§ Mr. Terry Davis
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the hearing centre at Dudley road hospital in Birmingham is supplying batteries imported from Switzerland for use in hearing aids.
§ Mr. Major
Contracts for the supply of hearing aid batteries are held by a number of manufacturers. An international company based in Switzerland was awarded one of the contracts, to supply a quantity of mercury "button cell" batteries, as a result of competitive tendering carried out according to the General Agreements on Tariffs and Trade code on Government procurement. The majority of mercury "button cell" batteries are supplied to the National Health Service by manufacturers in the United Kingdom and the National Health Service will continue to encourage competitive United Kingdom sources of supply.