Previous Section Home Page

Column 929

General Medical Council

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health how she will inform the House when next she intends to seek nominations for lay members of the General Medical Council.      [16223]

Mr. Malone: I will consider how best to proceed at the appropriate time.

General Practitioner Pay

Mr. Sheerman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what change in general practitioners' salaries there has been in real terms since 1979.      [16423]

Mr. Malone: For 1994 95, the average general practitioner will earn £41,890 for the provision of general medical services-- a real terms increase of 40 per cent. over 1978 79. The average GP also receives an extra £3,150 for achieving higher target levels of coverage for childhood immunisations and cervical cytology screening.

NHS Directors of Finance

Mr. Redmond: To ask the Secretary of State for Health is she will list the health authorities and trusts whose directors of finance do not hold a recognised accountancy qualification.      [16243]

Mr. Malone: Such information about individuals employed in national health service health authorities and trusts is held only on a management- in-confidence basis. In early 1994, guidance was issued by the then national health service management executive on "The Role of the Director of Finance in the NHS". Among other things, that guidance commended appointment of future directors of finance from those holding qualifications recognised by the Consultative Committee of the Accounting Bodies. Copies of that guidance are available in the Library.

Cancer Research

Sir David Steel: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what proportion of health service funds are dedicated to cancer research; and what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on appeals by health research charities for funds from the public.      [16940]

Mr. Malone: Figures are not collected centrally on the proportion of health service funds dedicated to cancer research.

The main agency through which the Government support biomedical and clinical research is the Medical Research Council which receives its grant in aid from the office of my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster. The MRC is an independent body deciding what research to support on its own expert judgment.

In 1992 93, the MRC spent a total of £13.5 million on cancer research. These figures would rise by a considerable amount if a proportion of the MRC's spend on basic medical research, that may yield results relevant to cancer, were included.

The Department of Health spends some £7.7 million annually on research into cancer. This supports a programme of work on radiation protection, work at the National Radiation Protection Board, the small area health statistics unit and the cancer screening evaluation unit.

The Government support the work of the medical research charities and recognise that charities are

Column 930

important funders of health and medical research. The Department is working with the Association of Medical Research Charities to promote a better understanding of the charities' strategies and priorities. In cancer research, the Department is funding research in collaboration with research charities, such as the Imperial Cancer Research Fund and the Cancer Research Campaign.

Advisory Group on Direct Payments

Mr. Alan Howarth: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the membership of her technical advisory group on direct payments.      [17061]

Mr. Bowis: This informal group will be a source of practical expertise, to assist the Department in progressing this important issue. The membership may therefore need to vary to reflect the issues being discussed. Its initial membership will include relevant Government Departments, local authorities' associations, social services directors, potential users of direct payments and their representatives.

Hospital Closures

Mrs. Mahon: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many hospitals for the mentally handicapped have closed since 1966;      [17189]

(2) how many hospitals for the mentally handicapped are due to close in the next five years.      [17190]

Mr. Sackville: The Department does not routinely collect information on hospital closures. Information is available centrally on proposals to close, or change the use of, health service facilities which are referred to Ministers for decision following objections from a community health council.

A recent report of a survey by Inter-Authority Comparisons and Consultancy showed that of 106 mental handicap hospitals with 100 or more beds at December 1960, 62 had been closed or replaced and 44 remained open in March 1994. The report identified a further 11 hospitals with 100 or more beds and four with 75 to 100 beds which had opened during the period. Of the total of 59 hospitals with over 75 beds at March 1994, 42 had plans to close by 2000 as alternative community-based health and social services are developed. Copies of the report will be placed in the Library.

Local Pay Bargaining

Mr. Dafydd Wigley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will suspend for 12 months any decision on local pay bargaining in the NHS, to allow further negotiations with representatives of affected parties; and if she will deliver a full 3 per cent. pay increase across the board to all NHS staff who were subject to local pay bargaining proposals for the year 1995 96.      [17225]

Mr. Malone: No.

Message Handling Service

Mr. Hunter: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what progress has been made in the testing of the message handling service being offered by BT Syntegra scheduled to take place between August and December 1994;      [17683]

Column 931

(2) when she expects the message handling service being provided by BT Syntegra to be fully available to the NHS; and what are the expected cost savings;      [17684]

(3) what is the cost to her Department of the procurement of the message handling service;      [17686]

(4) how the message handling service of the NHS is currently being provided; which company provides this service; and how many users subscribe to thisnetwork.      [17685]

Mr. Sackville: There are currently two message handling services available to the national health service: one provided by Syntegra and the Healthlink service provided by Racal Data Networks Ltd. The cost of procuring the Healthlink service in 1989 90 by single tender negotiations is estimated at £450,000. The cost of the competitive procurement which resulted in the award of a contract to Syntegra in 1994 is estimated to be £517,000.

As at 1 March 1995, there were about 6,500 subscribers to Healthlink, the majority being general practitioners and dentists. At present, there are about 350 subscribers to Syntegra's MHS. The Department has successfully completed technical testing of the main components of Syntegra's MHS. User acceptance testing is currently taking place and is scheduled to be completed by the end of April 1995. This activity will therefore be completed approximately 12 weeks after the agreed target date. A number of technical issues were encountered early in the testing which has caused the original timetable to be extended.

The various elements of Syntegra MHS are being introduced over the coming months. The basic messaging service is currently undergoing user acceptance trials, and early users of messaging services will be able to connect to it from April 1995 onwards. Use of the service by family health services authorities will be piloted in May and June, installed in early sites in July to September, then become generally available from October 1995 onwards. Electronic data interchange will become progressively available from the summer of 1995. The Syntegra MHS is an advanced system, offering the latest standards in messaging. The Department and Syntegra have insisted on all aspects of the service being thoroughly tested and piloted before being made available for general use. This policy means that a reliable operational service will be made available at the planned dates. It is anticipated that cost savings to the NHS from use of Syntegra's MHS, based on the best current projections of service usage and the costs of the two services at August 1994, will be in the range of £70 million to £130 million over seven years compared with the existing Healthlink service.

Community Care

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what is her policy on the proposal for a minimum standard of mental health services in the Community Care (Rights to Mental Health Services) Bill.      [17361]

Column 932

Mr. Bowis: The introduction of prescriptive legislation for a minimum standard of mental health services is not the right approach as decisions about the provision of appropriate care in the community are best made locally in the light of local needs, priorities and resources rather than dictated centrally.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received from the professional bodies to the Community Care (Rights to Mental Health Services) Bill.      [17362]

Mr. Bowis: We have received representations from the Royal College of Nursing.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what has been the outcome of the consultations between the NHS and local councils on the need for each aspect of community care; and if she will make a statement.      [17407]

Mr. Bowis: As a precondition for receiving their community care special transitional grant in 1993 94 and 1994 95, local social services authorities have been required to reach agreements with health authorities on a number of community care issues. For 1995 96, the pre-conditions include taking into account the continuing care guidance issued in February 1995.

Health authorities and social services departments are required to work together to develop services in the community based on individual assessment of need. Many local authorities and health authorities produce joint community care plans.

Dental Services

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what change there has been in the number of people taking dental examinations since the abolition of the free dental examination.      [17363]

Mr. Malone: The information available centrally is the number of courses of treatment for adults that either consist of, or include, dental examinations. This information is shown in the table.

General dental service: number of      

national health service dental         

examinations for adult patients in     

courses of treatment claimed for       

in the financial years 1987-88 to      

1993-94 in England                     

Year ending  |Examinations             



1987-88      |19,889                   

1988-89      |20,904                   

1989-90      |19,402                   

1990-91      |18,951                   

1991-92      |19,548                   

1992-93      |20,000                   

1993-94      |19,488                   


Dental Practice Board.                 


1. The Charge for dental examinations  

was introduced for courses of          

treatment commencing on or after 1     

January 1989. The table relates to     

courses of treatment claimed for by    

dentists in the financial year.        

Because of the time lag between        

courses of treatment starting and      

finishing a large number of free       

examinations will be included in the   

financial year 1988-89. Some free      

examinations will be included in later 

years' figures.                        

2. The figures for examinations are    

the totals of items 1a and 1b in the   

statement of dental remuneration.      

3. Numbers estimated from a 5 per      

cent. sample of courses of treatment.  

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment her Department has made on the effect of the introduction of a sessional fees system for dentists on the number of dentists leaving the NHS system.      [17364]

Mr. Malone: The sessional model was one of the options outlined in the Green Paper "Improving NHS Dentistry". We are considering the responses from the consultation, and hope to be able to make an announcement shortly.

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans she has to include dental policy and practice as part of "The Health of the Nation" planning and documents.      [17365]

Mr. Malone: Oral health has been considered alongside the strategy for improving health set out in "The Health of the Nation". "An Oral Health Strategy for England", published in July 1994, reviewed the present state of oral health in England, identified problem areas and suggested in broad terms how these might be tackled. Both the contents of this document and decisions taken following the consultation of the Green Paper "Improving NHS Dentistry" will inform policy on how best to achieve future improvements in oral health.


Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) pursuant to her answer of 17 March, Official Report, column 741 , if she will place in the Library the correspondence relating to her proposal to reduce Manchester's AIDS support programme.      [17580] (2) if she will now rescind her proposal to reduce Manchester's AIDS support programme.      [17507]

Mr. Sackville: Copies of the correspondence will be placed in the Library. Having considered Manchester's request for additional funding, I have decided to make an extra £100,000 available to Manchester city council in excess of the indicative allocation of £75,000 notified earlier this year.


Mr. Allen: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list the Internet electronic mail addresses for (a) her Department and (b) each Minister in her Department; and if she will make a statement on her Department's approach to the information super-highway.      [17730]

Mr. Sackville: The Department and Ministers do not have Internet electronic mailboxes. Although officials are using the Internet to retrieve information and to communicate with the research, medical and scientific community, public electronic mail access is still under consideration. The Department is considering how best to exploit the information super-highway to disseminate and retrieve information and to communicate with external organisations and members of the public without risking the security of confidential or personal information and at minimum administrative cost.

Teenage Pregnancies

Dr. Lynne Jones: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are her policies for ensuring that progress is made in meeting "The Health of the Nation" targets on teenage pregnancies.      [17409]

Column 934

Mr. Sackville: I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave her on 14 February, Official Report , columns 640 41 .

The Government continue to work closely with health authorities and voluntary organisations towards achieving "The Health of the Nation" target to reduce under-16 conceptions by 50 per cent. by 2000.

Traffic Calming Measures

Mr. Shersby: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will call for a report from the Hillingdon hospital trust on the ease of road access to the hospital from the surrounding areas of West Drayton, Yiewsley, Hillingdon and Uxbridge; and if she will satisfy herself that the construction of road humps in many streets is not leading to the death of patients admitted in emergency cases.      [17421]

Mr. Sackville: The Department of Transport recently issued a code of practice--Traffic Advisory Leaflet No. 3-94--setting out arrangements for consultation between highway authorities and the emergency services when traffic calming measures are proposed. My hon. Friend may wish to contact Mr. Martin Gorham, chief executive of the London ambulance service to establish what consultation was carried out before the recent introduction of traffic calming measures in the area around Hillingdon hospital.

Long-term Care

Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health, pursuant to her answer of 13 December 1994, Official Report , columns 615 16 , if she will collect information of the savings made since April 1993 by the national health service by transferring the funding of continuing care of elderly people to local authorities.      [17508]

Mr. Bowis: Local and health authorities are responsible for agreeing their responsibilities for continuing care. They should agree the information which they need locally to identify and monitor respective financial commitments in this area. Health authorities can transfer funds to local authorities under section 28a of the National Health Service Act 1977 but it is not clear how this would result in savings to the NHS.

Junior Doctors' Hours

Mr. Home Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what are the average and maximum weekly number of hours on duty and on call for junior hospital doctors.      [17384]

Mr. Malone: Junior hospital doctors contract to work a standard week of 40 hours. The majority of them also contract for a number of additional duty hours, which may vary from contract to contract. The maximum weekly hours of duty including additional duty hours are laid down in "The New Deal", copies of which are available in the Library. Since1 January, these are 56 hours for those on full shifts, 64 hours for those working partial shifts, 72 hours for those in hard-pressed on-call posts and 83 hours for those in non-hard-pressed on-call posts. Maximum average hours of work are, regardless of the contracted working pattern, 56 a week.

Column 935

The medical and dental work-force census for England and Wales shows that at 30 September 1993, the average contracted hours of full-time junior doctors and dentists who contract for additional duty hours was 75.2 a week.

Average hours of work, as opposed to contracted hours, are not held centrally. However, the 23rd report of the Review Body on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration, copies of which are available in the Library, contained the results of an independent survey of junior doctors and dentists in Great Britain which show that average hours of work were, in October 1993, 53.4 a week.

Public Information Telephone Service

Mr. Donohoe: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the public information telephone inquiry lines operated by her Department, in each case indicating the costs of establishing, operating, and publicising these lines and the number of calls made to them up until this point; when they were established; and what assessment her Department has made of their effectiveness.      [17379]

Mr. Sackville: The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate costs. There are a number of such lines to help the public with advice on health issues.


Mr. Hutton: To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) how many health authorities met the target for joint funding of hospices in the last three years; and if she will make a statement;      [17550] (2) what was the total expenditure by health authorities in England on hospices in each of the last three years in (a) cash terms and (b) in constant 1995 prices.      [17549]

Mr. Sackville: The information is not available in the form requested. Funding allocated centrally for hospices and specialist palliative care services for the three years 1992 93 to 1994 95 is shown in the table. These figures do not include additional funding of specialist palliative care by health authorities from their general allocations. Information on the number of health authorities who have met the target of matched national health service and voluntary funding for hospices is not available centrally.

                |1992-93  |1992-93  |1993-94  |1993-94  |1994-95            

                |cash     |constant |cash     |constant |cash               

                |prices   |prices<1>|prices   |prices<1>|prices             

Region          |(000s)   |(000s)   |(000s)   |(000s)   |(000s)             


Yorkshire       |2,892    |3,040    |3,446    |3,515    |3,788              

Northern        |2,329    |2,448    |2,712    |2,766    |3,012              

Trent           |3,443    |3,619    |4,019    |4,099    |4,304              

Mersey          |1,940    |2,039    |2,356    |2,403    |2,489              

Oxford          |1,737    |1,826    |1,966    |2,005    |2,128              

East Anglia     |1,589    |1,670    |1,922    |1,960    |2,129              

Wessex          |2,513    |2,642    |2,861    |2,918    |3,025              

N.E.Thames      |2,807    |2,951    |3,410    |3,478    |3,864              

N.W.Thames      |2,469    |2,595    |2,848    |2,905    |3,240              

S.E.Thames      |3,233    |3,399    |3,664    |3,737    |4,000              

S.W.Thames      |2,473    |2,600    |2,913    |2,971    |3,145              

N.Western       |3,105    |3,264    |3,846    |3,923    |4,099              

S.Western       |2,835    |2,980    |3,408    |3,476    |3,648              

West Midlands   |3,828    |4,024    |4,560    |4,651    |4,858              


Total (million) |37.2     |39.1     |43.9     |44.8     |47.7               

<1> Figures shown at constant 1994-95 prices.                               

Electro-convulsive Therapy

Mr. Alfred Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received regarding the banning of the use of electro-convulsive therapy on children under the age of 16 years; what reply she is making; and if she will make a statement.      [17471]

Mr. Bowis: I refer the right hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Barnsley, Central (Mr. Illsley) on 9 March, column 319 .

NHS Staff

Ms Harman: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will list for each of the past five years, the number of NHS staff in England who are employed on a temporary basis, breaking the data down into (a) nursing and midwifery staff, (b) medical and dental staff, (c) ambulance staff, (d) ancillary staff and (e) managers and administrative staff, also expressing the data as a percentage of the total numbers in each respective staff group.      [17760]

Mr. Malone: I refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Brown) on 31 March, column 815 , which gave information on nursing and midwifery bank staff. Information is not available centrally about other staff employed on a temporary basis.

Sight Tests

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what representations she has received calling for the reintroduction of free tests for pensioners; what her response has been; and if she will make astatement.      [17979]

Mr. Malone: We have received and are considering a copy of the Association of Optometrists and British Medical Association's joint document "Free Eye Examinations For the Over-65s", which calls for the re- instatement of national health service eye examinations for that group.

London Ambulance Service

Mr. Chidgey: To ask the Secretary of State for Health pursuant to her answer of 21 March, Official Report , column 131 , whether she will make it her policy to continue to place in the Library information about the number and percentage of emergency ambulance calls in London that took (a) 14 minutes and (b) each subsequent minute up to 70 minutes in February and subsequent months as they become available.      [17864]

Mr. Sackville: The hon. Member should contact Mr. Martin Gorham, chief executive of the London ambulance service, for this information.

Accident and Emergency Services, Liverpool

Mr. Wareing: To ask the Secretary of State for Health if she will make a statement on the accident and emergency services in Liverpool hospitals.      [17980]

Mr. Sackville: Substantial investment is being made reorganising and improving accident and emergency services in Liverpool. In the transition, arrangements are being made to ensure that safe and effective services are maintained. The provision of such services is a local

Column 937

matter and the hon. Member may wish to contactMr. D. H. Tod, chairman of Liverpool health authority, for details.


Inheritance Tax

Mr. Faulds: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will list the objects and property accepted

Column 938

in satisfaction of inheritance tax during the financial year ended 31 March; and if he will specify (a) the amount of tax satisfied in each case, (b) whether any offers carried conditions as to destination, (c) the date in each case of the recommendations received by him from the Museums and Galleries Commission for the acceptance of objects, (d) the total for the financial year of the tax thus satisfied and (e) how much of this total was covered in the public accounts by means of resort to the reserve in accordance with the Government policy announced on 2 July 1985, Official Report , column, 779.      [16753]

Mr. Dorrell: The information requested is as follows:

Column 937

                                                                                |Conditions as to    |Date of MGC                              

Item                                                       |Tax satisfied £     |destination         |recommendation                           


Drawing, `Contraholz Solo' by Paul Klee                    |59,048              |Wish                |12.08.93                                 

Drawings `Tete de Femme, 1924' and `Tete de Femme, 1937'                                                                                       

  by Picasso. Vase `The artist at his easel' by Picasso    | 325,952            | Wish               | 12.08.93                                

Fairfax Archives                                           |24,500              |Unconditional       |23.08.93                                 

George I silver kettle and stand                           |130,000             |Wish                |21.01.94                                 

Painting `The Council of Horses' by Ferneley               |350,000             |Conditional         |01.05.93                                 

Collection of riding tack                                  |1,700               |Conditional         |17.02.94                                 

The Acland Archive                                         |42,000              |Conditional         |16.08.93                                 

`Black Painting 1958' by William Scott                     |35,000              |Conditional         |06.09.93                                 

Collection of architectural drawings                       |79,093              |Conditional         |13.01.94                                 

Chattels at Castle Fraser                                  |107,709             |Conditional         |17.01.94                                 

Number 2 Willow Road by Erno Goldfinger                    |203,111             |Hybrid purchase with                                          

                                                                                |  National Trust    |n/a                                      

`Dido and Aeneas' by Jacopo Amigoni                        |207,030             |Unconditional       |21.01.93                                 

Benthall Hall chattels                                     |25,540              |Wish                |28.03.94                                 

Busts of Matthew Bolton by John Flaxman and James Watt                                                                                         

  by Sir Francis Chantrey                                  | 122,500            | Wish               | 28.03.94                                

Fitzherbert papers                                         |49,000              |Conditional         |25.05.94                                 

Studio and contents of F E McWilliam                       |35,000              |Conditional         |11.08.93                                 

`Stonehenge' by J M W Turner                               |192,000             |Conditional         |28.03.94                                 

Collection of Islamic books                                |3,500               |Conditional         |26.08.94                                 

Calke Abbey chattels                                       |143,473             |Conditional         |03.12.93                                 

Chattels at Nymans                                         |176,055             |Conditional         |18.04.94                                 

Musical automation clock by Thomas Weekes                  |59,147.26           |Unconditional       |06.09.94                                 

Florentine terracotta roundel by Foggini                   |26,600              |Unconditional       |26.07.94                                 

Study for a portrait by Francis Bacon                      |680,000             |Wish                |01.05.93                                 

Silver gilt wine-fountain                                  |770,000             |Conditional         |11.06.93                                 

Six sculptures by Naum Gabo                                |979,616             |Conditional         |28.03.94                                 

Paintings `L'Artiste dans son Atelier' by Marc Chagall and                                                                                     

  `La Condition Humaine' by Rene Magritte                  | 665,000            | Conditional        | 26.07.94                                

Paintings `A Village Wedding' by Jan Steen, `The Castle of                                                                                     

  Bentheim from below' by Jacob Van Ruisdale and                                                                                               

  `The Bird Trap' by Nicholas Berchem                      | 665,000            | Conditional        | 05.12.93                                

The total expenditure for the financial year 1994 95 was £6,160, 116. This includes an additional payment of £2,041.74 for the painting, "Weeping Woman" by Picasso which was accepted in 1986 87. Five offers costing £3,759,616 were met by calls on the reserve.

Museums and Galleries

Mr. Faulds: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage if he will publish the attendance figures for the financial year ended 31 March reported by the national museums and galleries for which he is responsible, broken down into the individual institutions, but including their outstations, with figures in each case of the percentage increase or decrease on the attendance figures for the preceding year.      [16754]

Mr. Dorrell: I list forecasts for the number of visits to the 11 national museums and galleries in England for which I am responsible for the financial year ended

Column 938

31 March 1995 and the actual figures for the financial year 1993 94. More accurate figures for 1994 95 will be available in July.

                                      |Forecast         |Provisional                        

                    |Number of        |number of        |percentage                         

                    |visits in        |visits in        |increase/decrease                  

                    |1993-94          |1994-95          |over the previous                  

                    |(million)        |(million)        |year                               


British Museum      |6.03             |6.32             |+4.8                               

Imperial War                                                                                

  Museum            |1.19             |1.23             |+3.4                               

National Gallery    |4.02             |4.00             |-0.5                               

National Maritime                                                                           

  Museum            |0.53             |0.54             |+1.9                               

National Museums                                                                            

  and Galleries on                                                                          

  Merseyside        |1.34             |1.38             |+3.0                               

National Portrait                                                                           

  Gallery           |0.79             |0.85             |+7.6                               

Natural History                                                                             

  Museum            |1.74             |1.54             |-11.5                              

National Museum of                                                                          

  Science and                                                                               

  Industry          |2.67             |2.48             |-7.1                               

Tate Gallery        |2.75             |2.80             |+1.8                               

Victoria and Albert                                                                         

  Museum            |1.58             |1.60             |+1.3                               

Wallace Collection  |0.15             |0.16             |+6.7                               


Total               |22.79            |22.9             |+0.5                               

It is not possible to identify the number of visits to the Royal Armouries because it at present forms part of the Tower of London.

National Lottery

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to review the distribution mechanisms for the proceeds of the national lottery.      [17223]

Mr. Dorrell: The distribution mechanisms are as set out in the National Lottery etc. Act 1993 and can be changed only by Parliament.

Mr. Kilfoyle: To ask the Secretary of State for National Heritage what plans he has to instruct Oflot to examine the profits of Camelot.      [17222]

Mr. Dorrell: I have no such plans.


Pig Research Unit

Mr. McNamara: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what was the cost of market testing his Department's pig unit;      [16962]

(2) which consultants were employed to advise on the market testing of his Department's pig unit; and at what cost;      [16963]

(3) how many (a) pig and (b) staff were included in the scope of his Department's market test of the pig unit;      [16964]

(4) how many bids from the private sector were received following the issuing of the invitation to tender for his Department's pig unit work;      [16965]

(5) if the market testing of the Government's pig research unit falls within the remit of his "Competing for Quality" initiative; and if he will make a statement.      [16958]

Mr. Waldegrave: I have asked the chief executive of the Central Veterinary Laboratory to reply to the hon. Member direct.

Letter from T.W.A. Little to Mr. Kevin McNamara, dated 3 April 1995:

The Minister has asked me to reply to your recent questions about the Department's Pig Unit. I am also replying to your question to the Prime Minister concerning the Government Pig Research Unit.

Column 940

I should perhaps begin by explaining that there is no single Government Pig Research Unit. However, at CVL the Animal Services Unit is responsible for the procurement, housing and welfare of animals used on site in connection with the work of the Laboratory on animal health and welfare. In 1993 it was decided to market test that part of the operation responsible for the supply of animals of known health status. This involved the supply of pigs as well as other animals. The planned approach was to invite potential tenderers to either run the service on site, using CVL's existing facilities, or to supply from their own facilities off-site.

The response to advertisements for expressions of interest for the supply of animals was disappointing. Too few organisations replied who had sufficient track record to meet all the Laboratory's needs. Against this background the market test was not pursued in favour of an internal management review which concluded that supplies should continue to be arranged in-house but with occasional use of out-sourced suppliers.

Turning to your specific questions, I am unable to provide you with a cost for that aspect of the exercise which related to the supply of pigs since these costs were not kept separately. I can confirm no consultants were involved at any stage of the market testing exercise.

That part of the unit supplying pigs comprised approximately 3 boars, 30 sows and followers. Two members of staff were involved for most of their time with limited supervisory input. As explained above, no bids were invited since the exercise did not reach the stage of inviting tenders.

Meat Hygiene Service

Dr. Strang: To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in the setting up of the national meat hygiene service.      [17276]

Next Section

  Home Page