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Mr. Viggers : Information on the number of enterprises with more than 25 employees is not available in the form requested. Statistics on the number of employees relate to district council, rather than social security office areas. Latest available figures, based on the September 1984 census of employment records, are as follows :
|Number -------------------------- Strabane |7,480 Londonderry |27,930 Limavady |5,920 Magherafelt |7,640 Coleraine |15,810
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will publish in the Official Report his estimate as to how many firms and businesses in the East Londonderry constitituency employ more than 25 persons ;
(2) if he will publish in the Official Report his estimate as to how many firms and businesses in the Foyle constituency employ more than 25 persons.
Mr. Viggers : The information is not available in the form requested.
Mr. Hume : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information is available on the numbers of claims for additional requirements, including backdated claims under supplementary benefit, which were granted from 1 January to 10 April 1988 and those granted from April 1988.
Mr. Needham : Under the supplementary benefit scheme additional requirements were an integral part of benefit entitlement and claims for them were not made or recorded separately. Accordingly the information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
Mr. Hume : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement indicating the total amounts of money paid under all supplementary benefit regulations in each social security office from 11 April 1988.
Mr. Needham : The information requested is not available.
Mr. Mates : To ask the Lord President of the Council how many recommendations for debate were made by the Select Committee on European Legislation in the last session.
Mr. Wakeham : In 1987-88 there were 117 such recommendations.
Mr. Mates : To ask the Lord President of the Council how many hon. and right hon. Members took part in the deliberations of Standing Committees on European Documents who were not members of the Standing Committee, in the last Session.
Mr. Wakeham : In 1987-88, six hon. Members took part in deliberations of Standing Committees on European Documents, of which they were not a member.
Mr. Mates : To ask the Lord President of the Council how many debates were held following recommendations of the Select Committee on European Legislation on the Floor of the House in the last Session of Parliament.
Mr. Wakeham : In 1987-88, 29 debates were held on the Floor of the House, covering 84 documents, in addition to 15 debates in Standing Committee, covering 31 documents.
Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to meet representatives of the British MedicalAssociation to discuss the future of general practitioners in rural areas.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Consultations with the general medical services committee of the British Medical
Column 519Association have been continuing for about one year on the detail of implementing changes to GPs' terms of service and remuneration system. These consultations will cover changes to the family doctor services throughout Great Britain, as proposed in the White Papers "Promoting Better Health" and "Working for Patients" including matters of special relevance to rural general practice. I last met the representatives of the GMSC for a discussion of progress in these consultations on 9 February 1989. I have no present plans for a further meeting.
Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what National Health Service staffing information he collects centrally ; and what information relating to the number of vacant posts in all National Health Service staff categories was considered in the National Health Service review which led to the White Paper, "Working for Patients."
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : My Department collects detailed information on staff-in-post as at end of September each year. Less detailed statistics are available for other quarter points in the year Information on vacant posts is collected annually for consultants and senior registrars (hospital services) and for RMO, DMO, SCM, senior registrars and registrars in the community services.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money will be lost by North Staffordshire district health authority as a result of the Government's proposals to change the basis of allocations on the resource allocation working party system.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : No money will be lost by the district health authority from its present allocation but in future years, district health authorities, like regional health authorities, will be funded for their own populations weighted to take account of age and propensity to sickness. This will provide a fair basis for the calculation of the district's share of future growth in NHS revenue.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence there is that tampons produced from chlorine-bleached fibres can provide a means whereby dioxins enter the human body.
Mr. Freeman : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to her on 14 February at column 179.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to require sanitary tampon manufacturers to print warnings regarding toxic shock syndrome on the packets.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will issue safety guidelines for sanitary tampon manufacturers ; (2) if he will take steps to alert consumers of sanitary tampons to medical research which has suggested that there are health problems related to them.
Mr. Freeman [holding answer 14 February 1989] : Four years ago the Government set up a voluntary prior
Column 520approval scheme with the sanitary protection industry, under which manufacturers submit to Government any new tampon or tampons to which there have been significant changes in design or materials, and toxicologists from the Department of Health scrutinise them to decide whether they pose a health hazard. I am satisfied that this scheme is adequate to safeguard the public and I commend it as a good example of a responsible industry voluntarily looking after the interests of its customers. Sanitary tampon manufacturers already include with their products leaflets giving consumers information on toxic shock syndrome and personal hygiene.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will now include sanitary towels and tampons among the articles covered by the good manufacturing practice specified by the Department of Health.
Mr. Freeman : No. The voluntary prior approval scheme set up four years ago by the Government and the sanitary protection industry already ensures that any new tampon or major change in tampon design or materials can be properly checked to decide whether or not they pose a health hazard.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will fund research on the health effects of using sanitary tampons.
Mr. Freeman : We look to the Medical Research Council, which receives its grant-in-aid from the Department of Education and Science, for the support of biomedical research.
Mr. Gale : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if, when negotiating the renewal of voluntary agreements with the tobacco industry, he will make it his policy to seek a ban on the sale of single cigarettes on the grounds that they cannot carry a Government health warning ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : The sale of single cigarettes is one aspect of the larger problem of tobacco sales to children. This area is already covered by the Protection of Children (Tobacco) Act 1986 and the Government are looking into ways of improving the enforcement of this legislation.
Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether his Department's scientific and medical advisers have investigated the studies into electromagnetic wave theory and possible relationships with cot death syndrome ; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : Neither this Department nor the National Radiological Protection Board, which has a responsibility to advise on hazards from electromagnetic fields, are aware of any authoritative, peer-reviewed studies that have demonstrated an association between sudden infant death syndrome and exposure to these fields at any frequency.
Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) whether he will list those research projects which are currently receiving Government funding and which examine the possible causes of cot death syndrome ; and whether he will list the academic or medical institutions at which such research is taking place ;
Column 521(2) what is the total sum of grant made available by his Department for research into the causes of cot death syndrome in the current financial year ; and what is the projected sum for the financial year 1989-90.
Mr. Freeman : The Medical Research Council is the main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research in the United Kingdom. The MRC receives its grant-in-aid from the Department of Education and Science. I understand that in 1987-88, the latest financial year for which figures are available, the MRC spent approximately £83,000 on research into sudden infant death syndrome. The following list shows the current research supported by this money.
a. Clinical Research Centre--Division of Clinical Sciences, Harrow, Middlesex.
Project Title : Arterial oxygen saturation monitoring for respiratory disease, heart failure, cot death, anaesthesia. (ii) Grant Holders in University Departments
a. Professor V. Dubowntz, Department of Paediatric and Neonatal Medicine, Royal Postgraduate Medical School, London.
Project Title : Continuous 4 channel EEg monitoring in the high risk neonate.
b. Professor J. K. Stothers, Department of Paediatrics, London Hospital Medical College, London.
Project Title : An investigation into the incidence and clinical significance of obstructive apnoea in children.
c. Professor A. D. Milner, Department of Child Health, University of Nottingham, Nottingham.
Project Title : Apnoea bardycardia and high frequency oscillation in the neonatal period.
d. Professor P. J. Watt, Department of Microbiology, University of Southampton.
Project Title : Respiratory Syncytial Virus Polypeptides : age-related antibody responses and the significance of material IGC. In the same year, the council made available a further £322,000 for other research which may contribute to the understanding of the sudden infant death syndrome.
Mr. Hoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, further to his answer of 13 February, Official Report , col. 79 what is the cost of granting the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health the temporary use of a room at the Department plus the part-time assistance of an administrative officer to manage and safeguard the papers.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : There is no additional cost as the former Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health is using a room that was vacant pending the refurbishment of the building. The administrative officer spends up to a maximum of three hours a week managing and safeguarding the papers at an approximate cost of £170 for the nine weeks of research.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will consider Government funding for urgent research into the extent of infection from viruses associated with sea bathing.
Mr. Freeman : I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment on 31 October 1988 at column 546 .
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what response his Department has made to reports about the effects on babies of high levels of PCDFs.
Mr. Freeman : The Department is aware of studies in Japan and Taiwan which tentatively suggested health effects in babies whose mothers were exposed to cooking oil containing polychlorinated biphenyls contaminated with PCDFs. The Department's advisory committee on the toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment is currently reviewing the toxicity data on PCDDs and PCDFs, including these studies, and the committee's advice is expected shortly.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department has any statistics regarding increased lifetime cancer risk resulting from dioxin exposure via paper products.
Mr. Freeman : Research indicates that levels present in such products are very low and they would be expected to present a negligible risk. However, we have asked the relevant trade associations to provide information on levels found in products on sale in the United Kingdom. A further assessment of risks to health will then be made.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has on research conducted by the United States Environment Protection Agency into the risks of cancer from paper products.
Mr. Freeman : I understand that the Environment Protection Agency is preparing a report with the American paper industry which is expected to be ready by April 1989.
Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if his Department is aware of any research indicating links between dioxins and birth deformities.
Mr. Freeman : The Department is aware of toxicological studies indicating that some dioxins can cause deformities in certain species of laboratory animals. The significance of these findings for humans is currently being assessed by the Department's advisory committee on the toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment as part of a review of all the toxicity data on PCDDs and PCDFs. The committee's advice is expected shortly.
Mr. Eastham : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if, in view of the scientific evidence linking aluminium with Alzheimer's disease, he has considered the control on the use of aluminium in food processing, including cooking utensils and aluminium foil ; and what advice he has for home cooks.
Mr. Freeman : No controls on the use of aluminium in food processing are warranted. My replies to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) on 27 January at columns 797-799 explain the known medical effects of aluminium from all sources.
Mr. Wray : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research his Department is carrying out or funding about the effects of paper and similar products containing dioxins on the health of people.
Mr. Freeman : None. Research in Sweden has shown that levels present in those products are extremely low and are likely to present a negligible risk to health. However, the Department's committee on toxicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment has been asked to advise on the possible health effects from dioxins.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) on what date the Yorkshire regional health authority determined to introduce cook-chill catering in hospitals throughout the region ; (2) on what date members of staff of the Yorkshire regional health authority were informed that a policy decision had been made to introduce cook-chill catering in hospitals throughout the region.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The decision to introduce cook-chill catering into hospitals within Yorkshire region was taken at the regional health authority meeting on 24 March 1988. Information about the decision and its implementation was formally communicated to Yorkshire district health authorities and the media the same day. Similar information was conveyed to staff in the region in the RHA's newspaper "Health View", April 1988 edition.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals in the Yorkshire region currently operational, or in the process of construction, have facilities to receive and distribute cook-chill food.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : The proposed new Halifax district general hospital, all hospitals within the Wakefield and Dewsbury boundaries, all hospitals administrated by Bradford health authority with the exception of the Bradford royal infirmary, St. Luke's hospital and Linfield mount hospital, the Alfred Bean hospital, Driffield and the Brumby hospital, Scunthorpe.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health which cook -chill installations currently in operation within the National Health Service contravene his Department's 1980 guidelines.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I expect health authorities to satisfy themselves that cook-chill installations all conform to my Department's cook-chill guidelines.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if facilities exist to ensure it is possible for the requirement of the Yorkshire health authority's expert group that all cook-chill food must be served within 15 minutes of reheating to be met following the proposed introduction of cook-chill catering in Wakefield's hospitals.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I understand that the DHA's arrangements, using heated trolleys, would meet this requirement and I expect the DHA to ensure that performance is monitored.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 30 January to the hon.
Column 524Member for Wakefield if, in the light of scientific and medical evidence of the potential importance of listeria monocytogenes in cook-chill catering, he will now withdraw the 1980 guidelines prepared by the expert group.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke [holding answer 7 February 1989] : We remain quite satisfied that, provided the 1980 guidelines on cook-chill catering are followed, the food produced by this system will be safe.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if, pursuant to his answer of 2 February to the hon. Member for Wakefield, he will list the published and unpublished papers on the safety of cook-chill and low temperature pathogens considered by his Department's expert group.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The purpose of convening an expert group is to ensure a broad information base for decisions on the preparation of guidance. The group considered a wide range of information on the scientific basis of the cook-chill system from a variety of sources. It is not possible to compile a complete list of all material which members of the group will have taken into account when formulating the guidelines.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has on the evidence presented at a symposium on cook-chill catering at Danbury technical college held on 9 July 1988, by a consultant microbiologist at Plymouth health authority on the incidence of patients with listeriosis treated in Plymouth hospitals during 1987 and 1988.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke [holding answer 7 February 1989] : The evidence presented by a consultant microbiologist from Plymouth health authority at this symposium showed that all patients found to have listeriosis in Plymouth hospitals during 1987 and 1988 acquired this infection before their admission.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he expects to give his replies to the questions tabled for priority written answer on 7 February and to which a holding reply was given relating to cook-chill catering and his Department's expert group, and to Plymouth.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I replied to the hon. Member today.
Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on the funding of the pay award to nurses working in the hospice movement.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : In 1988-89 the Government made available to health authorities an additional £5.5 million to meet the costs of the nurses' clinical regrading exercise incurred by hospices and mainly charitable hospitals with which they had contractual commitment or to which they regularly gave financial support. This allocation was made because of the exceptional nature of the increase in pay costs and about one quarter of it was expected to go to hospices.
That sum is being carried forward to 1989-90, and increased by 5 per cent. The Government have not
Column 525included any further provision in the additional funds being made available in respect of the 1989 nurses' pay award, but health authorities may wish to provide extra financial support from the very significant overall increase in financial resources at their disposal in 1989-90.
My Department has asked for more information to be collected on the general pattern of financial support of hospices by health authorities and will consider the need for any further action in the light of this.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library a copy of the letter sent by the chief nursing officer to all district and regional nursing offices on 18 January.
Mr. Freeman : I shall be placing copies of the letter and accompanying paper in the Library.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the consequences on employment and pay scales for nurses resulting from the guidelines on nursing contained in the letter sent from the chief nursing officer to all district and regional nursing offices on 18 January.
Mr. Freeman : We do not envisage that there would be any consequences on employment and pay scales for nurses arising from this letter.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the purpose and status of the letter sent by the chief nursing officer to all regional and district nursing officers on the role of nurses.
Mr. Freeman : The purpose of the letter on nursing routines and improving efficiency, which was sent by the Chief Nursing Officer and chairman of the standing nursing and midwifery advisory committee at the specific request of members to regional and district nursing officers and to the chief nursing officers of special health authorities, was to encourage local nursing and midwifery advisory committees to study the use of some routine nursing practices with a view to considering whether they were still relevant in their local circumstances. They were asked to take whatever action they considered necessary to develop innovative ideas to increase the efficiency of effectiveness of nursing care, so that unnecessary practices can be eliminated, releasing nurses to provide a quality service which not only benefits patients but provides increased job satisfaction for nursing staff.
Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what response there has been to the letter sent on 18 January to all regional and district nursing officers from the Chief Nursing Officer about the role of nurses.
Mr. Freeman : Some nursing officers have already replied in a positive way indicating the initiatives and developments they are undertaking.
Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Stoke on Trent, North, Official Report, 9 February, column 802, if he will review his decision not to include a question on local funding arrangements in his Department's questionnaire to all district health authorities on screening and counselling for sickle cell anaemia and thalassaemia.
Mr. Freeman : The questionnaires were issued to district health authorities on 22 June 1988 and the Department is currently analysing their responses. The need to see further information will be considered in the light of this analysis.