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Written Answers

Volume 888: debated on Friday 21 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 21st March 1975

Home Department

Cable Television

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has agreed to allow the five experimental community cable television stations to accept commercial advertising; and if he will set out the main reasons for his decisions and the conditions under which commercial advertising will be screened.

As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-Under-Lyme (Mr. Golding) on 6th March—[Vol. 887, c. 468.]—following representations from Lord Annan's committee the Government have decided to permit the experimental local community cable television stations to carry advertising so that some of the experiments can continue in operation during the committee's inquiry. It is intended that similar standards should apply to the content of advertisements as those which operate in independent television, and that advertisements should be subjected to a sample post-transmission check by the Home Office.

General Elections 1974 (Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department

OFFENCES CURRENTLY RECORDED AS HOMICIDE
1967354
1968359
1969332
1970342
1971406
1972413
1973396
2. PERSONS FOUND GUILTY OF MURDER AND THE SENTENCES IMPOSED ON THEM
Sentence
YearTotal found guiltyLife imprisonmentOtherwise dealt with*
196763603
196874686
196975696
1970978710
1971978710
197279727
197390828
* Mainly persons under the age of 18 sentenced under section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 to be detained during Her Majesty's pleasure.

what was the total cost of counting the votes at each of the General Elections of February and October 1974, respectively.

I have been asked to reply.This information is not available separately from the other costs of clerical and other assistance employed by returning officers; nor have all the claims in respect of the General Elections of February and October 1974 yet been received by the Treasury from the acting returning officers.

Murder And Manslaughter

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish in the Official Report a detailed list, giving for the longest most convenient stated period of time, the number of murders committed, and sentences, the number of manslaughter cases and sentences, and the number of cases where death has resulted, other than from natural causes, where legal action or criminal proceedings have ensued; and with what results.

The following is the readily available information, which relates to the period from 1967 to 1973

3. PERSONS FOUND GUILTY OF MANSLAUGHTER UNDER SECTION 2 OF THE HOMICIDE ACT 1957 (DIMINISHED RESPONSIBILITY)

Sentence

Year

Total found guilty

Conditional discharge

Hospital order

Probation

Suspended sentence

Imprisonment

Otherwise dealt with

196749304Not applicable132
1968441284101
19694743331101
19706623561211
1971683864231
197276451021
197380135131273

4. PERSONS FOUND GUILTY OF OTHER MANSLAUGHTER

Sentence

Year

Total found guilty

Absolute discharge

Conditional discharge

Hospital order

Probation

Fine

Suspended sentence

Imprisonment

Otherwise dealt with

196710916121Not applicable827
1968118248712796
19691176110212788
1970124249212887
197112753119954
1972141132121101039
1973154254811410020

5. PERSONS FOUND GUILTY OF INFANTICIDE
Sentence

Year

Total found guiltyAbsolute dischargeConditional dischargeHospital orderProbationImprisonmentOtherwise dealt with
1967171214
1968242211
196915213
197014212
19711511112
197216115
197315141

6. PERSONS PROCEEDED AGAINST, AND PERSONS FOUND GUILTY OF, CAUSING DEATH
BY DANGEROUS DRIVING

Year

Total* proceeded against

Total* found guilty

Absolute discharge

Conditional discharge

Hospital order

Probation

Fine

suspended sentence

Imprisonment

Otherwise dealt with

196766147721410N/A5113
196851736917429122329
196958239715336133012
1970589467181370214521
197165051832421116120
19726375004239928589
1973577577241466326210
N/A = Not Applicable.

7. PERSONS PROCEEDED AGAINST, AND FOUND GUILTY OF, AIDING SUICIDE

Sentence

Year

Total† proceeded against

Total† found guilty

Absolute discharge

Probation

suspended sentence

Otherwise dealt with

196711
19682211
19703211
1971
1972211
197311

* The first column relates to proceedings in the magistrates' courts; most cases in fact go on from there to the Crown court. Findings of guilt do not necessarily relate to proceedings commenced in the same year.

† Findings of guilt do not necessarily relate to proceedings commenced in the same year.

Cabinet Ministers(Memoirs)

asked the Prime Minister whether, following the recent publication of extracts from diaries by a former Cabinet Minister, he will make a statement on the conventions governing such publications.

The appearance in-serialised form in the Sunday Times of extracts from the Crossman diaries has raised issues requiring early clarification.As my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) on 15th November last made clear, the conventions governing publication by former Ministers flow from the two complementary principles of the collective responsibility of the Government as a whole and the personal responsibility of individual Ministers. The public interest requires that the proceedings of the Cabinet should take place in confidence, and consequently the records of its proceedings are protected from public scrutiny for 30 years under the Public Records Act 1967; but there is a long-standing tradition that Ministers may commit to history an account of their own stewardship.For this purpose they may have access to documents which they saw when in office in order to refresh their memory of events and they are asked to submit their texts to the Secretary of the Cabinet. This scrutiny is not just to ensure that national security is not prejudiced but also to ensure that in exercising their right to defend their own actions they do not endanger the mutual trust upon which Cabinet Government depends. In examing such texts the Secretary of the Cabinet is guided by well-established conventions which have been established over the years under successive administrations.Hitherto these arrangements have worked smoothly, largely because those who have written memoirs have in general aimed to conform to them. My late right hon. Friend, however, did not accept this aim; indeed the preface to his Diary expressly questioned the conventions. The excerpts that have appeared have been subject to some editing; but they have contained material which goes beyond the conventions which have hitherto applied, and their appearance has provoked considerable public interest in the conventions themselves.I have, therefore, come to the conclusion that the time has come for a review of the arrangements which should govern the publication of memoirs by former Ministers during the period of 30 years—reduced from 50 years in 1967—when official documents are subject to the provisions of the Public Records Act. The review should also examine the means by which observance of such rules can best be secured; and the implications of the rules for those governing the publication of memoirs by retired civil servants. The Franks Report on Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act did not cover this ground and the Government will consider the outcome of the review in the context of action on the Franks Report.I have decided that this review can best be carried out by a committee of Privy Counsellors. I have informed the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition of this decision, and she has told me that she will be ready to co-operate in the matter. I hope to announce shortly the composition and terms of reference of this committee.

Civil Service

Community Land Bill

asked the Minister for the Civil Service when copies of the Community Land Bill were physically placed in the retail branches of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

Copies of the Community Land Bill were placed in the Government Bookshop, High Holborn, for sale on the afternoon of 20th March. Copies were, at the same time, despatched to Government Bookshops outside London.

Employment

Unemployed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the unemployment rates in England, Scotland and Wales, respectively, in the February of each year since 1964.

Following is the information:

PERCENTAGE RATES OF UNEMPLOYMENT
EnglandScotlandWales
February 19641·74·32·8
February 19651·33·52·7
February 19661·22·82·9
February 19672·13·84·1
February 19682·34·14·2
February 19692·33·84·2
February 19702·44·24·2
February 19712·75·44·2
February 19723·77·05·4
February 19732·85·64·1
February 19742·44·33·7
February 19753·14·74·6

Eec Membership(Referendum)

asked the Lord President of the Council whether, with the White Paper to be supplied to voters on matters connected with the EEC referendum, he will also include a copy of the Rome Treaty and a summary of all of the rules, directives and orders, etc., that have been issued since Great Britain's entry into the EEC.

asked the Lord President of the Council what is his esti- mate of the cost of the whole operation of counting the votes in the proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Community at one central place.

It is not possible to separate counting costs from other clerical and administrative costs, and no accurate estimate of the cost of counting is therefore available.

House Of Commons

Members' Pensions

asked the Lord President of the Council what would be the cost to public funds of paying a pension to former Members of Parliament, who had completed 10 years of service in the House, which was a sum amounting to half their parliamentary salary on leaving the House, and payable at the age of 65 years.

I regret that the costs of such a scheme could only be determined at disproportionate expense. In so far as it would involve the payment of pensions to former Members who left the House before the Members' Pension Scheme was introduced, it could have major repercussions on the cost of public service pensions generally.

Parliamentary Papers (Public Sales)

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make arrangements for the public to be able to purchase related parliamentary papers, such as Hansard, in or near the precincts of the House.

There are at present no plans to open an official bookshop in or near the precincts of the House, but this possibility will be considered in any plans for the redevelopment of the Whitehall area. Government publications can, of course, be ordered through commercial booksellers in the area.

Facilities

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will arrange for Members to be able to volunteer their varied talents to assist in maintaining the functioning of the House during the period of unofficial strike action.

asked the Lord President of the Council what is the availability of foodstuff supplies to Parliament in face of the picket mounted by unofficial strikers.

I have been asked to reply.Supplies of food are being maintained, with some exceptions, inclusive of certain supplies from three breweries.

National Finance

Small Businesses

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring forward legislation to ensure that small companies receive the same benefits in relation to the effects of inflation on stock appreciation as was recently afforded to large companies.

I have given an assurance that there will be further relief next year for increases in stock values, and that the relief for two years' trading will be extended to small companies and unincorporated businesses. The legislation will be included in the next Finance Bill.

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the total cost to the Exchequer of relieving the performing arts, theatre and concert box offices, the acting profession, living writers, museum acquisitions, of VAT.

It is estimated that the cost of zero-rating the theatre and musical concerts for VAT would probably be of the order of £6 million a year. I regret that information on the other items mentioned is not available.

Property Valuation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied that property valuation for housing associations and local authorities reflects current market prices.

pursuant to his reply [20th March 1975]. gave the following information:

It is part of the function of the district valuer to advise both housing associations and local authorities on property values and he exercises his professional skill in the light of such evidence as is available in seeking to ensure that his valuations reflect current market prices wherever that is the proper basis of valuation.

Agriculture, Fisheriesand Food

Herring Fishing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why he has issued an order banning herring fishing.

The United Kingdom quota for herring in the North Sea and Skagerrak, agreed by the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission, has now been taken in full. While the quota for 1974–75 was close to recent catch levels, unexpectedly high landings of herring from this stock were made last autumn. and licences were then temporarily suspended. Fishing for the small balance of the quota began on 1st February 1975 and the quota limit has now been reached. Accordingly. licences have been revoked.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) when he proposes to allow herring fishing to be resumed;(2) what steps he is taking to see that herring fishing will be resumed at as early a date as possible. in view of the cheapness of herring as a food.

The United Kingdom quota for herring in the North Sea and Skagerrak for the year July 1974 to June 1975 has now been taken. The quota year begins on 1st July 1975, and the total allowable catch for this stock, and its allocation as national quotas is to be discussed at the Annual Meeting of the North-East Atlantic Fisheries Commission in May.

Bread

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will tabulate for the last 12 months the cif price Rotterdam for a common category of milling wheat at world prices, together with the equivalent sums for each month of the accession compensatory amount, EEC or United Kingdom duties or levies, the cost to a United Kingdom importer, and the approximate Exchequer subsidy on bread per ton of imported wheat used in bread.

I am listing below for the 15 of each of the months requested the lowest representative cif offer prices, corrected to the EEC standard quality for wheat and to a Rotterdam basis, used by the Commission for levy-fixing purposes. The list also includes the corresponding EEC levies and United Kingdom accession compensatory amounts and levies fixed for those days. Because of the operation of the system of monetary cor-

£per ton*
DateLowest Corrected cif Offer PriceEEC LevyUnited Kingdom Accession Compensatory Amount (ACA)United Kingdom Net Levy(EEC Levy United Kingdom ACA)
15th May 197460·94
15th April 197454·113·512·820·69
15th June 197460·29
15th July 197466·34
15th August 197472·94
15th September 197468·41
15th October 197485·24
15th November 197477·07
15th December 197472·23
15th January 197561·844·345·07
15th February 197558·228·519·12
15th March 197551·0617·7216·870·85
* April-September converted at representative rate £1 = 2·1644 uas.
October-February converted at representative rate £1 = 2·0053 uas.
March converted at representative rate £1=1·96178 uas.

Food Imports (Eec Payments)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will tabulate the accession compensatory amounts payable by the EEC on food exports to the United Kingdom from January 1973 for each of the main foods imports, either for each month or representative period, stating the reason for payment of such compensatory amounts, to whom the payments are made and in what form, from which funds they come, and for what period they are expected to last.

Accession compensatory amounts are designed to ensure a gradual transition from pre-accession United Kingdom price levels to common Community price levels in respect of pro- rection any residual United Kingdom levies shown were in fact eliminated and, since 21st October 1974, a net import subsidy has been paid. There has been no cost to the United Kingdom importer resulting from the system of levies and compensatory amounts during this period. Information on the daily rates of levies and compensatory amounts may be obtained from the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce.It would be unrealistic to try to relate the Exchequer subsidy on bread to the quantity of imported wheat used in its manufacture, since whilst the subsidy is payable on flour used to produce bread the rate is based on the total cost of producing a loaf.ducts subject to a common organization of the market. Under the Act of Accession the transition will be complete, and hence accession compensatory amounts will cease, not late than 1st January 1978.Where United Kingdom institutional price levels are lower than those in the exporting Community country the accession compensatory amount operates in intra-Community trade as an export subsidy. This would be a charge on the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund (FEOGA). As regards trade with third countries accession compensatory amounts operate to reduce any import levy or export refund that may be applicable on entry to the United Kingdom. In many cases monetary compensatory amounts also apply.

Full details of past rates on the lines requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost. The rates of accession compensatory amounts are published in the Official Journal of the European Communities and information on current rates is available from the Intervention Board for Agricultural Produce. Some details of rates are also given in a booklet on EEC Common and United Kingdom Transition Prices produced by my Department and I am sending my hon. Friend a copy, and a copy is available in the Library of the House.

Veterinary Surgeons

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many

SelbyCorshamStotfoldStirling
Year ended 30th SeptemberBoarsSibsBoarsSibsBoarsSibsBoarsSibs
19711,4581,5581,2301,4621,7541,778780940
19721,0881,8561,0741,6741,5721,8488121,142
19731,4581,9128581,1161,0201,284694848
19749461,7188421,1321,4802,0127841,684

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many ultrasonic on-farm tests have been conducted by the Meat and Livestock Commission in each year since the introduction of the pig improvement scheme.

I understand that the numbers of ultrasonic on-farm tests carried out by the Meat and Livestock Commission since the introduction of this service in 1969 are approximately:

196913,500
197043,000
197152,000
197251,000
197377,500
197468,500

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many independent testing herds have access to the pig health scheme test facilities of the Meat and Livestock Commission; and what has been the total number of such tests in each year since the introduction of the pig improvement scheme.

I understand that independent testing herds do not have access to the Meat and Livestock Commission's central testing stations, but that they are able to use the on-farm testing service. The commission occasionally makes its central testing facilities available to small breeds, and the herds concerned may, vacancies exist in the veterinary service of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

I understand that there are no vacancies in the veterinary service of the Meat and Livestock Commission.

Pig Keeping

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing the number of boar and sib tests conducted at each of the Meat and Livestock Commission testing stations in each 12-month period from April 1971.

I understand that the figures are available for 12 month periods ending 30th September:Incidentally, be in the independent testing category.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many members of the pig health scheme have had their membership (a) suspended and (b) revoked in each year since the introduction of the pig improvement scheme.

Since the pig health scheme was introduced in 1968 the numbers of suspensions and revocations of membership has been:

SuspensionsRevocations
1968
1969
19701
197111
197213
19738
197411
1975 (to date)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications for membership of the Meat and Livestock Commission's pig improvement scheme have been received in each of the last three years.

I understand that applications for membership of the Meat and Livestock Commission's pig improvement scheme, excluding nucleus multiplier herds, numbered 134 in 1972. 134, in 1973 and 135 in 1974.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications for membership of the Meat and Livestock Commission's pig improvement scheme have been approved in each of the last three years; and how many of these applicants have been accepted into the pig health scheme.

I understand that 225, 236 and 224 applications for membership of the Meat and Livestock Commission's pig improvement scheme were approved in 1972, 1973 and 1974 respectively. Except where applications are awaited for are under consideration, all have been accepted, or a probationary period is being served before full acceptance into the pig health scheme.

asked the Minister of Agricuture, Fisheries and Food what plans exist to expand the range of the pig health scheme.

There are no immediate plans for expansion, but we have promised to review the scheme in the autumn.

Food Preservation And Marketing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the Report of the Steering Group on Food Freshness on the Open Date Marking of Food.

The Interim Report of the Steering Group on Food Freshness has been published today and copies are available in the Library of the House.The Government take the view that consumers should be able to buy food in the peak of condition. The responsibility for this rests primarily with food manufacturers and distributors.Open date marking systems undoubtedly have an important part to play. Voluntary systems covering a wide range of foods have already been adopted by both food manufacturers and retailers. The Government agree, however, that in order properly to protect the consumer it will be necessary to introduce a statutory system of open date marking and intend to do so.The interim report, which has been published today, recommends that this statutory system should be based on a "sell by" date. Other date marking systems are, however, under discussion. For example, all the member States of the European Economic Community wish to see the open date marking of food, but the system under discussion in the Community is based on telling the consumer that the food will keep at least until the date specified on the container provided that any storage instructions are followed. The Steering Group points out in its interim report that our views and those of our partners in the Community need to be co-ordinated before any open date marking regulations are made. The Government fully accept this view since there are obvious advantages in trying to ensure that the same system of open date marking applies to food irrespective of whether it is sold in the United Kingdom or in Europe. This will be all the more important if we remain within the Community. The Steering Group's report is, therefore, published for comment, in particular as to the system finally to be introduced in the United Kingdom.We shall now have urgent discussions with organisations representing consumers, food manufacturers and distributors and with the Community so as to arrive at a generally acceptable statutory system of open date marking.

Education And Science

Teachers' Superannuation

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the date of the introduction of the added years scheme, relating to teachers' super-annuation, in England.

The Teachers' Super-annuation (Added Years and Interchange) Regulations 1974 (SI, 1974, No. 260) came into operation on 1st April 1974.

Energy

Nuclear Fuels

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the existing and future contracts for the supply of nuclear fuels to the United Kingdom; and whether he is satisfied that these contracts are sufficient to guarantee the United Kingdom's future nuclear fuel requirements.

Contracts have already been placed which, together with our existing stocks, cover uranium requirements into the early 1980s. Further contracts will be needed to cover later requirements. British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., as agent for the electricity generating boards, is seeking opportunities to place such contracts and there is no reason to think that it will not succeed.

Conservation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will now take steps to insitute a national target for energy savings.

No. Circumstances vary widely, and a national target would have little significance for individual consumers. I believe the right approach to be for every consumer to examine his energy consumption and to set his own savings target.

Environment

District Heating

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to speed the provision of district heating schemes to all types of homes; and if he will ensure that local authorities should be encouraged to consider the use of district heating schemes in new building.

I would refer the hon. Member to my replies of 12th March to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett)—[Vol. 888, c. 157.1—and of 18th March to the hon. Member for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (Mr. Steel).—[Vol. 888, c. 392.]

Home Loss Grants

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many applications have been made by local authorities for discretion to pay home loss grants where such applications were made outside the six-month limit; and if he will abolish the six-month limit as far as home loss grants are concerned.

Sanction has been sought for 517 payments, of which 289 have been approved. Abolition of the six-month rule would require an amendment to the Land Compensation Act 1973, and the justification for this is insufficient.

Building Societies (Government Loan)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much of the £500 million loaned by the Government to building societies has so far been repaid.

£306 million of the £500 million loaned to the building societies has now been repaid.

Structure Plans

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether any further structure plans have been submitted to him for all or part of the area of local planning authorities since his answer to the hon. Member for Melton on 13th January; and if he will list them, together with the date of submission.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has published any further decisions on, or proposed modifications to, structure plans since his reply to the hon. Member for Melton on 8th November 1974; and if he will list them.

My right hon. Friend published on 6th March further proposed modifications to the Worcestershire structure plan. He expects to issue his decision on the Coventry and Solihull structure plans shortly.

Whitchurch, Hampshire (Bypass)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he anticipates the opening to traffic of the Whitchurch, Hampshire, bypass, and if he will give it urgent priority in view of the anxiety expressed by local inhabitants about possible injury and damage to property in the town.

At the end of this year. At this stage of construction it would be impracticable to attempt to accelerate the work.

Local Authority Audits

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which of the following local authorities below were subject to district audit for the year 1972–73; of these that were if he will detail, respectively, the dates upon which the district auditor held public hearings upon the audit, and if any ratepayers made objections to the housing account; and upon what date the audit was completed: Camden LB, Barrow CB, Blackburn CB, Carlisle CB, Doncaster CB, Salford CB, South Shields CB, Walsall CB, Eccles BC, Mansfield BC, Bedworth UDC, and Conisborough UDC.

Of the authorities listed, all the accounts of Camden LBC, Bedworth UDC, and Conisbrough UDC were subject to audit by the district auditor. Only certain accounts of the other authorities were so subject, and these included the housing accounts. The audits which have been completed and the dates of completion are:

  • Carlisle CBC 4th March, 1974.
  • Salford CBC 15th October, 1974.
  • South Shields CBC 15th March 1974.
  • Walsall CBC 4th June, 1974.
  • Bedworth UDC 19th June 1974.
It appears from the auditor's publicly available reports that there were no objections by local government electors at any of these audits and that it was not necessary to hold public hearings.As I informed the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison) in my reply on 17th March—[Vol. 888, c. 297.]—district auditors do not report to me on the consideration of issues arising in the performance of their statutory duties.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which of the following authorities were subject to district audit for 1973–74; whether these audits are now complete; if not, whether hearings have been held; if so, when; if not, for what dates they have been arranged; and if any ratepayers have objected to the housing accounts; for which of the authorities housing subsidies have been finalised; and what date he expects the remainder to be finalised: Hackney LB, Islington LB, Birmingham CB, Bootle CB, Bradford CB, Doncaster CB, Leeds CB, Lincoln CB, Oldham CB, Stockport CB, Wakefield CB, Bromsgrove UDC, Carnforth UDC, Dartmouth UDC, Sowerby Bridge UDC, Washington UDC, Billesdon RDC, and Sedgefield RDC.

Of the authorities listed, all the accounts of Hackney LBC, Islington LBC, Bromsgrove UDC, Carnforth UDC, Sowerby Bridge UDC, Washington UDC, Billesdon RDC and Sedge-field RDC were subject to district audit. Only certain accounts of the other authorities—including the housing accounts—were subject to audit by district auditors. The audits of Dartmouth BC and Sedgefield RDC have been completed. It appears from the auditors' publicly available reports that it was not necessary to hold public hearings in these two cases.I have no information about public hearings held in cases where audits are not yet completed.Housing subsidies have not been finally settled in any of the cases listed, except Sedgefield RDC. I am unable to forecast the dates for making final settlements.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement about the progress of audits for local authorities for the financial year 1973–74 in view of the fact that district auditors aim to complete the audits nine months after the end of the financial year; how many audits remain uncompleted; and if hearings have either been held or have been arranged for all authorities subject to district audit ; for what proportion of authorities have audits been completed ; and if any surcharges have been imposed by district auditors.

I understand that some 1,150 audits of the 1973–74 accounts are not yet completed. This represents just under half of the total number of local and miscellaneous authorities, excluding parish authorities, in England and Wales whose accounts were wholly or partly subject to audit by district auditors. The progress of audits has, 1 am informed, been seriously affected by local government reorganisation.I understand that no surcharges have so far been made in the course of the audits.I have no information about hearings where the audits are still in progress.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the delay in completing audits for the 70 or so local authorities for the financial year 1972–73 is caused solely by the factors described in his answer to the Question from the hon. Member for Southend, West on Monday 17th March; and if he will specify any other reasons that there were.

M3

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the best estimate he is able to make of the completion date of the M3 extension from Popham to beyond Winchester, in the light of the additional traffic to be expected following the postponement of the Channel Tunnel.

The commencement of work on the section of the M3 will be subject to the satisfactory completion of the outstanding statutory procedure and the availability of funds at the time, but the current estimated completion date is the winter of 1978–79.

Community Land Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will place in the Library copies of the document about the Community Land Scheme which he has made available to local authorities.

Northern Ireland

Firearms

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what compensation will be paid to owners of firearms who have had the renewal of licence refused; what facilities are provided for the safekeeping and proper care and maintenance of firearms which have been called in; and what measures have been introduced to immobilise firearms with the owners consent which he wishes to keep for sentimental reasons, and where the licence is revoked.

No compensation is paid to owners of firearms who have had the renewal of licence refused. However, when in such circumstances a weapon has to be disposed of, it can be sold to a registered firearms dealer. Since firearms dealers are subject to restrictions both on the number of weapons they may hold and on the period of their retention, and because the commercial market for second-hand bullet-firing weapons is very limited in Northern Ireland, administrative arrangements exist for the Northern Ireland Office to buy in weapons which cannot be disposed of through registered dealers. The expenditure in the 1974–75 financial year to date is about £11,000.Weapons which have been called in by the police for safe keeping are suitably stored and maintained in a police armoury.The Chief Constable advises owners on the secure storage and immobilisation of all weapons, including those which the owner may wish to keep for sentimental reasons.

Detention Appeals

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the average time taken for the hearing of a case before the Commissioners and the Detention Appeal Tribunal, where the person was legally represented; and what has been the average cost to public funds of such legal representation.

The average times taken for the hearing of cases before the Commissioners and Detention Appeal Tribunal where the detainees were legally represented, and the average costs to public funds of such legal representation, are as follows:

Approximate average timeAverage Cost
£
First hearings1 day295
Reviews3 cases per day195
Appeals4 cases per day195
The cost of legal representation covers counsel's fees where appropriate and all other costs associated with the defence, including inquiries before the hearing, consultation with the detainee and witnesses.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many cases have been heard by the Commissioners and the Detention Appeal Tribunal where the detainee or internee was legally represented out of public funds.

453 such cases have been heard by the Commissioners on first hearing and 374 on review. 158 have been heard by the Detention Appeal Tribunal. The total figure is thus 985.

Internees' Dependants

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if dependants of internees are assisted in or exempted from paying electricity accounts or any accounts to statutory bodies or services in Northern Ireland.

Dependants of internees are not eligible for any special assistance. Their entitlement to statutory benefits, which may include help in these matters, is assessed in accordance with the criteria which apply to all claimants.

Convention Election

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will now announce the date of the election to the Northern Ireland Convention.

The date of the election to the Constitutional Convention will be announced shortly.

Teachers' Superannuation

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) if he will enable teachers in Northern Ireland to achieve parity with those in England by making it possible for the former to purchase added years, relating to teachers' superannuation, at the salary rates which obtained when the scheme was introduced in England;(2)what is the reason for the delay in applying the added years superannuation to Northern Ireland;(3)what is the reason for the delay in applying the added years scheme, relating to teachers' superannuation, to Northern Ireland.

Prices And Consumerprotection

Milk Subsidy

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is her estimate of the cost of the milk subsidy in 1975–76; and what is the saving in terms of pence per pint.

It is estimated that, subject to parliamentary approval, expenditure on the milk subsidy in 1975–76 will be £270 million. This is equivalent to a saving to the consumer of about 2p per pint. The rate of subsidy paid in accordance with schemes under Section 1 of the Prices Act 1974 on milk produced in certain Scottish islands and in the Isles of Scilly will accordingly be changed to 2p per pint from 6th April 1975.

Imperial Typewriter Company

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will take steps to refer the typewriter industry to the Monopolies Commission, following the closure of the Imperial Typewriter plants in Leicester and Hull.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will refer to the Monopolies Commission the closure of the Imperial Typewriter Company by Litton Industries on the grounds that it may be against the public interest.

I do not consider that such a reference would help to solve the current problems, but I understand that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry is considering with the trade unions the feasibility of continuing production at the company's plants on a viable basis.

Scotland

Fishing Limits

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department has had any recent discussions with the Norwegian authorities on the question of a 50-mile fishing limit for inshore fishermen.

Salmon Catches (Tweed)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what catches of salmon and grilse have been recorded in the River Tweed in each of the last 10 years.

The catches for the most up-to-date period available in the returns supplied to my Department are as follows:

SalmonGrilseTotal
196441,68528,70670,391
196540,18927,94068,129
196637,07736,54573,622
196749,61450,31499,928
196836,40827,82764,235
196938,39265,103103,495
197041,70455,43197,135
197122,39638,67161,067
197234,60129,69764,298
197334,50526,72261,227

Legal Aid

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has for the further extension of the system of legal aid: and if he will make a statement.

Legal aid will be available in the new district courts as from 16th May 1975 and will thus be available for the first time in all Scottish courts. The need for legal aid in tribunal proceedings has been under review, but I have no statement to make on the matter at present.

Industry

Boeing Aircraft Corporation(President)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to be able to inform the hon. Member for Chertsey, and Walton (Mr. Pattie) if he 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.

Trade

Lampa Securities Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will institute an inquiry under the relevant section of the Companies Act into the affairs of Lampa Securities Ltd.

No. On the avail able information there do not appear to be circumstances justifying the use of the Department's investigatory powers.

Boeing Aircraft(Landing Charges)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the landing charges for Boeing 707 and 747 aircraft with a typical load at Heathrow; and what information he has from international sources available to him about the comparative charges at John F. Kennedy. Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Frankfurt. and Amsterdam airports, respectively.

Landing charges for a Boeing 707 and a Boeing 747 at Heathrow, with effect from 1st April 1975, with typical loads, are £424 and £863 respectively during a standard hour. and £492 and £930 respectively during peak hours. Comparable charges at John F. Kennedy, Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam airports for the same aircraft are approximately £566 and £945, £102 and £218, £57 and £122, £481 and £990, £500 and £997, and £446 and £866. The charges at United States airports understate the true cost to airlines and passengers since they exclude a passenger tax levied at major US airports and take no account of other elements included in charges at Heathrow.

Queen's Award To Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has received the report of the committee reviewing the scope of the Queen's Award to Industry, what recommendations it makes concerning the institution of an award to employers with exceptional achievements in the employment of severely disabled people ; and if he will make a statement.

The Review Committee has not yet completed its work but is expected to submit its report to the Prime Minister before the summer. The committee has before it various proposals concerning the scope of the scheme, including the point mentioned by my hon. Friend.

Nation Life Insurance Co Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Trade under what powers his Department took action in September 1973 to insulate the affairs of Nation Life from those of the property and finance group of which it was then a member.

Under Sections 14 and 21, on the ground specified in Section 12(4)(b) of the Insurance Companies Amendment Act 1973. These sections now appear respectively as Sections 30, 37 and 28(4)(b) in the consolidating Insurance Companies Act 1974.

Skytrain

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has considered the Civil Aviation Authority's conclusions on the renewal of the Sky-train licence; and if he will make a statement.

The Civil Aviation Authority concluded that the Skytrain service should not be started until the market had reached a healthy rate of growth. and that this was unlikely for at least 12 months, and perhaps longer. I agree. It is my intention to consider Skytrain as part of my review of civil aviation which, among other things, will be considering the different categories of service offered by British airlines. I shall of course take full account of the Civil Aviation Authority's conclusions. I hope to complete the review by the summer. In the meantime it has been made clear to the US Government that we expect them to take no action which would prejudice our right to operate Skytrain in accordance with the air services agreement. My Department is also pursuing with the United States' authorities the desirability of removing certain restrictions on Laker Airways Charter Services which were imposed two years ago.

Foreign And Commonwealthaffairs

Egyptian Delta Light Railways

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, when he meets the Egyptian Foreign Minister, he will discuss the question of compensation to the debenture holders of the Egyptian Delta Light Railways, with a view to reaching a settlement of this long-outstanding matter.

My right hon. Friend will ensure that this matter is taken up either when he meets the Egyptian Foreign Minister or through the British Embassy in Cairo.

Social Services

Earnings Rule

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will consider increasing the flat rate for earnings for part-time workers to £4 per week instead of the present £3 and £6 per week for full-time workers instead of £5.

I assume that the right hon. Gentleman has in mind the amounts of earnings that can be disregarded in assessing entitlement to supplementary benefit. These are at present £1 a week in the case of persons required to register for work and £2 a week for others. Under the Social Security Benefits Act these amounts are to be increased later this year to £2 and £4 respectively.

Family Income Supplement

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many children at school and below school leaving age are covered by family income supplement payments.

Information in exactly the form requested is not available. It is estimated that at the end of December 1974 there were about 120,000 children aged 5 or over in families receiving family income supplement.

Multiple Schlerosis

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether incontinence pads are freely available on prescription for sufferers from multiple sclerosis.

Area health authorities may provide free supplies of incontinence pads when necessary for patients, including those suffering from multiple sclerosis, as part of their community health services.

Agoraphobia

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if the problems faced by agoraphobics will be discussed in the forthcoming White Paper on the mentally ill.

The White Paper will aim to give a general analysis of the needs of the mentally ill as a basis for the planning and development of services, but there are expected to be some references to particular diagnostic conditions including agoraphobia.

Attendance Allowance Board

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what contact she has had with the Attendance Allowance Board about the board's procedure; what action she has taken as a result; and if she will make a statement.

The Attendance Allowance Board has been examining its procedures at my request. In January it began an experimental review procedure in two of my Department's regions, which gives a claimant who has applied for re- view the opportunity to be examined in his own home by two doctors who will adjudicate on the case. The claimant can invite anyone, including his general practitioner, to be present in order to assist. The two doctors subsequently notify their decision, with reasons, to the claimant. The board will be evaluating this experimental procedure later in the year.

National Insurance (Co-Operatives)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the members of the Meriden Workers Co-operative are to be classed as self-employed for national insurance purposes.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) on 5th March—[Vol. 887. c. 418.]