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Written Answers

Volume 897: debated on Monday 4 August 1975

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 4th August 1975

Industry

British Steel Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to make a further announcement regarding the Government's review of the British Steel Corporation's closure proposals.

I propose to make a statement on Wednesday 6th August. To assist hon. Members, I shall place copies of a report by my right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State in the Library of the House and in the Vote Office at 10 o'clock on Wednesday morning.

Trade

Airports Policy

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proposals he has for the development of airports policy following the abandonment of the Maplin airport project: and whether he will make a statement.

Following the decision to abandon the Maplin airport project, an extensive programme of further work was initiated, and preliminary consultations have been undertaken with relevant local authorities and other organisations. As part of this process, the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for companies, aviation and snipping and I have visited more than a dozen of the principal airports in England, Scotland and Wales so that we can see at first hand the situation at the various airports.In the light of this work and these consultations, two comprehensive consultation documents are being prepared. The first will cover the general issue of future traffic, the overall possibilities for diverting traffic to regional airports, and the development of airports in the London area; the second will deal with the possibilities for particular regional airports. These documents will provide the basis for detailed discussions with local authorities, amenity groups and other organisations on the whole range of matters involved in airport development.I expect that the first of the documents will be published in October, and that the second will follow early next year. This is a little later than I had hoped, but it is important that the documents should be as comprehensive as possible. It is my intention that adequate time should be given for all those concerned to express their views on future airport developments in the United Kingdom as a whole.There has been a significant reduction in the forecasts of passenger demand since the decision to abandon the Maplin airport project, and the additional capacity at Gatwick and the provision of a fourth passenger terminal at Heathrow, to which I referred in my statement on Maplin, seem likely to be sufficient to accommodate traffic well into the 1980s. The London consultations will, therefore, be essentially about the options beyond that time. These options should permit capacity to be expanded flexibly and in stages, depending upon the growth of traffic.I consider that it should be possible to develop a policy which, over time, will lead to the development of air services in the regions which increasingly will enable those living outside the South-East to fly direct to their destinations and ease the pressure at the London airports. However, at the present time, over 40 per cent. of the passengers at London area airports are foreign business or leisure visitors, and virtually all these have destinations in the London area. Moreover, about 80 per cent. of all international passengers at London area airports start or end their journeys in the South-East. This obviously limits the scope for a substantial diversion of traffic without involving significant costs and serious inconvenience for many passengers.But, despite this, I recognise the environmental and other problems in the South-East, and the House will be aware of the particular importance which I attach to alleviating aircraft noise. Any airport policy must be related to this problem, and I am determined to continue to work towards a real and progressive improvement. In the consultation documents, it is my intention to publish noise contours to enable those concerned to judge the effect of alternative options for airport developments.

Energy

Electricity Generation (Research And Development)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is satisfied with the priorities operated by his Department in the allocation of funds for future research, development and construction in electrical generation as between various fuels.

No clash of priorities exists. The bulk of funds provided at present by my Department for research, development, design and construction in electricity generation are for nuclear technology. We are also funding studies on the generation of electricity from a range of renewable sources, and have agreed in principle to contribute towards the cost of a proposed international project for the development of fluidised bed combustion of coal. The sums of money involved in these non-nuclear topics are relatively small and are not restricted by the level of expenditure in the nuclear field.

Coal Industry (Earnings And Productivity)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what relationship has been shown to exist in recent weeks between the earnings of mine workers and productivity levels in the coal industry.

The miners' production bonus is paid on the basis of output in the previous quarter. Since production in the April-June quarter did not reach the agreed target figure, no production bonus is at present being paid. It is too early to make an estimate of output in the July-September quarter.

Electricity Production Costs

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what was the mean cost per unit of thermal electricity produced by the CEGB from power stations using coal, gas, oil and nuclear fission as a fuel base, giving the cost variations for the past three years as at 31st December of each year.

The CEGB prepares figures for the financial rather than the calendar year. The following are the average generation costs in pence per KWh of CEGB power stations commissioned in the last 12 years:

1972–731973–741974–73
Coal-fired stations0·490·530·74
Oil-fired stations0·400·550·88
Nuclear stations0·480·520·48
These figures include interest and depreciation charges appropriate to the financial years quoted. The CEGB has only two power stations which burn gas, both of which are dual coal/gas-fired stations. No meaningful figure for the generating cost of gas-fired stations is therefore available.

Offpeak Heating

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give a general direction to electricity boards not to offer free installation of off-peak heaters.

I do not think that this would be appropriate. Electricity area boards have a statutory right to sell and install electrical fittings. The terms on which they are offered is a matter for their commercial judgment.

Electricity Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what estimate he has of the effect the increased electricity prices will have on retirement pensioners and the low-paid.

The effect of increased electricity prices on such groups will depend, as for domestic consumers generally, on the amount and type of electricity which they consume.

Natural Gas (Supply Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy on what assumption he bases his calculation that long-term industrial contracts for the supply of natural gas would produce an extra revenue of £180 million for the British Gas Corporation if renegotiated at higher prices.

The estimate was based on the assumption that the amount of gas involved this year in contracts yet to fall due for revision could be sold at prices related to those of competing fuels. Of course, the amount of gas involved is falling rapidly as contracts come up for renewal.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many long-term industrial contracts for the supply of natural gas have been entered into by the British Gas Corporation (Gas Council) in each year since 1968; how many of the contracts entered into in each year (a) run for periods of five years or less, six to 10 years, 11 to 15 years and 16 years or more, respectively (b) are at a price which is less than one quarter, one quarter to one half, one half to three-quarters, over three quarters, respectively, of current prices for such contracts (c) are for less than 1 million, 1 million to 50 million, 51 million to 100 million, 101 million to 500 million, 501 million to 1,000 million, 1,000 million and over therms per annum, respectively, and (d) contain escalation or break clauses which allow the Corporation to increase prices to or near current levels.

This is a matter for the British Gas Corporation, and I am asking the Chairman to reply to my hon. Friend.

British National Oil Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the name or names of the management consultancy firms, and the fees paid to them, for attempting to recruit senior personnel for the British National Oil Corporation.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which my predecessor gave on 12th May to the right hon. Member for Wanstead and Woodford (Mr. Jenkin).—[Vol. 892, c. 5–6.]

Natural Gas (Dutch Consumers)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether there is a monthly or other standing charge for industrial consumers of natural gas in the Netherlands, and, if so, at what rate; whether the Dutch national gas company intends to raise the price of gas for industrial consumers on 1st October 1975; and, if so, to what rate.

According to our latest information, tariffs for industrial consumers of natural gas in the Netherlands include a standing charge of between FL 370 and 2,500 a month depending upon the amount of gas in question. Increases in the price of gas for industrial consumers in the Netherlands are a matter for the Dutch national gas company, but according to its 1974 annual report these prices are linked with those of oil.

Industry

British Steel Corporation (Management Salaries)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will issue a general direction to the British Steel Corporation to ensure that recent management salary awards are cut by two-thirds as an indication of Government policy towards highly-paid management in public corporations.

Industrial Technologies (Committee)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what funds are at present available to the Committee for Industrial Technologies; and whether, in view of the importance of its work proposals, he will increase the amount of money available.

£200,000 is at present available. The amount is regularly reviewed but the expenditure on any particular service has to be balanced against other deserving claims within the resources available.

Waste Paper

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to make a statement on the discussions between Her Majesty's Government and representatives of the paper industry about paper reclamation and recycling.

I hope that the Advisory Group on Waste Paper Recycling will be in a position to make its first interim report shortly, and I shall make a statement thereafter.

Industrial Research Associations

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the amount paid in 1974 in Government grants to industrial research associations in Scotland and England, respectively.

In 1974 grants totalling £2,100,000 were paid to 28 industrial research associations. Twenty-seven are based in England, although two have laboratories in Scotland and one in Northern Ireland. Support by means of grants is being discontinued in favour of the letting of contracts for specific work. This change began in 1974 and is expected to be completed in 1975.

Christmas Cards

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will initiate a study into the effect on the survival of small shops of a reduction in Christmas card sales.

Kirkby Manufacturing And Engineering Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether it is still the case that the grant to Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Ltd. of £3·9 million announced on 1st November 1974 is aid that is strictly once and for all.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the condition precedent that the constitution of the co-operative should be settled before any payment of grant to Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Ltd. was met in accordance with his Department's letter of 3rd December 1974 to J. Spriggs Esq. and D. Jenkins Esq.

It was a condition in the Department's letter of 3rd December that KME should be a properly constituted limited company and that the constitution of the co-operative should be settled before payment of grant to the company commenced. KME was incorporated as a company with limited liability under the Companies Acts on 6th December 1974. The Department had also seen and commented on a draft of the constitution before any payment was made and it was decided in the circumstances to waive this condition.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether other directors in addition to Mr. J. Spriggs and Mr. R. Jenkins have been appointed to the Board of Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Limited.

No. I understand that it is the intention of KME to appoint other directors shortly.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied that Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Limited is not in jeopardy.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is now the present issued share capital of Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Limited; and whether he will list the shareholders and their respective shareholdings.

The authorised share capital is 5,000 shares of £1 each, of which two have been issued, one each to Mr. J. Spriggs and Mr. R. Jenkins. I understand that other workers will be acquiring shares shortly.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the constitution of the co-operative at Kirkby Manufacturing and Engineering Limited has been finalised; and whether he will place a copy in the Library.

KME has settled its constitution and only a few technical points remain to be finalised. I expect mat the company will make its constitution public, and in that event I shall gladly place a copy in the Library.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, since the conclusion of the formal agreement between his Department and Kirby Manufacturing and Engineering Limited, he has given the company his written consent either (a) to sell, transfer or otherwise dispose of—save in the normal course of trading—the whole or any substantial part of its undertaking or its assets, or (b) to make any distribution to its members, or (c) borrow or—except in the ordinary cause of business—lend.

It is not in accordance with normal practice to give such details, since to do so would breach commercial confidence.

National Enterprise Board

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has yet decided if a regional headquarters of the National Enterprise Board will be established in the North-West; and, if so, will it be situated on Merseyside.

I have asked the NEB Organising Committee to provide for a strong regional presence in the North-West, but its location has not yet been decided.

Small Businesses (Merseyside)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what action he is taking to assist small businesses on Merseyside, in view of their employment of large numbers of workers in an area of high unemployment.

In common with other firms, small businesses in the Merseyside special development area engaged on qualifying activities are eligible for the full range of Government incentives that are available to safeguard existing, and to provide new, employment. They are also eligible for the free training services provided for firms in special development areas by the Manpower Services Commission, and they can call on the regional Small Firms Information Centre in Manchester to help them to find sources of advice and assistance on any business problem that may arise.

Manufacturing

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what percentage of professional engineers was employed in manufacturing industry in 1963; and what was the comparable percentage in the most recent available year.

No estimate is available for 1963. Surveys of the members of the engineering institutions have shown that in 1966 43·4 per cent of employed professional engineers were in manufacturing industry; the comparable figure for 1973 was 38·1 per cent. These estimates are given in The 1973 Survey of Professional Engineers, published by the Council of Engineering Institutions.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the percentage change in labour productivity, per head, in manufacturing industry between 1963 and the latest available complete year; and what was the percentage change in the annual value of investment, per head, in manufacturing industry, at constant prices, over the same period.

Between 1963 and 1974 output per head and investment per head in manufacturing industry rose by 47 per cent. and 64 per cent. respectively. These relative rates of growth must be treated with some caution, as 1963 was a trough year and 1974 a peak year for investment.

Training (Gower)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make proposals for the improvement of industrial training in the area of the Gower constituency.

I have been asked to reply.I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that under the Training Opportunities Scheme (TOPS) there are two skillcentres, at Llanelli and Port Talbot, within daily travelling distance of the Gower area. These provide nearly 500 training places. In addition, training is available under TOPS in educational establishments and employers' establishments, offering training in a much wider variety of occupations. The Training Services Agency is constantly seeking to expand training facilities by arranging new courses.The Manpower Services Commission announced on 2nd July 1975 the first part of a package of special measures which included the provision of 7,000 extra off-the-job training places for young people to train for craft and technician occupations through training award schemes operated by the industrial training boards and the availability of special grants to encourage employers in the construction industry to increase the recruitment of apprentices.

It also announced on 22nd July that the Government have made a further £8·5 million available to increase the opportunities for young people to train for skilled employment, and measures are now being discussed with the training boards. These are expected to create a further 6,000 training opportunities for young persons. A proportion of these awards and special grants will be available in the Gower peninsula.

Procurator Fiscals

asked the Lord Advocate whether those wishing to become procurator fiscals in Scotland have to apply to a staff commission outside Scotland; and whether the job applications are vetted outside Scotland.

Applicants for posts as procurators fiscal depute have to apply to the Civil Service Commissioners, Alencon Link, Basingstoke, who are responsible for the selection and certification of candidates for all permanent appointments in the Civil Service.Candidates submit an application form to the commissioners, who examine it to ensure that the basic qualifications are complied with. The candidates are then requested to appear for interview in Edinburgh before a selection board normally of three members, chaired by a Civil Service Commission representative who is usually a retired Scottish civil servant. The other board members are the Crown Agent and a Scottish academic lawyer.In the same way as for other permanent and pensionable posts in the Civil Service, the successful candidates are required to satisfy the Civil Service Commissioners that they are qualified in respect of age, nationality, health, character and other matters before they can be given a permanent appointment in the procurator fiscal service.

Overseas Development

Food Aid

36.

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if he is now satisfied with the arrangements made by the EEC for providing powdered milk as food aid; and if such arrangements include proper safeguards to prevent sale of this produced milked as commercial body food.

Yes, for the reasons set out in an answer given to my hon. Friend on 16th May—[Vol. 892, c. 192–93] In the few cases where dried skimmed milk as food aid is supplied for sale on the local market, each recipient organisation is required to state to the Commission the procedure it will follow for local distribution. Food aid allocations will not be made where the procedures so described are not considered by the Commission to provide adequate safeguards as to proper usage.

£ Sterling (Value)

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what adjustments have been made in the aid programme to take account of the decline in the value of the £ sterling since the beginning of 1975.

None. The level of the aid programme for any year, as expressed in real terms in the annual Public Expenditure White Paper, is adjusted, when the Supply Estimate is prepared, to take account of estimated price movements.

National Finance

Tax Reliefs And Allowances

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report (a) how much each of the income tax reliefs and allowances cost the Exchequer in the revenue year 1970–71 and for whatever year the latest figures are available and (b) in each of those years how much of these reliefs, by category, were claimed by persons whose gross income was over the level of surtax in that year.

I regret that figures are not readily available for the 24 reliefs and allowances operating in each of the years 1970–71 and 1972–73, the final year for surtax, and to obtain them would require a disproportionate expenditure of time and effort. My hon. Friend has put down a similar Question in respect of 1974–75, and I shall let him have the figures for that year as soon as the necessary calculations have been made.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list in the Official Report (a) details of tax allowances granted during the most recent financial year, (b) the total sum of revenue forgone in each main category of tax

Amount of allowanceRevenue foregoneProportion at higher rates
££m.Per cent.
Personal
Single6251,8753
Married8653,61510
Wife's earned income62596010
Children's allowance
Over 163059023
Over 11 not over 1627535010
Others2407106
Additional personal allowance180153
Housekeeper allowance10020
Dependent relative allowance
Daughter's services55less than ¼50
Maintained by single woman145101
Other cases100257
Blind persons allowance1307
Age exemptionIncome limit
Single810150
Married1,170250
Notes:
(1) The revenue forgone has been measured by estimating the additional yield that would have been received if each individual allowance had been withdrawn without any change in other allowances.
(2) The figures for age exemption represent the additional yield that would have been received if age exemption had been withdrawn but those entitled to it had continued to receive the single and married personal allowances. The additional yield from the withdrawal of such continuing allowances is included in the figures for the single and married personal allowances.
(3) The figures for revenue forgone cannot be added together to give the total cost of all allowances and reliefs. The additional revenue that would have been received if all allowances and reliefs had been withdrawn and, at the same time, the deduction for family allowances had been abolished, is estimated to amount to £8,080 million of which 9 per cent. would have been payable at the higher rates.
(4) The proportion of the reliefs granted to those subject to higher rates of tax has been estimated as the proportion of the additional yield that would have been chargeable at the higher rates.

Income Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the annual loss to the Treasury on the latest available figures of a reduction in income tax of 10 per cent. across the board on salary income.

I regret that information is not available on which to base an estimate for salary incomes as distinct from wages and salaries. The estimated cost for 1975–76 of a 10 per cent. reduction in the tax paid on wages and salaries by taxpayers whose main source of income is wages or salaries is about £1,140 million. A reduction of 10 percentage points on all rates of income tax on the same income would cost about £3,200 million.

Supply Bottlenecks

relief and ( c) the proportion of that relief granted to those subject to higher rates of tax.

The information for 1974–75 is as follows:prevent the development of supply bottlenecks in the British economy.

The Government are fully aware of the importance of this problem and have measures in hand which should lessen the harmful effects of supply bottlenecks. In the Budget £100 million was set aside for special industry schemes and investment projects. Following this, the Government intend shortly to produce schemes for ferrous foundries and other industries. The Government have a number of instruments, including those that will be provided by the Industry Bill, which they will use as appropriate to alleviate bottlenecks in capacity, materials components and labour skills which could occur in the next upturn.

Public Expenditure

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report the volume of public expenditure devoted to each standard region of the British Isles for each of the last 10 years.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of total expenditure is accounted for by public expenditure in each of the standard regions of the United Kingdom for each of the last 10 years.

Regional Economy

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what research his Department is carrying out into the workings of the regional economies of the United Kingdom.

The Treasury is conducting an analysis of the effects of changes in the regional distribution of demand on total employment, hours of work, inter-regional migration and the operation of regional multipliers. The work draws on the expertise of other Departments involved in regional policy and on academic research. The Treasury also maintains close liaison with research by other Departments on particular aspects of regional policy. The work of the Treasury and other Departments together is intended to provide a better basis for assessing the costs and benefits of regional policy as a whole.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the notional income to the Exchequer would be in any one year from the taxation of each State benefit, including unemployment benefit, at current levels of income tax.

At 1975–76 rates of tax and at the social security benefit levels operative from November 1975, the estimated full yields are as follows:

£ million(1)
Sickness benefit160
Employment benefit150
Invalidity benefit75
Maternity benefit15
Industrial injury benefit15
(1)The underlying figures for benefit payments relate to Great Britain and the tax yields on a United Kingdom basis would be slightly higher than those given above.

I regret that information is not available on which to base an estimate for the remaining benefits, but as nearly all of these are received by those with incomes below the tax threshold the potential tax yield would be small.

Dividends And Profits (South Africa)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what restrictions are placed on the repatriation of profits or dividends from South Africa to the United Kingdom by British companies or subsidiaries operating in South Africa; and what comparable restrictions are imposed on the remittance of profits or dividends from the United Kingdom to South Africa.

The operations in South Africa of British companies are subject to the South African exchange control rules. According to the latest available annual report by the International Monetary Fund on exchange restrictions, there is normally no restriction on the transfer of undistributed current profits or the transfer of any dividends provided that the remittance does not involve local credit facilities. Similarly, under our current exchange control rules, subject to proper provision having been made for United Kingdom liabilities, including taxes, permission is normally given for the transfer of dividends to non-resident shareholders representing earned trading profits and investment income.

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the VAT inspectors in the London area have no authority to request the appropriate VAT office in Surrey to inspect on their behalf the VAT records of a London VAT registered retailer at the place in Surrey where the records are kept and held; why the London based inspectors refuse to inspect the records in Surrey and demand their production in London; if he will change this situation in the interests of decentralisation; and if he will make a statement.

A VAT officer will request a colleague in another local VAT office to make inquiries on his behalf where this is essential, but he will not normally accede to a request by a trader for this procedure to be invoked on the ground that records are kept away from his principal place of business. VAT control is not solely concerned with the examination of a trader's records; it is usually necessary to raise queries with the trader and to be able to look at certain aspects of his business activities. On grounds of both effectiveness and economical administration, Customs and Excise generally requires these measures to be taken at the same time and at a trader's principal place of business. A registered retailer should usually not be visited very frequently, and I am satisfied with the general practice.

Companies (Investment Programmes)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied with the arrangements for monitoring the investment programmes of firms and companies employing less than 500 persons.

I have been asked to reply.The investment intentions surveys and the quarterly inquiries on actual expenditure carried out by my Department do not provide for an analysis by firms according to size. Appropriate monitoring arrangements are made with all firms, including firms employing fewer than 500, which are in receipt of selective financial assistance from the Government.

Defence

Northern Ireland

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the discovery and ultimate burning by the Army of the car which was used by the assassins of William Hannan in Lurgan, County Armagh, on Saturday 26th July 1975.

Following the murder of William Hannan in the early hours of 27th July, the RUC discovered an abandoned car in Lurgan. A preliminary examination of the vehicle was carried out by a specialist police officer. As the vehicle was suspect, an Army ammunition technical officer was then asked to deal with it and decided that the best course was to set it on fire.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many Army foot and mobile patrols are made on average each day in the Kilwilkee, Teghaven and Mournview housing estates in Lurgan, County Armagh; and what were the comparable figures for last year.

Foot and mobile patrols operate in all areas of Lurgan. The size and frequency of patrols vary from day to day, depending upon the changing demands of the security situation.

Gurkha Regiment

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will raise the pay of members of the Gurkha Regiment to a level comparable with members of other regiments of the British Army.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by the Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Army on 18th July 1975—[Vol. 895, c. 617–8.]

Netley Abbey Hospital

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for the future of the military hospital at Netley Abbey in the parish of Hound in the county of Hampshire; and what prospect he has to offer the civilian employees of the hospital.

We plan to accomodate the Services Psychiatric Unit at the new Queen Elizabeth Hospital which is under construction at Woolwich. This move is planned for early 1978, and the Royal Victoria Hospital, Netley, will then close. A small number of the staff affected by the closure of Netley are in mobile grades and will be transferred to other posts within the Ministry of Defence. Of the remainder, over 20 per cent. are above the minimum retirement age. There will, however, be a significant number of redundancies and the only alternative employment the Ministry of Defence is likely to be able to offer is at Gosport or Portsmouth, about 15 miles away. It seems likely that any staff prepared to travel this distance would stand a reasonable chance of being given a job. In addition, clerical and typing vacancies are likely to be available in other Government Department offices in Southampton. We shall be in touch, at the appropriate time, with the local office of the Department of Employment to see what opportunities in the private sector can be offered to any of our employees made redundant.

Anti-Tank Guided Weapons

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he can give an assurance that no decision will be taken to order Milan without first ensuring adequate reciprocal industrial purchases by France from the United Kingdom;(2) if he can give an assurance that no decision will be taken to order Milan before the House reassembles after the Summer Recess.

The timing and substance of the decision will take account of all the many relevant factors and interests.

Home Department

Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons under the age of 18 years are now serving prison sentences; and how this compares with the corresponding figures in each of the past five years.

On 30th June 1975 there were 126 people under the age of 18 years serving prison sentences. The corresponding figures for 30th June in 1974, 1973 and 1972 were 144, 125 and 92, respectively. The figures for 1971 and preceding years are not readily available.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in 1974 were awaiting trial; how many of these did not serve immediate custodial sentences; and how many such persons were under the age of 18 years.

Information in the precise form requested is not readily available. But it is known that in 1974, of 51,400 people—8,000 under the age of 18—received into prison, about 24,000—3,300 under the age of 18—did not receive an immediate custodial sentence.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost per capita of keeping a person in prison in 1974; what was the cost of food on a weekly basis: and what was the average cost of feeding guard dogs during the same period.

In the financial year 1974–75 the estimated average annual cost of keeping an inmate in custody in England and Wales was £3,042. The weekly cost of food averaged £2·66: this reflects the competitive prices available under centrally arranged contracts, and the economic production within the prison system of certain items such as vegetables. The average weekly cost of feeding prison dogs during the year 1974–75 was £3·45. I do not, however, believe that significant deductions can be drawn from the average cost of feeding more than 40,000 prisoners and the average cost of feeding less than 300 dogs.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many female prisoners were detained pending report and subsequently did not receive custodial sentences in 1974.

The number of women initially remanded in custody during 1974 pending report who are known to have subsequently received a non-custodial sentence was 1,133.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners in each of the last five years, having been granted parole on condition that they successfully complete a period on the pre-release employment scheme, were then refused a place on the scheme.

So far as can be ascertained, no place has been refused in such circumstances.

Community Projects (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many comprehensive community projects will be in Wales.

Our Department, in conjunction with the Welsh Office, is negotiating with one local authority.

Horses (Rodeos)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that no unnecessary suffering is being caused to horses taking part in United States-style rodeos in Great Britain and that there is adequate legal protection.

We have no evidence that the protection afforded by the Protection of Animals Act 1934 is inadequate.

Criminal Bankruptcy

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how successful has been the operation of the criminal bankruptcy provisions in the Criminal Justice Act 1967; and if he will make a statement.

We are in the process of consulting those concerned about the workings of the criminal bankruptcy provisions, originally in the Criminal Justice Act 1972, now consolidated in Sections 39–41 of the Powers of Criminal Courts Act 1973. Our general impression is that they are working satisfactorily, though the number of criminal bankruptcy orders made so far has been fewer than was originally expected.

Local Authority Members (Expense And Allowance Claims)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions there have been following the alleged incorrect claiming of expenses or allowances by members of local authorities since 1st April 1974; and how many of these have resulted in convictions.

Shoplifting (Fines)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider increasing the maximum fine for shoplifting.

Shoplifting, which is a form of thelft, is already punishable on conviction on indictment with an unlimited fine, or up to 10 years' imprisonment, or both. The maximum penalties on summary conviction are £400 or six months' imprisonment, or both. My right hon. riend considers that these are adequate sentencing powers.

Passports (Airport Checking)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will issue instructions to the immigration authorities at London (Heathrow) Airport to rotate the staff checking passports so as to deal with the longest queues of any particular category of passengers as speedily as possible, in order to avoid delays presently caused by rigid retention of station by officials, regardless of numbers waiting in any particular category.

The Immigration Service at all ports of entry is instructed to deploy its staff according to the numbers of passengers expected through the spearate channels of the passport controls. This includes moving immigration officers from one channel to another. Because the numbers of passengers of various nationalities in different flights ore not always predictable none of the four channels in the terminals at Heathrow can be left entirely unmanned, even for brief periods, to reinforce other channels.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that the present arrangements for inspecting the passports of incoming passengers at London (Heathrow) and other British airports handling international traffic, ensure the most speedy and satisfactory entry into this country of all bona fide visitors and returning citizens; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. The arrangements are kept under review but experience suggests that the separation of passengers according to the passports they hold, which enables returning United Kingdom citizens to be cleared very quickly, is the best way of minimising the total clearance time for passengers arriving on international services at major airports. Studies at Heathrow in 1973 showed that time spent in the immigration control was not the major cause of delay to incoming passengers.

Police Vehicles (Accidents)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many vehicles of each type are in the service of each police authority; how many of each type in each authority area have been involved in accidents in each year since 1970; how many deaths have resulted from such accidents in each of the years; and on how many occasions subsequent inquiry has shown the police vehicle driver to be at fault.

ForceCarsMotor CyclesOthers (including all Regional Crime Squad Vehicles)Total
Avon & Somerset35074179603
Bedfordshire1103528173
Cambridgeshire2061623245
Cheshire2744971394
Cleveland1321071213
Cumbria9754114265
Derbyshire10023159282
Devon & Cornwall4539038581
Dorset4642100188
Durham1682894290
Dyfed Powys992248169
Essex28491170545
Gloucestershire93118101312
Greater Manchester750792091,038
Gwent972146164
Hampshire371275192838
Hertfordshire2207579374
Humberside16525122312
Kent231299255785
Lancashire33871179588
Leicestershire12384148355
Lincolnshire11928149296
Merseyside30392103498
Norfolk7657145278
Northamptonshire1342649209
Northumbria30622221549
North Wales7453133260
North Yorkshire13171128276
Nottinghamshire22974120423
South Wales33951137527
South Yorkshire27231140443
Staffordshire222118182522
Suffolk1143080224
Surrey1474259248
Sussex362180136678
Thames Valley404108227739
Warwiskchire1306156247
West Mercia8035354469
West Midlands410153151714
West Yorkshire54548189782
Wiltshire1343786257
Metropolitan1,9864799613,426
City of London16212562
In the most recent full year (1973) for which records are available, the number of accidents involving police vehicles and the number in which a police officer was reckoned to be blameworthy were as follows:

Force AreaNumber of AccidentsPolice Blameworthy
Avon & Somerset373117
Bedfordshire14265
Cambridgeshire17167
Cheshire27883
Cleveland13162
Cumbria11156
Derbyshire240114
Devon & Cornwall394180
Dorset18685
Durham28479
Dyfed Powys5417
Essex310127
Gloucestershire178103

Police authorities' vehicle establishments are as follows:

Greater Manchester 1324107
Gwent13268
Hampshire311128
Hertfordshire256140
Humberside 210855
Kent385311
Lancashire 3872450
Leicestershire15158
Lincolnshire216104
Merseyside18141
Norfolk185120
Northamptonshire12261
Northumbria368118
North Wales12033
North Yorkshire265158
Nottinghamshire334115
South Wales29986
South Yorkshire 4198108
Staffordshire512172
Suffolk19980
Surrey16372
Sussex576233
Thames Valley486172

Warwickshire31889
West Mercia15360
West Midlands946358
West Yorkshire 5512185
Wiltshire12425
Metropolitan2,4391,295
City of London4316

1–5 As a result of reorganisation, figures for 1973 in these force areas are not available. The figures given are for 1972 and relate to the following force areas then in existence:

1 Manchester and Salford

2 Kingston upon Hull

3 Lancashire

4 Sheffield and Rotherham

5 West Yorkshire

The other information sought is not readily available.

Terrorist Activities

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of violence by shooting or bombing in England and Wales can be attributed to Loyalists from Northern Ireland, and to members of the IRA, respectively.

Remanded Persons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) on 1st July 1975 what was the longest period a person remanded in custody had served in prison in Wales;(2) on 1st July 1975 what was the longest period a person remanded in custody has served in prison in England.

This information is not readily available but I am having the available information analysed and will write to the hon. Member.

Parole

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has now consulted the Parole Board about the possibility of extending parole; and whether he will make a statement.

Yes. It is now over seven years since the principles of parole were explained in Parliament during debates on what became the Criminal Justice Act 1967. The main criteria then laid down, which have been amplified in the independent Parole Boards' annual reports, have stood up well, and many thousands of prisoners have been paroled without appreciable increase in risk to the public.I am fully persuaded, however, that the use of parole can properly and safely be extended. I have therefore consulted the Parole Board and agreed with it new guidelines within which these basic principles can be interepreted to achieve this end without loss of public confidence in the scheme.There are two ways in which progress can be made; one is the granting of parole earlier to the kind of prisoners who already receive it. The other is to grant parole to more of the 60 per cent. of prisoners who are eligible but who do not receive it.It remains important that the grant of parole should not expose the public to serious danger during a period when a prisoner would otherwise be serving his sentence in prison. If a prisoner has previously committed crimes such as serious offences of violence or major professional crimes, parole is justified only if there is good reason to believe that he will avoid crime in future, but where the board is satisfied as to this parole for such a prisoner need not be ruled out in the early part of the parolable period.In the case of a prisoner whose character and record suggest no likelihood of his committing offences of the kind just mentioned, there is a good case for granting parole, and earlier rather than later, unless there is evidence of an anti-social attitude, and particularly an intention to return to his old criminal behaviour Much weight should be attached to the potential benefits of early release on licence under probation supervision.Against this background, the board will continue to take into account all the factors in the individual situation relevant to parole and to consider each case on its individual merits.I also propose to make more use of power under Section 35 of the Criminal Justice Act 1972 to grant parole on the recommendation of the local review committee without reference to the Parole Board. This will enable the board to consider more cases of prisoners who would otherwise have been refused parole without reference to the board.

Further measures dealing with the numbers in custody are, in my view, necessary. Some of them, such as the implementation of the major recommendations of the Working Party on Bail Procedures in Magistrates Courts, require legislation. I hope to make a further statement in the autumn.

Civil Service

Parliamentary Commissioner For Administration

asked the Minister for the Civil Service on what occasions the Government have not accepted the findings of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration in respect of criticism of Ministers.

While there have been a number of occasions on which the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration has found maladministration in relation to the actions of Government Departments, there has been none on which he has singled out Ministers personally for criticism. The question of the Government's attitude to such criticisms has not, therefore, arisen.

House Of Commons

Strangers' Bar (Staff)

asked the Lord President of the Council whether he will hold an immediate investigation into the dismissal of a member of the staff of the Strangers' Bar on the night of 29th July 1975; and if he will make a statement.

I have been asked to reply.A special meeting of the Catering Sub-committee has been convened for Tuesday 5th August 1975, under the agreed conciliation, disputes and appeals procedure, at the request of the General and Municipal Workers' Union.

Education And Science

Infant And Primary Schools (Vertical Grouping)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research his Department is carrying out or sponsoring into the success of vertical grouping as a teaching method in infant and primary schools.

The Department is not carrying out or directly sponsoring any research aimed specifically at this method, but a study of pupil groupings is part of the normal programme of work of Her Majesty's Inspectorate. The Schools Council which is grant-aided by the Department and local education authorities, is sponsoring an inquiry into open plan schools, part of which will be a survey of pupil groupings.

Industrial Training (Day-Release)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has to increase day-release facilities for young people, males and females, respectively, who undertake industrial training.

I attach considerable importance to improving opportunities for day-release for young people in employment generally, and not just for those who receive systematic industrial training. The current rates of release for girls are particularly unsatisfactory, and their needs will have a high priority in any future measures. I am considering ways of making progress, but careful development work is needed before any substantial improvement in opportunities can be achieved.

Teaching Techniques

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will set up a committee of inquiry into the effectiveness of teaching methods and techniques and of the use of education technology in institutions of further and higher education.

No. I am considering the advice of my Advisory Committee on the Supply and Training of Teachers, which has recently submitted a report on the training of teachers for further education. The effectiveness of teaching in the universities is a matter for the universities themselves.

Nursery School Projects

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list in the Official Report all nursery school building projects sanctioned by his Department in the county of Cheshire in 1973–74 and 1974–75; and whether any projects have been sanctioned for 1975–76.

Any nursery education building projects for 1973–74 were provided under the urban programme and approved by the Home Office. When local education authorities were invited in my Department's Circular 2/73 to state the volume of nursery education building that they wished to start in 1974–75 and 1975–76, details of individual projects were not required. The Cheshire local education authority has been given authorisations for nursery education building starts of £772,045 for 1974–75 and £394,363 for 1975–76. Nursery education building projects within authorities' allocations are expected normally to be minor projects in respect of which authorities are not required to seek individual sanction.

Infra-Red Telescope

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the development of the infra-red telescope ordered by the Science Research Council which it is hoped to set up in Hawaii.

Approval was given last year to a proposal by the Science Research Council to construct and operate a 3·8 metre aperture infra-red flux collector, to be located in Hawaii, by arrangement with the University of Hawaii, to which some observing time will be allocated. The main components of the telescope are being designed and manufactured in Britain, and it is hoped that construction will be completed by the end of 1977.

Schoolchildren (Accident Claims)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will introduce legislation to require local education authorities to indemnify themselves against claims in respect of accidents to children on school property and during school hours.

My right hon. Friend has no reason to believe that authorities are not using their existing powers, as appropriate, to indemnify themselves against such claims for which they may be found liable in law.

Museums And Galleries (Purchase Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much money from public funds was allocated to purchase grants for museums and galleries each year from 1945 to 1974, inclusive.

The amounts provided by the Exchequer * for collections in England are as follows:—

Year£
1945–4617,453
1946–47107,485
1947–48159,213
1948–4974,092
1949–50195,067
1950–5185,149
1951–52154,232
1952–5375,242
1953–5495,406
1954–55121,309
1955–56150,187
1956–57150,812
1957–58203,247
1958–59299,995
1959–60432,236
1960–61446,639
1961–62584,028
1962–63393,895
1963–64519,207
1964–651,026,521
1965–66735,126
1966–67858,385
1967–68838,438
1968–69839,498
1969–701,359,401
1970–711,768,405
1971–721,841,417
1972–732,680,602
1973–74(1)1,944,939
1974–75(1)1,386,927
Notes.*Parallel information for local authority funds is not available.
(1) Excludes the grants to the British Library provided separately in these years.

University Lecturers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in view of the White Paper on incomes, it is intended to implement the recent commitment to pay university lecturers an increment to cover the increase in the cost of living from October 1974; if that increment will now be limited to £6 per week; and if he will make a statement.

My Department has now made a formal offer to the universities' side of the negotiating committee of an increase in conformity with the White Paper Cmnd. 6151. This offer is in addition to the recent arbitral award of 24·6 per cent.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in view of the fact that part 1 of the university lecturers' pay settlement was agreed on the basis of a notional 20 per cent. cost of living increase to become payable in October 1975, and that during negotiations, figures were produced to illustrate the effect of such an increase on pay scales for 1975–76, if he will agree that in the event of such an increase being restricted, part 1 of the settlement should be subject to renegotiation.

The first stage of the settlement was the subject of an arbitral award and is not subject to renegotiation.

Staff (Department And Ugc)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish a table in the Official Report listing the staff complements of the Department of Education and Science and the University Grants Committee for each of the last five years.

The figures for non-industrial civil servants, as at 1st April each year, are as follows:

Department of Education and ScienceUniversity Grants Committee
19713,234118
19723,204116
19733,242116
19742,930120
19752,847120

Special Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement explaining why special schools have been excluded from the terms of reference of the Taylor Committee on School Government and Management.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and I took the view that the considerations affecting the government of special schools were substantially different from those which concerned ordinary schools and could best be reviewed by the committee under the chairmanship of Mrs. Warnock, which had already been established to consider the education of handicapped pupils. Any conclusions and recommendations of the Taylor Committee which appear relevant to special schools will, of course, be referred to the Warnock Committee for considerations.

Social Services

Specialists (Consultation Waiting Times)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proposals she has to reduce the waiting time for consultations with specialists in the Shepway district.

Chronically Sick And Disabled Persons Act 1970

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received from voluntary organisations concerning the refusal of local authorities to provide assistance under Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 when they have agreed that need exists; what replies she has given; and if she will make a statement.

Several organisations have recently drawn attention to the mandatory nature of Section 2, in that, if satisfied that a need exists, a local authority is required to make arrangements to meet that need. I have already said publicly that I shall take up any case of apparent misinterpretation with the authority concerned.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action she has taken under Section 2(1) of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970 to provide "general guidance" to local authority services departments to provide facilities available under Section 2 of the Act; and if she will make a statement.

This has been done in several ways: through our close and continuing contacts with local authorities, and those of our officials, in correspondence and in the frequent speeches made by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State with special responsibility for the disabled. Authorities are well aware of our views on the provision of services under Section 2.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she has received on behalf of the National Deaf Children's Society with regard to the mandatory nature of the provisions of Sections 1 and 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; and what replies she has given.

The Society wrote to my right hon. Friend at the end of last year asking that authorities should be reminded of the mandatory nature of Section 2, and it has received an undertaking that the Department would take up with local authorities any cases coming to our notice which suggest that they are misinterpreting the section.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations she had received regarding the failure of specific local authorities to make arrangements for the provisions of services for handicapped persons, pursuant to Section 2 of the Chronically Sick and Disabled Persons Act 1970; what action she has taken thereon; and whether she will make a statement.

I would refer the hon. and learned Member to my hon. Friend's reply today to my hon. Friend the Member for Caerphilly (Mr. Evans).

Rent And Rate Rebates

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is her Department's estimate of the number of claimants who have given up supplementary benefit in order to claim rent and rate rebates since October 1972;(2) how many claimants have been identified in the recent "better-off" exercise conducted by her Department.

Information is not available on the number of claimants identified as "better off" with housing benefits since the current exercise began last October. When the last count was taken on 13th May, about 70,000 claimants had decided to give up supplementary benefit in favour of housing benefits. Information is not available about claimants who transferred before October 1974.

Supplementary Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest available estimate of the number of people drawing supplementary benefit.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the Department's estimate of the number of additional persons who would be drawing supplementary benefit in the absence of local authorities' rent and rate rebates in the form that has existed since October 1972.

The necessary information on which to base an estimate is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is her Department's estimate of the number of additional persons who would be drawing supplementary benefits in the absence of the increase in long-term national insurance benefits over the last two years.

I am afraid that no estimate is possible. It is known that a total of over 20,000 persons with long-term national insurance benefits ceased to need supplementary benefit over the last three upratings, and it is possible that some who have chosen to receive rent rebates and so on instead of supplementary benefit would not have done so if their national insurance benefit had not been increased. There is, however, no information on which to judge how many persons would have claimed supplementary benefit but for the increase in their national insurance benefit.

Scottish Minors (Work Abroad)

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services (1) whether the statute, rule or regulation requiring Scots residents in Scotland to apply to and travel to Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London for licences to leave the United Kingdom for the purposes of performing for profit, applies to all forms of employment abroad; and, if not, which categories of employment are involved; (2) what are the formal requirements which it is necessary for Scots resident in Scotland to complete at the Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London or other courts or institutions in England; (3) how many Scots resident in Scotland have had to apply to and travel to Bow Street Magistrates' Court in London for licences to leave the United Kingdom for the purpose of performing for profit, since the date on which the statute, rule or regulation governing these applications was brought into force; and if she will provide a breakdown of the figures stating the other countries involved and the number of applications year by year.

The provisions of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933, to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member on 28th July, apply only to persons under 18 years of age going abroad to sing, play or perform for profit. As regards the formal requirements for obtaining licences, applicants for licences to perform abroad are required to furnish a surety for the observance of the conditions of the licence. They and their surety are also ordinarily required to attend an interview with the magistrate to satisfy him on the points laid down in Section 25(2) of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. I regret that information about the applications which have been made by Scots resident in Scotland going back to 1933 and on the other countries involved is not readily available. The breakdown by years of the 10 applications since 1963, to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member on 28th July, is as follows:

1963119721
1965119731
1966119741
1970119752
19711
—[Vol. 896,

c. 411–4.]

Contraceptive Practice (Handbook)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, whether she will ensure that the Handbook of Contraceptive Practice published by her Department is amended to note the risk of failure of oral contraception in patients suffering from diarrhoea or vomiting.

The Handbook of Contraceptive Practice was prepared for the Standing Medical Advisory Committee of the Central Health Services Council, the Secretary of State for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Wales by representatives of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists and the Royal College of General Practitioners. I shall ask those representatives to bear this point in mind when they next come to revise the handbook.

National Insurance Contributions

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will change the regulations governing national insurance contributions which prevent employees who are paid four-weekly to be calculated by reference to each individual week's earnings, thereby causing them to contribute at a higher rate than if they were weekly paid.

No. The general principle is to relate liability to the earnings paid at their normal regular interval, without seeking to establish in which particular days or weeks each pay packet has been earned. This principle was well established under the former graduated scheme and provides the clearest possible basis for contribution liability, bearing in mind the widely differing practice by which earnings are computed and paid.

War Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many war widows there are in the United Kingdom.

On 4th April 1975, the most recent date for which information is available, the number was 88,400.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the total cost to the Exchequer per annum of the payment of pensions to war widows.

Invalid Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will list the categories of disabled persons who are currently entitled to an adapted small car in place of a tricycle who will be disentitled after 1st January 1976; how many people in each category have been issued with a small car in each year since the concession was introduced; what was the extra annual net cost each year of the concession; and if she will make a statement.

I regret that not all the information is available.Currently cars may be provided instead of three-wheelers for National Health Service clients who come within the following groups:

  • 1. Two related members of the same household both of whom are eligible for invalid three-wheelers or where one is so eligible and the other blind.
  • 2. A disabled parent eligible for an invalid three-wheeler who for a substantial part of the day is in sole charge of his or her young child or children, ie under the age of 14 years.
  • 3. A disabled person eligible for an invalid three-wheeler who suffers from haemophilia.
  • 655 cars were provided for new National Health Service clients during the year ended 31st March 1975 at which date there was a total of 2,849 cars on issue in England to clients within these groups.

    The accounts do not show separately the information necessary to cost the arrangement accurately; but its effect for these groups of disabled people may be fairly assumed to be small. The issue of cars to new National Health Service clients will cease on 1st January next not for reasons involving comparative cost considerations but because of the introduction of new arrangements based on cash assistance. The mobility allowance then to be introduced will in fact cover over 100,000 more people than the vehicle scheme and the present restriction of benefit exclusively to those people who are able to drive will no longer apply.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she is satisfied with the speed and efficiency with which special cars for the disabled are produced and delivered; and if she will take action designed to ensure that disputes in the car industry do not adversely affect the production or the quality of these badly needed vehicles.

    Orders for manual gear change models are now being fulfilled normally and more cars with automatic gear change have been promised. The cars for disabled people are produced by the same workers in the same plant as those destined for other users.

    East Anglia (Financial Allocation)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she has received a complaint from the East Anglian Regional Health Authority that recent allocations to that authority's health service show a 2 per cent. above average increase, while the population of East Anglia has increased by 6 per cent. more than the rest of the country; and if she will take steps to ensure that the regional authority obtains a correct allocation of resources.

    I have recently had representations from the Chairman of the East Anglian Regional Health Authority about the financial resources allocated to the region in relation to current forecasts of population growth. I have commissioned an urgent review of the methods of allocating capital and revenue resources with the object of ensuring that these do not militate against the most needy regions. I have assured the chairman that the particular problems affecting East Anglia will be borne in mind.

    Disabled War Pensioners

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest number of class 3 disabled war pensioners whose vehicles have been withdrawn on cessation of employment.

    The number of vehicles withdrawn in these circumstances is negligible; but in a larger number of cases, for which precise figures are not available, a vehicle which has reached the end of its useful life has not been replaced.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans she has to increase the allowance and private car maintenance allowance payable to disabled war pensioners.

    We have no plans for that, but the Government are meeting the greatly increased cost of buying new cars for war pensioners and of anti-corrosion treatment which helps to minimise repair costs; both car holders and those who get a cash allowance in respect of their own cars enjoy exemption from the increased vehicle excise duty, and both, if they qualify for the new mobility allowance, will have the choice of changing to it if they consider it more favour-able than vehicle scheme benefits.

    Social Benefit Claims

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will encourage authorities other than that of Liverpool to issue a combined form of social benefit claims covering social security and rent and rate rebates in view of the low level of applications by those entitled to make such claims.

    A multi-purpose claim form for these means tested benefits—with the exception of family income supplement and supplementary benefit—but covering also free school meals and most local authority discretionary benefits is to be used experimentally for 12 months in Shropshire.If the results of this and two other pilot schemes—one of which may be held in Liverpool—are satisfactory the form could be introduced on a national basis.In the meantime there is no reason why local authorities should not use a common claim form for their discretionary benefits but this is a matter for their own decision.

    Cigarettes (Carbon Monoxide Levels)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will publish a list of the levels of carbon monoxide produced by different brands of cigarette, similar to the tar and nicotine table, as recommended in the British Medical Journal of recent date.

    I am seeking the advice of the Independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health—the Hunter Committee—on this matter and will be consulting the tobacco industry. The laboratory of the Government Chemist has carried out trial tests to ascertain carbon monoxide yields on a small number of cigarettes and to develop methods for wider testing.

    Optical Services (Macclesfield)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the value of goods and services provided under the National Health Service by opticians in the Macclesfield parliamentary constituency in each of the last five years.

    I regret this information is not readily available in the form requested but I will write to the hon. Member.

    Educationally Subnormal Children (Training)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the training facilities for ESN children in the Macclesfield and Congleton areas; and what help is given to them to find employment.

    There are adult training centres at Macclesfield and Crewe which handicapped school leavers from the Macclesfield and Congleton districts attend. I am informed that the Training Services Agency of the Department of Employment has no special facilities in the Macclesfield or Congleton areas for ESN school leavers but in conjunction with careers officers and the Disablement Resettlement Service can arrange for training on an individual basis leading to suitable employment. Careers officers of the Local Education Authority Careers Service in Macclesfield and Congleton, as in other areas, are responsible for helping handicapped school leavers, including those who are ESN, to secure employment and can call on a wide range of facilities and support.

    Cure Drug Treatment Centre

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the area health authority refused to support CURE, the drug treatment centre based on care, understanding, rehabilitation and education by grant; and what efforts were made to keep the centre open after representations made by the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East.

    Last November, CURE sought financial support from the Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster Area Health Authority for the medical aspects of the work in its centre for drug addicts in the Notting Hill area, the social service aspects being already adequately funded. An independent evaluation of the treatment aspect of CURE's work was undertaken for the area health authority by two persons with experience of drug addiction and acceptable to CURE, and the Department undertook to fund CURE till it was completed. In the light of the report, the area health authority decided not to support CURE. The Department continued its financial support of CURE until the end of April while alternative treatment arrangements were made for CURE'S clients.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what arrangements were made by the National Health Service to continue treatment for the patients of CURE when it had to close; how many patients were placed under the care of other centres; and how many were either refused further treatment or were not offered it.

    Officers of the Department arranged that there would be sufficient places at drug clinics in Central London for CURE clients. This information was given to the area health authority but the allocation of clients to clinics was arranged by the staff of CURE. Of their 42 regular clients, only 29 were identified as being on a narcotic drug maintenance programme.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if she will now restore assistance to the CURE centre to allow it to continue to treat those who abuse drugs.

    Alternative National Health Service treatment arrangements exist at many drug clinics and hospital units in Central London or elsewhere, so that I could not justify financial support for CURE to treat drug addicts.

    Drug Treatment Patients

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what follow-up has been arranged by the National Health Service of the former patients of CURE to ensure that their treatment for drug dependence continues; and if she will indicate such results as are available.

    Health authorities are not in a position to ensure that patients, including drug addicts, present themselves for treatment. But it is available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proposals have been made to her by the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea for the further treatment of drug addicts generally and former CURE patients in particular.

    The Standing Conference for Drug Abuse (SCODA), the London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, and the Kensington and Chelsea and Westminster Area Health Authority are represented on a working party which is studying the needs of drug addicts and drug misusers in the area and examining how existing services can respond more effectively to them. Separate proposals have not been received from the London borough.

    Contributions (Collection)

    asked the Secretary for Social Services what administrative savings would be made if the contributions at present collected through the National Insurance Scheme were collected through the income tax system.

    Under arrangements which came into effect on 6th April, Class 1 and Class 4 national insurance contributions are now collected through the income tax system.Class 2 and 3 contributions are paid either by direct debit, or, in most cases, by stamping a card. Any administrative savings which might arise in the Department if stamped cards were abolished would have to be offset against additional costs for Inland Revenue, particularly in maintaining records for a number of self-employed and non-employed persons whose earnings do not make them liable to pay income tax.

    Housing Applications (Doctors' Letters)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, if she will advise doctors to stop the practice of charging patients for letters supporting housing applications; and if she will make a statement.

    General practitioners in the National Health Service are required by their terms of service to provide without charge to their patients only certain medical certificates and reports which are specified in the National Health Service (General Medical and Pharmaceutical Services) Regulations, for example those required for national Insurance purposes. Doctors are not obliged to issue any other certificates and reports, for example those relating to housing applications and, if they do so, they are entitled to charge fees for the service.

    Mentally Handicapped Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many seriously mentally handicapped people in the Bury Metropolitan District of Greater Manchester have to stay at home because of the lack of suitable accommodation for them.

    There are nine seriously mentally handicapped people awaiting admission to hospital and five at home for other reasons.

    Supplementary Benefits

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are (a) the numbers of old people dependent upon supplementary benefits and (b) the numbers claiming as a percentage of all old people in 1948, 1950, 1955, 1965, 1970 and all subsequent years.

    I regret the information is not available for 1948 and 1975. For other years the information is given in the following table:

    (1)(2)(3)
    Persons of Pension Age estimated number in population (thousand)Number dependent on Supplementary Benefit/National Assistance (thousands)(2) as percentage of (1)
    19506,6231,066*16·1*
    1955 7,0171,366*19·5*
    1965 7,9861,643*20·6*
    1970 8,6332,28326·4
    1971 8,8412,30126·0
    1972 8,9632,28625·5
    1973 9,0372,18824·2
    1974 9,0582,12923·5
    Notes:
    1. Figures marked * are approximate.
    2. Population estimates are for mid-year and numbers of supplementary benefit recipients as at November each year.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the numbers of unemployed drawing supplementary benefits; and what is the number expressed as a percentage of the total of unemployed for each year in 1948, 1950, 1955, 1965, 1970 and all subsequent years.

    The information is as follows:

    (1)(2)(3)
    Number of Registered Unemployed (thousands)Number receiving Supplementary Benefit/National Assistance (thousands)Column (2) as percentage of (1)
    1948 3284413·4
    1950 3026621·9
    1955 2265524·3
    1965 32111234·9
    1970 59624040·3
    1971 86038745·0
    1972 78939249·7
    1973 50924948·9
    1974 58330251·8
    1975 81338847·7

    Note:

    Registered unemployed totals are for October each year and supplementary benefit recipients for November. For 1975, however, both figures relate to May.

    Doctors (Eec Employment)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what information she has about the proposals for hospital doctors to undertake additional sessions on weekends in Common Market countries.

    I am aware of Press reports that some doctors have been working in Common Market countries during their holidays and off-duty weekends. However, I have no information about specific proposals relating to this practice.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many medical vacancies she has included in the EEC register; how many British doctors have asked to be included in the section of those wishing to accept employment in Common Market countries; if this register is available for public inspection; and if she will make a statement.

    The directives concerning the freedom of establishment and freedom to provide services of doctors within the EEC were adopted by the Council on 16th June. Member States are not, however, required to implement the directives until 18 months after the date of notification, that is, until 20th December 1976. The Department will be discussing with the Employment Services Agency of the Department of Employment what arrangements should be made for the notification in other EEC countries of vacancies for salaried doctors in the United Kingdom and the provision of advice to British doctors who wish to practise in other EEC countries.

    European Community (Medical Treatment)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps she is taking to extend entitlement to free medical treatment for British subjects during visits to EEC countries to the self-employed.

    I can add very little to my reply to the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Cordle) on 10th April [Vol. 889 c 451–2]. A working party has been set up by the European Commission to study the whole question of the extension of social security and health provisions to persons moving between member States who are not already covered by present arrangements. The United Kingdom will be represented on that working party and will urge changes in the existing EEC regulations so that medical treatment for British subjects during visits to EEC countries is made available to the self-employed and the non-employed.

    Retirement Pension (Purchasing Power)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the purchasing power of the standard retirement pension now compared with the same date last year.

    The purchasing power of the single person's pension of £11·60 in June 1975, the latest date for which the general index of retail prices is available, was 18·7 per cent. higher than that of the £7·75 pension in June 1974.

    Benefits (Payment Of Rent)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what criteria are used in determining whether social security benefits are paid direct to a claimant or, alternatively, paid to a landlord for providing the claimant with accommodation.

    Social security benefits are normally paid direct to the claimant, but where it is known that a tenant receiving supplementary benefit is persistently failing to pay his rent, arrangements can be made for payment to be made to the landlord.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest estimate of the number of disabled persons in Bury and Radcliffe.

    Prices And Consumer Protection

    Soft Toys (Acrylic Fibre)

    asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if she will introduce regulations to prevent the use in teddy bears and other soft toys of acrylic fibre which can give off cyanide fumes if it catches fire; and if she will make a statement.

    I am urgently considering what can be done to prevent a recurrence of the recent tragic accident. The relative safety of alternative fillings will obviously be a factor to be taken into account.

    Consumer Advice Centres (Cumbria)

    asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what proposals she has to establish consumer advice centres in West Cumbria; how many exist there at present; and if she will make a statement.

    There are at present no consumer advice centres in West Cumbria, but it will be open to the local authority to apply for financial assistance for the provision of such centres from the special Exchequer grant announced in paragraph 32 of the White Paper "The Attack on Inflation", Cmnd. 6151.

    Unsafe Goods