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Written Answers

Volume 447: debated on Tuesday 7 February 1984

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Written Answers

Fire Control: Transfer Of Inspection

asked Her Majesty's Government:What will be the estimated cost to the Inner London boroughs of the transfer of inspection for fire control purposes of licensed and unlicensed residential and hostel accommodation as outlined by Lord Elton in his reply to Lord Hale's Starred Question on Wednesday, 25th January.

It is not possible at this stage to estimate the overall financial effect of transferring responsibility for fire certification work in Inner London from the Architect's Department of the Greater London Council to the London Fire Brigade. This will depend on a variety of factors, including decisions about the numbers of staff to be employed on this work by the joint fire board for London. The cost of the certification work will be only one element in the board's budget on which will be based the precept which the board will be empowered to issue to its constituent authorities, including the Inner London borough councils, for the levying of rates.

Agricultural Products: Competitive Pricing

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list those agricultural commodities for which they have evidence that it was possible for them to be marketed at competitive prices in the latest year for which information is available.

The prices at which farmers can profitably market agricultural commodities depend on their production costs, which vary with individual circumstances. It is not possible, therefore, to provide a list of the kind requested.

Sheep Dips

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the present recommended sheep dips are as effective against sheep scab as those previously used containing dieldrin.

All the evidence indicates that the compounds currently approved for sheep scab are effective in killing the causal mite. It must however be added that the dips must be mixed and be kept topped up in strict accordance with the manufacturers' recommendations. Equally importantly, every sheep must be immersed in the dip bath for a full one minute.Dieldrin dips have never been approved in this country for use against sheep scab. Experimental evidence has shown that they are ineffective against the scab mite.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they would encourage manufacturers to market a readily washable bloom dip so as to ensure easier and cheaper control of dipping sheep.

The use of a suitable colour dip in sheep dipping to control scab would be of benefit, particularly on the moors and other areas of common grazing where it is difficult to gather and identify animals which have not been dipped. Work is therefore being undertaken at the Central Veterinary Laboratory to try to identify a colour dip for this purpose which will not persist and result in discoloured wool when sheared and washed. Contact is maintained with interested organisations, particularly the British Wool Marketing Board, about the possible use of such colour dips.

Hearing Aids: Research

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will make a statement on the research being actively undertaken since the debate on the partially deaf on 23rd March 1983, and what part of the £200,000 awarded for this general subject a year ago is being spent directly in connection with the improvement of directional aid excluding background noise.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health and Social Security
(Lord Glenarthur)

The additional £200,000 was granted towards the costs of the Sympathetic Hearing Scheme, which does not specifically include research. Current research into hearing aids funded by the Department of Health and Social Security includes a project to improve the comprehension of speech in noisy situations, and a study of how best to reduce the disturbing effects of loud background noises.

Hospital Out-Patients: Dispensing Of Prescriptions

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will take steps to ensure that patients attending hospital out-patient clinics and who are under the continuous clinical care of a hospital consultant, and require drugs prescribed by that consultant, can have their prescriptions dispensed by the hospital pharmacy rather than have to pay an unnecessary visit to their general practitioner, who will not, by the time of the patient's visit, have received notification of the nature of the prescription.

Long-standing guidance to health authorities makes it clear that when a hospital consultant needs to retain clinical responsibility for the treatment of an out-patient, he should also retain responsibility for prescribing. The Department of Health will continue to follow up individual cases of non-compliance with the guidance.

Heating: Addition

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, in view of the severity of the weather in parts of the United Kingdom, the DHSS will increase the heating addition payable to people on supplementary benefit.

No. The Government are already doing a great deal to help poor people to afford adequate heating. We expect to spend about £380 million this year on supplementary benefit heating additions, which are now worth more than ever before and are given to a higher proportion of claimants than ever before.