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Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Health authorities are expected to adhere to the agreed clinical grading definitions and the management guidance issued by the health Departments in grading midwifery posts. These require posts to be graded in accordance with the particular duties and responsibilities they carry. Variations between authorities in the proportion of posts graded at particular levels will therefore arise, for example because of different approaches to service organisation.
Column 680We have received a number of representations on the grading of midwives. The Government have made clear their position in their response to the fourth report from the Social Services Committee Session 1988-89 "Resourcing The National Health Service : Midwives' Regrading 1988-89".
Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the outcome of the review of the clinical grading exercise by the Manpower Services Commission (a) generally and (b) relating to midwives ; and what action he has taken in response.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The clinical grading review for nursing, midwifery and health visiting staff was undertaken by the nursing and midwifery staffs negotiating council. It led to the introduction of a new grading structure for clinical posts, including midwifery posts, with effect from 1 April 1988. There was no review by the Manpower Services Commission.
Mr. Freeman : The committee for monitoring agreements on tobacco advertising and sponsorship is an independent advisory committee. It is for the committee to decide on the confidentiality of reports it has commissioned. The committee's reasons for doing so were set out in the answer given to my hon. Friend on 27 October 1989 at column 631. I accept that the committee must have the freedom to determine the confidentiality of its own proceedings and of the work it has commissioned if it is to function efficiently.
Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many breaches there have been of the voluntary agreements with the tobacco industry on advertising and sponsorship in each year since 1979 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Before the formation of the committee for monitoring agreements on tobacco advertising and sponsorship (COMATAS) in October 1986, there was no consistent record of breaches of the voluntary agreements. It was to remedy this position that COMATAS was set up. In it first annual report COMATAS recorded 41 breaches and in its second annual report, seven breaches of the voluntary agreement have been recorded and one further complaint was referred to the Advertising Standards Authority which judged it to be in breach of its code of practice.
Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many reports considered by the committee for monitoring agreements on tobacco advertising and sponsorships have not been made available to Parliament ; and if he will make a statement.
Column 681certain parts of the voluntary agreements are being observed. These are : a study of poster advertising near schools by Survey Research Associates Ltd ; a study of sports sponsorship by the centre for mass communication research at the university of Leicester ; and two surveys on advertising at confectioners, tobacconists and newsagents by MaS Research, Marketing and Consultancy Ltd. They have not been made available to Parliament for the reasons given in my reply to my hon. Friend on 27 October at column 631.
Mr. Amos : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will review the terms of reference of the committee for monitoring agreements on tobacco advertising and sponsorship to enable all the information made available to the committee to be made available to Parliament ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : The tobacco industry has recently agreed to meet Ministers with a view to opening renegotiations of the voluntary agreement on advertising. The role of the committee for monitoring agreements on tobacco advertising and sponsorship will be considered in this context.
Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what consideration he has given to the need to ensure confidentiality between patient and doctor, and to protect medical records stored on computerised systems from being sold to data processing companies ; (2) who owns, and has responsibility for, a patient's medical records stored on a computer system ; and what rights a patient has to access to the information stored in these records ;
(3) who owns, and has responsibilty for, a patient's medical records stored on index cards ; and what rights a patient has to access to the information stored in these records ;
(4) who owns, and has responsibility for, a patient's medical records stored on a smart card ; and what rights a patient has to access to the information stored in these records.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : We are currently considering all these issues. We intend to issue a health circular on ownership, confidentiality and disclosure of personal health information in the NHS on which we propose to consult widely in the new year.
Mr. Andrew F. Bennett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will take steps to ensure that no information collected for the 1991 census, based on postal code areas, is used by insurance companies or building societies or others to withhold or weight policies based on that information ;
(2) if he will take steps to ensure that no information collected for the 1991 census is used to prepare mailing lists for any purpose.
Mr. Freeman : It would not be practicable for the Government to control the uses particular customers make of the aggregated data published from the Census. However, as with previous censuses, stringent measures will be taken to ensure confidentiality. No information on
Column 682identified individual people or households will be passed to anyone other than employees of the registrars general. Furthermore, in order to guard against possible indirect disclosure of such information, no statistics, except, possibly, simple totals of people or households, will be published for areas containing very small numbers of households or people.
Statistical summary tables relating to fairly small local areas have been produced since the 1961 census. These have proved to be of great value to a wide range of users in central and local government and in health authorities, as well as to industry and commerce. The facility to define such areas directly in terms of groups of postcodes as well as census enumeration districts will add to the usefulness of these statistics, particularly to local and health authorities ; and, subject to the overriding requirement to avoid disclosing data about individuals, I am anxious that the most effective use should be made of the data which everyone is required by law to provide to the census offices.
If census statistics were not made available for areas defined directly in postcode terms, it would still be possible for anyone to use maps and postcode directories published elsewhere in order to relate the statistics for any local area to the set of postcodes and to the set of addresses which fall within that area. Such uses could be prevented only by suppressing all census statistics for local areas. This would unnecessarily reduce the public availability of statistics collected by the census offices, and substantially diminish the value of the census.
Mr. Freeman : International expert bodies, such as the joint expert committee on food irradiation and the international consultative group on food irradiation, and the national expert body, the advisory committee on irradiated and novel foods, have advised repeatedly on the safety and wholesomeness of irradiated foods. There is no evidence to suggest that irradiation of food up to an overall average dose of 10kgy presents a toxicological hazard or special nutritional or microbiological problems to the population at large or to specific groups of the population.
Irradiation is one among several techniques for preserving and improving the safety of certain foods. The Government consider that all members of the public in the United Kingdom should be free to choose to enjoy the preservation and safety benefits of irradiated food and are therefore seeking powers in the Food Safety Bill to ensure that this choice is available within an appropriate control framework.
Column 683Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will list for each day since 1 October for the London area, per shift (a) the number of ambulance personnel on duty, (b) the number of vehicles available, and (c) the number of emergency calls and the number answered within seven minutes and 14 minutes ;
(2) what are the total number of patients moved by (a) the London ambulance service, (b) St. John's and (c) military vehicles per day in London since 1 October ;
(3) what is the average amount of money paid to a qualified ambulance person in London for September, October and November of the current year.
Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what meetings have been held by (a) himself and (b) Duncan Nichol, chief executive of the National Health Service with (i) the trade union side of the Whitley council for ambulance staff and (ii) the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel since 1 September.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State met representatives of the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel on 24 November when their claim for recognition was discussed. I met them on 14 November to discuss their role in the current dispute. Duncan Nichol, National Health Service chief executive, met the trade union side of the ambulance Whitley council on 22 September, 24 and 26 October and 17 November in attempts to find a basis on which negotiations in the Whitley council might be resumed ; he also met the Association of Professional Ambulance Personnel on 26 September and 17 November.
Mr. Freeman : The Department of Health's independent expert advisory committee on the carcinogenicity of chemicals in food, consumer products and the environment is currently considering findings from a series of recent epidemiological and experimental studies relating to effects on health of diesel exhaust in order to assess any possible impact on public health.
Direct exposure to diesel exhaust fumes can cause irritation to the eyes and throat. Substances present in diesel fumes are known to be toxic to laboratory animals when they are exposed to high concentrations over a lifetime. However, human exposure to diesel fumes is normally transient and at much lower levels, and is not known to have any long-term effects on health.
Column 684to make regulations under section 11 of the Consumer Protection Act 1987 which are being laid before Parliament today. The regulations will prohibit persons from supplying or from offering to supply, agreeing to supply, exposing for supply or possessing for supply any oral snuff. They will come into effect on 13 March 1990.
The purpose of the ban is to protect our population, particularly our young people, from the serious health risks posed by these products, the use of which is causally associated with an increased risk of oral cancer. There is increasing evidence from the United States of America and Sweden that these products can become popular amongst young people. The Government's action should nip this dangerous new habit in the bud.
When the Government originally proposed a ban on oral snuff last year, a three-month period was allowed for representations, and this period was subsequently extended by a month for the two companies involved. A large number of representations were received, the vast majority of which were in favour of a ban. The Government have considered all the representations with great care. It has also consulted its partners in the European community and other GATT signatories. However, no new evidence or arguments have come to light which suggest that the proposed ban is not justified.
The products which will be covered by the ban are goods which consist wholly or mainly of tobacco in fine cut, ground or particulate form or in any combination of those forms and which are for oral use other than smoking. This does not include traditional chewing tobacco, loose tobacco for making up into cigarettes, pipe tobacco or snuff for nasal use.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : There are currently 99 military museums being maintained wholly or in part by the Ministry of Defence. This total includes regimental and corps museums, some of which are colocated or are in the process of moving to common premises, and those museums designated under the Heritage Act 1982. I will write to my hon. Friend with a list of these museums shortly.
Mr. Michael Brown : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will list the major employers in the nuclear defence industry in Scotland, their location and the number of employees at each ; (2) if he will list the number of employees in the nuclear defence industry and related industries in Scotland.
Mr. Alan Clark : The Ministry of Defence does not hold detailed information in the form requested, but a rough estimate of employment in Scotland related to nuclear defence is some 9,000 including Rosyth dockyard, Coulport, Faslane and the Clyde.
Column 685Scotland, their location and the number of Scottish jobs at each base broken down into (a) armed forces and (b) MOD personnel.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : The MOD's principal nuclear defence base in Scotland is the Clyde submarine base at Faslane. Other establishments providing support to the strategic deterrent programme are the royal navy armament depot at Coulport, Her Majesty's naval base at Rosyth and the naval reactor test establishment at Dounreay (HMS Vulcan). The figures for the number of personnel at present are as follows :
|Service |Civilian ------------------------------------------------ Clyde submarine base |3,797 |2,116 RNAD Coulport |65 |1,775 HMNB Rosyth |698 |<1>1,936 HMS Vulcan |6 |420 <1> This figure does not include employees of the dockyard contractor.
Some MOD staff are also employed in support of United States nuclear- powered submarines based at Holy Loch.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration has been given to the cancellation of the programmes to develop a new battle tank for the British Army of the Rhine, and the Trigat anti-tank missile.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list all toxic chemicals held at military bases and military production sites ; what are the quantities of such chemicals ; and under what environmental regulations they are managed.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : Information on the type and quantity of toxic chemicals held at military bases and military production sites is not held centrally. The Department is bound by the general duties imposed by the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and by regulations made under it. Certain sites that produce noxious or offensive substances are registered with Her Majesty's inspectorate of pollution in accordance with the Control of Industrial Air Pollution (Registration of Works) Regulations 1989. Although the MOD is not bound by the provisions of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 or the Water Act 1989, it is a matter of general policy that it will aim to meet standards which are no lower than those in the community at large.
Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if, at the recent meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels, the issue of the forthcoming amendment conference for the 1963 partial test ban treaty, and its implications for the modernisation of nuclear warheads for new NATO controlled nuclear weapons, was addressed.
Mr. Archie Hamilton : My right hon. Friend discussed a range of matters of mutual defence interest when he met his colleagues on the defence planning committee in Brussels in November, but it is not our practice to reveal the details of such discussions.
Mr. Parkinson : The meeting on 4 and 5 December, which was attended by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, saw important progress made towards the establishment of a single market in transport in two areas.
First, the Council agreed an interim experiment for road haulage cabotage as a preliminary step to a full-scale regime from 1993. Although this is a small step in itself, it represents a major breakthrough in terms of liberalising cabotage generally. Secondly, the Council expressed its commitment to agree measures to liberalise air transport. From June 1993, airlines will be able to set their own fares subject only to "double disapproval"--that is, unless the countries at both the ends of the route reject the proposed fares. In the meantime, the present fare approval system will be made more flexible. Similarly, bilateral capacity sharing will be abolished from the end of 1992, and further relaxation will be made in the interim. The council also committed itself to ensure that uniform licensing criteria are introduced by June 1992 giving airlines established in a country the right to a licence. Altogether, this provided a clear basis for more detailed work over the coming months with a view to Council agreement under the Irish presidency. The Council adopted a directive on training for drivers of dangerous goods. The United Kingdom, supported by certain other member states, registered our concern in the minutes that future technical adaption should be consistent with the standards of the ADR.
There were discussions but not agreements on the Commission's proposals for shipping "positive measures", and on the current state of negotiations with west African countries on shipping ; on vehicles hired without drivers ; on road safety ; on driving and working hours ; and on transport infrastructure. After a debate on Community railway policy, the Commission was invited to set up a working party to look at a high-speed rail network and the scope for technical harmonisation. The Commission reported the current state of play in its negotiations with Switzerland, Austria and Yugoslavia on transit. Under other business, there were brief references to transit quotas, and to lorry taxation.
Column 687Miss Emma Nicholson : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department has taken to alert master mariners, shipping companies, the lifeboat services, Her Majesty's Coastguard and other official institutions to the sea gallantry medal instituted by Act of Parliament to recognise acts of bravery at sea.
Mrs. Ann Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what assessment he has made to the effect on householders of increasing traffic noise from existing roads ; whether he has any plans to make such households eligible for the noise insulation grants available to residents affected by new road development, using the same noise level criteria ; and whether he will evaluate the likely cost of such a measure.
Mr. Atkins : No general assessment has been made of the effect on householders of changes in traffic noise from existing roads. This is bound to vary substantially from case to case. In some cases, the building of new roads will reduce substantially the noise from existing ones.
The Land Compensation Act 1973 makes provision for noise insulation only in the case of new or substantially improved roads. It is not accordingly open to the Department under the law as it stands to make noise insulation available more widely. The cost of making insulation available in relation to all existing roads was estimated in 1983 at £1,840 million for some 2.3 million properties.
Mr. Atkins : The benzene content of petrol is already controlled by regulations and by European Community directive 85/210/EEC. Petrol may contain no more than 5 per cent. of benzene. In practice the average content in this country is about 3 per cent.
Mr. Atkins : When toxic waste is transported, it is treated in the same way as other dangerous substances and must comply with the appropriate regulations to ensure safe transport. The import and export of toxic and other wastes is a matter for the Department of the Environment.
Column 688service of the Disabled Living Foundation ; and what funding his Department intends to offer towards providing such a service.
Mr. Maclennan : To ask the Minister for the Arts whether he will extend the current closing date for responses to the Wilding report on "Supporting the Arts--A Review of the Structure of Arts Funding" to 31 January 1990.
Mr. Luce [holding answer 12 December 1989] : To avoid uncertainty in the arts world, I remain committed to announcing my response to Mr. Wilding's recommendations as soon as I am able. While, in reaching my decisions, I shall endeavour to take into account responses received after 31 December, I am reluctant to agree to a formal extension of the consultation period.
Mr. Butcher : To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to his reply of 27 November, Official Report, column 97, if he will give his reasons for believing it unnecessary to conduct a review of the possibilities of prejudice to a criminal trial of individuals named in a Companies Act investigation when those individuals are, in advance of their trial, publicly disciplined by a self-regulatory organisation established under the Financial Services Act.
The Attorney-General : Self-regulating organisations recognised under the Financial Services Act are responsible for exercising their own discipline over those who have agreed to be bound by their rules, so as to ensure that their members are fit and proper to conduct investment business. Such organisations are also subject to the general duty at common law to refrain from acts which raise a real likelihood of interference with the administration of justice. I am satisfied that these obligations are well known and understood by those affected and have no reason to doubt that care is taken to strike the right balance according to the circumstances of particular cases.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Truro of 5 December, which veterinary medicines were discussed with Monsanto on 15 November.
Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when representatives from (a) Eli Lilley and (b) Monsanto last met members of the Veterinary Products Committee ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : The Veterinary Products Committee met representatives from Eli Lilley on 19 April 1989, and from Monsanto on 20 September 1989, in both cases to review evidence submitted in support of a product licence application.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the number of premises in each county of England requiring inspection under the provisions of the testing of poultry flocks orders.
Mr. Maclean : It is estimated that the number of flocks subject to the requirements of the Poultry Laying Flocks (Testing and Registration etc.) Order 1989 in England is in the region of 28,000. The order does not contain specific inspection requirements, but I expect inspections to be concentrated particularly on the larger flocks, estimated at around 4,000, which will be required to be registered with my Department. Under the Poultry Breeding Flocks and Hatcheries (Registration and Testing) Order 1989 an estimated 3,000 breeding flocks and 120 hatcheries in England will be visited by my officials. A breakdown of these figures by counties is not available.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the estimate of the additional costs being borne by the local authorities in their enforcement of the order relating to the registration and testing of poultry flocks.
Mr. Maclean : I do not have information on the resources which local authorities are allocating to work in connection with the two new orders on registration and testing of poultry flocks, which came into force on 26 October 1989.
Mr. Ralph Howell : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what scientific or veterinary studies have been carried out on the Government's slaughter policy for laying poultry ; and whether any of these studies has produced evidence in favour of the policy.
Mr. Maclean : The evidence relating to salmonella infection in poultry flocks and eggs was reviewed by the House of Commons Agriculture Committee in its report of 28 February 1989. The Committee concluded that in seeking to address the problem of the rise in salmonella
Column 690food poisoning cases the Government were right to make egg production the first focus of attention. In reaching this conclusion the Committee referred to the routes by which eggs may become infected via infected flocks, through faecal contamination and transovarian transmission, and welcomed the Government's announcement of the compulsory slaughter policy for poultry flocks. It is too early to reach definite conclusions about the effectiveness of this policy, but it is clear that the removal of infected flocks is helping to reduce the risk of salmonella infection in humans.
Mr. Ron Davies : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has authorised the use of any products containing enzymes from blood for the purpose of creating restructured fresh meat products ; if he has received any requests for approval for trials of such products ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Maclean : No. No such requests have been received. The use of enzymes in food is subject to the general provisions of the Food Act. It is an offence to add any substance to food intended for sale so as to render the food injurious to health.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the use of echo locators and side scanners and their effect on dolphin and porpoise behaviour.
Mr. Gummer : Echo locators and side scanners are standard equipment on modern fishing vessels to assist in the location of fish shoals for capture. I am not aware of any evidence to suggest that such equipment has any adverse effect on dolphin or porpoise behaviour.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the consequences of the use of nylon monofilament fish nets for the dolphin and porpoise population in British coastal waters.
Mr. Gummer : I am aware of the concern that monofilament fishing nets may accidentally ensnare dolphins and porpoises. However there has been no evidence that this is a significant problem in our waters. Nevertheless the fisheries Departments are planning a general monitoring scheme on the incidental capture of cetaceans in United Kingdom fisheries, so that we can keep the matter under closer review.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to introduce measures similar to those in the United States Marine Mammal Protection Act to protect the populations of cetaceans.