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among the national curriculum foundation subjects of a modern foreign language to be studied by all pupils between the ages of 11 and 16.

From this autumn, pupils will have to study a modern foreign language for a reasonable time in the first three years of secondary schooling. This requirement will be extended to the last two years of compulsory schooling later. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I published on 19 May the Education (National Curriculum) (Modern Foreign Languages) Order 1989 under section 3(2)(b) of the Education Reform Act 1988, specifying those languages eligible to be taught as the national curriculum foundation subject. Within this framework, and to implement the 1988 policy statement, I am encouraging schools to offer a greater diversity of languages and I am providing education support grants for pilot projects in some local education authorities in England to promote the preparation and implementation of plans for language diversification. Schools will be free to offer a second foreign language during the 11 to 16 phase or in the sixth form in addition to meeting the national curriculum


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requirements. I hope that greater numbers studying a language to the age of 16 will result in an increase in those continuing with language learning not only in the sixth form but in post- school education.

Changes in examinations at 16 and 18 will improve standards of oral and written communication.

I shall shortly be announcing the establishment of a national curriculum working group on modern foreign languages with a view to beginning to implement the first attainment targets and programmes of study in schools from autumn 1992.

Students

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the number of (a) full-time students, (b) part-time students expressed as full-time equivalents, in first degree courses, for each year since 1979 to date in (a) universities, (b) polytechnics and (c) other institutions of higher education.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The readily available information is shown in the following table :


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First degree students in Great Britain                                                           

Thousands                                                                                        

                                      Academic year                                              

                                      beginning in                                               

                                     |1979 |1980 |1981 |1982 |1983 |1984 |1985 |1986 |1987       

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

Full-time                                                                                        

University                           |241.2|247.8|250.2|246.9|240.8|237.8|238.3|241.1|245.6      

Polytechnics and colleges            |127.5|130.8|147.2|161.0|171.3|178.0|181.0|186.9|195.3      

                                                                                                 

Full-time equivalent of part-time<1>                                                             

Open University                      |21.4 |21.0 |22.1 |23.2 |23.4 |23.6 |23.2 |23.8 |25.0       

Other universities                   |0.9  |1.0  |1.1  |1.2  |1.3  |1.5  |1.6  |1.6  |1.8        

Polytechnics and colleges            |5.8  |5.9  |6.3  |6.6  |7.0  |7.3  |7.8  |8.3  |8.8        

<1> For consistency between sectors all part-time students have been counted as 0.35 FTE.        

Teacher Shortages (Tower Hamlets)

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for securing the education of children in Tower Hamlets who are presently unable to attend school as a consequence of teacher shortages.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The staffing of schools in Tower Hamlets is a matter for the Inner London education authority and, from 1 April 1990, the borough of Tower Hamlets. I welcome the fact that both authorities are now taking specific steps to ensure that schools are adequately staffed.

I had a constructive meeting on 13 June with the Inner London education authority, accompanied by the right hon. Member for Bethnal Green and Stepney (Mr. Shore) ; further discussions are being held at official level to explore ways of tackling the situation.

Secondary Schools Staffing Survey

Mr. Straw : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) when he will publish the full results of the secondary schools staffing survey ;

(2) when, and in what form, the secondary schools staffing survey was published ; and whether (a) any press notice was issued to accompany it and (b) any briefing for the press by Ministers or officials was held.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : Key results from the 1988 secondary school staffing survey were placed in the Library


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of the House on 2 May, and issued under a press notice on 3 May. The results included summary analyses of teachers by age and qualification by subject, their deployment on subject teaching, the percentages of secondary pupils studying different subjects in each year group of compulsory schooling and information on teacher absences. I drew attention to the main findings in a speech in the House on 2 May. No press conference was held about the results. A full set of analyses from the survey will be published shortly.

Higher Education

Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of working-class children go on to higher education in Great Britain ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Jackson : Results from the youth cohort study show that in the academic year 1987-88 5 per cent. of 18-year-olds in socioeconomic groups 3 (manual), 4 and 5 in England and Wales entered higher education. Given that these young people amount to more than 60 per cent. of the age group, this is clearly not enough. The Government's policies for schools and higher education will help to increase their participation.


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SOCIAL SECURITY

Lone Parents

Mr. Robert G. Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security by how much the average living standards of lone parents have increased since 1979.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : From 1979 to 1985, the average living standards of lone parents improved by 10 per cent. This improvement is larger than for couples without children or single people. Both these groups had improvements in their living standards of 6 per cent.

Claim Forms

Mr. Speller : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will take steps to simplify the forms used to claim benefit ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Steps are taken in the production of forms to ensure that they are as simple and as easy to use as they can be. The Department is committed to research and testing as part of a continuing programme in the designing and writing of new and existing forms.

Housing Benefit

Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what are the estimates of the numbers of people who would be eligible to claim housing benefit rent allowances if rents were to be increased nationally by (a) 1 per cent., (b) 3 per cent., (c) 5 per cent. and (d) 8 per cent.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The estimated increases in the rent allowance caseload for 1989-90 if rents were to increase nationally are as follows :


Rent increase (per cent.) |Increase in caseload                               

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

(a) 1                     |1,000                                              

(b) 3                     |2,000                                              

(c) 5                     |5,000                                              

(d) 8                     |10,000                                             

Notes:                                                                        

1. The estimates allow for differential take-up, taking account of increased  

incentives at higher levels of entitlement, and for a time lag in take-up.    

2. Rent figures used derive from the Department's projections based on the    

family expenditure survey data.                                               

Pensioners (Savings)

Mr. Greg Knight : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what percentage of pensioners have savings.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : In 1986, 70 per cent. of all pensioners and 85 per cent. of recently retired pensioners had income from savings and investment.

Disability

Mr. Barry Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what was the number of people in Wales receiving (i) attendance allowance, (ii) industrial disablement benefit, (iii) mobility allowance, (iv) invalid care allowance, (v) invalidity benefit and (vi) severe disablement benefit for the latest available date.


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Mr. Scott : I regret that some of the information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information which is available is as follows :

Recipients of invalidity benefit in Wales at 2 April 1988--126,900 (statistical estimate).

Recipients of severe disablement allowance in Wales at 31 May 1981--17,948.

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe of 19 June, Official Report, column 21, about the representations that the Minister for the Disabled has had from the British Council of Organisations of Disabled People, he will publish his reply to the chairman in the Official Report.

Mr. Scott : I have placed a copy of my reply in the Library.

Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when the fifth report by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys on disability in Great Britain will be published.

Mr. Scott : The Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) has today published the fifth report on the findings of the surveys of disability in Great Britain carried out between 1985 and 1988. The report covers the financial circumstances of families with disabled children living in private households.

The report contains detailed information about the effect of a child's disability on a family's income and expenditure. It does not however take account of the financial value of services received by families with a disabled child. The final report in the series, which will be published next month, will provide information about the use of services, transport and education by disabled children. The report's findings relate to 1985 when the data was collected. Since then the social security reforms and this year's uprating have targeted increased help on families. More than 10,000 families with disabled children now receive specific help through the disabled child's premium as well as the family premium which is paid to all families receiving income support and housing benefit. This year's uprating targeted further help on families by adding an extra 50p to child allowances in income support, family credit and housing benefit.

We welcome comments on this report, as we have on the four reports already published.

Benefit Rules

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security when changes in the housing benefit rules, enabling under-18s to be paid the same rate as over-18s, are to be introduced ; what publicity is being issued to explain the changes ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : From 10 July 1989, single people under 18 will be entitled to the same housing benefit personal allowances as those aged 18 to 24, as set out in the Housing Benefit (General Amendment No. 3) Regulations 1989 (SI 1989 No. 1017)). An information note for claimant advisers is in preparation.


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Community Charge

Mr. Nellist : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list by each charging authority in the west midlands the income level at which (a) a single person aged under 25 years, (b) a single person aged over 25 years, (c) a single pensioner, (d) a pensioner couple, and (e) a couple with two children all with no savings would lose entitlement to a community charge rebate, assuming the most recent safety-netted community charge figures.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Sheffield, Brightside (Mr. Blunkett) on 19 May 1989 at columns 327-8.

Transitional Payments

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many claims had been made for housing benefit transitional payments by 8 June ; and how many claims had been successful ;

(2) if he will extend the deadline for housing benefit transitional payments beyond 30 June ;

(3) if he will state the total number of successful claims as a proportion of the number of households estimated to be entitled to housing benefit transitional payments ;

(4) what further steps he is taking to publicise the availability of housing benefit transitional payments.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer on 16 June 1989] : Housing benefit transitional payments are intended to provide help to vulnerable groups of people who experienced reductions in their housing benefit as a result of changes introduced by the Government in April 1988. Two national press publicity campaigns were undertaken, more than 8 million leaflets RR4 "Housing Benefit New Rules" were made available and posters were displayed in post offices. Further publicity is not considered necessary.

The closing date for the receipt of applications was originally 31 March 1989 but this was extended by a full three months to 30 June to ensure optimum take-up. As the scheme was intended to assist people only during the transition to the new scheme in April 1988 it would be inappropriate to extend the deadline any further.

It was originally estimated that up to 300,000 people might be eligible for payment. Up to 8 June 477,687 applications had been received and 198,916 awards made but some 26,000 applications have yet to be decided pending return of inquiry forms for housing benefit details from local authorities. Final figures will not, therefore, be available until all applications have been received and processed. Given the uncertainty which attaches to the original estimate it is not possible to calculate meaningful take-up estimates.

HEALTH

Contraception

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will indicate what steps are being taken to prevent prescription, in Britain, of the Copper 7 IUD and other contraceptive devices by drug companies wishing to test such products before making them available on the United States market ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Mellor : There is no question of pharmaceutical companies or manufacturers, whether based in the United


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Kingdom or overseas, themselves prescribing licensed products for patients. Medical treatments, including the use of devices such as IUDs, can be prescribed only by qualified medical practitioners on the basis of their clinical judgment of the patient's individual needs.

All clinical trials of IUDs in the United Kingdom are now subject to the provisions of the Medicines Act 1968 in which a clinical trial certificate, or exemption from holding a clinical trial certificate, must be obtained by the manufacturer, unless a registered medical practitioner has initiated the trial, in which circumstances he takes full responsibility for its conduct.

Family Practitioner Committees

Mr. Turner : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish a table showing for 1983, 1985, 1987 and 1989, the number of family practitioner comittee chairmen who were contractors, distinguishing between general practitioners, dentists, pharmacists and opticians.

Mr. Mellor : The information for 1985, 1987 and 1989 is contained in the table. Before 1 April 1985 family practitioner committee chairmen were not appointed by the Secretary of State and the information requested is not available centrally.


                |1 April 1985|1 April 1987|1 April 1989             

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

General Medical                                                     

  Practitioners |18          |12          |7                        

General Dental                                                      

  Practitioners |5           |2           |1                        

Ophthalmic                                                          

  Opticians     |3           |1           |-                        

Pharmacists     |1           |1           |-                        

Mr. Turner : To ask the Secretary of State for Health under what powers he is allowing regional health authorities to implement the proposal contained in "Working for Patients" to replace family practitioner committee administrators with general managers or chief executives.

Mr. Mellor : We have not asked regional health authorities to implement our intention that general managers should be appointed in all family practitioner committees, although we have asked them to provide a complete service to FPCs, through the personnel directorates, for the process of recruitment and appointment. The responsibility of shortlisting and selection falls to a panel led by the FPC chairman, subject to approval by the National Health Service management executive.

Self-Governing Hospitals

Mr. Michael Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Doncaster royal infirmary made a decision as to whether to seek self- governing status ; whether medical or other staff were consulted on this decision ; how many employees at the infirmary supported seeking self- governing status ; how many employees in the infirmary are also employed on private health treatment ; and under whose signature the letter expressing an interest in self-governing status was sent.

Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when Montagu hospital made a decision as to whether to


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seek self-governing status ; whether medical or other staff were consulted on this decision ; how many employees at the hospital supported seeking self-governing status ; how many employees in the hospital are also employed on private health treatment ; and under whose signature the letter expressing an interest in self-governing status was sent.

Mr. Mellor : We have recieved an expression of interest in self- governing status for the Doncaster royal infirmary, Montagu Hospital, Mexborough and from Trent regional health authority. We were not privy to the internal discussions on the matter. Those with an interest will have an opportunity to express their views at a later stage if those expressing interest decide to proceed with an application.

NHS Reform

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health who will pay the contract fee when a general practitioner budget holder refers a woman to a hospital for maternity services under his White Paper proposals.

Mr. Mellor : Inpatient maternity services fall outside the scope of the general practitioner practice budget scheme and therefore district health authorities will be responsible for securing such services through contracts.

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) who will pay the contract fee when an employee of the local education authority refers a child for psychiatric services under the proposals of his White Paper ;

(2) who will pay the contract fee when a social worker refers a child patient for care at a psychiatric hospital under the proposals of his White Paper.

Mr. Mellor : Under the proposals in the White Paper "Working for Patients" contracts for hospital and community health services will be between NHS bodies. We do not propose that agencies outside the NHS such as social services departments or education authorities should enter into contracts or be charged for services.

The responsibility for arranging the provision of psychiatric services, including those to which social workers or education authority employees refer children, remains that of district health authorities, which will in future secure this provision by placing appropriate contracts.

Mr. Cartwright : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions have taken place between his Department and the Greenwich health authority about the possibility of hospitals in the area being run as self-governing trusts.

Mr. Mellor : None, so far.

Mr. Fearn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many of the units which expressed interest in self-governing status include or provide maternity services.

Mr. Mellor [holding answer 28 June 1989] : We understand that about 90 of the units which have expressed an interest in self-governing status include or provide maternity services.

Cot Deaths

Mr. John Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, further to his answer of 21 April, Official Report, columns 343-44, what progress has been made in his


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Department's discussion with the Medical Research Council on the funding of further work on the usefulness and effectiveness of temperature monitors and alarms to reduce the number of cot deaths.

Mr. Freeman : The position on research into sudden infant death was discussed at a meeting between the Department and the Medical Research Council (MRC) on 17 April. Subsequently the Department asked the MRC to commission a critical review of the literature, including that on the relationship between sudden infant deaths and infant temperature. The MRC has specifically been asked for advice on the type of device which would reliably monitor infant temperature changes and the value of an intervention study designed to test the effectiveness of such a device in monitoring changes and preventing "cot deaths".

Pharmaceutical Prices

Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the average discount under the current pharmaceutical price regulation scheme ; and how much it is estimated to have saved the National Health Service during 1987 and 1988.

Mr. Mellor : Discounts do not feature in the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme. The amount deducted from payments to pharmacies in respect of discounts is on average some 8.3 per cent. of the basic price of medicines. As regards the resulting savings I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Cunninghame, North (Mr. Wilson), on 20 June at column 97.

Mr. Sayeed : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the cost to the National Health Service of brand name drugs dispensed by retail pharmacy contractors during the calendar year 1987.

Mr. Mellor : Based on a one in 200 sample of prescriptions, the net ingredient cost of named drugs dispensed by retail pharmacists during the calendar year 1987 is estimated to have been £1.3 billion, without taking account of other factors such as pharmacists' fees and container allowances.

Working for Patients"

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many representations he has received to date on the White Paper "Working for Patients" from Yorkshire ; and how many have criticised the Government's proposals.

Mr. Mellor : We have received many comments on the White Paper proposals, covering a wide range of issues from differing viewpoints. We are taking these carefully into account as the implementation process goes forward. It would not be possible, except at disproportionate cost, to identify separately those received from Yorkshire.

Competitive Tendering

Mr. Patchett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been achieved in Yorkshire as a result of competitive tendering in the National Health Service.

Mr. Freeman : In respect of domestic services, catering and laundry the costs of services within Yorkshire regional


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health authority were reduced by an average of 19 per cent. as a result of the competitive tendering initiative, giving net savings of £8.75 million which could be ploughed back into improved patient care. Additional benefits have been the setting of clearer performance standards, introduction of more flexible and innovative services, and more systematic monitoring of service provision.

Food Poisoning

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of food poisoning of people living in Southwark have been notified in each of the last 10 years ; and if he will specify what sort of poisoning.

Mr. Freeman : The table shows the number of notifications of food poisoning received for the London borough of Southwark from 1979 to 1988. Information about the suspected food involved in each case is not readily available.


Year            |Number of Cases                

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

1979            |46                             

1980            |44                             

1981            |45                             

1982            |75                             

1983            |58                             

1984            |83                             

1985            |91                             

1986            |83                             

1987            |78                             

1988            |156                            

Waiting Times

Sir John Farr : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the average waiting time for an orthopaedic operation (a) at the Leicester general hospital, (b) in Trent region and (c) nationally.

Mr. Mellor [holding answer 28 June 1989] : We do not have information on average waiting times for those awaiting admission to hospital centrally. The numbers on the waiting list are analysed by time waited and a percentage distribution based on this information is provided in the published statistics. The figures for England, the Trent region and Leicestershire district are given in the booklet "Hospital In-Patient Waiting Lists--England at 30 September 1988", a copy of which is in the Library. We do not collect information by individual hospital.

Regional Health Authorities

Mr. Cousins : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will place in the Library copies of all letters and circulars sent to regional health authorities about the streamlining of regional health authorities' operations and services and of the preliminary replies from regional health authorities due in by 5 May.

Mr. Mellor [holding answer 26 June 1989] : The chief executive of the National Health Service wrote to regional general managers on 22 March about the delegation of regional health authority functions in line with the Government's proposals set out in chapter 2 of "Working for Patients". Copies of his letter (EL(89)MB/59) have been placed in the Library. The preliminary replies from


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regional health authorities are statements of general intention which are subject to further discussion within authorities, with their staff-side interest, and within the Department. It would not be appropriate to publish these, or correspondence relating to them at this stage. However, authorities' final proposals, due on 30 September 1989, will be public documents.

AGRICULTURE, FISHERIES AND FOOD

Organic Farming

16. Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what financial incentives are made available for farmers wishing to transfer to organic farming methods ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. MacGregor : No financial incentives are available specifically to assist with conversion to organic farming. However, farmers wishing to convert may be able to take advantage of the provisions for fallowing under the set-aside scheme. In addition, I am considering the possibility of organic options under the European Communities extensification scheme.

Fur Farming

17. Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has discussed fur farming in the European Community Council of Ministers ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Donald Thompson : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier to the hon. Members for Pontypridd (Dr. Howells), for Halifax (Mrs. Mahon) and for Bristol, South (Ms. Primarolo).

Battery Hens

18. Mr. Livsey : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about battery caged poultry.

Mr. Donald Thompson : Our legislation on battery hens is based on the EC directive which is due for review in 1993. My Department has asked the Farm Animal Welfare Council to consider what practical welfare improvements we could press for at that time.

Irradiated Food

19. Mr. McAllion : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research he has carried out into the nutritional effects of irradiation on food.

Mr. MacGregor : I refer the hon. Member to the reply of my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to my hon. Friend the Member for Holland with Boston (Sir R. Body) on 22 June at column 85.

29. Mr. Kirkhope : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received from consumer groups in favour of the principle of food irradiation.

Mr. MacGregor : A number of consumer groups have recognised that, with proper controls, this technology has benefits for consumers.

43. Mr. Foulkes : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has met the British Medical Association to discuss food irradiation.


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