Written Answers To Questions
Monday 7th July 1975
Rt Hon Member For Walsall, North
asked the Lord President of the Council if he will make a statement on the latest developments regarding the position of the right hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Stonehouse).
I have nothing at this stage to add to my statement to the House on 11th June.—[Vol. 893, c. 408–9.]
House Of Commons
asked the Lord President of the Council if he will introduce legislation to provide that an hon. Member who is continuously absent from the House of Commons for a period of six months without the express permission of the House automatically forfeits his or her seat.
I have no present intention to do so but would welcome the views of hon. Members.
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.
pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th July 1975; Vol. 894, c. 563], gave the following information:I would refer the hon. Member to the statement by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister on 3rd July 1975.—[Vol. 894, c. 1671–2.]
Housing And Local Government Questions
asked the Lord President of the Council if he will arrange for the Ministers for Housing and Local Government to be given a separate place on the rota for Oral Questions.
asked the Lord President of the Council if he will move to set up a Welsh Select Committee to enable Members to question Welsh Ministers more fully, in view of the fact that only about seven oral questions are available to each Member to Welsh Ministers in a parliamentary year.
Exchequer And Audit Act
asked the Lord President of the Council if he will establish a committee to review the Exchequer and Audit Act.
My right hon. Friends sees no need to appoint a committee to consider this subject at the present time.
Palace Of Westminster
asked the Lord President of the Council what steps he proposes to take to ensure that registered disabled people comprise 3 per cent. of the labour staff employed by the Houses of Parliament.
In line with general Civil Service policy, the House authorities are constantly seeking ways to encourage the employment of disabled persons within the Houses of Parliament.
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he can estimate the amount by which the intervention and target prices for beef would be increased if the green pound were restored to its maximum value; and if he will make a statement.
The difference between the representative rate and market rate for the £ sterling as calculated for the purposes of MCAs to be applied in the week beginning 7th July was almost 22 per cent. If the representative rate were altered to the market rate the United Kingdom intervention price for beef, which is fixed in units of account, would rise from £22·85 to £27·83 per live cwt. Decisions on the United Kingdom monthly target prices would be a matter for the United Kingdom Government.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by how much the green pound is overvalued by comparison with the floating pound; when the two were approximately at parity; over how long and at what intervals the loss of value occurred; and if he will make a statement.
The difference between the representative rate for sterling—the "green pound"—and its current value in terms of the agricultural unit of account is calculated weekly for the purpose of fixing monetary compensatory amounts (MCAs). For the week beginning 7th July the MCAs will be based on a difference of almost 22 per cent.The difference was last zero in February 1973. The current value of sterling used for this calculation has declined progressively since then, but the present Government have twice agreed to adjust the representative rate downwards so as to reduce the difference.
Battered Babies (Scotland)
asked the Lord Advocate how many alleged battered baby cases were reported to the Crown Office year by year from 1960 to 1975; how many of these cases gave rise to prosecutions in the High Court of Justiciary year by year from 1960 to 1975; and how many of these cases led to convictions year by year from 1960 to 1975.
Crown Office does not keep a record of reported battered baby cases and accordingly I am unable to give you the information requested in the first part of the Ques- tion. As regards the second and third parts the figures are as follows:
|Year||Number of prosecutions||Number of cases in which convictions were obtained||Number of cases in which plea of insanity was sustained|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he plans his next meeting with the parties involved in the discussions about the future of the HS146; if he will make a statement about the progress of consultations so far.
My right hon. Friend has now received the report from the Tripartite Working Group composed of representatives of the trades unions, Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd. and officials. The next step is for my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State to discuss this with the Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will now abandon plans for further nationalisation of private sector industry in view of the need to curtail the increase in the public sector borrowing requirement.
No. We stand firmly by our manifesto proposals for an extension of the public sector where it is most needed. We have announced that we will proceed with the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill at the very earliest opportunity in the next Session, with a view to Royal Assent and vesting of the companies to be nationalised as early as possible in 1976.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied with the progress of industry in the Northern Region.
We are aware of the needs of the region and will continue to work to assist industrial progress.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his forecast of the increase in demand for the products of the British Steel Corporation as a result of the recently announced flexible price policy; and how many jobs he estimates will be safeguarded by this action.
It is hoped that the recently announced price changes will lead to significantly increased sales of steel strip products, but in present market conditions it is not possible to make a specific forecast. Increased sales will clearly improve employment prospects.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he wil make a statement on his recent meetings with the CBI and TUC on the amendments to the Industry Bil.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement about his discussions with the Trades Union Congress and the Confederation of British Industry about the Industry Bill, following the completion of the Committee stage of the Bill on 12th June.
My right hon. Friends the Prime Minister and the Secretary of of State together with other Cabinet colleagues met representatives of the CBI and TUC on 17th June and 18th June respectively. In addition, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State held a further meeting with representatives of the CBI on 19th June. These consultations followed the undertakings given by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister that between Committee and Report stages the Government would consider representations by the TUC and the CBI.
Shipbuilding And Ship Repairing
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what further representations he has had regarding the nationalisation of the shipbuilding and ship remairing and marine engineering industries; and if he will make a statement.
Since publication of the discussion paper in July 1974 my Department has received representations from many interested parties. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has already announced the Government's decision to proceed with the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill at the very earliest opportunity in the next Session.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what plans he has other than nationalisation to assist the shipbuilding industry.
The industry will continue to benefit from the existing forms of assistance.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement on the prospects of the British shipbuilding industry in the light of international conditions.
There is every sign that the world shipbuilding market is entering a period of severe recession. Although most of our shipyards have orders in hand that assure them of work for the next year or so it would be over-optimistic to expect that the recession will not affect the British shipbuilding industry. My right hon. Friend hopes very soon to begin talks with both sides of the industry about the situation it faces. In the longer term it is one of the objects of nationalisation to improve the competitiveness of the industry and ensure its future prospects.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will accept the current recommendations for assistance to the clothing industry made to him by the National Economic Development Office.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement about the recent proposals of the Clothing Economic Development Committee about assistance to textile companies.
The Government's response to the proposals made by the Clothing EDC is being discussed with it.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a further statement on the position and prospects of the British car manufacturing industry.
The Government have announced their proposals for British Leyland and that the Central Policy Review Staff is undertaking a longer-term study of the industry. I have nothing further to add.
Motor Cycle Industry
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement about the financial condition of the motor cycle industry; and whether he has any plans to inject further public money into it.
Consultants have been commissioned to examine the situation in the British motor cycle industry and its prospects. When we have received their report we will consider what the Government's policy towards the industry should be.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to receive the latest report and accounts of the Post Office.
I am advised that the report and accounts for the financial year 1974–75 should reach me in time for them to be laid before Parliament rises for the Summer Recess.
National Enterprise Board
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what progress has been made towards the acquisition of a headquarters building for the National Enterprise Board; and, in view of the sav- ings which would result, whether he will make it his policy to see that it is sited out of London.
Offices have already been leased for the board in Grosvenor Gardens, London, S.W.I.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many areas of profitable industry he expects the National Enterprise Board to extend public ownership into in its first year of operation.
This is a matter that my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State will be discussing with the NEB Organising Committee before the board comes into operation.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations have been made to his Department about the future of the television tube industry at Ravenhead, St. Helens; and what steps he is taking to maintain a British television tube industry in the Uinted Kingdom.
I have carefully considered the representations made by the management and by the trade unions on behalf of the workers at Pilkington's television tube glassware factory at Ravenhead. I regret that I have found no justifiable way in which the Government could help to keep the factory in operation.I am looking urgently into the position of the United Kingdom manufacturers of colour tubes. Until that examination has been completed, I cannot say what action will be taken.
North East Coast Shiprepairers Ltd
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will make a statement regarding the progress of discussions with North East Coast Shiprepairers Limited regarding modernisation and development projects at its Tyne yards affecting both its efficiency and the welfare of the workers employed in the yards.
The Department's approval was given on 4th July to a development scheme at one of the NECS yards which will result in improved working facilities and better amenities for the work force. No other major schemes have yet been submitted to the Department, and smaller scale work does not require departmental approval.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry to what extent fluorocarbons are used as the propellant gas for aerosols available in Great Britain.
Fluorocarbons are used as the propellant in approximately 70 per cent. of the aerosol spray cans available in Great Britain.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish the study carried out by his Department on the United Kingdom computer software industry; and if he will announce when this study will be completed.
The study is complete. The findings will be discussed with other Government Departments and, through the Computer Services Association, with the industry. Thereafter it is hoped to publish a report.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the contract value of the computer software development contracts placed to date by requirement boards with industry and with Her Majesty's Government establishments, respectively.
Since the inception of the Department's requirements boards early in 1973 the total values of computer software development contracts placed has been approximately:
|Her Majesty's Government establishments||£2,900,000|
Shipbuilding And Aerospace
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is yet able to give a timetable for the implementation of his proposals to take into public ownership the shipbuilding and aerospace industries
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State told my hon. Friend the Member for Greenock and Port Glasgow (Dr. Mabon), Government have decided to proceed with the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill at the very earliest opportunity in the next Session, with a view to Royal Assent and vesting of the companies to be nationalised as early as possible in 1976.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will give examples of the type of action aimed at frustrating the objectives of public ownership which may require the Government to introduce retrospectively further safeguarding provisions than those contained in the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill.
We expect the safeguarding provisions to be adequate to prevent any deliberate dissipation of assets before vesting; but should any novel devices not specifically covered by the Bill be used, we shall be ready to introduce further provisions, which may be retrospective in their effect, to deal with them. The safeguarding provisions are not intended to inhibit normal commercial transactions.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what percentage of Great Britain's timber requirements was imported from abroad in each year from 1960 to 1974 and in 1975 to date; and what percentage of Great Britain's timber requirements was provided by Scotland, England and Wales, respectively, during those years, year by year.
Approximately 90 per cent. of Great Britain's timber requirements, including requirements for timber processed into boards, pulp and sheet and reel paper, was imported from abroad in each year from 1961 to 1974. Data for 1960 and 1975 and separate data for England, Scotland and Wales are not available.
Producer Co-Operatives (Assistance)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what has been the amount of Government money given to producer co-operatives distinguishing between grants and loans.
Under Parts I and II of the Industry Act 1972, £10,053,510 has been made available to manufacturing companies with a co-operative form of organisation; £5,400,000 has been in the form of loans, the remainder as grant.
Aircraft Industries (European Community Countries)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what proposals are being made by the EEC Commission for the merging of the aircraft industries of EEC countries under a central authority.
The Council of Ministers' Resolution of 4th March 1975 refers to a preliminary general report on aircraft industry policy to be prepared by the Commission. This could well deal with the organisation of the industry. We have not yet received copies of this paper, which I understand has not been finalised.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will place in the Library copies of the correspondence he has exchanged with Hawker Siddeley Aviation Limited arising out of the company's proposal to re-engine the HS125.
No. This is a commercial matter for Hawker Siddeley Aviation Ltd., though the company has discussed its proposals with the Department in the context of the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Bill.
Motor Vehicle Imports
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the proportion of foreign cars among new car registrations in the first five months of 1975; and what was the corresponding pro- portion in France, Italy, West Germany and Japan.
I have been asked to reply.For Great Britain the proportion was 33 per cent. Figures are not available for the other countries for the first five months, but comparable figures for the first three months of 1975 and for the year 1974 are shown in the table.
|Percentage of Foreign Cars of New Car Registrations|
|Country||First quarter 1975||1974|
Prices And Consumer Protection
Clothing (Origin Marking)
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether she will require the labelling of all clothing sold in the United Kingdom to indicate the country of origin.
No. However, there is nothing to stop domestic manufacturers from labelling clothing to show that it is made in Britain.
Fish (Retail Prices)
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what progress the committee of inquiry into retail prices in the fish trade has made; and when she will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend referred the question of prices and margins in the distribution of fish to the Price Commission on 16th April. Its report is expected in the autumn.
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will now take steps to reintroduce controlled public bar prices in all licensed properties.
I intend to ensure that the prices being charged in licensed premises are clearly displayed to the customer.
Ferry "Mary Poppins"
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will refer the decision of the trade unions involved to stop the "Mary Poppins" from operating a cross-Channel ferry service between Southampton and St. Malo to the Monopolies Commission under Section 79 of the Fair Trading Act 1973, as a restrictive labour practice.
No. The dispute did not constitute a restrictive labour practice within the meaning of Section 79 of the Act.
Civil Aviation Authority
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what discussions he has had with the Civil Aviation Authority about locating the headquarters of the Civil Aviation Authority in the city of Manchester.
I am in touch with the authority about the extent to which its headquarters staff might be dispersed from London. No decisions have yet been taken on numbers or location.
Scottish Fish Products
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps are being taken to extend the market for Scottish fish products in the United States of America.
The promotion of exports of Scottish fish products to the United States of America is primarily a matter for the industries concerned. I understand that the Shetland industries, most affected by the downturn in exports to the United States of America, are considering future action in relation to this and other markets. Government services are available—and are being used—to help Scottish exporters of fish products to sell overseas.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the cost of timber imported into Great Britain from abroad in each year from 1960 to 1974 and in 1975 to date.
United Kingdom imports of timber and timber manufactures have been as follows:
|£ million cif|
|January to May 1975||…||565|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if his Department is to be officially represented at the Press conference and seminar due to be held to promote investment in South Africa and the Bantustan homelands.
An official from my Department attended this function as an observer, which is normal practice for occasions of this kind.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if it is his policy to promote investment in South Africa and the Bantustan homelands; and what is his policy towards the resolutions of the United Nations on this matter.
British investment in South Africa is subject to the normal rules and no special privileges are given. The location of investment within South Africa is a matter for firms. Questions concerning UN resolutions are for my right hon. Friend the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many trade missions will visit South Africa in the course of 1975; and how many will visit other countries in Africa, including North Africa.
16 missions to South Africa and 15 missions to other countries in Africa, including North Africa, have been approved for support under the British Overseas Trade Board's Outward Missions Scheme in 1975.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps are being taken to differentiate between trade with South Africa and trade with Namibia.
I refer my hon Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to his similar Question on 9th December 1974.—[Vol. 883, c. 55.]
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many civil servants are involved in operating the surveillance licensing of textile imports; and how many more he estimates would be required to extend the scheme to cover clothing.
Some 27 staff are involved in my Department in operating the surveillance licensing of textile imports; the scheme also involves additional effort at ports by staff of Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and some assistance from the Department of Industry, The numbers which would be required if the arrangements were extended to cover clothing would be of the order of a further 30 staff in my Department; there would also be additional work at ports.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if the ECGD paid any claims to British exporters resulting from defaults on payments due from Chile during 1974–75.
Yes. ECGD has paid and is continuing to pay claims to insured exporters in accordance with the terms of their guarantees where payment has not been received from Chile.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he has had any recent approaches from the representatives of civil servants about pay increases.
My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal met representatives of the Industrial Civil Service shortly before the recent settlement for this group was reached.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will give a list of all the forms from Government or quasi-governmental organisations which are required to be returned by companies, whether for statistical, taxation or other purposes.
There is no central record of such forms. I realise that form filling can be a burden on companies, especially small companies, but I am assured that Government Departments issue forms only when they are satisfied the information is essential, and they always have regard to ease of completion.
House Of Commons (Printing Equipment)
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is the type and cost of printing equipment newly installed on the Interview Floor of the House; who is authorised to use this equipment; and when it will be available for use.
The equipment consists of photocopying machines. They are rented and the total cost is dependent upon the amount of work produced. As to the remaining parts of the Question, I would refer the hon. Member to what the Lord President told the House on 3rd July [c. 1681–2.].
asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will make a progress report on his discussions with the Civil Service unions on devolution of Scottish government.
Since my written reply to the hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid) on 15th May, in which I informed this House of the meeting the Lord Privy Seal and I had with a deputation from the National Staff Side on 15th April, there have been no further discussions.
Ministers' Special Advisers
asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many persons are currently employed as political assistants to Ministers; and what is the total annual salary bill for these persons at current rates.
Currently 27 people are employed as special advisers to Ministers. The total cost of their salaries is estimated to be £161,000 per annum.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage return on capital he has set for British Rail for 1975; and how this is affected by recent pay awards in the industry.
Any such target would be inappropriate, since British Rail has a negative return on capital and is heavily dependent on Exchequer support.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he intends to introduce legislation to deal with tied houses other than agricultural workers' houses.
I have no such plans at present.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many possession orders were granted against tenants in tied accommodation in the years 1973 and 1974, respectively.
These figures are not available.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give figures for the number of tied or service houses in each principal category of relevant employment, including hoth the private and public sectors.
This information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give figures for the number of agricultural service houses constructed each year in the last 20 years and the total constructed in the post-war years.
My Department has no material on this subject. The Tavistock Institute Working Paper "Tied Cottages in British Agriculture", published last month and of which the Library has a copy, found that, on a sample of 281 farms, 35 cottages had been built in the last 10 years.
Kirkhamgate-Dishforth Road Project
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the cost of mounting the procedures so far adopted for public consultation on the Kirkhamgate to Dishforth motorway routes.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many people visited the different exhibitions mounted as part of the public consultation procedure on the Kirkhamgate to Dishforth motorway routes; and how many questionnaires have been returned.
7,339 people visited the exhibitions. Up to 27th June, 1,931 questionnaires had been returned.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the total capital cost of the red route, estimated at £84 million, and of the brown route, estimated at £87 million in the consultation paper produced by his Department on the Kirkhamgate to Dish-forth motorway routes, include the sums which will have to be spent on improving the A1 and building the Oulton—Woodlesford bypass and A63–64 link.
The red and brown routes incorporate the improvement of the A1 north of Wetherby and thus the cost of those routes includes the cost of that improvement. The improvement of the A1 south of Wetherby, the Oulton—Woodlesford bypass and the A63-A64 link would not be necessary if either the red or the brown route were built.
Pollution (Road Vehicles)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now publish specific standards for the upper limit of smoke emission from public service vehicles and goods vehicles.
Since October 1972 all new diesel-engined vehicles have been required to be fitted with engines type 4 approved to BS AU141a: 1971, which sets specific standards for the emission of diesel smoke. In practice, however, engines do not always meet these standards and I am considering what new measures are required to improve production conformity.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many passenger service vehicles 71's and goods vehicles 9's have been issued by his Department since 1st April 1975.
747 PSV 71's and 8,070 GV 9's to 6th June 1975.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he has any plans to seek to persuade the EEC countries to drop their toll charges on motorways in order to bring them into line with British motorways;(2) if he has any plans to impose toll charges on British motorways, in order to bring Great Britain into line with other EEC countries.
I have no plan to do either at present.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what representations he has so far received about the proposal to double the Dartford Tunnel tolls; and what reply he has given;(2) whether he will order a local public inquiry into the proposal of the Kent and Essex County Councils to double the Dartford Tunnel tolls;(3) whether he has made any estimate of the volume of additional traffic likely to use other Thames crossings as a consequence of a doubling of the Dartford Tunnel tolls; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend has received 161 letters of objection, including 10 from local authorities, and 11 petitions signed in all by 2,950 people. Objectors have been told that a public local inquiry has been arranged for Tuesday 7th October. The extent of any diversion to other routes is a factor which will, no doubt, emerge during this inquiry.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many vehicles used the Dartford Tunnel in each of the last five years for which figures are available.
The information is as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider introducing a temporary disc system for members of the motor trade registering new vehicles.
No. Under present arrangements a full vehicle licence can be issued locally immediately on receipt of an application. Temporary discs are unnecessary.
Charity Shops (Rating)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a further statement on the question of the discretionary powers of rating authorities in relation to charity shops.
Yes. I am now advised that rate relief under Section 40(5) of the General Rate Act 1967 is not available in respect of these premises. The Questions by my hon. Friend the Member for South Shields (Mr. Blenkinsop) on 7th May and the hon. Members for Isle of Wight (Mr. Ross) on 8th May and Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg) on 15th May were tabled and answered before the fill judgment was available. I have explained this to Oxfam and the leaders of other charities affected.—[Vol. 891, c. 451], [Vol. 891. c. 503], [Vol. 892, c. 162.]
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek powers to extend to ratepayers the right to pay water rates monthly.
Water authorities have power to accept payment of charges in monthly instalments, and this is widely used, particularly where water charges are collected with the general rate. I am confident that water authorities will treat sympathetically any further requests to pay by instalments from people who might otherwise suffer hardship.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the Channel Tunnel Unit within his Department is still in existence; how many staff are involved; when it is to be disbanded; and what further work remains for it to do.
The Channel Tunnel Unit is being run down as quickly as possible. It has already shrunk from 28 to 13, and will be completely disbanded when it has completed its work making safe and restoring the sites, agreeing the accounts, and reaching a final settlement with the French Government.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the Government are involved in any continuing negotiations or reappraisals with other Governments or commercial concerns with regard to the Channel Tunnel.
Only in connection with closing down the project.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether all studies by British Rail into rail links with a Channel Tunnel have now ceased; and what further expenditure is being incurred in this connection.
I understand that the rail link studies stopped following abandonment of the tunnel project and that no expenditure is currently being incurred on them.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what proposals are being considered with regard to increasing the minimum requirement for light transmission values of car windscreens; if he is contemplating the elimination of tinted glass in windscreens; if so, if he will publish the evidence on which this intention is founded; and if he will undertake the fullest consultation with the safety glass industry on this matter.
I am studying the arguments relating to the light transmission values of car windscreens. Before announcing my conclusions I shall certainly consult the safety glass industry and give full weight to its views.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the present arrangement with the European Economic Community with regard to the sizes and weights of lorries; and whether any changes are under discussion.
Member States have differing weight and size limits and a lorry must comply with the requirements of the country in which it is travelling. Proposals for harmonising these limits have been before the Council of Ministers for some time, but there has been no recent discussion of them.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Department and the Building Research Establishment are carrying out any research of their own, separate from that commissioned by the Woodwool Slab Manufacturers Association, into the use of woodwool as formwork for concrete floors, following the recent incident at the Inland Revenue offices at New Malden; and whether he will make a statement.
My Department is looking into the use of woodwool formwork for concrete floors. Present evidence suggests that, although in certain circumstances it can give rise to defects, these are not likely to be such as to cause an immediate risk to safety.
Cavity Walls (Insulation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to issue any further advice to local authorities on cavity wall insulation, following the cautious response by some councils to his recommendation that Building Regulation C9 should be waived in appropriate circumstances; and whether he will make a statement on his policy on this matter.
My hon. Friend outlined his policy in his replies to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent, Central (Mr. Cant) and the hon. Member for Cheadle (Mr. Normanton) on 19th June—[Vol. 893, c. 513–5]—and to the hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Butler) on 24th June—[Vol. 894, c. 123–4]. The Department will be sending a further letter to local authorities shortly, and I will let the hon. Member have a copy.
Council House Tenancies
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what guidance is given to local authorities on the conditions of tenancy for council house tenants.
Formal guidance was last given in the report of a Sub-Committee of the Central Housing Advisory Committee in 1959 and in the accompanying Ministry of Housing and Local Government Circular 24/59. The need for further guidance is being considered.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to be able to announce the methods by which the £100 million building society funds will be used to make up for the cut in local authority mortgages; and what reports he has had on the number of cases in which local authorities have been obliged to default on contractual obligations in the absence of such funds.
My Department's regional offices are collecting details of local authorities' lending policies in order to identify the areas in which mortgage finance is most needed. Discussions will be arranged between local authorities and the building societies as soon as this information is available. I am not aware of any commitments entered into by local authorities before the date of Circular 64/75 which cannot now be met. Local authorities will be permitted to borrow sufficient funds to enable them to meet their commitments as defined in the circular.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce a consolidation measure to bring together in a more comprehensive form the various statutes known as the Rent Acts.
My right hon. Friend has considerable sympathy with this point of view, but priorities for consolidation are a matter for the Law Commission.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in view of the cut-back in the amount of money available to local authorities for advance to house purchases, he has any plans to ensure that building societies assist the type of applicant normally applying for local authority house purchase loans; and if he will make a statement.
My Department's regional offices are collecting details of local authorities' lending policies in order to identify the areas in which mortgage finance is most needed. Discussions will be arranged between local authorities and the building societies as soon as this information is available. My right hon. Friend explained in his answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Battersea, South (Mr. Perry) on 9th June—[Vol. 893, c. 39]—that building society participation would be made available within their normal lending terms.
Rent Rebates And Allowances (Advisory Committee)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will give details of the current membership of the Advisory Committee on Rent Rebates and Rent Allowances.
My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has just reconstituted the committee, in consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, and the membership is now as follows:
Professor J. B. Cullingworth—Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Housing Advisory Committee. Visiting Professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at Strathclyde University. Former Director of the Planning Exchange in Glasgow.
- *Mr. A. Bailey—Chief Executive of the World Property Housing Trust Housing Association.
- The Rev. P, Byrne, OMI—Director, Shelter Housing Aid Centre.
- *Councillor Mrs. I. F. Candy, CBE, BSc—Member of the Southampton District Council and of the Council of the Association of District Councils.
- *Councillor P. C. H. Cary—Member, Lambeth London Borough Council.
- Lord Crawshaw.
- Councillor N. P. Lister—Member of Coventry Housing Committee.
- *Mrs. B. Rodgers—Member of Supplementary Benefits Commission.
- Mr. H. G. Simpson, OBE—Controller of Housing, GLC.
- *Mr. L. E. Waddilove, OBE, JP—Director of Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust.
- *Mr. W. Woof—Director of Housing, Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council.
- Miss A. Evans—Member of the Executive Council of the Cardiff Family Welfare Association. Former Director of Supplementary Benefits Commission for Wales.
- *New members of the committee.
Oil Producing And Exporting Countries
asked the Secretary of State for Energy when Great Britain is expected to submit its application to join OPEC; and whether full membership is anticipated or observer status.
The Government have no plans to apply for membership of OPEC.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of steel pipes used in gas and oil installations in the North Sea is of British manufacture; and what percentage is purchased from Japan. Germany, Holland and Sweden, respectively.
The percentages by value for all pipelines since the end of 1973, when figures were first kept, are as follows:
Offshore Oil (Marketing)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether BNOC royalty oil will be marketed under bulk supply agreements negotiated between Governments or under exchange agreements with Middle East countries, including Iran.
It is too early to say what decisions will be reached on the use of the proposed discretionary power to take royalty as oil instead of cash or on how such oil might be marketed.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement upon the implications for Great Britain of the conclusions reached at the recent OPEC conference in Libreville, Gabon.
OPEC decided to adjust prices from 1st October 1975. I cannot predict what change it will make. The principal effect on the United Kingdom will be to add an additional £33 million to our import costs for every 1 per cent. by which oil prices are increased.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the estimated cost of providing plant and equipment for British refineries for processing North Sea oil; or whether it is intended to treat the EEC as an integrated market and allow substantial quantities of crude to be refined on the Continent.
Existing British refineries and those currently planned will be capable of refining North Sea oil though some may require minor modifications. I expect substantial quantities to be refined in this country, though no doubt some will be exported for refining elsewhere.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is Her Majesty's Government's best estimate of energy consumption in the United Kindom in (a) 1980, and (b) 1990; and how these estimates are broken down by fuel source as between coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, hydro power and other sources.
A forecast of primary energy consumption in the United Kingdom in 1980 and 1990 broken down by fuel source was given in a memorandum by the Department to the Select Committee on Science and Technology Energy Resources Sub-Committee and published by them in Minutes of Evidence [155-viii]. This forecast, called a "sample" projection, is only one of a number of possible futures referred to in the evidence. Another table presented shows the range of forecast consumption broken down by fuel source covered by the Department of Energy studies.
Coal Industry (Pneumoconiotics)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy in how many cases in which a disablement assessment of 60 per cent. or more in respect of pneumoconiosis has been made the persons concerned have worked for less than 10 years in the coal mining industry.
I regret this information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will publish a table showing the average number of weekly manshifts including overtime shifts worked by underground coal workers for each month since April 1974; and if he will give the length of the average manshift and calculate therefrom the average hourly earnings for underground coal workers which this represents, taking into account the value of the allowance for free coal.
This is primarily a matter for the National Coal Board, and I have asked the Chairman to reply direct to the hon. Member.
Central Generating And South Of Scotland Electricity Boards
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what were the numbers of staff of the CEGB and of the SSEB, re- spectively, per megawatt of generation capacity in 1960 and 1974.
The number of CEGB generation employees at conventional steam-raising power stations in 1974 was 0·68 per megawatt of generation sent out as compared with 1·48 employees in 1960. In 1974, 0·99 persons were employed at nuclear power stations per megawatt of generation sent out as compared with 1·51 employees in 1964, the earliest year for which nuclear power station figures are published. I am sure my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland would be glad to arrange for the information to be provided in respect of the SSEB.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the future supplies of solid smokeless fuel in smoke control areas.
There should be an adequate supply of solid smokeless fuels to meet demand in the winter. Customers may not always be able to obtain prompt delivery of their first choice of fuel for closed appliances, but merchants will be able to offer suitable alternatives.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what estimates he has made of likely power generation levels from coal, oil, nuclear power, and hydro-electric sources, respectively, by 1980, expressed in percentage terms.
Forecasts of the consumption of primary energy were given in the Department's evidence to the Select Committee on Science and Technology Energy Resources Sub-Committee and were published by them in Minutes of Evidence [155-viii]. The forecasts, which covered a range of assumptions, implied power generation levels in 1980 as follows:
|Nuclear and Hydro||…||17–18|
Oil Drilling (National Coal Board)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the estimated current cost of the National Coal Board's ancillary activities in drilling oil wells.
During the year ended 29th March 1975 NCB (Exploration) Ltd. spent £9,683,000 on exploration wells in its search for oil and gas. This expenditure was in respect of the company's participation share in 15 wells drilled in conjunction with its co-licensees. During the current year exploration is continuing at a similar rate.
European Community Policy
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what action is now being taken by members of the EEC to co-ordinate energy requirements, including policies on oil and coal imports from non-EEC countries.
There is regular consultation between EEC countries on co-ordination of energy requirements. Policy on oil and coal imports from non-EEC countries remains primarily a matter for national Governments.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the most recent estimates of distributed stocks of coal, stating specifically the tonnages available to the Central Electricity Generating Board, the British Steel Corporation, private industry, and coal merchants.
Information on distributed stocks in Great Britain—excluding stocks held in merchants' yards mainly for the domestic market, and stocks held by the industrial sector—are published regularly in Table 8 of "Energy Trends", available in the Library of the House. The latest provisional figures available on this basis are in respect of 21st June when total distributed stocks were 18·4 million tons. Of this total 14·3 million tons were held by the Central Electricity Generating Board and 1·5 million tons by the British Steel Corporation.I regret that precise figures about the levels of stocks held by private industry and coal merchants are not available, but information, derived from a number of sources, is that, for the former, stocks
are at present somewhat higher than normal for the time of the year and, for the latter, that the position is generally quite satisfactory.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the estimated operating cost of coal-fired power stations generating electricity; what is the operating cost of oil-fired power stations; and what is the estimated cost of gas-fired stations.
I understand from the Central Electricity Generating Board that for 1974–75 the average operating costs of CEGB power stations commissioned in the last 12 years were as follows:
0·62p per kilowatt-hour at coal-fired power stations;
These figures include the cost of fuel, salaries and wages and all other operating repairs and maintenance costs.The CEGB has only two gas-fired power stations. Both of these are dual coal/gas fired stations. No meaningful figure for the operating cost of gas-fired stations is, therefore, available. They do not include interest and depreciation charges.0·76p per kilowatt-hour at oil-fired power stations.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what has been the amount, in tons, of oil consumed by the Central Electricity Generating Board power stations during each of the past five years;(2) what has been the amount, in tons, of coal consumed by the Central Electricity Generating Board power stations during each of the past five years.
This information, expressed on a coal equivalent, is given in the lower half—England and Wales—of Table 11 in the June issue of "Energy Trends" published by my Department and available in the Library of the House.The figures in original units of measurement are as follows:
Coal And Oil Imports (Prices)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the average price per ton of imported coal and oil, respectively, during 1974.
Statistics on fuel imports including average c.i.f. values per ton are published in the annual "Digest of United Kingdom Energy Statistics". For 1974 the figures are:
|Crude petroleum and process oils||…||34·5|
|Refined petroleum products||…||44·4|
asked the Minister of Overseas Development how many overseas service and scheme officers are in receipt of supplementation from Her Majesty's Government; and how many are United Kingdom citizens.
At 30th June 1975, 6,247 persons were receiving supplementation benefits under various schemes. The great majority are citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies, but information about the exact number is not readily available, and to compile it would involve a disproportionate cost to public funds.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development how many citizens of the Irish Republic are in receipt of overseas service and scheme supplementation payments; and why.
The number is not known, as no separate records are kept of citizens of the Republic of Ireland. Citizens of the Republic are for historical reasons not considered aliens, and this position was recognised in the Ireland Act 1949. For the purposes of our supplementation schemes, therefore, citizens of the Republic of Ireland are treated as if they were citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies.
Directorate Of Overseas Surveys
asked the Minister of Overseas Development why it is proposed to move the Directorate of Overseas Surveys from London to Glasgow.
The move was recommended, subject to any decision affecting the future of the directorate, in the Hardman Report. It forms part of the Government's programme of dispersal of some 31,000 Civil Service posts announced by my right hon. Friend the Lord President of the Council on 30th July 1974.
Employment Protection Bill (Palace Of Westminster Staff)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has concluded his discussions on the implication of the Employment Protection Bill for the staff in the Palace of Westminster.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Blackley (Mr. Rose) on 23rd June.—[Vol. 894. c. 61.]
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers in the building trade are unemployed at present.
On 9th June 1975, 149,834 unemployed people in Great Britain last worked in construction.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement as to how many building workers in Scotland were unemployed at the most recent date for which figures are available; and what were the comparable figures for the same dates in each of the past five years.
On 9th June 1975, 19,149 unemployed people in Scotland last worked in construction. The corresponding figures for earlier years were 15,433 at June 1974, 16,018 at June 1973, 23,917 at June 1972, 25,261 at June 1971 and 16,943 at June 1970.
European Community Social Fund
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will make a statement about the procedures used by his Department in processing individual claims to the EEC Social Fund;(2) how many individual applications from voluntary organisations were forwarded to the EEC Social Fund in each of the years 1973 and 1974.
The Government make applications in respect of Government expenditure on training, resettlement, rehabilitation of disabled people and the integration of migrant workers into the social and working environment. Allocations for 1973 and 1974 were £23·9 million and £25·9 million respectively. Allocations for 1975 have yet to be made.The Government expenditure concerned includes grants to individual firms and voluntary organisations. The Government do not pass on social fund receipts to such firms and organisations in addition to the Government grants they receive. The only applications made in 1973 and 1974 on behalf of individual bodies have been for several private companies in Northern Ireland where different training arrangements operate from the rest of the United Kingdom, and for three industrial training boards in respect of activities financed from levy income. No applications on behalf of voluntary organisations were submitted in 1973 or 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many retraining places are now available at Government training centres in the city of Birmingham; and how this compares with the numbers available in each of the last five years.
There is one skillcentre—formerly Government training centre—in Birmingham itself. The number of training places available in it at the end of May 1975 was 359. Figures for previous years are as follows:
Places currently available are temporarily reduced due to reconstruction work for an expansion of training facilities.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many shorthand-typists are now registered as unemployed in the city of Birmingham; and how this number compares with those for the corresponding month in 1974, 1973, 1972, 1971 and 1970.
The following table shows the available information. For employment offices, the numbers unemployed are analysed quarterly according to the occupations for which they are registered for employment. The figures from June 1973 are based on the Key List of Occupations for Statistical Purposes and are not comparable with those for earlier dates which are based on a departmental classification.
|UNEMPLOYED IN THE AREA COVERED BY THE ASTON, BIRMINGHAM, HANDSWORTH, SELLY OAK, SMALL HEATH, SUTTON COLDFIELD AND WASHWOOD HEATH EMPLOYMENT OFFICES|
|Personal secretaries, shorthand-writers and shorthand-typists|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how much money is now being spent on training for re-employment of able-bodied men and women in the city of Birmingham in the current year; and how this compares with the amounts spent during each of the previous two years.
I am informed by the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission that the information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give a regional breakdown of the number of Easter school leavers who are still registered as unemployed.
This information is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost. Statistics of unemployed school leavers do not define the date of leaving school.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the job prospects in Essex and the region in which it is situated for the boys and girls who will be leaving school at the end of July.
It is still too early to make reliable estimates. Employment prospects for school leavers in the South-East as a whole are satisfactory, though there may be local difficulties in parts of Essex. The number of vacancies immediately available for school leavers will be shown in the next monthly count; but the process of settling them into employment normally extends over the period July to November.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the numbers of young people who left school in (a) July 1974 and (b) in April 1975 who are still unemployed in each London borough.
This information is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost. Statistics of unemployed school leavers do not define the date of leaving school.
Vacancies (Young Persons)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of job vacancies currently notified to youth career offices in each region compared with last year's June figures.
The following table shows the information. The figures relate only to vacancies notified to careers offices and are not a measure of total vacancies for younger people.
|NOTIFIED UNFILLED VACANCIES AT CAREERS OFFICES|
|Yorkshire and Humberside||3,176||12,258|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people it is estimated will be employed in the education services—as defined by Minimum List Heading 872 of Order XXV of the Standard Industrial Classification—in 1981.
The last available estimate is that by a group of researchers published in the Department of Employment Gazette for May 1975. It reflects 1973 rather than current public expenditure plans. Many part-time workers are included.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many firms and employees were known to be on short-time working in Scotland at the end of May.
I regret that information is not available for the end of May. However, in the week commencing 9th June 1975 in Scotland 18,000 workers at 104 establishments were known by my Department to be on short-time working.
Training Services Agency
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many staff are employed by the Training Services Agency operating in the area covered by the Macclesfield constituency.
I am informed by Manpower Services Commission that the major part of the work of recruitment of trainees for TOPS courses in skillcentres, colleges of further education, private colleges and other establishments is undertaken by staff in the jobcentres of the Employment Service Agency, supported by staff from district offices of the Training Services Agency. In the Manchester area the Employment Service Agency has 32 offices, including one in Macclesfield, which have 60 posts deployed exclusively on TOPS work.The Training Services Agency district office in Manchester has fully trained training opportunities advisers who regularly visit the Macclesfield area and jobcentre to help and advise staff and prospective trainees as well as employers, principals of colleges of further education and others of the facilities available under the Training Services Agency TOPS scheme.
Factories Acts (Breaches)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many breaches of the Factories Acts have been the subject of prosecutions in the year to the latest available date in (1) Cheshire, (2) Macclesfield and (3) Congleton; how many firms were involved; and in how many cases the maximum penalty was imposed.
I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that for the 12-month period ending 30th April 1975 the numbers of prosecutions for breaches of the Factories Act 1961 and association regulations in the areas of Cheshire, Macclesfield and Congleton were as follows. The maximum penalty was imposed in one of these cases.
|Prosecutions (Informations laid)||Number of firms prosecuted|
|* Macclesfield and Congleton are both part of the County Council of Cheshire, and so their figures are also included in the total for Cheshire.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will instruct the Training Services Agency to conduct an inquiry into the rundown of engineering training apprenticeship schemes available for school leaves in the current year in the Hull area.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the Engineering Industry Training Board, in common with other industrial training boards, is aware of the problem to which my hon. Friend refers and is watching the situation closely in all areas. The commission therefore considers such an inquiry unnecessary.My hon. Friend may be aware that the Board, with financial assistance from the TSA, has mounted a training award scheme to provide up to 3,000 new entrants with full-time, first year off-the-job craft or technician training in board centres, group training centres, colleges of further education and employers' training centres. A proportion of these awards will be available to young persons in the Hull area.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many engineering training opportunity places have been made available in the Hull area for each of the years since the inception of the scheme in 1972; and what is the estimate for 1975.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that training in engineering under the Training Opportunities Scheme is available at Hull Skillcentre. The number of places available in 1973, 1974 and the estimate for 1975 is 68, 64 and 74 respectively, producing 112, 118 and 125—estimated—trained workers. In addition, as arrangements can be made, some engineering training is provided in employers' establishments. 11 people were trained in this way in 1974 and eight are currently being trained.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many engineering apprenticeships were available in the Hull area for each of the years since 1970; and what is the estimate for 1975.