HC Deb 09 February 1987 vol 110 cc3-4
2. Mr. Raffan

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the membership, staffing, resources, strategy and policy of the special health authority to be set up to deal with health education matters in Wales.

Mr. Mark Robinson

My right hon. Friend announced the remit of the new authority on 16 January and a statement on membership will be made shortly. I am pleased to announce that we shall be making £1.2 million available to the authority in its first year.

Mr. Raffan

I welcome my hon. Friend's announcement, especially about the dramatic increase in resources. Will he take the opportunity offered by these much-strengthened health education arrangements to introduce a distinctly Welsh initiative and put Wales in the vanguard of education on drug misuse?

Mr. Robinson

The Welsh health promotion authority will have wide powers of health promotion and will continue the campaigns already under way, such as Heartbeat Wales and the work of the health advisory committee. The £1.2 million that I have announced is an increase of 50 per cent. on comparable expenditure this year, but it is not the entire budget available for health promotion in Wales, which should amount to a total of £2.2 million for the year in question.

Dr. Roger Thomas

Does the Minister agree that money spent on promoting education on the dangers of tobacco smoking will be wasted if the Government continue to take a pusillanimous attitude to the money spent by tobacco companies on art and other forms of culture?

Mr. Robinson

I am sure that the hon. Gentleman is aware of the new agreement reached between the Government and the tobacco companies.

Mr. Best

Notwithstanding the welcome resources being made available by the Government to tackle drug abuse and other health problems in Wales, does my hon. Friend agree that the greatest problem is, has been, and is likely to remain, that of alcohol abuse? What do the Government intend to do, within the terms of the measure that my hon. Friend has announced, to advise people of the dangers of alcohol abuse?

Mr. Robinson

Both drug abuse and alcohol abuse will fall within the remit of the new special health authority.

Mr. D. E. Thomas

Will the Minister give an assurance to the House and to the professionals engaged in health education in Wales that the arrangements will not prejudice the independence of health education from Government? Concern has been expressed that the establishment of the special health authority might mean that those involved in health education could no longer independently criticise Government policy when it is inimical to good health.

Mr. Robinson

The independence that existed before the arrangements were made will remain after they come into force.