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Column 176

Mr. Atkins : In the first 11 months of 1988 the United Kingdom share of the British car market was 43 per cent., compared with 48 per cent. in the same period of 1987.

North-west (Investment)

57. Mr. Hind : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the role and extent of foreign investment in the economy of the north-west.

Mr. Alan Clark : I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Warrington, South (Mr. Butler) in the House on 13 July this year.

Manufacturing Industry

61. Mr. Nellist : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the latest figure for the balance of trade in manufactured goods ; and what was the comparable figure in 1979.

Mr. Alan Clark : Figures for trade in manufactures on a balance of payments basis and seasonally adjusted are :


£ billion                                                 

                          |Exports|Imports|Balance        

----------------------------------------------------------

12 months to October 1988 |64.5   |78.3   |-13.8          

1979 Year                 |30.9   |28.3   |+2.7           

Post Office (Letter Monopoly)

62. Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what examination has been undertaken of the Post Office monopoly on the delivery of letters ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : The last public review of the future of the Post Office monopoly on the delivery of letters took place in 1980 and resulted in the suspension of the monopoly until 2006 in respect of letters carried for a charge of not less than £1. We naturally keep the issue of the letter monopoly under review but have no present plans for further change.

EC (Merger Directives)

63. Mr. Grylls : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on his policy towards the formulation in the European Economic Community of merger directives.

Mr. Maude : The Government have reserved their position with regard to the EC Commission's proposals for a merger control regulation. The United Kingdom continues to participate constructively in discussions on the proposal.

Overseas Companies

64. Mr. Maples : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many overseas companies have set up operations in Britain ; and what is his estimate of how many jobs such overseas investment has created and is sustaining.

Mr. Alan Clark : Since my Department's Invest in Britain Bureau started formally recording individual investment projects in 1979, there have been 2,463. These


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include the establishment of a new business, the expansion or acquisition of an existing business, and involvement in joint venture. Altogether, from the information provided by the companies themselves, these have been responsible for the creation of over 185, 000 jobs and, since 1983, are known to have safeguarded some 95,000 others.

European Community (Monopolies, Mergers and Restrictive Practices)

66. Sir David Price : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress is being made in the Council of Ministers of the European Community in determining and then implementing a common policy towards monopolies, mergers and restrictive practices.

Mr. Maude : A European policy towards monopolies and restrictive practices is already in place. Discussions on the European Community Commission's proposals for a European merger control regulation were held at the Internal Market Council on 18 November. Some progress was made, but much still remains to be decided. Further discussions will be held at the Internal Market Council on 21 December.

British Petroleum (Kuwait Investment Office)

Sir Peter Hordern : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has any plan to review his decision that the Kuwait Investment Office should sell its shares in British Petroleum, which amount to more than 9.9 per cent. of the company, within 12 months ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Maude : The report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission recommended that the Government of Kuwait should be required to reduce their shareholding in British Petroleum over a period of some 12 months. However, in order to promote an orderly disposal of the shareholding, the report also recommended that this period should be subject to some flexibility in the light of market conditions. My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State accordingly asked the Director General of Fair Trading to consult the Kuwait Investment Office on this basis with a view to obtaining undertakings to reduce the shareholding in British Petroleum to not more than 9.9 per cent. and to advise him further on the appropriate time scale for divestment.

Disabled Persons (Staff)

Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what percentage of the Department of Trade and Industry's staff are classed as disabled.

Mr. Forth : The percentage of the Department's staff who are known to be disabled is 1.7 per cent. This figure includes both registered and unregistered disabled officers.

Data Protection Act

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster why members of his Department are on the interdepartmental group looking at the workings of the Data Protection Act ; and whether he will define the concerns of his Department in respect of the Data Protection Act.

Mr. Forth : The Department of Trade and Industry's several concerns in the Data Protection Act are reflected


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by including in the group reviewing its working officials from the market division for the information technology industry, the division responsible for the protection of consumer interests in domestic and trade policy, and the enterprise and deregulation unit which co-ordinates action across Government to remove unnecessary burdens on business.

Companies Act 1985

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Messrs. Lewis and Tucker of 16 Hanover square, London W1.

Mr. Maude : I am not aware of any Companies Act offences committed by Lewis and Tucker but I shall consider any information the hon. Member may have.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Wisland Investment Group Ltd.;

(2) what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Bestwood Property Ltd.;

(3) what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Chelwood Holdings Ltd.

Mr. Maude : Wisland Property Group Ltd., Bestwood Property Ltd. and Chelwood Holdings Ltd., are overseas registered companies and not subject to United Kingdom company law.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Royel Investments.

Mr. Maude : When Royel Investments Ltd. was incorporated in the style of Growish Ltd. it used the trading name Royel Investments and I refer the hon. Member to my reply yesterday to his question about Growish Ltd.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Platemede Ltd.

Mr. Maude : There is no United Kingdom company registered as Platemede Ltd., but I will consider any information the hon. Member may have.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Cemetery Assets UK.

Mr. Maude : I assume the hon. Member refers to Cemetery Assets UK Ltd. which is currently in default in filing annual accounts and returns. The Registrar of Companies is taking action to strike the company off the register.

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress has been made on


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investigations into alleged offences under the Companies Act 1985 in respect of Clive Warren Lewis of Lewis and Tucker, 16 Hanover square, London W1.

Mr. Maude : I am not aware of any Companies Act offences committed by Mr. Clive Warren Lewis but I shall consider any information the hon. Member may have.

Multi-fibre Arrangement

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress is being made in the negotiations to renew the bilateral trade agreement with China under the terms of the multi-fibre arrangement ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Alan Clark : Negotiations were still in progress in Brussels this morning. They may conclude this afternoon.

Nissan Vehicles

Mr. Dykes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will hold urgent talks with his Spanish counterpart concerning delays at the docks in Spain affecting imports of United Kingdom manufactured Nissan motor vehicles.

Mr. Alan Clark : My right hon. and noble Friend is pursuing this matter vigorously with the European Commission and the Spanish Minister concerned. We are determined to see the rules of the treaty respected.

Shares (Disclosure of Interests)

Mr. Cran : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he proposes any changes to the law on disclosure of interests in shares following the recent consultation by the Government.

Mr. Maude : The Government intend to make two major changes to the law on disclosure of interests in shares, which will be included in this Session's Companies Bill. The level at which interests in shares of companies have to be disclosed will be reduced from 5 per cent. to 3 per cent. The deadline for such disclosure will be shortened from five days to two days.

I believe that the changes we propose to make will significantly improve market transparency, and will in particular give investors an early indication when a potential offeror purchases a large interest in a company. The Government's policy is to leave merger decisions to the market unless they raise overriding issues of public interest. It is, therefore, important that adequate information should be publicly available as a basis for the market's assessments and decisions. The changes will enable the market to make a fully informed assessment, especially during the vital period prior to the launching of a formal offer. The Government believe that relying on the operation of the market mechanism to assess the merits of takeovers is in the best interests of industry. It is no part of our policy to afford extra protection to the management of companies which are the subjects of takeover offers.

A further improvement to disclosure would be a change to certain stock exchange rules. These rules limit the ability of companies to restrict the rights of shares when inquiries into share ownership are frustrated. Our consultation has shown that there is significant support for a relaxation of the constraints in this respect that the stock exchange


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places upon listed companies. I am in sympathy with that view. I, therefore, welcome the fact that the stock exchange has agreed to consider changing its rules. The exchange has assured me that it will make an announcement as soon as it has completed its own consultations with interested parties.

Pirate Radio

Mr. Evennett : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what representations he has received concerning interference with independent local radio broadcasts by pirate radio operators ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 6 December 1988] : Several recent representations have been received concerning interference to one independent local radio broadcast station in London.

My Department's radio investigation service has already acted to remove the source of interference causing a particular problem and it will continue to act vigorously to clear the radio frequencies of unlicensed broadcasters that cause interference, though they always give first priority to dealing with interference to radio systems upon which emergency services depend.

CIVIL SERVICE

Non-departmental Bodies

Mr. Baldry : To ask the Minister for the Civil Service how many non- departmental bodies are currently in existence ; and when the annual list of such bodies will be published.

Mr. Luce : On 1 April 1988 there were 1,648 non-departmental public bodies. This represents a net increase of five over the previous year, although there are 519 bodies fewer than in 1979. The bodies are listed in "Public Bodies 1988" published today. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

As the Prime Minister announced on 28 January 1988 at column 313-14, the Government will continue to resist proposals for new non-departmental public bodies unless it can be clearly demonstrated that they are the most appropriate and cost-effective solution, and will keep existing bodies under review.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Family Credit

Mr. Colin Shepherd : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applications for family credit have now been granted since the inception of the scheme ; and how many applications are currently awaiting determination.

Mr. Scott : By 2 December, 280,986 claims for family credit had resulted in awards and a further 47,925 claims were awaiting determination. In addition, 206,279 family income supplement recipients were awarded family credit without having to make a claim.

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many individuals claim family credit from each of his Department's offices in Nottingham ; and how many individuals are entitled to claim family credit in Nottingham.


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Mr. Peter Lloyd : Family credit claims are dealt with centrally and information is not available on a local basis.

Mr. French : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is the average length of time it takes to process a family credit claim from a self-employed applicant.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 2 December] : Just under 34 working days in respect of self-employed cases cleared during November. Of this, less than 11 working days was for work within the family credit branch. The other 23 days were taken up by waiting for responses to inquiries.

Social Fund Officers

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many social fund officers he has nominated under section 32(10) of the Social Security Act 1986 ; and for what areas ;

(2) what matters relating to the social fund he has specified as matters about which the social fund officer nominated for an area may issue general guidance to other social fund officers in the area.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : A total of 454 officers have been nominated under this section. These are the managers or temporary managers of local offices, excluding national insurance offices, who are authorised to issue guidance to other social fund officers on the nature, extent and urgency of the needs in the areas served by their local offices.

Pensions

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what plans he has to abolish the earnings rule for retirement pensions.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : None.


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Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will identify those countries in which annual increments are paid to United Kingdom pensioners without a reciprocal social security agreement existing between the United Kingdom and the country concerned.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Outside the European Community and Sark, pension uprating increases are paid to United Kingdom pensioners only in those countries with which we have a social security agreement that specifically provides for such increases to be paid. Pensions payable to EC nationals living in the Community are uprated by virtue of Community rules. Pensions payable in Sark are increased in line with United Kingdom rates by virtue of a separate provision of the Social Security Benefit (Persons Abroad) Regulations 1975.

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the benefits in cash and kind received by pensioners in the United Kingdom and in each country of the European Community.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer my hon. Friend to the tables of social benefit systems in the European Communities, a copy of which is in the Library. The tables set out, for the principal schemes, the rates payable from 1 January 1988. Comparative statistics on benefits in kind are not available.

Allowances and Grants

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish in the Official Report the expenditure and number of claimants for each of the years 1978 to 1987 for (i) widow's allowance, (ii) widowed mother's allowance, (iii) death grant and (iv) maternity grant.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 1 December 1988] : The information requested is as follows :


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                               |1978-79   |1979-80   |1980-81   |1981-82   |1982-83   |1983-84   |1984-85   |1985-86   |1986-87              

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Widow's allowance                                                                                                                            

Average number of                                                                                                                            

   beneficiaries (thousands)   |36        |37        |34        |34        |33        |32        |31        |30        |30                   

Expenditure (£ million)        |65        |75        |80        |84        |80        |83        |84        |84        |87                   

                                                                                                                                             

Widowed mother's allowance                                                                                                                   

Average number of                                                                                                                            

   beneficiaries (thousands)   |123       |119       |117       |114       |110       |105       |100       |93        |88                   

Expenditure (£ million)        |156       |165       |188       |207       |215       |222       |219       |215       |214                  

<2>                                                                        |(including|(including|(including|(including|(including           

                                                                |£1 million|£1 million|£1 million|£1 million|£1 million|£1 million           

                                                                |AP)<2>    |AP)<2>    |AP)<2>    |AP)<2>    |AP)<2>    |AP)<2>               

Death grant (by calendar year)                                                                                                               

Awards (thousands)             |583       |593       |593       |591       |597       |600       |<1>600    |601       |<1>600               

Expenditure (£ million)        |16        |16        |16        |17        |17        |17        |17        |18        |18                   

                                                                                                                                             

Maternity grant                                                                                                                              

Awards (thousands)             |622       |659       |654       |<1>640    |653       |662       |<1>700    |694       |<1>560               

Expenditure (£ million)        |16        |16        |16        |16        |16        |17        |18        |17        |14                   

<1> Estimates.                                                                                                                               

<2> Records of expenditure on widowed mothers allowance include amounts of additional Pension payable.                                       

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will publish in the Official Report (a) the most recent figures for numbers of claimants and levels of expenditure, (b) the anticipated end of the year outturn on numbers of claimants and levels of expenditure and (c) the


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anticipated numbers of claimants and levels of expenditure for 1988-89 for (i) widow's payment, (ii) widowed mother's allowance, (iii) death grant and (iv) maternity grant.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 1 December] : The information is as follows :


                                                    |1978-79         |1979-80         |1980-81         |1981-82                          

                                                    |Number of awards|Levels of       |Number of awards|Levels of                        

                                                                     |expenditure (£                   |expenditure (£                   

                                                                     |million)                         |million)                         

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Widow's payment                                     |<1>n/a          |<1>n/a          |55,000          |55                               

                                                                                                                                         

Widowed mothers allowance                           |82,000          |210             |78,000                                            

                                                                     |<2>(including   |<2>(including                                     

                                                                     |£15 million AP) |£20 million AP)                                   

                                                                                                                                         

Death grant (information is given by calendar year) |<3>n/a          |<3>3            |<4>Nil          |<4>Nil                           

                                                                                                                                         

Maternity grant                                     |<4>Nil          |<4>Nil          |<4>Nil          |<4>Nil                           

<1>Widow's payment was introduced in April 1988.                                                                                         

<2>Records of expenditure on widowed mother's allowance include amounts of additional pension payable.                                   

<3>The expenditure on death grant in 1987-88 represents awards for people who died before then but that were paid in the 1987-88         

financial year.                                                                                                                          

<4>Both maternity grant and death grant were abolished from April 1987.                                                                  

HEALTH

Pharmaceutical Industry

Mr. Michael Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the annual return on the pharmaceutical industry's average historic capital employed on National Health Service business in 1987 ; and what comparable figures he has for the average for United Kingdom private sector industry.

Mr. Mellor : I have written to my hon. Friend.

Hypothermia

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the number of cases where hypothermia was mentioned on the death certificate for each of the last 10 years for which figures are available ; and how many of each annual total were people aged (a) 65 years and over and (b) 80 years and over.

Mrs. Currie : The table shows the number of death registrations which contained any mention of hypothermia, by year of registration.


Number of death registrations                               

with any mention of hypothermia on the death certificate,   

all ages, aged 65 and over, and aged 80 and over,           

1978 to 30 November 1988                                    

England and Wales                                           

Year        |All ages   |65 and over|80 and over            

------------------------------------------------------------

1978        |708        |597        |327                    

1979        |863        |688        |374                    

1980        |596        |497        |237                    

1981        |685        |574        |326                    

1982        |664        |541        |319                    

1983        |538        |450        |261                    

1984        |555        |462        |257                    

1985        |827        |709        |417                    

1986        |837        |698        |439                    

<1>1987     |559        |448        |277                    

<2>1988     |363        |302        |165                    

<1>Provisional.                                             

<2>Registration 1 January to 30 November 1988.              


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Congenital Abnormalities

Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will make available figures comparing the number of babies suffering from congenital abnormalities born to girls under 16 years of age at the date of delivery with those born to women between the ages of 18 and 35 years.

Mrs. Currie : The information is shown in the table for the latest years available. Figures are derived from a voluntary system of notification of congenital malformations observed at birth or up to seven days after birth. They are therefore likely to be an incomplete measure of the total number of affected babies.


Number of babies notified as being born with congenital                             

malformations by age of mother, England and Wales, 1978-87                          

                      Number of babies                                              

Year of notification |Age of mother under |Age of mother 18-35                      

                     |16 years            |years                                    

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

1978                 |153                 |11,563                                   

1979                 |153                 |12,282                                   

1980                 |118                 |12,886                                   

1981                 |117                 |12,226                                   

1982                 |115                 |11,987                                   

1983                 |127                 |12,560                                   

1984                 |139                 |12,545                                   

1985                 |121                 |11,902                                   

1986                 |99                  |11,747                                   

1987                 |116                 |12,212                                   

Elderly People (Deaths)

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the number of deaths among those aged (a) 60 to 69 years, (b) 70 to 79 years and (c) 80 years and over for each complete six-monthly period from 1 April 1978 to 31 March 1988 for England and Wales.

Mrs. Currie : The information is shown in the table.


Column 183


Number of deaths registered in six month periods from 1 April 1978,

 persons aged 60 to 69, 70 to 79 and 80 and over years             

England and Wales                                                  

Period                              Age group in                   

                                    years                          

-------------------------------------------------------------------

1 April 1978 to 30 September 1978  |54,448 |87,894 |82,065         

1 October 1978 to 31 March 1979    |61,382 |104,655|103,526        

1 April 1979 to 30 September 1979  |52,658 |88,841 |83,997         

1 October 1979 to 31 March 1980    |58,348 |101,304|100,062        

1 April 1980 to 30 September 1980  |52,526 |88,774 |85,433         

1 October 1980 to 31 March 1981    |57,706 |101,403|104,203        

1 April 1981 to 30 September 1981  |51,003 |87,722 |86,298         

1 October 1981 to 31 March 1982    |57,808 |104,422|110,338        

1 April 1982 to 30 September 1982  |51,151 |88,023 |88,605         

1 October 1982 to 31 March 1983    |57,482 |103,202|110,941        

1 April 1983 to 30 September 1983  |50,765 |88,331 |90,264         

1 October 1983 to 31 March 1984    |54,512 |98,956 |106,859        

1 April 1984 to 30 September 1984  |49,190 |87,007 |91,720         

1 October 1984 to 31 March 1985    |55,657 |102,670|117,664        

1 April 1985 to 30 September 1985  |48,927 |88,249 |96,511         

1 October 1985 to 31 March 1986    |54,149 |102,276|121,568        

1 April 1986 to 30 September 1986  |49,216 |87,831 |96,419         

1 October 1986 to 31 March 1987    |51,524 |93,959 |109,480        

1 April 1987 to 30 September 1987  |48,083 |84,043 |96,212         

1 October 1987 to 31 March 1988<1> |54,028 |95,145 |120,229        

<1> 1988 data is provisional.                                      

Nurses

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he next plans to meet representatives of all the nursing unions to discuss the regrading of nurses' pay.

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he has any plans to meet representatives of the nursing profession to discuss the issue of staff regrading.

Mr. Mellor : I refer the hon. Members to the reply to the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) by my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health on 5 December at column 82.

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many appeals have so far been heard by region, district health authority, and nationally against gradings issued to nurses ; how many have succeeded ; and how many have failed.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : We do not hold information on the numbers of appeals heard at health authority level centrally. No appeals against gradings issued as a consequence of the clinical grading exercise have yet been heard at regional appeals committee or Whitley council level.

VAT

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessments he has made as to the likely effect on (a) his Department's capital building programme and (b) the rent the Department will pay under occupational leases of implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment on value added tax on non-domestic buildings.

Mrs. Currie : Implementation of the European Court of Justice's judgment, on VAT will have no effect on the Department's capital building programme, since compensating adjustments have been made to the relevant expenditure provisions. At this stage, before landlords have decided whether to exercise their option to tax rents, we cannot offer estimates of the effects of the judgment on rental costs.

Residential Care Homes

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will request his Department's Social Services


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inspectorate to carry out a study of the arrangements for health care in non-statutory residential care homes similar to its review of arrangements for health care in local authority residential homes for elderly people carried out in 1986.

Mr. Mellor : The social services inspectorate carried out an exercise to examine the use made by local authorities of guidance issued by the Department some years ago. Such guidance has not been formally issued to non-statutory homes and we therefore have no plans to carry out a similar exercise there. We are now considering, in the light of the report on local authority homes, what further action we need to take to ensure good standards of health care in all residential care homes, including those in the non-statutory sector.

Resources (West Midlands)

Mr. Snape : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if, following the publication of the National Health Service management board review of the national allocation formula in July, he intends to implement the resources allocation working party formula such as to reduce future allocations to the west midlands region by approximately £23 million ; and if he will made a statement.

Mr. Mellor : The Government are considering the recommendations of the National Health Service management board's review of the resource allocation working party formula in the wider context of the National Health Service review.

Dentists

Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will give the figures for the number of practising dentists (a) joining and (b) leaving the dental lists of family practitioner committees in the latest available five-year period ;

(2) what information he has on the number of general dental practitioners who have left the National Health Service for private dentistry during the last five years.

Mr. Mellor : The number of general dental practitioners in England and Wales who joined or left the lists of family practitioner committees in the 12 months up to 30 September of each of the last five years are as follows :


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