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Written Answers

Volume 885: debated on Monday 27 January 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 27th January 1975

Energy

Offshore Oil And Gas

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the current rate of development of the oil and gas fields offshore the United Kingdom.

The current rate of development of United Kingdom North Sea fields should lead to production of oil and gas within the ranges predicted in my right hon. Friend's 1974 report to Parliament, i.e., gas production up to 5,000 million cubic feet per day and oil production from 100 million to 140 million tons per annum.

Domestic Coal Consumers Council

asked the Secretary of State for Energy which Article of the Treaty of Rome or its secondary legislation makes it not possible to restore the former statutory powers of the Domestic Coal Consumers Council.

Although the duties of the Domestic Coal Consumers Council were modified by the European Communities Act 1972 so as to remove the statutory duty to notify my right hon. Friend where action appeared to it to be requisite, its powers remained unchanged, and it is free, as it always has been, to report and make recommendations to my right hon. Friend on any matter within its field of competence.

Offshore Supplies Office

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when venture managers will be appointed to the Offshore Supplies Office; how many and at what rank and remuneration, will be required; and what will be their relationship to the proposed Scottish Development Agency.

There are four venture managers already in post, three in London and one in Glasgow. A second post in Glsagow is currently being filled. One of the venture managers in post is a permanent civil servant at Senior Principal Scientific Officer level. The others are on individual two-year contracts at about Assistant Secretary level with salary based on technical qualifications and experience.The Offshore Supplies Office as a whole will work closely with the Scottish Development Agency when it is established to help Scottish industry to take full advantage of the opportunities arising from United Kingdom offshore activities.

Plutonium

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with the present methods of processing, transporting and storing plutonium; and if he will make a statement.

The present methods for the processing and storage of plutonium on sites licensed under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965 are subject to conditions attached to the site licences. These conditions, which provide the necessary safety standards, are enforced by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive. The same standards are applied at nuclear installations under the control of the Atomic Energy Authority and Government Departments. My right hon. Friend is satisfied with these arrangements.The safe transport of all radioactive materials including plutonium is the concern of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, who is satisfied with the methods employed.

Oil And Coal Reserves

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give the latest estimates in coal and coal equivalent of the reserves of North Sea oil and the new Yorkshire coalfield.

Recoverable reserves of oil from proven and probable commercial discoveries in the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea are estimated to be some 1,800 million tons of coal equivalent.In the area of the Selby coalfield covered by the layout plan in the NCB's planning application, it is estimated that approximately 600 million tons of coal exists in the ground, in the Barnsley seam. The proportion of these reserves which can be economically recovered is currently being evaluated.

Solar Energy

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what contracts are maintained with United States research into solar energy; and if any joint research is conducted by Great Britain or the EEC with the USA.

I am unaware of any current contracts with the United States on research into solar energy. The USA, United Kingdom and other countries of the International Energy Agency are considering, as is the European Commission, the possibilities of setting up an internationally sponsored programme of research into solar energy.

Coal (Eec Grants And Loans)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the applications for financial assistance made to EEC institutions on behalf of the National Coal Board (a) before 28th February 1974, and (b) after 28th February 1974, stating the result of the application in each case.

No such applications were made prior to 28th February 1974. An application for £10·44 million readaptation aid under Article 56 of the Treaty of Paris was made on 19th November 1974. This has just been approved. Applications for capital assistance to the coal industry are made by the NCB direct to EEC institutions.

Underwater Training Centre

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what share of expenditure involved in running the diving school will be met, respectively, by Government, diving contractors, drilling oil companies and the trainees.

I have been asked to reply.I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the Underwater Training Centre is intended to operate on a commercial basis but detailed decisions on the level of charges have not yet been made. In the short term, however, grants may be available to employers to encourage the adoption of the new training courses.

Offshore Drilling Technology Centre

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what share of expenditure involved in running the drilling school will be met, respectively, by the Government, drilling contractors, the oil companies and the trainees.

I have been asked to reply.I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the fees to be charged for training courses at the Drilling Technology Centre have not yet been decided, but the intention is to make the centre self-supporting from course fees. During the initial period of build-up to full occupancy there may be a shortfall in receipts to cover running costs, and the MSC has agreed that the Training Services Agency may fund any such shortfall but not more than 50 per cent. of the running cost and within a maximum of £42,000 in the financial year 1975–76.

Civil Service

Pensions

36.

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will take urgent steps to increase the level of public service pensions at the same percentage rate as that for retirement pensions for single persons.

No. The Pensions (Increase) Act 1971 provides for public service pensions to be increased in line with the cost of living. I could not justify new legislation to improve on that position.

Higher Executive Officer Candidates

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will state for the most recent year for which figures are available how many candidates were interviewed in the Civil Service for promotion from executive officers to higher executive officer; how many of those candidates were men and how many were successful; and how many were women and how many were successful.

In 1973, 1,688 men and 358 women were promoted from executive officer to higher executive officer. There is no central record of the total number of candidates interviewed or considered by Departments for promotion from executive officer to higher executive officer.

Parliamentary Salaries And Allowances

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will give the same details about the remuneration and other benefits for Members of Parliament in Canada, Australia and New Zealand as he gave for other countries in his answer to the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) on 26th November.

I understand that the information needed to answer this Question is not readily available and I am not therefore able to give the hon. Gentleman a detailed reply today. I hope to be able to publish a full answer shortly.

Home Department

Mr Caprino

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the case of Mr. Caprino and, in particular, on what grounds he was arrested; and when he will make a decision about his deportation.

Mr. Caprino was arrested on the grounds that his presence in the United Kingdom was not conducive to the public good in the interests of national security. After reviewing all the information available, including considerations advanced on Mr. Caprino's behalf, I decided to revoke the deportation order. Mr. Caprino was released from custody on 24th January.

Firearms (Replicas)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of recent criminal acts involving the use of replica firearms and the case with which these can be converted to fire real ammunition, he will now propose banning their manufacture, import and sale in Great Britain.

The great majority of replica firearms cannot easily be con verted to fire live ammunition. A replica firearm which could be so converted might well be subject to control under the Firearms Act 1968. Many millions of toys and replicas which might be mistaken for a real weapon are in private hands and I am not satisfied that it would be practicable to control them.The maximum penalty for possessing an imitation firearm with intent to commit an indictable offence or to resist arrest is 14 years' imprisonment or an unlimited fine or both.

Radio Taxis

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation authorising the use of a number of designated radio-controlled taxis/hire cars as an additional public/police communication link in cases of emergency.

Prison Visiting

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many prisons the governor has received approval from the Home Office to allow visiting more frequently than once every 28 days.

Governors have discretion to allow more frequent visits, and are encouraged to do so, where the availability of accommodation and staff allows. In 24 of the 75 prisons in England and Wales it is not yet possible to allow every convicted prisoner more visits. Unconvicted prisoners are allowed daily visits wherever they are accommodated.

Football Supporters' Train (Fire)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the local chief constable on the incident in which coaches of a train travelling from Luton to London after the Luton Town versus Chelsea football match on Saturday 11th January were set on fire; and if he will make a statement.

The British Transport Police are making inquiries into this incident. They have descriptions of four youths whom they wish to interview. It would not be appropriate for me to comment further while the investigation is proceeding.

Rates (Non-Payment)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons in England and Wales were sent to prison for non-payment of rates in each year from 1964 to 1974, inclusive; and whether, in view of the increase in the numbers of persons appearing before the courts for non-payment of rates, he will henceforth make it a practice to collect information as to their numbers so as to make it available to Parliament.

The following table shows the number of persons received into custody for non-payment of rates in the years 1964–73. The information for 1974 is not yet available.

1964351
1965333
1966392
1967478
1968591
1969656
1970592
1971562
1972487
1973363
The collection of statistics of proceedings brought in respect of non-payment of rates—which is not a criminal offence—is not a matter for my right hon. Friend.

Juveniles In Custody

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will give a breakdown by age of those juveniles in custody in prison and remand centres awaiting trial in England and Wales on 31st December 1974; and if he will indicate the numbers, by age and sex, at each institution;(2) how many of the 3,148 persons in custody in prison and remand centres in England and Wales, awaiting trial on 31st December 1974 were juveniles; and if he will break these figures down by sex and age.

I regret that a breakdown of the figures for 31st December is not available in the form requested. An analysis in mid-November showed that at that time there were 146 young persons aged 14–16 in prisons or remand centres in England and Wales awaiting trial. The following table shows where they were detained:—

Males
Remand Centres
Ashford5
Brockhill4
Cardiff3
Latchmere House37
Low Newton16
Risley24
Thorp Arch20
Winchester19
Local Prisons
Brixton1
Canterbury6
Leeds1
Leicester1
Lincoln1
Norwich1
Oxford1
Shrewsbury1
Total141
Females
Low Newton Remand Centre1
Risley Remand Centre1
Holloway Prison3
Total5

Remands In Custody

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, of the 1,712 persons in custody who have been convicted and were awaiting sentence on 31st December 1974, how many have been on remand before trial for (a) 1 to 3 month, (b) 3 to 6 months, (c) 6 to 9 months, (d) 9 to 12 months, and (e) over 12 months; and how many, once convicted, have been awaiting sentences for (a) 1 week to 1 month, (b) 1 to 2 months, (c) 2 to 3 months, and (d) 3 months and over.

I regret that this information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

General Election Candidates (Returns)

asked the Attorney-General if he will instruct the Director of Public Prosecutions to initiate prosecutions against the 15 candidates in the February 1974 General Elections who failed to send to their respective returning officers a true return of their election expenses.

If the hon. Member will let me have details of the cases he has in mind, I will make inquiries.

Defence

Park Hall Camp, Oswestry

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is now able to make a statement on the shooting incident at Park Hall Camp, Oswestry, on 9th September 1974.

I expect to receive the report of the Army Board of Inquiry into this incident by the end of February, and we shall then consider whether to make a statement about it.

Cadets

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to disband the Combined Cadet Force.

No. All the evidence suggests that the Combined Cadet Force is fulfilling a useful function.

Oman

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what part is being played by British forces in the offensive launched by the armed forces of the Sultan of Oman against the rebels in Dhofar this year.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend on 19th November 1974.—[Vol. 881, c. 357.]

Raf Brize Norton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he can now estimate the effect of his defence review on the numbers of Service men and civilians who will be employed at RAF Brize Norton over the next five years.

Education And Science

Deaf Children

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the number of deaf and partially deaf children in Northamptonshire at present in residential schools, partial hearing units, nursery classes, normal schools with the aid of hearing aids, normal schools where the child is only subject to periodic checks, under hospital treatment with future checks required, and referred to hospital in the latest 12 months but needing no further action.

There are at present 35 deaf and eight partially hearing children in residential schools and 39 children in units for the partially hearing. The remaining information asked for is not available in the Department but could probably be obtained from the local education authority.

Immigrant Schoolchildren (Newham)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will seek to obtain and publish for the longest stated period of time the number of immigrant children in schools in the London borough of Newham at the latest stated date; and how these compare for the same date for each of the last 10 years.

The Department no longer collects statistics of immigrant pupils. In the eight years for which figures are available the numbers of immigrant pupils, according to the definition used by the Department, in primary and secondary schools maintained by the London borough of Newham were as follows, the count being taken in each year on a day in January:

19662,443*
19673,392
19684,563
19695,429
19706,007
19716,545
19727,258
19737,790
* Excluding immigrant pupils in schools with less than 10 such pupils.

School Meals

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the additional costs involved, after the announced increase in charges, if free school meals were supplied (1) to all those now taking school meals, and (2) to all those attending schools.

£130 million and £340 million respectively. The figures relate to England and Wales.

School Building Programme Kingswood)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the allocations he has made for school buildings in the Kingswood constituency for the year 1975–76.

Under the terms of my Department's Circular 13/74 resources for primary and secondary school building will be allocated to local education authorities in the form of lump sum authorisations. It will be for the Avon Local Education Authority to decide, once its lump sum allocation for 1975–76 has been announced, what individual projects should be included in its programme.

Education Vouchers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy towards the introduction of a system of educational vouchers.

I see no merit in, and serious objections to, the voucher schemes which have been propounded in this country in recent years.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from the Kent County Council advocating the introduction of education vouchers; and what reply he has sent.

Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average length of service for women and men teachers, respectively.

The average length of service for teachers retiring on age grounds in recent years has been about 29 years for women and 33 years for men. Corresponding figures for retirement on ill-health grounds, when benefits are calculated on an enhanced length of service, are not readily available.

Nursery Classes (Oldham)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many places in nursery classes are available in 1975 within the Oldham metropolitan district; and how many he expects to be available in 1976.

In September 1974 the metropolitan district of Oldham had six nursery classes providing 180 full-time equivalent—f.t.e.—places and three nursery schools providing a further 140 f.t.e. places. It is for the local education authority to decide which individual projects should be started within its allocations for 1974–75 and 1975–76. It is not possible to say exactly how many places these will yield.

Employment

Falmouth And Camborne

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the three most recent dates on which a Minister or Under-Secretary of State of his Department last visited the Falmouth and Camborne constituency; and if he will send a Minister or Under-Secretary of State to the constituency to assess the problems that exist there and to seek to remedy those falling within the responsibility of his Department.

Of the 22 visits which have been made to the South-West Region by Ministers of the Department of Employment since 1960, two have been made to the hon. Member's constituency. These took place in January 1962 and March 1971. No records are held of visits prior to 1960. There are no current plans for a Minister to visit the Falmouth-Camborne area in the immediate future.

Motor Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish the latest figure of the number of employees in the motor manufacturing industry who are on short-time working; and what percentage this constitutes of the total labour force in the industry.

For the week ending 16th November 1974, it is estimated that 8,700 operatives, or about 2·2 per cent. of all operatives, in motor vehicle manufacturing in Great Britain were stood off for the whole or some part of the week. Information on short-time working among workers other than operatives is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will publish figures of the number of persons employed in the manufacture of commercial motor vehicles for each of the last five years and for each month of 1974;(2) if he will publish figures of the number of persons employed in the manufacture of motor vehicles for each of the last five years and for each month of 1974.

Statistics of the numbers in employment are compiled for motor vehicle manufacturing, Minimum List Heading 381 of the Standard Industrial Classification, as a whole but not separately for commercial motor vehicles. The following table shows final mid-year figures for June 1973 and earlier dates and provisional estimates from January 1974 to November 1974, the most recent date for which figures are available.

Estimated number of employees in employment in motor vehicle manufacturing in Great Britain
June 1970512,400
June 1971
(a)507,800
(b)501,900
June1972487,700
June 1973508,100
January 1974*503,600
February 1974*498,800
March 1974*495,600
April 1974*495,500
May 1974*494,700
June 1974*494,200
July 1974*493,200
August 1974*492,700
September1974*493,500
October 1974*494,300
November 1974*493,800
* Provisional.

Notes. The estimates for June 1971 ( a) and June 1970 are based on counts of national insurance cards. The figures for June 1971 ( b), June 1972 and June 1973 are from the annual censuses of employment.

The estimates for the individual months in 1974 are obtained by applying a ratio of change (as shown by a sample survey) to the census figures for June 1973. These monthly estimates will therefore be subject to revision when the results of the June 1974 census of employment become available.

Basingstoke

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the date of the latest count of unemployed and vacancies for Basingstoke and district, and the number of unemployed and vacancies recorded, together with the latest estimate of the Department as to the proportion of those seeking work who are included in the figure of unemployed and the best estimate as to the proportion of vacancies notified to the Department.

The latest available unemployment and vancancy statistics for Basingstoke are for November 1974. On 11th November the number of unemployed was 468 and on 6th November there were 643 notified vacancies remaining unfilled at the Basingstoke employment office and 165 at the careers office.In Great Britain the great majority of unemployed men and boys register as unemployed; among women and girls who describe themselves in the General Household Survey as seeking work about half have registered. No figures are available for Basingstoke.An estimate of the proportion of the total vacancies in Great Britain that are notified to my Department was given in my reply to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) on 3rd December 1974. No figures are available for Basingstoke.

Pay Settlements

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the average percentage increase in wage settlements in the public sector and in the private sector, respectively, in the last quarter of 1974 compared with 1973, 1972, 1971 and 1970.

Hull

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many vacancies are available in the Hull employment area; and how this compares with the position in 1974 and 1973, respectively.

At November 1974, 1,054 unfilled vacancies were held at the Hull employment office and 231 at careers offices. The comparable figures for November 1973 were 1,507 and 605 respectively. The statistics relate only to vacancies notified to employment offices and careers offices and are not a measure of total vacancies. Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency, figures for later dates are not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many vacancies are available for women in the Hull district employment area; and how this compares with the situation in 1974 and 1973, respectively.

At November 1974, 520 unfilled vacancies for females were held at the Hull employment office and 113 at careers offices. The comparable figures for November 1973 were 700 and 315 respectively. The statistics relate only to vacancies notified to employment offices and careers offices and are not a measure of total vacancies. Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency, figures for later dates are not available.

Textile Industry (Stockport)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures of textile workers unemployed in the Stockport area.

On 11th November 1974, of 2,243 people unemployed in the Stockport employment office area, 83 last worked in textiles. Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency, figures for later dates are not available.

Bournemouth

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of job vacancies, male and female, in the Bournemouth, East parliamentary constituency currently notified to his Department; and what were the comparable figures for the nearest convenient date in each year from 1970 to 1974 inclusive.

The most recent information available is contained in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 9th December 1974.—[Vol. 883, c. 19–20.] Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency, figures for later dates are not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of unemployed males and females in the Bournemouth, East parliamentary constituency currently notified to his Department; and what were the comparable figures for the nearest convenient date in each year from 1970 to 1974, inclusive.

The most recent information available is contained in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 9th December 1974.—[Vol. 883, c. 19.] Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency, figures for December 1974 and January 1975 are not available.

Health And Safety

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what guidance the Health and Safety Commission or Health and Safety Executive will be giving to inspectors to enable them to decide when they should serve a prohibition notice under Section 22 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974;(2) what guidance the Health and Safety Commission or Health and Safety Executive will be giving to inspectors to enable them to decide if an activity involves a risk of serious personal injury for the purposes of Section 22(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974;(3) if his Department treats the loss of a finger or broken arm as falling withing the classification of serious personal injury for the purposes of Section 22(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

I regret that the information requested could not be obtained in the time available. I shall circulate it in the Official Report as soon as possible.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make regulations to prevent formica, polystyrene and asbestos being machined on circular saws and spindle moulding machines without there being a contravention of Section 14(1) of the Factories Act 1961.

I am advised by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that Section 14(1) of the Factories Act already has the effect of preventing these materials from being machined on circular saws and spindle moulding machines unless every dangerous part of the machine is securely fenced. I am not satisfied of the need for additional regulations dealing with this point.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the level of fines under Section 33(3) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which increased the penalty for a breach of Section 14 of the Factories Act 1961 above the maximum of £300 specified in Section 156 of the Factories Act 1961.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that on information available no cases have been heard to date in respect of offences under Section 14 of the Factories Act 1961 committed on or after 1st January 1975.

Woodworking Machines

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek to amend the definition of a woodworking machine contained in Regulation 2 of the Woodworking Machines Regulations 1974, so as to require all materials having a similar cutting and forming characteristic to wood to be machined on machines guarded to the standard specified in the regulations.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that this matter will be taken fully into account when the commission turns its attention to the question of amending the Woodworking Machines Regulations in pursuance of Section 1(2) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

Factory Inspectorate

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will undertake to consult with industry, including trade unions, before reorganising the Factory Inspectorate on a regional basis, which will result in the closure of local offices of the Factory Inspectorate throughout Great Britain.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the two trial schemes set up to test the proposals for reorganisation are still in operation. The implementation of the proposals will depend on the final assessment of the schemes which is soon to be made. Before any decision on reorganisation is implemented, the Factory Inspectorate will consult locally with both sides of industry to ensure that existing levels of communication between them are maintained or where possible strengthened.

Unemployment Statistics

asked the Secretary of State for Employment on what date in February he will publish the latest unemployment figures.

The count for the month will relate to 10th February and the figures will be announced on Thursday 20th February.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Eec Directives And Regulations

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the total number of directives and regulations issued by the EEC since Great Britain's membership to the latest available date.

According to the EEC Official Journal, of which copies are available in the Library of the House, the number of regulations, directives and decisions issued between 1st January 1973 and 15th January 1975 is 8,164. The vast majority of these are Commission instruments concerned mainly with the day-to-day administration of the common agricultural policy.

Rhodesia

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps designed to ensure the immediate withdrawal of South African forces from Rhodesia.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said on this subject in the course of his statement on Southern Africa on 14th January.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he is satisfied that civil and political liberties in Rhodesia have now been restored for all citizens.

No. We have urged that the agreements reached in Lusaka in December should be firmly implemented as a first step towards a satisfactory solution of Rhodesia's problems.

Chilean Warships

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will name all Chilean warships at present in British ports and give the reasons for their presence.

I have been asked to reply.No Chilean warships are at present visiting British ports. The submarines "O'Brien" and "Hyatt" are under construction at Scott Lithgow's and the destroyer "Almirante Riveros" is undergoing refit at Swan Hunter's.

Northern Ireland

Fish (Wholesale Profit Margins)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider an inquiry into the profit margins of fish wholesalers and the part played in the low prices obtained by fishermen by the conditions of virtual monopoly buying which exists at certain landing ports.

I am not aware of any evidence which would justify such an inquiry.

Scotland

Marine Rights

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a White Paper on Government policy towards the law relating to public rights in the sea and the civil or criminal remedies available for their infringement.

I have no current plans to issue a White Paper on this subject. As the right hon. Member is aware, the question whether North Sea oil opera tions will have a significant effect on the public right of fishery is under examination by the Fisheries and Offshore Oil Consultative Group.

Homes (Elderly Persons)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons are provided with accommodation in homes for the elderly; how many places there are in homes for the elderly per 1,000 population aged 65 years and over; and how many sheltered housing units there are per 1,000 population in the city of Dundee.

The numbers of persons and places in homes for the elderly are given in "Scottish Social Work Statistics 1972". In December 1972 there were 20·1 places per 1,000 population aged 65 and over. At the end of 1974 there were 11·3 sheltered housing units in Dundee per 1,000 population aged 65 or over.

Psychiatric Services (Dunbartonshire)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the lack of psychiatric services in West Dunbartonshire; and if he will make a statement.

None. The Argyll and Clyde Health Board has, however, received three representations on this matter, two from general practitioners and the most recent from the area medical committee. It is for the health board in the first instance to consider these representations and to decide what action may be necessary.

Rate Support Grant (Western Isles)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now state what rate support grant for the year from May 1975 will be available to the Western Isles Island Council.

This will be determined under the Rate Support Grant Order 1975–76 now before the House.

Local Authorities' Capital Debts

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Offical Report a table showing the amount of capital debt each present local authority will transfer to the new local government organisations.

Wales

Nationalised Industries (Staffs)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales to what extent he is consulted prior to decisions concerning the dispersal of nationalised industries staffs into Wales; and whether such decisions are sometimes made without his knowledge.

Because of my general oversight responsibilities I would normally expect to be consulted about any significant dispersal of nationalised industries staffs into Wales. But there is no obligation on nationalised boards to do so, and I was certainly not consulted about British Rail's decision to abandon its reorganisation plans.

Bangor (Hospital)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales when work will start on the new General Hospital, Bangor; and if he will make a statement.

The designing is well advanced and work is expected to start in the next financial year.

British Rail (Headquarters)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received about the decision of British Rail not to set up its western territorial headquarters in Cardiff.

I have seen right hon. and hon. Members representing constituencies in the Cardiff area. Local authorities have also expressed their concern to me.

Road Signs

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will consider the provision of bilingual road signs with the Welsh place name being set in a different background, i.e., red or green, and the English place name against a different background, i.e., black or white, so as to reduce the need to consider the safety factor involved in putting Welsh place names on top.

Experiments by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory have failed to show that different colour systems would reduce the difference in reading time when Welsh is put on top. A system of different colour combinations is already used to distinguish classes of sign, and further variations would lead to confusion.

Hospital Beds (Machynlleth And Bronglais)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many beds are available for patients suffering from chest complaints at the Chest Hospital. Machynlleth; and how many are available at the Bronglais General Hospital, Aberystwyth.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what has been the percentage occupation of the beds available at the Machynlleth Chest Hospital and of the beds allocated to the Bronglais General Hospital for patients suffering from chest disorders during the past three years.

The information is as follows:

Percentage Occupancy
1971197219731974 (1st half-year)
Machynlleth Chest Hospital.98979796
Bronglais Hospital91969193

Housing

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the rate of housing approvals by local authorities in Wales in 1973 and 1974; and whether he will make a statement.

The number of dwellings in approved local authority housing schemes in 1973 and 1974 was 4,937 and 6,384 respectively. The level of approvals in 1974 represents an increase of 29 per cent. over 1973 and is the highest since 1967.

Industry

Kirkby Workers' Co-Operative

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what advice he received from the Industrial Development Advisory Board in relation to grants and loans for the former Fisher Bendix plant at Kirkby.

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what advice he has received from the Industrial Development Advisory Board as to the future profitability of the Kirkby Worker's Co-operative.

The advice of the IDAB and a statement of the reasons for the Government's decision to provide assistance were laid before the House on 20th December.

Hs146

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will now take steps, following the tripartite talks, designed to ensure the production of the HS146 without losing markets by reason of delay.

In the tripartite talks, which are a continuing process, we are discussing the implementation of the Government's decision of 9th December which took due account of the market situation to maintain the option of continuing with the HS146 project.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what action he has taken to protect the design capability of the HS146 project since his statement of 9th December 1974;(2) what progress has been made in determining the future of the HS146 project since the tripartite talks on 13th December 1974.

I met representatives of the company and the unions on 13th December to discuss how we could best make progress. The parties involved confirmed that they were prepared in principle to take part in further discussions on a tripartite basis. Arrangements are being made accordingly, including the submission of papers by the company and the unions and direct discussions with both sides. Final details for the next meeting have yet to be agreed but all those involved are anxious to make progress and I hope that it will take place soon.

Government Aid

21.

asked the Secretary of State for industry if he will publish a list of insolvent enterprises to which he has advanced, or proposes to advance, public money.

The Government do not support companies when they are insolvent. Since August 1972 assistance under the Industry Act 1972 has been granted or offered to 33 companies which have applied for support when confronting financial difficulty.

Concorde

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on progress with the production and development of Concorde.

The manufacturers are pressing ahead with the authorised programme for the development of the entry into service version and the production of 16 aircraft, with the objective of enabling commercial services to start at the earliest practicable date. Concorde is still expected to receive a certificate of airworthiness by the end of 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether any further options have been taken on Concorde; when the Japan Air Lines option extends to; and whether he will make a statement on the difficulties likely to be faced on the production line with sub-contractors beyond the 16 aircraft already authorised.

The option position remains as set out in the reply given to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson) on 9th December.—[Vol. 883, c. 8.] The options on three aircraft held by Japan Air Lines, which do not involve payment of a deposit, have been extended until the end of 1975. I am not aware of any problems with subcontractors which endanger the continuity of production.

Industrial Activity

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied with the level of industrial activity; and what action he proposes to take.

No, we are not satisfied with the present level of industrial activity. We intend shortly to bring before the House a new Industry Bill, to give effect to the policies outlined by the Government in their White Paper on the regeneration of British industry. By providing, for the first time, for full co-operation between the Government and all sections of manufacturing industry, they will, in our opinion, be material in leading to improvements in our industrial performance.

Dockland, London

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, in view of the facts that job losses in the five boroughs covered by the Dockland Study are running at a rate of about 3 per cent. per annum, which is nearly double the figure for London as a whole, and that unemployment in parts of this area is at a rate higher than the average figure for the development and special development areas, if he will take urgent steps designed to deal with this problem.

I cannot accept the implication in the Question that employment problems in the London docklands are in any way comparable with those in the assisted areas. However, I do recognise that the docklands have special problems like many other inner urban areas, including a decline in manufacturing employment. The Government are now having these studied by the various Departments concerned, and will decide on the appropriate action when the reports are received. In the meantime, in my Department, I will ensure that the difficulties of the docklands are taken fully into account when applications for industrial development certificates for the area are being considered.

Hovercraft

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what assistance was given to the British hovercraft industry in 1974; and what is proposed for 1975.

It is expected that in the current financial year support from all sources will be about £ mil lion. In 1975–76 it is expected to be about £1·4 million.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, in view of the cancellation of the Channel Tunnel project, he is prepared to provide funds to further the development and construction of hovercraft capable of carrying substantially greater traffic than at present.

The National Research Development Corporation will consider proposals made to it for aid with the further development of hovercraft. The future development of cross-Channel hovercraft services is, however, primarily a matter for the commercial judgment of the operators concerned.

Shipbuilding (Grants)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he will make a statement on building grants to United Kingdom shipbuilders.

The Industry Act 1972 provided temporary assistance to the shipbuilding industry by grants payable on ships whose construction was begun before 1st January 1975. We do not propose to extend the period.

Aircraft

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if his proposals for the nationalisation of the aircraft industry are subject to the condition that the United Kingdom remains a member of the European Economic Community.

Our proposals to bring the aircraft industry into public ownership in no way depend on the question of our continued membership of the European Economic Community.

asked the Secretary of Stae for Indusry if he will start consultations with the other Common Market aircraft manufacturers as to the future of their business relationships with the British companies he is seeking to nationalise.

It has been made quite clear that all those in contractual relationship with the companies can be assured that existing obligations will be fully honoured. It will be for the new corporation to consider its strategy on collaboration with overseas aircraft manufacturers.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give an assurance that to avoid disruption of normal company business his Department will approach any director or employee of BAC, HSA or HSD, with whom he wishes to have any formal or informal discussions on his proposals for the nationalisation of their companies only with the approval of the company concerned.

No. I shall be happy for my Department to receive comments from anyone on the Consultative Document I have published.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if the cost of the salaries and expenses of all the staff of BAC, HAS and HSD, or their parent companies, involved in work and travel in connection with his proposals for the nationalisation of these companies will be paid for by his Department.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to be able to announce the order of magnitude of the cost to public funds of the proposed nationalisation of aircraft companies.

Imperial Typewriter Company

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he received any request for assistance, or prior notice of its proposed closure, from the Imperial Typewriter Company.

My Department was told of the proposed closure on 13th January 1975. The company has made no request for financial assistance.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take action to prevent the closure of the British Imperial Typewriter plant in Hull; and what discussions are taking place with the American multinational company Litton Industries to encourage it to alter its decision.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has asked the company's management to consider any proposals which the unions representing the workers at the factories of the Imperial Typewriter Co. Ltd. may put forward and proposes to have further discussions with the management. Until the full facts of the situation have been established, it would be premature to express any view on the future prospects for the factory. The possibility of assistance under the Industry Act 1972 will be borne in mind.

Nationalisation Plans

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many members of his Department are engaged (a) full time and (b) part time in the preparation of his plans for nationalisation; and what are the grades of the staff concerned.

Excluding staff providing secretarial assistance, those directly engaged at present in the preparation of plans for the nationalisation of the aircraft and shipbuilding industries total 14 full time and 10 part time. Information by grades is as follows:

Full-timePart-time
Deputy Secretary3
Under Secretary3
Senior Director, Accountant1
Assistant Secretary21
Assistant Solicitor1
Principal4
Chief Accountant2
Legal Assistant1
Higher Executive Officer1
Administration Trainee3
Clerical Officers2

Hydrogen Peroxide

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the annual production of hydrogen peroxide in the United Kingdom and other European Community States in the last year for which figures are available.

The information is not available for the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg. Production by the other European Community States in 1972, the latest year for which figures are available, was:

'000 tonnes
Federal Republic of Germany161·4
France142·0
Italy75·5
IrelandNil
DenmarkNil

Postal Traffic

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what reduction in postal traffic is anticipated as a result of the proposed increases in postage rates; and what cut back in staff is planned to offset this.

These are matters for the Post Office, which consistently seeks to align staff numbers as closely as possible to traffic levels.

Kirkby Manufacturing And Engineering Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has received and if he will publish the Memorandum

GOVERNMENT APPLICATIONS FOR EEC FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO BSC
Category of assistance and location or activityApplication made before 28th February 1974Application made after 28th February 1974Result
£m.£m.
1. Reconversion loans—
Expansion at Ravenscraig14·8Agreed
££
2. Grants for industry studies carried out by BSC—
(i) Use of redundant blast furnace for treatment of urban refuse9,000Agreed
(ii) Assessment of training courses for redundant steel workers10,000Agreed
(iii) Training manual preparation2,000Agreed
3. Readaptation benefits for workers made redundant by curtailment of activity at BSC plants—
(i) Colsterworth50,000Agreed
(ii) Scunthorpe700,000Agreed
(iii) Cookley30,750Agreed
(iv) Shotton21,000Agreed
(v) Stanton289,500Agreed
(vi) Harlaxton and Woolsthorpe18,250Agreed
(vii) Cargo Fleet50,000Agreed
(viii) Irlam736,000Agreed
(ix) Workington101,200Agreed
(x) Whitehead38,100Under consideration
In addition to these applications by my Department on behalf of the British Steel Corporation, applications for loans from the ECSC and the EIB, and for ECSC research grants, are also made directly by the corporation.

Companies' Liquidity (Information)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the number of companies refusing to provide information for the Department of Industry survey on company liquidity covering the second quarter of 1974 is the highest on record.

and Articles of Association of Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Ltd.

The Memorandum and Articles of Association of Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Limited are available at the Companies Registration Office.

Steel (Eec Grants And Loans)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the applications for financial assistance made to EEC institutions on behalf of the British Steel Corporation (a) before 28th February 1974, and (b) after 28th February 1974, stating the result of the application in each case.

No additional companies withdrew their co-operation from this survey for either the second or third quarters of 1974. Results for the third quarter were published in Trade and Industry on 12th December 1974.

Ipd (Industrial) Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the cost of the management consultants Inbucon's report relating to IPD (Industrial) Ltd. was borne on public funds; what was the total cost involved; and why it was decided that the report should be confidential to his Department and the employers.

As I stated on 9th December the cost of the Inbucon report relating to IPD (Industrial) Ltd. amounted to £10,500 and was borne on public funds. The report is confidential because it contains commercially confidential information.

Shipbuilding And Marine Engineering

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he intends to introduce his Bill to nationalise the British shipbuilding, shiprepairing and marine engine industries; and whether he intends to make any alterations to the list of companies to be nationalised as listed in Annexes A to C of his consultative document of 31st July 1974.

The Government will introduce the Bill as soon as possible in the current Parliamentary Session. Following consultations on the discussion paper I hope to announce the Government's detailed proposals shortly.

Trade

Textiles And Footwear

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied that existing anti-dumping legislation is protecting the textile, acrylic fibre, and garment making industries; and if he will make a statement.

The Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1969 provides substantial protection against dumped or subsidised imports which cause or threaten material injury to a British industry. I have at present one anti-dumping application from the textile industry, which relates to acrylic yarn from the Far East. Anti-dumping action is, of course, only one form of protection, and the textile industry is helped by a wide range of restraints on imports from low-cost sources.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received from British worsted spinners over the importation of acrylic yarns from the Far East; and whether he will make a statement.

On 12th December 1974 the British Worsted Spinners' Federation Ltd. presented an application for action under the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1969 against imports of acrylic yarn from the Far East. These are already the subject of an antidumping investigation by the EEC Commission as a result of an earlier application; consequently any further antidumping action will be taken by the Commission with which we are in touch. Simultaneously discussions are taking place in Brussels on the level of imports of acrylic and other synthetic yarns in order to decide whether restraints would be justifiable under the GATT Multifibre Agreement.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what has been the value of imports of textiles, acrylic fibres, garments including shirts, blouses and knitwear, and footwear in 1974; what percentage this is of total consumption; and how this compares with the previous year.

Imports have been as follows:

£ million
19731974
Textiles (including acrllic fibres)556750
Acrylic fibres1115
Garments323389
Footwear84109
Imports as a percentage of United Kingdom consumption, in the latest periods available, are estimated as follows:

Percentages
19731973 First half1974 First half
Textiles201924
Garments191822
19731973 First 3 quarters1974 First 3 quarters
Footwear202023
Figures for acrylic fibres are not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, of the total imports of textiles, acrylic fibres, and garments including shirts, blouses and knitwear, how many are from Eastern bloc and Warsaw Pact countries, and how much from developing countries.

Following is the information for January—November 1974:

£ thousand cif
Eastern bloc and Warsaw Pact countriesDeveloping countriesTotal All Sources
Textiles, including acrylic fibres13,021130,271697,698
Acrylic fibres7631914,175
Garments10,262181,701363,976

"Asiafreighter" (Escape Of Fumes)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he can now indicate the date and composition of the official inquiry into the Asiafreighter incident.

As my right hon. Friend told the House on 18th November 1974—[Vol. 881, c. 896–8.]—he appointed an inspector to carry out an official inquiry into this incident under Section 728 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894. We expect to receive his report shortly.

Imports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what percentage of the United Kingdom import bill was attributable to imports from (a) the United States of America, (b) West Germany, and (c) France, in the years 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974.

Following are the percentages:

1971197219731974
United States of America11·110·510·29·7
West Germany6·67·68·58·2
France4·55·46·25·8

Chlorine (Carriage)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what estimate he has made of the quantity of chlorine carried by sea to British ports; and whether he is satisfied that all necessary precautions are taken to prevent its escape through collision or other causes.

I am aware of only one vessel carrying chlorine in bulk to and from British ports. Its capacity is 210 tons and it plies between British ports once and sometimes twice a week. Everything practicable is being done to prevent accidents. In addition, about 4,000 tons of chlorine is carried into and out of our ports annually in cylinders and must be handled in accordance with my Depart ments' statutory requirements for the carriage of dangerous goods.

Commissioners Of Irish Lights

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the composition and duties of the Commissioners of Irish Lights.

There are 21 commissioners, including the Lord Mayor of Dublin and three Aldermen or councillors appointed by the Dublin Corporation, the remainder being co-opted members with a wide range of experience and interest in the sea. They superintend and manage lighthouses, buoys and beacons throughout Ireland and the adjacent seas and islands.

Flowers

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will investigate the dumping of carnations and other flowers from abroad at prices below the cost of production and the effects on the market for home-grown flowers.

Carnations and other flowers are subject to the common agricultural policy of the EEC. Since our entry into the European Communities action against dumping of such products is taken by the EEC Commission. If producers of carnations wish to make an anti-dumping application to the Commission, my Department, in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, will be glad to advise them how they should set about it.

Oecd

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the average annual percentage growth, expressed in dollars, of imports and exports, respectively, of each of the member States of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, during the periods 1948–58 and 1958–73 and at the latest date for which figures are available, respectively.

Imports ($ Values)Exports ($ Values)
Annual average growth ratePercentage change January-June 1974Annual average growth ratePercentage change January-June 1974
1948–581958–73January-June 19731948–581958–73January-June 1973
Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.
Canada7·110·534·55·011·329·9
United Stales6·411·741·43·59·744·6
Japan16·118·483·727·318·548·2
Australia3·89·470·80·112·514·7
New Zealand5·96·974·63·59·1-6·0
Austria10·713·137·716·611·949·7
Belgium/Luxembourg4·413·842·86·114·235·6
Denmark6·712·241·08·511·035·6
Finland4·112·656·64·411·355·0
France5·413·148·49·813·831·3
German Federal Republic16·413·931·228·014·244·1
Greece4·512·941·39·513·076·8
Iceland1·910·063·50·810·420·8
Ireland0·111·341·76·312·424·5
Italy7·615·561·29·115·441·5
Netherlands6·813·641·512·114·338·0
Norway5·710·950·56·013·140·9
Portugal1·512·665·85·312·934·1
Spain6·117·365·22·717·133·8
Sweden5·610·550·46·512·531·9
Switzerland3·913·632·76·812·931·4
Turkey-1·013·576·82·311·843·0
United Kingdom2·58·948·13·78·125·8
Sources:
1948 and all figures for New Zealand—United Nations Statistical Yearbook and Monthly Bulletin of Statistics.
1958–1974—OECD Statistics of Foreign Trade Series A.

Shipping Accidents (English Channel)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many collisions have taken place in the English Channel in each of the last five years; what were the nationalities of the vessels involved; and what steps he is taking to reduce the number of such collisions.

Year19701971197219731974
Collisions in Fog*97332
Other Collisions2434
Total Collisions1111636
* Visibility less than 4 km.
The nationality of the 74 vessels involved was as follows:—
12—United Kingdom.
11—Liberia.
7—Greece, Denmark.
6—West Germany.
5—France.
3—Cyprus, Panama.
2—Belgium, Norway, Poland and Sweden.
1—Argentina, Bulgaria, Ghana, Italy, Monaco, Netherlands, Paraguay, Peru, Portugal and Spain.
2—Unknown.

The information is not readily available for the whole of the English Channel. For the Dover Strait, the sea area is bounded by latitudes 50°N and 51°30′N and by longitudes 0° and 2.30′E, numbers of collisions involving a ship of 500 tons or more between 1970 and 1974 were as follows:

The figures, particularly those for collisions in fog, show an encouraging downward trend following the introduction of the Traffic Separation Scheme in 1967 and its modification, together with the introduction of the Channel Navigation Information Service in 1972. Additional navigation aids are being provided, steps have been taken to extend the radar cover of the Dover Strait, and we are continuing to co-operate with the French Government on further measures to improve safety in the Channel.

Pilotage

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to announce his proposals to amend the law in the light of the recommendations of the Steering Committee on Pilotage.

Consultations are continuing on these recommendations and it is hoped that a statement will be made when they have been completed.

Holidaymakers (Safeguards)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he can now say when he expects to introduce legislation to make provisions for the compensation of holidaymakers involved in loss with the Court Line companies and other air travel organisers.

Golden Chemical Products, Hitchin

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what investigations have been or are being carried out into the affairs of Golden Chemical Products of Hitchin; and if he will make a statement.

Officers of the Department of Trade are making certain inquiries into the affairs of this company, but at this stage I am not in a position to make a statement.

Manufactures

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the total of manufactured and semi-finished goods imported by the United Kingdom. West Germany, France and Italy in the years 1963 and 1973, respectively, stated as a percentage of gross domestic product; and what was the trend in 1974.

Imports of the categories requested as a percentage of gross domestic product at current market prices were:

Semi-finished*goodsFinishedmanufacturesAll manufacturedgoods
United Kingdom
19633·02·15·2
19736·16·512·6
January to September
19748·37·115·4
German Federal Republic
19633·52·35·8
19734·64·59·1
January to September 1974§5·24·69·8
France
19632·42·54·9
19734·35·09·3
January to June 1974≑5·55·410·9
Italy
19633·63·77·2
19735·14·99·9
1974
* SITC(R) Sections 5 and 6.
† SITC(R) Sections 7 and 8.
‡ SITC(R) Sections 5 to 8.
§ The 1974 figures of GDP are based on figures published in the Monthly Reports of the Deutsche Bundesbank Series 4.
≑ The 1974 figures are based on estimates of GDP published in OECD Economic Outlook December 1974.
… Not available.

Source:

United Kingdom: Central Statistical Office, Department of Trade.

Other countries: OECD Main economic indicators and statistics of foreign trade, series B.

Nation Life Insurance Company

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what plans he has to support any financial rescue of the guaranteed income bond policyholders in the Nation Life Insurance Company, many of whom are elderly retired persons, in view of the liquidator's statement of 20th January that rescue attempts by the insurance companies' consortium could not proceed.

We do not have powers to make payments to support any rescue in this case. The liquidator has reported that the company has very substantial assets which will be available against the claims of creditors, of whom policyholders are by far the most significant. He has already realised assets to the value of over £5 million and he expects this total to rise to over 11 million shortly. Ultimately he expects that the remaining assets of the company will produce a further substantial amount. He has also said that he will be in a position to seek instructions from the court within the next few weeks on the basis which should be used to calculate individual claims. The committee of inspection appointed to act with the liquidator has agreed that he should proceed to wind up the company's affairs with all despatch and to make an interim payment to creditors as soon as he is legally in a position to do so. While the liquidator must, as an officer of the court, act within its directions, my Department is giving him all the assistance it properly can.

Social Services

Office Holders (Classifications)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will explain the difference between (a) an office holder of profit under the Crown and (b) an office holder into which category Members of Parliament are soon to be reclassified.

The definition of an holder of an office of profit under the Crown, as used for the purposes of disqualification for membership of the House of Commons, is contained in the House of Commons Disqualification Act 1957, to which Schedule 1 lists the offices in question. Office holders for the purposes of Section 1(7) of the Social Security Act 1973 are those who hold an office with emoluments chargeable to income tax under Schedule E for the purposes of Section 181(1) of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970—including those whose office is an office of profit under the Crown and whose emoluments therefrom are so chargeable.

Falmouth And Camborne

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will list the three most recent dates on which a Minister or Under-Secretary of State of her Department last visited the Falmouth and Camborne constituency; and if she will send a Minister or an Under-Secretary of State to the constituency to assess the problems that exist there and to seek to remedy those falling within the responsibility of her Department.

Visits were made in October 1973, April 1970 and September 1969. If the hon. Member has any special problem in his constituency which falls within the responsibility of my Department I should be glad if he would write to me.

Winchester Widow's Pension

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why a pension book has not yet been supplied to Mrs. Lee of 12 King Alfred Terrace, Winchester, whose husband died on 1st August 1974.

I regret the delay which has taken place in this case and shall be writing to the hon. and gallant Gentleman explaining the reasons for it. It is hoped that an order book will be issued to Mrs. Lee within the next day or two.

Darenth Park Hospital

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made in the construction of alternative hospital accommodation in London and elsewhere to enable patients to be transferred there from Darenth Park Hospital, Dartford.

Constraints on the resources which I am able to make available to health authorities mean that there will be some delay in the construction of alternative accommodation for patients from Darenth Park, although my Department and the South-East Thames RHA continue to attach very high priority to this problem. Thirty beds have already been provided in upgraded accommodation at Grove Park Hospital and a further 56 beds should be similarly provided in 1975–76.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when phase II of the redevelopment of Darenth Park Hospital, Dartford, will commence.

South-East Thames RHA is hopeful that it will be able to make a start on this development in 1975–76.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she anticipates the work on the provision of the new 180 bed unit at Darenth Park Hospital, Dartford, will commence.

Existing plans provide for this scheme to start around 1980 subject, of course, to the level of resources available at the time.

Child Patients (Special Hospitals)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take action to ensure that child patients in special hospitals can be segregated from adult patients.

The majority of the patients under age 18 are already accommodated in single bedrooms, but having regard to their numbers and needs it would be impracticable to provide separate occupational, educational and recreational facilities, even if it were desirable to do so.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why there are no wards for girl patients in special hospitals; and if she will take steps to provide them.

Having regard to the small number of girl patients under age 18, the range of their intelligence and the different manifestations of their disorders, it would be impracticable to do so. All but one have, however, been allocated single bedrooms.

Registrar General's Department (Public Search Room)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received about the proposed transfer of the public search room of the Registrar General's department, formerly at Somerset House, and now at St. Catherine's House, London, to Southport, Merseyside; and if she will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend and the Registrar General have received representations from a number of bodies and individual users of the Public Search Room, and these are now being considered together with representations made by the staff of the office. The Registrar General hopes to make an announcement shortly.

Smallpox

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she has now received the full report of the working party set up following the committee of inquiry into the smallpox outbreak in London in 1973 (Command Paper 5626); whether she will publish the report; what action she is taking on the recommendations of the final report and interim report; and if she will make a statement.

I expect to receive the final report of the Working Party on the Laboratory Use of Dangerous Pathogens shortly and will then consider with my colleagues the action to be taken on its further recommendations. Meanwhile, urgent discussions are taking place between the Departments concerned on the implementation of the recommendations contained in the interim report of this working party.

Doctors' Expenses