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Mr. Nigel Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what assessment he has made of the circumstances in which decision-making involving public safety could be compromised because of the lack of openness to scrutiny by the public or the scientific community of the computer codes which may be involved in that decision-making ;
(2) what steps the Government are taking to ensure that decision-making involving public safety is in no way compromised by the commercial secrecy of computer codes which may be involved, directly or indirectly, in that decision-making ;
(3) whether he has identified any occasions on which
decision-making involving public safety has been
Column 414compromised because of the lack of openness to scrutiny by the public or the scientific community on computer codes which were involved in that decision-making.
Mr. Forth : In my reply to the hon. Member on 6 November 1989 I described the steps which the Government are taking to encourage the development of suitable standards and guidelines, both at national and international levels, and in particular the work of the Inter-departmental Committee on Software Engineering (ICSE) and its working group on safety- related software, of which my Department and the Health and Safety Executive share the secretariat.
On the relevance of any commercial secrecy pertaining to computer codes, I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Member for Teignbridge (Mr. Nicholls), ( Official Report, 2 November 1989, column 358 ) : under section 20 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, inspectors have powers to make any necessary examination or investigation.
On the question of openness to scrutiny, the public and the scientific community have the opportunity to contribute to the development of the standards which will be used by regulatory bodies and their inspectorates in assessing the safety of systems which rely on computer codes. These standards are evolving and their coverage in the software field is being made more complete. I know of no occasion on which public safety is known to have been endangered by shortcomings in the existing arrangements for software inspection.
Mr. Ridley : In view of clarification I have received about the relationship between RENAVAL grants and other structural funds' support for British industrial areas, I have decided to make to the European Commission a RENAVAL application for Tyne and Wear. My Department will be discussing the proposed programme of measures with the European Commission, local authorities and others concerned.
Mr. Ridley : In view of clarification I have received about the relationship between RENAVAL grants and other structural funds' support for British industrial areas, I have decided to make to the European Commission a RENAVAL application for Middlesbrough and Langbaurgh districts. My Department will be discussing the proposed programme of measures with the European Commission, local authorities and others concerned.
Column 415comments, and copies have also been placed in the Library. The proposals take account of the responses to the earlier public consultations and I hope that the response to the proposals will allow regulations to be made early in March, to come into force early in April.
Mr. Redwood : I have signed an Order which commences certain parts of the Act, including the provision under which regulations will be made for listed companies to issue summarised financial statements to their shareholders. The Order will also complete the commencement of part III (Investigations and Powers to Obtain Information) and part VI (Mergers and Related Matters) of the Act. The effective commencement dates of the provisions commenced in this Order range from 2 February to 1 April 1990. In addition, I plan to make a further Order within the next month to commence the main accounting and certain other provisions of the Act.
Ms. Quin : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if his Department has commissioned any research into the implications and opportunities for British industry to supply equipment and goods to countries of eastern Europe to help repair environmental damage in those countries ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Forth : The European Commission is co-ordinating the Group of 24's package of assistance to Poland and Hungary and consideration is being given to extending the coverage of this assistance to the rest of eastern Europe.
Within the EC's 300 million ecu for Poland and Hungary, specific provision is available to facilitate environmental protection. My Department is encouraging British business fully to exploit these multilateral funds.
Information on specific export opportunities is available under the Department's export intelligence service.
Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, pursuant to his answer of 24 January, Official Report, column 699, if he will list the more than 40 recycling experts who are providing advice to the Government on recycling matters, and indicate what organisations, if any, they represent and why they were selected.
Mike Cohen--Director, Business and the Environment Unit, DTI. Frank Argent- -NAWDC.
Professor Graham Ashworth--The Tidy Britain Group.
Alex Bennett--Plastics and Rubber Institute/Austin Rover Group. Dr. Robin Bidwell--Environmental Resources Ltd.
Harold Clayton--Hydro Polymers.
Jeff Cooper--Local Authority Recycling Advisory Committee.
Column 416Dr. Bill Cook--British Glass Manufacturers Confederation. Claire Cheney--The Retail Consortium.
Deidre Dowie--Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. John Elkington-- SustainAbility.
Andy Elmer--Association of Metropolitan Authorities.
Lord Ezra--UK Reclamation Council.
Brian Etheridge--Association of District Councils.
Jo Gordon--National Council for Voluntary Organisations. Pippa Hyam-- Friends of the Earth.
Dr. Alastair Hay--Leeds University.
Dr. David Harris--Aluminium Federation.
Ron Jones--British Plastics Federation.
Brian Kermode--Association of County Councils.
Richard Leveton--British Battery Manufacturers Association/Duracell Batteries.
Cameron McLatchie--Packaging and Industrial Films Association. John May-- British Steel.
David Perchard--David Perchard Associates.
David Peacock--British Paper and Board Industry Federation. Dennis Smith-- Food and Drink Federation.
Brian Stone--The Can Makers.
John Winward--Consumers Association.
Members were invited for their individual experience of recycling matters, as well as being representatives of the organisations to which they belong. Several additional experts have been added to this list to sit on working parties examining specific subjects or products.
Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry which representatives from the United Kingdom attended the meeting with Commissioner Millan on 25 January to discuss the EEC Commission/university of Louvain report on the impact of the single market on regions.
Merseyside Councillors O'Hara, Rimmer and Watts South Yorkshire Councillors Salt, Welch Knight and Cooper West Yorkshire Councillor Tricket (Leader, Leeds City Council)
West Midlands Councillor Davis (Vice-chairman, West Midlands regional forum)
Councillor MacDougall (Leader, Fife regional administration)
Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assistance he proposes for the encouragement of intra- Community trade in mice and rats and for participating in the efforts of the European Community mouse care expert to raise the productivity of the United Kingdom in mice and rats as the single market develops.
Column 417I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to his related questions today.
Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge
Queens Medical Centre, Nottingham
Bealeys Hospital, Bury
Hope Hospital, Salford
Seacroft Hospital, Leeds
Countess of Chester Hospital
Hoylake Cottage Hospital
Bassetlaw District General Hospital, Worksop
The London Hospital
Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle
The Freeman Hospital, Newcastle
Newcastle General Hospital
Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many persons died as a result of being given anaesthetics before operations for each of the last five years ; and what percentage they constituted of those anaesthetised during that period.
Mr. Freeman : Information is not available in the exact form requested since of over 3 million cases operated on in National Health Service hospitals in England each year, a very small number, which cannot be readily identified, will not involve any form of anaesthetic. Information about the number of deaths possibly associated with anaesthesia is given in the table :
Categories of deaths coded under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) ninth revision |E855.1|E855.2|E876.3|E938 ------------------------------------------ 1984 |2 |0 |0 |3 1985 |3 |0 |3 |0 1986 |0 |2 |2 |1 1987 |0 |4 |0 |0 1988 |1 |1 |2 |1 Source: OPCS death registrations. E855.1. Accidental poisonings by other drugs acting upon the central and autonomic systems: includes either, gaseous anaesthetics, intravenous anaesthetics, halogenated hydrocarbon derivatives, thiobarbiturates. E855.2. As above for local anaesthetics; includes cocaine, lidocaine, procaine and tetrocaine. E876.3. Cases of misadventure during medical care. E938. Other central nervous system depressants. Correct drug properly administered, but adverse reaction to it.
Mr. Butler : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information he has on the rates of HIV infection among heterosexuals with no other risk factors in sexually transmitted disease clinics in London.
Column 418Medical Journal, Vol. 296, 13 February 1988), which suggest that the identified prevalence of HIV infection among heterosexuals with no other risk factors in sexually transmitted disease clinics in London in 1987 was rather less than 1 per cent. The numbers in these studies were small and should be treated with great caution. Copies of the papers are available in the Library.
Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Consideration of the final report of the working party on the problems of long-serving ambulance men and women has not yet been completed. I shall consider the question of publication when it has been.
Mr. Hannam : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps his Department is taking to monitor the implementation of sections 5 and 6 of the Disabled Persons (Services, Consultation and Representation) Act 1986 ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Freeman : The Department's social services inspectorate has carried out a number of exercises to monitor the implementation of the Act. The findings of an inspection of the operation of all sections of the Act in force, and a more specific study of the progress of six authorities towards implementation of sections 5 and 6, are due to be published shortly.
Mr. Freeman : A valuation of the National Health Service estate was undertaken in 1987 and the figures are available in the Library. New valuations are now in hand in preparation for the introduction of capital charging in 1991.
Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what part is played by his Department in identifying the causes of trends and figures in the incidence of food poisoning in the United Kingdom ;
Column 419(2) what responsibilities lie with his Department in regard to monitoring trends in figures in the incidence of cases of food poisoning.
Mr. Freeman : The Department works together with other health and agriculture departments, local authorities and the public health laboratory service to monitor and interpret trends in the incidence of food poisoning and to identify their causes as a basis for considering Government and other action required to protect the health of the public.
Mr. Freeman : When this illness was last studied in detail for England and Wales (1980-84 inclusive), the incidence of identified and confirmed Creutzfeldt Jakob disease was 0.49 per million. The purpose of the study to be conducted by Dr. R. G. Will, referred to in my reply to the hon. Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Davies) on 10 January at column 665, is to make a more accurate assessment of cases of Creutzfeldt Jakob disease than that available from death certificates alone. Since 1979, Creutzfeldt Jakob disease has been given on death certificates as the underlying cause of death in about 30 deaths a year in England and Wales.
Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The report of a working group, "Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome in England and Wales to end 1993 : Projections Using data to end September 1989" has today been published by the public health laboratory service and a copy has been placed in the Library.
The report concludes that the predicted incidence of AIDS in homosexual men is lower than previously calculated, and that as a result of behavioural change, the
Column 420probable number of this group infected with HIV is also lower than previously estimated. But the potential for widespread dissemination of HIV still remains, particularly amongst heterosexuals and injecting drug users. The range of future predictions for these groups is wide. This is because the predictions for the continued rate of spread of the epidemic depend on the extent to which individuals change their behaviour, and this is difficult to foresee.
We are at a critical stage in the HIV epidemic, and behavioural change amongst heterosexuals and injecting drug users will be crucial in keeping down the incidence of HIV infection. It is also essential that behavioural changes amongst homosexual men are sustained and reinforced in the future.
We must not allow ourselves to become complacent, or to relax our guard. This report reinforces the messages which we have been giving for some time :
if the spread of HIV goes unchecked the potential outcome could be devastating..
if people take sensible precautions, and avoid high risk activities, the virus has less opportunity for spreading..
we must continue the work to increase awareness about the serious risks of heterosexual transmission..
The work being carried out by the Health Education Authority and by district health authorities and other local agencies to educate and inform people is therefore vital, so that these behavioural changes take place before it is too late.
We are grateful to Professor Day and members of the working group for their work in preparing revised predictions of HIV infection and AIDS in England and Wales which updates the predictions made by Sir David Cox, published in November 1988.