Written Answers To Questions
Monday 30 November 1981
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Attorney-General what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in futherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
Total expenditure for 1980–81: Nil.Estimated expenditure for 1981–82: Nil.
Continental Shelf (Legislation)
asked the Attorney-General whether, in view of the complexity of legislation relating to the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf, he will bring forward proposals for its consolidation.
Legislation which concerns the continental shelf covers and impinges on a wide range of topics. If the hon. Member will explain in greater detail what he has in mind I shall see that it recieves proper consideration.
Developing Countries (Export Opportunities)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what likelihood he now sees in the light of the recent North-South summit at Cancun in Mexico, of developing countries opening their markets to more imports in the next 12 months; and to what extent the United Kingdom might benefit from such a development.
The reduction of trade barriers is bound to be a long and difficult process, especially at a time of world recession. My right hon. Friend, the Prime Minister said at Cancun that, as developing countries grow stronger, they, too, should open their markets more widely, if the open-trading system is to be maintained. We shall be following this up in the various international discussions which will take place in the next year or so. We welcome the efforts developed countries are making to free trade between themselves. The extent to which the United Kingdom will benefit will depend on the competitiveness of our industry.
Cancun Summit (Trading Benefit)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what trading benefit to the United Kingdom has resulted from the North-South summit at Cancun in Mexico; and if he will make a statement.
At the summit meeting at Cancun there was no intention to negotiate or to make precise commitments, but the greater understanding achieved, and the lead given, should help us in the search for solutions to international trade problems to the common benefit of all participants.
Heathrow (Fifth Terminal)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the estimated cost of the development of a fifth terminal at Heathrow as against the suggested third London airport at Stansted.
Different views have been expressed about the comparative costs of these developments by parties to the inquiries now being held into the British Airports Authority's proposals to develop Stansted airport and the alternative proposals put forward by Uttlesford district council for a fifth terminal at Heathrow. As these matters are under consideration at these inquiries, it would be wrong for me to comment on them.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
Total expenditure in 1980–81 was £203,111 and for 1981–82 is estimated as £25,000.
Insurance Brokers Registration Act 1981
asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he is satisfied that the standards of competence and conduct of insurance intermediaries will be raised by their registration under the Insurance Brokers Registration Act;(2) if he is satisfied by the numbers of insurance intermediaries who will have registered under the Insurance Brokers Registration Act when it comes into force on 1 December;(3) if he is satisfied that the coming into force of the Insurance Brokers Registration Act will provide sufficient additional protection to the consumer; and if he will make a statement.
The discipline of registration and adherence to the rules and code of conduct laid down by the Insurance Brokers Registration Council should lead to the raising of professional standards in the insurance broking industry and should promote confidence on the part of consumers in using the services of insurance brokers. I understand that good progress is being made with registration: at 25 November there were 12,922 individuals on the register, 1,514 companies had been enrolled and many applications were being processed by the council. I hope that eligible insurance intermediaries who have not applied already will seek to register.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will introduce legislation to require auctioneers to disclose to sellers the total price paid by the purchaser to the auctioneer for goods sold at their auction.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish a table showing the exports and imports of manufactures from the United Kingdom to the EEC and the rest of the world, respectively, in respect of those months of 1981 for which figures are available.
[pursuant to his reply, 27 November 1981, c. 491]: The available information is as follows:
|United Kingdom Trade in Manufactures with European Community and Rest of World|
|European Community||Rest of World|
|1981||Exports fob||Imports cif||Exports fob||Imports cif|
Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom.
Owing to the Civil Service pay dispute figures for March to August are not yet available.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, in view of the deficit of over £2,000,000,000 in the United Kingdom's manufacturing trade with Germany in 1980, he will initiate a study into the reasons for the deficit and in particular whether there is any evidence of non-tariff discrimination in the United Kingdom's trade with Germany.
[pursuant to his reply, 27 November 1981, c. 491]: No. Within Western Europe our balance of trade in manufactures with individual countries largely reflects differences in competitivity due to well-known factors such as productivity and industrial costs. Certain German technical requirements are indeed stringent, but could not be regarded as discrimination.
Price And Production Control (Draft Legislation)
asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed to release under the 30-year rule the draft legislation prepared in 1951 giving the Government power to control prices and production in certain circumstances.
Papers to be released in 1982 will include any material on those matters held in the records of the Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Office.
Grace And Favour Establishments
asked the Prime Minister how many grace and favour establishments there are; where they are situated; and what is the cost for maintenance met from public funds.
There are 133 occupied grace and favour apartments in buildings maintained by the Department of the Environment; Buckingham Palace Mews, Windsor Castle and associated Parks, Kensington Palace, St. James's Palace, Hampton Court Palace and associated area and Marlborough House Mews. Records are kept only of the cost of maintenance in relation to the buildings as a whole and not to those parts used as Grace and Favour residences.
asked the Prime Minister what representations on Government policy towards housing associations she has received from the chairman of Manchester Methodist Housing Association Ltd. ; what reply she is sending; whether she is taking any action as a result; and if she will make a statement.
The chairman of the association wrote to me and to the Minister for Housing and Construction on 13 November, emphasising the need for housing associations to continue to provide homes for rent. A reply will be sent shortly. The Housing Corporation's programme for next year is still under consideration. As the right hon. Gentleman will be aware, the Government have provided some £1,350 million over the last three years to the Housing Corporation for schemes for rented accommodation by housing associations.
asked the Prime Minister whether the procedure can be simplified under which a newly uemployed person may have to visit three offices, the local office of the Department of Health and Social Security, a jobcentre and an unemployment benefit office before obtaining his full entitlement to benefit; and what cost-savings might result from a streamlining of this procedure.
The Rayner scrutiny on payment of benefits to unemployed people, published in March this year together with the Government's initial response, examined these procedures and made recommendations for simplifying them. The Government have accepted that for those aged 18 and over, registration at a job centre should no longer be a condition for receipt of benefits; though unemployed people will naturally want to make use of the job centres in seeking employment.The Social Security and Housing Benefit Bill currently before the House includes powers to implement this change, which will save 1,300 posts in the Department of Employment group. The Government have accepted the desirability of unemployed people having to deal with only one office but are still considering ways of achieving this. In the meantime the Government are pressing ahead with a wide range of procedural changes which will help to streamline the unemployment benefits service, and save about 2,000 more posts.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Prime Minister what was the total expenditure by her Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commissions to any outside bodies providing advice to or acting as agents for her Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of her Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many cases were dealt with by magistrates' courts arising from the inner-city disturbances of July 1981, by (a) police force area and petty sessional division, (b) age, (c) sex and ethnic origin of defendants, (d) offence, (e) finding and (f) result;(2) how many arrests categorised by
(a) sex, (b) ethnic origin, (c) age, (d) offence and (e) police force area were made as a result of the inner city disturbances of July 1981.
The comprehensive information requested is not available centrally. Some information of this kind is being collected and we hope to be able to publish it in a few months' time.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list in the Official Report those police divisions in Greater Manchester and the Metropolitan Police district that were selected for special study by the Home Office study "Racial Attacks".
The factual survey of racial attacks took place in the following police divisions:
Greater Manchester Police:
- D (S.E. Manchester)
- M (Trafford)
- Q (Oldham)
- E (Camden)
- G (Hackney)
- H (Tower Hamlets)
- M (Southwark)
- V (Kingston and Merton)
- X (Ealing and Hillingdon)
In addition, my officials visited Greater Manchester and the following divisions in the Metropolitan area: E, G, H, X, Q (Brent) and R (Greenwich).
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of the views of Caribbean House, he will now review the need for resettlement grants as part of Her Majesty's Government's repatriation scheme.
No, but we have noted the Caribbean House proposals.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what study he has made of the views of Caribbean House with regard to resettlement of immigrants in the Caribbean; and if he will make a statement.
I have read reports of the proposal by this voluntary organisation. Government funds are already available to assist immigrants who genuinely wish to return to their country of origin but lack the means to do so.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether there is any length of time beyond which his Department endeavours to inform itself of the number of prisoners in custody and awaiting trial.
No, although governors of local prisons and remand centres in England and Wales are encouraged to keep the circuit and courts administrators in their area regularly informed of those prisoners in their custody who have been awaiting trial for more than 12 weeks in the case of adults, and 8 weeks in the case of persons under 21.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many house fires attended by fire brigades in 1980 were thought to be caused by alternative lighting or heating, namely, candles, paraffin heaters and similar items, used because the household's domestic electricity supply was disconnected.
I regret that the information requested is not available.
Offshore Installations (Employment)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to ensure that non-United Kingdom citizens employed on the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf are required to hold work permits.
No. The Immigration Act 1971 does not extend to offshore installations.
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
There was no expenditure by my Department under these headings in 1980–81. In 1981–82, expenditure arising from the sale of the combined shareholdings of my Department and Her Majesty's Treasury in the British Sugar Corporation Ltd. is estimated at £34,950 in fees and £60,207 in commissions.
North Sea Oil
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the significant North Sea oil discoveries in which the British National Oil Corporation has an interest.
Significant oil discoveries—a term taken to exclude fields in production or under development—are listed in appendix 2 of the 1981 report to Parliament by the Secretary of State on the development of the oil and gas reserves of the United Kingdom. The BNOC has an equity interest in the following:
|Licence Number||Block/Well Number|
|P204||3/2 - 1|
|P108||16/7a - 2|
|P103||9/19 - 2|
|P263||14/18 - 1|
asked the Secretary of State for Energy, of the North Sea oil produced in 1980, what was the barrelage comprised in (a) royalty oil and (b) participation crude.
In the year 1980 the volume of royalty oil taken in kind was 70,021,000 barrels. Participation crude oil amounted in total to 226,237,000 barrels.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
The totals are £103,500 in 1980–81 and an estimated £40,000 in 1981–82.
North Sea (Crane Operation)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will set up an inquiry into the safe operation of cranes, in sea conditions, throughout the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea.
We do not propose to to set up an inquiry into the safe operation of cranes offshore. However, we have commissioned a firm of consultant engineers to look into the problems of loading and unloading supply vessels in offshore conditions. Its report is due soon.
Solicitor-General For Scotland
Alcohol, Drug And Solvent Abuse
asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland how many cases involving alleged offences relating to (a) alcohol, (b) drugs and (c) solvent abuse, respectively, were reported to the Procurator Fiscal or the Lord Advocate's Department for each of the last 10 years.
Apart from statutory offences relating to the use of alcohol and drugs, there are so many other categories of cases in which alcohol and drugs are factors that it would not be possible to obtain the information sought. Solvent abuse is not by itself a criminal offence and it is not possible to obtain information on the number of cases where it is alleged that offences were commited while under the influence of solvents.
Employment (Future Patterns)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what resources are being devoted within his Department to research into future patterns of employment; what results have been obtained from this research; and if he will place in the Library a list of the research, wherever carried out, of which his Department is aware and considers useful into future patterns of employment.
In the current financial year, my Department plans to spend £50,502 and the Manpower Services Commission £290,000 on research into future patterns of employment. In addition, there are internal staff costs which are difficult to estimate but are relatively small. The results of this research which consist of books, articles and working papers and include sets of detailed medium term forecasts, assessments of future employment levels and assessments of the effect of the introduction of new technology on the future demand for, and distribution of, skills are used in formulating policy and in planning services.Full details of my Department's and the MSC's research activities and expenditure in 1980–81 were published by HMSO in "Research 1980–81".
Youth Opportunities Programme
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the number of unemployed school leavers in the (a) North-West, (b) Merseyside, (c) Kirkby and (d) Ormskirk travel-to-work areas who will not be found a place on a youth opportunities programme scheme before Christmas.
It is too early to say how many unemployed school leavers will be left without the offer of a place on the youth opportunities programme by Christmas 1981. On 12 November 1981 there were some 6,400 school leavers in the North-West region still to be offered a place. That figure includes 930 in Merseyside county, except for the Liverpool careers office, which is not completing official returns because of industrial action, 26 in West Lancashire local authority district, which includes Ormskirk, and 333 in Knowsley local authority district, which includes Kirkby.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many private employers taking applicants under the youth opportunities programme had not received monitoring visits at the latest available date; and whether any steps are being taken to increase the number of staff for this purpose;(2) how many places there were under the youth opportunties scheme with private employers for each year since the programme started to the latest available date.
I shall reply to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
Manufacturing Industry (Labour Costs)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish tables showing the average cost in pence per hour of labour employed in manufacturing industry, including the cost of statutory and pension contributions and taxes, less subsidies, together with the percentages of total labour costs such items represented for the years 1970 and 1980.
Estimates are not readily available for 1970 but the following table gives figures for 1968 and 1973, based on the detailed surveys in those years, and for 1980 based on up-dating the results of the detailed survey in 1978.
|Labour costs in manufacturing industries|
|Total (pence per hour)||58·25||106·90||349·43|
|Percentage of total attributable to:|
|Wages and salaries||91·3||89·9||82·0|
|Statutory national insurance contributions||4·4||4·9||9·1|
|Provision for redundancy (net)||0·4||0·3||1·7|
|Voluntary social welfare payments*||3·2||3·5||5·3|
|Other payments (subsidised services, etc)||2·3||1·9||2·1|
|* Predominantly contributions to pension funds, but also including payments to special sickness funds and lump sum payments on retirement, etc.|
Wales (Lead Poisoning)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the locations of those works in Wales where, according to the factory inspectors' reports, lead and its compounds are treated or handled in such a way as to give rise to concern for the health and welfare of employees and the local public.
Reports by HM factory inspectors indicate that there are no works in Wales where the use of lead and its compounds give rise to concern for the health and welfare of employees or the local public. Only on one occasion in 1981 has the inspectorate found it necessary to take enforcement action through the issue of an improvement notice, and this was concerned with washing facilities on a demolition site where there was a lead hazard.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the locations of those lead works in Wales which are scheduled by the Alkali and Clean Air Inspectorate as being major potential emitters of lead needing the strict control of an expert, professional authority.
A number of lead works in Wales are registered under the Alkali etc. Works Regulation Act 1906 and subsequent legislation, but these works are not regarded by the Alkali and Clean Air Inspectorate as major potential emitters of lead.
Noise Levels (Legislation)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will include in his Department's proposals for protective noise legislation a requirement that all new equipment meet an 80 decibel level.
The Health and Safety Commission is preparing proposals for regulations and a supporting code of practice about the protection of hearing at work. To this end it has recently published a consultative document "Protection of Hearing at Work" outlining such proposals together with a background document 'Some aspects of noise and hearing loss' and has invited comments by 30 April 1982. I have asked the chairman of the commission to ensure that the point raised by the hon. Member is taken into account.
Construction Industry (Fatal Accidents)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons died from accidents in the construction industry during 1979, 1980 and to the nearest available date in 1981.
Fatal accidents in the construction industry reported to HM Factory Inspectorate amounted to 149 in 1979 and 165 in 1980. Figures for 1981 referring to the construction industry are not yet available.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the estimated number of people who are claiming benefit in more than one name when unemployed in the South-West.
It is, of course, illegal for a person to receive unemployment benefit under more than one name. I do not know of any current case of such a claim in the South-West region of my Department, nor does my Department attempt to make an estimate of the likely number of cases. Should such a case come to light, it would be investigated with a view to prosecuting the offender.
Children (Recreational Needs)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment in what respects his Department makes provision for the recreational needs of children through the youth opportunities programme, any special programmes, or otherwise.
A number of schemes are being funded by the Manpower Services Commission under both the community projects element of the youth opportunities programme and the community enterprise programme to help provide and improve the recreational facilities available to children. Examples of the work being done by these schemes include the construction and renovation of adventure playgrounds, work on construction picnic grounds and play areas and the organisation of play projects for children. I understand that several schemes of this sort are currently running in the Bristol area.
Young Persons (Employment Schemes)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many young persons were on youth opportunity and similar schemes at the end of October 1981, October 1980 and October 1979 in Wales.
The information requested is as follows:
|Youth opportunities programme||Community industry|
|End October 1979||9,400||515|
|End October 1980||13,200||721|
|End October 1981||17,300||926|
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the Health and Safety Executive's fulfilment of statutory duty under the Special Premises Regulations 1976 with respect to the current expansion of British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. operations at Windscale; and if he will make a statement.
Applications by British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. for fire certificates under the (Special Premises) Regulations 1976 to cover plants now under construction at Sellafield (formerly Windscale) are being considered with a view to their inclusion on the Sellafield site certificate after the plants have been completed. I am satisfied that the Health and Safety Executive's duties at Sellafield under the regulations are being properly carried out.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will take steps to set up an annual census of all personnel working in the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea.
My Department is currently carrying out a census of all employees in Great Britain. The census results will separately identify those employed in the extraction of mineral oil and natural gas. I have no plans to conduct a separate census of personnel working in the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people he estimates will come off the unemployment register as a result of the new scheme to increase benefits to the over-60s if they no longer register for work.
It is estimated that 45,000 unemployed people aged 60 and over are eligible to opt to receive the higher rate of supplementary benefit under arrangements announced by the Secretary of State for Social Services on 20 July 1981.
Resettlement Officers (Blind And Disabled Persons)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what representations he has received about the dilution of the disablement resettlement office and blind persons' resettlement officer services; if he will list the organisations which have expressed concern about such dilution; if he is aware of the possible hardship such dilution will cause to disabled people seeking employment; and if the will make a statement;(2) how many full-time disablement resettlement officers and blind persons' resettlement officers have been employed by the Manpower Services Commission each year since 1970; whether the staffing levels of these specialist placing services are related to the numbers of blind, partially sighted and disabled people seeking employment whether registered disabled or not and to the general level of unemployment in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
[pursuant to his reply, 24 November 1981, c. 344]: I have received no representations specifically about any dilution of services provided by disablement resettlement officers and blind persons' resettlement officers. There has been no significant change since 1970 in the staff resources allocated. However, precise information about the number of full time officers employed each year is not available because both the number of officers in post and the mix between full and part time officers has varied from time to time with the movements of individual staff, and the demands put on the service locally.Between 1970 and 1980 disablement resettlement officers in post numbered around 520. During 1980 there were about 530 disablement resettlement officers in post. Both these figures include full and part-time officers. The number of BPRO posts has also not changed significantly over the period, and is currently 38, again including both full and part-time officers.The overall staffing levels of these services are not directly related to the number of unemloyed disabled people. But I well recognise the difficulties facing disabled people seeking employment in the present situation, and in spite of the need to make economies elsewhere the Government has asked the Manpower Services Commission to maintain the level of its services to disabled people.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will examine the feasibility of introducing a scheme to assist young people who live in the home counties and who are deterred from seeking available employment in London by the level of fares.
[pursuant to his reply, 27 November 1981, c. 485]: I am well aware of the difficulties young people all over the country are facing in getting jobs. But although some assistance with fares can be given to those on YOP schemes, I am not convinced that there is a case for making public money available to help young people in normal employment with fares to work.
Welsh Trade Union Council Co-Operative Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the progress of the Welsh Trades Union Council Co-operative scheme, funded by his Department.
The feasibility study into co-operation and job creation in Wales by the Wales TUC was published on 21 September, and I understand the Wales TUC is now discussing it widely with local authorities and others who have an interest.
St David's Hospital, Carmarthen
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take steps to remedy the deteriorating situation at St. David's hospital, Carmarthen, so that the General Nursing Council is not forced to close the psychiatric nursing school.
The area health authority is already taking steps to remedy the situation and is in touch with the General Nursing Council.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales which health authorities in Wales currently employ dental therapists; and what effect the phasing-out of dental therapists would have on the standard of dental care in Wales.
All except Powys. If dental therapists were phased out the treatment they provide would be undertaken by community clinical dental staff. Standards of care should not, therefore, suffer.
Avoidable Disabilities (Preventive Measures)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied that there are adequate preventive measures in Wales to protect people from avoidable disabilities; and if he will make a statement.
I am satisfied that health and local authorities are alive to the importance of preventive measures and are continually seeking to improve the facilities they provide.
|Pay Beds in Welsh NHS Hospitals|
|Area Health Authority||1 November 1976||1 November 1977||1 November 1978||1 November 1979||1 November 1980||1 November 1981|
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps have been taken through the Welsh Office to promote public awareness of the problems of disabled people and their right to equal opportunities.
We have taken every opportunity to promote such awareness, particularly in the context of the International Year of Disabled People, and will continue to do so.
Fluoride (West Glamorgan)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from interested persons in West Glamorgan concerning the addition of fluoride to the water supplied in that county; and if he will make a statement.
We have received representations from five individuals, including a petition with 1,083 signatures, two Members of Parliament, Swansea/Lliw Valley community health council and Swansea East constituency Labour Party about the intention of West Glamorgan health authority to implement its earlir decision to arrange the fluoridation of water supplies. Government policy is to encourage health authorities to fluoridate water. The introduction of local fluoridation schemes is a matter for individual health authorities.
Public Bodies (Appointments)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many appointments he has made to public bodies since June 1979.
Since 1 June 1979 I have made 461 appointments to those public bodies for which I have the prime responsibility for ministerial appointments.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many pay beds currently are available in each area health authority area in Wales; and how many were available in comparable dates in each of the last five years.
The information requested is set out as follows:
General Surgery (Waiting Lists)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the waiting list expressed in numbers and also expressed per 1,000 of population for each area health authority in Wales for general surgery.
The information is given in the following table:
|In-patient waiting list at 31 March 1982|
|Number||Per 1,000 population*|
|* 1980 mid-year estimates of population used to calculate rate.|
asked the Secretary of State for Wales, further to the answer by the Under-Secretary of State to the hon. Member for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) Official Report, 13 July, column 288, what were the estimates of the total number of persons employed in Wales in tourism and related industries in each of the last five years.
Estimates are not available by year. The Wales Tourist Board estimate is that the number employed directly or indirectly in the tourist industry has grown from 83,000 to 90,000 full-time job equivalents since 1974.
Wales Tourist Board
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total expenditure of the Wales Tourist Board in each of the last five years.
The gross operating expenditure of the Wales Tourist Board was as follows:
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
There was no such expenditure by my Department in 1980–81; neither is any expected in 1981–82.
Alcohol, Drug And Solvent Abuse
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many persons, and what percentage of the Welsh population, received medical attention for each of the following subjects (a) alcohol abuse, (b) drug abuse and (c) solvent abuse during each of the last five years.
This information is not centrally available.
European Investment Bank (Loans)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the balance between the public and private sector of loans from the European Investment Bank to the United Kingdom; whether this balance remained relatively constant over the period since the United Kingdom's accession to the Community; and whether he is intending to take steps to increase the availability of European Investment Bank loans to British companies in the private sector.
Since the United Kingdom acceded to the Community in 1973 the balance between public and private sector loans from the EIB to this country has been subject to significant annual variations. The figures are as follows:
|Private sector loans||Public sector loans||Total|
|£ million||£ million||£ million|
|1981 (to date)||19||29||48|
Press And Public Relations Officers
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many press and public relations officers are currently employed in his Department; what is the total cost per annum; and what were the comparable figures for May 1979 and May 1980.
The number and cost of staff in the Treasury carrying out Press Office duties on these dates was as follows:
|Number||Annual cost at date quoted £|
|1 May 1979||7||73,000|
|1 May 1980||6||83,663|
|1 November 1981||6||102,378|
Beer (Tax And Duty)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the estimated yields of excise duty on beer and value added tax on beer sales in the Budgets for 1976–77, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1979–80 and 1980–81.
The Budget estimates of the yields from excise duty on beer were as follows:
|* When the 10 per cent, regulator surcharge was imposed from 1 January 1977 it was estimated that the additional beer duty receipts would be about £10 million in 1976–77.|
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer upon what estimate of consumption the Budget estimate of the yield in 1981–82 of excise duty on beer as £1,440 million and net receipts of value added tax on beer sales of £800 million was made.
The Budget estimate of excise duty on beer was based on the economic forecasts for the period to mid-1982 on pages 26–29 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1981–82. The estimate implies beer consumption in the year of about 65 million hectolitres at an average strength of 1037 degrees of original gravity.
Brussels Nomenclature (Manufactures)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the amount of duty collected in each chapter of the Brussels nomenclature in the case of manufactures for the latest year for which figures are available, together with the amount of dutiable imports; and if he will provide the same information for 1972.
Information is not readily available in the form asked. Receipts of customs duties in the financial years 1972–73 and 1979–80 by tariff chapter and the values of dutiable imports in the financial year 1972–73 and the calendar year 1979 by sections of the standard international trade classification are published in the reports of the Commissioners of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise for the years ended 31 March 1973 and 31 March 1980. There are copies in the Library of the House.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the average time in the curent year taken by his Department to produce a substantive reply to letters from hon. Members; and what steps he is taking to improve matters.
The time taken to answer letters varies substantially depending on the complexity of the subject. But I accept that in recent months a number of letters from hon. Members have been handled much too slowly. I am now completing a review of the relevant arrangements in all my departments with the aim of enabling substantive replies to be given to hon. Members with the minimum of delay.
Public Sector Borrowing Requirement
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the borrowings up to the new limit of £1·5 billion guaranteed by the Treasury, of British Nuclear Fuels Limited, fall outside the public sector borrowing requirement.
I shall let my hon. Friend have a reply as soon as possible.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 of fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
Victoria And Albert Museum (Purchase Fund)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the final discretion remains with him for varying, in the event of special circumstances arising, the application of the general rules governing recourse by local museums to the purchase fund which is annually made available to the Victoria and Albert museum.
Money Supply (Definition)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he defines money supply; how long the Treasury has adhered to that definition for purposes of monetary management; and whether he expects to change the definition.
[pursuant to his reply, 26 November 1981, c. 429]: There is a number of different measures of the money supply. Series for five aggregates are published each month by the Bank of England and can be found in "Financial Statistics", section 7. Full definitions are set out in "Financial Statistics Explanatory Handbook".Targets for one of these, £M3, were first set in December 1976 for the period April 1976 to April 1977. Targets for £M3 have been set each year since that date. For the last two years the Financial Statement and Budget Report has set out ranges for £M3 over the medium term.The Government monitor all the monetary aggregates and, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer explained in his Budget Speech, takes account of them, together with other financial indicators, in assessing the stance of policy.On 18 November the banking sector, as defined for the purposes of calculating the monetary aggregates, was enlarged to include more institutions. This change in statistical procedures has no policy significance, and is expected to have only a modest effect on the monetary aggregates, since the business of many of the new reporting institutions is small. When the monetary figures prepared on the new basis are announced adjustments will be made so that growth during the target period will be comparable with growth in the aggregates calculated on the old basis. The first announcement to include figures calculated on the new basis will be made on 5 January, in respect of banking December.These changes are fully described in 'Monetary Control—Provisions', a Bank of England paper of 5
|North Sea oil and gas revenues|
|Petroleum revenue tax||—||—||183||1,435||2,420||2,210|
|Supplementary petroleum duty||—||—||—||—||—||1,850|
|Other oil and gas revenues|
|Excise duty on hydrocarbon oil|
|Value added tax on hydrocarbon oil†||325||290||280||425||600||700|
|*Corporation tax before any ACT set-off. Comparable figures for corporation tax on activities related to oil outside the North Sea ar not available.|
Construction Industry (Group Of Eight)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to meet the "group of eight" representatives of the construction industry who approached him at the end of September.
[pursuant to his reply, 26 November 1981, c. 431]: I am meeting representatives of the "group of eight" on 7 December.
European Monetary System
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent he considers a decision by the United Kingdom to join the European monetary system exchange rate mechanism would have a significant effect on the freedom of Her Majesty's Government to carry out the economic management of the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
[pursuant to the reply, 27 November 1981, c. 496]: The European monetary system exchange rate arrangements seek to promote, rather than to exact, convergence and stability. But I have seen no evidence that they relieve participants of responsibility for management of their economies.
August 1981, reprinted in the Bank of England Quarterly Bulletin, September 1981 and in the Bank's press notice on the September money supply figures.
Otherwise, there are no plans to revise the definitions of the monetary aggregates. My right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer will set out the financial objectives for our strategy in his next Budget.
Oil (Revenue Yield)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total Government revenue yield from oil, and what is the breakdown of this figure into petroleum revenue tax, corporation tax, royalties and supplementary petroleum duty on oil companies, petrol duty, value added tax and other relevant tax elements for each of the past five years and the projected amount for the current year.
[pursuant to his reply, 26 November 1981, c. 430.]: The information is as follows:
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if membership of the European monetary system exchange rate mechanism would prevent or otherwise influence decisions by the United Kingdom Government to seek to increase or decrease the exchange rate or if such decisions would require the consent of other members of the European monetary system.
[pursuant to the reply, 27 November 1981, c. 496]: If sterling were to participate in the European monetary system exchange rate mechanism, decisions on a realignment of sterling's central rate would be taken in accordance with the procedures under which the mechanism operates. These provide that the realignment of central rates will be subject to mutual agreement by all the countries participating in the mechanism.
New Businesses (West Midlands)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will provide information showing the number of new business starts in the West Midlands region during the last two years, together with the number of liquidations and closures within the region.
This information is not available.
British Industry (Return Of Capital)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his estimate of the return on capital employed in British industry in each of the past five years; and what is his forecast for the current year.
The figures requested are given in an article "Companies' rate of return on capital employed: 1960 to 1980" in British Business 18 September 1981. I have made no forecasts for the current year.
Manufacturing Industry (Indebtedness)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the growth of indebtedness of manufacturing industry since May 1979, absolutely and as a percentage of sales, and the proportion held in different classes of debt.
The only recent figures available for manufacturing industry relate to oustanding bank advances and acceptances, which have increased from £13,299 million in May 1979 to £17,624 million in May 1981. Using approximate sales figures, these amounts are equivalent to about 30 per cent. and about 40 per cent. of sales in the second quarter of 1979 and 1981 respectively. These figures cover companies, public corporations and unincorporated businesses.For all industrial and commercial companies, estimates for 1980 are that bank advances accounted for 76 per cent. of gross debt, debentures and loan stock for 20 per cent. and preference shares for 4 per cent. Bank advances account for the bulk of the advances plus acceptances given above for manufacturing industry.
Manufacturing Industry (Cash Inflow)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the cash flow into manufacturing industry in total and by origin in each of the past five years.
Figures for manufacturing industry separately are not available for recent years. Sources of funds for all industrial and commericial companies are published in the first part of table 9.2 of Financial Statistics—page 106 in the October 1981 issue.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
Expenditure in 1980–81 amounted to £5,053,290. It is not possible at the present time to give a reliable estimate of total net expenditure in 1981–82.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
Brandt Emergency Plan
asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the Government are still considering the Brandt emergency plan put forward at the Mexico summit by the Austrian Government; and if he will make a statement.
The Mexico summit discussed a wide range of issues, including elements of the Brandt emergency plan. It was agreed that the meeting should be followed-up in the United Nations, in particular by a renewed effort to launch the global negotiations. The global negotiations will include all the areas covered by the Brandt emergency plan.
South Africa (Asbestos Mines)
asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) if he will instruct the labour attaché in the British Embassy in Pretoria to provide a full report on conditions in the asbestos mines operated in South Africa by British companies or their subsidiaries in the light of the European Economic Community code of conduct for companies in South Africa, and to publish the findings of the report;(2) if he will ask the labour attaché in the British Embassy in Pretoria to inquire into the number of cases of asbestosis and related diseases among workers from asbestos mines operated by British companies in South Africa, in the light of the provisions regarding medical care of the European Economic Community code of conduct for companies in South Africa;(3) if he will instruct the labour attaché in the British Embassy in Pretoria to discuss with British companies or their subsidiaries operating asbestos mines in South Africa the health, safety and welfare standards of the workers in those mines in the light of the European Economic Community code of conduct for companies in South Africa and to report back on the outcome of these discussions.
There is now only one British company involved in asbestos mining in South Africa. It operates under South African health and safety laws and the South African authorities are responsible for applying them and dealing with any breaches. We have asked the embassy in Pretoria to comment on recent allegations concerning asbestos mining by British subsidiaries in South Africa.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
No expenditure of this kind was incurred by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, including the Overseas Development Administration, in 1980–81, and none has been estimated for in 1981–82.
asked the Lord Privy Seal, in view of the importance attached by Her Majesty's Government to the adoption by all countries of appropriate measures to counter international terrorism, what measures have been taken to implement the Ottawa Statement of 20 July 1981.
The Heads of State and Government of the seven economic summit countries declared at Ottawa on 20 July 1981 that they proposed to suspend all flights to and from Afghanistan in implementation of the Bonn declaration unless the Babrak Karmal regime took steps to comply with Afghanistan's international obligations by extraditing or prosecuting, under the Hague convention, the hijackers of a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft. The statement of the seven was communicated to the mission of Afghanistan to the United Nations by Canada on behalf of the seven.Since no appropriate steps have been taken by the Karmal regime, the United Kingdom, France and the Federal Republic of Germany, which are the only countries among the seven to whose territories Ariana Afghan Airlines fly, have decided, in agreement with the other members of the seven, to denounce their air services agreements or arrangements with Afghanistan.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
In 1980–81, nil; in 1981–82 expenditure is likely to be in the order of £30,000.
"Leander" Class Frigates (Modernisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many "Leander" class frigates are undergoing modernising refits at an estimated unit cost equal to or exceeding the figure of £70 million given in his answer of 23 November to the hon. Member for Gillingham.
It is anticipated that the final cost of the four Batch 3 "Leander" frigates currently undergoing modernisation refits will exceed £70 million in each case.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the "Leander" class frigates now being modernised whose outturn costs of modernisation are expected to be £70 million or more; and when each refit was started and is due for completion.
The forecast completion dates are at present subject to re-assessment.
|Jupiter||January 1980||July 1983|
|Scylla||November 1980||September 1983|
|Charybdis||June 1979||June 1982|
|Hermione||January 1980||January 1983|
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether in view of the numbers of Royal Navy SSN hunter-killer submarines committed to NATO naval forces, he considered using them in Exercise Ocean Safari; and what were the reasons for his decision not to do so.
Royal Navy SSN hunter-killer submarines did take part in Exercise Ocean Safari.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if it is now his intention to have two anti-submarine warfare carriers in commission at all times during the next five years.
I refer my hon. Friend to paragraph 27 of Cmnd. 8288 and to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Ruislip-Northwood (Mr. Wilkinson) on 29 October 1981. —[Vol. 10, c. 464.]
Secretary Of State (Interviews)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many radio and television interviews he has given in an official capacity to foreign news agencies since he took office.
In addition to one interview with a foreign television station, a number of my interviews with the BBC and ITV have been broadcast overseas. I have given two interviews to the COI for distribution in the USA which have been widely transmitted. I have also spoken extensively to representatives of the foreign and broadcasting agencies in the United Kingdom, and propose as time permits to continue to make myself available to meet and be interviewed by them. My ministerial colleagues in the Northern Ireland Office will do the same.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
The information is as follows:
Alcohol, Drug And Solvent Abuse
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons, and what percentage of the Northern Irish population received medical attention for each of the following subjects (a) alcohol abuse, (b) drug abuse and (c) solvent abuse during each of the last five years.
I shall reply to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.
Job Protection And Creation Schemes
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many jobs are being supported by Government job protection and job creation schemes in Dundee.
The information is set out in the following table:
|Measure||Numbers covered||At Date|
|Temporary short-time working compensation scheme||270||25 November 1981|
|Job release scheme||266||10 November 1981|
|Community industry||117||30 September 1981|
Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh (Cardiac Surgery)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the expected length of life of the proposed new cardiac surgery theatre at the Royal infirmary, Edinburgh, in the light of development plans for the Royal infirmary.
A consultative document on the future development of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary was issued by Lothian health board in August 1981. Whatever decision is reached on the options discussed in this document, the new cardiac surgery theatre which is now being built will be guaranteed a minimum life of at least 15 years. It would not be justifiable to delay work on the proposed improvement of cardiac surgery facilities while discussion continues on the long-term development of Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has received the letter from the Scottish Association for Public Transport on transport policy for Scotland; and what reply he is sending.
I have recently received a letter from the association. I have told it that I will comment on its views when I address its annual general meeting next March.
Housing Waiting Lists
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will list district by district, for the most recent convenient year, the numbers on (a) council housing waiting lists and (b) housing transfer waiting lists in Scotland.
Information on waiting and transfer lists is not held centrally by my Department.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to be in a position to publish the consultative paper dealing with aspects of divorce law reform other than the substantive law referred to in his reply to the hon. Member for South Angus (Mr. Fraser) on 14 April, Official Report, column 78.
My right hon. Friend hopes to publish a consultative document, or otherwise to make a statement of the Government's views, early next year.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
No such expenditure was incurred in 1980–81; about £1,500 is expected to be spent in 1981–82.
Alcohol, Drugs And Solvent Abuse
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many people, and what percentage of the population in Scotland, received medical attention in connection with alcohol problems during each of the last five years; and whether these percentages and the numbers have decreased since the passing of the Licensing (Scotland) Act;(2) how many persons, and what percentage of the Scots population, received medical attention in connection with drug and solvent abuse problems during each of the last five years; and whether these percentages and the numbers have decreased since the passing of the Licensing (Scotland) Act.
This information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many rehabilitation centres for alcohol abuse are in operation in Scotland; and whether he has plans to open more.
The provision of facilities and services for people with alcohol-related problems is a matter for local authorities and health boards. Facilities of this nature are also provided by a number of voluntary organisations. Information about the extent of such provision is not held centrally.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures his Department is taking at present to deal in each case with the abuse of (a) alcohol, (b) drugs and (c) solvents.
In each case action is primarily the responsibility of health boards and local authorities; though voluntary organisations also play an invaluable part in dealing with alcohol abuse in particular. My Department has sought to encourage and finance research, health education and teaching in this field, through the activities of the Scottish Health Education Group, the Scottish Council on Alcoholism, the alcohol studies centre at Paisley College of Technology, and a number of other bodies.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many convictions arising out of offences relating to (a) alcohol, (b) drugs and (c)solvent abuse, respectively, there have been for each of the last 10 years.
Statistics on solvent abuse (which in itself is not an offence) are not collected by my
|Scotland—Persons convicted for offences relating to alcohol or drugs|
|(*) Including driving while under the influence of drugs.|
Tobacco Companies (Sports Sponsorship)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement on the Government's conclusions on the effect on the health of the community of sports sponsorship by tobacco companies; and whether he proposes to introduce legislation on this matter.
I have no statement to make at present. Renegotiation of the existing voluntary agreement is now in progress.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will review the criteria for determining that claimants for supplementary benefit are living together as man and wife, having regard to the fact that such criteria are not applied to two persons of the same sex living in the same accommodation and claiming such benefit.
The Supplementary Benefit Act 1976 provides for the requirements and resources of a married couple, or of a couple living together as husband and wife, to be aggregated in determining an entitlement to supplementary benefit. The policy reflects the assumption that a married couple have a mutual responsibility in the widest sense to look after one another. The rules about aggregation extend to those who are living together as husband and wife so that they are not given a financial advantage, within the terms of the scheme, over people who are married.Decisions as to what constitutes living together as husband and wife are made by the independent adjudicating authority—the benefit officer—subject to case law established by the decisions of the independent Social Security Commissioner. In reaching those decisions benefit officers follow the criteria set out in paragraph 2.12 of the Supplementary Benefit Handbook. Not each and every criterion must be fulfilled before a decision is made that a couple are "living together", but a general judgment is needed in each case as to the appropriateness of such a decision.I shall write further to my hon. Friend about this issue.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what instructions have been issued by his Department with regard to the payment of unemployment benefit to those who give up employment in furtherance of occupational early retirement schemes before they reach the State pensionable age;
Department. Figures for offences relating to alcohol and drugs for the years 1970 to 1979 (the latest 10 years for which data are available) are given in the table following:
(2) whether it is assumed in proposing terms for early retirement from the public service that those accepting the Government's invitation to participate in such schemes will be entitled to unemployment benefit at the appropriate rate until they reach State pensionable age.
A person who leaves his employment of his own accord in order to take early retirement may be disqualified from receiving unemployment benefit for up to six weeks unless he had just cause for leaving; and if he is over age 60 and his occupational pension is more than £35 a week, his unemployment benefit is in any event reduced by the amount by which his pension exceeds that figure. Staff at unemployment benefit offices are instructed to refer all cases of this kind to the insurance officer who is responsible in the first instance for deciding entitlement to unemployment benefit. I understand that the terms for early retirement from the public service do not take into account eligibility for unemployment benefit.
Supplementary Benefit Recipients (Dundee)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in Dundee are in receipt of supplementary benefit; and how many of these are pensioners and the heads of one-parent families.
Following is the information at August 1981. It relates to people receiving supplementary benefit from the two DHSS local offices in Dundee, which also cover areas outside Dundee itself.
|Supplementary beneficiaries (thousands)|
|* Excludes those recorded in other groups, e.g. widows with national insurance benefit and unemployed people. (Nationally, an estimated 6 per cent, of one-parent families claim supplementary benefit for other reasons.)|
Source: 100 per cent. count of cases.
Unemployed Persons (Dundee)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number and percentage of unemployed persons in Dundee who have exhausted their entitlement to unemployment benefit.
Because of the effects of industrial action, the latest available information relates to February 1981. There were then 3,500 unemployed claimants in the area covered by the Dundee unemployment benefit offices, including the associated office in Forfar, who had exhausted their entitlement to unemployment benefit. This was 24·9 per cent. of the total number of unemployed claimants in that area.
Industrial Injury Benefit (Deafness)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will reduce the period of employment necessary to qualify for industrial injury benefit for occupational deafness from 20 to 15 years.
A sub-committee of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council, the independent body that advises my right hon. Friend on matters relating to the industrial injuries scheme, is reviewing the benefit provisions for occupational deafness and is expected to report next year. The length of the period of employment in a prescribed occupation necessary to qualify for compensation, currently 20 years, is one of the issues which it is considering.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people have applied for industrial injury benefit for occupational deafness since 1974; how many have received benefit; and how many claims have been disallowed for (a) failing to fulfil the occupational criteria and (b) insufficient hearing loss.
Information is not available in the precise form requested. The figures below most nearly correspond. They cover the period from the inception of the scheme—28 October 1974—to the latest available date—27 October 1981.
|(a) on grounds of prescription (i.e. failing to fulfil the occupational criteria)||10,856|
|(b) on diagnostic grounds||6,508|
Supplementary Benefit Appeal Tribunals
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether there is any provision to help appellants from supplementary benefit appeals tribunals to argue points of law before the Social Security Commissioners.
Assistance is available to appellants under the legal advice and assistance—Green Form—scheme in the preparation of applications for leave, and subsequent appeals, to the Social Security Commissioners. The scheme does not extend to representation before the commissioners.Appellants who seek leave to appeal to the commissioners are told of the availability of this legal assistance, and also that they can get free advice from citizens' advice bureaux.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many appeals from decisions of the supplementary benefit appeals tribunal were made in each of the past five years.
I regret that information in the form requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. However, between 1 January 1977 and 23 November 1980 there were 19 applications for judicial review and 141 appeals under the Tribunals and Enquiries (SBATs) Order 1977. That order was revoked with effect from 24 November 1980, and between that date and 25 November 1981 there were 969 applications for leave to appeal to the Social Security Commissioners. So far, leave to appeal has been granted to 154 applicants.
Drug Data Sheets
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will consider the feasibility of drug data sheets being written in terms which are more easily understood; and whether copies can be made available to patients.
A data sheet is an information document in a standard format intended to provide practitioners with an objective statement of essential particulars about a medicine, including its uses, dosage, contra-indications and warnings. I have no reason to believe that their wording causes any general difficulties to practitioners. So far as patients are concerned, the extent of any information which it may be desirable for them to be given can vary in individual cases, and I am content to leave this to the clinical judgment of the practitioners who are treating them.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on what date he received the communication from the hon. Member for Newham, North-West concerning the campaign of the Nursing Mirror "Nurses are worth more"; why it took him until 19 November to reply to this; what was contained in this reply which could not have been sent earlier; why this letter was not posted until 24 November; and whether he will, as previously promised, take action to ensure that his correspondence is more expeditiously dealt with.
The Department receives over 68,000 letters a year and I and my ministerial colleagues deal as promptly as possible with those calling for a personal reply.The hon. Member's letter was received on 2 November and replied to on 19 November.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consideration he has given to the dossier of correspondence sent to him by the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe about the lack of adequate provision for the very old; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.
I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for letting me see the correspondence that has been referred to him about the care of the elderly and the elderly with mental infirmity. Most of the 21 letters indicate that in various parts of the country geriatric and/ or psychiatric services for the elderly need expansion and improvement.I set out in an earlier reply to the right hon. Gentleman—[19 November 1981, Vol. 13, c.
230]—the action taken nationally to ensure that services for these vulnerable groups are given priority. The implementation of national priorities in the light of local circumstances will be the responsibility of the new district health authorities.
But it must not be overlooked that some areas provide excellent services for their physically and mentally infirm old people and I would do less than justice to the many dedicated and caring staff who work in this difficult and often unrewarding area if I did not pay tribute to their efforts.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if, further to his answer to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe, on 19 November, he will take steps to collect statistics relating to the number of scalding accidents among psychogeriatric hospital patients;(2) if, further to his answer to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe, on 19 November, he will take steps to collect statistics relating to the number of hospital wards catering solely for psychogeriatric patients who lack the services of physiotherapist or an occupational therapist.
The Health Services information steering group—under the chairmanship of Mrs. E. Körner—is currently reviewing the need for statistics of various kinds within the NHS and will also make recommendation as to the nature and extent of statistics which should be made available centrally. I shall ensure that the right hon. Gentleman's request is brought to the notice of the steering group, but cannot anticipate the outcome of the review.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how the Safety Council for Drugs observations, and particularly the possibility of side effects of drugs are brought to the attention of general practitioners; and whether he is satisfied with existing procedures.
The advice of the Committee on Safety of Medicines on all matters relating to a drug including adverse reactions, is normally incorporated in the product data sheet which is made available to doctors by the pharmaceutical company concerned. The committee itself also issues directly to doctors, including all general practitioners, its regular publication "Current Problems" which gives information about adverse reactions to certain drugs which have been considered by the committee; where an urgent warning of serious side effects in one or a group of drugs is necessary the committee sends to doctors a leaflet in the "Adverse Reactions Series".I am satisfied that these procedures are working reasonably well.
Fees And Commission (Privatisation)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total expenditure by his Department in 1980–81 and the estimated expenditure in 1981–82 on fees and commission to any outside bodies providing advice to, or acting as agents for, his Department in furtherance of the policy of privatisation of the assets of his Department or of nationalised industries or other bodies.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will provide information in the notice to travellers dealing with the dangers to travellers from rabies contracted abroad.
Leaflet SA 35 "Notice to Travellers—Health Protection" already contains information on the dangers of rabies. We are hoping to publish in the spring a new edition of this leaflet with a revised text, placing greater emphasis on rabies, which occurs in many parts of the world and is becoming more common in Europe. It is vital that medical advice should be sought urgently on bites or scratches from animals that could be suffering from rabies. In addition to the leaflet SA 35, further publicity material for prospective and returning travellers is in preparation.
Disabled War Veterans
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the cost, at constant prices, of running his Department's welfare service for badly disabled war veterans and their widows and orphans for each of the last five years.
About £2·3 million a year.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he proposes to introduce changes in his Department's welfare service for badly disabled war veterans and their widows and orphans; and if he will make a statement.
A review of the work of the war pensions regional organisation, which includes the welfare service has been in hand for some time and has not yet been submitted to me. I assure the hon. Member that I shall not accept any recommendations which may tend to weaken the welfare service and shall undertake full consultation with all interested parties before changes are made. However, it must be understood that there were 1·1 million war pensioners when the service commenced in 1948 whilst there are 340,000 today whose needs have changed because of infirmity and old age.