Written Answers To Questions
Monday 16th June 1975
Prices And Consumer Protection
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will make a special study of the effect on poor consumers of standing charges for supplies or services made by public corporations.
This is a matter of concern to the Government. It is being examined in the review referred to by my right hon. Friend the then Secretary of State for Energy in his reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas) on 19th May.—[Vol. 892, c. 231.]
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what proposals she has to protect consumers during the changeover to metric quantities and weights in household shopping.
The best protection for the consumer is information and advice. This is already provided by the Metrication Board, which will continue to familiarise the public with changes as they take place. Local authorities' trading standards officers and advice centres also do much good work in this respect. For my part, I shall be introducing regulations to require dual marking for most prepacked products, and am prepared to consider the wider use of my powers to require unit pricing where this would help.
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether she will discuss with the CBI the effect of the Price Code on industrial investment.
I do not think this necessary since the CBI has given me its views on the code on several occasions, most recently before I extended the investment relief last month, and I do not have it in mind to amend these provisions further for the time being.
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what representations she has received about the problem of inflation from the National Consumer Authority; and which of the proposals put forward by the authority the Government intend to adopt.
I understand that the Chairman of the National Consumer Council intends to present his proposals to the National Economic Development Council. I cannot anticipate that.
Credit Purchasing (Purpose Loans)
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection (1) whether she will propose legislation to give the same protection in respect of "purpose loans" as is given in the case of credit sale agreements in order to prevent this method of avoiding existing legislation, and in particular in respect of second hand car sales;(2) whether she will inquire into the practice of using "purpose loans" for the purchase of second-hand motor vehicles so as to avoid the protection offered in respect of credit sale agreements.
The Consumer Credit Act 1974, for which regulations are now being drawn up, covers all the abuses that have come to our attention arising from such loans. In drawing up these regulations I would be willing to look at any particular point that my hon. Friend cares to bring to my attention.
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how many accidents have been reported in recent years involving aerosol cans and similar products; if she will give details of these in the Official Report; if she will take steps to introduce additional regulations covering the manufacture and sale of these cans; and if she will make a statement.
There is no procedure under which such accidents are reported to my Department. But the available information indicates that very few occur, mainly when apparently empty cans are placed on bonfires, despite warnings on them. I am at present considering the need for regulations relating to aerosols having regard, among other things, to a directive dealing with the safety of aerosols recently adopted by the Council of the European Communities.
North Sea Oil
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the powers of the European Community which would enable it to influence Her Majesty's Government in the protection of British oil interests in the North Sea.
There are no direct Community powers over British oil interests in the North Sea, but the Government's policies must take into account the Articles of the Treaty dealing with freedom of circulation and establishment.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the increase in the coal industry over the latest 10-year period, of output (a) per head of total employees and (b) per head of underground workers, in both percentage and volume terms.
Output per man year at NCB deep mines was:
|All colliery workers||Underground workers|
|Years ended March—|
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what representations he has made at the consultative committee in Luxembourg on coal production; and what results he has achieved in conjunction with other coal producers and the European Commission.
None. The Consultative Committee is made up of representatives of coal and iron and steel producers, consumer organisations and trade unions, and Governments are not represented on it.
Offshore Oil Rigs
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the annual capacity of the United Kingdom for manufacturing North Sea oil rigs.
Six contractors are currently engaged in the production of 10 platforms. In addition, one concrete platform site is being developed at Portavadie and four other sites have planning permission.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many oil rigs for the North Sea are currently under construction in the United Kingdom. and where.
Ten oil production platforms are currently under construction in the United Kingdom as follows:
|Constructor and Site||No. being built|
|Highlands Fabricators, Nigg Bay||2|
|McDermott Scotland Ltd., Ardersier||2|
|RDL (North Sea) Ltd., Methil||1|
|John Laing Construction Ltd., Graythorp||2|
|McAlpine, Ardyne Point||2|
|Howard Doris, Kishorn||1|
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has as to the extent to which United Kingdom-manufactured oil rigs are competitive with those currently being constructed in EEC countries.
To be successful, competitive tenders must be based on price, quality and delivery, and the 10 oil production platform orders won by the United Kingdom have been successful on these criteria against competition from other EEC countries. At present only three oil production platforms for the United Kingdom sector of the North Sea are being constructed elsewhere in the EEC.
Drax B Power Station
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is now able to make a further statement on the future of the new coal-fired power station, Drax B.
Amongst other factors this situation is linked with the development of the Selby coalfield. The public inquiry concerning this proposed development is still in progress.
Coal Reserves (Scotland)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what estimates have been made of coal reserves in Scotland which have been sterilised by (a) abandonment of small mines and (b) closure of uneconomic mines; and what proportions these constitute of overall coal reserves in Scotland.
Some 1,300 million tons of coal reserves in Scotland have been abandoned as a result of colliery closures since 1947. None of this tonnage was economically workable. Economically workable reserves in Scotland are currently assessed at 226 million tons. I have no information on the effect of closure of small mines not in the ownership of the National Coal Board.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his policy toward United Kingdom oil depletion within the EEC; and if he is satisfied that the United Kingdom can continue to pursue an independent policy.
I have nothing to add to the announcement about guidelines for the Government's policy in regard to the depletion of Continental Shelf oil made to the House on 6th December 1974. Decisions on depletion rates are, I am advised, a matter for the Government.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what representations he has received regarding energy saving; from whom; and what replies he has sent.
There has been an encouraging and widespread response to the Government's energy conservation campaign. My Department has received many representations on energy saving from a wide variety of sources, including individual members of the public and commercial and professional organisations. Though there are inevitable exceptions, there is, in general, acceptance of the need for energy saving and of the ways in which the Govenment are achieving it. All of these representations have been carefully considered. The replies sent have depended on the nature of the representations; and a number of helpful suggestions have now been incorporated into publicity material.
Tied Housing (National Coal Board)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the number of units of tied or service accommodation provided by the National Coal Board and the number of quarters vacant at 31st March 1975.
This is a matter for the National Coal Board, and I am asking the Chairman to write to the hon. Members.
Coal Industry Financing
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what financial help is given by the European Commission for high cost coalfields for reasons of security of supply, including particular coal qualities in the United Kingdom.
None. Such assistance is not provided by the Commission but left to member Governments to provide. However, the NCB has to date received from ECSC funds £70 million in loans at favourable rates of interest for a variety of capital projects.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the British coal industry levy contribution to Community funds for the years 1973 and 1974, respectively.
The National Coal Board's levy payments were £2,257,107 in 1973 and £2,486,647 in 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the total amount of money allocated from Community funds to the British coal industry in 1974 for the purpose of (1) technical research, (2) medical and safety and (3) social grants.
I understand that the following levels of grant to the NCB and the Safety in Mines Research Establishment have been approved:
|(1) technical research||…||£2·886 million|
|(2) medical and safety||…||£0·544 million|
|(3) social grants||…||4·37 million|
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the total amount of the export of United Kingdom coal to Germany and France for the years 1972, 1973 and 1974, respectively; and what are the prospects for additional British exports to the EEC.
Figures on exports of coal are published in the "Digest of UK Energy Statistics". Exports of coal to Western Germany and France in the years in question were:
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what areas have now been converted to natural gas; what is the programme for converting the remainder; and when he expects the entire programme to be completed.
British Gas has informed me that conversion of customers' appliances to use direct supplies of natural gas has already been completed in the Wales, East Midlands, Southern and Eastern Regions of the corporation. Conversion in Northern Region should be complete by the end of July and in South-West Region by the end of this year. North-Eastern and West Midlands Regions expect to complete their programmes during 1976 and Scottish Region during 1977.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy how fissionable materials are transported from the Winfrith Research Establishment in Dorset; and whether they pass through Southampton.
It would not be in the public interest to disclose the exact routes over which fissile material is carried. However, fissile materials consigned from Winfrith are subject to strict safety requirements in accordance with regulations laid down by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, and in particular the packaging arrangements meet international specifications.
British Steel Corporation
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what is the likely amount of financial levy contributed by the British Steel Corporation to the EEC in 1975;(2) what total amount of financial return the British Steel Corporation is expected to receive from the EEC in 1975; and if he will give specific figures for social grants and research grants, respectively;(3) what is the amount to be borrowed by the British Steel Corporation from the European Investment Bank in 1975.
I have been asked to reply.The amount of levy paid by BSC to the European Commission depends upon the actual steel production. It is likely to be about £4·75 million in 1975.The corporation is also likely in 1975 to benefit to the extent of about £0·5 million from interest savings on subsidised Community loans, and to receive research grants which may total about £200,000 as instalments on projects in an approved programme of over £2 million.In addition to some Community assistance to BSC retraining schemes, BSC employees displaced by closures will receive resettlement benefits of about £3 million in 1975, of which about half will be contributed by the Commission.
I cannot forecast the total figure for Community loans which may be granted during 1975, although there are several BSC applications now being considered by the European Investment Bank and the Commission. So far this year there have been no further loans by the EIB but new ECSC loans to BSC totalling nearly £27 million have been agreed.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what effect United Kingdom membership of the EEC has had in enabling the British Steel Corporation to share fully in the joint activities of the Community steelmakers;(2) to what extent the British Steel Corporation, in consultation with the European Commission, will be able to exercise influence on decisions made by the Coal and Steel Community.
I have been asked to reply.The BSC has taken and will continue to take a full part in all the consultative organisations of the European steel industry associated with the Community. It will thus exercise a considerable influence not only on the mutual decisions of European steelmakers but on the European Commission, which gives due weight to the views of the industry, as expressed by formal consultation with representative bodies.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) to what extent the British Steel Corporation will benefit from planned large growth of steel sales into the EEC;(2) to what extent British manufacturers will gain by taking a larger proportion of their steel requirements from the EEC;(3) whether he estimates that the United Kingdom's membership of the EEC will lead to greater market stability for the British Steel Corporation; and if he will make a statement.
I have been asked to reply.United Kingdom membership of the ECSC gives the BSC access to the whole Community steel market on equal terms with other European steelmakers, which will assist the corporation to achieve the planned increases in exports and total sales on which its development strategy is based. British steelmaking industries will also have the benefits of better access to all sources of steel supply in the Community.The ECSC pricing rules play an important part in helping to stabilise the market during periods of low demand as at present, by seeking to prevent imports at unrealistically low prices and maintaining fair competition throughout the Community.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied that United Kingdom membership of the EEC will not undermine the Government's industrial policies.
Alfred Herbert Limited
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the Government's intentions relating to their future financial interest in Alfred Herbert Limited; and what measures of reorganisation he proposes for that company.
Consideration of the future of this company is well advanced. We will bring our proposals for the company before the House as soon as we are ready. We have meanwhile increased the level of the Government's guarantee in respect of the company's bank overdraft from £4 million to £5 million.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many advance factories have been approved in development areas since the new programmes were announced on 3rd July and 11th September last year.
A total of 59 for the assisted areas was announced in November 1974 and February 1975. A further six factories to meet the special needs of the Ebbw Vale area were announced on 7th May by the Secretary of State for Wales, who also announced then seven more factories which form part of a further programme for the assisted areas as a whole which we hope to announce shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the Government propose to go ahead with the investment programme laid down in the White Paper on Steel, Command Paper No. 5226, relating to Redcar on Teesside or to deploy the investment funds elsewhere.
Under agreed procedures the Department receives full details of the corporation's major capital investment projects within the 10-year development strategy, to enable my right hon. Friend to express a view on them before they are approved by the corporation. Last September we accepted the Redcar IIB Scheme, which is intended to increase steelmaking capacity on Teesside to 5 million tonnes per annum this is now bein implemented. I understand that the corporation is now preparing further plans for developments on Teesside, but the Department has not so far received any specific proposals for consideration.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish in the Official Report the figures for the relative performance of world steel makers now assembled by the BSC, and referred to in his answer to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North on 20th May.
This information is not available in a form suitable for publication in a parliamentary answer. However, I understand that the British Steel Corporation has provided the hon. Member with some material. I am arranging for copies of the communication from the corporation to be placed in the Library of the House.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he proposes to equip Hartlepool Steel Mills or other locations to produce large-diameter pipe of the size and specifications required to meet North Sea requirements; and what investment will be required to enter this specific market.
BSC has embarked on expenditure of £33 million on the develop ment of pipemaking facilities for the North Sea, of which £10 million is being spent on enhancing the 20-inch pipe mill at Hartlepool. I understand that the corporation is also examining a proposal to enhance the 44-inch pipe mill at Hartlepool, to enable it to produce undersea pipe for the North Sea.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many Crown post offices and sub-post offices there are in Great Britain; what total numbers of staff are employed in each category; what are the total operating costs, and the wage and salary costs of each, respectively; and how these costs reflect business done or turnover.
Much of the information sought by the hon. Member will be published shortly in the Post Office Report and Accounts for 1974–75. Those published last year show that as at 31st March 1974 there were 1,607 Crown offices and 22,276 scale payment sub offices.Staff employed in post offices in all capacities numbered 34,986 and there were 22,127 sub-postmasters, employed on an agency basis.Total operating costs of post offices was £151,463,000, of which £87,805,000 was accounted for by pay and pensions and £59,440,000 by sub-postmasters' remuneration.Figures of income are published on the basis of business activities, and management statistics relating to the allocation of these as between Crown and other offices is a matter for the Post Office. I am drawing the attention of the Chairman of the Post Office to the hon. Member's Question.
British Ship Research Association
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the future of the British Ship Research Association, Wallsend on Tyne, which is funded by his Department and individual shipbuilding companies, following the nationalisation of the shipbuilding industry.
It is expected that BSRA will continue to play a primary rôle in research and development in the shipbuilding industry. BSRA's future relationship with British shipbuilders following nationalisation will be a matter for discussion between the RA and the organising committee to be set up after the Second Reading of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill.
International Computers Limited
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a further statement about the Government's support for the computer leasing activities of International Computers Limited.
ICL has entered into an agreement with Barclays Leasing Co. Ltd. which will provide finance for the leasing of computers on the home market additional to that already provided by Computer Leasings Ltd. and Midland—ICL Leasing Ltd. At the request of ICL, the Government have agreed to extend to the arrangements with Barclays the support announced by the Minister for Aerospace on 30th July 1971 in respect of the agreement for leasing finance between ICL and Computer Leasings Ltd. Accordingly, Barclays Leasing Co. Ltd. was informed on 5th June that the Government would be prepared to assist ICL in fulfilling its obligations under the new agreement.
British Aircraft Corporation
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what help the Government have given to the British Aircraft Corporation to meet the recently announced order from Romania for five BAC 1–11 aircraft.
The Government have given the British Aircraft Corporation full support in its achievement of this further export order for the BAC 1–11 aircraft with its proven operational record. Because reactivating the production line for only five Series 500 aircraft would not be economic, the Government have agreed, at the request of BAC, to accept some of the financial risk by underwriting the liability of initial loss on these five aircraft—and the cost of producing parts for additional aircraft—up to a limit of £3·9 million relating to the cost of manufacture at the time the Romanian order was negotiated—i.e., at November 1974 economic conditions. Further production may be authorised to meet demand beyond this latest batch of aircraft. The underwriting agreement provides for profits from further sales to be applied to the progressive reduction of any initial liability incurred by the Government until break even is reached, after which the profits will be shared between the Government and BAC. Actual payment by the Government would be made only if an overall loss remains when 1–11 production finally ceases in the absence of further orders.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has concluded consideration of the report sent him by the United Kingdom Zip Fastener Manufacturers' Association and if he will make a statement.
Our consideration of this report, and the further information we have found it necessary to obtain, should be concluded shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied that membership of the Common Market is in the best interests of British industry and those who work in it.
In the referendum on 5th June the British people decided that the United Kingdom should remain a member of the EEC. It is now the Government's job to make that membership a success, and I, as one who advocated the referendum and pledged myself to abide by the result, readily and willingly participate in that endeavour.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if, in order to demonstrate his support for Concorde, he will seek to make an early flight therein.
I do not yet have any firm plans to fly in Concorde, but I will certainly consider the hon. Member's suggestion.
British Steel Corporation
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will issue a general direction to the British Steel Corporation to grant credit on normal commercial terms to co-operatives.
Customer credit facilities are a matter for the British Steel Corporation, a public owned body in whose commercial judgment it is not for me to intervene.
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
Milk And The Dairy Herd
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans for an interim milk review.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1), in view of the fact that cow numbers are declining by 4·4 per cent. per annum, a higher rate than previously experienced, if he will take urgent steps designed to halt this decline;(2) in view of the fact that the slaughtering of both cows and calves continues at a higher level than in the last two years, if he will take steps designed to halt the decline of stock;(3) in view of the fact that the level of first AI inseminations for the year 1974–75—April-March—was down 7·2 per cent. on the previous year, if he will take steps designed to halt this decline;(4) in view of the fact that the number of milk producers in 1975 shows a decline of 8·2 per cent. as against the same period of 1974, if he will take steps designed to halt this decline.
Following the publication of the recent White Paper "Food from our own Resources", discussions are taking place with the interests concerned about whether there are specific measures which it would be right and practicable to take in furtherance of the aims set out in that White Paper.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, in view of the forecast for milk production for 1975–76 to be 60 million gallons down, thus providing less for manufacture and a light supply situation for Christmas 1975, if he will take steps designed to safeguard the consumer.
For the reasons set out in the recent White Paper, a substantial increase in milk production is in the national interest and would enable a higher proportion of consumers' requirements of milk products to be met from our own resources. Discussions are now in progress with the interests concerned, as envisaged in the White Paper. The United Kingdom is self-sufficient so far as milk for liquid consumption is concerned.
Skimmed Milk Powder
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he can now give revised figures for the EEC intervention stocks of skimmed milk powder for the months since November 1973; and what assessment has been made of the likely stock level by November 1975.
The revised figures for Community intervention stocks of skimmed milk powder at the beginning of each month since November 1973 are as follows:
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what conclusions he has reached about the Edwards Report on lobster fishing.
My officials have met representatives of the industry to discuss the Edwards Report on Lobster fishing in England and Wales. It was agreed that, as recommended in the report, a minimum carapace length for lobsters in place of the existing overall size limit should be introduced as soon as practicable. The industry is currently considering the proposed limits which might be applied, and is also giving thought to the need to provide better catch data for the lobster fisheries. I hope to make an announcement as soon as our consultations are complete.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are the present quotas of raspberry pulp from each of the Eastern European countries to the EEC; and what changes are planned in these quotas.
As details of the present EEC quotas are necessarily extensive and complex I would refer the hon. Member to the Official Journal of the European Communities of 21st April 1975 (No. L99/7) which is available in the Library of the House and where full information is given. I am also sending the hon. Member a copy. These quotas are due to be abolished under proposals at present being discussed in the Council for removing quantitative restrictions on imports of a whole range of processed fruit and vegetable products from third countries. In order to safeguard the interests of Community soft fruit producers it is proposed that imports of raspberry pulp from the State-trading countries should be strictly monitored under a system of surveillance of imports.
£ Sterling (Community Rate)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what would be the effect upon British agricultural income and consumer prices, respectively, if the Common Market British green pound were devalued to match the Irish green pound formula; and if he will make a statement.
It is difficult to make worth while estimates of the kind which the hon. Member has in mind. If the United Kingdom representative rate for common agricultural policy purposes—the green pound—were devalued to equal that applied in the Irish Republic, the sterling value of Community institutional prices would rise by a little over 5 per cent. and the monetary compensatory amounts applied in trade by the United Kingdom would fall. But the effect of such changes on market prices is uncertain since these are determined largely by the market circumstances for each of the commodities affected. I am keeping the United Kingdom representative rate under review.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service when the last review was made of those entitled to use first-class travel when on Government business; and if he will now undertake an urgent review of the list to ensure that in the present circumstances this privilege will be restricted only to those at highest level.
The use of first-class travel on Government business, in common with other conditions of service, is kept constantly under review by my Department. The Government have no proposals to alter the current arrangements, which have been arrived at through negotiation with the National Staff side and which take account inter alia of outside practice.
Her Majesty's Stationery Office
asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether, since it is the practice of HMSO not to reprint statutes for which there appears to be little demand, he will direct it to keep a record of each request for any statute which is out of print.
No. Each year HMSO services almost 2 million firm orders and deals with about 300,000 telephone inquiries as well as innumerable oral requests from personal callers at its seven retail bookshops. To record each request for an out-of-print statute would be difficult and costly, but orders placed for photocopies are and will continue to be recorded.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is the extent of the duty imposed on HMSO to keep, for sale to the public, copies of current treaties, public and private Acts of Parliament, statutory instruments, command papers and other Government publications.
HMSO is under no statutory duty to maintain stocks of Government publications for sale. In practice, publications are kept on sale as long as there is any significant demand for them.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many elderly and severely disabled persons are receiving the disability and infirmity allowance in Hong Hong.
In May 1975 there were 12,000 severely disabled people on disability allowance and 46,000 elderly people receiving infirmity allowances.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many community and youth officers have been appointed in the urban areas in Hong Kong over the last three years.
Since the scheme was introduced in December 1973, 10 have been appointed, one for each district of the urban area. Additionally, two have been appointed to two new Territories districts, one of which is mainly urban.
Mr Joe Mallett
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations have been made to the Greek Government on behalf of Joe Mallett, a British subject who has been managing a football team in Greece and who has been prevented by the authorities from leaving that country because of a tax dispute.
This is a private matter between Mr. Mallett and the Greek tax authorities. Representations by Her Majesty's Government would not be appropriate, but the consul in Athens is doing what he properly can to help.
Textiles And Footwear
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will instruct staff of overseas embassies in those countries exporting textile and footwear products into this country, to monitor both production costs and home market prices of these goods; and if he will arrange for the results of their investigations to be published in appropriate official journals.
It would be impracticable for our overseas posts to undertake on a regular basis the local monitoring of production costs and home market prices of all textile and footwear products beyond the information they already provide on local prices in the course of their export promotion work. This extremely complex task would impose a considerable burden on the resources of our commercial posts, which could only be met at the expense of their main function of the direct promotion of United Kingdom exports.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list those countries within the EEC whose national laws make illegal the coursing of hares.
The information is not readily available. I have arranged for it to be obtained and will reply to the hon. Member's Question as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what evidence he has now received concerning the recruitment of former British Service men to form a mercenary force to carry out a campaign of sabotage and harassment against the Rhodesian Government; and what measures he proposes to take to prevent the use of mercenaries in Rhodesia, in view of the effect such recruitment will have on the prospects for current negotiations.
Inquiries are being made into allegations which have appeared in the Press. I have no definite information yet. The Government would utterly deplore any intervention in Rhodesian affairs by mercenaries on either side.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the progress of the discussions with the South African Government to end the Simonstown Agreements.
The 1955 Simonstown Agreements have been terminated, following discussions in South Africa between the British ambassador and the South African Government, by an exchange of letters. The text of the exchange of letters, together with the texts of two letters relating to the exchange which were addressed by the British ambassador to the South African Secretary for Foreign Affairs, have been placed in the Libraries of both Houses of Parliament.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what further action he is taking in pursuance of his request to those holders of television licences who took out licences at the old rates before 31st March 1975, even though their existing licences were not due to expire until that date or later, to pay the additional amount which would have been due if the new licences had not been issued until the expiry of their old ones.
Since I answered Questions from the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) and others on 17th April—[Vol. 890, c. 136–7]—I have given further thought to this whole matter.I recognise the attraction of the argument that the licence holders concerned were merely seeking to defer for as long as possible, while they could, the time when they would have to pay licence fees at the higher rates, and should not now be asked to forgo, or be deprived of, the benefit of their forethought. But I have a duty to protect the revenue, which finances BBC services that are available to all licence holders; and I have a duty to think also of the interests of those—the great majority—who have renewed and are renewing their licences at the new rates in the usual way, and of those who have already complied with the request to make additional payments. Their interests would be affected if I were to do nothing about those who sought to anticipate the increase in the licence fees by taking out new licences before their old ones were due to expire, and who have not so far complied with the request for additional payments.I hope that those who have received and not yet replied to requests for additional payments will now think it right to comply with the request. In the case of a licence holder who chooses not to make the additional payment now I propose to allow his new licence to run for eight months—for colour licences—or 11 months—for monochrome licences—from the expiry date of his old licence, and then to revoke it. This will give him his money's worth from his new licence, but at the new rate not the old rate. It will enable him, if he so wishes, to defer the time at which he has to pay any more money, though not by quite as long as he originally hoped, and so to realise at least in part the object of his forethought. It will, at the time time, ensure that in the long run the BBC does not lose any significant amount of revenue and that the interests of other licence holders are not prejudiced.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many television licences he has revoked since 31st March 1975;(2) in how many cases in the most recent convenient 12-month period he has used his powers under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 to revoke television licences;(3) if he will list the annual number of cases since 1949 in which he or his predecessors have exercised their powers under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 to revoke television licences.
Licence records are not kept centrally. The information is not, therefore readily available, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give an undertaking not to use his powers under the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 to revoke television licences of those who obtained licences prematurely until the Report of the Parliamentary Commissioner into this matter has been received and the House has had time to study its contents.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will direct the National TV Licence Records Office to cease writing letters to those who obtained TV licences prematurely, threatening the licence holders with the revocation of their licence, until the report of the Parliamentary Commissioner regarding this matter has been received.
I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to a Question from the right hon. Member for Chesham and Amersham (Mr. Gilmour) on 11th June.—[Vol. 893, c. 190–191.]
Park Hall Camp, Oswestry (Shooting Incident)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now call for a report from the Chief Constable of Police on action taken by the police of 9th September concerning the shooting incident at Park Hall Camp, Oswestry.
My right hon. Friend has already received a police report on this incident.
Comprehensive Community Programmes
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made with his policy of "comprehensive community programmes"; and if he will make a statement.
Consultations with local authorities and others concerned are continuing with a view to beginning trial runs shortly.
Drugs (Safe Keeping)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from pharmacists in respect of that section of the Misuse of Drugs Act making it compulsory for controlled drugs to be kept in regulation security cabinets.
Representations have been made by the National Pharmaceutical Union and by some retail pharmacists as individuals that the Misuse of Drugs (Safe Custody) Regulations 1973 which require retail pharmacists and others to install special cabinets for the storage of controlled drugs have given rise to an increase in thefts of these drugs. We are not convinced that this is so, but we are keeping a close watch on the situation.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he is satisfied with the rights of prisoners to appeal against the allocation of prisoners to control units;(2) whether he is satisfied that the basis upon which prisoners are allocated to control units permits them to know the grounds of complaint against them and gives them the right to be heard in their own defence.
There is no specific appeal against allocation as such, but prisoners may make representations orally to the governor, a member of the board of visitors, or the regional director or in writing in a petition to the Secretary of State or in a letter to a Member of Parliament. Prisoners have their rights explained to them when they arrive in a control unit and they are set out in a cell information card provided in accordance with Prison Rule 7(1).
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he has considered it necessary to commit three prisoners to the control unit at Wakefield Prison; how long they have been detained there and under what conditions; and when they are to be released.
These prisoners fulfilled the criteria set out in my reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham) on 14th November 1974. They have been detained since 22nd May and are subject to the conditions which have been set out in detail in the documents of which a copy is available in the Library. They will be eligible for discharge from the unit after a minimum of 180 days, subject to the reviews described in the reply to which I have referred.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the use of male prison officers at Holloway Prison.
As at other establishments for female offenders, a small number of male officers are engaged on security and specialist duties at Holloway.
Car Parking (London)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the number of cars that are illegally parked in such a way as to hamper access to buildings in case of fire or other emergency, he will take urgent action to bring the traffic warden service in the West End and other London areas up to full strength.
Under the rate support grant settlement for 1975–76 provision was made for full recruitment of police officers up to authorised establishments but for only a small increase in police civilian staff, including traffic wardens, above the strength at 30th September 1974. This means that the present strength of the Metropolitan Police civilian staff as a whole will have to be very slightly reduced. But the Commissioner will continue to give as high priority as possible to preventing illegal parking which may obstruct emergency vehicles.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how long each of the 12 women in prison with their babies for theft have been imprisoned; and how much of their sentences remain to be served.
I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the 12 women and girls referred to in my reply to his Question on 23rd April—[Vol. 890, c. 301–2]—The information is as follows:
|Time served (including remand)||Minimum time remaining|
|1||…||…||12 months||2 months|
|2||…||…||6 months||2 months|
|3||…||…||7 months||3 months|
|4||…||…||7 months||6–9 months*|
|6||…||…||5 months||7 months|
|8||…||…||17 months||4 months|
|9||…||…||4 months||4 months|
|11†||…||…||2 months||4 months|
|* This prisoner is eligible for consideration for parole.|
|† This girl was sentenced to borstal training and may be released at a date not earlier than six months nor later than two years from her date of sentence.|
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if there are any women imprisoned with their babies while awaiting trial (a) at the present time, (b) in the last six months, and (c) in the last year for which figures are available;(2) what was the longest time served in prison by a mother with her baby: what was the shortest time; and what is the average time, respectively;(3) what was the longest time, for each of the last four years for which figures are available, that a woman had been imprisoned with her baby; and what, in each case, was the age of the mother and baby.
No woman at present in custody awaiting trial has her baby with her. I regret that the rest of the information requested by my hon. Friend is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (11 if any special provision is made at each of the prisons containing women imprisoned with their babies for visits by their families and their other children;(2) if he will indicate those prisons which are used to accommodate women imprisoned with their babies; what special provision is made at each of such prisons; and if he is satisfied with these arrangements;
(3) what provision is made for the play and recreation of those babies/ children imprisoned with their mothers.
Sentenced mothers with their babies are accommodated in "mother and baby" units at Askham Grange, Holloway and Styal prisons. Each has qualified nursery staff, and the training provided includes child care and home economics. In addition to day nurseries there are outdoor play areas and garden space; toys are provided for indoor and outdoor use. In the normal way, visits are allowed at all three prisons once a fotnight, but additional visits for pressing domestic or welfare reasons are arranged when necessary.An unconvicted or convicted but unsentenced mother with her baby who is remanded in custody would be located either in the mother and baby unit at Holloway or in one of the specially equipped rooms in the hospitals at Low Newton, Pucklechurch and Risley remand centres and in the remand suite for women at Birmingham Prison. All unconvicted prisoners are allowed daily visits.There are plans to improve these arrangements by providing new purpose-built units at both Askham Grange and Holloway.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Repartment if he will indicate the age of each of the children imprisoned with their mother on 15th May 1975.
The respective ages were: 1 month—six; 2 months—two; 3 months—five; 4 months—three; 5 months—one; 6 months—two; 7 months—four; 8 month—one; 9 months—two; and 12 months—one.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to ascertain why the latest report of the Parole Boad is signed by only 48 out of 52 members who served during the period covered by the report.
We understand that the Chairman of the Parole Board did not consider it appropriate to invite the four members concerned to sign the board's annual report for 1974 since three were ex-members who have been reappointed during 1974 to help for a short period and the fourth member left the board during January 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satified with the rate of turnover of membership of the Parole Board.
In general, yes; but we have recently introduced a change under which judicial members and probation officers are invited to serve for two years instead of three in order that a greater number of members of those professions can gain experience of serving on the board.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the annual turnover of membership of the Parole Board for each year since 1968.
On 1st January 1968 there were 17 members of the board. Following are the annual changes:
|Number Joined||Number Left|
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of those prisoners recalled to prison for breach of parole licence during 1974 were recalled because of failure to notify a change or loss of job.
No parolee serving a determinate sentence in England and Wales was recalled during 1974 only for failure to notify a change or loss of job. In some cases it would have been one factor among others, which together justified recall.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish the reasons why 840 prisoners refused consideration for parole in 1974.
In 1974, 804 prisoners serving determinate sentences in England and Wales declined to be considered for parole. We are hoping that the results of research into why some prisoners refuse to be considered will be published by the end of the year but they will not refer specifically to the experience in 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of English constituencies with parliamentary electorates for 1975 of more than 90,000 and fewer than 46,000, respectively.
Seventeen, in each case.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will identify, respectively, the English constituencies with the largest and smallest parliamentary electorates for 1975, specifying the numbers of the said electors.
The largest English constituency is Meriden with an electorate of 98,459. The smallest is Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Central, with an electorate of 24,659.
Commercial Development (Policy Review)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he hopes to conclude his review of policy in respect of the regulation and location of new commercial developments whether for offices or shops.
Coaches (Speed Limits)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in view of the recent serious coach crashes, he will now introduce a speed limit of 60 mph for coaches on motorways and stop them using the outside lane.
We are considering such restrictions on double-decker buses and coaches on motorways, but these would have had no bearing on the recent accidents which have aroused such widespread public concern, all of which occurred on other roads.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he can now indicate the priority that is being given to increased subsidies for rural bus services; what extra provision is being made in the current year for the country as a whole and for Leicestershire in particular; and if he will make a statement.
The distribution of transport supplementary grant for 1975–76 for Leicestershire as for all other counties included an allowance on the basis of the county's own estimate of its revenue support expenditure for 1974–75 plus 20 per cent. The distribution of the grant as a whole for 1975–76 has been determined and cannot now be changed. The Government recognise that 93 per cent. of the £123 million revenue support provision this year is going to the major conurbations. For 1976–77, however, greater priority will be given to proposals for revenue support in the less densely populated areas.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the cost of strengthening bridges if lorries of the weights permitted in other EEC countries were to be allowed.
Modern bridges would require no strengthening. The number of older bridges that might need strengthening and the cost of doing so is not known and could be estimated only after a very extensive survey.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average cost of the issuing of a driving licence by the new headquarters at Swansea.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average time taken for the issuing of a provisional and full driving licence from the new headquarters in Swansea.
Five to six working days.
Disabled Drivers' Licences
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average time taken for the issuing of a provisional or full driving licence for a disabled person.
Just over seven and a half weeks, but individual cases may vary widely. Time is needed to obtain the medical information necessary to grant the licence appropriate to the applicant's medical condition, as well as to go through the process of issuing the licence.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the effect of the Community Land Bill on the mineral industry in England, Wales and Scotland.
Discussions will shortly take place with representatives of the mineral industry but I would not expect the community land scheme to have significant effects for them.
A1 (Darrington Crossroads)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when the public inquiry will be held in respect of the acquisition of land for construction of a fly-over at Darrington cross roads on the A1 trunk road.
I hope that we shall be able to hold this public inquiry by the end of the year. I am writing to my hon. Friend.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has yet reached agreement with the General Synod of the Church of England on the amount of aid to be given to historic churches which are in use, and the conditions to be attached to such aid; and if he will make a statement.
No. As my right hon. Friend the Minister for Planning and Local Government said in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Walker) on 30th January—[Vol. 885, c. 235–6.]—the amount of aid agreed In principle for churches of all demoninations is not expected to exceed £1 million at 1973 prices. Discussions between my Department and representatives of the Churches—which cover the amount of aid, conditions, methods and other relevant matters—are now in progress.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has for authorising an increase in local authority housing rents; and by what amount he will authorise such increases.
We have restored to local authorities the right to fix reasonable rents for their dwellings. Authorities do not, therefore, need any authorisation from my right hon. Friend for any rent increases they make.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will bring forward legislation to encourage local authorities to form strong tenants' associations.
Any question of legislation would need to be considered in the light of the various research projects, which my Department has promoted or is associated with, on the range of ways in which local authority tenants can increasingly be associated with the management of the houses they live in; of the Working Party in Housing Cooperatives, which includes within its terms of reference the study of tenants' participation; and of the further work we have initiated, with the local authority associations and the Institute of Housing Managers, on housing management matters generally.
Tynemouth (Compulsory Purchase Order)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when the public inquiry was made into the Tynemouth (Lisles Buildings and Back Row Culler-coats) Compulsory Purchase Order 1973; when he expects to be able to announce his decision on the order; and what is delaying the decision.
The public inquiry into the Tynemouth (Lisles Buildings and Back Row Cullercoats) Compulsory Purchase Order 1973 was held on 26th November 1974. The order was in fact confirmed on 29th May 1975, six months being an average time taken in processing this type of order. This time scale will be reduced as the current backlog of orders is cleared. I am arranging for copies of the decision letter and the inspector's report to be sent direct to the hon. Member.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list those countries within the EEC where agricultural housing is subject to controls analogous to the tied cottage system.
My right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has been making inquiries about agricultural housing in other EEC member countries. He will be writing to the hon. Member when his inquiries have been completed.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he can estimate the extra cost of collecting rates in respect of individual caravans rather than of caravan sites.
I have no information that would enable a reliable estimate to be made.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress in providing sites and the granting of orders under the Caravan Sites Act 1968.
By the end of 1974, 110 sites had been provided by local authorities in England, offering accommodation for 1,635 gipsy caravans. 78 of these sites were permanent and 32 temporary. In Wales, seven sites—93 pitches—had been provided, of which two were temporary.To date 24 orders have been made under Section 12 of the Caravan Sites Act 1968, designating the areas of 14 London boroughs and 10 former county boroughs, all in England. Although county boroughs ceased to exist with the reorganisation of local government on 1st April 1974 the orders remain in force in respect of the area of those former authorities.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment on what grounds district valuation officers have been instructed to value individual holiday caravans.
I have been asked to reply.Recent changes in the basis of valuation of caravans for rating have been made in the light of decisions by the courts. Valuation officers have been asked to ensure that these decisions are implemented by continuing a review of all caravan sites so that a consistent basis is applied throughout the country.
Policyholders Protection Bill
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received from the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) with regard to the provisions of the Policyholders Protection Bill.
The association has made various criticisms of the Bill and, in particular, has advocated stricter supervision as the best means of protecting policyholders. We are already making steady progress in this direction. For example, regulations requiring approval of proposed new controllers were made last week. The Policyholders Protection Bill is not an alternative to closer supervision but is complementary to it.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will now take action against the dumping in the United Kingdom of cheap footwear from COMECON countries.
My Department is always ready to consider action under the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1969 provided that the evidence necessary to support an application is submitted. No application has been received in respect of footwear from COMECON countries since 1973, when the anti-dumping application was put into abeyance with the agreement of the industry.
Export Credits (Pre-Shipment Finance)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether, following upon the Chancellor's Budget Statement of 15th April, the ECGD is now providing facilities to guarantee loans for pre-shipment finance; and what is the scale of these facilities.
An outline facility has been drawn up. Discussions on this are being actively pursued with the banks, but there are problems which have still to be resolved. When the scheme has been finalised an announcement will be made. The timing of this will to a large extent depend on the banks, but I hope it will be in the near future. Meanwhile ECGD will consider particular cases where both the exporter and his banker wish to bring them forward.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what steps he can take to prevent the dumping of ships on the international market;(2) what evidence he has of foreign nations, in particular Japan, dumping ships on the international market.
My Department has no evidence that ships are being dumped by Japanese or other shipbuilders. If the British industry were to submit evidence that ships were being dumped into the United Kingdom and that this dumping was causing or threatening material injury to them, we should be prepared to consider action under the Customs Duties (Dumping and Subsidies) Act 1969. But the ships sales market is primarily international, and the Secretary of State has no powers to take action where goods are being dumped outside the United Kingdom.
Life Assurance Policyholders (Uganda)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received regarding life assurance policyholders from Uganda now living in the United Kingdom; and what discussions he has had with the Life Offices Association regarding possible ex gratia payments being made in cases of hardship.
These policies are expressed in Ugandan currency, and premiums and benefits are payable there. The policies are backed by the insurers' assets which had to be held in Uganda and are now frozen there. The policyholders in the United Kingdom wish to pay premiums and receive benefits here. The insurers are unable to do this but have offered to convert the Ugandan policies into fully paid up policies payable in Uganda and to issue new policies in the United Kingdom on favourable conditions related to the original premium rate. I understand that most of the policyholders who have approached their insurers have accepted this.
Shipping And Aircraft Earnings
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what he estimates to be the net contribution to the balance of payments for the most recent year for which full figures are available of British vessels trading entirely overseas between foreign ports, and British aircraft between foreign airports.
The information requested is not available. However, the gross earnings from "cross trades" of British owned and operated vessels engaged partly or entirely in carrying cargo and passengers between foreign ports were approximately £630 million in 1973. The corresponding earnings of British owned and operated aircraft are estimated to have been £115 million.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the forecast of his Department of the annual percentage growth in air passenger travel, air cargo movements and aircraft movements for the period 1975 to 1985 for movements from the United Kingdom to (1) Europe, (2) Africa, including South Africa, and (3) South Africa, respectively.
The preparation of forecasts of this kind is a function primarily of the Civil Aviation Authority. I have asked the Chairman to write to the hon. Gentleman.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of direct investment by non-EEC countries
|NET DIRECT INVESTMENT* IN THE UNITED KINGDOM BY NON-EEC† COUNTRIES|
|Food, drink and tobacco||11·4||43·5||35·3||69·8|
|Chemical and allied industries||29·9||53·6||43·1||44·4|
|Mechanical engineering and instrument engineering||91·5||50·4||17·0||117·5|
|Motor vehicle manufacture||11·5||45·8||32·1||47·1|
|Textiles, leather, clothing and footwear||4·7||2·5||2·3||-6·7|
|Paper, printing and publishing||5·9||15·0||4·4||26·6|
|* Excluding oil and insurance.|
|† "EEC" means the original six member States in 1970, 1971 and 1972; the other eight member States in 1973.|
|‡ Components do not necessarily add to totals because each figure has been rounded independently.|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of direct investment by EEC and non-EEC countries, respectively, in Wales during each of the last four years; what were the industrial sectors in which this investment took place, in each year; and what was the value of the investment in each sector.
I regret that it is not possible to provide this information. Inward direct investment covers a wide range of financial transactions between overseas companies and the accounting centres of their United Kingdom operations, and it is not possible to allocate such transactions to their individual operating units in different areas of the United Kingdom.
Professional Firms And Practices
asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what specific advice his Department is able to give to persons involved in professional firms such as barristers, solicitors and chartered surveyors about how best to set up practices abroad in (a) the EEC and (b) other countries outside the EEC; and
in the United Kingdom for each of the last four years; what were the industrial sectors in which this investment took place, in each year; and what was the value of the investment in each sector.
The latest information available relates to the years 1970 to 1973 and is given in the table below.to whom queries of this matter should be addressed;(2) what specific advice his Department is able to give to architects, quantity surveyors and other professionals in the construction industry about how best to set up practices abroad in (
a) the EEC and ( b) other countries outside the EEC; and to whom queries on this matter should be addressed.
British Overseas Trade Board advice and assistance for professional firms about setting up practices abroad is tailored to the circumstances of the individual firm and takes account of widely differing overseas market conditions. Queries should be addressed to the Invisibles Section of General Export Services Branch at Export House.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what written information has been published by his Department advising persons seeking to set up professional practices in (a) the EEC and (b) other countries outside the EEC; what are the titles of the individual publications; and when they were published.
Information published by my Department and by the British Overseas Trade Board relevant to the
|Title||Publisher||Date of Publication|
|Destination Europe||…||…||…||BOTB||March 1973|
|EEC Your Questions Answered||…||…||…||Department of Trade||November 1974|
|Britain and the EEC||…||…||…||Department of Trade||September 1972|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what growth in exports he now expects in the current financial year.
The outlook for exports depends both on the course of world trade, which is at present depressed, and on our ability to maintain competitiveness in export prices. I am not prepared to venture an estimate for the rest of the current financial year, but I hope that exporters will be ready to seize the opportunities that will come when world trade revives.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied with the progress of Anglo-Soviet trade since the Prime Minister's statement to the House on 18th February following his visit to the USSR.
Yes. I look forward a substantial improvement this year our trade with the Soviet Union, and continued trade expansion thereafter.
Married Quarters Rent Rebates
asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many Royal Navy ratings living in married quarters in the United Kingdom have ceased to be eligible for rent rebate in consequence of the recent pay award; and what was the average amount of the rent rebates formerly payable, and the average net increase in pay resulting to these Service men from the pay award;(2) how many RAF other ranks living in married quarters in the United Kingdom have ceased to be eligible for rent rebate in consequence of the recent pay award; and what was the average amount of the rent rebates formerly payable, and the average net increase in pay resulting to these Service men from the pay award;(3) how many Army other ranks living in married quarters in the United Kingdom have ceased to be eligible to rent rebate in consequence of the recent pay award; and what was the average amount of the rent rebates formerly payable, and the average net increase in pay resulting to these Service men from the pay award.
The information requested is not readily available, but I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
Radar Base (Western Isles)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what will be the cost of the construction of the NATO early warning base commenced in North Uist this year; approximately how long it will take to complete; and what is the area of land involved.
The possibility of replacing the existing Royal Air Force radar installation at Benbecula at a site on the island of North Uist is at present under consideration, but only a soil survey has so far been undertaken.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of each rocket fired from South Uist and the total cost of rockets fired to date from that base.
Since the redevelopment of the range in 1968 the total cost of the missiles fired to date is about £3 million, at current price levels. Several different types of missile have been used, at an average unit cost of about £3,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the number of units of tied or service accommodation provided by his Department and the number of quarters vacant at 31st March 1975.
The latest available figures show that the Ministry of Defence has about 104,000 Service and civilian married quarters in the United Kingdom. Of these some 6,600 are estimated to be vacant for various reasons—e.g., change of occupant, undergoing repair or modernisation, awaiting furnishing, in the course of disposal or awaiting redeployed units.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what reciprocal tendering arrangements exist between the United Kingdom and other NATO countries relating to textiles for defence purposes.
There is none.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what cost and quantity of orders placed for web equipment by his Department during the last 12 months to the latest convenient date have been awarded (1) to United Kingdom manufacturers and (2) to foreign manufacturers.
In the period 1st June 1974 to 31st May 1975 ten contracts to the total value of £2 million were placed with United Kingdom manufacturers and one relatively small contract with a foreign manufacturer. It is not the practice of the Department to reveal the value of individual contracts.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of the grey cloth going into fatigue dress, battle dress and shirting purchased by his Department is woven in the United Kingdom.
The provision of the material required for fatigue dress is the responsibility of the contractors who supply these garments and we have no knowledge of their selected sources of supply. All the material required for shirting is woven in the United Kingdom. Battle dress is no longer issued to British Forces.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he can now make a statement about the future of RAF Manby.
A decision on the future of Manby has had to wait until the outcome of the defence review could be seen more clearly. It has now been decided that there is no Army or other defence use for the Manby site, excluding the married quarters, and disposal action is being initiated. All the married quarters are being retained, for the present at least, as they are needed for occupation by families from other Royal Air Force stations in the area, but it may prove possible to dispose of some of the quarters in the near future.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action has been taken by his Department concerning the activities of a Royal Navy catering official stationed at HMS "Pembroke", Chatham, whose name has been supplied to him.
The allegations are being investigated.
Raf (Redundancy Scheme)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence, following the announcement of the compulsory redundancy scheme for RAF officers in Command Paper No. 5976, how many senior officers in each rank from squadron leader to group captain have elected to retire voluntarily; and how many so far have been accepted.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many RAF officers in each rank and aircrew category so affected have been made compulsorily redundant.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether there will be a reduction in the 27,000 men now serving in Great Britain in Regular units of infantry, artillery and the Royal Armoured Corps as a result of his proposed cuts in the strength of the Army; and if so what will be the size of the reduction.
The restructuring of the Army announced in the Defence White Paper will result in changes to the size and organisation of every unit in the Royal Armoured Corps, Royal Artillery and infantry. Although the detailed organisation of individual units has not yet been confirmed, there will be a reduction in the number of men serving in these teeth arms since the overall reduction of 15,000 in the Army's strength as a result of the defence review is to be borne across the board by all units and headquarters. The details of the extent to which each arm and corps will be affected are still being worked out.
65 specialist aircrew, all squadron leaders, have volunteered for redundancy under the terms of the announced redundancy scheme. 63 of these applications have been accepted.In addition the following officers have applied for premature voluntary release—i.e., not on redundancy terms—since the publication of the statement on the Defence Estimates:
The numbers of RAF officers selected for compulsory redundancy are as follows: