HC Deb 10 June 1976 vol 912 cc727-30W
Mr. Mike Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will place

centres or training centres in 1974 and 1975 and how many days were lost through mental disorder in Great Britain in 1974 and 1975.

Dr. Owen

It is estimated that at 31st March 1974 there were some 4,000 mentally ill persons over 16 in England attending local authority workshops and day centres. Training centres are normally for the mentally handicapped. Information for 1975 has not been collected in this form, on the grounds that it may be misleading to classify those attending in terms of diagnostic categories. The number of days of certified incapacity for sickness and invalidity for mental disorders* in Great Britain for the year ending 1st June 1974 was some 30 million and in the year ending 31st May 1975 some 29.6 million: the corresponding figures for England were 23.9 million and 23.3 million.

* DLN 290–315 according to International Classification of Diseases, 1965.

Mrs. Ann Taylor

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give the latest estimate of the annual number of first admissions to psychiatric hospitals and the latest estimate of the number of redamissions per year.

Dr. Owen

The numbers of first admissions and readmissions to psychiatric hospitals and units in England in 1974—the latest year for which statistics are available—were:

in the Library a copy of the report of the committee chaired by the hon. Member for Widnes on payment of fuel bills; and when he intends to publish the report.

Mr. Dalyell

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he hopes to complete his review of payment and collection methods for fuel bills.

Mr. Mike Thomas

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to publish the report of the committee on methods of payment of fuel bills; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. Benn

I have now received the report of the informal review body which, as I informed the House on 16th February, was set up to undertake an informal review of the payment and collection arrangements of the gas and electricity industries.

Following the resignation of Lord Lovell-Davis from the Government the chairmanship was assumed in April by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State—the hon. Member for Widnes (Mr. Oakes). I am placing a copy of the report in the Library of the House of Commons and it will be published as soon as possible. The report concentrates much of its attention on the need for new and improved methods of payment and collection for domestic fuel bills and recommends that the practice of disconnection under which the fuel industries concerned have statutory power to disconnect consumers who do not pay their bills should be replaced by alternative sanctions including court orders where these are appropriate.

The committee also urges the need for the provision of more prepayment meters for the convenience of consumers who may wish to have them installed.

The fuel industries, which have enjoyed the existing powers of disconnection since 1882, have expressed their gravest doubts about these recommendations and I have therefore asked them to send their considered comments to the Government so that they can be taken into account when the Government reach their own decisions on the matter.

The issues raised by any proposal to change the present practice of discon-

Age First Appointed Expiry of Current Appointment
Sir Derek Ezra 57 3rd July 1971 2nd July 1979
Deputy Chairman.
Mr. N. Siddall 58 1st October 1973 30th September 1978
Full-time Members
Mr. L. Grainger 58 1st June 1966 31st May 1977
Mr. G. C. Shephard 60 1st January 1969 31st December 1976
Mr. W. L. Miron 63 5th July 1971 4th July 1976
Mr. D. Davies 52 1st October 1973 30th September 1978
Mr. L. J. Mills 55 1st January 1974 31st December 1978
Mr. F. B. Harrison 49 7th May 1976 6th May 1981
Part-time Members.
Sir Jack Wellings 58 5th July 1971 4th July 1977
Mr. P. H. Robinson c. 50 1st October 1973 30th September 1976
Mr. R. F. Richardson 62 1st January 1975 31st December 1977
Mr. K. J. Griffin 47 1st March 1976 28th February 1979

nections are very large and would in any case require legislation. I must therefore make it absolutely clear that although the Government will give the most careful consideration to the recommendations they have received, the fact of the publication of the report must not be taken as implying a Government endorsement of the recommendations contained within it.

The report is, however, a very important contribution to the public discussion of an issue that concerns consumers of gas and electricity and their families throughout the country, and will, I hope, focus attention on some of the choices that will have to be made. I am grateful to those who took part in the review for the work they have done, and the Government will have the benefit of that report, the public reaction, and the views of the fuel industries before they reach their conclusions, which will be announced in due course.

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