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Written Answers to Questions

Wednesday 20 June 1990

CIVIL SERVICE

Research and Development

131. Mr. Roy Hughes : To ask the Minister for the Civil Service when he intends to reply to the report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology entitled "Definitions of Research and Development"; and if he will make a statement.

132. Mr. Sean Hughes : To ask the Minister for the Civil Service when he intends to reply to the report of the Select Committee on Science and Technology entitled "Definitions of Research and Development"; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Luce : The Government welcome the Select Committee's report on definitions of research and development and will be making a considered response in due course.

Disabled People

Mr. Gerald Howarth : To ask the Minister for the Civil Service what his Department is doing to promote equality of opportunity in the civil service for people with disabilities.

Mr. Luce : A revised code of practice on the employment of people with disabilities in the civil service will be published tomorrow. I have arranged for copies to be placed in the Library.

HOUSE OF COMMONS

Smoking

Mr. Ashton : To ask the Lord President of the Council if he will take steps to institute a no-smoking regulation in the telephone kiosks and lifts of the House.

Sir Geoffrey Howe : The Services Committee resolved in February 1987 that smoking should not be allowed in lifts and instructed that notices to that effect should be displayed. The question of imposing such a ban in telephone kiosks has not yet been addressed and I shall arrange for it to be referred to the Accommodation and Administration Sub-Committee.

ATTORNEY-GENERAL

Sunday Trading

Mr. Murphy : To ask the Attorney-General if he will consider taking up the case brought by Torfaen borough council regarding Sunday trading by B and Q, in the forthcoming appeal.

The Attorney-General : In the event of any such invitation to me from Torfaen borough council my


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response would have to be determined in the light of the fact that Parliament has made it the duty of local authorities to enforce the provisions of the Shops Act 1950.

Petty Officer John Black

Mr. Latham : To ask the Attorney-General whether, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Rutland and Melton on 8 May, Official Report, column 22, he will make a statement on the reasons for the delay in setting a date for the hearing into his application for a fresh inquest into the death of Petty Officer John Black ; and when he expects to write to the hon. Member.

The Attorney-General : I have today been informed that the case will be heard tomorrow.

ENERGY

Offshore Oil Industry

140. Mr. Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what assessment he has made of the potential of the Single European Act and 1992 for the United Kingdom oil fabrication and offshore supply sectors ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Morrison : Two factors have been responsible for the growth of this industry : (1) the enterprise and competitive performance of British companies and (2) the fair commercial opportunity provided for companies operating on the United Kingdom continental shelf. The Single European Act and progress in GATT negotiations should enlarge the opportunities for our competitive companies. We shall continue to ensure fair opportunity in the home and overseas markets after 1992.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Payments for Debt

Mr. Clifford Forsythe : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has to repeal the Payments for Debt (Emergency Provisions) Act (Northern Ireland) 1971.

Mr. Brooke [pursuant to the reply, 10 May 1990, c. 230-31] : It is our practice regularly to review the need for these emergency provisions. I have decided, following the most recent review, that the continuation of the Act is not required by present circumstances and I will therefore shortly sign an order declaring the emergency which gave rise to the provisions is now at an end. The Act will cease to be in force after a period of six months. The efficient collection of public debt nevertheless remains a priority and we intend to review procedures for recovering debt owed to public bodies to establish whether further legislative provision has a role to play.


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HEALTH

Long-stay Patients

Mr. Wigley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will commend to all health authorities the Mersey regional health authority's guidelines for use of money held by health authorities on behalf of long- stay patients ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dorrell : We do indeed commend the guidelines that Mersey regional health authority has developed. We are currently awaiting a report from regional chairmen on the situation on patients' moneys in each region. When we have reviewed this we will ensure that all regions are conversant with the initiatives that Mersey has taken.

Ambulance Dispute

Mr. Cohen : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to his answer of 23 April, Official Report, column 30, whether the final cost of military assistance in respect of the ambulance dispute is yet known.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The final cost of military assistance was £7.2 million.

Disabled People

Mr. Tom Clarke : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on whether disabled people should have the right to representation in community care services.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Our draft guidance on assessment and case management instructs local authorities to ensure that their assessment procedures accommodate any communication difficulty due to disability. The National Health Service and Community Care Bill, as amended by the Government in the House of Lords, will allow a person acting on behalf of a disabled person to make representations, including complaints, about the social services that the local authority provides.

Eye Tests

Mr. Michael : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many children aged under 16 years received free eye tests in England (a) in each quarter in 1988-89 and (b) in each quarter in 1989-90.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Statistics prior to 1 April 1989 were not broken down by patient group. Since then, family practitioner committees have collected data on sight tests paid for under the general ophthalmic services on a six-monthly basis. A total of 752, 130 or 8 per cent. of children in England received sight tests paid for under the new regulations. A further 1,624,220 sight tests were also paid for in the period but conducted prior to 1 April 1989 ; an unknown proportion of these would have been for children.

AIDS

Mr. Frank Field : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list for (a) the Mersey region and (b) the Wirral health authority the sums for each of the last three years given to groups giving practical and emotional support to people suffering from AIDS.


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Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 6 June 1990] : The amounts allocated to Mersey regional health authority for the last three years as a contribution towards the costs incurred in helping prevent the spread of HIV infection and providing treatment, counselling and support for those affected by HIV are as follows. Allocations to the Wirral health authority are a matter for Mersey regional health authority to determine.


                                 

Year       |Allocation           

           |(£'000)              

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

1988-89    |534                  

1989-90    |3,430                

1990-91    |3,602                

In addition, £588,000 AIDS support grant has been allocated to local authorities in the Mersey area in the last two years towards the cost of care and support for people suffering from AIDS. The amount within these allocations which has so far been passed to groups giving practical and emotional support to AIDS sufferers is not identified separately. However, reports providing details of expenditure for each health and local authority for 1989-90 will be available by August.

Under-fives Initiatives

Mr. Bowis : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) action has been taken and (b) further steps he will take in respect of the van der Eyken report on the under-fives initiatives.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley [holding answer 18 June 1990] : The final report of the national monitoring survey of the under-fives initiative by Willem van der Eyken was sent out in 1988. Copies went to local authorities, health authorities and relevant voluntary organisations.

The Department grant-aids 10 national voluntary organisations active in the under-fives field, including the Pre-school Playgroups Association, National Childminding Association and Home Start Consultancy.

Under-fives groups benefit from centrally funded initiatives such as the small grants scheme, which builds on the one operated during the earlier initiative. They also received funding from the lone parents element of the retail prices index error scheme.

The new under-fives initiative was launched in September 1989. It takes forward some of the recommendations in Mr. van der Eyken's report. Twenty- one national and local voluntary organisations are managing 25 local projects. The projects are intended to help families in temporary accommodation ; improve partnerships between local authorities and the voluntary sector ; extend knowledge about impact of day care services on the circumstances of lone parents ; and improve understanding about ways of supporting carers. The Children Act will be implemented in October 1991. It introduces provisions for local authorities to regulate private and voluntary day care services and childminding, to have a general duty to provide day care services for children in need and a power to do so for other children. A duty is also placed on local social services and education departments to review and publish a report on day care services in their area. The Department is undertaking extensive consultation on draft guidance on these subjects.


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Medical and Dental Education

Mr. Burns : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when the second report of the steering group on undergraduate medical and dental education will be published ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke [pursuant to his reply, 18 June 1990, c. 401] : The answer to the question should read as follows :

The report is published today, and is available in the Library. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science and I are sending copies of the second report to all interested parties under cover of a message which reads as follows : The report from the steering group on undergraduate medical and dental education has been prepared in response to the remit which our predecessors gave the group to consider how the current arrangements for undergraduate medical, and subsequently dental, education can be improved to ensure that the policies and programmes of the bodies concerned are properly co-ordinated and directed. The group was later invited to assess the implications for these matters of the proposed NHS reforms, and to make recommendations. The present report subsumes the interim report which was published in June 1989.

We welcome, and endorse, this new report. We are grateful to the members of the steering group, and to the organisations which have been associated with it, for working effectively together to support the common purpose of the NHS and the universities in maintaining and improving standards of undergraduate medical and dental education. The organisational and financial arrangements must encourage those responsible in both the universities and the NHS to work together to teach students, advance knowledge through research and provide and develop services for patients. These three functions are integral, something as true in the reformed NHS as it is today. That is why the steering group has emphasised the essential common purpose of the universities and the NHS in the fostering of medical knowledge and skills, an emphasis which we support. The ten key principles proposed by the steering group to underpin jointly agreed working arrangements have already been promulgated with our endorsement. The sense of common purpose will be strengthened by the new provision in the NHS and Community Care Bill regarding university membership of those health authorities and NHS trusts having significant involvement in medical and dental education.

The steering group has given close attention to certain details of finance and management. It has proposed revised procedures for the distribution of the service increment for teaching--SIFT--which again have been promulgated, and are being implemented, with our support. It has made proposals for handling the relationship known as "knock for knock", emphasising the importance of changing only by agreement the balance of expenditure between co-operating institutions. It has also suggested that the flexibility essential to the management of the job plans of clinical academics who are honorary consultants in the NHS might be achieved through a tightly defined package of clinical service commitments, to be delivered by university staff under the management of heads of clinical academic departments in consultation with NHS managers. We endorse these proposals, which encourage an agreed approach to the management of those areas in which the universities and the NHS must engage together in responsibilities which neither can discharge alone.

The steering group's report offers the prospect of a successor group to carry forward further work in these areas, including involvement with the review of SIFT which is to be completed in 1992. It also proposes that the remit of the successor body should be extended to cover

"the arrangements for clinical research with service implications, including health services research".

We welcome the establishment of such a successor, and look forward to receiving its advice in due course.


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We commend the present report to all those who should be guided by its recommendations and proposals.

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

St. Helens

Mr. John Evans : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he next plans to visit St. Helens.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : I have no plans to visit St. Helens in the immediate future.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Manufacturing Industry

133. Mr. Pike : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the output of manufacturing industries was in 1979 in the north-west ; and what the comparable constant value basis figure is for the latest year for which figures are available ;

(2) what are the figures in constant value of the output in manufacturing industries in the north-west (a) in 1979 and (b) at the latest date for which figures are available.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Current prices estimates for manufacturing gross domestic product in the north-west are £6,763 million in 1979 and £12,381 million in 1988 ; the latest year for which they are available. There is no comparable constant value figure for this year because there are no regional price indices.

136. Mr. Beaumont-Dark : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest figures on productivity of manufacturing industry in Birmingham and the west midlands.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Regional productivity figures are not compiled.

Exports

134. Mr. Boyes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average growth rate in the volume of United Kingdom exports of goods and services between 1979 and 1989.

135. Mr. Bradley : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average growth rate in the volume of United Kingdom exports of goods and services between 1979 and 1989.

139. Mr. Boateng : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average growth rate in the volume of United Kingdom exports of goods and services between 1979 and 1989.

Mr. Norman Lamont : Information on movements in the volume of United Kingdom exports of goods and services between 1979 and 1989 is available on the CSO database (series HHCX), which can be accessed by the House of Commons Library.

West Germany

137. Mr. Ron Brown : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement about the current trade deficit with West Germany.


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Mr. Norman Lamont : In the three months to April, the "crude" balance of trade with West Germany was a deficit of £2.1 billion.

Inflation

138. Mr. Oppenheim To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he last met the Confederation of British Industry to discuss the level of inflation.

Mr. Ryder : My right hon. Friend addressed the CBI's annual dinner on 17 May, at which a wide range of topics were discussed.


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Mortgages

Mr. Allen : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average increase in repayments per week on the average mortgage in each region between 1 June 1988 and today.

Mr. Lilley : The figures in the table do not allow for the fact that interest rate payments on many mortgages are adjusted annually and do not reflect each adjustment in the vote. Consequently average movements in amounts actually paid will be less than shown. The information is as follows :


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Region                    Average new    Weekly payment<2>             Increase                     

                         |mortgage<1>   |June 1988     |June 1990                                   

                                        |9.8 per cent. |15.3 per cent.                              

                                        |interest rate |interest rate                               

                         |£             |£             |£             |£                            

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

Northern                 |26,800        |37.88         |59.14         |21.26                        

Yorkshire and Humberside |30,500        |43.35         |67.67         |24.33                        

East Midlands            |35,900        |53.52         |83.56         |30.04                        

East Anglia              |40,700        |62.57         |97.68         |35.12                        

Greater London           |58,000        |95.17         |148.59        |53.41                        

South East               |53,500        |86.69         |135.35        |48.65                        

South West               |42,700        |66.34         |103.57        |37.23                        

West Midlands            |35,100        |52.02         |81.21         |29.19                        

North West               |33,200        |48.43         |75.62         |27.18                        

Wales                    |31,700        |45.61         |71.20         |25.60                        

Scotland                 |25,900        |36.61         |57.15         |20.55                        

Northern Ireland         |22,600        |31.94         |49.87         |17.93                        

                                                                                                    

United Kingdom           |39,000        |59.37         |92.68         |33.32                        

<1> Building Society mortgages, first quarter 1990.                                                 

<2> Assuming endowment mortgage.                                                                    

PRIME MINISTER

Natural History Museum

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Prime Minister what actions she has taken in respect of the maintenance of the taxonomic and palaeontological collections in the natural history museum in south Kensington.

The Prime Minister : I understand that within the overall objectives set out in the natural history museum's corporate plan 1990-95, the museum's taxonomic and palaeontological collections will continue to be maintained. These collections are central to the museum's scientific work, and scientific and public visitors will continue to enjoy access to the collections. The Government increased the museum's grant in aid by 16.5 per cent. this year to over £25 million.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Biotechnology

128. Mr. Martyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on European Economic Community proposals for ethical standards in biotechnology.

129. Mr. Lambie : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on European Economic Community proposals for ethical standards in biotechnology.


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130. Mr. Ingram : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on European Economic Community proposals for ethical standards in biotechnology.

Mr. Jackson : No formal proposals have been made within the European Economic Community for ethical standards in biotechnology. The Government would look carefully at any such proposals on their merits.

Pupil Testing

Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) how the pilot studies on testing at age seven years are to be evaluated ; and when he will inform Parliament of his decision regarding the nature of the test to be used in schools in 1991 ; (2) what reports he has received from the organisations using pilot SATs for seven-year-olds ; and if he will place them in the Library.

Mrs. Rumbold : The three agencies which developed the standard assessment tasks used in this summer's pilot assessments will shortly submit evaluation reports to the School Examinations and Assessment Council (SEAC). SEAC will in turn advise my right hon. Friend about the outcome of the pilot assessments. In addition Her Majesty's inspectorate, in collaboration with SEAC and the Department, will host conferences later this month for the teachers who took part in the pilot exercise.

In the light of this work, a revised specification for the standard assessment tasks for use in the first national assessments of seven-year- olds in 1991 will be issued in the autumn.


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Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many schools took part in each of the pilot studies for SATs at seven years of age ; and how many children were involved.

Mrs. Rumbold : Just over 21,000 pupils in 619 schools in England and Wales participated in this summer's pilot assessments of seven-year-olds in English, mathematics and science.

City Technology Colleges

Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the implications of his announcement of 8 June of changes in the criteria considered in approving city technology colleges on the proposal for a city technology college in Corby.

Mrs. Rumbold : The criteria for establishing city technology colleges have not changed. The plans for a city technology college in Corby are well advanced, and it is on course to open in September 1991.

Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science at what stage are the plans for a city technology college in Corby ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Rumbold : Plans for the establishment of the city technology college are now well advanced. Detailed designs for the college building have been agreed and submitted to Corby district council for full planning consent. Management contractors have been appointed and a start on site is programmed for early July with completion planned to allow for a September 1991 opening.

Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the money raised from the private sector for the city technology college in Corby.

Mrs. Rumbold : To date a total of £1.6 million of private sector sponsorship has been pledged ; £1.1 million of this is in the form of a donation of land from the lead sponsor, Mr. Hugh de Cappell Brooke. A further £0.5 million has been pledged from other private sector sponsors, who wish to remain anonymous for the time being. The principal sponsor has agreed to underwrite any shortfall in the£1.99 million that is required from the private sector should further sponsorship not prove forthcoming.

Ms. Armstrong : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment he has made of the effect of the city technology college in Corby on surrounding schools.

Mrs. Rumbold : A city technology college in Corby will introduce healthy competition for pupils--as will any independent school. However, the sponsors' intentions are that the city technology college's catchment area should be drawn as wide as is practicable to minimise the impact on individual schools.

Student Loans

Mr. Pawsey : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the administrative costs of the student loans scheme.

Mr. MacGregor : The Student Loans Company's provisional budget for the financial year 1990-91 is £14.25


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million, exclusive of VAT. The figure includes both pre-operational and operational costs. On present estimates, total pre-operational costs will amount to some £10 million, consisting of expenditure of £4.3 million in 1989-90 and £5.8 million in the first five months of 1990-91.

The Government have said throughout the passage of the Education (Student Loans) Bill and subsequently that the administration costs of the loans scheme in the first year of its operation were expected to be in the range £10 million to £20 million. I am pleased to confirm that the outcome is a figure well below the maximum of that range.

FOREIGN AND COMMONWEALTH AFFAIRS

Saudi Arabia

Dr. Thomas : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what matters he discussed during his recent visit to Saudi Arabia.

Mr. Waldegrave : During his visit to Saudi Arabia my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs had very useful discussions with King Fahd and Saudi Ministers on a wide range of regional and bilateral issues. They agreed in particular on the urgent need for progress towards a settlement of the Arab-Israel dispute. My right hon. Friend signed a bilateral agreement on the confiscation of drug-trafficking assets.

Republic of Ireland

Mr. Trimble : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the occasions at international conferences or meetings within the last five years when Her Majesty's Government have formally rejected or objected to the territorial claim of the Republic of Ireland over the United Kingdom.

Mr. Hurd : I am not aware of any occasions in the last five years where the Government of the Republic of Ireland have raised a territorial claim over the United Kingdom at an international conference or meeting.

United Kingdom sovereignty over Northern Ireland, as a matter of international law, is clear. Our sovereignty is manifested, day by day, by acts of legislation, Government and the courts. Further, in article 1 of the Anglo-Irish Agreement, both Governments affirmed "that any change in the status of Northern Ireland would only come about with the consent of a majority of the people of Northern Ireland".

Israel

Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, in his message to Mr. Yasser Arafat, conveyed by Her Majesty's ambassador in Baghdad on 8 June, he asked Mr. Arafat to condemn the attempted attack on beaches near Tel Aviv on 30 May ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Waldegrave : Yes. All deliberately planned acts of violence must be condemned unequivocally.

Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what protests have been conveyed by Her Majesty's consul-general in Jerusalem to prominent local Palestinians regarding the terrorist bomb explosion in the Mahane Yehuda market on 28 May.


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Mr. Waldegrave : We have no reason to associate any prominent local Palestinian with the Mahane Yehuda explosion, which was immediately condemned by one of their number, Mr. Feisal Husseini.

Mr. Latham : To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether, at his meeting with Bassam Abu Sharif on 5 June, the Minister of State expressed concern about the reported threat by Abu Al Abbas to carry out more terrorist attacks on Israel ; and what further protests are intended by Her Majesty's Government to the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Mr. Waldegrave : Yes, I told Mr. Abu Sharif of our deep concern about the PLF raid on Israel on 30 May and urged the PLO to continue to adhere to its commitment to renounce terrorism.


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