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Written Answers

Volume 33: debated on Tuesday 30 November 1982

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 30 November 1982

Prime Minister

Nationalised Industries (Advertising Expenditure)

Q4.

asked the Prime Minister which statutory powers of ministerial direction to nationalised industries may include directions related to their advertising expenditure.

Statutes vary from industry to industry, but Ministers normally have powers of general direction over nationalised industries which can be exercised in the national interest. In certain circumstances, which would be a matter for consideration in each individual case, it might be possible to use these powers to require industries, in general terms, to reduce their advertising expenditure.

Engagements

Q5.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q33.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q37.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q38.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q40.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q41.

(Leith) asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q43.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q44.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q45.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q46.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q47.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q48.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q49.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q50.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q51.

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q52.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q54.

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 30 November.

Q58.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q59.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q60.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q61.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q62.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

Q63.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q64.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q65.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q66.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

Q67.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 November.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 November.

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall be attending a reception for the Diplomatic Corps at Buckingham Palace.

Secretary Of State For Trade

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will dismiss the Secretary of State for Trade.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if she will dismiss the Secretary of State for Trade.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister if she will dismiss the Secretary of State for Trade.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if she will dismiss the Secretary of State for Trade.

Q56.

asked the Prime Minister if she will dismiss the Secretary of State for Trade.

No. The right hon. and hon. Members may assume that I do no intend to make any changes in ministerial appointments or responsibilities unless or until I make a statement to the contrary.

Factory Closures

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister how many hon. Members she has met to discuss factory closures since she last answered oral questions; and how many job losses were involved.

Afghanistan

Q53.

asked the Prime Minister what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards providing help to the victims of Soviet aggression in Afghanistan.

We feel deeply the terrible suffering inflicted on the people of Afghanistan as a result of the Soviet military intervention. We have given full support to the successive United Nations resolutions on Afghanistan, which call for the immediate withdrawal of foreign troops, the restoration of Afghanistan's independence and non-aligned status, self-determination for the Afghan people and the return of the refugees in safety and honour. We remain committed to the search for a political settlement and consider that the European Council proposals of 30 June 1981 for a conference in two stages continue to offer a suitable framework for such a settlement. Meanwhile, we continue to draw attention to the plight of the Afghan refugees in neighbouring countries to ensure that they are not forgotten by the international community. Since January 1980, the United Kingdom has given or pledged more than £10 million of cash and food aid to Afghan refugees in Pakistan. On 14 November, my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, announced a further £1 million of aid for relief work amongst the refugees. In addition, the BBC has agreed to double its Pashto broadcasts to half an hour daily. This increase will be introduced around the turn of the year.

State Pensions

Q57.

asked the Prime Minister what assessment Her Majesty's Government have made of the total under or over payment to single pensioners on basic State pension (a) from May 1979 to May 1983 and (b) from November 1979 to November 1983.

In overall terms the real value of the basic retirement pension is around 4 per cent. higher in November 1982 than in November 1978 when the rate we inherited was set. A precise figure will not be known until mid-December. It is not possible at this stage to extend this assessment beyond November 1982.

South Atlantic Fund

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on disbursements from the South Atlantic fund.

I have consulted the trustees and they are grateful for this opportunity to place on record some of the facts about the work of the South Atlantic fund. They are glad of the opportunity to correct some recent misleading reports about the conduct of the fund.The fund was established to disburse money through existing charities. Subsequently it was registered as a charitable trust and the trust deed reflects the policy of using the existing experience and machinery of Service charities to achieve the fund's principal aim of meeting needs. Thus many individuals who have received help from the charities may not appreciate that the money they have received originated from the South Atlantic fund. The trustees quickly transferred £1·5 million to Service charities so that they had funds available to relieve immediately any hardship that came to their notice. They have applied this money to assist people in many ways, such as moving house, meeting educational expenses, expenses of visiting the injured in hospital, and the provision of suitably modified cars. Additionally some 200 charities were contacted and invited to give immediate assistance whenever required and subsequently to seek reimbursement.The trustees anticipated that assessing the long term needs of the bereaved and injured comprehensively and compassionately could take some time as the Services would not wish to press individuals to come to terms with their situation and to decide how they wished to live their future lives. Interim grants totalling £1·9 million were therefore made through appropriate charities to the bereaved to meet their immediate needs pending completion of the longer term assessments, which are being conducted comprehensively, compassionately and as expeditiously as possible. The trustees are very conscious of the wish for speed and confidentiality in reaching settlements. Specialist charities such as BLESMA and St. Dunstans are being consulted. The trustees have also informed me that compassionate medical assessments have been conducted of those most seriously injured and interim grants totalling some £400,000 have been made to help them over the rehabilitation period, again through other charities. The trustees continue to fund interim awards on a personal and confidential basis and stress that they have so far funded only a small fraction of what will be disbursed over the next four months.

Poverty Trap

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Department of Health and Social Security and the Treasury in relation to the problems caused by the poverty trap.

Republic Of Ireland

asked the Prime Minister whether she has any plans to arrange a meeting with the Prime Minister of the Irish Republic; and if she will make a statement on Anglo-Irish relations.

There are no plans for a meeting at present. Our future relations with the Republic will inevitably depend on the attitude of whatever Irish Government is formed next month. It is our long term aim to foster close relations with all our European Community partners.

Regina V Ritchie

asked the Prime Minister whether she will make a statement on the security implications raised by the case of Regina v Ritchie.

Miss Rhona Ritchie, a Second Secretary in the British Embassy in Tel Aviv, was tried at the Central Criminal Court yesterday on charges under section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911. She pleaded guilty, and was given a suspended sentence of nine months' imprisonment.The facts of the case were fully set out in yesterday's proceedings, and I need not recapitulate them here. Miss Ritchie's activities were prejudicial to the conduct of international relations, in a sensitive area of those relations, but the content of what she admits to having transmitted cannot be described as damaging to national security.In accordance with the procedure described to the House by my predecessor on 25 March 1969, the Chairman of the Security Commission has been asked to say whether in his opinion an investigation by the Commission would be likely to serve a useful purpose, and in the light of his advice I shall consult the right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition before deciding whether or not to refer the case to the Commission. I shall keep the House informed of further developments.

Home Department

Woolwich Arsenal (Prison)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what conclusions he has drawn from the feasibility studies carried out by the Property Services Agency on the possible construction of a new prison at Woolwich arsenal; when work is now likely to start; and what is the estimated cost.

The Government have concluded that a local prison should be built on the Woolwich site and the Property Services Agency has been authorised to proceed with the detailed design. It is hoped that tenders will be invited in 1986 with a view to the main construction starting in 1987. The preliminary order of cost at current prices is £40 million.

Airguns

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ban the sale of airguns direct and by mail order to prevent them falling into the hands of young people under 17 years of age.

There are already restrictions on the possession of air weapons by young people and we are not persuaded that changes in the law are justified or would be effective. A publicity campaign to heighten public awareness about the dangers of air weapons misuse will take place next year. Amongst those actively involved will be voluntary organisations which work with young people.

Confidence Tricksters

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the increasing number of confidence tricksters calling at the homes of the aged and sick purporting to be officials of public utilities or local authorities, he will propose a code of practice to those bodies whose officials make home visits which would oblige these men to carry photographic identity cards and which would suggest to the public that doors should not be opened to those who do not produce such cards.

No; it is already the general practice of officers of local authorities and public utilities who call on householders to carry documents of identity or authority, in some cases incorporating a photograph. The Home Office and the police advise all householders always to verify the identity of callers before admitting them. A new Home Office leaflet on this subject will be generally available in the new year.

Deportation

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many immigrants from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan have been recommended for deportation by the courts in each of the last three years.

The number of people from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan recommended by a court for deportation in the last three years, is as follows:

New CommonwealthPakistan
197938931
198041444
198133340
1982 to 31 October34219

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of cases for all nationalities where it was decided not to deport the subject of a recommendation by a court in each of the last three years.

The information requested is as follows:

YearNo.
1979124
1980126
1981104
1982 to 31 October83
The relevant court recommendations may have been made in earlier years.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the total number of persons recommended by a court for deportation who are currently awaiting either a decision to deport or the completion of the arrangements for their deportation and who are in detention at the latest convenient date; and how many of these are citizens of Commonwealth countries, other than Australia, Canada and New Zealand, or citizens of Pakistan.

On 26 November there were 334 people detained following a recommendation for deportation by a court, in respect of whom a deportation order has been signed or whose deportation is under consideration. This figure includes persons who received custodial sentences and whose deportation cannot therefore be effected until their release date.Of the total of 334, 183 were citizens of Commonwealth countries other than Australia, New Zealand and Canada; and 32 were citizens of Pakistan.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of persons of all nationalities who were deported following a recommendation of a court in each of the last three years.

The information requested is as follows:

YearNo.
1979509
1980616
1981576
1982 to 31 October429

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department has issued any guidelines to the courts on recommendations for deportation since April 1981; and whether he has any plans to do so in the foreseeable future.

No. We shall in due course be issuing circulars about the Criminal Justice Act 1982 which will, among other things, notify courts of the provisions in the Act relating to recommendations for deportation.

Channel Islands (Ministerial Visit)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department for what purposes Lord Elton recently visited the Channel Islands; whom he met; and what topics were discussed.

My noble Friend visited the Channel Islands on behalf of my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary who, as the Privy Councillor with special responsibility for these dependencies of the Crown, is the channel of communication between the island authorities and Her Majesty's Government. He met the Lieutenant Governors and representatives of the island authorities and discussed in general terms a range of issues of mutual interest and concern.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost of the recent visit by Lord Elton to the Channel Islands; and what proportions were borne by Her Majesty's Government and the Governments of Jersey and Guernsey respectively.

The cost of travel to and from the islands and some incidental expenses amounting to £628 were borne by Her Majesty's Government: the island authorities bore the cost of local accommodation, travel and other expenses.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the text of the public statements and speeches made by Lord Elton on his recent visit to the Channel Islands.

I have placed in the Libraries of both Houses the texts which formed the basis of two speeches delivered by my noble Friend. His other public statements on these visits were not made from prepared texts.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys estimate of the effect of the British Nationality Act 1981 on the level of immigration from the New Commonwealth and Pakistan.

The British Nationality Act, by bringing nationality and immigration status into line, has provided a firm basis for immigration control. The effects of the Act on future levels of immigration are not quantifiable, and no estimates therefore exist.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there have been as a result of the investigations in the past five years into organised schemes of abuse of marriage rules.

[pursuant to his reply, 24 November, c. 496]: The only information readily available relates to the number of prosecutions arising from one of the three major investigations conducted over the past five years referred to in my reply to my hon. Friend on 18 November.—[Vol. 32, c. 241.]—This investigation resulted in 10 males being proceeded against during 1980.

Satellite Broadcasting

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is yet able to announce Her Majesty's Government's conclusions on the report of the advisory panel on technical transmission standards for direct broadcasting by satellite.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry and I have now considered the panel's report (Cmnd. 8751) and have decided to accept its recommendation that the C-MAC system should be adopted as the standard for direct broadcasting by satellite in the United Kingdom. The detailed specification will be published before the end of the year and I shall ensure that

Enforcement action taken by HSC enforcement authorities 1980 and 1981
Prosecutions*Prohibition NoticesImprovement Notices
198019811980198119801981
Local authorities3072761,0031,0176,2236,033
Enforcement authorities other than local authorities (Prosecutions—cases taken)1,4431,1432,2352,0686,4025,793
of which Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate (Prosecutions—informations laid):
(i) total2,3231,3851,5851,2364,3853,935
(ii) relating to health matters926348401
(iii) relating to asbestos20242225
(iv) relating to other carcinogens132820

Notes:

* Prosecutions for all enforcement authorities refer to cases taken. For Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate, the figures refer to informations laid. One case can include several informations.

a copy is placed in the Library. I shall arrange for the question of encryption to be considered urgently as recommended by the panel.

Employment

Farmer's Lung

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce a compensation scheme which will ensure that those suffering from farmer's lung may be compensated in the way now open to former coalminers and quarrymen in relation to industrial lung diseases.

No. The purpose of the Pneumoconiosis Etc. (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979 is to compensate sufferers from certain diseases which develop over a long period and who often, therefore, at the time of diagnosis, find that the employers by whom they were employed at the time when they contracted the diseases are no longer in business. The same considerations do not apply to farmer's lung which generally develops very rapidly.

Health And Safety

asked the Secretary of Stare for Employment in how many cases the Health and Safety Executive has (a) prosecuted, (b) issued a prohibition notice and (c) issued an improvement notice (i) in total, (ii) relating to diseases, (iii) relating to cancer and (iv) relating to asbestos during the most recent year for which statistics are available.

The following table shows enforcement action taken by Health and Safety Commission enforcement authorities in 1980 and 1981.A breakdown into the specified categories is available only for Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate, for whom information on notices relating to 1981 is not yet available. Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate figures represent the bulk of cases other than those relating to local authorities. The pattern for Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate is unlikely to differ much from that shown for 1980.Enforcement action normally relates to a situation regarded as hazardous to health rather than to a particular case of prescribed industrial disease. The relevant line in the table therefore refers to the wider category of "health matters". These in turn are distinguishable only when specifically related to health matters. Information has been provided in respect of all health matters.

† The figures for notices for Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate analysed by specific categories cover only those for which action was completed by the end of 1980. They may therefore be slightly understated.

‡Not yet available.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report the most recent year's statistics of the number of occupational deaths from (a) accidents, (b) diseases, (c) cancer and (d) asbestos; and if he will assess the reliability of such statistics.

There were 581 fatal injuries to employees reported to Health and Safety Commission authorities, and to other authorities in respect of merchant shipping—including fishing—and civil aviation. Reporting and attribution of fatalities is believed to be reasonably complete and the category of "employees" is reasonably well defined. In addition, there were 175 fatalities similarly reported involving the self-employed and other non-employees killed as a result of work activities. The attribution of these can be wide ranging, since, for example, the fatalities in a recent lifeboat disaster were included in the phrase "as a result of work activity".Industrial death benefit and similar compensation has been awarded in respect of 648 deaths from "prescribed industrial disease" in 1981; this figure is provisional. But this figure can only reflect known "prescribed industrial diseases". There is no reliable overall estimate of all deaths from disease which might be attributable to working conditions.Nearly all reported cases of asbestosis and mesothelioma—a form of cancer—must be attributed to exposure to asbestos at work. In 1980, there were 530 deaths in which one or both of these diseases was mentioned on the death certificate: 162 mentions of asbestosis and 434 mentions of mesothelioma. These diseases are the only asbestos-related diseases for which mortality statistics are held.In addition, there were 15 cases in which industrial death benefit was claimed in 1981—this figure is provisional—in which a cancer other than mesothelioma was mentioned. These relate to "prescribed industrial diseases" which are a clearly defined category of illnesses. For the foregoing reasons, it is believed there is no reliable known total of cancers whose cause might be occupational.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what methods are used by the Health and Safety Executive to estimate the annual rate of occupational cancer deaths; and what estimates have been made.

There is no exact method of estimating the annual rate of occupational cancer deaths since neither the absolute number of such deaths nor the population at risk through exposure at work to carcinogenic substances can be reliably known. Most occupationally linked cancers cannot be individually identified as such with any certainty, and published estimates of their total number have varied very widely. A recent study commissioned by the National Cancer Institute in the United States of America concluded that between 2 and 8 per cent. of all American cancer deaths could be avoided if all occupational carcinogenic influences were eliminated.

Youth Opportunities Programme

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of young people who have completed youth opportunities programme courses entered employment (a) after six months, and (b) after one year in 1979, 1980, 1981 and to the latest available date in 1982.

Information is not available in the precise form requested. The Manpower Services Commission follows up a sample of entrants to the youth opportunities programme 12 months after the start of their schemes. The following table provides the results of quarterly surveys of entrants since 1979 in employment at the time of survey—percentages.

197919801981
Quarter One583840
Quarter Two5833*41
Quarter Three5552
Quarter Four5945
* Latest.

Service Industries

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of the population in the United Kingdom as a whole and the Northern region are employed in service sector industries; and if Her Majesty's Government will take steps to create more service sector jobs in the Northern region.

The latest available figures show that the proportion of the population aged 16 and over who were employed in service industries in the United Kingdom was 29 per cent. in June 1982, and in the Northern region was 26 per cent.The Government recognise the importance of the service sector to the Northern region and to the rest of the country. They are particularly concerned to encourage the growth of service employment in the assisted areas. Through the office and service industries scheme grants are available to encourage firms to set up, expand or relocate office and service activities in the assisted areas.

Unemployment Statistics

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report tables for each month from and including October 1981 comparing unemployment figures for each region in the United Kingdom on the new basis—claimants—and old basis—registration—and for each region in each month an analysis of the difference broken down by the following categories: (a) registered non-claimants, (b) severely disabled, and (c) in respect of the changed method of counting.

Health And Safety Inspectorate

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many posts there are in the Health and Safety Inspectorate; and how many existed in May 1979 and in May 1982.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 31]: Civil Service manpower counts are carried out on set quarter dates. On 1 October 1982 there were 2,207 staff in post in the several inspectorates in the Health and Safety Executive. On 1 April 1979 the total was 2,498, and on 1 April 1982 2,257.

Social Services

Unemployment Benefit

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to remove the lop pro rata deduction from unemployment benefit from persons over 60 years who draw occupational pensions.

We have no plans to end the abatement of unemployment benefit for persons over 60 years who receive substantial occupational pensions.

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, further to the answer by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Official Report, 8 November, c. 323, when consideration of the restoration of the 5 per cent. abatement of unemployment benefit will be complete.

As my right hon. Friend made clear in the House on 22 November—[Vol. 32, c. 649]—the Government are currently considering the whole question of the 5 per cent abatement. We shall come to a conclusion on this and on other matters affecting social security expenditure at one and the same time as part of next spring's Budget and uprating decisions.

Tadworth Court Hospital

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many children with terminal illnesses were temporary patients at Tadworth hospital for sick children in 1981.

During 1981 108 children with terminal illness were admitted to Tadworth hospital. The board of governors now proposes that all services provided at Tadworth Court should be transferred to equivalent facilities which are also at present under utilised at Queen Mary's hospital, Carshalton. I am considering this proposal and am meeting later today representatives of interested charities and a deputation led by my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner). I also intend to visit both hospitals. Meanwhile I have agreed today to make a further £200,000 available to enable the board to maintain services at Great Ormond Street hospital at the present level until the end of January 1983 to allow time for a decision to be taken on Tadworth Court.

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning the proposed closure of Tadworth hospital for sick children.

I have received representations from a number of hon. Members, several petitions and some 1,900 letters from the general public.

I am meeting today representatives of charities and also seeing a deputation led by my hon. Friend the Member for Reigate (Mr. Gardiner).

Trent Region (Health Service Funds)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the allocation of health service funds to the Trent region.

Yes. The Trent region's allocations are at present below the national average but the region has had one of the highest rates of growth in recent years. Its revised revenue cash limit in 1982–83 is £701 million.

Pensioners (Earnings Rule)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his latest estimate of how much it would cost to abolish the earnings rule for pensioners.

The additional public expenditure cost is estimated to be about £140 million.

Supplementary Benefit

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the change in the number of persons in receipt of supplementary benefit since May 1979.

There were 4·1 million people receiving supplementary benefit in August 1982 compared with 2·9 million in May 1979. This represents an increase of 44 per cent.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people are not entitled to receive supplementary benefit because they have insurance policies.

No firm information is available, but the report of the Social Security Policy inspectorate on the effect of the supplementary benefit capital rule, a copy of which was placed in the Library on 6 April, suggests that there are very few people who are excluded from receiving a supplementary pension or allowance because they have an insurance policy whose surrender value, by itself or together with other capital, exceeds the capital limit.

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will review the amount of capital disregarded for supplementary benefit purposes.

As the hon. Member will be aware, the amount of capital which a claimant can have whilst remaining eligible for weekly supplementary benefit was increased on 22 November to £2,500. This fully restores the value which the capital disregard had when the present arrangements were introduced in November 1980. The Government wil continue to keep the level under review.

57.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the operation of the Supplementary Benefit Resources Regulations 1981 in relation to discretionary trusts.

The Supplementary Benefit (Resources) Regulations effectively continue the policy of the former Supplementary Benefits Commission in relation to discretionary trusts, and I see no reason for changing that policy.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what criteria are used in fixing the single householder short-term rate of allowance for supplementary benefit purposes.

The supplementary benefit scale rates are a development of the national assistance scale rates which were introduced in 1948 on the basis of the cost of essential living expenses. They have, of course, been regularly uprated since then and their real value is now approximately twice what it was in 1948.

Women (Cause Of Death)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the most common cause of death in women aged 35 years and over.

In England and Wales in 1981, the most common cause of death in women aged 35 years and over was ischaemic heart disease.

Nhs Hospitals (Private Contractors)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress is being made in putting the laundry and catering services in National Health Service hospitals out to competitive tender.

Some health authorities are already pursuing this course of action. I would like more of them to test the market by seeking tenders from outside contractors and the in-house organisation on the basis of fair comparison.

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether any estimate has been made of the savings that will result if National Health Service laundry and catering services are put out to private contractors.

Local circumstances would determine this and no estimates of potential savings from these two services are available centrally, but I believe that considerable savings should generally be possible.

Community Health Councils (Review)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he next proposes to review the future of the community health councils.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement about the future of community health councils.

We have not set a specific time for the next review of community health councils as the new councils will need some time to settle down with the new district health authorities.

National Health Service (Expenditure)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total National Health Service expenditure in (a) 1978 and (b) in 1981, expressed in 1978 prices.

I regret that figures are not readily available expressed at 1978 prices. At November 1980 prices total gross expenditure on the National Health Service in England was £9,811 million in 1978–79 and is estimated to have been £10,258 million in 1981–82.

Housing Benefit System

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement about the operation of the first phase of the new housing benefit system so far.

We have called for local reports on the introduction of the first phase of housing benefit. These will be available for analysis shortly and we shall consider how best to inform the House of the results.

"Growing Older"

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what additional support he has given to local authorities and families caring for old people since the publication of the White Paper "Growing Older".

Local authorities do not receive separate allocations for individual services but they have been asked to protect the most vulnerable members of the community.In each year since 1980–81 there has been a real increase in the allocation for joint finance, some 40 per cent. of which is spent on services for elderly people: for 1983–84 the planned level of allocation is about 20 per cent. more than in 1980–81. We have also maintained the purchasing power of the retirement pension and of cash benefits available to elderly people.

Pensioners (Christmas Bonus)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the amount needed for the 1982 Christmas bonus to retirement pensioners to retain its 1972 value.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) on 25 November.—[Vol. 32, c. 569.]

Family Practitioner Authorities

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the new family practitioner authorities will be responsible for the integration of primary care and secondary care.

The integration of services to patients is primarily the responsibility of the professional staff concerned with the delivery of complementary and frequently mutually dependent services. It is the joint responsibility of family practitioner committees and district health authorities to collaborate in the planning and provision of primary health care services in such a way as to encourage the integrated delivery of services to patients, and the Health and Social Services and Social Security Adjudications Bill should result in the strengthening of such collaboration. District health authorities are responsible for secondary care but are expected to collaborate with family practitioner committees on those aspects which directly relate to the services provided by the contractor professions.

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning his intention to cash limit the new family practitioner authorities.

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he intends to put cash limits on the new family practitioner authorities.

The administrative costs of family practitioner committees will continue to be subject to cash limits in future as they are at present. I have received no representations on this. We have commissioned an independent study of forecasting and control of expenditure on the family practitioner services generally, including the possibility of operating a cash limit on all or part of the expenditure. We will take no decisions on the desirability of any new system of cash limits until results of this study are available.

60.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning his proposals to make family practitioner committees into independent authorities.

We have received representations which favour, and others which oppose, our proposal to change the status of family practitioner committees. Opinions are divided, but it is our belief that such a change will secure improved efficiency and accountability in respect of family practitioner committees and encourage collaboration between the committees and other authorities.

Hospital Deaths (Anaesthetics)

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many deaths in hospitals in the last three years have been attributed to the administration of anaesthetics.

The number of deaths in hospitals in England and Wales where anaesthetics were mentioned in the cause of death or in subsequent information supplied by the coroner was as follows:

YearDeaths with mention of anaesthetics
197884
197972
198066
Figures for 1981 are incomplete as a result of industrial action by registration officers.

Hospital Matrons

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will restore the grade and role of matron to National Health Service hospitals.

No. It is for the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council, rather than the Ministers, to determine the terms and conditions of service of nurses in the National Health Service.

Death Grant

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is now able to announce his plans regarding death grant; and if he will make a statement.

71.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now make a further statement on the death grant.

We have not yet completed our consideration of the problem following public response to the consultative document. I shall make a statement as soon as I can usefully do so.

National Health Service (Pay)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning the current situation in the National Health Service workers' pay dispute.

74.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement concerning the current situation in the National Health Service workers' pay dispute.

I refer the hon. Members to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Members for Leeds, West (Mr. Dean) and Ogmore (Mr. Powell) earlier today.

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the criteria which will apply to the review body for nurses and professions supplementary to medicine.

76.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which groups of nurses he will include in his proposals for a review body on pay and which he will exclude.

I refer the hon. Members to my reply to the hon. Member for Wood Green (Mr. Race) on 18 November.—[Vol. 32, c. 286.]

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement about the National Health Service workers' pay dispute.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to the hon. Members for Leeds, West (Mr. Dean) and Ogmore (Mr. Powell) earlier today.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the sums currently offered to Health Service staff in negotiations for the year April 1982 to April 1983 will continue to be available if agreement on a pay package covering the financial year 1982–83 is reached after 1 April 1983.

There is no reason why settlements should not be reached in good time, but no time limit, as such, has been placed on the Whitley councils or other negotiating groups. A minor technical problem could arise if the offers are not accepted in time for back pay to be calculated and paid out before 31 March 1983. Under the conventions governing the grant of Supply to the Crown, sums Voted for 1982–83 are not available in 1983–84. Special provision would have to be made in the 1983–84 Estimates therefore to ensure that funds were available in that year to meet back pay relating to a date before 1 April 1983.

Tobacco Advertising (Voluntary Agreement)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the new voluntary agreement between the Government and the tobacco industry will come into effect.

Certain items of agreement, for example the restrictions on advertising expenditure, are already in effect. The remaining terms will be brought into effect as soon as practicable.

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the voluntary code for tobacco advertising with particular reference to the provision of Government health warnings.

Yes. I am satisfied that the agreement I announced on 27 October will ensure that no one smokes cigarettes without being reminded that cigarettes can seriously damage his health.

Period of waitingHospital
BroadmoorRamptonMoss SidePark LaneTotal
Up to 3 months121014440
3 to 5 months4104220
6 to 8 months343313
9 to 11 months36514
12 to 23 months24217263
24 to 35 months5204231
36 to 47 months415
Over 4 years11516
Total301114813202

District Health Authorities (Funds)

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what guidance he has given to regional health authorities regarding the criteria to be taken into account in the distribution of funds to district health authorities; and if he will make a statement.

In making allocations to districts, regional health authorities are expected to move towards levels of resources which allow equal opportunity, throughout the region, of access to health care for people at equal risk. They should assess the relative resource position of individual districts using a formula in which the main criterion is population weighted to reflect health care need. The pace at which they move towards equalisation of resources is a matter for the judgment of each regional health authority, taking account of the growth in the total allocation for the region; the need for development in particular services; the time taken to rationalise services in the relatively better provided districts; and the time needed to recruit and train staff and to provide facilities to improve or increase services to patients in the relatively less well provided ones.

Hospitals (Liverpool)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the future of Newsham general and Sefton general hospitals in Liverpool.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him on 22 October 1982—[Vol. 29, c. 236.]

Local Offices (Staffing)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with staffing levels at local offices in the Sandwell area.

Special Hospitals (Patient Transfers)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many patients are currently awaiting transfer from each of the four special hospitals; and how many in each case have been waiting for (a) over three months, (b) over six months, (c) over nine months, (d) 12 months, (e) two years, (f) three years and (g) four years.

The number of patients awaiting transfer from each of the special hospitals on 16 November last was as follows:

There have been temporary shortages of staff at both the Smethwick and West Bromwich local offices. Efforts are being made to rectify the situation.

Sickness Benefit

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will have consultations with the British Medical Association concerning the refusal of payment of sickness benefit to claimants who produce a certificate signed by a doctor.

No. Claims to sickness benefit and questions arising out of them are determined by the independent statutory authorities. A doctor's statement—certificate—is an expression of opinion by the doctor giving it. Other relevant evidence must also be taken into account by the statutory authorities in deciding claims to sickness benefit.

Elderly Persons (Cold Weather Hazards)

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has yet concluded his consideration of provision of information to the public about the hazards of cold weather for old people.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend to the hon. Member for Carmarthen (Dr. Thomas) on 15 November 1982.—[Vol. 32, c. 59–60.]

Disabled Persons (Benefits)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last met representatives of the Royal Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults to discuss benefit provision for the disabled.

My right hon. Friend met the Royal society on 15 January this year. Since then my colleagues and I have held discussions with the Royal society in June and July this year and there have been other meetings with officials from the Department.

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will extend eligibility for benefit to people who by virtue of partial disablement can work only part-time.

I have no proposals for doing so at present. However, we are looking at the financial implication of providing help to people who, for health reasons can work only part-time.

Supplementary Pension

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest figure of the number of pensioners in receipt of supplementary pension and the numbers who are entitled to receive it but are not claiming it.

About 1·7 million pensioners were in receipt of supplementary pension in August 1982. Data from the 1981 family expenditure survey are not yet available, so I cannot add to my reply to the hon. Member on 5 April 1982—[Vol. 21, c. 248]—about the number not claiming.

70.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the single person's supplementary pension needs allowance has been increased by only £3·10 per week to £32·70, when the basic retirement pension for a single pensioner has been increased by £3·25 per week to £32·85.

The increase in retirement pensions was decided on the basis of a forecast of the rise in the retail prices index, while the increase in the supplementary benefit rates was based on a forecast of the rise in the retail prices index excluding housing costs, which was half a percentage point less. This method of uprating was adopted because supplementary benefit scale rates are intended to cover expenses other than housing costs, which are provided for separately.

Benefits (Increases)

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the increases in social security benefits for 1983–84.

As has been made clear to the House, the Government will reach their decisions on the level of benefits to apply from the November 1983 uprating at the time of the next Budget.

Local Offices

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many additional social security staff have been employed; and how many new offices have been opened since May 1979.

Between May 1979 and now the number of social security staff allocated to do the work in DHSS local offices has fallen by 1,425. This is the net effect of a wide variety of changes, including a rise in the supplementary benefit workload, a fall in the contributory benefit workload, and a number of legislative and procedural changes such as the partial start of housing benefit. This figure takes account of staff employed on ancillary duties such as messengers and security officers, and staff employed on specialist functions—in legal aid assessment offices, for example.The hon. Member may like to know that I placed in the Library last month a paper explaining more fully the DHSS local offices complementing system.Since May 1979, 13 integrated local offices have been opened, though 17 national insurance offices and 11 area offices—dealing with supplementary benefit claimants—have been closed.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give details of work load and staffing at his Department's office in Swindon for June 1979 and June 1982.

I have recently placed a description of the Department's local office complementing system in the Library of the House. As the hon. Member will see from section 4 of this guide, no simple measure of a local office's workload is available.In June 1982, 169 staff were employed at the Department's office in Swindon. A comparable figure is not available for June 1979, but at that time the number of staff allocated to do the work at Swindon was 167.

Royal Marsden Hospital

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent representations he has received concerning the closure of the early diagnostic unit at the Royal Marsden hospital.

I have received representations from a number of hon. Members, several petitions and some 900 letters form the general public. My right hon. Friend announced yesterday that we have decided to make funds available to continue the work of the unit while we await the results of research into the effectiveness of various methods of breast cancer screening.

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the cost per patient of breast screening at the early diagnostic unit in the Royal Marsden hospital; and what is the average cost of breast screening at an outpatient clinic.

The average cost for each attendance at the early diagnostic unit at the Royal Marsden hospital is £20. There is no reliable figure available for the average cost of breast screening at an outpatient clinic.

73.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is yet able to make a statement on the proposed closure of the breast cancer screening unit at the Royal Marsden hospital.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman) on 29 November 1982.—[Vol, 33, c. 78.]

Hospital Closures

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give a list of closures of hospitals and hospital wards which have been announced or have taken effect since the commencement of the dispute over hospital pay but which are not a consequence of that dispute.

From 30 April to 30 September 1982, the latest date for which information is available, the permanent closure or part closure of the following hospitals were approved. These decisions may not yet have been implemented. None were a consequence of the current dispute but are the result of rationalisation of services to release resources for better patient care. Some are part of the continuous process of replacing old or unsuitable hospitals with modern ones. Comprehensive information on temporary closures is not available centrally.

Region and HospitalTotal number of bedsProposed number beds closed
South Western
Perranporth3131
West Midlands
Ludlow and district hospital2121
Trent
Markfield hospital119119
West Midlands
Kidderminster
general hospital26344
East Anglia
Bowthorpe hospital4020

Hospital Patients (Treatment Entitlement)

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many staff are now involved in questioning hospital patients to determine their eligibility for free treatment or liability for charges.

I have not received reports of any additional staff being appointed for the purpose of checking eligibility.

Overseas Visitors (Hospital Treatment)

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent representations he has received concerning the implementation of charges for hospital treatment received by some overseas visitors.

Between 1 October and 1 November we have received 25 letters commenting on various aspects of these arrangements.

Ambulance Service

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has consulted the new district health authorities on the future of the ambulance service.

Yes. In a circular issued last year we invited the new authorities to comment, by September this year, on the recommendations of the National Health Service working party on patient transport services, and a number have done so.

Hospital Waiting Lists (Manchester)

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current size of the hospital waiting list for all types of admission in the Greater Manchester area; and by how much it has increased over the last 12 months.

The latest reliable provisional figures are for 30 September 1982, when there were 48,589 people on waiting lists for in-patient treatment in all specialties in Greater Manchester. This is an increase of 8,681 since 30 September 1981.

Elderly And Disabled Persons (Family Care)

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the level of provision for women caring for elderly and disabled relatives.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe (Mr. Morris) on 22 June 1982.—[Vol. 26, c. 89.] My right hon. Friend's statement on care in the community referred to in that reply was made on 28 July 1982.—[Vol. 28, c. 559–60.]

National Health Service (Departmental Circulars)

66.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many National Health Service circulars were issued by his Department in the year up to 31 May 1982; and how this compares with the year ended 31 May 1979.