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17 Jul 1998 : Column WA59

Written Answers

Friday, 17th July 1998.

Questions for Written Answer

Lord Kilbracken asked the Leader of the House:

    How many Questions for Written Answer were put down by Lords in the 12 months before and after the last general election; and what is his estimate of the average time spent in answering them.[HL2751]

The Lord Privy Seal (Lord Richard): The number of Questions for Written Answer put down is not kept. The number of Answers to Questions for Written Answer is as follows (it should be noted that on occasion a number of related questions from the same Peer may be grouped together to receive one overarching Answer):


    for the period 30 April 1996 to 1 May 1997--2,296 answers were given to Questions for Written Answer; and


    for the period 2 May 1997 to 3 May 1998--3,524 answers were given to Questions for Written Answer. It is not possible to give an exact figure for the time spent answering Questions for Written Answer but, on average, questions are answered in about two weeks.

NHS Radiotherapy Resources

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What assessment they have made of the adequacy of NHS radiotherapy equipment and staffing; what regional differences exist in the availability of such equipment and staffing; and whether they will take any action to improve availability in the North West.[HL2667]

The Minister of State, Department of Health (Baroness Jay of Paddington): The Government have made no such central assessment, these being matters for local decision making. A pair of reports about availability of radiotherapy was published by the Royal College of Radiologists on 8 July and provides valuable information for the local planning of services. The National Health Service Executive in the North West will find the reports, against the backdrop of the cancer targets in the Green and White Papers and the ongoing implementation of the Calman/Hine recommendations, useful locally for formulating and assessing bids for radiotherapy resources.

The college reports demonstrated that the North West Region came out worst, with 40 per cent. of patients waiting longer than the recommended maximum and West Midlands the best at 7 per cent. The North West had the lowest rate of linear accelerators per million population, at 1.88, with the West Midlands in sixth place, at 2.80. The highest rate was Wales at 3.08 and with the

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second best waiting times (14 per cent. waiting longer than recommended). In general the greater the provision of linear accelerators the lower the waiting times for radiotherapy were.

Powered Indoor/Outdoor Wheelchairs

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information has been made publicly available, locally and nationally, about progress with the implementation of the indoor and outdoor powered wheelchair funding scheme, specifically in accordance with Section 26 of the Health Service Guidelines, HSG(96)34.[HL2745]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Information on the implementation of the powered indoor/outdoor wheelchair scheme has been collected from health authorities since the last quarter of 1996-97. National and health authority level figures are available from the National Health Service Executive Headquarters and in the Library.

Health Service Guideline 30: Voucher Scheme

Lord McColl of Dulwich asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information has been made publicly available, locally and nationally, specifically in accordance with Section 30 of Health Service Guidelines, HSG(96)53.[HL2747]

Baroness Jay of Paddington: Information on the voucher scheme has been collected from health authorities since the first quarter of 1997-98. National and health authority level figures are available from the NHS Executive Headquarters and in the Library.

Male Life Expectancy

Lord Robertson of Oakridge asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What is the life expectancy of a man aged 20 with:

    (a) a heterosexual partner;

    (b) a homosexual partner.[HL2766]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Robertson of Oakridge from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 17 July 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your parliamentary question on the life expectancy of a man aged 20 with (a) a heterosexual partner and (b) a homosexual partner.

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We do not have any information on the differences in life expectancy between people with heterosexual or homosexual partners. However, the expectation of life in the United Kingdom for all men aged 20 is a further 55.0 years.

Cancers: Regional Incidence

Lord Morris of Manchester asked Her Majesty's Government:

    What information is available on regional variations in the incidence, per thousand of the population, of breast cancer, lung cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer, bowel cancer and liver cancer.[HL2769]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The information requested falls within the responsibility of the Chief Executive of the Office for National Statistics, who has been asked to reply.

Letter to Lord Morris of Manchester from the Director of the Office for National Statistics, Dr. T. Holt, dated 17 July 1998.

As Director of the Office for National Statistics (ONS), I have been asked to reply to your recent question on information available on various cancers.

Incidence rates of cancers of the breast, lung, cervix, prostate, bowel and liver for each region in England and Wales are published in the annual reference volume series, Cancer statistics--registrations, series MB1 by the Office for National Statistics. The most recent volume contains data for new cases diagnosed in 1991. Provisional numbers of new cases in 1992 by region for the major cancer sites were published in ONS Monitor MB1 97/1. Copies of these publications are held in the House of Lords Library.

The Windfall Tax

Lord Barnett asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much revenue has been raised from the windfall tax; how much has been actually spent by 31 March 1998; and how much expenditure has been committed.[HL2543]

Lord McIntosh of Haringey: The Windfall Tax is expected to raise £5.2 billion, of which £2.6 billion was raised in the first instalment. £143 million is estimated to have been spent in 1997-98. £4.9 billion of the Windfall Tax has been allocated to particular programmes, with £0.3 billion unallocated at this stage. Further details of the allocation of this spending in future years were set out in the Financial Statement and Budget Report, March 1998.

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Peers' Office Accommodation and Attendance

Lord Randall of St. Budeaux asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether he will list those Lords who have (a) individual rooms or (b) desks within the Parliamentary Estate; and on how many occasions since the beginning of this Session each of those Lords has attended the House.[HL2565]

The Chairman of Committees (Lord Boston of Faversham): I have today placed such a list in the Library.

Lords' Divisions: Notification in House of Commons

Lord Davies of Oldham asked the Chairman of Committees:

    Whether steps are being taken to ensure that bells signalling divisions in the House of Lords are rung in rooms in the House of Commons and in other parliamentary buildings.[HL2598]

The Chairman of Committees: With the introduction of the new annunciator system, steps have already been taken to improve notification of divisions in the Lords. When switched to the House of Commons annunciator channel (and provided the volume is turned up), a division in the Lords should be signalled by a brief bell, together with a flashing red bell in the corner of the screen and notice of the division on the scrolling section of the screen. However, it has so far proved impossible to devise a system which allows for continual ringing of Lords division bells in the Commons but which would not cause undue confusion.

Equal Opportunities Commission

Lord Stoddart of Swindon asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Further to the Answer by Lord Whitty on 22 June (H.L. Deb., col. 6) that the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) consists of men and women "in roughly equal proportions", whether there are currently nine women and four men members of the EOC; and whether they intend to ensure a better gender balance for the future.[HL2772]

The Minister of State, Department for Education and Employment (Baroness Blackstone): Following his 22 June Answer, my noble friend wrote to the noble Lord to provide him with a more detailed answer to the Question he raised. There are currently four men and eight women commissioners of the Equal Opportunities Commission. An open recruitment exercise is under way to fill vacant commissioner posts. We shall continue to make appointments to the commission on merit.

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Weapons in Space

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Why they have voted against or abstained from resolutions in the United Nations General Assembly on "preventing an arms race in outer space" (PAROS); and whether in future they will support such Resolutions; and[HL2561]

    Whether they consider that the weaponisation of space should be a subject for "preventative diplomacy" by the United Nations or by any other party.[HL2564]

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office (Baroness Symons of Vernham Dean): As I told the noble Lord on 12 January 1998 (WA 123), we have made clear that we have no objection to re-establishing an Ad Hoc Committee at the Conference on Disarmament on this issue. Together with other European Union member states, we abstained on the United Nations General Assembly resolution on this issue because we did not wish to prejudge the outcome of further disarmament debate within the Conference on Disarmament.

We will carefully consider the text of future resolutions when they are tabled.


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