Written Answers To Questions
Wednesday 5th March 1975
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the estimated effect upon the liquid consumption of milk of the proposed increase in the retail price of 1p per pint.
It is estimated that the increase of 1p per pint in the retail price from 2nd March could reduce consumption in 1975–76 by around 20 million gallons.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take steps to prolong the arrangement whereby the United Kingdom maintains a single standard of retail fresh milk supply of known quality.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to his Question on 18th February.—[Vol. 886, c. 346–7.] Liquid milk is sold "as it comes from the cow" subject only to minimum presumptive standards of 3 per cent. butter fat and 8·5 per cent. solids not fat. On 31st December 1975 the arrangements allowing the supply to consumers of whole milk with natural fat content of less than 3·5 per cent. are due to expire. The possible extension of the present arrangements is being considered.
Decoy Farm, Ormesby
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether Decoy Farm, Ormesby, is licensed for the lairage of cattle awaiting slaughter or shipment.
Yes. Decoy Farm, Ormesby, was formally approved on 28th February 1975 as a lairage for the resting of animals awaiting shipment. Prior to that date part of the premises was allowed to be used on a temporary basis.
Beef Cow Subsidy
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects payment of the beef cow subsidy, due on 1st January, to be made.
Claims are being verified and paid as soon as possible after they are received. Payments in respect of 1974 and 1975 are being made together, and by the end of February £9·3 million had been paid.
Horticulture (Fuel Costs)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make it his policy that, in the event of Holland continuing to provide some form of oil subsidy to its horticulturists beyond June, he will reconsider his decision to abolish the oil subsidy for horticulturists.
The EEC Commission's guidelines on temporary fuel oil subsidies permit payments by member States only until 30th June 1975.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the conditions that have to be satisfied for a fishing vessel of over 40 ft. in length to qualify for a flat rate daily sailing payment during the period 1st January to 30th June 1975; and what will be the minimum number of days necessary to quality for this aid.
Registered fishing vessels of over 40 ft. in length and under 80 ft. will be required to put in a minimum of 60 sea-going days directly related to voyages undertaken for the purpose of catching white fish or herring to be landed in a United Kingdom port in order to qualify for grant under the arrangements recently announced. The corresponding figure for vessels of 80 ft. and over will be 85 days.Ministers will seek parliamentary approval, in the enabling order, to waive part of the qualifying period in individual cases in order to deal with any situation arising from exceptional circumstances.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why fishing boats of less than 40 ft. length are not eligible for any form of financial assistance as a result of his announcement on 27th February 1975.
It was explained that the arrangements announced on 27th February were aimed at avoiding the development of a serious structural situation. These considerations do not apply in respect of vessels under 40 ft. in length.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Depar tment how many women were imprisoned during 1974; how many of them served their sentences in open prisons; and how many are currently serving sentences in excess of three years.
The provisional figures for 1974 are that 1,426 women aged 21 and over were received into prison on sentence in England and Wales. The number includes those committed in default of payment of a fine. Of those, 353 have served, or are serving, some of their sentence in an open prison. 30 are currently serving sentences in excess of three years.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set up a departmental inquiry into the activities of the Divine Light Mission, the Unification Church, and the Children of God; and if he will make a statement on the information he has obtained about the last-named organisation.
It is for the police to investigate any allegations of criminal activity on the part of those associated with these bodies. My right hon. Friend has no proposals for any wider form of inquiry. As regards the second part of the Question, there is nothing I can add to the reply I gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Ravensbourne (Mr. Hunt) on 19th December 1974.—[Vol. 883, c. 501–2.]
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many probation areas, in the West Midlands and nationally, make some form of payment to cover home-to-office car travel; what proportion this is in each case; and if he will list the areas which do so in the West Midlands.
Up-to-date information is not available. Last May the national figure was 10 out of 56 probation areas; a further 10 areas made payment to prison welfare officers only. The West Midlands Metropolitan County is not among those 20 areas, though officers in Coventry receive such payment under arrangements introduced before local government reorganisation.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the number of illegally held firearms in England and Wales; and if he will arrange an amnesty to permit their surrender on payment of cash value.
No reliable estimate is possible. My right hon. Friend does not think it would be justifiable to use public money to buy illegally held weapons. But chief officers of police generally refrain from prosecuting persons who voluntarily surrender illegally held weapons; and they have power to issue temporary permits which would permit the sale of the weapon in appropriate cases.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many illegally held firearms, by category, have come into the possession of the authorities in each of the last three available years.
I regret that this information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what extent metal detection devices are employed at point of entry in England and Wales to prevent the illegal importation of firarms and ammunition.
Such devices are used at many sea and air ports, but it would not be in the public interest to give details.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations have been made by the West Yorkshire Police Authority regarding his advice on the use of firearms.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many licensed guns there were in England and Wales as at 31st December 1974; and how many of these were bullet firing.
I regret that information is not available in the form requested. On 31st December 1974 there were in force in England and Wales 766,952 shotgun certificates and 185,865 firearm certificates. Both types of certificate may relate to more than one weapon.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many rifle clubs there are in England and Wales.
The number of clubs in England and Wales holding the approval of the Secretary of State under Section 11(3) of the Firearms Act 1968 or corresponding provisions of previous enactments is of the order of 5,000. Some of these clubs may no longer be active, and the figure does not include clubs operating under other provisions of the Act in circumstances where approval is not required.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many of the 50,000 families with incomes below the official poverty line as mentioned in her answer of 3rd December 1974, draw (a) family income supplement, (b) rent rebates or allowances, and (c) both.
It is probable that in December 1973 very few families with incomes below supplementary benefit level were in receipt of either family income supplement or a rate rebate or allowance. It is most unlikely that such families were receiving both benefits. More precise answers cannot be given, because the estimate of 50,000 was based on a small sample.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many adults and children in one-parent families in Great Britain there are at the moment;(2) if she will start to publish regular estimates of the number of one-parent families in Great Britain, showing the different categories of family breakdown, the sex of the lone parent, and the number of children, as recommended by the Finer Committee on One-Parent Families.
The estimates for 1971 given in the Finer Committee's report were based mainly on the census of population. The Registrar General intends to publish estimates for years between censuses as soon as he is satisfied that they are reliable.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what would be the net cost, taking into account the savings on other benefits, of introducing a tax-free child endowment, to replace family allowances and child tax allowances, for all children, including the first, over and above the cost of the increase in family allowances due to take effect in April 1975, at the following rates: 6½ per cent. of average male industrial earnings for children under 11 years, 8 per cent. of average earnings for children aged 11 to 15 years, 9½ per cent. of average earnings for dependent children aged 16 to 17 years, and 11 per cent. of average earnings for dependent children aged 18 years, respectively;(2) what would be the net cost, taking into account the savings on other benefits, of introducing a tax-free child endowment, to replace family allowances and child tax allowances, for all children including the first at a rate for each child of 6½ per cent. of average male industrial earnings, over and above the cost of the increase in family allowances due to take effect in April 1975.
Using £50 as an estimate of average weekly earnings and on current rates of tax, the additional cost to the Exchequer in 1975–76 would be about £1,000 million and about £800 million, respectively, after allowing for the extra revenue flowing from the abolition of child tax allowances. The additional cost in public expenditure would be about double those figures.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by what amount family allowances would have to be increased to (1) lift all families free of family income supplement and (2) raise the incomes of all working families with children above the supplementary benefit level, assuming (a) no family allowances for the first child and (b) £3 family allowance for the first child.
To lift all one-child families off family income supplement would need, under existing provisions, as much as £15 a week and even more in exceptional cases. Further amounts would be needed for larger families. It would, however, be necessary to restructure the Family Income Supplement Scheme well before these levels were reached to avoid duplication of provision.It is estimated that at December 1973, the latest date for which an estimate can be made, a £3 family allowance for the first child plus a £1·50 allowance for subsequent children would have brought the incomes of almost all working families above supplementary benefit level. Because of sampling errors it is not possible to be more precise. About one-quarter of the families concerned had only one child; a proposal which gave no additional family allowances to these families could not raise their incomes above the supplementary benefit level.
Trent Regional Hospital Board (Funds)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is the proposed revenue allocation for 1975–76 to the Trent Regional Hospital Board per head of population as compared with the national average;(2) what is the proposed capital allocation for 1975–76 to the Trent Regional Hospital Board per head of population as compared with the national average.
I hope to make revenue and capital allocations to regional health authorities shortly but at present I am not able to say what they will be.
Hospital Waiting Lists
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what effect the consultants' work to rule is having on the length of the waiting time at Northampton General Hospital for out-patients' appointments, and admission to hospital for urgent and non-urgent operations.
Since 2nd January when the hospital consultants started industrial action there has been a significant reduction in the number of out-patient appointments at Northampton General Hospital. It is not, however, possible to give an indication of the effect on waiting time for appointments as this is influenced by a number of factors and varies according to speciality.There has also been a reduction in the number of surgical patients admitted from the waiting lists but it is not yet possible to give a realistic appraisal of the increased waiting time for non-urgent cases. All patients requiring operations urgently are being admitted.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what effect the consultants' industrial action has had on waiting lists and waiting time in the Mersey Area Health Authority.
The situation varies between districts and specialities but generally waiting times and waiting lists are increasing.
National Insurance (Co-Operatives)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether those who work in a business that is a co-operative, whether incorporated or not, are to be treated as self-employed for the purposes of national insurance contributions.
People working for co-operatives are subject to the normal provisions relating to the categorisation of earners. If they work under a contract of service or, after April 1975, as officeholders with emoluments chargeable to income tax under Schedule E, they will be employed earners. If employed otherwise, they will be self-employed. This question is decided on the facts of each individual case.
Pay Beds (Charges)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the range of charges per day to patients occupying private beds in a National Health Service hospital; and on the basis of what calculations she determines such charges.
|Daily charge for private resident patients who have not made arrangements for treatment by a private doctor||Daily charge for private resident patients who have made arrangements for treatment by a private doctor|
|Single room||Other accommodation||Single room||Other accommodation|
|Class A—Long Stay hospitals (other than Classes D and E)||…||…||10·20||9·40||9·80||8·90|
|Class B—Psychiatric hospitals (other than Classes D and E)||…||…||6·60||6·00||6·30||5·70|
|Class C—Acute and other hospitals (other than Classes D and E)||…||18·50||16·90||17·70||16·10|
|Class D—London teaching hospitals (as at 31st March 1974)||…||…||26·30||24·10||24·70||22·50|
|Class E—Provincial teaching hospitals and university hospitals (as at 31st March 1974)||…||…||…||…||22·10||20·20||20·80||18·90|
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is aware that some sufferers from multiple sclerosis believe that they receive benefit from a gluten-free diet; if he will initiate research into those instances where improvement resulting from such a diet is claimed; and if he will make a further statement.
The charges for 1974–75 are as follows:
I am aware that claims have been made that a gluten-free diet is an appropriate and effective treatment for the disease. There has been substantial research relevant to this claim, and this was reviewed at the international conference referred to in my reply to my hon. Friend on 28th November 1974.—[Vol. 882, c. 219–21.] As I explained, it was unable to find scientific evidence to justify the claim or to suggest that further research on the point is justified.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the Supplementary Benefits Commission no longer keeps records of the amount of supplementary benefit paid out to strikers in each dispute; and since when these figures have ceased to be available.
Because of the disproportionate cost, it has never been customary to collect information about supplementary benefit payments in individual trade disputes directly involving less than 300 employees. Information by disputes is available only for the larger stoppages. For all disputes the overall total number of claimants and the amounts of benefit paid to strikers and their families is available.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to improve the earnings position of self-employed people who work from 65 and do not draw a pension until the age of 70 and who only then receive a basic pension supplement in addition to the basic old-age pension.
I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury and Radcliffe (Mr. White) on 26th February.—[Vol. 887, c. 157–8.]
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans she has for increasing public accountability of the pharmaceutical industry.
Last November I met the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain. I discussed our plans for a review of the safety, quality and efficacy of existing medicines and told them that I was seeking the advice of the Medicines Commission about the quality of advertisements of medicines and about the best methods of supplying doctors with information about medicines.At the same time I expressed to the ABPI representatives my concern about levels of sales promotion and told them that I wished to discuss with them the proposition that sales promotion on home business should be substantially reduced. I also noted that the present Voluntary Price Regulation Scheme had reduced the previous high levels of profits, but I said that I was not convinced that our present statutory powers in reserve were adequate and that I would be discussing what further powers might be needed.We have now heard from the Medicines Commission and hope to put firm proposals to the industry in the near future.
|Notified unfilled vacancies|
|Held at Employment Offices||Held at Careers Offices|
|* The area covered by the Dunfermline careers office includes Inverkeithing.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will make a statement on the latest trends in unemployment in Scotland.
The trend of unemployment in Scotland over the last few months has been upward; it is, however, rising at a slower rate than for Great Britain as a whole. The numbers of unemployed decreased slightly between January and February this year.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest figures for male and female unemployment in Dunfermline and Inverkeithing employment areas, respectively.
On 10th February 1975, 703 males and 326 females were unemployed in the area covered by the Dunfermline employment office and 69 males and 43 females were unemployed in the area covered by the Inverkeithing employment office.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many vacancies are available for men and for women, respectively, in the Dunfermline and Inverkeithing district employment areas; and how this compares with the situation in 1973 and 1974.
Owing to industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency vacancy figures for December 1974, January 1975 and February 1975 are not available and the most recent statistics are for November 1974. The figures relate only to vacancies notified to employment offices and careers offices and are not a measure of total vacancies. Following is the available information:
asked the Attorney-General whether he will take steps designed to expedite personal injury procedures and encourage a greater standardisation of awards of damages.
The pace of legal proceedings is primarily a matter for the parties. However, court procedures in personal injuries cases have been carefully considered with a view to eliminating unnecessary procedural delays. If my hon. Friend has any suggestions in this regard I am sure that my noble Friend will consider them. The Royal Commission is, of course, considering questions of civil liability and compensation for personal injuries generally.
Luton Sub-Postmaster Murder Case
asked the Attorney-General if he will ask the Director of Public Prosecutions to investigate the case referred to in the Court of Appeal of a Detective Chief Superintendent receiving subsequent payment from individuals to whom he advised the Post Office to pay reward money, following the murder of a sub-postmaster in Luton on 10th September 1969.
I have requested the Director of Public Prosecutions to look into it.
Education And Science
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the former practice of operating a quota for women medical students has been abandoned by all medical schools.
Teachers (List 99)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many supplementary lists to his Department's list 99, prepared by local education authorities, have been submitted to him by local education authorities.
India (Jaguar Aircraft)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence why financial credit has been refused to the Indian Government for the purchase of Jaguar aircraft.
Because we came to the conclusion, with regret, that economic circumstances did not permit us to offer credit terms.
Multi-Rôle Combat Aircraft
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what will be the increase in the unit cost of each MRCA for the Royal Air Force if the proposed reduction in the annual rate of delivery of aircraft is implemented.
Delivery rates are still being discussed with our partners in the MRCA project and with industry, but preliminary indications are that the increase in the unit production cost arising from our proposals will be very small.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many small arms are held in Northern Ireland by the Army; and what is the number of each type, excluding weapons held by the Ulster Defence Regiment.
It would not be in the interests of security to disclose details of the small arms held by the Army in Northern Ireland.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many small arms are held by the Ulster Defence Regiment in Northern Ireland.
It would not be in the interests of security to disclose details of the small arms holdings of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans the Royal Air Force has for the purchase of YF16 aircraft.
As I said yesterday in reply to a similar Question from the hon. Member for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie)—[Vol. 887, c. 361.]—the Royal Air Force has no plans to purchase the YF16.
Education Costs (Service Children)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the cost in 1974 to the public purse of the education of children of Service personnel in the private sector of education in the United Kingdom.
The estimated cost of education allowance paid to officers and Service men of all three Services during the current year, in respect of children attending boarding school, is £16·73 million. The purpose of education allowance is to help Service personnel, who are liable to frequent changes of station, to maintain continuity of education for their children either by sending them to a boarding school or by placing them in the care of a relative or guardian to attend a day school.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will seek to amend the regulations restricting the percentage of Army pensions that can be commuted at the end of a 25-year service engagement so that such communtation can be put on a more flexible basis.
No. Service men have greater opportunities than other public servants to commute pensions, and I cannot hold out any hope of these opportunities being enlarged.
Local Authorities (Direct Labour Departments)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will seek powers to require that direct labour departments of local authorities are afforded facilities in respect of conditions and wages no less favourable than those which apply to private enterprise; and if he will make a statement.
No. Wages and conditions of service are matters for negotiation between the local authorities and their employees, usually through the appropriate negotiating body.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make an official visit to the Fife Region.
I have no immediate plans for such a visit, but my noble Friend the Minister of State for Scotland met representatives of the Fife Regional Council in Cupar on 26th February.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received with regard to the method of election to the proposed Scottish Assembly.
This subject is mentioned in a number of the representations which have reached me since the publication of the Government's consultative document in June 1974. As was made clear in the White Paper of September 1974, it is the Government's view that membership of the Scottish Assembly should be on the same system as membership of this House.
Kidney Donor Cards
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what response he has had to his issue of a revised version of the kidney donor card; and when he hopes to issue guidance to doctors to improve the operation of the Human Tissue Act 1961.
60,000 copies of the revised card have been issued since it became available on 15th January, but it is too early to assess what effect this measure may have on the supply of kidneys for transplantation purposes. Consultations with health boards and representatives of the medical profession on the proposed circular of guidance on the Human Tissue Act 1961 are proceeding, and the guidance will be issued as soon as possible when the comments received have been evaluated.
New Towns (Housing)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses were sold and how many were on the waiting lists in new towns in Scotland in the past two years for which figures are available.
1,718 corporation houses were sold by the Scottish new towns in 1973 and 376 in 1974. The house building programmes of development corporations are based on a comprehensive assessment of the housing needs of all types of household groups. Records of waiting lists, which do not adequately serve this purpose, are not held centrally.
Island Communities (Transport Costs)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the cost of transport to island communities.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received regarding the cost of transport to island communities.
I have received representations on this subject from island users, local authorities and other bodies. Recent representations have come from hon. Members, the STUC, the Highlands and Islands Development Board, the Arran District Council, and the Western Isles tourist organisation.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations have been made by chairmen of children's panels regarding the powers available to their bodies under the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.
No formal representations have been made to me.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made toward the implementation of the Springburn Plan in the matter of industrial, commercial, recreational and housing developments.
The Springburn Comprehensive Development Area was approved as part of the Glasgow Development Plan in September 1973. Its implementation is primarily a matter for the corporation, with which I am discussing the programmes and priorities for the city as a whole.
Moray And Nairn
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make an official visit to Moray and Nairn at an early date.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to visit Dunbartonshire.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will review the rate of payments made to foster parents.
No. Local authorities have complete discretion to make such payments as they consider necessary.
Land Tenure Reform
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress has been made on Her Majesty's Government's preparations for the final stage of Scottish land tenure reform.
I have nothing to add to the reply given to my hon. Friend on 28th November 1974.—[Vol. 882, c. 284–5.]
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on employment prospects and plans for improvement of employment opportunities in Scotland.
The establishment of a Scottish Development Agency, the development of North Sea oil, and the dispersal of Civil Service posts to Scotland will help to create new employment in Scotland. This Government's decision to grant development area status to Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello means that the whole country now enjoys a very wide range of incentives for industrial development, including REP at the doubled rate.
Farm Improvement Schemes
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many farm improvement schemes have been approved under the Farm and Horticultural Development Scheme (Directive 159); and if he will make a statement.
121 Scottish farmers have applied for assistance under this scheme. At the end of February 1975, 81 had been accepted as basically eligible and had been invited to submit farm development plans. With the help of the agricultural colleges 56 farmers have submitted plans, of which 24 have been approved.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what forecasts he has received about the future of herring and white fish stocks if the fishing limits around Scotland are not extended.
Forecasts of fish stocks round Scotland are made both by my own scientists and by international organisations. These indicate the importance of containing or reducing the total catch of many species. In the light of the extended migratory patterns of fish, control cannot, however, as a rule be exercised solely by extending fishing limits.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many licensed guns there were in Scotland as at 31st December 1974; and how many of these were bullet firing.
I regret that this information is not available in the form requested. On 31st December 1974 there were in force in Scotland 83,435 shotgun certificates and 38,725 firearms certificates. Both types of certificate may relate to more than one weapon.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many rifle clubs there are in Scotland.
The number of clubs in Scotland holding the approval of the Secretary of State under Section 11(3) of the Firearms Act 1968 or corresponding provisions of previous enactments is of the order of 400. Some of these clubs may be no longer active and the figure does not include clubs operating under other provisions of the Act in circumstances where approval is not required.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he is taking to protect the schedules of house building in Livingston new town and elsewhere in Scotland threatened by the announcement of Messrs Loudon's Ltd. being put in the hands of the liquidators.
The affairs of the company have been placed in the hands of a receiver—not a liquidator—at the instance of the Clydesdale Bank. The Government are concerned to secure the speediest practicable completion of houses under Loudon's public sector contracts at minimum loss to public funds, and I shall consider urgently with Livingston Development Corporation and any other housing authority concerned, any suggestions to this end.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is the estimated annual cost of telecommunications between Scottish Civil Service Departments and London.
I regret that the information is not available. The Post Office STD records do not give any indication of the source and destination of telephone calls.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his Department's estimate of the balance of benefits in energy and cost terms of switching properly lagged immersion heaters on and off as opposed to leaving them on.
The benefit to the consumer in switching off a properly lagged hot water cylinder with a thermostatically controlled electric immersion heater depends on many factors such as the size of the cylinder and the temperature of the water stored. Generally with normal-sized cylinders and storage temperatures, switching off the heater overnight should save about one unit of electricity. The cost of this varies throughout the country.
Oil Exploration (South-Western Approaches)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy, in view of the unilateral decision of the French Government to start oil exploration in the South-Western approaches, what plans he has to protect British interests and in particular the oil-based future prosperity of the South-West of England.
I know of no such decision by the French Government.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will establish a broad-based committee of inquiry into housing finance, to include representatives of local government and universities.
A wide-ranging review of housing finance is already under way. In the course of his speech during the debate on 6th February—[Vol. 885, c. 1607–8.]—my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction outlined the basis upon which this review is proceeding.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he can now make a statement on his plans for speeding up the implementation by local authorities of their obligations under the Housing Act 1974 to bring the empty houses which they own into full use as housing accommodation.
I would refer the hon. Member to my reply on 25th February to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger).—[Vol. 887, c. 69–70.]
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when the hon. Member for Tiverton can expect to receive the letter from him promised in substitution for answering his Question for Written Answer on 27th January headed A38 (Willand).
I am sorry for the delay. Traffic, accident and speed data are now being assessed and I am examining a scheme for street lighting. I hope to be able to write to the hon. Gentleman within the next two weeks.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many acres of derelict land have been reclaimed over each of the past three years in the Yorkshire and Humberside region; what are the known acres of such land requiring reclamation; and how many acres are to be reclaimed over the next three years.
The available information from local authority surveys is as follows:
|Yorkshire and Humberside Region|
|(a) Amount of derelict land reclaimed:|
|i. year ended 31st December 1971||477|
|ii. year ended 31st December 1972||743|
|iii. 1st January 1973 to 31st March 1974||695|
|(b) Amount of derelict land justifying treatment as at 1st April 1974||11,500 (approx.)|
|(c) Local authority estimates of land which may be reclaimed between 1st April 1974 and 31st March 1976||1,800 (approx.)|
a) iii, ( b) and ( c) are therefore provisional. No estimate is available for 1976–77.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to complete the review of the vehicle testing scheme; and whether he will make a statement.
I announced the outcome of this review on 29th July 1974. We are now consulting interested organisations about the consequential amendments to regulations and expect to bring in during the summer the first changes resulting from the review.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the number of appointments made under the vehicle testing scheme; and how many have been withdrawn, since September 1971.
Since September 1971, 18 garages have been appointed and 1,033 have been compulsorily withdrawn.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to make regulations in respect of the formation of tenants' associations under Section 124(5) of the Housing Act 1974.
My right hon. Friend has no plans to make regulations under Section 124(5) of the Housing Act 1974.
National Tree Week
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when is, and what are the objects of, National Tree Week.
National Tree Week is to be held from 9th to 16th March, and it is hoped that it will become an annual event. It is sponsored by the Tree Council with the following objects:1. To make Britain tree-conscious in town and country;2. To encourage the planting of new trees of the right type in the right place, and discourage unnecessary felling; and3. To foster the proper care and maintenance of trees, and take stock of the need for new planting throughout the country on a local basis.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what support the Government are giving to National Tree Week.
The Government fully support the Tree Council's decision to organise the first National Tree Week, to sustain the interest in tree planting and care aroused by the 1973 campaign. Details of financial and other help given to the council are supplied in another answer. My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will inaugurate the week by planting a tree at Chequers on 9th March. My colleagues and I also intend to undertake ceremonial tree planting during the week and hope that other hon. Members, local authorities, and other organisations and individuals will do all they can to assist in the achievement of the week's objectives.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what organisations are represented on the Tree Council.
The following are members of the Council:
- Arboricultural Association.
- Association of District Councils.
- Association of Professional Foresters.
- British Association of Landscape Industries.
- Civic Trust.
- Council for the Protection of Rural England.
- Country Landowners Association.
- Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group.
- Home Timber Merchant's Association.
- Horticultural Trades Association.
- Institute of Foresters.
- Institute of Landscape Architects.
- Institute of Park and Recreation Adminitsration.
- Men of the Trees.
- National Farmers Union.
- National Federation of Women's Institutes.
- National Trust.
- Royal Forestry Society.
- Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
- Royal Town Planning Institute.
- Timber Growers' Organisation.
- Trees for People.
- Association of County Councils.
- Council for Environmental Education.
- Countryside Commission.
- Department of the Environment.
- Forestry Commission.
- Royal Horticultural Society.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what Government assistance is currently given to the Tree Council; and what further financial and administrative assistance is contemplated in the year 1975–76.
Subject to parliamentary approval and to certain conditions, a grant of £6,000 will be made available to the Tree Council in 1975–76 compared with £5,000 in 1974–75. In addition, the services of a full-time secretary will continue to be provided for the time being.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what weight is given by Her Majesty's Government to Security Council resolutions defining the legal obligation of United Nations members in relation to Namibia.
For the reasons explained in my right hon. Friend's statement of 4th December 1974 we cannot agree that the existing resolutions of the Security Council concerning Namibia are mandatory. They are recommendations which deserve careful consideration, but the final decision on them must rest with each UN member State.
Lycée International, St Germain-En-Laye
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give financial assistance to the British section of the Lycée International, St. Germain-en-Laye, near Paris.
No. We have no funds available for the support of British schools abroad.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on Cyprus and report on the UN discussions of the Cyprus situation.
Discussions are continuing in New York. It is our hope that a constructive resolution will emerge, enabling the intercommunal talks to resume and to be conducted with a greater sense of urgency and determination.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in how many countries his office has arranged for lecture tours by British citizens since March 1974; if he will name the countries, the persons and the length of each tour; and if he will state the total cost to public funds.
In the period 1st April 1974 to 31st March 1975 lecture tours by British citizens were arranged in 34 countries. Details are given below:
Mr. S. Walker and Mr. J. Marks Oxford Union Debating Society 6 weeks.
Australia, India, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand
Lord Feather 4 weeks.
Mr. J. Marsh, British Institute of Management 4 days.
Lord Caradon, My hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon), The hon. Member for Aberdeen, South (Mr. Sproat) to East-West Conference 3 days.
Austria and Berlin
The Hon. Alistair Buchan 1 week.
Mr. T. Waldmeyer, Water Pollution Expert, DOE 2 days.
Mr. P. A. Eddison, Deputy Director, School of Advanced Urban Studies, Bristol 2 days.
Mr. E. Grebenik, Principal, Civil Service College 1 day.
Caribbean ( Jamaica, Bahamas, Trinidad, Guyana, Barbados, Antigua, St. Kitts, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent)
Sir Norman Skelhorn, Director of Public Prosecutions 5 weeks.
Mr. A. C. Warman, Assistant (Crime) Home Office and Deputy Chief Constable of Kent 1 month.
My hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Williams) 2 weeks.
Mr. Richard Douglas, former MP for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire 4 weeks.
Professor Alan Harris, Imperial College 3 days.
Mr. C. Adamson, Consumers Association 1 week.
Mr. J. A. Likierman, Leeds University 2 days.
Dr. Roger Morgan, Chatham House 3 days.
Dr. Norman Perry, Social Science Research Council 3 days.
Dr. M. Abrams, Social Science Research Council 3 days.
Ghana and Nigeria
Mr. E. Tonkinson, Director, Institute of Personnel Management 1 week.
Sir Denis Wright 1 month.
Dr. Geoffrey Marston, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge 4 days.
Mr. D. A. H. Yates, St. Thomas' Hospital 1 week.
Mr. J. Marsh, British Institute of Management 1 week.
Sudan, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon
Mrs. Joan Robins, President, Home Economists of Britain 3 weeks.
Mr. Henry Bate, Vice-Chairman, Press Council 2 days.
Mr. Noel S. Paul, Secretary, Press Council 2 days.
Dr. Martin Chown, Standard Telecommunications Laboratories 1 week.
Mr. A. Archer, Environmental Protection Officer, City of Birmingham 1 week.
United States of America
The hon. Member for East Grinstead (Mr. Johnson Smith) 2 weeks.
Mr. Alex Morrison, Chief Executive, Thames Water Authority 3 days.
My hon. Friend the Member for Berwick and East Lothian (Mr. Mackintosh) 3 weeks.
Mr. Frank Giles, The Sunday Times 16 days.
Mr. J. M. Boyd, AUEW 2 weeks.
Additionally, in 10 cases lectures were arranged by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office as extensions to private lecture tours. These arrangements extended the total number of countries by one—Kenya.
The total budgetary provision to cover all lecture tours for which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office provides speakers is £30,000.
Us Government Premises
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list all premises occupied by representatives or employees of the United States Government which are covered by diplomatic privileges and immunities in the United Kingdom.
The premises of the United States Government in the United Kingdom which enjoy the usual diplomatic privileges and immunities are as follows:
United States Embassy, Grosvenor Square, W.1.
United States Trade Centre, 4–5 Langham Place, W.1.
This list does not include the private residences of members of the staff of the United States Embassy, which also enjoy certain diplomatic privileges and immunities. Information on the residences of senior members of the staff is, however, available in the London Diplomatic List published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office.United States Travel Service, 22 Sackville Street, W.1.
United Nations (Presidency)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when voting is due to take place for the office of President of the United Nations General Assembly.
The election of the President for the thirtieth session of the United Nations General Assembly will take place by secret ballot when the Assembly meets on Tuesday 16th September.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the Government contribution towards the cost of the publication entitled "Oilfield" published by the Department and NEDC; and what similar publications for Scotland have either been promoted or given financial assistance by the Government.
My Department co-operated with the North of England Development Council in the preparation of "Oilfield". The costs of printing and publishing this directory are borne by the council. The Department has not published or provided financial assistance for a comparable publication for Scotland.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what percentage proportion of United Kingdom expenditure on regional development went to Scotland in 1973 and 1974.
Information is not available in precisely the form requested. But about 36 per cent. of expenditure on regional preferential assistance to industry in Great Britain went to Scotland in 1972–73 and 32 per cent. in 1973–74.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many letters from Members of Parliament received by the Department prior to 7th February had not received a full reply by 28th February.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many civil servants are employed in his Department on work concerning the sponsorship of industry.
My Department has sponsorship responsibility for a wide range of industries, including nationalised industries. Some 550 staff are engaged on this work.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much it would be necessary to increase tax thresholds for single persons, childless married couples and married couples with one, two, three, four and five children, respectively, to preserve real values since April 1974; how many individuals would be taken out of the tax bracket if the thresholds were raised to these levels; and what would be the respective figures to restore 1966 real value.
On the basis of the increase in the retail price index—all items—between April 1974 and January 1975, the latest available figure, the tax thresholds for single persons and childless married couples would need to be increased from their present levels of £625 and £865 to £707 and £978 respectively. For married couples with children the threshold depends upon the ages of the children. To preserve the real value of child tax allowances over the same period would require increases as follows:
|Age of child||Present allowance £||1974 allowance uprated by RP1 £|
|Over 11 but under 16||275||311|
|Over 11 but under 16||349|
Tax Allowance (Working Wives)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tax allowance a working wife receives in respect of a husband whose only source of income is invalidity benefit.
The married man's allowance, the wife's earned income allowance together with such other allowances—for example, child allowance—as might be appropriate in a particular case would be available to set against the wife's income in these circumstances.
Value Added Tax
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he can give an assurance that, in connection with any arrangements for the harmonisation of taxes within the EEC, he will ensure that hotel accommodation and restaurant meals should be taxed at a lower rate as is already the case in many EEC countries.
Proposals in this field at present under discussion do not include the harmonisation of rates of value added tax.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the importance to the country of the tourist trade, he will now arrange for identified sales of hotel accommodation to foreign visitors to be zero rated.
I have noted the right hon. Member's suggestion.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total cost incurred by the Customs and Excise in the collection of VAT in any one financial year.
It is estimated that the total cost of collection of VAT in 1973–74 was about £35 million.
Petroleum Revenue Tax
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce measures designed to prevent oil companies avoiding petroleum revenue tax by registering in the Channel Islands and other tax havens.
The provisions of the Oil Taxation Bill ensure that the whole of the profits from winning North Sea oil are charged to petroleum revenue tax regardless of the place where the companies are registered.
Prices And Consumer Protection
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how much the price increases following the farm price review will cost the average household per week.
Preliminary estimates of the effects of the measures referred to by my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in his statement on 17th February—[Vol. 886, c. 917–9.]—indicate that, allowing for the increase in the butter subsidy which was announced on 27th February, they will result in an increase of about 2½ per cent. on retail food prices, with a further small increase in the autumn.
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what was the average United Kingdom price of 1 lb of butter, cheese, bacon and potatoes and 1 pint of milk on 1st March 1974; what is the average price of these items now; what has been the percentage increase in each case; and what will be the effect of the farm price review on the cost of each item.
The latest figures of average retail prices are for 14th January 1975. These are compared with the average prices for 19th March 1974 in the following table:
|19th March 1974 average price in pence||14th January 1975 average price in pence||Percentage increase|
|Butter, per lb.:|
|Cheese, per lb.:|
|Bacon, per lb.:|
|Middle cut, smoked||56·7||67·5||+19·0|
|Potatoes, per lb.:|
|Old white, loose||2·5||3·2||+28·0|
|Old red, loose||2·9||3·7||+27·6|
|Milk, per pint||5·5||5·0||-9·1|
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection by how much the food price index has risen since 1st March 1974; by how much it is estimated it will have risen by 1st March 1975; and to what extent present and prospective increases can be attributed to the United Kingdom's membership of the EEC.
The Food Price Index rose by 16 per cent. between March 1974 and January 1975, the latest month for which figures are available. It is not the practice to forecast future movements in the index.The further we move from the date of entry into the EEC the harder it is to calculate what food prices would have been had we stayed out. But, taking account of recent decisions by Agriculture Ministers on farm prices for 1975–76, it is estimated that the overall level of food prices in the United Kingdom is not at present significantly affected by our membership of the Community.
Restaurants (Carafe Wine)
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, since the coming into force of the statutory instrument requiring restaurants to specify the quantity of wine contained in carafes, how many convictions have been obtained for breaches.
Prosecutions for breaches of this order, or of other orders under the Weights and Measures Act, are a matter for local enforcement authorities. Details are contained in their annual reports, which relate to the financial year. Since the order only came into force on 2nd September 1974 I regret that this information is not yet available.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will consider the problem of the import of acrylic yarns from Taiwan as a separate issue from the present EEC negotiations on textile imports since the EEC does not recognise Taiwan; and if he will take unilateral action to restrain the level of imports of acrylic yarns from that country, in view of the fact that large sections of the British industry are working a three-day week.
The EEC Commission is now preparing to introduce quantitative restrictions on a range of Taiwanese textiles, including acrylic yarns, as agreed by member States. These arrangements will not involve negotiation, and will be administered by the Community, from which a decision is expected shortly. In this context the question of unilateral action need not arise.
Company Law Reform
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his practice regarding meeting, discussing and taking into account the views and opinions of private individuals and those other than representatives of organisations and public concerns, etc., when drawing up and framing legislation affecting the revision of company law; what is his particular practice regarding the interests of shareholders; and how many such individual persons have had their views and wishes acceded to during the past 12 months.
I welcome the views of all those interested in company law reform, private individuals as well as representative organisations. All views received by my Department are taken into account in the current review of company law. My hon. Friend's final point does not arise as no companies legislation has been introduced in the last 12 months.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what support was given by his Department to the British firms which recently obtained contracts for the supply of capital equipment to Namibia.
I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the contract which Mirrlees Blackstone Ltd. obtained last year through Hawker Siddeley Electric Africa Ltd. for the supply of diesel generating equipment for a power station to be sited at Walvis Bay. No support was given by my Department in respect of this contract.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of the imports of karakul pelts from Namibia in 1974.
Imports of raw furskins described as "lamb", most if not all of which is karakul, were valued at £15 million.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what promotional support or assistance or other aid from public funds has been granted to Hawker Siddeley for the purpose of obtaining a contract to build a new power station in Namibia.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether Export Credits Guarantee Department facilities have been made available to assist the export sales of the products of the Meriden Motor Cycle Co-operative.
In connection with the completion of arangements for bringing the Meriden Co-operative into operation at an early date I have instructed ECGD to provide facilities to support the export of motor cycles manufactured at Meriden. This action has been necessary to meet exceptional needs and has been taken in accordance wih the provision of Section 2 of the Export Guarantees Act to encourage exports.
asked the Lord President of the Council if he is yet able to say what powers the Government propose the Scottish Assembly will have over employment, trade and industry.
No. The Government are considering the possibility of devolving powers in the fields of employment, trade and industry to the Scottish Assembly, but decisions have not yet been reached.
asked the Lord President of the Council when the devolution proposals for Scotland are complete, what plans he has to test their acceptability with the Scottish people.
After publication of the consultative document in June last year the Government received views from a wide range of bodies and individuals in Scotland. We are not planning a further round of formal consultations, but there will continue to be consultation on specific issues with organisations particularly affected by them.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons have now been detained in Northern Ireland under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act; how many have subsequently been charged with offences; and with what offences they have been charged.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many detainees have been released in the last month.
During February 32 persons held under detention orders and interim custody orders were released. Of these I released 21, the Commissioners released seven and the Appeal Tribunal released four.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons excluded from Great Britain under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Northern Ireland) Act have been sent to Northern Ireland; and how many have been subsequently detained or charged with offences in Northern Ireland.
Ten persons excluded from Great Britain under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act have been sent to Northern Ireland. Nine were detained on arrival but all were subsequently released.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons have been excluded from Northern Ireland under the provisions of the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act; and how many have been sent to Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons have been charged under the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act in Northern Ireland, and under which sections of the Act.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many shooting incidents there have been in Northern Ireland in each of the years since 1969 in which legally held weapons were used by their owners against the security forces.
|1972 (from 1st August)||1973||1974||1975 (to 3rd Maach)|
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many rounds of ·22 ammunition were sold in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years;(2) how many shotgun cartridges were sold in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years;(3) how much ammunition for bullet-firing weapons, other than ·22, was sold in Northern Ireland in each of the last 10 years.
This information is not available from official sources.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many shotguns, rifles and handguns, respectively, were stolen in Northern Ireland in burglaries in each of the last 10 years.
This information is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many shooting incidents there have been in Northern Ireland in each of the following years—1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974—in which the security forces were involved.
It is not possible to provide this information.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many shotguns, rifles, automatic pistols, revolvers, submachine guns, other weapons, etc., and rounds of ammunition were recovered by the security forces from the IRA in Northern Ireland in each year since 1969.
Records relating to particular organisations were not kept before 1st August 1972. Since then the figures are as follows:
Records were not kept before 1970. The figures from that year are:
|No. of Incidents|
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many shooting incidents there have been in Northern Ireland in each of the following years—1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973 and 1974—in which legally held weapons which were stolen have been used against the security forces.
Statistics are not available for years 1969 and 1970. In the period 1971–74, legally-held weapons stolen from their owners were identified as having been used on 16 occasions against the security forces.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what estimate he has of the type and calibre of weapons most commonly used for assassination in Northern Ireland.
The most common calibres are 9 millimetres, 0·38 inch and 0·45 inch.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many legally held rifles there are in Northern Ireland.
14,281, excluding air weapons.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress or changes have been made with regard to concessionary bus fares for the elderly in Northern Ireland since the answer given to the hon. Member for Londonderry on 11th July 1974.
I have nothing to add to the reply given to Questions by the hon. Member for Down, North (Mr. Kilfedder) on 20th February.—[Vol. 886, c. 494.]
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what weight of commercial explosive made in Eire was captured by the security forces from the IRA in Northern Ireland in 1973 and 1974.
During 1973 2,523 lb. of explosive made in the Irish Republic was recovered by the security forces in Northern Ireland; the corresponding figure for 1974 was 2,112 lb. The figures include both explosive found in searches and explosive taken from defused bombs.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what weight of commercial explosive, made in countries other than Eire, was captured by the security forces in Northern Ireland from the IRA in 1973 and 1974.