Below is the text of the written answers relating to Prime Minister’s Question Time from 30th November 1994.
Welsh Development Agency
Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister what plans he has to order a public inquiry into illegal and improper activities by the Welsh Development Agency.
The Prime Minister: None. The mistakes of the past are being thoroughly investigated by the new management team. The chief executive of the agency is keeping the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee fully informed.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has stated clearly that the highest standards should be observed in all the Welsh Development Agency’s dealings.
Mr. Redmond: To ask the Prime Minister what rules apply to the marque of official cars used by Ministers.
The Prime Minister: Cabinet Ministers are normally given the choice of a Rover Sterling, Rover 827Si or any other vehicle from the Rover 800 series.
Other Ministers are normally given the choice of a Rover 416, 2-litre Montego, 2-litre Vauxhall Cavalier, 2-litre Ford Mondeo or diesel equivalents.
Mr. Jim Cunningham: To ask the Prime Minister (1) if he will set up a public inquiry into the use of steroids in hospitals; (2) if he will make a statement on the use of steroids; (3) what consideration he is giving, with the Secretary of State for Health, to measures to reassure the public regarding the use of steroids; (4) if he will inquire into the case of Mrs. Niven of 11 Alvin close, Binley, Coventry.
The Prime Minister: Corticosteroids are long-established medicines which are important in the treatment of many serious illnesses, and their overall benefits to patients outweigh their side-effects. The Department of Health has fully investigated the effects of corticosteroids, given by mouth or injection, on the body’s immune system. Advice about patients who are susceptible to chickenpox has been issued to all doctors.
A public inquiry is not appropriate. It is for doctors to decide the appropriate treatment for their patients with the benefit of advice from their professional bodies. The circumstances surrounding Mrs. Niven’s death were fully investigated by the Coventry and Warwick hospital and the outcome discussed with her family. The Department of Health has issued a press statement regarding the safety of corticosteroids, advising patients using these medicines who are concerned to see their doctor and not to stop their medication suddenly. As with all licensed medicines, my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Health continues to monitor their safety.
Mr. Byers: To ask the Prime Minister how many (a) top secret and (b) secret files his Department holds.
The Prime Minister: Approximately 1 to 2 per cent. of the files held in my office are top secret, approximately five per cent. are secret.
Citizen’s Charter (Mr. Purnell)
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Prime Minister what representations he has received from Mr. David Hernandez Purnell; and what was his response.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 28 November 1994]: I have received a number of representations. These relate to a specific matter which is the responsibility of the Highways Agency. The agency is giving active consideration to the case.
Mr. Austin-Walker: To ask the Prime Minister if he will make a statement regarding the letter of 13 November to the Treasury Solicitor from a constituent of the hon. Member for Woolwich, a copy of which was forwarded to him; and what assessment he has made of the conformity of Her Majesty’s Government’s action with the spirit of the citizen’s charter.
The Prime Minister [holding answer 28 November 1994]: I have nothing further to add to the reply that my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Secretary, Office of Public Service and Science, gave to the hon. Member on 28 November, Official Report, columns 483-84.