STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS

Second Standing Committee

ON STATUTORY INSTRUMENTS

19th November 1985—4th November 1986

PARLIAMENTARY DEBATES

HOUSE OF COMMONS

OFFICIAL REPORT

Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c.

DRAFT DENTAL AUXILIARIES (AMENDMENT) REGULATIONS 1985

Tuesday 19 November 1985

LONDON

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The Committee consisted of the following Members:

Mr. David Crouch in the Chair

Bowden, Mr. Gerald (Dulwich)

Boyes, Mr. Roland (Houghton and Washington)

Conway, Mr. Derek (Shrewsbury and Atcham)

Cook, Mr. Frank (Stockton North)

Coombs, Mr. Simon (Swindon)

Dicks, Mr. Terry (Hayes and Harlington)

Dobson, Mr. Frank (Holborn and St. Pancras)

Fatchett, Mr. Derek (Leeds, Central)

Galley, Mr. Roy (Halifax)

Hawksley, Mr. Warren (The Wrekin)

Hayhoe, Rt. Hon. Barney (Minister for Health)

Kennedy, Mr. Charles (Ross, Cromarty and Skye)

Lawler, Mr. Geoff (Bradford, North)

Lennox-Boyd, Mr. Mark (Morecambe and Lunesdale)

Malins, Mr. Humfrey (Croydon, North-West)

Pavitt, Mr. Laurie (Brent, South)

Rogers, Mr. Allan (Rhondda)

Sackville, Mr. Tom (Bolton, West)

Mr. A. H. Doherty, Committee Clerk

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3 Second Standing Committee on Statutory Instruments, &c. Tuesday 19 November 1985

[MR. DAVID CROUCH in the Chair]

Draft Dental Auxiliaries (Amendment) Regulations 1985

10.30 am

The Minister for Health (Mr. Barney Hayhoe): I beg to move, That the Committee has considered the draft Dental Auxiliaries (Amendment) Regulations 1985 The regulations, which have been drafted by the General Dental Council, have been approved by the Privy Council under section 45(9) of the Dentists Act 1984 and now require approval by both Houses of Parliament under the affirmative procedure. The regulations amend the Dental Auxiliaries Regulations 1968 by increasing fees. The changes proposed are to increase, at the end of this year, the fee for first enrolment from £4 to £7, the annual fee for retention of a name on the roll from £3 to £6 and the fee for restoration of a name to the roll from £1 to £2. The fees for first enrolment and retention were last fixed in December 1978, while the fee for restoration has remained unchanged since 1959. It is the opinion of the Privy Council that the proposed level of fees is justified, and on behalf of the Privy Council, I commend the regulations to the Committee.

Mr. Frank Dobson (Holborn and St. Pancras): So far as I know, there are no objections to the increase in fees. However, I wish to put some questions to the Minister in the expectation that he may write to us about them later. What is the Government's opinion of the supply of dental auxiliaries, in view of the changing nature of dentistry and the increasing emphasis placed on work by auxiliaries, especially dental hygienists, following the dental strategy review group report which recommended the closure of the New Cross school for dental auxiliaries? Then there are the dental technicians—the people who work in the laboratories. They complain that because they have no involvement in the review of dental practitioners' remuneration and fees, the fee system is leaving them with an increasingly smaller part of the cake. 4 As a result of that, the technicians are worried that their standards of work are declining as they do not have enough money to do a decent job. I do not expect the Minister to come rushing forward with explanations, but I thought that I should take the opportunity—when discussing this far from contentious measure—to raise them in the hope that we shall be given the Government's view later.

10.33 am

Mr. Charles Kennedy (Ross, Cromarty and Skye): I confirm that there is no objection to the regulations from the two hon. Members present—perhaps a helpful point to have on record. I wish to raise a further question in the same spirit as that of the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) to which the Minister might reply later. To what extent is his Department assessing the employment prospects of auxiliaries under the system of increasing dental charges? I am referring to the view of the British Dental Association that the scale and grading system of charges for dental treatment are beginning to discriminate against patients carrying out full courses. There is no doubt that it is affecting preventive treatment. I hope that the Minister will write to me about the longer-term potential which his Department may have assessed of the future role and employment prospects of dental auxiliaries.

10.35 am

Mr. Hayhoe: As the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) said, his remarks went far wider than the regulations, which cover the narrow issue of increasing registration fees and so on. I shall write to him about the supply of dental auxiliaries and the closure of New Cross school. Dental technicians are not covered by the regulations, but, in the spirit of harmony that prevails, I shall gladly consider the matters he raised and write to him. I am grateful for the welcome given to the regulations by the hon. Member for Ross, Cromarty and Skye (Mr. Kennedy). I have answered some parliamentary questions about dental charges, and I believe that the fears that have been expressed are somewhat exaggerated but, of course, I shall write to him. I hope that the Committee feels that it has well and truly considered this statutory instrument, so that the House may approve it in due course.

Question put and agreed to.

Resolved, That the Committee has considered the draft Dental Auxiliaries (Amendment) Regulations 1985.

The Committee rose at twenty-three minutes to Eleven o'clock.

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THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS ATTENDED THE COMMITTEE:

Crouch, Mr. David (Chairman)

Conway, Mr.

Coombs, Mr.

Dobson, Mr.

Galley, Mr.

Hawksley, Mr.

Hayhoe, Mr.

Kennedy, Mr.

Lawler, Mr.

Lennox-Boyd, Mr.

Sackville, Mr.

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