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Homeless and Rootless (Wakefield)

63. Mr. O'Brien : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has received from the Wakefield family practitioner committee on action taken to help the homeless and rootless ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor : The family practitioner committee has secured the provision of general medical services on the one official travellers' camp in the Wakefield area. The service, which began on 5 April using the Wakefield health authority's mobile clinic, is provided by a local doctor supported by community nursing staff. No other problems have been encountered.

Hospital Closures

64. Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospital closures proposals have been confirmed by his Department since 1979.

Mr. Freeman : Ministerial approval has been given to 85 proposals for total closures of hospitals/units from 1979 to end 1988.

Childhood Cancer

67. Mr. Cran : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made by research teams funded by his Department in identifying the causes of childhood cancer incidence.


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Mr. Freeman : The Department's commissioned research into childhood cancer complements a wide range of studies internationally. A variety of possible factors have been investigated, and while some progress is being made, in general, specific causes are not fully understood.

Consultants (Dismissals)

71. Mr. Holt : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) consultants and (b) other doctors in hospitals were dismissed in each of the past 20 years.

Mr. Mellor : We do not collect this information routinely and could obtain it only at disproportionate cost.

Medical Schools

72. Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received about the role of university medical schools in relation to the proposals in "Working for Patients."

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : I have received representations from various organisations and individuals, including the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, and the Joint Committee of Metropolitan and Provincial Deans, which represents the deans of United Kingdom medical schools and clinical facilities. Both these bodies have welcomed the commitment in "Working for Patients" to maintaining the quality of medical education. I will be considering their comments very carefully in developing our proposals. In addition, paragraph 4.30 of "Working for Patients" explains that the steering group on undergraduate medical and dental education will carry forward its work and make recommendations in the light of the proposals in the White Paper. The steering group contains representatives of all the major bodies with responsibility for medical and dental education, and is making a constructive contribution to the implementation of "Working for Patients".

Dental and Eye Tests (Changes)

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if there has been any change in the number of people having dental examinations and eye tests since the introduction of charges.

70. Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is his estimate of the impact of the introduction of dental charges on the number of patients attending for dental checks.

Mr. Mellor : Demand for dental treatment is subject to short-term fluctuation irrespective of changes made to charges. The Department monitors the number of courses scheduled for payment each month. It is unlikely that an assessment of whether there has been an effect on demand following the introduction of the examination charge can be made until figures are available for the quarter July-September 1989.

There is no charge for NHS sight tests. We shall be monitoring the position in respect of private sight tests in the autumn.

Grading

Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many appeals in respect of clinical regrading are outstanding at the latest date ; and when he expects the appeals to be concluded.


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Mr. Mellor : We do not hold this information centrally.

Electoral Registers

Mr. William Powell : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the 25 constituencies with the lowest electorate in 1989 in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) England.

Mr. Freeman : The information requested is as follows :


Constituencies with smallest electorate in 1989 

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

(a) United Kingdom                              

Western Isles                     |23,097       

Caithness and Sutherland          |31,031       

Orkney and Shetland               |31,116       

Meirionnydd Nant Conwy            |32,556       

Tweeddale, Ettrick and Lauderdale |38,773       

Montgomery                        |41,022       

Glasgow, Provan                   |41,086       

Roxburgh and Berwickshire         |43,484       

Surbiton                          |44,344       

Chelsea                           |44,381       

Kensington                        |44,393       

Glasgow, Garscadden               |44,828       

Cumbernauld and Kilsyth           |46,345       

Caernarfon                        |46,510       

Liverpool, Riverside              |46,563       

Hammersmith                       |47,198       

Newham North West                 |47,591       

Glasgow, Cathcart                 |47,702       

Edinburgh East                    |47,802       

Paisley North                     |48,213       

Argyll and Bute                   |48,695       

Walthamstow                       |48,744       

Clackmannan                       |48,757       

Glasgow, Springburn               |48,785       

Glasgow, Govan                    |48,908       

                                                

(b) England                                     

Surbiton                          |44,344       

Chelsea                           |44,381       

Kensington                        |44,393       

Liverpool, Riverside              |46,563       

Hammersmith                       |47,198       

Newham North West                 |47,591       

Walthamstow                       |48,744       

Greenwich                         |49,007       

Plymouth, Drake                   |49,930       

Coventry South East               |50,333       

Old Bexley and Sidcup             |50,507       

Knowsley North                    |50,538       

Barking                           |51,501       

Richmond and Barnes               |51,746       

Birmingham, Sparkbrook            |51,788       

Newham South                      |52,000       

Fulham                            |52,107       

Hendon South                      |52,242       

Coventry North West               |52,665       

Kingston upon Thames              |53,048       

Barnsley East                     |53,324       

Eltham                            |53,542       

Birmingham, Erdington             |53,552       

Hendon North                      |54,059       

Liverpool, Garston                |54,059       

Mr. Harry Barnes : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list in the Official Report each parliamentary constituency in England where electoral registrations have declined by more than 4 per cent. between 1988 and 1989, together with the size of the decline in each case in percentage and absolute figures.

Mr. Freeman : The information requested is as follows :


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Parliamentary             Change in total                 

constituency              parliamentary                   

                          electorate, 1988-89             

                         |Number    |Percentage           

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

Manchester, Blackley     |-2,421    |-4.1                 

Harrow East              |-3,742    |-4.6                 

Finchley                 |-2,710    |-4.6                 

Wolverhampton North East |-3,101    |-4.9                 

Bristol West             |-3,471    |-4.9                 

Chelsea                  |-2,382    |-5.1                 

Southend West            |-4,110    |-5.9                 

Mid Kent                 |-4,846    |-6.5                 

Manchester Central       |-4,078    |-6.6                 

Southend East            |-4,658    |-7.7                 

Liverpool, Mossley Hill  |-4,865    |-8.1                 

Liverpool, West Derby    |-5,263    |-8.8                 

Liverpool, Riverside     |-4,707    |-9.2                 

Liverpool, Walton        |-7,200    |-9.9                 

Liverpool, Garston       |-6,121    |-10.2                

Liverpool, Broadgreen    |-6,825    |-11.1                

Medway                   |-7,311    |-11.3                

Transplants

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether the General Medical Council has ever disciplined a doctor for breach of ethics relating to transplants.

Mr. Freeman : The General Medical Council is an independent statutory authority : I suggest that the hon. Member approaches the council for this information.

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when he will specify which will be the next supra-regionally funded heart transplant centre.

Mr. Freeman : We have asked the supra regional services advisory group for advice, and expect to make an announcement later in the year.

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many people now hold donor cards.

Mr. Freeman : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) on 20 December 1988, at column 241 .

Body Scanners

Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, which NHS hospitals in the West Midlands RHA at present have whole body scanner facilities ; when the equipment was installed in each case ; which hospitals it is planned to provide with such facilities as new, or to replace obsolete facilities, in the next 12 months ; and which hospitals have paid for equipment in whole or part from voluntary and charitable sources.

Mr. Freeman : The information requested is not held centrally. The hon. Member may wish to write to the chairman of the West Midlands regional health authority.

ENVIRONMENT

Coventry Evening Telegraph (Article)

Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the publications in which the Minister for Local Government, the right hon. Member for Suffolk, Coastal (Mr. Gummer) had printed any article in the form, length or content as that which appeared on Tuesday 9 May in the Coventry Evening Telegraph.


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Mr. Ridley : My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government distributed more than 500 articles to newspapers throughout the country. Whether their editors chose to print the articles is a matter for them.

African Elephant

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what fresh initiatives his Department is taking both in respect of unilateral action by Britain and to mobilise international support for action to protect the African elephant and to outlaw the use of ivory in developed nations.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 18 May 1989] : I shall write to the hon. Member shortly.

Ozone Layer

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he will take to reduce chlorofluorocarbon damage to the ozone layer by arranging for the collection of redundant domestic and commercial refrigerators ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : I have been asked to reply.

I am aware of only one nationwide retailer of domestic refrigerators which has arrangements to collect old appliances when delivering new ones, and for recovery of the CFC refrigerants for recycling. The Government are encouraging others to do the same, and officials are discussing with local authority associations what can be done with the appliances which end up with them. Warren Spring laboratory is currently considering the possibility of economic recovery from domestic appliances and the Department is assessing the need for further research in this area.

CFCs in domestic refrigerators account for only about 3 per cent. of total CFC use in the United Kingdom. There are considerable technical and logistical difficulties in recovering and recycling CFCs from the coolant systems and particularly from the foam insulation in such appliances.

Community Charge

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement clarifying the sentence in his Department's leaflet "The Community Charge--How It Will Work For You", which reads "Filling in the form does not mean you will have to pay the community charge for anyone else"

in relation to the provision in the Act for joint liability.

Mr. Gummer : The section of the leaflet to which the hon. Member refers deals with the process of registration. The High Court said in the judgment given on 16 May

"The filling in of a registration form does not in itself mean that you will have to pay the community charge for anyone else or indeed yourself. As a matter of law it is no more than the first step in a process which, subject to rights of appeal, will result in names appearing in the register."

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list all the illustrative figures for the poll tax in Nottingham given since 1987 ; and when he now expects to estimate the figure to be levied in May 1990.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have no plans to introduce a poll tax.


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Published illustrative figures show a community charge in Nottingham of £207 in 1987-88 and £251 in 1988-89. With the proposed transitional safety net arrangements fully in place, the published illustrative figures are £195 for 1987-88 and £231 for 1988-89. Illustrative 1989-90 community charges in England will be published once data needed from local authorities have been received and analysed.

The illustrative figure for Nottingham will be dependent on spending by Nottinghamshire county council and Nottingham city council. If both the county council and the city council had budgeted to spend according to the assumptions used in the 1989-90 rate support grant settlement and had rated accordingly, the 1989-90 illustrative community charge in Nottingham (disregarding the transitional arrangements) would be £251.

Mr. Tim Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on progress in implementing the community charge in England and Wales.

Mr. Gummer : The overwhelming majority of local authorities are making good progress in preparing for the introduction of the community charge. Registration began this week in most areas of England and Wales. The leaflet informing people of their rights and duties has been distributed, despite an attempt to stop it.

Sea Dredged Aggregates

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will set out the principles upon which he monitors the effect of aggregate dredging on coastal defences and erosion of beaches.

Mr. Chope : Government policy, set out in minerals planning guidance note 6, is that licences to dredge for sand and gravel are not and will not be granted by the Crown Estate if it is likely that coastal erosion would result.

The arrangements for consulting Government Departments and other bodies on applications to dredge minerals from United Kingdom territorial waters and the United Kingdom continental shelf ensure that all proposals are referred to consultants for professional advice at an early stage. If these investigations demonstrate an unavoidable risk of coast erosion, the Crown Estate would reject the application without further consideration.

The responsibility for the monitoring of coastal defences and erosion of beaches lies with the appropriate individual local authority.

Football Stadiums

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what financial assistance his Department will give to football clubs to encourage all-seater stadiums.

Mr. Moynihan : I have no plans to provide financial assistance to football clubs. I shall be discussing the question of all-seater stadiums with the football authorities shortly.


Column 491

Tourism

Mr. Barry Field : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to have a report on the experiment of deemed consent for directional advertising signs for tourist attractions and facilities.

Mr. Chope : The part-time consultant who is monitoring the experiment in east Kent has submitted an interim report, which is now being considered.

Pollution Inspectorate

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what proposals he has to monitor the consequences for local authorities of the reorganisation of Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution ;

(2) what plans he has for monitoring the effect on the relationship between Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution and local authorities of the reorganisation of the inspectorate.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We recognise the importance of regular links with local authorities. We shall give high priority to maintaining good communications with them as we develop the reorganisation proposals. The effectiveness of the reorganised inspectorate will be kept under close review.

The Government's 1986 consultation document on air pollution control in Great Britain set out new control powers for local authorities dealing with a second tier of scheduled processes. These powers will establish new working relationships between the inspectorate and local authorities. We have set up a local authority unit to monitor the effectiveness of the operation of the proposed controls. The inspectorate of pollution liaison committee will also continue to discuss matters of common interest between local authorities and HMIP and the Environment Departments.

Homelessness

Mr. Pike : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to release empty residential property belonging to his Department for use by homeless people.

Mr. Chope : There are no empty properties owned by the Department of the Environment at present suitable for use as temporary accommodation for the homeless.

Should empty residential properties not be required for further Government use and they cannot be sold because of legal restrictions or sold within six months due to market conditions they are offered first to the local housing authority and then to a housing association.

Playgrounds

Mr. Atkinson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has received any representations regarding safety standards for the surfaces of public playgrounds ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Moynihan : I have received 34 written representations on this matter since the beginning of March and I have met my hon. Friend the Member for Harrow, East (Mr. Dykes) to discuss his Bill.


Column 492

Water Standards

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information his Department holds for the (a) Yorkshire water authority and (b) Severn-Trent water authority, that enables him to assess the extent to which potable water in these water authorities complies with the European Community directive relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption (80/77/EEC) ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : The Department has information about supplies made by the Yorkshire water authority and the Severn-Trent water authority which regularly do not comply with one or other of the standards in the EC drinking water directive and about programmes to achieve compliance. Information concerning supplies where there is occasional non-compliance is being submitted by these authorities in the context of further improvement programmes.

M20 Service Area (Maidstone)

Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects the report of the inquiry carried out by his inspector into the motorway service area proposed for the M20 in the Maidstone area to be published.

Mr. Chope : The inspector's reports on the public inquiry into planning applications in respect of two proposals for motorway service areas at Hollingbourne, and into a related draft compulsory purchase order, will be published when the decision letter on these matters is issued. We hope to make these decisions in the near future.

Mr. Rowe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the remit of his inspector carrying out the inquiry into the proposal for a motorway service area on the M20 in the Maidstone area has been amended to take account of the proposed route for the high-speed rail link passing through the same area.

Mr. Chope : No. British Rail published its proposed route after the public inquiry into the motorway service area proposals had closed. I understand that discussions between British Rail and the Department of Transport indicate that the proposed route could be accommodated under the proposed motorway service area site and that it would not materially affect the land use planning questions considered at the inquiry.

Registers of Financial Interests

Mr. David Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received regarding the desirability of establishing registers of financial interests for (a) county and (b) district councillors ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We said in the "Conduct of Local Authority Business--Government Response to the Widdicombe Committee of Inquiry" (Cm. 433) that we propose to introduce legislation for statutory registers of pecuniary interests for councillors (see paragraphs 4.3-4.4). We have set up a working group with the local authority associations to consider what such registers should contain. We hope to introduce amendments on this subject to the current Local Government and Housing Bill.


Column 493

Sites of Special Scientific Interest

Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total sum spent since 1983 by the Nature Conservancy Council on management agreements under section 15 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to prevent damage to sites of special scientific interest by afforestation ; and if he will state the number of sites of special scientific interest involved.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The Nature Conservancy Council has spent some £1.3 million since 1983 on management agreements under section 15 of the Countryside Act 1968 to prevent damage to 21 sites of special scientific interest by afforestation.

Aveley Methane Ltd.

Ms. Richardson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the ownership of Aveley Methane Ltd.


Column 494

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I understand that Aveley Methane Ltd. is a joint venture involving the East London waste authority, Coal Processing Ltd. and merchant banking interests to utilise landfill gas from a site at Aveley, for which the East London waste authority holds the freehold.

Barking and Dagenham (Financial Assistance)

Ms. Richardson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the London borough of Barking and Dagenham, seeking a policy of prior consultation before a statutory order under clause 30(5) and (6) of the Local Government and Housing Bill is made.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We have received a letter from the clerk of the East London waste authority (who is also the town clerk of the London borough of Barking and Dagenham) on the subject. We have already made it clear that we intend to consult local government about such an order before it is made.


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Planning Law

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations are taking place, and with whom, on potential changes to planning legislation ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : In January my right hon. Friend published a White Paper on the future of development plans. In March he consulted interested bodies about proposed improvements to land compensation and compulsory purchase legislation, and about possible changes to the enforcement of planning control arising from the report of Mr. Robert Carnwath, QC.

The Department is also currently inviting views on the following consultation papers :


                                           |Final date for comments                        

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

Permitted use rights in the countryside    |30 June                                        

Planning application forms                 |31 May                                         

Review of Special Industrial Use Classes (B3 to B7) 14 July                                

Compulsory purchase by public authorities                                                  

  (Inquiries Procedure) rules              |21 June                                        

Planning control over hazardous substances |17 July                                        

In addition, my right hon. Friend is currently undertaking on behalf of the Law Commission a limited consultation with organisations with an interest in the proposed consolidation of the Planning Acts. Consolidation is a clarifying exercise and entails only minor changes and improvements to the existing statutes.

Severn-Trent Water Authority

Mr. Oppenheim : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment by how much the Severn-Trent water authority's capital expenditure has changed since 1979.

Mr. Howard : The information requested by my hon. Friend is contained in the table :


Severn-Trent Capital Expenditure            

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

Cash                      |75.8 |193.8      

1988-89 prices            |120.9|193.0      

1988-89 estimated outturn |-    |-          

Inner London Education Authority

Mr. Gerald Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the outcome of the recent consultation exercise on the application of the competition legislation to the functions transferred from the Inner London education authority to the inner boroughs and the City of London.

Mr. Gummer : The Government have decided to make regulations which will introduce a phased implementation programme for the introduction of competition under the Local Government Act 1988 between 1 August 1991 and 1 August 1992 and provide that competition under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 will apply from 1 April 1990. Of the functions which will transfer to the inner London boroughs and the City of London after ILEA's abolition on 1 April 1990 the following functions will be subject to competitive tender : vehicle maintenance, ground maintenance, school catering, building cleaning ; and building maintenance.


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Groundwater Levels (London)

Mr. Charles Wardle : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what action her Majesty's Government propose, following the recent publication of the construction industry research and information report entitled, "The Engineering Implications of Rising Groundwater Levels in the Deep Aquifer Beneath London".

Mr. Howard : My Department, which was one of the sponsors of the research and is the lead Department on this matter, welcomes the report and is examinig its conclusions and recommendations carefully. We have asked the National Rivers Authority advisory committee to arrange for the National Rivers Authority, when it is established, to undertake the monitoring and predictive modelling of the water levels and the publication of the results ; to examine the potential for increasing water abstractions from the aquifer below London ; and to examine the feasibility and costs of a permanent dewatering scheme.

Water Bill

Mr. Sumberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will place in the Library a copy of Commissioner Ripa de Meana's letter of 16 May about clause 20 of the Water Bill.

Mr. Howard : I am arranging for copies of the letter to be placed in the Library of the House today.

Marine Habitats

Dr. Godman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) which marine habitats are being studied by the North sea task force ; if these include inter-tidal and estuarine habitats ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) how much funding for North sea research, under the direction of the North sea task force, has been directed towards research into the importance of inter-tidal and estuarine habitats to the well being of the North sea biological system ; which particular aspects are being examined ; and if he will make a statement ;


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