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Eye Examinations

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the figures for the number of eye examinations before and after the introduction of charges.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The number of sight tests under the general ophthalmic services over the past five years is given in the table. Information is currently not available as to number of general ophthalmic services sight tests carried out since April 1989.

Sight tests for England and Wales                     

Financial year    |Total sight tests                  


1984-85           |10,453,014                         

1985-86           |10,846,497                         

1986-87           |11,241,789                         

1987-88           |12,392,076                         

1988-89           |13,226,297                         

Natural Medicines

Mr. Rost : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many experts in natural medicine he proposes to appoint to the Medicines Commission and the section 4 committees in his current review of nominations ; and if any such appointment will come from the nominations proposed to him by the medicines advisory research committee of the Natural Medicines Society.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 24 November 1989] : Appointments and re-appointments to the Medicines Commission have been made by United Kingdom health and agriculture Ministers and by United Kingdom health Ministers to the Committees on Safety of Medicines, on Review of Medicines and on Dental and Surgical Materials. Details have been placed in the Library.

A member of the Medicines Commission has a special interest in holistic medicine. His term of office continues until December 1991. We understand the Natural Medicines Society to be interested in herbal and homoeopathic medicine. No practitioners in these fields have been added to the advisory bodies either on the instance of the society or of any other organisation consulted.

We are aware of public expectations of access to such remedies with, of course, adequate assurances as to their safety and quality and as to the basis of any curative claims. Their safety and quality can be determined in the normal way. Criteria for assessing the efficacy of herbal preparations are set out in the published 1985 information sheet which was accepted by the herbal industry. There is therefore no general need for herbalists on the advisory bodies. Homoeopathic products are not currently subject to European Community pharmaceutical directives. A directive is, however, expected to be submitted to the Council of Ministers early in the new year. It would have been inappropriate to have anticipated this directive in decisions about United Kingdom statutory bodies.

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However, officials are in touch with the Natural Medicines Group and similar organisations to prepare for the directive.


European Social Fund

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action he is taking to improve the flow of information from his Department to those local authorities preparing operational programmes for European social fund-supported projects.

Mr. Eggar : My Department has published two guides on the new regulations and procedures for the European social fund. These were distributed to all interested applicants on 11 April 1989 and 21 June 1989 respectively in good time for the submission of operational programmes to the European Commission by its deadline of 31 August. My Department will continue to update applicants through European social fund working group meetings, arranged in accordance with the partnership requirements of the fund regulations, and through bulletins.

Unemployment (Forecasts)

Mr. Skinner : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will now make it his policy to issue forecasts of unemployment ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholls : No. Macro-economic forecasts are the responsibility of the Chancellor of the Exchequer. However, it has not been the practice of this or previous Governments to publish forecasts of unemployment.

Footwear and Textiles

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what were the numbers of jobs in the (a) footwear industry and (b) textile industry for each year since 1979 ; and how many have been lost in each industry so far in 1989.

Mr. Nicholls : The number and change in employees in employment in the footwear and textile industries is shown in the following table :

Employees in the Footwear and Textile Industries                                                

(SIC 80)                                                                                        

Great Britain                                                                                   


                              |Footwear SIC         |Textiles SIC Class 43                      

                              |Group 451            |Class 43                                   


June 1979                     |68.8                 |371.4                                      

June 1980                     |65.3                 |324.8                                      

June 1981                     |58.8                 |273.0                                      

June 1982                     |53.5                 |256.2                                      

June 1983                     |51.4                 |238.8                                      

June 1984                     |52.8                 |233.5                                      

June 1985                     |51.1                 |234.5                                      

June 1986                     |51.9                 |238.2                                      

June 1987                     |50.8                 |229.0                                      

June 1988                     |49.5                 |231.0                                      

September 1988                |49.3                 |229.4                                      

December 1988                 |48.9                 |225.9                                      

March 1989                    |47.7                 |218.6                                      

June 1989                     |46.6                 |217.8                                      

September 1989                |45.3                 |218.1                                      




September 1988-September 1989 |-4.0                 |-11.3                                      

                              |(-8.1)               |(-4.9)                                     

December 1988-September 1989  |-3.6                 |-7.7                                       

                              |(-7.4)               |(-3.4)                                     

Professional And Executive Register

Ms. Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the names of the companies which bid for the purchase of the professional and executive register before it was privatised ; and if he will give the dates on which the applications to acquire this service were first received, the criteria upon which the decision was made and the date upon which the choice of purchaser was reached.

Mr. Eggar : On the recommendation of our financial advisers, Lloyds Merchant bank, Professional and Executive Recruitment was sold by private tender. This form of sale meant that companies were invited to bid on the understanding that their interest would remain confidential. I am accordingly unable to give the names of the companies which bid for PER.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State announced the sale of PER for £6,000,000 to Pergamon Professional and Financial Services PLC on 8 September 1988 after considering the bids and presentations of interested parties on 5 September 1988. Legal completion took place on 6 September 1988.

Training and Enterprise Councils

Mr. Leighton : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how training and enterprise councils will be monitored for performance and quality.

Mr. Eggar : Training and enterprise councils (TECs) will operate under a contract with my Department. The contract will cover a TEC's business plan which will set out a strategy for ensuring and improving quality. Performance will be monitored against specific targets agreed annually as part of a TEC's business plan.

Wages Council

Mr. Tony Lloyd : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the future of the Wages Council.

Mr. Nicholls : The future of the councils remains under consideration.

Excessive Wage Claims

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what criteria are used to determine what is an excessive wage claim.

Mr. Nicholls : Businesses themselves must judge what is or is not "excessive" in the light of all the relevant circumstances. Excessive wage claims are irresponsible and, if conceded, would erode competitiveness and destroy jobs.

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VDUs (Radiation)

Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will launch a survey into the possible emission of low levels of radiation from visual display units and whether pregnant women are affected by working on visual display units.

Mr. Nicholls : Radiation from visual display units (VDUs) is very low and is not considered to be in any way hazardous. Surveys in other countries have not shown any risks to pregnancy attributable to VDUs. The Health and Safety Executive has commissioned an epidemiological study of possible reproductive effects from VDUs in order to obtain additional reliable data based on British VDU operators.


Mr. Ashley : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what priority is given within the employment service to work with disabled people.

Mr. Eggar : People with disabilities are one of the main priority groups for assistance from the Employment Department. A comprehensive network of services is available to help people with disabilities find and retain jobs through advice, assessment, rehabilitation and training ; and in the case of people with severe disabilities, support in the form of sheltered employment.

My Department is currently reviewing the full range of services for people with disabilities, and a consultative document covering the conclusions of the review will be published as soon as possible.

Employment Training

Ms. Short : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what action his Department takes, if, for whatever reason, an unemployed claimant finishes employment training and continues to be unemployed but fails to inform the unemployment benefit office or sign on and continues to receive their full training allowance.

Mr. Nicholls : Entitlement to training allowance ceases when an individual leaves ET and training managers are expected to inform the UBO accordingly. At the same time they should tell the individual concerned that allowances will cease to be paid and advise them, should they be unemployed, to return to the UBO to claim benefits. Where, for whatever reason, the situation described in the question does arise, the question would be referred to the training agency and trainees could be asked to make a repayment.

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Young Offenders

Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultation his Department has had to ensure that young offenders on probation and at risk of custody have their individual needs assessed without any delay.

Mr. John Patten : In the Green Paper "Punishment, Custody and the Community" and in "Tackling Offending : An Action Plan" the Home Office emphasised the need for individual assessment of offenders at risk of custody. The action plan suggests that social inquiry reports should include comprehensive individualised programmes for young adult offenders. The action plan also asks the probation service to improve co-ordination and co-operation with other agencies, to help provide coherent and effective programmes of supervision under probation orders. Every probation area was asked to draw up a local action plan for putting these ideas into effect. The Home Office is currently consulting the probation service on further guidelines for promoting inter-agency work under the action plan.

Immigration (Carriers' Liability)

Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list (a) the number of passengers who were the subject of a notice of liability under the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987 and (b) the countries at which they had embarked.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : From the introduction of the Act until 31 October 1989, 16,091 notices of liability had been served on carriers. Information on the countries from which the passengers embarked is not readily available.

Tobacco and Alcohol (Sales to Children)

Mr. Churchill : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions have taken place in respect of illegal sales to children of (a) tobacco and (b) alcohol in each of the past five years for which figures are available ; and what steps he proposes to improve enforcement of the law.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The figures are as follows :

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Prosecutions for sale of tobacco to persons under 16 |45  |28  |17  |18  |29       

Prosecutions for sale of alcohol to persons under 18 |314 |274 |296 |333 |673      

The enforcement of the law is a matter for chief officers of police, who decide what action to take against particular types of crime in the light of other priorities. However, last year several measures were agreed with the police to make the law on the sale of alcohol more effective ; this is reflected in the increased number of prosecutions for 1988. The Government are currently considering what additional steps might be taken to improve the enforcement of the law regarding the illegal sale of tobacco to children.

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Guildford Pub Bombings

Mr. Dicks : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Surrey police have reopened their inquiries into the Guildford pub bombings ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The reopening of the investigation is an operational decision for the chief constable of the Surrey police. I understand that he proposes to review the

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facts of the case and to give careful consideration to whether any further inquiries can usefully be made. Such action will, however, have to await the conclusion of the criminal investigation being conducted by the Avon and Somerset police and the return of the papers on the original investigation, currently held by that force.

Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987

Mr. Darling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many countries he has instituted proceedings against under the Immigration (Carriers' Liability) Act 1987 ; and what is the value of these claims.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : Any such action under the Act would be civil proceedings against the carrier concerned, but none has yet been instituted.

Prisoners (Visits)

Mr. Mullin : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what entitlement a prisoner has to receive a discretionary visit from persons not on their approved list of visitors.

Mr. Mellor : The approved visitors scheme applies only to category A prisoners. Discretionary visits may be authorised by the governor to enable close relatives to visit such prisoners during the period before the vetting process is completed. Such visits may also be granted for relatives and close friends who live abroad and whose stay in the United Kingdom is short.

Separate arrangements apply to legal advisers visiting in a professional capacity, Members of Parliament and peers, bishops of the diocese, justices of the peace, public officials visiting in the course of their duties, children of the prisoner (or of a visitor) and other persons with specific Home Office approval.



Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what investigations he has conducted into the illegal poisoning of birds on Islay ; and if he will take steps to draw the attention of estate owners where poisoning has occured to the requirements of the law.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Scottish Office officials have engaged in scientific analysis and field investigations of poisoning incidents and co-operate with the police in their inquiries with a view to possible prosecution if sufficient evidence can be obtained. It is the policy of the Scottish Office that estate owners and others with an interest in the land should in every case be made aware of incidents which have occurred on their property and of the requirements of the law.

Sporting Rights

Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when the Government intend to receive the rating of sporting rights in Scotland ; whether he intends to reform the rating of shooting rights in Scotland ; what representations he has received regarding this matter ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : We have received representations from the Scottish Landowners Federation

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and from individuals about the differences which exist in the rating of sporting rights in Scotland and in England and Wales. It will not be possible to remove all these differences for the 1990 revaluation, which takes effect from April next year, but it is the Government's intention to move towards a common approach to the rating of sporting rights throughout Great Britain thereafter.

Greater Glasgow Health Board

Mr. David Marshall : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many members appointed to the Greater Glasgow health board reside in the area of the city covered by the Eastern district local health council ; and if he will make it his policy to appoint east end residents to the board.

Mr. Michael Forsyth : None. No one is appointed to a health board as a representative of a particular area or interest and that will continue to be our policy.


Mr. Home Robertson : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received concerning the future of the A1 road in response to his Department's consultation paper on routes south of Edinburgh.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : I am very pleased with the level of interest that has been shown in this study which has resulted in around 200 responses to date. It is, of course, too early to have a detailed analysis of these but I estimate that between half and two thirds of the respondents have commented on our proposals for the A1. Almost all of these support our proposed upgrading of the route although many have suggested that the proposals be extended. I intend to make a statement on the findings of the whole consultation in due course.

Nature Conservancy Council

Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many posts will be transferred from the Nature Conservancy Council headquarters in Peterborough to Scotland as a result of merger.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Decisions will be taken after discussions involving the Scottish Development Department, Department of the Environment, Welsh Office and the NCC. Any relocation of posts will be determined when the NCC is reorganised. This reorganisation will take place in advance of the proposed merger of the new NCC for Scotland with the existing Countryside Commission for Scotland.

Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if any staff currently employed by either the Nature Conservancy Council in Scotland or the CCS will lose their jobs as a result of merger.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : All staff in both bodies have been given assurances about job security. They will be offered employment on terms and conditions not less favourable than they have at present.

Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proportion of the Nature Conservancy Council's budget is spent in Scotland.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : For the current financial year, £6.5 million has been allocated by the

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council for direct spend in Scotland. The proportion of the council's total budget spent in Scotland is not readily available and I will write to the hon. Member.

Water Supplies

Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make available sufficient funds to enable drinking water quality throughout Strathclyde to meet European standards by 1996 at the latest.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The quality of drinking water supply is the responsibility of regional and islands councils. The needs of Strathclyde, and other authorities, will be taken into account in setting capital expenditure allocations for 1990-91 and subsequent years.

Mr. Andrew Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will name the water supplies in Scotland which have derogations for aluminium under article 20 of the drinking water directive which will expire in each of the years : 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994 and 1995-96.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The water supplies concerned, which were the subject of delay applications under article 20 of the drinking water directive, are as follows and the delays expire in the years indicated :


Dumfries and Galloway


New Abbey






Port Charlotte




Wanton Walls

Dumfries and Galloway









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Dhu Loch

































South Moorhouse

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