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Written Answers to Questions

Friday 15 November 1991

TRANSPORT

United States Cabotage Regulations

Mr. Warren : To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to obtain the agreement of the United States Government to eliminate their cabotage regulations preventing United Kingdom airlines from developing feeder networks within the United States of America ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. McLoughlin : Discussions with the United States Government are taking place about possibilities for the liberalisation of transatlantic air services. Our aim is to remove unnecessary regulation and obstacles to fair competition between airlines, and United States cabotage restrictions are among those being discussed.

NORTHERN IRELAND

Clubs (Registration)

Mr. Mallon : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many convictions have been obtained as a result of prosecutions brought under article 39 of the Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 since 1 February 1988 ;

(2) how many prosecutions have been brought under article 39 of the Registration of Clubs (Northern Ireland) Order 1987 since 1 February 1988.

Dr. Mawhinney : The information requested is as follows :


             |Prosecutions|Convictions              

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

1988         |3           |-                        

1989         |1           |1                        

1990         |-           |-                        

<1>1991      |-           |-                        

<1> Figures not yet available.                      

Owen and James Carragher

Mr. Mallon : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what date the firm of Robins AHW Ltd., loss adjusters, was appointed to deal with compensation claim ASC 24337/45 submitted on behalf of Owen and James Carragher.

Dr. Mawhinney : The letter of appointment was issued on 13 September 1991.

RUC Constables

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the average annual wage received by a constable in the RUC ; and how much overtime he or she is likely to do during 12 months.


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Dr. Mawhinney : I am advised by the Police Authority for Northern Ireland that the annual average wage received by a constable in the RUC is £30,370. This figure includes allowances and average overtime of 540 hours per year.

Economy

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the current financial subvention made to Northern Ireland ; and if he will break it down into the relevant parts of the economy that benefit.

Dr. Mawhinney [holding answer 14 November 1991] : The figures for the subvention from the United Kingdom to Northern Ireland for 1990-91 are as follows :


                                              |1990-91                

                                              |outturn                

                                              |£ million            

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

Grant in aid under the Northern Ireland                               

   Constitution Act 1973                      |1,066                  

Expenditure by Northern Ireland Office        |699                    

Expenditure by Northern Ireland Court Service |28                     

Contribution from the Great Britain National                          

   Insurance Fund                             |225                    

                                              |---                    

Total Subvention                              |2,018                  

The grant in aid is a general contribution to revenue and is not hypothecated to any particular area of public expenditure.

HOME DEPARTMENT

Airports (Terrorism Checks)

Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy on counter-terrorist checks at airports.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : Under schedule 5 to the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act 1989, the police may examine and detain any person who has arrived in or is seeking to leave Great Britain or Northern Ireland by ship or aircraft for the purpose of determining whether he or she appears to be or to have been concerned in the commission, preparation or instigation of acts of terrorism. Controls unde schedule 5 to the 1989 Act are operated selectively by special branch officers at designated airports throughout the United Kingdom. The Government believe that port controls are an essential part of the national response to the threat of terrorism and they must remain in place as long as the circumstances require.

Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what level of Government resources were devoted to counter- terrorist checks at Cardiff Wales airport six months ago ; and what is the level at the current time.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : It is not the practice to disclose the size of special branch units at ports and airports. However, the costs of such units are met by the respective police authorities, subject to the payments of specific grant by my Department at a rate in the case of provincial forces of 51 per cent.


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Illegal Drugs (Wales)

Mr. John P. Smith : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the South Wales constabulary on the penetration of illegal drugs into Wales from abroad.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. Police forces throughout the United Kingdom make every effort to tackle drug trafficking.

Glanely School

Mr. Morgan : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place a copy in the Library of his report and conclusions on his visit to Glanely comprehensive school on 6 November ; and if he will supply a copy of the same report to the chairman of the education committee of South Glamorgan county council.

Mr. John Patten : I will write to the hon. Member.

Criminal Injuries Compensation Board

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the outstanding number of cases before the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ; and how much compensation has been paid for each year in the last 10 years.

Mr. John Patten : At the end of October 1991, 80,404 cases were outstanding of which 58,645 were awaiting decision by a member of the board or the staff, 10,020 were awaiting the applicant's response to an offer, and 11,739 were awaiting an oral hearing.

Compensation paid in each of the last 10 years was as follows :


               |£                          

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

1981-82        |21,976,696                   

1982-83        |29,444,675                   

1983-84        |38,820,772                   

1984-85        |35,293,451                   

1985-86        |41,559,996                   

1986-87        |48,241,764                   

1987-88        |52,042,581                   

1988-89        |69,381,286                   

1989-90        |72,721,563                   

1990-91        |<1>109,330,303               

<1> Provisional figure.                      

Immigration

Mr. Vaz : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many cases since 1989 the Home Secretary has overturned a decision by immigration officers at the ports following representations by hon. Members to allow passengers into the country.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested is not available centrally.

Staffordshire Police

Ms. Walley : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what immediate steps he intends to take to remedy the understaffing of the Staffordshire police force ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : My right hon. Friend has approved eight additional police posts for Staffordshire as from


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1 October 1991, bringing the establishment to 2,211. There were 15 vacancies at the end of October, bringing the force within 1 per cent. of its establishment.

It is for the Staffordshire police authority to determine the level of manpower required, subject to my right hon. Friend's approval. The authority has made an application for 20 additional police posts in 1992-93 ; my right hon. Friend will make an announcement on the allocation of additional police posts for 1992-93 shortly.

Isle of Man

Mr. Sillars : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent agreements have been reached between Her Majesty's Government and the Isle of Man about adjustments of territorial waters.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : As my right hon. Friend announced on 1 August, Her Majesty's Government and the Isle of Man Government have agreed terms for the extension of the provisions of the Territorial Sea Act 1987 to the Isle of Man. An order in Council extending the territorial sea around the Isle of Man from three to 12 miles came into force on 2 September.

Police Discipline Appeals

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average time take by appeals tribunals considering police discipline measures in England and Wales ; and what proportion of recommendations made by them are (a) accepted and (b) rejected by him.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : During the year ended 31 October 1991 it took an average of 14.7 weeks for an appeal tribunal to make its recommendations known to my right hon. Friend. Over the same period my right hon. Friend accepted the recommendations in 30 cases (81 per cent.) and rejected those relating to the level of punishment in 7 (19 per cent.).

Operation Burlington

Mrs. Golding : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will supply the figures for the number of people (a) arrested, (b) charged and (c) convicted of a criminal offence under Operation Burlington conducted by the Metropolitan police in 1991 ;

(2) if he will list the offences under which people were charged when arrested under Operation Burlington conducted by the Metropolitan police in 1991.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that under Operation Burlington and its successor, Operation Taurus, 817 people have been arrested, of whom 702 have been charged with one or more of the following criminal offences :



Offence                              |Charge                                                                   

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

Begging                              |Section 4 Vagrancy Act 1824                                              

                                                                                                               

Possession of Offensive              |Section 1 Prevention Crime Act 1953                                      

   Weapon                                                                                                      

                                                                                                               

Possession of Pointed                |Section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988                                     

   Articles in Public                                                                                          

                                                                                                               

Drunk and Disorderly                 |Section 91 Criminal Justice Act 1967                                     

                                                                                                               

Theft                                |Section 1 Theft Act 1968                                                 

                                                                                                               

Possession of Drugs                  |Section 5 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971                                       

                                                                                                               

Possession with Intent to            |Section 5 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971                                       

   Supply Drugs                                                                                                

                                                                                                               

Obstructed during search             |Section 23 Misuse of Drugs Act 1971                                      

   for Drugs                                                                                                   

Drunk and Incapable                  |Section 12 Licensing Act 1872                                            

                                                                                                               

Place of Safety Orders               |Section 23 Children and Young                                            

                                     |   Persons Act 1963                                                      

                                                                                                               

Assault, Actual Bodily               |Section 47 Offences Against the                                          

   Harm                              |   Person Act 1861                                                       

                                                                                                               

Assault, Grievous Bodily             |Section 20 Offences Against the                                          

   Harm                              |   Person Act 1861                                                       

                                                                                                               

Grievous Bodily Harm                 |Section 18 Offences Against the                                          

   with intent                       |   Person Act 1861                                                       

                                                                                                               

Common Assault                       |Section 39 Criminal Justice Act 1988                                     

                                                                                                               

Burglary                             |Section 9 Theft Act 1968                                                 

                                                                                                               

Obtaining by Deception               |Section 15 Theft Act 1968                                                

                                                                                                               

Assault on Police                    |Section 51 Police Act 1964                                               

                                                                                                               

Criminal Damage                      |Section 1 Criminal Damage Act 1971                                       

                                                                                                               

Robbery                              |Section 8 Theft Act 1968                                                 

                                                                                                               

Blackmail                            |Section 21 Theft Act 1968                                                

                                                                                                               

Affray                               |Section 3 Public Order Act 1986                                          

                                                                                                               

Threatening Behaviour                |Section 4 Public Order Act 1986                                          

                                                                                                               

Disorderly Behaviour                 |Section 5 Public Order Act 1986                                          

                                                                                                               

Wanted on Warrant                    |Circulated by various forces                                             

                                                                                                               

Murder                               |Offence of Common Law                                                    

                                                                                                               

Conspiracy to Defraud                |Section 1 Criminal Law Act 1977                                          

Hippy Convoys

Mr. Jopling : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue guidance to police forces on means of improving the information which is passed between police forces on the existence and movement of hippy convoys during the summer months.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : No. I understand that chief constables already make arrangements for the collection and dissemination of such information.

Executive Agencies

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy on answering parliamentary questions in respect of bodies given agency status.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : I or the responsible Minister will reply on agency policy issues and on any other matters which do not fall within the responsibility of the chief executive. The chief executives will reply on matters within their areas of responsibility, because they are best placed to do so. This policy is described in the framework documents of the United Kingdom Passport Agency and the Forensic Science Service, copies of which were placed in the Library in April. It has been recently restated in the Government's reply to the seventh report from the Treasury and Civil Service Committee (Cm 1761).


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Police Establishment

Mr. Sheerman : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the authorised establishment figure for each police force in England and Wales ; and what was the actual strength on the last day for which figures are available.

Mr. Peter Lloyd : The information requested is set out in the table.


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

Avon and Somerset  |3,081  |3,068          

Bedfordshire       |1,085  |1,091          

Cambridgeshire     |1,209  |1,226          

Cheshire           |1,889  |1,893          

Cleveland          |1,502  |1,476          

Cumbria            |1,175  |1,174          

Derbyshire         |1,812  |1,716          

Devon and Cornwall |2,865  |2,870          

Dorset             |1,272  |1,302          

Durham             |1,378  |1,369          

Dyfed Powys        |944    |946            

Essex              |2,875  |2,881          

Gloucestershire    |1,164  |1,169          

Greater Manchester |7,028  |6,963          

Gwent              |1,009  |1,002          

Hampshire          |3,175  |3,183          

Hertfordshire      |1,669  |1,656          

Humberside         |2,007  |2,021          

Kent               |3,020  |3,021          

Lancashire         |3,203  |3,210          

Leicestershire     |1,814  |1,822          

Lincolnshire       |1,198  |1,203          

Merseyside         |4,701  |4,644          

Norfolk            |1,409  |1,401          

Northamptonshire   |1,142  |1,138          

Northumbria        |3,560  |3,488          

North Wales        |1,352  |1,340          

North Yorkshire    |1,408  |1,380          

Nottinghamshire    |2,344  |2,327          

South Wales        |3,168  |3,143          

South Yorkshire    |2,998  |3,004          

Staffordshire      |2,203  |2,218          

Suffolk            |1,205  |1,200          

Surrey             |1,659  |1,676          

Sussex             |2,964  |2,976          

Thames Valley      |3,685  |3,718          

Warwickshire       |1,008  |1,011          

West Mercia        |2,024  |2,029          

West Midlands      |6,910  |6,874          

West Yorkshire     |5,281  |5,193          

Wiltshire          |1,099  |1,199          

City of London     |798    |802            

Metropolitan       |28,554 |28,193         

-------            |-------|-------        

Totals             |125,846|125,216        

<1> Police establishments are those        

approved for 1990-91, so as to             

be compatible with the latest strength     

figures. Establishments for                

1991-92 were increased from 1 October      

1991.                                      

Auto Crime

Mr. Shersby : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons convicted of taking away vehicles without consent were given custodial sentences of up to three years' imprisonment in each of the five years before the penalty was reduced to six months in the Criminal Justice Act 1988.

Mr. John Patten : The information requested is given in the table. Of those sentenced, about 3 per cent. in each year received a sentence of over six months in custody.


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Number of persons sentenced to immediate custody at all courts for offences of unauthorised taking of a motor 

vehicle                                                                                                       

and unauthorised taking of conveyance other than motor vehicle or pedal cycle by sentence length 1983 to      

1988<1>                                                                                                       

England and Wales                                                                                             

                                         Sentence length                                                      

Offence   |Year     |Total    |Total    |6 months |Over     |Over     |Over 18  |Over     |Over               

                    |sentenced|immediate|and      |6 months |1 year   |months   |2 years  |3 years            

                              |custody  |under    |and up to|and up   |and up to|and up to                    

                                                  |1 year   |to 18    |2 years  |3 years                      

                                                            |months                                           

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

Unauthorised taking of a motor vehicle                                                                        

          |1983     |25,615   |5,886    |5,134    |516      |161      |59       |12       |4                  

          |1984     |22,673   |4,564    |4,006    |430      |83       |28       |15       |2                  

          |1985     |23,159   |4,828    |4,171    |472      |121      |50       |13       |1                  

          |1986     |21,993   |4,398    |3,766    |464      |105      |47       |16       |-                  

          |1987     |21,331   |4,052    |3,382    |485      |146      |28       |11       |-                  

          |<1>1988  |20,496   |3,658    |3,022    |491      |103      |36       |6        |-                  

                                                                                                              

Unauthorised taking of a conveyance other than a                                                              

motor vehicle or pedal cycle                                                                                  

          |1983     |172      |3        |2        |1        |-        |-        |-        |-                  

          |1984     |167      |3        |3        |-        |-        |-        |-        |-                  

          |1985     |90       |6        |5        |1        |-        |-        |-        |-                  

          |1986     |92       |6        |3        |2        |1        |-        |-        |-                  

          |1987     |62       |4        |1        |1        |1        |1        |-        |-                  

          |<1>1988  |78       |1        |1        |-        |-        |-        |-        |-                  

<1> These two triable-either-way offences were reclassified as summary offences under the Criminal Justices   

Act 1988 (12 October 1988).                                                                                   

Prisoners (Police Cells)

130. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the latest available figures showing the average number of prisoners being held in police cells per day in each police authority area.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The average number of prisoners held in police cells in each police force for the period 28 October to 8 November are as follows :



                   |Number       

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

Avon and Somerset  |42           

Bedfordshire       |26           

Cambridgeshire     |23           

Cheshire           |40           

Cleveland          |19           

Cumbria            |27           

Derbyshire         |38           

Devon and Cornwall |31           

Dorset             |8            

Durham             |23           

Dyfed              |26           

Essex              |18           

Gloucestershire    |8            

Greater Manchester |230          

Gwent              |25           

Hampshire          |27           

Hertfordshire      |18           

Humberside         |54           

Kent               |33           

Lancashire         |89           

Leicestershire     |35           

Lincolnshire       |16           

City of London     |2            

Merseyside         |81           

Metropolitan       |142          

Norfolk            |21           

North Wales        |14           

North Yorkshire    |34           

Northamptonshire   |26           

Northumbria        |57           

Nottinghamshire    |29           

South Wales        |61           

South Yorkshire    |92           

Staffordshire      |11           

Suffolk            |13           

Surrey             |5            

Sussex             |55           

Thames Valley      |36           

Warwickshire       |12           

West Mercia        |38           

West Midlands      |85           

West Yorkshire     |104          

Wiltshire          |22           

132. Mr. Ieuan Wyn Jones : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are being kept in police cells as a direct result of the dispute at Her Majesty's prison, Cardiff.

Mr. Kenneth Baker : The industrial action at Cardiff was temporarily suspended with effect from 5 November. On 8 November, the latest date for which figures are available, 178 prisoners in police cells were from courts in Cardiff prison's catchment area.

Joyriders

Mr. Parry : To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if persons killed or injured by joyriders are covered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. John Patten [holding answer 7 November 1991] : The criminal injuries compensation scheme applies where injury or death is caused by a deliberate attempt to run the victim down. Otherwise, claims for compensation for death or injury arising from the use of a stolen vehicle are dealt with by the owner's insurers or by the Motor Insurers' Bureau.

HEALTH

District General Hospitals

Sir Michael Neubert : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many district general hospitals there are currently in each of the health districts in Greater London ; and what are the numbers of residents in each of those districts.


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Mr. Dorrell : There is no agreed definition of a district general hospital. Acute hospital services may be provided to a district from single site or multiple site general hospital facilities which may or may not be supplemented by specialist or single specialty hospitals. The available relevant information is given in the table.


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District Health Authority            June 1990     March 1991                               

                                     Populations                 Number of                  

                                     (in thousands)hospitals with                           

                                                  |acute beds   |more than 100              

                                                                |acute beds                 

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

North West Thames RHA                                                                       

Barnet                              |310.0        |3            |2                          

Harrow                              |192.5        |1            |1                          

Hillingdon                          |235.5        |3            |3                          

Hounslow and Spelthorne             |282.3        |3            |2                          

Ealing                              |293.3        |1            |1                          

Parkside                            |380.2        |5            |2                          

Riverside                           |280.7        |7            |3                          

                                                                                            

North East Thames RHA                                                                       

Barking, Havering and Brentwood     |447.8        |5            |3                          

Hampstead                           |112.0        |2            |1                          

Bloomsbury                          |127.7        |19           |3                          

Islington                           |173.6        |2            |1                          

City and Hackney                    |195.8        |3            |2                          

Newham                              |208.6        |2            |2                          

Tower Hamlets                       |166.9        |2            |2                          

Enfield                             |264.3        |2            |2                          

Haringey                            |192.8        |2            |1                          

Redbridge                           |234.8        |3            |2                          

Waltham Forest                      |213.4        |3            |1                          

                                                                                            

South East Thames RHA                                                                       

Bexley                              |220.2        |1            |1                          

Greenwich                           |215.9        |3            |2                          

Bromley                             |300.1        |3            |3                          

West Lambeth                        |154.3        |3            |1                          

Camberwell                          |212.0        |3            |2                          

Lewisham and North Southwark        |318.0        |5            |2                          

                                                                                            

South West Thames RHA                                                                       

Croydon                             |319.4        |1            |1                          

Kingston and Esher                  |180.8        |2            |1                          

Richmond, Twickenham and Roehampton |236.5        |1            |1                          

Wandsworth                          |187.0        |5            |1                          

Merton and Sutton                   |332.9        |4            |1                          

Pensioners

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimates he has made of the number of additional pensioners in receipt of the retirement pension who will be in receipt of income support arising from the recent uprating statement and as a consequence will be eligible for (a) free eye tests, (b) free dental check and (c) any other health entitlements, giving the number and projected costs by category and funding source in each case.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : A breakdown by age is not available.

Cot Deaths

Mrs. Currie : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what advice is now given to parents on the avoidance of cot deaths ; and if he will make a statement ;

(2) what progress is being made in reducing the incidence of cot deaths.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The rate of cot death has been coming down over recent years, from 2.35 per 1,000 live births in 1988 to 1.81 in 1990. We welcome this reduction, and hope to see a further reduction following the advice


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contained in a press release issued by the Government's chief medical officer on 31 October. The press release was widely taken up in the national press.

The advice that is now given to parents is that the risk of cot death can be reduced if babies are not placed on their tummies when they are going to sleep. This advice is based on the recommendations of a group of experts set up by the chief medical officer to advise him on the results of several recent studies carried out in this country and abroad.

The chief medical officer took the opportunity to reiterate advice which had been offered previously : to keep babies warm, but avoid overheating ; to avoid tobacco smoke ; and to ensure good ventilation and to follow good hygiene.

The Health Education Authority is ensuring that this advice is incorporated in the text of its publications the "Pregnancy Book" and "Birth to Five", copies of which are distributed to first-time mothers and parents. All health professionals are being sent a letter from the chief medical officer and chief nursing officer respectively setting out the new advice in more detail. Contact between parents and health professionals is the key channel for communicating advice on reducing the risks of cot death. The Department is considering urgently whether any further action is needed.


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Brompton Hospital

Ms. Harman : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will make a statement about the investigations made at the Brompton hospital into the use of NHS services for private patients.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : I understand that no substantive evidence has been found to support such allegations.

Pharmaceutical Plants (Inspections)

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Health if he will publish inspection reports on pharmaceutical plants for the years 1986 to 1988 carried out by the Medicines Control Agency.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Section 118(1) restricts the disclosure of "any information with respect to any manufacturing process or trade secret" obtained on inspection. Details of inspection reports on pharmaceutical companies by the Medicines Control Agency are not, therefore, published.

Childcare

Mrs. Dunwoody : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much free childcare provision is available through the state.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The information available centrally about total local authority provision of day care for the under fives is set out in the table. Information is not collected centrally about how much of the total provision is free. Following the implementation of the Children Act 1989, the Department will be collecting information about provision made for children under eight.


                                                  |Number at                  

                                                  |31 March 1990              

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

Children on the register of local authority day                               

   nurseries                                      |32,413                     

                                                                              

Children placed and paid for by local authorities                             

   in non-local authority day nurseries           |1,788                      

                                                                              

Children on the register of local authority                                   

   playgroups                                     |2,525                      

                                                                              

Children placed and paid for by local authorities                             

   in non-local authority playgroups              |11,556                     

                                                                              

Places with childminders sponsored by the local                               

   authority                                      |1,889                      

                                                                              

Children placed and paid for by local authority                               

   with registered childminders not provided by                               

   the local authority                            |5,492                      

Ships (Public Health Reports)

Mr. Campbell-Savours : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many reports made by port health officials into matters relating to public health on ships passing between the United Kingdom and the United States of America and departing the port of Southampton were made public in the year 1990.

Mr. Dorrell : None.


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Drugs

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what plans he has to extend the patent life of new drugs developed in the United Kingdom.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : The United Kingdom, along with some other member states, considers the present EC proposals to be overgenerous, but is committed to working constructively towards a satisfactory outcome.

Social Work Students

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) if he will make available to local authorities the specific funding for social work student placements which is available to voluntary and private agencies ;

(2) what action he is taking to ensure that local authorities provide an adequate number of social work placements for students on the course leading to the Diploma in Social Work.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It is the responsibility of local authorities as employers to ensure that they have adequate numbers of suitably qualified social work staff. Authorities must, therefore, plan to make available sufficient good quality practice placements for students on social work qualifying courses and to honour agreements to do so into which they have entered as partners in Diploma in Social Work programme provider consortia.

Funding for practice placements is made available to local authorities through the revenue support grants, and we have also allowed authorities to use the training support programme to fund additional placement days. In recognition of the importance which we attach to securing practice placement provision, we have provided CCETSW with £1.85 million (rising to £2.5 million in 1993-94) for a practice placements initiative which will enable additional practice teachers to be appointed.

Mr. Hinchliffe : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration has been given to using the training support programme for social work student placements in local authorities.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : Practice placements for social work students are already eligible expenditure under the training support programme. In 1990-91 over 16,800 additional practice placements days were funded from TSP.

Medical Negligence (Legal Action)

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many national health service consultant obstetricians are currently facing legal action relating to possible medical negligence ; and if he will also give the figure for orthopaedic consultants in the national health service.

Mr. Dorrell : This information is not held centrally.

Medical Accidents

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health what consideration he has given to setting up an arbitration board to consider compensation in medical accident cases ; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Dorrell : A consultation document entitled "Arbitration for Medical Negligence in the National


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Health Service" was issued by the Department on29 October. Comments are requested by 31 January 1992 : detailed consideration will be given to these responses. Copies of the document are available in the Library.

Sir Michael McNair-Wilson : To ask the Secretary of State for Health how much money has been paid out by regional health authorities as medical accident indemnity since the present scheme started ; and how funding to regional health authorities reflects the carrying of indemnity on the regional health authority budget.

Mr. Dorrell : Between January 1990 and March 1991 it is estimated that English health authorities spent about £60 million on costs associated with legal claims for clinical negligence against doctors and dentists in NHS hospitals. This includes payments of damages to plaintiffs, legal and other fees, and in-house expenses. Prior to January 1990 these liabilities were borne by the medical defence organisations. Figures for the financial year 1991-92 are not yet available.

Health authorities meet these costs from within their overall resources. Most regional health authorities operate pooling or other arrangements to assist district health authorities with the costs of large settlements. In addition the NHS has access to funds set up by the medical defence organisations as part of the agreements when these liabilities were passed to the NHS. Between January 1990 and March 1991 payments of some £9 million were authorised from these funds to English health authorities to help meet the cost of settlements.

World Health Organisation

Mr. Kirkwood : To ask the Secretary of State for Health whether Her Majesty's Government has yet decided on their preferred candidate for the position of chairman of the World Health Organisation general assembly in May 1992 ; and if he will make a statement.

Mrs. Virginia Bottomley : It has been the practice for a number of years for the post of President of the World Health Assembly to be rotated between the six regions of the World Health Organisation--that is, European, Eastern Mediterranean, African, South East Asian, Western Pacific and American. It is left to the region whose turn it is to hold the Presidency to decide which candidate to put forward for nomination to the World Health Assembly. Candidates are normally elected unopposed. In 1992 it will be the turn of the eastern mediterranean region to nominate a candidate for the Presidency.

SOCIAL SECURITY

Pensions

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security what is Her Majesty's Government's policy on the level and type of national insurance rebates for those who contract out of the state earnings-related pension scheme for the 1993-98 quinquennium.

Miss Widdecombe : We are awaiting the Government actuary's report on his review of the contracting out rebate before determining what the rebate should be for the 1993-98 quinquennium.


Column 686

Parliamentary Questions

Mr. Allen : To ask the Secretary of State for Social Security, further to his reply of 7 November, Official Report, column 240, how many of the parliamentary questions which were not answered due to disproportionate costs were (a) matters answered by the benefits agency and (b) matters answered by the Department both as a number and as a percentage of total questions answered.

Miss Widdecombe : All 70 questions were answered by Ministers of the Department. These questions represent approximately 3 per cent. of the 2,157 answered during the year. However, 29 answers concerned matters which are the responsibility of the Benefits Agency which represents about 1 per cent. of the questions answered.


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