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Written Answers

Volume 888: debated on Monday 17 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 17th March 1975

Prices And Consumerprotection

Price Code

9.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether she will consider amending the Price Code, in the light of the latest CBI investment forecast.

The stage 4 Price Code came into force on 20th December 1974 and includes major new provisions to encourage investment. It would be unsettling to consider further amendments so soon after the review.

Price Commission

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she is satisfied with her Department's relationship with the Price Commission.

Metrication

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she is satisfied with the control on price increases which take place at the same time as the changeover to metric weights and measurements.

So far, yes. But I am keeping a close watch on the situation assisted by the Metrication Board.

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will make a statement on the progress of metrication as it affects the responsibilities of her Department.

The metrication programme has now been under way for 10 years. I hope that all those parts of industry which have yet to complete the change will review their programmes in consultation with the Metrication Board. In those fields where there is direct Government responsibility I shall be aiming to ensure faster progress. But in doing so I shall pay particular regard to the need to protect the interests of the poor and the elderly during the change. In particular the Metrication Board has commissioned a report on the problems of the elderly from the Tavistock Institute.

Legislation

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what plans she has for introducing new legislation on hidden price rises; and if she will make a statement.

I am satisfied that the provisions of the Price Code are adequate. However, I am always willing to reconsider the position in the light of any new developmens which may be brought to my attention.

Slimming Foods

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether her Department's consultant on food values has examined the food values of advertised slimming foods; and if she will make a statement.

No. As my hon. Friend knows, the Food Standards Committee is considering whether any change is needed in the regulations which control slimming claims made for food. In the course of its review the committee will, no doubt, be considering whether there is a case for specifying minimum nutritional standards for slimming foods.

Public Appointments

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which she is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before her: and how many of them are women.

In making public appointments I am anxious to secure the people best fitted for the jobs in question. One aid to this is to take note of people with appropriate qualifications and experience, and it is always useful to hear of individual names. I am at present actively seeking possible nominees for appointments to consumer bodies, a high proportion of whom will, I hope, be women.

Food Subsidies

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will list the subsidised foods, showing the prices with and without the subsidy, and the extent to which the subsidies are provided direct by the United Kingdom or via EEC.

On the basis of data collected for the purposes of the General Index of Retail Prices on 14th January 1975 the information is as follows:

Average retail priceEstimated average retail price without subsidy
(Pence)(Pence)
Bread:
White 1¾ lb. Wrapped and sliced loaf1417
White 14 oz. Loaf11½
Butter, United Kingdom, per lb.2736
Cheddar cheese, per lb.40½52½
Flour, self raising, per 3 lb.19½22½
Liquid milk, per pint5
Tea, medium priced, per ¼lb.911
13·5 per cent. of the butter subsidy was contributed from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund, the remainder of the expenditure being borne by the Exchequer. As from 3rd March the butter subsidy was increased to the equivalent of 11p per lb. at the retail level, and the EEC contribution was raised to 20·6 per cent.

Legal Aid

asked the Attorney-General what plans he has to implement the proposals of the Lord Chancellor's Advisory Committee on Legal Aid.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the Advisory Committee's recommendations concerning legal aid for tribunals. I would refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on 7th February.

asked the Attorney-General what conclusions he has come to concerning the Law Society's proposals of July 1973 that legal aid guildships should be statutory and that there should be a rota system for solicitors at all courts.

The Law Society recommended in its memorandum of July 1973 that there should be duty solicitor schemes to operate in magistrates' courts. My noble Friend has expressed his support for the development of such schemes. There are over 25 schemes now operating throughout the country, established mainly at the instances of the Law Society and local law societies.

Small Claimsarbitration

asked the Attorney-General what steps the Government have taken further to improve the county courts small claims arbitration procedure; whether the conference of registrars which he referred to in his answer to the right hon. and learned Member for Surrey, East (Sir G. Howe) on 19th December 1974 has now been held; and what were its conclusions.

In September 1974 the County Court Rules were amended to allow the registrar, where appropriate, to dispense with the pretrial review and order arbitration forthwith, so saving the parties an attendance at court. The registrar's jurisdiction was increased from £75 to £100. The conference to which the hon. Member refers was held on 11th February and concluded that the scheme was working well and had benefited many people. A number of relatively minor amendments were suggested and will be submitted to the County Court Rule Committee for its consideration in due course.

Employment

Short-Time Working

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the numbers of people working five days a week, four days a week, three days a week and less than three days a week, at the latest date for which figures are available.

Information about the number of days that people work during a particular week is not available. However, the monthly statistics of short-time working give an indication of the extent to which operatives in manufacturing industries work for less than their normal week because of short-time working. During the week ended 16th January 1975, about 128,000 operatives were on short-time. Of these, about 5,000 were stood off for the whole of the week and about 123,000 worked for part of the week.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table listing industries whose employees are working less than five days a week, specifying the number of employees affected in each case.

The precise information requested is not available. However, the monthly statistics give an indication of the extent to which operatives in manufacturing industries in Great Britain work for less than their normal week because of short-time working. An industrial analysis of the data relating to the week ended 18th January 1975 is set out in the following table:

Number of operatives stood off or on short-time working
Metal manufacture6,400
Mechanical engineering9,400
Electrical engineering16,300
Shipbuilding and marine engineering1,000
Vehicles22,100
Metal goods not elsewhere specified8,500
Textiles20,800
Clothing and footwear21,500
Bricks, pottery, glass, cement, etc5,600
Timber, furniture, etc3,900
Paper, printing and publishing3,700
Other manufacturing industries9,000
Total, all manufacturing industries128,200

Strikes

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will instruct the Conciliation Service, in assisting in pay disputes, to take account of the degree of consequential loss and damage sustained by private individuals during strikes and the extent to which workers involved have assented, or refused to accept procedural arrangements for settling disputes.

Ministers do not give instructions to the independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment, for those industries where disproportionate loss and damage could occur to private, industrial and commercial interests through strike action, if he will consider introducing by legislation or otherwise up-to-date machinery for protecting public safety.

Public safety can best be safeguarded against the effects of strike action in any industry by measures designed to reduce and settle industrial conflict. Our policies aim to provide a framework within which better industrial relations may develop, and we have established the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to assist in the rapid settlement of disputes.

Pembrokeshire

asked the Secretary of State for Employment in which year unemployment in Pembrokeshire last exceeded 2,844; and, in that year, what was the number of unemployed and the percentage rate.

Information is readily available only from 1955 onwards. The figure of 2,844 for Pembrokeshire in February 1975 was the highest recorded in this period.

Post Office (Pay Settlement)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on his attitude to the Post Office pay settlement, and on the part his officers played in the negotiations.

The settlement is provisional and subject to ballot by the union's members. The Government welcome the main lines of the settlement, which appear to conform to the social contract, but they regret the threshold arrangement which is part of the settlement. This threshold arrangement does more than give protection against an acceleration in the rate of inflation and is unjustified.My officials were not party to the negotiations, which were conducted between the Post Office and the union.

Docks

asked the Secretary of State for Employment which ports are in the Dock Labour Scheme; and when they joined.

The following table shows the ports to which the scheme relates; all came within the scheme from its inception in 1947:—A.

Tyne and Wear Ports:

The following ports:

  • (1) Blyth
  • (2) Dunston
  • (3) Gateshead
  • (4) Newcastle
  • (5) North Shields
  • (6) Seaham Harbour
  • (7) South Shields
  • (8) Sunderland
  • B. The following ports:

  • (1) Middlesbrough
  • (2) The Hartlepools
  • C. The following ports:

  • (1) Hull
  • (2) Goole
  • D. The following ports:

  • (1) Grimsby
  • (2) Immingham
  • E. Wash Ports:

  • The following ports:
  • (1) Boston
  • (2) King's Lynn
  • (3)Wisbech
  • F. East Anglian Ports:

  • The following ports:
  • (1) Great Yarmouth
  • (2) Ipswich
  • (3) Lowestoft
  • G. The Port of London

    H. The Medway and Swale Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) The area of the Conservators of the River Medway
  • (2) The area of the Commissioners of the Faversham Navigation
  • (3) The area of the Conservators of Milton Creek
  • (4) The harbour area of the Queenborough Corporation
  • (5) Whitstable
  • I. South Coast Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) Poole and Hamworthy
  • (2) Southampton
  • (3) Weymouth
  • J. The Port of Plymouth

    The following ports:

  • (1) Charlestown
  • (2) Falmouth
  • (3) Fowey
  • (4) Hayle
  • (5) Newlyn
  • (6) Par
  • (7) Penryn
  • (8) Penzance
  • (9) Porthleven
  • (10) Portreath
  • (11) Truro
  • L. Bristol and Severn Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) Bristol
  • (2) Gloucester
  • (3) Sharpness
  • M. South Wales Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) Barry
  • (2) Cardiff and Penarth
  • (3) Newport
  • (4) Port Talbot
  • (5) Swansea
  • N. The following ports:

  • (1) Birkenhead
  • (2) Bromborough
  • (3) Garston
  • (4) Liverpool
  • (5) Widnes
  • O. The following ports:

  • (1) Ellesmere Port
  • (2) Manchester
  • (3) Partington
  • (4) Runcorn
  • (5) Weston Point
  • P. The Port of Preston

    Q. The Port of Fleetwood

    R. The following ports:

  • (1) Barrow-in-Furness
  • (2) Silloth
  • (3) Whitehaven
  • (4) Workington
  • S. Ayrshire Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) Ardrossan
  • (2) Ayr
  • (3) Irvine
  • (4) Troon
  • T. The Clyde Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) Glasgow
  • (2) Greenock
  • U. The Port of Aberdeen

    V. East of Scotland Ports:

    The following ports:

  • (1) Burntisland
  • (2) Dundee
  • (3) Grangemouth
  • (4) Granton
  • (5) Kirkcaldy
  • (6) Leith
  • (7) Methil
  • (8) Tayport
  • Trade Union Elections

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will introduce legislation to provide for free postal communication to be made available for union elections with a view to encouraging postal ballots.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him: and how many of them are women.

    In making public appointments it is necessary to secure people best fitted for the job in question and one aid to this is to take note of people with appropriate qualifications and experience and it is always useful to hear of individual names. These records are constantly being updated, with the result that there is no settled total at any one time.

    Shirt Manufacturing

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many shirt manufacturing establishments in Great Britain are working on short time; how many people are affected; and what estimate he has of the effects of low-cost shirt imports on the employment prospects in the industry.

    I have been asked to reply.Official statistics do not make it possible to identify the number of shirt manufacturing establishments at present on short-time or the number of people affected. Nor is it possible to distinguish the effects of low-cost imports on employment prospects from those of the downturn in home and overseas demand. I hope that, so far as home sales are concerned, the impending Community negotiations with the main overseas suppliers of low-cost shirts will result in quite small future growth in imports into the United Kingdom, so as to give the industry a stable situation in which to plan its own production and employment.

    Collective Agreements (Sexdiscrimination)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure on the number of collective agreements that contain discriminating reference to women; and how many of these have women's rates less than 95 per cent. of the men's rate.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 13th March 1975; Vol. 888, c. 219]. gave the following information:At 31st December 1974 there were 92 collective agreements on the Department of Employment register which still contained discriminatory references to women. Of these 47 had women's rates which were less than 95 per cent. of the corresponding men's rates. It is known that since then discriminatory references to women have been removed from at least 12 agreements and that in others women's rates have moved above 95 per cent. of the corresponding men's rates. I regret that it is not possible to provide more precise figures on a day-to-day basis.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    As opportunity offers, note is taken of people who might be suitable for the various appointments. No list is maintained.

    Home Department

    Commonwealth Immigrants

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give more complete categories of reasons for the acceptance for settlement during the third quarter of 1974 of Commonwealth citizens who were at first admitted on conditions to the United Kingdom.

    Following is the information asked for:

    Commonwealth citizens accepted for settlement after admission on conditions:
    July-September 1974
    4 years in approved employment25
    Grandparent born in United Kingdom216
    Married to person settled in United Kingdom1,577
    Children joining parents177
    Parents joining children27
    Claim to patriality upheld123
    5 years' lawful residence1,792
    Immune from deportation after 5 years' residence479
    Others828
    5,244

    Television Licence Fee

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has altered the basis on which applications for reduced rate television licences for sheltered old peoples' accommodation are considered; and whether there has been any recent change in the proportion of such applications which have been refused.

    The answer to the first part of the Question is "No". As to the second part, I regret that no figures are immediately available. Because of the centralisation of licence records some applications previously granted have been reassessed, but we have no reason to think that the proportion of refusals has changed significantly during the last 12 months.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    In making public appointments it is necessary to secure people best fitted for the jobs in question, and one aid to this is to take note of people with appropriate qualifications and experience and it is always useful to hear of individual names. These records are being constantly updated and there is no limited list.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Prime Minister if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    Lists of names. which include women, are drawn up whenever there is a vacancy on the public bodies and committees for which I have some responsibility. I maintain no general list of the kind which my hon. Friend has in mind.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Lord President of the Council if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    I am looking into my hon. Friend's Question and hope to let her have a reply tomorrow.

    Devolution

    asked the Lord President of the Council if he will take the opportunity provided by the Common Market referendum to obtain at a low cost Welsh and Scottish opinion on the need for Welsh and Scottish parliaments by including on the referendum form in these countries an additional question on the devolution issue; and if he will make a statement.

    No. As indicated in the preface to the White Paper on the referendum (Command 5925) it is to be held because of the unique nature of the EEC issue.

    Industry

    Short Brothers And Harland Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is Her Majesty's Government's current financial involvement in Short Brothers and Harland Limited; how much financial assistance has been provided for production of the SD3–30 and how much financial assistance is being provided for guided weapons work.

    The Government directly own 69½ per cent. of the issued share capital of £2·36 million of Short Brothers and Harland Ltd. Provision has been made for loans totalling £14 million of which £1·4 million remains to be drawn.No direct Government assistance has been provided for production of the SD3–30. The Government have, however, agreed to invest £4·25 million—October 1972 prices—towards the development of the project, and have acted as guarantor for a loan of £2·5 million towards these costs that the company has obtained from the European Investment Bank.The Ministry of Defence has placed contracts with the company for guided weapons work. It is not the practice, however, to reveal the kind of information requested.

    Aerospace

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what has been the Government's financial contribution to research and development in the aerospace industry since 1970; how much of this money has been spent on civil and how much on defence projects; how much has gone to the British Aircraft Corporation, to Hawker Siddeley Aviation, to Hawker Siddeley Dynamics and to Rolls-Royce, respectively; and what return the industry has made either in taxation or in levy repayments.

    The Government contributed £615 million to research and development in the aerospace industry in the financial years 1970–71 to 1973–74. Defence projects accounted for approximately 45 per cent. of this, the remainder being civil projects, mainly Concorde and the RB211 engine. The records of Government expenditure in industry do not readily distinguish, for individual firms, between payments for research and development and payments for production. Thus, although broad estimates have been made of research and development expenditure in the aerospace industry, accurate figures in the detail requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.Levy payments received by the Government from the aerospace industry in the financial years 1970–71 to 1973–74 totalled £14 million on the civil side. The corresponding military figure is not readily available and cannot be obtained without disproportionate effort.Seperate records of taxation payments by the aerospace industry are not kept. The amounts of corporation tax paid by companies in the aerospace industry can be obtained from their published accounts.

    Post Offices (Rural Areas)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give a general direction to the Post Office not to close sub-post offices in rural areas; and if he will make a statement.

    No. I would refer the hon. Member to the speech I made in replying to the Adjournment debate on 24th February.

    Redundancy (Eec Studies)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what reply he received to his letter dated 5th August 1974 addressed to Mr. G. Wright, Secretary of the Welsh TUC—published in the Official Report on 20th November—and what further action has been taken over the proposed study.

    As my right hon. Friend indicated in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Moonman) on 20th November, the Welsh TUC considered that the research should cover a wider range of employment problems than those covered by the project suggested by Professor George, and it put forward its own proposals for research. Officials of the Department have had a series of discussions with both the Welsh TUC and Ruskin College, Oxford, which. it is intended, shall undertake the research. The terms of the agreement with the Welsh TUC are now being discussed.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry when his officials last had discussions with officials of the EEC on the studies concerning employment problems in South Wales and redundant steelworkers referred to in his reply to his hon. Friend the Member for Basildon on 29th January; and whether there has been any subsequent correspondence with the Commission.

    Officials of the Department and the EEC last discussed the studies concerning employment problems in South Wales and redundant steelworkers—referred to in my right hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon on 29th January—in the spring of last year. There has been no subsequent correspondence between the Department and the Commission on these specific studies.

    Ship Repairing

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish any representations he has received during the past three months concerning the future of the shiprepairing industry.

    It is not proposed to do so, but those who have made representations are free to publish them if they wish.

    Valves

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if his Department has had consultations with the British valve manufacturing industry; and what further consultations are to be held with a view to ensuring that both home needs are met and increasing exports achieved.

    My Department is in touch with the British valve manufacturing industry and with its trade association. Discussions have been held with firms in the valve sector to discuss with them their future prospects. We shall continue discussions where these are necessary.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied that the British valve manufacturing industry has been able to meet home demand and achieve satisfactory exports in recent years.

    The annual turnover of the British valve industry is some £130 million, of which exports are nearly £50 million. Imports have risen to an annual rate of about £22 million in 1974.

    Shipbuilding

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) by what date the ships covered by the Anglo-Iranian trade agreements must be delivered to Iran; and whether the United Kingdom is liable to penalty payments if that deadline is not met, or whether the contract lapses;

    (2) how many ships and of what types and tonnages are to be supplied to Iran under the terms of the recent Anglo-Iranian trade agreement;

    (3) how many ships and of what types and tonnages to be supplied to Iran under the terms of the recent Anglo-Iranian trade agreement are to be built in the United Kingdom; and how many and of what types and tonnages will be vessels already in use.

    During his visit to Teheran in January 1975, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade negotiated an outline agreement for the supply to Iran of 15 general cargo ships, each of 18,000–20,000 tons deadweight. A delegation from the United Kingdom shipbuilding industry, led by a senior official from my Department, went to Teheran on 28th February for discussions with the Iranian Government and the Arya National Shipping Line. At the conclusion of the discussions Arya confirmed its intention to order these 15 ships from United Kingdom shipbuilders, subject to agreement on the detailed specification, prices and delivery dates. It will not be possible to give more information until the further negotiations, which will take several weeks, have been successfully concluded. I understand that in addition to these new ships Arya may be interested in purchasing existing ships and is in touch with United Kingdom shipbrokers. The Government are not involved in this aspect of its requirements.

    Knowsley Industrial Estate

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will locate the three remaining advance factories allocated to Merseyside but for which no site has yet been acquired in the Knowsley industrial estate.

    No, this cannot be done at the moment. As I told my hon. Friend on 10th March, other sites are planned in adjacent parts of Merseyside.

    Regional Aid

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what draft regulation or other instrument of the EEC gives the EEC Commission the power to decide whether or not to approve a project for regional assistance applied for by Her Majesty's Government, stating what criteria apply, and whether any such decision would be subject to the Council of Ministers;(2) what projects of regional aid already approved by Her Majesty's Government will not now qualify for assistance from the EEC Regional Fund under criteria so far proposed.

    Steel

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement concerning the right of establishment of steel mini-mills in the United Kingdom together with the respective powers of Her Majesty's Government, the British Steel Corporation, and the European Coal and Steel Community or the EEC Commission.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    Defence

    Departmental Staff

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many officials in his Department are employed in assessing terms, pay, conditions of service, and allowances for both Civil Service and civilian members of the Department serving overseas; how often these conditions of service are reviewed; and what is the cost to the Exchequer of making these assessments.

    I cannot give meaningful figures for staff numbers and costs since much of the work is undertaken by staff concerned with pay, allowances and conditions of service generally and not with the overseas aspects separ- ately. The pay of United Kingdom members of the Armed Forces and home civil servants, and many of their conditions of service, are the same whether they serve in the United Kingdom or abroad. There are, however, a number of allowances relating specifically to service overseas, notably local overseas allowance for the Armed Forces, which is normally reviewed every three years, and foreign service allowance for civil servants, which is fully revised every three to four years.

    Aircraft Fuel Tanks

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will encourage NATO to develop a uniform exterior auxiliary fuel drop-tank to fit all the various types of aircraft in service with the allied airforces.

    Aerodynamic considerations inhibit the fitting of one type of drop-tank to different aircraft and a range of tanks of different capacity is always likely to be required for operational reasons. We are, however, actively encouraging measures to improve interchangeability where this is possible.

    Aircraft (Identification System)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in establishing a common system of electronic identification (FFS) for aircraft of 4 and 2ATF.

    As my right hon. Friend indicated in an earlier reply to the hon. Member on 23rd January—[Vol. 884. c. 463.]—NATO is actively pursuing agreed concepts for future identification equipments. In the meantime procedures have been devised and implemented to allow different systems to operate side by side.

    Oman

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what military aircraft and other military equipment originally supplied to Jordan is known to have been subsequently passed on or sold to Oman; and whether it is Government policy to supply British pilots or other military personnel to operate this equipment.

    Thirty-one Hunter aircraft are known to have been passed to the Sultanate of Oman by the Government of Jordan. The Oman Government have asked for assistance with the introduction into service of these aircraft, and this request is under consideration.

    Army Command Structure

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he intends to abandon the existing brigade structure in the British Army in Germany; if so, whether the reorganisation will affect the number and strength of the fighting units in Germany; and whether there will be any intermediate level of command between the division and the battle group.

    The Defence White Paper, which will be published on 19th March, will give appropriate details of these and other matters relating to the restructuring of the Army announced by my right hon. Friend on 16th December.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    No. When the occasion for any such appointment occurs, individuals, including women, with the appropriate qualifications and experience are considered.

    Northern Ireland

    Sport And Recreation

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is his estimate of expenditure by the Government and local authorities, respectively, on sport and recreation during 1973–74 and 1974–75.

    The information is as follows:

    £'000
    Estimated Expenditure
    yearGovernmentLocal Authorities (excluding Area Education Boards)
    1973–744,5004,000
    1974–756,0005,500
    There is no formal definition of sport and recreation, and estimates must, therefore, be approximate.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    In making public appointments it is necessary to secure people best fitted for the jobs in question. One aid to this is to take note of men and women with appropriate qualifications and experience, and it is always useful to hear of individual names. These records are being constantly updated, with the result that there is no settled total at any one time.

    Overseas Development

    Public Appointments

    asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which she is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before her; and how many of them are women.

    The public bodies and committees to which I make appointments cover many aspects of overseas development. They range from the well-known Commonwealth Development Corporation to my small and highly specialised Trypanosomiasis Panel. It is certainly my aim that they should have more women members. My hon. Friend will appreciate that women with experience and qualifications in these overseas and specialised fields are not easy to identify, for few women in the past have rarely had the opportunity to acquire them.

    Food Production And Ruraldevelopment

    asked the Minister of Overseas Development what decisions were reached by Commonwealth Ministers when they met recently in London to discuss food production and rural development.

    Ministers agreed that food production and rural development should feature more prominently in national plans and that these should be designed to ensure that the poorest people in developing countries would receive a fairer share of the benefits of development. They acknowledged the need for developing Commonwealth countries to review their policies related to their institutions for integrated rural development —for example, co-operatives; to land reform; to provision of appropriate inputs such as water; to provision of incentives to farmers; and to training and research. They agreed that a greater share of the assistance of Commonwealth donor countries should be directed to agriculture and rural development, and strongly requested the forthcoming meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Governments should consider their report. I will arrange for a copy of the report prepared by the meeting to be placed in the Library of the House.

    Environment

    House Purchasers (Protection)

    34.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what facilities have been established to provide purchasers of speculatively built houses with protection against misdescription and faulty workmanship.

    All new houses have to comply with the Building Regulations. In addition about 98 per cent. of all new houses built for sale are covered by the National House Building Council's scheme, which specifies constructional standards and provides for inspection of the work. For houses not covered by the NHBC scheme there is a possible legal recourse for a purchaser under Section 1 of the Defective Premises Act 1972. These measures provide protection for purchasers against faulty workmanship.As regards misdescription, much of what is written and said in connection with the sale of a house can be checked by a potential purchaser, with professional advice where appropriate.

    House Building

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is his assessment of the current level of capacity at which the house building industry is working; and what has been the effect to date of his proposals for maintaining and increasing the work load;(2) what is his estimate of the current trend in house starts in the private and public sectors, respectively.

    There is no precise way of measuring the capacity of the house-building industry, but it is clear that in most places there is under-use, due largely to the steep fall in starts in the private sector which began in spring 1973. The disastrous trend in the public sector has now been reversed. Starts recovered sharply last year and increased tender approvals in 1974 should produce even more starts in 1975. In the private sector, the decline in starts seems to have levelled out and there are signs in the house-building figures published on 6th March that the various measures the Government have taken to bring about a recovery may be beginning to have the desired effect.

    Mortgage Interest Rates

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will issue a circular to local authorities advising them to keep their mortgage interest rates in line with those of the building societies.

    My right hon. Friend could not advise local authorities to fix their mortgage rates at a level which might involve their home loans account falling into deficit.

    Empty Houses

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what consultations he has had with the London Housing Action Group regarding the number of properties that are owned by local authorities and housing associations and that have been vacant for more than six months; and if he can give an indication of how many such properties there are in the Greater London area.

    As my hon. Friend knows, the Action Group on London Housing has begun an investigation of the whole process of development and redevelopment in the public housing sector to identify where delays occur. An important concern in this work will be to minimise the time for which dwellings or sites remain empty before redevelopment.

    There are no data for public sector dwellings in London vacant for more than six months but the latest available statistics, from a survey carried out in April 1973, showed that at any one time there was an average vacancy rate of around 1 per cent. in London local authority housing, excluding the Greater London Council. This figure excludes dwellings designated for redevelopment which, when fit, are generally put to use as short-life properties, and no information is available on vacancy rates for housing association dwellings in London.

    Household Incomes(Council Tenants)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of local authority tenants had household incomes exceeding £3,000 per annum in the latest year for which the figures are available.

    From the Family Expenditure Survey it is estimated that in 1973 the gross household incomes of 22 per cent. of local authority tenants in Great Britain exceed £3,000 per annum, compared with 32 per cent. for households of all tenures.

    Housing Finance Actdisqualifications

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he intends to introduce his proposals for England and Wales terminating any existing disqualifications for councillors under the Housing Finance Act, providing an alternative to further surcharges and disqualifications, and providing for the recovery of lost rent from future rents or rates without burden on the Exchequer.

    The Housing Finance (Special Provisions) Bill was introduced on 7th March.

    Ports

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he can now say when he intends to introduce legislation to nationalise the ports; and if he will make a statement.

    I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) on 15th January.—[Vol. 884, c. 432–3.]

    Water Rates And Charges

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek powers to give himself control over the level of water rates levied by water authorities.

    The Water Act 1973 established the water authorities as self-supporting financial entities. I have no plans to overturn those arrangements by seeking additional powers.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in view of the decision of a number of regional water authorities to equalise their charges in the next financial year, he will instruct such bodies to implement his policy to phase this process over a seven-year period.

    The Water Act 1973 allows water authorities considerable autonomy in fixing their charges. My right hon. Friend has, however, urged authorities to adopt a cautious approach to equalisation. We hope that they will heed this advice.

    Transport Grants

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from local authorities on his decisions on the level of local transport expenditure accepted for each country for 1975–76.

    I refer to the answer I gave the hon. Member on 4th February —[Vol. 885, c. 482.] I have also received delegations from Derbyshire and Lancashire County Councils to discuss aspects of their allocation of transport grant and met representatives of the local authority associations to review the grant arrangements generally.

    Government Rents (Private Landlords)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will confirm that the total rent paid by the Government to private landlords in the years 1966 and 1973 was £10 million and £57 million, respectively, and that the estimated figure for 1975 is in excess of £100 million.

    The figures for total rent payments in Great Britain by the Property Services Agency in the relevant financial years are as follows:

    £million
    1966–6717
    1973–7455
    1975–7683
    (Estimated)

    National Bus Company

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the financial position of the National Bus Company.

    The National Bus Company estimates a loss of approximately £15 million in 1974, mainly as a result of rapid increases in costs. I understand that increases in the fares of many of its operating subsidiaries have already been authorised by the appropriate traffic commissioners. The company and my Department are reviewing the company's longer-term prospects.

    Civil Servants

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many administrative and clerical civil servants were employed by his Department in January 1971 and January 1975; and what was the average monthly salary or wage paid and the percentage increase for each figure.

    The information is as follows:

    Numbers
    JanuaryJanuary
    19711975
    Administrative Class5,3086,879
    9,58612,308
    The average monthly salaries for January 1971 and January 1975 were as follows:
    Average Monthly Salary
    January 1971January 1975Percentage Increase
    ££
    Administrative Class17228867·44
    Clerical Class8813755·68
    In addition to the salaries quoted above London Weighting allowance was payable as follws:
    ££
    Inner London14·5834·16
    (£175 p.a.)(£410 p.a.)
    Outer London7·5021·66
    (£90 p.a.)(£260 p.a.)

    In January 1975 Threshold payments of £19·06 per month were paid in addition to the salaries quoted above.

    Railways Act 1974 Grants

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details of the amount and purpose of any grants made under Section 8 of the Railways Act 1974.

    The procedures for administering the grant were announced on 19th February. No payaments have so far been made.

    British Railways (Borrowings)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the aggregate amount outstanding, at the latest available date, in respect of the principal of money borrowed by the British Railways Board and the board's commencing capital debt.

    The amounts at 12th March 1975 were as follows:

    £ million
    British Railways Board
    Commencing capital debt133·0
    Loans from Secretary of State118·3
    Bank loans and overdraft4·9
    Subsidiaries of the British Railways Board
    Total borrowing45·7
    Total301·9

    Rates (London)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the average increase in domestic and commercial rates in Greater London, Inner London and in Outer London, respectively.

    Based on reports from 10 of the 13 authorities in Inner London and 16 of the 20 in Outer London, the following are the estimated figures:

    Estimated Percentage Increases in Rates—1975–76 over 1974–75
    DomesticNon domestic
    (a)(b)
    Inner London444448
    Outer London454846
    Greater London454748
    Notes:
    (a) Increase over rates levied in 1974–75.
    (b) Increase over 1974–75 rates as reduced by Special Domestic Relief.

    Housing Finance Act 1972

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list (a) those local authorities where the district auditor has proposed a surcharge on councillors who did not implement the Housing Finance Act 1972 in full and the number of councillors concerned, (b) those local authorities whose accounts are still under investigation in this respect and the number of councillors concerned, and (c) his latest estimate of the total sums which have not been collected.

    District auditors are independent officers who do not report to me on the consideration of issues arising in the performance of their statutory duties. I cannot therefore provide lists of authorities where accounts are still under consideration and failure to implement the Housing Finance Act may involve surchargable losses or expenses. There may be about 20 authorities in England and Wales where these issues arise, the number of members concerned may be around 400 and the shortfall of income about £1½ million.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether taxation subsidy was paid in full to those local authorities which delayed implementation of the Housing Finance Act 1972, or whether the taxation subsidy was calculated on the basis that the full rent income had been properly collected in the financial year;(2) whether tax subsidies were paid in full for the financial years 1972–73 and 1973–74, respectively, to those local authorities which increased their entitlement to housing subsidies by their failure or delay in implementing the Housing Finance Act 1972.

    I assume that references to tax or taxation subsidies are to central Government subsidies.In most of these cases the final settlement for the years 1972–73 and 1973–74 has not yet been made. To the extent that an account is allowed by a district auditor, a loss of rent income through delay in implementing the Housing Finance Act would normally have the effect of increasing both an authority's entitlement to housing subsidies and the authority's obligation to make associated rate fund contributions. Where, however, there is a surcharge, or where, in place of surcharge, recovery is to be effected under the provisions of the Housing Finance (Special Provisions) Bill, increased housing subsidies due to a loss of rent income would not be payable.Unrecovered surcharges would, under present arrangements, fall to be met from the rate fund and attract rate support grant. Under the Bill any sums charged to the rate fund which would be surcharged but for Clause 1, and any charge to the rate fund under Clause 3, would not attract rate support grant.

    Agriculture, Fisheriesand Food

    Eggs (Imports)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the number and value of eggs imported from France during the period 1st January to 28th February 1975.

    Official figures are not yet available, but provisional estimates indicate that approximately 100,000 boxes of eggs were imported from France in the first two months of this year.

    Vegetable Prices

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish in the Official Report the official wholesale prices quoted by his Department for the weeks ending 10th January 1975 and 12th January 1974 in respect of those vegetables for which retail prices are quoted in the Department of Employment Gazette.

    Wholesale market prices are collected by the Ministry for weeks ending Wednesday and the following are averages of the most usual wholesale prices in main England and Wales mar-

    19751974
    Week endingWeek ending
    Unit8th January15th January9th January16th January
    POTATOES
    Home Grown:
    King Edward VII:
    Lincs. and Yorks.£ per cwt.2·222·111·861·84
    Blacklands2·252·051·861·89
    Other Districts2·072·011·771·72
    Other Reds1·941·941·64
    Whites1·841·801·521·47
    Imported:
    Canary Islands9·629·078·348·18
    Italy10·469·898·658·39
    TOMATOES
    Imported:
    Canary Islands£ per 6 kg.2·662·262·071·49
    Morocco2·201·851·801·20
    Spain2·171·841·661·24
    Israel1·801·71
    CABBAGE
    Home Grown:
    Savoys£ per cwt.2·602·613·403·07
    Spring Greens3·153·607·515·73
    Summer/Autumn2·402·21
    Winter Dutch White2·702·503·583·04
    Winter Other2·532·643·553·35
    Imported:
    Netherlands White3·404·285·12
    CAULIFLOWERS
    Home Grown:
    Cornish Class I£ per doz.1·051·141·191·05
    Cornish Class II0·860·980·980·84
    Kent Class I1·401·601·191·17
    Kent Class II1·201·400·910·93
    Other districts:
    Summer/Autumn Class II0·780·97
    Channel Islands Class II1·341·311·431·31
    Imported:
    France1·311·351·451·68
    BRUSSELS SPROUTS
    Home Grown£ per cwt.4·543·897·524·00
    CARROTS
    Home Grown:
    Topped:
    Washed3·293·081·781·61
    Unwashed2·84
    Imported:
    Netherlands (loose)8·018·836·078·04
    Netherlands (pre-packed)10·7811·559·60
    ONIONS
    Home Grown:
    Bulb2·592·653·223·56
    Imported:
    Hungary—Bulb4·714·78
    Spain—Bulb5·024·944·895·30
    MUSHROOMS
    Home Grown:
    England and Wales Indoorp per lb.20·824·421·821·4
    Imported:
    Irish Republic23·3

    kets for the weeks ending 8th and 15th January 1975 and the weeks ending 9th and 16th January 1974:

    Horticulture (Glasshouse Sector)

    asked the minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, if he will publish in the Official Report the further information now available on the sub-

    CountryDescription of subsidyEstimated equivalent effect in terms of pence per gallon for periods stated
    BelgiumFlat-rate payment on oil delivered, 50 centimes per litre from 1st April to 31st December 1974 and 30 centimes per litre from 1st January to 31st March 19752·5p April-December 1974 1·5p January-March 1975
    DenmarkNone
    Federal Republic of Germany*Flat-rate payment by Federal Government in 1974 on 12 months' oil usage, taking 1972 and 1973 consumption as the base, of about 3 pfennigs per litre. The Länder made varying supplementary payments averaging about 1 pfennig per litre. The Federal Government has announced that there will be additional retrospective payments of about 2 pfennigs per litre on 1974 consumptionAggregate of about 4·7p for 1974
    FranceIn 1974 lump sum payments were made to growers based on their area of heated structures. The rates varied regionally from 1·60 to 3·37 francs per square metre, the most common rate being 2·81 francs. These rates were however halved for growers using heavy oil. Supplementary payments at about half the 1974 rates have been proposed for 1975Aggregate of about 3p for 1974
    Irish RepublicFlat-rate payment on oil delivered, 5p per gallon from 1st July to 31st December 1974 and 2p per gallon from 1st January to 30th June 19755p July-December 1974 2p January-June 1975
    ItalyNone
    LuxembourgVirtually no glass
    NetherlandsAn interest rate subsidy is payable on bank loans used to purchase fuel. A bank guarantee scheme effectively provided a subsidy of 30 florins per metric ton from 1st January to 31st July 1974 for light oil; of 30 florins per metric tons from 1st March to 31st July 1974 for heavy oil; and of 50 florins per metric tons from 1st August 1974 to 30th June 1975 for all oilAggregate of about 4p to 5p for 1974
    United KingdomFlat-rate payment on oil used, 6p per gallon from 1st January to 30th June 1974 and 4p per gallon from 1st July to 31st December 19746p January-June 1975 4p July-December 1974
    In the case of France and the Netherlands the calculation of the estimated equivalent effect is necessarily imprecise because of the different methods of subsidisation which these countries have adopted.

    * The Federal Republic of Germany has a subsidy for gas used by horticulturists, similar to that for oil. Further details are not yet available.

    Fishing Limits

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the amounts, by sidies and financial aids available to glasshouse growers in all EEC countries.

    The following is a summary of out current information about temporary fuel oil subsidies made available to glasshouse growers in EEC countries:weight and value, of the different species of fish which were caught within the proposed 200 mile limit around England, Wales and Northern Ireland by each of the other countries of the EEC in each of the past five years.

    Figures are only available for the United Kingdom as a whole. Following are estimates, in thousands of metric tons, of the quantities for 1972 caught within waters that would be covered by the terms used in the hon. Member's Question. Similar information is not readily available for earlier years,

    CodHaddockPlaiceSaitheWhitingHerringMackerel
    Belgium12231
    Denmark421289
    France2314237201010
    Federal Republic of Germany6
    Ireland111
    Netherlands51921382

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantities, by weight and value, of the main species of fish were caught by fishing vessels based on England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the area around England, Wales and Northern Ireland which would fall within the proposed 200-mile fishing limit in each of the past five years.

    Figures are only available for the United Kingdom as a whole. Following are estimates, in thousands of metric tons, of the quantities for 1972 caught within waters that would be covered by the terms used in the hon. Member's Question. Similar information is not readily available for earlier years, and is not yet complete for 1973 and 1974. Figures for value are not available.

    Cod106
    Haddock133
    Plaice18
    CodHaddockPlaiceSaitheWhitingHerringMackerel
    Faroes468
    Iceland34
    Norway2713417
    Poland155
    U.S.S.R.2234011930
    Others11

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the total area of sea around England, Wales and Northern Ireland which would fall within the proposed 200-mile fishing limit; and what proportion this is of the total area of sea around all the countries of the EEC which would fall within the proposed 200-mile fishing limit.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him by the Secretary of State for Scotland today.

    New Zealand Butter And Cheese

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will tabulate in the Official Report the and is not yet complete for 1973 and 1974. Figures for value are not available.

    Saithe22
    Whiting40
    Herring149
    Mackerel9

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantities, by weight and value, of the main species of fish were caught by non-EEC countries in the area around England and Wales and Northern Ireland which would fall within the proposed 200-mile fishing limit in each of the past five years.

    Figures are only available for the United Kingdom as a whole. Following are estimates, in thousands of metric tons, of the quantities for 1972 caught within waters that would be covered by the terms used in the hon. Member's Question, Similar information is not readily available for earlier years, and is not yet complete for 1973 and 1974. Figures for value are not available.amounts of butter and cheese imported into the United Kingdom from New Zealand for each of the years 1972 to 1974, together with the average amount of duty or levy per ton in each year.

    The Overseas Trade Accounts show the following imports of butter and cheese from New Zealand in the years 1972, 1973 and 1974:

    Tons
    ButterCheese
    1972115,87463,318
    1973129,87346,597
    1974120,05116,328
    Milk products were imported free of duty from New Zealand up to 31st January 1973. The average amount of levy per ton

    * paid since 1st February 1973

    after taking account of monetary compensatory amounts was:

    Butter

    Cheese

    1973Nil£78
    1974£73£266

    * MAFF estimate.

    White Fish And Herring

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the

    Vessels of 80 feet and over (deep sea)Vessels of under 80 feet (inshore)
    White fish HerringWhite fish Herring
    QuantityValueQuantityValueQuantityValueQuantityValue
    '000 cwt.£'000'000 cwt. £'000'000 cwt. £'000'000 cwt. £'000
    19708,31338,9321,5076,445286542
    19717,34644,8671,9588,940195420
    19726,66449,1273171,98011,410149355
    19736,41367,740142,42917,268111423
    1974*6,11364,700301581,96016,383190763
    * Estimate based on January-November statistics.
    † White fish has been taken to mean all species of demersal fish and pelagic fish other than herring.

    Poultry Sales

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response he has received from the EEC about his representations that the date for implementing its directive (17/18/EEC) about prohibiting the sale of clean plucked or uneviscerated poultry should be postponed until 1982.

    The response to our request has been generally encouraging, though final decisions have not yet been taken.

    Fish Meal Imports

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the quantity and value of fish meal imported into the United Kingdom in each of the last five years.

    The quantity and value of fish meal imported into the United Kingdom in each of the last five years is as follows:

    tons£
    1970362,47231,622,859
    1971296,42225,461,593
    1972353.72330,486,661
    1973257,70051,222,973
    1974194,70736,408,731

    Milk

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what obligations will be incurred by the United Kingdom on 1st January 1976 in respect of standards in the sales of liquid milk.

    total catch, by weight and value, in each of the past five years, of white fish and of herring, by the inshore fleet and by the deep sea fleet, respectively, based on England and Wales.

    Landings of white fish and herring by British vessels in England and Wales during the last five years have been as follows:

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to his Question on 5th March 1975.—[Vol. 887, c. 411.]

    Public Appointments

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    When appointments to public bodies and committees are being considered my aim is to select persons best fitted for the job in question. One aid to this is to take note of people with appropriate qualifications and experience, and it is always useful to receive information about possible candidates. Since the records are continually being updated there is no settled total at any one time.

    Common Agricultural Policy

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what fundamental changes in the common agricultural policy have been achieved as a result of the fundamental renegotiation of terms of entry to the EEC, recently concluded in Dublin.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton) and others on 20th February —[Vol. 886, c. 1531]—and to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 12th March following the EEC Heads of Government meeting in Dublin.—[Vol. 888, c. 509.]

    Energy

    Gas And Electricity Tariffs

    33.

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy what study his Department has made of the effect on the small domestic consumer of the present structure of gas and electricity tariffs.

    As I indicated on 24th February in my answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Sunderland, North (Mr. Willey) we are continuing to study these tariffs including their effect on small users.

    Burmah Oil Company Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy by how much the market value of the shares purchased by the Bank of England from Burmah Oil Company Ltd., has increased since the purchase; and how this profit compares with the total value of the guarantees given by the Bank and the Government to the company.

    As I have already told the hon. Member, it is by no means to be assumed that the BP holding bought by the Bank of England from Burmah could be sold at the current market price. This price at close of business on 14th March gives the shares a current value of £292 million, which is £113 million more than the cost. It is impossible to set a value on the whole support operation, but the bank gave guarantees on $650 million of its Group's dollar borrowings and provided a standby cash facility.

    Expenditure Powers

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

    On 21st November 1974 the House approved affirmative orders under Section 2 of the Statutory Corporations (Financial Provisions) Act 1974. These authorised payment of compensation for price restraint in 1973–74 to the CEGB and area boards—£ 176,227,582—and to the Gas Corporation—£41,523,000.

    Hydrocarbons (Channel Islands)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy what consultations have taken place with representatives of the Channel Islands on the subject of offshore exploration rights for the recovery of hydrocarbons.

    I have been asked to reply.It is open to the Island Governments to issue licences for the territorial waters around the Islands. On the subject of the Continental Shelf, there has been consultation with the Island Governments for many years, but further discussion with them awaits the outcome of the arbitration on the demarcation of the Anglo-French Continental Shelf.

    Trade

    Namibia (Diesel Generators)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish in the Official Report the advice given by his Department to Mirrlees Blackstone Limited when it applied for permission to export diesel generating sets to be installed in a new power station being built at Walvis Bay, Namibia.

    The question of permission does not arise since export licences are not required in trade with Namibia, and with the Republic of South Africa including Walvis Bay.

    Company Names

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will seek powers to enable the Companies Registration Office to amend the name of a registered company without charging the statutory fee under the Companies Act 1948, when the change of name of the company is a direct consequence of the official respelling of a geographical location which forms part of the company's registered title.

    No. If the change of name is a voluntary one on the part of the company it would be unfair that the cost of registration of change of name should fall on the taxpayer. The amount in question is £40.

    Skytrain

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has made to the United States Government about the lack of action of the Civil Aeronautics Board in giving effect to the licence for the Skytrain services for Atlantic flights.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Members for Tonbridge and Mailing (Mr. Stanley) and Romford (Mr. Neubert) on 17th February.

    Valves

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what factors inhibit, or are likely to inhibit, the export of British manufactured valves to other EEC countries.

    I am not aware of anything, apart from purely commercial considerations and standard requirements, inhibiting such exports. After much detailed work by the European Standards Committee, in which the United Kingdom played an active rôle, there is prospect now of agreement on harmonised European standards in this sector which will help our exporters.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of exports from British valve manufacturers and the value of imported values during each of the last three years.

    Following is the information for industrial valves:

    ExportsImports
    £ million£ million
    fobcif
    197249·014·9
    197348·318·6
    197463·022·6

    Ships Names

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade on how many occasions, in each of the last five years, have objections been made to a change of a ship's name as a result of advertisements in daily and other publications, respectively; and what was the tonnage of the ship and the number of objections in each case.

    Files on changes of ships' names are only kept for two years and do not necessarily distinguish between daily and other publications. The information available is as follows:

    Objections received Daily or other publicationsSize of Ship
    (tons gross)
    1973464
    11
    12
    15
    19740
    1975 (to date)0

    Government Guarantees

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will outline the criteria applicable in deciding whether a Government guarantee should be provided with the approval of the Export Credits Guarantee Department or under the Industry Act 1972.

    The operation of the Industry Act is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry. The criteria for ECGD guarantees involve the exercise of ECGD's underwriting judgments. Guarantees are given either under section 1 of the Department's Act where, after consultation with the Export Guarantees Advisory Council, the business is accepted as "commercial", or, under Section 2 if business is considered to be in the "national interest".

    Education And Science

    Student Union Fees

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will consider advising the appropriate authorities as to a desirable maximum percentage increase in student union fees for the year 1975–76.

    Student unions are organised and financed in a variety of ways. In general, university and college authorities are responsible for settling the union subscription. Before any action could be taken there would have to be consultation with those concerned. I am very much aware of the issues involved.

    Examination Results

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total number of O and A passes in summer examinations for 1972–73 and 1973–74.

    The information for 1972–73 is as follows:

    Total number of passes in GCE examinations, summer 1973
    Ordinary level1,427,785
    Advanced level328,239
    The figures for the 1974 examinations are not yet available.

    Class Sizes

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of primary classes in England and Wales now contains more than 40 pupils.

    In January 1974, 1·5 per cent. of classes in maintained primary schools.

    Literacy

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of school leavers in England and Wales were considered to be (a) illiterate and (b) semi-literate in the academic years 1970–71, 1971–72, 1972–73 and 1973–74.

    This information is not collected by my Department, nor is there a generally agreed definition of "literacy". A survey conducted by the National Foundation for Educational Research in 1971, however, used a definition based upon scores obtained in a reading test. On this basis a negligible proportion of pupils aged 15 in maintained secondary schools in 1971—excluding special schools—were "illiterate" and about 3 per cent. were "semiliterate".

    Pupil-Teacher Ratio

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the pupil-teacher ratio in maintained schols in England and Wales for the academic years 1972–73, 1973–74 and 1974–75.

    The ratios were 21·4 and 21·1 in January 1973 and January 1974 respectively. Comparable information for the 1974–75 academic year is not yet available.

    Pupils (Secondary Schools)

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of pupils in maintained secondary schools is educated in (a) grammar schools, (b) secondary modern schools and (c) comprehensive or other non-selected schools.

    The information is as follows:

    PUPILS ATTENDING MAINTAINED SECONDARY SCHOOLS IN ENGLAND AND WALES, JANUARY 1974
    Percentage attending
    (a)Grammar schools11·6
    (b)Modern schools24·1
    (c)Comprehensive schools64·3*
    * Including 4·1 per cent. who were attending Technical or other unclassified schools.

    Arts Council

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now answer Questions relating to the grants made by the Arts Council to individual organisations or for particular matters.

    No. It is for the Arts Council, under the terms of its Charter, to decide these matters. My responsibility is for general issues of arts policy, including the size of the grant in aid to the council.

    Expenditure Powers

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

    I have obtained no expenditure powers subject to specified limits in the past 12 months.

    Numbers employedAverage monthly salaryPer cent.
    £
    January 1970—
    Administrative860188·8
    Clerical97184·9
    January 1975—
    Administrative883309·864·1
    Clerical832131·955·4
    Comparable figures for January 1971 are as follows:
    Numbers employedAverage monthly salaryPer cent.
    £
    January 1971—
    Administrative862209·2
    Clerical90592·5
    January 1975—
    Administrative883309·848·1
    Clerical832131·942·6
    The salary figures do not include London weighting or cost of living supplements.

    Colleges Of Education

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what estimate he has made of the number of colleges of education that will have to close as a result of the cutback in the number of student teachers by the early 1980s; and how the cutback will be distributed amongst (a) the voluntary and (b) the local education authority colleges:(2) if he will list those colleges of education where a definite decision has been made that they shall close and the date of closure;(3) how many colleges of education, and which, have been advised by the Department not to recruit any students, commencing teacher-training for the academic years 1975–76, 1976–77 and 1977–78, respectively.

    Civil Servants

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many administrative and clerical civil servants were employed by his Department in January 1970 and January 1975; and what was the average monthly salary or wage per head and the percentage increase for each figure.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to an answer I gave to a question by the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) on 13th February—[Vol. 886, cols. 205–6]. The voluntary providing bodies have accepted in principle that their colleges should bear a reduction in teacher training numbers proportionate to that required in the country as a whole.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussion his Department has had with staff and college authorities, and from which colleges, concerning the future of their colleges.

    It is for local education authorities to consult maintained colleges in their areas. My Department has had innumerable discussions with national and local representatives of all the voluntary colleges of education and of their providing bodies.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) whether he is aware that copies of the Crombie Code proposals have not yet reached the staff of colleges where a definite decision has been made to close the college; and if he will now ensure that at least tentative proposals of what may be included in the Crombie Code are sent to all teacher training colleges;(2) whether he will bring forward the date of the publication of the Crombie Code.

    The Department wrote in January to all chief education officers, colleges of education and polytechnics with departments of education describing the various steps being taken to protect the interests of college of education staff. The letter summarised the Crombie terms of compensation which will be applied by new regulations to college of education staff affected directly by the reorganisation of higher education. I am sending a copy to my hon. Friend. The regulations will be circulated in draft to the relevant national bodies next month and I expect to lay them before Parliament in June. Summaries of the Crombie terms have also been circulated to their members in the colleges by the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education and the National Union of Teachers.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make provision for the retraining of redundant training college staff in teaching or other professions.

    Arrangements agreed in consultation with the local authorities' associations enable college of education staff to be seconded on salary to attend courses which will equip them for new duties in the education service. I have no power to assist those wishing to retrain for other professions, but training allowances are available for this purpose under the Training Opportunities Scheme administered by the Training Services Agency.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will prohibit the general advertising of vacancies in teacher training until those members of staff declared redundant have obtained suitable posts.

    No. On the initiative of the Association of Teachers in Colleges and Departments of Education a staff redeployment bureau has been set up to assist and advise college of education staff seeking other employment. The greater part of its cost will be met by a grant from the Department.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will encourage early retirement of training college staff in order to reduce the number of redundancies in training colleges.

    Benefits under the teachers' superannuation scheme are not payable before age 60. The Department will, however, be making regulations under which redundant college of education teachers could receive up to normal retirement age compensation not exceeding two-thirds of their existing salary. In considering which teachers should be declared redundant, college authorities will, no doubt, take into account the ages and the personal preferences of individual teachers.

    Teacher Training

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the number of redundancies occurring as a result of the cutback in teacher training amongst teaching, administrative and other staff.

    It is not possible to make a reliable estimate. The contraction of teacher training will be spread over a period of years and the number of redundancies will depend upon a variety of factors including the incidence of normal retirements, how far existing staff may be employed on the new work outside teacher training which many colleges will be developing and the extent to which staff may transfer to posts in other parts of the education service.

    Teachers' Salaries

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations have been received, and what replies have been given, to requests for polytechnic teachers' salary negotiations to be conducted independently.

    Although requests have been made to me for such a change, I have indicated that the Burnham Further Education Committee is competent to undertake these negotiations.

    Public Appointments

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    In making public appointments it is necessary to secure people best fitted for the jobs in question. One aid to this is to take note of people with appropriate qualifications and experience, and it is always useful to hear of individual names. These records are being constantly updated, with the result that there is no settled total at any one time.

    Civil Service

    Public Appointments

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he keeps a list of possible nominees for public bodies and committees to which he is entitled to nominate; how many names are now before him; and how many of them are women.

    In making public appointments Ministers need to secure the services of the people best fitted for the job in question. As one aid to this the CSD lists the names of men and women recommended as having qualifications and experience which would equip them for such appointments. These names are made available to other Departments as particular vacancies arise, and on these occasions the aim is to include as large a proportion of women as is practicable. The proportion is not determined by the number of women's names on this central list, which is in any case constantly being updated and revised. It is always useful, therefore, to hear about individuals who have a contribution to make and are willing to serve.

    National Finance

    Public Service Employees

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the numbers of civil servants, and local authority employees, and other servants of public bodies as a proportion of the employed population 1964; and, at the latest available date, and from international data available to him, how these figures compare with West Germany, France, Italy, Japan and the United States of America.

    Following is the information for the United Kingdom. There is no data avilable from international bodies for the other countries on a comparable basis.

    JuneJune
    19641973
    Percent.Percent.
    United Kingdom civil servants2·7*2·8
    Local authority employees (including local authority education)7·810·9
    Other public bodies (including public corporations)10·8*11·0
    21·224·7
    * The Post Office is treated as a public corporation in 1964 for better comparability with the figures for 1973.

    Value Added Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the annual cost to the Exchequer if (a) the first £250 per annum of VAT payment, or (b) the first 5 per cent. of all VAT payment per annum, were refundable to retailers to cover the administrative cost of collecting the tax.