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Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many applicants for income support have been refused owing to the habitual residence test per month since it was introduced; and of these how many were (a) British nationals and (b) non-British nationals.
Number of Income Support claimants recorded as having been refused benefit under the habitual residence test |British |Non-British 1994 |nationals |nationals ------------------------------------------------ August |237 |758 September |372 |2,028 October |454 |2,724 November |585 |2,741 December |439 |2,234 Total |2,087 |10,485
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what estimate he has made of the savings which will result from his proposals to (a) reduce the cap for income support for mortgage interest payments to £100,000 from April, (b) pay income support for mortgage interest only after nine months on benefit for new borrowers from October, (c) pay income support for mortgage interest only after two months on benefit for existing borrowers from October and (d) pay income support for mortgage interest at a standard rate to all claimants, (i) in 1995 96 and (ii) in a full year.
Mr. Roger Evans: The estimated saving of reducing the cap on mortgage interest payments from £125,000 to £100,000 for new claims from April is £2 million for the year to April 1996. This estimate is based on the 1993 annual statistical enquiry, uprated to 1995 96 levels. The financial effects of the other changes will depend on the outcome of the consultation and the final detail of the scheme.
Mr. Roger Evans: The administration of the current scheme, which calculates each penny of interest due and reflects every change in interest rates, is extremely complex. It has been the subject of criticism by both the chief adjudication officer and the National Audit Office. A standard rate will significantly ease this administrative burden as well as reducing the cost to the taxpayer.
Mr. Raynsford: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if it is his intention that income support should continue to provide long- term assistance to borrowers to cover mortgage interest payments.
Mr. Alan Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security (1) how many existing claimants of invalidity benefit transferring to incapacity benefit he estimates will fail the new test of incapacity (a) at a threshold score of 15 or (b) if the threshold score were reduced to (i) 14, (ii) 13, (iii) 12, (iv) 11 and (v) 10;
(2) how many existing claimants of invalidity benefit transferring to incapacity benefit he estimates will fail the new test of incapacity (a) in total and (b) in the age bands (i) 55 to 57, ii) 50 to 54, (iii) 45 to 49 and (iv) 40 to 44 years;
Column 521(3) what is his estimate of the cost of (a) setting the threshold score for incapacity benefit at 15 and (b) lower ing the threshold score for eligibility to incapacity benefit to (i) 14, (ii) 13, (iii) 12, (iv) 11 and (v) 10;
(4) how many new claimants of incapacity benefit he estimates will fail the new test of incapacity (a) at a threshold score of 15 or (b) if the threshold score were reduced to (i) 14, (ii) 13, (iii) 12, (iv) 11 and (v) 10;
(5) how many new applicants for incapacity benefit he estimates will fail the new test of incapacity (a) in total and (b) in the age bands (i) over 58, (ii) 55 to 57, (iii) 50 to 54 (iv) 45 to 49 and (v) 40 to 44 years.
Mr. Hague: We estimate that in the next two years 220,000 existing invalidity benefit claimants will cease to be entitled to incapacity benefit earlier than they would under the current system due to the application of the new all work test. Around 55,000 new claimants each year who would have been entitled to invalidity benefit will be found capable of work under the new test. No information is available on a breakdown of these totals by age.
The threshold for benefit in the new test has been set at 15. It has been derived from the development work and set at the point where it would be unreasonable to expect someone to work. It would not be appropriate to set it at any other level. Accordingly we do not have estimates of the number of claimants who would be found capable if a lower threshold score was adopted and the associated costs.
Mr. Alan Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is his estimate of the cost of passporting invalidity benefit recipients to incapacity benefit at the age of (a) 58, (b) 55 and (c) 50 years.
Mr. Hague: We estimate that the savings from applying the new all work test to exciting invalidity benefit recipients for the year 1995 96 is £140 million. This is on the basis that all claimants aged 58 and over who have been continuously in receipt of invalidity benefit since 1 December 1993 are exempt from the test as well as those who are terminally ill, those in receipt of the highest rate care component of disability living allowance and those suffering from certain specified severe and chronic illnesses. If all claimants aged 50 or over were exempt from the test on the same basis this amount would be reduced by £45 million. If all claimants aged 55 or over were exempt, the savings would be reduced by £15 million. In subsequent years the savings would be reduced by larger amounts.
Mr. Hood: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security how many claimants in each category will have their entitlements reviewed in relation to the new incapacity benefit; and who will qualify for the new benefit, in both numerical and percentage terms.
Mr. Hague [holding answer 27 January 1995]: An estimated 1.8 million people will be receiving invalidity benefit by the time it is replaced by incapacity benefit on 13 April 1995. They will automatically qualify for the new benefit. Around half will be exempt from the new medical test of incapacity. Around 220,000 people are expected to be found capable of work in the first two years. We estimate that an additional 55,000 new claimants a year, who would have qualified for invalidity benefit under the current rules, will be found capable of work as a result of the new test.
Mr. Corbyn: To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security if he will list the total credit made to the national insurance fund each year by Her Majesty's Government on behalf of (a) women and (b) men each year as a result of their child caring
Mr. Arbuthnot: No actual sums of money are credited to the national insurance fund in these circumstances. The state pension position of people with child caring responsibilities can be protected by home responsibilities protection which works by reducing the number of years of contributions otherwise needed for the basic pension.
This is an operational matter for the Marine Safety Agency. I have asked the chief executive to write to my hon. Friend.
Letter from R. M. Bradley to Mr. Rupert Allason, dated 30 January 1995:
The Secretary of State for Transport has asked me to reply to your Question, originally tabled for reply by the Minister of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, about Spanish-owned vessels in the British-registered fishing fleet.
I have to explain that this information is not available. Following the coming into force on 21 March 1994 of the Merchant Shipping (Registration Ships) Regulations 1993, the only eligibility requirement for companies wishing to register fishing vessels on the UK register is that they be incorporated in a member State of the European Economic Area with a place of business in the United Kingdom. Therefore it is no longer necessary for the Register of Ships and Seamen to know the nationality of shareholders and thus the information you require is not collected.
Mr. Milburn: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) managerial staff and (b) administrative and clerical staff have been employed by (i) regional health authorities, (ii) district health authorities and (iii) family health services authorities in each of the last five years.
Mr. Malone: In the following figures, managers are defined as those staff directly employed on general and senior manager terms and administrative and clerical staff are those directly employed on A and C terms. At 30 September 1989, there were 360 managers and 8,630 administrative and clerical staff in regional health authority headquarters, there were 30 managers and 4,360 administrative and clerical staff in family health services authorities. At 30 September 1990, the figures were 1,010 and 8,080, and 640 and 4,350 respectively. At 30 September 1993, the figures were 1,400 and 5,330, and 1,060 and 4,800 respectively.
The increase in the number of managers is due largely to the reclassification of administrative and professional staff, including many senior nurses, as general and senior
Column 523managers. In FHSAs, the increase is also due to new or greater managerial responsibilities of FHSAs for primary care development, general practitioner contracts, medical audit advisory groups, budgetary control, health promotion monitoring--immunisation targets and increased roles in community care.
Data for 1991 and 1992 cannot be provided because the figures were collected on an aggregate basis and it is not possible to identify staff in regional and district health authorities and FHSAs separately. Data for DHAs cannot be provided for 1989, 1990 and 1993 because the aggregate figures collected for those years do not identify staff in DHA headquarters separately.
Mr. Malone: At 30 September 1989 and 30 September 1993, the latest date for which figures are available, there were respectively 121,450 and 152,660 whole-time equivalent directly employed staff engaged on general and senior manager and administrative and clerical terms in the NHS. The figures are not directly comparable. Many professional staff including many senior nurses, and other staff have been reclassified as general and senior managers. In addition, certain NHS functions, including finance, personnel and information, have been strengthened. Over a quarter of administrative staff work in direct support to clinicians, allowing clinicians to concentrate their skills and experience on direct patient care.
Mr. Nicholas Brown: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many smoking-related deaths she estimates would be avoided by every 1 per cent. cut in the prevalence of cigarette smoking among the population.
Mr. Sackville: Estimates of the effect of reducing smoking on the number of smoking-related deaths are complicated by the fact that smoking attributable diseases develop at differing rates over long periods. In broad terms, it can be estimated that a 1 per cent. cut in smoking prevalence in the population could be expected to reduce the number of smoking-related deaths by 2,000 to 3,000 deaths per year in the long term.
Mrs. Beckett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate she has made of the number of negligence claims which will be made against the national health service in each of the next five years; andwhat was the total cost of negligence damages against the NHS in each of the last three years.
Mr. Malone: We do not make estimates of the numbers of future medical negligence claims. Total costs for each of the last three years are estimated as £80 million in 1991 92, £100 million in 1992 93 and £125 million in 1993 94.
Mr. Gerrard: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what measures she will take to ensure that patients presenting themselves for treatment at dental surgeries are made aware of the cost of the treatment before its
Column 524commencement; and also made aware of whether this treatment is available under the NHS.
Mr. Malone: Dentists are required to provide patients with treatment plans which include details of costs of national health service treatment and any private treatment proposed. Dentists are also required to display in their surgeries information about NHS charges and about entitlement to exemption from and remission of such charges.
Mr. Pike: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many dental practices in each health authority area in England are (a) providing national health service treatment to existing patients and (b) willing to provide NHS treatment to new patients; and what percentage of the population in each area is registered for NHS treatment.
Mr. Malone: Information about general dental service practitioners under contract to family health services authorities will be placed in the Library. Information about dentists willing to take new national health service patients is not available centrally. Patients may register with dentists in FHSAs other than in the area where they are resident. Information is not available centrally therefore on the percentage of population of any FHSA which is registered.
Mr. Sackville: Three cases of meningococcal meningitis-septicaemia were diagnosed in the Dover area from 28 December to 9 January. Each case was reported to and investigated by the consultant in communicable disease control at East Kent health authority. Immediate detailed tracing action was carried out and all those people who were contacts were given prophylactic treatment. Further preventative treatment was arranged via the local general practitioners. There is no evidence of increased reporting of cases and there is no evidence of an outbreak. There are no known links between these cases. It is not unusual for three cases to occur within a short period of time, especially during winter months.
Mrs. Beckett: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what percentage of the operational use of the Stoke Mandeville magnetic resonance imaging scanner is (a) for patients and (b) commercial; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: The magnetic resonance imaging scanner at the hospital is owned not by the national health service but by the Jimmy Savile Hospital trust fund. It is therefore up to the trust fund to determine its operational use.
Mr. Cohen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she has taken to resolve the difference in the legal opinions obtained by her Department and the Data Protection Registrar as to whether the national health service number is protected by Crown copyright; if she will summarise her understanding of the registrar's position; if under current proposals other Government Departments will be able to use the national health service number for internal administration purposes not associated with health care; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: The Data Protection Registrar's position is that statutory control of access to and use of the new national health service number is appropriate. The Department remains of the view that unauthorised use can be pursued without resort to legislation: a view that would be tested in a case where evidence of actual abuse arose. There is no intention that the NHS number should be used by any Government Department for purposes not associated with health care.
Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list for each regional health authority, the number of patients in receipt of long-term benzodiazepines for the latest year she has figures; and what were the figures (a) five and (b) 10 years ago.
Mr. Bowis: Benzodiazepines are prescribed by general practitioners or hospital doctors on the basis of their diagnosis of a patient's condition and for whatever period the doctor considers appropriate. We do not require this information to be submitted to the Department.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many redundant national health service hospitals following disposal have been returned to hospital or allied use by the new owners since 1979.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in which NHS trusts over the past 12 months it has been reported that first- time out-patients' appointments have not been available within 13 weeks.
Mr. Gordon Prentice: To ask the Secretary of State for Health in which national health service trusts, over the past 12 months, it has been reported that patients have waited more than an hour after transport has been booked to take them home from hospital.
Mr Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps she is taking to carry out examination of blood serum in order to detect hepatitis C (a) donors and (b) recipients, prior to current screening methods.
Mr. Sackville: I announced on 11 January a look-back exercise to trace, counsel and if necessary treat those who may have been inadvertently infected with hepatitis C through blood transfusions. A working party of experts is currently meeting to draw up guidance on the procedures for undertaking the look-back exercise, including procedures for testing of serum samples to detect hepatitis C in donors and receipients.
Mr. Hincliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what action and expenditure is undertaken to encourage me to self-examine for the onset of testicular cancer; and if she will will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: The Health Education Authority, which is funded by the Department of Health, provides information and advice about health direct to the public, and acts as a resource to health professions and others in the health education field. It has produced a booklet "Cancer: how to reduce your risks" which includes a section on testicular self- examination.
Mr. Hinchliffe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many (a) fatal or (b) non-fatal instances of skin cancer have been detected within the national health service, in each of the last 10 years; and what steps her Department is taking to combat this condition.
Mr. Sackville: The available information on cause of deaths is contained in Office of Population Censuses and Surveys publications available in the Library: Series MB1 cancer statistics--registrations, and series DH2 mortality statistics--death by cause. A commitment to halt the rising incidence of skin cancer is one of the key targets set out in "The Health of the Nation". The Department's strategy in this area includes a national public health
Column 527campaign on skin cancer in partnership with the Health Education Authority and a programme of activity involving the national health service, commercial and professional bodies and other Government Departments to encourage healthy attitudes to exposure to sunlight.
Mr. Sackville: Some health authorities have protocols for controlling this condition through co-operation between schools, school health service staff and parents. The voluntary organisation, Community Hygiene Concern, is also helping to raise awareness of the problem through its "Bug Busting" campaign. We will be making a contribution to the cost of this campaign for three years from 1995 96 and will also be referring to the work of CHC and other good practice in the national health service in guidance on child health care in the community which is currently in preparation.
Mr. David Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if she has plans to reform or abolish the post-graduate educational allowance for GPs; and if she will make a statement on post-graduate training for doctors;
(2) what steps she is taking to improve the standards of GP doctors training in the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.
Ministers accepted in principle the improvements to postgraduate training for doctors recommended in the working group report on specialist medical training "Hospital Doctors: Training for the Future". Progress on implementation is outlined in EL(94)71 "Implementation of the Report of the Working Group on Specialist Medical Training" dated 22 September 1994; copies of which are available in the Library. Since then, substantial progress has been made with the medical profession through several working groups. The future arrangements for postgraduate training in general practice are likely to be significantly influenced by the recommendation of the general practice working group whose report will be published shortly for wide consultation.
Mr. David Porter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what monitoring her Department is doing into the effectiveness of local GP out- of-hours cover co-operatives and their cost-efficiency; if she has plans to reimburse in
Column 528full GPs who join such local experiments; and if she will make a statement.
We are continuing to discuss the development of out-of-hours services with the profession, including appropriate reimbursement for providing those services.
Mr. Malone: We have recently implemented a system to collect information on the waiting times for first out-patient appointments. This system records how long patients seen during a quarter had to wait. The first provisional results, for the quarter ending September 1994, were published on 18 January.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what research she has conducted which compares the number and extent of injuries inflicted by mentally ill people on themselves against the level of injuries inflicted by mentally ill people on others; and if she will make a statement;
(2) what research she has conducted which compares the number and extent of injuries inflicted by mentally ill people on others against the level of injuries inflicted by all sectors of the population on others; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Bowis: The Department has funded the Royal College of Psychiatrists to undertake a confidential inquiry into homicides and suicides involving mentally ill people in contact with or recently discharged from specialist psychiatric services. A preliminary report on homicides was published last year and copies are available in the Library. A full report on homicides and suicides will be published later this year.
The Department is aware of independent research studies, from this country and the United States, which have looked at the relationship between mental illness and violent behaviour and violent offending. The findings of these studies have been taken into account in the development of policies for the care of mentally ill people.
Mr. Alex Carlile: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if (a) recent large-scale investment, (b) a proven community need and (c) substantial health care staff unemployment are criteria used by the Government to avert the closure of a hospital; and if she will make a statement.
Mr. Sackville: The decision to close a hospital is initially for the local health authority after full local consultation. When a proposal to close a hospital is referred to Ministers following objection by a community health council, they will consider all relevant factors in reaching their decision.