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Sick Pay Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will make a statement on progress on the revision of the employers' guide to statutory sick pay and associated forms.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : A new package of leaflets about statutory sick pay was issued to all employers in February 1989 for use from April 1989. This included "A Quick Guide to SSP" and a revised "Employers Manual". New statutory sick pay forms were introduced from the same date.

Departmental Property Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the property costs, including rent, asset replacement and rates of his Department in total, in each standard both in total and per square foot for each year since 1983.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Since 1 April 1984 the Department has paid most of its property costs to the Property Services Agency of the Department of the Environment. This payment, known as the accommodation charge, consists of rent, rates, retained maintenance and administration. The rent figures quoted include opportunity cost rents determined by the Property Services Agency. The Department has direct responsibility for certain minor works, maintenance, and internal redecoration. Expenditure for these items has been included in the total accommodation costs figure shown in the table. Up to March 1988 expenditure for new construction and other major capital works was the responsibility of the Property Services Agency. From April 1988 responsibility has been divided between the Department and the Property Services Agency but expenditure figures for 1988-89 are not yet available. These costs are therefore not included in the table. Information prior to 1 April 1984 is not available except at disproportionate cost.


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                           1988-89         1987-88         1986-87         1985-86         1984-85                

                          |£'000s |£/sq ft|£'000s |£/sq ft|£'000s |£/sq ft|£'000s |£/sq ft|£'000s |£/sq ft        

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

Rent                      |77,772 |4.45   |68,624 |4.06   |63,193 |3.87   |62,596 |3.91   |60,624 |3.79           

Rates                     |40,589 |2.32   |35,852 |2.12   |32,662 |2.00   |32,693 |2.04   |33,912 |2.12           

Total Accommodation costs |170,118|9.73   |140,583|8.31   |123,323|7.56   |121,386|7.58   |120,850|7.55           

Departmental Plant and Equipment Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the last revaluation of plant and equipment


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employed by his Department was carried out ; and what plant and equipment asset replacement charges are incurred by his Department.


Column 73

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Under the rules of Government accounting the Department operates cash-based systems which enable Parliament to be satisfied that amounts of cash voted to be spent on certain activities have been so spent. There has therefore been no need to maintain comprehensive up-to-date valuations of plant and equipment, the purchase cost of which is tightly controlled through the cash accounting system and plant and equipment asset charges are not entered in the accounts.

Benefits (Assessments)

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many benefit cases, over the past five years, have required further review, due to errors in the initial assessment.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I regret that this information is not available.

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many people are currently employed by his Department for the purposes of assessing benefit claims ; and if he will express this as a percentage of the total employed by his Department.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : We do not hold information in the precise form requested. A wide variety of benefit claims are assessed in the Department's local offices, our central offices at Newcastle and Blackpool and the transitional payment unit in Glasgow. On 1 May 1989, 71,454 staff (90 per cent. of the total departmental staff) were employed in these offices. As well as dealing with benefit claims these staff also handle general inquiries and other aspects of departmental business.

Nuclear Test Veterans

Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many nuclear test veterans or their widows have received payments because of suffering or death from (a) leukaemia and (b) multiple myeloma ; how many have applied and been rejected ; and what are the criteria for acceptance.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : One war disablement pension and six war widow's pensions have been awarded because service men who took part in nuclear tests contracted or died of leukaemia (excluding chronic lymphatic leukaemia) or multiple myeloma. The criteria for the award of a pension are that the service man contracted, or died of, either of these two conditions and was present at a nuclear test and therefore no claims which satisfy these criteria are rejected.

Housing Benefits

Mr. McCrindle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he has any plans to transfer the cost of housing benefits for council house tenants to local authority housing revenue accounts ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Peter Lloyd : The Government's proposals in the Local Government and Housing Bill for a new financial regime for local authority housing in England and Wales provide for a new housing revenue account subsidy to replace a number of existing central Government subsidies, including rent rebate subsidy. Where the subsidy assessment shows that an authority would, in other respects, be capable of making a surplus on the account, this surplus would be offset against the housing revenue account subsidy. With this exception, rent rebate expenditure would continue to be funded by the Exchequer. Subject to parliamentary approval of the Bill, the new arrangements would take effect from 1 April 1990.

Elderly People

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the amount of supplementary benefit/income support payments for residential care for elderly people, nationally and for each social security region, in each of the last five years.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The table shows the estimated expenditure nationally on payments of supplementary benefit/income support to elderly people in private and voluntary residential care homes. I regret that information on a regional basis is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Before December 1985 data were not collected in the form requested.


                       |Annual equivalent                            

                       |expenditure (nearest £                       

                       |million)                                     

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

December 1985          |200                                          

May 1986               |234                                          

May 1987               |329                                          

May 1988               |400                                          

Source: December 1985, May 1986, May 1987 and May 1988 Quarterly     

Statistical Inquiries.                                               

Note: The amounts for 1985-87 relate to supplementary pensions, and  

the one for 1988 to payments of income support to people aged 60 or  

more.                                                                

Appeals Statistics

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security whether he will publish a table showing the number of appeals heard by social security appeal tribunals and the number decided in the claimant's favour, the number decided in favour of the adjudication officer and the number adjourned in each quarter of 1988, broken down by subject of appeal.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The latest national administrative statistics available on social security appeal tribunals relate to appeals heard in the third quarter of 1988. Information is provided in the tables for the quarters ending March, June and September 1988.


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Social security appeal statistics                                                                                                                                           

Great Britain-Quarter ending March 1988                                                                                                                                     

Benefit type                              |Total number of appeals  |Total number in favour of|Total number of          |Total number of                                    

                                          |heard and decided        |claimant                 |adjudication officers'   |adjournments                                       

                                                                                              |decisions upheld                                                             

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

Attendance allowance                      |52                       |11                       |41                       |21                                                 

Child benefit                             |543                      |105                      |438                      |110                                                

Disablement benefit                       |623                      |266                      |357                      |214                                                

Family income supplement                  |298                      |57                       |241                      |58                                                 

Guardians allowance                       |9                        |0                        |9                        |2                                                  

Industrial death benefit                  |16                       |3                        |13                       |5                                                  

Invalid care allowance                    |275                      |22                       |253                      |42                                                 

Invalidity benefit                        |1,241                    |529                      |712                      |328                                                

                                                                                                                                                                            

Maternity benefit (pre April 1987)        |47                       |7                        |40                       |4                                                  

Maternity allowance (from April 1987)     |5                        |0                        |5                        |0                                                  

Mobility allowance                        |376                      |14                       |362                      |34                                                 

One parent benefit                        |0                        |0                        |0                        |0                                                  

Retirement pension                        |213                      |62                       |151                      |41                                                 

Severe disablement allowance              |50                       |11                       |39                       |12                                                 

Sickness benefit                          |359                      |101                      |258                      |58                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                            

Social Fund:                                                                                                                                                                

    Funeral payments                      |86                       |16                       |70                       |14                                                 

    Maternity payments                    |208                      |42                       |166                      |27                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                            

Statutory maternity pay                   |1                        |1                        |0                        |0                                                  

Statutory sick pay                        |11                       |3                        |8                        |0                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                            

Supplementary benefit:                                                                                                                                                      

    Single payments                       |32,198                   |8,982                    |23,216                   |5,917                                              

    Others                                |11,028                   |2,911                    |8,117                    |2,447                                              

                                                                                                                                                                            

Unemployment benefit                      |6,662                    |2,235                    |4,427                    |928                                                

Widows benefit                            |56                       |23                       |33                       |8                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                            

Workmen's compensation pneumoconiosis and                                                                                                                                   

  byssinosis                              |4                        |1                        |3                        |4                                                  


Social Security Appeal Statistics                                                                                                                                       

Great Britain-quarter ending June 1988                                                                                                                                  

Benefit type                          |Total number of appeals  |Total number in favour of|Total number of          |Total number of                                    

                                      |heard and decided        |claimant                 |adjudication officers'   |adjournments                                       

                                                                                          |decisions upheld                                                             

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

Attendance allowance                  |73                       |21                       |52                       |20                                                 

Child benefit                         |518                      |107                      |411                      |84                                                 

Disablement benefit                   |512                      |197                      |315                      |215                                                

Family credit                         |4                        |0                        |4                        |0                                                  

Family income supplement              |272                      |42                       |230                      |50                                                 

Guardians allowance                   |13                       |3                        |10                       |3                                                  

Income support                        |127                      |9                        |118                      |19                                                 

Industrial death benefit              |12                       |6                        |6                        |4                                                  

Invalid care allowance                |135                      |12                       |123                      |26                                                 

Invalidity benefit                    |1,088                    |491                      |597                      |376                                                

                                                                                                                                                                        

Maternity benefit (pre April 1987)    |28                       |9                        |19                       |3                                                  

Maternity allowance (from April 1987) |4                        |1                        |3                        |2                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                        

Mobility allowance                    |347                      |9                        |338                      |18                                                 

One parent benefit                    |13                       |2                        |11                       |0                                                  

Retirement pension                    |161                      |32                       |129                      |46                                                 

Severe disablement allowance          |63                       |34                       |29                       |14                                                 

Sickness benefit                      |273                      |86                       |187                      |65                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                        

Social fund:                                                                                                                                                            

    Funeral payments                  |103                      |23                       |80                       |12                                                 

    Maternity payments                |149                      |24                       |125                      |14                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                        

Statutory maternity pay               |2                        |0                        |2                        |1                                                  

Statutory sick pay                    |8                        |1                        |7                        |1                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                        

Supplementary benefit:                                                                                                                                                  

    Single payments                   |31,700                   |9,596                    |22,104                   |5,317                                              

    Others                            |9,505                    |2,672                    |6,833                    |2,284                                              

                                                                                                                                                                        

Unemployment benefit                  |5,574                    |2,010                    |3,744                    |871                                                

Widows benefit                        |68                       |24                       |44                       |11                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                        

Workmen's compensation pneumoconiosis                                                                                                                                   

  and byssinosis                      |7                        |1                        |6                        |2                                                  


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Social Security Appeal Statistics                                                                                                                                       

Great Britain-quarter ending September 1988                                                                                                                             

Benefit type                          |Total number of appeals  |Total number in favour of|Total number of          |Total number of                                    

                                      |heard and decided        |claimant                 |adjudication officers'   |adjournments                                       

                                                                                          |decisions upheld                                                             

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

Attendance allowance                  |45                       |12                       |33                       |18                                                 

Child benefit                         |472                      |92                       |380                      |131                                                

Disablement benefit                   |473                      |190                      |283                      |236                                                

Family credit                         |162                      |22                       |140                      |43                                                 

Family income supplement              |228                      |38                       |190                      |53                                                 

Guardians allowance                   |2                        |1                        |1                        |2                                                  

Income support                        |1,812                    |242                      |1,570                    |397                                                

Industrial death benefit              |15                       |4                        |11                       |15                                                 

Invalid care allowance                |142                      |26                       |116                      |34                                                 

Invalidity benefit                    |1,183                    |542                      |641                      |444                                                

                                                                                                                                                                        

Maternity benefit (pre April 1987)    |22                       |9                        |13                       |3                                                  

Maternity allowance (from April 1987) |7                        |1                        |6                        |1                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                        

Mobility allowance                    |359                      |7                        |352                      |47                                                 

One parent benefit                    |14                       |2                        |12                       |1                                                  

Retirement pension                    |191                      |58                       |133                      |40                                                 

Severe disablement allowance          |45                       |16                       |29                       |21                                                 

Sickness benefit                      |289                      |108                      |181                      |60                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                        

Social fund:                                                                                                                                                            

    Funeral payments                  |144                      |25                       |119                      |31                                                 

    Maternity payments                |157                      |23                       |134                      |33                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                        

Statutory maternity pay               |3                        |1                        |2                        |2                                                  

Statutory sick pay                    |4                        |3                        |1                        |4                                                  

                                                                                                                                                                        

Supplementary benefit:                                                                                                                                                  

    Single payments                   |27,512                   |8,502                    |19,010                   |5,503                                              

    Others                            |8,526                    |2,661                    |5,865                    |2,426                                              

                                                                                                                                                                        

Unemployment benefit                  |5,254                    |1,805                    |3,449                    |854                                                

Widows benefit                        |93                       |34                       |59                       |23                                                 

                                                                                                                                                                        

Workmen's compensation pneumoconiosis                                                                                                                                   

  and byssinosis                      |4                        |1                        |3                        |1                                                  

Pensioners' Income

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the income of pensioners with no other source of income than state benefits and excluding housing benefit payments as a proportion of the average earnings of all male workers in each year since 1974.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested cannot be produced on a consistent basis for each year since 1974. The table shows the requested information on a consistent basis for the available years.


Pensioners' Average Gross Income 

Less Housing Benefit             

as a Percentage of Average Male  

Earnings                         

           |Percentage           

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

1984       |25                   

1985       |24                   

1986       |24                   

Note:                            

1. Pensioners are defined as tax 

units with no private income.    

2. Prior to 1983 Housing Benefit 

was contained within             

Supplementary Benefit.           

Social Fund

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if, further to his reply on 4 May, Official Report, column 220, he will categorise the reasons for the remaining social fund loan refusals and community care grant refusals for the year 11 April 1988 to 31 March 1989.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The latest provisional estimates of all reasons for refusal for the period 11 April 1988 to 31 March are set out as follows :


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Reasons for refusal of Social Fund loans and grants 1988-89                                                                                          

                                   Loans                                         Grants                                                              

                                  |Number of times reason|As a percentage of all|Number of times reason|As a percentage of all                       

                                  |given                 |refusals              |given                 |refusals                                     

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

Savings over £500 sufficient to                                                                                                                      

  meet cost                       |938                   |0.3                   |2,498                 |1.7                                          

Not in receipt of IS              |33,613                |9.7                   |n.a.                  |n.a.                                         

Not in receipt of IS for 26 weeks |99,907                |27.2                  |n.a.                  |n.a.                                         

Not in receipt of 1S and unlikely                                                                                                                    

  to become entitled              |n.a.                  |n.a.                  |15,842                |10.9                                         

Excluded items                    |30,759                |8.4                   |9,563                 |6.6                                          

Excluded persons                  |1,094                 |0.3                   |13,734                |9.4                                          

Amount < £30 (not travelling                                                                                                                         

  expenses)                       |11,952                |3.3                   |3,707                 |2.5                                          

Total debt of £1,000              |198                   |0.1                   |n.a.                  |n.a.                                         

Previous application and SFO                                                                                                                         

  decision for this item          |14,639                |4.0                   |5,071                 |3.5                                          

No serious damage or risk to                                                                                                                         

  health or safety                |24,266                |6.6                   |0                     |0.0                                          

Inability to repay                |14,971                |4.1                   |0                     |0.0                                          

Help available from another                                                                                                                          

  source                          |8,281                 |2.3                   |2,136                 |1.5                                          

Insufficient SF funds, priority                                                                                                                      

  too low                         |84,027                |22.9                  |13,419                |9.2                                          

Other agencies not providing                                                                                                                         

  back-up                         |n.a.                  |n.a.                  |85                    |0.1                                          

Suitable alternative available    |3,978                 |1.1                   |1,177                 |0.8                                          

Loan refused-CCG awarded          |14,725                |4.0                   |n.a.                  |n.a.                                         

Other                             |25,113                |6.8                   |82,400                |56.5                                         

                                                         |---                                          |---                                          

  Total                                                  |100.7                                        |102.5                                        

Note: Percentages add to more than 100 because an individual application may be refused for more than one reason.                                    

Benefit Claims (Women)

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what proportion of and how many (a) supplementary benefit in 1987-88 and (b) income support in 1988-89 claims from couples were made by women.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I regret that the information is not available in the form requested. However, the most recent information available indicates that, in May 1987, of all supplementary benefit claimants with partners, 18,994* or 1.8 per cent. were women. We estimate that, of all income support claimants with partners in May 1988, about 25, 000 or 3 per cent. were women.

*Source : May 1987 Annual Statistical Enquiry.

Benefits (Young People)

Mrs. Beckett : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list all the changes in social security provision since May 1979 which have affected the entitlement of (a) 16 to 17-year-olds, (b) 18 to 20 -year-olds and (c) 21 to 25-year-olds to supplementary benefit or any other benefit or which have affected the entitlement to any benefit of their parents.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I regret that this information cannot be provided without incurring disproportionate cost.

Child Benefit

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will estimate the cost of doubling the value of child benefit ; and what would be the cost if the benefit at this new level were made part of taxable income and the saving on other social security payments.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 17 April 1989] : Precise costs and savings would depend on the assumptions made for the calculation of social security benefits other than child benefit. In broad terms, the orders of magnitude might be as follows :


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                                            |£ billion          

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

Child Benefit Cost                          |4.5                

Saving in income related benefits and child                     

  dependency increases                      |1.1                

Increase in income tax revenue              |1.9                

Net Cost                                    |<1>1.6             

<1>The figures do not sum due to rounding.                      

Household Income

Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North, 20 February, Official Report, column 481, what is the net income after the Budget proposals have come into effect (i) after housing costs of a married man with children aged 13 and 16 years earning (a) £104 and (b) £105 per week, (ii) of a married man with children aged three, eight and 11 years paying average rent and rates as used in the tax benefit model tables earning (a) £65 per week and (b) £80 per week, (iii) after benefits of a married man with children aged four and six years earning (a) £60 per week gross and (b) £140 per week gross, (iv) under current tax and benefit structure of a married man with children aged three, eight and 11 years with gross earnings of (a) £65 per week and (b) £105 per week and (v) under the current tax and benefit structure of a married man with children aged four and six years earning (a) £80 per week and (b) £90 per week.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 24 April 1989] : The information requested is as follows :


               |Gross earnings                              

               |£             |£                            

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

Net income after housing costs<1> assessed on 1989-90 benefi

national insurance contributions (post October) and tax rate

               |thresholds                                  

(i) married man with children 13 and 16 years               

(a)            |104           |113.01                       

(b)            |105           |113.21                       

                                                            

(ii) married man with children aged 3, 8 and 11             

(a)            |65            |114.51                       

(b)            |80            |115.12                       

                                                            

Total net income<2> assessed on 1989-90 benefits national in

contributions (post October) and tax rates and thresholds   

(iii) married man with children aged 4 and 6                

(a)            |60            |127.03                       

(b)            |140           |135.99                       

                                                            

Total net income<2> assessed on 1989-90 benefits national in

contributions 1988-89 tax rates and thresholds              

(iv) married man with children aged 3, 8 and 11             

(a)            |65            |144.99                       

(b)            |105           |148.54                       

                                                            

(v) married man with children aged 4 and 6                  

(a)            |80            |127.77                       

(b)            |90            |128.08                       

Note: The assumptions used are those in the 1988 tax        

benefit models which have been adjusted in line with prices 

to reflect the position in 1989.                            

<1>"Net income after housing costs" is calculated by adding 

together the various elements in a family's weekly income ( 

earnings, social security benefits and housing benefit) and 

deducting certain outgoings (income tax, national insurance 

contributions and rent and rates'.                          

<2>"Total net income" is calculated by adding to take home  

pay (gross earnings minus tax and national insurance)       

social security benefits and housing benefit.               

Community Charge

Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, in respect of the community charge, how many decision notices (NHB2(CC)) have been sent to district councils by the local offices of the Department of Social Security in (a) Greenock and Port Glasgow, (b) Strathclyde and (c) Scotland as a whole ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Figures for the number of decision notices issued are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

HEALTH

General Practitioners (Limited Practice Allowance)

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he sought or has available as to the effects, particularly in areas of rapid population growth, of his proposals to discontinue the limited practice allowance for general practitioners ; and what savings he expects from implementation of such a policy.

Mr. Mellor : Our new contract proposal for raising the qualifying threshold for basic practice allowance from a minimum of 100 to 400 patients has now been agreed with the general medical services committee's negotiators. The proposal will strengthen general practitioners' commitment to the provision of general medical services, and provide an incentive to general practitioners to build up their lists. For general practitioners providing essential services who are unable to attract at least 400 patients the present inducement allowance arrangements will apply. In areas of development, where, for example, a new housing estate is being built, a general practitioner may be able to claim an initial practice allowance which will provide sufficient remuneration until he or she has built up his or her list.


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Because fees and allowances are set to deliver to the profession as a whole the level of remuneration recommended by the review body on doctors' and dentists' remuneration, no savings to the Government arise from this proposal.

National Health Service (Expenditure)

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will give for each year since 1979 the total health and personal social services (a) current expenditure (gross) and (b) capital expenditure (net) ; and if he will give those totals adjusted by the HCHS pay and price deflator.

Mr. Mellor : The table sets out gross current and net capital expenditure on health and personal social services in cash terms for the period from 1978-79 to 1988-89. The HCHS pay and price deflator is an index of inflationary pressures on current expenditure in the hospital and community health services alone. It would be inappropriate therefore to apply the index to total health and personal social services expenditure.


Total health and personal social services expenditure       

               |(i)           |(ii)                         

               |Gross current |Net capital                  

               |£ million cash|£ million cash               

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

1978-79        |7,423         |412                          

1979-80        |8,885         |465                          

1980-81        |11,439        |626                          

1981-82        |12,747        |744                          

1982-83        |13,950        |763                          

1983-84        |14,863        |805                          

1984-85        |15,884        |871                          

1985-86        |16,770        |921                          

1986-87        |18,123        |943                          

1987-88        |20,053        |922                          

<1>1988-89     |22,296        |974                          

<1> Estimated outturn.                                      

IVF Treatment

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will take steps to ensure that the treatment for in vitro fertilisation in the South West regional health authority area is available free of charge for patients living in north Devon as it is for patients living in Bristol.

Mr. Freeman : Decisions about the priority and resources to be given to infertility services as a whole, and the place of in vitro fertilisation (IVF) programmes within them, are matters for district health authorities. They are in the best position to make such decisions in the light of local needs and circumstances.

An IVF service with provision for free treatment has recently been introduced in north Devon, as a joint scheme between the health authority and the voluntary sector.

Head Lice

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence he has received about the incidence of head lice infestation among primary school children ; and what advice his Department is offering to local education authorities.

Mr. Freeman : Information about the incidence of head lice infestation is not available in the precise form requested. However, we do have the following details :


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Health surveillance by nurses: maintained nursery, primary,                       

secondary and special schools                                                     

Number of infestations<1>                                                         

                                                  |1987-88 England                

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

Number of pupils examined (thousands)             |4,546.3                        

Number of pupils found to be infested (thousands) |91.4                           

Infested pupils as a percentage of the maintained                                 

  school population                               |1.27                           

<1> Infestations include head lice, vermin, scabies, ringworm, impetigo and       

verrucae.                                                                         

Responsibility for the control of head lice infection among pupils lies with individual health authorities through the school health services. It is for them to determine the policy for dealing with this problem in the light of local circumstances. Many have stopped routine head inspections and are now adopting more positive practices through health education programmes and advice to parents and children on head lice infestation and how to deal with the problem.

Pain

Mr. George Howarth : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what information he has as to what proportion of pain sufferers recorded as suffering from pain of over three months duration are over the age of 60 years ; and what provision is being made for them ;

(2) what provision is being made under the National Health Service to help pain sufferers ;

(3) what information he has as to how many patients at any given time are recorded as suffering from pain lasting for three or more months which is unrelieved or only marginally alleviated by treatment.

Mr. Freeman : The information requested is not held centrally. Relief of pain is a matter for the clinical judgment of the doctors responsible for the care of the patient. Some health authorities do provide pain clinics. This is a matter for local decision in the light of the health authority's assessment of local needs and priorities.

Departmental Property

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the property costs, including rent, asset replacement and rates, of his Department in total, in each standard both in total and per square foot for each year since 1983.

Mr. Freeman : Property costs for premises occupied by the Department are incurred by the Property Services Agency.

For the NHS, expenditure in England on rent and contributions in lieu of rates is as follows :


                         |Rents                   |Contributions in lieu of                         

                                                  |rates                                            

                         |£ 000 (cash)            |£ 000 (cash)                                     

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

1983-84                  |20,752                  |127,190                                          

1984-85                  |21,951                  |136,952                                          

1985-86                  |21,375                  |148,833                                          

1986-87                  |22,365                  |168,055                                          

1987-88                  |24,697                  |169,965                                          

These figures, which cannot be related to the floor areas, are taken from the annual accounts submitted to the


Column 84

Department. They include expenditure recorded by regional and district health authorities, the special health authorities for the London postgraduate teaching hospitals and sums within the administration expenses of family practitioner committees. The costs of certain other special health authorities and bodies comprising the NHS, and payments made to medical practitioners and others contracted to provide family practitioner services, are excluded. Figures are not available for the replacement of assets.

Departmental Plant and Equipment

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the last revaluation of plant and equipment employed by his Department was carried out ; and what plant and equipment asset replacement charges are incurred by his Department.

Mr. Freeman : The Department of Health, like most other Government Departments, operates cash-based systems which enable Parliament to be satisfied that amounts of cash voted to be spent on certain activities have been so spent. There has therefore been no overall need, apart from those limited areas where repayment transactions are conducted, to maintain comprehensive up-to-date valuations of plant and equipment, the purchase cost of which is tightly controlled through the cash accounting system and plant and equipment asset replacement charges are often not entered in the accounts. For the NHS a valuation of all assets owned by the NHS, including plant and equipment, will be unertaken later this year as part of the preparation for the proposed introduction of a capital charging system.

Radiation

Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many cancers are recognised as being attributable wholly or partly to radiation ; and if he will list them ;

(2) what methods are used to identify whether or not a cancer can be caused or aggravated by radiation.

Mr. Freeman : I am advised that most of the information available on the risk of cancer from exposure to radiation has been drawn from epidemiological studies. Groups such as the survivors from Hiroshima and Nagasaki have been shown to have an increased risk of developing some forms of cancer some years after being exposed to large doses of radiation. Corroborative evidence has been drawn from studies of other groups such as those given radiation therapy for a variety of diseases, and from animal studies. This information is contained in the recent report from the United Nations scientific commission on the effects of atomic radiation (UNSCEAR) (Official Records : forty-third session--supplement No. 45 (A/43/45) a copy of which I will place in the Library shortly. At present, there are no chemical, biological or physiological methods which can determine whether a given cancer is primarily caused by radiation, by another factor, or by a combination of factors.

Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what collaboration there has been with experts in other countries regarding the identification of cancers caused or aggravated by radiation ; and if he will detail the consultation there has been with United States experts.


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Mr. Freeman : Advice to the Government on the effects of radiation is provided by the National Radiological Protection Board (NRPB). The board's advice on the effects of exposure to radiation on the incidence of cancer is based on a review of all the information available from national and international sources. Some of these sources include the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP), the United Nations scientific commission on the effects of atomic radiation (UNSCEAR), and the United States' commission on the biological effects of ionising radiation (BEIR).

Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the research commissioned into the relationship between cancer and radiation in the last 30 years.

Mr. Freeman : The following list shows the current research directly funded by the Department.

(a) Analysis of cancer incidence in young people in small areas. (b) Incidence of Leukaemia in west Berkshire.

(c) Geographical studies of Childhood Cancer incidence. (d) Investigation of the effect of Radon in houses.

(e) Microscopy studies of persorption of radionuclides through the wall of the gut.

(f) Study of the amount of radioactivity which passes into foetal tissue via the placenta.

(g) Investigation of the radiosensitivity of bone marrow stem cells.

A full list of such research over the last 30 years is not readily available. However, the right hon. Member may wish to consult the handbooks of research and development published annually. Copies are available in the Library.

For information on research undertaken for the Department by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, I refer the right hon. Member to the authority's radiation protection research annual report 1988 (AERE R 13204), a copy of which is available in the Library.

Hospital Costs

Mr. Robert Hicks : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the average occupancy and cost per bed-night for teaching hospitals, district general hospitals and community hospitals in (a) England, (b) the South West regional health authority and (c) Cornwall district health authority area.

Mr. Freeman : For information on average occupancy and costs by types of hospital in England and in the south western region I refer my hon. Friend to the Department's annual publication "Health Services Costing Returns" (the latest being for 1986-87)--copies of which are held in the Library. The publication also includes tables providing some information about teaching hospitals and for information specific to hospitals within the area of the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly health authority my hon. Friend may wish to contact the chairman of that authority.

We intend to publish information on the financial year 1987-88 in the summer.

Hospital Trusts

Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the hospitals which have applied to him expressing an interest in becoming self-governing trusts.

Mr. Mellor : I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. and learned Friend's reply of 8 May to the hon. Member for Peckham (Ms. Harman) at column 321.


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Mr. Ashton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make it his policy to organise a ballot of the residents of Bassetlaw to decide whether they are in favour of the Bassetlaw hospital, Worksop, being run as a self-governing trust.

Mr. Mellor : No, but if an application for self-governing status is made, I will look to Trent regional health authority to seek the views of all those with an interest, including local residents.

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the proposed hospital trusts will be allowed to retain the proceeds from any asset sales.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Yes, since the assets will be vested in the trusts. The Secretary of State will have a reserve power to prevent the sale of an asset if, in his opinion, the disposal would be against the public interest.

Mr. Winnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consultations have taken place between the Walsall health authority and his Department concerning hospitals in the Walsall area opting out of the existing National Health Service management structure.

Mr. Mellor : None, but if a formal application is made for hospitals in Walsall to become self-governing I will look to West Midlands RHA to seek the views of all interested parties.

Dentists

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what conditions are recognised as occupational diseases in dentists working within the National Health Service.

Mr. Freeman : There is no list of conditions which are recognised as occupational diseases in dentists working within the National Health Service.

To qualify under the NHS compensation and injury benefit schemes a dentist must show that any condition suffered by him was contracted in the course of his NHS employment and must be attributable to that employment. Each case is considered on its merits.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if under notice FPN 472 general practitioners will be held responsible, in post-treatment disputes with the dental reference service, for any acts or omissions of a dentist working within the hospital or community services if such treatment was provided as part of a course of other treatment for which a practitioner has had to sign a certificate of dental fitness.

Mr. Freeman : The obligations on a dentist providing general dental services to make a patient dentally fit are set out in full in schedule 1 of the National Health Service (General Dental Services) Regulations 1973. The guidance given in FPN 472 does not alter these obligations.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, under the arrangements for the funding and payment for dentures and bridges provided through hospital and community dental services under notice FPN 472, who will be responsible for the collection of patient charges and collection of bad debts.

Mr. Freeman : The continuing health authority responsibility for collection of patient charges (and bad


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debts) for dentures and bridges provided through the hospital and community dental service was not affected by FPN 472. Circular HC(FP)(89)5/HN 89/8 issued in March 1989 did, however, provide revised guidance on the calculation of such charges.

Contraception

Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has of the total current annual cost to the National Health Service of special payments made to general practitioners for contraceptive advice and prescription.

Mr. Mellor : The provisional 1988-89 cost, in England, of payments to general medical practitioners for contraceptive services is £32.4 million.


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