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Written Answers

Volume 414: debated on Monday 27 October 1980

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Written Answers

Sizewell B Pressurised Water Reactor

asked Her Majesty's Government:When the CEGB expects to have its design for the Sizewell B pressurised water reactor ready for statutory consent and a nuclear site licence; how long they estimate the application would take to consider; when the planning application for the project would be submitted; how long they estimate the public inquiry would take; and when construction would begin.

The CEGB have announced that they expect to apply for consent, deemed planning permission, a nuclear site licence and other necessary permissions for a PWR at Sizewell early in 1981. The Secretary of State for Energy has said that there will be a full and thorough inquiry into the board's proposals. The inquiry is currently expected to begin in 1982, though at this stage it is not possible to give any precise timetable. Commencement of construction of the station would depend on decisions subsequent to the inquiry.

Herbicide 2, 4, 5-T: Advisory Committee's Consideration

asked Her Majesty's Government:Why the special meeting on 2, 4, 5-T called by the Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances was cancelled and why the subject is now to be dealt with at the ordinary meeting of the committee in November.

I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the special meeting of the Advisory Committee on Toxic Substances arranged to take place on 16th September 1980 to discuss the health hazards of the herbicide 2, 4, 5-T was cancelled because an insufficient number of members was able to attend on that date to provide an adequate spread of representation. The meeting was subsequently deferred until 10th November 1980, the date of the next general meeting, as this was found to be the earliest date on which an acceptable level of attendance could be achieved.

English And Irish Continental Shelves: Arbitration

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have yet been able to agree with the Irish Government on the terms of an arbitration procedure to settle their dispute about median lines for their respective continental shelves in the Atlantic.

Discussion is continuing at official level between the two Governments on the modalities of the arbitration. A further meeting will take place in Dublin on 1st December.

Channel Islands: Air Transport Licensing

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in the absence of the guidance to the Civil Aviation Authority given in Cmnd. 6400, the Channel Islands' particular interests in air transport licensing decisions affecting the islands will continue to be taken into account.

The Government's policy towards the Channel Islands in the field of air transport licensing will be maintained. The Government fully recognise the Channel Islands' special needs in relation to air transport licensing matters and are confident that the Civil Aviation Authority will continue to have regard to the particular interests of the islands when regulating air services to or among them.

Ptarmigan Communications Project

asked Her Majesty's Government:What progress has been made on the PTARMIGAN communications project.

A contract with the Plessey Company Limited as prime contractor hsa been entered into for the production of PTARMIGAN to meet the vital requirement for the replacement tactical trunk communications system for BAOR. PTARMIGAN is a fully automated digital system and will be the first such system in NATO to meet agreed inter-operability standards. The project will cost several hundred million pounds and will provide work for at least the next five years for some 14 major British subcontractors and a number of other suppliers involving several hundred new lobs in the United Kingdom.

Tuberculosis: Civil Servants

asked Her Majesty's Government:What expressions of concern they received from civil servants working with immigrants about the risk of catching tuberculosis, and on how many separate occasions this concern was voiced; what medical advice they sought for issuing DHSS Circular SC/291; how many civil servants are known to have contracted tuberculosis in the three years prior to the issue of the circular; how many copies of the circular were distributed and to whom; and what was the total cost.

The Civil Service Department Medical Advisory Service (MAS) issued a general notice GEN 80/46 in June 1980 in response to requests for guidance on the precautions which might be taken in regard to tuberculosis. These requests came from personnel in the Home Office, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Department of Employment and the Department of Health and Social Security. More general concern had also been voiced by trade unions representing DHSS staff about the need for advice regarding possible risks to health from communicable diseases arising out of their employment.The MAS notice, which was issued to all Government departments was aimed principally at staff working overseas and those having close contact with large numbers of recently arrived immigrants. DHSS staff circular SC/291, based on this general notice, was intended primarily for staff serving in local offices. Unfortunately, it summarised the general notice in a way that gave it a wider application than was intended. Arrangements are in hand to correct this. A copy of the DHSS circular was issued to each holder of the department's Staff Code (8700) at a printing cost of about £50. The number of cases of tuberculosis in civil servants occurring in the last three years is not known. However, in a survey of 3,714 cases referred for medical advice to the MAS in a recent 4-week period, pulmonary tuberculosis was noted as the primary diagnosis in 11 cases and non-pulmonary tuberculosis in two.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What advice has been given by the Medical Advisory Service of the Civil Service Department, and to which Government departments or other organisations, about the risk of contracting tuberculosis incurred by persons in contact with immigrants, and whether they will publish this advice.

The advice given is contained in a general notice to Whitehall departments, general notice GEN 80/46. Most Government departments send officials overseas from time to time and the advice is applicable to all. A copy of general notice GEN 80/46 and a list of consignees has been placed in the Library.House adjourned at ten minutes before twelve o'clock.