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Mr. Grist : My hon. Friend is absolutely right. Our proposals are based on choice for those who work in the Health Service and for its patients. They should all be aware of the opportunities that are open to them as professionals and as patients. At the moment, too many people do not know what is going on and do not have freedom of choice. That is what Conservatives stand for, unlike the blinkered witness of the Opposition.
Mr. Michael : Does the Minister not accept that his proposals are based not on choice but on secrecy? Will he tell us what has happened to the papers similar to those for England which the Secretary of State for Wales personally promised during the debate on 1 March? I stress that the word used was "similar" and not "identical". Will he also tell us when we are to have the subsequent papers on specific Welsh proposals which he promised in column 303 during the same debate? When will the Minister start debating the Government's proposals?
Mr. Nicholas Bennett : Does my hon. Friend recall that all last year and the year before the Labour party complained that the Health Service was deteriorating and that it was just a matter of spending more money on it? However, when the Government bring forward positive proposals to make the Health Service more businesslike, the Opposition appear to have no policies whatever. If they do not agree with the Government is it not incumbent on them to say what they would do?
11. Mr. Alan W. Williams : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what is the outturn figure for total expenditure within the Secretary of State's responsibility for 1988-89 ; what was the outturn figure for 1987- 88 ; and what is the growth in the budget (i) in money terms and (ii) in real terms after adjustment for the gross domestic product deflator for 1988-89.
Mr. Peter Walker : The outturn for 1987-88 was £3,338 million. The estimated outturn for 1988-89 is £3,658 million. This represents a cash increase of 9.6 per cent. and a real increase of 2.2 per cent.
Mr. Williams : I am grateful to the Minister for those figures. He says that there has been a 2.2 per cent. increase in real terms. That bears out what Lord Crickhowell said on the eve of the Vale of Glamorgan by- election, which was that there has been no new policy, no new initiative and little change in the scale of public spending during the right hon. Gentleman's tenure of office. The people of Wales have rumbled that and the Secretary of State has lost both the Conservative seats that he has had to defend during his tenure of office.
Column 12Conservative posters he is always a great help to my party. An increase in real terms of 2.2 per cent. is in very sharp contrast to a decrease of 3 per cent. per year that took place in the last two years of the last Labour Government.
Mr. Alan Williams : Is it not correct to say that that 2.2 per cent. is virtually entirely accounted for by the increase in nurses' pay which applied over the whole country? Is it not a fact that over the rest of the budget for Wales there has at best been standstill and in some cases cuts?
Mr. Walker : I am grateful that the right hon. Gentleman of all people should mention nurses' pay. One of the reasons for the 3 per cent. reduction in each of the last two years of the Labour Government was the appalling treatment of nurses' pay by that Government. I hope that the right hon. Gentleman is ashamed of that. I am glad to say that, for example, the budget of the Welsh Development Agency, which has an important economic impact on Wales, has increased by 53 per cent. in the last two years.
Mr. Grist : I am pleased to note the reduction in the number of people waiting for urgent treatment in the orthopaedic and ear, nose and throat specialties across Wales as a whole, but, naturally, it is disappointing that the number of people waiting for non-urgent treatment has increased slightly. Health authorities have the primary responsibility to reduce waiting times for patients. The Welsh Office is seeking to ensure that district health authorities address the issue through the record level of resources made available to them, by insisting on energetic management action and by specific central funding of particular local initiatives.
Mr. Rowlands : Is the Minister not aware that in my community people have to wait for months even to be referred to hospital, let alone receive treatment in them? They have tried the Government's suggestion of looking at neighbouring hospitals only to find that waiting lists there for hip and ENT treatment are equally long. Is not the idea behind all this to drive many of our people into the private health service? As we saw in a dramatic case described in one of the national newspapers, a young child was charged about £800 for treatment for a nose bleed. Is that the sort of Health Service that the Minister wants?
Mr. Grist : The hon. Gentleman has overlooked proposals such as treatment centres--He may be aware that one of the health authorities in Wales is likely shortly to bring proposals for one of these to the Welsh Office--the increase in the number of consultants, and the fact that there are shorter waiting times for different areas in Wales. At the moment, many doctors and patients know nothing about such places, and they might be prepared to use them if they knew about them. All these and other aspects of our health proposals will shorten waiting lists and spread choice for patients. The hon. Gentleman should also be aware that there is a problem of referral by doctors even within one health authority, in which one
Column 13consultant may have a waiting list of a year and another may have one of only three months. Patients should be aware of such knowledge and we want to spread it.
Mr. Peter Walker : Seven manufacturing projects have been secured for the Cardiff travel-to-work area over the past year, compared to three in the previous 12 months. Cardiff will also benefit substantially from the major projects taking place in neighbouring areas by firms such as Ford and Bosch.
Mr. Morgan : Is it not a desirable objective that the economy in the Cardiff area should be developed in a balanced way, without an undue preponderance of service industries? Therefore is it not vital that a wide range of training opportunities for young people is provided? One can do that only if there is a healthy spread of manufacturing industry, and it may be necessary to review the development area status of the Cardiff area, to ensure that it can compete fairly to get new manufacturing industry. Since the closure of East Moors in 1978, we have not had one solid, large metal-cutting engineering employer in the area.
Mr. Walker : Seven new manufacturing firms coming in over the past year is not a bad record. Having major investments of the magnitude of Ford and Bosch very near is of considerable advantage to Cardiff. I agree that we need a balance, but I know that the hon. Gentleman strongly welcomes the enormous expansion of the financial service industries in Cardiff. Training is required for that as well as for manufacturing industry, so we must see both. I am also pleased to say that the Cardiff bay development programmes are considerable programmes for manufacturing and industry as well as for service industry.
26. Mr. John Marshall : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, whether the Church Commissioners have considered helping to fund and initiate a programme for senior clergy similar to the Industry and Parliamentary Trust.
Mr. Michael Alison (Second Church Estates Commissioner, representing the Church Commissioners) : The commissioners' funds are not available for in-service training of the clergy. I am, however, passing my hon. Friend's suggestions to the General Synod's board for social responsibility, which is sponsoring a debate in the next month about the Church's ministry in industry, and commerce and to the advisory council for the Church's ministry. My hon. Friend will know that industrial chaplains are the main link between industry and the Church, and already, 57 full-time industrial chaplains are on the commission's payroll.
Mr. Alison : I agree with my hon. Friend that such inside knowledge would be desirable for the Church that has to have its feet firmly planted in the world. Many of the Church of England's committees connected with the assets of the Church include senior clergy on them. For example, the management of the Church of England's property placed it in the top 10 per cent. of the league table of 43 funds, worth £10 billion or more. In property, it has performed extremely well. As to the stock exchange, in the league table consisting of 1, 450 pension funds, the Church of England management of its assets placed it ninth in a percentile scale of 100. That again shows that the Church of England's feet, although other-worldly in many respects, are firmly planted in commercial reality.
27. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the right hon. Member for Selby, as representing the Church Commissioners, what he estimates to be the value of the emoluments of the average incumbent ; how these are calculated ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Alison : The present average stipend of an incumbent is estimated to be £9,500 per annum. In addition, an incumbent enjoys free accommodation and a non-contributory pension and death benefit scheme which together are worth on average £5,750 per annum on the most recent estimate.
Mr. Greenway : Does my right hon. Friend agree that those figures show that a good clergyman is seriously underpaid? Will he estimate the value to clergymen of the free emolument that has been brought to Britain by the great preaching of Dr. Billy Graham?
Mr. Alison : It is difficult to estimate the figure that should be placed upon Dr. Graham's preaching. I am sure, however, that his mission will produce many additions to the occupants of the pews in the Church of England. Unfortunately, the average donation made by those who worship in the Church of England is only £2.19 a week. There is considerable scope for an increase in voluntary giving.
Mr. Frank Field : Would not one way of increasing the amount that the laity gives be for the right hon. Gentleman to ask at the next meeting of the board of governors that it sets a timetable for a 50 per cent. increase in clergy pay, and to ascertain how much the laity would have to increase its giving each week to meet that bill? Would not that be an appropriate target to meet over the next five years?
Mr. Alison : That is a good and constructive idea. I hope that the hon. Gentleman will bear in mind the extent to which we have succeeded in overtaking inflation in many respects in increasing clergy stipends. On average, and taking emoluments in kind into account, the incumbent receives £15,000 a year, plus help towards, in effect, a free car.
Mr. Alison : The commissioners have one main administrative office at No. 1 Millbank. Apart from this, they have only a small amount of office space integral to the administration of their London residential estates and archive depository.
Mr. Thurnham : Given the high valuation of over £25 million that has been placed on No. 1, Millbank, will my right hon. Friend urge the commissioners to see whether they can find cheaper accommodation elsewhere? It occurred to me that there might be a little room at Lambeth palace.
Mr. Alison : There is plenty going on already at Lambeth palace without the additional distraction of the lay members of the Church Commissioners. My hon. Friend has raised a serious and constructive issue. We want always to seek the most efficient use of Church resources. If there were evacuation from No. 1, Millbank, the costs of removal and the taking of comparable and reasonably centralised accommodation in London would be likely to be very high.
29. Mr. Barry Field : To ask the hon. Member for Berwick upon Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, how many beds are available for members of staff in and around the House, how they are allocated ; what is the average occupancy rate against the number of sitting days ; and what is the total cost of (a) attendance, (b) laundry and (c) cleaning of staff bedrooms.
Mr. A. J. Beith (On behalf of the House of Commons Commission) : Excluding official residences such as your own Mr. Speaker, there are 94 beds provided for staff of the House whose duties require their attendance for late sittings. These beds are also available for use in emergencies. Of this total, 42 beds are personally allocated and the remainder are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Precise details of occupancy rates and associated costs can be provided only at disproportionate expense.
Mr. Field : One is tempted to ask precisely what an emergency would be. Given the considerable amount that is paid out to hon. Members for their accommodation allowance in London, which is over £9,000 a Member, will the hon. Gentleman consider handing over this valuable accommodation either to one of the many seaside landladies in my constituency, who could produce a reasonable profit from it, or to a hotel company that is experienced in managing property of this nature, so that the taxpayer can have full value for money?
Column 16accommodation is not used by hon. Members, with one or two exceptions such as your Deputies, Mr. Speaker. It is used by members of the staff, some of whom live beyond the mileage limit of late -night transport. The hon. Gentleman raises reasonable questions about how account can be taken of the best way of providing the service and I shall ensure that the Commission is made aware of his comments.
30. Mr. Allen : To ask the hon. Member for Berwick upon Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, what assessment he has made of the effect of the application of Crown immunity in the Palace of Westminster on the adequacy of health and safety provision for staff working in the House of Commons ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Beith : Although, as I understand it, neither the enforcement provisions nor those relating to the prosecution of offences in the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, apply to the Palace of Westminster, it is nevertheless the policy of the House to endeavour to comply fully with the requirements of the Act and with all other relevant statutory provisions, subject only to such specific exemptions provided for in legislation that arise from the constitutional position of the Crown.
Mr. Allen : Is it not outrageous that in this day and age the House of Commons and the Palace of Westminster are not covered effectively by the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 and that Crown immunity still exists in respect of people who work and often are injured in this place? Will the hon. Gentleman take steps to ensure that although the Health and Safety Executive is invited into this place on a grace and favour basis, there is a proper monitoring system by the House of Commons Commission to ensure safety conditions affecting people who live and work in the Palace of Westminster are improved to the standards that they would have to meet were the 1974 Act applicable?
Mr. Beith : It is misleading to suggest that health and safety at work requirements for the staff working in this place are not covered. It is the object of the authorities of the House to ensure that they are observed in every respect. It is also misleading to suggest that officers of the Health and Safety Executive or other bodies must be invited here. They are admitted at their own request if they wish to come at other times. Nevertheless, it is important that we should be fully satisfied that the House is complying, so far as the limits of this building permit, with the legislation and that its monitoring should take that into account.
Mr. Alan Williams : Does not the present situation deprive the people who work here of their rights because under the Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974, in the last resort, they have recourse to law in the event of a dispute between them and the employer? That right is not available to employees here. Our employees are at a disadvantage in relation to people outside this place.
Mr. Beith : The right hon. Gentleman will know that it is not possible to prosecute the Crown. However, it is the policy of the House to try to ensure that its employees are not placed at a disadvantage and to meet liabilities where
Column 17any can be shown. If the right hon. Gentleman is aware of circumstances in which he feels that a dispute has not been properly resolved, I hope that he will draw it to my attention, because I am sure that the House of Commons Commission would not want that to happen.
31. Mr. Harry Greenway : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will issue guidance as to when it would be appropriate to draw the blinds in the House of Commons Chamber ; and if he will make a statement.
The Lord President of the Council and Leader of the House of Commons (Mr. John Wakeham) : The blinds on the west side of the Chamber are raised as requested by right hon. and hon. Members, or on the judgment of Officers of the House on duty in the Chamber.
Mr. Greenway : Does my right hon. Friend agree that Opposition Members rarely see the light and that to draw the blinds can only make matters worse? Does he also agree that sunlight can only enlighten our proceedings? Can we have much more of it?
Mr. Wakeham : I agree with much of what my hon. Friend has said. However, of course my hon. Friend has had no experience of sitting on the Opposition Benches, although he has been a Member of this place for quite a long time. I very much hope that he will not have that experience. I believe that the present system, left to the judgment of right hon. and hon. Members on the Opposition Benches, is the best way to deal with this.
Mr. Allen : The Lord President of the Council will be aware that the original intention of early-day motions was to provide hon. Members with the possibility of debating issues of topical importance and relevance at an early day. Will he seek some reform of the system so that where a number of hon. Members, perhaps a percentage of
Column 18Conservative Members and Opposition Members, want to debate a matter, it can be debated perhaps once a week on a Friday morning? On that basis, over the past few weeks, there might have been debates on, for example, the Monopolies and Mergers Commission report on the brewing industry, which is of importance to hon. Members on both sides of the House, the sexual abuse of children and perhaps the legal profession and its current efforts. This week the Lord President of the Council may receive an early-day motion requesting a discussion on the possibilities of an early election. Those debates might be very helpful to the House.
Mr. Wakeham : The hon. Gentleman's proposal would fundamentally alter the whole early-day motion system. It is a means of enabling right hon. and hon. Members to express their views on a matter when there is no expectation that time will be available for a debate, and it serves the House well. I do not wish to see motions being touted around for signature, simply to secure a slot for a debate. Other channels are available to right hon. and hon. Members who wish to raise a matter in the House, including Adjournment debates and private Members' motions.
Mr. Brandon-Bravo : While I welcome my right hon. Friend's reply to the original question, I might have had some sympathy with the question but for the fact that there is another side to the coin. Motions appear on the Order Paper day after day, week after week and month after month with but one signature--that of the hon. Member for Nottingham, North (Mr. Allen), who wants £100,000 for his own personal publicity campaign. Should not the House find time to debate that outrageous suggestion?
33. Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Lord President of the Council what maps or plans of the Palace of Westminster are available for guidance of new members ; and if there is any plan to commission a new map or plan.
Mr. Wakeham : A plan of the principal floor is included in the Serjeant at Arms' leaflet "Accommodation and General Facilities for Members, their Private Secretaries and Research Assistants", which is issued to all new hon. Members. Similar plans are included in a variety of other publications and guides. There are no plans at present to commission a new map or plan.
Mr. Bennett : Does the Leader of the House accept that the plans that are available are inadequate for any new hon. Member who wants to find his or her way around the four floors of the House and the other buildings? Would it not be a good idea to make available an accurate map, so that right hon. and hon. Members can find all the offices within the House that they need to locate?
Column 19initially be a matter for the Services Committee. I understand that such an approach has already been made to that Committee, which will consider it in due course.
The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Ian Grist) : Chapter 11 of the "Working for Patients" White Paper describes the detailed programme of action for Wales. Since the publication of the White Paper, my hon. Friend and I have engaged in discussions with key interests to ensure that the programme is implemented so as to secure better health care for all. My right hon. Friend intends to make a statement on the details of the next steps of implementation in the near future.
Mr. Livsey : Does the Minister not agree that the NHS White Paper will be disastrous for the rural areas of Wales, that general practitioners will have fewer resources available to cover their areas, and that the creation of NHS hospital trusts will take resources away from community hospitals in rural areas, creating a wholly unacceptable two-tier Health Service?
The possibility of having self-governing hospitals, or any other units or doctors, in Wales will rest in the first instance on their choosing to be self-governing and on acceptance by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. There will be no second status for anybody under our proposals.
15. Mr. Denzil Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the effect of the recent increase in the minimum lending rate on the development of the economy of Wales.
The Secretary of State for Wales (Mr. Peter Walker) : I am pleased to say that since interest rates have been at high levels two recent major surveys have both shown considerable confidence in the level of investment and job
Column 20creation within the Welsh economy. In the first five months of this year the excellent record of Wales for inward investment continued. As the right hon. Gentleman will know, in 1988 Wales achieved the record both for jobs and for finance for inward investment. Unemployment continues to fall, and last year's 2.5 percentage point reduction in the Welsh rate was the largest of all the United Kingdom regions.
Mr. Davies : Does the right hon. Gentleman agree that inward investors might in the short term be able to cope with interest rates of 14 or 15 per cent. but that 95 per cent. of the Welsh economy is indigenous and is not concerned with inward investment, and that that sector has been damaged by high interest rates? Does the Secretary of State agree that it would be better to have a monetary and fiscal mix and to restore some of the cuts made in higher-rate taxes two years ago, thereby taking pressure off interest rates and to some extent redistributing wealth from the more prosperous regions of Britain to the less prosperous, such as Wales?
Mr. Walker : A great deal of the investment activity in Wales is very much concerned with the indigenous industries, and that is true in the hon. Gentleman's constituency. A recent survey carried out by the Institute of Directors in Wales showed that the majority of firms there expected an increase of 10 per cent. or more in their labour forces in the coming 12 months. Another factor of considerable importance to Welsh industries is the level of company profits that has enabled those investment programmes to take place.
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