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Written Answers

Volume 888: debated on Wednesday 19 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 19th March 1975

Contempt Of Court

asked the Attorney-General which of the recommendations of the Phillimore Report on Contempt of Court the Government propose to implement; and when he proposes to implement them.

The recommendations of the Phillimore Report raise a number of difficult issues which the Government have under consideration. It is too early yet to indicate the scope and timing of any legislation on the report.

Employment

Buckinghamshire And Northants

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the increase in the number of insured work people in the towns of Newport Pagnell, Milton Keynes, Bletchley, Leighton Buzzard and Northampton during the past 10 years.

Employment estimates for local areas are made for each mid-year and the latest are for June 1973. The following table shows changes between 1963 and 1973 in the numbers of employees in employment in the employment office areas which cover the towns specified:

Employment office areaEmployee change
Wolverton (which includes Newport Pagnell and part of Milton Keynes) +2,000
Bletchley (which includes most of Milton Keynes)+9,000
Leighton Buzzard +2,000
Northampton+7,000

Redundancy Payments

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many payments have been made under the Redundancy Payments Act during the three years 1972, 1973 and 1974; and what are the total amounts of the payments in each such case.

The following information relates to employees in respect of whom payments were made from the Redundancy Fund during the years 172,1973 and 1974:

Calendar YearNumber of PersonsAmount
£
1972297,12097,513,000
1973176,91966,573,000
1974182,16173,560,000

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the operation of the Redundancy Payments Act; and whether he has any plans to amend the Act to ensure that its provisions are not abused.

In general the operation of the Act is satisfactory. However, my right hon. Friend intends to make some minor changes to the Act through provisions to be included in the forthcoming Employment Protection Bill.

Manpower Services Commission

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many staff of the Manpower Services Commission are to be located in Yorkshire and Humberside.

1,340 regional staff of the agencies of the Manpower Services Commission are already located in Yorkshire and Humberside.A recommendation of the commission that the headquarters staff of the commission and their agencies should be located at Sheffield is being considered.

Health And Safety Commission

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when a decision will be taken about locating the headquarters of the Health and Safety Commission in Sheffield.

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon Friend the Member for Sheffield, Attercliffe (Mr. Duffy) on 18th March.—[Vol. 888, c. 1446.]

Incomes (Royal Commission Inquiry)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to receive a report from the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth on the higher incomes reference.

As envisaged in the statement of 20th December last by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on the report of the Top Salaries Review Body the Government have consulted the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth about the possibility of accelerating its inquiry into higher incomes.To enable an early report to be made on the main subject of the reference it has been agreed that the commission should defer for the time being its consideration in this connection of income from self-employment.In the light of this and after reviewing its total programme, the commission has concluded that on its present plans and knowledge of what needs to be done its report might be submitted in nine months instead of a year, as originally intended —that is, by mid-July.

Northern Ireland

Maze Prison

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will approve the installation of X-ray facilities at the Maze Prison.

Electricity Tariff (Sports Clubs)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why voluntary sports clubs and other organisations are classified as commercial or industrial users in respect of electricity consumption; and what is the electricity tariff in the Province for such clubs and the tariff applied in Great Britain.

The electricity tariff charged to any consumer by the Northern Ireland Electricity Service is determined by the pattern of consumption. A maximum demand tariff is applied in all cases where demand is high; e.g., many industrial and commercial firms and sports clubs which use floodlighting at peak periods. The application of tariffs in Great Britain is a matter for my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Energy and the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Property Development (Belfast)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take action to control the activities of property development companies in Belfast and district which may take advantage of developing damaged areas of the city.

Massage Parlours

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many massage parlours have been opened in Northern Ireland during the past 12 months; whether there has been an increase in the number of such establishments in recent years; whether the police, the medical officers of health and the planning authorities have any specific functions in relation to these establishments; what these functions are; and if he is satisfied that the existing powers are sufficient to control them.

Information about the number of massage parlours opened in Northern Ireland during the past 12 months is not available. There has undoubtedly been an increase in the number in recent years. The police, the medical officers of health and the planning authorities have no specific functions in relation to these establishments. The existing powers are adequate to enforce those parts of the law which have relevance to these places.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many massage parlours have been investigated by the police; and how many prosecutions have resulted.

Information on the number of massage parlours investigated by the police is not readily available. There has been one successful prosecution under the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act 1885, and a second case is awaiting hearing.

Cattle Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with the help given to small farmers selling cattle.

Producers of beef cattle in Northern Ireland have been receiving considerably increased returns in recent weeks. Figures for the week ending 24th February 1975 show a total average return to Northern Ireland producers of £21·791½ per live cwt.—virtually equal to the United Kingdom target price —compared with £14·60 per cwt. in mid-November 1974 and £16·68 per cwt. for the corresponding week last year.The beef arrangements agreed recently in Brussels have provided for the fixing of a target price for the period March 1975 to February 1976 of £22·85 per live cwt. for clean cattle. This target price will vary according to the time of the year to encourage orderly marketing. It is hoped that the new arrangements will benefit producers throughout the entire season and also help to stimulate prices for store animals.

Criminal Injury (Compensation)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is satisfied with the basis for compensation awards granted under the Criminal Injuries to Persons (Compensation) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 which is exclusively concerned with the financial loss incurred by victims and their dependants.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a Question by the hon. Member for Beckenham (Mr. Goodhart) on 13th March.—[Vol. 888, c. 192.]

Resettlement Association

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is his present policy towards the Resettlement Association with regard to the release of detainees.

The Resettlement Association of Northern Ireland is a private and independent organisation although it receives some financial support from the Government.

Environment

House Building

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the latest position in the private building sector and on his policies in this regard.

I am far from satisfied with the position, though there is at last some sign of an up-turn in private house building. We have taken a number of measures which will help the industry, including in particular the various initiatives to stimulate private house-building which I announced on 27th January.—[Vol 885, c. 43–4.]—I shall continue to keep the position under close review.

47.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has received of the likely number of private sector housing starts in 1975; and if he will make a further statement on the difficulties of the housing construction industry.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary gave to the hon. Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) on 5th February.—[Vol. 885, c. 588.]—There are some signs in the latest private house building figures published on 6th March of a recovery from the disastrous situation we inherited.

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the expected housing starts in 1975 and 1976.

I am confident that the improvement we have brought about in public sector house building will be maintained in 1975 and 1976. The final figures for January published today are a sign that the Government's measures to help the private market are beginning to show results. These final figures seasonably adjusted show that starts in both sectors are rather higher than the provisional estimates published on 6th March, although the final completion figures are, disappointingly, lower.

Knowsley (Housing)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied that the help given by his Department is sufficient to meet the housing problems of the Knowsley Metropolitan Borough Council.

Yes. The special problems of the Knowsley Metropolitan Council, which have recently been discussed with my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State, will require the continuing help of my Department.

Agricultural Tied Cottages

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received to date in support of the abolition of the agricultural tied cottage; and if he will make a statement.

I have received many representations. I am, together with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, working towards the legislation needed to abolish agricultural tied cottages, and I hope before long to begin consultations with interested bodies.

Advisory Group On Commercialproperty Development

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in deciding the membership of the Advisory Group on Commercial Property Development, he considered the inclusion of an experienced commercial and industrial developer.

Pedestrian Crossing Equipment

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will review the arrangements for the placing of orders and contracts with the manufacturers of pedestrian crossing equipment.

The arrangements for the placing of orders and contracts for this equipment are the responsibility of the local authority concerned.

Housing

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will issue a circular designed to reduce the percentage of high-rise flats and increase that of two and three storey dwellings built by housing authorities to meet the housing needs of their populations.

I am strongly opposed to high-rise flats for families with children and have made this clear frequently. The high population densities which often produce such schemes could be reduced if very low densities elsewhere were increased to reasonable levels. Families could and should thus be accommodated in dwelling houses, not high- or even medium-rise flats, in the majority of cases. This would also save time and money in house building. Government policy on this will continue to be made clear, and I am glad to say that the building of high blocks of flats is now declining markedly.

Trams

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will initiate a departmental study of the contribution which the tram could make to the solution of urban transport problems; and if he will make a statement.

The rôle of the conventional tram is well known through European studies. My Department has just completed studies of an automatic minitram system, which is being evaluated.

Rates

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further measures he proposes to introduce in order to alleviate the financial burden placed upon domestic and commercial ratepayers in south-east Cornwall; and if he will make a statement

I have no such plans. The grant settlement for 1975–76 is the most generous on record.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many authorities have now reported their rate increase to his Department; and what is the average increase in domestic rates so far.

49.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what he now estimates will be the average increase in domestic and commercial rates, based upon determinations so far announced by rating authorities.

57.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average percentage increase of local authority rates declared for the forthcoming financial year.

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham).

54.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many London boroughs have announced rate rises of over 25 per cent.

I have received details of 1975–76 rates from 14 London boroughs. All have indicated rises of over 25 per cent.

Rate Equalisation (London)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received on the London rate equalisation scheme for 1975–76.

My recently announced decision to make a scheme for 1975–76 on the lines proposed by the London Boroughs Association took into account representations received from the London boroughs of Harrow, Havering and Kingston.

Motor Vehicles (Mud Flaps)

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider issuing official advice on the use of mud flaps.

In principle, yes; but the technical problems of guarding vehicles against mud and spray are complex, and at present I do not have information on which I could base comprehensive advice.

M67

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on his recent conversations with the representatives of the NUR about the M67.

My right hon. Friend has had no recent conversations with representatives of the NUR on the proposed new road between Manchester and Sheffield, but hopes to arrange a meeting in the near future.

Battered Wives And Children(Accommodation)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the progress being made on the provision of refuge accommodation for battered wives and their children.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, South-West (Mrs. Wise).

Ombudsmen

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many complaints have been received by the local ombudsmen; and how many have been upheld.

These are matter for the Local Commission for Administration. I understand that the commission has written to the hon. Member.

Cyclists (Safety)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will introduce legislation to compel pedal and motor cyclists to wear a reflective white armband on the right arm when on the highway.

Rural Transport

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he will be in a position to announce specific proposals to secure improvements in rural transport; and if he will make a statement.

43.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to be able to make a statement on the results of his consultations about rural transport and the use of minibuses on public transport routes in rural areas

I refer the hon. Members to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Mid-Bedfordshire (Mr. Hastings).

Scotland (Railways)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he hopes to complete his intensive study of whether responsibility for the railways in Scotland should be hived off to a Scottish Assembly.

The study of the railways is part of the Government's general consideration of the functions to be exercised by the proposed Scottish Assembly. As my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council made clear in the debate on devolution on 3rd February, it is too early to give a firm indication of a timetable.

Empty Houses

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence he has collected about the performance of local authorities in dealing with their empty properties.

The Department's annual relets survey collects information about the number of council dwellings vacant and available for letting at the end of each year. For 1970 to 1973 these formed under 1 per cent. of the total. The figure for end 1974 is not yet available. I would also refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger) on 25th February.—[Vol. 887, c. 69–70.]

Improvement Grants

39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the present level of authorised improvement grants.

In view of the new powers given to housing authorities under the Housing Act 1974 I hope that the figures for grants authorised will soon begin to reflect growing numbers of improvements, particularly to the worst substandard dwellings which to date have received proportionately the least attention.

Rent Act 1974 (Survey)

56.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make an interim report, as part of his survey on the operation of the Rent Act 1974, on the consequences of the Act for Greater London.

My Department is so far as practicable monitoring the effects of the Act in London, as elsewhere. It has already reduced the number of evictions of furnished tenants, which was its main purpose.

Scotland

Local Government Reorganisation

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he had from NALGO in Scotland concerning removal and travel expenses allowances connected with the forthcoming implementation of local government reorganisation in Scotland.

Oil Platform Construction Sites

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what studies the Scottish Office has made or on what studies they have relied in assessing the

Site PreparationPlatform ConstructionTotal
February 1973Not available1,305Not available
February 19746103,9804,590
February 19752906,2906,580
The future labour requirements of platform sites will depend on a wide range of factors including the number of orders placed, the ordering pattern and the sizes of the structures ordered.

European Economic Community

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the level and frequency of consultations between the Scottish Office and EEC officials over the preparation of EEC policies; and whether he will list those areas in which such consultations have already taken place.

Senior officials of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland take part frequently in discussions with EEC officials on the preparation of policy on both major aspects of that Department's work. In other areas, Scottish Office officials play their full part in inter-departmental discussions on the formulation of United optimium number of platform construction sites which should be built.

The question of the optimum number of platform sites is under continuous study in both the Department of Energy, which has the primary responsibility, and the Scottish Office. Studies by others are taken fully into account.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total number of construction workers employed in the building of platform construction sites in Scotland and what was the number in 1973 and 1974, respectively; and what is his estimate of the numbers who will be so employed in each of the next five years.

No figure is available for workers employed in site preparation work in 1973. The following table gives numbers of workers employed at platform yards with a breakdown between site preparation and platform construction where this is available.Kingdom attitudes towards developing EEC policies. I am satisfied that the particular interests of Scottish agriculture and fisheries and the more general interests of other aspects of Scottish life affected by EEC policies are fully covered by these arrangements.

Forestry Workers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of forestry workers' jobs which will be lost in the forthcoming two years in Scotland.

No significant change is expected in the number of forestry workers employed by the Forestry Commission in Scotland during the next two years. As employment in the private sector will depend upon the plans of many different woodland owners, no estimate can be given of likely employment levels in the forthcoming two years.

High-Rise Flats (Lifts Servicing)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons reside in multi-storey flats in Glasgow; how many of these are elderly persons; and if he will pay an immediate visit to the city to investigate the hardship caused to these tenants as a result of the industrial action by local authority maintenance electricians who service the lifts of these multi-blocks.

I understand that just under 30,000 households live in multi-storey blocks in Glasgow, but I have no information about how many of them are elderly people. I am often in Glasgow and am aware of the situation generally.

School Leaving

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the progress of his review of the date on which 16-year-old children may leave school.

My Department issued in January, as a basis for consultation, a memorandum on school leaving dates on which the local authority associations, teachers' associations and other appropriate bodies were invited to comment by 31st March. It is therefore too early to make a statement about the progress of the review.

Crofting Grants

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what assistance is being given to increase the crofting grants in view of the higher prices of seeds and fertilisers.

Crofter cropping grants form only part of the assistance given for the production of hill sheep and cattle on crofts and must therefore be seen in the light of the recent improvement in the general level of support to this sector, particularly the increases in the hill sheep subsidy and in the guaranteed prices for sheep and wool. In the case of land improvement operations, the maximum level of assistance available to crofters was considerably increased in May of last year.The help given to crofters both for cropping and for land improvement is still substantially higher than that available to hill farmers farming land of similar quality.

Beef Production Costs

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any estimate of the cost of producing a hundredweight of beef; and if he will make a statement.

The cost of and returns from beef production vary widely according to the system of production adopted and the quality produced. Under the support arrangements now operating, the target price for the year as a whole is set at £22.85 per live cwt., subject to seasonal variations. I am confident that on the basis of these arrangements producers will be able to show a reasonable profit from their production.

Agriculture, Fisheriesand Food

Grain Stores And Prices

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the present grain surplus held within the EEC; and what are the current average prices inside and outside the EEC.

The following quantities of grain have been taken into various forms of intervention:

Million Metric Tons
WheatBarleyRye
1·800·550·22
The Home-Grown Cereals Authority published weekly market price quotations in the currencies of Community countries and converts these at spot rates into sterling. For the week ending 12th March the latter were within the following ranges, which partly reflect differences in local conditions but mainly those in current exchange rates:

£/long ton
Milling wheat66·55(Arras)
81·50(Cologne)
Feed barley61·55(Arras)
75·45(Munich)
Malting barley86·50(Wurzburg)
Oats65·00(Rotterdam)
74·05(Wurzburg)
Maize61·80(Creil)

It is not possible to give market prices for grain of comparable quality outside the Community, and these will in any case be affected by exchange rates, transport costs and local market conditions.

Whaling

68.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will take action following the failure of the International Whaling Commission to implement the 10-year moratorium on whaling called for by the United Nations Conference on the Environment at Stockholm in 1972.

We shall continue to press, as we have at all subsequent meetings of the International Whaling Commission, for conservation measures to protect whale stocks, in accordance with international scientific advice. In addition, since the Stockholm Conference, the United Kingdom has imposed a ban on the import of all baleen whale products.

Eec Aid

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much money was received from European Community funds—Guarantee Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund—in 1974 by the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce; how this money was expended; and how much the Intervention Board spent on Exchequer account in connection with the common agricultural policy.

In the year ended 31st December 1974 the Intervention Board received £111·8 million from the Guarantee Section of the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (FEOGA). This represented £113·6 million of direct expenditure and £1·1 million reimbursement of costs incurred by the board in intervention buying, storing and selling, less £2·9 million in respect of upward revaluation of intervention stocks of skimmed milk powder at the end of the year.The main payments were export and import refunds on intra-Community trade —net of levies in that trade—£51·6 million; starch production subsidy, £14·9 million; general butter subsidy, FEOGA contribution, £11 million; special import subsidy on sugar, December only, £7·6 million. The board also spent £3·7 million on export and import refunds on third country trade; £3·4 million on denaturing of wheat for feedingstuffs—this subsidy was suspended from 14th February 1974; £5·4 million on other aids to animals feed—skimmed milk, skimmed milk powder and dehydrated fodder; £5·2 million on storage premiums for sugar, butter, beef, cereals and pigmeat; £4 million FEOGA contribution to beef premiums; £4·4 million on social butter and beef; £2·1 million on production subsidies other than starch; and £0·3 million on food aid.In addition to this expenditure, the board collected two Community levies, £4·2 million on sugar marketings and £2·6 million on export levies on third country trade.The board's expenditure on Exchequer account in connection with the common agricultural policy amounted to £65·5 million in 1974. This included £42·9 million Exchequer contribution to the general butter subsidy, the cost of which since April 1974 has been a final charge on the Vote of the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection, £17·8 million, Exchequer contribution to the beef premium schemes, and £4·6 million in connection with buying and storing intervention commodities. This last item includes the upward revaluation of skimmed milk powder stocks and most of its falls to be reimbursed in due course from Community funds.£4·3 million was realised by the Exchequer on the sale and disposal of stocks out of intervention.

Common Agricultural Policy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Foods whether be will now publish in the Official Report the figures for 1974 which are given for 1973 in Tables N and O of the Intervention Board Report (Command Paper No. 5699) in view of their immediate importance for the assessment of the effects of the common agricultural policy for the United Kingdom.

The following is the provisional information. These figures, which are subject to revision, will he given in the Intervention Board's Annual Report for 1974 which will be published as soon as possible.

TABLE K
ANALYSIS BY SECTOR OF UNITED KINGDOM EXPENDITURE BORNE BY FEOGA 1974

11 months 1973 £

Item

1974

Sector Total £

Cereals
2,527,088Export refunds—third country trade366,255
Import refunds—third country trade1,546,156
14,683,611Aid to animal feed3,455,459
5,630,832Production subsidies on cereals used for starches14,861,543
493,054End of season stock payments37,485
608,066Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade2,072,825
23,942,65122,339,723

Dehydrated fodder

Aid to animal feed111,857111,857

Milk and milk products
2,024,242Export refunds—third country trade848,796
4,415,099Aids to animal feed5,260,785
605,030Aids for private storage of butter1,771,931
5,704,122General butter subsidy11,015,038
1,439,232Welfare butter subsidy4,300,153
536,507Production subsidies—casein and caseinates845,457
159,307Intervention buying of skimmed milk powder—losses and costs for reimbursement by FEOGA764,446
Credit to FEOGA on upward revision of value of stocks at 31st December 1974*(2,976,456)
968,578Intervention buying of butter—losses and costs for reimbursement by FEOGA336,559
Food aid—ad hoc actions skimmed milk powder285,097
5,038,404Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade20,924,955
20,890,52143,406,761

Oils and fats

830Export refunds—third country trade552
243,600Production subsidy—oilseeds252,503
244,430253,055

Sugar

Export refunds—third country trade326
Import refunds—third country trade1,502
Special import subsidy7,594,298
1,868,920Storage payments3,277,909
212,159Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade2,623,721
2,081,07913,497,756

Beef and veal

1,331Export refunds—third country trade57,119
Import refunds—third country trade
Aid for private storage of beef96,055
Beef premium scheme4,031,806
Social beef subsidy123,307
Intervention buying of beef—losses and costs for reimbursement by FEOGA26,259
1,072,377Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade3,613,492
1,073,7087,961,890

Pigmeat

25,722Export refunds—third country trade30,798
Import refunds—third country trade34,435
Aid for private storage14,728
13,435,727Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade21,018,188
13,461.44921,098,149

11 months 1973£

Item

1974

Sector Total £

Eggs

12,407Export refunds—third country trade36,550
76,636Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade275,426
89,043311,976

Poultry

33,421Export refunds—third country trade28,853
5,464Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade30,829
38,88559,682

Fruit and vegetables

Export refunds—third country trade:
442Fresh fruit and vegetables4,207
17,425Processed fruit and vegetables14,673
Import refund—third country trade—Processed fruit and vegetables4,892
441Compensation for withdrawn produce
Accession compensatory amounts—intra community trade—
21,389Fresh fruit and vegetables48,623
36,69772,395

Wine

Import refunds—third country trade4,324
95,357Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade701,366
95,357705,690

Fish

49,106Export refunds—third country trade75,883
49,10675,883

Seeds

1,015,091Production subsidy—herbage seeds977,074
1,015,091977,074

Processed products not included in Annex II of the Treaty of Rome

294,641Export refunds—third country trade594,268
Import refunds—third country trade405
65,680Monetary compensatory amounts—intra community trade301,077
360,321895,750
£63,381,338Total expenditure for reimbursement by FEOGA£111,767,641

* Figures in brackets represent amounts credited to FEOGA.

Table L

Summary of Scheme of United Kingdom Expenditure borne by the FEOGA

11 months

1973

£

Aids to private storage

493,054Cereals—end of season stock payments37,485
605,030Butter1,771,931
1,868,920Sugar3,277,909
Beef96,055
Pigmeat14,728
441

Compensation for withdrawn produce

Aids to animal feed

4,683,611Cereals3,455,459
4,415,099Skimmed milk and skimmed milk powder5,260,785

Dehydrated fodder

111,857
4,986,655Export refunds—third country trade2,058,280
Import refunds—third country trade1,605,566
Special import—subsidy on sugar7,594,298
Monetary/Accession compensatory amounts—intra community trade:
20,988,026Import refunds57,120,149
177,786Export refunds159,273
(534,553)Export levies*(5,668,920)

Production subsidies

5,630 832Cereals for starch manufacture etc14,861,543
536,507Caseins and caseinates845,457
243,600Oilseeds252,503
1,015,091Herbage seed977,074
Beef premium scheme4,031,806
5,704,122General butter subsidy11,015,038
1,439,232Welfare butter subsidy4,300,153
Social beef subsidy123,307
Food aid actions—skimmed milk powder285,097
Intervention buying of beef, butter and skimmed milk powder:
1,127,885Losses and costs for reimbursement by EAGGF1,157,264
Credit to EAGGF an upward revision of value of stocks at 31st December 1974*(2,976,456)
£63,381,338Total Expenditure for reimbursement by EAGGF£111,767,641

* Figures in brackets represent amounts credited to FEOGA.

Civil Service

Waste Paper

69.

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether, in order to encourage the proper utilisation of waste paper, he will ensure that Government Departments use recycled paper wherever possible.

Paper for use within Government Departments is bought by competitive tender. Manufacturers are free to utilise recycled paper provided that the quality of the finished product meets the contract specifications, which is set no higher than necessary. Consideration is being given to the possibility of including even more recycled paper in products used in Government offices.

Pensions

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will give details of the pension payable to a Permanent Secretary and Deputy Secretary in the Civil Service after the completion of 10 years, 15 years, 30 years, and 40 years' service; what contributions will have been paid ; and how these compare with Members of Parliament and their pension entitlements on the same basis.

The Civil Service pension scheme provides for a pension at the rate of 1/80th of salary in the final 12 months of service for each year of reckonable service, and a lump sum of three times that amount. A contribution

Member of ParliamentPermanent SecretaryDeputy Secretary
Years of ServicePensionLump sumPensionLump sumPensionLump sum
££££££
10964·622,150·856,452·541,478·974,436·92
151,446·933,226·279,678·812,218·466,655·38
201,929·244,301·7012,905·082,957·948,873·82
302,893·866,452·5419,357·634,436·9213,310·75
403,858·488,603·4025,810·205,915·8917,747·67

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether there is any part of the public service, apart from Members of Parliament, who retired before October 1964, which does not pay its retired officers a pension as of right; and if he will make a statement.

of 1½ per cent. of salary is payable in respect of widow's pension. No contribution is payable in respect of personal pension, but this is taken into account in determining pay. In particular, the Sixth Report of the Review Body on Top Salaries (Cmnd 5846) makes it clear that the superannuation position was taken into account in its recommendations on pay for the higher grades of the Civil Service.

The Members' Scheme introduced in 1964 and improved in 1972 covers service from October 1964 and allows up to a maximum of 10 years' previous service to reckon free of contribution. Contributions were at the rate of £150 a year from October 1964 until January 1972 when a 5 per cent. of salary contribution rate was introduced. This contribution covers both widow's pension, and personal pension at the rate of 1/60th of the salary in the final 12 months of service for each year of reckonable service. Members currently retiring will, as a maximum, have little more than 20 years' pensionable service. In order to give a comparison with the rates of pension after 30 years' and 40 years' service when the Members' Scheme is fully operational the figures in the following table giving benefits on the basis of retirement on 28th February 1975 are notional in respect of service after 20 years. Pension arrangements for Members of Parliament are within the remit of the current review of Members' remuneration being undertaken by the Top Salaries Review Body.

Before the general review of public service superannuation arrangements in 1972 civil public service pensions were paid as of right except for the Civil Service where payment was discretionary. In all cases, however, payment depended upon satisfying certain qualifying conditions. Those conditions included a requirement for a minimum of 10 years' pensionable service and attainment of the relevant retirement age, except that in the case of a civil servant leaving after age 50 the benefits could be preserved. For very many years prior to 1972 some 500,000 public service posts were filled by non-pensionable staff mainly in local government and Civil Service employment. In 1964 and in previous years many such staff reached the retiring age and left without a pension.

Energy

Opencast Mining

70.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what machinery exists to ensure that the environment is protected in the course of the proposed expansion of opencast coal production.

Both the National Coal Board and the Secretary of State are obliged by the Opencast Coal Act 1958 and the Countryside Act 1968 to have regard to the protection of the environment. Before a site can be authorised for working the proposals must be advertised and time given for objections. Where necessary a public inquiry is held. Conditions are always included in an authorisation for the purpose of minimising damage to the environment, and the Department of the Environment or the Scottish or Welsh Offices, as the case may be, are always consulted in drawing them up.

Oil Production Platforms

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he has considered the report of the Government consultants, the Aberdeen University, about the number of production platforms required for the North Sea by 1980 and the number of construction sites needed; and if he will make a statement.

I am aware of the report, the conclusions of which are those of the Study Team alone. My Department keeps the matching of the availability of construction sites to forecasts of demand for production platforms continuously under review.

Industry

Newsprint And Wood Pulp

71.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the current annual import bills for newsprint and wood pulp for paper making; and if he can make an estimate of the financial savings which could be achieved by using recycled waste paper instead to the maximum extent possible.

Imports of newsprint in 1974 were valued at £172 million and of wood-pulp for paper-making purposes at £266 million. An assessment of the savings in the import bill which might accrue from a greater use of recycled fibre is currently being prepared for the Advisory Group on Waste Paper Recycling.

Expenditure Powers

asked the Secretary of State for Industry 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.

The Financial Assistance for Industry (Increase of Limit) Order 1975 which raises the limit of assistance under Section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 from £150 million to £250 million was approved by Parliament on 18th February.The Compensation for Limitation of Prices (Post Office) Order 1974, made under the Statutory Corporations (Financial Provisions) Act 1974, came into operation on 10th December 1974 and provided for a payment to the Post Office of £123,567,000.

Shipbuilding

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what percentage of shipbuilding in the United Kingdom is carried out for export, for British defence industries and for United Kingdom investment.

Of the vessels of 100 gross tons or over reported as completed in United Kingdom commercial yards during 1974, naval vessels for export and merchant vessels for Commonwealth and foreign registration accounted for 30 per cent. of the total value; vessels for the Ministry of Defence 17 per cent. and vessels for other United Kingdom merchant registration 53 per cent.

Oil Companies (Government Aid)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish in the Official Report the value of the public grants and subsidies given to each of the three largest—as measured by sales revenue—oil companies operating in the United Kingdom in respect of their mainland operations during each of the last five complete years for which figures are available.

The three largest oil companies operating in the United Kingdom, as measured by sales, are Esso Petroleum, Shell (UK) and BP Co. Ltd. Sales in the United Kingdom by the two latter companies are conducted mainly through a joint marketing subsidiary. Figures for Government grants to Esso for the four years 1970–73 inclusive were given in my reply to the Question from the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) on 29th July 1974. I regret that information for the other two companies is not readily available.

Waste Paper

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what progress has been made up to the present time by the action group on waste paper recovery established by his Department in July 1974; what are its present activities and if he will make a statement.

I cannot add to the very full statement which I made on 10th March in reply to similar Questions from my hon. Friend the Member for Dartford (Mr. Irving) and the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson).—[Vol. 888, c. 61–3.]

European Economic Community

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, which industries receive cheap credit in the EEC: and to what extent.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 13th March 1975; Vol. 888, c. 209], gave the following information:I take it that the right hon. Member's Question refers to loans from Community resources. There are special arrangements under which funds can be made available to industry in the Community. The European Coal and Steel Community provides loans from funds to which the United Kingdom contributes for projects in the coal and steel industries, and for reconversion projects which will provide employment for redundant coal and steel workers. Loans are also available to undertakings and institutions in the Community from the European Investment Bank. There is also a scheme of Community support for high risk technological development projects in the hydrocarbons sector. The support is repayable in the event of commercial success.

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.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol. 888, Col. 287], gave the following information:Section 15 of the Iron and Steel Act 1967, by which the consent of the Secretary of State for Industry was required for the establishment of certain production facilities for iron and steel, was repealed by the European Communities Act 1972 as a consequence of the United Kingdom joining the ECSC. We have put the Community on notice that we intend to pursue the problem of the powers available to Her Majesty's Government for effective control over the steel industry, as a separate issue from renegotiation.The European Commission, under Article 54 of the European Coal and Steel Community Treaty, requires steel undertakings to notify it in advance of proposed investments. The Commission may then deliver a reasoned opinion on the proposal, which is not, in general, mandatory.

The British Steel Corporation has no powers regarding privately-owned steelworks.

Regional Aid

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what draft regulation or other instrument of the EEC gives the EEC Commission the power, to decide whether4 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 he subject to the Council of Ministers.

pursuant to the earlier reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol. 888, Cols. 286–7], gave the following information:There are three schemes under which the Governments of the member States have authorised, or are in the process of authorising, the Commission to decide whether individual projects for regional assistance meet criteria which the Governments have adopted in Community legislation. The criteria, or proposed criteria, are complex, and I am sending my hon. Friend the relevant documents dealing with the following schemes:

  • (i) the proposed Regional Development Fund (the draft Regulation has not yet been adopted);
  • (ii) the reconversion and readaptation assistance provided by the European Coal and Steel Community (Article 56 of the Treaty of Paris); and
  • (iii) assistance under European Social Fund 71/66 of 1st February Regulation No. 2396/71 1971).
  • As regards the Social Fund and the Regional Development Fund, the Comission is required to consult the Management Committees which are composed or expected to be composed largely of representatives of member Governments. The Council, if all Ministers agree, can reverse Commission decisions about assistance from the Regional Development Fund and keeps the operations of the Social Fund under periodic review. With ECSC reconversion assistance the Council approves all Commission proposals for aid to individual projects except where new jobs are provided for redundant coal and steel workers in their own industries.

    21.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry 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.

    pursuant to the earlier reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol. 888 Cols. 286–7], gave the following information:In the following circumstances projects receiving United Kingdom regional aid are not expected to qualify for assistance from the Funds:

  • (a) where the investment involved costs less than some £21,000;
  • (b) where fewer than 10 jobs are involved;
  • (c) where the project does not fall within the framework of a regional development programme or similar statement; and
  • (d) where no United Kingdom Government expenditure is incurred after 1st January 1975 (apart from payments of regional employment premium).
  • In addition projects can qualify for assistance only so long as the United Kingdom's annual share of the funds has not been exhausted.

    Boeing Aircraft Company(President)

    32.

    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.

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 18th March 1975; Vol. 888], gave the following information:No. I have spoken to Mr. Boullioun on a number of occasions and had hoped to see him on 6th March, but I regret that I was unable to do so. Mr. Boullioun discussed matters of mutual interest with senior officials, who have reported to me in the usual way.

    National Finance

    House Purchase Loans

    72.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Building Societies Association about increasing the figure beyond which advances for house purchase must be restricted.

    The Building Societies Association has approached the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies about this. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment announced on 27th January, the Government are considering whether an increase in the special advance limit would ease our housing finance problems.

    Sovereigns And Krugerrands

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, for the guidance of the public, he will make a statement as to the tax treatment of profits or losses on gold sovereigns, krugerrands, etc., held by individuals.

    Profits on transactions involving the purchase and sale of currency are chargeable to income tax, and losses may be relieved against other income, if the transactions involve the carrying on of a trade. Whether a trade is carried on depends on the facts of the case.Where the transactions do not constitute the carrying on of a trade, capital gains tax applies to all forms of non-sterling currency other than currency required for the purpose of meeting personal expenditure outside the United Kingdom of an individual or his family. Krugerrands are accordingly within the charge to capital gains tax, whereas sovereigns minted in 1837 or later are not.

    Purchase Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total cost of administering purchase tax for each of the last two years in which that tax was in operation.

    It is difficult to distinguish the cost of administering purchase tax from the cost of administering other duties, because a common organisation was employed to collect them all. However, making some necessarily arbitrary assumptions about the allocation of staff and other resources, the Customs and Excise estimate is that the cost of administering purchase tax was something over £10 million in each of the last two years of its operation.

    Self-Employed Earnings

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the estimated annual cost of allowing the self-employed earnings-related class 4 contribution to be tax-deductible for income tax purposes.

    Information on which to base a precise calculation is not avilable but it is estimated that the full-year cost would be about £25 million.

    Student Grants (Parental Contributions)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated additional cost of allowing tax relief on parental contributions towards fees for students at further educational establishments, where these exceed the normal child alowance.

    Information on which to base a precise estimate is not available, but the cost of the proposal would be very small.

    Widows

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for changing the taxation regulations affecting widows.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer my right hon. Friend gave on 27th February to my hon. Friends the Members for Gravesend (Mr. Ovenden) and Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley).

    Income Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost in lost revenue of introducing a 20 per cent. tax rate on (1) the first £200 of taxable income, and (2) the first £400 of taxable income.

    On the basis of 1974–75 income levels, tax rates and allowances the estimated costs would be about £630 million and £1,200 million respectively.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much tax per annum would be paid by a married man with two children with a net earned income after tax of (a) £10,000 a year and (b) £16,000 a year; and, of the total tax liability, how much relates to the top slice of £5,000 and £11,000, respectively;(2) how much tax per annum would be paid by a married man with two children with a net earned income after tax of (

    a) £8,000 a year and ( b) £14,000 a year; and, of the total tax liability,

    Gross income

    Tax

    Income after tax

    Top slice of income after tax

    Tax on gross income corresponding to net income in column (d)

    (a)(b)(c)(d)(e)
    13,9395,9398,0005,0005,098
    20,90110,90110,0005,0008,938
    44,16930,16914,00011,00029,328
    55,93339,93316,00011,00037,970

    National Insurance(Self-Employed Persons)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will further consider allowing tax relief on the national insurance contributions of the self-employed; and what is the latest estimate of loss of revenue following such exemption.

    Value Added Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the implications for revenue and administration of raising the VAT registration threshold to £10,000, £15,000 and £25,000, respectively.

    It is estimated that the annual loss of revenue from raising the exemption level for VAT to £10,000, £15,000 and £25,000 a year would probably be about £40 million, £100 million, and £150 million, respectively. Such changes would bring about 400,000, 700,000 and 800,000 traders, respectively, below the exemption level, but a number of these might wish to remain registered.

    Charities

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the number of repayment claims for charities and the amount of tax repaid in the year to 30th September 1974.

    how much relates to the top slice of £5,000 and £11,000, respectively.

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol. 888, c. 324] gave the following information:Assuming that the children are under 11 the figures for 1974–75 are as follows:

    Tax Collection Costs

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

    The administrative requirements of various forms of taxation and the costs of compliance by individual taxpayers are kept under review and every attempt is made to keep them to a minimum.

    Eec Membership (Referendum)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if money donated by firms in relation to the referendum campaign can be written off for tax purposes as being a business expense; and if he will make a statement in the light of information supplied to him by the hon. Member for Renfrewshire, West.

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol 888, c. 322–3], gave the following information:Expenditure can be written off for tax only if it is incurred wholly and exclusively for business purposes. The treatment of donations, of whatever sort, depends on the facts of each individual case in the light of this general rule.

    Gifts

    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.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 18th March], gave the following information:The following gifts will not need to be returned:

  • 1. Gifts of money not exceeding £1,000 in total in any one year, if the donor is satisfied that they are wholly covered by the exemption for normal gifts out of income in paragraph 5 of Schedule 6 to the Finance Act 1975.
  • 2. Gifts which are clearly covered by the exemption for small gifts in paragraph 4 of Schedule 6.
  • 3. Other gifts of money, or of shares or securities quoted on the Stock Exchange, if these, together with other gifts not covered by 1 and 2 above, do not in total exceed the exemption for £1,000 of value in paragraph 2 of Schedule 6.
  • The requirements for and exceptions from disclosure will be explained in more detail in the return forms which will expand on the circumstances in which gifts of chattels of a known value need not be returned.

    Hotels

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

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 18th March], gave the following information :About £25 million a year, but this estimate is subject to a wide margin of error.

    Defence

    Civil Servants

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence 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 and wage per head paid and the percentage increase for each figure.

    The approximate numbers of civil servants in the administration and clerical groups employed in the Ministry of Defence in January 1971 and 1975 are given below. These figures are not directly comparable owing to alterations in the structure of the Department between the two dates:

    19711975
    Clerical grades35,10034,400
    Other Administration group10,70011,600
    Average monthly salaries and wages are not available.

    Education And Science

    Reading And Arithmetic

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in the light of the general public interest in Sir Alan Bullock's inquiry into, and report upon, the reading ability of children, he will now set up a similar inquiry into the numeracy of chilren.

    I am not convinced that an inquiry on these lines should be set up at the present time.

    Home Department

    Prisoners (Parole)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now release on parole all prisoners who have completed 50 per cent. of their sentences.

    Wakefield Prison

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners are now in the control unit at Wakefield Prison.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what future he proposes for that part of Wakefield Prison converted for control unit purposes, when the use of such units is discontinued.

    I have nothing add to the reply that I gave to a Question by the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith) on 3rd March 1975.—[Vol. 887, c. 469.]

    Television Licences (Pensioners)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the Government's study of the feasibility of a further television licence concession for retirement pensioners will be completed.

    We hope that this study will be completed before the Summer Recess.

    Fire Precautions (Hotels)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, under the Fire Precautions (Loans) Act, guaranteed loans may be obtained from local government, or a grant obtained towards the total of the approved cost, or a straight grant based on the size of the establishment, for small hotels and guest houses.

    The making of loans under the Act is at the discretion of the local authority. The Act makes no provision for grants.

    Social Services

    Self-Employed Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the records to be maintained by her Department for self-employed people will in future contain details of their income; and who will have access to these records.

    No. I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke) on 13th December 1974.

    Old People

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to introduce a national welfare register designed to show the total picture of the number of elderly people at risk in the community.

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

    Nhs Consultants' Contract

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many persons, in the area covered by the Macclesfield group of hospitals, awaiting operations have had such operations delayed by the consultants' work to rule; and how many out-patients have had their appointments cancelled.

    Abortion

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many abortions have been carried out in each year in the United Kingdom since the passing of the Abortion Act.

    The numbers of abortions in Great Britain notified under the Abortion Act 1967 were as follows:

    1968 (from 27th April)25,178
    196960,913
    197091,819
    1971133,109
    1972167,484
    1973174,647
    1974 (estimated)170,000
    The Act does not apply to Northern Ireland.

    Hypothermia

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her estimate of the percentage of old people's living and dining areas that fall below the Department's recommended temperature level.

    I share the hon. Member's concern about keeping old people warm in winter but I am not able to make such an estimate.

    Casualty Departments

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will ensure that hospital casualty departments located in the vicinity of motorways are open on a 24-hour basis.

    The provision of accident and emergency facilities in the vicinity of motorways is based on A and E departments in hospitals which are fully equipped to deal with serious accidents. These units provide services on a 24-hour basis.

    Gross National Product

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will publish in the Official Report tables showing the proportion of the GNP on the National Health Service during the years 1964 to 1974.

    The information requested is as follows:

    Year% of GNP(at factor cost)
    19643·8
    19654·0
    19664·2
    19674·4
    19684·5
    19694·5
    19704·7
    19714·7
    19724·9
    19734·8
    The figure for 1974 is not yet available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will publish in the Official Report tables showing the proportion of the GNP made available to the National Health Service in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) France, (c) Norway and Sweden, respectively, according to latest available figures.

    The information requested is as follows:

    countryyearPercentage of GNP (at market prices)
    United Kingdom19734·2
    France*19695·7
    NorwayNot available
    Sweden*19696·7
    * Figures published by the Social Security Administration of the United States Department of Health, Education and Walfare. Total spending on health services, both private and public, is included.

    Departmental Publications

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the provisions of the departmental leaflet "Help With Heating Costs" [OC2] November 1974 supersede paragraphs 71–2 of the Supplementary Benefits Handbook published in February 1975; and if so, whether she will arrange to amend the handbook accordingly.

    The handbook went to press before the provisions outlined in the leaflet "Help with Heating Costs" had been settled but details will be published next month in the second edition of "SBC Notes and News" which is issued by the Supplementary Benefits Commission to social workers and others to supplement and up-date the handbook.

    Disabled Drivers' Allowance

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many gallons of standard grade petrol could be bought with the disabled driver's fuel allowance when it was first introduced; and how many gallons it will buy at present.

    About 20 and 14 respectively. The present £10 allowance was intended specifically to relieve drivers of invalid vehicles from the effect of the increase in VAT introduced last November as an energy conservation measure; it is equal to the additional tax on about 120 gallons.

    Attendance Allowance

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will print in the Official Report a breakdown of (1) the numbers of married women drawing the attendance allowance, and (2) the numbers of unmarried women drawing the attendance allowance for each year since the scheme's inception.

    Fluoridation

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it is her policy to seek to enforce a national programme of fluoridation of water supplies, or to permit regional water authorities freedom of choice in this matter.

    Under the National Health Service Reorganisation Act 1973 it is the responsibility of each health authority to decide in respect of its own area whether it wishes fluoridation to be introduced and, if so, to approach the appropriate regional water authority. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment would expect a regional water authority to give effect as soon as it reasonably could to a health authority's request for fluoridation, provided this was acceptable to any other health authority whose area would receive supplies of the fluoridated water.

    Vibration Syndrome

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the report of the Industrial Injuries Advisory Council on vibration syndrome will become available; and if she will make a statement.

    The Report is published today (Cmnd. 5965). The majority of the council concluded that they could not recommend the prescription under the Industrial Injuries Act of any disease caused by vibrating machines, and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has accepted this conclusion.The council's terms of reference required it to consider whether

    "diseases of bones, joints, muscles, blood vessels or nerves of the hand, arm or shoulder (including Raynaud's Phenomenon) caused by vibrating machines should be prescribed".

    It found that the only condition about which any question of prescription arose was vibration-induced white finger (VWF) and its considerations concentrated on that condition. The council examined a substantial body of evidence, including that arising from two special research projects undertaken on its behalf. but found no way round what it reports as being the basic problem, viz., that there are no objective clinical tests available or likely to be devised which would reliably identify VWF attributable to occupation in a particular person and enable the disablement resulting from it to be assessed with reasonable accuracy.

    Trade

    Tourism

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has now received the reports which he called for in his parliamentary reply on 21st November, col. 525–526; whether he will publish them; and whether he will make a statement.

    My right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Scotland and the Secretary of State for Wales and I have received a joint report from the national tourist boards and the British Tourist Authority. As a study of the implications for their work of certain conclusions reached by Government, the report has rightly looked some period ahead. It is understandably in the nature of an interim commentary calling for further consolidation in the light of further discussion with us before the desirability of any publication or statement can usefully be considered.

    Airports

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade on what basis he approved increases in charges for navigation services between 51 per cent. and 82 per cent. at regional airports as against some 5 per cent. at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted; and if he will make a statement on how these charges fit into the Government's policy of dispersal of air traffic from the South-East and of encouraging the greater use of regional airports.

    The deficits on aerodrome navigation services provided by the Civil Aviation Authority are incurred mainly at the regional airports. It was for this reason that I approved recent increases in the authority's charges at the regional airports at a higher rate than at the three London airports. This was the first increase at most of the regional airports since 1969, whereas charges at the London airports and Prestwick were increased by 50 per cent. last year. The Government are examining ways of encouraging traffic to regional airports following abandonment of the Maplin project, and the financial position of the airports is one of the matters we shall be considering. Meanwhile, even if airlines were to pass on the whole of the extra charge at regional airports directly to the passenger, it has been estimated that it would cost about 50p on international and 20p on domestic flights. The increases are not, therefore, expected to have any inhibiting effect on the volume of traffic using the regional airports.

    Expenditure Powers

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade 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.

    There have been no changes in the Department of Trade's powers in the last 12 months. The Air Travel Reserve Fund Bill now before Parliament would empower the Department to make loans up to a limit of £15 million.

    Air Travel (Customers' Compensation)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the respective estimated amounts of compensation liable to be paid to customers of the eight air travel organisers named in Written Answers to the hon. Member for Rom-ford on 11th March as coming within the scope of Section 2(4)(b) and (5) of the Air Travel Reserve Fund Bill.

    It is not possible to give an accurate estimate of the compensation liable to be paid to customers of the eight air travel organisers because: (a) claims must be collected and verified, in order to supplement information available from the air travel organiser's own records; (b) the claims to be paid by the Reserve Fund Bill will depend on how many of the verified claims can be met by the moneys remaining in the bonds; (c) many of the claims refer to moneys held by travel

    £ thousand cif
    Federal Republic of GermanyU.S.A.Irish RepublicPortugalItaly
    Wool tops7741313170
    Synthetic and regenerated fibres8,9037,5674,155154,425
    Textile yarn and thread33,41116,56128,2449,05010,266
    Cotton fabrics, woven (not including narrow or special fabrics)5,29611,7127,2446,9441,625
    Textile fabrics, woven (not including narrow or special fabrics) other than cotton fabrics16,12928,73112,71211,65527,617
    Tulle, lace, embroidery, ribbons, trimmings and other small wares837836436795
    Special textile fabrics and related products8,0945,4483,5364,2831,826
    Made-up articles wholly or chiefly of textile materials9302,3723,92016,2231,006
    Floor coverings, tapestries, etc.1,3091,07111,666404197

    Wales

    Water And Sewerage Charges

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what would be the cost of making water and sewerage charges eligible for rate rebates.

    There are insufficient data available to make a meaningful estimate.

    agents. It will not be known whether these claims are valid until the test cases arising from the liquidation of the Court Line travel firms have been decided.

    Textiles

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received concerning the trade in imported textiles; and if he will make a statement.

    The textile industry has made known to my Department its views on textile imports on a number of recent occasions through representations by hon. Members, by trade associations and in letters from employers, trade union officials and individual workers in the industry. There is also close liaison between my Department and the Department of Industry, with whom we keep the subject under constant review.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish in the Official Report details of the value and description of textile imports for the year ended 31st December 1974 in respect of each of the leading five exporting countries.

    Rates

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total chargeable to rates in each county for (i) teachers' salaries, (ii) police services and (iii) fire services.

    In 1973–74, the latest year for which information is available centrally, the cost of teachers' salaries for nursery, primary, secondary and special schools in each county was as follows:

    £
    Anglesey1,571,840
    Breconshire1,558,000
    Caernarvonshire3,135,186
    Cardiganshire1,639,978
    Carmarthenshire4,185,110
    Denbighshire4,584,435
    Flintshire4,549,879
    Glamorgan19,242,290
    Merioneth965,316
    Monmouthsire9,110,039
    Montgomeryshire1,203,260
    Pembrokeshire2,853,072
    Radnorshire549,373

    My Department does not have information about salaries for police and fire services.

    Under the rate support grant settlement 1973–74, 60 per cent. of the total estimated relevant expenditure of local authorities in England and Wales was met by grant. The rate support grant is a general grant in aid of rate fund ser-vices. It is not allocated to specific services and it is, therefore, not possible to say what amount is chargeable to rates in each county for specific services.