Written Answers To Questions
Wednesday 18th June 1975
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the basic weekly pay of a railway engine driver, a railway signalman, a railway porter, a surface worker in the coal industry, a postman, a local
|BASIC WEEKLY RATES FOR A NORMAL WEEK|
|Industry||Grade of worker||Basic rates||Date of operation|
|British Rail||Driver||41·65 plus thresholds (4·40).||28th April 1974|
|Range from Signalman A to Signalman F.||29·00 to 48·00 plus thresholds (4·40).||28th April 1974|
|Porter||25·65 plus thresholds (4·40).||28th April 1974|
|Coalmining||Range from Surface worker S6 to Surface worker S1.||41·00 to 50·25||1st March 1975|
|Post Office||Postman||37·71 to 38·51 (maximum).||1st January 1975|
|Local Authorities (England and Wales and Scotland).||Manual workers-Range from Group A to Group G.||30·00 to 33·25||4th November 1974|
|Iron and Steel (British Steel Corporation).||Fully skilled maintenance craftsman.||49·70||Beginning of June 1975|
- Railman—from £25·65 to £32·70 per week.
- Signalman A—from £29 to £37 per week.
- Signalman F—from £48 to £61·20 per week.
- Driver—from £41·65 to £53·10 per week.
asked the Lord Advocate whether, in view of the delays in the Court of Session, he will arrange for undefended divorce actions to be heard as an option in sheriff courts.
An arrangement of this nature would require legislation, but in any case, as a result of measures recently taken in the Court of Session, the delays to which the hon. Gentleman refers have been largely overtaken.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what dis- authority manual worker, and a skilled craftsman in the steel industry, assuming that the current pay offer by British Rail were accepted by the NUR and other rail unions.
Current weekly pay rates for the employees detailed above are as follows:cussions he has had with area health boards regarding the proposed reduction in capital expenditure on hospitals.
The effect of the reductions in public expenditure announced by my right hon. Friend in his Budget Statement on 15th April will be one of the topics discussed with health boards during the general review of their capital programme which I recently asked them to undertake in consultation with my Department.
Housing (Scotland) Act 1974
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the operation of the Housing (Scotland) Act 1974.
Since the Act came into operation last November local authorities have been preoccupied with reorganisation, but a number of authorities are already using the Act's new powers to deal with areas of sub-standard houses I look for a widespread and vigorous use of these powers now that the new district and islands councils have taken over full responsibility for housing.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what action he proposes to take in the light of the findings contained in the Report "Census Indicators of Urban Deprivation", a copy of which is available to him, that 115 out of the worst 121 areas of urban deprivation are in Scotland.
This report confirms statistically the severity of problems of which I was already well aware and had taken steps to tackle. I have laid before Parliament proposals for a Scottish Development Agency. I have also set up within the Scottish Office an Urban Renewal Unit to advise me on these problems, to encourage a corporate approach by local authorities to the problems of deprived areas and to ensure a co-ordinated response by Government to their proposals.
Forth Road Bridge (Toll Charges)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when next the toll charges on the Forth Road Bridge will be reviewed.
The next quinquennial review is due in 1979, but because forecasts of traffic and running costs are uncertain under present conditions I am keeping the situation continuously under review.
National Health Service Regulations
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the workings of the National Health Service (Service Committees and Tribunal) (Scotland) Regulations 1974; and if he will make a statement.
I have no evidence that the regulations are not working satisfactorily, but I intend to review them this year. I shall be inviting health boards and interested professional bodies to submit comments.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what effects on the Scottish economy are likely as the result of the referendum; and if he will publish a White Paper.
As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the House on 9th June, the Government's view is that the improvement of our economic situation can best be made from a settled position within the Community. I believe that Scotland will share in this general advantage, and I have at present no plans to publish a White Paper.
Shetland (Air Services)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps are being taken to assist Shetland internal air services.
This is a matter for the Islands Council, but, in order to enable the council to give full consideration to the issue, I am arranging to pay a temporary grant to Loganair for this service until 30th September 1975. I may add that I shall be announcing shortly my proposals for the support of other scheduled air services of Loganair.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet representatives of the fishing industry.
I will do so when circumstances warrant it. As I have said before, my officials are in frequent contact with representatives of the industry.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will make a statement about the regular delays within the Scottish courts' administration in fixing proofs for action of divorce.
Delays in fixing proofs in undefended divorces in Court of Session occurred following the introduction of a new procedure at the beginning of the year. New working arrangements have, however, been adopted, and dates for all proofs have now been fixed.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report the schools in Lanarkshire which are short of teachers; of what grades of teacher there is a shortage; and if he will circulate to the local education committee his proposals for the pupil-teacher ratio for each school.
School census returns for primary schools at September 1974 were measured against the minimum staff complements prescribed in the Schools (Scotland) Code (Amendment No 1 Regulations) 1972. The return for each secondary school included a comparison with a "notional complement" based on proposals in the Report "Secondary School Staffing" for achievement by session 1977–78, but excluding a special allowance for probationer teachersThe schools in Lanarkshire where staffing fell short of these complements are listed below. I have no proposals for pupil-teacher ratios for individual schools; the staff complements systems are known to all education authorities.
- Airdrie, Dunrobin
- Bishopbriggs, Meadowburn
- Coatbridge, Gartsherrie Academy
- Coatbridge, St. Bernard's
- East Kilbride, St. Hilary's
- Mount Vernon
- Shotts, St. Patrick's
- Tannochshide, Burnhead
- Viewpark, St. Gabriel's
- Airdrie Academy
- Airdrie, Caldervale High
- Ardrie, St. Margaret's High
- Bellshill Academy
- Bellshill, St. Saviour's High
- Biggar High
- Bishopbriggs High
- Blantyre High
- Bothwell, Elmwood
- Cambuslang, Trinity High
- Carluke High
- Chryston High
- Coatbridge, Columba High
- Coatbridge, Rosehall High
- Coatbridge, St. Ambrose High
- Coatbridge, St. Patrick's High
- East Kilbride, Claremont High
- East Kilbride, Duncanrig
- East Kilbride, Hunter High
- Garrowhill, Bannerman High
- Hamilton Grammar
- Hamilton, Eamock High
- Hamilton, Holy Cross High
- Hamilton, John Ogilvie High
- Lanark Grammar
- Lanark, St. Mary's
- Larkhall Academy
- Lesmehagow High
- Motherwell, Braidhurst High
- Motherwell, Dalziel High
- Motherwell, Our Lady's High
- Rutherglen, Cathkin High
- Rutherglen, Stonelaw High
- Shotts, Calderhead High
- Strathaven Academy
- Tannochside, St. Catherine's
- Uddingston Grammar
- Wishaw, Garrion Academy
- Wishaw High
- Wishaw, Coltness High
- Wishaw, St. Aidan's High
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many approved posts there are for educational psychologists in Scotland; and what ratio of psychologists to pupils this represents.
On 31st July 1974 there were 200 educational psychologists— full-time equivalents—employed in the child guidance service in Scotland. The ratio of psychologists to pupils was 1:5,000. There are also 13 psychologists—full-time equivalents—some of whom are educational psychologists, serving List D schools, at a ratio of one psychologist to 130 pupils.
Islay And Jura (Ferries)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has now received concerning the consequences for passenger services to Islay and Jura of his decision not to subsidise the operations of Western Ferries Ltd.
I have received a considerable number of representations from Islay, but none from Jura, following the announcement of my decision to give financial support to Caledonian MacBrayne Ltd. Almost all those who have written ask that Western Ferries also receive Government assistance.
Public Service Employees
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of the Scottish total active labour force was engaged in publicly-owned industries and utilities, including local government, health and education, for each of the years 1964 to 1974.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mrs. Bain) on 9th June—[Vol. 893, c. 77.]—which covers all the categories of employment mentioned by the hon. Member.
asked the Lord President of the Council if he is yet able to say what powers the Scottish Assembly will have over Scottish trade, industry and employment.
A White Paper will be published in the autumn.
Mr Richard Crossman's Memoirs
asked the Attorney-General whether he has altered his decision announced on 3rd February 1975 not to apply to the High Court of Justice for an injunction for restraining the publication of the late Mr. Richard Crossman's memoirs; and, if he has so altered his decision, what are the reasons for this.
I announced no such decision. At that stage, however, I did not consider action in the courts to be necessary.
Publishing And Government
asked the Attorney-General what criteria are used by him in seeking an injunction against the publication of a book such as the Crossman Diaries; and whether he will ensure that no such cases are brought that would conflict with the Government's policy that Government processes should be more open to the public and their policy to replace the Official Secrets Act by a measure to put the burden on the public authorities to justify withholding information.
It is one of my functions as holder of the office of Attorney-General to take such action in the courts or elsewhere as appears to me to be necessary to "protect the public interest" and to accord with the existing law. It is one of my ministerial functions to advise the Government on what the law is and whether changes are desirable. It would be wrong to confuse those two functions.So far as concerns action to prevent or delay the publication of books and documents, I pay particular regard to the principle of collective ministerial responsibility which necessarily involves the preservation, so long as necessary, of the confidentiality of discussions entered into and documents circulated on a basis of confidence.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is yet in a position to state the proposed production schedule of the Marine Harrier, particularly in view of the running down of production of the Harrier GR Mark I and Harrier T2.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, on the basis of the essential information given by recruits to Her Majesty's Armed Forces as to their date and place of birth, he will calculate how many members of the Services were born in Scotland, and what percentage of each Service they represent.
No. To do so would require a disproportionate amount of work.
Housing Co-Operative Schemes
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he is taking to publicise the provisions in recent Housing Acts to enable local authorities and housing associations to establish co-operative housing schemes.
The Working Party on Housing Co-operatives, appointed by my hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction, is examining ways in which the establishment of housing cooperatives can be encouraged. The Minister will consider the need for publicity and other advice after he has considered the working party's final report, which is expected within the next two or three months.
Rent Book Irregularities
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many prosecutions there were under Section 62(4) and (5) of the Rent Act 1968 during each of the last five years; and what was the average penalty imposed in the cases where a conviction was obtained.
Following is the available information:
|Year||Persons proceeded against||Persons found guilty||Penalty|
|1970||…||1||1||Fined £1 for each of 5 offences.|
|1971||…||2||2||One fined £5.|
|One fined £15.|
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what agreement he has been able to secure with the building societies to ensure that their lending policy is so regulated as to prevent a mortgage famine reoccurring in the future.
I would refer my right hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) on 21st April 1975.—[Vol. 890, c. 211.]
Greater London Council (Houses)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is aware that a number of dwellings in Greater London Council estates in Essex are vacant for considerable periods; and whether he will give advice on this matter, in view of the housing shortage and of the problem of homelessness.
I understand that about 2 per cent. of the GLC dwellings in Essex are vacant at the present time, roughly half of them in course of decoration or repairs and the remainder on offer to tenants.Minimising the vacancy rate in local authority dwellings is a matter for the local authorities concerned. The Department has, however, included it as one aspect of housing management on which it will be doing further work following a meeting held recently with the local authority associations and others.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will make a statement on the response of local authorities in Essex and elsewhere to his Department's Circular 18/74 on homelessness.
Most housing authorities are in the process of accepting responsibility for accommodating the homeless; we have asked all authorities concerned for information about the extent to which they have adopted the main recommendations in the joint circular on homelessness. In Essex there has been notably good co-operation between the county and district authorities: all but one of the district housing authorities now undertake responsibility for housing the homeless in their areas.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in any legislative proposals for the abolition of the tied cottage system, he will provide for the contemporaneous abolition of planning restrictions on premises designed to restrict their occupation to agricultural workers.
It is as yet too early for me to forecast the content of these proposals.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the number of units of tied or service accommodation provided by the regional water authorities and the number of quarters vacant at 31st March 1975.
This is a matter of management for the water authorities. I understand that the information is not readily available, but I will write to the hon. Member.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many applications have been received under Part II of the Housing Act 1974 for registration as housing associations and how many approved: and whether those deemed to be registered can proceed on the assumption that they are entitled to the financial advantages of full registration.
By 6th June the Housing Corporation had received 2,037 applications for registration under Part II of the Housing Act 1974, and, of these 167 have now been approved. No housing association is deemed to be registered until the procedure is complete, although there are interim provisions to protect the position of housing associations which applied for registration before 1st April 1975, and whose applications have not yet been disposed of. Such associations can receive loans from local authorities or the Housing Corporation, but not housing association grant.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects the pneumo-electronic passenger train to he introduced on regular commuter services.
It is too early to say.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total expenditure incurred to the latest available date on the prototype pneumo-electronic commuter passenger train.
Snaresbrook Crown Court
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment on what date he expects Court 6 at Snaresbrook Crown Court to be made available for use as a court.
It is not yet possible to say. Court 6 is a prototype, built to test the economy and efficiency of proposals for courtroom layout, acoustics, ventilation and lighting for the new Crown court buildings now being designed by my Department. It will be required for these experimental purposes for some time to come.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the actual or estimated cost of rate rebates in England and Wales for the financial year 1974–75; and what is the estimated cost for 1975–76.
About £85 million in 1974–75. It is expected to be over £100 million in 1975–76.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received against the individual rating of holiday caravans; and what estimate he has made of the cost of collection and the expected rate revenue.
My right hon. Friend has received representations from hon. Members on behalf of their constituents, from certain district councils and from individual members of the public. No information is available that would enable a reliable estimate to be made of the cost of rate collection or the rate revenue.
Housing (Elderly Persons)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many dwellings completed in the first four months of this year were specifically designed for old people; and how many of those completed in 1974 were so designed.
Tenders were approved in England and Wales in 1974 for the construction of an estimated 29,400 local authority dwellings specifically designed for old people. Figures for completions are not shown separately in local authority returns.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what criteria have to be satisfied in order for a local authority to receive a subsidy from his Department for the provision of play spaces on new and existing estates; what are the total central funds available for this purpose; and how much has been allocated and to which local authority.
The criteria are set out in DOE Circular 79/72. Provided that proposals conform to the standards in the circular they attract the specified cost allowances, on which subsidy is payable. There are no total funds allocated for play provision, and sums for the purpose are not allocated to particular authorities.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what application has been made to his Department by the West Lancashire District Council, St. Helens Borough Council, Knowsley Council and Sefton Council for subsidies for the provision of play spaces on new or existing estates.
None of the four authorities mentioned has made any applications for subsidy towards the cost of providing children's play spaces on new or existing estates.
Government Hospitality Fund
asked the Minister for the Civil Service (1) what is the total number of non-British guests entertained to a meal by the Government Hospitality Fund during the 12-month period to the latest available date;(2) what is the total number of British guests entertained to a meal by the Government Hospitality Fund during the 12-month period to the latest available date.
In the year to 31st March 1975 Government hospitality guests at luncheons and dinners totalled 5,381. It would not be possible, without disproportionate cost, to provide a breakdown between British and non-British guests.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service (1) what guidance, if any, is given to Departments as to the ratio of British to non-British guests to be entertained to a meal by the Government Hospitality Fund;(2) if, in view of the need for economy, he will issue instructions to Departments that the ratio of British to non-British guests to be entertained to a meal by the Government Hospitality Fund should not normally exceed two to one.
Departments are fully aware that the Government Hospitality Fund exists to provide entertainment and hospitality for eminent overseas visitors and for international gatherings in which Her Majesty's Government have a direct, recognisable interest. Entertainment given for visitors is restricted by the principle that the United Kingdom element among those present should be no greater than is necessary in relation to the importance of the occasion and the interests of the visitor. The ratio of British to non-British guests does not normally exceed two to one in functions arranged and paid for by the Government Hospitality Fund. Receptions given in honour of international gatherings must, however, have a preponderance of overseas guests. I would not feel justified in issuing fresh instructions to Departments on this subject.
Education And Science
Educational Disadvantage Unit, Manchester
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress has been made in the establishment of the Educational Disadvantage Unit in Manchester; and if he will make a statement.
Sir Alec Clegg has been appointed to be chairman of the governing body of the centre for information and advice on educational disadvantage and I hope shortly to publish the list of members. Preparations are being made for the first meeting of governors to take place next month. Meanwhile my Department has invited the Manchester Education Authority to provide accommodation for the proposed centre and the authority has indicated that it would be willing to do so. I hope to be able to make a fuller statement in the near future.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities have not yet submitted to him plans for the reorganisation authorities have submitted responses action he intends to take.
Seven local education authorities have submitted responses to Circular 4/74 which do not represent a commitment to end selection for secondary education throughout their areas. Discussions with these authorities are now taking place. If the authorities do not change their position my right hon. Friend will consider the introduction of legislation.
A further 14 authorities have not yet submitted complete responses to the circular. We are aware that in many cases local consultations are in hand with respect to the reorganisation of the unreorganised areas and schools within these authorities, including the voluntary schools. My Department's officers are in close contact with these authorities.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the metropolitan borough of Wirral has submitted to him plans for the reorganisation of secondary education; when he expects to be able to reply; whether he has received any indication that the borough intends to seek to change the plans; and if he will make a statement.
A scheme for the reorganisation of secondary schools in the Bebington and Deeside areas was submitted by the borough on 7th February and is being considered. I have received no subsequent communication from the authority.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of recent changes in tax law, he will publish a short, easily understood layman's guide on income tax obligations and concessions for self-employed people.
The Inland Revenue has a booklet dealing with income tax and the self-employed under preparation.
Value Added Tax
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated cost of zero rating protective shoes.
I regret no reliable estimate can be made of the cost of zero rating protective shoes.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many of the four types of zero rated protective boots are for the use of females.
Zero rating applies to all protective boots which are manufactured to standards approved by the British Standards Institution, and are marked accordingly. These standards relate to the protective capability of the footwear only and may apply to boots worn by either sex.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received requesting that protective shoes should be zero rated; and what reply he has given.
Six letters on this subject have been received during the past 12 months. Replies have been to the effect that since such shoes are often similar in appearance to ordinary shoes and are sold at comparable prices it would be difficult to relieve them from the tax.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now estimate the likely increase in revenue that will accrue in respect of the increase of VAT on boats propelled by oars or paddles, and sailing boats without accommodation, respectively.
I regret that I cannot add to the replies given to my hon. Friend on 23rd April—[Vol. 890, col. 323] and 28th April—[Vol. 891, col. 65.]
Capital Movements (European Community Countries)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he intends to liberalise certain personal capital movements to other EEC countries by 1st July 1975 as provided for in the Treaty of Accession.
No. The balance of payments safeguards in the Treaty of Rome are being invoked as they have been in relation to the liberalisation of direct outward investment. The Commission of the European Communities has been informed.
£ Sterling (Purchasing Power)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, given current annual earnings before tax of (a) £250, (b) £500, (c) £750, (d) £1,000, (e) £1,500, (f) £2,000, (g) £3,000 and (h) £5,000, what would have been the figures necessary to provide the same purchasing power in January 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965 and 1970, respectively.
pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 17th June 1975;
|1975–76||Gross earnings in|
|Gross earnings||Earnings after tax||1950–51||1955–56||1960–61||1965–66||1970–71|
|Notes: Columns (c)-(g) show the gross earnings which would have been required to provide in real terms earnings after tax equal to those shown in column (b). Except for 1975–76, the price indices used are those given in Table 2 of "The Internal Purchasing Power of the Pound" published by the Press and Information Service of the Central Statistical Office in October 1974: the appropriate calendar year index has been used for each fiscal year. For 1975–76 the retail price index for April 1975 has been used.|
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will consider amending the Mental Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1961 to ensure that a patient admitted to a psychiatric hospital is made fully aware of his or her status, and that an informal patient is free to leave hospital from the date of being so categorised, having been clearly informed of this right.
No. Under existing arrangements every patient liable to be detained in hospital receives written notification of status immediately following admission to hospital. Patients who are regraded to informal status are informed in writing that they are no longer liable to be detained in hospital under the Mental Health Act (Northern Ireland) 1961. In each case the nearest relative of the patient is also notified of the position.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will terminate the practice of subjecting informal patients in psychiatric hospitals to electroconvulsive therapy for which the patient's or his relative's permission has not been sought or granted.
No. This is a recognised procedure for the treatment of certain
Vol. 893, c. 403], gave the following information:
The amounts vary according to invidual circumstances. Assuming a married man with one child under 11 years of age the figures are as follows:
forms of mental disorder and whether to apply it is a matter for the clinical judgement of consultant psychiatrists. Only on very rare occasions and in extreme emergencies would an informal patient be given such therapy without his or his relative's permission.
Dungiven (Parades And Marches)
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what additional information he has about the likelihood of disturbances at the Orange procession in Dungiven planned for Saturday 8th June 1975, obtained subsequent to his decision to ban it.
I shall write to the hon. Member.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development if he has received any proposal, document or draft regulations concerning harmonisation of overseas aid policies of member States of the EEC; when they were received by Her Majesty's Government; and if any memorandum has been sent to the Scrutiny Committee.
The Commission has put forward proposals on the harmonisation and co-ordination of development cooperation policies within the Community and these were received by Her Majesty's Government on 14th March 1975. They were subsequently deposited in Parliament, and an Explanatory Memorandum was provided to the Houses of Parliament and the Scrutiny Committees on 9th May 1975.
Invalid And Family Allowances
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the net cost, taking into account savings on supplementary benefit and extra income tax yield, of (i) increasing the invalid care allowance from £7·90 to £16·70 for a single person and from £12·80 to £24·55 for a couple and (ii) increasing the children's rates to £4·35 for a child aged under 11; £5·35 for a child aged 11·15; £6·35 for a child aged 16–17 and £7·35 for a child aged 18.
Approximately £2·5 million annually, net of savings in social security benefits, for persons at present receiving supplementary benefit, and about £1 million annually for every 2,000 of those entitled to the allowance but not receiving supplementary benefit. No reliable estimate can be made of the tax yield, because there is insufficient information about the income of beneficiaries.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the net cost, taking into account savings on supplementary benefit, of (i) increasing the non-contributory invalidity pension from £7·90 in November to £16·70 for a single person and from £12·80 to £24·55 for a couple, and (ii) increasing the children's rates to £4·35 for a child aged under 11; £5·35 for a child aged 11–15; £6·35 for a child aged 16–17 and £7·35 for a child aged 18; and what would be the effect on the cost if the NCIP were made taxable.
The cost, net of supplementary benefit savings, of the changes my hon. Friend suggests to the non-contributory invalidity pension starting in November would be about £40 million in a full year. No reliable estimate can be made of the yield if the bene- fit were made taxable, because there is insufficient information about the income of beneficiaries.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will reconsider her recent decision to reduce promotion advertising in the light of the fact that this will result in the removal from circulation of several publications of reference value to the medical profession.
No. The overall proposal for a substantial reduction in promotional expenditure allows for considerable flexibility within the voluntary price regulation scheme system and is mainly directed at medical representatives, free samples, hospitality and lavish and unnecessary promotional activity. The detailed proposals which my Department will be discussing with the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry and the professions are specifically designed to try to shield publications of undoubted reference value to the medical profession.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps are being taken to advise those who will qualify for the mobility allowance of their entitlement.
We plan to have publicity in the Press and elsewhere nearer the date of introduction of the new allowance. This will be designed to make details known to those who may qualify. A leaflet—and claim form—will be made available and the good offices of voluntary bodies representing disabled people will be used.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will explain the reason for three different rates of fuel allowance to persons drawing supplementary benefit; and if she will take steps to simplify these rates to one single standard rate.
Provision for normal expenditure on fuel is included in the supplementary benefit scale rates laid down by Parliament. The extra heating additions are a matter for the Supplementary Benefits Commission, who recognise that some beneficiaries need to spend more on heating because they are in poor health, have restricted mobility or accommodation which is damp or difficult to heat. The three standard rates provide the flexibility which is essential to take account of a variety of individual circumstances and the fact that conditions may be more severe in some cases than in others. The commission's criteria are set out in Leaflet OC2, a copy of which I have placed in the Library.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what studies are in progress in her Department on the comparative cost of maintaining an old person in a bed in a geriatric ward of a hospital, and alternative means, for example, home help, meals on wheels, home nursing, of providing for the same old person within the community.
My Department is currently planning a new research project into the practicability and relative costs of alternative patterns of support for high dependency groups of old people. It is a project to which I attach high priority as at present we have inadequate information on comparative cost.
Departmental Staff (Blackpool)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many of the posts to be relocated in her Department in the Blackpool area she expects to be filled locally, and how many by transfer from other parts of the country.
It is not possible at this early stage to give any precise figures, but I expect that approximately 400 posts at junior level will need to be filled by local recruitment.
National Health Service Commissioner (Annual Report)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when she expects to receive the annual report of the National Health Service Commissioner for 1974–75.
The National Health Service Commissioner has, as last year, made a single report on the performance of his functions in England, Scotland and Wales. My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Wales and I have presented the report to the House. It has been published today, and copies are available from the Vote Office.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what sum per 1,000 gallons is charged for water in each of the water units administered by the Welsh National Water Development Authority.
A standard charge of 50p per 1,000 gallons applies throughout the Welsh National Water Development Authority's area.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many mobile mass radiography units there are in Wales; and how many are functioning.
No mobile miniature mass radiography unit has been in use in Wales since July 1973. I am considering the future of such units in the light of medical advice and of the very limited contribution they could now make in the discovery of new cases of respiratory tuberculosis.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in view of the evidence sent to him by the hon. Member for Motherwell and Wishaw showing the torture, resettlement and eviction of Africans by the security forces in Rhodesia, if he will take action to deal with this situation.
We keep a close watch on the situation in Rhodesia. We deplore the violence which has been taking place and have frequently called on both sides to renounce violence and to come to a negotiated settlement. Detailed thinking on how to move towards such a settlement was contained in my right hon. Friend's statement to this House on 11th June.
Uganda (Detained British Subject)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about the case of Mr. Hills, charged with treason in Uganda.
I do not think I can add to my right hon. Friend's statement of 16th June except to tell the House that the Ugandan authorities have been given the text of that statement both in Kampala and in London.I am sure that the House accepts the continued need for reticence in this case.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from United Kingdom citizens in Cyprus regarding losses and damage resulting from the Turkish invasion: and what compensation is being arranged.
United Kingdom citizens in Cyprus have frequently made known their concern over compensation through the United Kingdom Citizens' Association and individually—most recently on a visit of a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office official to Cyprus in May. Her Majesty's Government are actively pursuing the question of payment of compensation with the Governments of Turkey and Cyprus, with whom responsibility lies.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will propose to the Governments of Australia, New Zealand and Fiji the convening of a conference, to which representatives of the Gilbert and Ellice Islands should be invited, to consider the demand of the Banaban people for complete independence in their ancestral home on Ocean Island.
Her Majesty's Government have always taken the view that they should be guided in such matters by the wishes of the people within the boundaries of the territory as a whole. The House of Assembly in Tarawa remains firmly opposed to the separation of Ocean Island. I doubt whether a conference on the lines suggested would be appropri- ate or helpful, at any rate, at present, but we would not necessarily wish to rule out the idea.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what were the net receipts over the past 25 years from the sale of phosphates from Ocean Island in Australia and New Zealand; and in which of these years the phosphates were sold below the ruling world prices.
The proceeds, net of costs of production, from the sale of Ocean Island phosphates over the 25 years ending 30th June 1974 amounted to approximately $A37·75 million. The bulk, but not all, of these phosphates were sold to Australia and New Zealand.The question whether phosphates were sold at below ruling world prices is already the subject of legal proceedings in an action in the High Court against the Crown, for which dates have been set down. The matter is therefore
sub judice, and I am unable to comment further.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the number of civil servants and local government officers per 100,000 inhabitants of the various member States of the EEC.
The information is not readily available. I have arranged for it to be obtained and will reply to my hon. Friend's question as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will explain the reason for the United Kingdom veto of Security Council Draft Resolution $/11713, calling for an arms embargo against South Africa, in the light of that country's refusal to give up its illegal occupation of Namibia, in the context of Her Majesty's Government's policy not to supply arms to South Africa and its endorsement in November 1974 of the decisions of the International Court, the General Assembly and the Security Council that the occupation of Namibia was unlawful.
We worked hard for a constructive resolution. The draft eventually tabled sought a determination under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter paving the way for a whole range of mandatory sanctions. Objectively, the language of Chapter VII is clearly not applicable. Nor would mandatory sanctions help the Namibia cause.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what estimate he has of the average efficiency of oil, coal and nuclear power stations in England and Wales and the percentage loss of power through transmission in 1973 and 1974.
I am asking the Chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board to write to the hon. Member.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) which coal-fired power stations have temporarily ceased operations since March 1974; what is the installed capacity of each; and what are the projected reopening dates;(2) what was the total installed capacity of generating plant decommissioned by the Central Electricity Generating Board and South of Scotland Electricity Board in 1971, 1972 and 1973, respectively, and to the nearest date;(3) what announcements have been made since March 1974 of the forthcoming closures of coal- and oil-fired power stations, respectively; and what is the installed capacity of each of the stations involved and the expected closure date;(4) which oil-fired power stations have temporarily ceased operations since March 1974; what is the installed capacity of each; and what is the expected date of reopening.
I am asking the Chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board to write to my hon. Friend. To the extent that the Questions concern the electricity supply industry in Scotland they are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, and I am referring them to him.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many civil servants were employed in his Department on 1st January 1973, 1st January 1974, and 1st January 1975; and how many of these were employed in Scotland, England and Wales, respectively.
My Department was not created until 9th January 1974. The numbers of civil servants employed at 1st January 1975 with comparable figures for 1st April 1974 were as follows:
|1st April 1974||27||990||2||1,019|
|1st January 1975||106||1,099||2||1,207|
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what is the latest position concerning the development of fluidised combustion;(2) what contribution is proposed by Her Majesty's Government to the development of fluidised combustion along the lines of the commitment entered into by his predecessor in paragraph 72 of the Final Report 1974 of the Coal Industry Examination.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy in how many cases he has appointed inspectors to conduct public inquiries into applications from the National Coal Board to engage in opencast mining operations; how many inquiries have resulted in recommendations in favour of the application; and how many applications have been granted following such public inquiries.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has designated any areas of special protection for badgers under the Badgers Act 1973; and whether he has any future plans to do so.
My right hon. Friend has not made an order under Section 6 of the Act and he has at present no plans to do so.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) in what circumstances he considers it to be appropriate for inquiries to be made into the character of members of the public who have not been convicted of any offence;(2) what Government agencies and Departments ask the police to make inquiries about members of the public; and for what purpose.
The circumstances in which it is appropriate for the police to make such inquiries, either for their own purposes or at the request of a Government Department or agency, are not susceptible of any general definition. We consider such inquiries to be justified where they are necessary for the prevention or investigation of crime, or where the expenditure of police time and any disclosure of private information involved are otherwise warranted in the public interest.
European Community (Grants And Loans)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what grants and loans have been given to industry (a) on Merseyside and (b) in Kirkby by the EEC since the date of Great Britain's membership;(2) which firms on Merseyside have been the recipients of EEC loans and grants since Great Britain's membership.
The European Investment Bank has made a loan of £220,000 to a company in Liverpool. The ECSC has made a reconversion load of £5·1 million under Article 56 of the Treaty of Paris to British Leyland for its development at Speke. FEOGA grants have been made to a dairy and to a meat-processing factory in Liverpool. It is not the practice to publish the amounts of individual FEOGA grants. No EIB or ECSC reconversion loans or FEOGA grants have been made to any firm in Kirkby. Figures for ECSC loans and grants other than reconversion loans and for grants from the European Social Fund are not available on a regional basis.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will detail those grants and loans currently being considered by the EEC to help industry on Merseyside; and what further steps are being taken to ensure that the region gets at least its fair share of the EEC resources for aid to industry and workers.
I understand that one application from a company on Merseyside is currently under consideration by the European Investment Bank. I hope that companies in Merseyside will take full advantage of the financial facilities available to industry from the EEC.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied that Merseyside has received sufficient help for its industry and its workers from EEC sources; and if he will make a statement.
It is for industry to apply for the financial facilities available to industry from EEC sources. I hope that the number of applications will increase.
Civil Aircraft Production
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what response Her Majesty's Government propose to make to the suggestion by the French Government that European countries should combine their resources in the production of civil aircraft.
No specific proposal has been put to Her Majesty's Government, but collaboration in development and production of aircraft is not, of course, a new idea in Europe. There are numerous practical examples, including Anglo-French aircraft and aero-engines Wherever projects can be shared in a mutually advantageous way between European countries, that is obviously more sensible than for them to produce competing aircraft, etc., for the same limited markets.
Commodity Stabilisation Schemes
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is investigating the feasibility of commodity stabilisation schemes.
Yes. Officials are currently studying the question in the context of on-going work in the EEC and the OECD.
Arbitration Act 1975
asked the Secretary of State for Trade on what date he expects the Arbitration Act 1975 to come into force.
The necessary action to bring into force the Arbitration Act 1975 is proceeding. It is difficult at this stage to give a precise date, but bearing in mind the 90 days which must elapse after deposit of the United Kingdom's Instrument of Accession to the New York Convention, I expect the Act to come into force before the end of the year.