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18 May 1998 : Column WA139

Written Answers

Monday, 18th May 1998.

Members of Parliament: Age Statistics

Lord Renfrew of Kaimsthorn asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many members of the House of Commons and of the House of Lords, respectively, excluding those on leave of absence, are (a) aged between 60 and 65, and (b) over the age of 65; and whether it is their intention in a reconstituted legislature to introduce a retirement age for working members of both Houses.[HL1758]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard):

    House of Commons

    As from 8 May 1998 there are (a) 60 MPs aged 60-65, and (b) 34 MPs aged 65 and over.

    House of Lords

    The figures for the House of Lords were contained in my Answer to the noble Lord's Question on 27 April 1998 (col. WA 1).

The Government are currently examining a range of issues relating to reform of the House of Lords and will announce their proposals in due course. There are no plans to introduce legislation on a retiring age for Members of the House of Commons.

Rough Sleeping in Westminster

Lord Patten asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Written Answer by the Lord Williams of Mostyn on 21 April (WA 200), what are the public health risks associated with the widespread rough sleeping around Westminster Cathedral.[HL1835]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The public health risks associated with rough sleeping around Westminster Cathedral are very similar to those associated with homelessness in any area of London or any other large city. These include a greater risk to homeless people of premature death and higher rates of illness, including respiratory and gastrointestinal infection, poorer perinatal outcomes and mental health problems which may be linked to stress, alcohol and drug misuse. Access to health services, particularly health promotion and primary care, is also often more difficult for homeless people.

NHS Executive Regional Offices

Lord Dean of Beswick asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What plans they have to establish an NHS Executive Regional Office for London.[HL1961]

18 May 1998 : Column WA140

Baroness Jay of Paddington: In the statement of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Health on 3 February at col. 843, he accepted the recommendations in Sir Leslie Turnberg's report on London's Health Services including the proposal that a single National Health Service Executive Regional Office for London should be a longer-term aim in order to ensure effective planning across London. We have now decided that it would be right to move more quickly on this front and we intend to establish such an office from 1 April 1999. In the meantime, we expect the existing North and South Thames Regional Offices to continue to work closely with each other to ensure coherent strategic planning across London.

The decision to establish a single regional office for London necessarily affects the boundaries of other existing NHS Executive Regional Offices in the South of England and we intend to reorganise their boundaries to match more closely the boundaries of the Government Offices for the Regions. The following arrangements will be established from 1 April 1999.

    A London Regional Office which will be coterminous with the proposed Greater London Authority.

    A South East Regional Office which would cover health authorities in Kent, Surrey, Sussex (which are currently covered by South Thames Regional Office), Hampshire and the Isle of Wight (which are currently covered by the South and West Regional Office) Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Northamptonshire (which are currently covered by the Anglia and Oxford Regional Office).

    An Eastern Regional Office covering health authorities in Norfolk, Suffolk, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire (which are currently covered by the Anglia and Oxford Regional Office) and Essex and Hertfordshire (which are currently covered by North Thames Regional Office).

    A South West Regional Office which will exclude Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

In addition, we intend to restructure the departments' Social Care Regional Offices so that from 1 April 1999 they are coterminous with the boundaries of the NHS Executive Regional Offices as follows:

    The Northern Social Care Region will match the North West and Northern and Yorkshire NHS Executive Regional Offices.

    The Central Social Care Region will match the West Midlands, Trent and Eastern NHS Executive Regional Offices.

    The Southern Social Care Region will match the South West and South East NHS Executive Regional Offices.

    The London Social Care Region will match the London NHS Executive Regional Office.

A map showing the new NHS Executive Regional Office structure has been placed in the Library.

18 May 1998 : Column WA141

The Regional Chairmen for the new NHS Executive Regional Offices will be:

    London: Ian Mills

    South East: Sir William Wells

    Eastern: Rosie Varley

    South West: Janet Trotter

Their appointments will run until 31 October 1999, the date on which their original appointments were due to expire.

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: Funding

Lord Alton of Liverpool asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the cost of running the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority in the past 12 months; and by whom it is funded.[HL1790]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's total budget for 1997-98 was £1,483,900. This was funded by the United Kingdom Health Departments, of which 70 per cent. is raised by licence fees. The authority's accounts for each financial year are reproduced in their annual reports, copies of which are available in the Library.

NHS: Millennium Compliance

Earl Howe asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is their most recent assessment of the progress made by NHS trusts, health authorities and GP surgeries in making their computer equipment and other systems with embedded chip technology millennium-compliant; and whether, in the light of the report published recently by Prove It 2000 Ltd., they are satisfied that sufficient resources are being directed towards appropriate remedial action within the NHS.[HL1771]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Every health authority and National Health Service trust completed detailed Year 2000 project plans, proposals for drawing up contingency plans, and detailed inventory and budget estimates, by the deadline of 31 March 1998. Health authorities also provided an assessment of the state of readiness of general practitioner practices within their area. These returns are being subjected to detailed analysis over the next few weeks, to give a very detailed picture of the state of readiness of the NHS.

The summary information provided indicates that although, overall, good progress is being made across the NHS, a minority of NHS organisations have further work to do. Further rigorous guidance is therefore now being issued on 15 May which allows for further checks on progress. The guidance stresses that resolving the Year 2000 problem is the highest non-clinical priority for the NHS and that chief executives will be held personally accountable.

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Work to date has mainly focused on determining the compliance status of systems and therefore costs expended so far have been relatively low. Most replacement or upgrade costs will not be incurred until this financial year.

In line with government policy, NHS organisations are funding the necessary remedial action from existing budgets.

EC Health Council, 30 April

Viscount Hanworth asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the outcome of the EC Health Council meeting on 30 April.[HL1937]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: My honourable friend the Minister for Public Health chaired the meeting of the European Community Health Council on 30 April in Luxembourg, on behalf of the United Kingdom Presidency of the European Union.

In an open debate on the future framework for action in the field of public health, the Council explored three strands for future action; improving information for the development of public health; reacting rapidly to threats to health; and tackling the determinants of health through health promotion and disease prevention. The Council also discussed the limitations of the present disparate funding programmes, and the importance of improved efforts to ensure that health protection requirements form a constituent part of other Community policies. The Council agreed common positions on the proposed programmes of Community action on rare diseases and on pollution-related diseases. Agreement was also reached on a Council Recommendation on the suitability of blood and plasma donors and the screening of donated blood. The Council agreed conclusions on transmissible spongiform encephalopathies, and on the integration of health protection requirements in Community policies. Progress was noted on the Community's role in combating tobacco consumption, on the Commission's proposal for a programme of action on injury prevention, and on the European Union-United States Task Force on Communicable Diseases.

NHS Dental Care Expenditure

Baroness Gardner of Parkes asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What was the total NHS expenditure on patient dental care and the related financial contributions received from patients in each of the last five fiscal years; and how many dental examinations of patients were carried out in each of those years.[HL1777]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: General Dental Service expenditure and the number of dental examinations for adults is given in the tables for the four years 1993-94 to 1996-97. Data for 1997-98 is not yet

18 May 1998 : Column WA143

available. The number of child examinations is not available because routine examinations are covered by capitation arrangements.

Table 1: General Dental Service: Gross expenditure(1) for the financial years 1993-94 to 1996-97
United Kingdom£ million

YearGross expenditurePatient Charges


(1) Figures are based on appropriation accounts (cash) data and exclude refunds.

Table 2: General Dental Services: number of adult dental examinations(2) for the financial years 1993-94 to 1996-97
United Kingdomthousands

YearExamination and report


(2) Number scheduled for payment. Within these totals, Northern Ireland figures are for calendar years.

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