HC Deb 26 January 1981 vol 997 cc305-6W
Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the number of working days lost due to alcoholism in the last year for which figures are available.

Sir George Young

Available information allows only the very rough estimate that alcohol misuse causes between eight and 15 million working days to be lost in England and Wales each year.

Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if his Department is carrying out any studies on the relationship between problems relating to alcohol and (a) unemployment, (b) age and (c) relative price;

(2) if he will list the projects currently or partly sponsored by his Department researching into alcoholism.

Sir George Young

One of the Department's research priorities is for studies into the effect on drinking patterns of age and different socio-economic considerations, and whether certain groups are at special risk of developing alcohol-related problems.

Last October, the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) published its survey on drinking habits in England and Wales commissioned by this Department. This survey provides some information on consumption of alcohol by age, levels of income and social groups. Further studies by OPCS are planned.

The Department is currently funding research on the following topics relating to alcoholism:

  1. 1. Evaluation of detoxification.
  2. 2. Screening and early detection tests for alcoholism in hospital and general practice.
  3. 3. Research into young adult children of problem drinking parents.
  4. 4. Research into experimental day centres for alcoholics.
  5. 5. Detention of alcoholism in ante-natal clinics.
  6. 6. Inter-relationship between socio-economic and genetic factors in determining the pattern of alcohol liver disease.

In addition, many research projects on this subject are carried out under the auspices of the Medical Research Council by grant in aid from the Department of Education and Science. Some of the MRC projects undertaken at the addiction research unit are funded jointly with this Department.

Mr. Rooker

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what discussion he has had since assuming his office with representatives of employers and employees on the subject of alcoholism in industry.

Sir George Young

I have discussed these problems in the course of general discussion with some individual employers, and asked about their policies on alcoholism. I have not held formal discussions with representatives of management and trades unions; on this a discussion document has been prepared on the problem drinker at work which it is proposed should be published in the spring jointly by the Health and Safety Executive, the Department of Employment, and the Health Departments. Its aim is to assist management and trade unions in considering policies on this issue.