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Written Answers

Volume 889: debated on Tuesday 25 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 25th March 1975

Social Services

Private Patients (Dispute)

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what discussions she has had with NUPE about the operation of sanctions against private patients in Christie Hospital and the Holt Radium Institute in Manchester.

This is a matter for the Manchester Area Health Authority (Teaching) and discussions have been conducted at local level.

Hearing Aids

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make a statement on the priorities of her Department in the provision of free behind-the-ear deaf aids.

I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland are at present consulting interested organisations about priorities and I shall then seek the advice of my Advisory Committee on Services for Hearing Impaired People. Decisions will be taken in the light of advice received.

Family Allowances (Publicity)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the cost of publicising the increase in family allowances.

£92,000, comprising £84,000 on national newspaper advertising and £8,000 on leaflets, posters and distribution.

Retirement Pensions

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in view of the effect of continuous inflation on persons with fixed incomes, she will introduce quarterly reviews of retirement pensions; and if she will make a statement.

As my hon. Friend will be aware, we have undertaken that we will review pensions as frequently as is necessary and practicable in present circumstances.

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by what percentage purchasing power of the retirement pension has declined since July 1974 at the latest date for which figures are available.

On the basis of the General Index of Retail Prices the retirement pension rates introduced in July 1974 had lost 10 per cent. of their real value by February 1975. They are still, however, worth more, in real terms, seven months after being introduced than were their equivalents at the time of the previous Government's uprating in October 1973. The rates are being increased again next month so that, in money terms, pensions will have risen by about 50 per cent. in nine months.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will consider introducing retirement pensions linked to average earnings for existing pensioners.

The National Insurance Act 1974 already provides that retirement pensions and other long-term benefits will be increased in line with the movement in the general level of earnings unless the movement in the general level of prices would be more beneficial to pensioners.

Hospital Admissions (Diagnosis)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to ensure that the entry of patients to NHS hospitals is not dependent on diagnostic assessments carried out by persons without medical qualifications.

The need for admission to hospital, and the urgency of that need, are rightly matters which depend on the judgment of a medical practitioner.

Invalidity Pension (Disabledhousewives)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she plans to introduce the new invalidity pension for disabled housewives.

We shall introduce the housewives' non-contributory invalidity pension as soon as is consistent with the making and implementation of proper administrative arrangements. As the hon. Lady will be aware, we have ahead of us a very crowded programme of social security improvements for chronically sick and disabled people.

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received about the decision to delay payment of non-contributory invalidity pensions to disabled housewives.

We have explained from the outset that the wide range of new benefits which we are introducing will have to be phased in over a period of years, with non-contributory invalidity pension for housewives coming once the main non-contributory invalidity pension, the invalid care allowance and the mobility allowance, have been launched. There have been various representations urging the earliest practicable implementation of the programme.

National Health Service(Consultants' Contract)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress she has made towards a settlement in the consultants' dispute.

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current state of affairs on the consultants' dispute; and whether she will make a statement.

Since my last statement to the House on 10th March—[Vol. 888, c 29–34.]—I have had a further exchange of letters with Dr. Stevenson of the BMA and another clarification meeting between officials has been arranged. Copies of the latest correspondence have been placed in the Library of the House.

Hospital Expenditure (Kent)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how the capital expenditure since 1948 on hospitals in Kent compares with other areas of similar population.

The capital expenditure in Kent since 1948 has been about £17 per head of population; the national figure is about £24—it is hard to make comparisons between areas.

Elderly And Handicapped Persons(Care)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in the light of the evidence sent her by the hon. Member for Stockport, South, she is satisfied with the co-ordination between hospital authorities and the local government social services in matters relating to the care of old and/or incapacitated people.

The Area Health Authority is investigating the particular case which my hon. Friend raised with me and I will write to him. We are doing everything we can to improve co-ordination between health and local authorities.

Casualty Out-Patients

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with the procedure for redirecting casualty out-patients from one hospital to another.

Full round-the-clock accident and emergency services are not provided at all hospitals. Hospitals which do not provide a full service normally refer casualties who present themselves to the nearest hospital with an accident and emergency department.

Disabled War Pensioners (Vehicles)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she expects to make an announcement regarding retention of vehicles by disabled war pensioners after they cease employment.

I am looking into this problem in the light of representations made to me by organisations of ex-Service men and I hope soon to be able to tell them the outcome.

Concessionary Passes (Elderly Persons)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will issue old-age passes to those who, for one reason or another, are not eligible for the retirement pension, to enable them to receive reduced transport fares and other concessions and only available to pensioners.

No. I am not satisfied that the benefits would be commensurate with the considerable costs involved.

Sunflower Seed Oil

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will now allow doctors in the National Health Service to prescribe sunflower seed oil in appropriate cases of persons suffering from multiple sclerosis.

Supplementary Benefit Appeals

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will introduce a second-tier appeal body for supplementary benefit claimants.

As my hon. Friend knows, Professor Bell's research study of supplementary benefit appeal tribunals is nearing completion. Any suggestions for changes in the appeals system will be fully considered in the light of her report.

Wage Stop Rule

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the best estimate available to her of the current cost of abolishing the wage stop rule.

Poverty (Eec Programme)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make a statement about her proposals for British participation in the proposed EEC programme to combat poverty.

The EEC Commission's proposals for the implementation of this programme are still being considered at official level within the Council of Ministers and by the Economic and Social Committee and the European Assembly. If these are eventually approved by the Council I shall be considering with my colleagues, and in consultation with voluntary and other interests, ways in which the United Kingdom might participate.

Sheffield (Burns Accident Cases)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with the facilities in Sheffield for handling burns cases arising from accidents in the city's hot-metal cooling industries.

Burns patients requiring out-patient treatment are seen at one of four designated accident and emergency centres in Sheffield. Some premises are less than satisfactory, but, compared with the average level of national provision, I am satisfied that the accident and emergency facilities available are sufficient for the population served. I am also satisfied that there are sufficient beds for burns patients requiring admission to hospital although no purpose-built accommodation is available for this purpose.

Medicine Containers (Child Safety)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she has reached a decision on the introduction of child-resistant closures for medicines; and when she will make a statement.

The comments and suggestions received as a result of consultation with the interested representative organisations, professional and consumer bodies are still under consideration. It is hoped to make a statement in April.

Geriatric Beds

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will make a statement about the future provision of geriatric beds and facilities in Nuneaton and Coventry hospitals.

On current planning norms the North Warwickshire (Nuneaton) health district has a shortfall of about 100 geriatric beds, Coventry about 15. 196 new beds will shortly become available at Walsgrave Hospital, Coventry, but they are likely to be needed to replace existing unsatisfactory accommodation. The health authorities concerned are considering how the shortfalls can be met.

Haemophilia

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps she will now take to produce in quantities, and make available, an antidote to those suffering from haemophilia, bearing in mind that there are large quantities of a suitable extract developed by doctors at the Churchill Hospital, Oxford. eight years ago.

I have already authorised the allocation of special finance of up to £0·5 million—about half of which would be recurring—to increase the existing production of Factor VIII, especially in the form of an anti-haemophilic globulin (AHG) concentrate, with the aim of making the National Health Service self-sufficient as soon as possible.

Earnings Rule

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the net extra cost, over and above the £50 per week concessions accepted by the House, of abolishing the earnings rule in 1977–78.

On the assumption that abolition of the earnings rule would also involve abolition of the retirement condition, it is estimated that, at the rates of benefit due to come into force next month, the cost to the National Insurance Fund of abolishing the earnigs rule for retirement pensions and for adult dependency benefit with invalidity pension and retirement pension would be about £225 million a year. It is estimated that the cost of raising the earnings limit for those benefits to £50 per week would be about £145 million a year. Thus the answer to the hon. Member's Question is, about £80 million a year.

South Ockendon Hospital

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is yet in a position to say when the proposals made by the official inquiry into South Ockendon Hospital will be implemented.

The committee of inquiry reported to my predecessor in March 1973. I published the report on 15th May last year and steps to deal with many of the measures recommended in it were then already in hand and are continuing.

National Insurance Fund

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what effect higher unemployment will have on the National Insurance Fund.

Each additional 100,000 unemployed over the last published figure would cost the fund about £105 million a year in extra unemployment benefit and lost contribution income.

Disabled Children (Allowances)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she proposes to make a mobility allowance payable to appropriate disabled children under the age of 13 years.

There is at present nothing I can add to my reply to my hon. and learned Friend and to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans) on 12th November 1974.—[Vol. 881, c. 52–3.] We shall be making a further announcement at the earliest possible date.

Ambulance Services (Romsey)

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will see that steps are taken to improve the ambulance services available to deal with emergency cases in the borough of Romsey, Hampshire.

This is a matter for the Hampshire Area Health Authority to decide. It assumed responsibility for the management of the ambulance service in Hampshire last year and has already improved the ambulance cover for both emergency and routine cases in the locality of Romsey. It is considering the provision of additional ambulance stations in this part of Hampshire in the light of available financial resources.

Nursing And Auxiliary Services(Recruitment)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she is satisfied with recruitment for the nursing and auxiliary services for the NHS.

Despite a continuing increase in recent years in the number of nursing staff employed in the National Health Service the level of staffing is still not satisfactory in all fields. In the professions supplementary to medicine—chiropodists, dietitians, orthoptists, radiographers and the remedial professions—and in speech therapy, staff shortages persist, although the latest figures show modest increases overall in the numbers employed. It will be some time yet before an assessment can be made of the effect upon recruitment of the substantially improved rates of pay which have been negotiated following the reports of the committee of inquiry chaired by Lord Halsbury into the pay of all these professions.

Guard Dogs

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many guard dogs are owned or on lease to the Department; to what uses they are put; and if she will make a statement.

The Department does not own any guard dogs and does not have any such dogs on lease.

Drugs And Tranquillisers (Prescription)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will advise doctors not to prescribe drugs and tranquillisers without knowing the occupations of the recipients and advising them of the effects of the prescriptions in the case of such occupations as train, bus and lorry drivers.

No. It is for the individual doctor to assess each case bearing in mind all relevant facts. The side effects of tranquillisers and similar drugs are well established, and have been published, and they should be known to practising doctors.

Diabetic Children (Disposable Needles)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will advise consultants to prescribe disposable needles for children who are diabetics.

Hospital consultants may alreay prescribe disposable needles for children who are diabetics if in their clinical judgment this is necessary.

Manchester Royal Infirmary

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make an official visit to the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

I will bear my hon. Friend's suggestion in mind when planning visits in the future.

Rochdale Infirmary

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether the accident and emergency department of the Rochdale Infirmary is now fully operational; and if she will make a statement.

I deeply regret that owing to the action of a consultant the department has recently been temporarily closed on several nights and over two weekends when there was inadequate coverage by medical staff. I am informed that, apart from such occasions, the accident and emergency department is fully operational, and the situation is being kept under close review by the area health authority.

Prescription Charges

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she proposes to reduce and abolish prescription charges.

We began on 8th April 1974 by extending prescription charge exemption to children aged between 15 and 16 and women aged 60 to 65; we continue by refraining from increasing the charge despite increases in wages and prices; we shall make further progress when economic circumstances and the resources available for the health services permit.

Industrial Injury Compensation

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in view of evidence supplied to her by the hon. Member for Ashfield, she will bring in legislation to ensure that victims of industrial injury by process receive adquate compensation.

Benefits may be paid for injury caused by a process if it has been possible to prescribe the injury under the Industrial Injuries Act as one where a causal link between the occupation and the injury can be established with reasonable certainty both in general and in the particular case. Without such a causal link there would be no justification for paying benefits which give Preferential treatment to the industrially disabled over those whose disablement arises from other causes.

Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what decision she has made about the future of the Elizabeth Garrett Anderson Hospital.

None. I am still awaiting proposals from the Camden and Islington Area Health Authority (Teaching).

Disabled Persons (Car Allowance)

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in view of the rising costs of motoring, she will now increase the private car allowance for the disabled which has remained unchanged since April 1972.

No. Our priority for disabled people without Ministry vehicles is the earliest practicable introduction of the new mobility allowance, which will bring mobility assistance for the first time to many thousands of severely disabled people who cannot drive, as well as providing some additional help to those who can.

Royal Sussex County Hospital,Brighton

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the date of the start of the phase III building programme at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, which will result in additional geriatric facilities becoming available in the area, will be announced.

At present I am unable to say anything about the starting date for any particular scheme, as the 1975–76 programme has not yet been finally settled.

Wheelchairs

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will arrange for an investigation into the shortage of spare parts for wheelchairs for the disabled.

Efforts by my Department and their contractors to overcome shortages of some components, ex- perienced at times during the past year because of restrictions and uncertainties in the engineering industry, have not been unproductive. I have no evidence of a general shortage of spare parts for wheelchairs. If my hon. Friend knows of individual cases of difficulty now, I would welcome details to enable me to investigate them.

Health Centre, Somers Town

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received regarding the proposed Polygon Health Centre in Somers Town; and when she proposes to consent to the commencement of building.

Representations have been received from my hon. Friend and her constituency party, the Chairman of Camden and Islington Area Health Authority (Teaching), from a member on behalf of the South Camden Community Health Council, and from the Somers Town Action Group. I am unable to say when building will start, as the scheme is not included in the 1975–76 programme. I am writing to my hon. Friend on this subject.

Self-Employed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) why, if no records are to be maintained by her Department of the income of individual self-employed people, those in this category who are also employed are required to notify her Department of their income for the current year and an estimate for next year if they are to avoid overpaying the new social security tax;(2) who has access to the details of self-employed people's incomes which they are required to send to her Department in Newcastle if they are also employed and seek to avoid overpaying the new social security tax; and whether those with access to the information are under the same obligation of secrecy as employees of the Inland Revenue;(3) for how long her Department intends to maintain the forms containing details of self-employed persons' incomes required to be sent to Newcastle; and whether she will undertake that no entries of income will be made thereupon in her Department's records and that the forms will be destroyed as secret as soon as possible.

Benefits (Graduated Incomeadditions)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she has studied evidence supplied to her by the hon. Member for Cannock of constituents being unable to obtain graduated income additions to benefits as 1972–73 was still used as the relevant income year: if she will change the system; and if she will make a statement.

I have written to my hon. Friend explaining the basis of the present system. This is a system which is proving prompt and efficient in its operation.

Abortion

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what decisions have been made about further reapprovals of private nursing homes under the Abortion Act; and what further steps she intends taking to extend her control of the activities of these nursing homes.

At the end of 1974, the 28 private nursing homes most involved in abortion—those with more than six beds, or more than 25 per cent. of their total beds, approved for use for abortion—were reapproved only until 31st March 1975. Information has now been obtained from these nursing homes covering, amongst other things, the range of charges to patients and referral routes to the homes.In three cases the nursing homes said that they were no longer mainly involved in abortion; in each case a reduction in the number of approved beds was agreed and the nursing homes have in consequence been reapproved until 31st December 1975.The homes concerned are: Clifton Lane Nursing Home, Rotherham; Hythe Nursing Home, Kent; Old Court Clinic, London, W.5.As to the remaining 25, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services has formed the opinion that an arrangement whereby the patient is in- formed in advance of the total cost of all the services to be provided, including the doctor's fees would be a useful safeguard to patients against possible exploitation. Consultations are being started with the medical profession on various matters concerned with the private sector of abortion which will include the possibility of such arrangements forming the basis for a new assurance to be given to her by nursing home proprietors.The replies given to the questions about charges in response to the inquiries made earlier this year show that some approved nursing homes already operate on the basis of quoting to patients in advance the total cost of all services including doctors fees. My right hon. Friend has decided that the range of fees charged by these nursing homes is not unreasonable and that they should be therefore re-approved until 31st December 1975.These homes are:

  • Wistons Nursing Home, Brighton.
  • Fairfield Nursing Home, Buckhurst Hill, Essex.
  • Merseyside Nursing Home, Liverpool.
  • Calthorpe Nursing Home, Birmingham.
  • Blackdown Nursing Home, Leamington Spa.

Pending the outcome of discussions with the medical profession my right hon. Friend has decided that in cases where nursing homes do not quote to patients in advance the total cost of all services including doctors fees and where she has insufficient information on which to judge whether the total cost to patients is reasonable, the reapproval should be only for three months, until 30th June 1975.

The nursing homes in this category are:

  • The Avenue Clinic, London NW5.
  • Coniston House, London W5.
  • Avenue Clinic, Hove.
  • Robert Nursing House, Birmingham 30.
  • Woodthorpe Nursing Home, Nottingham.
  • Leigham Private Clinic, London SW16.
  • The Nursing Home, 27 Welbeck Street, London W1.
  • Park View Clinic, London W5.
  • New Cross Nursing Home, London SE14.
  • Victoria House, Rochester, Kent.
  • Raleigh Nursing Home, London SW2.
  • Parkside Clinic, New Barnet, Herts.
  • Beechwood Private Clinic, Sheffield.
  • The Garden Clinic, London NW1.
  • Manstone Nursing Home, London NW1.
  • Elstree Nursing Home, Shenley, Herts.
  • Richmond Private Clinic and Nursing Home, East Twickenham.
  • Gables Nursing Home, Aylesbury.
  • London Private Nursing Home, London W1.
  • Fallodon Private Nursing Home, Leeds.

The replies given by nursing homes to the earlier inquiries showed unanimous support for my right hon. Friend's proposal to establish a register of pregnancy advisory bureaux which satisfy certain conditions. Consultations have been started with the medical profession about the creation of such a register and the conditions to be satisfied, the intention being that patients should not be accepted by nursing homes from bureaux not on the register.

Consultations with the medical profession are also proceeding about a further proposal that would restrict late abortions, that is, after the 20th week of gestation, to NHS hospitals where the full obstetric, gynaecological and paediatric facilities are available.

It is my right hon. Friend's intention, once these consultations have been concluded, to consider seeking fresh assurances from the proprietors of approved nursing homes on these matters.

Overseas Development

Tea Estates (India And Ceylon)

58.

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will take action to assist starving children on British-owned tea estates in India and Ceylon.

Eec (European Councilmeeting)

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on the EEC Heads of Government meeting in Dublin on 10th and 11th March.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend did so on 12th March.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland on the question of Ulster during his recent visit to Dublin.

There was no time at the EEC Heads of Government meeting for substantive discussions with the Government of the Republic of Ireland about Northern Ireland, although my right hon. Friend was able to speak brieflly to the Taoiseach about the current situation.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he had at the EEC Summit in Dublin relative to direct representation of Wales and Scotland in the EEC after the Assemblies for the two countries have been established.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement on his discussions in Dublin with EEC Heads of Government.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost) on 20th March.

Prime Minister (Visits)

Q10.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Q25.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Social Contract

Q13

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library the text of his public speech at Taunton on 8th March about wages and prices.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place a copy of his public speech on inflation delivered at Taunton on 8th March in the Library.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place a copy of his public speech on wages restraint at Taunton on Saturday 8th March in the Library.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place a copy of his public speech at Taunton on 8th March on incomes policy in the Library.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of the public speech on the social contract which he made at Taunton on 8th March.

I have been asked to reply.I refer the hon. Members and my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Newbury (Mr. McNair-Wilson).

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a transcript of his television broadcast of 3rd March on the social contract.

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a transcript of his public speech on the social contract made on ITV on 3rd March.

I have been asked to reply.I refer the hon. Members to the reply which my right hon. Friend gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on 14th March.

Housing (Prime Minister'sspeech)

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on housing made in Islington on 8th March.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place a copy of his public speech on housing made in Islington on 8th March in the Library.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on 8th March in Islington on housing.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on housing, given at Islington on 8th March.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech at Islington on 8th March about housing.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if lie will place in the Library a copy of his public speech on 8th March in Islington on housing.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if he will place in the Library a copy of his public speech at Islington on 8th March 1975 on housing.

I have been asked to reply.I refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch).

House Of Commons

Right Hon Member For Walsall, North

asked the Lord President of the Council what action he proposes to take in the light of the conclusions reached by the Select Committee on the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse); and if he will make a statement.

I am considering the conclusions reached by the Select Committee, bearing in mind the current situation.

Public Appointments

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

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th March 1975; Vol. 888, c. 282], gave the following information:No such list is kept but my practice is to consider women equally with men in making the appointments for which I am responsible.

Hunterston

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Hunterston.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Defence

Glasgow (Rubbish Clearance)

56.

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will arrange that the troops engaged in clearing the garbage in Glasgow will receive the trade union rates of pay and that the authorities concerned will be debited with the costs involved.

Service men engaged on this task receive normal Service pay and allowances. The Glasgow Corporation will be charged for extra costs arising from the operation.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will give a detailed list of the men and officers engaged on the clearing of the garbage in Glasgow and their rates of pay and allowances on a daily or weekly basis.

There are currently about 1,500 troops engaged on this operation, including 54 officers.It is not the practice to give details of an individual Service man's pay, but I would refer my hon. Friend to Command Paper 5631 for general details of Service pay rates effective from 1st April 1974, which have since been increased by threshold payments of £4·40 per week. Those troops actually engaged on rubbish collection are entitled to a long-standing allowance, which has recently been increased to 50p a day, for work of an objectionable nature.

Expenditure

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of total Government expenditure has been spent in defence in each of the years 1960 to 1975.

The percentage of total public expenditure accounted for by the Defence Budget for the years 1960–61 to 1974–75 is set out below. The figure for 1973–74 is provisional and the figure for 1974–75 is an estimate:

  • 1960–61–17 per cent.
  • 1961–62–16 per cent.
  • 1962–63–16 per cent.
  • 1963–64–15 per cent.
  • 1964–65–15 per cent.
  • 1965–66–14 per cent.
  • 1966–67–13 per cent.
  • 1967–68–12 per cent.
  • 1968–69–12 per cent.
  • 1969–70–11 per cent.
  • 1970–71–11 per cent.
  • 1971–72–11 per cent.
  • 1972–73–11 per cent.
  • 1973–74–10 per cent.
  • 1974–75–10 per cent.

Engineers And Scientists

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many qualified scientists and engineers are engaged on defence work; and how many of these are in Wales.

I regret that the information requested by the hon. Member is not readily available but I shall write to him shortly giving information about those employed by the Ministry of Defence.

Research And Production

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what sum is spent on defence research and production; and what proportion this is of the total defence expenditure.

Excluding manpower and certain other costs which are normally attributed to other principal headings of the Defence Budget, figures for expenditure on equipment are in Annex A, Table 3 of the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1975—namely, £1,529 million and 33·6 per cent.

Personnel (Service And Supplydepartments)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many persons are employed in the service and supply departments of the Armed Forces in the United Kingdom; and how many of these are in Wales.

There are about 315,000 Service personnel and civilians in the Ministry of Defence engaged in training, production, repair and other support functions. No separate figures are available for Wales.

Civil Servants

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many civil servants are engaged on defence work; and how many of these are in Wales.

The total number of Ministry of Defence civil servants is about 317,000, of which about 9,800 are employed in Wales.

Environment

Improvement Grants

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much has been advanced on house renovation grants since the limit of £175 rateable value outside London was imposed; and if he will now consider raising the limit to a more realistic amount.

No separate figures are kept of the value of grants to owner-occupiers. the only category to which the rateable value limit applies. The figures are not yet available in respect of the amount of all improvement grants approved since December 1974, but the number approved—including grants for conversion—during December 1974 and January 1975 was about 10,000. All the grants advanced, and many of those approved, related to applications made before the rateable value limits came into effect.Although the figures represent a reduction in grant approvals, I believe that this results from a variety of factors, including the transition to new grant arrangements from 2nd December 1974, when the rateable value limits also came into effect. I shall continue to study the effect of the limit, but I see no reason at present to raise it.

Thames Water Authority

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why he has decided to increase the number of ministerial appointees on the Thames Water Authority from 12 to 17; what consultations were undertaken before the decision was reached; and if he will list the names and principal qualifications of the additional members whom he has now appointed.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State decided to appoint further members to the Thames Water Authority to bring the benefit of a wider range of experience to this Authority that serves over 11½ million people. Section 3 of the Water Act 1973 empowers the Secretary of State to appoint as many members as he thinks fit to a water authority, provided that the total numbers of members appointed by Ministers is less than the number of those appointed by local authorities. Even with 17 members appointed by the Secretary of State, the local authority appointees are in a majority of 14 on the Thames Water Authority. No formal consultations prior to the decision were necessary and none took place. The names and principal qualifications of the five additional members are as follows:

R. H. Bristow, Chairman, Reading District Council; member of the former Thames Valley Water Board.
P. D. Bromley, Member of the former Thames Conservancy and Oxfordshire Water Board.
A. C. Darlow. MA DPA MInstSWM, former Deputy Director of Public Health Engineering, GLC: member of the Policy Committee on the Thames Barrier Scheme.
A. Diamond. OBE, JP, Member, Industrial Tribunals 1965–74.
J. T. Horton, MBE, JP, former Chairman of the Metropolitan Water Board; former deputy Chairman of the Council of the Water Research Association; member of the former Thames Conservancy.

London Orbital Route (Southmimms)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the currently estimated date on which work will be started and completed on the Hunton Bridge, South Mimms, section of the London outer orbital lorry route.

Subject to the satisfactory completion of the statutory procedures and to the availability of funds at the time, it is hoped to start work in 1980. The usual contract period is two years.

Highway Code

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will ensure that all interested parties are consulted before reaching a final decision on the draft Highway Code.

The Green Paper was published in January 1975 and sent as a consultative document to 81 organisations representing road users and others concerned.

A41 (Hertfordshire)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the currently estimated date on which work will be started and completed on the Kings Langley and Berkhamstead sections of the A41(M).

Design YearDesign Capacity
M63
Chester Road (A56)—Princess Parkway (A5103)198075,000 urban pcu per day
Princess Parkway (A5103)—Cheadle Heath (A560)198975,000 urban pcu per day
M56
Lymm (A50)—Bowdon (A56)198250,000 rural pcu per day
M62
Eccles (M63)—Croft (M6)198750,000 rural pcu per day

Planning And Demolition Policy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to announce his decision on Mr. George Dobry's Report on Control of Demolition in advance of his decision on Dr. Dobry's Final Report on the Development Control System; and if he will make a statement.

No.I shall make a statement when I have completed my consideration of the final report.

Structure Plans

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is still of the view, as expressed in reply to the hon. Member for Melton on 2nd July 1974, that all structure plans in England and Wales should be submitted to him by 1st April 1978 and decisions given by him about a year after submission; and whether he is satisfied that local planning authorities will have sufficient staff to adhere to this timetable.

Subject to the satisfactory completion of the statutory procedures and to the availability of funds at the time, it is hoped to start work in the early 1980s. The usual contract period is two years.

Motorways (Traffic Capacity)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the design year and design capacity in pcv's of the following stretches of motorway: M63 between Chester Road (A56) and Princess Parkway (A5103), M63 between Princess Parkway (A5103) and Cheadle Heath (A560), M56 between Lymm (A50) and Bowdon (A56) and M62 between Eccles (M63) and the M6.

Following is the information:authorities to the need to concentrate on the issues which are of key structural importance. It is hoped that by the elimination of work on inessentials, authorities will be able to expedite the preparation of structure plans.

Housing Development Directorate

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the programme of work by his Housing Development Directorate since 10th June 1974; what publications have been produced by it since then; and which of them were of direct relevance to private housing.

The Housing Development Directorate has continued to work on tasks within the various fields outlined in the reply given to the hon. Member on 10th June 1974.—[Vol. 874, c. 438–9.] It has also been increasingly involved in the formulation of departmental policies.Since June 1974 the directorate has produced the following publications:

Design Bulletin 29: Housing Single People: a design guide with a description of a scheme at Leicester.
Design Bulletin 30: Services for housing: sanitary plumbing and drainage.
Housing Development Notes 11: Landscape of new housing—Part 4: Grass and other small plants.
Occasional Paper 2/74: Mobility Housing.
Awards for Good Design in Housing: An illustrated booklet on the 1974 Awards competition.

All these publications are of direct relevance to private as well as public sector housing.

Departmental Report

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will consider the publication of an annual or biennial report of his Department, similar to the reports of the previous Ministry of Housing and Local Government.

This question was given detailed consideration in 1971, shortly after my Department was created. The then Secretary of State decided, on the evidence of a working party which devoted six months of research and consultation to the matter, that the needs of those who sought policy, technical, or other information about the Department of the Environment would be better served by various separate publications than by a compendium which would be costly to produce, inevitably selective, and largely out of date before it was published. On reviewing the evidence I have found no cause to dissent from my predecessor's decision.As the hon. Member is no doubt aware, my Department produces an annual list of publications, which usefully tabulates the very wide range of subjects on which my Department renders an account of its activities.

Pollution (Royal Commission's Report)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has yet replied to the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution on its fourth report.

A full reply on the Royal Commission's recommendations was sent to the chairman a few days ago. The full text is included in a paper which will be published tomorrow, summarising the Government response to all four of the commission's reports to date. Copies of this publication have been placed in the Library.

Rate Rebates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many rate rebates were granted during April-September 1974, in England and Wales; what was the average payment made; what proportion of the applicants were granted rebates; and whether he will make a statement.

The information is as follows:

Number of Rate Rebates granted 1st April 1974–30th September 1974 2·15 million.
Amount of Rate Rebates granted 1st April 1974–30th September 1974 £41·28 million.
Average Rate Rebate granted 1st April 1974–30th September 1974 £19·20.
Proportion of applicants granted rebate 89 per cent.
In the full year I estimate that over 2½ million people will receive a rebate averaging £40 per annum at a total cost of over £85 million.My right hon. Friend has already laid regulations which should extend the scope of the scheme in the coming financial year.

Dog Licences

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the current cost of a dog licence; and what would be an appropriate current licence fee to take account of the intervening change in the value of money since the present fee was fixed in 1878.

I have been asked to reply.A licence to keep one dog costs 37½p. From price changes since 1878 when the fee was set at 7s. 6d., it is estimated that the equivalent value today would be £2·77.

Northern Ireland

Maze Prison (Inquiry)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the total cost to public funds of the Commissioners' hearings at the Maze Prison up to the latest available date.

Between November 1972 and the end of February 1975 the costs of Commissioners' hearings including legal fees for the defence and for counsel and solicitors engaged on behalf of the Commissioners and the Detention Appeal Tribunal, but excluding the costs of buildings which will retain utility for other purposes, were approximately £500,000.

Pig Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland it he will give a comparison of the price of bacon pigs in Northern Ireland, in Eire and in Great Britain at the present time.

Producer prices for broadly comparable grades during the week ended 22nd March were as follows:

Northern Ireland
£per score
Special Premium5·52
Code 15·20
Code 24·89
Light weight5·20
Republic of Ireland
£per score
Special Premium5·80
A5·44
B5·00
Lean5·44
Great Britain
£per score
Al5·19
B15·02
24·82
Light weight4·58

Bacon

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why Northern Ireland bacon is refused entry into the Eire market.

This is a matter which Her Majesty's Government are to discuss with the Government of the Republic of Ireland.

Pig Smuggling

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is his estimate of the number of bacon pigs which have been smuggled from Northern Ireland into Eire in each of the last 12 months.

It is not possible to give a precise figure for the number of pigs moved illegally. An indication can, however, be derived by comparing the actual number of pigs marketed in Northern Ireland with the potential production calculated from the breeding herd figures recorded in the census. On this basis, the estimated shortfall for each of the last 12 months was:

1974
Marchnil
April (5 weeks)nil
Maynil
Junenil
July (5 weeks)nil
August19,500
September30,000
October (5 weeks)32,000
November32,500
December19,000
1975
January23,000
February18,000

Bacon Factories And Meat Plants

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the present situation in Northern Ireland bacon factories and meat plants in regard to short-time working and closure; how many jobs have been lost; and how many workers are on short-time as a result of pigs and fat cattle going legally or illegally to Eire.

Since October 1974 there has been a substantial reduction in the supply of pigs to the curing industry in Northern Ireland due both to a decrease in the level of pig production and to the movement of pigs to the Republic of Ireland. As a result, some 330 jobs have been lost in the curing industry and it is estimated that a further 1,330 workers are on short time.The normal seasonal fall in the number of cattle slaughtered in Northern Ireland meat plants is also being accentuated by the movement of cattle to the Republic of Ireland. This reduction in supplies has resulted in 25 redundancies and some 300 workers on short time

Convention Election

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what date the election to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention will be held; and on what date the Northern Ireland Assembly will be dissolved.

Polling for the election to the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention will be on 1st May.

The Northern Ireland Assembly will be dissolved on 28th March.

Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will now reconsider the transfer request of William Fulton and Darragh Gray currently imprisoned in Scotland.

Price Sisters

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the imprisonment of the Price sisters was ever discussed by his officials during their consultations with Provisional Sinn Fein during January and February 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if the Price sisters will be given strict supervision in Armagh Prison; and if specific steps have been taken to ensure the security of that prison generally.

The Price sisters are being closely supervised in Armagh Prison. It would not be in the public interest to disclose information about security of the prison.

Drainage Pipes

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in what conditions the advisory officers of the Department of Agriculture in Northern Ireland request the use of clay and plastic land drainage pipes respectively.

Advisory officers of the Department never request the use of either clay or plastic land drainage pipes. It is always for the farmer to decide which type of pipe to use. I understand, however, that, when consulted, some advisers recommend plastic pipes in peaty soils because of their longer length and firm jointing.

Employment

Dock Labour Scheme

57.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he intends to make the dock labour scheme compulsory at every port; and, if so, why.

I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the consultative document issued on 21st March which sets out proposals for the extension of the dock labour scheme to non-scheme ports.

Construction Workers (Northernregion)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many building and construction workers were unemployed in the Northern Region at the most recent available date; and what were the figures for 12 months earlier.

At February 1975 there were 15,839 unemployed people who last worked in construction in the Northern Region compared with 13,446 at February 1974. The boundaries of the region were revised in April 1974 and the two figures relate to slightly different areas.

Thanet

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are currently registered as unemployed in Thanet; and how this figure compares with the same date last year.

On 10th March 1975, 2,276 people were unemployed in the area covered by the Margate, Ramsgate and Sandwich employment offices compared with 1,934 on 11th March 1974.

European Social Fund (Loans)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what grants and loans have been approved for the Yorkshire and Humberside area from the European Social Fund since 1st January 1973.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what grants and loans have been approved for the South-East area from the European Social Fund since 1st January 1973.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will specify the grants and loans which have been approved for the North-East area from the European Social Fund since 1st January 1973.

Grants from the European Social Fund are not made specifically for particular areas of England. Some of our allocations are for the whole of Great Britain and a breakdown between regions is not readily available. All the areas referred to in the questions benefit in varying degrees from grants made in respect of national schemes of training, rehabilitation and resettlement.The larger allocations are in respect of the development areas and a certain number of intermediate areas. The largest allocation since 1st January 1973 has been for the Training Opportunities Scheme and approximately £4 million of this was for the North East and £3·8 million for the Yorkshire and Humberside area.

Factories Act 1961 (Breaches)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many prosecutions were taken out in each of the 117 districts of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Factories during 1974 for contraventions of the Factories Act 1961 and associated regulations.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the number of prosecutions heard during 1974 for contravention of the Factories Act 1961 and associated regulations, including the construction regulations was 1,826. The number of prosecutions heard in each area or district of Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Factories during 1974 was as follows:

AreasProsecutions
†North East45
General DistrictProsecutions
Carlisle18
*Darlington5
Hull22
*Newcastle8
*Tees18
*Tyne7
*Wear11
Bradford North6
Bradford South29
Huddersfield5
Leeds East9

Leeds West10
North Lincolnshire6
Rotherham19
Sheffield North36
Sheffield South12
Wakefield6
West Yorkshire12
Birmingham East43
Birmingham North19
North West London6
Watford19

Areas

Prosecutions

†South14
Total59

General District

Prosecution

Birmingham South29
Birmingham West28
Coventry26
Dudley22
Walsall19
Wolverhampton19
Worcester22
Derby11
Leicester15
Lincoln9
Northampton12
Nottingham4
Stafford8
Stoke-on-Trent4
Brent10
Cambridge33
Ipswich11
Islington1
Luton11
North London15
Norwich14
Westminster

General District

Prosecutions

Ashford17
Brighton22
North-East London8
Rocshester13
South Essex18
Southwark8
West Ham15
Woolwich20
Croydon10
Ealing18
Horsham9
Kingston23
†Portsmouth17
Reading23
†Slough8
†Southampton3
South London14
West London9
Bridgend11
Bristol North8
Bristol South15
Cardiff16
†Gloucester1
Newport13
Plymouth7
Swansea14
†Swindon4
Lanarkshire11

General District

Prosecutions

Stirling11
Bethnal Green2
East London21
Taunton13
Wrexham14
Lancaster4
Liverpool North4
Liverpool South10
Preston7
Warrington11
West Cheshire2
Wigan15
Ashton-under-Lyne15
Bolton13
Burnley9
Manchester North26
Manchester South4
Rochdale10
Salford9
Stockport9
Aberdeen24
Ayr2
Dundee8
Edinburgh21
Fife5
Glasgow North6
Glasgow South11
Glasgow West7
Renfrew13
1,310

Construction District

Prosecutions

*Northern

32
Leeds25
Sheffield22
Birmingham44
Nottingham40
London and Home Counties (North)22
London and Home Counties (East)45
London and Home Counties (West)61
South Western24
Wales36
Liverpool40
Manchester23

TABLE
NUMBER OF NOTICES ISSUED BY INSPECTORS OF THE HEALTH AND SAFETY EXECUTIVE
IN THE PERIOD 1ST JANUARY 1975 TO 28TH FEBRUARY 1975
Improvement Notices123
Prohibition Notices109

NUMBER OF NOTICES ISSUED IN EACH DIVISION OR AREA OF H.M. FACTORY INSPECTORATE
IN THE PERIOD 1ST JANUARY 1975 TO 28TH FEBRURAY 1975

West Riding and North Lincolnshire

Midlands (Birmingham)

Midlands (Nottingham)

London and Home Counties North

London and Home Counties East

London and Home Counties West

Improvement Notices91134
Prohibition Notices2942825

Wales and South West

North West (Manchester)

North West (Liverpool)

Scotland

Area south

Area North East

Improvement Notices11153742
Prohibition Notices3972236

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many inspectors have been authorised to issue improve-

Scotland (East)22
Scotland (West)21
Total457

*The trial area in the North East came into existence on 3rd June 1974 incorporating the districts of Darlington, Newcastle, Tees, Tyne and Wear and the northern construction district. The number of prosecutions shown for the area office is for the period 3rd June 1974 to 31st December 1974 and the numbers shown for the incorporated districts are for the period 1st January 1974 to 2nd June 1974. Boundaries of other district offices were also affected to a minor degree by the opening of the area office.

†The trial area in the South came into existence on 1st July 1974 being mainly made up from the districts of Slough, Southampton, Portsmouth, Gloucester and Swindon. The number of prosecutions shown for the area office is for the period 1st July 1974 to 31st December 1974 and the numbers shown for the above districts are for the period 1st January 1974 to 30th June 1974. The boundaries of other general and construction district offices were also affected by the opening of the area office.

Health And Safety

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many prohibition notices and how many improvement notices were issued by Her Majesty's inspectors of health and safety during the first two months of 1975; and how many of these were issued in each of the 11 divisions of the Factory Inspectorate.

The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission has provided the information in the following table:ment and prohibition notices under Sections 21 and 22 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the number of inspectors authorised by the Health and Safety Executive to issue improvement and prohibition notices is 1,011. No information is available on the number of inspectors authorised by local authorities.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if any prohibition and improvement notices have been issued by inspectors who have not been authorised to issue this type of notice; and what were the circumstances which led to this situation.

I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that he has no knowledge of the issue of prohibition or improvement notices by inspectors who have not been authorised.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) when he anticipates making regulations providing for the appointment of safety representatives under the provisions of Section 2(4) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974;(2) when he anticipates making regulations concerning the establishment of safety committees under Section 2(7) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974.

The Health and Safety Commission now has under active consideration proposals for the making of regulations regarding safety representatives and safety committees. I have no doubt that the commission will wish to present its proposals to me at the earliest possible opportunity.

Scotland

Gill Net Fishing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the order he proposes to make to ban gill net fishing can be applied to the area off the mouth of the Tweed defined in the Tweed Fisheries Amendment Act 1859 as part of the river.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what provision he proposes to make for compensation in respect of existing policy rights if he proceeds with his proposal to ban gill net fishing.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his proposal to ban gill net fishing is intended to apply to the use of such nets for white fish; and, if so, what consultations he has had with organisations representing those engaged in this fishery, particularly in England.

The proposed order will not affect the use of such nets for catching white fish.

Parliamentary Questions

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many Written and how many Oral Parliamentary Questions were answered by his Department in the 12 months to 1st March 1975; and how this compares with the figures for the previous 12 months.

The information is as follows:

PeriodWrittenOral
1st March 1974 to 28th
February 19751,310362
1st March 1973 to 28th
February 1974828271

List D Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many list D schools have now closed their waiting lists.

Ten boys' schools and one Girls' school at present have closed their waiting lists.

Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many prisoners in Her Majesty's Prison, Perth, have their prison clothes removed each night; what is the reason for this; and if he will list the offences which the prisoners involved have committed to incure this treatment;(2) in how many prisons in Scotland prisoners have their prison clothes removed from their cells each night;(3) why certain prisoners in Her Majesty's Prison, Perth, have to walk naked each morning from their cells in order to collect their prison clothes which were removed the previous night; and whether this treatment is standard procedure carried out with his approval.

Prison clothing may be removed overnight from the cells of inmates of penal institutions who are under special supervision in order to safeguard their own health or safety or the security of the institution. In all but three of the Scottish prisons there are inmates whose clothing is at present being removed overnight. The need for this action is assessed individually for each inmate and is not necessarily related to the type of offence for which he was committed to custody. In Her Majesty's Prison, Perth, 12 inmates are currently affected: as each is issued with pyjamas and slippers no one has to walk naked from his cell at any time.

Edinburgh Courts (Transfer Ofbusiness)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what volume of cases he anticipates would be transferred from Edinburgh Sheriff Court to Edinburgh District Court in the event of a stipendiary magistrate being appointed to the latter court.

Under subsection (1) of Clause 5 of the District Courts (Scotland) Bill a local authority may appoint a stipendiary magistrate to sit in a district court. Such an appointment is subject to the approval of the Secretary of State who in considering whether to approve the establishment of the office of stipendiary magistrate would take account of various factors such as the likely volume of business, but any question of the transfer of cases from the sheriff court to the district court would be a matter for local decision in the light of the circumstances of the area concerned.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Whale Products

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the continuation of importation of whale products, he is satisfied with the operation of the present regulations and whether he will make a statement.

The decision to ban the importation of certain whale products was announced on 15th March 1973. Regulations were made to prohibit imports of all products of commercial significance from baleen whales. The products concerned included whalemeat, whalebone and hair and waste of whalebone, whale oil, other than sperm oil, and whalemeat extract. The regulations are being operated satisfactorily.

Farmers' Prospects

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he proposes to take to restore confidence in the agricultural industry, in view of the 50 per cent. increase in food production costs over the last two years and the 25 per cent. decline in agricultural incomes.

I refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's statement on 17th February—[Vol. 886, c. 917.] The determinations which he then announced, together with the new EEC beef régime and the other EEC farm support decisions, provide a sound basis for farmers' production plans in the coming year. We also hope shortly to announce the outcome of the Government's discussions with the interests concerned on the longer-term prospects and objectives for the United Kingdom agricultural industry.

Brucellosis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the difficulties of brucellosis eradication in Northumberland, he will undertake a pilot scheme in the county under which the vaccine 45/20 would be widely available on a subsidised basis.

My officials are examining the case for a scheme involving the use of 45/20 vaccine in the parts of England, including Northumberland, most heavily infected with brucellosis. Further studies are still required before any scheme can be discussed with the National Farmers' Union, British Veterinary Association and other interested organisations. I am aware of the desirability of an early decision on this matter.

Capital Transfer Tax

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if he will set up a working party to study and report on the effect of capital transfer tax on farm sizes and agricultural production(2) if he will take steps to monitor the effects of capital transfer tax on the continued provision of agricultural and estate cottages and on any consequent alteration in the demand for council housing in rural areas:(3) if he will institute discussions with a view to introducing new proposals to assist tenant farmers with loans to purchase holdings released on to the market as a result of the operation of the capital transfer tax.

The legislation on capital transfer tax has only very recently been enacted. The Government will be keeping the effects of the tax under review.

European Agriculture Guidanceand Guarantee Fund

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what grants and loans have been approved for the Yorkshire and Humberside area from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund since 1st January 1973.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will specify the grants and loans which have been approved for the North-East area from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund since 1st January 1973.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what grants and loans have been approved for the South-East area from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund since 1st January 1973.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will specify the grants and loans which have been approved for the area of East Anglia from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund since 1st January 1973.