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Written Answers

Volume 888: debated on Tuesday 18 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 18th March 1975

Employment

Skillcentres

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what expansion of places in Government training centers— Skillcentres—is proposed for the Yorkshire and Humberside Region in 1975 and 1976.

The Manpower Services Commission informs me that the Training Services Agency plans to open a new skillcentre at Bradford in 1976 which will provide 176 training places. A further 12 places will be provided by expansion at the existing Hull skillcentre.

10.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many new skillcentres are now approved; when these will be completed; and how many places for women trainees they will provide.

The Manpower Services Commission informs me that the Training Services Agency plans to open 13 new skillcentres in its expansion programme up to 1977–78. Completion dates differ, but most of the new centres should be ready for occupation by the beginning of 1978. Since facilities under the Training Opportunities Scheme are open to both men and women it is not proposed to designate any places at the new centres specifically for women.

Trade Unions

7.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation to encourage the reorganisation of trade unions so as to facilitate the avoidance of inter-union disputes and of disputes between groups of workers within individual unions which result in industrial action.

The Trade Union (Amalgamations etc.) Act 1964 facilitated amalgamations between unions and I see no need for further legislation.

Disabled Persons

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give details of the financial support available to help disabled people to obtain and hold employment.

It is estimated that in the current financial year about £29,830,000, excluding capital expenditure, will be spent for this purpose. I understand that the Manpower Services Commission estimates that £9,553,000 will have been spent on its employment, rehabilitation and training services: £4,209,000 on rehabilitation and training allowances; and £68,000 on miscellaneous grants. My Department estimates that it will spend £215,000 on hostel accommodation, and that it and the local authorities will jointly spend £15,785,000 on sheltered employment.

Training

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the plans by the Manpower Services Commission to increase spending on officially sponsored training schemes.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the plans provide for expenditure to increase from £85 million in 1974–75 to £171 million by 1979 at 1974 prices. Details have been published in the Training Services Agency's five-year plan, which will be updated during the year, and in the Public Expenditure Survey to 1978–79.

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement about the progress so far made in the five-year plan of the Training Services Agency issued by the Manpower Services Commission in 1974.

I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that its annual report for 1974–75 is to be presented to my right hon. Friend shortly. Considerable progress has been made in building a constructive partnership with industrial training boards; in establishing the principles of the Employment and Training Act 1973; in expanding the services provided by the Training Opportunities Scheme; and in setting up a wide range of projects for action to meet special training needs and priorities.

Industrial Disputes (Lost Working Days)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the percentage of working days lost in Great Britain through industrial action in 1974; and if he will compare this percentage with that for Germany and France for the same period.

Comparative data for 1974 are not yet available. Comparing the number of days lost per 1,000 employees in each of the three countries during 1973, the figures are: United Kingdom, 570 days; France, 330 days; West Germany, 40 days.

Social Contract

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his latest estimate of the proportion of trade unionists whose wage settlements since 10th October 1974 have been in excess of the guidelines laid down in the social contract.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his latest estimate of the proportion of trade unionists whose wage settlements since 10th October 1974 have fallen within the guidelines laid down in the social contract.

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the present operation of the social contract as it affects wage settlements in Scotland.

A great deal of progress has been made on both the Government's side and the trade unions' side in implementing the social contract in Scotland and elsewhere. But firmer adherence to the spirit of the TUC guidelines is vital to reducing the danger of higher unemployment and keeping down inflation.

Building Industry (Craftsmen)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the current rate of unemployment of craftsmen in the building industry in the Greater London area; and what plans he has for discussions with local authorities to encourage them to make fuller use of such skills through the employment of direct labour.

Unemployment among building trade craftsmen both in Greater London and elsewhere is a matter for concern, and is one of many factors which will, no doubt, be taken into account by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in his Budget deliberations. Questions about the expansion of local authorities' direct labour departments are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Safety At Work

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the operation of the safety at work regulations in so far as they apply to factories in the Preston area.

Although this is now a matter for the Health and Safety Commission, if my hon. Friend has a particular case in mind I shall draw it to the attention of the chairman of the commission.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the safety regulations relating to people who work underground other than in the mining industry.

Workers engaged in tunnelling and similar work are covered by the various codes of construction regulations made under the Factories Act 1961. The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that there is no evidence that these regulations are generally inadequate for the purpose of safeguarding these workers. However, a review of certain limited aspects will be put in hand.

Industrial Disputes (Settlementprocedure)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what recent discussions he has had with the CBI and TUC about keeping individual employees informed about procedure to be followed in settling disputes at the place of work; and if he will make a statement.

None. It is the responsibility of those directly concerned in establishing procedure agreements to ensure that their terms are known by the people on whose behalf they are negotiated.

Scotland

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest Scottish unemployment figures; and how they compare with the figures for the South-East and Northern Regions.

At 10th February there were 101,326 unemployed in Scotland. The percentage rates of unemployment were 4·7 in Scotland, 2·2 in the South-East and 5·2 in the Northern Region.

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the level of unemployment in Scotland.

Although the February unemployment figures for Scotland showed a slight improvement on those for January the overall level of unemployment in Scotland is still too high. There has, however, been a significant improvement over the last year in the unemployment position in Scotland relative to that of Great Britain as a whole.

British Rail

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has any plans to meet the Chairman of British Rail.

Pneumoconiosis

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from trade unions or other organisations representing workers who have contracted pneumoconiosis in industries other than the coal industry; and what replies he has sent.

I have received two letters from trade unions on this subject. In my replies I described the unique situation in the nationalised coal industry which led to the setting up of a special NCB fund as an alternative to the pursuit of compensation through legal proceedings in the civil courts.

Southampton

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure for industrial redundancies declared in the Southampton area.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that at 10th March redundancies affecting 66 people in manufacturing industry have been recorded as due to occur in the Southampton travel-to-work area in 1975.

"De News"

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many copies of DE News, edition 18th January 1975, were distributed; how many were requested; and how many were sent unsolicited.

About 130,000 copies were distributed 82,000 were sent out on the DE. News distribution list. As this issue carried articles of general economic interest an additional 48,000 copies were distributed to readers on the Treasury's Economic Progress Report mailing list. Since publication of this issue requests have been received increasing DE News circulation by more than 12,000 copies.

Ship Repairing

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of people employed in the ship repairing industry.

At 18th January 1975 the provisional number of employees in employment in the shipbuilding and marine engineering industry in Great Britain was 176,100. This figure includes ship repairing, for which there are no separate estimates.

Pay Settlements

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list the previous occasions on which he issued a formal statement condemning any pay settlement reached since the abolition of statutory controls on pay.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) on 16th January, to which I have nothing to add.—[Vol. 884, c. 154.]

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what criteria he uses to decide whether to issue a formal statement condemning any pay settlement as being in breach of the social contract pay guidelines.

My right hon. Friend makes public comment on settlements when this seems called for in all the circumstances of the case, including its relative importance.

Weekly Earnings (Gwynedd)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the latest available estimates of the average gross weekly earnings of full-time male and female, manual and non-manual workers in Gwynedd.

Some limited information about average earnings in Gwynedd is available from the New Earnings Survey. The survey estimates for such small counties inevitably have relatively high sampling errors. In April 1974 average weekly earnings of the 114 full-time manual men in the sample whose pay for the survey reference period was not affected by absence were about £42·00, subject to a standard error of 3 per cent. The estimates for other groups had larger standard errors and so their publication could be misleading.

Factory Inspectorate

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will outline the consultations he has undertaken with the Factory Inspectorate on its proposed reorganisation.

I have nothing further to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 6th March.—[Vol. 887, c. 489.]

Community Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has for the immediate expansion of community industry, both in the number of young persons employed and the number of areas served, during the next financial year.

Community industry now employs 1,509 young people, which is well within its authorised capacity of 2,000 places. There are no immediate plans to increase this limit, but the need for expansion will be kept under review.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he will announce his decision regarding the future responsibility for the oversight of community industry; and whether he intends to make any changes in its purpose and brief.

These matters are still under consideration, and I cannot say how soon it will be possible to make a public announcement.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will have regard to the social cost saving factor when considering the future and expansion of community industry.

Education And Science

Tuition Fees (Further Education)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has given consideration to the level of tuition fees in institutions of higher or further education; and if he will make a statement.

Tuition fees were last changed in universities in 1967–68. They were last reviewed in further education institutions in 1971–72, although I am aware that many local education authorities have made subsequent adjustments. Since then there has been a sustained rise in the cost of courses, and this should be reflected in increased fees.Following consultations with the local authority associations, I am about to issue a circular to local education authorities recommending that from the academic year 1975–76 fees for full-time advanced level courses in further education should be increased by approximately £70, fees for full-time non-advanced courses by £50 and those for other courses by 20 per cent. above the level for the academic year 1972–73. The increases would apply equally to home and overseas students.So far as universities are concerned, I shall have to take corresponding increases into account in considering grants for the remaining two years of the quinquennium. The Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals and the University Grants Committee have constituted a joint working party to carry out a comprehensive review of the fee structure in universities, with the aim of introducing new arrangements, if possible in October 1976. I welcome this initiative, and my decision for 1975–76 will not prejudice consideration of the working party's study.Roughly one in ten of overseas students are assisted or are wholly paid for by the Ministry of Overseas Development as part of the aid programme. For these students the Ministry will pay the increased fee. Similarly the increased fees will be taken into account in making awards under the Ministry's Overseas Students Fees Awards Scheme.I realise that these fee increases may cause temporary hardship to some students. I am asking local education authorities and universities to exercise discretion in such cases, and to continue to exempt from fees full-time students under 18 in further education.

Overseas Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many people from overseas studied in Great Britain in the academic years 1972–73 and 1973–74; how many were at universities and how many at other higher educational establishments ; what is the total cost for this education; and how much of this is met from central funds and local rates respectively.

The number of full-time overseas students at universities and following advanced courses at other establishments of higher education in Great Britain is set out below. I am writing to the hon. Member about the other information, which is not available in the form requested.

Universities: 1972–73, 21,809; 1973–74, 25,708.
Advanced Further Education and Teacher Training:1972–73, 7,787; 1973–74, 9,731.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science(1) how many places at United Kingdom technical colleges have been requested for students from developing countries, and how many requests are from each country, for the year 1975–76;(2) what percentage of the requests from developing countries for places at United Kingdom technical colleges the United Kingdom will be able to satisfy in the year 1975–76;(3) which developing countries have requested places at United Kingdom technical colleges for their nationals for the year 1975–76.

I regret that none of this information is available, but, as I have told my hon. Friend, I am keen that our technical colleges should make a full contribution to the education of students from developing countries, and we will continue to keep the part they should play in this under general review.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what are the principal subjects studied by students from developing countries at United Kingdom technical colleges.

I regret that information is not available in this form and that to produce it would involve disproportionate cost.

Teacher Training

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students were in initial teacher training in Great Britain in the academic years 1972–73, 1973–74 and 1974–75.

The total number of students enrolled on courses of initial teacher training in Great Britain in each of the three years was 133,050; 130,270 and 124,000 (provisional estimate) respectively.

Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many teachers there were in maintained and aided schools in Great Britain including the full-time equivalent of part-time teachers for the academic years 1972–73, 1973–74 and 1974–75.

The number of teachers, including the full-time equivalent of part-time teachers, in maintained and aided schools in England and Wales was 426,348 in January 1973, 449,174 in January 1974 and an estimated 465,000 in January 1975. Teachers in Scotland are the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Universities

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will announce Government policy and financial provisions for the universities for 1975–76 and 1976–77 in view of the need for forward planning.

Social Services

Social Workers

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of social workers currently employed have received professional training.

I assume that the Question refers to social workers in field work practice. At 30th September 1973, the latest date for which figures are available, 39 per cent. of social workers employed in local authority social services departments in England in this capacity were professionally qualified.

Old People

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will institute a national welfare register which would indicate who is at risk among the elderly.

I would refer my right hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) on 14th March.—[Vol. 888, c. 239.]

Benefits (Strikers)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the amount of money paid from public funds to date to personnel, including their families, who are on strike from the British Leyland factory at Castle Bromwich.

Supplementary benefit amounting to just over £1,600 has been paid out for the families of men involved in the dispute.

Dentists

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will now confirm that those dentists entitled to take early retirement as a result of reorganisation may defer their decision without prejudice until after the posts of district dental officer have been filled.

The National Health Services Reorganisation (Retirement of Senior Officers) (Amendment) Regulations, 1975 (Statutory Instrument 1975 No. 302), which were made on 5th March 1975 and, subject to negative resolution, come into effect on 31st March 1975, will extend the period for electing to retire to 31st January 1976 and the date by which retirement must take place to 31st March 1976. This should provide ample time for district dental officer appointments to have been completed.

Invalid Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what percentage of three-wheel invalid cars suplied by her Department covered 0–100 miles, 101–200 miles, 201–300 miles, 301–400 miles, 401–500 miles, 501–600 miles, 601–700 miles, 701–800 miles, 801–900 miles and 901–1,000 miles, respectively, in the latest year for which figures are available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many motor tricycles were on issue to disabled drivers, and how many in the reserve fleet, broken down in terms of the various models, for the latest year available.

At 31st December 1974 there were on issue in England 7,059 Model 70s and 11,591 earlier models not currently in production. In addition there was a reserve fleet of about 2,300 pre-Model 70 vehicles.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what, at the latest convenient date, was the cost of the invalid vehicle service attributable to the tricycle, broken down into the following categories: (i) replacement of vehicles on issue by new vehicles, (ii) repairs and maintenance of vehicles on issue, (iii) replacement costs relating to the reserve fleet, (iv) repairs and maintenance of the reserve fleet, (v) administration, and (vi) other costs.

The information is not available in the form requested. The overall cost in the1973–74 financial year was approximately £4½ million. This includes the purchase of new vehicles for first applicants as well as for replacements, repairs and maintenance, including the reserve fleet, insurance, driving tuition and petrol allowance but excludes administration costs, which are not separately recorded.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is still satisfied that there are no reasons on grounds of safety to withdraw three-wheeled invalid tricycles.

I am not satisfied that the withdrawal of invalid tricycles is justified. However, I am actively studying reports relating to accidents involving invalid tricycles to see what can be done to minimise the number of these accidents.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has recently received about the safety of three-wheeled invalid tricycles; and if she will make a statement.

Representations on this subject have reached me from a few individuals and from certain organisations of disabled people. I am undertaking an analysis of information about injury accidents in 1973–74, and I shall write to the hon. Member when the figures are available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the difference between the accident rate per million miles for three-wheeled invalid tricycles compared with adapted cars supplied to the disabled.

Based on estimated average annual mileages, the figures for the year ended 30th September 1974 were approximately 77 and 33 respectively. These figures are not precisely comparable. They reflect differences in the inspection and servicing arrangements, which in the case of tricycles result in the reporting of a proportionately higher number of minor incidents; differences in the characteristics of the vehicles, in the groups of drivers involved and in the pattern of use. About one-third of the Department's cars are not adapted; these are not separately identified in the Department's accident records.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1), in the last year for which figures are available, in what proportion of the accidents in which invalid three-wheelers issued by her Department were involved the invalid three-wheeler concerned was travelling at a speed in excess of 35 mph.(2) in the last year for which figures are available, how many of the invalid three-wheelers issued by her Department were involved in no accidents, one accident, two accidents and three or more accidents, respectively.

Information in the form requested is not available, or cannot be provided without a disproportionate use of resources, but the analysis I am undertaking of information about injury accidents in 1973–74 takes account of previous accident records and drivers' own estimates of speed. I shall write to my hon. Friend when the figures are available.

Private Car Allowance

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the net cost of implementing the private car allowance in place of conversion grants, etc. what part of this cost was due to certain recipients obtaining more money: and what part was due to some people currently in receipt of a tricycle waiving this right and accepting the PCA instead.

Information in the form requested is not available. The cost of car conversion grants in 1971–72, the last year that they were payable, was £90,063; the cost of the private car allowances in 1972–73, the year of their introduction, was £930,408. In 1972–73 about 1,000 three-wheeler users gave up their vehicles in favour of the private car allowance.

Out-Patients (Waiting Lists)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by how much the waiting list for out-patients' appointments in the south-west of England has increased since the work to contract by the medical consultants.

Figures showing the comparative size of out-patient waiting lists throughout the South Western Region are not available. Since 2nd January, however, when the hospital consultants started industrial action, there has been a significant increase in waiting time for out-patients' appointments in many specialities at hospitals in the region.

Geriatric Beds

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the present ratio of geriatric beds in the Medway health district; what shortage of beds this represents; and how it compares with the national ratio.

In the Medway Health District there are 7·13 beds per 1,000 population over age 65 compared with the national average of 8·8 beds per 1,000, and this represents a shortfall of about 55 beds.

Hypothermia

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what official surveys have been conducted by her Department within the last five years into the temperature levels of rooms, flats and houses occupied by old people.

Byssinosis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in what areas of the United Kingdom byssinosis is most prevalent; how many people have benefited from the inclusion of byssinosis in the Industrial Injuries Scheme; and if she will make a statement.

The information available relates to claims in Great Britain for industrial injury disablement benefit in respect of byssinosis, over 90 per cent. of which come from the Greater Manchester area. The latest available figure shows that 3,210 people were receiving benefit on 30th September 1973. Since then the conditions for benefit have been widened, as I announced in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, North (Mr. Molloy) on 18th June 1974.—[Vol. 875, c. 89–90.]

Tidworth Army Hospital

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consultations she has had with the Wessex Regional Health Authority about the proposed closure of the Tidworth Army Hospital; what extra hospital provisions that authority will be making for civilians who formerly made use of Tidworth Hospital; and what will be the extra cost to the National Health Service.

The Wessex Regional Health Authority was consulted about the effects on the National Health Service of the closure of Tidworth military hospital. No extra hospital provisions will be necessary for the small number of civilians who formerly used Tidworth hospital; they will be treated at existing NHS hospitals at very little extra cost.

Handicapped Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will list in the Official Report the manner in which each of the former local authorities satisfied the requirements of Section 1(1) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970.

The latest information available to me relates to 1973. A study is, however, being carried out, with financial support from my Department, by the Department of Social Administration of Birmingham University into the methods adopted by the former local authorities in implementing Section 1(1) of the Act. I expect soon to receive the report of the study and shall write to my hon. Friend when I have done so.

Industry

North-West Region

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he has taken since coming to office to improve employment prospects in the North-West Region.

The Government have doubled the rate of regional employment premium, strengthened the industrial development certificate control in non-assisted areas, and granted special development area status to Merseyside. In addition, 18 advance factories have been allocated to the region in the past year, and a 21-acre site at Liverpool has been acquired from the Property Services Agency for factory development. The region will receive nearly 4,400 jobs as a result of Government dispersal plans. When the National Enterprise Board and the planning agreements system come into operation we shall be able to do still more to improve employment prospects.

North East Court Shiprepairers Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he acquired the ordinary share capital in North East Court Ship Repairers Ltd.; and what is delaying the payment of compensation to the preference shareholders and debenture holders of that company.

The ordinary shares were acquired on 19th September 1974. The preference shares and debentures have not yet been acquired.

Rb211 Engine

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the sums being spent with Rolls-Royce in order to adapt the —524 version of the RB211 for use in the Lockheed TriStar preclude further sums being advanced to adapt the engine for the 747 jumbo jet.

No. The Government are fully committed to support the development of the RB211–524 for the TriStar. In my right hon. Friend's statement in the House on 5th December 1974 he also said that the Government will provide support on similar terms for the application to the Boeing 747 when a major order is placed for -524 powered B747 aircraft in addition to those required by British Airways.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what estimate he has made of the size of the jumbo market for the RB211 engine as compared with the TriStar market.

The market estimates are continually under review by both Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd. and the Government, and are based on information which is a matter of commercial confidentiality to the company. The two markets are, of course, different in character. The RB211 is the only engine in service in the Lockheed TriStar while two other engines are available in the Boeing 747 and the RB211 would make a third. I would, therefore, not expect the RB211 market in the B747 to be as large as in the TriStar.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he will make an announcement about the agreement between Boeing and Rolls-Royce to work together on adapting the RB211 engine.

The agreement between Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd. and Boeing is a matter for the two companies. I understand that the present agreement runs until the end of May 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much money the Government are being asked to supply in order to fund the adaptation of the up-rated —524 version of the RB211 for use in the 747 jumbo jet.

The level of contribution requested by Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd. from the Governnment for the application of the RB211–524 to the Boeing 747 is related to the total costs of the application and is, therefore, a matter of commercial confidentiality for the company. Should the condition for Government support for the application, which my right hon. Friend announced to the House last December, be met, then he would give the House details as soon as possible, as he did for the launch of the -524 for the TriStar last December.

Jumbo Jets And Tristar

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied that the 747 jumbo and the long-range Lockheed Tri-Star are directly competitive.

The Boeing 747 is a substantially larger aircraft. However, for some airlines the purchase of one of these aircraft would probably affect the requirement for the other.

Boeing Aircraft President

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he himself was present at a meeting on Thursday 6th March with Mr. E. H. Boullioun, the President of Boeing, who had flown from Seattle for such a meeting.

Foreign Andcommonwealth Affairs

Eec Membership (Renegotiation)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the renegotiation of the terms of the United Kingdom's membership of the EEC.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the statement which my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made on 12th March on the outcome of the Heads of Community Governments meeting in Dublin on 10th–11th March.

Hong Kong

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy on the question of diplomatic representation of the Chinese People's Republic in Hong Kong.

I would refer to my reply to my hon. Friend on 10th March.—[Vol. 888, c. 143.] We are satisfied with the present position.

Immigration Appeals

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the average delay after the receipt of an appeal against the refusal to grant an entry clearance, before the entry clearance officer in Pakistan is able to send the explanatory statement setting out the reasons for the refusal to the central office of the appellate authorities in London.

No detailed records are kept covering this, but the average delay at present is between four and five months.

Environment

Views Common, Huntingdon

45.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will ensure the urgent reinstatement of 20 acres of land at Views Common, Huntingdon, belonging to the Freemen of Huntingdon, from which clay has been extracted for building Huntingdon bypass, in accordance with permission given to the main contractors, A. Monk & Co. Limited, on 2nd October 1973 subject to a condition that the land be regraded to prescribed levels by those contractors.

My Department has no legal responsibility for the reinstatement of Views Common.

M25

46.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made with the construction of the M25 motorway; and what are the target dates for the completion of the remaining sectors.

The ReigateGodstone section of the M25 is to be completed during the second half of this year. The target dates for the completion of the other sections of the motorway remain as stated in the reply given to the hon. Member for Ashford (Mr. Speed) on 13th November.—[Vol. 881, c. 131–2.]

Housing Subsidies

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the average amount of Exchequer and rate-borne subsidy on local authority housing per unit of accommodation for each of the latest three years; and what was the average value of tax relief and option mortgage subsidy to mortgagors per unit of accommodation in each of the same years.

The relevant estimates for England and Wales are:

Average subsidy from the Exchequer and from rate fund contributions per council houseAverage tax relief or option mortgage subsidy per mortgaged house
1971–725073
1972–736179
1973–74105101

The 1973–74 figures are calculated on the basis of the latest available information and are subject to slight variation.

Departmental Correspondence

asked the Secretary of the Environment when the Arun District Council can expect a decision regarding its plans for the purchase of private houses as outlined in its letter of 7th February 1975 to him.

A reply has been sent to the district council. I am sending the hon. Member a copy.

Sheltered Housing

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to encourage local authorities, the Commission for the New Towns and development corporations to increase the number of sheltered housing units provided for the elderly.

I have asked my Department to look into the various aspects of the problem of housing for old people, including the provision of sheltered housing. Meanwhile, a third of all new building by local authorities and new towns consists of one-bedroom accommodation, most of which is likely to be intended for old people. I am glad of this opportunity to stress the importance I attach to this part of public sector building, which is rising from the low level of 1973.

Property Municipalisation

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the amount of expenditure on the municipalisation of private accommodation since March 1974, and what forecasts he has for such expenditure in 1975.

The returns so far submitted by local authorities in England and Wales indicate that under the general consent given in Circular 70/74 some £70 million may have been spent over the period 1st April to 30th September 1974. Later estimates are not yet available.

Traffic Commissioners

asked the Secretry of State for the Environment if he will consider advising that there be an elected element to the bodies of Traffic Commissioners.

Elected representatives of local government already take part in the work of the Traffic Courts. Two Traffic Commissioners in each area, and their deputies, are appointed from panels of persons, mostly councillors, nominated by the county and district councils.

Ex-Service Men (Housing)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what progress is being made on the preparation of a revised circular to local authorities dealing with the housing needs of ex-Service men;(2) if, in his consideration of the housing needs of ex-Service men, he will pay

Rate Support Grants (RSG)
National Parks Supplementary Grants (NPSG)
Transport Supplementary Grants (TSG)
OrderDate of operationPurposeExpenditure
m.)
S.I. 1974 No. 550 up-dated by26th March 1974RSG for 1974–754,153
S.I. 1974 No. 2108.13th December 1974NPSG for 1974–752
S.I. 1974 No. 210913th December 1974RSG for 1975–764.705
NPSG for 1975–762
TSG for 1975–76250
Compensation to British Railways Board under EEC Regulation 1191/69
ActDate of operationPurposeLimit
(£m.)
Railways Act 1974 Section 31st January 1975Compensation for obligations imposed under EEC Regulation 1191/69900 but may be increased by Order-in-Council to 1.500

Lorries

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to ensure that all heavy lorries carry first-aid kits.

It is a good idea to carry a first-aid kit on any kind of vehicle, but I do not consider that it should be compulsory for heavy lorries to do so.

Roads (East Midlands)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many miles of new roads of motorway and ordinary standards have been built in the areas which include Northampton, Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes, Bletchley and Leighton Buzzard.

Since the opening of the M1 in 1959 no new motorways or trunk roads have been constructed in this particular regard to the special position of garrison towns.

A draft circular is with the local authority associations and other bodies concerned for final consultation before publication. I recognise the difficulties faced by certain garrison towns and the circular will take account of these.

Expenditure Powers

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment 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.

Following is the information:area. Principal and other roads are the responsibility of the local highway authorities.

Layfield Committee

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment by what date he now expects to receive the report of the Layfield Committee.

My right hon. Friend has asked Mr. Layfield to report by the end of this year and I understand that he is still working to this timetable.

Rate Rebates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will review the working of the current rate and rebate scheme, with particular reference to the situation of single ratepayers of over retirement age, sharing their home with a relative; and if he will seek to redress the adverse effects of the 1974 changes on such persons.

My right hon. Friend has already laid regulations before Parliament which will improve the rate rebate scheme from 1st April 1975, but I am certainly prepared to look into the point the hon. Member raises when changes to the scheme are next contemplated.

Firemen's Ladders (High Buildings)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many residential buildings in England and Wales exceed the height of ladders available to the local fire brigade; and if he will make a statement;(2) what regulations exist to require special fire precautions in residential and office buildings the height of which exceeds the length of the locally available fire brigade ladders.

The information requested about the number of buildings is not available.The Building Regulations currently in force require special structural fire precautions in high office or residential buildings when they are first erected, when there is a material change in their use, or when any alterations or extensions are carried out.Requirements for the provision of adequate means of escape in such buildings are either contained in the Building Regulations or can be imposed under powers provided in the Public Health Act 1936, the Housing Act 1961, or the Offices, Shops and Railway Premises Act 1963.

1964–51965–61966–71967–81968–9
Acreage under glass*4,0233,9884,2664,2314,378
of which, percentage heated7978767574
Value of total glasshouse † output (£million)—
at current prices41·443·644·148·052·3
at constant prices‡49·049·349·852·453·1
1969–701970–11971–21972–31973–4
Acreage under glass*4,5094,5434,5934,7094,927
of which, percentage heated7475757573
Value of total glasshouse † output (£ million)—
at current prices54·956·658·866·377·6
at constant prices‡55·856·657·260·863·2
*Including plastic structures.
† Including plastic structures, frames, etc.
‡ Average 1969–9 to 1971–2 prices.
Estimates of the value of output from heated glasshouses cannot readily be made.

These requirements are based on the principle that the occupants of the building should be able to make their own way to safety unaided, before the arrival of the fire brigade.

Agriculture, Fisheries Andfood

Horticulture (Glasshouse Sector)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received from tomato growers regarding possible financial loss and closure arising out of his decision to terminate heating oil subsidies to glasshouses.

We have received 40 letters from growers of protected crops—not necessarily tomatoes—expressing concern about their production costs, and 24 letters from hon. Members writing on behalf of one or more of their constituents. Of these 64 representations 48 consisted of, or referred to, a standard printed letter giving details of costs for one particular nursery in the Lea Valley.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the average acreage of British horticulture under glass for each of the last 10 years; what percentage of this has been in heated glasshouses; and what have been the respective annual outputs measured both in current and fixed values.

Eggs (Imports)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in anticipation of his decision on the question of French egg imports, he will place an embargo on the movement into the United Kingdom of eggs produced in other countries which have unilateral financial or trade restrictive measures in force.

A unilateral embargo on trade, without adequate justification, would not be in the national interest.

Civil Service

Prison Officers

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will now meet the claim for London weighting lodged last October by the Prison Officers' Association.

I have been asked to reply.We are now in correspondence with the Prison Officers' Association on this matter.

Defence

Boots And Shoes(Uniform Issue)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether boots and shoes supplied as uniform issue to Her Majesty's Forces are of British origin.

Energy

Thermonuclear Fusion

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what sites have been outlined for the Common Market project to test the feasibility of controlled thermonuclear fusion—Joint European Torus Project; and what are the relative advantages of each.

Six sites have been proposed for the Joint European Torus Project. They are Culham (United Kingdom), Cadarache (France), Garching (Federal Republic of Germany), Julich (Federal Republic of Germany), Mol (Belgium) and Ispra (Italy). These sites are at present being considered by a Community Site Committee which is assessing their relative merits.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many scientists and research workers in the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, France and Italy are currently working on controlled thermonuclear fusion; and how much money has each of the States spent on this line of research.

The major expenditure in this field in the United Kingdom is undertaken by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority. It estimates that 145 qualified scientists and engineers are currently employed on its programme. Net expenditure since 1954, when the authority was established, is estimated at £68 million and the estimated outturn for 1974–75 is £3·7 million. Figures for the other countries mentioned are not readily available.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy where the original work on controlled thermonuclear fusion was undertaken in the Community.

In the countries now members of the Community the earliest experimental work towards controlled thermonuclear fusion was carried out in three United Kingdom universities from 1947 to 1951. The first co-ordinated programme of controlled thermonuclear research was undertaken at Harwell and Aldermaston from 1952 onwards and is now centred on the Culham laboratory of the Atomic Energy Authority.

Radioactive Waste

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, under the multinational research effort proposed by the International Energy Agency, to which centre (a) under Euratom hydrogen manufacture has been allocated, and (b) under the Nuclear Energy Agency (OECD) radioactive waste management has been allocated.

I understand that programme proposals for the production of hydrogen from water and for radioactive waste management have yet to be considered by the International Energy Agency's Governing Board.

Electricity Supplies (Prepaymentmeters)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will seek to amend existing regulations to require electricity boards to install secure and effective prepayment metering in order to spread the burden of increased electricity costs.

The use of prepayment meters is not subject to regulations but is a matter for the commercial judgment of the electricity boards, which also provide other means for consumers to spread the payment of their bills.

Conservation (Scotland)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many requests for application forms for the Government's energy-saving loans scheme have been received from organisations in Scotland.

A total of 12 requests for application forms for the energy saving loan scheme have so far been received from organisations in Scotland.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what proportion of the total sum allocated to the energy-saving loans scheme will be applied to Scotland.

The sum applied to Scotland under the energy saving loan scheme will depend on the number and nature of the applications from firms in Scotland.

Nuclear Power Companies

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what part the Government have played in the negotiations by the National Nuclear Corporation Limited for acquisition of the two existing nuclear design and construction consortia, British Nuclear Design & Construction Limited and the Nuclear Power Group Limited.

The shareholders of the two existing consortia prior to acquisition by the National Nuclear Corporation Ltd. have borne unrecovered expenditure. The Government have agreed to make an ex gratia contribution towards this expenditure up to a maximum of £1·416 million subject to confirmation of the accounts. Pending the presentation of a Supplementary Estimate it will be necessary to have recourse to the Contingencies Fund. This has enabled the National Nuclear Corporation Ltd. to complete the acquisition of the two consortia, together with their staffs. This is an important step forward. The acquisition includes the Government's 26 per cent. shareholding in British Nuclear Design and Construction Ltd. which the Secretary of State for Industry took over from the Industrial Reorganisation Corporation on its dissolution in April 1971. The National Nuclear Corporation Ltd. has also agreed terms with the electricity boards for the completion of the consortia's power station contracts in progress.

District Heating

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what plans he has to increase the programme of district heating schemes in new local authority housing schemes.

I have been asked to reply.Local authorities decide whether or not to install district heating. My Department provides advice to help them in this and, where it is satisfied that district heating is appropriate, financial assistance.

Home Department

Television (International Agreement)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had regarding the retransmission of British television programmes by cable companies operating in Belgium.

None. We await the outcome of discussions which the BBC is having with the parties concerned. There is no early prospect of settlement.

Traffic Wardens

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement giving the reasons why he has decided to reduce the number of traffic wardens in London; and what costs are likely to be saved by this action.

Under the rate support grant settlement for 1975–76 provision was made for full recruitment of police officers up to authorised establishments but for only a small increase in police civilian staff, including traffic wardens, above the strength at 30th September 1974. As the police authority for the Metropolitan Police my right hon. Friend has told the Commissioner that he should observe the terms of the settlement, and this will mean that the present strength of the Metropolitan Police civilian staff as a whole will have to be very slightly reduced.

Animal Experiments

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many inspectors are employed by his Department with a specific responsibility to check on experiments on live animals.

Open Prisons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the number of persons in open prisons is declining.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) on 6th March.—[Vol. 887, c. 469.]

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why the number of open prisons has declined from 14 in 1974 to 11 in 1975; and whether it is his policy to run down this form of imprisonment.

On the first part of my hon. Friend's Question I would refer him to the reply I gave to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk) on 6th March—[Vol. 887, c. 469.] My right hon. Friend has made it clear that open establishments for adult and young offenders will continue to make an important contribution to the prison system.

Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many of the prisoners segregated under Rule 43 on 1st February 1975 were segregated at their own request and how many for the maintenance of good order and discipline;(2) if any unsentenced prisoners are entirely segregated from contact with other prisoners in British gaols:(3) how many of those prisoners segregated under Rule 43 on 1st February 1975 had been segregated for more than one month, one to three months, three to six months, six to nine months, nine months to one year, and over one year, respectively;(4) of those prisoners segregated under Rule 43 on 1st February 1975, what was the longest time any sentenced person had been wholly segregated; and if this was at his own request or for good order and discipline.

In England and Wales 479 prisoners were segregated under the rule at their own request and 73 for the maintenance of good order and discipline. In addition, 156 prisoners were in units at Reading and Gloucester prisons which provide full association at work, exercise and leisure for prisoners previously placed under the rule at their own request at other establishments.Of the 552 prisoners not in these units 380 had been segregated under the rule for one month or over, of whom 172 had been so segregated for at least one month but less than three months, 117 for at least three months but less than six months; 45 for at least six months but less than nine months; 18 for at least nine months but less than one year; and 28 for one year or more.Two unsentenced prisoners were withdrawn from all association with other prisoners. The longest period for which a sentenced prisoner had been so withdrawn under the rule was four months ten days, at his own request.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what rights sentenced prisoners have, and what method of appeal is available, against alleged infringements of these rights.

The statutory rights of sentenced prisoners are set out in the Prison Act 1952 and the Prison Rules 1964. The avenues for representation against alleged infringements of these or on any other matters of prison treatment include application to the boards of visitors, petition to the Home Secretary, or petition to the European Commission on Human Rights, correspondence with Members of Parliament and, through them, access to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if the complete segregation of a prisoner is considered to be an appropriate punishment for unruly behaviour; and if he has considered the psychological effects on the prisoner.

No award of cellular confinement for an offence against prison discipline may be made unless the medical officer certifies that the prisoner is fit so to be dealt with. A prisoner undergoing cellular confinement must be visited daily by the governor and medical officer and is in contact with other staff during each day. No prisoner is kept in complete isolation.

Remanded Persons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many juveniles on remand in custody share accommodation with sentenced prisoners.

Young persons aged 14 and under 17 on remand in custody are normally located in accommodation reserved for them. They never share accommodation with adult prisoners of any category, but may occasionally come into contact with young offenders aged 17 and under 21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many adult prisoners on remand in custody share cells with convicted prisoners.

In accordance with Rule 3(2) of the Prison Rules 1964 prisoners on remand who are unconvicted are kept out of contact with those convicted so far as practicable. Prisoners on remand who are convicted but unsentenced may share cells with other prisoners in this category, but are usually kept separate from sentenced prisoners, and do not share cells with them.

Child Stealing

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of child stealing were made known to the police in 1974; and how many men and women were charged with the offence in the same year.

The information requested is not yet available for 1974. The number of offences of child stealing recorded as known to the police in England and Wales in 1973 was 61. In the same year, 19 males and 13 females were proceeded against for this offence.

National Finance

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the guiding principles by which VAT inspectors select which companies and individuals they will choose for scrutiny visits.

The selection of traders to be visited takes into account all known relevant factors.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the lack of suitable osteopathic treatment under the National Health Service, he will relieve osteopaths from the requirement to charge VAT on their fees.

Exemption from VAT for suppliers of medical services is limited to those persons covered by the statutory medical registers. Registration of medical bodies and the question of the provision of medical treatment under the National Health Service are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether in considering the zero-rating of the arts for the purposes of value added tax, he will take account of the claims of public museums for their acquisitions to be treated in the same manner as those of all foreign buyers; and if he will specify any representative bodies which have recently communicated with him urging such zero-rating.

I shall bear in mind my hon. Friend's suggestion together with the representations I have received recently from the Chairmen of the National Art-Collections Fund and the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions VAT officials have searched premises or interrogated taxpayers between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

The number of occasions on which VAT officers have executed search warrants and made associated inquiries between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. is four.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the number of occasions on which VAT officials have entered traders' homes, other than during normal office hours, under the powers given in Section 37 of the Finance Act 1972; and, in the event of previous figures not being kept, if he will arrange for such records to be kept.

Entry by VAT officers of premises, including a trader's home where it is used in connection with the carrying on of a business, is usually effected by agreement with or at the invitation of the trader rather than by formal exercise of powers under Section 37. Entry of a trader's home in other circumstances is only at the request of the trader, or exceptionally when a justice's search warrant has been issued in respect of the premises. Premises are entered for VAT purposes only during normal working hours except when a trader has requested or agreed otherwise or when, exceptionally, there are reasons for executing a search warrant outside those hours. in these circumstances a record of the kind proposed is not considered necessary. Records are kept in respect of search warrants.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what studies he has initiated into the administrative problems of introducing different rates of VAT for different commodities and different services; how much extra would be the cost of collection; what would be the requirements for extra staff in the Customs and Excise; and whether he will publish a Green Paper on the pros and cons of changing over to multi-rates of VAT before deciding to make such a change.

Customs and Excise has studied the administrative problems involved and has examined the systems used in other EEC countries which have adopted multi-rate VAT structures. It has also consulted a wide range of trade interests, with the prime objective of ensuring that procedures would remain as simple as possible, with the minimum cost and inconvenience to the trading community, if additional rates of VAT should be introduced in this country.I can give no estimate of the extra cost of collection or the requirements for extra staff: they would depend on what additional rates might be introduced and on the goods and services affected.No Green Paper is necessary: the Customs and Excise study was very widely publicised and there has been full discussion with trade bodies.

Income Valuation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report the details supplied to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West on 11 th March 1975, showing the taxable worth of £11·50 per day on a tax free basis for a period of 126 days.

Yes. For a married man with only earned income and no other tax allowances, the grossed-up value at different income levels of £11·50 per day received free of tax for 126 days, assuming 1974–75 tax rates and allowances is as follows:

Annual salaryGrossed-up value per day of £11·50 after tax
£,000£
117·16
217·16
317·16
417·93
519·75
622·16
724·80
827·08
929·08
1031·31
1133·62
1235·64
1338·38
1439·85
1541·32
1644·93
1749·60
1854·27
1958·94
2063·60
21 and up to 5067·65

Tax Demand Forms

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will arrange for all revised tax assessments prominently to display the time when they are due for payment and the date from which interest will run if they have not been paid.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for this suggestion, which I have asked the Board of Inland Revenue to consider.

Capital Transfer Tax

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

Hotels

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the cost to the Revenue of reclassifying, for capital allowances purposes, the construction of hotels as industrial buildings.

Borrowing Requirement

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the United Kingdom's current public sector borrowing requirement as a percentage of gross domestic product compared with that in the other OECD countries.Mr. Joel Barnett,

pursuant to his reply [ Official Report, 17th March 1975], circulated the following answer:

Information is not readily available to make the comparison. Countries do not generally publish their forecasts for money GDP. and information about their borrowing requirements, where published, is not on a comparable basis with ours.

Public Expenditure

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is public expenditure as a percentage of GDP in the United Kingdom compared with that in the OECD countries at the latest available date.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975], gave the following details:The latest information available for the countries of OECD as a whole is contained in the OECD publication "National Accounts of OECD Countries 1960–72". No statistics are published internationally of total public expenditure as it is defined in this country. The available figures relate to the current and capital expenditure of general Government on goods and services. This covers the expenditure of central Government and local authorities but not that of public corporations. It,excludes debt interest and transfer payments, such as pensions, grants and subsidies.

The most recent year for which the OECD tables are reasonably complete is 1970, and general Government expenditure on goods and services in that year was 22·8 per cent. of gross domestic product in purchasers' values in the United Kingdom, compared with 21·3 per cent. in all the OECD countries, other than Greece, Switzerland, Spain and Yugoslavia.

Eec Membership

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in the light of the recently concluded renegotiations with the EEC, he will specify those economic and fiscal powers that would be transferred from Parliament in the event of continued membership of the EEC, which Parliament possessed in the year 1972.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975], circulated the following answer:Our aims in renegotiation covered both the proposals for economic and monetary union and the retention by Parliament of those powers over the British economy needed to pursue an effective fiscal policy. The results will be included in the forthcoming White Paper on the outcome of renegotiation.

Finance Bill (Amendments)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Government amendments were tabled to the Finance Bill at Committee stage.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975], gave the following information:Rather over 90, including consequential amendments and three new clauses.

Northern Ireland

Housing (Down)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons from Belfast have been given tenancies of Housing Executive houses in North Down in the past five years; whether these applicants were given priority over local people; how much money was given by way of removal or other grants; and how many tenants have moved away after payment of the grant.

Information in the form requested cannot be provided without disproportionate effort. Since June 1971, 995 families have been given grants to move to Bangor and Newtownards at a cost of approximately £120,000: 82 families left within 18 months of first moving.

Firearm Certificates

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many firearms certificates have come up for renewal since 1st January 1975; how many have been renewed; how many rejected; how many are under review: how many appeals have been lodged; and how many of these have been successful.

The information is not readily available. I will write to the hon. Member.

Teachers' Pay

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will give an assurance that school teachers, lecturers in colleges of education, the Northern Ireland polytechnic and technical colleges will receive the back pay due to them under the Houghton Report before the end of March;(2) what is the actual date when the arrears of salary increases recommended by the Houghton Report are to be paid to teachers in the Province.

The Department of Education intends to make these payments on 26th March to teachers paid by it. Payments of teaching staff in voluntary grammar schools, colleges of education and the Northern Ireland polytechnic is the responsibility of the authorities of those institutions.

Overseas Development

Eec Aid (Asia)

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what further representations she intends to make to the EEC about EEC trade and aid policies towards Asia.

I have strongly pressed the Community to adopt a world-wide approach to aid based on need which would benefit primarily the populous and poor Asian developing countries. I will continue to press the case for this on the basis of specific proposals which the Commission has now put forward. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade will be similarly pressing for the fuller implementation of the Joint Declaration of Intent, whether by improvements to the Generalised Scheme of Preferences or by other means.

Rural Schemes