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Health Education Unit

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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1.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he proposes to make any changes in the activities of the Scottish health education unit.

It has been decided that the functions of the Scottish council for health education and the Scottish health education unit should be combined in one new organisation within the common services agency. The detailed implications of this change are being discussed with interested bodies.

:I thank my hon. Friend for that most helpful reply. Is he not aware that there is considerable public concern about the way in which this unit has subjected the Scottish people to an endless barrage of propaganda on all sorts of weird and wonderful subjects? As the most likely result of this tedious do-goodery will be that enraged taxpayers will get apoplexy, will the Minister assure the House that in future this unit's activities will be subjected to both common sense and cost efficiency?

I am aware of the worries that my hon. Friend has mentioned. I am, therefore, looking carefully at a new management structure for the combined body and methods of monitoring its future activities.

Has the Minister said that he has decided to merge the units? If so, why is he only now discussing the detailed implications? Why not have the discussions before deciding what to do?

I have already had discussions about the merging of these two units, which is agreed on both sides.

Does not my hon. Friend agree that the film "Are We Being Conned?" leaves much to be desired? It is very misleading and very biased in parts and should not have been presented as it has been.

I took the trouble to see the film my hon. Friend mentioned. All views on films of an educational nature are subjective. However, I agree that in certain respects this film may have cast aspersions on the advertising profession. But my hon. Friend's points have been noted and will be considered carefully in the future.

Will the Minister ignore the nit-picking from the Government Benches and recognise that the Scottish people expect the Scottish health education unit to continue and increase the advertising against the dangers of alcohol and smoking to compete with some of the heavy advertising we get from both those industries encouraging their use?

I accept the ideas behind the hon. Gentleman's question—but I should mention that Scotland, which has the worst health record of any country in Western Europe, at present spends 0· per cent. of its total health expenditure on health education.