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Mr. Freeman : Health authorities are expected to comply with current statutory standards governing emissions to the atmosphere. New and more stringent statutory controls are expected to be introduced in 1990 and the Department will shortly be issuing guidance to health authorities to enable them to ensure that their installations comply with the new statutory requirements. It is anticipated that these requirements will provide a transitional period for the replacement of existing incinerators. Many incinerators will therefore be upgraded or replaced at the end of their useful lives as part of the normal cycle of planned equipment renewal. Authorities will also be expected to review waste disposal services, taking account of the scope for rationalising and reducing the number of incinerator facilities and the contribution the private sector can make.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations he has received about the imposition of registration and inspection fees on pre-school playgroups ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Mellor : Five from hon. Members and four from members of the public. The Children Bill, which has completed Committee stage in this House, proposes to give the Secretary of State power to make regulations to prescribe fees to be levied by local authorities for registration and inspection of childminders and providers of day care. No decisions about the levels of fees will be made without prior discussion with interested parties such as local authority associations and voluntary organisations.
Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what research he has undertaken about the likely impact of registration and inspection fees being imposed on pre-school playgroups (a) in Bradford and (b) elsewhere.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what speech therapy is available to children with severe learning difficulties who attend schools within the Liverpool area health authority's district ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Lawrence : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the average delay in the provision of hearing aids ; what are the regional differences in waiting times ; and if he will make a statement about the action he may be taking to speed the delivery of such hearing aids.
Mr. Freeman : According to a survey carried out in 1986 by the British Association of Audiology Technicians, the average waiting time for a hearing aid fitting in the United Kingdom is 7.2 weeks. Information on regional differences in waiting times is not held centrally. We are considering the action which might be taken in response to the Royal National Institute for the Deaf's "Fair Hearing" campaign.
Sir George Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Health on how many occasions in each of the last five years he has exercised his discretion under regulation 62 of the National Health Service (Superannuation) Regulations 1980 and reduced the pension or retiring allowance of National Health Service staff.
Mr. Mellor : On only one occasion in the past five years, in June 1986, has the Secretary of State directed that the forfeiture provisions of regulation 62 should apply. That decision was subsequently reviewed and upheld earlier this year.
Mr. Freeman : The report of the Lowermoor incident health advisory group is being published today. The group was set up in January 1989 at my request to provide independent expert advice to the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly district health authority on the implications for the health of the population in the Camelford area following
Column 299the contamination of their drinking water in July 1988. Copies of the report have been sent to the Department of Health and to the Department of the Environment, and I am placing copies in the Library. I am grateful to Dame Barbara Clayton and her colleagues for their very thoughtful and authoritative report.
The Government welcome the group's advice that no long-term effects on health are expected. The group's main findings are that : (
(i) early symptoms, which were mostly gastrointestinal disturbances, rashes and mouth ulcers and which appeared to be mostly mild and short-lived, can most probably be attributed to the incident. Other causes such as viral infections cannot be discounted for some of the cases.
(ii) it is not possible to attribute the very real current health complaints to the toxic effects of the incident, except insofar as they are the consequence of the sustained anxiety naturally felt by many people. A number of factors have contributed to this anxiety, particularly in relation to long-term effects, and these are addressed in the report.
It is for the district health authority to take any further measures it thinks necessary for the health of the local population in the light of these findings. The Department of Health notes that the advisory group welcomes the DHA's survey of pregnancy outcomes as a sensible precautionary measure and also the continuance of the special consultant sessions for people who are anxious and unwell. The Department has asked the DHA for its observations on the group's recommendations about the availability of patch tests for patients concerned about aluminium hypersensitivity and has noted that general practitioners are advised to consider referral to a rheumatologist for patients with persistent joint or muscle pain.
The report also addresses several recommendations to central Government. We accept all these recommendations ; indeed, some have already been implemented.
A formal requirement for a water utility to notify the district health authority without delay of such incidents is included in the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 1989 (SI No 1147). The need for the population and the media to have proper medical and scientific advice as promptly as possible for advance planning to ensure sound management of any such crisis, and for good communications were all addressed by the Government's review of water utilities' management and operating procedures at treatment works following the incident.
The provision of alternative drinking water supplies is also part of normal contingency arrangements, but the terms of the recommendation on this aspect, especially as it relates to bottle-fed infants, will be taken up with the utilities. The need for health authorities to have immediate access to an authoritative source of medical and toxicological advice is accepted, and we are studying the practical details of implementation. A further statement on all outstanding aspects will be made as soon as possible.
(2) if he will issue clear guidelines on the level of listeria contamination which makes food unfit ;
Column 300(3) when his Department was first notified of listeria-contaminated pate being imported into Britain ; when he issued warnings ; and what was the reason for the delay.
Mr. Mellor [holding answer 18 July 1989] : While local authorities already have powers under the Food Act 1984 to deal with food contamination, we are proposing measures in a new Food Bill which will strengthen these powers.
In a report "Foodborne Listeriosis" published in 1988, the World Health Organisation concluded :
"Virtually nothing is known about the infectious dose of Listeria monocytogenes in man, nor is there good quantitative information relating to the amount of contaminated foodstuff ingested with the risk of acquiring disease. It is likely that infectious dose may be related to host susceptibility."
We understand that this conclusion is shared by experts in this country. Hence we have no sound scientific basis upon which to issue guidelines on dangerous levels of Listeria monocytogenes in foods. On 30 June 1989, the Department was informed of the results of a survey of pate s which had been carried out in two districts in Wales. At that time, the problem appeared to be mainly one of poor handling in the local stores and our understanding was that appropriate advice had been given to the supermarkets concerned by the local environmental health officers, in particular about the correct storage temperature and handling of pate . There was nevertheless the possibility that there might be a more general problem with pate s. Arrangements were made for a nationwide survey, by the public health laboratory service, of all types of pate on sale in England and Wales. The EC and Belgian authorities were alerted and asked to inspect the Belgian factories. In the light of further evidence received by the Department from one of the importers on the evening of 11 July, the public were alerted on 12 July that certain vulnerable groups should for the time being avoid eating pate .
Mr. Steinberg : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, for each of the last three White Papers issued by his Department, for which legislation has been started, he will state the time elapsed between their publication and First Reading of any Bill connected with them ; and if he will do the same for the last three White Papers issued by his Department prior to May 1979.
Mr. Hurd : The last three White Papers published by my Department in which legislation was proposed and has been subsequently started or completed, were : "Criminal Justice Bill Plans for Legislation" (Cm 9658) ; "Firearms Act 1968 : Proposals for Reform" (Cm 261) and "Reform of Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911" (Cm 1108). These were published on 6 March 1986, 2 December 1987 and 29 June 1988 respectively and the First Readings of the Criminal Justice, Firearms (Amendment) and Official Secrets Bills resulting from them took place on 14 November 1986, 17 December 1987 and 30 November 1988. It is not for me to answer for the record of the previous Government in this matter, but the information requested should be available in the Library.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department by what percentage the £400 fine for the unauthorised use of the orange badge would have to be increased for the fine to have the same real value as it had when it was first introduced ; and what has been the percentage increase in the general parking fine over this period.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The maximum fine for unauthorised use of the orange badge was set at level 3 on the standard scale in May 1984. The maximum fine for parking and waiting offences was also set at level 3 in May 1984. Since that time, the general index of retail prices has risen by 30 per cent.
Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will discuss with chief constables the possibility of improving the monitoring of the misuse of orange badges and penalising the offenders.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : A number of proposals for improvement of the orange badge scheme were announced on 25 April by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, the hon. Member for Eltham (Mr. Bottomley). The implementation of these proposals should result in a significant reduction in opportunity for abuse of the scheme. The operation of the scheme will be carefully monitored and discussions held with chief police officers as necessary.
Mr. Renton : The numbers of persons granted refugee status or asylum in the United Kingdom in each of the years 1979-88 are shown in table 2 of Home Office Statistical Bulletin Issue 25/89 "Refugee Statistics, United Kingdom 1988", published today, a copy of which is in the Library. This shows that the provisional number of asylum applicants given refugee status in 1988 was 960, the highest figure since 1983. Corresponding information for 1978 is not available.
(2) if he will list in ranked order the 10 main refugee-receiving countries in Europe expressed as a figure per head of the population.
Asylum seekers in certain Western European countries and Canada by year of application 1984 to 1988 Number of persons |1984 |1985 |1986 |1987 |1988 |Total ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Austria |7,200 |6,700 |8,700 |11,400 |15,700 |49,700 Belgium |3,700 |5,300 |7,700 |6,000 |5,000 |27,700 Canada |7,100 |8,400 |25,000 |35,000 |34,000 |109,500 Denmark |4,300 |8,700 |9,300 |2,100 |4,700 |29,100 France |15,900 |25,800 |23,400 |24,800 |31,000 |120,900 Netherlands |2,600 |5,700 |5,900 |14,000 |7,500 |35,700 Norway |300 |900 |2,700 |8,600 |6,600 |19,100 Sweden |12,000 |14,500 |14,600 |18,500 |20,000 |79,600 Switzerland |7,500 |9,700 |8,600 |10,900 |16,700 |53,400 United Kingdom |3,900 |5,400 |4,800 |5,200 |5,100 |24,400 West Germany |35,000 |73,900 |99,700 |57,400 |103,000|369,000 |-------|-------|-------|-------|-------|------- Total |99,500 |165,000|210,400|193,900|249,300|918,100 Information on the population of these countries is available from a number of published sources including the "United Nations Demographic Yearbook", a copy of which is in the Library.
Mr. Renton : Existing central and local government services provide for asylum seekers' basic needs. We have agreed to reimburse some of the exceptional expenses incurred by churches and community and voluntary organisations in helping Kurdish asylum seekers who have recently arrived from Turkey. We are considering whether any further assistance is required.
Mr. Fisher : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) by what date he has asked the review body on privacy and related issues, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593, to report to him ;
(2) how many people will be appointed to serve on the body appointed to review privacy and related issues, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593 ;
(3) whether he will publish the detailed terms of reference of the review of privacy and related issues, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593 ;
(4) whether he will publish the report of the review of privacy and related issues, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593 ;
Column 303(5) whether the membership of the body appointed to review privacy and related issued, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593, will include representatives of (a) the churches, (b) the press trades unions, (c) working journalists, (d) consumer groups and (e) media rights groups ;
(6) whether the review of privacy and related issues announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593, will be able to (a) invite evidence from organisations and (b) commission research and surveys ;
(7) whether the review of privacy and related issues, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593, will take evidence (a) in public session, (b) at regional meetings, (c) in Scotland, (d) in Wales and (e) in Northern Ireland ;
(8) whether the review of privacy and related issues, announced on 21 April, Official Report , column 593, will inquire into (a) ownership and control of the press, (b) the future of the Press Council, (c) the right of reply, (d) freedom of information and (e) alternative means of address to the public.
Mr. Renton : As my right hon. Friend announced in reply to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Winchester (Mr. Browne) on 5 July at column 193, the terms of reference of the committee to review privacy and related matters will be as follows :
"In the light of recent public concern about intrusions into the private lives of individuals by certain sections of the press, to consider what measures (whether legislative or otherwise) are needed to give further protection to individual privacy from the activities of the press and improve recourse against the press for the individual citizen, taking account of existing remedies, including the law of defamation and breach of confidence ; and to make recommendations."
The chairman, Mr. David Calcutt, QC, has been asked to complete his report speedily. We hope it will be published by next summer. The membership is being considered. The task of the committee will be to concentrate on privacy and recourse for the citizen in respect of the press. This includes recourse against inaccuracies as well as intrusion. The committee will be able to consider any matter that it regards as relevant to that task and to seek what evidence it wishes.
Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received from Mr. Tarek Sharif, a Libyan, about his passport ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek an explanation from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board as to why it has not yet responded to correspondence dated June 1988 from the solicitors acting for Mr. James Bloomfield of 45 Cheltenham street, Bosford, Nottingham.
Column 304compensation scheme. However, under the terms of the scheme the board is entirely responsible for the handling and determination of individual applications for compensation. I have therefore referred the matter to the board, which has been asked to write to the hon. Member.
Mr. Grocott : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his answer of 13 July, Official Report, column 635, how many submissions he has received supporting the principle of competitive tender for the award of commercial television and radio licences.
Miss Widdecombe : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what plans he has for improving the management of longer-term and life-sentence female prisoners ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Douglas Hogg : The policy for the management of female longer- term and life-sentenced inmates has been reviewed recently. It is now intended to increase the number of establishments which cater for these inmates, other than those in category A. The result of the new policy will be that female prisoners serving life or long sentences can be allocated to prisons closer to their homes and a wider variety of regimes can be offered. In addition to those prisons which currently cater for life- sentenced inmates, four more will take these prisoners in future. They are the closed prisons at New Hall in Yorkshire and Bullwood Hall in Essex, and the open prisons at Drake Hall in Staffordshire and East Sutton Park in Kent. I have written to the hon. Members concerned.
Mr. Lang : Grants made to the Govan initiative by the Scottish Development Agency since its inception are shown in the table. These grants represent payment towards core funding of the initiative. No loans have been made by the agency.
|£ ---------------------- 1986-87 |14,000 1987-88 |28,000 1988-89 |85,000
Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The table gives details of holdings where participants have opted to set aside all their eligible arable land. As indicated in the table, the area set aside represents considerably less than the whole farm area.
Region |Number of holdings |Total area set aside |Total area of holdings |(ha) |(ha) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Borders |3 |76 |334 Central |3 |216 |357 Dumfries and Galloway |- |- |- Fife |3 |43 |96 Grampian |76 |2,093 |4,738 Highland |12 |572 |1,240 Lothian |4 |226 |733 Strathclyde |6 |168 |390 Tayside |12 |328 |846 Islands areas |- |- |- |------- |------- |------- Scotland |119 |3,722 |8,734
Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what quantity of raw sewage and sewage sludge is discharged into the firth of Forth each year from (a) Fife, (b) Central and (c) Lothian Regions.
(a) Fife : the information is not available in the form sought. However, 84,000 cu m per day, much of it screened, were discharged into Fife's estuarine and coastal waters.
(b) Central : 4,800 cu m per day.
(c) Lothian : the information is not available in the form sought. However, sewage, much of it screened, from a population of approximately 90,000 was discharged into Lothian's estuarine and coastal waters.
Since sewage sludge is a product of the treatment of sewage, there is none arising from the discharges noted above. Sludge generated at treatment works is not discharged to the sea, although 250,000 wet tonnes of sludge from works serving the Edinburgh area is dumped at sites in the outer firth of Forth. This disposal operation takes place in accordance with the terms of a licence issued by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland under the Food and Environment Protection Act.
Mr. Rifkind : The nature of future dental hospital provision in Edinburgh depends initially on the Universities Funding Council's decision about the future of undergraduate dental education in Edinburgh. Once that decision is known, it will be for Lothian health board to progress appropriate hospital development in Edinburgh.
Mr. Steel : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the catchment area and its population in and around Edinburgh for cases available for teaching purposes was considered before he accepted the proposal to close the Edinburgh dental school.
Before making its recommendation, the working party on the review of dental provision in Scotland advised, on the basis of outpatient attendance figures, that
"the attendance figures between Edinburgh and Dundee are sufficiently close as to make little difference in terms of undergraduate education".
I have sent its report to the Universities Funding Council, and asked the council to consider the working party's advice in reaching decisions on undergraduate dental education.
Mrs. Margaret Ewing : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of paragraphs 5.3 of SED "Statistical Bulletin" 5 January 1989, he is yet in a position to offer guidance to determining staffing needs in Scottish primary and secondary schools ; and what provision for school staffing in session 1989-90 has been included in central Government funding made available to regional councils.
Mr. Lang : The provision made for teaching costs in schools in Scotland in the revenue support grant settlement for 1989-90 was £879 million. This was based on the staffing standards contained in the draft circular which was issued last year following the Department's review of school staffing. The settlement for 1990-91 will similarly be based on these standards. Consideration is still being given to the nature of any final guidance which might go to authorities.
|£000 ------------------------------ Cumbernauld |233,362 East Kilbride |117,948 Glenrothes |149,773 Irvine |163,622 Livingston |295,576 |------- Total |960,281
|£000 ------------------------------ Cumbernauld |2,992 East Kilbride |6,439 Glenrothes |3,745 Irvine |2,656 Livingston |6,729 |------- Total |22,561