Home Page

Column 621

Written Answers to Questions

Thursday 16 June 1994

LORD CHANCELLOR'S DEPARTMENT

Government Information

Mr. Llew Smith : To ask the Parliamentary Secretary, Lord Chancellor's Department when he plans to publish his departmental guidance on the implementation of the code of practice on access to Government information, as promised at paragraph 3(ii) of the code issued on 4 April ; and what has been the cause of the delay in publishing the departmental guidance.

Mr. John M. Taylor : The Lord Chancellor's Department's guidance on the implementation of the code of practice on access to Government information has been available since the end of March. A copy has been placed in the Library of the House.

DEFENCE

Food Supply

Mr. David Martin : To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in his plans to transfer the armed services food supply task to the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Hanley : Negotiations with the Navy, Army and Air Force Institute are proceeding satisfactorily and I expect shortly to be able to provide full details of the future food supply arrangements for the armed services. As part of our review of this task, the future of victualling depots operated by the Ministry of Defence has been examined. This work is continuing, but the conclusions reached so far are that the Royal Navy victualling depots at Burnetts Lane, near Southampton, and Royal Elizabeth Yard, Kirkliston, near Edinburgh, are no longer required. It is therefore proposed the Burnetts Lane should close by 30 September 1995, and that REY Kirkliston should close by 31 March 1996.

These proposals are subject to consultation with the trade unions and other interested parties. No final decisions will be taken until consultation has been completed, and negotiations with NAAFI have been concluded.

HEALTH

Heart Transplants

Mr. Cox : To ask the Secretary of State for Health which hospitals covering the Greater London area carry out heart transplant surgery.

Mr. Sackville : St. George's Healthcare NHS trust, St. George's hospital, Tooting ; the Great Ormand Street Hospital for Children NHS trust ; and the Royal Brompton hospital which operates in association with Harefield hospital.


Column 622

Infertility

Mr. Etherington : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what provision is made for (a) infertility treatment and (b) infertility investigation in Sunderland district health authority ; (2) what advice the Sunderland district health authority has sought from her Department as to the most cost-effective and cost-efficient means of providing for infertility investigation and treatment.

Mr. Sackville : These are matters for the Sunderland district health authority. The hon. Member may wish to contact Mr. George Bedell, chairman of the authority, for details.

The national health service provides a wide range of treatments for subfertility. Individual health authorities determine priorities in the light of local needs and circumstances.

Advice is available to health authorities and clinicians in two publications drawn to the attention of the NHS in 1992 :

(a) The Effective Health Care Bulletin on management of subfertility, published for the NHS Management Executive by a consortium of Leeds and York Universities and the Research Unit of the Royal College of Physicians.

(b) The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists publication "Infertility--Guidelines For Practice".

Copies of the documents are available in the Library.

Mr. Couchman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what advice the West Kent health authority has sought from her Department as to the most cost-effective and cost-efficient means of providing for infertility investigation and treatment in its area ; (2) what provision is made for (a) infertility investigation and (b) infertility in West Kent health authority.

Mr. Sackville : This is a matter for West Kent health authority. My hon. Friend may wish to contact Mr. Peter Edgely, the chairman of the authority, for details.

The national health service provides a wide range of treatments for subfertility. Individual health authorities determine priorities in the light of local needs and circumstances. Advice is available to health authorities and clinicians in two publications drawn to the attention of the NHS in 1992 :

(a) The Effective Health Care Bulletin on management of subfertility, published for the NHS Management Executive by a consortium of Leeds and York Universities and the Research Unit of the Royal College of Physicians.

(b) The Royal College of Obstreticians and Gynaecologists publication "Infertility--Guidelines For Practice".

Copies of the documents are available in the Library.

Dr. Lynne Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what provision is made for infertility investigation in (a) the South Birmingham district health authority area and (b) the area covered by West Midlands Health.

(2) what is the provision for infertility treatment in (a) the South Birmingham district health authority area and (b) the area covered by West Midlands Health.

(3) whether the South Birmingham district health authority has sought advice from her Department on the most cost-effective and cost-efficient means of providing for infertility investigation and treatment in its area.

Mr. Sackville : This is a matter for individual health authorities. The hon. Member may wish to contact Mr. B.


Column 623

Stoten, chairman of South Birmingham health authority and Mr. B. Edwards, chairman of West Midlands regional health authority for further information.

The national health service provides a wide range of treatments for subfertility. Individual health authorities determine priorities in the light of local needs and circumstances. Advice is available to health authorities and clinicians in two publications drawn to the attention of the NHS in 1992 :

(a) The Effective Health Care Bulletin on management of subfertility, published for the NHS Management Executive by a consortium of Leeds and York Universities and the Research Unit of the Royal College of Physicians.

(b) The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists publication "Infertility Guidelines for Practice".

Copies of the documents are available in the Library.

General Practitioners

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the recruitment of general practitioners.

Dr. Mawhinney : The number of general practitioners is at an all- time high and has risen from 21,357 at 1 October 1979 to 26,289 at 1 October 1993, an increase of over 23 per cent.

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on stress among general practitioners.

Dr. Mawhinney : Family doctors deliver a high standard of care across a wide range of services. We recognise that the responsibility for maintaining high-quality services can lead to stress in some doctors and we have recently agreed to provide financial support for a study by the Royal College of General Practitioners into the effects of stress on general practitioners.

Cataract Surgery

Mr. Gareth Wardell : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) percentage discount rates and (b) special offers have been offered by each national health service trust provider in England to GP fundholders who place block orders for cataract surgery ; and if she will indicate the thresholds at which the discount changes.

Dr. Mawhinney : These are local contractual matters between individual national health service trusts and general practitioner fundholders and district health authorities as purchasers.

Nursing Homes

Mrs. Browning : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what response she has made following the report by the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting on standards of nursing in nursing homes ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Bowis : I welcome the clear statement by the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting that the vast majority of residents of nursing homes are looked after well. I share the UKCC's concern about the rare cases where abuse or neglect by nursing staff occurs. Any single such case is a betrayal of nursing trust.


Column 624

I endorse the practical advice given in the report and the messages that it sends to the nursing profession, to nurse trainers, to managers and matrons of nursing homes and to district health authorities as responsible for inspections and registration under the Registered Homes Act 1984.

We shall be seeking to ensure that lessons are learned and advice carried forward, in the light of this report, by nurses' representatives, trainers, supervisors and inspectors.

The message of this report is that the number of incidents leading to disciplinary proceedings against a nurse in a nursing home is small in relation to the considerably increased number of residents in nursing homes over the past years.

Nevertheless, we believe that one case is a case too many.

Care in the Community

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list each housing association which is contracted to provide social services under the care in the community programme.

Mr. Bowis : Contracts for social care are made by individual social services authorities in accordance with the needs of their areas.

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will itemise each community care service for which there is a charge and indicate the variation in charges found within England.

Mr. Bowis : Local authorities are required to make charges for adults for whom they arrange residential accommodation. The amounts payable in charges vary depending on the actual costs of the accommodation and the resources of each resident. Local authorities have discretion about the amount charged for short-stay residents. They also have discretionary powers to make charges for non-residential services. There is no requirement to inform the Department about individual charges.

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has undertaken of the effect of the homelessness legislation review on her care in the community policy ; and if she will make a statement.

Mr. Bowis : The Department has been fully involved in the review of access to local authority and housing association tenancies. The Government's conclusions, when announced, will take into account the implications for the policy areas, including care in the community.

Health Expenditure

Ms Primarolo : To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 26 May, Official Report, columns 294-95, (1) if she will list all the factors, and their relative weights, taken into account when determining per capita spending by district health and family health services authority ;

(2) pursuant to her answer of 26 May, Official Report, columns 294-95, regarding per capita spend by health authorities, what factors determined the relative allocation to (a) Preston and (b) Newham.

Dr. Mawhinney : The figures for per capita spending were calculated by dividing the total expenditure for each


Column 625

authority--from the provisional 1992-93 accounts--by the crude population figures, mid 1992 estimates, for each respective authority.

It is the responsibility of regional health authorities to make allocations to district health authorities and to family health services authorities for cash-limited expenditure. The majority of FHSA expenditure is determined by demand for services and there are no predetermined allocations.

Organ Donation

Mr. Churchill : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is her best estimate of the numbers of patients in end-stage renal failure dying each year due to non-availability of sufficient donor organs ; what steps she is taking to reduce destruction of such organs ; and if she will enter into discussions with the medical profession with a view to establishing an organ transplant opt-out register in place of the current donor cards.

Mr. Sackville : Information is not available centrally on the number of people who die while awaiting a kidney transplant. People awaiting kidney transplants may live for many years and may die from causes other than kidney failure. The Government are continuing to take a number of initiatives to increase the number of donor organs available for transplant. The Department of Health is in regular contact with the medical profession on this subject but the legislation for the presumption of consent unless otherwise indicated, regardless of the views of relatives, does not have widespread support.

EDUCATION

Academic Work Force

Mr. Dalyell : To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to his oral answer of 29 March to the hon. Member for Feltham and Heston (Mr. Keen), Official Report, column 787, what study he is making of the age profile of the academic work force.

Mr. Boswell : It is for universities and colleges as employers to consider in the first instance the age profile of their academic staff. My right hon. Friend will continue to keep the general situation under review, in the light of any advice from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

TREASURY

National Debt

Mr. Simon Hughes : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the United Kingdom's level of non-marketable debt minus national savings has increased in line with Government estimates for each of the last 15 years.

Mr. Nelson : Non-marketable debt represents only a small proportion of total Government debt. Figures for the components of national debt at end-March, including sterling non-marketable debt and national savings, are


Column 626

published annually in the Bank of England's quarterly bulletin debt article--see the November 1993 edition for end- March 1993. Sterling non-marketable debt excluding national savings, calculated from these articles, for the last 15 years are given in the table :


Sterling non-marketable debt  

excluding national savings    

End-March |£ million          

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

1979      |1,575              

1980      |821                

1981      |1,410              

1982      |1,968              

1983      |3,002              

1984      |3,171              

1985      |3,704              

1986      |4,205              

1987      |3,239              

1988      |3,529              

1989      |2,869              

1990      |3,591              

1991      |3,389              

1992      |3,275              

1993      |4,096              

There are no official forecasts of Government debt by instrument.

Rough Sleepers and Beggars

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what instructions are given to security staff in his departmental offices in London for dealing with (a) those sleeping rough in departmental doorways and (b) beggars in the vicinity ; and how many problems have been experienced with each category in the last three months.

Mr. Nelson : No specific instructions are issued to security staff ; it is the practice for anyone causing a nuisance to be asked to move on. No problems have been experienced in the past three months.

Company Dividends

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he has for encouraging companies to retain profits rather than distribute them as dividends.

Mr. Nelson : The Chancellor has no plans to intervene in the control of dividends.

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average level of dividends of the top 50 companies in each of the last 10 years.

Mr. Nelson : The Treasury does not monitor individual company results and does not have this information.

Wages

Ms Jowell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average price of 20 cigarettes, the average gross weekly wage for adult male manual workers and the proportion of the latter represented by the former in each year since 1964.

Mr. Nelson : The table shows available data.


Column 627


Average retail price                                                                                                          

Cigarettes (20)                                                                                                               

                                                               |Average gross weekly|Average cost of                          

                                                               |Full-time manual    |as a percentage of                       

                                                               |Great Britain       |weekly earnings                          

Year                 |Type of cigarette   |Pence               |£                   |Per cent.                                

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

1964                 |Plain               |24.6                |-                   |-                                        

1965                 |Plain               |27.1                |-                   |-                                        

1966                 |Plain               |27.1                |-                   |-                                        

1967                 |Plain               |27.1                |-                   |-                                        

1968                 |Filter tip          |24.2                |-                   |-                                        

1969                 |Filter tip          |25.8                |-                   |-                                        

1970                 |Filter tip          |26.2                |26.40               |0.99                                     

1971                 |Filter tip          |27.0                |29.00               |0.93                                     

1972                 |Filter tip          |26.5                |32.30               |0.82                                     

1973                 |Filter tip          |26.5                |37.60               |0.70                                     

1974                 |Filter tip          |32.0                |43.00               |0.74                                     

1975                 |Filter tip          |42.0                |54.90               |0.77                                     

1976                 |Filter tip          |45.0                |64.20               |0.70                                     

1977                 |Filter tip          |55.0                |70.50               |0.78                                     

1978                 |Filter tip          |57.0                |79.60               |0.72                                     

1979                 |Filter tip          |67.0                |91.70               |0.73                                     

1980                 |Filter tip          |72.0                |110.10              |0.65                                     

1981                 |Filter tip          |97.0                |120.20              |0.81                                     

1982                 |Filter tip          |106.0               |131.90              |0.80                                     

1983                 |-                   |-                   |141.60              |-                                        

1984                 |-                   |-                   |152.70              |-                                        

1985                 |-                   |-                   |163.60              |-                                        

1986                 |-                   |-                   |174.40              |-                                        

1987                 |King size filter tip|144.0               |185.50              |0.78                                     

1988                 |King size filter tip|149.0               |200.60              |0.74                                     

1989                 |King size filter tip|152.0               |217.80              |0.70                                     

1990                 |King size filter tip|168.0               |237.20              |0.71                                     

1991                 |King size filter tip|191.0               |253.10              |0.75                                     

1992                 |King size filter tip|209.0               |268.30              |0.78                                     

1993                 |King size filter tip|229.0               |274.30              |0.83                                     

Notes:                                                                                                                        

1. Average retail prices of cigarettes prior to 1971 have been converted to decimal equivalent.                               

2. Average cigarette prices 1983-86 and earnings prior to 1970 are not available.                                             

Source:Retail Prices (CSO).                                                                                                   

New Earnings Survey (ED).                                                                                                     

Exchange Rates

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what his estimate is of the change in the real exchange rate as measured by relative unit values of exports to (a) European Union countries and (b) the rest of the world from January 1993 to the latest available date.

Mr. Nelson : I refer the hon. Member to the answer that I gave him on 21 March 1994, Official Report, column 15 , which provides references to exchange rate and export price data for Community and other countries, which can be used to calculate the information requested.

Economic Forecast

Mr. Watts : To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects to publish the Government's latest economic forecast.

Mr. Kenneth Clarke : Under the terms of the Industry Act 1975 the Government have to publish two forecasts a year. Following the move to a unified Budget, forecasts will be published in the summer and in the Budget in November. The first summer forecast will be published on 28 June. Copies will be available from the House of Commons Vote Office at 11 am.


Column 628

DUCHY OF LANCASTER

Citizens Charter

Dr. Wright : To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what mechanisms exist for the independent monitoring of charter standards ; and if he will give details of the mechanism for each public service covered by a charter.

Mr. David Davis : Under the citizens charter, each public service organisation is responsible for setting its own charter standards and ensuring that they are monitored. The public services publish details of actual performance against standards on a regular basis. Later this month, for example, the Department of Health will publish comparative information on the performance of health authorities. In November, the Department for Education will again publish performance tables for schools and colleges with students in the 16 to 18 age range. London Underground publishes four- weekly performance figures against its charter targets, and British Rail publishes four-weekly performance figures for the punctuality and reliability of lines. The citizens charter second report published in March 1994 reports generally on the progress achieved in improving standards of service and gives details of new commitments made under the charter.


Column 629

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Plug and Socket Harmonisation

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what action he will take on the conclusions of reports which he commissioned on plug and socket harmonisation on the level of disruption and costs to industry, customers and the time taken for benefits to accrue.

Mr. McLoughlin : The European Committee for Electrotechnical Standardisation--CENELEC--the body responsible for electrical standards in Europe, has referred the proposed standard back to the relevant technical committee for further work. The study recently undertaken by the Building Services Research and Information Association for my Department will provide a useful factual background for comments from consumers and industry if and when a draft standard is issued for national consultation.

Competitiveness White Paper

Mr. Austin Mitchell : To ask the President of the Board of Trade further to his White paper "Competitiveness : Helping Business to Win", what evidence he has in respect of profit levels of (a) United Kingdom manufacturers and (b) major foreign based manufacturers ; and what was the estimated return on capital in manufacturing industry for each year since 1970 in (i) the United Kingdom and (ii) other major Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.

Mr. Sainsbury : For the United Kingdom, the gross trading surplus of manufacturing companies and public corporations plus income from self- employment from manufacturing can be obtained from table 2.2 of the Central Statistical Office Blue Book. The rate of return on capital employed by manufacturing companies is shown in CSO Bulletin 64/93 "Profitability of UK Companies (1962-1992)".

Table 14 of the OECD's "National Accounts 1993" contains information on the operating surplus and rates of return on capital employed in manufacturing for OECD countries. These figures are on a slightly different basis from those published by CSO, and are provided for a variety of years.

Copies of all the above-mentioned publications are available in the Library of the House.

Cabling

Mr. Gordon Prentice : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will list the areas of the United Kingdom which have been cabled to date and those areas which are programmed for cabling over the next 12 months.

Mr. McLoughlin : To date, 125 franchises have been licensed, covering 14.5 million homes. Services are now being offered in 65 of these franchises and cable networks now pass over 3 million homes. The cable operators will continue to build out their franchises over the course of the next few years in line with the build obligations set out in their licences. The Department does not hold precise details of the areas which have been cabled, and the


Column 630

construction plans of the cable operators for the next 12 months are primarily a matter for the companies themselves.

Post Office

Ms Ruddock : To ask the President of the Board of Trade if he will make it his policy that the articles for the blind facility will remain a Freepost service following any reorganisation of the Post Office.

Mr. McLoughlin : The Government are well aware of the importance of the free postage facility currently offered by the Royal Mail for articles for the blind. The Green Paper on the Post Office, which is due to be published shortly, will, therefore, make clear that, under any option, the Royal Mail will be required to continue to offer this valued service.

Mr. Chris Smith : To ask the President of the Board of Trade what approval is required from institutions of the European Union, and in what form, for the zero-rating of VAT on postage for letters and parcels in the event of privatisation or part-privatisation of the Post Office.

Mr. McLoughlin : Arrangements in respect of VAT and postal services need to conform with EC VAT legislation and, in particular, the sixth EC VAT directive, which provides VAT exemption for the universal letter and parcel services. In the light of discussions with the European Commission, as well as earlier jurisprudence of the European Court of Justice, the Government are satisfied that privatisation would not mean the imposition of VAT on these services. The Government have made it clear that, under any option that they finally adopt, stamps will continue to be free of VAT.

Fire Safety

Mr. Amess : To ask the President of the Board of Trade (1) if he will publish the scrutiny team's report and evidence ;

(2) what assessment he has made of the adequacy of consideration given to the views of the Fire and Rescue Service in the present deregulation of fire safety legislation.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : The Fire and Rescue Service has taken every opportunity to make its views known to Government and the fire safety review team during the widespread consultation on the review of fire safety legislation and enforcement. I know that the review team has found these and others' comments constructive and comprehensive. On the question of publication of the review team's report, I have nothing to add to the answer given to the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) on 14 June, Official Report, columns 427-28.

Mr. Spellar : To ask the President of the Board of Trade, when he expects to publish the inter-departmental report on fire safety scrutiny.

Mr. Neil Hamilton : I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Wentworth (Mr. Hardy) on 14 June, Official Report, columns 427-28.


Column 631

Environmental Information

Mr. Ainger : To ask the President of the Board of Trade how many requests he has received for environmental information under the Access to Environmental Information Regulations 1992 ; and how many requests were refused on grounds of commercial confidentiality.

Mr. McLoughlin [holding answer 14 June 1994] : The Department has to date received around 187 requests for information under the Environmental Information Regulations 1992, none of which have been refused on grounds of commercial confidentiality.


Next Section

  Home Page