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Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has about current proposals for the erection of the desulphurisation plant at Fiddler's Ferry power station ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Peter Morrison : As I told the House on 30 November at column 757, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State had, that morning decided that subject to conditions, he was prepared to approve, under section 4 of the Petroleum Act 1987, the abandonment programme for Piper Alpha submitted by Occidental and its co-venturers. This proposed the use of explosive charges to topple the remains of the installation outwards on to the sea bed, away from the existing pile of debris, leaving at least 75m of clear water above all remains. I also explained that the co-venturers had the right under the Petroleum Act to make written representations about the proposed conditions. They have now informed my right hon. Friend that they do not wish to make representations and he has approved their programme.
The conditions attached to my right hon. Friend's approval include requirements for surveys of the toppled remains and surrounding sea bed to establish the position of debris and to monitor for leakage of oil or gas. They also require sediment samples to be obtained and examined for the presence of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and radioactivity. The conditions provide for repetition of these surveys and of sediment sampling at such times as the Secretary of State may subsequently direct. They also provide for debris to be moved or removed as he may direct, for any leakage of oil or gas to be sealed to his satisfaction and for steps to be taken to deal with any unacceptable levels of pollution.
The installation was so badly damaged by the fire and explosions of 6 July as to be beyond preservation. If it is not toppled in a controlled way its collapse is inevitable, and could occur soon but probably during the coming winter. If it does collapse under natural forces, it is likely to fall inwards upon existing debris rendering any further removal or recovery operations impossibly difficult and dangerous and creating a serious hazard to shipping, as it would lie just below the surface.
To take the platform down piece by piece would mean first removing the remaining module. Because of the precarious condition of the module itself, and of the structure supporting it, Occidental and its co-venturers submitted, and the Department's safety directorate accepts, that such an attempt would involve unacceptable hazard to the personnel involved.
The possibility that a toppling operation might destroy evidence which would otherwise assist the technical investigation or the public inquiry has been carefully considered also. However, the visible remains have been
Column 334inspected and it seems unlikely that any useful evidence would be lost. The toppled structure in its final position should not make access to the central debris pile, and such evidence as it may contain, any more difficult than is already the case. Toppling the jacket would however eliminate a hazard which could otherwise hamper diving and other work on the existing debris. Both Lord Cullen and the Procurator Fiscal, have been advised of Occidental's proposal, and neither has any objection in principle.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Attorney-General how many full-time stipendiary magistrates were assigned to the courts on 1 January of each year from 1985 to 1988, inclusive, and if he will make a statement.
Year |Number --------------------- 1985 |60 1986 |62 1987 |60 1988 |61
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Attorney-General how many acting stipendiary magistrates were assigned to the courts on 1 January of each year from 1985 to 1988, inclusive ; and if he will make a statement.
Year |Number --------------------- 1985 |91 1986 |69 1987 |71 1988 |68
The Attorney-General : The responsibilities of a branch Crown prosecutor will vary depending on the characteristics of the branch for which he is responsible and the duties delegated to him by the chief Crown prosecutor for the area. They will include responsibility for the management of staff and other resources within the branch, and responsibility for all casework allocated to the branch. A branch Crown prosecutor may have responsibility for some 10 to 35 lawyers and a similar number of support staff. The additional responsibility involved in running a large branch is recognised by a higher Civil Service grading and by support from assistant branch Crown prosecutor posts.
The numbers of staff managed by branch Crown prosecutors and the grading of their duties are currently the subject of internal review.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Attorney-General if he will set out the scale of salaries for a branch Crown prosecutor (a) in London, (b) in the shire counties, and (c) in the metropolitan counties ; and if he will make a statement.
The Attorney-General : In London and most metropolitan areas branch Crown prosecutors posts are held by officers at grade 5 level ; elsewhere they are held by officers at grade 6 level. The relevant salary scales for all areas except the shire counties of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are as follows :
Grade 5 effective from 1 October 1988 |1 April 1989 --------------------------------------------- 27,087 |28,170 28,154 |29,280 29,255 |30,425 30,387<1> |31,602<1> 31,536<2> |32,826<2> 32,784<2> |34,095<2> 23,053<2> |35,415<2> 35,371<2> |36,786<2> Grade 6 19,905 |21,633 20,801 |22,606 22,715 |23,624 24,805 |25,797 27,087<1> |28,170<1> 28,154<2> |29,280<2> 29,255<2> |30,425<2> 30,387<2> |31,602<2> 31,563<2> |32,826<2>
Grade 6 branch Crown prosecutors in the shire areas of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire are paid at the following rate :
effective from 1 October 1988 |1 April 1989 --------------------------------------------- 22,226 |23,624 23,226 |24,686 24,805 |25,797 27,087 |28,170 28,154<1> |29,280<1> 29,255<2> |30,425<2> 30,387<2> |31,602<2> 31,563<2> |32,826<2> 32,784<2> |34,095<2> London weighting allowance is payable where appropriate. <1> Scale maximum. <2> Performance points.
Mr. Bermingham : To ask the Attorney-General what is the level of London weighting allowance given to a branch of Crown prosecutor ; if there are any plans to review the present position ; and if he will make a statement.
|£ per annum -------------------------------------------- Inner London |1,750 Intermediate London |1,000 Outer London |725
Levels of London weighting are determined centrally for the Civil Service as a whole and are subject to regular review.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The grading outcomes which I published on 28 November show that midwives have benefited even more than nurses from the new structure. Nine out of ten staff midwives have received increases of around 25 per cent. more. Three out of four midwifery sisters have received increases of at least 16 per cent., or £1,925. The average value to midwives of this year's award following the regrading is over 20 per cent. Midwives have now been told their new grades and the vast majority received the new rates of pay in their November pay packets. Back pay from April should be paid before Christmas.
At my meeting with the Royal College of Midwives on 7 December I agreed to repeat to health authorities previous guidance on particular issues affecting grading in order to help inform some appeals.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice has been given to district health authorities concerning the supply of incontinence pads to very dependent elderly people in both local authority and private residential nursing homes.
Mrs. Currie : Health authorities have discretion to supply incontinence pads to people living in residential care homes. They were advised in 1974 that they might provide pads free of charge for the residents of such homes but not for patients in private nursing homes.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will give the current average waiting times for women in North Staffordshire district health authority waiting for the results of cervical smear tests.
Mrs. Currie : The current backlog of cervical smears in north Staffordshire is equivalent to 4-5 weeks' work. This is a substantial improvement in the backlog which peaked at three months in January. Two additional part-time screening staff were recruited last summer, and the DHA will continue to send some smears to a private laboratory in Birmingham until waiting times have been further reduced.
Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will detail the percentage of under five-year-olds in pre-school playgroups in each local authority ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Currie : We do not have information in exactly the form requested. The available information relates to the number of places in playgroups and the table gives the percentage of the population aged under five years for each local authority in England.
Places in playgroups as a percentage of the population aged under five in each local authority in England at 31 March 1987 Local Authority |Places in playgroups as a |percentage of the |population aged under |five ------------------------------------------------------------------------------ England |13.8 Cleveland |8.0 Cumbria |16.3 Durham |11.2 Northumberland |18.4 Gateshead |8.8 Newcastle upon Tyne |10.4 North Tyneside |6.1 South Tyneside |2.7 Sunderland |6.7 Humberside |10.8 North Yorkshire |21.5 Barnsley |10.0 Doncaster |4.4 Rotherham |8.8 Sheffield |11.9 Bradford |8.4 Calderdale |15.0 Kirklees |9.2 Leeds |11.6 Wakefield |6.4 Cheshire |12.8 Lancashire |11.8 Bolton |5.7 Bury |16.0 Manchester |6.1 Oldham |10.1 Rochdale |9.0 Salford |6.6 Stockport |11.8 Tameside |7.8 Trafford |15.3 Wigan |13.1 Knowsley |6.3 Liverpool |8.2 St. Helens |17.5 Sefton |6.8 Wirral |15.1 Hereford and Worcester |20.4 Shropshire |17.4 Staffordshire |12.6 Warwickshire |13.5 Birmingham |11.4 Coventry |12.2 Dudley |10.3 Sandwell |6.2 Solihull |11.6 Walsall |13.6 Wolverhampton |9.2 Derbyshire |12.0 Leicestershire |15.5 Lincolnshire |19.0 Northamptonshire |15.9 Nottinghamshire |9.5 Bedfordshire |14.0 Berkshire |13.4 Buckinghamshire |19.7 Cambridgeshire |14.5 Essex |18.2 Hertfordshire |14.2 Norfolk |20.2 Oxfordshire |19.6 Suffolk |16.8 Camden |10.9 Greenwich |9.7 Hackney |6.8 Hammersmith and Fulham |7.8 Islington |9.8 Kensington and Chelsea |6.0 Lambeth |6.2 Lewisham |9.0 Southwark |7.5 Tower Hamlets |4.9 Wandsworth |8.2 Westminster |9.7 City of London |11.0 Barking and Dagenham |9.3 Barnet |14.3 Bexley |16.6 Brent |6.8 Bromley |24.1 Croydon |15.0 Ealing |8.4 Enfield |7.6 Haringey |6.7 Harrow |15.3 Havering |14.5 Hillingdon |15.4 Hounslow |9.4 Kingston upon Thames |10.1 Merton |10.8 Newham |3.2 Redbridge |18.8 Richmond upon Thames |23.1 Sutton |14.7 Waltham Forest |7.2 Dorset |19.7 Hampshire |17.7 Isle of Wight |22.7 Kent |18.2 Surrey |20.7 East Sussex |17.7 West Sussex |22.7 Wiltshire |19.8 Avon |13.5 Cornwall and Isles of Scilly |21.0 Devon |17.4 Gloucestershire |22.4 Somerset |21.0 Note:<1>Some figures have been estimated.
Mrs. Currie : The chief dental officer of the Department issued guidance to dentists in April 1986 which stressed the importance of following high standards of cross-infection control when treating all patients, including wearing operating gloves when treating patients.
Column 339He wrote to dentists again in May 1988 reminding them of the importance of wearing gloves to ensure an effective barrier against infection for themselves, their staff and their patients.
Mrs. Currie : Maternity care in the Southport and Formby health authority is provided at the Christina Hartley maternity hospital which has 35 obstetric beds and 11 special care baby cots. My hon. Friend may wish to contact the chairman of the district health authority for further information about local maternity services.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action Her Majesty's Government have taken on the World Health Organisation recommendation in February that cooked food in sealed packages found to contain listeria monocytogenes should be withdrawn.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make it his policy to establish a national system for checking and monitoring within each health authority the correct calibration and performance of radiotherapy machines in addition to the monitoring by the Health and Safety Executive to be implemented by all departments of physics and radiation ;
(2) if there is a national system for setting up and monitoring the performance of cancer radioactive treatment machines which includes the initial calibration calculation ;
(3) if he will issue guidance to district health authorities as to their obligations to take full responsibility for the standards of work carried out by their various departments including physics and radiotherapy and as to the different responsibilities in this area and of the Health and Safety Executive.
Mrs. Currie : It is a prime responsibility of health authorities to ensure the safe and effective operation of all departments. This is over and above any specific statutory responsibilities under regulations enforced by inspectors of the Health and Safety Executive. In the light of the recent report by Sir Bryan Thwaites on the regrettable lapses at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital, we will be issuing further guidance on the calibration of radiotherapy machines which we will expect all health authorities to implement.
Mr. Mellor : The answer that I gave to the hon. Member's question on 25 November at column 60 included both whole-time and part-time working because individual nurses and midwives move between whole-time and part- time working during their careers. The information cannot be provided separately for whole-time and part-time service.
Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will set up an inquiry into the alleged failure of medical care in Bolton that resulted in the death of Craig Jackson and jeopardised the life of Matthew Catton.
Mrs. Currie [holding answer 2 December 1988] : I am aware of the local concern generated by these two cases and I regret the distress they have caused to the families of Craig Jackson and Matthew Catton. But at this stage there are no obvious national implications in the approach to their treatment which would justify my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State holding an inquiry. Bolton health authority and the Bolton family practitioner committee will be considering what investigations into the cases are appropriate. The parents of both boys can also make use of the complaints procedure of the health authority and family practitioner committee if they feel it appropriate.
The particular prices of domestic coals are a matter for the coal merchants concerned. But in general smokeless fuels are more expensive than bituminous house coals, partly because of their greater calorific value and, in the case of manufactured fuels, partly because considerable processing costs are incurred.