cash benefits by families for which

Benefit

Calendar year

Estimated number entitled to claim

Average number receiving benefit

Estimated take-up

Estimated unclaimed benefit

(thousands)

(thousands)

per cent.

£million

Supplementary allowance19761,6001,26079170
Supplementary pension19762,2201,6407480
AboutAboutAbout
Family income supplement19758060¾1

Estimates are not available on the take up of other social security cash benefits.

Mental Illness Hospitals

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much accommodation in mental illness hospitals has not been commissioned since it was erected; and what is its location.

19 additional beds in St. Nicholas Hospital, Great Yarmouth, remain to be commissioned.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many mental illness hospitals still have less than one consultant per 220 in-patients.

According to provisional information available for the position in England at September 1976, this ratio was not met in six mental illness hospitals with 200 or more beds and in 21 smaller hospitals.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, following the drawing up of the regional health authorities' strategic plans, any region is planning the closure of a mental handicap hospital or mental illness hospital, respectively, with more than 500 beds within (a) the next five years or (b) the next 10 years.

Subject to the outcome of negotiations on the sale of the land for chalk extraction, the South East Thames Regional Health Authority is planning to close Darenth Park Hospital by December 1984.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current cost per in-patient week in a mental illness hospital.

For the year ended 31st March 1977, the latest for which costing returns have been received, the average

estimates are available is as follows:

cost per in-patient week in mental illness hospitals in England has been provisionally assessed at £81. This figure is subject to revision when the calculations for 1976–77 have been finalised.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many mental illness hospitals have not reached the patient-staff ratio of one nurse to three in-patients.

In England at 30th September 1976, the latest date for which information is available, all mental illness hospitals and units with 200 or more beds had a staff-patient ratio of at least one nurse to three in-patients but six smaller hospitals and units had a lower ratio. This information is provisional. Particulars covering the larger hospitals are published each year in the Department of Health and Social Security Statistical and Research Report Series.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current cost per in-patient week in a mental handicap hospital.

For the year ended 31st March 1977, the latest for which costing returns have been received, the average cost per in-patient week in mental handicap hospitals in England has been provisionally assessed at £70. This figure is subject to revision when the calculations for 1976–77 have been finalised.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of the additional funds allocated to the National Health Service by the Chancellor in his 1978 Budget will be directed to the improvement of mental hospitals.

About one-third of the additional money will go towards improvements in mental and geriatric hospitals and units.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current weekly cost per resident in a local authority hostel for the adult mentally ill.

The estimated average weekly cost in 1977–78 in England was £41·60. This figure, which excludes capital charges and central administrative costs, is the latest available, and is derived from the Social Services Statistics Estimates for that year, published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a copy of which is in the Library.

Psychiatric Consultants

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which area health authorities still have less than one psychiatric consultant per 60,000 population.

Information on the number of consultants in each area is not collected centrally. At 30th September 1977, only two regional health authorities—Trent and Mersey—had less than one consultant psychiatrist per 60,000 population.

Psychiatric Nurses

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many community psychiatric nurses were in post for the three most recent years for which figures are available.

Community psychiatric nursing staff are not separately identified in staffing returns to my Department. Community psychiatric nursing services by the nursing staff of mental illness hospitals and units amounted to the whole-time equivalent of 515 and 669—provisional—nursing staff in September 1975 and 1976 respectively. Comparable figures were not collected before 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many community psychiatric nurses are in post for each region; and how many this represents per 100,000 population.

Community psychiatric nursing staff are not separately identified in staffing returns to my Department. The provision of community psychiatric nursing services by the nursing staff of mental illness hospitals and units in September 1976 amounted to the whole-time staff equivalents listed below, expressed in terms of numbers per 100,000 population in each region Later figures are not available.

RegionProvisional number (whole-time equivalent)Per 100,000 population
Northern180·57
Yorkshire250·69
Trent410·91
Fast Anglian261·42
N.W. Thames621·80
N.E. Thames461·23
S.E. Thames*591·64
S.W. Thames501·73
Wessex772·90
Oxford331·48
South Western491·55
West Midlands661·27
Mersey401·61
North Western781·93
* Includes data relating to Bethlem Royal and Maudsley (Board of Governors) Hospital.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether there are plans to increase the number of community psychiatric nurses in post; by how many; and by what date.

The development of community psychiatric nursing services as part of the district psychiatric nursing service is recommended in paragraph 9.13 of the White Paper "Better Services for the Mentally Ill" (Cmnd. 6233). In the context of this year's planning exercise, I am reminding regional health authorities of the growing importance of these services as an essential element in the district psychiatric nursing service. My information is that an increasing number of community psychiatric nurses are being appointed. I regret that national figures are not available.

Mentally Handicapped Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many local authorities are on target for residential places for mentally handicapped children as set out in the White Paper "Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped".

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many local authorities are on target for facilities for mentally handicapped people as set out in "Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped" (a) for adult training centre places and (b) for residential provision.

"Better Services for the Mentally Handicapped" suggested a pattern of services and guidelines of provision to be achieved nationally by the early 1990s but did not envisage a uniform rate of change in each individual local authority. The starting point of the level of local services in being when the White Paper was issued differ from one authority to another. Local authority boundary changes since publication of the White Paper also limit the extent to which comparisons can be made. At 31st March 1977 the number of available places nationally was:—

Adult Training Centres37,800
Residential places for Children2,200
Residential places for Adults11,700
In the case of provision for adults, these figures represent a growth rate in the six years since publication of the White Paper, which would be more than sufficient, if continued, to reach the targets by 1991. The figure for children, however, represents a lower growth rate. I have expressed my concern about this and have urged authorities to give such provision much higher priority.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many beds are currently available for elderly mentally infirm people in hospitals other than specialist psychiatric hospitals.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current weekly cost per resident for a local authority hostel for adult mentally handicapped people.

The estimated average weekly cost in 1977–78 in England was £45·07. This figure, which excludes capital charges and central administrative costs, is the latest available, and is derived from the Social Services Statistics Estimates for that year, published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, a copy of which is in the Library.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of Trent Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the Trent Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(3) what steps have been taken in the Trent Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of North West Thames Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(3) what steps have been made in the area of South East Thames Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(4) what improvements have been made in the South East Thames Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;

(5) what steps have been taken in the area of South West Thames Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;

(6) what improvements have been made in the South West Thames Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;

(7) what steps have been made in the area of North East Thames Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;

(8) what improvements have been made in the North East Thames Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;

(9) what steps have been taken in the Oxford Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of Oxford Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the Oxford Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of Wessex Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the Wessex Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(3) what steps have been taken in the Wessex Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family;(4) what steps have been made in the area of South Western Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(5) what improvements have been made in the South Western Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(6) what steps have been taken in the South-Western Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of West Midlands Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;

(2) what improvements have been made in the West Midlands Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of East Anglia Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the East Anglia Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been taken in the area of Yorkshire Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently hospitalised and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the Yorkshire Regional Health Authority area in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(3) what steps have been taken in the Yorkshire Regional Health Authority to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of Northern Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently hos- pitalised and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the Northern Regional Health Authority area in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(3) what steps have been taken in the Northern Regional Health Authority to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been taken in the South West Thames Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family;(2) what steps have been taken in the South East Thames Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps have been taken in the East Anglia Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give the family a rest.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps have been taken in the North West Thames Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps have been taken in the North East Thames Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of Mersey Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the Mersey Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home;(3) what steps have been taken in the Mersey Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home, in order to help the family in crisis or sickness, or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what steps have been made in the area of North Western Regional Health Authority in the past year to improve the provision of day care facilities and short-stay care accommodation for the mentally handicapped over the age of 16 years in order to reduce the number of these children permanently living at hospital and increase the number living at home;(2) what improvements have been made in the North Western Regional Health Authority in provision of supportive help available to the families caring for mentally handicapped children and adults at home.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps have been taken in the West Midlands Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps have been taken in the North Western Regional Health Authority area to improve the provision of short-term care facilities for the mentally handicapped normally living at home in order to help the family in crisis, sickness or to give a rest to the family.

It has not been possible to assemble the information requested in the time available, and I will write to the hon. Members about the situation in each region. My Department has consistently stressed the need to improve all aspects of services for the mentally handicapped and in particular those which enable a family to continue caring for a mentally handicapped relative at home and those which reduce the numbers having to live in hospital solely because no alternative provision is available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total number of local authority residential places for mentally handicapped children in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977.