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Written Answers

Volume 886: debated on Thursday 20 February 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 20th February 1975

Inflation

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Departments of Prices and Consumer Protection, Energy and Social Services in protecting the poor from the impact of inflation.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Beef

6.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made in discussions with EEC Agricultural Ministers in relation to a new support policy for beef.

23.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what agreements have been made in relation to a deficiency payment structure for beef production.

29.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will give an undertaking that beef produced in this country will not be bought into intervention.

42.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the new EEC beef support system, and indicate what guaranteed price producers will receive as a result of the EEC farm price talks on 10th to 13th February.

I would refer the hon. Members to the statement which I made to the House on 17th February.For the United Kingdom there will be a target price for the period March 1975 to February 1976 of £22·85 per live cwt. for clean cattle. This should provide producers with an average return of between £22 and £23 per live cwt. The intention will be to provide reasonable seasonal variations in producers' returns. Monthly target prices will be announced three months in advance to give fatteners more specific guidance on the intended return. The target prices for the first three months will be as follows:

March 3 to March 29£22·55 per live cwt.
March 31 to April 26£22·80 per live cwt.
April 28 to May 31£23·20 per live cwt.
A fixed headage payment will be made throughout the year. When the sum of this payment and the average market price of clean cattle falls below the monthly target price a variable premium will be paid. This premium will initially be calculated weekly in relation to the average market price for clean cattle, so as to assure an average return at the level of the target price. It will be calculated separately for Northern Ireland so as to ensure that returns to producers there are in reasonable relationship to those for Great Britain.Neither the headage payment nor the variable premium will be paid on beef sold into intervention. This reduces effective buying-in prices and means that support buying will take place on only a limited scale.The details of this system have been discussed with the farmers' unions and will be subject to review in the light of experience. I am satisfied that the new system gives an assured return to producers in a manner that also meets the interests of British consumers.

Food Descriptions

14.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will advise the National Farmers' Union about appropriate ways of giving advice on planting or lifting dates as well as marketing practices and prices, in the light of restrictions imposed by the Restrictive Trade Practices Act.

Intervention Buying

19.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the Government will now cease intervention buying of food products in order to maintain high prices.

No. There are no cereals or butter in intervention stocks in the United Kingdom. For beef we have just negotiated a support arrangement for beef which depends primarily on variable premia rather than on intervention buying.

Animal Exports

22.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many licences have been issued for the export of live animals for slaughter since 16th January; how many animals have been sent; and what steps have been taken to ensure their well-being during the journey and at the point of slaughter.

Export licences are issued by the Department of Trade, which does not normally disclose details. Up to 14th February 6,478 live food animals were examined before shipment, all to EEC countries. Their well-being whilst in the United Kingdom and at sea was protected by our own welfare regulations, and on arrival overseas by the national laws of the countries concerned and by the European Convention for the Protection of Animals in International Transport.

Flood Prevention (Thames)

24.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the River Thames flood barrier to be working.

On the present timetable the barrier should be operational in time for the 1979 flood season.

Agricultural Research Stations

26.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many agricultural research stations are responsible to his Department; and what estimate has been made of the effect on British agriculture of dividing responsibility for research between the Westminster Parliament and the Scottish Assembly.

Six of the Ministry's scientific establishments undertake research in agriculture. The appropriate arrangements for agricultural research are one of the matters which fall to be determined by the Government in framing their devolution proposals.

Mutton, Lamb And Cheese (Import Levies)

25.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current total of import levies, duties and taxes on imported mutton, lamb and cheese.

The present rates of duty imposed on mutton and lamb imported into the United Kingdom from third countries under arrangements in the Treaty of Accession for transition to Community tariffs are set out in Statutory Instrument 2020/74.Rates of levy and compensatory amounts for imports of cheese vary according to circumstances, and information about current rates is published by the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce.

27.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the purpose of the import tariff on mutton and lamb imported into the United Kingdom from outside the EEC.

Duties on imports provide a measure of protection for domestic production, on which we rely for a secure supply of much of our food. The present tariff on mutton and lamb reflects the transition from the pre-accession United Kingdom rate to the EEC rate in accordance with our obligations under the Treaty of Accession.

Forestry

28.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has with regard to the future scale of activities of the Forestry Commission; and if he will make a statement.

As I explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Don Valley (Mr. Kelley) on 5th July 1974—[Vol. 876, c. 288–90.]—our plans for forestry generally are built upon the revised policy framework which was announced by the previous administration on 24th October 1973.—[Vol. 861, c. 517–19.] This included provision for the Forestry Commission's own operation.

44.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion the private forestry sector of the British forestry industry produces of (a) soft woods and (b) hard woods; what this represents in terms of saving to the balance of payments; and if he is satisfied that the capital transfer tax proposals will encourage the further expansion of this industry.

It is estimated that in 1974 the private sector of the forestry industry produced about 35 per cent. of home-grown softwood and about 95 per cent. of home-grown hardwood. The value, at the forest gate, was roughly £35 million. The value of imports required to replace this production would be much higher since timber products are imported in more finished forms. An assessment of the effect of capital transfer tax on the industry must await further consideration of the scheme outlined by my right hon. Friend the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Standing Committee on 5th February.

Livestock (Quality)

30.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if there is any evidence of a deterioration in the quality of farm livestock; and if he is confident that the achievements of the last 25 years are being sustained.

I regret that the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy) on 23rd January 1975 was incorrect. I have no reason to believe that the improvements in the quality of livestock in England and Wales achieved in the last 25 years are not being continued, although changes in the economics of livestock production can cause temporary checks.

Agricultural Policy

32.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made in his discussions with interested parties, including the farmers' unions, regarding the long-term policy for agriculture; and whether he has any specific plans for Northern Ireland.

The discussions are moving into their final phase and I hope to be be able to announce our conclusions.

Fruit

33.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take action designed to reverse the downward trend in the production of fruit in Great Britain.

I do not accept that any significant downward trend is discernible in the production of fruit. Productive capacity has remained fairly steady in recent years, but there have been wide fluctuations in output from year to year as a result of weather and other factors.

Eggs

34.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the increased production and the decline in the consumption of eggs in France, thus allowing large-scale imports of eggs to the United Kingdom, if he will make proposals and introduce safeguards to protect the interests of British egg producers, in particular those in the southwest of England, against unfair competition.

40.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the current situation regarding the import of eggs from France.

I am well aware that producers are concerned about the current level of prices in the egg market and I am ready to discuss with the industry ways of bringing supply into balance with demand. But it would be wrong to exaggerate the scale of imports. About 98 per cent. of the eggs sold in this country in January were home-produced. We estimate that the volume of imports was some 40 per cent. lower than in January 1974 whilst home sales through packing stations increased by some 6 per cent.

41.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take the necessary steps to end illegal methods of importing French eggs.

I have no evidence that eggs are being illegally imported from France. Were there evidence of malpractice I would take the appropriate action.

Common Fisheries Policy

36.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will be having his talks with his fellow Ministers of the EEC concerning the common fisheries policy; and if he will make a statement.

Discussions between representatives of the Commission and member countries about the future of the common fisheries policy have already taken place, and further meetings have been arranged. It would not be useful to make a statement at present.

Farm Workers (Pay)

37.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the current position of wage negotiations between the Wages Board and the National Union of Agricultural Workers.

The Agricultural Wages Board for England and Wales, on which the National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers is represented, is an autonomous body, and I am not party to its deliberations. Recent wage negotiations resulted in the board issuing an order introducing new rates of pay as from 20th January 1975. I have arranged for the hon. Member to be sent a copy.

Sugar Beet

39.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the present uptake of beet contracts by growers for the 1975–76 season.

I have nothing to add to the reply given to the hon. Member for Uxbridge (Mr. Shersby) on 23rd January.—[Vol. 884, c. 1734–35.]

Sugar

43.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the damage to the Mauritius sugar crop and indicate whether this will in any way affect shipments of sugar from the Southern Hemisphere, which he negotiated in January.

I understand that, although sugar remaining in store from last year's crop is virtually unaffected, the recent hurricane caused substantial damage to the cane which will be harvested later this year. The arrangements negotiated between the ACP countries and the EEC last month provide that, subject to relief in case of "force majeure", 66,000 tons of sugar is due to be shipped from Mauritius by 30th June 1975 and thereafter a fixed quota, probably 500,000 tons, in each July-June year. There is no reason to believe that shipments up to 30th June will be affected and a good prospect that the whole, or at least a high proportion, of the total quota for the ensuing 12 months will be supplied.

45.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food from what countries sugar supplies will be coming in 1975; and what forecast he has made of the United Kingdom domestic requirement for sugar used domestically and industrially.

The main sources of imported sugar in 1975 will be the member countries of the Commonwealth Sugar Agreement until its expiry at the end of this month; the sugar-producing members of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries (ACP), which have recently agreed the terms of a convention with the Community; other member States of the Community; and third countries providing sugar under the Community's import subsidy scheme.It is difficult at this stage to make a precise estimate of domestic sugar consumption in 1975, but it is not expected to vary significantly from the past average.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will make a statement assessing the amount of the EEC subsidy to Britain's sugar purchases in 1975.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Members for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd) and Dorset, West (Mr. Spicer) earlier today.

Horticulture

46.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are his present plans in relation to assistance to horticulture.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend to the right hon. Member for Cambridgeshire (Mr. Pym) on 23rd January.—[Vol. 884, c. 430.]

Beam Trawling

47.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now make a statement on beam trawling.

We are now considering the desirability of extending to our own limits a recommendation of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission prohibiting, on the continental coast of the North Sea, trawling for soles and plaice by heavier vessels instead of national fishery limits.

Potatoes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the value of seed potatoes exported from the United Kingdom in each of the last five years; and how much of these exports came from Northern Ireland in each year.

Exports of seed potatoes from the United Kingdom for each of the last five calendar years were as follows:

TonsValue
£
197062,4782,166,517
197150,2441,806,891
197261,6512,171,918
197367,5083,210,350
197480,7224,635,588
The volumes of such exports from Northern Ireland, on a crop year basis, were as follows:

Tons
1969–7052,996
1970–7141,015
1971–7244,328
1972–7346,604
1973–7448,758

Fuel Costs

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, at the forthcoming agricultural price review, he will incorporate an award which will increase the levels of payment from 29p per gallon to 38·25p per gallon to compensate the increase of producers' costs so that dairy farmers can remain in economic production.

As the hon. Member will have seen, I announced the guaranteed price of milk for 1975–6 in my statement to the House on 17th February.

Wheat Farmers

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has to assist wheat farmers.

Returns to wheat growers are assured by the cereals guarantees. Following the annual review of agriculture and the decisions of the EEC Council of Ministers on prices for 1975–6 the Government have announced a guaranteed price of £51·80 per ton for wheat for 1975–76. This is a substantial increase over the revised guarantee of £42·97 for 1974–75.

Meat Inspection

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what consideration has been given to the supervision and control of all meat inspection in the United Kingdom by the veterinary profession.

The Verdon-Smith Committee considered this question in 1964. Its report (Cmnd. 2282) recommended the development of a national system of ante-and post-mortem inspection of meat under veterinary responsibility and control. This recommendation was not adopted. The inspection of meat intended for export is, however, subject to veterinary supervision, and a veterinary-supervised inspection service for poultry meat will be needed to accord with the EEC directive on trade in poultry meat. We have no present proposals for further extension of veterinary responsibility in this field.

Rosa Canina And Multiflora

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why a tariff distinction is made between rosa canina and rosa multiflora.

I have been asked to reply.The import duty on most rose stocks was increased in 1954 following an application by the National Farmers' Union and Horticultural Trades' Association for increased protection on a wide range of horticultural products. One exception was rosa canina, the duty on which, subject to certain qualifications, remained at its existing level. Although all the duties have changed since then, those on the kinds mentioned still differ from each other. I have written to the hon. Member about these duties and the possibility of varying them.

Home Department

Race Relations Act

50.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the progress of his review of existing race relations legislation.

I would refer the hon. Member to what I said in reply to Questions on 6th February.—[Vol. 885, c. 1546–7.]

Bail Sureties

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the procedure for ensuring that those who stand bail for people awaiting trial have the resources to which they have committed themselves.

It is for the court considering a bail application to satisfy itself of the sufficiency of the means of persons offering themselves as sureties. The Working Party on Bail Procedures in Magistrates' Courts made some recommendations on the surety system generally, on which we hope to legislate in due course.

Heathrow (Security)

51.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the security arrangements at Heathrow, concerning the reception of passengers from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Appropriate security measures are taken at Heathrow. If my hon. Friend has any particular point in mind I shall be glad to consider it.

Metropolitan Police Officers (Promotion)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many detective chief inspectors in the Metropolitan Police force refused promotion to superintendent in 1973 and 1974 because promotion would entail a fall in income.

Out of 79 selected, none refused promotion. But I understand that one officer made it clear that he did not wish to be considered.

Ministerial Appointments

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many offices of profit are within his gift whose incumbents are not recruited through the normal Civil Service channels; and what is their value.

Nine Chairmen and 96 members of the Race Relations Board, Community Relations Commission, Parole Board, Criminal Injuries Compensation Board, Gaming Board, Horserace Betting Levy Board—and Appeals Tribunal—Horserace Totalisator Board, BBC and IBA. The total annual cost of their salaries and fees is about £205,000. In addition, I appoint assistant commissioners in the Local Government Boundary Commissions for England and Wales to carry out inquiries into local electoral arrangements. So far four appointments have been made and the assistant commissioners receive a fee of £25 for each day of the inquiry.

Aerosol Containers

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to ban the manufacture and sale of paint in aerosol containers, in view of the fact that they are mainly used for painting slogans on public buildings.

Aerosol paint containers are widely used for legitimate purposes, and I do not think that prohibition of their production and sale could be justified. Misuse of such containers for defacing buildings is an offence of damaging property under the Criminal Damage Act 1971.

Disabled Persons (Departmental Staff)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many registered disabled persons are currently employed by his Department; and whether this number is in conformity with the law relating to the employment of such persons.

248. This figure is below the standard quota of 3 per cent., but about half the posts in the Department are in the prison and immigration services and are unsuitable for disabled persons, and there is a shortage of disabled applicants for the remainder.

Speeding (Prosecutions)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the number of prosecutions for exceeding the speed limit which were instituted during January 1975, and for the same period in 1974.

Bomb Damage Compensation

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the basis of compensation for bomb damage to property in order to bring about a greater degree of parity between the various regions of the United Kingdom.

No. Compensation for bomb damage to property is available in Northern Ireland under the Criminal Injuries to Property (Compensation) Act 1971 because of the quite exceptional circumstances that have existed in that Province. Elsewhere in the United Kingdom owners are able to obtain insurance cover for their property in the normal way to the extent that they consider necessary, and I do not consider that Government intervention in these arrangements is at present justified.

Employment

Editorial Freedom

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received expressing anxiety concerning the freedom of the Press in the light of proposed legislation.

My right hon. Friend and I have discussed such anxieties with a number of groups including the London editors, the Guild of British Newspaper Editors, the Newspaper Publishers' Association, the Newspaper Society and the Institute of Journalists. As to written representations, I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of 18th February 1975 to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle).—[Vol. 866, c. 1097–99.]

Retail Prices (Advisory Committee's Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when the report of the Retail Prices Index Advisory Committee will be published; and if he will make a statement.

The report of the Retail Prices Index Advisory Committee was published yesterday (Cmnd. 5905). One of its recommendations, that the reference base should be changed to January 1974, was made in an interim report at the end of 1973. Its acceptance was announced by the then Secretary of State for Employment in a written reply to the hon. Member for Cardiff, North-West (Mr. Roberts) on 22nd January 1974 and it was subsequently implemented. I have accepted the other recommendations now contained in the report, and the consequential changes in the method of construction of the index will take effect in measuring changes in prices from January 1975 onwards—that is, with the February index to be published in March.Briefly stated, the additional recommendations are as follows.(i) The method by which housing costs of owner-occupiers—other than expenditure on repairs and maintenance, rates, water charges, etc.—are included in the index should be changed. Hitherto these costs have been treated by taking them as the "equivalent rent" which the house would fetch if let in a free market and assuming, in effect, that these "equivalent rents" move in parallel with the observed rents of local authority houses and privately rented houses. The committee recommends that in place of an "equivalent rent" these costs should be represented in the index by the cost of mortgage interest payments.(ii) The present method by which rents are counted net of rent rebates for the purpose of constructing the retail price index should remain unchanged, at least for the time being.(iii) Further consideration should be given by an appropriate body to the possibility of supplementing the monthly index of earnings by a more elaborate index which would take account of elements of social spending and subvention on income of all kinds, in other words an index of what is sometimes described as the "social wage".(iv) If in future there are any major developments affecting significantly the method of construction of the retail prices index, then the advisory committee should have an opportunity to consider how they should be taken into account in the index.(v) Households in which the head or spouse receive supplementary benefits, and which are not pensioner households, should remain within the coverage of the General Index of Retail Prices.(vi) As a general rule the weights of the index should be based on the pattern of expenditure over the latest 12-months period for which data are available, rather than on the average of the previous three years as hitherto. Some limited specific exceptions to this general rule are described in the committee's report.(vii) The present system of using fixed weights throughout the year in compiling the section indices for vegetables and for fruit should be replaced by a system which retains fixed weights for each of the sections as a whole but takes variable monthly weights for individual vegetables and fruits reflecting the changing pattern of purchases at the different seasons of the year.

Health And Safety

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what publicity he has given to the provisions of Section 7 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 which relates to the duties of employees at work to take reasonable care of their own safety and to co-operate with management in that regard.

I am informed by the Health and Safety Commission that reference to employees' duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc., Act was made in a leaflet "Protecting People at Work" of which some half a million copies produced by the Department of Employment were distributed widely throughout industry last September.A special leaflet "Advice to Employees" setting out the duties of employees under the Act will be available free in late March from the Health and Safety Commission.Employees' duties are also mentioned in other material produced to publicise the new Act.

Mineworkers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the real increase in mineworkers' gross wages and take-home pay, respectively, when comparing the latest settlement with the position in 1970.

It will be some time before information becomes available on the earnings of coal miners following the implementation of the recent settlement, including the production bonus scheme.

Wage Rates

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will print in the Official Report (a) the lowest statutory minimum rate of weekly wages operative on 31st October 1972, and (b) the date and size of any change in such rates—including threshold awards—since that date, for full-time adult men and women in the following Wages Council trades (i) licensed non-residential establishments

(i) Licensed Non-Residential Establishment Wages Council (for workers not supplied with board and lodging, in areas outside London):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£12·40£9·90
20th January 1974+£1·85£14·25+£2·45£12·35
5th November 1974+£3·20Cost-of-living+£3·20Cost-of-living
22nd December 1974+£2·50£19·95+£3·05£18·60
(ii) Licensed Residential Establishment and Licensed Restaurant Wages Council (for large towns outside London, "Area B"):
(a) Non-service workers
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£13·78£11·83
4th February 1974+£1·90£15·68+£2·20£14·03
7th October 1974+£2·25£17·93+£2·58£16·61
7th October 1974+ 40pCost-of-living+ 40pCost-of-living
(b) Service workers
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£10·23£8·78
4th February 1974+£1·50£11·73+£1·83£10·61
7th October 1974+£2·25£13·98+£2·50£13·11
7th October 1974+ 40pCost-of-living+ 40pCost-of-living
(iii) Industrial and Staff Canteen Undertakings (for workers not provided with board and lodging and overalls, in areas outside London):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£13·15£11·35
18th February 1974+£1·53£14·68+£2·05£13·40

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will print in the Official Report (a) the lowest statutory minimum rate of weekly wages operative on 31st October 1972, and (b) the date and size of any change in such rates-including threshold awards-since that date, for full-time adult men and

(i) Paper Box Wages Council:
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£14·80£11·80
28th January 1974+£1·60£16·40+£2·60£14·40
30th November 1974+£1·00£15·40
5th December 1974+£2·25£18·65+£2·25£17·65
5th December 1974+£3·60Cost-of-living+£3·60Cost-of-living
(ii) Stamped or Pressed Metalwares Wages Council:
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£15·45£14·00
11th April 1974+£2·25£17·70+£3·00£17·00
Council abolished 1st December 1974.
(iii) Dressmaking and Women's Light Clothing Wages Council (England and Wales):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£14·70£12·00
1st April 1973+£1·60£16·30+£1·60£13·60
3rd May 1974+£1·80£18·10+£2·60£16·20

(Great Britain), (ii) licensed residential establishments and licensed restaurants (Great Britain), and (iii) industrial and staff canteen undertakings (Great Britain).

The information is as follows:women in the following Wages Council trades (i) paper box manufacturing (Great Britain), (ii) stamped or pressed metal wares (Great Britain), (iii) dressmaking and women's light clothing (England and Wales), (iv) made-up textiles (Great Britain), and (v) ready-made and wholesale bespoke tailoring (Great Britain).

The information is as follows:

(iv) Made-up Textiles Wages Council:
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£12·60£10·20
28th February 1973+£2·00£14·60+£2·00£12·20
30th April 1974+£1·80£16·40+£2·60£14·80
29th January 1975+£4·80£21·20+£4·80£19·60
(v) Ready-made and Wholesale Bespoke Tailoring Wages Council:
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£14·72£12·13
28th February 1973+£1·60£16·32+£1·60£13·73
6th February 1974+£1·80£18·12+£1·80£15·53
24th June 1974+ 80p£16·33
12th December 1974+£4·80£22·92+£5·60£21·93

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will print in the Official Report (a) the lowest statutory minimum rate of weekly wages operative on 31st October 1972, and (b) the date and size of any change in such rates—including threshold awards—since that date, for full-time adult men and women in the following Wages Council trades (i)

(i) Milk Distributive Wages Council (England and Wales) (for larger towns outside London):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£17·15£14·70
28th February 1973+£1·60£18·75+£1·60£16·30
13th May 1974+£2·10£20·85+£2·90£19·20
(ii) Retail Bread and Flour Confectionery Trade Wages Council (England and Wales) (for larger towns outside London (Provincial "A" area)):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£13·00£11·25
12th February 1973+£1·00£14·00+£2·25£13·50
12th August 1973+ 50p£14·00
25th February 1974+£1·70£15·70+£1·70£15·70
5th August 1974+ 55p£16·25+ 55p£16·25
5th August 1974+£2·40Cost-of-living+£2·40Cost-of-living
16th August 1974+ 40pCost-of-living+ 40pCost-of-living
18th October 1974+ 40pCost-of-living+ 40pCost-of-living
(iii) Retail Drapery, Outfitting and Footwear Trades Wages Council (for larger towns outside London (Provincial "A" area)):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£15·60£13·75
4th February 1974+£1·80£17·40+£2·40£16·15
2nd September 1974+ 45p£17·85+ 80p£16·95
2nd September 1974+£2·80Cost-of-living+£2·80Cost-of-living
18th October 1974+ 40pCost-of-living+ 40pCost-of-living
(iv) Retail Food Trades Wages Council (England and Wales) (for larger towns outside London area (Provincial "A" area)):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£13·20£11·20
26th February 1973+£2·00£15·20+£2·50£13·70
25th March 1974+£1·65£16·85+£2·15£15·85
21st October 1974+ 60p£17·45+ 85p£16·70
21st October 1974+£3·20Cost-of-living+£3·20Cost-of-living
15th November 1974+£1·20Cost-of-living+£1·20Cost-of-living
(v) Retail Furnishing and Allied Trades Wages Council (for larger towns outside London area):
DateMenWomen
At 31st October 1972£14·50£13·00
4th March 1973+ 80p£13·80
20th August 1973+£1·90£16·40+£1·90£15·70
4th September 1973+ 70p£16·40
26th August 1974+£2·25£18·65+£2·25£18·65
16th December 1974+£4·40Cost-of-living+£4·40Cost-of-living

milk distribution (E&W), (ii) retail bread and flour confectionery trade (E&W), (iii) retail drapery, outfitting and footwear trades (Great Britain), (iv) retail food trade (E&W), and (v) retail furnishing and allied trades (Great Britain).

Short-Time Working

asked the Secretary of State for Employment in which industries there are a significant number of workpeople at present on a three-day working week; and in which of those industries a full guaranteed week's wages

SHORT-TIME IN MANUFACTURING INDUSTRIES IN GREAT BRITAIN FOR THE WEEK ENDED 14TH DECEMBER 1974
Number of operatives stood off for the whole week (000's)Number of operatives working part of the week (000's)Total number of hours lost (000's)
Food, drink and tobacco0·51·354·7
Food industries0·51·354·7
Coal and petroleum products0·5
Chemical and allied industries0·22·3
Metal manufacture0·94·491·5
Iron and steel (general)1·214·3
Other iron and steel1·512·9
Non-ferrous metals0·91·664·4
Mechanical engineering0·21·423·5
Instrument engineering0·40·524·9
Electrical engineering0·24·156·4
Electrical machinery0·86·2
Shipbuilding and marine engineering1·80·174·5
Vehicles0·911·2184·3
Motor vehicle manufacturing0·710·9174·5
Metal goods not elsewhere specified0·44·560·7
Textiles1·012·3158·3
Production of man-made fibres0·10·25·4
Spinning and weaving of cotton flex linen and man-made fibres0·22·629·0
Woollen and worsted0·43·756·3
Hosiery and other knitted goods0·23·035·0
Leather, leather goods and fur0·10·23·7
Clothing and footwear0·515·4127·7
Clothing industries0·11·821·5
Footwear0·413·5106·1
Bricks, pottery, glass, cement etc.0·41·930·1
Timber, furniture, etc.0·11·727·0
Paper, printing and publishing0·20·510·9
Paper and paper manufactures0·20·510·9
Other manufacturing industries0·34·269·7
Rubber1·414·9
Total, all manufacturing industries8·063·7998·7
Details of the provisions for guaranteed employment as laid down in national collective agreements and statutory orders are summarised in the annual volume "Time Rates of Wages and Hours of Work" (HMSO). Copies of this publication are available in the Library.

Disabled Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if the Government's proposals regarding the future employment of disabled people following the discussions on their consultative documents will take full account of the consultations regarding some form of wages supplement which were announced in the House of Commons Paper "Social Security Provision for Chronically Sick and Disabled People".

at flat-rate earnings is payable to workpeople on short time.

The precise information requested is not available. There are, however, some statistics of short-time working amongst operatives in manufacturing industries, and the following table shows the most recent figures.

My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Employment will keep in close touch in formulating the Government's proposals on the future of the quota scheme and of sheltered employment, and in following up what was said in paragraph 51 of the House of Commons Paper. Moreover, the National Advisory Council on Employment of Disabled People will in due course be asked for its views on the issues raised in that paragraph.

Coal Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will indicate in each of the past five years the increases in the retail price of both domestic and industrial coal; and whether any further upward revision of either is being contemplated.

I have been asked to reply.The price of coal to both domestic and industrial consumers varies widely, depending on the grade or quality supplied, the quantity delivered, terms of supply and the location of the consumer. The following prices are typical for the industrial market:

Annual average, £/ton
19701971197219731974
General industrial coal (delivered)6·708·008·609·0012·30
Typical winter prices in London for deliveries of 5–9 cwt. of group C house coal are:

January of each year, Pence per cwt.
197019711972197319741975
758598107108132

Prices And Consumer Protection

Rope And Cordage

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection when she expects to implement the recommendations of the Monopolies Commission Report on the supply and export of wire rope, fibre rope and cordage; and if she will make a statement.

As a result of the consultations which the Director General of Fair Trading has, at my request, had with Bridon Limited—formerly known as British Ropes Limited—the company has given certain undertakings which I consider as requisite for the purpose of remedying or preventing the adverse effects specified in the report.Bridon Limited has undertaken not to give to, or to seek from, other manufacturers of wire and fibre ropes and cordage any information relating to the level of discounts quoted or granted to domestic customers. It will require other manufacturers to act in a similar fashion towards itself and will inform the Director General if any manufacturer fails to obey this requirement.The company has already withdrawn from the so-called "flag" agreements between it and certain overseas manufacturers not to undercut each other's tender prices for supplies of ropes to ships of their respective countries and will not enter into such agreements again in the future.I shall be asking the Director General to keep under review the carrying out of the undertakings, copies of which will be placed in the Library.

Margarine Industry (Butter Subsidy Effects)

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what representations she has received from the Margarine Association regarding the effect of butter subsidies on employment in the margarine industry; and what reply she has sent.

The Margarine and Shortening Manufacturers' Association has made representations to me on several occasions about the effect of the general butter subsidy on the market for its products and on employment prospects in the industry. In reply I have undertaken to consider its position sympathetically when deciding whether or not to offset by subsidy the increase in butter prices resulting from the recent review of EEC farm prices. A decision on this matter will be announced very shortly.

European Economic Community

54.

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will now announce a date for the publication of the proposed White Paper on the Common Market referendum.

Lord President Of The Council's Department

asked the Lord President of the Council how many civil servants were employed in his Department on 1st January 1975 and on the same date in each of the three preceding years.

The figures are as follows:

1st January 197545
1st January 197434
1st January 197332
1st January 197232

Parliament (Broadcasting Of Proceedings)

asked the Lord President of the Council (1) what is the cost to public funds of the demonstration and exhibition to be held in the Palace of Westminster in connection with the televising of the proceedings of Parliament, and the Vote under which such expenditure is authorised;(2) what is the total cost involved in the demonstration and exhibition to be held in the Palace of Westminster in connection with the televising of the proceedings of Parliament and what proportion of the expenditure involved is being met from non-parliamentary sources.

The costs involved in this demonstration and exhibition would be borne by the broadcasting authorities. No additional cost to public funds would be involved.

asked the Lord President of the Council (1) what is the latest estimate available to him of the total annual cost of televising the proceedings of Parliament;(2) what is the latest estimate available to him of the total annual cost of sound broadcasting the proceedings of Parliament;(3) what is the latest estimate of the capital cost involved in the supply and installation of equipment required for the televising of parliamentary proceedings;(4) what discussions he has had with the BBC on the question of the televising of the proceedings of Parliament; what proposals have been put to him by the BBC in relation to the capital cost involved; what is the estimated annual expenditure involved; and what is the average daily amount of time for transmission.

I hope to inform the House in the course of next week's debate of the agreement reached with the broadcasting authorities about the arrangements—including finance—for any experiments on broadcasting parliamentary proceedings. The financing of any permanent broadcasting from Parliament, whether in sound or television, would be a matter for later consideration, if the House were to decide, after the experiment, to pursue the matter.

National Finance

Capital Transfer Tax

48.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what quantitative estimate he has made of the effect of the Government's capital transfer tax proposals on agricultural output.

I am satisfied that when account is taken of the special relief for working farmers, the revised scale of rates of tax for lifetime gifts and the general exemptions under the tax, it will not have a significant effect on agricultural output.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the minimum level of gift below which he intends that details need not be supplied on returns to the Inland Revenue.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why lawyers but not professional accountants are to be exempted from disclosing to the Revenue advice given to their clients regarding capital transfer tax.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the proposed period between the making of a gift and (a) the due date for payment of capital transfer tax and (b) the making of a return to the Revenue in respect of the gift.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has felt it necessary to set lower limits for gifts in consideration of marriage in respect of capital transfer tax than those in force under the estate duty legislation.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether a person who receives funds back from a settlement, which was originally created from his own funds, will be liable to pay capital transfer tax on the amount paid back to him; and whether this will be so even if the settlement was created because of his illness or disability.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th February 1975; Vol. 886, c. 311], circulated the following information:The Finance Bill provides that there will be no charge to capital transfer tax if property in which an interest in possession subsists reverts to the settlor, unless he has acquired a reversionary interest in the property for money or money's worth. Where property held on discretionary trusts reverts to the settlor a charge will arise under the provisions of the Bill on the distribution of capital to the settler, but in the course of debates in the Standing Committee on the Finance Bill the Government have undertaken to consider the question of allowing exemption where the property reverts to the settlor.

Income Tax And Surtax

49.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report a table of figures giving the normal tax payable by a man with a wife allowance on salaries of £1,000 per annum up to £50,000 per annum at intervals of £1,000 per annum; and showing how much in each of these cases a tax-free allowance of £11·50 per day would be worth in each instance if it were classified as being taxable and taxed at normal rates in each category.

Yes. Assuming that the only tax allowance due is the married person's allowance, that the daily allowance of £11·50 is paid for 126 days in 1974–75 and that the allowance is treated as the top slice of the individual's total income the figures are as follows:

Annual salaryNormal tax payable in 1974–75Net value of allowances if taxable
£'000££
145971
2375971
3705971
41,035967
51,365887
61,733797
72,170724
82,657652
93,193609
103,773579
114,360536
124,990507
135,627464
146,307464
156,987434
167,674391
178,404391
189,134391
199,864391
2010,594333
2111,337246
2212,167246
2312,997246
2413,827246
2514,657246
2615,487246
2716,317246
2817,147246
2917,977246
3018,807246
3119,637246
3220,467246
3321,297246
3422,127246
3522,957246
3623,787246
3724,617246
3825,477246
3926,277246
4027,107246
4127,937246
4228,767246
4329,597246
4430,427246
4531,257246
4632,087246
4732,917246
4833,747246
4934,577246
5035,407246

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage of income tax and surtax raised in each year since 1967 from the following groups of income recipients: (i) top 1 per cent., (ii) top 10 per cent., (iii) top 40 per cent., (iv) bottom 30 per cent., (v) bottom 10 per cent., and (vi) all incomes.

PERCENTAGE OF TOTAL INCOME TAX AND SURTAX PAID
1967–681968–691969–701970–711971–72
Group*
(i) Top 1 per cent.20½19½181615
(ii) Top 10 per cent.47½45474139½
(iii) Top 40 per cent.7877½807573½
(iv) Bottom 30 per cent.677
(v) Bottom 10 per cent.0·60·50·70·80·9
(vi) All incomes100100100100100
* Percentiles refer to numbers of income recipients.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage paid in: (a) income tax and surtax and (b) national insurance and graduated pension, in each year since 1967 by the following groups of income recipients: (i) top 1 per cent., (ii) top 10 per cent.,

INCOME TAX AND SURTAX AS A PERCENTAGE OF INCOME
1967–681968–691969–701970–711971–72
Group*
(i) Top 1 per cent.444546½4744
(ii) Top 10 per cent.2728323028
(iii) Top 40 per cent.18½2022½22½21
(iv) Bottom 30 per cent.689
(v) Bottom 10 per cent.345
(vi) All incomes151617½18½18
* Percentiles refer to numbers of income recipients.
I regret that information on a similar basis is not available for national insurance and graduated pensions contributions.

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider relieving veterinary surgeons from value added tax on prescriptions for animal medicines and treatment.

VAT paid by farmers and others who use veterinary services in the course of a business is deductible as input tax, subject to the normal provisions. In the context of a broadly-based tax on consumer expenditure, further relief from VAT on veterinary services would not be justified.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what powers VAT officials have to demand payment and to levy distress on goods and chattels before the taxpayer's appeal has been heard.

Customs and Excise are empowered by Regulation 57(1) of the Value Added Tax (General) Regulations

The information for years for which it is available since 1967–68 is as follows:(iii) top 40 per cent., (iv) bottom 30 per cent., (v) bottom 10 per cent., (vi) all incomes.

The information for years for which it is available since 1967–68 is as follows:1974 to demand payment of tax which has become due and, if it remains unpaid, to levy distress. However, where an assessed amount of VAT is due under Section 31(6) of the Finance Act 1972, the power to levy distress may not be exercised until 30 days after that amount became due. These 30 days represent the period during which the trader has a right of appeal to a VAT tribunal. When a notice of appeal has been served the Commissioners of Customs and Excise do not in practice levy distress until the appeal has been heard.If the hon. Member will write to me about any case which he may have in mind, I shall look into it.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will issue and publish a code of conduct for VAT officials inspecting goods and records on private premises.

Goods are inspected only on premises used in connection with a business, and as a general rule records also are inspected only on such premises. VAT officers carry out these duties in accordance with instructions issued by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what rights VAT officials have as regards entry into private premises and inspection of goods and records.

If such premises are used in connection with a business, VAT officers have powers of entry and inspection of goods under Section 37 of the Finance Act 1972. Under Section 35 of that Act, VAT officers may require any person who is concerned in the supply of goods in the course of a business or to whom such a supply is made to produce for inspection any documents relating to the goods or the supply.

Civil Servants

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants were employed by his Department on 1st January 1975 and on the same date in each of the three preceding years.

The number of civil servants employed in the Treasury on 1st January 1975 was 1,065. The number employed on the same date in each of the preceding three years were 1974, 1,000; 1973, 1,074; and 1972, 1,075.

Farm Taxation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the assurances he has given to the National Farmers' Union that sole traders and partnerships will be given two years' paper profits tax relief in 1976, and that where farmers are in real cash difficulties, collectors will take as broad a line as they can.

Thermal Insulation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will extend his proposed allowance for tax purposes of expenditure on thermal insulation to non-industrial buildings used by businesses for their trade or profession.

Widows (Investment Income)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider proposing granting to a widow at the age of 60 years the £500 additional allowance for investment income given to men at the age of 65 years.

No. I think it is fairer that the special income tax reliefs for the elderly should begin at the same age for men and women.

Capital Gains Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the extent to which the yield from capital gains tax in 1973–74 was derived from profits caused by inflation.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 18th February 1975; Vol. 886, c. 369], gave the following answer:On the assumption that the hon. Member is referring to capital gains tax, I would refer him to the reply I gave to the Question by the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Cordle) on 14th February 1975.

Civil Service

European Economic Community

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will list the posts created in each Department for persons exclusively employed in connection with the relationship between the United Kingdom and the EEC and the various work arising therefrom.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) on 5th February.

Defence

Hms "Reward"

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how old is the vessel "Reward"; when she was last in service, and in what capacity; whether her accommodation is of a modern standard; and what the cost of equipping her to patrol the North Sea will be.

"Reward" is a trusty 30-year-old ocean-going tug, and was last in service in October 1972. Her accommodation is not modern but is spacious and comfortable. The cost of preparing "Reward" for her new rôle in the North Sea depends on the results of a detailed survey of the ship's condition which is in progress at Her Majesty's Dockyard Chatham, but is expected to be considerably less than that of acquiring a comparable vessel commercially.

Civil Servants

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many civil servants were employed in his Department on 1st January 1975 and on the same date in each of the three preceding years.

The numbers of United Kingdom-based civil servants employed by the Ministry of Defence on the dates specified were as follows:

1st January 1975266,470
1st January 1974267,890
1st January 1973270,225
1st January 1972279,279

Defence And Weapons-Procurement Industries

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what results have been achieved from the exchange of information between the United States of America, Great Britain, France and Germany on current and future prospects in the defence and weapons-procurement industries.

Informal discussions are held periodically between officials of the four countries on equipment matters of common interest, with a view to identifying opportunities for co-operation of various kinds at all stages of procurement and to promoting standardisation and inter-operability. Useful agreements have been reached on a number of issues.

Education And Science

Vandalism And Violence

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress he is making with his talks with local education authorities about violence and vandalism in schools; and if he will make a statement.

I intend that my Department should begin discussions about violent aspects of school behaviour as soon as possible. A small informal working group set up with the Home Office and local authority associations has already started to consider measures to increase the protection of school property against vandalism.

Borrowing Powers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the individual limits of lending or borrowing powers obtained by his Department by means of legislation or affirmative order in the past 12 months.

Ministerial Appointments

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many offices of profit are within his gift whose incumbents are not recruited through the normal Civil Service channels; and what is their value.

I am responsible for 128 salaried and fee-paid appointments at an annual cost of the order of £181,250. Not all of the cost falls directly on the departmental Vote. A schedule of the offices is as follows:Agricultural Research Council:

  • Chairman.
  • 15 members.

Natural Environment Research Council:

  • Chairman.
  • 15 members.

Science Research Council:

  • Chairman.
  • 12 members.

Social Science Research Council:

  • Chairman.
  • 14 members.

Medical Research Council:

  • Chairman.
  • 11 members.

Advisory Board for the Research Councils:

  • Chairman.
  • 6 members.

University Grants Committee:

  • Chairman.
  • 20 members.

British Library Board:

  • Chairman.
  • 12 members.

Computer Board:

  • Chairman.
  • 7 members.

Schools Council:

  • Chairman.

Crafts Advisory Committee:

  • Chairman.

Committee for Diploma in Management Studies:

  • 1 member.

Technical Education Council:

  • Chairman.

Business Education Council:

  • Chairman.

Burnham Committee:

  • Chairman.

Ministerial Adviser to the Department of Education and Science.

In a number of cases, although the offices attract fees or honoraria, the current holders forgo remuneration.

Hereford College Of Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has now considered the proposals of the county council of Hereford and Worcester concerning the future of Hereford College of Education; and if he will make a statement.

I have told the Hereford and Worcester Authority that I do not feel able to reach a decision about the future of Hereford College until the current review of teacher supply policy has been completed.

Languages

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in his consideration of the Bullock Report, he will examine the adequacy of policies for the development of language skills in pupils of all ages and ability levels.

My Department will look carefully at those recommendations of the committee which concern the Government. I hope that local authorities, schools and colleges will give serious attention to those which are their responsibility, including recommendations on curriculum planning and policy.

Youth Officers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many establishments offer training courses for youth officers; how many places were available in 1970 and in 1974; and how many are forecast for 1975 and 1980.

Six establishments offer full-time courses of initial training and one a part-time course, all leading to qualified status as youth leader or community centre warden. There were 160 places available in 1970 and 225 in 1974. Proposals for further courses are under consideration, but it is not yet possible to indicate the number of additional places likely to be involved. Some colleges of education offer specific training for youth work within their courses of teacher training.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimates his Department has made of the demand for qualified youth officers during the next quinquennium.

Local authorities forecast their requirements annually for the subsequent year only. The Department watches general trends in supply and demand, but because of the changing needs of a diversifying and largely voluntary Youth Service, and especially having regard to current discussion on its future, it is not at present practicable to estimate medium and long-term requirements with accuracy.

Youth Service

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the latest estimate of the proportion of young people using the Youth Service.

A report by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys published in 1972 found that 26 per cent. of young people aged 14–20 belonged to organisations which they defined as youth clubs, although this definition excluded certain recognised Youth Service organisations. There is no reason to believe that there has been any significant change since then.

Further Education Salaries (Comparability)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what comparability scales exist in the Department to relate salary scales of university teachers, polytechnic lecturers, the staff employed at colleges of further education and WEA tutor organisers.

None. There are separate negotiating arrangements for university teachers, further education teachers and WEA tutor organisers.

Research Councils

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are his forecasts of expenditure at 1974 survey prices in the years 1974–75 to 1978–79 by the Agricultural Research Council, the Medical Research Council, the National Environment Research Council, the Science Research Council, the Social Science Research Council, the Natural History Museum and the Royal Society, respectively, out of the totals for Research Councils &c. given in Command Paper No. 5879.

Figures for 1974–75 were shown in the Public Expenditure White Paper. Comparable figures for 1975–76 at 1974 survey prices are as follows:

£m.
ARC10·6
MRC24·4
NERC15·5
SRC83·3
SSRC7·2
NHM*2·7
Royal Society1·5
145·2
* Excludes certain operating costs borne by the Department of the Environment.
For later years expenditure cannot be precisely forecast. On the advice of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils I have approved broad guidelines related to the growth indicated in the White Paper for the science budget as a whole, for use by each body as a basis for planning over the period up to 1979–80, subject to revision each year in the light of the Advisory Board's annual appraisal of that body's forward expenditure proposals. The guidelines are as folows:Science Research Council—0·7 per cent. per annum growth.ARC, MRC, NERC, SSRC—3·5 per cent. per annum growth.Royal Society, Natural History Museum—2·5 per cent. per annum growth.I am sending further details to the hon. Member.

Environment

Piccadilly Circus

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to call in the application for the proposed redevelopment of the Criterion site, Piccadilly Circus, for his own determination.

Trust Houses Forte Ltd. has applied to Westminster City Council, the local planning authority, for outline planning permission and listed building consent for a scheme of redevelopment. This provides for the retention of the Lillywhite building, and the front part of the Verity building. The Criterion Theatre is to be retained with new backstage accommodation. There is a minimal increase in office space, shopping facilities are improved, and new pedestrian arcades are planned.I have had representations that because of the importance of the site I should call in the planning application and hold a public inquiry. Theatre interests have expressed concern about the effect of the scheme on the Criterion Theatre, particularly during the period of rebuilding.I entirely share the public concern that the Criterion Theatre should continue in use as a live theatre. I have been advised that it is the intention of the local planning authority to conclude a formal agreement with the developers which will ensure that this use is fully guaranteed. I have been given a similar assurance by the Crown Estate Commissioners, who are the freeholders. In addition Sir Charles Forte, on behalf of the developers, has made it publicly known that it is his intention that the theatre use should continue in its present form. Sir Charles has given an assurance that, with the co-operation of all concerned, disturbance will be kept to an absolute minimum.Sir Charles has also undertaken to give the existing lessees, Wyndham Theatres Ltd., the first opportunity to negotiate terms for a new lease, with provision for independent arbitration in case of disagreement as to the rentals to be charged. He has welcomed the proposal by the planning authority to use its available powers to secure the future of the theatre.

Prima facie these assurances ought to meet the public concern about the Criterion Theatre.

Improvement in the present state of Piccadilly Circus has been needed for a long time. The present scheme retains the scale of the existing buildings and generally conforms to a planning brief approved by Westminster City Council setting out guidelines for the piecemeal and gradual rehabilitation of the Piccadilly Circus area as a whole.

Having carefully considered the matter, I am satisfied that, in all the circumstances, it is not necessary for me to intervene in the determination by the local planning authorities of the current planning application. In my view, these proposals mark the end of the era of grandiose and gigantic plans for the wholesale demolition and comprehensive redevelopment of historic metropolitan sites such as Piccadilly Circus. They maintain the present shape and scale of buildings and reflect a broadly conservationist approach. They involve no road proposals or traffic consequentials. They generate little or no increase in office employment in Central London. They should not displace existing small office users; and they should discourage any brutalist solution on the other parts of the Circus, as and when planning application is made.

I therefore take the view that the present application should go forward in the normal way and fall to be decided by the local planning authorities concerned, the Greater London Council and Westminster City Council.

Energy

Borrowing Powers

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the individual limits of lending or borrowing powers obtained by his Department by means of legislation or affirmative order in the past 12 months.

The only powers obtained during the period in question were in respect of nationalised industries for which my Department is responsible, as shown below:

Electricity Industry: The statutory borrowing limit of the Electricity Council and Boards in England and Wales was increased on 1st September 1974 from £5,200 million to £6,500 million under the Electricity (Borrowing Powers) Order 1974 (SI 1974/1295) made on 26th July 1974.
National Coal Board: The NCB's borrowing powers were increased on 30th August 1974 from £550 million to £700 million by the Coal Industry (Borrowing Powers) Order 1974 (SI 1974/1296) made on 26th July 1974.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Mrs Aida Kidd

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made by him to the Turkish and Syrian authorities to ask for urgent consideration by them of the question of moneys outstanding due to Mrs. Aida Kidd, a constituent of the hon. Member for Upminster.

The embassy in Ankara asked the Turkish authorities to arrange payment in some country other than Syria of any moneys due to Mrs. Kidd, and was told that the Turkish Government required formal confirmation from the Syrian Government that Mrs. Kidd is no longer a Syrian national. The embassy in Damascus has asked the Syrians to supply this.

United Nations University

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what contribution the United Kingdom is making towards the creation of a United Nations University in Tokyo; and whether British experience with the Open University is being made use of in connection with this project.

Her Majesty's Government have no plans at the moment to make a financial contribution to the United Nations University but we are following developments closely and sympathetically. Professor Asa Briggs of the University of Sussex is a member of the United Nations University Council. The concept of the United Nations University is fundamentally different from that of the Open University.

Incendiary Weapons (United Nations Resolutions)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what view is taken by Her Majesty's Government about the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly on the use of napalm and other incendiary weapons in armed conflict.

Her Majesty's Government share the humanitarian concern underlying General Assembly Resolution 3255A, namely, that the international community should make practical progress towards effective controls on these and other

"weapons which may cause unnecessary suffering in armed conflict."
However, we could not support this or 3255B because we do not believe that they would help to achieve this objective. A detailed statement by our delegation was made in the First Committee on 21st November (UN Document A/C.1/PV. 2026) and a copy is available in the Library.

Charter Of Economic Rights And Duties Of States

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will set out in the Official Report the reasons why the United Kingdom voted against the United Nations Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States carried on 12th December by the General Assembly by 120 votes to six.

The United Kingdom voted against the resolution incorporating the text of the Charter of Economic Rights and Duties of States because, while there was much in the charter which we could endorse, a substantial proportion of its provisions were unacceptable to Her Majesty's Government.The reasons for our votes on the individual sections of the charter were set out in detail in the explanation of vote made by our representative in the Second Committee of the General Assembly on 9th December, copies of which have been placed in the Library of the House.

European Integration Department

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the duties of the European Integration Department (Internal) in his Department; and what it is engaged in integrating.

This department is concerned, within the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, with questions arising out of the United Kingdom's membership of the European Communities, in particular with the Community's internal policies. It has no independent executive functions.

Industry

Motor Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what plans he has to introduce legislation specific to the British motor manufacturing industry;(2) what plans he has for introducing further legislation in the present Session that could lead to partial nationalisation of, or provide assistance for, the British motor manufacturing industry.

I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 18th February—[Vol. 886, c. 1103–5]. The Government are awaiting the Ryder Committee's Report before deciding what action would be most appropriate in respect of BLMC, but the hon. Gentleman is fully aware that the Government reserve the right, in appropriate cases, to provide financial assistance by way of share capital.

Ministerial Appointments

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many offices of profit are within his gift whose incumbents are not recruited through the normal Civil Service channels; and what is their value.

59 persons hold public appointments at salaries totalling £367,742 per annum.

Industrial Democracy

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in the pursuit of his policies for industrial democracy, he will make it the practice within the nationalised industries and Government-owned companies for which he is responsible that the relevant trade unions should have access to the information required to monitor progress towards the financial, technical and social objectives which he has set for those industries and companies.

The nature and purpose of the information to be made available to trade unions will be a major consideration for the Government in formulating their proposals for an extension of industrial democracy.

Relocation (South-East England)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he will provide in the Official Report an analysis of the numbers of firms in each London borough which have been in receipt of public funds for removal to new and expanded towns in South-East England since 1965, or other comparable date, together with the number of jobs lost to each borough in Greater London;(2) If he will estimate the total sums of public moneys expended on existing industries to move or establish themselves in new and expanded towns in South-East England in each of the periods 1960 to 1965, 1965 to 1970, and 1970 to 1974.

My Department does not provide financial assistance for firms moving to new and expanded towns outside the assisted areas.

Shipbuilding Companies

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he receives forecasts of productivity and profitability from the management of Govan Shipbuilders, Cammell Laird, Harland and Wolff and the former Court Line companies, respectively; and, if so, for how far forward such forecasts are made.

Forecasts of productivity and profitability are received from Govan Shipbuilders, Cammell Laird and the former Court Line companies. The time scale of the forecasts varies from company to company, but overall the forecasts extend from a one-year period to a four-year period. Questions on Harland and Wolff should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry to what extent there are privately-held minority shareholders in the nationalised former Court Line companies; and what proposals he has for the purchase by the Government of these holdings.

£650,000 cumulative preference shares in North-East Coast Shiprepairers Ltd. are privately owned. In my statement of 4th November last I announced that shareholders and long-term debenture holders would be compensated.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what capital investment is made or proposed in respect of the modernisation schemes for Govan Shipbuilders, Harland and Wolff, and Cammell Laird, separately and in total; and what losses have been incurred by each company separately and in total since they became State-owned.

The capital investment programmes at both Cammell Laird and Govan are currently being reviewed. The audited losses of Govan for its financial years ending 29th December 1972 and 28th December 1973 were £1·1 million and £2·2 million, respectively. Cammell Laird was in profit in both years. Questions about Harland and Wolff should be addressed to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what information is regularly provided to him by the management of Govan Shipbuilders.

Detailed financial information is received from the company including monthly cash flow statements; monthly, quarterly and six monthly profit and loss statements; annual report and accounts; and a corporate plan, revised annually. A monthly schedule for each yard showing the steelwork performance and shipbuilding programme is received together with copies of the minutes of board meetings. In addition the managing director, in a separate report each month, comments on the order book position, capital spending, industrial relations, and general financial matters.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what the level of capital investment made by the shipbuilding companies listed for nationalisation in the statement of July 1974 has been in the last five years; and to what extent this investment has been financed by the Government;

(2) what the profit or losses have been in each of the last five years of the shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engineering companies listed for nationalisation in his statement of July 1974 ( a) in total, and ( b) for each company.

I have no responsibility for the financial performance of private sector companies. Such financial information as is available may be obtained from company accounts. Details of the Government asssistance given to shipbuilding companies for the last 10 years under schemes or arrangements specific to shipbuilding were published in the Official Report on 22nd November 1974.—[Vol. 881, c. 542–545.]

asked the Secretary of State for Industry on what date he first received written comments on the discussion paper on public ownership of the shipbuilding, ship repairing and marine engineering industries from the trade unions concerned.

The first written comments from a trade union concerned were received on 13th December 1974.

Advance Factories (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many men and women respectively are now employed in all the advance factories that have been built in Wales since 1964.

There are over 3,300 men and 1,700 women employed in advance factories in Wales built and tenanted since 1964.

Northern Ireland

Seed Potato Marketing Board

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the Seed Potato Marketing Board (Northern Ireland) has succeeded in its objective of increasing the acreage of seed potatoes grown; and what are the figures of seed exported from Northern Ireland from 1963 to 1974.

Following the general trend in arable crops in Northern Ireland, the acreage of seed potatoes grown has declined over the past 15 years. The function of the board is to provide orderly marketing of the seed potato crop in which it has been reasonably successful. The seed potato shipments from Northern Ireland from 1963 to 1974 were as follows:

Crop YearTotal Tons
1963112,091
196497,781
196583,378
196672,378
196785,527
196890,517
196991,521
197079,641
197173,360
197258,613
197358,823
(Final figures for 1974 are not yet available.)

Housing (Re-Wiring)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make proposals for assisting retirement pensioners who are home owners with the re-wiring of older property.

Under Northern Ireland legislation the renewal of existing electrical wiring may attract discretionary improvement grants. Such grants, which are based on 50 per cent. of the approved cost of the works, up to a maximum of £1,600, are not confined to retirement pensioners but extend to home owners generally.The Supplementary Benefits Commission for Northern Ireland is prepared to consider assisting with the cost of any necessary re-wiring of property owned and occupied by a pensioner receiving supplementary benefit.

Pig Smuggling

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated number of pigs smuggled from Northern Ireland into Eire since the beginning of the year; and whether this smuggling has had any effect on the price of bacon charged to Northern Ireland housewives.

It is not possible to estimate accurately the number of pigs moved illegally. Actual marketings in Northern Ireland between 1st January and 8th February were some 27,000 less than might have been expected from census figures. However, some of this shortfall is undoubtedly due to movements in the latter part of 1974.There is no evidence that the illegal movement of pigs has affected the retail price of bacon.

Bus Services (Concessionary Fares)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) whether he will have talks with the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company with the object of encouraging Ulsterbus and Citybus to provide concessionary fares for young people of compulsory school attendance age, in view of the fact that the upper limit of school attendance has now been increased to 16 years;(2) whether he will have talks with the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company with the object of encouraging Ulsterbus to provide concessionary fares for retirement pensioners and registered disabled persons.

Future policy on concessionary fares is under consideration and has been discussed with the Northern Ireland Transport Holding Company.

Rent Restriction Inquiry

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the committee, under the chairmanship of Sir Robert Porter, QC, which is inquiring into the operation of the rent restriction law in the Province, will report; when the committee was set up; what is its membership; what bodies were consulted before the members were appointed; what are its terms of reference; and what is the total cost to date.

The membership of the committee, which was appointed on 16th May 1973, is as follows:Sir Robert Porter, QC—Chairman.Mr. J. R. Comerton.Miss J. E. Craig.Mr. T. Flynn.Mr. H. A. Frazer.Mr. H. G. Simpson, OBE.Mr. William McCafferty.Before the appointment of the committee, nominations were invited from various organisations expected to have an interest in the Rent Restriction Acts and the effects of those Acts on the supply of privately-owned residential accommodation.The committee's terms of reference are:

"to examine the operation of the rent restriction acts in Northern Ireland and to make recommendations as to what changes in these acts, if any, should be made in regard to the letting of privately owned residential accommodation, both unfurnished and furnished, taking into consideration,
  • 1. the need to conserve as far as possible the present stock of sound older houses;
  • 2. rents presently charged for housing accommodation;
  • 3. the maintenance of a balance between the interests of tenants and landlords; and
  • 4. legislation on these matters in Great Britain."
  • The cost to date is about £3,600. The committee is expected to report very soon.

    Public Bodies

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether the list of appointed public bodies given in annex 5 to Discussion Paper No. 3 on Northern Ireland is a comprehensive list; and what was the criterion for the inclusion of statutory and non-statutory bodies in this list.

    A list was prepared for the purpose of illustrating the very wide range and cumulative importance of public bodies as a part of the overall machinery of government. It is not an exhaustive list of the full range of statutory and non-statutory bodies; such a list would be extremely extensive. It does, I hope, give useful information about those bodies which attract the widest public interest.

    Ewarts Mill (Closure)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many employees have become redundant as a result of the closure of Ewarts Mill; and whether he is satisfied about the arrangements for finding them alternative employment and for the provision of retraining schemes to enable them to take up other skilled work.

    The closure of Ewarts Mill will make 350 workers redundant between now and the end of June.The Department of Manpower Services has made employment officers available on the company's premises to advise redundant workers of alternative employment opportunities and training arrangements.

    Potatoes

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what foreign countries have purchased seed potatoes from Northern Ireland in each of the last five years; and what was the quantity and value in each case.

    In each of the last five years—1969–70 to 1973–74—there have been exports of seed potatoes from Northern Ireland to nine foreign countries, chiefly in the Mediterranean area and notably the Canary Islands, Portugal, Cyprus and Lebanon. In addition, there have been exports to a further 17 foreign countries within this period. Details of exports to individual countries are not published.

    Firearms