Home Page

Column 105

Written Answers to Questions

Tuesday 17 January 1989


Exposure Draft 42

Mr. Heddle : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he proposes to make a statement on Exposure draft 42, "Accounting For Special Purposes Transactions".

Mr. Atkins : My Department commented on Exposure draft 42 last summer. My hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs subsequently made an announcement in August on related matters : changes to the definition of a subsidiary, which are now included in the Companies Bill ; and the circumstances in which it may be necessary, in order for group accounts to show the required true and fair view, to treat a body which is not legally a subsidiary as though it were one. I have no plans to make any further statement in connection with Exposure draft 42.

Single Market

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster why, in the single European market literature that has so far been published by Her Majesty's Government, there is no mention of the common agricultural policy for 1992 and onwards.

Mr. Atkins : The Department of Trade and Industry's single market pack describes the available details of the European Community's single market programme. Common policies in the agricultural area are of long standing and the implications of completing the single market for them are generally limited to the agrimonetary system on which the Commission is due to report shortly.

Companies (Wrongful Trading)

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many prosecutions have been brought against companies for wrongful trading under the Insolvency Act 1986 ; if he will list the companies concerned ; and how many of these prosecutions have (a) been completed and (b) resulted in conviction.

Mr. Atkins : Wrongful trading is not a criminal offence under the Insolvency Act 1986. It is a civil remedy available to the liquidator of a company in insolvent liquidation. My Department does not maintain records of wrongful trading actions.

Post Office

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he intends to bring forward legislation to remove the monopoly for postal items under £1 ; and if he will make a statement.

Column 106

Mr. Forth : I refer my hon. Friend to the answer that I gave to him on 16 January 1989, Official Report, column 16.

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what discussions he has or proposes to have with the chairman of the Post Office, following the disruption of the post in the London south-west postal districts over the Christmas period ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Forth : My right hon. Friend and I meet the chairman of the Post Office at regular intervals to discuss a range of matters of current interest.


Export Licences

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what products exported from the United Kingdom require export licences ; and what is the average period of time taken for the issue of such licences.

Mr. Alan Clark : Products requiring export licences are listed in the Export of Goods (Control) Order 1987 (S.I. 1987 No. 2070), as amended. Applications for licences are considered on their merits. The time taken to process these is dependent upon the nature of the product, its destination and possible end use. It is not possible to state an average period of time for the processing of such licences, but for non-sensitive applications my Department would normally expect to issue a licence within three weeks.

Century Newspapers Ltd., Belfast

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on his reasons for not immediately referring the takeover bid for Century Press by Thomson Regional Newspapers to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 January 1989] : The application by Thomson Regional Newspapers has been made under the financial urgency provisions in section 58(3)(a) of the Fair Trading Act 1973. This legislation allows the Secretary of State one month in which to consent to the transfer or refer it to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for inquiry. No decision on the application will be taken until all relevant factors have been taken into account, including representations by third parties.

EC (Structural Funds)

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the areas of Derbyshire which he has submitted for consideration to the European Commission under its review of the European Economic Community's structural funds ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 January 1989] : The European Commission is to draw up a list of areas to receive support from the Community structural funds, including the European regional development fund, under the funds' new objective 2 (conversion of industrial regions). We believe that the following parts of Derbyshire satisfy criteria in Council regulation (EEC) No. 20522/88 qualifying them for consideration for selection, and have asked the Commission to include them in the list :

Column 107

Chesterfield Travel-to-Work Area (TTWA)

The Derbyshire parts of : Mansfield TTWA

Sheffield TTWA

Worksop TTWA

Derby City Urban Programme Area.

The Commission's decision is expected during February.

EC (Takeover and Merger Policy)

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement setting out the respective powers and responsibilities of his Department, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission and the European Economic Community Commission in relation to the takeover of United Kingdom companies ; what will be the impact on these responsibilities of the proposals being considered by the European Economic Community on takeover and merger policy ; and if he will make a statement on the implications of these supervisory and control powers for the anticipated bids for GEC.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 January 1989] : The powers and responsibilities of my Department and the Monopolies and Mergers Commission are contained in the Fair Trading Act 1973. Under that Act the Director General of Fair Trading has a duty to advise the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on whether a merger or merger proposal should be referred to the MMC for further investigation and report. The EC Commission has power to enforce the competition rules in articles 85 and 86 of the treaty of Rome, which may apply to certain mergers. Regulation of the market conduct of takeovers in the United Kingdom is carried out by the panel on takeovers and mergers. There is currently no provision in EC law in respect of such regulation. Discussions are currently in train on a Commission proposal for an EC merger control regulation, and proposals for an EC takeover directive are due to be published soon. Issues of principle and detail are outstanding. It is too early to assess the implications. Were a bid to be made for GEC, it would be considered under existing procedures, in so far as they may be applicable.

Dish Aerial Receiver Units

Mr. Dykes : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will abolish without delay the currently applicable £10 licence charge payable to his Department at the moment of purchase of satellite television dish aerial receiver units, in view of enhanced consumer demand for such units.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 16 January 1989] : I have nothing to add at this stage to my reply of 20 December 1988 to my hon. Friend at column 154. My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry will, however, make a statement as soon as possible.

Net Book Agreement

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what evidence he has about the implications of the net book agreement for the number of independent and chartered booksellers, and their financial viability.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 13 January 1989] : The implications of the net book agreement for independent and chartered booksellers were among the matters taken into account by the restrictive practices court in 1962 when

Column 108

it considered the agreement under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1956. The court then judged that the restrictions in the agreement did not operate against the public interest. Under present legislation, it is open to the Director General of Fair Trading to apply to the court for a review of its decision if he considers that there has been a material change in the circumstances on which the original judgment was based. My Department has no role in this process and does not therefore collect the kind of evidence to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Fisher : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he intends to publish his Department's review of the net book agreement.

Mr. Atkins [holding answer 13 January 1989] : My Department is not engaged in such a review. Under the Restrictive Trade Practices Act 1976 and the Resale Prices Act 1976, the review of voluntary agreements such as the net book agreement is a matter for the restrictive practices court, on application by the Director General of Fair Trading.

EC (Research Council)

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what progress was made at the meeting of the Research Council of European Community Ministers on 15 December ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Newton : I represented Her Majesty's Government at the meeting of the Community's Council of Ministers (Research) in Brussels on 15 December.

The Council adopted a common position on Joule, a Community programme of research in the field of non-nuclear energy and efficient use of energy supplies with Community funding of 122 million ecu (£79 million) over 39 months. The programme will cover rational use of energy including energy efficiency, conservation and storage, renewable energy sources including solar, wind and geothermal, and research into hydrocarbons and the better use of solid fuels.

The Council also adopted a common position on a new Brite/Euram research programme combining research previously carried out under separate programmes in the fields of industrial technologies and advanced materials. The programme will provide Community funding of 499.5 million ecu (£324 million) over four years with the aim of helping to improve the competitive position of the Community's manufacturing industries. A total of 35 million ecu (£23 million) of the total will be devoted to aeronautical research.

Export Services

Mr. Knapman : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement about the Government's review of export services.

Mr. Alan Clark : Following the export services review foreshadowed in the White Paper "DTI--the department for Enterprise" (Cm. 278), DTI export services have been strengthened to meet exporters' needs more effectively, and simplified in their presentation so that businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises new to exporting, will find them easier to use. As the export initiative, the services form part of the DTI enterprise

Column 109

initiative, a comprehensive package designed to help business improve its competitiveness both at home and overseas.

The main improvements to the export services are as follows : (a) Introduction of new export advisory service to be administered in co- operation with the Association of British Chambers of Commerce (ABCC), leading regional chambers, and in some cases export enterprise centres. The Government will provide up to £2.25 million of funding on a tapering basis over a maximum of three years. The scheme involves the appointment of 31 export development advisors nationwide who have considerable private sector exporting expertise. They will take a positive role in identifying potential exporters and offering practical assistance tailored to the specific requirements of individual firms.

(b) Greater involvement of the private sector in delivering export services and advice to potential exporters. This includes : (i) contracting out the administration of the export marketing research scheme to the ABCC for three years from 1 December 1988 ; (ii) enabling private sector contractors to compete with the Department for the provision of stand design and installation at overseas trade fairs which the Government support ; with effect from the 1989-90 financial year ;

(iii) faster delivery of export intelligence information by contracting out to a private sector firm the marketing, sale, and delivery in the United Kingdom of overseas market information provided by diplomatic service posts (and other sources) ; (iv) setting up a three-year pilot study in conjunction with The Netherlands-British chamber of commerce to provide new export counselling services to British companies which will complement the work of our diplomatic service posts ; if successful, similar schemes could follow elsewhere in Europe.

(c) Improvements to the quality of management of the export services and to staff training. We have introduced a system under which an industrial market research company will monitor standards of export service delivery worldwide, enabling us to ensure that export services remain relevant to customers' needs. A major new training programme for DTI export staff has been implemented. This will be augmented with the support of the CBI, ABCC, and Institute of Export by a new programme of short-term attachments for DTI export staff to gain first-hand experience in exporting companies.

(d) Better marketing of the Government's export services. We are issuing in 17 January 1989 a new introductory guide to exporting designed to help firms new to exporting understand the exporting process, and how the Government can help. It is accompanied by a new promotional video. This will be supported by a sustained campaign in newspapers and technical journals advertising our services. (

(e) Rationalisation from 1 April 1989 of the charges made for Government export services. We will extend charges to cover advice and information on overseas markets provided by diplomatic service posts abroad in response to specific requests from British companies. This will enable us to offer a more professional and cost-effective service, and to concentrate resources on the services of most value to exporters. We will introduce at the same time a simplified payments system, based on the use of a servicecard specifically for export services. This will be accepted by all diplomatic service posts overseas and relevant Government offices in the United Kingdom. It will be operated for us by a private sector company.

Column 110

(f) The introduction from 1 April 1989 of a scheme in which my Department and companies will jointly provide funding for training people from overseas who have, or may in future hold, important procurement responsibilities. The aim will be to give the individuals concerned the opportunity to acquire experience in British companies and of British business and manufacturing methods. This will strengthen ties between our exporting companies and their overseas customers.

Other improvements to the services include closer integration of the export initiative with other elements of the enterprise initiative, particularly the consultancy in export strategy available under the marketing initiative ; the development of an export market information centre in the DTI ; and restyled Government export publications and trade literature.

The new and improved services will help to ensure that smaller companies and those new to exporting receive better Government support. The strengthened export initiative should also benefit larger and more experienced companies, who make a major contribution to British exports. They play a vital role in retaining a British presence in overseas markets by winning large export contracts which provide considerable numbers of sub -contracts of benefit to smaller and medium-sized firms. To succeed in these highly competitive areas, and to secure the deals which provide such striking advertisements for British technology, consultancy and management skills, our companies must be able to compete on equal terms with their foreign counterparts. The Government offer a wide range of project services to enable them to do so, and have a continuing commitment to winning major projects overseas. These services include the aid and trade provision, which is Government-to-Government aid, within which is the global soft loan facility introduced in November 1985. The Overseas Projects Board will continue to give its valued guidance to us in these activities.

The British Overseas Trade Board will continue to be closely involved in the planning and operation of the export services, in promoting greater awareness of overseas markets and best practices in exporting, and in promoting British business overseas. In addition, it will in future be responsible for helping to develop a corporate plan, ensuring that our export promotion strategy and priorities reflect market developments and businesses' needs.



Sir Richard Body : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will publish a summary of the evidence in the possession of his Department at the time when the Protein Processing Orders 1981 were drafted about the proportion of poultry affected by salmonella.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Agriculture Ministers carried out a process of consultation on proposals for the control of protein processing in 1978 and again in 1980 before the making of the Diseases of Animals (Protein Processing) Order 1981 and the Importation of Processed Animal Protein Order 1981. The central public health laboratory carried out two surveys of frozen whole chickens the results of which were as follows :

Column 111

Year       Number of Salmonella from              

                    |Number   |Per cent.          


1987      |101      |65       |64.4               

Consultations took place against the background of growing concern about the increasing incidence of salmonella in livestock. Since the making of the orders the public health laboratory service has carried out a further survey of frozen whole chickens, the results of which were as follows :

Year       Number of Salmonella from              

                    |Number   |Per cent.          


1987      |101      |65       |64.4               

Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will give the figures for reported cases of human salmonellosis for December 1988 as soon as they are available ; and what were the figures for each of the previous 12 months.

Mr. Freeman : Laboratory reports on identifications of salmonella infections in man are collated weekly. The following table gives provisional four-weekly totals, to week 52, of laboratory reports of salmonellosis submitted to the public health laboratory service in 1988.

Column 112

1988 (provisional) four-weekly  


Weeks         |Reports          


 1-4          |1,072            

 5-6          |779              

 9-12         |788              

13-16         |776              

17-20         |1,221            

21-24         |1,579            

25-28         |2,143            

29-32         |2,803            

33-36         |<1>2,033         

37-40         |3,585            

41-44         |3,348            

45-48         |2,636            

49-52         |1,360            


Total reports |24,123           

<1> Postal strike.              

NHS Staff (Grading)

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff from each of the old grades have been assimilated to each of the new grades in the current clinical grading structure in Nottingham district health authority.

Mr. Mellor : The information requested is given in the table.

The new clinical grading structure for nursing, midwifery and health visitor staff-numbers of old clinical grades assimilated to each of the new                                                                         

clinical grades on the basis of duties and responsibilities on 1st April 1988: Nottingham DHA                                                                                                                            

Previous grade                |Staff in post<1>|A               |B               |C               |D               |E               |F               |G<2>            |H               |I                                


Nursing Auxiliary             |1,263.58        |1,147.18        |114.40          |2.00            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Staff Nursery Nurse           |34.50           |-               |32.00           |2.50            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Enrolled Nurse<3>             |799.75          |-               |-               |131.96          |652.83          |14.96           |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Enrolled District Nurse<3>    |27.30           |-               |-               |-               |26.30           |1.00            |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Senior Enrolled Nurse<3>      |103.45          |-               |-               |1.40            |83.55           |18.00           |0.50            |-               |-               |-                                

Staff Nurse<3>                |1,045.30        |-               |-               |-               |215.53          |788.18          |41.59           |-               |-               |-                                

Staff Midwife<3>              |120.82          |-               |-               |-               |23.00           |97.82           |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Deputy Sister<3>              |50.13           |-               |-               |-               |-               |2.00            |48.13           |-               |-               |-                                

Nursing Sister II<3>          |590.90          |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |260.86          |328.04          |2.00            |-                                

Midwifery Sister II<3>        |153.10          |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |23.13           |129.97          |-               |-                                

District Nurse (Sister II)<3> |112.04          |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |112.04          |-               |-                                

Nursing Sister I              |6.00            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |6.00            |-               |-                                

Midwifery Sister I            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Health Visitor                |124.45          |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |123.45          |1.00            |-                                

Senior Nurse 8                |71.60           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |2.00            |39.60           |27.00           |3.00                             

Senior Nurse 8 Midwife        |7.00            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |7.00            |-               |-                                

Senior Nurse 7                |45.00           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |5.00            |8.00            |32.00                            

Senior Nurse 7 (Midwife)      |10.93           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |9.00            |1.93                             

Clinical Teacher              |26.16           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |26.16           |-                                

Fieldwork Teacher             |14.00           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |14.00           |-                                

Practical Work Teacher        |24.00           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |24.00           |-                                

Tutor                         |38.03           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |38.03                            

Tutor Midwife                 |8.00            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |8.00                             


Post Basic Students                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Enrolled                      |35.00           |-               |-               |35.00           |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Staff Nurse                   |183.00          |-               |-               |-               |183.00          |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Deputy Sister                 |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                

Sister II                     |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-                                


Others                        |2.00            |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |-               |2.00                             

                              |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------         |-------                          

Totals                        |4,896.04        |1,147.18        |146.40          |172.86          |1,184.21        |921.96          |376.21          |751.10          |111.16          |84.96                            

<1> Whole-time equivalents.                                                                                                                                                                                              

<2> Excludes some additional "G" posts which health authorities have indicated they intend to create in future on existing two-sister wards.                                                                             

<3> Excludes Post Basic Students.                                                                                                                                                                                        

Column 113


Mr. Nicholas Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps are taken by his Department to ensure the implementation of his requirement that centres where late abortions are preformed have immediate access to resuscitation equipment in the event that the child is born alive.

Mr. Freeman : Places in the private sector approved to carry out abortions after the 20th week of gestation are required to give additional assurances as to the availability of resuscitation equipment, including suction apparatus, incubator and oxygen supply. These facilities are monitored by the Department's medical/nursing officers during the course of routine unannounced visits.

General Practitioners (Pay)

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he proposes to review the funding arrangements for general practitioners so that they are paid according to the number of patients they attract, and the quality of services they provide.

Mr. Mellor : The White Paper "Promoting Better Health" (Cm. 249) announced a range of changes to the general practitioner's contract with the National Health Service which includes raising the proportion of income which is related to the number of patients on a GP's list and linking pay more directly than at present to service and performance. The Government are currently consulting the GPs' representatives on the arrangements necessary to introduce these changes.

Health and Local Authorities (Co-operation)

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will give details of plans currently being considered within his Department to improve liaison and co-operation between local authorities and district health authorities.

Mr. Mellor : Our current examination of community care policy following Sir Roy Griffiths report includes consideration of the need for any changes to be made to the current arrangements for joint planning between health and local authorities. We continue strongly to encourage authorities to work and plan together within existing systems to develop a co-ordinated range of services.

Ethnic Monitoring

Ms. Abbott : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on ethnic monitoring in mental hospitals.

Mr. Freeman : Information on the ethnic origins of detained mental patients in special hospitals has been recorded for some years. We are now exploring the feasibility of collecting data on the ethnicity of patients in NHS hospitals, including mental hospitals. If feasible, implementation would take some time because of the need to adapt health authorities' current data collection systems and in order to link with any question of ethnicity in the 1991 census.

Column 114

Hospital Building Programme

Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the progress of the Government's hospital building programme.

Mr. Freeman : Information held centrally shows there are currently 528 health building schemes, each costing over £1 million, at various stages of planning, design and construction with an estimated total value of £4.1 billion. In the next financial year capital expenditure of £1.2 billion is planned, an increase in real terms of 43 per cent. since 1979.

Health Authority Managers

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the number of bonus payments made to health authority managers since their introduction ; if he will list them to date ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor : Health authority general managers have been eligible for performance-related increases in salary since 1 September 1987 and senior (second-in-line) managers since 1 September 1988. The numbers of awards notified to the Department to date are as follows :



General Managers |690 |668      

Senior Managers  |-   |601      

Individual awards cannot be listed because they are based on confidential assessments of individual performance.

The performance-related pay scheme is working well and we shall shortly be extending it to a wider group of managers at region, district and unit level.

Health Services (Duplication)

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the steps he is taking to reduce the duplication of functions between local government social services departments and family practitioner committees and district health authorities.

Mr. Mellor : Health authorities, local authorities and family practitioners committees are required to co-operate in the planning and delivery of their services. We strongly encourage them to plan and work jointly, and with voluntary organisations, in order to minimise the possibility of any gaps or duplications in their activities and to promote the development of a co-ordinated range of services.

Hospitals (Opting Out)

Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will issue guidelines about the involvement of regional, district and unit general managers in discussion about the possibility of individual hospitals opting out ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor : The Government's proposals for the future management and structure of the Health Service will be published shortly in a White Paper.


Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will publish any guidelines issued by his own

Column 115

Department to regional health authorities on the privatisation of their services ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Freeman : Health authorities were asked in September 1983 to put their domestic, catering and laundry services out to tender. Detailed guidance has been issued by the Department to authorities on how the process should be carried out. Copies of the most recent guidance (November 1987) which updated and refined earlier guidance have been placed in the library. We encourage health authorities to consider the possibility of competitive tendering in any area of their services where this is seen to offer scope for increased effectiveness and value for money. Progress has been made by authorities in extending the range of services subjected to tendering.

Politically Sensitive Issues

Mr. Fatchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether he will publish any guidelines issued by his Department to regional and district health authorities in the involvement of their employees in public discussion on politically sensitive issues ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor : No. All NHS employees are expected to conduct themselves in a manner appropriate to their position. Their conduct is, however, a matter for their employing health authorities and there are no centrally issued guidelines.


Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Wakefield, Official Report, 8 December, column 339, what procedures exist which would effect the withdrawal of cooked food in sealed packages which contain listeria monocytogenes.

Mr. Freeman : The procedures for dealing with cooked ready-to-eat food contaminated with a pathogenic micro-organism depend upon the circumstances of each case. A locally distributed food can be dealt with by local authorities using powers under the Food Act 1984. More widely distributed food may require rapid communication by the Department to inform and advise all local authorities on the extent and type of local action.

Cook-Chill Catering

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Wakefield, Official Report, 1 December, column 384, on what date Mr. Arthur Pinegar of the Leeds public health laboratory ceased his involvement in private research concerning cook-chill catering.

Mr. Freeman : I refer the hon. Member to the reply to him by my predecessor on 1 December 1988, at column 384.

The public health laboratory service has no further details of when Mr. Pinegar ceased those activities to which the hon. Member refers.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to ensure that hospital patients in health authorities which introduce cook-chill catering also have the opportunity to consume food produced by conventional methods as an alternative.

Column 116

Mr. Freeman : Health authorities are responsible for determining the delivery of catering services and take into account the needs of the hospital patients.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if it is possible for cook-chill food from commercial catering companies to be supplied at hospitals with central production units within the requirements of his Department's 1980 guidelines on pre-cooked food in catering.

Mr. Freeman : Yes. Health authorities should satisfy themselves that any cook-chill food from outside sources meets the recommendations in the 1980 guidelines.

Medical Physicists

Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department intends to take to improve morale and pay prospects for medical physicists working in the National Health Service ; and what recent representations he has received from the Institute of Physical Sciences in Medicine in that regard.

Mr. Mellor : The management side of the Scientific and Professional Staffs Council has set up a working party to investigate the scale of reported problems of recruitment and retention of medical physicists and other scientists. I have received no recent representations from the Institute of Physical Sciences in Medicine about these matters.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if the Yorkshire regional health authority has sought the opinion of district health authorities within the region regarding the implementation of cook- chill catering.

Mr. Freeman : Yes. It consulted on a strategy document between 25 March and 30 June last year.

Radiation (Exeter)

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health who will provide the finance required by the Exeter health authority to provide compensation for its patients given excess doses of radiation ;

(2) what additional funds his Department will provide to enable Exeter health authority to pay substantial compensation to patients given excess doses of radiation.

Next Section

  Home Page