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Written Answers

Volume 417: debated on Monday 9 February 1981

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Written Answers

Pneumoconiosis: Claimant's Right Of Appeal

asked Her Majesty's Government:On how many occasions the Secretary of State for Health and Social Security has had his attention drawn to erroneous decisions by insurance officers of his department, refusing claimants the right of appeal to a medical appeal tribunal on the grounds that before the date of the decision by a pneumoconiosis medical board on a diagnosis question arrived at after 6th April 1979, the claimant had not been turned down by the board on at least three previous occasions; and whether they will now ensure that all officers are aware of the provisions of Article 49(5) of the Social Security (Industrial Injuries) (Prescribed Diseases) Regulation 1980, which makes it a condition of appeal that only one previous refusal shall have been given by a board.

There are known to be two cases in which my right honourable friend's attention has been drawn to a regrettable failure by the local office staff to give correct information about the right of appeal to the medical appeal tribunal against an adverse diagnosis decision by a pneumoconiosis medical board. The correct information has been available in all local offices since the regulations were amended in 1979 and staff are being reminded of the effect of the amendment.

Asbestos: Safe Limit Of Exposure

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will circulate, to officials of the Department of Health and Social Security, pneumoconiosis medical panels and members of industrial tribunals, a note summarising the scientific evidence which shows that there is no safe lower limit of exposure to asbestos.

We are satisfied that evidence as to safe limits of exposure to asbestos is already available to members of the pneumoconiosis medical panels, the medical appeal tribunals and those officials of the Department of Health and Social Security concerned with such matters.

Industrial Diseases: Incorrect Handling Of Claims

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will agree to consultations between officials of the Department of Health and Social Security and of the Society for the Prevention of Asbestosis and Industrial Diseases, with a view to identifying the causes of mistakes made in dealing with claims for benefit, and removing them.

There has already been a meeting between officials of the Department of Health and Social Security and the Secretary of the Society for the Prevention of Asbestosis and Industrial Diseases and my right honourable friend is very willing that there should be further discussions if the Society wishes to get in touch with his officials again.

Industrial Diseases: Patients' Histories

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they are taking and will take to ensure that accurate occupational histories are compiled in respect of persons claiming benefit for industrial diseases, and whether they consider that independent monitoring of a random sample of histories by persons not employed in the Department of Health and Social Security would be useful as a means of verifying their accuracy.

To enable the independent adjudicating authorities responsible for the determination of claims for benefit in respect of industrial diseases to decide whether a claimant has worked in an occupation for which a disease is prescribed, it is a claimant's responsibility in the first instance to provide details of his occupational history. Officials of the Department of Health and Social Security are always willing to provide necessary assistance and, in particular, to help in obtaining additional evidence required by the adjudicating authorities. My right honourable friend sees no need for independent monitoring of occupational histories ascertained by the adjudicating authorities.

Urban And Rural Improvement Campaign: Employed Persons

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the total number of persons who are planned to be employed under the Urban and Rural Improvement Campaign on 31st March 1981.

It is estimated that 170 persons will be employed under the Urban and Rural Improvement Campaign on 31st March 1981.

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many persons were employed on the Urban and Rural Improvement Campaign on (i) 1st October 1979, and (ii) 31st December 1980, in each of the following classifications:

1. Department of Agriculture (NI)

  • Fisheries—class 1, 3: A3;
  • Drainage—class 1, 4: A4;
  • Forestry—class 1, 5: A5;

2. Department of the Environment (NI)

  • Roads—class IV, 1: A1

The numbers of persons employed on the Urban and Rural Improvement Campaign by the Departments of Agriculture and Environment in Northern Ireland were as follows:

Departments of Agriculture (NI)1 October 197931 December 1980
Fisheries Class 1, 3: A37750
Drainage Class 1, 4: A446782
Forestry Class 1, 5: A5674503
Department of the Environment (NI)
Roads Class IV, 1: A1633177

Urban And Rural Improvement Campaign: Pensions And Redundancy Payments

asked Her Majesty's Government:What have been the total amounts paid by the Civil Service Pensions Scheme (Northern Ireland) and the Redundancy Payments Scheme to persons employed under the Urban and Rural Improvement Campaign, since 1st October 1979 to the last available date; and the total number of persons to whom such payments were made.

As at 2nd January 1981, 536 persons had received payments totalling approximately £790,000.

Northern Ireland: Jobs Promoted

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the actual number of jobs now existing and providing full-time paid employment, of the 74,000 new jobs, stated by the Northern Ireland Department of Commerce, to have been "promoted" during the 1970–1980 period.

The information is not available in the exact form requested and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Northern Ireland: Job Finance

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the total number of jobs existing in those companies in Northern Ireland that have obtained selective financial assistance under the Industrial Development Acts (

a) since 1945, to date; and ( b) since 1970, to date.

The information is not available in the exact form requested and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost. However, in December 1979 (figures for December 1980 are not yet available) there were in existence in Northern Ireland industry approximately 61,500 jobs which had been created at some time since 1945 with selective financial assistance from the Department of Commerce. No corresponding figure is available for the period 1970 to date.

Northern Ireland: Number Of Jobs

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will publish on a regular and up-to-date basis information on the (

a) gross number of actual new jobs that arise each year from companies in Northern Ireland that have obtained selective financial assistance under the Industrial Development Acts; and ( b) gross number of jobs lost each year from companies in Northern Ireland that have obtained selective financial assistance under the Industrial Development Acts.

The publication on a regular basis of the information requested is currently under consideration.

Northern Ireland: Job Categories

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will provide a clear definition of each of the following terms that are regularly used to describe the progress of Government in the provision of new employment in Northern Ireland: (i) "jobs created"; (ii) "jobs promoted"; (iii) "jobs negotiated"; (iv) "jobs approved"; (v) "jobs sponsored".

The term "jobs promoted" is defined as the number of jobs which a company undertakes to create, over a period of years, in return for a promise of a given amount of selective financial assistance from Government normally phased over the same period. "Jobs created" represent the number of jobs which actually materialise as a result of a company receiving Government selective financial assistance. The terms "jobs negotiated" and "jobs approved" are synonyms for "jobs promoted". "Jobs sponsored" represent the total number of jobs which are in existence at a given date in companies in Northern Ireland whose creation was originally aided by selective financial assistance from Government.

Northern Ireland Civil Service: Superannuation Branch Staffing

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  • (a) What is the number of staff now employed in the Superannuation and Redundancy Payments Branch of the Department of the Civil Service for Northern Ireland, and
  • (b) What has been the increase in the number of staff in the branch since April 1979.
  • There are currently 20 staff employed in the Superannuation Branch of the Department of the Civil Service for Northern Ireland; this is an increase of five since 1st April 1979.

    Road Verges: Ownership

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will state in general terms who owns the verges of (

    a) motorways and ( b) main roads with dual carriageway; and whether in either case effective control rests with the owner.

    In England and Wales motorways are normally provided on land acquired by my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Transport and for Wales, who are highway authorities. But local highway authorities (county councils) have similar powers to provide motorways and have done so in a few cases. Effective control of the verges rests with the highway authority concerned. Main roads with dual carriageway again are the responsibility of either the Secretaries of State (in the case of trunk roads) or local highway authorities. The land on which they run may have been acquired by the highway authority or it may have been dedicated for highway purposes. In the case of acquired land, the verges will be owned by the highway authority; ownership of land dedicated for highway purposes remains with its original owner or his successors in title, subject to the functions of the highway authority and the rights of way of the public. But, in both cases, the verges, as part of the highway, will be in the effective control of the highway authority.

    Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, St Kitts-Nevis, Antigua: Aid

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What aid has been made available in the two years 1978–79 and 1979–80 and what is projected for the coming year 1981–82 for the islands of Bermuda, Bahamas, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Antigua.

    The figures are as follows:

    1978–791979–80
    BermudaNilNil
    Bahamas£57,000£54,000
    Jamaica£14,336,000£7,750,000
    St. Kitts-Nevis£727,000£615,000
    Antigua£662,000£649,000
    It is not our practice to provide estimates of aid disbursements for future years.

    The Corfu Channel Case

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will obtain copies of the "special volume" referred to in the International Court of Justice Judgment of 9th April 1949 on the Corfu Channel case, Volume 1, page 52, and place them in the Library of each House; and whether they will publish a list of the documents relating to the case which have not been published, giving in each case the number of years for which it is to be withheld from publication.

    New copies of the "special volume" can no longer be obtained. A copy is available at the Public Record Office in class ADM 116/5541. One hundred and one items of Foreign Office records and six of Admiralty records from 1946 to 1950 have been withheld under Section 5(1) of the Public Records Acts of 1958 and 1967. Twelve are retained in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office under Section 3(4) for a period yet to be determined. It would not be appropriate to publish a detailed list.

    Vehicle And Environment: Inquiry Report

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What action they propose to take as a result of

    the

    Report of the Inquiry into Lorries, People and the Environment and whether they will make a statement.

    My right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Transport said in another place on 27th February that the issues in this report had not yet been considered by Ministers and no decisions had been taken. The Government have very much in mind the concern of our vehicle and trailer manufacturers about the harmful effects on the industry of uncertainty regarding possible changes in the weight regulations and we will come to decisions as soon as we reasonably can. In doing so, the Government will take full account of the views that have already been expressed and of any further representations that may be made up until mid-March.House adjourned at eight minutes before eleven o'clock.