Written Answers To Questions
Thursday 13th February 1975
Community Services (Young Persons)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what steps are being taken to provide community and recreational activities for young people; and whether some form of universal civic service is intended.
Under Northern Ireland legislation district councils and area education and library boards provide recreational and social facilities. It is also the responsibility of the boards to provide adequate youth facilities in their areas. Grants to these bodies and to voluntary bodies for these purposes are available from the Department of Community Relations and the Department of Education. It is estimated that in the financial year
|Total of Admission||14||14||13||106||91||72||23||19||16|
|Tyrone and Fermanagh||Hospital Holywell||St. Lukes|
|Totals of Admissions||52||84||83||73||60||50||20||15||14|
Police Patrol Car (Ambush)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the shooting of
1974–75 grants of £3·1 million will be paid to area boards, £2·9 million to district councils and £1·2 million to voluntary bodies.
There are no plans for a universal civic service, but grants are given to various bodies which encourage and organise voluntary community service.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the monthly number of admissions, under the emergency Section 15 of the Mental Health Act (NI) 1961, to each of the six psychiatric hospitals in Northern Ireland, during each month since January 1972 until December 1974.
The information is as follows:a policeman and the killing of a police sergeant near the home of Mr. Austin Currie, SDLP Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly.
A mobile police patrol car was ambushed at 9.30 p.m. on Friday 31st January 1975 on the Dungannon-Donaghmore Road near Donaghmore, Co. Tyrone, by terrorist gunmen. There were four police officers in the car, two RUC and two RUC Reserve. The car was returning from the home of Mr. Austin Currie where a routine check on security had been made. One officer received fatal injuries and the driver received wounds in the chest. The vehicle was struck by gunfire at least 13 times.
Provisional Ira (Meetings)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many meetings have taken place between his officials and representatives of the Provisional IRA since the ending of the Provisional IRA cease-fire; and what items were on the agenda at those meetings.
I have nothing to add to my statement to Parliament on Tuesday 11th February about meetings with Provisional Sinn Fein.—[Vol. 886, c. 207–10.]
Mr Robert Fiske
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why, and on whose instructions, Mr. Robert Fiske, Relfast correspondent of The Times. was questioned by members of the RUC Special Branch.
I understand that Mr. Fiske was questioned in Northern Ireland by officers of the RUC on Wednesday 5th February on the instructions of senior officers of that force. Police inquiries are continuing, and I can make no further comment.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what discussions he has had with the National Council for Civil Liberties regarding the establishing of full-time law centres on the lines of those already operating in London and other parts of England; and if he will make a statement.
I have had correspondence with the National Council for Civil Liberties on this subject. I am currently considering the general question of the extension of legal services in Northern Ireland with particular reference to the law centres and I hope to be in a position to take decisions on these matters in the near future.
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now take steps to increase the slaughterhouse capacity available to meat exporters.
It is for the industry itself to adapt to the needs of the export market.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many vessels are used for the transportation of live cattle within the United Kingdom and to the Continent and the Republic of Ireland; and how many are fitted with stabilisers.
Fifty-six sea-going vessels with equipment for the carriage of livestock are known to have used United Kingdom ports over the past few years; eight have stabilisers. There are also 74 roll on/roll off vessels which occasionally carry livestock, and 62 have stabilisers
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the effect on beef supplies in 1976 of the rate of calf slaughterings over the last 12 months; and if he will make a statement.
Following a period of rapid expansion of the national herd, with a high level of calf retentions, calf slaughterings reverted in 1974 to a level accepted as normal in the 1960s. At present there is no indication that this rate of calf slaughterings will cause a shortage of supplies in 1976.
Soya Bean Production
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the present acreage of soya bean crops in the United Kingdom; what are the prospects of increased soya bean production in view of the need for additional sources of protein; and if he will make a statement.
Small areas of soya beans are grown in the United Kingdom for experimental purposes, but the varieties currently available are unsuitable for widespread commercial production in our climate. Plant breeders are trying to develop varieties more suited to the United Kingdom climate, but this may take some time. The EEC has recently introduced a subsidy to encourage production of soya beans and United Kingdom farmers would be able to benefit from this if suitable varieties eventually become available.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if speciality sugars, brown, icing, cube and crystal, are covered by his statement of 3rd February to the effect that sugar prices will not increase in the future.
In so far as these types of sugar are sold by the three main sugar refining companies which are participating in the price equalisation scheme I do not expect them to increase in price as a result of the price we have agreed to pay to Commonwealth suppliers in 1975.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has about the price of sugar to manufacturers in other EEC member countries listing each country separately; and what is the current price to manufacturers in this country.
The refiners' current selling prices for bulk sugar including delivery costs, vary between £275 and £281 per long ton. The latest information on prices in other member countries is as follows:
|£ per long ton|
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the levy of £100 a ton on exports containing a certain minimum percentage of sugar provided for under EEC regulations applies to the other member countries of the EEC; and, if so, to which.
The levy on sugar exported in processed products is at a fixed rate of 200 units of account per metric ton of added sugar, for products containing more than 35 per cent. of added sugar. The levy applies in all member States of the EEC.
Flood Prevention (Thames)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take action, pending construction of the Thames barrier, to improve co-ordination between the Greater London Council, the Thames Water Authority and the Port of London Authority in order to reduce the risk of flooding of properties in the upper tidal reaches of the River Thames such as occurred on Wednesday 29th January.
The flooding to which the hon. Member refers was due to a combination of a high spring tide, a small North Sea surge, and high flow of fresh water from upstream. I am satisfied that co-ordination between the Greater London Council, the Thames Water Authority and the Port of London Authority in these matters is fully effective.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the expected cost of the Thames flood barrier; and how much will be met from the Exchequer and the Greater London Council, respectively.
The cost of the Thames flood barrier, at September 1974 prices, is expected to be of the order of £110 million. This excludes the cost of the associated works being undertaken by the GLC and other authorities both upstream and downstream of the structure. Exchequer grant is payable at the rate of 65 per cent. on eligible expenditure; the balance will be found by the GLC.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, having regard to the bans on the export of sheep from 1st February 1973 and cattle and pigs from 13th July 1973 for slaughter or fattening both of which were lifted with effect from 16th January 1975, he will make an estimate of the value of exports lost in each case based upon the previous 12-month period.
The values of live exports of cattle, sheep and pigs, excluding breeding stock, in the 12-month periods preceding the dates on which the issue of export licences was suspended were, for cattle £25·6 million, sheep £2·5 million and pigs £1·3 million. However, exports of both meat and livestock fluctuate with the supply and demand situation both here and in Europe, and it is not possible to make any meaningful estimate of what our export earnings from live animals might have been had licences not been suspended.
Eec And Efta (Food Imports)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what percentage of the food consumed by each of the member States of the EEC and EFTA was imported during each of the last five years; and what was the average annual percentage growth in the proportion of food consumed that was imported for each of these States during the periods 1948 to 1958 and 1958 to 1973, respectively.
This information is not available in my Department, nor, to the best of my knowledge, has it been published in international or national statistical surveys. It could only be obtained, if at all, at disproportionate cost.
Beef And Veal
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish the months' figures of MCA payments and prepayments made by the British Intervention Board on the movement of beef and veal between September 1973 and December 1974 between the United Kingdom and other countries of the EEC.
The monthly figures of MCA payments by the Intervention Board on trade in beef and veal between the United Kingdom and other countries of the EEC between September 1973 and December 1974 are as follows:
|Import Refunds||Export Refunds¼|
|* A monthly detailed breakdown is not available. The figure given is of payments made between 1st July 1973 and 31st December 1973.|
|† The detailed breakdown is not available The figure given is of payments made during January and February 1974.|
|‡ Payments of export refunds made in the period September 1973 to April 1974 and in September and October 1974 relate to Italian import MCAs paid by the Intervention Board to the United Kinqdom exporter.|
asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the monthly quantities in tons beef and veal imported by the United Kingdom from the other countries of the EEC between September 1973 and December 1974.
The information required is as follows:
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the monthly quantities in tons of beef and veal imported from the United Kingdom by the other countries of the EEC from September 1973 to December 1974.
The information required is as follows:
asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food if any accidents have been notified to his Department in the last five years in respect of special horticultural tractors which it is considered would have been avoided if the tractor in question had been fitted with a cab.
The main reason for fitting safety cabs to tractors is to minimise the risk of death or serious injury when tractors are involved in accidents. In 1970–74 there were 108 fatal accidents involving tractors not fitted with safety cabs. Information about the types of tractor involved is not immediately available, but I am having the accident reports examined to see if any cases involving special horticultural tractors can be separately identified and will write to the hon. Member. Our figures for non-fatal accidents derive from data furnished by the Department of Health and Social Security and relate to injuries to workers involving an absence from work of more than three days, but not to technical details of the circumstances of the accident.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will harmonise tractor cab regulations as applied to horticultural tractors with other EEC countries so that British horticulturists do not suffer any unfair competition.
The EEC Commission has a continuing responsibility to work for free and fair competition within the Community. The Commission has recently submitted to the Council a draft directive to harmonise certain aspects of tractor cab legislation within the Community as applied to specified categories of tractor. Special tractor types such as vineyard tractors and some designed for horticultural use are excluded for the present, but the Commission has said it expects to extend the scope of the draft directive in due course.
Berries And Hops
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the estimated yield in tons and also in monetary terms, if that figure is available, of the national crops of gooseberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and hops for the last year for which figures are available.
United Kingdom output of the crops concerned in the crop year June 1973—May 1974 is estimated to have been as follows:
|Quantity '000 tons||Value £m.|
Retirement Pensioners (Rates)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider allowing retirement pensioners tax relief on their rates.
No. I do not think it would be right to select this particular element in the expenses of retirement pensioners for special tax relief.
Process Plant Industry
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take action to assist the process plant industry to take advantage of the world wide demand for its products; and what specific recommendations were made by NEDC about this industry at the meeting on 5th February.
The process plant industry is a sector which is being studied in the context of removing constraints on the supply of investment goods. Certain proposals for further work were made at the last meeting of NEDC, and a report is expected shortly on the heavy fabricating side of the industry. Recognising the importance of this particular sector the council has asked for regular progress reports.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what specific proposals were made to help the chemical industry at the meeting of NEDC on 5th February; and if he will take steps to stimulate investment in that industry.
The chemical industry has a good record of investment, but the Chemicals Industry Association has suggested various steps the Government might take, mostly in the field of macro-economic policy, which would ensure that this investment continued at a high level. Their suggestions have been referred, for more specific courses of action to be determined, to the Chemicals EDC which has been asked to report back urgently to the council.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what will be the estimated cost to the revenue in a full year of the concession on capital transfer tax for the benefit of small businesses.
My hon. Friend is no doubt referring to the proposed new scale of rates of capital transfer tax on lifetime transfers. The effect on the revenue depends on the extent to which the relief encourages the making of transfers in lifetime rather than on death. If there are many more lifetime transfers the tax could show a higher yield in the early years. In the longer time the yield of the tax must be reduced, but it is not possible to estimate by how much.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated cost to the revenue in a full year of the concession on capital transfer tax for the benefit of forestry and woodlands.
The details of the treatment of woodlands under the capital transfer tax are still the subject of discussion. The cost of these provisions to the revenue cannot be estimated until the details are decided.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated cost to the revenue in a full year of the exemption from capital transfer tax of gifts to charities made more than one year before the death of the donor.
I regret that the information on which to base a reliable estimate is not available.
Unemployed Persons (Revenue Loss)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he can estimate the annual cost of tax unpaid of 500,000, 750,000 and 1 million unemployed.
Unemployment has implications for the level of receipts of many kinds of tax, there are serious difficulties in estimating the overall effects on revenue. So far as income tax is concerned, the tax which would have been paid by 500,000, 750,000, and 1 million persons—on the basis that they all received earnings for the full tax year at the October 1974 average weekly rate, and were liable to tax at the average annual rate for that level of income—is about £210 million, £315 million, and £410 million, respectively. But these figures cannot be taken as representing the total cost to the economy in terms of lost revenue of these levels of unemployment.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what official visits Treasury Ministers made during 1974 to Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer visited Saudi Arabia from 9th to 12th December: he had discussions with His Majesty King Faisal and leading members of the Saudi Government.
Trustee Savings Banks
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Page Committee recommendations on the trustee savings banks.
The Government have now agreed with the Trustee Savings Banks Association firm proposals for the implementation of the main recommendations on Trustee Savings Banks in the Report of the Committee to Review National Savings (Cmnd. 5273). It is intended to introduce the necessary Bill early in the next Session.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the profits of foreign-owned companies is retained in the United Kingdom.
I have been asked to reply.The proportion of profits retained in the United Kingdom by subsidiaries and associates directly affiliated to foreign companies excluding oil and insurance has varied from year to year; over the four years 1970 to 1973 it averaged about theree-fifths. Dividends remitted and un-remitted profits of subsidiaries and associates of foreign companies were published in Table 20 of United Kingdom Balance of Payments 1963–73 and further detail was published in Table 11 of Business Monitor M4, Overseas Transactions, a copy of which is in the Library.
Television Licence Fees
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take action to hold up the proposed increases in the BBC television licences until such time as the corporation reduces the fees paid to its contributors in general, and Members of Parliament and other politicians in particular.
No. It would not be appropriate for my right hon. Friend to intervene in the day-to-day running of the BBC which includes the use of its income to pay the various contributors to its programmes.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the immigration figures for the last available 12 months, and the preceding four years; of those for the last available 12 months, how many immigrants entered the country with work permits, how many as dependants and how many under special quota arrangements; and if he will list, for the same period, by individual country of destination and origin, the emigration and immigration figures.
The total number admitted for settlement on arrival in the nine months from January to September 1974, the latest period for which figures are available, is 22,055. This total was made up as follows:
|Commonwealth citizens admitted for settlement excluding United Kingdom passport holders (mainly dependants of people settled here)||8,978|
|Foreign nationals admitted for settlement||4,963|
|UKPH special voucher holders||2,562|
|Other UKPH admitted for settlement, mainly dependants||5,552|
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is now prepared to answer Questions on the amount of telephone tapping that takes place.
No. I see no reason to depart from the practice of non-publication recommended by the Birkett Committee and since followed by successive Governments.
Air Rifles (Telescopic Sights)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to introduce measures to prevent telescopic sights from being fitted by the manufacturers to air rifles which are on sale to adolescents.
No. Although the misuse of air weapons is a matter for concern, my right hon. Friend does not believe that the fitting of a telescopic sight makes a weapon more likely to be misused. It is an offence to sell an air weapon to a person under 17.
Licensed Premises (Assault Incidents)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many assaults were committed on licensed premises for the year ended December 1972 and December 1973, and for the latest period for which figures are available, in the Metropolitan Police area.
This information is not available, but I am authorising an exercise to establish whether the incidence of assaults on licensed premises has shown any marked tendency to rise or fall in the last three years.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the ban on foreigners entering the country to study scientology is still in force.
Independent Broadcasting Authority
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether Lady Plowden's appointment as chairman of the IBA in April at an annual salary of £8,200 is on the basis that she should give full time to the appointment on a similar basis to the present incumbent.
The new chairman will make the appointment her first concern in the same way that the present chairman does.
President Ford (Talks)
asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about his recent discussions with President Ford.
I have been asked to reply.I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) on 4th February.
asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to have talks with the CBI.
I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend met representatives of the CBI yesterday and hopes to have further talks with them in about two weeks' time.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will now answer Questions about the titles, composition and business of Cabinet committees.
Government Policy (Minister's Speech)
asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection on the economy and EEC membership made in Birmingham on 28th January represented the policy of Her Majesty's Government.
I have been asked to reply.Yes.
European Economic Community
asked the Prime Minister whether he will transfer to himself responsibility for the conduct of the referendum on British membership of the European Community.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will transfer to himself responsibility for the arrangements for conducting a national referendum on British membership of the EEC.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a ministerial broadcast on the subject of the national referendum on EEC membership.
I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.
Press (Royal Commission)
asked the Prime Minister what further progress he has made with the preparation of his evidence for the Royal Commission on the Press.
I have been asked to reply.I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton).
asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the appointment of a chairman of the Royal Commission on the Press.
I have been asked to reply.As my right hon. Friend announced yesterday, The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Professor Oliver Ross McGregor as Chairman of the Royal Commission on the Press in succession to the late Sir Morris Finer.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated number of classified unfit houses that will be cleared in 1975–76 in Scotland, Wales and each of the eight English regions served by an economic planning council.
No national or regional estimates are made of the number of unfit houses that are to be demolished in any given year. Clearance programmes are matters for individual housing authorities who have complete discretion in the exercise of their statutory duties.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many owners of listed buildings have recently refused grant from the Historic Buildings Council, because they cannot afford to contribute their share of the cost.
From October, 1974 to the end of January, 10 owners—including two local authorities—refused grants totalling £181,873 giving the reason that they could not contribute their share of the cost of repairs.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his policy for the co-ordination and integration of public transport services.
It is my objective to promote such co-ordination and integration. It is reflected at the local level in county councils' responsibilities for the co-ordination of local transport services.
Waste Management Advisory Council
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will announce the names of those to serve on the Waste Management Advisory Council referred to in the Green Paper. "War on Waste."
I would refer the hon. Member to the written reply to my hon. Friend, the Member for Ilford, North (Mrs. Miller) on 16th December 1974—[Vol. 883, c. 358–9.] Three further appointments have since been announced. These are:
Dr. J. W. Barrett, Director, Monsanto Limited.
Dr. R. L. P. Berry, Chairman, ALCOA of Great Britain Limited,
Professor G. Goodman, Professor of Applied Biology, Chelsea College of Technology.
Canals (Survey Cost)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much the survey to estimate the cost of necessary repairs to British Waterways Board canals is expected to cost; what proportion this sum is of the British Waterways Board's last Government allocation; and what proportion of this sum is likely to be forthcoming from the Government for use by the British Waterways Board.
The estimated cost of the survey, which is being carried out by consultants appointed by my Department, is £130,000. The grant-in-aid to the British Waterways Board amounts to £5·7 million in 1974–75 and has in no way been reduced to finance the survey.
Railways (Government Investment)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish the amount of Her Majesty's Government's present investment programme in British Rail.
The planned levels of investment were set out in the White Paper "Public Expenditure to 1978–79" (Cmnd. 5879) published last month.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish a list of the names and addresses of the local government ombudsmen so far appointed.
This information has already been made public in the answer given to the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) on 5th November 1974.—[Vol. 880, c. 127.]
Rating Appeals (London)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the number of appeals against rating assessments still outstanding in each of the London boroughs and the City of London as a result of the 1973 revaluation, differentiating between (a) commercial and industrial and (b) domestic hereditaments.
I regret that information is not available in the form requested. The approximate total number of appeals held by local valuation panels in London at 31st December 1974, and the London boroughs falling within the areas of those panels, are shown below:
Greater London (Central)
City of London, City of Westminster, Kensington and Chelsea, Camden, Islington, 39,000 appeals.
Greater London (North Western)
Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Enfield, Haringey, Harrow, Hillingdon. 19,000 appeals.
Greater London (South Western)
Kingston upon Thames, Hammersmith, Hounslow, Lambeth, Merton, Richmond upon Thames, Sutton, Wandsworth. 14,000 appeals.
Greater London (North Eastern)
Barking, Hackney, Havering, Newham, Redbridge, Tower Hamlets, Waltham Forest. 11,000 appeals.
Greater London (South Eastern)
Bexley, Bromley, Croydon, Greenwich, Lewisham, Southwark. 13,000 appeals.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action is being taken to deal with the accumulation of appeals by Greater London ratepayers against assessments made in the 1973 revaluation; and when he now expects all such appeals to be finalised.
The responsibility for dealing with these appeals rests with the local valuation panels in Greater London constituted under the General Rate Act 1967, but I propose to consult them about whether there is any way in which I can assist them in their work.The circumstances of individual appeals vary widely and it is not possible to say when all appeals will be finalised.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in the Official Report: (a) the minimum weekly rate of wages operative on 31st October 1972 and (b) the size and date of any change in such rates—including threshold awards—since that date, for full-time adult men and women covered by the following national agreements: (i) administrative professional and technical staff in local authorities (E&W), (ii) building and civil engineering JNC in local authorities (E&W) and (iii) manual workers in JNC in local authorities (E&W).
The information is as follows:
|(i) Administrative, Professional, Technical and Clerical Staff. Clerical Grade1—Age 21. Approximate weekly rate||(ii) Building and Civil Engineering JNC in local authorities (England and Wales)||(iii) Manual workers in NJC in local authorities|
|Craftsmen||Labourers||Men Group A||Women Group A|
|Minimum weekly rate at 31st October 1972||…||—||17·95||—||26·00||22·20||—||17·45*||15·27|
|Changes in rates (including threshold awards).||1st July 1973||…||…||1·73||6th November 1972||…||0·50||0·30||3rd November 1972||…||2·40||2·40|
|1st June 1974||…||…||1·20||7th November 1973||…||2·50||2·23||3rd September 1973||…||—||0·73|
|1st July 1974||…||…||5·74||24th May 1974||…||…||1·20||1·20||7th November 1973||…||2·32||2·14|
|1st August 1974||…||…||0·40||21st June 1974||…||…||0·80||0·80||1st January 1974||…||…||—||0·82|
|1st September 1974||…||0·40||19th July 1974||…||…||0·40||0·40||24th May 1974||…||…||1·20||1·20|
|1st October 1974||…||…||2·42||16th August 1974||…||…||0·40||0·40||21st June 1974||…||…||0·80||0·80|
|1st November 1974||…||0·40||18th October 1974||…||0·40||0·40||19th July 1974||…||…||0·40||0·40|
|1st December 1974||…||1·20||4th November 1974||…||4·80||4·57||16th August 1974||…||…||0·40||0·40|
|18th October 1974||…||0·40||0·40|
|4th November 1974||…||4·63||4·32|
|6th January 1975||…||…||—||1·12|
|* A minimum earnings guarantee of £19·00 per week applied to men only.|
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps designed to ensure that rate reductions granted as a result of the Government's extra aid to local authorities in 1974 have been passed on to the tenant ratepayers of private landlords, when the landlord is responsible for the collection of rates.
I have no reason to believe that private landlords have not passed on the rate relief that my hon. Friend mentions, but if he has a particular case in mind perhaps he will write to me and I will see what can be done.
Local Authority Staffs (Suffolk)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total number of fulltime employees—excluding school teachers—of local authorities in the county of Suffolk on 1st January 1975; and how this compares with each year since 1971.
I have been asked to reply.Information about the numbers employed by local authorities is available from returns made by each authority in June each year. The returns show that, excluding lecturers and teachers in education departments, about 9,400 people were employed on a full-time basis by the new local authorities in Suffolk at June 1974. The corresponding figures for those employed by the old local authorities at June 1973, June 1972 and June 1971 are about 9,100, 9,200 and 8,800, respectively.
Devolution And Democracy
asked the Lord President of the Council if he will introduce a White Paper on devolution and democracy in England.
The Government are giving priority to Scotland and Wales. Much more discussion and consultation is necessary before any decision on devolution in England can be made or announced.
European Economic Community
asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will issue a Green Paper setting out the various procedures the Government might follow in advance of the referendum so as to ensure that the electors, when voting, have before them a description of the alternatives to membership of the Community.
The White Paper on the arrangements for the referendum will include a passage on the information policy of the Government during the referendum campaign.
asked the Lord President of the Council what progress has been made in implementing the Government's policy that they would take all steps to ensure that Parliamentary Bills were drafted in plain simple English that everyone could understand.
Those responsible for drafting Bills are well aware of the need to express the intention in the simplest language possible. But the subject-matter of modern legislation is usually complex and often technical. The Renton Committee on the Preparation of Legislation is currently reviewing the form in which Public Bills are drafted and is expected to report shortly.
European Assembly Membership
asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will make it his policy only to propose the names of elected Members of Parliament as members of the European Assembly, and to make it a pre-condition of proposing them that they will resign if their elected membership ceases.
The designation of the United Kingdom members of the European Assembly is a matter for Parliament.
House Of Commons
asked the Lord President of the Council what is the annual postage cost paid by the House on HC85 (noted cards) and HC86A (attention cards).
I understand that at 1974 rates the annual postage costs paid by the House on HC85—noted cards—is £619·50 and HC86A—attention cards—£743·40.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he has taken since March 1974 to combat dumping of goods by foreign countries in the United Kingdom.
Since March 1974 two provisional charges to duty have been imposed under the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1969. A number of applications for anti-dumping action are currently under consideration.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many people are employed by foreign-owned companies operating in Great Britain; what is the productive capacity of foreign-owned companies operating in Great Britain; and what is the proportion of United Kingdom exports manufactured by foreign-owned companies operating in Great Britain.
The information available on employment and output relates only to enterprises in manufacturing industry and the latest figures are for 1968. In that year foreign controlled enterprises in United Kingdom manufacturing industry employed 704,000 people and their net output—the value added to the materials by the process of production—was £1,900,000 million. These figures were published in Table 43 of Part 158 Summary tables, Enterprise analyses of the Report on the 1968 Census of Production; a copy of which is in the Library. No information is available on the productive capacity of these enterprises, as opposed to the output from the use of that capacity. In 1972 approximately 23 per cent. of total exports were accounted for by direct exports of foreign-controlled subsidies and branches in the United Kingdom in manufacturing industry. Information on direct exports of foreign controlled enterprises was published in Tables 56 and 57 of Business Monitor M4, Overseas Transactions, a copy of which is in the Library.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many companies have been declared bankrupt in the past 12 months for which figures are available, whose bankruptcies were attributable to the non-payment of VAT.
There were 1,394 compulsory liquidations and 2,325 creditors' voluntary liquidations of companies in the year ended 31st December 1974. Company failures are seldom only attributable to one specific debt, but I understand that in 1974 Her Majesty's Customs and Excise presented 25 petitions for compulsory winding up for non-payment of VAT.
Exports (Cost Escalation Contracts)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will take action to assist British exporters to compete against cost escalation contracts offered by international competitors; and what recommendations were made by NEDC on 5th February on this matter.
As I have already told the House, this matter is under urgent consideration, and my right hon. Friend will be making a statement about it in due course. The NEDC will be discussing the question again in the light of that statement.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what official visits Ministers in his Department made during 1974 to Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
No visits were made to these countries during 1974 by Department of Trade Ministers in the present administration.
Companies House And Ecgd
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what effects have resulted from the transfer of Companies House and the Export Credits Guarantee Department to Cardiff.
Neither move has yet taken place. The transfer of work from Companies House is expected to start during 1976, and to be completed by the end of the year. The move of part of ECGD is not expected to be completed until 1979.
asked the Seretary of State for Industry if he will appoint regional economic advisers for Scotland,
|1972–73||1973–74||1974–75 (up to 31st December 1974)|
|Number||Value (£'000)||Number||Value (£'000)||Number||Value (£'000)|
|Industry Act 1972: Section 7|
|Service Industry Removal Grants||…||…||…||—||—||23||470||56||2,311|
|Local Employment Act 1972: Section 4|
|Removal grants under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 superseded those previously available under Section 4 of the Local Employment Act 1972. Service industry removal grants were introduced on 13th June 1973.|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies have qualified for removal grants to Wales in each of the last five years.
|1970–71||1971–72||1972–73||1973–74||1974–75 (up to 31st December 1974)|
|Number||Value (£'000)||Number||Value (£'000)||Number||Value (£'000)||Number||Value (£'000)||Number||Value (£'000)|
|Local Employment Acts 1960 to 1972:|
|Section 7, Industry Act 1972:|
Regional Development Grants
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies have received financial assistance, and what
Wales, Northern Ireland and the various regions of England to assist Sir Don Ryder, the Prime Minister's industrial adviser, with the particular problems created by inflation in those areas.
No. I already have access to advice on industrial matters from a number of sources in Scotland, Wales, and the English regions, and I keep in close touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies have qualified for removal grants to assisted areas in each of the last three years.
The number of removal grants offered in the last three financial years to companies moving to the assisted areas is:
The number of removal grants offered during the last five financial years in respect of projects moving to Wales is:has been the total provided, by means of regional development grants in the last 12 months for which figures are available
General information on applications received under the Industry Act 1972 was set out in the reply given to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Irving) on 28th January.—[Vol. 885, c. 144]—In the year ending on 31st January 1975, £201·6 million has been paid in regional development grants.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much public money, in total and per head of population, has been given to assist private
|£m. at historic prices and net of repayments|
|Assistance to private industry||…||£71||£87||£96||£470||£757|
|Per head of population||…||…||£1·4||£1·7||£1·8||£8·8||£14·1|
|Assistance to private industry||…||£896||£921||£819||£647||£696||£5,460|
|Per head of population||…||…||£16·7||£17·1||£15·1||£12·4||£12·8||£10·2*|
|* 10 year average.|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies in Wales have received financial assistance from the Government during the last 12 months; and what were the figures for 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1973, respectively.
I regret that this information is not available. But the whole of Wales is in the assisted areas, and Welsh companies are, therefore, eligible for assistance under the appropriate regional support schemes. For example, selective regional assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act is available throughout Wales, and manufacturing companies in the development areas qualify for regional development grants and regional employment premium.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what applications have been lodged under the Industry Act to maintain production at the Royal Imperial typewriter plants in Leicester and Hull.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry by what date he expects to receive the report of the independent consultants examining the viability of the Royal Imperial typewriter plants in Leicester and Hull; and by what dates these plants are scheduled to be closed.
industry in Scotland, Wales and each of the eight English regions served by an economic planning council in each of the last 10 years.
Records of assistance to private industry are not kept by planning region and I regret that this information is not available. Assistance over the 10 years 1964–65 to 1973–74, in total and by head of population, was £546 million and £10·2 respectively. The information for each of the years is as follows:
The consultants have been commissioned to report by 21st February, which is also the closure date for the two plants.
Bear Brand Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has received an application for assistance under the Industry Act from Bear Brand Limited; and whether he will make a statement.
Bear Brand Ltd. made a request for assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act. After the most careful consideration we have not felt able to accede to the request.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what official visits Ministers in his Department made during 1974 to Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
No visits were made to these countries during 1974 by Department of Industry Ministers in the present administration.
National Enterprise Board
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make appointments to the National Enterprise Board on the basis not of past experience alone but also of future potential.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in view of the delay in postal deliveries, he will further Government policy on equal opportunities for women by issuing a general direction to the Post Office requiring it to employ women on postal deliveries on an equal footing with men, and not, as at present, on a temporary basis or when vacancies exceed an agreed limit.
No. The Post Office tells me that it is already having talks with the Union of Post Office Workers on this matter.
Cable And Wireless Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on the operation of Cable and Wireless Ltd.
Yes. Social Audit Ltd made allegations of incompetence on the part of the management of Cable and Wireless Ltd. These were addressed to the "private systems" part of the company's business, and especially to the loss made by a subsidiary in Hong Kong: Coltronics Ltd. These allegations have been the subject of a detailed examination by my Department.As far as Coltronics is concerned, the facts are that a loss of some £2¼ million was sustained in 1973–74 by the company mainly as a result of its undertaking a contract which was beyond its ability to fulfil. The explanation tendered to me by the chairman shows that the undertaking was entered into by the then general manager of the subsidiary in disobedience of written instructions requiring him to obtain the prior approval of his board for a transaction of this magnitude. No approval was sought or given.Social Audit's further main allegation was that Cable and Wireless Ltd's accounts for the year ending 31st March 1974 did not disclose the fact of these losses and so did not give a true and fair view of the company's affairs for the purposes of the Companies Acts. I am, however, advised that the company's accounts satisfy statutory requirements and conform to accounting conventions. Nevertheless full details of the Coltronics losses will be given in the 1974–75 accounts, and future accounts will give improved information about other private systems' business.On Social Audit's more general observation that the company's private systems ventures are not profitable, I note that these ventures were started fairly recently as part of a policy of diversification within the telecommunications field which it will take time to develop successfully. It would be premature to conclude that the company's policy of extending its activities is misconceived, but it will be necessary for the company, and the Government, to keep them under close review. To enable this to be done arrangements have been made to improve the regular flow of information from the company to the Department.It would, or course, be wrong to judge the performance of the company's management by reference solely to the result so far of its private system ventures, or of Coltronics in particular. In such a business some failures are unavoidable, and the test of the company's competence is its overall performance. The group's profits have risen from £5·6 million in 1971–72 to £14·7 million in 1973–74. I regard this as satisfactory.
Eec Laws (Publication)
asked the Attorney-General if he will name the 12 court centres he has selected to which he is distributing copies of the Official Journal of the EEC; and if he will name the other publications on EEC law which he considers are essential to the proper functioning of these centres.
The 12 court centres to which my noble and learned Friend has arranged for the supply of publications on EEC law are the Royal Courts of Justice, the Central Criminal Court, the Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Exeter, Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Nottingham and Sheffield County Courts, and the Manchester Crown Court. In addition to the Official Journal, these centres have been supplied with the main Community Treaties, the Rules of Procedure of the Court of Justice, the Common Market Law Reports, the quarterly Common Market Law Review, and three basic textbooks.
Defamation Law (Committee Of Inquiry)
asked the Attorney-General on what date the Faulks Committee to consider the law of defamation was established; on what date the report or any draft report was first seen by him; on what date the report was signed; and whether he will make a statement.
The Committee on Defamation under the chairmanship of Mr. Justice Faulks was appointed in June 1971. The report was signed by the committee and submitted to my noble Friend in August 1974. It was not possible to publish it immediately because of printing difficulties. It was brought up to date by the committee and submitted in its final form on 2nd January 1975, when the work of printing it could be immediately put in hand. The report is now being printed, and will be published shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many experimental and research establishments attached to the Ministry of Defence there are in England, Scotland and Wales, respectively; and how many Service personnel and civilians are employed in these establishments in each of the three countries.
Experimental and research establishments in the Ministry of Defence occupy 44, seven and three sites in England, Scotland and Wales respectively.The total number of Service personnel and civilians employed on 1st January 1975 by the Ministry of Defence at these establishments are as follows:
Research Contracts (Wales)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report a list of research contracts placed in each higher education institution in Wales by the Ministry of Defence for the last five academic years, giving the value and a brief description of the research work in each contract.
Details of research contracts placed by the Ministry of Defence—including the former Ministry of Aviation Supply—are not readily available under academic years. In the past five calendar years, 31 research contracts valued in total at about £300,000 have been placed with the University of Wales Institute of Science and Technology, the University Colleges of Bangor, Cardiff, Aberystwyth and Swansea, and Glamorgan Polytechnic. They were mostly concerned with research into the chemical, physical and electromagnetic properties of various materials and related investigations based on new techniques.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in reaching agreement for a collaborative project to replace the Bloodhound and Thunderbird high-level antiaircraft missile systems in service in Germany.
Bloodhound and Thunderbird are medium-level surface-to-air systems. On their eventual replacement I have nothing to add to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member on 23rd January 1975.—[Vol. 884, cc. 463–4.]
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the defence equipment budget is being spent on collaborative projects.
17 per cent.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to replace the Lightning and Phantom aircraft in the air-superiority rôle for the 1980s.
Phantom FGR2's are being transferred progressively to the air defence rôle and will soon have replaced most of the existing Lightning force. It is planned that these aircraft will be replaced by an interceptor version of the MRCA in the early 1980s.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what official visits Ministers in his Department made during 1974 to Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
No such visits were made.
Women's Royal Army Corps
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will seek to abolish the rule which requires a married woman to have her husband's permission in writing before she can join the WRAC.
No. It is considered to be a wise precaution that both the husband and wife should be fully aware of, and accept, all the consequences of either spouse joining the Army. In the case of legally separated or divorced applicants, of either sex, no consent is required.
Education And Science
Colleges Of Education (Closures)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which colleges of education were closed down in the academic year 1974–75 and how many teacher-training places were lost through each of these closures; and which colleges of education are likely to cease fulfilling their teacher-training purpose during the next three academic years and how many places will be lost through each of these closures.
It has so far been decided that the following five colleges should cease to admit students to initial teacher training as from the dates shown:
- Alnwick, Northumberland (September 1975).
- Mary Ward, Nottinghamshire (September 1975).
- Radbrook, Salop (September 1975).
- Saffron Walden, Essex (September 1975).
- St. Paul's Newbold Revel, Warwickshire (September 1976).
Teachers' Pay Report (Cumbria)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science on what date he informed the Cumbria County Council that the Government intended to implement the Houghton Report.
I announced the Government's welcome of the general principles of the report and their acceptance of its implications for expenditure in a reply made on 20th December 1974 to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks).—[Vol. 883, c. 630–632.]—I did not specifically inform the Cumbria County Council.
European Social Fund (Retraining Grants)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what advice he has given to local offices of his Department about the procedure for applying for grants for retraining from the European Social Fund.
Inquirers are referred to the Department's headquarters. The important point is that the fund will match only on a 50/50 basis expenditure by a public authority.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many males and females, who were last employed at Irlam Steelworks are still registered as unemployed; and what are their age groups.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that of the 2,328 males and 123 females made redundant consequent on the closure of BSC Irlam, 466 males and four females are still registered as unemployed. The
|Under 21||21–30||31–40||41–50||51–60||Over 60|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are currently registered as unemployed in Irlam, Manchester; what are their age groups; how long they have been unemployed; and how this figure compares with the same date last year and the same date in 1970.
On 11th November 1974, 554 people were unemployed in Irlam. The most recent figures showing age and length of time unemployed are for July 1974 and the following table shows information for July 1970, 1973 and 1974. Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency, figures for December 1974 and the normal half-yearly age and duration anlysis for January 1975 are not available.
|UNEMPLOYED IN THE AREA COVERED BY THE IRLAM EMPLOYMENT OFFICE|
|Unemployed by age groups|
|July 1970||July 1973||July 1974|
|18 and under 20||1||3||7|
|20 and under 25||2||8||48|
|25 and under 30||5||10||50|
|30 and under 35||4||9||94|
|35 and under 40||4||10||92|
|40 and under 45||4||11||114|
|45 and under 50||8||4||121|
|50 and under 55||5||5||151|
|55 and under 60||6||15||222|
|60 and over||20||45||88|
|Unemployed by duration of unemployment|
|Weeks||July 1970||July 1973||July 1974|
|One or less||5||11||866|
|Over 1 and up to 2||8||5||12|
|Over 2 and up to 3||3||3||5|
|Over 3 and up to 4||3||2||6|
|Over 4 and up to 5||6||5||5|
|Over 5 and up to 6||2||6||10|
|Over 6 and up to 7||3||6||1|
|Over 7 and up to 8||1||5||3|
|Over 8 and up to 9||4||2||3|
|Over 9 and up to 13||4||11||9|
|Over 13 and up to 26||6||18||15|
following table gives a breakdown by age and sex:
Unemployed by duration of unemployment
|Over 26 and up to 39||5||9||10|
|Over 39 and up to 52||5||7||9|
Mentally Handicapped Persons
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will provide figures on the number of mentally handicapped persons who are unemployed in the area of the metropolitan borough of Knowsley.
About 50 mentally handicapped persons are currently known by the disablement resettlement officers at the Kirkby, Garston and Prescot employment offices to be unemployed.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what provisions and facilities are available for training handicapped persons in various trades and professions.
I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that disabled people may be trained for occupations within their educational and medical capacity. These facilities are available under the Training Opportunities Scheme (TOPS) or other more flexible arrangements available only to disabled people. Some 600 different courses are available at skillcentres, colleges of further education, commercial colleges, with employers and at residential training colleges for disabled people and with organisations such as the Royal National Institute for the Blind.Training allowances either on a local or lodging basis plus travel expenses and mid-day meal allowance are provided as well as free credits of national insurance contributions. These allowances are tax-free and not affected by a spouse's earnings.Disabled people taking courses for professional qualifications unable to obtain normal student grants may receive under the Professional Training Scheme for disabled people grants calculated by analogy with those awarded under Department of Education arrangements for first degree courses.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his Department's estimate of the average winter temperature in premises affected by his restrictions on heating before and after the restrictions were imposed.
My Department does not collect statistics on average winter temperature indoors. Since 13th January, 1975 except in special circumstances, 68°F (20°C) has been the maximum temperature permitted by law in premises not used as living accommodation. If evidence suggests that there is disregard of these regulations I shall not hesitate to take appropriate action.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what official visits Ministers in his Department made during 1974 to Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Algeria.
None, but I hope I shall be able to pay such visits at an appropriate time.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
Civil Rights Covenants
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
I have nothing to add to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State to the hon. Member for Arundel (Mr. Marshall) and my hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) on 18th December 1974.—[Vol. 883, c. 1556.]
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total British cash contribution to the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus during the year 1974.
Her Majesty's Government make no cash contribution to the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus. However, we provide logistic support for the whole force and meet the extra costs of stationing British troops with UNFICYP rather than in the United Kingdom. In 1974, the estimated cost of this amounted to £1,510,197 and £1,335,263 respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held in the Security Council concerning the control of Nicosia airport by the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
There has been no specific discussion of this, but the presence of UNFICYP at Nicosia Airport is in accordance with the mandate approved by the Security Council.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British soldiers are serving currently in the UN peace-keeping force in Cyprus.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions have been held between the Turkish, British and United States Governments about the consequences of an attack by Turkish forces on any contingent of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus.
None. However, Her Majesty's Government have supported calls by the Security Council on all parties to co-operate with UNFICYP to enable it to carry out its mandate.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the current composition of the UN peacekeeping force in Cyprus by numbers and nationalities.
The current composition of the United Nations peacekeeping force in Cyprus is as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the countries with which the United Kingdom currently has no diplomatic relations, indicating in each case the outstanding problems preventing resumption.
Diplomatic relations with Albania were broken off in 1947 as a result of the Corfu channel incident the previous year. We have made it clear that we should be glad to find a way round the well-known obstacles that have prevented the restoration of diplomatic relations for so long. In the Albanian view, however, this question is linked with the longstanding problem of the gold formerly belonging to the prewar Bank of Albania. The solution to this problem does not depend on us alone.Diplomatic relations with Guatemala were broken off by the Guatemalans in 1963, allegedly because of British aggression. Consular relations have been maintained since then. Her Majesty's Government are ready to consider restoring diplomatic relations at any time, although Guatemala's claim of sovereignty over the British dependency of Belize is an obstacle to the resumption of full relations.We have not recognised North Korea and, therefore, the question of diplomatic relations has never arisen.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what will be the cost of the new facilities which the US Government plan to construct at Diego Garcia.
I regret that in answer to a Question in the House on 29th January—[Vol. 885, c. 383] I inadvertently said that the cost is expected to be about £35 million. This should have been US$35 million.
Eec Regulations (Supply To Scottish Courts)
asked the Lord Advocate what arrangements he has made for the supply of regulations of the EEC to the courts of Scotland.
Libraries containing material relevant to the European Communities, including regulations and directives, have been set up in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Facilities for consultation or borrowing are available at the sheriff courts there, and at the office of the Scottish Courts Administration. In addition to these arrangements, an annual contribution is made to the Library of the Faculty of Advocates which makes these regulations available to the judges of the Court of Session as required.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development what consultations she has had with NATO allies about the provision of co-ordinated transport for disaster relief under NATO auspices.
I have had no such consultations, although, as was said in a reply given to the hon. Member on 13th January—[Vol. 884, c. 50]—NATO has long-standing arrangements to assist in natural disasters, primarily within the NATO area. We continue to believe that a suitably strengthened United Nations Disaster Relief Office has an important rôle to play in the co-ordination of donor responses.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development what further assistance has been given to the Somali Government in connection with the current drought situation there.
In response to an appeal from the United Nations Disaster Relief Co-ordinator and after consultation with the Government of the Democratic Republic of Somalia through Her Majesty's Ambassador in Mogadishu about precise needs, I have authorised my Disaster Unit to despatch six Land Rovers to Somalia from the reserve of vehicles that it has established to help meet transport needs in disaster relief operations. These vehicles, together with four 250 gallon capacity water trailers, which will be shipped to Somalia on 22nd February and arrive towards the end of March, are being provided to assist the Government Relief Organisation in its arrangements for the distribution of water in the relief areas. The cost of this relief aid is approximately £12,500. Help given in December and January cost some £50,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the time required to approve or reject the application for development at Finnart Bay.
I do not yet have enough information for making such an estimate.
National Health Service Consultants
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her estimate of the number of people whose appointments with consultants in the National Health Service have been cancelled or postponed since 1st January 1975.
My information is that the number varies considerably between different areas. I have not, however, had a full statistical return, and I cannot, therefore, give a reliable estimate of the national position.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many medical consultants employed in the hospitals of the National Health Service have resigned in the last year for reasons other than ill-health or normal retirement.
The figures are being extracted and will be sent to the hon. Gentleman.