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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 29 June 1990

EMPLOYMENT

Port of London Authority

Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what are the legal costs to date incurred by the Port of London Authority in resisting the industrial tribunal case brought by dismissed Tilbury dock workers.

Mr. Nicholls : We do not hold such information. The cost of any legal representation at an industrial tribunal is a matter for the parties concerned.

Mr. Blair : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has discussed with the Port of London Authority its refusal to recognise or bargain collectively with any trade union in respect of its employees ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Nicholls : My right hon. and learned Friend has not discussed these matters with the Port of London Authority. The Government believe that the question of trade union recognition is best left to the parties concerned.

Disabled People

Mr. Paice : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to complete his Department's review of services for people with disabilities ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Howard : The review of the Employment Department's employment and training services for people with disabilities has now been completed, and we have today published a consultative document, "Employment and Training for People with Disabilities".

The 1980s saw new approaches to promoting good practice to employers, to developing assessment, counselling, training and rehabilitation for people with disabilities, and to help for people with severe disabilities. In the document we examine how the resources available can be used to full effect in the 1990s, taking account of the major research report "Employment and Handicap" which is also published today and provides a better picture of the position of people with disabilities in the labour market.

In the document plans are announced :

-- To make more effective the help offered to clients with disabilities in our non-specialist programmes and to improve the management and training of our specialist services ;

-- To improve the effectiveness of our assessment and rehabilitation services ;

-- To strengthen the promotion of good practice to employers. Comments are invited on :

-- What contributions to delivering services the voluntary sector and private sector organisations might make ;

-- Proposals to rebalance help to people with severe disabilities, over time, towards placements with employers ;


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-- The current quota scheme, and other possible forms of legislation ;

-- The shape of advisory machinery to my Department.

I will reach decisions after careful consideration of the responses received during the consultative period, which ends on 31 December.

National Dock Labour Board

Mr. Stevens : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement about the future of the National Dock Labour Board.

Mr. Howard : The National Dock Labour Board having wound up its affairs, and in conformity with my powers under section 2(5) of the Dock Work Act 1989, the board will be dissolved on 30 June 1990.

Skill Centres

Mr. McLeish : To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if contracts have been completed with the Lakin consortium regarding the transfer of skill centres.

Mr. Eggar [holding answer 25 June 1990] : The sale of the four training businesses to the consortium headed by Mr. Lakin were completed on Friday 11 May 1990.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE

Parental Choice

Sir Thomas Arnold : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to extend parental choice in the allocation of school places.

Mr. Alan Howarth : As a result of the Education Act 1980, the great majority of parents already get the school they want for their child. The more open enrolment provisions of the Education Reform Act will further increase parental choice by securing that schools must admit pupils on demand up to the limit of their physical capacity. These provisions take effect in secondary schools in September this year. No decision has yet been taken on when more open enrolment should be extended to primary schools ; the issue is currently under consideration in the Department.

Teachers

Mr. Matthew Taylor : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information he has on how many qualified teachers in England and Wales are not currently working within the profession.

Mr. Alan Howarth : The total number of out-of-service teachers was 404,000 on 31 March 1986.

The table summarises the main information.


The distribution of qualified "Out of Service" teachers by age, sex,

                                                                    

training and last teaching sector on 31 March 1986                  

Thousands                                                           

                                    |Men    |Women  |Men and        

                                                    |women          

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

Age                                                                 

  16 to 24                          |1      |3      |4              

  25 to 29                          |8      |27     |34             

  30 to 34                          |18     |68     |85             

  35 to 39                          |23     |75     |97             

  40 to 44                          |17     |48     |66             

  45 to 59                          |32     |85     |117            

                                                                    

Training                                                            

  Trained (in United Kingdom)       |72     |264    |337            

  Untrained                         |26     |41     |67             

                                                                    

Sector of last service                                              

  Nursery and primary               |9      |106    |116            

  Secondary-maintained              |49     |108    |157            

          -non-maintained           |7      |15     |22             

  Further education                 |5      |4      |9              

  Other (including special schools) |3      |15     |19             

  Not recorded                      |6      |15     |21             

                                                                    

  Total with previous service       |79     |264    |343            

                                                                    

  No previous service               |19     |41     |61             

                                                                    

Total                               |99     |305    |404            

The table shows the number and characteristics of qualified school teachers aged under 60 who had previously taught or been trained in England and Wales, but were not in full-time service in the maintained sector there on 31 March 1986. This group includes those who were in service outside the maintained sector, or in part-time service within this sector.

School Building Grants

Mr. Win Griffiths : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the closing dates for submission by (a) local education authorities in respect of county and voluntary aided and controlled schools and (b) grant-maintained schools, of bids for capital allocations for grants for school buildings ; and on what dates he expects to make his announcements on these bids.

Mr. Alan Howarth : Local education authorities in England have been asked to submit their capital expenditure plans for county, voluntary controlled and voluntary aided schools to the Department no later than 15 September 1990. My right hon. Friend expects to be able to announce annual capital guidelines and allocations for capital expenditure on education in 1991-92 to local education authorities, by governors of voluntary aided and special agreement schools in December.

The Department will write to grant-maintained schools inviting bids for capital work in 1991-92 later in the summer, giving a closing date a couple of months later. The intention is to announce allocations around the new year.

Haberdashers' Aske's Schools, Deptford

Ms. Ruddock : To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1), pursuant to his answer of 21 June, Official Report, column 627, whether that part of the current value of the Haberdashers' Aske's schools in Deptford attributable to past public investment in the premises for which he has previously decided no repayment to public funds shall be required under section 14 of the Education Act 1944 will be deducted in determining the amount of private sponsorship for the


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proposed Haberdashers' Aske's city technology college represented by those premises or any proposed lease of them for the city technology college ;

(2) what part of the current value of the sites and premises of the Haberdashers' Aske's Schools in Deptford is attributable to past public capital investment in those schools ; and what information he has as to the valuation made by the Inner London education authority of that amount.

Mrs. Rumbold : ILEA expenditure on capital works for the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham boys' and girls' schools was assessed by them as £5.645 million at 1989-90 prices. The value of the sites of the schools is independent of expenditure on premises ; no precise estimate can be made of the proportion of the value of the premises attributed to past building work. The trustees of the Robert Aske's Foundation own the sites and premises of the schools and may transfer a leasehold interest to the Haberdashers' Aske's city technology college trust. The value of the lease, with any other sums, will be deemed to be the trust's share of initial capital expenditure on the city technology college.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Reservoirs

Mr. McGrady : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider the construction of another reservoir in the south-eastern section of Northern Ireland to deal with increasing demand.

Mr. Peter Bottomley [holding answer 26 June 1990] : Yes.

TRANSPORT

Vehicle Fires

Mr. Adley : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if the Transport and Road Research Laboratory has undertaken research into the possible relationship between vehicles fitted with fuel injection systems and post-accident fires ; and if he will make a statement ; (2) what information he has received from chief constables of police on the incidence of post-accident fires in motor vehicles fitted with fuel injection systems ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Atkins : The Transport and Road Research Laboratory is currently conducting research into rear impacts and the associated fire risk of disruption to the fuel system. The research also covers electrically sourced fires which have previously been identified as one of the major causes of vehicle fires.

Further research is being considered to establish other causes of vehicle fires, of which fuel injection would be one of many factors to be taken into account.

Following discussions with my Department, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders has already recommended to its members to fit devices to isolate high-pressure fuel injuection pumps in the event of a collision, so as to reduce the fire risk from this source. It is also investigating the causes of under-bonnet fires.


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PRIME MINISTER

Nuclear Weapons

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Prime Minister what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on seeking the total removal of land-based short-range nuclear weapons from Europe at the forthcoming arms negotiations dealing with these weapons.

The Prime Minister : Arms control remains an integral part of alliance security policy ; NATO has therefore made it clear that it endorses the United States intention to begin negotiations with the Soviet Union on short-range nuclear forces after the conclusion of a treaty limiting conventional forces in Europe, and we fully support NATO's position.

Mr. Macdonald : To ask the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have established any conditions for their support for the deployment of tactical air-to-surface nuclear missiles in the United Kingdom.


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The Prime Minister : We have always made clear our support for the continued presence of modern and effective American nuclear forces in Europe. The specific question of deployment of United States tactical air- to-surface missiles in the United Kingdom, and the terms which might apply, has not yet arisen.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Entry Clearance

Mr. Madden : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the number of applicants, in each category, awaiting entry clearance at each British post on the Indian sub-continent at the latest available date and for each quarter since 1 January 1988 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd [holding answer 26 June 1990] : The information requested is given in the table.


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Persons in the Indian sub-continent awaiting a decision on their application for entry clearance to the United Kingdom                                                          

                                               1988                                                1989                                                1990                     

Category                                      |31 March    |30 June     |30 September|31 December |31 March    |30 June     |30 September|31 December |31 March                 

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

Islamabad                                                                                                                                                                       

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |4,600       |4,700       |4,700       |4,500       |4,400       |4,100       |4,100       |4,100       |3,800                    

Husbands, male fiances                        |3,500       |3,800       |3,900       |3,700       |3,600       |3,200       |3,000       |2,500       |1,700                    

Female fiancees                               |1,000       |1,000       |1,000       |930         |890         |860         |860         |820         |290                      

Visitors, students, others                    |2,200       |2,000       |1,800       |1,700       |1,600       |700         |710         |1,100       |2,000                    

                                                                                                                                                                                

Karachi                                                                                                                                                                         

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |150         |140         |150         |140         |160         |110         |80          |70          |110                      

Husbands, male fiances                        |160         |110         |120         |100         |70          |50          |30          |40          |60                       

Female fiancees                               |40          |30          |40          |30          |20          |20          |20          |20          |20                       

Visitors, students, others                    |710         |1,000       |980         |770         |680         |830         |320         |340         |380                      

                                                                                                                                                                                

Dhaka                                                                                                                                                                           

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |7,600       |7,300       |7,000       |6,500       |5,600       |4,800       |4,400       |4,000       |2,900                    

Husbands, male fiances                        |340         |360         |380         |380         |350         |330         |320         |310         |290                      

Female fiancees                               |20          |20          |10          |10          |10          |10          |10          |10          |10                       

Visitors, students, others                    |880         |210         |380         |530         |690         |800         |980         |1,000       |1,100                    

                                                                                                                                                                                

New Delhi                                                                                                                                                                       

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |480         |530         |490         |470         |520         |560         |490         |440         |420                      

Husbands, male fiances                        |500         |470         |430         |390         |350         |330         |310         |270         |260                      

Female fiancees                               |250         |210         |200         |180         |170         |180         |180         |150         |130                      

Visitors, students, others<2>                 |860         |3,100       |3,000       |2,000       |2,200       |2,500       |3,800       |3,400       |3,100                    

                                                                                                                                                                                

Bombay                                                                                                                                                                          

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |780         |680         |600         |500         |620         |720         |570         |700         |820                      

Husbands, male fiances                        |600         |540         |500         |390         |390         |400         |370         |420         |320                      

Female fiancees                               |260         |260         |220         |170         |200         |210         |220         |180         |160                      

Visitors, students, others                    |1,100       |1,400       |1,500       |1,400       |1,200       |1,400       |1,700       |910         |810                      

                                                                                                                                                                                

Calcutta                                                                                                                                                                        

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |60          |40          |30          |40          |30          |20          |10          |20          |10                       

Husbands, male fiances                        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |10          |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-                     

Female fiancees                               |-           |<3>-        |<3>-        |-           |-           |<3>-        |<3>-        |-           |-                        

Visitors, students, others                    |30          |20          |10          |10          |<3>-        |30          |40          |50          |60                       

                                                                                                                                                                                

Madras                                                                                                                                                                          

Wives, children, other dependent relatives<1> |60          |50          |60          |70          |70          |60          |40          |60          |70                       

Husbands, male fiances                        |20          |20          |20          |30          |20          |20          |20          |20          |20                       

Femal fiancees                                |-           |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-        |<3>-                     

Visitors, students, others                    |40          |50          |40          |40          |50          |40          |30          |40          |40                       

<1> Including other persons applying for entry clearance for immediate settlement.                                                                                              

<2> Including persons seeking political asylum.                                                                                                                                 

<3> Five or fewer.                                                                                                                                                              

ENVIRONMENT

Enterprise Zones

Mr. Spearing : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the loss to the Exchequer in each year from 1984-85 to 1989-90 arising from the provisions of section 179 and schedule 32 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980.

Mr. Moynihan : Annual figures for the estimated net cost to the Exchequer up to March 1988 of capital allowances in enterprise zones in Great Britain (designated under schedule 32) are given in table 13 of "Enterprise Zone Information 1987-1988". Copies of the report are available in the Library.

Bedfordshire Pilgrims Housing Association

Sir Trevor Skeet : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what conditions have been set for the transfer of housing stock to the Bedfordshire Pilgrims housing association ; and, specifically, what percentage has been earmarked for the repayment of debt.

Mr. Michael Spicer : I am sending to my hon. Friend a copy of the letter of consent issued to North Bedfordshire borough council and placing a copy in the Library.

In line with our general policy on the use of receipts from large-scale voluntary transfers of council housing, the council was directed to set aside for debt redemption the greater of : 75 per cent. of the receipt or an amount equivalent to the outstanding debt on the housing transferred.

Homelessness

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what extra funding he will make available to enable Stoke on Trent city council, housing associations and voluntary organisations to meet the housing needs of homeless people within the city.

Mr. Michael Spicer : Housing resources for Stoke city council will be allocated in the usual way following consultation on the 1991-92 housing investment programme. Detailed decisions on the funding of housing associations are for the Housing Corporation, but overall spending by the corporation is scheduled to rise from around £1.1 billion this year to nearly £1.7 billion in 1992-93. Funding under section 73 of the Housing Act 1985 for voluntary organisations working with the homeless has increased from £680,000 in 1989-90 to £2 million this year. No applications for funding were received from organisations in the Stoke area in respect of the current year, but it is open to interested bodies to submit applications, by October, for funding in 1991-92.

Drinking Water

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the presence of cryptosporidium in drinking water supplies.

Mr. Heathcoat-Amory : I understand that the group of experts chaired by Sir John Badenoch is drawing to a


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conclusion its report on cryptosporidium in water supplies. When the report is submitted jointly to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Health, it will be published and copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

Acid Rain

Mr. Hardy : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will provide his estimate of the levels of emission of carbon dioxide and of other chemical substances contributing to acid rain from Britain (a) during the last two months and (b) the comparable figure for the same period in 1989.

Mr. Trippier : Data on emissions of selected gases into the atmosphere are published annually in the Digest of Environmental Protection and Water Statistics, the latest of which (No. 12) contains figures for 1978-88 and has been placed in the Library of the House. Monthly figures are not available. Emissions of carbon dioxide and of the main contributors to acid rain, sulphur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen for 1987-88 are as follows :


United Kingdom Estimated Emissions   |1987                              |1988                                                                 

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

Carbon dioxide<1> (million tonnes)   |159                               |158                                                                  

Sulphur dioxide (thousand tonnes)    |3,863                             |3,664                                                                

Nitrogen oxides<2> (thousand tonnes) |2,429                             |2,480                                                                

<1> Expressed in terms of weight of carbon emitted                                                                                            

<2> Expressed as nitrogen dioxide equivalent                                                                                                  

Oil Spillages

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what specific contribution was made by his Department to the development of the international convention on the prevention of maritime pollution from oil spillages, developed by the International Maritime Organisation.

Mr. Trippier [holding answer 26 June 1990] : The draft convention on international co-operation on oil pollution preparedness and response being developed by the International Maritime Organisation is concerned primarily with mutual assistance and international co-operation between administrations to prepare for, and respond to, oil pollution incidents.

These are matters which fall within the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport. My Department is being kept in touch with progress in view of its co-ordinating interest in maritime environment issues.

NATIONAL FINANCE

Crown Estates

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he next proposes to meet the First Crown Estates Commissioner to discuss revenues from the Crown Estates.

Mr. Major : I shall be meeting the First Crown Estates Commissioner on 3 July.


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Economic and Monetary Union

Mr. Teddy Taylor : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters he has received from the general public on his proposals for economic and monetary developments in the European Economic Community.

Mr. Lilley : A number.

Income Tax

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the increase in the standard rate of income tax necessary to raise an extra £21.5 billion per year ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Lilley : At 1990-91 income levels an increase of about 12 pence would be required, raising the basic rate of income tax from 25 pence to 37 pence. This estimate does not allow for any behavioural effects that might result from such an increase.

HEALTH

NHS Reform

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many copies of "Working for Patients" working paper 11, "Framework for Information", and invitations to take part in the consultation on it, were sent to (a) health authorities, (b) family practitioner committees, (c) community health councils, (d) professional organisations, (e) academic departments and research units, (f) voluntary organisations, (g) trade unions, (h) management and computer consultants, (i) suppliers of goods and equipment, (j) other private companies and (k) other organisations.

Mr. Dorrell : A total of 3,400 copies of working paper 11 were distributed ; this included copies to all Members of Parliament for England.

Working paper 11 was part of a set of consultative documents. The set was sent to :


                                          |Number       

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

District health authorities               |190          

Special health authorities                |8            

Regional health authorities               |14           

Family practitioner committees            |90           

Community health councils                 |0            

Professional organisations                |59           

Academic organisations and research units |29           

Voluntary organisations                   |8            

Trade unions                              |7            

Management and computer consultants       |32           

Suppliers of goods and equipment          |32           

Other private companies                   |31           

Other organisations                       |21           

Additional copies of the consultative documents were available from the health publications unit. Although the unit does not keep a record of the organisations to which it sends copies, approximately 3,800 copies of both the main texts of the consultative documents for information and IT were distributed.

Mr. Robin Cook : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many replies he has received from his


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consultation on working paper 11, broken down into (a) health authorities, family practitioner committees and community health councils, (b) management and computer consultants, (c) suppliers of goods and equipment, (d) academic departments and research units, (e) professional organisations and (f) other organisations.

Mr. Dorrell : A total of 222 written replies were received. Several organisations sent more than one response. Some regions sent a response which reflected the views of their districts. The breakdown of the organisations sending at least one response was :


7

                                         |Number       

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

Health authorities, units, FPCs and CHCs |124          

Management and computer consultants      |3            

Suppliers of goods and services          |11           

Academic departments and research units  |8            

Professional organisations               |20           

Other organisations                      |14           

                                         |----         

Total                                    |180          

A list of the organisations responding to the consultative exercise is given in appendix 1 of the document, published this week, entitled "Framework for Information Systems : The Next Steps". Aimed primarily at information systems specialists, the document presents the conclusions of the consultation exercise. Copies have been placed in the Library.

London Hospitals (Patients)

Miss Hoey : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will list the numbers of patients treated during the last full year before closure of (a) the South London hospital for women, (b) Lambeth hospital and (c) St. George's hospital, Balham ; and what is the total number of patients currently being treated at Charing Cross hospital.

Mr. Dorrell : The information is given in the table. St. George's hospital in Tooting is fully operational, but details are given for St. James's which has closed. There were 25,080 in-patient cases treated at Charing Cross hospital in the year ending March 1989, the latest for which information is held centrally.


Numbers of patients treated in last full year before closure               

Hospital                      |Last full year|In-patients                  

                              |of activity   |treated                      

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

South London hospital (women) |1983          |5,353                        

Lambeth hospital              |1975          |8,836                        

St. James's, Balham           |1986          |12,678                       

Transplant Operations

Mr. Thurnham : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many transplant operations have been carried out in the United Kingdom and how many in the other European Community countries.

Mr. Dorrell : According to information provided by the European Dialysis and Transplant Association the number of kidney transplants carried out in 1988 in European Community countries was as follows :


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                             |Number of kidney transplants                             

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

Belgium                      |401                                                      

Denmark                      |145                                                      

Fed. Rep. Germany            |1,791                                                    

France                       |1,808                                                    

Greece                       |39                                                       

Ireland                      |78                                                       

Italy                        |476                                                      

Luxembourg                   |6                                                        

Netherlands                  |416                                                      

Portugal                     |104                                                      

Spain                        |1,018                                                    

United Kingdom               |1,735                                                    

Note: Figures include transplants of kidneys from cadavers and living donors.          

We do not have accurate information on transplants of other organs in European Community countries.

Pregnancy Tests

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many pregnancy tests were carried out at hospitals following referral from a general practitioner in 1989 and at what cost ; if he will list his reply by region ; and if he will make a statement about pregnancy test charges in the future.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The information requested is not available centrally. Where health authorities offer general practitioners direct access to pathology services it is for the general practitioner concerned to judge whether a hospital test is warranted or whether an alternative method of confirming pregnancy is appropriate. Tests provided under the national health service will continue to be free of charge.

Breast and Cervical Cancer

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the incidence of breast cancer in women aged (a) 50 to 64 years and (b) 65 years and over in each year since 1984 for which figures are available.

Mr. Dorrell : The information is shown in the table ; 1985 is the latest available data year.


Registrations of newly diagnosed cases  

of malignant neoplasm of                

female breast<1>, and rates per 100,000 

population, ages 50-64, 65 and          

over, England and Wales, 1985<2>.       

Age-Group |Number   |Rate<3>            

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

50-64     |6,977    |166                

65+       |10,538   |228                

<1>Assigned to the International        

Classification of Diseases 9th revision 

code 174.                               

<2>Provisional.                         

<3>Rate per 100,000 population.         

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the incidence of cervical cancer in women aged (a) 50 to 64 years and (b) 65 years and over in each year since 1984 for which figures are available.

Mr. Dorrell : The information is shown in the table ; 1985 is the latest available data year.


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Registrations of newly diagnosed cases  

of                                      

malignant neoplasm of cervix uteri<1>   

and rates per 100,000 population, ages  

50-64,                                  

65 and over, England and Wales, 1985<2> 

Age-Group |Number   |Rate<3>            

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

50-64     |1,075    |26                 

65+       |1,086    |24                 

<1>Assisigned to the International      

Classification of Diseases 9th revision 

code 180.                               

<2>Provisional                          

<3>Rate per 100,000 population.         

Mr. Andrew Bowden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend the routine invitation of women for breast and cervical cancer screening to women over the age of 65 years.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Women aged over 65 are not excluded from either screening programme. We have asked health authorities to provide breast cancer screening to women in this age group every three years on request. Guidance on cervical screening issued by the Department of Health to health authorities, family practitioner committees and general practitioners stated that

"women aged 65 and over who have not had two consecutive negative smears in the last ten years should also be screened".

Our most recent figures show that women aged over 65 years already consult their doctors more than six times a year on average. Under the GPs' new contract much greater emphasis is being placed on health promotion and prevention of ill health. This will mean that GPs will have even more opportunities to advise women patients over 65 of the wisdom of accepting these preventive measures.

Water Quality

Mr. Wallace : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the health implications to consumers of tap water from the presence of blue-green algae in water sources.

Mr. Dorrell : I am advised that, despite medical and scientific interest over at least 50 years, there is no convincing evidence that algal toxins in drinking water have ever caused illness in humans. Several published reports from other countries refer to outbreaks of gastrointestinal illness and hepatitis occurring during a period of heavy algal growth in the source of the drinking water. In these incidents, the source water often smelt and tasted unpleasant and the water treatment was inadequate to remove the taste and odour which therefore remained in the drinking water. However, as noted in a review published in 1984 by the World Health Organisation, there is no evidence of the causal involvement of algal toxins in these episodes. There have been no such published reports from the United Kingdom.

Scanners

Mr. Hind : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement on his Department's policy on the provision and allocation of capital resources to provide scanners in national health service hospitals.

Mr. Dorrell : It is for health authorities to decide, in the light of local circumstances and needs, how capital moneys are to be allocated.


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