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6 Jul 2005 : Column 457W—continued

Patients Forums

Mr. Lansley: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the total budget for supporting patients' forums is for the current financial year; and what the total budget for supporting community health councils was for the last financial year of their existence. [5600]

Ms Rosie Winterton: The total budget for supporting patients' forums for the current financial year is £25.9 million, comprising of £19.8 million for direct programme expenditure for forums, plus £6.1 million for regional support, as provided through the regional centres.

The total budget for supporting community health councils (CHCs) from 1 April to 1 December 2003, when CHCs were abolished, was £13.98 million.

West Hertfordshire NHS Trust (Budget)

Anne Main: To ask the Secretary of State for Health what advice has been given by her Department to the West Hertfordshire NHS Trust concerning measures to alleviate its budgetary deficit; and if she will make a statement. [8734]

Ms Rosie Winterton: National health service organisations are expected to plan for and achieve financial balance each and every year. Any deficits of NHS trusts need to be matched by underspends by other NHS bodies each year. In the next year, NHS trusts which overspent should make a surplus in order to ensure that other bodies can utilise the underspends from the previous year.

It is the responsibility of strategic health authorities (SHAs) to deliver both overall financial balance for their local health communities and to ensure each and every body achieves financial balance. However, there is a degree of flexibility in how this is managed at a local level. In circumstances where a surplus cannot be generated in the following year, SHAs can agree a recovery plan which phases the recovery of deficits over a number of years. This would require other NHS organisations within the health economy to underspend over the same period. Clearly, any such arrangements would have to be subject to the agreement of local providers, commissioners and the managing SHA.

West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust is working with primary care trusts to agree a recovery plan to ensure that it delivers national targets, meets the national standards for high quality health care and meets its statutory duties. Decisions on how this is best delivered within the West Hertfordshire health and social care system is a local decision and thus Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire SHA is working with the local NHS to support them in this process and ensure that there is the management capacity to produce and deliver the recovery plan.
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English Wine

Mr. Dismore: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport if she will ensure that English wine is made available at dinners, receptions and parties she hosts at which hospitality involving wine is appropriate (a) during the EU presidency and (b) generally; and if she will make a statement. [9159]

Mr. Lammy: The choice of wines at receptions and other occasions—where it is appropriate for wine to be served—is primarily an operational matter for the chosen supplier of catering services. My officials liaise with the organisers of such events and encourage the serving of British wines, wherever that would also ensure appropriate value for money.

Olympics 2012

Hugh Robertson: To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport what financial estimate has been made of the total economic benefit to the UK of hosting the 2012 Olympics. [9147]

Mr. Lammy [holding answer 4 July 2005]: We expect a London Olympics to deliver significant economic benefits. The Games will attract investment, offer UK companies the opportunity to compete for billions of pounds worth of contracts, and provide a welcome boost to the UK tourism industry.


Car Servicing and Repair

Charles Hendry: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) what recent surveys have been carried out by (a) his Department and (b) its agencies into car servicing and repair; and what the findings were of those surveys; [9345]

(2) what discussions the Office of Fair Trading has had with the Retail Motor Industry Federation concerning standards of servicing and repair for the car industry; [9346]

(3) what estimate he has made of the number of garages servicing cars in England and Wales; what assessment he has made of the quality of servicing and repair work done by such garages; and if he will make a statement; [9347]

(4) what recent estimate he has made of the number of cars serviced in a year in England; how many cars were examined in the recent survey into car servicing and repair conducted by the Trading Standards Institute for his Department; and what proportion of the total this represents. [9530]

Mr. Sutcliffe: The most recent survey carried out by my Department (Car Servicing and Repair: Mystery Shopping Research—available at was published in September 2002. The OFT published their Report (Car Servicing and Repairs—available at in August 2000. This pulled together survey results from a number of sources. The findings of
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the surveys detailed in the OFT report were echoed substantially in the DTI survey. The findings are summarised as follows:

Five per cent. of garages were rated very good, indicating they had carried out a thorough service, according to the manufacturer's service schedule; about half were rated either poor or very poor. There was evidence that women were subject to greater exposure to detrimental practices: overall 40 per cent.. of garages missed one or more items on the service schedule, this rose to 51 per cent.. if the customer was female (33 per cent.. if male). Performance was generally poor on providing accurate information, for example proper quotes for servicing. 61 per cent.. missed at least one of the faults found by the project's inspectors, which should have been picked up in service. 71 per cent. did not show customers replaced parts. Exposure to detriment seemed endemic and there was no significant difference in ratings between types of garage: 53 per cent.. of independent garages and 50 per cent. of franchise dealers were rated either poor or very poor. Only 6 per cent. of independents and 4 per cent. of dealers achieved a very good rating and there was no significant difference between members of trade associations and non-members. Fast-fit" centres faired a little better with 28 per cent. rated poor or very poor for overall quality of work; however, only 3 per cent.. carried out a thorough check and rectified both simple introduced faults.

Until September last year, when they withdrew their application, the Retail Motor Industry Federation was pursuing OFT approval for its code of practice. Since that time I understand that the Federation and the OFT have met several times to discuss the possibility of applying for approval for a revised code scheme.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation estimate that there are some 26,000 garages servicing cars in England and Wales. I have no doubt that there are very many garages in England and Wales which provide, or are capable of providing, very good quality servicing and repair work.

However, random mystery shopping research carried out over recent years by trading standards officers, Which? and the Department has produced results that show consistently that a high proportion of garages from across the industry does not provide consumers with the standard of service delivery to which I believe they are entitled. Regrettably, the industry has failed to produce evidence of a similar quality which shows otherwise.

The Retail Motor Industry Federation estimate that there are some 24 million cars serviced each year in the UK. The recent survey carried out by the Trading Standards Institute was not carried out on behalf of the Department. The Trading Standards Institute reported that they examined 88 cars in the course of their survey. This is clearly a very low proportion of the annual total of services. However, the poor results for the industry from that survey are entirely consistent with similar poor results in the similar surveys referenced above. Regrettably, there appears to be no sign of improvement in customer service delivery in this sector over the period since the OFT Report in 2000.
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Coal Reserves (South Wales)

Huw Irranca-Davies: To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what estimate he has made of the size of the remaining coal reserves in South Wales; and what assessment he has made of the economic viability of their extraction. [6622]

Malcolm Wicks: In 2002, the Department commissioned a study into coal reserves at existing deep mines in the UK. This was carried out by consultant mining engineers on behalf of the Department.

It concluded that as at December 2002 the three remaining deep mines had 3.65 million tonnes of reserves, which could be extracted under then current economic conditions, and a further 11.50 million tonnes of potential economic interest which had not been fully investigated or evaluated, and which would require major access development. Further details can be found at:

An earlier study, Prospects for coal production in England, Scotland and Wales", published in 1999, also identified 20–25 million tonnes of recoverable coal at the Margam prospect.

Total deep mine production in South Wales since 2002 has been approximately 1.25 million tonnes.

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