Mr. Trend : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now repeal building regulation A4, relating to the safeguarding of certain public buildings,shops and shopping malls against disproportionate collapse ; and if he will make a statement.
Mr. Baldry : Following an extensive review the Government have concluded that the considerable enhancement in structural safety of buildings constructed in recent years has rendered regulation A4 superfluous to the stability and robustness provisions of requirement A1. Such enhancement in the integrity of building structures has resulted from substantial improvements in the quality of guidance material--principally British standards--supporting requirement A1, rather than the imposition of regulation A4. To some extent the guidance material supporting the material and workmanship provisions of regulation 7 has also improved the situation.
Considerable support for the repeal of regulation A4 was registered in the consultation exercise undertaken at the end of last year. The proposal for repeal has now been endorsed by the Building Regulations Advisory Committee.
It is the Government's view that the shortcomings that prevailed in the 1970s, which led to the introduction of regulation A4, have been addressed. This significant regulatory burden on the construction industry can now be removed without compromising public safety. An amendment to the building regulations incorporating this repeal will be laid before Parliament as soon as possible.
Mr. Ainger : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his answer of 28 February, Official Report, column 554, if he will list the blocks about which his Department expressed concern to the DTI during the 14th round of offshore licensing.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 4 March 1994] : My Department recommended that 22 blocks be excluded from the 14th round unless conditions were attached that would allow the prospecting and working of aggregates such that the national aggregates supply would not be jeopardised.
Column 301Official Report, column 554, if he will list all the areas of concern his Department asked the DTI to address in deciding which blocks to licence during the 14th round of offshore licensing.
Mr. Baldry [holding answer 4 March 1994] : My Department expressed concern about blocks which were of considerable importance to the marine aggregates industry. We also drew attention to two areas which were in the vicinity of sites of special scientific interest.
Mr. Tyler : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received on the proposed merger of English Nature and the Countryside Commission ; what is the timetable for a decision ; and what he is doing to ensure that the interests of the landscape, recreation and those involved in economic development are given priority.
Mr. Atkins [holding answer 7 March 1994] : Public consultation on the proposals for possible merger runs until 28 March. Few representations have been received to date. All aspects of the remits of the two bodies are being considered during the study announced on 27 January by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment which is expected to be completed by July. A decision will be taken as soon as possible thereafter.
Mr. Rooker : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if the housing investment programmes submitted to his Department indicated how many local authorities and housing associations fix rent levels by reference to the area of usable space in each type of dwelling ; and if he will make a statement.
Sir George Young [holding answer 8 March 1994] : Local authorities' housing strategy statements and housing investment programme bids are primarily concerned with the use of capital resources, and most contain relatively little information about the detail of council rent- setting policies.
Local authorities are required to set their rents at reasonable levels, and with regard to the pattern of rents for different properties in the private sector.
Housing associations set assured rents in the light of their own individual circumstances. Associations which are registered with the Housing Corporation are expected under the tenants guarantee to set and maintain rents at levels within the reach of those in low paid employment. In the case of housing association secure tenants, fair rents are set by rent officers who are statutorily independent of Government.
Mr. Mackinlay : To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the extent of the research being conducted into the levels this year of deaths of sea birds in and around the shores of the United Kingdom ; and what are the preliminary findings of the research.
Column 302statutory conservation advisors consider that it is more useful to monitor large seabird colonies and selected individuals within those colonies when studying bird mortality and overall population levels. Some of the birds washed up in the recent North sea incident have been taken for post mortem analysis and preliminary results indicate that starvation was the likely cause of death,possibly due to a combination of strong onshore winds which may have disturbed normal feeding activity and, perhaps, a mismatch between bird location and food availability.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration has been given by her Department into the unauthorised transfer of £300,000 to the company FIP by West Midlands regional health authority.
Dr. Mawhinney : In January 1992, the former director of finance of West Midlands regional health authority made a loan of £300,000 to Financial Information Project Ltd. without reference to the RHA board. In March 1993, the loan was ratified by the West Midlands regional health authority board under section 64 of the Health Services and Public Health Act 1968. The district auditor has stated that he is satisfied with the actions taken by the West Midlands regional health authority to regularise the payment. The loan is repayable at the direction of the West Midlands regional health authority.
Mr. Sackville : A study to develop a strategy in the national health service for the provision of mobile communications, principally those used by the ambulance service, is planned to report in April 1994.
Discussions are taking place with the Home Department, which will continue throughout 1994, to examine the feasibility and cost advantages of implementing a communications facility shared by the police, fire and ambulance services.
Mrs. Bridget Prentice : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the total sum of the budgets of those general practitioner fundholders who practise in (a) Lewisham and (b) London for the most recent available year.
Dr. Mawhinney : Information about general practitioner fundholder budgets is collected only at regional health authority level. For more detailed information about the London and Lewisham areas, the hon. Member may wish to contact the four Thames regional health authorities.
Mr. Sackville : Sodium valproate is a drug used in the treatment of epilepsy and like several other anti-epileptics is known to be teratogenic. Articles in the medical literature and spontaneous reports received by the Committee on Safety of Medicines indicate that there is an increased risk of birth defects in children whose mothers take anti-epileptics. In particular, the use of sodium valproate in early pregnancy is associated with neural tube defects. However, the risks to both mother and child of inadequate treatment of epilepsy during pregnancy are also well recognised and need to be balanced against the risk of birth defects. For this reason many women continue taking anti-epileptics during pregnancy.
The risk of birth defects with sodium valproate was drawn to the attention of doctors by the CSM in its bulletin, "Current Problems", No. 9, published in January 1983. A reminder was also issued in June 1993 in "Current Problems in Pharmacovigilance", Volume 19. Information on birth defects associated with the use of anti-epileptic treatment can also be found in the product data sheets produced by the manufacturers and authorised by the Licensing Authority, and in the British National Formulary which is sent free to all doctors. Copies of "Current Problems" are available in the Library.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she has studied the survey by Mr. Michael West and Mr. Rod Sheaff of the health services management unit at Manchester university into issues of probity and honesty in the NHS ; and if she will make a statement.
Dr. Mawhinney : Yes. The survey of attitudes towards issues of probity among national health service chairmen and board members was commissioned by the NHS Management Executive's corporate governance task force who expressed the view in their report :
"the attitudes of respondents to the survey, for the most part, supported a strict application of traditional rules of behaviour." I welcome that finding which is the foundation for the NHS code of conduct issued for comment on 13 January 1994.
Mrs. Fyfe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many hospitals in England are currently directly-managed ; how many there will be on 1 April ; and what percentage of total bed provision will be represented by those directly-managed units.
Mr. Gunnell : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what public consultations took place before the decision to allow Wharfedale hospital to be taken over by the United Leeds hospital--LGI--trust.
(2) what budget adjustments are planned for the Leeds health authority and St. James hospital trust to reflect the transfer of responsibility for Seacroft hospital from one to the other ; (3) what budget adjustments are planned to reflect the transfer of responsibility for Wharfedale hospital from Leeds health authority to the United Leeds hospital--LGI--trust ;
(4) what public consultations took place before the decision to allow St. James hospital trust to take over Seacroft hospital.
Dr. Mawhinney : No decisions have yet been taken on future management arrangements for Seacroft and Wharfedale hospitals. The existing Leeds national health service trusts and the two hospitals are discussing proposals to reconfigure their services with the Department and the regional health authority. If expressions of interest are approved in principle, they will be subject to the full application process for NHS trust status, including statutory public consultation, before my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State makes her final decision. I have indicated that any proposals will need to ensure that acute services are provided at broadly the same volume on the Seacroft and Wharfedale sites and that the United Leeds teaching hospitals NHS trust and St. James's university hospital NHS trust provide those services but do not simply take over the hospitals.
Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what was the expenditure by her Department for (a) drug rehabilitation and (b) health education in relation to drug abuse each year since 1989-90.
|£ millions --------------------------------- 1989-90 |14.79 1990-91 |15.53 1991-92 |16.49 1992-93 |20.04 1993-94 |24.37 1994-95 |25.23
A proportion of these resources will have been used to meet healthcare elements of rehabilitation costs. Responsibility for meeting remaining costs of residential care for drug misusers transferred from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security to local authorities on 1 April 1993 with implementation of community care. Local authorities are now responsible for assessing the needs of drug users and purchasing appropriate services to meet those needs.
Expenditure by the Department of Health on national anti-drug and solvent misuse publicity campaigns is :
|£ millions --------------------------------- 1989-90 |3.81 1990-91 |2.42 1991-92 |3.92 1992-93 |4.96 1993-94 |5.42 Estimated.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list for each district health authority in South Yorkshire, and by year from the last four years for which she has figures available, the proportion of terminations of pregnancy carried out under (a) the national health service and (b) the independent or private health services.
Mr. Sackville : The information requested is shown in the table for the years 1989 to 1992. For reasons of confidentiality, statistics for district health authorities are presented by DHA of woman's usual residence, not by DHA of termination.
Abortions performed in England and Wales to residents of South Yorkshire, 1989-92 Place of residence |Total abortions |Percentage of |Percentage of |abortions |abortions carried |carried out under |out |or paid for by the|private health |NHS |services ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Barnsley DHA 1989 |655 |51.3 |48.7 1990 |665 |50.4 |49.6 1991 |641 |61.3 |38.7 1992 |591 |62.1 |37.9 Doncaster DHA 1989 |907 |79.9 |20.1 1990 |871 |81.4 |18.6 1991 |935 |84.6 |15.4 1992 |936 |87.2 |12.8 Rotherham DHA 1989 |700 |66.9 |33.1 1990 |724 |66.2 |33.8 1991 |666 |73.4 |26.6 1992 |600 |69.7 |30.3 Sheffield DHA 1989 |1,503 |59.1 |40.9 1990 |1,513 |55.4 |44.6 1991 |1,573 |61.3 |38.7 1992 |1,392 |62.8 |37.2
(2) if her Department will instruct North West Hertfordshire health authority to provide a minor injuries unit in St. Albans general hospital that is sufficient to meet the accident needs of 14,000 people ;
(3) if she will publish correspondence between the right hon. Member for St. Albans (Mr. Lilley) concerning the minor injuries unit at St. Albans general hospital.
Mr. Sackville : The minor injuries unit at St. Albans hospital opened on 26 April 1993 and such has been its success that it is on course to treat 7,700 patients in its first year of operation. North West Hertfordshire health authority at its meeting on 17 February approved the further development of the unit as a nurse-led service which will enable the unit to treat up to 11,600 patients a year. The correspondence of the hon. Member for St. Albans, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Security, is a matter between him and the Health Authority.
Mr. Redmond : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 17 February, Official Report, column 927, what considerations underlie her decision not to collect centrally information on the number of hospital trusts which operate two standards of category for patients, one of which requires a payment by a patient ; if she will consider holding this information in future ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice her Department has given to local authorities and health authorities on consultation with users and carers in producing local purchasing plans ; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Bowis : The National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 clearly states that when drawing up their community care plans local authorities must consult representatives of users of community care services and their carers. In addition, the National Health Service Management Executive document "Local Voices"
Column 307identified the approach that health authorities need to take to ensure that they involve the general public in their purchasing decisions. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Health wrote in January to all district health authorities emphasising the importance the Government attach to responsiveness to the views and needs of local people.
Mr. Alton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to introduce monitoring by the Mental Health Act Commission of arrangements made for the aftercare of patients covered by section 117 of the Mental Health Act 1983.
Mr. Donohoe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what public relations agencies are employed by each of the regional and district health authorities to provide their public relations ; what is the annual cost of this service to each of the health authorities ; and how these costs have varied since the establishment of NHS trusts.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it her policy that the prioritisation of patients needing treatment should depend on their relative clinical needs rather than the financial circumstances of their general practitioners'budgets.
Dr. Mawhinney : The Department and the joint consultants committee of the British Medical Association issued joint guidance in 1991 stating that all emergencies should be seen immediately, and that there should be common waiting lists for urgent cases. National Health Service Management Executive guidance states that all urgent cases should be given appropriate clinical priority. This was most recently set out in Sir Duncan Nichol's letter to the NHS dated 24 February, EL(94)19, copies of which will be placed in the Library.
Mr. Meale : To ask the Secretary of State for Health(1) if it is Government policy that medical surgeons should be prevented from giving patients the treatment they need because of financial management ;
(2) if she will make a statement on the recent findings from the survey of surgeons of the Royal College of Surgeons of England on the number of surgical divisions which had been told to stop or reduce activity.
Dr. Mawhinney : There is no evidence of reduced activity. Overall activity is in fact forecast to increase this year. No hospitals have stopped admissions and cases continue to be treated according to clinical priority. All emergencies continue to be treated immediately.
Mrs. Ann Winterton : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many cases of apparent failure to report abortions have been investigated by her Department in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available ; in how many of those cases the matter was referred for further consideration by the Crown Prosecution Service ; how many prosecutions were brought ; how many convictions obtained ; and what were the sentences awarded in each of those cases.
Mr. Sackville : There have been eight investigations. Four have been the subject of referral to the Crown Prosecution Service. In one, the CPS decided that police inquiries were not warranted after preliminary Department of Health investigation. A second case was not pursued further after the initial Department of Health investigation. Two cases are currently under consideration.
Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list for each English local authority the level of special transitional grant that would have been paid if the 1993-94 formula for distribution had been applied to 1994-95, indicating for each authority the actual grant being paid for 1994 ; and if she will also state in each case the difference.
Mr. Bowis : The figures for individual authorities will be placed in the Library. The figures in columns 1 and 3 do not take account of the 1994 -95 standard spending assessment review or of the boundary changes.
Mr. Boyes : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will produce a table showing the numbers of children who have taken foreign trips (a) by local authority social services department and (b) by length of stay.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list for each five-year cohort in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland, the number of persons and the percentage of persons, who were born in (i) each of those countries, (ii) the Irish Republic, (iii) elsewhere in Europe, and (iv) elsewhere.
Mr. Sackville [holding answer 7 March 1994] : Information for England and Wales, from the 1991 census, will be placed in the Library. Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
Mr. William Ross : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list for each five-year cohort the number of persons resident in (a) England, (b) Wales, (c) Scotland and (d) Northern Ireland, who are members of each ethnic group ; and what percentage this is in each case of the total number in each such cohort, together with her projections until 2010.
Mr. Sackville [holding answer 7 March 1994] : Information for England and Wales, from the 1991 census, will be placed in the Library. Figures for Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. No population projections are available by ethnic group.