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Written Answers

Volume 894: debated on Friday 4 July 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 4th July 1975

House Of Commons

Members' Remuneration

asked the Lord President of the Council if the Chancellor's statement of 30th June precludes the Government from proposing the implementation of the Boyle Report on Members' Remuneration.

Civil Service

Ministerial Appointments

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will list in the Official Report the boards, committees and organisations to which he has the power to appoint in the North-West region of England.

I have no powers of appointment to boards, committees or organisations in the North-West region of England.

Waste Paper

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether the Government will assist in the development of more stable conditions in the paper reclamation industry by placing long-term contracts for paper for use by Government Departments of such a nature as can be produced from recycled waste paper.

This is already being done as far as is practical. I would draw the hon. Member's attention to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould) on 19th March 1975.

Defence

Suez Canal

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost of British assistance to Egypt to clear the Suez Canal.

The normal operating costs of the units involved are borne by the Ministry of Defence. A final figure for the additional costs is not yet available, but for the first and major phase of the operation they were just over £190,000.

Education And Science

University Teachers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he can give an assurance that the second part of the university teachers' settlement, in accordance with the arbitration tribunal award, will be within the guidelines of the social contract at the time of the award, i.e., based on the cost of living for the year 1974–75 as set out in that award.

The Board of Arbitration was not asked to determine how the increase in the cost of lioving between October 1974 and October 1975 should be reflected in university teachers' pay and their award did not do so.

Environment

Sports Stadiums

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards the future provision of municipal sports stadia.

It is for local authorities to determine their own recreation programmes, but I hope that they will take full account of the need to provide for sport and recreation within the constraints imposed by present economic circumstances.

Bus And Lorry Drivers (Hours Of Work)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he will take to ensure that the laws applying to maximum hours per day for drivers of buses and lorries are not flouted by drivers working for more than one employer.

The regulations governing drivers' hours and records already require that lorry drivers' record books include any driving for a second employer. They are subject to inspection, both at roadside checks and at operators' premises, by the Department's enforcement staff, and the police. In the case of bus drivers, enforcement is by access to employers' duty rosters and schedules.

Motor Coaches (Safety Belts)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider introducing legislation to provide for the compulsory use of safety belts in coaches, in view of recent accidents; and if he will make a statement.

In the light of recent accidents I am considering urgently the most effective means of protecting passengers in motor coaches.

Bus Subsidies

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the non-metropolitan counties about the level of assistance for the provision of bus subsidies as part of their responsibility to co-ordinate public passenger transport under the terms of Section 203 of the Local Government Act 1972; and what replies he has sent.

A number of representations have been received about the allowance for bus revenue support included in the distribution of transport supplementary grant to non-metropolitan counties for 1975–76. The replies have been along the lines of my hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Butler) on 16th June.—[Vol. 893, c. 330.]

Roads

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in view of the need for economising in public expenditure and the adequacy of the present motorway system, he will abandon plans for all new motorway and trunk road construction and limit his Department's activities to road improvement and bypass schemes.

No. We shall continue to choose the schemes which give the best value for money. Some will be new roads, but many will be bypasses and improvements to existing roads.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total mileage of road construction completed in Great Britain since the inception of the motorway system; how many miles of the new roads consist of motorways; and how many roads are classified otherwise.

Since the start of the motorway programme in 1956 over 1,246 miles of motorway, including 58 miles of local authority motorways, and 21,358 miles of other mainly local roads have been constructed in Great Britain.

Pollution (Motor Vehicles)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he intends to introduce more stringent legislation to control the emission of exhaust pollution by lorries.

I am looking at the question of further controls on the emission of exhaust pollution by dieselengined vehicles. I recognise also that there are problems in ensuring that production vehicles conform to the standards already set. We are also taking part in international discussions on the need to control emissions of sulphur and nitrogen oxides, and the technical standards that would be required.

Construction Contracts

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total contractual value of the specific contracts awarded to W. & C. French (Construction) Ltd. for which it has subsequently been necessary to provide loans and ex gratia payments totalling £14 million.

The total contractual value cannot be determined until the contracts have been completed and final accounts agreed. The total value at the time of tender was about £87 million.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether any ex gratia payments or loans under the Highways Act 1959 other than those to W. & C. French (Construction) Ltd. are under consideration at the present time; and if so what is the maximum possible liability to public funds.

A number of requests for assistance are currently under consideration, but I cannot assess the amount, if any, of any grants or loans which may be made.

Railway Fares And Charges

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the comparative percentage increase between freight and passenger charges on British Rail over the past 18 months.

Rent Rebates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what would be the estimated increase in the numbers of council tenants eligible for rent rebates if council rents were increased by 10 per cent., 20 per cent. and 30 per, cent. respectively, in 1976–77.

Rate Rebates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his latest estimate of the number of householders in the United Kingdom eligible for rate rebate; and what were the total number of (a) applications and (b) rebates granted in 1974.

About 3½ million people were eligible for a rate rebate in England and Wales in 1974–75. During the period 1st April 1974–30th September 1974, 2·42 million applications were received of which 2·15 million were successful—i.e., for this six-months period. 89 per cent. of applications for rebates were successful. It is estimated that in the full year over 2½ million people received a rebate.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report his latest estimate of the number of persons in the United Kingdom eligible for a rate rebate not claiming benefit; and what is the total annual amount of benefit unclaimed.

In spite of an extensive publicity campaign about 1 million eligible ratepayers in England and Wales did not apply for a rate rebate in 1974–75. As I do not know their personal circumstances the amount not claimed cannot be calculated.

Forth And Clyde Canal

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, what efforts his Department is making to encourage the implementation of proposals made by the Inland Waterways Amenity Advisory Council report on the Forth and Clyde Canal.

The British Waterways Board is discussing the future of the Forth and Clyde Canal with the local authorities and other public authorities concerned. I regard continuing discussions at the local level as the right way to settle the various issues which arise.

Improvement Grants

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if it is the policy of the Government to issue guidance to local authorities as to whether possessory title to a property represents adequate security to enable local authorities to make improvement grants.

Under Section 57(3) of the Housing Act 1974 it is the duty of a local authority to satisfy itself that an applicant has the specified interest in the land before it can entertain an application for a house renovation grant. Any interpretation of this provision is ultimately a matter for the courts; it is not a matter on which the Department has felt it necessary to offer guidance to local authorities.

Broad Oak, Canterbury (Reservoir)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the extent of water shortage in the Canterbury area which has led to the decision to build a reservoir at Broad Oak; and whether, in view of the cost of more than £10 million, he will ask the authority to review the project.

I understand that the Broad Oak reservoir is required to serve not only Canterbury but a wide area of north-cast Kent where existing supply problems are likely to become acute by 1980 despite alleviation by continuing development of small sources. The Southern Water Authority and the Mid-Kent Water Company, which are jointly proposing the reservoir, will review the proposal in the light of local consultations which are at present taking place. If, subsequently, application for an order is submitted to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State and objections are received the proposal will be the subject of a public local inquiry.

Maplin

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals he has received with regard to a Maplin seaport; what is the Government's policy on this subject; and if he will make a statement.

The Port of London Authority considers that a seaport at Maplin will be required to meet the longer-term demands for facilities at the port. Authorisation of such a major development under the Harbours Act 1964 would, of course, require clear evidence of commercial viability and customer demand.

Caravans

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate has been made of the additional revenue likely to result from the individual assessment of caravans.

I have no data available that would allow a reliable estimate to be made.

New Palace Yard

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why the landscaping of New Palace Yard will take as long as eight months before it is completed.

The timetable for completing the landscaping in New Palace Yard is governed by the need for access and a good circulation of traffic whenever the House is sitting. Moreover, the granite setts require careful preparation before they can be laid, and this itself is necessarily an intricate and time consuming process.

Motorway Verges

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when his Department initiated its consultations with agent authorities about the revised instructions on the cutting of grass verges of motorways and trunk roads in England and Wales.

Housing Conversions

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities have applied to his Department for the costings of minimal conversions of dwellings referred to in paragraph 26 of Department of the Environment Circular 24/75; and how many, having received this information, have subsequently indicated to him that they propose to undertake work of this kind under Section 105 of the Housing Act 1974.

Several requests for the costings have been received but no record of the local authorities concerned has been made. It is not necessary for a local authority to advise the Department of individual schemes of conversion undertaken within the expenditure limit approved for that authority during 1975–76 under Section 105 of the Housing Act 1974.

Housing Demand (Research)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Department has undertaken any further research into demand for housing subsequent to the paper produced in 1970 by Mr. A. E. Holmans and made available under the title "A Forecast of Effective Demand for Housing in Great Britain in the 1970's"; and whether he will publish it.

Further work is being done on this subject as part of the review of housing finance. I will consider the question of publication in due course.

Channel Tunnel

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to receive and publish the Cairncross report on the Channel Tunnel.

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave on 2nd July to my hon. Friend the Member for Rochester and Chatham (Mr. Bean).

Home Department

Television (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to ensure that the height of the television relay mast at Bettws-y-Coed is sufficiently increased to enable BBC and ITV television programmes to be received, and, in those cases where programmes are currently received, to improve such reception in the areas of Pentrefrelas, Nebo, Ysbyty Ifan, Rhyddyan, Glasfryn and Cerrig-y-Drudion.

No. The broadcasting authorities, who are primarily responsible for improving the coverage of their UHF television services, tell me that increasing the height of the Bettws-y-Coed mast would not necessarily provide satisfactory reception in all the places mentioned, would create interference problems for UHF services over a wide area, and would be prohibitively expensive in relation to those who might benefit.

Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the last review of police constabularies and their establishments was carried out; and if he will publish the establishment figures for England and Wales and the present strength of the individual forces in those countries.

As a result of local government reorganisation establishments were approved for all forces with effect from 1st April 1974. Comprehensive reviews are carried out at regular intervals at the discretion of the police authority; in addition minor adjustments are made as necessary. Figures for the establishment and strength of police forces in England and Wales were given in reply to a Question from the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Cordle) on 3rd July.

Birmingham Bombing Offence (Trial Expenses)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will ensure that no disproportionate charge falls on to the local ratepayers concerning the allocation of expenses for the Birmingham bomb trial now being held in Lancaster.

The costs of the proceedings will be met from central funds. In accordance with the standing arrangements for police grant, the costs of policing attract a specific grant of 50 per cent. and are taken into account in fixing the level of rate support grant.

Scotland

Films

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland over the last five years, what was the number of feature films, public information shorts, and other film and audio-visual productions commissioned by the Scottish Office which were made by Scottish-registered and English-registered production companies respectively; and what was the total cash sum involved in each case.

The total number of films, publicity shorts and other material made was 188. Scottish companies were responsible for 18 productions costing £22,185 and English companies for 170 productions costing £88,359.

Agricultural Advisory Service

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the increasing importance of indigenous food production and the need to monitor the environment more thoroughly, the Government will now consider discontinuing the practice of charging for the Agricultural Advisory Service's analyses of soils, crops and other agricultural samples.

The effect of the charges made by the Agricultural Colleges in Scotland for analytical services is kept under review. The charges for certain services relating to plant disorders were withdrawn earlier this year. At the present time I see no need for further changes.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current net income derived from Scotland from the practice of charging farmers for analyses by the Agricultural Advisory Service of soils, crops and other samples of agricultural interest.

In 1974–75 income from the charges amounted to £47,000. This did not cover the cost of providing the services.

Tied Cottages

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received from Scottish farmers and farm workers opposing the Government's proposal to abolish tied agricultural cottages.

I have received representations from the National Farmers' Union of Scotland, and from individual farmers, opposing the Government's proposals. I have also had representations from the Secretary of the Scottish Agriculture and Forestry Section of the Transport and General Workers' Union to the same effect.

Rates

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish details of the new combined regional and district rates which will be charged this year in respect of each of the districts for which figures are available; and if he will give details of the percentage rises or falls, respectively, which the new rate poundages represent, by comparison with the average rate imposed within each of these districts in the financial year 1974–75.

I have not yet received formal notice of local authorities' rate poundages for the current year I am arranging for copies of the information I have, which is subject to correction, to be made available in the Library.

South Of Scotland Electricity Board

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total number of staff of the South of Scotland Electricity Board per million KWH in 1960 and in 1974; and how these figures correspond, after adjustment, to ensure analagous definition, with similar figures for the Central Electricity Generating Board for those two years.

I am asking the chairman of the board to write to the hon. Member.

North Sea Oil

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the latest progress in the discharge of his responsibilities with regard to oil and energy matters.

The latest position is as set out in the reply which I gave on 25th June to my hon. Friend the Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) and the hon. Member for Derbyshire, South-East (Mr. Rost).—[Vol. 894, c. 445.]

Employment

Construction Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current level of unemployment in the construction industry; and what proportion the number of unemployed persons represents of unemployment in all sectors of economic life.

On 9th June, 149,834 unemployed people, or 17·8 per cent. of the total unemployed in Great Britain, last worked in construction.

Pay

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the number of employees in the United Kingdom who have had no increase in remuneration since 1st January 1972.

Sheltered Workshops

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the sheltered workshops on a county-by-county basis.

The following table lists the sheltered workshops or factories in Great Britain county by county. Only those which are fully operational have been included.

County

Run by the local authority

Run by a voluntary body as the agent of the local authority

Run by a voluntary body independently

Remploy Ltd.

(i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)

Greater London

BarkingBarking
BrentRoyal London Society for the Blind.
CamdenSt. Pancras Sheltered Workshop.
CroydonCrosfield Industrial Unit.
EalingActon.
GreenwichKidbrooke.
HackneyIncorporated Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind.
HammersmithLord Roberts Workshops.
HaringeyHaringey Sheltered Workshop.
IslingtonHolloway.
LambethBrixton.
NewhamLondon Borough of Newham Municiple Workshop.
SouthwarkRoyal School for the Blind.
Blind Employment Factory.
—.London Association for the Blind.

English Metropolitan

Counties

Greater ManchesterBolton Industries for the Disabled (Blind), Bolton.Workshops for the Blind, Oldham.Bolton.
Wigan, Leigh & District Society for the Blind, Wigan.Denton.
SELNEC (Local Authority) Workshop, (Blind) Manchester.Manchester.
Oldham.
Cheadle Royal Industries Ltd.Radcliffe.
Salford.
Wigan.
MerseysideSt. Helens Corporation Workshops for the Blind (Incorporated).Sir Robert Jones Workshops, Liverpool.Lord Roberts Workshops, Liverpool.Aintree.
Liverpool Workshops and Birkenhead Society for the Blind.St. Helens.
Wallasey.
South YorkshireBarnsley Light Industries.Barnsley.
City of Sheffield Welfare of the Blind Department.Rotherham.
Sheffield (2).
Danum Light Industries, Doncaster.
Tyne and WearWorkshop for the Adult Blind (Palatine Products) Newcastle.Gateshead.
Jarrow.
"Sunelm Products" Sunderland.Newcastle.
Sunderland.\

County

Run by the local authority

Run by a voluntary body as the agent of the local authority

Run by a voluntary body independently

Remploy Ltd.

(i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
West MidlandsCity of Birmingham Industrial Centre for the Blind.Industries for the Blind and Disabled, Wolverhampton.Meadway Works Birmingham (The Spastics Society).Coventry.
Birmingham.
Walsall County Borough and Staffordshire County Council Institution and Workshop for the Blind.
West Yorkshire"ISCO 5" comprising—Bradford, Dewsbury, Huddersfield, Leeds and Wakefield blind workshops.Bradford.
Halifax.
Huddersfield.
Leeds (2).
Pontefract.
Wakefield.

English Non-Metropolitan Counties

AvonBath Sheltered Workshop.Bristol Royal Workshops for the Blind.Industrial Therapy Organisation (Bristol) Limited.Bristol (2).
BedfordshireLu Dun Ltd., Dunstable.
The Incorporated Association for Promoting the General Welfare of the Blind, Luton.
DorsetBournemouth Workshop for the Disabled.Poole.
DurhamAycliffe.
Spennymoor.
East SussexBarclay Workshop, Brighton.
EssexSouthend.
GloucestershireAlpha Works, Cinderford.Camphill Village Trust, Newnham.Lydney.
Ardent Works, Cheltenham.
Prospect Works, Gloucester.
HampshireMount Industries, Eastleigh.Enham Industries, Andover.Portsmouth.
City of Portsmouth Workshop for the Disabled (Blind Workshop).Yateley Industries, Near Camberley.Southampton.
HertfordshireThe Watford Sheltered Workshop Limited.
HumbersideSouth Humberside and Lindsey Blind Society, Scunthorpe.Hull (2).
Hull and East Riding Institute for the Blind, Hull.

County

Run by the local authority

Run by a voluntary body as the agent of the local authority

Run by a voluntary body independently

Remploy Ltd.

(i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
KentRoyal British Legion Industries, Maidstone.
LancashireMill Hill Sheltered Workshop, Handicraft and Social Centre (Blackburn Blind Workshop).Blackpool and Fylde Society for the Blind, Blackpool.Blackburn.
Burnley.
The Workshop of the Institute for Blind Welfare, Preston.Preston.
CambridgeshireWestcombe Industrial Unit, Peterborough.Papworth Industries.
CheshireWorkshop for the Disabled (Blind Workshop) Warrington.Chester Blind Welfare Society, Chester.Barrowmore Industries, Great Barrow.
ClevelandThe Hartlepools Workshops for the Blind.Hartlepool.
Stockton.
Teesside and District Institute for the Blind.
CornwallCornwall Disabled Association, Rentoul Workshop, Truro.Redruth.
CumbriaCumbria Industries for Disabled People, Carlisle.Barrow.
Cleator Moor.
DerbyshireAlfreton.
Chesterfield.
DevonIvor Thomas Sheltered Workshop, Barnstaple.St. Loyes College, Exeter.Plymouth.
Plymouth Sheltered Workshop.
Torbay Industrial Services, Paignton.
City of Exeter Workshops for the Disabled (Blind Workshop).
South Devon and Cornwall Institution for the Blind, Plymouth.
LeicestershireThe Royal Leicestershire, Rutland and Wycliffe Society for the Blind, Leicester.
NorfolkThe Norwich Institution for the Blind, Norwich.Norwich.
NorthamptonshireNordis Industries, Northampton.Northampton and County Association for the Blind.

County

Run by the local authority

Run by a voluntary body as the agent of the local authority

Run by a voluntary body independently

Remploy Ltd.

(i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
NorthumberlandAshington.
North YorkshireThe York Workshop for the Blind.The Camphill Village Trust, Botton Estate, Whitby.York.
NottinghamshireSherwood Industries, Mansfield.Royal Midland Institution for the Blind, Nottingham.Mansfield.
Worksop.
Portland Training College for the Disabled, Mansfield.
OxfordshireOxfordshire County Council Workshop for the Blind and Handicapped.
SomersetSomerset County Enterprises, Bridgwater.
StaffordshireNewpak Products, Newcastle-under-Lyme.Newcastle.
Stoke.
City of Stoke on Trent Workshop for the Blind (Challenge Products).Trentham.
SuffolkGranville Workshops (Blind), Ipswich.
SurreyRoyal School for the Blind, Leather-head.Dorincourt Industries, Leatherhead.
Lord Roberts Workshop, Woking.
The Grange Training Centre and Workshop for the Handicapped, Bookham.
Thermega Ltd, Leatherhead.
WiltshireEnterprise Works, Swindon.
Shelwork Industries, Salisbury.

Welsh Counties

ClwydWrexham.
DyfedLlanelli.Carmarthenshire Blind Society, Llanelli Branch.Brynamman.
GwentMonwel Hankinson Group, Newport Branch.Abertillery.
Blackwood.
Monwel Hankinson Group, Pontypool Branch.
Monwel Hankinson Group, Tredegar Branch.
GwyneddLlangefni.

County

Run by the local authority

Run by a voluntary body as the agent of the local authority

Run by a voluntary body independently

Remploy Ltd.

(i)(ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
Mid GlamorganGlamorgan County Council Workshops for the Blind, Pontypridd.Merthyr Tydfil Institution for the Blind, Merthyr Tydfil.Merthyr.
Porth.
Glamorgan County Council Workshops for the Blind, Rhondda.Pentre.
Tonyrefail.
Treforest.
Aberdare.
Bridgend.
PowysCambrian Factory Ltd, Llanwrtyd Wells.Ystradgynlais.
South GlamorganCardiff Institute for the Blind (Incorporated) Cardiff.
West GlamorganSwansea and South Wales Workshop for the Blind, Swansea.Neath.
Swansea.
SCOTTISH REGIONS
HighlandNorthern Counties Institute for the Blind (Blindcraft Scotland) Inverness.Haven Products Ltd, Inverness.
GrampianThe Royal Aberdeen Workshop (Blindcraft Scotland).Camphill Village Trust, Newton Dee, Aberdeen.Aberdeen.
TaysideThe Royal Dundee Institution (Blindcraft Scotland).Dundee.
Lord Roberts Workshop, Dundee.
FifeBuckhaven.
Cowdenbeath.
LothianEdinburgh Corporation Social Work Department, Craigmillar Works, Edinburgh (Blind).Scottish Braille Press, Edinburgh (Blind).Lord Roberts Workshops, Edinburgh.Edinburgh.
Scottish Council for the Care of Spastics Edinburgh.
CentralCobur Sheltered Workshop, Falkirk.Stirling.
StrathclydeThe Royal Glasgow Workshop for the Blind (Blindcraft, Scotland).Princess Louise Scottish Hospital, Bishopton.Motherwell.
Rutherglen
Haven Products Ltd, Largs.Springburn.
Beltane Products.Haven Products Ltd, Glasgow.Anniesland.
Scottish Epilepsy Association, Seaborn Industries, Glasgow.Hillington.
Hansel Village Ltd, Kilmarnock.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received about the construction of a sheltered workshop in the Medway health district; what is the Government's policy in connection with the construction of new workshops of this kind; what funds are available for this purpose; and what priority the Government attach to these facilities.

The main representations received on this matter have been from the Chatham and District Disablement Advisory Committee, the Association of Kent Societies for Mentally Handicapped Children and the Medway District Community Health Council. My Department's policy is to support the expansion of sheltered employment facilities where the need has been demonstrated, where the project is viable, and where the resources are available. Remploy's building programme is entirely financed by my Department. In the case of voluntary body or local authority workshops my Department normally contributes up to 75 per cent. of approved capital costs. The priority given to the construction of sheltered factories and workshops depends upon the circumstances of the case and upon the competing claims for public funds.

Manpower Services Commission

I have no reliable infor-for Employment if he will now state the location of the headquarters of the Manpower Services Commission.

The Government have accepted the recommendation of the commission that its headquarters, together with the headqarters of the Training Services Agency and the Employment Service Agency, should be located at Sheffield.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Milk

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assessment has been made of the ability of the United Kingdom dairy industry to supply the liquid milk market during the next 12 months; and if he will list the legal constraints which prevent the importation of liquid milk from France, Eire or Holland should there be a shortfall of home supplies.

The United Kingdom is self-sufficient in milk for liquid consumption. Although actual production depends on weather and other factors there is no reason to expect any shortage of milk for the liquid market which is given first priority by the industry.The legislation listed below contains provisions relating to trade in liquid milk:

  • Importation of Carcases and Animal Products Order 1972.
  • Milk and Dairies (General) Regulations, 1959.
  • Milk (Special Designations) Regulations, 1963.
  • Public Health (Imported Milk) Regulations, 1926.
  • Milk Act (Northern Ireland), 1950 as amended.
  • Milk (Special Designations) (Scotland) Order 1965.

Potatoes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what representations he has made to the EEC Commission concerning the proposed potato regime; and if he will make a statement indicating what would be the status of the Potato Marketing Board operating within the Community free trade principles as enshrined in the Treaty of Rome.

No detailed discussions have taken place in the Community on the contents of a regulation for all potatoes, and the EEC Commission has issued no proposals for a common regime. My right hon. Friend has made it clear, however, that we shall not accept any regulation of which the contents or timing would be harmful to the interests of this country.

Antibiotics

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what information he has about the extent of the illegal sale of antibiotic drugs to farmers; and if he will take steps designed to prevent this from happening.

I have no reliable information. My Department and the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain receive reports from time to time alleging that antibiotics are being sold illegally to farmers—i.e., without veterinary prescription, in contravention of the provisions of the Therapeutic Substances Act 1956. Comparatively few of these reports are sufficiently precise to enable the Inspectors of the Pharmaceutical Society, who have certain powers of enforcement under that Act, to pursue them. Where sufficient details are provided the inspectors do, of course, promptly follow up the allegations, and I am pleased to say that in the last two years they were successful in 14 prosecutions. Enforcement powers will be strengthened when the present provisions under the Therapeutic Substances Act are replaced by retail sale provisions under Part III of the Medicines Act 1968.

Fishing Ports

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what powers have been available to the Government in the past 10 years to provide funds to assist the construction and improvement of major fishing ports; what schemes have been approved under them; and at what cost.

Section 2 of the Fisheries Act of 1955 provides for assistance to public authorities by way of grant or loan for the execution of works for harbour construction or improvement and landward approaches where this will promote the maintenance or development of the fishing industry.No payments were made for the years 1965–66 to 1967–68 inclusive in respect of major fishing ports in England and Wales.From 1968–69 to 1972–73 inclusive grant of 20 per cent. was paid on approved final costs and the grant paid was as follows:

Lowestoft£21,400
Grimsby£33,100
Hull£33,200
North Shields£8,400
Fleetwood£13,200
For 1973–74 and 1974–75 payments are largely for modernisation schemes which attracted a special rate of grant of 60 per cent. The total estimated costs of the schemes approved are as follows:

  • Lowestoft—£3·0 million (very little of this scheme has been put in hand).
  • Grimsby—£2·0 million.
  • Hull—£0·8 million.
  • North Shields—£0·24 million (none of this scheme has been put in hand).
  • Fleetwood—£1·1 million.

It is not certain that all the above schemes will be carried out in their entirety.

Co-Operatives

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in reviewing the statutory limits on shareholdings in agricultural and horticultural co-operatives which are registered as industrial and provident societies.

The Industrial and Provident Societies Act 1975 which received the Royal Assent yesterday raises to £5,000 the statutory limit on the shareholding an individual member may have in a co-operative society, and allows further changes in the statutory maximum to be made by order. To enable societies which have the existing statutory limit on shareholding of £1,000 written into their rules to take immediate advantage of the increase the Act permits them to change those rules by a committee resolution. The Central Council for Agricultural and Horticultural Co-operation and other interested organisations have pressed for an increase in this statutory limit for some time. I hope agricultural and horticultural co-operatives will use it to full advantage.

Land Use (Scotland)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the annual average transfer of land from agricultural use in Scotland for the 25-year period 1949 to 1974; and what proportion of the acreage lost has been given over to forestry.

I have been asked to reply.Over the 14 years from June 1960 to May 1974 there was an annual average net transfer of 56,647 acres of agricultural land to other uses, 89 per cent—50,373 acres—of this being to forestry. Information on a comparable basis is not available for earlier years.

Cattle Rearing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many dairy farmers in Scotland have, as a consequence of the incentive provided by the dairy herd conversion scheme, turned from milk to beef production.

I have been asked to reply.Applications from 478 farmers have been approved under the scheme. A further 72 applications are still under consideration.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Ambassadorial Costs

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what was the total cost during the course of the last three financial years of the maintenance, salaries and wages and entertainment expenses incurred by Her Majesty's Embassies in Washington, Paris, Bonn, Rome and Brussels, respectively.

This information is not readily available in the form required. It is being prepared and will be published in the Official Report as soon as possible.

Diplomatic Staffs (Warsaw Pact Countries)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the present numbers of United Kingdom diplomatic staffs in Warsaw Pact countries; and what is the level of the diplomatic representation of each of these countries in the United Kingdom.

The present numbers of United Kingdom-based staff at our diplomatic missions in Warsow Pact countries are as follows:

Bulgaria23
Czechoslovakia40
German Democratic Republic29
Hungary39
Poland50
Romania27
Soviet Union82
Numbers of home-based staff at the diplomatic missions of Warsaw Pact countries in the United Kingdom are as follows:

Bulgaria35
Czechoslovakia72
German Democratic Republic26
Hungary36
Poland62
Romania45
Soviet Union86

Irish Republic

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he has had any discussions with the Government of the Irish Republic about the progress of their Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill as it affects the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

The matter has been raised on several occasions by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland during meetings with Ministers of the Irish Republic. The Irish Government share our concern that their Criminal Law (Jurisdiction) Bill and our own Criminal Jurisdiction Bill, which are complementary to each other, should become law as soon as possible.

Portugal

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps the Government have taken or propose to take to protect the property of British residents in Portugal.

There is little to add to the Written Answer which my right hon. Friend the Minister of State gave to a Question from the hon. and learned Member for Denbigh (Mr. Morgan) on 17th April.—[Vol. 890, c. 157–8]—We remain in close touch with the Portuguese Government, whose responsibility this is.

Passports

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs why statistics relating to the issue of new passports to immigrants claiming to have lost their original passports are not kept by his Department; and if he will now take steps to ensure that such statistics are compiled in future.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply of 25th June.—[Vol. 894, c. 137.]—If he is concerned about the possible misuse of passports claimed to have been lost. I can assure him that there are considerable obstacles to the successful use of a lost passport by a second person, and that attempts to enter this country illegally on such passports are regularly detected by the Immigration Service.

European Community

Community Government Proposals

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make available in the Vote Office the report of the EEC Commission proposing the establishment of an independent EEC Government, together with the parallel reports by the EEC Assembly and Court of Justice.

I refer my right hon. Friend to the reply which I gave on 2nd July to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing)—[Vol. 894, c. 438–9.]—about the Commission report on European Union. The European Assembly has not yet produced its report, but I understand that when it does so copies will be sent to Parliament through the existing arrangements for the supply of Assembly documents. I am making special arrangements for the report of the European Court of Justice to be made available.

Civil Servants

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.

pursuant to the reply [Official Report, 18th June 1975; Vol. 893, c. 462], gave the following information:Pursuant to my right hon. Friend the Minister of State's reply the following are the numbers:

Belgium2,500
Denmark1,600
France3,600
Germany4,100
Ireland2,500
Italy1,250
Luxembourg570
Netherlands2,200
United Kingdom2,900
These figures are necessarily an approximation because of the lack of a definition of what precisely constitutes a civil servant in different EEC countries. The figures exclude the armed forces, teachers, police and employees of State enterprises where these groups are readily identifiable.

National Finance

Income Tax (Ticket Touts)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce measures designed to facilitate the collection of income tax from ticket touts.

Ticket touts are liable to tax on profits they derive from their activities, and are required by law to make a return on such profits to the Inland Revenue. The normal collection and enforcement procedures apply to them as they do to all other taxpayers.

Vehicle Excise Duty

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total amount of road fund licence duty paid in 1974 in the Western Isles.

I regret the information is not available because vehicle excise duty is not collected on a geographical basis.

Manufacturing Investment

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps he intends to take to increase the rate of manufacturing investment.

As my right hon. Friend said in his statement to the House on 1st July, the Government are determined to bring down the rate of domestic inflation to 10 per cent. by the next pay round and to single figures by the end of 1976. This in itself is the best incentive for investment.

National Plan

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will set up machinery to produce a new National Plan.

My right hon. Friend is at present considering proposals put forward in discussion at NEDC for a programme of priorities to guide the work of EDCs and provide a broad planning framework for both sides of industry.

Regional Economic Policy

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report the Government's policies in respect of each of the economies of each of the standard regions in the British Isles.

No. The economies of the regions are mainly affected by the Government's overall policies which are aimed at strengthening the economy of the country as a whole. In addition, the Government's regional policy aims to wipe out the unjust and wasteful disparities between different parts of the country both by a system of aids and incentives for development in the assisted areas and by the development of integrated regional strategies.

Dividend Limitation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has introduced a statutory provision to limit dividend rises to 10 per cent. in advance of agreement on or control of wage rises.

The Government have announced their determination to bring down the rate of domestic inflation to 10 per cent. by the end of the next pay round, and this means that the increases in pay cannot exceed 10 per cent. In the Government's view there can be no question of the rate of permitted dividend increase exceeding the limit for pay.

Northern Ireland

Para-Military Organisations (Government Talks)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, with the representatives of what para-military organisations other than the Provisional IRA, there have been meetings by civil servants, and on how many occasions, in the last two months.

As I have told the House on a number of occasions, notably on 5th and 11th February, my officials have had talks with representatives of various organisations in Northern Ireland including Provisional Sinn Fein and these are continuing. It would not be sensible to give the information on numbers of meetings held or to list the organisations concerned since this would inhibit further exchanges.

Civilian Search Officers

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many civilian search officers there are in Northern Ireland; and under whose administrative and operational control they come.

The number of civilian search officers in employment at 30th June 1975 was 317, made up of 157 men and 160 women. The Civilian Search Unit comes under the administrative control of the Police Authority for Northern Ireland and the operational control of the Chief Constable of the RUC.

Social Services

Heating Allowances

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will take steps to ensure that the rates for heating allowances due to be introduced in November 1975 are increased further in line with the recent rises in the cost of living.

Energy

Oil Production Platforms

asked the Secretary of State for Energy to what extent equipment costs for North Sea platforms have escalated during the past 12 months; and, taking 1972 as 100, what would be the cost of (a>) a steel production platform, (b) a concrete platform and (c) completed modules in subsequent years to the latest available date.

I would refer the hon. Member to my right hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Queen's Park (Mr. McElhone) on 24th June.—[Vol. 894, c. 128.]

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many oil production platforms are under construction in foreign countries for use in the British sector of the North Sea.

Six, of which four are concrete and two steel. The orders for the concrete platforms were placed before the United Kingdom established a capacity to produce this type of platform. Three concrete platforms are now under construction in the United Kingdom. One of the steel platforms was ordered in 1973 when United Kingdom capacity was stretched with orders already in hand. At the time that the second steel platform was ordered in 1974 two similar orders were placed in the United Kingdom.

Submarine Oil Tankers

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will institute a programme to investigate the feasibility of building, in British shipyards, submarine oil tankers to extract oil from the North Sea.

My Department has not as yet identified a requirement, in practical or economic terms, for submarine oil tankers for use in the North Sea. Until there is some indication of such a requirement it would be premature to institute a programme.

Domestic Fuel Bills

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the total amount of arrears on domestic fuel bills and the number of consumers involved for electricity and gas, respectively, for the most recent available period; and what were the respective figures for each of the preceding five years.

I assume my hon. Friend is referring to domestic fuel consumers who have received final demands for payment of bills outstanding from the previous quarter. I understand from the Electricity Council and the British Gas Corporation that their current estimates of these arrears are:

  • Electricity: some 4½ million consumers owe a total of about £65 million.
  • Gas: some 2½ million consumers owe a total of about £60 million.
Comparable figures for preceding years are not readily available.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give a general direction to electricity boards that no disconnections of consumer supply should take place without prior consultation with relevant social service departments in those cases where consumers are on supplementary benefits.

I do not believe a general direction would be the best way of deal- ing with this problem. There are already arrangements for liaison between electricity boards and the relevant social services to help consumers on supplementary benefit who are unable to pay their electricity bills. The breakdown in procedure in the case which the hon. Member referred to me was due to an unfortunate mistake.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give a general direction to electricity boards to liaise with offices of the Department of Health and Social Security to create a list of consumers in receipt of supplementary benefits.

I do not think this is the right way to proceed. There is already close liaison between the electricity boards and the Department of Health and Social Security in respect of consumers who are receiving supplementary benefit who find difficulty in paying their electricity accounts. I think the hon. Member would agree that it would not be appropriate for DHSS to make available the personal details of all those in receipt of supplementary benefit.

Uranium

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will publish in the Official Report a list of currently known reserves of uranium, identifying those which are being exploited, and those where exploitation plans are currently being developed.

A recent report by the International Energy Agency and the Nuclear Energy Agency of the OECD showed that major resources of uranium economically recoverable at prices up to$15/lb.—January 1973 figures—exist mainly in the United States of America, Canada, South Africa, Australia, France, Niger and Argentina. Reserves are being exploited in all these countries. I am placing a copy of this report, "Uranium resources, production and demand"—August 1973—in the Library.

Electricity Consumers' Deposits

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will take steps to review the operation of the Electric Lighting (Classes) Act 1899 in respect of deposits demanded by electricity boards in lieu of possible future payment defaults.

I intend to raise this matter with the Chairman of the Electricity Council.

Offshore Oil

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether it is intended to give EEC customers prior consideration for North Sea crude oil over other international customers.

The Government intend, consistent with their various obligations, that the best possible use be made of this finite resource. It is too early to go further than the statement made in this House on 6th December 1974.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if, within his policy of retaining full national sovereignty over British oil, he will propose ways of taking the people of EEC countries into consultation over its extraction and use.

My right hon. Friend will, as he has already made clear, be keeping his European colleagues informed of the Government's plans for reducing, in line with EEC energy objectives, our dependence on imported oil.

Summer Time

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what discussions took place at the recent EEC Council of Ministers' meeting concerning the harmonisation of summer time; what consequencies this would have for United Kingdom practice; what comments and commitments were made by him; and if he will make a statement.

The Council discussed on 26th June the French proposal that a harmonised system of summer time should be introduced throughout the Community from approximately 1st April to 1st October each year, so that continental countries should always be on the same time, and the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland always one hour behind them.The United Kingdom practice is governed by the Summer Time Act, 1972. Our summer time in 1975 runs from 15th March to 26th October.

I doubt whether the harmonisation would contribute to the conservation of energy, the context in which the matter was raised on 26th June. These proposals concern several other Departments of State, notably the Home Office and the Department of the Environment, and need further careful consideration.

I entered into no commitment whatsoever on behalf of the United Kingdom. The matter will now have to be pursued in more detail in the Community. I intend to see that British interests are safeguarded.

Coal Industry Investment

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the likely sources of finances for the National Coal Board investment outlined in the "Plan for Coal".

The NCB can continue to rely on the usual sources of finance for capital expenditure: internally generated funds; borrowings, either from the National Loans Fund or abroad, including ECSC; and, when appropriate, leasing arrangements. As stated in the Final Report of the Coal Industry Examination 1974, the Government will be ready to consider dealing with any special problems of financing that arise.

Industry

West Midlands

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied with the progress of industry and its development in the West Midlands region; and if he will make a statement.

We are aware of the concern which has been expressed recently about the industrial situation in the West Midlands and this was discussed in the Adjournment debate on 23rd May. We are keeping a close watch on the position.

Advance Factories

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the average period of time between the announcement of an advance factory by his Department and completion of construction.

Taking advance factories completed since February 1974, and including cases where land first had to be acquired, the average was 26 months.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many of the advance factories to be built in 1976–77 are to be located in Kirkby or on the Knowsley Industrial Estate.

Nine advance factories totalling 140,000 square feet are under construction on the Knowsley Industrial Estate. Three are due for completion during the late summer and the remainder by the spring of next year.

ScotlandUnited Kingdom including Scotland
NumberValueNumberValue
000)000)
Loans105238245
Interest relief grants (based on a notional loan value of less than £10,000)2223114115
Romoval grants3388226679
I regret that the required information about the number of companies registered in Scotland is not readily available.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the total sum of money given to date as assistance under the Industry Act 1972.

Northern Ireland

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has any approximate figures which might indicate the cost to British industry of security measures which they have been obliged to take as a result of the situation in Northern Ireland.

There are no figures from official sources upon which such an estimate can be based.

Innovation Finance (Scotland)

ask the Secretary of State for Industry if he will extend his answer to the question by the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) of 26th June by stating what sums so spent, or to be spent, in finance of innovation were,

No further factories are planned there at present.

Industry Act 1972 (Grants And Loans)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies have received grants and loans under £10,000 under the Industry Act 1972; of those how many were registered in Scotland; and what is the total sum of all such grants or loans.

Up to 31st May 1975, the following offers were made, under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972, of grants and loans of less than £10,000:or will be, applicable to Scotland, and express the information also in percentage terms.

I have nothing to add to the reply to the hon. Member for Caernarvon. Records of past and estimates of future expenditure are kept on a United Kingdom basis and I regret, therefore, that the information requested is not available.

Mercury Substitutes

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what research is being done into the problems of mercury substitutes, owing to the likely world shortages of mercury.

While, as my hon. Friend will know, there is a surplus of mercury in the world at present, both economic and environmental factors have recently stimulated research into substitutes, and mercury has been entirely replaced in some applications. Such research, which is continuing, will help to extend the useful life of existing resources and also to lessen the United Kingdom's dependence on imports of mercury.

Trade

Darjeeling Holding Company Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will confirm that he proposes to appoint inspectors to investigate the affairs of Darjeeling Holding Company Limited.

Yes. It was announced on 2nd July that the Secretary of State proposes to appoint inspectors under the provisions of Section 164 of the Companies Act 1948 following the receipt of applications for investigation of the affairs of the company from some 140 shareholders holding in excess of 20 per cent. of the issued share capital.

Suez Canal

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the numbers and proportion to the total of British registered ships which have used the Suez Canal since its reopening.

Five northbound and eight southbound British registered ships have used the Suez Canal since it was reopened. I regret I have no information about the total number involved.