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Mr. Hoyle : To ask the Secretary of State for Health at what level the decision as to the quota of junior doctors allocated to a trust hospital is taken.

Dr. Mawhinney : At senior and career registrar levels, the joint planning advisory committee is responsible for advising the national health service executive as to overall targets for all the medical and dental specialties. These targets are then allocated to regions, the special health authorities and Wales. Exact locations of posts within each region are then a matter for local decision, in discussion with postgraduate deans and specialty advisors to ensure the educational appropriateness of training facilities.

Control of senior house officer numbers has been devolved to the regional office task forces, in consultation with regional postgraduate deans.


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Sex-Enhancing Drugs

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she has taken to warn people about the possible adverse effects of the use of sex-enhancing drugs, and in particular nitrates, and the possible impact of such substances on the immune system.

Mr. Sackville : Recently the Department ran a £2.6 million television and press campaign to inform parents in the fight against drugs and solvent misuse. We are also running a competition for schools "Acting for Health--Drugs, Smoking and Alcohol Abuse", which aims to encourage young people to think about the consequences of substance misuse and how it affects the individual, his or her family and friends and community. As part of our strategy to reduce substance misuse we are keeping the position regarding alkyl nitrites under close review.

Drug and alcohol abuse, including the use of sex-enhancing drugs, may increase the likelihood of indulgence in risky sexual behaviour which could lead to infection with sexually transmitted diseases. This message, including mention of alkyl nitrite inhalants, is included where appropriate in sexual health promotion material prepared for homosexual men.

Dr. Spink : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evidence exists and what research has been or is being conducted into the link between the use of sex-enhancing drugs, with particular reference to nitrites, and cancer, with particular reference to Kaposi's sarcoma.

Mr. Sackville : There is no clear evidence that use of alkyl nitrites causes cancer in humans. Some studies reported an association in homosexual AIDS patients between development of Kaposi's sarcoma and prior use of alkyl nitrites. However, later studies have not confirmed this association. The epidemiology of Kaposi's sarcoma suggests the involvement of an infectious agent that can be transmitted sexually. It is possible that use of alkyl nitrites is associated with higher number of sexual partners and thus greater risk of infection with this agent. As well as the occurrence of Kaposi's sarcoma as a manifestation of AIDS, a less aggressive form of the disease is seen in elderly men of mediterranean origin and in Africa. Use of alkyl nitrites is likely to be rare in these populations.

High-alcohol Beers

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she proposes to take to discourage young people from drinking high alcohol content beers.

Mr. Bowis : The Government are committed to encouraging everyone who drinks alcohol to do so sensibly including young people. The effects of alcohol are included in the national curriculum, and the Department, the Health Education Authority and the industry-sponsored Portman Group have all produced materials for young people. It is important that alcohol consumers should be aware of the strength of their drinks and in "The Health of the Nation," we announced we would seek agreement with alcohol trade associations for the display of this information at points of sale.


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Homeless People

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information she has of the percentage of homeless people who have had a care order at some time in the past or at present.

Mr. Bowis : The Department does not collect information about the whereabouts of children once they have ceased to be looked after by a local authority and no figures are currently available about homeless children subject to court orders.

Press Officers

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is the average time taken for one of her press officers to answer a telephone call.

Mr. Sackville : This information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Pharmaceutical Price Regulation Scheme

Mr. Bayley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will place in the Library a copy of Strachan Heppell's letter dated 6 September 1993 to the president of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry about how the new version of the pharmaceutical price regulation scheme will be implemented.

Dr. Mawhinney : A copy has been placed in the Library.

Edgware General Hospital

Mr. Dykes : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will announce her response to the public representations against the proposed closure of Edgware general hospital sent to her Department since the beginning of the year.

Mr. Sackville : Any proposal for a major change in services would be subject to a period of public consultation. The matter comes to Ministers if there are objections. All factors are taken into account including public representations.

Condoms

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what discussions she has had with the Minister for Consumer Affairs following the lifting of price controls on condoms.

Mr. Sackville : There has been no formal meeting of Health and Consumer Affairs Ministers following the lifting of price control on condoms. The decision to accept the recommendation of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission was taken by the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Corporate Affairs in the light of the fact that the Department of Health had given evidence to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission, and in liaison with the Minister responsible for consumer affairs.

Health Education Authority

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health when she plans to publish the report of the Leigh review of the Health Education Authority.


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Mr. Sackville : I refer the hon. Member to the reply that I gave him on 11 March at column 445.

Vacant Consultant Posts

Mr. Milburn : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 12 April, Official Report, column 79, what information has become available to her Department as a result of representations received about the number of hospital consultant posts that are currently vacant as a result of recruitment difficulties in (a) anaesthetics, (b) ophthalmology and (c) paediatrics.

Dr. Mawhinney : No new information has been made available as a result of representations received in the specialties mentioned.

Age Discrimination

Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what monitoring procedures are in place to ensure that district hospital management committees and hospital trusts do not discriminate against the elderly by refusal to provide, or withdrawal of, treatment ; and what further action she proposes to take ;

(2) how many administrators and medical staff have been found to have used age as a means of determining access to treatment or physiotherapy facilities in the last five years ; and what disciplinary measures have been taken in respect of them.

Dr. Mawhinney : It is the duty of all health authorities to ensure that people of all ages have access to acute care and that specialist care is available to those who suffer with chronic conditions due to the aging process. We are satisfied that we have mechanisms in place for monitoring the performance of health authorities in this respect.

Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will lay down a streamlined procedure for patients who allege they have been discriminated against because of their age in the medical treatment they receive.

Dr. Mawhinney : It is the duty of all health authorities to ensure that people of all ages have access to acute care, and that specialist care is available to those who suffer with chronic conditions due to the aging process. The patient's charter establishes a charter right to have any complaint about national health service services--investigated and to receive a full and prompt written reply. If patients think that they have been, or were likely to be, denied one of their national charter rights, they should write to the chief executive of the national health service executive who will investigate the matter. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has recently received a report on NHS complaints procedures and is considering its recommendations.

Wythenshawe Hospital Development Scheme

Mr. Alfred Morris : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 12 April, Official Report, columns 78-79, what is her estimate of the total cost saving expected for the revision of the Wythenshawe hospital development scheme ; if she will provide a breakdown of her calculations ; and when she expects to be able to give details of the impact of the revision on the scheme as originally proposed and on Withington and other Manchester hospitals.


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Dr. Mawhinney : The revision of the Wythenshawe scheme is not yet finalised, and we are not therefore yet in a position to give further details.

Private Patient Units

Mr. Blunkett : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what information she has received regarding proposals to convert NHS wards to dedicated private patient units.

Mr. Sackville : None.

Regional Health Authority Funding

Mr. Bradley : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) when the revised funding formula for the allocation of resources to regional health authorities will be published ;

(2) how long the consultation period will be on the new funding formula for the allocation of resources to regional health authorities ; and which groups and organisations will be included in the consultation process.

Mr. Sackville : The results of the review of the weighted capitation formula, which is used to allocate resources to regional health authorities, are currently being evaluated. When the report has been presented to Ministers we shall consider the arrangements for circulation, and extent of the consultation required.

Adult Placement Services

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health wat evaluation she has undertaken of the impact of the Registered Homes (Amendment) Act 1991 on the regulation of adult placement services ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Bowis : Following representations from the national organisations concerned with adult placement schemes, the social services inspectorate asked local authorities for information about how they intended to apply the guidance issued on implementation of the Registered Homes (Amendment) Act 1991.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many local authorities (a) directly regulate adult placement services through registration officers and (b) allow adult placement services themselves to regulate the services under the supervision of registration officers.

Mr. Bowis : There is no legislation requiring the registration of adult placement schemes as such. However, where residential accommodation, board and personal care are provided for up to three residents, registration of the home concerned is required under the Registered Homes (Amendment) Act 1991, in the same way as for other small residential care homes.

No information is available centrally about the extent to which local authorities, in carrying out their responsibilities under the Act, rely on checks on individual carers made by the adult placement schemes rather than make checks directly themselves.

Temporary Ward Closures

Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will monitor health authorities and trusts in order to establish whether temporary closure of long-stay elderly wards is used as a means to permanent closure ; and if she will make a statement.


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Mr. Bowis : No. District health authorities have a statutory duty to consult the relevant community health council on proposals they are considering that would result in substantial changes to local services.

Mr. David Young : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make it her policy that temporary closure of hospital wards is subject to full consultation procedures where this results in the break-up of specialist medical and nursing teams.

Mr. Sackville : Regulations specify that health authorities must consult where a substantial closure, development or variation of service is proposed. No distinction is made between permanent and temporary closure. A specialist medical and nursing team would normally only be changed for service reasons.

SCOTLAND

Conservation Areas

Mr. Charles Kennedy : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if the list of possible special areas of conservation will be moderated by him on economic, social, cultural and local characteristics before a list is issued for public consultation.

Sir Hector Monro : Yes.

Scottish Enterprise

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has had to increase the openness and accountability of Scottish Enterprise and the local enterprise companies.

Mr. Stewart : The Government and the Scottish Enterprise network keep under review the scope for increasing the existing openness and accountability of Scottish Enterprise and its local enterprise companies. My right hon. Friend recently invited Scottish Enterprise and the local enterprise companies to consider how the already high level of accountability and openness in the network might be further developed to secure greater transparency and wider participation.

Local Enterprise Companies

Mr. Worthington : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when the existing contract for local enterprise companies comes to an end ; and what procedure will be followed in choosing the successor companies.

Mr. Stewart : The local enterprise companies' operating contracts with Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise are renegotiated and renewed annually. Selection procedures, in the case of competing bids for a particular area, are an operational matter for Scottish Enterprise and Highlands and Islands Enterprise.

Set-aside

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when an announcement on the rotational set-aside for non-LFA farmers not in less -favoured areas is to be made.

Sir Hector Monro : As I announced on 25 March, the EC Commission has agreed the regulation stipulating that


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the uncompensated set-aside requirement this year in respect of the 1993 overshoot in the Scottish non-LFA arable sector has been reduced to 0.54 per cent. My Department is now making arrangements for additional compensatory payments to be made to the farmers concerned ; these will issue as soon as the Commission regulation comes into force.

Rented Housing

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many private landlords have been visited by rent officers in each year since 1990 ;

(2) how many private landlords were prevented by rent officers from providing accommodation for benefit claimants in each year since 1990 ;

(3) how many private landlords provided accommodation for benefit claimants in each year since 1990.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Rent officers register fair rents for regulated tenancies, and determine reasonable rents for the purposes of housing benefit subsidy on request from local housing authorities, who decide whether to award housing benefit in individual cases. Rent officers are not required to visit landlords for either function, although they may inspect individual dwellings ; and when registering a fair rent the rent officers may hold a consultation to which the landlord is invited, but which he need not attend. Figures are therefore not available for landlords as requested, but the figures for rent determinations for fair rent and housing benefit purposes are as follows :


Year    |Fair   |Housing        

        |rent   |benefit        

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

1990    |17,309 |37,034         

1991    |15,554 |39,670         

1992    |12,411 |45,690         

1993    |12,163 |50,231         

Note:                           

These figures may include more  

than one determination relating 

to the same person.             

Mr. Malcolm Bruce : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total sum of rents referred to the rent registration service for the last year for which figures are available and the total sum of rents determined as reasonable for housing benefit subsidy for the same period.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton [holding answer 31 March 1994] : It is estimated, on the basis of a 90 per cent. sample of cases recorded for 1993, that the total sum of rents referred to the rent registration service for housing benefit purposes was around £145 million and the total sum of rents determined was around £131 million.

Concessionary Travel Schemes

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will commission a comparative study of the concessionary travel scheme in operation in the Greater London area and those currently in operation by regional authorities in Scotland ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : No. Regional and islands councils have discretionary powers under section 93 of the Transport Act 1985 which allow any local


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authority, or any two or more local authorities acting jointly, to establish a concessionary travel scheme for eligible categories of person. After local government reform the new councils will retain these powers and the Strathclyde passenger transport authority will have the power to establish a scheme for its area. Decisions on the extent and administration of such schemes are entirely for the local authorities concerned to consider, taking account of local needs and circumstances, and the Government do not propose to change these arrangements. Concessionary travel arrangements in London are a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Transport.

Construction Group Collapse

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what investigations were carried out following the collapse of the Lafferty construction group ; what action resulted from these investigations ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Lafferty Construction Ltd. went into receivership on 18 August 1988, and into liquidation on 7 August 1989. Receivers are required by statute to report any unfit conduct by directors to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The joint receivers submitted an adverse conduct report on 7 August 1990, the liquidator on 8 August 1990. Applications to the court must be made within two years of the insolvent event. In this case the reports were not received until the 23rd month after the event and proceedings were not issued.

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what investigations were carried out following the collapse of the Lilley construction group ; what action resulted from these investigations ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Lilley plc, and group companies, went into receivership on 7 January 1993. Receivers are required by statute to report any unfit conduct by directors to the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry. The joint receivers have complied with their statutory reporting obligations and the documentation provided is under consideration.

Scottish Homes

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what will be the arrangements for the transfer of Scottish Homes housing stock to other landlords ; if the transfer price will reflect the market value of the stock ; what discounts will be offered to landlords ; what financial guarantees he will seek from purchasers to ensure that the rights of tenants are secure ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : Under section 2(3A) of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1988, the transfer of Scottish Homes housing stock requires the consent of my right hon. Friend, who issued guidance to Scottish Homes in February 1989 and February 1991. An independent valuer will assess the market value of the stock, taking into account the conditions attaching to the sale and this valuation will be used as a benchmark against which final decisions will be taken. The question of specific safeguards intended to protect tenants' rights is a matter for Scottish Homes as owners of the stock to consider. However, all


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disposals of stock must be in accordance with the guidance which has been issued and which provides for substantial safeguards for tenants. My right hon. Friend will withold his consent to any disposal if he is not satisfied that the interests of tenants have been fully protected.

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the number of houses owned by Scottish Homes in each district council area in Scotland.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The information requested is a matter for Scottish Homes. I have asked its chairman, Sir James Mellon, to write to the hon. Member.

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what regulations will govern ballots arranged by Scottish Homes on the transfer of housing stock ; how many options will be put before tenants in the ballots ; if tenants will retain the right to opt for Scottish Homes as existing landlord ; if tenants will have a right to choose district councils as their landlord ; what rules will govern management buy-out options ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : In terms of Scottish Homes' published procedures for the transfer of its stock, an independent teller will be commissioned to undertake a postal ballot of tenants in the proposed transfer area. For operational reasons Scottish Homes has decided that the ballot paper will contain two options, the status quo or a move to a specified alternative landlord. However, the tenants' independent advisor will be able to feed tenants' views into Scottish Homes' consideration of the preferred alternative landlord. The guidance which has been issued to Scottish Homes by my right hon. Friend makes it clear that it will be for Scottish Homes to decide whether there are special circumstances relating to particular houses which would make the local authority an appropriate alternative landlord. He would however expect this to arise only in exceptional circumstances and where such disposal did not compromise the Government's objective of promoting diversity of choice. Scottish Homes has established a code of conduct to govern management buy-outs, which will be open to competition from other landlords.

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if members of staff of Scottish Homes who are involved in the development of management takeover bids in relation to the disposal of their employer's housing stock are being, or will be, granted permission to do so during working hours or given equivalent time off from routine duties.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The information requested is a matter for Scottish Homes and I have asked its chairman, Sir James Mellon, to write to the hon. Member.

Tourist Signs

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what rules and regulations govern the erection of directional signage on or near public highways by businesses to assist drivers to locate hotels and tourist attractions ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : The erection of advertisements on or near a public road is controlled under


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provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Scotland) Act 1972 and the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements) (Scotland) Regulations 1984 and to the extent that they may represent an obstruction, under the Roads (Scotland) Act 1984. Where the advertisements are intended to give directions to motorists they are also subject to the provisions of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984.

Road signs giving directions to hotels and tourist attractions may be erected by traffic authorities. Such road signs are subject to the provisions of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 1981 and to any relevant directions made by the Secretary of State. Circular No. 3/1992 "Tourist Signposting", a copy of which has been placed in the Library, provides advice and guidance to local authorities on the circumstances in which such direction signs may be appropriate.

Denominational Education

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Roman Catholic Education Commission to discuss the continued provision of denominational education in Scotland ; what aspects of the subjects were discussed ; and if he will make a statement.

Lord James Douglas-Hamilton : My right hon. Friend met representatives of the Catholic Education Commission on 25 February 1994. At that meeting a range of issues relating to denominational education was discussed, including school transport and catchment areas. Archbishop Winning, who was present at the meeting, has since publicly welcomed the positive progress made in the Government's discussions with the commission.

Local Government Finance

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current outstanding loan debt of Scottish local authorities in relation to (a) housing and (b) general services ; how much in each case and in (i) cash and (ii) percentage terms this debt accounts for in relation to (1) rents and (2) council tax bills ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart : The available information is set out in the table.


                                            |Per cent.|£ million          

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

Housing revenue account                                                   

Outstanding debt at 31 March 1993           |-        |3,823              

Loan charges 1993-94<1>                     |-        |<2>500             

Income from standard rents 1993-94          |-        |<2>926             

Loan charges as percentage of standard                                    

   rental income in 1993-94                 |54       |-                  

                                                                          

General fund services                                                     

Outstanding debt at 31 March 1993           |-        |4,624              

Loan charges 1993-94<3>                     |-        |<4>730             

Budgeted income from council tax 1993-94<5> |-        |912                

Loan charges as percentage of budgeted                                    

income from council tax in 1993-94          |80       |-                  

<1> Repayment of principal, interest on debt and loans fund expenses.     

<2> Provisional outturns.                                                 

<3> Repayment of principal and interest on debt.                          

<4> Local authority budget estimates for 1993-94.                         

<5> Income which authorities budgeted to raise from the council tax for   

1993-94.                                                                  


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Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to review the application of the annuality principle to local authority revenue budgets ; what studies have been undertaken into the cost -effectiveness of fixed annual budgeting on the provision of services ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart : My right hon. Friend has no evidence that annuality creates any difficulty for local authority revenue budgets and has no plans for such a review. However, to assist local authorities in their financial planning, he announced for the first time last December the plans he had made for both Government-supported expenditure and aggregate external finance for the two forward years of the 1993 public expenditure survey. My right hon. Friend plans to take similar action in future years.

Youth Unemployment, Renfrew

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many young people under 18 years of age there were in Renfrew district on the latest date for which figures are available who were not employed and had not had a youth training opportunity offered to them ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart : Information in the form requested is not available.

Domestic Utilities

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet representatives of privatised utility companies to discuss the abolition of standing charges on domestic bills ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart : Ministers and officials meet senior managers of the privatised utility companies from time to time to discuss a range of issues. Standing charges, like all tariff issues, are the responsibility of the utilities themselves and their regulators.

Economic Initiative Area, Renfrew

Mr. McMaster : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to establish an economic initiative area in any part of Renfrew district ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Stewart : There have already been established in Renfrew district the Ferguslie Park Partnership and a smaller urban renewal initiative in Barrhead. My right hon. Friend has no plans at present to establish further economic initiative areas in Renfrew district. The local authority, local enterprise companies and others are, however, free to decide to target their activities and resources on particular areas of perceived need or opportunity. The Glasgow airport initiative is an example of such an initiative established to take advantage of economic development opportunities in the area.

Monklands District Council

Mr. Norman Hogg : To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland to whom the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has written seeking evidence about alleged corruption at Monklands district council ; if he will list their names and offices ; and if he will make a statement.


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Mr. Stewart [holding answer 28 March 1994] : None of the Scottish Office Parliamentary Under-Secretaries of State, in their position as Scottish Office Ministers, has written to anyone in Monklands district council seeking evidence about the alleged corruption of Monklands district council.


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