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Written Answers

Volume 889: debated on Wednesday 26 March 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 26th March 1975

Civil Service

Member Of Parliament(Eec Correspondence)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will take appropriate steps to permit Members of Parliament to use prepaid envelopes for official correspondence with EEC authorities in Brussels.

Apart from the special facilities available to United Kingdom Members of the European Assembly, Members are expected to meet overseas postage costs themselves. No change in these arrangements is contemplated at present.

Prepaid Stationery

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what was the stock of prepaid envelopes and cards, etc. held by Her Majesty's Government at 17th March 1975; if he has taken any steps to pay the increased postage rates which fell due from that date; and what was the cost.

There are no central records of the stock of prepaid stationery; individual Departments are responsible for recording and controlling their own stocks. The current arrangements for repayment by Departments to the Post Office provide for present stocks to be charged at the new rates. For Government Departments the rates are increased by 49 per cent. for letters and 51 per cent. for parcels.

Defence

Northern Ireland

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present strength of the Army in Northern Ireland; and how this compares with the strength of the Army immediately before the announcement of cessation of violence by the Provisional IRA.

The present strength of the Army in Northern Ireland is approximately 15,000. This does not differ significantly from the strength im- mediately prior to the cease-fire which started on 10th February 1975.

Nuclear Bombs

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy in no circumstances to give permission for any United Kingdom body, whether civil or military, to explode a nuclear bomb, either in the atmosphere or underground.

Our policy, as indicated in the 1975 Defence White Paper, is to maintain the effectiveness of the Polaris force and our tactical nuclear capability. In conformity with this policy, I cannot rule out the possibility that it may become necessary to conduct a further nuclear test at the United States underground testing site in Nevada. Any further test would, of course, be conducted fully in accordance with our obligations under the Partial Test Ban Treaty of 1963 and the Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970. The yield would be well below the threshold—150 kilotons—for underground nuclear tests agreed between the United States and the Soviet Union. We have said we will act as if bound by this threshold agreement.

Overseas Development

Dominica

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what budgetary aid is being given to Dominica to assist that country in its present financial difficulties.

In the present exceptional circumstances of budgetary deficit I have agreed to make available up to £63,000 for March expenditure.

Members Of Parlament (Payand Conditions)

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will seek to arrange for those Members who wish their trade unions to have negotiating rights to have this facility, including reference to the Government's arbitration procedure where failure to agree is recorded.

This would not appear to be appropriate in the case of Parliament as hon. Members themselves have ample opportunities to express their views to the Government.

Eec Membership(Referendum)

asked the Lord President of the Council to what extent additional copies of the electoral register will be available without charge in connection with the forthcoming referendum; and who will be entitled to them.

Provision is made under Regulation 22 of the Representation of the People Regulations 1974 for limited numbers of free copies of the register to be supplied to the Member of Parliament for a constituency and to candidates and prospective candidates for a parliamentary election in that constituency. No additional copies will be made available to any person without charge for the referendum, but copies may be supplied so long as there are sufficient copies available on payment of the fees prescribed in Regulation 23.

Home Department

Newspapers (Crime Reporting)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will institute discussions between his Department, the Press and police forces with a view to setting out guidelines for co-operation between the police and the Press during major incidents and inquiries into serious crime.

Chief officers of police are responsible for the conduct of relations between their forces and the Press. I believe that there has been a general improvement in these relations in recent years, and I shall consider whether there is anything I can usefully do to help maintain this trend.

Ballot Boxes (General Elections)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of ballot boxes used at the last General Election for which the figure can be given.

I estimate that about 50,000 ballot boxes were used at the General Elections in February 1974 and October 1974.

Drunkenness Offences (Penalties)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his policy towards the appropriateness of imprisonment for offences of drunkenness.

To implement, as soon as resources permit the necessary alternative facilities to be made available, Section 91 of the Criminal Justice Act 1967 and Section 34 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972.

Taxi Fares (London)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what application he has received for a fare increase in respect of London taxis; and when he will make a statement on the date of implementation of any increase.

The Home Office has received two applications, one from the London Joint Cab Trade Committee and one from the Cab Section of the T.G.W.U. It is currently discussing the applications with these representative bodies; but some major aspects of their proposals are mutually conflicting, and I cannot at present say when a conclusion will be reached.

Exclusion Orders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been served with exclusion orders; how many exclusion orders have been signed but not served; and how many people have been excluded since the Prevention of Terrorism Act 1974 came into effect.

Notice of the making of an exclusion order has been served on 29 people; 25 of these people have been removed in pursuance of the orders, and the other four orders were revoked without being enforced. Exclusion orders have been signed but not served in seven cases; five of the persons concerned are understood to be outside the United Kingdom; the other two were charged with murder, and the orders were revoked.

Birmingham Airport

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has now reached a decision on the possible designation of Birmingham Airport under the Policing of Airports Act 1974.

In consultation with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade, I have agreed in principle to a request from the West Midlands Metropolitan County Council to transfer the responsibility for policing Birmingham airport to the West Midlands police. The necessary negotiations will begin at once with a view to early designation under the Act.

Rehabilitation Of Offenders Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to bring into force the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974.

The Act is due to come into force on 1st July, unless an earlier commencement date is specified by order. Because of the large number of requests for exemption from certain provisions of the Act which have been made to the Home Office, I do not now envisage that it will be possible for the Act to come into force earlier than 1st July. My right hon. Friend will be seeking parliamentary approval in the coming months for orders providing for any necessary modifications to the application of the Act, as I said in answer to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) on 3rd December 1974.—[Vol. 882, c. 426.]

Scotland

Building (Small Firms)

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will propose measures to encourage small local building firms to participate in the construction of housing schemes and industrial estates like those involved in the Tweedbank project.

The letting of public sector housing contracts is the responsibility of the housing authority concerned, and local firms have the opportunity of tendering. Contracts for the construction of Government factories in Scotland are a matter for the Scottish Industrial Estates Corporation.

Economic Prospects

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimates he has made of the prospects for the Scottish economy over the next year.

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future prospects for the Scottish economy.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on the prospects for the Scottish economy.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the action he is taking to combat the Scottish unemployment problem.

I would refer hon. and right hon. Members and my hon. Friend to the reply I gave today to the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Taylor) and Edinburgh, North (Mr. Fletcher).

Children's Panel (Dundee)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many offenders appeared before the Children's Panel in Dundee in 1972, 1973 and 1974, respectively, for the first time; and how many were referred under supervision in the same years in Dundee.

The information is as follows:

REPORTS RELATING TO OFFENCES DISPOSED OF BY CHILDREN'S HEARINGS IN DUNDEE IN THE YEAR IN WHICH THE CHILD WAS FIRST REPORTED TO THE REPORTER
No supervision requirementNonresidential requirementResidential requirementTotal
19729417131296
19736613029225
1974429415151

Grant-Aided Schools

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in his discussions on grant-aided schools, he will put forward plans to help pupils at present in such schools which do not go comprehensive and whose parents cannot afford the new fees.

I shall be prepared to consider proposals in this regard made by a school that decides to become independent.

Dundee

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has for reducing the rate of unemployment in the city of Dundee.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him on 20th November.—[Vol. 881, c. 415–61.]

Rents

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what advice he will be giving to the Scottish Special Housing Association and local authorities with regard to the implementation of new rent levels under the Housing Rents and Subsidies (Scotland) Bill.

My right hon. Friend has approved the SSHA's proposal for an average increase of £26 per annum in its standard rents, to take effect after the present period of rent standstill ends on 15th May. A circular has been issued to local authorities drawing attention to the powers and responsibilities which the Housing Rents and Subsidies (Scotland) Bill will, if enacted in its present form, confer upon them to determine reasonable rents for their houses.

Day Nurseries (Hospital Staff)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make provision in district general hospitals for day nurseries for the children of nursing, paramedical and auxiliary staff in order to encourage recruitment of such staff.

Although this is a matter for health boards to decide in the light of the local staffing situation, I encourage all practical steps to improve the recruitment of staff.

Public Service Employees

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the payment of special allowances to public service employees on Scottish islands.

Allowances are currently paid to local authority staff, teachers and some police and civil servants. The possibility of paying an allowance to National Health Service staff is currently under consideration, and the whole basis of the civil servants' distant islands allowance is being reviewed.

Glasgow Police Court

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will initiate an inquiry into the events which took place in the Glasgow Police Court on 13th March when the bailie on duty did not appear; and if he will make a statement.

No. The administration of the burgh courts is a matter for the local authority concerned and not for me.

One-Parent Families

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Association for One-Parent Families, Gingerbread, seeking a grant to open a Scottish office; and what reply he has sent.

The association wrote to me on 14th March about the possibility of grant to open an office in Scotland. The letter has been acknowledged and the application is being considered.

Property Development

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he has any plans to review policy on commercial property; and if he will make a statement;(2) whether he plans to set up a Commercial Property Development Advisory Group in Scotland.

I will consider, following local government reorganisation and in light of the proposed legislation on land, what special action is needed in Scotland. Meanwhile, I am being kept informed of the work of the group.

Construction Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to stimulate employment in the construction industry in view of continuing high unemployment in the building trades.

Work related to oil development has continued at a high level. Fiscal and other measures last autumn helped to maintain employment. New orders and the output of the construction industry have fallen less sharply in Scotland than in Great Britain as a whole. I expect public investment in Scotland under my control to be as high in 1975–76 as in the current year. I am also hoping for some recovery in the private housing sector.

Economic Prospects

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to stimulate employment in those sectors of the Scottish economy over which he has a direct influence.

The Government are concerned to stimulate employment in both the public and private sectors and, to that end, we are implementing the policies for Scotland's economic development set out in the Labour Party's Scottish manifesto. I shall shortly be introducing a Bill to establish the Scottish Development Agency, which will be a major addition to the instruments and resources available for promoting employment and growth in Scotland.

Scottish Trades Union Congress

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent talks he has had with Scottish TUC leaders about the Scottish economy and prospects for employment.

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to his Question today about my plans for future talks with the STUC.

European Economic Community

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland in what way the Scottish Office is represented on the staff of the United Kingdom Permanent Representative to the EEC; and in what capacity.

An official is on secondment to the staff of the United Kingdom Permanent Representative as a First Secretary (Agriculture and Food).

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland in what way the Scottish Office is represented on the Special Agricultural Committee of the EEC.

The Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland is consulted about all matters that come before the Special Committee. Officials of the Department attend meetings of the committee whenever this is considered necessary.

Eec Fishery Policy

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what discussions he has had with the EEC on future fishery policy; and if he will make a statement.

The two main issues are fishery limits and market support. On the former the Government have made it clear to the other member States that should there be a general extension of fishery limits following the Law of the Sea Conference modifications would be required in the common fisheries policy. As regards marketing arrangements, aspects of these are under continuous discussion. Attention is currently concentrated on the problems arising in all EEC fishing countries from lower market returns.

Education And Science

Education (White Paper)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will produce a White Paper on education.

Higher Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the annual rate of growth in public spending on higher education since 1961–62 and since 1971–72 at the latest date for which figures are available.

On the basis of out-turn prices, the average annual growth rate of recurrent expenditure, excluding student support, on higher and further education to 1973–74 from 1961–62 and 1971–72 was approximately 15 per cent. and 16 per cent. respectively.

University Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many full-time students were at universities in Great Britain in the academic years 1972–73, 1973–74, and 1974–75, respectively.

239,366, 244,094 and 251,400 respectively. The 1974–75 figure is a provisional estimate.

Further Education Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students were undergoing further education in England and Wales, including evening institutes, in the academic years 1972–73, 1973–74, and 1974–75, respectively.

Enrolments of students in further education in November each year as follows:

19721973*1974 (estimate)
'000'000'000
Major establishments
Full-time and sandwich.304304..
Part-time day710700..
Evening only767783..
Evening Institutes1,5901,730..
Total All Students3,3713,5173,680
* Provisional figures.

Student Costs

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what, since the Houghton awards, is the estimated cost, excluding student maintenance and boarding costs, per student year of educating a student in higher and further education; and what were the costs, in current prices, for 1969–70 and 1974–75 of educating a student in universities, polytechnics, and colleges of education.

The information for 1969–70 is not available in the form requested; that for 1974–75 will not be available for some time yet. For higher and further education, excluding universities to which the recommendations of the Houghton Committee do not apply, the additional average annual cost per student implicit in those recommendations is estimated to be about £92.

Islamic Festival

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what public funds will be spent on promotion, organisation or otherwise, in connection with the World of Islam Festival, due to be held in London in 1976.

The festival is being organised by the World of Islam Festival Trust in association with prominent British institutions and cultural organisations. There is no specific allocation of public funds for the promotion or organisation of the events in the festival. A number of bodies within my field of responsibility are mounting exhibitions on Islamic art, including the Arts Council, some of the national museums and the British Library. What is done is a matter for the institutions concerned in relation to their views of the importance of the arts involved.

Books (Drug Advocacy)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will initiate discussions with the representatives of local authorities to ensure that books which advocate the taking of dangerous and illegal drugs, other than on medical prescription, are only available on loan to persons who can satisfy the librarian in charge that they have a good reason for borrowing such books, and that such books shall in any case be removed from open shelves from which they can at present be directly borrowed by young children.

No. Library authorities are constituted under the 1964 Public Libraries and Museums Act as responsible bodies with the duty of providing a comprehensive and efficient library service. I am satisfied that they do not need reminders from me of the problems to which the hon. Member refers.

Lord Advocate'sdepartment

34.

asked the Lord Advocate what is the total number of parliamentary draftsmen he has on his staff; and what unfilled vacancies there are for such positions.

The number of parliamentary draftsmen on my staff who are engaged in work in connection with the Government's legislative programme is seven. These draftsmen have, of course, additional duties as my legal secretaries. I am also responsible for the draftsman who is permanently attached to the Scottish Law Commission, but he is engaged in drafting work exclusively for that Commission.The number of vacancies for parliamentary draftsmen in my Department is three.

Scotland (Licensing Actsprosecutions)

asked the Lord Advocate how many prosecutions he has instituted under the Licensing (Scotland) Acts during 1974 for drinking outwith licensing hours.

Such statistics are not kept by my Department. Contraventions of the Licensing (Scotland) Acts are normally prosecuted in police and JP courts, where the prosecutors do not come under my control. If the District Courts (Scotland) Bill is enacted in its present form, the prosecutors in these courts will come under my control.

Employment

District Manpower Committees

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what efforts are being made to ensure that women and ethnic minority groups are represented on district manpower committees.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that every care is being taken in appointing members to a particular district manpower committee to ensure that all sections of the working population in the district served by the committee are fully represented.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how the membership of district manpower committees will be constituted and members appointed; and what consideration will be given to suggestions for appointments from hon. Members.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that each district manpower committee will consist of a chairman appointed by the MSC and 24 members appointed by the Employment Service Agency. Nine of these will be appointed after consultation with the appropriate county associations of trades councils; nine after consultation with the appropriate regional organisations of the Confederation of British Industry, and six after consultation with other local interests, of whom two will represent educational interests and one local authorities. The Manpower Services Commission and the Employment Service Agency will welcome suggestions for nominees from hon. Members, but because of the need for these committees to be operational as soon as possible any such suggestions should be submitted urgently.

Pembrokeshire

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the number unemployed in Pembrokeshire and the percentage rates of unemployment in March 1941, March 1946, March 1951, and March 1956, and at the latest date for which figures are available.

The following table shows the available information. The current series of unemployment statistics started in July 1948. The numbers unemployed and the rates of unemployment for March 1941 and March 1946 relate only to workers covered by unemployment insurance and are not comparable with the figures for March 1951 and later dates. Figures prior to 1955 have been specially compiled.

UNEMPLOYED: EMPLOYMENT OFFICE AREAS IN PEMBROKESHIRE
Number of insured unemployedPercentage rate of unemployment among insured workers
March 19415683·3
March 19463752·3
Number unemployedPercentage rate
March 19516823·3
March 19566222·8
March 19752,8168·8

Homeworkers

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to announce legislation to regulate home-workers as recommended in CIR Reports 49 and 77.

The Employment Protection Bill, published today, contains a provision to amend the definition of "worker" in the Wages Councils Act so that it will clearly cover homeworkers.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many visits have been made by the Wages Inspectorate to homeworkers in the past 12 months; and how many of these home-workers were receiving less than the statutory minimum wage for the industry concerned.

In 1974 the wages of some 3,000 homeworkers were examined by the Wages Inspectorate. 146 of these homeworkers were found to have received less than their statutory minimum entitlements and all of these homeworkers were interviewed. 289 homeworkers in total were interviewed in the six months ending 31st December 1974; precise figures are not available for the previous six months, but the number visited in that period is likely to be similar to the number visited in the second six months.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action he proposes to take under the Equal Pay Act to secure equal pay for male and female homeworkers.

The recently published Sex Discrimination Bill seeks to amend the Equal Pay Act so as to ensure that it will apply to homeworkers in the same way as it will apply to other workers.The main method of operation of the Act will be for individuals to make complaints to industrial tribunals. However, from the end of this year my right hon. Friend will have powers to make references to industrial tribunals where it appears to him that a woman has a claim to equal treatment, but that it is not reasonable to expect her to make the reference herself. He will also have power to refer collective agreements, employers' pay structures and wages orders to the Industrial Arbitration Board for a declaration of the amendments needed to remove any discrimination. He will be prepared to use his powers in relation to homeworkers in appropriate circumstances in the same way as for other workers.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will take steps to secure and publish in some convenient form the information collected by local authorities under the Factories Act 1961 relating to homeworkers.

The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that the information has not been collected centrally for recent years. Proposals to improve and bring up to date the arrangements for the notification of giving out work to homeworkers are being considered.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what estimate he has of the numbers of homeworkers falling outside wages council jurisdiction.

After consultation with the Health and Safety Commission I have to tell my hon. Friend that there is no information on which such an estimate can be based.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what estimate he has of the number of firms which in the past six months have been found not to have registered their homeworkers as required by the Factories Act 1961.

The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that no information is available on which such an estimate can be based.

European Social Fund Aid

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will specify the grants and loans which have been approved for the North-West 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 West Midlands 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 East Midlands 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-West area.

Unemployed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the percentage of unemployment in each of the EEC countries.

The following table gives the latest information available from international sources:

RATES OF UNEMPLOYMENT IN THE MEMBER STATES OF THE EEC
CountryNoteRate (percent.)Date
Belgium(a)5·7January 1975
Denmark(b)11·8December 1974
France(a)4·3December 1974
Germany, Federal Republic of(a)5·1January 1975
Ireland(c)8·1January 1975
Italy(d)5·3November 1974
Luxembourg(a)NilDecember 1974
Netherlands(a)5·2January 1975
United Kingdom(a)3·5March 1975

Explanatory Notes:

( a) Employment office statistics, i.e., registered unemployed.

( b) Unemployed among insured members of Trade Unions funds.

( c) Compulsory unemployment insurance statistics.

( d) Labour force sample survey.

Sources:

(1) All countries except United Kingdom: "Europe" (a publication of the European Commission).

(2) United Kingdom: Department of Employment.

Foreign And Commonwealthaffairs

Hong Kong

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will report on the first full year of operation of the Hong Kong training council.

The colony's industrial training machinery has already been substantially improved. Work is well advanced on a draft Apprenticeship Bill and other appropriate measures. The council's first report is now being drafted and I shall send a copy to the hon. Member in due course.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the operation of the Institute for Social Work Training in Hong Kong.

The institute was founded in 1973. It offers a two-year full-time course of practical and academic training in social work. Fifty students were enrolled in the first course in September 1973 and 75 in the second beginning in September 1974.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to improve industrial safety in Hong Kong.

Industrial and occupational safety is being dealt with comprehensively by safety training and education, up-to-date legislation, inspection and, where necessary, prosecution. The Factory Inspectorate is supported by an adviser seconded from Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate.

Oil Exploration (English Channel)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he anticipates that the dispute between Great Britain and France with regard to licences for oil exploration in the English Channel will be resolved; and if he will make a statement.

Discussions between the two Governments are continuing. It is hoped that agreement will be reached between us shortly. It would not be appropriate to make a statement at the present time.

Dependent And Associatedterritories

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the population of dependent and associated territories of the British Commonwealth at the latest available date.

Statistics at present available give the population of British Dependent Territories and Associated States as 5,215,190, made up as follows:

Dependent Territories:
Belize127,000
Bermuda55,000
British Antratic Territory*
British Indian Ocean Territory*
British Solomon Islands Protectorate176,000
British Virgin Islands 10,500
Cayman Islands11,000
Falkland Islands and Dependencies2,000
Gibraltar29,500
Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony59,000
Hong Kong4,200,000
Montserrat12,600
New Hebrides (Anglo-French Condominium)86.000
Pitcairn90
St. Helena and Dependencies (Ascension Island & Tristan da Cunha)5,500
Seychelles47,000
Turks & Caicos Islands6,000
Associated States:
Antigua62,000
Dominica73,000
St. Kitts-Nevis-Anguilla57,000
St. Lucia105,000
St. Vincent91,000
(Additionally, Rhodesia, which is constitutionally a dependent territory in a state of rebellion against the Crown. has a population of 6,100,000.)

* No permanent population.

Environment

National Parks

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated annual number of visitors in 1973 and 1974 in the national parks; and how many visitors went to the North York Moors, the Yorkshire Dales, the Peak District and the Lake District in 1973 and 1974.

The number of visitors to the Peak District and the Yorkshire Dales in 1974 has been estimated at 20 million and 8 million per annum respectively. A survey undertaken in 1973 suggested that the roads in the North York Moors catered for some 11 million people on recreational trips, but not all these journeys ended within the national park. No estimates are available for the Lake District or for all national parks.

Sheltered Housing

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what target has been set by the Department for the construction of old people's sheltered housing units over the next 10 years.

No target has been set, but currently a third of all new building by local authorities, new towns and housing associations consists of one-bedroom accommodation, most of which is likely to be intended for old people. My hon. Friend has asked the Department to look into various aspects of the problem of housing for old people, including the provision of sheltered housing.

Ordnance Survey Maps

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when it is hoped to complete publication of 1: 25,000 second series maps for the areas covered by the Snowdonia National Park, the Lake District National Park, the Peak National Park and the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, respectively.

It is hoped to complete the publication of the 1: 25,000 second series maps for the area covered by the Snowdonia National Park in 1982, the Lake District National Park and the Peak National Park in 1980 and the North Yorkshire National Park in 1981. Some sheets covering these areas will be available from 1978, but progress will be dependent upon completion of the 1: 10,000 scale survey from which the 1: 25,000 second series sheets are derived.

Improvement Areas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he will consider restoring to second-tier authorities outright responsibility for council improvement areas and allocate grant aid according through the key sector housing revenue account;(2) what recommendations he is making to county councils to ensure that they contribute adequately to environmental works in council improvement areas.

I have at present no plans to amend the existing statutory duties of local authorities in relation to general improvement areas. District and county authorities were advised in circular 14/75 of the necessity for early liaison and consultation in the formulative stages of general improvement areas. I am reviewing the need for further advice, particularly with regard to the provision and financing of roadworks.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in view of increasing costs, he will now increase the maximum grant of £200 per house in council improvement areas by 50 per cent.

No. Under the new provisions of the Housing Act 1974, however, my right hon. Friend has power to increase the £200 per dwelling limit in individual general improvement areas where a higher Exchequer contribution for environmental improvements is essential to deal with exceptional problems.

Sport

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what progress has been made in setting up the sports scholarship scheme announced on 12th December 1974; and what is the estimated income to be derived from the scheme;(2) what firm proposals the Government has made to establish centres of excellence.

No such scheme was announced on 12th December; the desirability of initiating one was discussed at a conference convened by the CCPR on that date. The possibility of establishing centres of excellence and of granting scholarships to talented athletes is also being pursued.

Sports Youth Programme

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made on the sports youth programme since the announcement in July 1974 by the Minister with special responsibility for sport.

As a first step towards implementing this programme, the Sports Council has now been freed from the restrictions imposed upon it by the previous administration which prevented it from considering grants to individual sports clubs. The forthcoming White Paper will set out Government policy in this respect.

Sports Council (Chairman)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to announce the name of the new Chairman of the Sports Council.

I have nothing to add to what I told the House on 17th March to the effect that I hope to proceed rapidly with this matter when I have formally received the advice which I have sought from the CCPR. Advice from the Sports Council has now been received.

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the total establishment numbers of civil servants who work for the Minister of State with special responsibility for sport and recreation in his exercise of his responsibility for sport and recreation.

Thirty staff are engaged full time on work concerned with sport and recreation.

Sports Clubs

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what advice he has given to the Sports Council following the announcement in July 1974 that the embargo on grant-aiding local sports clubs was to be lifted; and how much additional finance has been made available to local sports clubs as a result of the announcement;(2) what additional finance has been offered to local clubs to implement the sports youth programme; and if he will list the clubs, with amounts of money.

The question of grants to clubs is a matter entirely within the responsibility of the Sports Council.

Commercial Property Developmentadvisory Group

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the Commercial Property Development Advisory Group has any remit in Scotland.

The groups has been set up to advise the Secretary of State for the Environment, but much of its work will have a wider relevance, and

1st Year Flows*15th Year Flows*
M27—Havant-Chichester25,00033,500
A3(M)—Horndean-Bedhampton:
Clanfield to Hazelton Wood interchange22,50031,000
Hazelton Wood interchange to Purbrook Way28,00047,000
M18—Wadworth-Hatfield18,50037,000
M180—Scunthrope Southern bypassNot available40,000
M11—Al20-Stumps Cross26,00037,000
M11—Cambridge Western bypass21,50028,000
* In vehicles per 16-hour day.
The new standards for a dual two-lane rural motorway are that the 16-hour average daily flow (combined directions) shall normally be between 35,000 and 48,000 vehicles, and exceptionally up to 56,000 vehicles. In addition, the highest flow on one carriageway during the peak hour shall not exceed a value, determined by the peak-hour daily flow relationship of the traffic using the route, of between 2.400 and 3,200 vehicles.

Dobry Report Recommendations

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will indicate which of the recommendations summarised in chapter two of Mr. Dobry's final report to him would require legislation to implement; and which could be implemented forthwith by administrative action.

The following recommendations in Chapter 2 appear to require legislation—the figures are paragraph references—

2·2–2·42·882·149
2·142·942·155
2·232·1092·156
2·382·113–2·1152·160
2·792·1412·161

both the Scottish and Welsh Offices are being kept in touch.

Motorway Traffic

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the traffic flows forecast for the first and fifteenth years of use, respectively, of the following roads: M27 Havant-Chichester, A3(M) Horndean-Bedhampton, M18 Wadworth-Hatfield, M180 Scunthorpe Southern Bypass, M11 Al20-Stumps Cross, and M11 Cambridge Western Bypass; and what is the range of standard flows proposed for dual two-lane motorway's under the new standards.

The information is as follows:The remainder could be implemented by administrative action, including, in some cases, orders made by the Secretary of State under existing legislation.

Ancient Monuments Board

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment who are the current members of the Ancient Monuments Board for England, as appointed under Section 15 of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913; and when each was appointed.

The names of the members and the dates of their original appointments are given below. Those members who were appointed before 1973 were reappointed in April 1974.Members appointed by the bodies included in the First Schedule to the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913:—

Date of original appointment
Dr. R. L. S. Bruce-Mitford1954
Dr. Bernard M. Feilden1964
Basil Greenhill Esq.1972
Professor W. F. Grimes1954
R. W. McDowell Esq1973
Marshall Sisson Esq.1959

Members appointed by the Secretary of State:—

Sir Edward Muir (Chairman)1966
Professor Eric Birley1965
Professor J. G. D. Clark1954
Professor Rosemary Cramp1974
Sir David Follett1965
Professor Sheppard S. Frere1965
Dr. J. N. L. Myres1959
Professor Colin Renfrew1974
Professor J. K. S. St. Joseph1969
Dr. A. J. Taylor1973

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many meetings of the Ancient Monuments Board for England took place in 1974; and what action he has taken as a result of those meetings.

Six meetings of the Ancient Monuments Board were held in 1974. The board advised me on a variety of archaeological matters. I shall have a copy of its report for 1974 sent to the hon. Member when it is published. The statutory action taken on the advice of the board included the listing of 319 structures as ancient monuments, and the protection of five threatened monuments under powers conferred by Part II of the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act 1953.

Central Transport Consultativecommittee

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many meetings of the Central Transport Consultative Committee took place in 1974; and what action he has taken as a result of those meetings.

The committee met four times, as set out in its annual report which was presented to Parliament on 12th February 1975. I met the committee myself to discuss future railway investment and staff shortages, while my Department is following up with the Department of Health and Social Security the committee's recommendation about fares for disabled passengers.

Clean Air Council

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many meetings of the Clean Air Council took place in 1974; and what action he has taken as a result of those meetings.

The Clean Air Council met three times during 1974. The council discussed the following subjects, upon which its advice is taken fully into account by the Government:

  • Smoke control and local government reorganisation.
  • Report of the Working Party on London Power Stations.
  • Exhaust pipes on diesel engine vehicles. Report on odours.
  • Monitoring.
  • Teesside mist.
  • Report of Working Party on grit and dust.
  • Future work and role of the council.
  • Council evidence to Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.
  • Implementation of Control of Pollution Act.

Industrial And Commercialundertakings

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the discretionary powers vested in him (a) to provide financial or non-financial assistance in any form to industrial or commercial undertakings, and (b) to permit the physical or material development of such undertakings, indicating in each case the legislation under which those powers may be exercised.

I have general powers to permit development under town and country planning legislation, and powers to assist the statutory undertakings for which my Department is responsible under the Acts which relate to them. In addition, Section 7 of the Local Employment Act 1972 enables me to make grants for the provision of basic services in assisted areas. But an exhaustive list of all the relevant powers conferred on me could not be given without disproportionate cost in staff time.

Transport Policy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he has to reorganise the functions of his Department by setting up a new agency to co-ordinate and integrate transport policy.

Housing

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now give further advice to local authorities on the provision of houses.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I have issued a circular which brings a number of important aspects of the development of housing and planning policy to the attention of local authorities. In Circular 70/74, which was issued soon after the Government took office last year, we were concerned to secure a desperately needed expansion of public sector house building. We have made considerable progress since then.In the private sector, by providing special loan facilities for building societies last spring, we succeeded in avoiding a seemingly inevitable increase in the mortgage interest rate and in ensuring an adequate supply of mortgage funds with the aim of bringing about a recovery in building for owner occupation. I announced further measures to promote that objective on 27th January.This circular, "Housing: Needs and Action", represents a further stage in our attack on the housing problem, in which all forms of housing provision have a part to play. It emphasises that much greater attention ought henceforward to be given to the needs of small households, both by making fuller use of the existing housing stock and by devoting a larger proportion of new building to smaller dwellings.The Government are anxious that local authorities should give a fair wind to innovations, especially those which might provide people with the chance to get a first foothold on the housing ladder. In seeking ways of making better use of the existing stock of houses, local authorities should particularly consider simple conversions of suitable three-bedroom houses to provide accommodation for smaller households. Wider acceptance of lodgers also has a part to play. There is scope for the provision of mobile homes or other forms of housing which can be made available quickly in order to meet immediate needs.The circular asks planning authorities also to ensure that their policies and procedures will help people get homes at a price they can afford, and refers to promising developments in the provision of starter and extendable homes for smaller households.A number of measures are suggested which could help to speed up housing production and procedures to make better use of available resources without impairing acceptable standards. I believe, moveover, that local authorities should give proper scope for rationalised traditional and industrialised methods to supplement the more traditional forms of construction in their programmes. The circular further recommends that local authorities should seek savings in the use of building resources in providing car accommodation.The new circular does not and cannot offer final or definitive answers to what are essentially continuing problems. It represents, however, an important stage in what the Government intend to be a steady progression towards the provision of an adequate level of housing, which will meet the needs and aspirations of the community. I hope that the circular will stimulate the re-examination of a variety of ways in which all concerned might develop quicker and more effective means of meeting the challenge.

Agriculture, Fisheriesand Food

Bovine Tuberculosis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the latest findings of the Central Veterinary Laboratory on the incidence of bovine tuberculosis in badgers and the cross infection with cattle.

Since the causal organism of bovine tuberculosis—Mycobacterium bovis—was first isolated from a badger carcase from Gloucestershire in April 1971, material from over 700 badger carcases obtained from the counties of Avon, Cornwall, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire have been examined at the Central Veterinary Laboratory. More than 20 per cent. of these carcases have been found to be infected with the disease. This routine investigational work involving both field and laboratory sections of the Ministry's Veterinary Service is continuing and has confirmed that bovine tuberculosis is endemic in badgers in certain limited areas in the South-West and that this animal is playing a significant part in the spread of the disease in cattle in those areas.

Horticulture

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made regarding new EEC subsidies for horticulture to be introduced from 1st July 1975.

I understand that the EEC Commission hopes to put forward some proposals for the future structure of the glasshouse sector within the next few weeks. No details have yet been announced and representations would therefore be premature.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) by what percentage the incomes of glasshouse horticultural growers changed between 1973–74 and 1974–75 in personal spendable income terms; and what this change in income represents when inflation is taken into account;(2) by what percentage horticultural incomes changed between 1973–74 and 1974–75 in personal spendable income terms; and what this change in income represents when inflation is taken into account.

I regret that information on incomes of horticultural growers in 1974–75 now being collected in the farm accounts surveys will not be available until the 1976 annual review.

Eggs

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations or observations have been received from COPA concerning the present importation of French eggs.

We have received no representations or observations from COPA concerning the present importation of French eggs.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further discussions he has had with the French Government about matters of concern to United Kingdom egg producers; and if he will make a statement.

The French Government have explained that the main purpose of the measures announced last week is to relieve the pressure of supplies on their own and other Community markets, including the United Kingdom. They intend to bring about an immediate cut in egg production by the culling of 2 million laying hens. They have given instructions to the banks not to advance new loans for the construction or extension of hatcheries. In making a further loan to the producer-organised price equalisation fund which covers about one-fifth of French output, they have insisted that the organisations concerned should prepare schemes to control production. They hope that these measures will combine to produce an early improvement in the market situation.The French Government have also given an assurance that they will act immediately to allow free access for United Kingdom eggs to their own market, as soon as the use here of arsenicals in feedingstuffs for laying hens is stopped. The Government have already sought the agreement of the industry and manufacturers to this step, and hope that it can be agreed and implemented quickly.The two Governments noted that the recent increase in the restitutions paid on eggs exported outside the Community should also help ease pressure on the market. They agreed to hold further bilateral discussions at both Government and industry level to see whether further steps could be taken to improve the situation.

Badgers

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement explanatory of his policy on the gassing of badgers.

Most of the public debate on this subject has been informed and responsible, but there have been some misleading statements in the Press which have caused a lot of unnecessary alarm among those who are properly concerned for the welfare and conservation of the badger. I welcome this opportunity of dispelling these misunderstandings and misconceptions.In certain parts of the South West tuberculosis has persisted among cattle herds despite rigorous measures to control it, and in most of the outbreaks investigations by the Ministry's Veterinary Service have ruled out all likely sources of infection other than local wild- life. A great many badger carcases have been examined in these areas since 1971 and over 20 per cent. of them were found to be infected with the same organism as that responsible for causing tuberculosis in the cattle. This is a very high level of infection for a bacterial disease like tuberculosis. In many cases advanced tubercular lesions were found and official and independent experts in veterinary science and badger behaviour are convinced that those animals could have passed the disease bacteria to cattle and other badgers through their faeces, sputum and urine: tuberculosis is commonly spread by ingestion of the organism when cattle eat contaminated grass. There is also evidence that diseased badgers may behave in an abnormal manner since some have been captured in or near farm buildings in daylight.In this situation it is necessary to remove this source of infection of a disease which is still a serious hazard to man and animals and which is already showing signs of spreading beyond the limited areas where it is now found. An overwhelming majority of experts believe that gassing badgers in their sets with cyanide is the only efficient method of destroying infected populations, and that this also is the most humane and merciful method of control. Death is rapid and apparently painless. My right hon. Friend therefore hopes to conduct and then to review trial operations involving the local gassing of badgers within some of these limited areas.The gassing of badgers is at present illegal, but although it would be fully justified in the limited circumstances mentioned, neither this nor any other method of destroying their colonies is warranted over most of the countryside where there is no evidence of infection with tuberculosis. That is why my right hon. Friend is seeking powers to authorise gassing by means of licences. These would authorise the use of no poisons other than cyanide gas power-pumped into the sets: the licences would be limited to those few localities where tuberculosis is shown to exist in badgers and only to Ministry officers or other responsible persons who would be subject to Ministry supervision.The Ministry will continue to do everything possible to discourage the wide- spread destruction of badgers by all and sundry. Indeed, in the interest of our badgers I would urge farmers not to kill them on suspicion but to consult the Ministry if they have any reason to suppose that they might be a source of infection. I would also ask that no one should move wild badgers from one part of the country to another because this might spread the disease.

Proficiency Testing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the progress of the study by the City and Guilds of London Institute to determine a viable long-term basis for proficiency testing in agriculture.

Yes. The institute has submitted its report and my right hon. Friend proposes to consult the industry on its recommendations. In the meantime he proposes to make further funds available to enable the work of the National Proficiency Tests Council to continue. Assistance will be for the financial year 1975–76 only and subject to a limit of 25,000. Payment will rest on the authority of the Estimate which will be presented to Parliament in due course and the confirming Appropriation Act.

National Finance

Value Added Tax (Petrol)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give further consideration to the possibility of allowing disabled drivers to reclaim VAT on petrol.

I refer the hon. Member to the announcement on the petrol allowance made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services during the debate on the Social Security Benefits Bill on 21st November.—[Vol. 881, c. 1555.]

Capital Gains And Transfers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out for Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy and the United Kingdom a table showing the countries which have a capital gains tax; and in which of them a gratuitous transfer of capital other than cash either in life or on death results in a possible charge to capital gains tax.

Apart from the United Kingdom, none of the countries specified has a comprehensive capital gains tax. but all of them levy tax on certain capital gains of private individuals, and on most capital gains of businesses and companies. There can be a charge to national or local capital gains tax on a gratuitous transfer of capital in life or on death in Holland and Italy. In the United Kingdom there is a charge to capital gains tax on gifts of chargeable assets in excess of £100 in value in a tax year, but no charge on death.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out for Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy and the United Kingdom a table showing what is the maximum rate of tax on a gratuitous transfer of capital by a man on his death to (i) his son, (ii) his nephew, and (iii) a person not related to him; and what is the value of the capital gratuitously transferred at which the maximum rate applies.

The information is as follows:

CountryMaximum rate Per centApplying at £000 (approximate sterling equivalent for overseas countries)*
1. Transfer to son:
United Kingdom752,000
Germany3517,873
Belgium17123
France2027
Holland1788
Italy31658
2. Transfer to nephew:
United Kingdom752,000
Germany5017,866
Belgium70121
France550
Holland4588
Italy55658
3. Transfer to person not related:
United Kingdom752,000
Germany7017,858
Belgium75121
France600
Holland5488
Italy60658
* Based on Exchange Rates at 20th March, 1975.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set out for Germany, Belgium, France, Holland, Italy and the United Kingdom what the maximum rate of tax on a gratuitous transfer of capital is for a man during his lifetime to (i) his son, (ii) his nephew, and (iii) a person not related to him; and what is the value of the capital gratuitously transferred at which the maximum rate applies.

The information is as follows:

CountryMaximum rate Per centApplying at £000 (approximate sterling equivalent for overseas countries)*
1. Transfer to son:
United Kingdom752,000
Germany3517,873
Belgium17123
France2027
Holland1788
Italy31658
2. Transfer to nephew:
United Kingdom752,000
Germany5017,866
Belgium70121
France550
Holland4588
Italy55658
3. Transfer to person not related:
United Kingdom752,000
Germany7017,858
Belgium75121
France600
Holland5488
Italy60658
* Based on Exchange Rates at 20th March, 1975.

Notes:

1. In the third column allowance has been made for the various exemption limits e.g.: the first 250,000Dm. of gifts to a child from one donor in Germany.

2. Rates of exchange at 20th March, 1975:
(to the £)
Deutsch marks5·6
Belgian francs83
French francs10·1
Dutch florins5·7
Lire1,520

3. No allowance has been made for the extra "maintenance" exemptions on gifts to a child in Germany, which vary with the age of the child.

4. The Italian gift tax has two elements where gifts are made to persons other than the ascendants or descendants in the direct line or the surviving spouse viz.: an estate duty element and an inheritance tax element. For the sake of simplicity it is assumed here that all the gifts by the donor are received by one person only.

Industrial And Commercialundertakings

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the discretionary powers vested in him (a) to provide financial or non-financial assistance in any form to industrial or commercial undertakings and (b) to permit the physical or material development of such undertakings, indicating in each case the legislation under which those powers may be exercised.

Income Tax Yield

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the yield from income tax for 1972 –73 and 1973 –74.

The yield of income tax net of repayments for the years 1972 –73 and 1973–74 was £6,477 million and £7,136.6 million, respectively.

Nationalised Industries (Overseasborrowing)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what extent nationalised industries are borrowing abroad; and if it is his policy to continue to permit this form of borrowing.

Nationalised industries have borrowed some $3·9 billion in foreign currencies since 6th March 1973, the date on which the exchange cover scheme was reintroduced by the previous Government. This borrowing programme remains an important element of this Government's external financing policy.

Customs And Excise (Waste Paperinspection)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action is considered appropriate by the Board of Customs and Excise when examination of a trader's waste paper basket takes place without his consent.

Save As You Earn (Building Societies)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the building societies will be offering an indexed version of Save As You Earn, comparable with the Government scheme to be available in July.

No, but the Government, in response to a request from the building societies, have agreed that they can, for the time being and on existing terms, continue to offer Second Issue Save As You Earn.

District Valuers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied with the number of district valuers available to work with local authorities.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 20th March 1975; Vol. 888, c. 523],gave the following information:The general shortage of professional valuers means that the manning of district valuers' offices is rather below the desirable level in places, and this does lead on occasion to more delay in clearing cases than we should like. If the hon. Member has any particular instance in mind. Per-haps she will write to me.

Tax Collection (Inquiries Andsearches)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there have been any cases when VAT officers without a search warrant have interrogated taxpayers between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 24th March 1975. Vol. 889, c. 37], gave the following information:VAT officers undertake inquiries, not associated with the execution of a search warrant, very rarely between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m. Such inquiries would be made only where those hours are normal for a trader's business, for example, all-night petrol stations, or where, exceptionally, the trader is not otherwise available, or where, equally exceptionally, there is a special urgency about the inquiry. Information about the number of such occasions is not available, but they take place only with the agreement of the trader concerned.

Northern Ireland

Disabled Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many houses have been specially adapted by local authorities or the Northern Ireland Housing Executive; and how many houses or units of accommodation have been built by local authorities or the Northern Ireland Executive for disabled persons.

It is regretted that the information is not readily available. The Housing Executive is made aware of local need for such accommodation by the health and social services area boards.

Squatters

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the total number of squatters in public housing in Northern Ireland at the latest available date.

Drainage Pipes

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many clay land drainage pipes were used for agricultural land drainage in Northern Ireland in each of the last three years; and what percentage this was of the total length of land drainage carried out in Northern Ireland in each year.

This information is not available. However, it is estimated that in Northern Ireland some 8 million-10 million ft. of agricultural field drains have been laid annually in recent years and that the percentage of clayware pipes fell from about 20 per cent. in 1971–72 to less than 10 per cent. in 1973–74. A survey of claims for field drainage grants since December 1974 suggests that clay-ware pipes now account for only about 4 per cent. of the field drainage pipes used in Northern Ireland.

Fish Farming

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what grants are available to persons wishing to start fish farming in Northern Ireland.

19731974
Republic of IrelandOther SourcesRepublic of IrelandOther Sources
££££
Tomatoes960,000430,0001,000,000*500,000*
Lettuce10,50011,40026,0008,300
*Estimates.
There are negligible imports of other glasshouse crops into Northern Ireland.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the value of the various glasshouse crops

Grants of 30 per cent. of the capital costs of establishing a fish farm are available under the Assistance to Fish Farming Scheme.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what types of fish are produced in Northern Ireland; and what was the value of their product in each of the last three years.

Rainbow trout and oysters are produced in Northern Ireland fish farms. Details of the actual production and sales are not available, but the estimated value of sales is as follows: 1972, £10,000; 1973, £80,000; 1974, £155,000.

Horticulture (Glasshouse Sector)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the annual cost of oil for heating one acre of glasshouses in Northern Ireland; and what would be the saving if the price of oil were reduced by 2p per gallon at present prices.

The cost varies with the crop and timing of production. It is not possible to establish a standard cost figure applicable to all growers. The usage of oil per acre per annum varies between 30,000 and 50,000 gallons. The annual cost therefore ranges from £6,780 to £11,300. A reduction in the price of oil by 2p per gallon would reduce the annual cost by between £600 and £1,000.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the value of the various glasshouse crops imported into Northern Ireland from Eire and from elsewhere in 1973 and 1974, respectively.

The information is as follows:—produced in Northern Ireland in 1973 and in 1974; and how much was exported to Eire and how much elsewhere.

The approximate total value of the glasshouse crops produced in Northern Ireland in 1973 and 1974 was £600,000 and £650,000 respectively. There are no statistics of value for the individual crops except tomatoes, which average £500,000 annually. The Northern Ireland market takes the entire production.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will take steps to restore the position of glasshouse growers in Northern Ireland vis-à-vis the Irish Republic, since the producers in the Irish Republic have a subsidy of 2p per gallon on oil.

I have been asked to reply.No such steps are needed. The glasshouse fuel oil subsidy in the United Kingdom was 6p per gallon from 1st January to 30th June 1974 and 4p per gallon from 1st July to 31st December 1974; that in the Irish Republic was 5p per gallon from 1st July to 31st December 1974 and is 2p per gallon from 1st January to 30th June 1975, when it is due to terminate. The United Kingdom subsidy was thus more generous than that given in the Irish Republic.

APPLICATIONS FOR FIREARM CERTIFICATES
19751974
Initial Grant VariationRenewalInitial GrantVariationRenewal
Application made Of which:1,3512,6676,1211,8887,5571,778
refused106128729516114
refused but later reconsidered and granted before appeal.41467figures not immediately available
outstanding on 21st March (total).573400
APPEALS TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE
19751974
Appeals made Of which:197182
outside the statutory time limit5
allowed by the secreatory of state1
refused by the secretary of state238
allowed by the Chief Constable pending decision4910
outstanding on 21st March140134

Wales

Water Charges

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is now in a position to publish the findings of the committee chaired by Sir Goronwy Daniel concerning water charges in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Fishing Limits

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish a map showing the fishing limits around the coast of Northern Ireland if a 200-mile limit is agreed at the Law of the Sea Conference.

Firearms Certificates

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish, with comparisons where applicable with the corresponding period of 1974, in respect of firearms certificates, the number (a) newly applied for, and refused or pending, (b) renewal applied for, and refused or pending, (c) appeals against refusals under (a) and (b) lodged and rejected or pending, since 1st January 1975.

The figures requested. in respect of the period 1st January to 21st March 1975 as compared to the same period of 1974, are as follows:am now giving urgent consideration to its findings.

European Investment Bank

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will specify the loans and guarantees approved by the European Investment Bank for projects in Wales since 1st January 1973.

Loans have been negotiated by the BSC for developments at Llanwern—£14·7 million—and a new sinter plant at Port Talbot —£8 million. Three firms in Wales have received EIB sub-loans totalling £400,000 through Industrial and Commercial Finance Corporation Ltd.

Roads (Expenditure)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total expenditure on roads in Wales in 1972–73, 1973–74, 1974–75 and planned for 1975–76.

The information is as follows:

£m [at November '73 prices]
1972–731973–741974–751975–76
74·072·672·575·5
(Provisional estimate)(Planned)

European Agricultural Guidanceand Guarantee Fund

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will specify the grants and loans which have been approved for Wales from the European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund since 1st January 1973.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Lancaster (Mrs. Kellett-Bowman) on 24th March.—[Vol. 889, c. 62 –68.]

European Social Fund

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

Allocations estimated at £2·7 million were made from the European Social Fund in respect of Welsh schemes in 1973 and some £2·1 million has already been allocated for 1974–5. In addition, Wales has benefited from other allocations to projects covering Great Britain as a whole, but the specifically Welsh component of these could not be readily identified.

Local Government Expenditure

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the estimated total expenditure of local government in Wales for each of the past 15 years at current prices and at constant prices.

I refer the hon. Member to Table 3 on pages 52 and 53 of "Local Government Financial Statistics England and Wales 1972–73". Statistics in the same form for 1973–74 are in course of preparation. The information asked for is not readily available at constant prices.

Gross Domestic Product

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is his latest estimate of the gross domestic product of Wales.

The latest available information is set out in Table 7·01 of the Digest of Welsh Statistics 1974.

Marginal Land

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what plans he has for upgrading marginal land in Wales so as to bring it into agricultural production; and what are the target acreages of such reclamation for the next five years.

The improvement of land for agricultural purposes is a matter for decision by the owners and occupiers concerned in the light of economic and other considerations. No target is set by the Government, but grants are avail-able under the Farm Capital Grant Scheme 1970 to help farmers in hill areas to carry out such work.

Welsh Arts Council

asked the Sectary of State for Wales what was the allocation by central Government to the Welsh Arts Council in 1973–74 and 1974–75.

I have been asked to reply.The Government make a grant to the Arts Council of Great Britain and it is for them, as I have already explained to my hon. Friend the Member for Wolver-hampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) on 17th March, to decide what allocations to make from this total. The Arts Council of Great Britain allocated £1,557,930 in 1973–74 and £1,898,650 in 1974 –75 to the Welsh Arts Council.

Industry

Steel (Scotland)

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what further consultations he has had with organisations concerned about the future job opportunities in the steel industry in Scotland.

My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State visited nine Scottish steelworks in November and held meetings with local representatives of the workforces concerned. During the last eight months he has held four meetings with the Scottish TUC, the most recent being on 27th and 28th February in Glasgow during the visit of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister. He also met the Strathclyde Regional Council on 27th February. He will be holding tripartite meetings on 17th and 18th April with the British Steel Corporation and the TUC Steel Committee, including local representatives of the workforce from the plants affected by BSC's proposed closures in Scotland. He will also be meeting hon. Members with constituency interests in these proposed closures.

Assisted Companies (Product Sales)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what exidence he has that firms in development areas which receive Government grants are selling their products at uneconomic prices in unfair competition with firms outside development areas; whether foreign ownership of such firms in development areas is any bar to their receiving Government grants; and whether he will make a setatement.