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Written Answers

Volume 894: debated on Tuesday 24 June 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 24th June 1975

Civil Proceedings

asked the Attorney-General how many and what percentage of the 1¾ million civil proceedings—not including divorce—which are started annually are so started in the High Court; how many and what percentage in the county court; and how many and what percentage of those tried are so tried in the High Court and what percentage in the county court.

Of proceedings commenced in 1973 about 190,000–11 per cent.—were started in the High Court and 1½ million—89 per cent.—in the county courts. Of those tried, about 4,200–9 per cent.—were in the High Court and 41,300–91 per cent.—in the county courts.

Land (Bona Vacantia Claims)

asked the Attorney-General what are the duties of the bona vacantia division of the office of the Procurator General and Treasury Solicitor in respect of establishing Crown title to land which is, or may be, bona vacantia.

The Treasury Solicitor is empowered to assert a claim to any property, including land, which is, or may be, bona vacantia "whenever he shall judge it expedient to do so." He is not required, as a matter of law, to assert such a claim.The question of establishing the Crown's title to land normally arises in the administration of the estate of a person dying intestate and without known kin. Where the Treasury Solicitor undertakes the administration—that is, where such an estate is solvent—his duties in relation to any land forming part of the estate are those of any other administrator.In other circumstances where the Crown may be entitled to land, for example, on the dissolution of a company, or on the failure or determination of a trust, the Treasury Solicitor investigates the facts and, if it appears that the Crown's title

is doubtful, or that the land is valueless or onerous, it is his practice not to assert a

bona vacantia claim.

Prime Minister (Visits)

Q4.

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

Q5.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Welshpool in the near future.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister whether he has any plans to make an official visit to Lisbon.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to the Isle of Ely.

Q38.

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

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if, during his visit to Scotland on 8th July, he will make a tour through the Lothian Region.

I have no plans to do so on this occasion when I shall be visiting Edinburgh for the State Visit by the King of Sweden.

Q10.

Yes. I expect to attend the meeting of the European Council in Brussels on 16th and 17th July.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 24th June.

In addition to a number of meetings with my colleagues, I shall be recording a "phone-in" broadcast for the BBC later this afternoon.

Economic Affairs (Chancellor's Speech)

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on economic affairs in Glasgow on 6th June represents Government policy.

Q13.

asked the Prime whether the public speech by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on economic affairs in Glasgow on 6th June represents Government policy.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Chancellor of the Exchequer on economic policy on 6th June in Glasgow represents Government policy.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if the Chancellor of the Exchequer's public speech on economic matters in Glasgow on 6th June represents Government policy.

Church Leaders (Meeting)

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent official meeting with church leaders.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his official meeting with church leaders.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister what meetings he proposes to hold with church leaders in view of recent representations made to him about the effect of Government legislation on the future of Church lands.

I refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to my hon. Firend the Member for West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan) on 13th June.

Social Contract

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister which Department is primarily responsible for monitoring the operation of the social contract, so far as the level of wage settlements is concerned.

As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment has told the House on a number of occasions the Government do not operate a detailed monitoring system on adherence to the pay guidelines. The Department of Employment publishes details of basic rates in its monthly publication "Time Rates of Wages and Hours of Work" and further statistics on wage rates and earnings are available in the Department of Employment Gazette and the annual New Earnings Survey.

National Economic Development Council

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to take the chair at the NEDC.

I have said previously that I hope to take the chair, as I did at the last meeting on the 17th June, about once a quarter. But I have no specific date in mind at present.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a further statement on his discussions at NEDC about controlling inflation.

Secretary Of State For The Environment (Speech)

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if the public speech on economic matters by the Secretary of State for the Environment at Grimsby on 8th June represents Government policy.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Secretary of State for the Environment on economic matters on 8th June at Grimsby represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister whether the public speech of the Secretary of State for the Environment on inflation made at Grimsby on 8th June represented Her Majesty's Government's policy.

I refer my hon. Friend and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Chingford (Mr. Tebbit).

European Community

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will convene a conference of Heads of Government of the EEC in order to discuss the future development of the Community.

It is for the Government of the country holding the Presidency of the Council of Ministers to arrange meetings of the EEC Heads of Government. The Belgian Prime Minister, Mr. Tindemans, is expected to present his report on European Union towards the end of the year and Heads of Government will no doubt wish to discuss the future development of the Community in the light of that report.

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the EEC Heads of Government.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to meet the Heads of Government of the other Common Market countries.

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to meet the Heads of Government of the EEC countries.

I refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton) on 10th June.

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his plans for future meetings with the EEC Heads of Government.

The next meeting of EEC Heads of Government will be held in Brussels on 16th and 17th July, under the Italian Presidency. I shall be accompanied by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary. The agenda for the meeting has not yet been determined.

Netherlands Prime Minister

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to meet the Prime Minister of the Netherlands.

At the Community Heads of Government meeting in Brussels on 16th to 17th July.

Poulson Case

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the light of recent developments, he will initiate a wide ranging inquiry specifically on the Poulson affair.

Q37.

asked the Prime Minister if he will now propose a tribunal of inquiry under the 1921 Act to inquire into the extent to which any corrupt practice has occurred associated with the activities of Mr. John Poulson.

I refer my hon. Friend and the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the right hon. and learned Member for Hexham (Mr. Rippon) on 12th June.

Commodity Marketing

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in committing the United Kingdom to the general support of international commodity agreements at the Commonwealth Prime Minister's Conference in Jamaica, it was Government policy to employ devices which stabilised prices or devices which stabilised the foreign currency earnings of primary producers.

In seeking at Kingston to give fresh impetus to the conclusion of commodity agreements, where appropriate, I was hoping to promote future co-operation to ensure greater stability of prices and supply. For some commodities, arrangements less complex than international commodity agreements might be appropriate.

My proposals also include establishing the framework of a scheme for the stabilisation of export earnings from commodities. Such a scheme would, of course, be quite distinct from price stabilisation arrangements, although both could come under the umbrella of the kind of general agreement on commodities which I suggested.

Tuc And Cbi (Meetings)

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his most recent meeting with the TUC and the CBI.

I had meetings with representatives of both the TUC and the CBI last week to discuss the Industry Bill and also at NEDC on 17th June when discussion centred on their joint paper on the future role of NEDC.

Q33.

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister what plans he has to mee representatives of the TUC.

I met representatives of the TUC twice last week and again at the informal meeting of the TUC-Labour Party Liaison Committee yesterday. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.

President Amin

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister what contact he has had with President Amin of Uganda recently.

I sent telegrams to President Amin on 27th March, 14th April and 10th June. These were all in response to messages to me from President Amin. Additionally, on 12th and 19th June I sent further telegrams, both of which were followed by identical signed letters concerning the case of Mr. Denis Hills. The statement made by my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on 16th June was also transmitted to the Ugandan authorities in London and Kampala soon after it was delivered. As the hon. Gentleman knows, my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary made a further statement to the House on Monday 23rd June.

Scotland

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

As my hon. Friend knows, I shall be visiting Scotland in July in connection with the State Visit by the King of Sweden.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Swill

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the Government will take steps to encourage farmers to graze cattle and feed pigs on swill to help reduce imports of grain.

A campaign has already been launched by my Ministry's advisory services with the aim of improving the utilisation and conservation of grass. We are also considering whether there are ways in which incentives might be adjusted in order to encourage the better use and conservation of grass. My Ministry also gives advice on swill feeding systems, and Government grants were made available for modernising existing swill processing units when the controls on the processing of waste food used as feed for livestock and poultry had to be strengthened because of a disease problem.

Whale And Shark Fishers

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many whalers and shark catchers have visited British ports in each of the last five years for which figures are available.

No official figures are kept showing visits to British ports by whalers and shark catchers. I understand, however, that over the past five years such vessels have put into British ports on only a few occasions.

Whales, Dolphins And Sharks

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what research has been carried out into the level of stocks of whales, dolphins and basking sharks in British waters.

There is no research programme on the few cetaceans sighted in United Kingdom waters, nor on basking sharks.

Icelandic Fishing Limits

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what response the Government propose to make to the announcement by the Icelandic authorities that they are extending their fishing limits to 200 miles.

The Government of Iceland have already made clear their intention to extend fishing limits this year. Fishing by United Kingdom vessels off Iceland is regulated until November by the interim agreement signed in 1973, and it will be the objective of Her Majesty's Government to negotiate a further agreement with Iceland to take effect after that.

Venison

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to ensure that there will be no diminution of venison exports to Germany consequent upon the recently introduced German health regulations.

I have been asked to reply.Officials of my Department have been in close touch with the game industry about the requirements and effects of the West German regulations. I understand that the industry has set up a working party to examine further the problems involved in complying with the regulations.

Defence

Land (South-West England)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the public inquiry into the use of land by the Services in the South-West of England will take place.

The public inquiry will take place in the autumn. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and I will be making an announcement shortly.

Arms Sales

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the Defence Sales Office catalogue of arms available for overseas sale.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the defence sales overseas during the last calendar year; what orders are in prospect; and if he will equate the volume of defence sales with the level of jobs in the United Kingdom.

The value of defence exports for the last calendar year is not readily available. However, the value of overseas sales of defence equipment in the financial year 1974–75 is estimated at £475 million; the provisional estimate for the current financial year is £560 million, which is the equivalent of 70,000–80,000 defence industry jobs in the United Kingdom. Details of individual orders are confidential and have been so regarded by successive Governments.

Married Quarters And Hirings

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present total of official (a) married quarters and (b) hirings used by members of the forces; and to what extent he envisages that houses will become surplus in consequence of the run down in the forces as a result of the defence review.

The latest available figures show that the Ministry of Defence has about 97,750 Service married quarters in the United Kingdom, and about 4,700 hirings. It is not yet possible to say precisely how many houses can be given up as a result of the defence review.

Northern Ireland

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the work of the security forces in Northern Ireland.

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the present Army operations in Northern Ireland

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to the hon. Member on 13th May 1975.—[Vol. 892, c. 59.]

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the building of further military installations in County Armagh.

There is of course a continuing works programme on existing Army facilities in County Armagh. Two sites involved are Mahon Road, Portadown, and Gough Barracks, Armagh. The latter location is proving expensive to maintain and we plan to replace it with accommodation outside the town.

Nuclear-Powered Ships (Port Facilities)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans have been made for nuclear-powered vessels to be accepted in British ports.

Nuclear-powered warships normally use berths in naval bases and dockyard ports, although they also visit commercial ports from time to time. In all cases arrangements are made for the visit in conjunction with the appropriate port or harbour authorities.

Hms "Mauritius"

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of HMS "Mauritius" in the light of the reopening of the Suez Canal.

We have already announced our intention to close HMS "Mauritius". This decision was taken in the context of the defence review and is not affected by the opening of the Suez Canal.

Departmental Houses

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many of his Department's houses are at present lying vacant.

The latest available figures show that the Ministry of Defence has about 6,600 Service and civilian married quarters lying vacant. The reasons for these vacancies are varied but they include the need for repair and modernisation and the need to retain property, in the immediate aftermath of the defence review, while their future value to the Services is being studied. In addition, there are a number of vacant houses in the course of disposal.

Weapons (Standardisation)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the standardisation of weapons in NATO as it affects British-produced equipment.

Some progress towards standardisation in NATO is being made by a variety of means, including sale of equipment between member countries as well as arrangements for collaborative development and production. The Government are seeking to foster more rapid progress, as is evident from the initiative that I have taken in the Eurogroup to put more traffic on the "two-way street" of defence equipment purchases by the United States from Europe, and by Europe from the United States. Further progress will demand a readiness by all member countries to give and take.

South Africa

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has made to NATO regarding co-operation with the defence forces of South Africa.

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make representations to NATO to ensure that South Africa is excluded from defence information.

NATO does not co-operate with the defence forces of South Africa and has no plans to do so.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on defence arrangements between the United Kingdom and South Africa.

As my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary explained in a Written Answer on 16th June, the Simonstown Agreements have been terminated. There are no special defence arrangements between the United Kingdom and South Africa.

British Army Of The Rhine

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about the policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the future strength of the British Army of the Rhine.

The policy of Her Majesty's Government in regard to the future strength of the British Army of the Rhine is contained in Chapter 1 of the Statement on Defence Estimates 1975, namely, that we shall continue to maintain an Army force level of 55,000 and a tactical air force on the mainland of Europe in accordance with our Brussels Treaty commitments, making no reductions below this level in advance of mutual and balanced force reductions.

Cyprus

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many Cypriot civilians are still accommodated within the sovereign base areas in Cyprus; what is their condition regarding health and quality of accommodation and their source of income; and if he will make a statement as to their future position.

About 8,000 Cypriots are involved, of whom rather more than 1,000 are permanent residents. The remainder are mainly concentrated in recognised camps which have tents or hutted accommodation and cooking and other facilities. With our agreement the Republican authorities have built and are administering a new camp near Ormidhia and have also accepted responsibility for the welfare of most of the remaining Cypriots. Republican welfare and hygiene officials regularly visit the camps, and when requested we provide hospital and medical support. Sources of income are matters for the Republican authorities, but we are aware that they pay unemployment benefits to those who are entitled and that all displaced families are eligible for subsistence payments and assistance in kind. Their future will depend to a large extent on the progress which is made in the current political negotiations.

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the continuing British con- tribution to United Nations forces in Cyprus.

We continue to maintain the largest national contingent in the United Nations force in Cyprus and to provide logistic support for the whole force, which is playing a valuable role in helping to reduce friction between the Turkish and Greek Cypriots.

Harrier Aircraft

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, in view of the order he has placed for the Maritime Harrier, what estimate he has made of its export potential.

It is still too early to make a firm estimate of the export potential of the naval version of Harrier.

Equipment Purchases

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make proposals designed to promote mutual purchases of defence equipment between the USA and West Europe.

At my initiative, Euiogroup Ministers made proposals to this end at the meeting of the NATO Defence Ministers on 22nd and 23rd May, and the meeting agreed to pursue within the appropriate machinery the establishment of a "two-way street" between Europe and North America in defence equipment procurement.

Nato Defence Ministers

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the recent meeting of NATO Defence Ministers.

Yes. I attended the meeting of the Defence Planning Committee of NATO in ministerial session held in Brussels on 22nd and 23rd May. My colleagues and I laid down guidelines for defence planning activities in NATO, with special emphasis on the adoption of a long-range defence concept and on the need for rationalisation, standardisation and greater co-operative efforts. We also discussed a number of important issues affecting alliance defence. I particularly welcome our agreement to pursue the establishment of a "two-way street" between Europe and North America in defence equipment procurement. A copy of the communiqué is available in the Library of the House.

Aircraft Industry Employees (Redeployment)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on Government consultations with Hawker-Siddeley Aviation, the British Aircraft Corporation, Rolls-Royce and Westlands to assist the orderly redeployment of valuable skills to non-defence work.

Consultation with these firms has enabled them to assess the effect of the programme changes on their workloads and to make plans for any necessary redeployment with the minimum of hardship and wastage. The facilities of the Manpower Services Commission are available to help workers needing new jobs.

Housing (Ex-Service Men)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many demobilised Service men were assisted to obtain civilian houses in the latest period for which figures are available.

In the year up to 31st March 1975 about 600 officers and Service men were given advances of pay for house purchase during their last 12 months of service.

Contracts (Placement)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will take steps to ensure that regional policy objectives are taken into account in the placing of defence contracts.

Regional policy objectives are already taken into account in the placing of defence contracts through the operation of the Government's general and special contracts preference schemes for firms in development areas and Northern Ireland.

Hong Kong

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the present estimated cost per annum of maintaining a British base in Hong Kong.

At defence review price levels, the annual cost of the Hong Kong garrison is about £40 million.

Territorial Army

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the total manpower in the Territorial Army; and what was the corresponding figure last year.

The total strength of the TAVR on 31st March 1975, the latest available figure, was 54,301. On 31st March 1974 it stood at 55,478.

Ussr Naval Exercises

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on NATO's surveillance of the recent global naval exercise by the USSR.

NATO surveillance of the Soviet Naval exercise Okean 75 was carried out by the standing NATO naval force in the Atlantic—STANAVFORLANT. The force's submission was to report the deployment of the Soviet vessels, observe their activities and obtain information on the capabilities of the ships.

Civilian Employment

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is yet in a position to make a detailed statement on the effects on civilian employment of the Government's proposed defence cuts.

Final decisions on the future deployment and organisation of the Services have yet to be taken and I am not therefore in a position to make a statement.

Footwear (Service Personnel)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Armed Forces are issued with British footwear.

Yes. All footwear supplied as uniform issue to Her Majesty's forces is of British origin.

Nuclear Planning Group

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group held recently in the United States of America.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the communiqué issued after the Nuclear Planning Group ministerial meeting in Monterey on 16th and 17th June. A copy has been placed in the Library.

Retired Pay (Vote Allocation)

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the Government will consider the possibility of adopting the practice of pertain other countries of excluding from the Defence Vote items such as Service men's retired pay.

We have considered such measures from time to time, but the balance of advantage has been in favour of our present arrangements. We do, however, separately identify estimated expenditure on Service pensions, medical services, education and married accommodation in the annual Statement on the Defence Estimates.

Expenditure

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in the period covered by the defence review, it is the Government's intention to increase the proportion of the gross national product devoted to defence in the event that the gross national product itself is reduced.

As far as the relationship of defence expenditure to gross national product is concerned, I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) on 15th April.—[Vol. 890, c. 264.]

Allied Command Europe

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what United Kingdom forces will continue to be available to reinforce the Southern Region of Allied Command Europe.

We are maintaining our important contribution to the Allied Command Europe mobile force which can be deployed to the southern region if required and will also be retaining rein- forcement options for the Special Air Services Regiment to this region.

Eurogroup (Concept Harmonisation)

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made in the Eurogroup in harmonising tactical and strategic concepts prior to the joint procurement and standardisation of weapons systems.

The Eurogroup sub-group Eurolongterm is making good progress in developing agreed tactical concepts as a basis for drawing up the operational requirements for future weapons systems. Two tactical sub-concepts relating to anti-armour, and ground mobility, have been endorsed by Ministers; and five more are being developed. Eurolongterm is now working to develop these sub-concepts further.

Furnished Hirings (Rent)

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence on what grounds his Department is refusing to pass on to the owners of furnished hirings the 50 per cent. increase in rent which is being charged to tenants.

The rent paid for each Ministry of Defence furnished hiring is decided as a result of an agreement freely arrived at between the owner as landlord and the Ministry of Defence as tenant. Quartering charges, on the other hand, which cover items other than rent, are recommended by the Pay Review Body. It follows, therefore, that quartering charges paid by the occupants are not related to the terms of the agreement between the Ministry of Defence and the landlord.

Research

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how much has been spent by his Department on research in each of the last four years, breaking this sum down into the amounts spent in Scotland, England and Wales, respectively.

Cr Chemical

asked the Secretary of State for Defence on how many occasions the chemical CR has been used in operations by or in aid of the civil power in the United Kingdom or in British territories overseas, including Hong Kong.

Raf Andover

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many redundancies will be caused by his plans for redeployment of RAF Andover; what steps have so far been taken to obtain alternative work for those whose services have to be terminated; and whether he will make a statement.

About 20 civilians employed by the Ministry of Defence will become redundant in their present posts when the Royal Air Force's use of the airfield at Andover ceases in 1976. With the exception of one due to retire on age grounds, it is hoped to offer them alternative employment at other Service establishments, either in the area, or in the case of those having a liability to transfer, wherever suitable vacancies exist. The servicing of the Royal Air Force aircraft at Andover is, however, carried out at the station by a civilian firm under contract. This requirement will cease when the aircraft are withdrawn but the effect on the labour force will be a matter for the contractor to decide.

Employment

Trade Union Elections

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will now introduce legislation to require trade unions to elect their officers by means of a secret postal ballot.

Working Mothers

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many working mothers with children under the age of 15 years are in full-time employment; and how many in part-time employment.

The information is not available in the form requested. The 1971 Census of Population showed that in Great Britain 1,459,150 mothers with one or more dependent children aged 15 and under worked less than 30 hours per week and 834,830 worked 30 hours or more. In addition, 100,650 working mothers with one or more dependent children aged 15 and under did not state the number of hours they worked.

Stable Lads' Dispute

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will publish in the Official Report details of requests made by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service to the Transport and General Workers' Union to arrange meetings to discuss the industrial dispute between the Transport and General Workers' Union and the Newmarket Trainers' Federation.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report details of requests made by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service to the Newmarket Trainers' Federation to arrange meetings to discuss the industrial dispute which has existed between that body and the Transport and General Workers' Union; when such meetings were held; and what are the names of those who have attended on behalf of the Newmarket Trainers' Federation.

I understand that there has been a number of meetings with representatives of both sides. However, the publication of the details of meetings of this kind would not contribute to the settlement of disputes.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what efforts his Department has made to facilitate a settlement of the industrial dispute which exists between members of the Transport and General Workers' Union and the Newmarket Trainers' Federation;(2) what efforts have been made by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service to facilitate a settlement of the industrial dispute which exists between members of the Transport and General Workers' Union and the Newmarket Trainers' Federation.

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has been seeking to help to resolve this dispute from the start and I understand that it is still continuing to do so. The service has taken over conciliation and arbitration functions formerly carried out by my Department, which has not been involved with the parties.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will publish in the Official Report a copy of the letter he has received from the General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers' Union requesting him to inquire into the breakdown of industrial relations in the horserace training industry in the Newmarket area together with a copy of his reply.

I do not think it helpful to publish correspondence of this kind during the course of disputes. The Transport and General Workers' Union has suggested that I should appoint an inquiry. I have replied that as the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service is continuing to try to assist in securing a settlement, I am reluctant to do so.

Factory Inspectorate

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the Factory Inspectorate will be affected in any way by cuts in public expenditure.

The Government's decisions following the annual review of public expenditure will be published in the usual way in a White Paper. I cannot therefore yet say if such decisions will affect the Factory Inspectorate.

Redundancy

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish figures showing the number of employees made redundant as reported to his Department since the Redundancy Payments Act 1965 and the estimated number made redundant over the same period who were not eligible for redundancy pay under the provisions of the Act and therefore not so reported.

Although many employers inform the employment services voluntarily of redundancies in their organisations, there is no statutory duty on them to do so. The information which is available therefore relates to those employees in respect of whom payments have been made from the Redundancy Fund, and this information is given below:

Year or periodNumber of employees for whom Fund payments made
6.12.65–31.12.66138,895
1967249,782
1968264,491
1969250,764
1970275,563
1971370,306
1972297,120
1973176,919
1974182,161
1.1.75–31.3.7570,657
No definite information is available about redundant workers who do not qualify for statutory payments. Such information could be obtained only at unreasonable cost and would not in any case be very meaningful since it would include, inter alia, all those coming to the end of fixed-term contracts, for example seasonal workers.

Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the percentage rise in the index of retail prices to the latest available date since April 1960, April 1965, April 1970, April 1973 and April 1974, respectively.

The percentage increases in the index of retail prices to May 1975, the latest available date, are as follows:

Percentage
From April 1960174·8
From April 1965130·3
From April 197085·5
From April 197346·0
From April 197426·8

Industrial Disputes

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the powers he possesses to appoint an independent inquiry where a party to an industrial dispute declines to either negotiate or to accept arbitration and refuses to take advantage of the facilities made available by the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

My right hon. Friend has powers under the Conciliation Act 1896 and the Industrial Courts Act 1919 to appoint inquiries into trade disputes or differences. An inquiry can also be set up under his general powers. These powers are exercisable entirely at his pendent Advisory, Conciliation and discretion and now that there is an inde Arbitration Service he would use them only as a last resort.

Unemployed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish a

UnemployedNotified unfilled vacancies
Employment OfficesCareers Offices
MalesFemalesMalesFemalesMalesFemales
South East153,22729,29239,55125,2587,5917,065
East Anglia17,6063,7622,7432,113541497
South West53,02411,1376,3886,0579481,115
West Midlands66,15016,5494,6142,7061,7431,317
East Midlands40,1508,7985,2603,455918957
Yorkshire and Humberside59,47811,4906,5544,9921,6811,495
North West114,23121,9677,7356,2631,0861,587
North58,51413,5346,4544,338551885
Wales41,4609,3573,0862,870606691
Scotland77,73823,8529,9968,5631,7801,757
Northern Ireland27,55710,9492,0841,050651525
The vacancy statistics relate only to vacancies notified to employment offices and careers offices, and are not a measure of total vacancies. Because of possible duplication, the figures for employment offices and careers offices should not be added together.

Social Services

Doctors (Appointment)

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what advice her Department has given to National Health Service hospitals over the appointment of doctors in respect of abortion.

I am sending a copy of the letter to the hon. Gentleman and have also placed a copy in the Library.

Research

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much has been spent by her Department on research in each of the last four years, breaking this sum down into the amounts spent in Scotland, England and Wales, respectively.

The expenditure on research by the Department of Health and Social Security in each of the last four years was:

£ million
1971–728·2
1972–7310·2
1973–7415·7
1974–75(provisional)17·7

table showing male and female unemployed in each planning region of the United Kingdom and the number of vacancies notified to his Department.

Following is the information for June 1975:The major part of these sums was spent in England: any question of the incidence of research expenditure in Scotland or Wales is a matter for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for those countries.

School Nurses

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many school nurses are employed in Manchester who do not hold the health visitor's certificate.

Mental Hospitals

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, in view of the Government's policy of reducing the numbers of beds in psychiatric and mental handicap hospitals, which mental illness and mental handicap hospitals are scheduled for closure, and when.

No health authority has so far asked for my right hon. Friend's permission to proceed with consultations on the closure of a large specialist mental illness or mental handicap hospital.

Benefits (Able-Bodied Young Persons)

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to limit benefits paid to to able-bodied young persons who visit Weymouth and other seaside resorts in the summer, take no steps to obtain employment, sleep on the beach and claim social security benefit.

I would refer the hon. Member to the substantive reply given to him by my predecessor on 9th June.—[Vol. 893, c. 102.]

Bronchitis And Emphysema

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the numbers of identified bronchitis and emphysema sufferers who have been employed as coalminers, quarrymen, and pottery workers; if she will initiate a study of the criteria used to identify industrial diseases in this area; and if she will make a statement.

I regret that the information is not available. I have no proposals to review the conditions which must be satisfied before a disease can be prescribed as an industrial disease attracting the special benefits of the Industrial Injuries Scheme. These conditions of necessity require that there should be significant evidence of a direct link between the occupation and the disease. It is the absence of such evidence which prevents the prescription of bronchitis and emphysema.

Solvents (Inhalation)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what information she has about the numbers of injuries and deaths caused by solvent sniffing among young persons.

There have been sporadic reports of deaths or injury from this cause, but I regret that cases cannot easily be identified in the available statistics.

National Insurance Contributions (Widows)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she has received a letter from the National Association of Widows on the subject of the overpayment of national insurance contributions by some widows; what reply she sent; and if she will make a statement.

A letter from the National Association of Widows was received on 18th June enclosing letters from 32 widows on this subject. No reply has yet been sent, beyond an acknowledgement, since each individual case needs to be examined. I would refer the hon. Member to my replies to the hon. Member for Central Ayrshire (Mr. Lambie) on 12th June.—[Vol. 893, c. 242–4.]

Health Centres

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the criteria for determining whether a locality is considered a health deprived area for the purposes of assessing health centre priorities; whether one of the criteria is a minimum population figure; and. If so, what is the figure.

The national criteria used by health authorities for the selection of health centre schemes are those listed in my reply to the hon. Member on 25th March—[Vol. 889, c. 236–9]—which do not include a minimum population figure.

Education And Science

Graduates (Physical Handicaps)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many students, suffering from dyslexia, or any other physical handicap have graduated from British universities in each of the last five years.

Medical School Places (Applications)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many applications there were for places in medical schools in each of the last five years and how many of these failed to secure a place; and if he will give similar figures for the faculties of arts and the natural and social sciences.

Based on applications through the Universities Central Council on Admissions (UCCA) the information required is as follows:

Academic year of admissionTotal applicants for medical schoolsApplicants not securing a place
1970–717,5775,011
1971–728,9716,276
1972–7311,1778,254
1973–7412,9159,857
1974–7513,00310,044

The only figures available for other subject groups on a comparable basis

Academic year of admission 1973–74

Academic year of admission 1974–75

Home applicants

Home applicants not securing a place*

Home applicants

Home applicants not securing a place*

Medicine10,7597,80910,7467,875

Subject Groups†

Medicine, Dentistry and Health15,61410,68416,57811,693
Science21,1678,11920,1477,169
Social Administrative and Business Studies31,47618,03831,37916,970
Language and other Arts25,96112,39825,39211,480

* Not securing a place in the subject or subject groups specified if this contained the subject of first choice.

† Groups as defined in the UCCA classification.

Some additional United Kingdom applicants may have applied outside the UCCA scheme direct to Aberdeen and Glasgow Medical Schools.

Open University

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will recommend to the Open University that there be no increase in course fees next year.

No. Rising costs make increased fees unavoidable and a proposal to increase fees is now being discussed between my Department and the university.

Universities (Equipment)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish for each university in receipt of grant from the University Grants Committee the amount of equipment allocated for 1975–76.

The universities now receive a combined grant for the purchase of furniture and equipment. The allocation of the grant for the academic year 1975–76 is set out in the table below:

University or college£000s
Aston790
Bath377
Birmingham1,380
Bradford683
Bristol1,047
Brunei425
Cambridge1,436
City426
Durham470
East Anglia477
Essex239
Exeter387
Hull391
Keele229

are for home applicants:

Kent255
Lancaster452
Leeds1,982
Leicester1,185
Liverpool1,518
London Graduate School of Business Studies8
London8,621
Loughborough583
Manchester Business School8
Manchester1,538
University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology858
Newcastle1,162
Nottingham1,303
Oxford1,497
Reading693
Salford856
Sheffield1,266
Southampton1,053
Surrey567
Sussex562
Warwick353
York283
University of Wales2,688
Aberdeen993
Dundee821
Edinburgh1,514
Glasgow1,451
Heriot-Watt479
St. Andrews507
Stirling248
Strathclyde1,045
Unallocated994
Total46,100

Secondary Education (Sussex)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether his Department has finished its study of the reorganisation of secondary education in Mid-Sussex and whether he will make a statement.

No. We are still examining various aspects of the proposals submitted by the authority. My right hon. Friend hopes to reach a decision soon.

National Finance

10P National Savings Stamp

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now reconsider his decision to discontinue the 10p national savings stamp after 1977.

No. The Government took the decision to discontinue the national savings stamp only after very carefully weighing up all the facts. The national savings committees have work in hand on alternative savings schemes.

Customs And Excise

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is the total staff shortage in the Customs and Excise group; and if he will give the figures in each area office;(2) what would be the annual cost of filling all the present vacancies in the Customs and Excise group.

The number of vacancies in Her Majesty's Customs and Excise at 1st June 1975 was 885 in the following areas:

Headquarters, London53
Headquarters, Southend45
London Collections157
Aberdeen37
Belfast52
Brighton29
Bristol13
Chester25
Dover63
Edinburgh4
Glasgow19
Greenock37
Harwich55
Leeds22
Liverpool31
Manchester18
Newcastle4
Northampton81
Nottingham22
Plymouth22
Preston6
Reading55
Southampton17
South Wales and Borders18
The annual cost of filling the 885 posts would be in the region of £4½ million, but the figure does not wholly represent staff shortages at 1st June, since in staffing any large organisation it is necessary to plan ahead for future requirements and allow for the time it takes to recruit. The list of approved posts therefore includes a number which are not immediate vacancies.

Coinage

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what denominations of coin are currently in short supply; what arrangements the Royal Mint are making to increase production of coins, particularly 10p pieces; and what representations have been received about supply difficulties.

Demand for 50p and 10p coins has been unusually high recently and the Royal Mint has been unable to meet all the banks' needs in full. Production of both denominations has accordingly been increased. The Treasury has received two representations this year on this subject.

Benefits

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the additional yield to the Revenue in a full year (a) if unemployment benefit were subject to income tax, (b) if sickness benefit were subject to income tax and (c) if supplementary benefit were subject to income tax.

Mortgages

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what tax relief, at basic rate only, would be provided in each of the first 10 years in respect of a house loan of £8,000 assuming an interest rate of 11 per cent. gross and repayment of capital over 25 years, by a formula causing gross interest and capital repayment to be a constant figure each year.

The figures are as follows:

YearTax relief at basic rate (£)
1308
2305
3302
4299
5295
6291
7287
8282
9276
10270
Total2,915

For the purpose of the calculations it has been assumed that the mortgage commenced on 6th April 1975 and that the basic rate of tax proposed for 1975–76 remains in force throughout.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will now increase the present limit of £13,000 above which loans made by building societies are treated as special advances.

An order increasing the limit to £20,000 was laid before Parliament in draft today.

Treasury Minutes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Treasury Minutes, under the procedure established in 1923 after discussion between the Treasury and the Public Accounts Committee, have been laid in each of the last five parliamentary Sessions; and how many in the current session to the latest convenient date.

The numbers of Treasury Minutes relating to gifts of public stores or property laid before Parliament in each of the last five parliamentary Sessions, and in the current Session to date, are as follows:

SessionNo. of Minutes
1969–705
1970–718
1971–722
1972–733
1973–749
1974–75 (to 23rd June 1975)3

Scotland

Venison

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he is taking to ensure that enough inspectors are available in the Highlands during the deer stalking season to comply with recent German health regulations which stipulate that venison must be inspected within 16 hours of being killed; and what initiatives he is taking to alter this regulation.

Officials of my Department have been in close touch with the game industry about the requirements and effects of the West German regulations, including those relating to veterinary inspection within 24 hours of slaughter. I understand that the industry has set up a working party to examine further the problems involved in complying with the regulations.Her Majesty's Government have made representations to the West German Government about the short notice given and the effect of its action on our export trade. However, in the absence of any EEC directive on intra-community trade in game, the West German Government are within their rights in imposing their own requirements on the standard of hygiene for venison intended for consumption in that country.

Scottish Aviation Limited

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the shop stewards of Scottish Aviation Limited, Prestwick, concerning the proposed redundancies at that plant.

Representations which I have had from the shop stewards indicate that, while in favour of nationalisation of the company, they are also concerned about investment in the company in the interval. I am in touch with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry about these matters.

Rate Relief

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many people in the area now known as Strathclyde Region received, in the last financial year, rate relief under Section 244 of the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1947; and what proportion of this number had £15 of this relief disregarded in the assessment of their entitlement to supplementary benefit.

Waste Disposal (Dundee)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland for what purposes Leoch Quarry in Dundee is used; and if its use brings it within the ambit of the Disposal of Toxic Wastes Act 1972.

Leoch and Lallaws Quarry is used for the deposit of industrial waste, including small amounts of toxic waste, the deposit of which is subject to the notification procedure of the Deposit of Poisonous Waste Act 1972.

Rents

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland by what percentage annual council house rents have risen since 15th May 1975 in Coupar Angus, Blairgowrie, Alyth, and Perth, respectively.

Information on rent increases for houses in different parts of districts is not held centrally, but I understand that Perth and Kinross District Council has generaly increased standard rents by £26 per house over 12 months from 16th May 1975.

Taxis (Licensing)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the statutory provisions governing the licensing of taxis in Scotland.

In general, district and islands councils can license taxis under Section 270 of and Schedule V to the Burgh Police (Scotland) Act 1892. In a few areas, including the four city districts, licensing powers are contained in local Acts. Following local government reorganisation all these powers, until they are replaced by new general legislation, can be exercised only in the areas where they applied before the reorganisation.

Pelican Crossings

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will authorise the installation of pelican crossings in Scone and Coupar Angus.

Locations for both crossings have been agreed in principle. The local authority has received tenders for the equipment, and formal authorisation will be issued in the normal way when the order has been placed.

Power Station, Torness

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent discussions he has had with the South of Scotland Electricity Board concerning planning requirements in relation to the proposed SGHWR at Torness.

As laid down in the terms and conditions of my consent to the South of Scotland Electricity Board's application under Section 2 of the Electric Lighting Act 1909 to the construction of a generating station on a site at Torness, the board has been consulting the planning authorities and other interested parties concerning detailed plans for the station. When these consultations have been completed the plans, together with the comments of the bodies consulted, will be submitted to me for approval.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what delays there have been in the granting of detailed planning permission for the construction of the SGHWR power station at Torness.

None. Planning permission for use of the Torness site for the erection of a steam generating heavy water reactor nuclear power station was given on 5th February 1975. Detailed plans on which various bodies concerned are being consulted have not yet been submitted.

Rickets

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report the number of reported cases of rickets in Scotland in each of the last five years.

Overall figures are not readily available. The numbers of cases referred to hospital for in-patient treatment for the five years to 1973 are:

YearActive RicketsUnspecified Vitamin D Deficiency
1969314
1970323
1971401
1972645
1973501

Barnton Roundabout, Edinburgh

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to introduce traffic lights or a double mini-roundabout at Barnton roundabout in Edinburgh, West.

I refer to the reply I gave to the hon. Member on 5th December 1974.—[Vol. 883–38, c. 255.]—Edinburgh Corporation did not favour the alternative scheme suggested by my Department and asked for the matter to be reconsidered. The responsibility now lies with Lothian Regional Council with which it will shortly be discussed.

Community Programmes

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) which local authorities in Scotland have been invited to prepare comprehensive community programmes with regard to urban deprivation; and what progress has been made so far in the preparation of these programmes;(2) what financial assistance to local authorities in Scotland has so far been determined as a result of comprehensive community programmes prepared by local authorities.

Motherwell Town Council agreed to the trial run of a comprehensive community programme which the new Motherwell District Council and Strathclyde Region have now agreed to take over. It is hoped to appoint a project leader soon and that work will start later this year.

Home Department

Television Council

56.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to set up a body to examine the desirability of instituting a Television Council on the lines of the Press Council.

No. Many of the functions which in relation to the writing press are discharged by the Press Council in relation to radio and television fall within the responsibilities of the Board of Governors of the BBC and of the Independent Broadcasting Authority. The committee of inquiry under Lord Annan which is now looking into the structure of broadcasting will be able to consider whether these responsibilities need to be in any way modified or supplemented.

Prisoners' Correspondents

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) under what circumstances a governor of a prison requests the police to make discreet inquiries about the character of members of the public from whom prisoners wish to receive letters, or write to, or be visited by; and to what categories of prison this applies;(2) how many members of the public have been prevented from communicating with prisoners as a result of inquiries made as to their character by the police, in the last year for which figures are available;(3) under what authority a prison governor is entitled to ask the police to make inquiries about members of the public who wish to communicate with prisoners;(4) what form the discreet inquiries made by the police of members of the public at the request of prison governors take;(5) what happens to the character assessment of members of the public made by the police at the request of prison governors; and who has access to them;(6) how many members of the public have been investigated by the police at the request of a prison governor in the last year for which figures are available;(7) if members of the public are informed that the police are making inquiries as to their character at the request of prison governors; and if they have any redress against unfavourable and unfounded reports;

A governor may need to satisfy himself that visits by a particular person to a prisoner, or correspondence between them, will not threaten the security and good order of the prison; in such a case he may at his discretion consult the police. The advice to be given is a matter for the chief officer of the force concerned, but is, I understand, based on existing police knowledge, and not on an investigation undertaken specifically for the purpose. Any report is provided in confidence to the governor, and only one or two designated members of his staff have access to it. The number of reports of this nature is not readily available, and could only be provided at a disproportionate cost.

Prison Sentences (Appeals)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the currently applicable Lord Chief Justice's memorandum to appellate court judges on not increasing a prison sentence on appeal; and if he will publish the memorandum in the Official Report.

The power of the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) to increase sentences on appeal was abolished in England and Wales by the Criminal Appeal Act 1966.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on how many occasions during the past 20 years a convicted prisoner has had his prison sentence increased by the Court of Appeal; what were the sentences imposed by the trial judge and the increased sentence imposed on appeal; and when was the last occasion when such increased sentence was imposed by the Court of Appeal.

The court's power to increase sentences was abolished by the Criminal Appeal Act 1966. The available information for the earlier years is as follows:

Appeals to the Court of Criminal Appeal in England and Wales against sentences of imprisonment, corrective training or preventive detention in which the sentence was increased: 1955 to 1965.
YearNumber
19557
19562
19572
19582
1959
1960
19615
1962