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Widow's Bereavement Allowance

Mr. Nigel Jones : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much the Government will save from the reduction in the tax allowance on widow's bereavement allowance.

Mr. Dorrell : At 1994-95 income levels, the full-year yield from restricting the widows' bereavement allowance to 20 per cent. is about £6 million. Restricting this allowance to 15 per cent. as announced for 1995-96, would yield an estimated further £9 million.

Football Pools Betting Duty

Mr. Pendry : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table showing the Government's total income from the football pools betting duty for each of the years 1991-92 and 1992-93 and as a total over the same period.

Sir John Cope : Receipts from pool betting duty were as follows :


          |£ million          

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

1991-92   |319.5              

1992-93   |318.2              

          |-------            

Total     |637.7              

Relocation

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants were located in Greater London at the beginning of (a) 1964, (b) 1974, (c) 1984 and (d) 1994 ; and what he expects the figure to be in 2004.

Mr. Dorrell : The number of civil servants, full-time equivalents, located in Greater London, was 131,451 at January 1984 and 111,252 at 1 April 1993, latest available. Data for earlier years are not available ; nor are projections made by location.

Unicorn Heritage plc

Mr. Meacher : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what precise grounds (a) Cork Gully recommended that the debt owed by Unicorn Heritage plc be written off and (b) the Treasury accepted that the debt could not be repaid by the directors of the company.

Mr. Dorrell : Cork Gully, as liquidator of Unicorn Heritage plc, assessed the assets and liabilities of the


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company and on 12 October 1990 informed the English tourist board that there was no prospect of any payment of a dividend to unsecured creditors. As a result on 16 April 1991 the English tourist board decided that it would seek approval for the debt to be written off from the Department of National Heritage and the Treasury, and wrote to the Department of National Heritage on 12 March 1992. In the light of the information provided by Cork Gully and the ETB, the Treasury on 14 May 1993 accepted that there was no prospect of a dividend. As Unicorn Heritage plc had limited liability status the directors were not personally responsible for the debts incurred by the company.

Air Passenger Duty

Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made regarding the revenue derived from air passenger duty per annum in respect of (a) scheduled passenger flights to and from airports in Scotland, (b) charter flights to and from airports in Scotland ; and (c) scheduled passenger flights to and from airports operated by Highlands and Islands Airports Ltd.

Sir John Cope : On the basis of statistics provided by the Civil Aviation Authority, the total revenue yield from air passenger duty from passengers departing from Scottish airports is estimated to be around £20 million. Around 55 per cent. of this total is from scheduled flights and 45 per cent. from chartered flights. No separate estimates have been made for arriving passengers as this can give rise to double counting. The revenue yield is likely to be similar to that from departing passengers.

We estimate that around £1 million will be paid from passengers departing from highland and island airports.

Mrs. Ray Michie : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer which passengers will be exempt from air passenger duty ; what types of aircraft will be exempt ; what plans there are to exempt users of aircraft flying to and from the Highlands and Islands of Scotland ; and if he will make a statement.

Sir John Cope : The Finance Bill proposes that passengers will be exempt from air passenger duty if they are on the return leg of a domestic return ticket ; if they are transferring at a United Kingdom airport to another aircraft or a further flight on the same aircraft ; or if they are under two years of age and are not allocated a separate seat before entering the aircraft. Passengers on aircraft taking off from airports outside the United Kingdom will not be within the scope of the duty. Aircraft will be exempt if they have a maximum take-off weight of under 10 tonnes or if they seat fewer than 20 passengers. There are no plans for an exemption for all passengers flying to and from the highlands and islands of Scotland.

Grants

Mr. Flynn : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list all the grants of over £50,000 for commercial and industrial ventures that his Department has written off as not recoverable in the past three years.

Mr. Nelson [holding answer 17 January 1994] : None.


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HEALTH

Primary Care Projects

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the projects in primary care under "London : Making the Best Better" that have been financed by the London implementation group and the cost of each project.

Dr. Mawhinney : In 1993-94, £40 million has been made available to fund primary care development plans produced by each of the 12 family health services authorities--FHSAs--within the London initiative zone--LIZ. A list will be placed in the Library of projects contained within those plans which are being progressed in 1993-94. Detailed management and monitoring of development programmes is carried out by FHSAs, and costings for individual projects are therefore not available centrally.

Pathology Services

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the private tendering of pathology services in NHS hospitals.

Mr. Sackville : It is for trusts to take account of the range of options available for the provision of pathology services, including provision by the independent sector, in securing the best service for patients.

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the time scale for the Government review of pathology services.

Mr. Sackville : The strategic review of pathology services began in November 1993, and is expected to report to the Department in June this year.

Hepatitis B Vaccinations

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of surgeons have been vaccinated against hepatitis B.

Mr. Sackville : This information is not available centrally, but surgeons have been among the high risk groups recommended to receive hepatitis B vaccine since its introduction in 1982. Guidance to health authorities and trusts was reinforced last August by the issue of the booklet "Protecting Health Care Workers and Patients from Hepatitis B", with accompanying health service guidelines. These guidelines ask provider units to aim to immunise and check the immunity of all surgeons by the middle of 1994. Copies of the booklet and guidelines are available in the Library.

Air Pollution

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will place a copy of the third report of the advisory group on medical aspects of air pollution episodes, produced in December, in the Library.

Mr. Sackville : I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 15 December at column 720.


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Food Safety

Mr. Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures are taken in food poisoning investigations to determine sources of infection ; and what assessment she has made of the extent to which these measures are adequate ;

(2) when the proposed draft guidelines on the investigation of food poisoning will be released for consultation.

Mr. Sackville : It is for the authorities involved to decide upon the structure and priorities of any investigation undertaken regarding an outbreak of food poisoning.

Guidance on the management of such outbreaks will be released for consultation shortly.

Mr. Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will place in the Library the detailed protocols of the research into the incidence and sources of salmonella food poisoning being administered by the steering group on the microbiological safety of food.

Mr. Sackville : Copies of a background note summarising the protocol for the steering group's study of infectious intestinal disease in England will be placed in the Library. The study will provide information on the incidence, but not the sources, of salmonella food poisoning. More detailed information about the protocol will be available when the results of the study are published after its completion in 1995.

Mr. Welsh : To ask the Secretary of State for Health on what basis the research funding administered by the steering group on the microbiological safety of food has been, or will be, awarded ; and whether the research work has been advertised to independent laboratories and research groups, on a tender basis.

Mr. Sackville : The steering group makes decisions on the need for new microbiological food safety surveillance projects on the basis of available epidemiological data and other data on food, food processes and food hygiene. Contracts are awarded by officials in the Department of Health and the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on behalf of the steering group to organisations in the public and private sectors with the relevant expertise. Neither of the national projects currently under way was appropriate for tender procedures, given their complexity. It is envisaged that suitable projects will be advertised in the future and subsequent contracts awarded on a tender basis.

Television and Radio Interviews

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the television and radio interviews, and the topics covered, by her and her departmental Ministers between 18 December and 10 January.

Mr. Sackville : The subjects on which Ministers at the Department gave television and radio interviews between 18 December and 10 January are :

Home Alone Children

In vitro Fertilisation

Services for Juvenile Delinquents

Smoking

Reforming London's Health Services


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Accident and Emergency Services

Patient's Charter

Drugs Campaign Launch

Family Values--International Year of the Family

Detailed records of individual interviews are not kept. Ministers responded to requests on the topics listed as they were received.

In Vitro Fertilisation

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures she can take to prevent the use of in vitro fertilisation as a mechanism for social engineering as in the fixing of foetus characteristics such as sex or ethnicity ; and if she will make a statement ;

(2) what measures she can take to prevent the use of in vitro fertilisation in respect of post-menopausal women ; and if she will use such measures ;

(3) what measures she can take to prevent the use of in vitro fertilisation in circumstances such as the mixing of the ethnicity of donor and recipient.

Mr. Sackville : The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority established by Parliament in 1990 under the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act regulates centres carrying out in vitro fertilisation.

The authority maintains a code of practice setting out its requirements for the proper conduct of licensed activities. The code is approved by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and is laid before Parliament. It makes clear the age of the prospective parents is one factor which should be considered when deciding whether or not in vitro fertilisation should be offered. Where donated eggs or sperm are used in treatment, it is good practice to try to match the physical characteristics of the donor to those of the couple being treated. The use of sex selection techniques in centres licensed by the authority is permitted only for medical reasons. An essential feature of the 1990 Act and the activities regulated under its provisions is the welfare of any child born as a result of treatment.

Mentally Ill Patients

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will order independent inquiries into every death caused by patients discharged under medication from mental illness hospitals.

Mr. Bowis : New guidance to the national health service on the discharge of psychiatric patients, issued for consultation on 12 January, states that it will always be necessary to hold an inquiry which is independent of service providers in cases of homicides involving mentally ill people.

NHS Contracts

Mr. Miller : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she intends to take in the event of a dispute between a contractor and a national health service trust, when that dispute is outside the terms of the National Health Service Contracts (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 1991, to ensure that the trust has acted wholly within the law.

Mr. Sackville : National health service contracts between purchasers and providers are subject to the National Health Service Contracts (Dispute Resolution)


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Regulations 1991. Where a purchaser or provider contracts with the independent sector these contracts will be legal contracts and therefore subject to the proper legal process.

NHS Supplies Authority

Mr. Whittingdale : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what levels of savings in purchasing and administrative costs have been targeted by the NHS Supplies Authority for the years 1994 to 1996.

Mr. Sackville : The authority is preparing its business plan for 1994-95, and the national health service management executive has not yet, therefore, agreed purchasing or running cost savings targets with the authority for that or subsequent years. The NHS management executive will, however, require the authority to build significantly on the purchasing savings of £57 million which it is on target to achieve in 1993-94, and further to reduce its warehousing and distribution costs through the new logistics strategy currently being prepared.

Mr. Whittingdale : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment she has made of the extent to which the NHS Supplies Authority's financial savings and efficiency targets could be improved or accelerated by transfering it to the private sector ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Sackville : After taking independent, specialist consultancy advice, our assessment is that privatisation of the National Health Service Supplies Authority in its present form would not offer the prospect of increased financial savings or increased efficiency, and would risk diverting management effort from the significant service improvements and cost reductions which are being planned. However, the core function of the authority is acknowledged to be purchasing and contracting. Its other activities, particularly warehousing, distribution, and information technology services, could gain added value from more extensive use through market testing of private sector skills, experience and resources. This will be taken forward by the authority as it develops its new logstics and IT strategies.

Psychiatric Hospital Closures

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health where published copies of the handbook of good practice in psychiatric hospital closures prepared by the mental health task force are available.

Mr. Bowis : The handbook of good practice will be available shortly and copies will be placed in the Library.

Blood Donors

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 16 December 1993, Official Report, column 811 , whether the screening tests required for blood or plasma collected overseas for processing into blood products to be imported are conducted in the United Kingdom.

Mr. Sackville : It is a requirement throughout the European Community that all plasma donations used in the manufacture of blood products marketed in the European Community must be screened for hepatitis B, hepatitis C,


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HIV 1 and HIV 2. Such testing is performed in the country of origin. For all products which are to be marketed in the United Kingdom, however, samples of plasma pools are submitted for independent testing in the United Kingdom by the National Institute for Biological Standards and Control.

Mental Health

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what progress has been made by the mental health task force towards its strategic objective of developing a vision of the shape of the market for mental health services in years to come.

Mr. Bowis : On 4 October 1993, a conference was held at the Queen Elizabeth II conference centre, London on "Mental Health--Visions for the Future". It was organised jointly by the National Association of Health Authorities and Trusts, the Association of Directors of Social Services and the Mental Health Task Force. I gave the keynote address and over 200 health service managers and others attended. The task force support group, which includes many of the major interests in the field, held a seminar in November which sought to anticipate developments in mental health services over the next 20 years. The issues identified by participants and suggestions for further work during 1994 are being considered.

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she will publish the report of the review of mental health nursing.

Mr. Bowis : Shortly.

AIDS Support Grant

Mr. Dowd : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when is the deadline for London boroughs to apply for AIDS support grant for 1994-95 ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Sackville : The local authority circular LAC(94)3, explaining arrangements for continuation in 1994-95 of the AIDS support grant scheme has been issued and invites authorities to submit their expenditure plans to the Department by 18 February. Copies of the circular are available in the Library.

Oral Health

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when her Department commenced work on the proposals for an oral health strategy.

Dr. Mawhinney : Work on an oral health strategy started in October 1991, with the setting up of an oral health strategy group, chaired by the chief dental officer.

Lister Hospital, Stevenage

Mr. Spellar : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what inquiry she has conducted into the placing of the control by North Hertfordshire health trust to manage the pathology services for the Lister hospital, Stevenage.

Mr. Sackville : It is for the trust to determine which source of pathology provision provides the best service for patients, and to specify and monitor the standards to be met in contracts.


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Embryology

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action she has taken or will take to encourage the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority to prevent research into the use of foetal eggs from aborted foetuses for human reproductive purposes ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Sackville : The consultation document on donated ovarian tissue in embryo research and assisted conception issued on 7 January by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority invites comments on whether eggs or ovarian tissue from foetuses should be used in research. The Government welcome this wide-ranging consultation. We look forward to receiving advice from the authority in due course, when we can consider what further action, if any, is required.

Health Care, London

Mr. Corbyn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what funding is being allocated on 1994-95 to regional health authorities to purchase health care in London ; and what was the figure for 1993-94.

Dr. Mawhinney : Allocations are made to the four Thames regions and it is they who allocate to district health authorities in London. For 1993- 94 and 1994-95, the main regional allocations were :


9

£000's                                                   

                  |1993-94     |1994-95                  

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

North West Thames |1,320,749   |<1>1,352,165             

North East Thames |1,490,187   |1,561,379                

South East Thames |1,439,276   |1,519,821                

South West Thames |1,116,107   |<1>1,163,130             

<1>The allocations are not directly comparable because   

of boundary                                              

changes.                                                 

In addition, the Thames regions will have received during 1993-94 further allocations for specific purposes, some of which will have been deployed in London. Similar allocations will be made during 1994-95.

Information on allocations for 1994-95 is not yet available centrally. The 1993-94 revenue allocations to London DHAs are as follows :


Region and District            |£,000's                                

Health Authority                                                       

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

North West Thames                                                      

Barnet                         |99,709                                 

Hillingdon                     |72,384                                 

Brent and Harrow               |151,175                                

Ealing/Hammersmith/Hounslow    |193,428                                

Kensington/Chelsea/Westminster |127,078                                

                                                                       

North East Thames                                                      

Barking and Havering           |118,879                                

Camden and Islington           |185,044                                

East London and The City       |243,662                                

New Rivers                     |170,366                                

Redbridge/Waltham Forest       |159,278                                

                                                                       

South East Thames                                                      

Bexley                         |68,422                                 

Greenwich                      |86,135                                 

Bromley                        |97,490                                 

South East London              |299,968                                

                                                                       

South West Thames                                                      

Croydon                        |102,565                                

Kingston and Richmond          |150,538                                

Wandsworth                     |87,243                                 

Merton and Sutton              |122,744                                

NHS Trusts

Mr. Battle : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what guidelines she has issued to trust hospitals on their pension fund investment policies.

Dr. Mawhinney : None. For an occupational pension scheme to obtain Inland Revenue approval the rules on scheme investment would have to meet Inland Revenue criteria.

Abortion

Mr. Tredinnick : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking in respect of re-approval of private sector places to carry out termination of pregnancy under the Abortion Act 1967 when the current approval period ends at the end of January.

Mr. Sackville : My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health will be extending by six months from 1 February 1994 current private sector approvals to carry out termination of pregnancy under the Abortion Act 1967, as amended. This will allow the Department of Health to complete a review of current arrangements for approving and monitoring places so approved. Any changes will be introduced from 1 August 1994. All places currently approved under section 1(3) of the Act are being informed.

Staffordshire Ambulance Trust

Ms Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will meet employees of the Staffordshire ambulance trust to discuss patient transport services.

Mr. Sackville : I have no plans to do so. Employee relations in national health service trusts are the responsibility of NHS trust boards.

Royal Orthopaedic Hospital, Birmingham

Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what was the relocation plan on which she approved the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham ;

(2) when she gave her approval to the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham.

Dr. Mawhinney : Agreement to the permanent closure of the Birmingham accident and the Royal orthopaedic hospitals was given on 1 February 1993. In order to effect the closures, trauma, orthopaedic, plastic surgery and burns services were to transfer to the Birmingham general hospital and later relocate to the Selly Oak hospital site. In order to make sufficient space at the general hospital, general surgery and general medicine were to be transferred to the Queen Elizabeth and Selly Oak hospitals.

Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received to change the relocation plan associated with the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham ; and if she will make a statement.


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Dr. Mawhinney : Since South Birmingham district health authority put forward suggestions for the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital and reprovision of these services on the Selly Oak hospital site, we have received 12 letters from hon. Members and 51 from members of the public.

Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what response she has made to the South Birmingham health authority financial review into the Royal orthopaedic hospital compiled by KPMG Peat Marwick, a copy of which has been sent to her.

Dr. Mawhinney : It is for the South Birmingham district health authority, which commissioned this report, to consider what response, if any, to make to it.

Mr. Burden : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will set out the financial grounds on which she gave her approval to the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital in Birmingham.

Dr. Mawhinney : At the time the proposal for the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital was considered in February 1993, concerns were expressed about a possible loss of income to the hospital as a number of health authorities were signalling their intention of reducing contracts with it. However, the financial position of the hospital was only one of the issues which was considered. The main reason for agreeing the closure of the Royal orthopaedic hospital and reprovision of orthopaedic services on to one site was to improve the quality of care available to patients.


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