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24 Jul 1997 : Column WA169

Written Answers

Thursday, 24th July 1997.

Government Offices for the Regions

Lord Hooson asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What steps they are taking to strengthen the 10 regional offices in England, where the activities of various departments of the Civil Service in the regions are co-ordinated.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (Baroness Hayman): At present, the 10 Government Offices for the Regions are part of the Departments of Environment, Transport and the Regions; Trade and Industry; and Education and Employment. The House Office is also represented in each. The Government continue to keep under review the contribution of other government departments to the work of the Government Offices.

The Government are keen to move quickly to implement our manifesto commitments on the regional agenda in England. We recognise that the interests of the English regions have been neglected in recent years, and we aim to reverse that neglect.

Seat Belts: Correct Adjustment

Lord Braine of Wheatley asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information they have on the dangers of wearing a seat belt with too much slack.

Baroness Hayman: A poorly adjusted and positioned seat belt can result in unnecessary injuries in the event of an accident. Unfortunately, data on the incidence and nature of such injuries is extremely limited due to the difficulties in assessing how the seat belt was being worn prior to the accident. We do, however, offer advice on how to wear seat belts correctly in the Choosing Safety and Seat Belts and the Law publications.

Industrial Performance Benchmarking

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    When they will start the dialogues on the proposed benchmarking of industrial performance.

The Minister of State, Department of Trade and Industry (Lord Simon of Highbury): The Government will be publishing an audit of the UK's competitive position in the autumn. This will offer a benchmark of UK performance, including strengths and weaknesses. The content of the audit will be informed by the views of business represented at a Business Summit hosted by the President of the Board

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of Trade on 23 July, and of the President's Advisory Group on Competitiveness announced on 23 July.

Following publication of the audit, there will be extensive dialogue and consultation with business on policies and priorities to improve the UK's competitiveness. In particular, a number of business-led working parties will advise on specific aspects of this agenda. This process will help inform the development of policies for a White Paper on Competitiveness to be published next year.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What technical questions prevent the provision by e-mail of personal copies of Answers to Questions for Written Answer; and whether steps will be taken to resolve these before the end of the summer recess.

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The technical questions which arise include the implications of the variety of word-processing formats used by government departments, and the feasibility of e-mailing attachments to answers.

The Government are ready to discuss these issues with the House authorities so that the service can be tested after the summer Recess.

Privy Council Judicial Committee

Lord Lester of Herne Hill asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by the Lord Privy Seal of 15 July 1997 (WA 107), whether it is a constitutional convention of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council that any member of the Board who concurs with the majority in the result, but arrives at that result by a different route, is not permitted to prepare a separate judgment; and, if so, what is the rationale for that convention.

Lord Richard: No. The entitlement of a member of the Judicial Committee to publish a dissenting opinion is determined by the Judicial Committee (Dissenting Opinions) Order 1966.

NHS Waiting Lists

Lord Lucas asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people were waiting for NHS treatment at the latest date for which figures are available; how long they had been waiting; and whether the Labour Party manifesto contains any commitment to reduce the absolute level of either of these figures over the course of this Parliament.

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The latest available information about patients waiting for admission to National Health Service trusts on either an in-patient or

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day case basis is contained in Hospital Waiting List Statistics: England, at 31 March 1997, copies of which are available in the Library. Questions relating to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for my right honourable friends the Secretaries of State for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland respectively. Our manifesto commitment is to treat an extra 100,000 patients from waiting lists. We feel it is equally important that patients with the greatest need should get quicker access to hospital services when they need it and this is why as a priority we are focusing on ending waits for cancer treatment, especially breast cancer.

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Smoking: Statistics

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their latest estimate of the percentage of the population who indulge in all forms of smoking.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: It is estimated that in 1994 in Great Britain, 29 per cent. of the population aged 16 and above smoked.

The following table shows trends from 1984 to 1994.

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Prevalence of smoking by sex and type of product smoked amongst adults aged 16 and over
Great Britain, 1984 to 1994Percentages

Pipe. .64443
All smokers(1)43(1)4440383633
All smokers(1)333131292826
All persons
Pipe. .32221
All smokers(1)37(1)3735333229


(1) Figures for cigarettes include all smokers of manufactured and hand-rolled cigarettes.

(1) The percentages for cigarettes, pipes and cigars add to more than the percentage for all smokers because some people smoked more than one type of product.

(1) In 1984 men were not asked about pipe smoking, and therefore the figures for all smokers exclude those who smoked only a pipe.


Office for National Statistics General Household Survey.

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Smoking-related Deaths

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What are the so-called smoking-related diseases from which they estimate 120,000 people die each year and at what age in each case death occurred and what percentage were smokers at the time of death; and

    How many men and how many women who died of a so-called smoking-related disease were above the average age of life expectation when they died, and how many were smokers at the time of death; and

    What percentage of total annual deaths is represented by the number of deaths from so-called smoking-related diseases.

Baroness Jay of Paddington: It is estimated that 120,000 people died as a result of smoking in the United Kingdom in 1995. The diseases attributed to smoking and used to estimate the total number of deaths are:

    Cancers of lung, upper respiratory, oesophagus, bladder, kidney, stomach, pancreas and myeloid leukaemia

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    Ischaemic Heart Disease

    Cerebrovascular Disease

    Aortic Aneurysm


    Myocardial degeneration

    Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


    Ulcer of stomach and duodenum

The following table shows the estimated age at death.

Number of deaths(1)

(1) Rounded to nearest thousand deaths.

Totals may not sum due to rounding.

The proportion of the 120,000 people who died who were smokers at the time of death is not known: such information not recorded on the death certificate and analysis is not available at individual death level.

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The table shows that about 32,000 of the male deaths were at an age above the average life expectancy for men of 74 years and an estimated 15,000 of the female deaths were at an age above the average life expectancy for women of 79.

It is estimated that 19 per cent. of the total number of deaths in the UK in 1995 were caused by smoking (120,000 deaths in UK in 1995 were due to smoking compared with a total of number of deaths of 642,000).

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