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Written Answers

Volume 892: debated on Wednesday 14 May 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 14th May 1975

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Seals (Farne Islands)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what he estimates to be the annual fish consumption of the seal colony on the Fame Islands; what representations he has received in favour of a cull to reduce the numbers of seals on these islands; and whether he proposes to authorise a cull.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave him to a similar Question on 6th May 1975. I regret that no estimates are available of the annual fish consumption of the seal colony of the Fame Islands.

Artificial Insemination

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has completed his review of artificial insemination controls; and what changes he is proposing to introduce.

Proposals for changes in Government controls over artificial insemination were circulated to interested persons and organisations last August and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have considered the comments received. The following changes will be made in the controls exercised:

  • (a) a slightly more stringent code of disease control measures will be applied both to the AI centres and to individual AI bulls;
  • (b) quality controls for boars will be discontinued. Consultations are still in progress with interested organisations on quality controls of bulls.
  • Revised proposals for changes in controls relating to on-farm storage of semen and insemination by farm personnel will shortly be circulated to interested persons and organisations as a basis for further discussion.Legislation to enable fees to be charged for inspections and other work done by departmental officials in connection with the approval of bulls and and boars will be introduced in due course.

    Wheat Prices And Levies

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the prevailing prices for soft wheats in the EEC and in the world markets, respectively.

    The following EEC market price quotations were published for the week ending 30th April, converted into sterling at spot rates:

    £ per long ton(May delivery) delivered prices
    Milling Wheat:
    Rouen72·15
    Creil69·00
    Arras69·00
    Hamburg83·30
    Hanover80·10
    Cologne82·10
    Wurzburg82·40
    Munich81·20
    Rotterdam75·10
    Groningen75·70
    (Source: Home Grown Cereals Authority Weekly Bulletin of 5th May 1975.)English milling wheat was reported to be on sale, delivered in London, at £51·75 per long ton. (Source: Public Ledger 30th April 1975.)There are no recognised world market prices for soft wheat since the majority of wheats traded on the international market are high-protetin strong varieties. Two of the most commonly traded soft varieties comparable in quality to EEC milling wheats are Australian f.a.q. and Swedish. The latest quotation I have for the former is a price of £61·23 per long ton f.o.b. Australian port (Source: International Wheat Council report of 23rd April 1975). To this would have to be added freight, insurance and handling costs to bring it to a landed European price, but the lack of public quotations suggests there is no trade to European destinations. Swedish wheat has not been publicly quoted for some time.

    Common Agricultural Policy Prices

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what have been the percentage changes in CAP prices for the main commodities between 1965 and 1975; and how these compare with price changes for the same commodities in the United Kingdom;(2) how often the CAP prices for beef, butter, cheese, wheat and maize, respectively, have been increased and by what percentage amounts;(3) what mechanisms exist within the EEC for reducing agricultural prices;(4) how frequently during the last 10 years CAP prices have been reduced, and on which commodities.

    Single common support prices were not established for the main commodities before 1967–68. Information about EEC prices from 1967–68 to 1974–75 can be obtained from booklets on EEC common and United Kingdom transition prices produced by my Department. I am sending my hon. Friend copies of these booklets. Copies have also been placed in the Library of the House. In addition, I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of my Department's Press notice giving the EEC support prices for 1975–76.The EEC Council of Ministers determines the main support prices. Prices can be increased or decreased. The level of support prices has generally decreased in real terms over the years.

    Land Use

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has with regard to the arrangements for consulting his Department about proposals for the development of agricultural land.

    The present arrangements for consulting the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on proposals to develop agricultural land not according with approved development or other plans rest on guidance to local planning authorities published jointly by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. In view of the increasing importance of safeguarding good quality agricultural land these arrangements are to be strengthened. My right hon. Friends now intend to place such consultations on a statutory basis where significant areas of agricultural land are involved by means of an amendment to the Town and Country Planning General Development Orders.

    Defence

    North Sea Oil And Gas Installations

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimated cost of the four new surveillance aircraft and five new offshore protection vessels announced as additional protection for North Sea oil and gas installations in 1975.

    It would be prejudicial to our current negotiations to give estimated costs at this stage.

    Departmental Buildings

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many buildings were used by the Secretary of State for Defence on 1st January 1975; of these, how many were in London; and how many employees at that date worked in each of them.

    The information is not readily available and could not be produced without the expenditure of a disproportionate amount of time and effort. However, the number of major office buildings occupied by the Ministry of Defence in London at that date was 32, and the total number of staff employed in them was approximately 19,800 of which some 3,600 were Service personnel.

    Employment

    Thanet

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of people unemployed in the Thanet area at 30th April 1975; what percentage this is of the total work force; and what are the comparable figures for this period last year.

    At 14th April, 2,342 people were unemployed in the area covered by the Margate, Ramsgate and Sandwich employment offices and the rate of unemployment was 5·2 per cent. The corresponding figures for 8th April 1974 were 1,823 and 4·1 per cent. respectively. Rates of unemployment are calculated by expressing the numbers unemployed as a percentage of the estimated total number of employees, including the unemployed.

    Social Contract (London Weighting)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will assess the rôle of London weighting payments in relation to the social contract.

    London weighting is paid to those on national scales of pay to compensate for the different costs of working in London as compared with the rest of the United Kingdom. Agreements following the Pay Board report on London weighting were specifically referred to in paragraph 32 of the TUC document "Collective Bargaining and the Social Contract".

    Accidents

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many men and how many women have been killed and how many have been injured in accidents at work for each of the last five periods of 12 months for which records are available.

    I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that, in the current absence of a comprehensive set of statistics relating to accidents at work, the following information is relevant. Fatal accidents to employees in employment notified to, or coming to the notice of, various authorities amounted to:

    MalesFemales
    19691,06110
    197098912
    197189921
    19728566
    197388511
    Non-fatal accidents to employees in employment as indicated by successful injury benefit claims resulting from fresh accidents:

    Males (Thousands)Females (Thousands)
    1968–6971687
    1969–7071086
    1970–71*61273
    1971–7255666
    1972–7356268
    Years start on the first Monday 1970–71

    * covers 53 weeks.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many window cleaners have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that the information relating to window cleaners is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many installers and erectors of industrial plant have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that this information is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many building workers have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the numbers of notifications to Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate in respect of employees engaged in building operations (with included fatalities in brackets) were:—

    197030,938 (138)
    197126,683 (144)
    197227,524 (132)
    197327,991 (148)
    197425,867*(113)
    * The 1974 total is provisional.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers on the construction of bridges have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that numbers of notifications to Her Majesty's Factory in June: Inspectorate in respect of employees in works of engineering construction on bridges, viaducts and aqueducts, excluding tunnelling (with included fatalities in brackets) were:

    1970600 (7)
    1971408 (2)
    1972294 (4)
    1973342 (3)
    1974*371 (5)
    * Figures for 1974 are provisional.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers on the construction of homes have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that this information is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers on the construction of housing have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the numbers of notifications to Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate in respect of employees engaged in the construction of dwelling houses and flats (with included fatalities in brackets) were:

    19708,203 (24)
    19716,521 (21)
    19726,945 (26)
    19737,092 (23)
    1974*6,204 (20)
    * Figures for 1974 are provisional.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers on the construction of factories have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the numbers of notifications to Her Majesty's Inspectorate in respect of employees engaged in the construction of industrial buildings (with included fatalities in brackets) were:

    19707,708 (39)
    19715,954 (43)
    19725,216 (38)
    19734,730 (41)
    1974*4,703 (25)
    * Figures for 1974 are provisional.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many truck, lorry and van drivers have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    The Chairman of the Safety Commission informs me that the information relating to truck, lorry and van drivers is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many taxi drivers have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work, during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    The Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission informs me that the information relating to taxi drivers is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many engineers have been killed and how many have been reported injured at work during each of the last five years for which records are available.

    I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that information relating to engineers as an occupation is not available. However, accidents to all employees in the general engineering processes notified to Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate (with included fatalities in brackets) were:

    197090,543 (98)
    197181,478 (94)
    197275,909 (91)
    197379,867 (104)
    1974*76,697 (85)
    * Figures for 1974 are provisional.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to complete his consideration of the consultative document on sheltered employment for disabled people.

    I hope to be able to announce the Government's proposals later in the year.

    Training (European Social Fund Aid)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many private companies have received training payments from the EEC social fund (a) in Scotland and (b) in the United Kingdom generally.

    No payments have been received, but formal allocations have been made to 14 private firms in the United Kingdom. Further allocations to seven more private firms in the United Kingdom, including one in Scotland, have recently been recommended.

    Crosfield Electronics Ltd (Industrial Dispute)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to intervene in the dispute that exists at Crosfield Electronics, Holloway Road, London, N.19 and if he will make a statement.

    I understand that the dispute arose at the beginning of March, when 300 workers were declared redundant following the company's decision to transfer work from London to Peterborough. All but 40 left within the period of notice given, but those remaining began a sit-in on 28th March. The independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service had a meeting with the parties in April, but there is now no scope for intervention since the company was granted an order for possession of the premises.

    Education And Science

    University Teachers (Pay)

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he is now able to make a further statement about the pay of university teachers.

    I met this morning representatives of the university authorities and of the university teachers to discuss the position reached in the negotiating committee on university academic salaries. The background to the negotia- tions was explained in my reply to my hon. Friend on 5th May.I regret that the university side of the negotiating committee is not prepared to accept the Government's offer, which represents, in my view, a fair and reasonable solution. I have, therefore, agreed with the other parties that the question of the appropriate scales and percentage increases to achieve broad parity--from October 1975—with further education teachers engaged in comparable level work be referred to arbitration.The original proposal from the university authorities and teachers had been that the October 1974 scales should be increased by 18 per cent. The proposal that they will present to the arbitrators is for an increase of nearly 36 per cent.--scales ranging from £3,078 at the minimum of the lecturer scale to £7,941 at the maximum of the senior lecturer scale with an average for professors of £9,636. These lecturer scales compare with the current further education scales for lecturer II/senior lecturer and principal lecturer ranging from £2,670 to £6,429.The Government's offer before the arbitrators will be for an 18 per cent. increase payable in full in October 1975—scales ranging from £2,778 at the minimum of the lecturer scale to £6,804 at the maximum of the senior lecturer scale with a professorial average of £8,500.In addition, as I made clear to the negotiating committee, a further increase could be negotiated nearer October to reflect the increased cost of living since October 1974, subject to considerations relevant to pay policy at that time. The 18 per cent. offer, together with the cost of living increase, would subsume the threshold payments of £229 currently being paid.

    Students' Cost Of Living

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if any investigation has been done into constructing a special cost-of-living index for university students, given exceptional circumstances which apply to them such as textbook costs, accommodation costs and general living away from home costs.

    A joint working group consisting of representatives from the Education Departments and the National Union of Students carried out a study of this, without commitment, during the 1973–74 triennial review of student grants.

    Youth Organisations (Ministerial Consultations)

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in order to increase the representation of young people in his present talks with youth organisations, he will invite young, detached youth workers working with the Young Volunteer Force Foundation.

    If the discussions now taking place with youth service interests suggest the need for further consultations, to include other groups of young people, I will seek to arrange them.

    Social Services

    Family Planning

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made on the arrangements for the proposed extension of family planning services in general practice; and what steps have been taken to avoid unnecessary expenditure on supplies.

    Agreement has now been reached with the representatives of the doctors and of the pharmacists on the provision of a free family planning service by general practitioners. This service will be in addition to, and complement, that already available through family planning clinics. Regulations will shortly be made to provide for a start on 1st July.From that date women will be able to register with a doctor for family planning purposes. General practitioners will be able to prescribe contraceptive drugs and female appliances—but not the male sheath—and these NHS prescriptions will be exempt from the usual prescription charges.My right hon. Friend sent general pratitioners in August 1974 the "Handbook of Contraceptive Practice" prepared for the Central Health Services Council. The handbook is a guide to the provision of contraceptive services. It advises training in contraceptive counselling and continuing education in new methods, and emphasises the need when doctors propose to fit intra-uterine devices for practical training, proper premises and trained assistance. A letter which is being sent to all general practitioners by the Chief Medical Officer draws attention on behalf of the Department and the profession to the handbook and the advice on training.A proportion of the funds made available for postgraduate education for general practitioners has been used for training in family planning through courses provided by post-graduate deans, health authorities and the Family Planning Association, and this will continue. The prices of contraceptive drugs are subject to the voluntary price regulation scheme and manufacturers have agreed not to undertake any additional promotion of such drugs in connection with the new arrangements. We are grateful to the manufacturers for their co-operation in this. With the agreement of the profession's representatives general practitioners are being asked to take account of cost in their choice of drugs; and a chart showing comparative costs is being sent to them.

    Medicinal Products (Licensing)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will make a statement on her current proposals for the review of product licences for medicinal products already on the market.

    We are presently considering the comments various interested parties have made on the proposals that were circulated last December for carrying out the review. Meanwhile we have started collecting the basic information that will be necessary for the review, and my Department has written to holders of product licences asking them to submit details of their products.We propose to divide all the products in question into categories according to the indications for which they are promoted. These categories of products will then be considered in turn by the staff of my Department, and the advice of the proposed new expert Committee on the Review of Medicines will be sought. We plan to have three categories under review at any one time, and it has now been decided that the first three categories will be as follows: (1) Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory preparations—that is products promoted for the treatment of rheumatism and similar conditions; (2) Analgesics; (3) Psychotropics, including preparations with sedative tranquillising or anti-depressant actions.These have been chosen on the basis of large usage, combined with a high degree of possible hazard. In all, these categories comprise some 4,000 different products, and I hope that consideration of the first categories will be well under way by the end of this year.I attach the greatest importance to carrying out the review as quickly as possible, and I have asked that, at the same time as the categories containing large numbers of products are reviewed, an assessment should be made of categories which contain fewer products but which present a particular problem of one sort or another. The first such small categories will be anabolic steroids, antibiotics for use in the ear or nose, and appetite suppressants and slimming aids.

    National Insurance Leaflets

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the new leaflets for guidance on rates of national insurance, NI208/April 1975, are not available in Glasgow offices as shown by requests recently made by interested parties, causing such persons to be unable to comply with statutory regulations.

    I am sorry that, owing to distribution difficulties, copies of leaflet N1208 were not available in the Glasgow offices of my Department when the new contribution rates came into operation on 5th April 1975. The distribution began a week later and was completed in the week beginning 21st April. This leaflet was only one of many sources of information available, and its absence should not have caused anyone to fail to comply with his statutory obligation to pay national insurance contributions.

    Pension Schemes

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the proportion of men to women in occupational pension schemes contracted out of the existing national insurance graduated pension provisions.

    It is estimated that, when the graduated pension scheme ended on 5th April 1975, the proportion of men to women in contracted-out employment was in the ratio of 78 men to every 22 women.

    Unemployment Benefit

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the normal ruling, for purposes of assessing entitlement to unemployment benefit, when workers who normally work overtime are placed on short time; and to what extent overtime is taken to be part of the normal working week.

    Under Section 17(1)(b) of the Social Security Act 1975, which consolidated earlier legislation, an employee working short time is not entitled to unemployment benefit for a day, commonly called a "normal idle day", on which, in the normal course, he would not work. Neither the Act nor regulations made under it distinguish between ordinary working days and overtime days for the purpose of deciding whether a person would normally work on a particular day.

    Invalid Tricycles

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many formal and informal preparatory wind gust tests, respectively, have been carried out to Model 70 invalid tricycles by the Motor Industry Research Association on behalf of her Department; on what dates they were carried out; and if she will list which of these tests had to be discontinued due to the dangers of an accident occurring.

    As part of a continuing experimental programme two other side wind tests have been carried out, comparing the Model 70 with other vehicles, on 28th March 1974—in collaboration with the Department of the Environment—and on 30th May 1974. The results of these tests showed no significant differences for the standard Model 70 from the tests carried out on 5th September 1973, which were the subject of the report placed in the Library on 7th May. At no time was it necessary to discontinue any test because of danger.

    Pensions

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how long it would take for a single person earning (a) £20 per week, (b) £30 per week, from when the provisions of the Social Security Pensions Bill come into operation to build up a basic and additional component totalling together £6·90 per week.

    Under the rules in the Social Security Act 1975, which remain unchanged by the Social Security Pensions Bill, a man's retirement pension will contain a basic component of slightly more than £6·90 if his working life included 26 qualifying years, while a woman's basic component will exceed £6·90 if her record included 24 qualifying years. The figures assume in each case that insurance began with the tax year containing the sixteenth birthday, and, as regards the new scheme, no account is taken of years of home responsibility. No simple answer can be given as to when a man or woman might qualify for a basic and an additional component which together total £6·90, since this depends not only on the number of qualifying years but also on how many of these were before, and how many after, the start of the new scheme.

    National Insurance Fund

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what rate of national insurance class 1 primary contribution at the standard rate would be needed in order to raise the annual income of the fund by (a) £60 million, (b) £110 million, and (c) £145 million;(2) what rates of national insurance contribution would be necessary in order to increase the annual income of the fund by (

    a) £60 million, ( b) £110, and ( c) £145 million, assuming that the ratios between the four classes of contribution set out in the Social Security Amendment Act 1974 were adhered to.

    It is assumed that there would be a Treasury supplement of 18 per cent. on the extra contribution yield. If the additional sum were to be raised in 1975–76 only from higher primary class 1 contributions at the standard rate. The increase would be (a) 0·12 per cent., (b) 0·23 per cent. and (c) 0·3 per cent. If the cost were to be shared by all classes of contributor the national insurance element of 12·8 per cent. in the class 1 contribution would be increased to (a) 12·91 per cent., (b) 13 per cent. and (c) 13·07 per cent. with proportionate increases in other classes of contribution.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the estimated extra annual cost to the National Insurance Fund if the rate of unemployment of 650,000 assumed in the Social Security Benefits Act 1975 were to rise to 1 million.

    The extra cost of unemployment benefit would be about £215 million a year. There would also be a loss of contribution income of some £140 million.

    Supplementary Benefit

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the estimated annual amount paid by way of supplementary benefit were unemployment to rise from the latest published figures to a level of 1 million.

    Compared with the provisional seasonally adjusted figure for April, which was 759,800 excluding school leavers and adult students, the extra cost would be about £60 million a year, bringing the total cost to £315 million a year.

    Family Allowances

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the equivalent, at April 1975 prices, of the 5s family allowance introduced in August 1946.

    On the basis of the movement of the General Index of Retail Prices, linked with the Cost of Living Index, the equivalent in March 1975, the latest month for which figures are available, of the 5s family allowance introduced in 1946 was £1·06.

    Students (Benefit)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of students has claimed either unemployment or supplementary benefits during the last available year; and how this compares with 10 years previously.

    Nurses

    asked the Secretary of State Social Services if she will take steps to rectify the situation which allows a 22year-old SRN with a Health Visitor's Certificate to earn up to £1,000 more a year than an experienced SRN, SCN or RFN who is doing exactly the same job but has not a Health Visitor's Certificate.

    The situation should not arise as, under statute, only a nurse who holds the HV Certificate may undertake the full duties of a health visitor. The pay differential between the certificated and uncertificated school nurse, about which the hon. Member wrote to my right hon. Friend, is a matter for negotiation on the Nurses Whitley Council.

    Adenoid Operations

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average waiting time for children's adenoid operations in the Southampton area.

    A meaningful figure for the average waiting time cannot be given, as the length of time a child may have to wait depends upon the degree of urgency for the operation and the length of the appropriate waiting list. Waiting times vary between three and 18 months.

    Scotland

    Violence In Marriage

    13.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what research is being done on the problems of violence in marriage, with particular reference to the battering of wives and children.

    A research project on marital violence is being conducted in the Department of Sociology at Stirling University, and a research study into non-accidental injury to children is being undertaken in Aberdeen.

    Housing

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with present methods and efforts to improve Scottish housing; and if he will make a statement.

    The Housing (Scotland) Act 1974 has improved the house improvement grant scheme, making 75 per cent. grant available in designated housing action areas. This may be further raised to up to 90 per cent. in cases of special financial hardship. I expect local authorities to exercise these extended powers vigorously and effectively to deal with areas of substandard housing. But I shall not be satisfied until every home in Scotland is of an acceptable standard.

    Scottish Development Agency

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland where the headquarters of the Scottish Development Agency will be located.

    Murder Trials (Witnesses)

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will seek powers to prevent the names, addresses, and photographs of witnesses in murder trials being published in newspapers, or divulged in television or radio programmes.

    My hon. Friend will be aware that in the course of a murder or other trial the court may, if there is particular anxiety for the safety of a witness, rule that certain details of his identity should not be divulged by the Press. I am conscious, however, that from time to time there are criticisms of the existing safeguards for witnesses in certain cases of serious crime. Together with my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary and other Ministers, I am considering if there is any action which can appropriately be taken.

    Dumbarton (Sports Centre)

    23.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to make a final decision on the application from Dumbarton Town Council to proceed with its new sports complex.

    The Town Council was informed on 17th March and again on 5th May that, in view of present economic circumstances, I could not authorise it to start the complex in 1975–76.

    Fish Stocks (Conservation)

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement on progress at the Law of the Sea Conference in relation to conservation of fish stocks.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which was given earlier today to the hon. Member for Fife, East (Sir J. Gilmour).

    Prisoners (Transfer Application)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received on behalf of Darragh Gray and William Fulton currently imprisoned in Scotland in support of their application to be transferred to Northern Ireland.

    As well as applications from the prisoners I have received letters concerning both from the hon. Members for Armagh (Mr. McCusker) and Antrim, North (Rev. Ian Paisley) and my hon. Friend the Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell); the National Council for Civil Liberties; the prisoners' wives and a friend. I have also been approached on behalf of Mr. Gray by his parents and by the hon. Member for Perth and East Perthshire (Mr. Crawford).

    Student Grants

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in reviewing the present grants paid to students, he will remove the anomalies arising from the parental contribution requirement, and also take into account the increased charges for halls of residence.

    The review of student grants for 1975–76 is primarily concerned with the rate of grant. It is not possible to anticipate the outcome of the review.

    Hospital Pay Beds

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many pay beds there are in National Health Service hospitals in Scotland and in the private sector in Scotland, respectively.

    The maximamum number of pay beds currently available to private patients in the NHS hospitals in Scotland is 287. The number of beds in the private sector is not readily available.

    Birth Induction

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what inquiries his Department has made into the reasons for the 7·3 per cent. increase in induced births in 1973 as against 1972.

    None. A retrospective investigation of this kind is not practicable, but my Department is keeping the effects of the trend under review.

    Mentally Handicapped Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will review the regulations governing reimbursement of travelling expenses to day patients attending mental hospitals in view of the recommendations made by the Mental Health Welfare Commission for Scotland.

    The travelling expenses of day patients can be reimbursed if there is hardship as assessed by the Supplementary Benefits Commission. I have no plans to amend the regulations.

    Derelict Land

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the latest estimate which he has of the amount of derelict land in Scotland, showing what proportion of this total exists in urban areas and the amounts of derelict land reclaimed in Scotland, respectively.

    Some 25,000 acres, of which about one-quarter lies within burghal areas. At 31st March 1975 local authorities had completed derelict land reclamation schemes relating to 4,457 acres of which about one-third lie within burghal areas.

    Roads (Expenditure)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the sum spent on public roads in Scotland in each of the last five years.

    Total expenditure on the construction, improvement and maintenance of public roads in Scotland in each of the last five years was as follows:

    £ million
    1970–7178·0
    1971–7283·2
    1972–7395·6
    1973–74112·0
    1974–75142·6 (Estimate)

    Islands' Sea Transport

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what analysis he has made of the future prospects for subsidisation of sea transport in the Highlands and Islands in the light of EEC policy on competition.

    Scottish Economic Council

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next hopes to meet the Scottish Economic Council.

    Peebles (Health Centre)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is able to give an undertaking that there will be no further delay in starting the new health centre at Peebles.

    I cannot at this stage give any undertaking about the start date for the health centre at Peebles. This is at present being planned in conjunction with a hospital development which will come within the general review of the health service building programme which

    PROPERTY SERVICES AGENCY
    LocationNon-industrial staffIndustrial staffTotal
    Greater London7,9505,51613,466
    Scotland (including Edinburgh in parenthesis)1,630(797)2,000(488)3,630(1,285)
    Wales (including Cardiff in parenthesis)770(381)1,134(140)1,904(521)
    Elsewhere including overseas12,01522,69034,705
    TOTALS22,36531,34053,705

    Cars

    I am asking health boards to undertake in consultation with my Department, having regard among other factors to the level of resources likely to be available for public sector capital expenditure.

    Councillors' Attendance Allowances

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the scope of attendance allowances for councilors

    Attendance allowance will be payable to councillors for carrying out approved duties as defined in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973.

    Environment

    Heath Road, Lambeth (Compulsory Purchase Orders)

    30.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will announce his decision on the Heath Road compulsory purchase orders now that the further information he sought from the London borough of Lambeth has been supplied.

    Property Services Agency

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total staff of the Government's Property Services Agency; and how many are located in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff, and elsewhere, respectively.

    The numbers of staff in post on 1st April 1975 were:give, for each of the years 1965, 1970, 1972, 1973 and 1974, the rate of car ownership per household in Great Britain, broken down by region and by conurbation.

    CAR OWNERSHIP PER 1,000 HOUSEHOLDS
    Region1966*1970197219731974
    Northern466501544570578
    Yorkshire and Humberside460504555574602
    East Midland578660709750740
    East Anglia665753835868874
    South Eastern624691740779779
    South Western689736805852874
    West Midland623675727756766
    North Western467517603646614
    England575634692729730
    Scotland451525553591596
    Wales566645709749770
    * 1965 data not available.
    Figures by conurbation are not readily available.

    Local Authorities (Staff Survey)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish details of the survey of staff levels in local authorities, recently undertaken for his Department by the Local Authorities Conditions of Service Advisory Board.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on Wednesday 7th May 1975 to the hon. Member for Norfolk North (Mr. Howell).—[Vol. 891, c. 445.]

    Water And Sewerage Charges

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report details of any standard or basic charges imposed by regional water authorities in England, comparable with the £5 basic water charge levied by the Welsh National Water Development Authority.

    I am not aware that English water authorities levy any such charges.

    Rent Rebates

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in the light of the evidence already supplied by the hon. Member for Liverpool, Wavertree, whereby a constituent experienced 11 changes in his rent and rebate payments within 20 months, he will examine ways of simplifying the criteria by which rent rebate is calculated; and if he will make a statement.

    The hon. Member's constituent has had an unusually large number of rent rebate changes in a relatively

    The regional figures are as follow:short time, though most of the changes resulted in a higher rebate. The rent rebate and rent allowance schemes enable needy tenants to receive adequate help towards their rents. Changes in rebates or allowances occur because of changes in a tenant's income, rent, or in the cost of living. There is a need for simplification if possible, and this will be considered as part of the Government's review of housing finance.

    Game Licences

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many game licences were issued in Stoke-on-Trent and the United Kingdom for each of the years from 1970 to 1974, inclusive.

    The numbers of game licences issued by the Post Office on behalf of local authorities in the United Kingdom were:

    Financial YearsNumber Issued
    1970–7137,320
    1971–7235,879
    1972–7334,443
    1973–7436,688
    Details are not centrally available of licences issued by the Post Office in individual local authority areas, or of any game licences issued other than by the Post Office.

    Local Government Finance (Consultative Committee)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement about the Consultative Council on Local Government Finance.

    The council has been set up. I have already had a meeting with members of the local authority associations. We have decided that the council should be a small group with senior Ministers and leading elected members of the local authority associations, together with officials, who will meet as often as necessary, but at least once a quarter.The council will cover England and Wales, although there will be an additional council which will deal with matters of concern to Wales alone.The council will consider all aspects of local authority problems which have financial implications. The council will be brought into central Government economic thinking and will provide a forum for seeing that the implications for local authorites of financial and economic decisions are fully considered.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Indian Foreign Minister

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next expects to meet the Foreign Minister of India.

    My right hon. Friend met the Indian Minister for External Affairs at the recent meeting of Commonwealth Heads of Government in Kingston. He looks forward to meeting him again but has no immediate plans for doing so

    Rhodesia (Detainees)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has as to the numbers of people held in detention in Rhodesia; and when representations were last made to those in charge in Rhodesia on this matter.

    According to our latest information, over 300 people remain in detention in Rhodesia. We have repeatedly called on both sides in Rhodesia to implement the terms of the Lusaka agreement, which include—on the part of the régime—the release of all political detainees.

    Departmental Publications (Welsh Language)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any of his Department's publications are available in the Welsh language.

    Pamphlets, magazines, booklets and books published on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office are listed in HMSO Sectional List 69, entitled "Overseas Affairs" and are available from Her Majesty's Stationery Office. None of this material has been published in the Welsh language.

    Johore Bahru (Wireless Station)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why the BBC relay station in Johore Bahru has been closed down; and if he has made any representations.

    Under the terms of the broadcasting licence then in force, the Malaysian Government gave notice to the BBC in 1972 to cease broadcasting from the station at Tebrau in Johore by March of this year. Alternative arrangements are being made for the relay, and in the meantime, following representations made to them, the Malaysian Government have agreed to extend the broadcasting licence for one year and to review the matter at the end of this period. The station therefore continues to operate.

    Organisation Of American States

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made for Great Britain to be represented at the annual General Assembly of the Organisation of American States; what reply he has received; and if he will make a statement.

    At the invitation of the Organisation of American States in 1973 Her Majesty's Government applied for observer status with that organisation. However, following the postponement of a decision on that application by the OAS General Assembly in April 1974, Her Majesty's Government withdrew their application. This postponement was brought about by certain Governments who have territorial disputes with Britain in the western hemisphere. Her Majesty's Government's decision in no way implies any lessening of their wish to have constructive bilateral relations with the members of the OAS.

    Home Department

    Police Pensions (London)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will now give his approval to the agreement made by the Police Council that the £201 London allowance should be made pensionable.

    At the request of the staff side, the Police Council agreed on 23rd April to recommend that the making of amending Police Regulations on this matter should be delayed until after the Police Federation's annual conference at the end of May. I have accepted that recommendation.

    Police Uniforms

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statutory powers he has to regulate the wearing of police uniforms by officers of forces other than the Metropolitan Police, the City of London police, and those maintained under the Police Act 1964; and in what circumstances permission to wear police uniforms is given.

    Prisoners (Transfer Application)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons there are in prison in Great Britain who have applied to be trans-

    OFFENCES RECORDED AS KNOWN TO THE POLICE—BY OFFENCE GROUP—ENGLAND AND WALES
    Offences known to the policeOffences cleared up
    19731974Percentage change19731974
    Offence GroupNumberNumber1974–1973NumberPer cent.NumberPer cent.
    Violence against the person61,29963,782+450,1658251,14180
    Sexual offences25,73624,698-419,9537819,23678
    Burglary393,165483,832+23146,97137164,26234
    Robbery7,3388,666+183,374463,43740
    Theft and handling stolen goods698,798862,485+23235,13834275,84432
    Fraud and forgery110,673117,243+691,2198296,65582
    Criminal damage52,81567,086+2720,4593925,42433
    Other offences7,8338,191+57,303937,46291
    1,357,6571,635,983+21574,58242643,46139

    Kirkby Community Trust

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what evaluation and assessment procedures are being

    ferred to Northern Ireland; what are the crimes for which they were convicted in each case; how many are members of the IRA; and how many are members of other para-military organisations.

    Since 1st January eight persons in custody in England and Wales have applied for permanent transfer to Northern Ireland. Three were convicted of causing explosions and conspiracy to cause explosions; one was convicted of conspiracy to rob, together with firearms and motoring offences; one of indecent assault; one of theft; one of robbery; and one of burglary, indecent assault and rape. Comprehensive information about the organisations to which they may have belonged is not available. None of these applications has been granted.

    Offences Recorded

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give the number of offences recorded as known to the police and the number cleared up in England and Wales in 1974; and how these figures compare with 1973.

    The number of offences recorded as known to the police in England and Wales in 1974 was 1,635,983; and 643,461, or 39 per cent. of the offences known, were cleared up. The following table compares the figures for 1974 with those for 1973:—carried out on the work of the Kirkby community Trust; by whom; at what cost they are being undertaken: and if he will publish the results.

    I understand that the Kirkby Community Trust is a voluntary organisation in Knowsley seeking to help unemployed young people. No arrangements have been made for the central Government to evaluate and assess its work.

    National Finance

    Retirement Age

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated net cost to the Exchequer of lowering the male retirement age to 60, including loss of tax and national insurance revenue.

    The cost of lowering the male retirement age to 60 would depend on the extent to which men retired at the lower age. On the assumption that the pattern of male retirement during the first five years after age 60 would be the same as it is now between 65 and 70, the additional cost of retirement and supplementary pensions at the current rates of benefit, together with the loss of national insurance contributions, would be about £1,400 million. On the same assumptions, the loss of tax might be around £800 million in 1975–76 terms.

    Finance Houses

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will introduce legislation to ensure that finance houses offering loans on second mortgage to the general public limit the expansion of their business through heavy Press advertising when in receipt of large supporting finance from the Bank of England.

    The authorities, by virtue of their responsibilities for both prudential supervision and consumer protection, maintain an interest in the manner in which financial institutions seek business, but I see no need at present to take powers to regulate the level as opposed to the content of advertising.

    Wealth Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his best estimate of the number of persons who would be liable to a wealth tax commencing at £100,000 and the best estimate he is able to make of the same figure in respect of a wealth tax commencing at £50,000.

    At 1973 capital values about 110,000 and 320,000 individuals, and at mid-1974 capital values about 90,000 and 320,000, respectively, on the basis of the proposals in the Green Paper. These estimates exclude assessments which might fall to be made on trusts not included in the estate duty statistics.

    Value Added Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many boat builders are registered for VAT in Scotland; how many persons are employed by them; and what estimate he has made of the likely effects of VAT on the industry in terms of competitiveness and employment.

    I regret that it would not be possible to give reliable figures for boat builders alone as the VAT trade classification covers ship builders, boat builders and marine engineers. I would also refer the hon. Member to the answer which my hon. Friend the Minister of State gave on 1st May to the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles).

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what advice and written procedures are provided to VAT inspectors on the best methods of helping traders in the collection of taxes; how many meetings have taken place between inspectors and traders designed to achieve co-operation in the administration of the tax; and whether any requests for such meetings have been refused.

    VAT officers on visits to registered traders are instructed to give what help and guidance appears to be necessary for the trader's understanding and discharge of his statutory obligations. Moreover, Customs and Excise, in a general written instruction, encourages its staff to give talks on official matters to local bodies. In connection with the introduction of VAT, particular encouragement was given, and from the summer of 1972 until VAT became operative in April 1973 VAT officers conducted or participated in local meetings of traders and trade associations with the object of giving help and guidance in the understanding of the new tax. Once the tax became operative there was less call for such meetings, but, within the limits of the staff available, requests for them were and are continuing to be met.Precise information about the number of such meetings is not available, but a very large number have been held or attended. I am not aware of any instance of a request for a meeting not having been met, but, if my hon. Friend will write to me about any case which he may have in mind, I shall be happy to look into it.

    Pay As You Earn

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many persons paid income tax through the PAYE system in each of the last 18 months.

    I regret that the information is not available on a monthly basis. The estimated number of persons in the PAYE system for the year ending April 1974, the latest year available, was about 26 million. Some of these will have had no liability to tax for the year as a whole.

    Income Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has made of the number of persons liable to pay income tax on earned income in 1975–76 as compared with 1974–75.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 9th May 1975; Vol. 891, c. 537], gave the following information:Counting working wives separately, the number of persons liable to pay income tax on earned income, including pensions, is estimated to be 23·6 million in 1974–75. For 1975–76 it is estimated that the corresponding figure would have been 24·7 million before the Budget change, and will be 24·3 million after the Budget.

    Northern Ireland

    Schools (Maintenance)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how maintenance and aid provided from public funds to denominational schools compares with that so provided in the rest of the United Kingdom.

    Voluntary maintained primary schools and secondary schools—other than grammar schools—have since 1968 been treated as regards maintenance and aid in the same way as corresponding schools in England and Wales. Voluntary non-maintained primary and secondary schools, that is, those which do not have public representation on their management committees, receive grant at the rate of 65 per cent. from the Education and Library Boards on approved expenditure on maintenance, and from the Northern Ireland Department of Education on capital expenditure and on the provision of equipment.Voluntary grammar schools do not, in general receive any aid from the boards, though there is provision in the Education and Libraries (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 for this to be given in cases where the grammar school has entered into an agreement with the board. Voluntary grammar schools receive grants from the Northern Ireland Department of Education towards running costs and can receive capital grants at rates depending upon their classification.

    Rathlin Island

    asked the Secretary of Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what plans he has in hand for the improvement of the roads in Rathlin Island.

    Arrangements are being made to resurface about five miles of road on the island during the present year.

    Detainees And Internees

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many of the internees and detainees released since internment was introduced were later redetained or sentenced for terrorist activity.

    1,846 persons have been released from internment or detention since August 1971. 176 were re-detained once and 11 twice. Details of the number of former internees and detainees sentenced during this period for terrorist activities are not readily available. Police criminal record files do not state whether the person concerned is an ex-detainee or an ex-internee. It would therefore require a disproportionate effort on the part of the Special Branch, CID and Criminal Record Office to provide the information requested.

    Prisoners (Transfer Application)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many prisoners have been transferred from prisons in Great Britain to Northern Ireland over the 12 months to the end of April 1975; what were the crimes of which they were guilty in each case; how many were known to be members of the IRA; and how many were members of other para-military organisations.

    Over the 12 months to the end of April this year, seven prisoners have been transferred from prisons in Great Britain to Northern Ireland to serve the remainder of their sentences. Four were convicted of causing an explosion and conspiracy to cause explosions, one was convicted of robbery and conspiracy to rob, one was convicted of fraud, and one was convicted of possession of explosive substances. Comprehensive information about membership of para-military organisations is not available.

    Overseas Development

    European Development Fund

    asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will list in the Official Report the actual disbursements, expressed in sterling, from the European Development Fund in each of the years covered by the second Yaoundé Convention, namely, 1970 to 31st January 1975.

    Disbursements from the fund during the calendar years 1970 to 1974 were as follows:

    Million units of account (approximate)£ millions
    197014560·42
    197115062·50
    197215062·50
    197316066·67
    197417070·83

    Source: General Reports on the Activities of the Communities.

    Rate of conversion: £1 = 2·4 units of account.

    asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will list the number and status of British officials currently involved in the administration of the European Development Fund.

    The European Development Fund is administered by Directorate-General VIII of the Commission, and there are at present two A4 (Principal level) posts occupied by British officials in those sections directly concerned with the fund.

    Solicitors' Clerks (Conveyancing)

    asked the Attorney-General if he will seek powers to formalise and legalise the existing and common practice of solicitors' clerks being engaged in conveyancing without any supervision.

    No. It is in the interest of the public and the legal profession that solicitors should have a clear duty adequately to supervise their staff. The requirement of adequate supervision has recently been strengthened by practice rules under the Solicitors Act 1974 which were made on 9th May by the Law Society with the approval of the Master of the Rolls. Breach of these rules will render the solicitor concerned liable to disciplinary proceedings.

    Land Registry

    asked the Attorney-General whether any established or ad hoc machinery or arrangements exist between the Land Registry and the Law Society; and for what purposes.

    A joint advisory committee of the Law Society and Her Majesty's Land Registry was established in 1953 to consider and resolve problems relating to registered conveyancing. There are also informal consultations between the chief land registrar and the Law Society for this purpose when the need arises.

    Prices And Consumer Protection

    Food Prices

    asked the Secretary of State Prices and Consumer Protection what are the latest official estimates on the amount by which membership of the European Economic Community has increased food prices in the United Kingdom.

    The latest official estimates are that membership of the EEC has not significantly increased or reduced the present overall level of food prices in the United Kingdom. But, of course, the further we get from the date of entry the harder it becomes to estimate what food prices would have been if we had not joined the Community.

    Trade

    Sri Lanka Tea Estates

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) whether he will now announce the date for the publication of the IPU delegation's report to him of conditions of tea workers on British owned estates in Sri Lanka;(2) whether, before the publication of the IPU delegation's report on the conditions on British-owned tea estates in Sri Lanka, he will give British subjects or companies mentioned in the report an opportunity to review its conclusions and to publish in the report their replies to any allegations therein contained.

    I thought it right to make the report generally available as quickly as possible, and it is being published today. All concerned now have the opportunity to study it and express views on it if they wish.

    European Community

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the latest estimate for United Kingdom outward direct investment in EEC countries and for inward direct investment from other EEC countries.

    The latest estimates relate to the year 1973 and are given in Tables 17 and 27 of the Business Monitor M4, Overseas Transactions 1973, a copy of which is in the Library.

    Wales

    Highway Code

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take steps to withdraw from Her Majesty's Stationery Office Cardiff and other bookshops the outdated Welsh language versions of the Highway Code and replace them with Welsh versions that include references to post-1968 legislation.

    Changes in road safety legislation are widely publicised and it is not practicable to withdraw unsold copies of the Highway Code whenever such changes occur.

    Industry

    Industrial Development Certificates

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what proportion of square footage of industrial development for which IDCs were issued in 1974 comprised warehousing and storage development in Scotland and the South-East region of England, respectively.

    This information is not available. The IDC control applies to industrial buildings, including those—for example, storages—used for purposes ancillary to an industrial activity. Ancillary space is not recorded separately for statistical purposes. Wholesale warehouses and distribution depots are not subject to the IDC control. IDCs have in any case not been required in any part of Scotland since August 1974, when the Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello employment exchange areas were made into development areas from intermediate areas.

    The number of applications for industrial development certificates for south-east England and Scotland approved in 1974 was 377 and three respectively; 37 were refused for south-east England and none for Scotland during the period. It is not possible to make any meaningful comparisons between south-east England and Scotland because in July 1972 the IDC control ceased to apply in development areas. Thus, in Scotland from July 1972 to August 1974 the control operated only in the Edinburgh, Leith and Portobello employment exchange areas. After these areas were made into development areas in August 1974, the control ceased to operate anywhere in Scotland.

    Post Office

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what percentage of postal revenue is represented by direct mail traffic; and if he can give an estimate of the likely future drop in traffic from direct mail;(2) what percentage of Post Office capital expenditure is now required to be met from internal finance; and if he will give a general direction to the Post Office to finance any acquisition of outside manufacturing facilities within the present self-financing requirements of the Post Office.

    I shall reply to the hon. Member's Questions as soon as possible.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has yet received the revised deficit forecast for the current year for the Post Office; and, if so, what element of this increase in deficit is attributable to the variations in first and second-class postage traffic, respectively.

    I am not yet in a position to add to the reply of 1st May to the hon. Member for Henley (Mr. Heseltine) on the Post Office forecast deficit for the current year. It is too early to say whether any element of the increase in the deficit is attributable to variations from the previous forecast in first and second-class letter traffic.

    Crosfield Electronics Ltd (Industrial Dispute)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what plans he has for further action to bring about a meeting between management and the trade unions concerned in the dispute that exists at Crosfield Electronics, Holloway Road, London, N.19; and if he will make a statement.

    I have been asked to reply.I understand that the dispute arose at the beginning of March, when 300 workers were declared redundant following the company's decision to transfer work from London to Peterborough. All but 40 left within the period of notice given, but those remaining began a sit-in on 28th March. The independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service had a meeting with the parties in April, but there is now no scope for intervention since the company was granted an order for possession of the premises.