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Written Answers

Volume 888: debated on Friday 14 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 14th March 1975

Defence

Oman (British Casualties)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which three British officers seconded to the service of the Sultan of Oman were killed recently.

I regret that Captain W. M. Marshall, Royal Marines, and Captain M. G. A. Shipley, Royal Anglians, volunteers serving on loan with the Sultan of Oman's Armed Forces, were killed in the Dhofar province of Oman on 8th March. The helicopter in which they were travelling was shot down by rebel small-arms fire. The third person killed in the incident was not a member of Her Majesty's Forces although he had previously served in the Royal Air Force.

Employment

May Day

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether, following the representations which he has received about the declaration of a May Day bank holiday, he will now make a statement.

1969–701970–711971–721972–731973–74
Cost of wage settlements for mine workers, excluding officials and weekly paid industrial staff (£m.) 17·534·067·0*32·099·0†
Overall oms (cwts.)43·444·241·9‡45·842·3‡
Increase/decrease over previousyear (cwts.)+0·9+0·8-2·3+3·9-3·5
Percentage represented in total §costs by wages and salaries (percent.)56·055·052·055·056·0
* The figure of £85 million given on 29th February 1972—[Vol. 832, c. 83]—included officials and weekly paid industrial staff and certain consequentials of the Wilberforce settlement.
† The figure of £108·5 given on 19th March 1974—[Vol. 870, c. 58]—was calculated in accordance with para. 123 of the Pay Code and included officials and weekly paid industrial staff.
‡Figures affected by industrial action.
§Figures relate to all National Coal Board activities.

Gas Appliances (Safety)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will direct the gas industry to make contingency arrangements to ensure that gas appliances are safe and minimum supplies are available in

I regret that the introduction of a May Day bank holiday must be postponed until economic circumstances are more favourable.

Energy

Research

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, under International Energy Agency arrangements, what special research projects have been allocated by the agency to France and Italy.

Coal Miners' Pay

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing the cost to the NCB of the separate wage settlements negotiated with miners' representatives over the past five years, the annual increases in productivity and the percentage wage and salaries represent in total industry costs.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th February 1975 ; Vol. 886, c 271], gave the following infornicaion:Mains should there be strikes of gas workers.

No. The industry already recognises the need for its contingency planning to embrace all practicable steps to ensure public safety.

Education And Science

Adult Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list in the Official Report the bodies he has so far consulted on the recommendations of the Russell Report as announced in his reply of 19th July 1974 ; and when he now intends to make a statement on the conclusions of those conditions.

As a first step there have been informal discussions between officials of my Department and officers of the local authority associations. The need to decide what progress is possible within the constraints dictated by our present economic difficulties has delayed the start of wider discussions, but I recognise that adult education bodies are anxious to learn my conclusions about the Russell Report and I will announce them as soon as possible after my consultations are complete.

Environment

Rates (London)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the Greater London Council increase in rate of 80 per cent. is the largest in England and Wales so far reported to him.

Quota ralesNon-quota rates
InstalmentMaturityInstalmentMaturity
Up to 5 years1313⅝14⅜14⅝
Over 5 years and up to 1013¾16½15⅜16½
Over 10 years and up to 1515⅞17⅛16¼17¼
Over 15 years and up to 251717⅜1717⅝
Over 25 years17⅜17½17⅝17⅜
The quota rates reflect the level of interest on Government borrowing and the non-quota rates reflect the level of interest available to local authorities on the open market.

Atmospheric Pollution (Trafford Park)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, following high emission of sulphur dioxide in the atmosphere over Salford ascertained by monitoring in November 1973, he will

Reports have been received from 36 of the 53 precepting authorities outside London. In 26 cases the increase in the precept is more than in that of the Greater London Council —7½p in the pound—although in no case is it as high as 80 per cent.

Domestic Properties (Electrical Rewiring)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will seek to extend the home improvement grant scheme to cover work done to make homes electrically safe.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes) on 4th December 1974.—[Vol. 882, c. 522.]

Local Authorities (Loan Interest Rates)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is (a) the average and (b) the highest loan interest rate payable by local authorities in England in 1975–76 on the basis of the figures currently available to him.

The estimated average rate of interest payable by local authorities in 1975–76 is 9·6 per cent. The highest rates of interest payable during the year were those on loans raised between 4th January and 17th January 1975. The rates payable to the Public Works Loan Board at that time were :hold an immediate inquiry into the further emission of fumes from the Leathers chemical factory, Trafford Park, Manchester, during the week ending Saturday 8th March 1975, and make a statement on future precautions to be required at this factory.

I wrote some time ago to my hon. Friend informing him that there was no reason to suppose that the high sulphur dioxide readings in November 1973 was solely due to the operations of the Leathers Chemicals plant.

The serious incident at the Leathers works on Saturday 8th March 1975 resulted in unusually high emissions for a period of not more than seven minutes. The plant was immediately shut down. These emissions affected Eccles market place. Two people went to hospital but were not detained.

The cause of this incident is being investigated by the Alkali and Clean Air Inspectorate and a detailed report is awaited. I will write further to my hon. Friend when this is available. The plant has been restarted without a recurrence of the problem.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is aware of the correspondence and discussion notes regarding possible fallout from new plant at Trafford Park between the hon. Members for Eccles and Salford, East (Mr. Allaun), officers and councillors of the old authorities of Eccles, Swinton and Pendlebury, and Salford with his regional officers and members of the Alkali Inspectorate ; and, in the light of the concern regarding recent excessive fallout of burning substances in Eccles and Salford, if he will make a statement.

Discussions between the various bodies referred to took place when plans for the new plant at Trafford Park were being considered. On the recent incident involving unusually high emissions from the plant I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave today to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun). I will write also to my hon. Friend when the report is available.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what investigations his Department has made into the recently reported release into the atmosphere of noxious gases from one or more factories in Trafford Park, Manchester ; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply today to my hon. Friend the Member for Salford, East (Mr. Allaun). I will also write to the hon. Member when the report is available.

Pelican Crossings

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will order an inquiry into the protection afforded by the guard rails on the centre reservation on the pelican crossing at Bradford Road (A650), Riddlesden, Keighley.

The pedestrian fences at this site are designed to guide pedestrians and not to resist vehicle impact. I therefore do not intend to hold an inquiry into the matter.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if guard rails placed round pedestrian islands on pelican crossings are designed to resist any form of vehicle impact.

The pedestrian fences are designed to guide pedestrians and not to resist vehicle impact. When used on a central island of a dual carriageway with a staggered pelican crossing the fences will prevent pedestrians being pushed by one another into the carriageway.

Drink And Driving

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he intends to introduce mandatory penalties for drivers convicted of causing death or serious injury when under the influence of alcohol.

Disqualification is mandatory for drinking and driving offences. This is among the aspects of the law which Mr. Blennerhassett's Committee is examining.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he is satisfied with the operation of those sections of the Road Safety Act 1967 designed to reduce driving under the influence of alcohol ;(2) when he anticipates receiving the report of the committee investigating the operation of the Road Safety Act 1967.

My principal reason for setting up an inquiry into the operation of the law on drinking and driving was that the effects of the 1967 Act in reducing road casualties appear to be wearing off. I asked the committee to report to me by the autumn of this year, and the chairman, Mr. Frank Blennerhassett QC, tells me that he hopes to meet this target.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will provide road accident statistics in relation to the closing times of public houses.

There is a peak in road casualties between 10 and 12 p.m., particularly on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. Coroners' reports show that over 50 per cent, of drivers killed in accidents between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. are over the legal limit of blood alcohol, as compared with about 10 per cent, in the remaining hours of the day. A fuller analysis of casualties by hour of day appears in Tables 34 of Road Accidents Great Britain 1973, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Waste Paper

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what action he proposes to take to ensure that adequate use is made of the collections of waste paper, organised by various voluntary groups throughout the country for recycling;(2) what circulars, if any, he has issued to local authorities throughout the country with regard to disposing of collections of waste paper for recycling.

1 would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my right hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Irving) on 10th March 1975.—(Vol. 888, c. 36–7.]

Home Department

Cypriot Children (Teignmouth)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why his Department instructed Devon County Council to refuse admittance to Teignmouth County Secondary School to two boys from Cyprus, Vass Markou and Pauli Michali, refugees whom the headmaster was willing to admit, and the circumstances in which this interdiction was withdrawn.

The Home Office has issued no such instructions, and it is not for us to say who may or may not attend a local authority-maintained school. In these cases there was evidently some misunderstanding following a telephone inquiry made of the Home Office by the education authority, but this has now been cleared up. The difficulty arose from a misunderstanding of the change in the Im- migration Rules made in January 1973 whereby no child is normally allowed to enter this country for the purpose only of obtaining education at public expense.

National Finance

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will consider delaying implementation of VAT new retail schemes announced in Notice No. 727 and Leaflet No. 5/75/VMC until 1st April 1976 due to the additional workload which this is going to create for small businesses and in particular pharmacists.

My right hon. Friend does not propose to postpone the introduction of the new schemes. The new schemes are mainly revisions of existing schemes and involve no major changes in principle.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what way Common Market regulations affect the turnover threshold for VAT registration ; and if any agreement from the EEC Commission is necessary for the increase in this threshold.

There are no existing EEC requirements relating to the exemption limit.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take immediate steps to increase the level of business turnover below which there is exemption for VAT registration from £5,000 to £10,000.

I have noted the hon. Member's suggestion but I cannot anticipate my right hon. Friend's Budget Statement.

Public Works Loan Board

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will publish in the Official Report a list of new loans advanced by the Public Works Loan Board since 1972 ;(2) if he will publish in the

Official Report a list of receipts of loans repaid by local authorities to the Public Works Loan Board since 1972.

These two Questions could be answered only at the cost of disproportionate time and effort. I can, however, provide the following summary of

Receipts
PeriodNew Advances(i)Principal(ii)Interest
(£ million)(£ million)(£ million)
1st January—31st March 1972277·667·3105·6
1st April 1972–31st March 19731,225·4298·2442·7
1st April 1973–31st March 19741,381·2387·3533·6
1st April 1974–28th February 19751,690·0596·2605·5
The Annual Reports of the Public Works Loan Board provide a more detailed breakdown of loans and receipts, according to the type of borrower.

Taxation Costs

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what investigations have been carried out by his Department into the complete costs to the taxpayer of various forms of taxation, including VAT at single and multi-rates.

The administrative requirements of various forms of taxation are kept under review and every attempt is made to keep them to a minimum.

Gross Domestic Product

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the annual rate of growth of gross domestic product over the lustrum 1969 to 1974, using, if neces-

Total StolenRUCUDRTAVRRegularArmy
197114815112
1972530401191118
1973508184114
1974217201285
19754052
The RUC Reserve figure is included in the RUC figure.

Incident Centres

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many incidents have been monitored by incident centres since the beginning of the cease-fire ; how many of these were reported by centres run by the security forces ; and how many by centres run by the Provisional IRA.

Since Government incident centres were set up on 15th February, 293 incidents have been reported to them. Of these, 62 were reported by the new loans advanced to, and receipts repaid by, all borrowers from the Public Works Loan Board for the relevant period:sary, provisional figures or best estimates for the latter year ; and what were the comparable rates for the four preceding lustra, viz. 1964 to 1969, 1959 to 1964, 1954 to 1959 and 1949 to 1954.

Northern Ireland

Firearms Thefts

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many legally held firearms were stolen in the years 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974 respectively and during the present year ; and how many of these weapons were stolen from members of the RUC, Police Reserve, Ulster Defence Regiment, TAVR and Armed Forces, respectively.

The figures are as follows:security forces and 231 by representatives of Provisional Sinn Fein.

House Of Commons

Select Committees

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will arrange for the subjects of investigation by Select Committees, sitting in public, together with the bodies or persons giving evidence, to be printed on the Order Paper.

I am looking into the point raised by my hon. Friend and will reply as soon as possible.

Eec Membership (Referendum)

asked the Lord President of the Council what steps he is taking to enable all British citizens working on the Continent the opportunity of voting in the referendum on the United Kingdom's membership of the European Community ; and how many representations he has received on the question.

I have received about 20 letters on this issue, which is under consideration.

Social Contract

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a transcript of the broadcast made on 3rd March on ITV on the social contract.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place a copy of his public speech on the social contract at Taunton on 6th March in the Library.

Social Services

Hospital Caterers Association

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received from the Hospital Caterers Association ; and what steps she intends to take to meet these representations.

I have received a letter from the association, dated 28th February, asking for my support in securing a speedy settlement to matters concerned with the grading structure and remuneration of the NHS special grades. I understand that the Administrative and Clerical Staffs Whitley Council is actively considering these matters and I have asked to be kept informed of developments.

Health Services (Channel Islands)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) how many residents of the Channel Islands are currently being treated, or are resident, in hospitals in the United Kingdom as a result of the agreement between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands to provide medical services to each other's residents ; and what is the breakdown of such patients by infirmity and by annual cost;(2) how many residents of the United Kindom received medical treatment in the Channel Islands during 1974 as a result of the agreement between the United Kingdom and the Channel Islands to provide medical services to each other's residents ; and what was the breakdown of such treatment by type and by cost ;(3) if she is satisfied with the working of the agreement with the Channel Islands by which the United Kingdom provides certain long-term and specialised medical care in exchange for emergency care in the Channel Islands for residents of the United Kingdom.

I regret that the information asked for is not readily available. Discussions began in November last with the Channel Islands authorities concerning a revised reciprocal health agreement including provision for the keeping of detailed statistics of numbers, treatment and annual cost of patients.

Sickness Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the difference in the weekly entitlement to sickness benefit of men normally earning £2,000, £2,500, £3,000 and £3,600 a year who are (a) employed, and (b) self-employed ; and what relationship this difference bears to the difference in their contribution.

The amount of sickness benefit differs between the employed and the self-employed only because the self-employed are not normally entitled to earnings-related supplement. Based on annual earnings of £2,000 in the relevant tax year the current weekly rate of earnings-related supplement is £8.17 ; based on the other earnings level in the Question the weekly rate of earnings-related supplement is £9·37.It is estimated that the costs in 1975–76 of the benefits to which the self-employed are not entitled and the corresponding costs of administration will be met from a contribution in respect of the employed of 1·6 per cent. of their earnings up to £69 per week, together with the Treasury supplement that those contributions attract; about 0·3 per cent, is for earnings-related supplement to sickness benefit.For those with the earnings levels referred to in the Question the total contribution in respect of the employed is 14 per cent, of earnings and that for the self-employed about 8 per cent, of earnings.

Monocles

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what decision her Standing Opthalmic Advisory Committee has reached regarding the availability of monocles under the NHS general ophthalmic services in suitable cases.

I am making arrangements to obtain the advice of the Standing Ophthalmic Advisory Committee, but I cannot say yet when I shall be ready to announce a decision.

International Reciprocal Agreements

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services with what foreign countries Great Britain has reciprocal arrangements regarding pension and other social security benefits.

There are reciprocal agreements with the countries named below. Provisions concerning benefits vary from one agreement to another.

AustraliaIsrael
AustriaItaly
BelgiumJamaica
BermudaJersey
CanadaLuxembourg
CyprusMalta
DenmarkNetherlands
FinlandNew Zealand
FranceNorway
Federal Republic of GermanySweden
Switzerland
GibraltarTurkey
GuernseyUnited States of America
Republic of Ireland
Isle of ManYugoslavia
An agreement with Spain will come into operation on 1st April 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest information on arrangements being made to negotiate a reciprocal arrangement over the payment of pensions and other health service benefits between British residents and Portugal and vice versa.

The situation as set out in my reply to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) on 4th November 1974 remains unchanged.—[Vol. 880, c. 87.]

Pensioners Overseas (Benefit Differentials)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why there is a differential in increases of pensions between British citizens in the United Kingdom and those living overseas.

The national insurance scheme is designed primarily for people living in this country and pension levels are related to social and economic conditions here. The cost of increasing pensions already in payment falls mainly on contributors and employers in this country. Increases are, however, paid abroad if the pensioner is living in a country with which we have an appropriate reciprocal agreement.

Haemophilia

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will encourage the introduction of a two-tier hospital system whereby there may be major haemophilia centres which treat the complaint and other hospitals which only supply the drugs.

Haemophilic patients require specialised and continuing treatment which is best provided by haemophilia centres.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her estimate of the cost to the National Health Service and local authority social services of the extra care and treatment of haemophiliacs for the rest of their lives which will arise from disabilities incurred as a result of their being deprived of treatment with Factor VIII until such time as the United Kingdom is self-sufficient.

With the improved treatment which has become available in the last 10 years and as more Factor VIII concentrate is produced within the National Health Service, cases of severe disability will become increasingly rare. The cost of any extra care and treatment, including major orthopaedic surgery which can now be undertaken, would depend on the severity of any disability which might have occurred. It is impossible to give an estimate of cost however approximate.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what discussions she has with senior consultants in the field of handicap concerning the medical advantages of providing sufficient Factor VIII for the treatment of haemophiliacs.

My right hon. Friend is advised by an Expert Group on the Treatment of Haemophilia which includes among its members senior consultants with considerable experience of treating this disease.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how it is intended to distribute the £500,000 apportioned for developments of Factor VIII.

The sum of £0·5 million will be distributed in such a way as to achieve the required increase in plasma production in the various regional transfusion centres in the shortest practicable time. The plasma will then be centrally processed to produce Factor VIII concentrate.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if hospitals supplying Factor VIII will be encouraged to dispense the drug for use by patients at home.

It is for the clinicians concerned to decide how available supplies of Factor VIII should best be used for the benefit of their patients.

Smoking

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the amount spent by her Department in publicity and other expenditure concerning the dangers of tobacco.

The main expenditure on publicity concerning the dangers of tobacco smoking is incurred by the Health Education Council of which just over 90 per cent, is contributed by my Department. The figures my hon. Friend gave in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, South (Mr. Shaw) on 20th June 1974—[Vol. 875, c. 273.]—were amounts allocated for smoking in recent years. The council's actual expenditure has been as follows:

£
1969–70108,000
1970–71120,000
1971–72287,000
1972–73414,000
1973–74702,000
1974–75160,000
(estimated)
In addition my Department is responsible for publication of the information on tar and nicotine yields of the main brands of cigarettes on sale in this country ; the cost of the exercise is currently estimated at about £100,000 a year.

Doctors And Dentists

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if the draft instrument, Command Paper No. (69) 127, laying down freedom of establishment of self-employed medical practitioners and dental surgeons excludes all consultants and specialists on whole-time contract, salaried hospital doctors, salaried community physicians and salaried medical and dental officers employed by regional and area health authorities.

The original draft directives contained in COM (69)127 related only to self-employed doctors and dentists. In the course of discussion at council level the scope of the directives has been extended to employed doctors including the categories mentioned. The dentists directives have not been discussed since the Community was enlarged.

Death Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her estimate of the numbers now surviving in the United Kingdom of men who had reached the age of 65 years and of women who had reached the age of 60 years in 1948 ; and what would be the annual cost in each of the next 10 years of granting death grant at the current rate in respect of such persons.

It is estimated that there are 275,000 persons in the United Kingdom who were over pensionable age on 5th July 1948. The estimated annual cost over the next 10 years of paying death grant of £30 in respect of those persons would be:

YearCost
£m
1975–761·7
1976–771·4
1977–781·2
1978–790·9
1979–800·8
1980–810·6
1981–820·4
1982–830·3
1983–840·2
1984–850·2
In fairness, however, it would also be necessary to increase to the full £30 rate the present half-rate grant payable in respect of the deaths of 1,515,000 persons in the United Kingdom who were within 10 years of pensionable age on 5th July 1948 ; and the additional annual cost of these grants would be:
YearCost
£m
1975–762·5
1976–772·4
1977–782·2
1978–792·1
1979–801·9
1980–811·8
1981–821·6
1982–831·5
1983–841·3
1984–851·1
The full cost for the 10 years would, therefore, be just over £26 million.

L-Dopa

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will give the reasons why L-Dopa is bought centrally while Factor VIII is not.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Television (International Agreement)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has received any requests from the Belgian Government to abrogate the accord on teledistribution signed between Great Britain and Belgium in Strasbourg on 22nd June 1960 ; and whether he has made any such request to the Belgian Government.

There is no provision in this Agreement for abrogation limited to two of the contracting parties. A party may withdraw from it only by denouncing the Agreement as a whole. We know nothing to suggest that the Belgian Government intend to denounce the Agreement, and Her Majesty's Government have no such intention themselves.

Cyprus

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of discussions with the Turkish authorities regarding compensation for loss or damage suffered by United Kingdom citizens in Cyprus ; and what information and assistance Her Majesty's Government have arranged for these citizens.

The Turkish Government have not so far responded to representations made on 29th January. My right hon. Friend has accordingly instructed Her Majesty's Ambassador at Ankara to inquire further about the establishment of compensation procedures. The British High Commission in Nicosia meanwhile maintains close contact with the United Kingdom Citizens Association on the island and continues to do what is possible to assist British subjects there.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will now consider abrogating the United Kingdom's guarantee of the integrity and sovereignty of Cyprus in view of the continuing political problems there.

Industry

Steel

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the Government's policy on the Treaties of Paris upon which is based the ECSC ; whether he is seeking any modifications of the treaties; and if he will particularise the extent of Government control over investment, acquisitions and prices in relation to the United Kingdom industry.

The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs stated in the Council of Ministers on 3rd March that the Government were concerned about certain practical problems in relation to the steel industry and put the Community on notice that the Government intend to pursue this issue, if necessary by suggesting amendments to the Treaty of Paris, so as to restore key powers over the steel industry in the United Kingdom to Her Majesty's Government, though not as part of the renegotiations and only if we cannot avoid it.The British Steel Corporation's capital investment programme is subject to the approval of the Secretary of State, but there have been no Government powers over private sector steel investment, since Section 15 of the Iron and Steel Act 1967 was repealed on our accession to the ECSC. Any acquisitions by the British Steel Corporation need the consent of the Secretary of State, but there are no similar Government powers over mergers between private steel companies.The prices of the basic steel products covered by the ECSC Treaty are not subject to the Price Code, although this does not apply to some highly processed steel products, e.g., tubes.

Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will issue a directive to the Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation to give priority to small local-based building firms which wish to participate in the construction of industrial estates such as Tweedbank.

The corporation informs me that it decided to place a single contract for a number of factories believing that this will secure economies of cost and speed in completing construction. In these circumstances I do not consider it necessary to direct the corporation to proceed otherwise.

Ship Repairing

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what percentage of ship repairing work is undertaken for foreign owners, for British owners and for the British defence industries.

Precise figures for the whole industry are not available, but estimates for the two years 1972–73, the latest for which figures are available, show that approximately 72 per cent, of ship repair work done in United Kingdom yards was for British commercial owners, 22 per cent, for foreign owners, and 6 per cent, was work on Royal Fleet auxiliary vessels for the Ministry of Defence.

Trade

Copyright (Television)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will initiate inquiries into the problems of copyright as they affect the retransmission from Great Britain of BBC and ITA programmes by foreign companies.

I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department that no foreign company is authorised to transmit BBC or IBA programmes from Great Britain. I assume that my hon. Friend is concerned with the retransmission abroad of programmes originating in this country and the difficulties involved in clearing the rights of the various copyright owners and securing the permission of performers. This is an extremely complex matter, involving as it does various international copyright agreements as well as our domestic law relating to copyright and the protection of performers. I would remind my hon. Friend that a departmental committee under the chairmanship of Sir John Whitford is now looking into all aspects of the law of copyright, and, although its work is well advanced,, I have no doubt that it would be willing to consider any submissions on this particular aspect of the law.

Tripoli International Fair

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what considerations led him to decide not to give official support for the representation of the United Kingdom at the Tripoli International Fair in Libya.

Support for United Kingdom firms is given by the British Overseas Trade Board at those trade fairs overseas which attract sufficient interest from British firms and where the commercial opportunities of these events would justify expenditure from public funds. The 1975 Tripoli International Trade Fair did not satisfy these criteria.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Fishing Grants

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportions of aid to the fishing industry will be payable to the different categories of boats.

The proportion of aid actually paid to the different categories of vessels will depend on the number of days each vessel in a particular category spends in fishing during the subsidy period. Although I cannot forecast the outcome it would not appear unreasonable to suppose that vessels of 135 feet and over in length might qualify for slightly over one-third of the total, those between 80 feet and 135 feet in length just under one-third and those between 40 feet and 80 feet also just under one-third.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether the amount of aid announced for the fishing industry can be increased to permit the payment of a similar amount to owners of boats of under 40 ft. as is to be paid to boats of 40 to 50 ft.

The Government gave careful consideration to the level of aid which might be granted to the industry both in respect of the situation in the industry given the need to avoid radical contraction leading to permanent structural damage and in respect of public expenditure. On neither count could the total of aid be increased.

Horticulture

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he intends making in order to restore confidence in horticulture.

I do not accept that the concern expressed by some growers of protected crops about increases in their costs of production implies a general lack of confidence in horticulture.

Rabies

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made with his publicity campaign on the dangers of rabies ; and if he will make a statement.

A new multi-language poster advising travellers about Great Britain's import controls and penalties for contraventions is being distributed for widespread display at ports, airports and ferry services and also nearby foreign exit points and vessels that travel between those ports and Great Britain.There will also be posters on display at Crown post offices before the main 1975 holiday season begins, warning travellers against bringing back animals from abroad without first obtaining the necessary import licence.In addition, two information leaflets are soon to be distributed. The first is aimed at port-airport operators and staff, harbour masters, Customs officers, etc., who are likely to come in contact with the potential "smuggler" and sets out the consequence if rabies were introduced, explains our requirements and seeks increased awareness and watchfulness. The second is aimed at informing the general public through various conservation and animal welfare organisations, explaining the dangers of the disease and seeking their co-operation in keeping rabies out of Great Britain.