Written Answers To Questions
Monday 17th February 1975
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will increase the number of inspections at British ports to check the number of eggs being imported from France.
We maintain a regular system of checks on imported eggs, both at the ports and at wholesale distribution points, to ensure compliance with the EEC regulations on labelling and quality. I will keep these arrangements under review. But since similar checks have to be made on home-produced eggs the volume of trade means that we shall have to continue to work on a sample basis.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will investigate the dumping of French eggs on the home market.
I am of course prepared to consider evidence that eggs from any source are being dumped in our market.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has received about the current problems of egg production in the United Kingdom; what replies he has given; and whether he will make a statement.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many representations he has now received from British egg producers about French imports; and what replies he has sent.
We have received representations from five producer organisations, and I met the Chairman of the Eggs Authority on Wednesday February 12th to discuss the present situation in the egg market. My right hon. Friend's replies to these representations were delayed because he was for most of last week in Brussels for discussions in the Council of Ministers on common agricultural prices. We have, however, made it clear that we recognise the anxiety fe amongst United Kingdom producers about the current level of prices in the egg market, and that we are ready to discuss with the industry ways in which supply might be brought into line with demand at remunerative prices within the Community.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the number of eggs being sold in the United Kingdom at prices below the cost of production.
I cannot give an estimate of this kind. I am well aware that the egg market generally is weak at the moment, but both costs of production and prices received will vary from one producer to another. I could only give the estimate asked for if I had access to the books of individual producers.
Beef (Variable Premium Scheme)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement of the arrangements for the operation of the variable premium scheme for beef during February.
This afternoon my right hon. Friend made a statement to the House about the new support arrangements for beef to operate from 3rd March. For February, March and April the Council of Ministers has agreed that the variable premium arrangements will continue. Pending implementation of the Council's decision, authority for these continuing payments will rest on the Estimate which will be presented in due course and the confirming Appropriation Act.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many export licences have been issued, and how many applications for licences received since the ban on the export of live animals for slaughter was lifted; and how many sheep and cattle are involved in each category.
I have been asked to reply.It is not the practice to disclose such information.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service 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) Civil Service—clerical grades, (ii) Civil Service—executive grades, (iii) Civil Service—technical and scientific grades and (iv) Government industrial establishments.
The rates are shown below at the minimum national pay rates in weekly terms for adults aged 21. In the non-industrial Civil Service they are the same for men and women. Also, for non-industrial Civil Service the
|NON-INDUSTRIAL CIVIL SERVICE|
|Clerical Assistant||Clerical Officer||Executive Officer||Professional and Technology Officer IV||Assistant Scientific Officer|
|31st October 1972||…||…||…||16·80||18·74||21·09||28·07||20·80|
|1st April 1973 Increase||…||…||2·15||2·14||2·15||2·14||2·15|
|7th November 1973 Increase||…||2·55||3·26||5·11||—||3·49|
|1st January 1974 Increase||…||2·25||2·24||2·24||5·13||2·24|
|INDUSTRIAL CIVIL SERVICE|
|31st October 1972||…||…||…||…||19·90||18·40|
|1st July 1973 Increase||…||…||…||2·08||2·48|
|1st July 1974 Increase||…||…||…||2·32||2·81|
|31st October 1972||…||…||…||…||20·50||19·00|
|1st July 1973 Increase||…||…||…||2·13||2·50|
|1st July 1974 Increase||…||…||…||2·32||2·83|
|31st October 1972||…||…||…||…||25·95||25·95|
|1st July 1973 Increase||…||…||…||2·08||2·08|
|1st July 1974 Increase||…||…||…||2·38||2·38|
weekly rates for grades other than the clerical assistant grade have been derived from the annual salaries normally quoted. The structure of the pay scales is such that staff who have entered the Civil Service before the age of 21 can at that age be on rates of pay higher than those quoted but the actual rate will vary according to circumstances and age of entry.
All grades quoted receive threshold additions which are not part of the basic salary and which are, therefore, shown separately. In addition, inner and outer London allowances are paid as appropriate to staff serving in these areas. In October 1972 these allowances were £3·35 per week and £1·72 per week, respectively, for non-industrial grades. For the industrial grades up to 6th November 1973 a flat rate of £1·60 per week was payable up to 18 miles from Charing Cross; the rate was increased to £1·96 per week from 7th November 1973. As from 1st April 1974 common rates were introduced for both industrial and non-industrial staff. The current inner and outer London allowances are £7·85 per week and £4·98 per week, respectively.
|27th May 1974||…||…||…||…||…||1·20||1·20|
|24th June 1974||…||…||…||…||…||0·80||2·00|
|22nd July 1974||…||…||…||…||…||0·40||2·40|
|19th August 1974||…||…||…||…||…||0·40||2·80|
|21st October 1974||…||…||…||…||0·40||3·20|
|18th November 1974||…||…||…||…||1·20||4·40|
Members Of Parliament (Judicial Appointments)
asked the Attorney-General whether he will publish in the Official Report a detailed list of the recorderships and other paid appointments that had been made, and to whom, and at what salaries, to Members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons in the past year.
The only paid appointment given in the past year to a Member of either House at the instance of my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor was that of the right hon. and learned Member for Hendon, South (Mr. Thomas), who was appointed a recorder. The daily fee is £40.
Children On Remand
asked the Attorney-General if he will now take urgent steps to reduce the time that children spend in custody awaiting trial.
It is the normal practice to give special priority to the relatively few cases of children committed in custody when listing cases for trial in the Crown court. My noble Friend is continually seeking ways to reduce the time spent in custody awaiting trial, but a relevant factor, the readiness of the prosecution and of the defence to proceed to trial, is not within his control. If my hon. Friend has any particular case in mind I should be grateful if he would write to me, giving me details.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is now in a position to give further details of the restructuring of the Army following the defence review, which he mentioned in his speech to the House on 16th December.
Since 16th December good progress has been made in planning the restructuring of the Army following the defence review. Fuller details will be given in the forthcoming statement on the Defence Estimates but it is likely that the manpower reductions that will be achieved will be in excess of 12,000.
Civilian Personnel (Gosport)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many civilian employees work at Army establishments with the borough of Gosport.
On 1st February 1975, 209 civilians were employed by the Army Department in the borough of Gosport.
Expenditure (Foreign States)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate he has from international sources of the percentage of gross national product spent on defence by the USSR, the Soviet satellite States, Israel, Egypt, Switzerland, Sweden and the United States of America, respectively.
The information, which relates to 1973, except where otherwise specified, is as follows:
|Defence Expenditure as a Percentage of Gross National Product at Factor Cost—1973|
|(*1972 figures; reliable estimates for 1973 are not yet available).|
Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the pay and conditions of employments of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps; and to what extent these are comparable with nurses in the National Health Service.
Members of the Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps receive the same pay and are subject to the same conditions of service as all other members of the women's Services. Their pay rates are set and kept under review by the Armed Forces Pay Review Body, which takes into account, amongst other things, the level of remuneration over a wide spectrum of jobs in the public and private sector. There is no direct link, as such, between the pay of a Service nurse and a nurse in the National Health Service.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many Service men have been invalided out of the Armed Forces following injuries received in Northern Ireland in each of the years since the present troubles began.
The numbers of Service men invalided from the Armed Forces as a result of injuries caused by terrorist activity in Northern Ireland are as follows:
|1975 (to date)||4|
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
asked the Secretary of State for Defence on what aspects of the nonproliferation treaty he is prepared to answer Questions.
I answer Questions on specific defence matters which may arise from our various treaty obligations, including those under the non-proliferation treaty. But Questions on the non-proliferation treaty, as such, are normally answered by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report the number of occasions in 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974 when planes of the Queen's flight have been used for emergency relief purposes.
It has not been necessary in any of these years to call on the Queen's Flight to supplement the RAF transport force for emergency relief purposes.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make the Royal Yacht "Britannia" available, when not used for official duties, for recuperative trips for victims of asbestosis, pneumoconiosis and other industrial injuries of a serious character.
No. As I explained to the hon. Member on 4th February 1975—Vol. 885, c. 472]—when not on Royal duty, the Royal Yacht is made available for naval duties.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the number of (a) males, and (b) females in the United Kingdom unemployed for six or more months, expressed as a percentage of (a) male, and (b) female and (c) all, employees, since 1945.
Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency the normal quarterly analysis by duration of unemployment is not available for January 1975 and the most recent figures are for October 1974. The following table shows information for each October from 1962 and for each September from 1948, when the current series of unemployment statistics started, to 1961. The rates have been calculated by expressing the numbers unemployed for more than 26 weeks as a percentage of the estimated number of employees, including the unemployed. The figures are for Great Britain and do not include Northern Ireland:
|UNEMPLOYED IN GREAT BRITAIN|
|Males unemployed for more than 26 weeks as a percentage of all male employees||Females unemployed for more than 26 weeks as a percentage of all female employees||Total unemployed for more than 26 weeks as a percentage of all employees|
|* Includes estimates for a small proportion of offices.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the average earnings at Remploy Industries compared to average earnings of similar grades in other comparable occupations.
I regret that the information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many handicapped persons, male and female, are employed at Remploy Industries in a supervisory, managerial or administrative capacity.
The number of registered disabled men and women employed by Remploy Limited in a supervisory, managerial or administrative capacity is 226.
Food Prices And Earnings Ratio
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many minutes of work were required to earn the price of one loaf of white bread, one pound of butter, one pint of milk, one pound of sugar, one dozen eggs, one pound of steak, one pound leg of lamb and one pound of pork in each of the nine EEC countries and in Australia, Canada and the United States of America up to the latest date for which figures are available, taking the average earnings of male manual workers and the retail prices simultaneously prevailing.
The latest available information, for October 1973, is given in the following table. No figures are given for Australia, Canada and the United States because information on earnings of male manual workers in those countries is not available from international sources.Comparisons of this type involve considerable uncertainties. In particular these arise from the variation in the system of remuneration and taxation in the different countries, from the importance of different goods in the national patterns of consumption and from differences in the quality and type of goods. Detailed definitions of the articles are not available and in some countries average prices are only available for the capital cities:
|MINUTES OF WORK REQUIRED TO EARN THE PRICES OF VARIOUS ITEMS OF FOOD AT OCTOBER 1973 UNLESS OTHERWISE STATED|
|United Kingdom||Belgium||Denmark||France||Germany (Federated Republic of)||Ireland||Italy||Netherlands|
|White bread—1 lb.||4||4||6||8||7||5||7||4|
|Pork (shoulder without bone)—1 lb.||32||38(7)||25||54||33||29||59(7)||33|
|(1) 200 towns average prices.|
|(2) Brussels' figures for prices.|
|(3) Copenhagen figures for prices. Earnings relate to 4th quarter 1973 for the non-agricultural sector.|
|(4) Paris figures for prices.|
|(5) November prices and December earnings.|
|(6) Milan figures for prices.|
|(7) Loin chops (with bone).|
|(a) prices: ILO Bulletin of Labour Statistics 2nd Quarter 1974.|
|(b) earnings: United Kingdom—DE Gazette, January 1975.|
|Ireland—Irish Statistical Bulletin, September 1974.|
|Denmark—ILO Bulletin of Labour Statistics, 4th Quarter 1974.|
|Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Netherlands—Eurostat Social Statistics, January 1974.|
Health And Safety Commission
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has yet received the advice of the Health and Safety Commission on the location of its headquarters; and whether it has advised that Kirkby is the most suitable location.
I have nothing to add to the reply I gave my hon. Friend on 16th December 1974—[Vol. 883, c. 325.]
asked the Secretary of State for Employment, in view of the fact that latest figures show that the Manpower Services Commission was retraining 3,450 people in construction industry trades in September 1974, whether he will review his policy in this area in the light of the level of unemployment and the prospects for the industry.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that its policy is to maintain the level of training in construction industry trades under the Training Opportunities Scheme in order to help to meet the longer-term skill requirements of the industry. In forming this policy, the commission has taken account of previous experience of skill shortages following periods of relatively high unemployment as well as the current level of unemployment and prospects for the industry.
Pay And Production
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the relationship over the past five years of wages, earnings and output per head by the main industry groups in the United Kingdom.
The following table shows the percentage changes since 1968 in the annual values of the indices of average earnings, the indices of basic weekly wage rates and the indices of output per head for the five years 1969 to 1973 for broad industry groups. Most of the corresponding 1974 figures are not yet available:
|PERCENTAGE INCREASES SINCE 1968 IN ANNUAL ESTIMATES OF EARNINGS, WAGE RATES AND OUTPUT PER HEAD|
|Average Earnings of Employees*||Basic Weekly Wage Rates of Manual Workers||Output per Person Employed|
|Mining and quarrying||…||5·7||15·7||29·0||55·6║||66·9||5·5||17·2||40·5||73·0||83·4||4·0||5·5||8·6||-4·5||11·7|
|Mechanical, instrument and electrical engineering||8·5||22·6||35·7||52·5||72·5||4·5||7·1||12·0||16·8||29·3|
|Shipbuilding and marine engineering||…||…||11·5||23·8||38·8||51·0||73·7||Not available|
|Metal goods not elsewhere specified||…||…||8·8||21·7||33·6||50·4||70·2||Not available|
|Gas, electricity and water||…||7·4||21·9||41·4||62·1||78·3||7·4||20·6||34·9||46·9||59·8||9·3||18·1||27·6||44·2||57·9|
|All industries and services†||…||7·8||20·7||34·5||51·8||71·8||5·2||15·8||30·7||48·8||69·2||2·0||4·3||8·0||10·6||13·9|
|* Great Britain only.|
|† The index of average earnings covers all manufacturing industries, agriculture, mining and quarrying, construction, gas, electricity and water, transport and communication (except rail transport and postal services), certain miscellaneous services and all categories of employees.|
|§ Because industrial activity was severely disrupted by restricted electricity supplies, the monthly inquiry into average earnings was not carried out in February 1972. Consequently, figures for 1972 are based on an average of the other 11 months.|
|║ Because of disputes in coalmining, a reliable index for mining and quarrying could not be calculated for January and February 1972. Consequently the figure is an average of the other 10 months of 1972.|
Railway Signalmen's Strikes
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement about the series of unofficial signalmen's strikes on British Rail.
I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made to the House on Thursday, 13th February—[Vol. 886, c. 598–9]—and I have nothing further to add.
Coal Miners' Pay
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing the cost to the NCB of the separate wage settlesments negotiated with miners' representatives over the past five years, the annual increases in productivity and the percentage wage and salaries represented in total industry costs.
I have been asked to reply.The information is being obtained and I will reply as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will compare the cost to the National Coal Board of its current offer to the miners and that claimed by both the Scottish and Yorkshire coal miners.
I have been asked to reply.Scottish and Yorkshire miners have been reported as suggesting a figure of £25 a week above current threshold payments. This would have cost the board £316 million a year. The proposed settlement will cost the Board £135 million a year in addition to the cost of living threshold payments already being made.
Drug Raids (London)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give, for the longest and most convenient stated period of time, the number of drug raids carried out by the Metropolitan Police; what were the number of men and vehicles used; what arrests were made; what prosecutions ensued; and with what result.
The only information readily available is the number of searches of premises by Metropolitan Police officers, in connection with alleged drugs offences, reported to the Central Drugs Intelligence Unit. The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis informs us that in the three months November 1974 to January 1975 the number was 147. Details of the numbers of men and vehicles used, and of the resulting arrests and prosecutions, could not be provided without disproportionate effort and cost.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the recent statement by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis concerning corrupt detectives applies to those engaged in the investigations into pornography; and when investigations into this and the Humphrey and ex-Commander Drury association will be completed.
The Commissioner assures me that he has made no statement intended to prejudge the outcome of investigations not yet completed. On the second part of the Question, I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave on 11th February to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett).—[Vol. 886, c. 77.]
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give, for the longest stated period of time, or on an annual or monthly basis, the total number of Metropolitan Police, civilian employees, cars and other aids, such as two-way radio, and the number of population in the Metropolitan Police area at each of the stated dates; and if he will make a statement on how the relationship of manpower, modern aids and population is assessed in determining the extent of any manpower shortage.
The manpower requirements of the Metropolitan Police are assessed in the light of such factors as the type and amount of crime, the nature, size and population of the Metropolitan Police District, the amount and density of traffic, and the extent of civilian and other forms of support. It remains our view that every effort should continue to be made to increase the strength of the Metropolitan Police. Precise information about aids other than vehicles and radios
|As at 31st December:|
|Full-time general administration and support staff||…||…||5,488||5,706||6,063||6,480||7,224||6,092*|
|Number of cars||…||…||…||972||946||973||1,037||1,187||1,613|
|Total all vehicles (including vans and motor cycles)||…||…||2,328||2,588||2,639||2,883||2,913||3,071|
|Number of personal radios||…||—||23||120||370||2,394||4,920|
|Number of mobilefone radios||…||886||1,045||1,237||1,557||1,784||2,065|
|Population in 000's||…||…||8,168||8,182||8,376||8,389||8,360||8,251|
|As at 31st December:|
|Full-time general administration and support staff||…||…||8,481||4,805†||5,327||5,708||5,760||6,581|
|Number of cars||…||…||…||1,651||1,748||1,871||2,021||1,981||1,885|
|Total all vehicles (including vans and motor cycles)||…||…||3,173||3,266||3,262||3,254||3,365||3,498|
|Number of personal radios||…||5,922||6,472||6,472||6,513||6,624||6,500|
|Number of mobilefone radios||…||2,457||2,808||2,816||2,856||3,530||3,536|
|Population in 000's||…||…||8,195||8,104||7,908||7,845||7,768||7,724 §|
|* Figures for 1968 and earlier were calculated on a different basis from and are not strictly comparable with those for 1969.|
|† Before 1970 these figures include professional and industrial grades and part-time staff.|
|‡ These figures include officers transferred to the Metropolitan Police from the British Airports Authority Constabulary at Heathrow.|
|§ At 31st October 1974.|
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give, for the longest and most convenient stated period of time, the number of police raids connected with pornography; how many books etc. were seized; how many police officers and vehicles were involved; and what results were achieved so far as prosecutions and successes were concerned.
National figures are not available. I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that in the two years 1973 and 1974 his officers executed 675 search warrants issued under Section 3 of the Obscene Publications Act 1959 and seized some 450,000 articles. In the same period court proceedings were completed in 604 cases, involving 439 persons or companies, and all but 18 of these cases resulted in a conviction or a forfeiture order. Details of the numbers of officers and vehicles involved in searches are not available.
is not readily available. Otherwise the information is as follows:
Juveniles (Certificates Of Unruliness)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the figures indicating the number of certificates of unruliness in respect of juveniles issued in each of the last five years.
A young person aged 14–16 who is awaiting trial may be remanded in custody to a prison or remand centre in England or Wales only if a court certifies that he is so unruly that he cannot safely be committed to the care of a local authority. The following table shows the number of young persons so received into custody in the last four years:
|January to September|
|* Provisional figures.|
In addition, a young person aged 14–16 who has been convicted and is awaiting sentence may be received into custody in a prison or remand centre if he has been committed to the Crown court with a view to a sentence of borstal training or if he is made the subject of an unruly certificate. I regret that the available information about the reception of convicted persons awaiting sentence does not distinguish between the numbers in these two groups.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons are currently serving prison sentences for homosexual offences with a consenting person under the age of 21 years but over the age of 16 years.
I regret that this information is not readily available. Information about the circumstances of offences for which prison sentences are imposed, including information about the ages of other persons involved, as distinct from the age of the offender himself, is not centrally recorded, and could be obtained only by a large number of individual inquiries, the cost of which would not be justified.
Hooliganism And Violence
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has for increasing the penalties for football hooliganism and crimes of violence among young people.
The orders made by courts in particular cases are a matter for their discretion, subject to statute. Maximum penalties are a matter for legislation, but investigation does not suggest that these are inadequate.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has received a communication from the Society for the Promotion of Town Hygiene and Dog Control; and if he will make a statement on his policy towards its proposals.
I have not been able to trace the receipt of such a communication on the subjects with which the society appears to be concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further examination he is making into the use of live animals in experiments to develop new smoking material at the ICI's central toxicology laboratory; and if he will make a statement.
I am making urgent inquiries into these experiments. When they are complete I shall write to the hon. Members who have raised the matter.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many licences have been issued for non-medical experimentation on live animals involving the risk of suffering or death.
All experiments under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 must be performed with a view to the advancement by new discovery of physiological knowledge or of knowledge which will be useful in saving or prolonging life or alleviating suffering. Within this definition statistics on experiments are not sub-divided so that licences for "non-medical" experiments can be identified.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what animals may not be used for live experiments.
There is no statutory bar on the use of any particular species of animal. Special authority is necessary for experiments on cats, dogs and certain members of the horse family.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the Home Office report, "Experiments on Living Animals 1974", did not record the use of some 200 cats for cancer research by the Veterinary School and Hospital, Glasgow, during the relevant period.
This was due to an error by the Home Office for which we apologise. I am making arrangements for a correction to the return for 1973 to be included in the return for 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the details of the code of practice laid down for filming and photographing prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons; and whether that code was observed when a Thames Television Unit visited Nottingham Prison recently.
The code of practice under which the Home Office has for some years provided facilities for the media to obtain material relating to prisons, including the filming and photographing of prisoners, requires that advance warning of any filming should be given to inmates who are likely to be in the vicinity of the cameras, and that those who wish to withdraw from range should be allowed to do so. Other provisions are that no inmate may be named in the ensuing presentation; that any interviews should be at the discretion of the governor and with the prisoner's own consent. Personal cases and affairs may not be discussed.Interviews with members of the prison staff may also be provided, again with the consent of the person concerned and with the approval of the governor, about factual aspects of the work and of the establishment but not about individual prisoners.The visit to Nottingham Prison by the Thames Television Unit took place in September 1974 as part of wider facilities sought for a programme transmitted in December. The visit took place over two days and the conditions of the code were strictly observed.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the girls awaiting trial at Holloway and Risley share sleeping accommodation with adult sentenced prisoners.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many young persons have been placed in remand centres on the direction of the Secretary of State under Section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 in each of the last five years.
Remand centres did not assume responsibility for assessing persons sentenced under Section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 until October 1973. The provisional figure for those received into prison service establishments from that date until the end of 1974 is 38, which includes eight persons who were aged 17 or over. Of these 29, including three aged 17 or over, went direct to remand centres, and the remainder were initially lodged in a local prison, and, with the exception of girls retained for assessment at Holloway, transferred to a remand centre as soon as possible. The figures for those sent direct to remand centres in earlier years were as follows:
Trawler "Ian Fleming" Inquiry
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which an assessor was appointed into the loss of the Hull trawler "Ian Fleming" who had taken part in the internal industrial inquiry into the loss, thus necessitating the adjournment of the inquiry until a fresh assessor was appointed.
Section 467 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 gives the Secretary of State responsibility for the appointment of assessors to assist the wreck commissioner in formal investigations into losses of shipping and crews. A panel of assessors having the relevant skills and experience is appointed for three years at a time. In selecting persons from the panel to act at an investigation, the Home Office tries to ensure that none is included who has any association with the owners of the vessel concerned.On the first day of the investigation into the loss of the "Ian Fleming"—11th February—one assessor informed the wreck commissioner that he had participated in the insurance inquiry into the loss of the vessel. In the circumstances, the wreck commissioner decided to adjourn the formal investigation until another assessor could be obtained. I am glad to say that another member of the panel agreed to serve at very short notice and the formal investigation resumed on 13th February.There was an evident oversight in the arrangements here. We are considering what steps should be taken to prevent an occurrence of a similar nature in future.
Mckee And James Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what approaches have been received with a view to taking over the factory of McKee and James Ltd., Bangor, Co. Down.
Following McKee and James' announcement last September that they were to close their factory at Bangor within a month, the Government negotiated with the company to try to secure a postponement of closure, in order to gain time in which to arrange for other firms to take over the factory and provide continuing employment. Regretably, however, it was not possible to reach agreement with the company.Officials of the Northern Ireland Department of Commerce subsequently held discussions with several parties who expressed interest in taking over the workforce and facilities, and the Northern Ireland Finance Corporation explored with representatives of the workforce the possibility of establishing at the factory an operation under co-operative ownership. None of these attempts to find a successor to McKee and James bore fruit.McKee and James have nearly completed the run down of their operations. It is understood that the last of the workforce are likely to be paid off by the end of this month. The factory belongs to the Department of Commerce, and when finally vacated by the company it will be refurbished and become available for leasing under the scheme of selective assistance for industrial development operated by the Department.
Empty Houses (Armagh)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many public and local authority houses within the county of Armagh are unoccupied at the latest convenient date; what are the numbers involved in each area; and what are reasons for the houses being unoccupied.
I understand from the Housing Executive, the sole public housing authority in Northern Ireland, that at 31st January 1975 the following numbers of houses owned by the executive in County Armagh were unoccupied:
|Area||Number of Dwellings|
|Newry (that part which is in County Armagh)||6|
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many cars are available to him and his Ministers; what is the average cost per annum of the upkeep and running cost; and what is the total cost of purchase of these cars since 1st April 1972.
In Northern Ireland six cars are available to me and my four ministerial colleagues, one being kept in reserve. They are provided by the Police Authority from the RUC pool, and the particular cars used from day to day vary according to maintenance requirements and other calls on the pool.Charges raised in respect of upkeep and running costs, including drivers' wages, are based on the average costs for all cars in the pool, and since 1st April 1972 have averaged £7,399 per car per annum. To the extent that special purchase has been necessary, the total cost since 1st April 1972 has been £6,806.In London three cars are made available by the Government Car Service pool under normal allied service arrangements. Figures for the upkeep and running costs of these cars are not available in isolation from the costs of the whole pool. Similarly, since various cars have been provided for differing periods since 1st April 1972 it is not possible to quote any meaningful total cost of purchase.
Cost Of Living
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the increase in the cost of living in Northern Ireland since 1st January 1974.
There is no separate retail price index for Northern Ireland. The United Kingdom index rose 16·9 per cent. between January and December 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will consider extending the terms of reference of the Northern Ireland Economic Council to include a special responsibility to consider measures to combat inflation.
No. I am satisfied that the existing terms of reference allow the council to advise on all factors within Northern Ireland likely to have an effect on the economic growth, including the impact of inflation.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make proposals to ensure that consumers in the Province are afforded the same legal protection as consumers in Great Britain; and if he will set out in the Official Report the principal protection provided by the law in Great Britain which is not currently provided by the law in Northern Ireland.
The following consumer protection legislation, which applies in Great Britain, has not yet been followed in Northern Ireland: Hearing Aid Council Act 1968; Unsolicited Goods and Services Act 1971; Consumer Protection (Amendment) Act 1971.Steps have already been taken to ensure that the law in Northern Ireland will be brought into line as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what study she has made of the adequacy of the number and type of spectacle frames which are available under the National Health Service; and if she will make a statement.
The advice of the Standing Ophthalmic Advisory Committee, published last July, is that the NHS range of spectacle frames for adults is adequate, but that the children's standard range should be further improved. My right hon. Friend is considering this among many other proposals for improvements in the NHS.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many complaints she has received about opticians restricting the variety of spectacle frames they are offering to National Health Service patients; if she will take steps to check that every optician provides an adequate display of National Health Service frames following the reminder sent to them; and if she will make a statement.
Very few. We are, however, examining all aspects of this and I am not yet in a position to make a further statement.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of all part-time hospital consultants are paid over £10,000 a year including merit payments; what proportion are paid between £7,500 and £10,000 a year; and what proportion are paid less than £7,500 a year.
The salary of a part-time consultant depends on his contractual commitment, his position on the incremental scale, and on whether he holds a distinction award and, if so, at what level. I regret that this information is not readily available for part-time consultants.
Hospitals (Private Patients)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will set up a working party to investigate complaints that those who go to a consultant as a private patient are admitted to National Health Service hospital beds for non-urgent operations quicker than those who seek the appointment with the consultant through the normal health service machinery.
My hon. Friend will be aware of the Government's proposals put to the profession for introducing common waiting lists in NHS hospitals for NHS and private patients. Agreement on these would, of course, cover the points mentioned by my hon. Friend.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether any agreement has been reached with the Church Commissioners and representatives of Anglican clergy about the classification of the clergy for national insurance purposes from April 1975.
As I explained on 26th November 1974—[Vol. 882, c. 347]—during the Report stage of the Social Security Amendment Bill, it has been agreed with the Churches Main Committee that the clergy should remain self-employed contributors for an interim period of one year from April 1975 to enable them to consider the implications of the White Paper "Better Pensions".
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will seek to establish within the National Health Service a non-commercial training and rehabilitation programme for severely disfigured people; and if she will make a statement.
Treatment aimed at rehabilitation, such as plastic surgery or the provision of prostheses is available in the NHS. If the hon. Member has in mind any particular aspect of such services, perhaps he will let me know so that I can write to him. If he is concerned with employment rehabilitation or training programmes, these are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment.
National Insurance Contributions
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she can give an estimate of the annual loss to the National Insurance Fund of contributions unpaid as a result of 500,000, 750,000 and 1 million unemployed.
Excluding Treasury supplement, and on the earnings assumption used by the Government Actuary in estimating the income for 1975–76 in his report on the Social Security Benefits Bill the amounts in 1975–76 would be of the order of £200 million, £300 million and £400 million, respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the quantity of oil which will be saved annually by his programme of energy conservation announced on 9th December 1974.
Insufficient information is available to make precise estimates of the savings which will be achieved by the measures my right hon. Friend announced on 9th December. Approximate estimates have however been made and these suggest that savings of a least 1 million tons of oil and probably much more should be possible.
Gas And Electricity Showrooms
asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he expects to announce his decision regarding the merger of gas and electricity showrooms.
Complex issues are involved. My right hon. Friend will announce a decision as soon as possible.
Saudi Arabian Oil
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will publish the latest figures or estimates for the cost of production per barrel of Saudi Arabian oil, the tax per barrel and the posted price.
Press reports suggest that the cost of production of Saudi Arabian light oil is now 17c a barrel.The companies pay tax and royalties of about $9·76 on the 40 per cent. of production which they own. The Saudi Arabian Government "take" or profit on the balance of the crude is about $10·29. The posted price of this crude is $11·25 a barrel.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what proportion of methane gas produced by the sewage works in the United Kingdom is used by the nationalised gas industry.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his estimate of the length of time of the average electricity disconnection of a credit consumer.
This information is not available but the Electricity Council estimates that in 90 per cent. of the cases of disconnection due to debt, the supply was reconnected within one week and many of these within two or three days.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the average cost of a disconnection and reconnection of a credit consumer of electricity.
This information is not availabme but a typical cost of reconnecting a supply at present is £3 where there is access to the consumer's premises; if external work has to be done such as excavating and rejointing the cost can be considerably higher.
Eec Policy Resolution
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will publish R/2391/74 ENER (45) which contains the text of the draft "objective" resolution on energy agreed by the Council of Ministers on 17th December 1974.
I am arranging for the text of the Resolution on Community Energy Policy Objectives for 1985—reference R/3649 and not R/2391—agreed at the Council of Ministers on 17th December 1974 to be placed in the Library.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay a visit to Glasgow to assess the effects of the current strikes by local authority employees in so far as they affect public health; and if he will make a statement.
No. I am satisfied that the situation in Glasgow is being carefully monitored, and that public health is not at present affected.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will take steps to set up a centre for information and advice on educational disadvantage.
I will consider the need for such a centre after I have the report of the seminar on educational disadvantage which my Department is proposing to arrange.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will initiate a national conference on the subject of information and advice centres for the educationally disadvantaged.
My Department has already initiated discussions with the Association of Directors of Education about the planning of a seminar on various aspects of educational disadvantage and methods to combat it.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what educational help he plans to give to areas where children are likely to suffer from socially disadvantageous conditions.
A circular issued by my Department last July drew attention to the publication of the report on the Dundee Educational Priority Area experiment and to the importance which the Government attach to measures to help disadvantaged children, and pointed out that most of the measures tried in Dundee were within the discretion of education authorities to adopt if they wished. In addition, education authorities may apply for grant for educational projects in areas of special social need which they think may qualify for assistance under the urban programme. The allocations made to education authorities for the nursery education building programme were weighted in favour of areas of social need, and authorities were asked to give priority to such areas in the early years of the programme.
Mortgage Interest Rates
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report a list of Scottish local authorities which already charge or which have announced their intention of charging mortgage lending rates above 11 per cent. on the same basis as the list of English authorities published by the Secretary of State for the Environment on 23rd January.
Local authorities are not required to inform me of their mortgage rates. However, I understand that, among the authorities which are substantial lenders, the following currently charge more than 11 per cent. on loans for house purchase: Edinburgh Corporation, Angus County Council, Fife County Council, Renfrew County Council, Dumbarton Town Council, Kirkcaldy Town Council, Paisley Corporation.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of credit consumers of electricity.
Approximately 1,822,000 in 1973–74.
Student Grants (Bursaries And Scholarships)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland why he refuses to treat bursaries and scholarships on a par with vacation earnings for the purpose of calculating grants.
The general rule is that a student's personal income, including income from bursaries and scholarships, is taken into account in the assessment of grant except that the first £130 is disregarded. An exception is made in respect of vacation earnings because the grant is not intended to make more than a contribution towards maintenance during vacation.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the length of time of the average electricity disconnection of a credit consumer.
This information is not available, but the Scottish electricity boards assure me that once the debt is paid the supply is reconnected as quickly as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is able to estimate the annual number of disconnections of domestic electricity supplies.
The Scottish electricity boards estimate the number of disconnections of domestic electricity supplies at about 2 per cent. of the number of credit consumers.
Galashiels (Old Station Yard)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when planning work on the A7 route through Galashiels will be sufficiently completed to enable the former station yard to be released for industrial development.
I cannot give a date at present as the statutory procedures have still to be completed, including opportunity for public objection to the proposals.
Court Line (Holidaymakers)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how much money has now been paid by the liquidator to holidaymakers who lost their money in 1974 due to the collapse of Court Line Ltd.; how many people have now received money from the liquidator; and if he will make a statement.
No distributions to holidaymakers or other creditors have yet been made by the liquidators. Since they are appointed by the court I am not in a position to intervene. The Government's proposals to assist these and other holidaymakers are contained in the Air Travel Reserve Fund Bill which will be debated on 20th February.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how the inquiries of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration into the collapse of the Court Line Travel Division are progressing; and if he will make a statement.
The Parliamentary Commissioner is an officer of Parliament and it is not appropriate for me to report on the progress of any inquiry he has in hand.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether there has been any increase in the percentage of Great Britain's advance balance of payments accounted for by trade with EEC countries during the last months for which figures are available.
Exempting trade in oil, the deficit with the EEC Eight on a balance of payments basis accounted for 152 per cent. of total trade deficit in the second half of 1974, as compared with 81 per cent. in the first half of the year.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he can now state what was the visible trade deficit of the United Kingdom with the previous EEC Six in the full 12 months of 1974, if possible in balance of payments terms; and what percentage this represented of the United Kingdom's total non-oil trade deficit in the same period and on the same basis.
On a balance of payments basis the visible trade deficit with the EEC Six in 1974 is provisionally estimated to have been £1,946 million, of which £1,659 million was in trade in non-oil goods. This latter represents 100 per cent. of our total non-oil trade deficit.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will place in the Library the supporting figures on which he bases his calculations that 96 per cent. of the United Kingdom's non-oil trade deficit on a balance of payments calculation is accounted for by trade with the EEC.
The figure of 96 per cent. related to trade with the EEC(8) in the first nine months of 1974. For the year as a whole the corresponding figure is provisionally estimated at 110 per cent., based on the following provisional figures:
|TRADE IN GOODS OTHER THAN OIL|
|£ million, balance of payments basis|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the method followed by his Department in calculating trade figures on a balance of payments basis; and if he will provide figures for the United Kingdom non-oil trade on this basis for 1972, 1973 and 1974, respectively with the EEC, EFTA, the Commonwealth, Japan, the USA and the rest of the world, respectively.
I will reply to my hon. Friend's Question as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations have taken place during the past three years between his Department and the United States Federal Aviation Administration with regard to the airworthiness of the McDonnell Douglas DC10; what advice was received concerning recommended modifications; and if he will make a statement.
These matters fall within the responsibility of the Civil Aviation Authority, and I have drawn the attention of the chairman of the authority to the hon. Member's inquiries.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the future plans for Stansted Airport.
Following the decision to abandon the Maplin airport project we are now considering the views of local authorities and others as the basis for more detailed consultations on the way in which future London area air traffic should be handled. In advance of this consultation I cannot comment on the future of Stansted.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what study he has made of the manpower problems in his Department involved in separating Scottish trade statistics from English trade statistics.
The distinction suggested is not a practicable one. If it were practicable it might not add much to the manpower costs in my Department, but it would add significantly to the resources required in Her Majesty's Customs which collects and compiles the trade figures. And a major burden of providing the required information would fall on industry and trade.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many tons of coal were, respectively, exported from and imported to the United Kingdom for each of the past four years.
The published figures show that in the years 1971 to 1974 exports were 2·7, 1·7, 2·7 and 1·9 million metric tons, and imports were 4·2, 5·0, 1·7 and 3·5 million metric tons, respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the increase in the value of imports of timber, including timber products and pulp, over the past three years.
109 per cent. between 1972 and 1974.
Machine Tool Castings
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the number of machine tool castings imported in the last available year; what was their country of origin; and whether he will make a statement.
These castings are not distinguished from other types of castings in the overseas trade statistics.
Nation Life Insurance Company
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he intends to extend any degree of cover under any scheme or to invite any other body to give such cover to policy holders in the Nation Life Insurance Company.
While I have considerable sympathy for the policy holders of this company I have no powers to give financial assistance in this case. Ever since the difficulties of the company became apparent my Department has continued to explore with other insurance companies the possibilities of assistance for its policy holders.
German Trawler "Tunfisch" (Rescue)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the co-ordination involved in the rescue of the German trawler "Tunfisch" on 30th January; and if he will make a statement.
Yes. The trawler's crew of 20 were all rescued successfully in an operation co-ordinated by Her Majesty's Coastguard. They were picked up from liferafts and from the uninhabited island of Swona by helicopter and lifeboat. Long-range aircraft, other likeboats, and ships at sea also took part. I am sure that the House would wish to join with me in congratulating all concerned on a most successful operation.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) how many applications for licences for the export of live animals for slaughter, by breed and number, have been refused;(2) how many licences, by breed and number, have been granted for the export of live animals for slaughter, and to which countries;(3) how many applications for the export of live animals for slaughter have been received, by breed, since the lifting of the ban.
It is not the practice to disclose such information.
Exports (Performance Bonds)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to announce his proposals for help to companies in the export market, particularly to the Middle East, where substantial performance bonds have to be offered.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade will be making a statement in the near future about performance bonds for export contracts.
Aircraft And Guided Weapons
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the total value of British exports of aircraft and parts, aircraft engines and parts and guided weapons and parts for the year ended 31st December 1974; and what were the leading markets for these products.
Total exports of aerospace products in the year ending 31st December 1974 were as follows:
|Aircraft and parts||298·6||277·3|
|Aero-engines and parts||296·9||228·1|
|Guided weapons and parts||11·1||6·8|
|* Gross exports less reimported goods and goods imported for process during 1974.|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the total value of tourist receipts, excluding fares, for the year ended 31st December 1974; and what were the comparable figures for expenditure by United Kingdom residents taking overseas holidays.
Figures are not yet available for the whole of 1974. Those for the first three quarters are shown in Table 2 (page xiv) of the December 1974 issue of "Economic Trends".
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish in the Official Report details of steel imports, and exports, for the last five years and up to the latest date for which details are available.
Following is the information for ingots, semi-finished and finished steel:
|Million metric tons|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received about dumping of textiles in the United Kingdom; what action he has taken; and if he will make a statement.
There has been recently only one application for anti-dumping action on textiles, on acrylic yarn imports. As other Community countries are also affected it is being handled by the EEC Commission. I trust that any industry which has evidence that imports are being dumped in this country in sufficient quantity to cause or threaten material injury will not hesitate to present a case under the 1969 anti-dumping Act.
Hoover Factories (Scotland)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations he has received from workers at Hoover's Scottish factories concerning continuity of employment.
The unions have made representations to my right hon. Friend and my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State has met a deputation from the Scottish Trades Union Congress.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the annual value of output of the chemical industries in Scotland and England and Wales, respectively, over the last five years.
Separate country information for 1970 and 1971 cannot be published because it does not meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947. The figures for 1972 and 1973 are being examined and, if they satisfy the requirements of the Act, they will be published in due course. It might, however, be some time before the necessary checking can be completed.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what, in percentage terms, is the proportion of Scottish chemical output to that of the United Kingdom as a whole, on a product-by-product basis.
It is regretted that this information is not available. Figures on a product-by-product basis for Scotland cannot be published because they do not meet the confidentiality requirements of the Statistics of Trade Act 1947.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many industrial firms are now working less than a five-day week.
Information on the number of firms is not available. However, estimates of short-time working show that about 72,000 operatives in manufacturing industries in Great Britain were on short-time working in the week ended 14th December and that about 1 million hours were lost. These figures are due to be published in the February issue of the Department of Employment Gazette.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many pricing base points will be allowed to the British Steel Corporation under EEC regulations; and where these base points will be located in Scotland, Wales, and England.
The basing point price system was introduced for Treaty of Paris products by all iron and steel producers in the United Kingdom on 30th April 1973. The British Steel Corporation selected 12 basing points, after consultation with its customers, and these were accepted by the Commission of the European Communities. The points are as follows:
- Glasgow Central, Scotland
- Hawarden Bridge, Clwyd, Wales
- Newport, Gwent, Wales
- Sheffield, Midland
Full details of products, and the basing points from which they are available, are published by the BSC in its price lists. The corporation has no plans to change its present basing points.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has received any written representations from the trade unions in response to his suggestion that organisations should offer comments on the issues raised by his discussion paper on nationalisation dated 31st July 1974.
My right hon. Friend has received written comments on the discussion paper on public ownership of shipbuilding and associated industries from the trades unions concerned.
Welsh Industrial Estates Corporation
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the total number of staff of the Welsh Industrial Estates Corporation; and in what capacities they are employed.
The total number of staff employed at the corporation's
|Norton Villiers Triumph||…||…||…||…||…||…||4·872||16th July 1973|
|Kearney & Trecker Marwin||…||…||…||…||…||1·25||20th July 1973|
|0·2||12th September 1973|
|2·975 (net)||15th August 1974|
|Under the Wool Textile Industry Scheme payments have been made to 98 companies||1·8||Various|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the amounts of each of his liabilities described in Section 8(6)(b) of the Industry Act 1972, the names of each of the debtors whose
headquarters and on the five principal industrial estates is 302. Their functions and numbers are as follows:
|Secretarial staff and common administrative services||30|
|Technical staff including clerks of works||77|
|Security staff, cleaners, drivers and canteen staff||24|
|Industrial staff (electrical and mechanical trades and general workers)||135|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he will list the sums paid by him under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972, the recipients of those sums and the dates of payment;(2) what sums he has received by way of repayment of loans under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 or repayment of principal sums paid to meet a guarantee under this section.
Payments made up to 31st January 1975 under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 have been:liabilities he has guaranteed, and the date each liability was incurred.
The following guarantees have been given under Section 8:
Alfred Herbert £2 million, 5th December 1974.
The House has also approved by affirmative resolution on 18th December 1974 that assistance in the form of a guarantee of up to £50 million may be provided to BLMC. No liability has yet been incurred.Scientific and Medical and Medical Instruments Ltd., £1·25 million, 13th December 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what is the aggregate of the guarantees now being sought in applications for financial assistance under Section 8 of the Industry Act;(2) what is the aggregate of the sums now being sought in applications for financial assistance under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972.
Applications are made on the basis that they are confidential. Moreover, in many instances the form and scale of assistance required is not specified, and will only become clear after an appraisal has been made. A reply is, therefore, not possible.
Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the board of Sunderland Shipbuilders Ltd. has informed the Government of its intentions in any significant pay negotiations since receipt of his letter dated 19th September 1974 setting out the way in which the affairs of the company were to be conducted; and, if so, on what dates the information was supplied.
Yes. The company has kept my Department and the Department of Employment informed on a continuing basis about all significant pay negotiations since 19th September 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he will publish a breakdown of the estimated number of staff in each grade required to implement the administration of the system of planning agreements and the information disclosure provisions of the Industry Bill;(2) what is his estimate of the cost to public funds of the staff to be employed on implementing the Industry Bill.
The total increase over the next three to five years in public service manpower as a result of the Industry Bill is estimated to be of the order of 250, almost entirely engaged on the administration of the system of planning agreements and the information disclosure provisions. A precise breakdown by grade at this stage would be speculative. In very broad terms, however, the estimated annual cost to public funds of these 250 additional staff, at current salary and associated cost levels, would be about £2·1 million.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry why matters affecting the ship repairing activities of the former Court Line companies are dealt with by a different branch of his Department from that engaged on the nationalised shipbuilding companies.
All publicly owned shipbuilding and ship repairing companies are the responsibility of the Shipbuilding Policy Division of my Department. Arrangements within the division are dictated by administrative considerations.
Harland And Wolff And Cammell Laird
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his estimate of the turnover and profit or loss for the current financial year for (a) Harland and Wolff and (b) Cammell Laird.
Harland and Wolff Ltd. is a quoted company and it would not be proper for me to disclose its trading results in advance of publication of its audited accounts.Cammell Laird Shipbuilders Ltd. is 50 per cent. owned by the Laird Group, which is also a publicly quoted company and the same considerations apply.Both companies' financial year runs to 31st December and the 1974 accounts are still in preparation.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry to what extent his Department is responsible for controlling Harland and Wolff and in particular for approving the company's plans and monitoring its performance.
Overall responsibility for the Government interest in this company rests with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Nevertheless, under the terms of a Shipbuilding Industry Board loan my Department has a number of formal powers to obtain information, and my right hon. Friend's approval is necessary, for example, for new development projects, new borrowings, for the appointment of a chairman, or chief executive, and for any changes in directors' fees. My officials receive regular financial and production information from the company, mainly on a monthly basis.
Short Brothers And Harland Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what machinery exists for the resolution of conflicts between the normal commercial objectives which have been set for Short Brothers and Harland and the regard which he requires Government-appointed directors to have for general Government policy; and if he will describe any machinery which exists to inform those directors of that policy.
Short Brothers and Harland Limited functions as a commercial organisation with normal commercial objectives. Its Government-appointed directors, in undertaking their responsibilities, are required by instructions given to them at the time of their appointment to comply with Government policy and to seek our prior approval for any proposals which might cause difficulties with public policy. Consultation on such matters is normally between Departmental officials and the company chairman.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has yet had a reply to his recent letter to the President of the Chrysler Corporation, particularly in regard to the observance of the undertakings given by Chryslers to the British Government at the time of the Rootes take-over; and if he will make a statement.
I have not yet received a reply.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the reason for the delay of his statement on the nationalisation of the shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engineering industries.
There is no delay. As my right hon. Friend has said, a statement will be made as soon as possible.
Prices And Consumer Protection
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether she is satisfied that the Unsolicited Goods and Services Act imposes adequate restraints on undesirable trading practices of some firms operating in the field of trade directories.
As the hon. Member knows from the Second Reading debate and Committee stage of the Unsolicited Goods and Services (Amendment) Bill, the Government are far from satisfied with the 1971 Act and are strongly supporting this Bill to amend it.
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will introduce legislation to restrict the sale of aerosol containers to persons aged 18 years and over.
I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the dangers of sniffing the propellant gases used in aerosols. I share his concern, but there are many other substances which may be misused in this way. To be effective, a ban on their sale to young people would have to apply to a wide range of domestic products, and would be difficult to justify in view of the small number of those who misuse them. We are seeking ways to discourage this abuse and have asked the Health Education Council for its advice.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the gross annual revenue derived from the vehicle excise licensing system; what is his estimate of the total annual cost of administration of the system; how much of this cost is represented by the maintenance of a central registry; and how much by the cost of enforcement of the provisions of the Vehicles (Excise) Act.
Vehicle licensing in Great Britain in 1973–74 yielded £502 million, net of refunds of duty, and cost £14·5 million. This cost includes that of the enforcement work of the Department of the Environment and its agents, which is not separately identified.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the estimated saving in administrative cost derived from the abolition of vehicle excise duty and the substitution of a surcharge on vehicle insurance certificates calculated to yield the same revenue.
No estimate is readily available.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will institute discussions with the insurance authorities with a view to the abolition of vehicle excise duty and its replacement by a system, operated jointly by insurance companies and the Central Vehicle Licensing Registry, providing for the issue of insurance certificates in the form of discs for display on vehicles and subject to a surcharge calculated to yield the equivalent of vehicle excise duty.
No. I see no clear benefits in a system on such lines. It would have to be very complex if it were to be an adequate replacement for the present registration and licensing arrangements.