Previous Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page


25 May 1995 : Column WA61

Written Answers

Thursday, 25th May 1995.

Korea: Division of Families

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What further steps they consider might be taken to secure the reunification of families divided by the border between the two Koreas, in view of the continued refusal by the North Korean authorities to discuss the subject.

Lord Inglewood: The continued division of families in Korea is a matter for profound regret. We urge the North Korean authorities to resume their dialogue with the government of the Republic of Korea. Such a dialogue offers the best prospects for enabling families to be reunited and for bringing long term peace to the Korean peninsula.

Abkhazia

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will place in the Library of the House of Lords copies of reports they have received on armed attacks mounted from Georgia on persons in the Gali region of Abkhazia since 1st January 1995.

Lord Inglewood: The UN Secretary General has produced three reports on the situation in Abkhazia since 1 January 1995, all of which refer to the security situation in the Gali region.

Copies of these reports have been placed in the Library of the House of Lords.

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether, in the light of the deterioration in the security situation on the Georgia/Abkhazia border, they will comment on the proposal made to Mr. Douglas Hogg MP in a letter of 15th December 1994, that the UN be asked to provide the militias with distinctive uniforms and photographic passes, to prevent bandits from masquerading as militia, and that the international community should offer training in police duties to the militia in the security zones on both sides.

Lord Inglewood: On 12 May we supported UN Security Council Resolution 993, which expressed concern at recent attacks on civilians in the Gali region and called on the parties to the conflict in Abkhazia to improve their co-operation with UNOMIG and the CIS peackeeping force in order to provide a secure environment for the return of refugees and displaced persons.

We have noted the noble Lord's proposals for training and equipment for local militia forces, but consider that the first essential is for all parties to demonstrate the political will to reach a lasting settlement, and for the Abkhaz side to remove obstacles to the return of refugees and displaced persons.

25 May 1995 : Column WA62

Lloyd's: Contribution to Balance of Payments

Lord Renton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the statement of the Department of Trade and Industry that Lloyd's Insurance has in the past 10 years made a contribution to the balance of payments varying between £709 and £2,319 million a year, represents merely the gross premium income received by underwriters and whether losses and expenses should be deducted from those figures in order to arrive at the net result.

Lord Inglewood: The figures quoted in the Question included underwriting and investment results together with the contribution made by brokers. If this last item were to be excluded, Lloyd's contribution to the UK balance of payments in the past 10 years (comprising the net underwriting result (premiums less claims less overseas expenses) and earnings on underwriters' investments overseas) would vary between a deficit of £112 million and a surplus of £1,674 million. However, as my right honourable friend the President of the Board of Trade indicated in the letter from which the noble Lord has taken the figures, these data do not represent annual performance exactly because, in the nature of insurance business, claims may be paid some months or years after the corresponding premium income was received.

Sheep Dipping: Safety Guidance

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will give an absolute guarantee that the protective clothing recommended by them and manufacturers will protect individuals engaged in dipping sheep and handling sheep after dipping from any damage to their health if it is worn correctly.

Lord Inglewood: The issue of operator safety for sheep farmers is much wider than simply wearing the recommended protective clothing. The Government's guidance in their free leaflet for farmers sets out what measures are appropriate to prevent or adequately to control exposure to dips. Those include dipping only when necessary; and, where dips have to be used, planning carefully the design and siting of the facilities, using appropriate engineering controls; and, where protective clothing becomes heavily contaminated, washing and putting on clean clothes.

Industrial Tribunals: Access for the Physically Disabled

Lord Gladwin of Clee asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether any premises where industrial tribunals are held are not easily accessible to the physically disabled.

Lord Inglewood: Access is not considered easily available to people with physical disabilities in four of the 27 permanent premises where industrial tribunals are held

25 May 1995 : Column WA63

in England and Wales. In Scotland, access is not considered easily available in one of the five permanent premises. Parties are notified of access difficulties where appropriate and suitable alternative arrangements for hearing are made on request.

Magnox Power Stations: Decommissioning

Lord Jenkins of Putney asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they propose to decommission the Magnox nuclear power stations; what is their estimate of the cost; and how they propose to deal with the consequent nuclear waste.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Earl Ferrers): Decommissioning of nuclear power stations is a matter for the operator, taking account of the requirements of the regulatory authorities. This includes details of timing, costs and operational matters.

Dispensing Doctors: Suppliers' Discount

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many dispensing doctors' practices took part in the recent survey to ascertain their average discounts received on pharmaceutical services and appliances; what was the average discount received, and how many doctors gave evidence that they received more than 14.2 per cent. discount; and

    How many (a) wholesalers and (b) companies took part in the survey to ascertain the average discounts given to dispensing doctors for pharmaceutical services and appliances purchased; whether participation took place in every case with the permission of the doctors concerned; what was the average discount given by (a) wholesalers and (b) companies; what proportion of purchases by doctors were from (a) wholesalers and (b) companies and whether these proportions were taken into account; and how many (a) wholesalers and (b) companies stated that they gave more than 14.2 per cent. discount on purchases.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health (Baroness Cumberlege): The enquiry into levels of discount which dispensing doctors obtain from suppliers of drugs and appliances was carried out in 1993–94 on behalf of the British Medical Association and the Health Departments. Three hundred practices in England, Scotland and Wales were included in the sample, of which 139 consented to the disclosure of information on a confidential basis. As a result enquiries were made of 108 suppliers. The survey established a range of discounts for individual dispensing practices in England and Wales from zero to 14.2 per cent., with an average of 8.4 per cent. Some 95 per cent. of all purchases were made from wholesalers, but no further details of the respective rates of discount offered by different types of supplier are available. The methodology used for the survey itself and to establish the new scale rate was agreed with the General Medical Services Committee of the

25 May 1995 : Column WA64

British Medical Association and took account of the variations in discount rates received and the volume of drugs dispensed. The data did not support any change in the discount scale rates in Scotland.

The Countess of Mar asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether it is their intention to phase out rural dispensing doctors' practices by reducing their incomes through the discount abatement scale to such an extent that they become financially unviable, and, if it is, how they intend to ensure that patients in rural areas receive general medical services on the same basis as their urban counterparts.

Baroness Cumberlege: The recent revision in the discount scale rates was the first since 1984 and was based on data collected independently on behalf of the British Medical Association and the Health Departments. It is government policy to reimburse the acquisition costs of medicines purchased by dispensing doctors; the new discount scale is designed to do this. The Government have no evidence that implementation of the revised discount rates will threaten in any way the provision of general medical services in rural areas.

VE Day Celebrations

Lord Donoughue asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many events and occasions to celebrate VE Day they organised; how many individual spokesmen of Her Majesty's Loyal opposition from either House were invited; and how many members of Her Majesty's Government were invited.

The Lord Privy Seal (Viscount Cranborne): The Government organised eight main events over the weekend of 6–8 May: the Opening Ceremony in Hyde Park on 6 May, a Reception before the Guildhall Banquet on 6 May, a Service of Thanksgiving in St. Paul's Cathedral and the Heads of State Ceremony in Hyde Park on 7 May, the VE Night Concert in Hyde Park on the evening of Monday 8 May, a Service of Thanksgiving in St. Anne's Cathedral, Belfast on 7 May, a Service of Thanksgiving in Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff on 8 May and a Service of Thanksgiving in St. Giles' Cathedral in Edinburgh on 8 May. Members of Her Majesty's Government and spokesmen of Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition were invited as follows:

Event Government members Opposition spokesmen
Opening Ceremony 17 0
Guildhall Reception 17 1
St. Paul's Service 21 1
Heads of State Ceremony 20 1
VE Night Party 17 5
Service of Thanksgiving —Belfast 1 1
Service of Thanksgiving —Cardiff 4 16
Service of Thanksgiving —Edinburgh 9 8

25 May 1995 : Column WA65


Next Section Back to Table of Contents Lords Hansard Home Page