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Written Answers

Volume 928: debated on Thursday 17 March 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 17th March 1977

Land Registry

asked the Attorney-General whether he will arrange for the Land Registry Office to be sited in Weymouth.

In anticipation of the establishment in due course of a new District Land Registry at Weymouth, it is planned to open a sub-office of the Gloucester District Land Registry there this year.

House Of Commons

European Community Business

asked the Lord President of the Council how many regulations, directives and decisions have been published in draft and final forms by the EEC Commission and Council of Ministers since June 1975; and how many of these documents have been debated (a) on the Floor of the House and (b) in Select Committee.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 7th March 1977; Vol. 927, c. 366], gave the following information:In the period 30th June 1975 to 23rd February 1977, the date of the latest available volume of the Official Journal of the European Communities, a total of 5,422 Council and Commission regulations and 1,557 other items including directives and decisions were published in final form. No figures are readily available of draft Council or Commission documents published in that period. Documents recommended by the Scrutiny Committee for debate are in the main draft regulations or directives published by the Commission for submission to the Council. In the period June 1975 to March 1977 the Scrutiny Committee examined 1,174 EEC documents, and recommended 194 documents for further consideration by the House. Of these, 121 documents have been debated on the Floor of the House, and 15 documents in Standing Committee.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q4.

asked the Prime Minister what are his official engagements for 17th March.

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March 1977.

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his engagements for 17th March.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March 1977.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public engagements for Thursday 17th March 1977.

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March 1977.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March.

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 17th March.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 17th March 1977.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his engagements for 17th March 1977.

This morning I took the chair at a meeting of the Cabinet. In addition to my duties in this House I shall be holding further meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with the Commissioner of the Police of the Metropolis.

United States And Canada (Prime Minister's Visit)

Q5.

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his discussions with President Carter, particularly concerning Concorde.

I refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made to the House on 15th March on my recent visit to the United States and Canada.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister whether, when he meets President Carter, he will discuss with him the question of dissidents in the USSR and, in particular, the case of Mr. Vladimir Bukovsky.

I refer the hon. Member to the statement which I made to the House on 15th March on my visit to the United States and Canada.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister whether, in the course of his dis- cussions with President Carter, he raised the question of the provision of a new airborne early warning system suitable for the United Kingdom air defence region.

I refer the hon. Member to the exchanges following the statement which I made to the House on 15th March on my recent visit to the United States and Canada.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister what was the cost of his visit to the United States of America; and by how much this was increased by travelling in Concorde.

It is not possible to separate the costs of the visit to the United States of America from the costs of the visit to Canada. The total estimated cost for the whole visit, including the costs of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and all supporting staff, was about £ 56,000. The extent of any additional cost incurred by using Concorde depends on which of the range of alternative aircraft and arrangements is taken as the comparison.

Secretary Of State For The Home Department

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list the responsibilities he has allocated to the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list the responsibilities he has allocated to the Secretary of State for the Home Department.

The Home Secretary is the channel of communication between the Crown and the subjects of the realm, and between the United Kingdom Government and the Governments of the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. He exercises certain Prerogative powers of the Crown of which the most important are the prerogative of mercy and the maintenance of the Queen's peace. He is concerned with the administration of justice; criminal law; the treatment of offenders; probation; the prison service; public morals and safety; the police, fire and civil defence services; immigration and nationality; community relations and community and urban programmes voluntary services; sex discrimination policy; legislative and constitutional aspects of broadcasting; and regulation of the use of radio.

Prime Minister (Industrial Visits)

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the progress to date of his visits to industry.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the progress to date of his visits to industry.

Tuc

Q12.

019.

Q27.

I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) on 3rd February.

Industrial Democracy

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister how he intends to apply the principles of industrial democracy as determined by the majority report of the Bullock Committee to the organisation of Government Departments in general and the Cabinet in particular.

The Bullock Committee's proposals relate to private sector companies. As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade told the House on 26th January, special considerations apply to the development of participation in government. The Government have put in hand studies into the scope for extension of participation in the public services within the accepted principles which govern the operations of elected bodies.

Service Men (Gratuities)

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if he is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Civil Service Department and the Ministry of Defence on administration of gratuities to Service men holding short-service commissions; and if he will make a statement.

Home Department

Departmental Staff (Retirements)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of the civil servants in his Department he estimates will retire within the next 12 months.

Metropolitan Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will give for the longest and most convenient stated period of time the number of Metropolitan Police who have been advised, encouraged, or allowed to retire on pension prior to or at the time of their being prosecuted for stated offences; how many of these were subsequently found guilty of these offences; and how many of them are receiving pensions whilst in prison.

I have asked the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis for a report, and as soon as I receive this I shall write to my hon. Friend.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the conditions under which persons are allowed to immigrate to the United Kingdom on the understanding that they will not become a charge on public funds; and if he will make a statement.

There is a general requirement in the Immigration Rules made under the Immigration Act 1971 that where a dependant applies to be admitted for settlement to join a sponsor already settled here—or who is on the same occasion given indefinite leave to enter—the sponsor must be able and willing to support and accommodate the dependant without recourse to public funds. The requirement does not apply to admission of the wife or minor child of a Commonwealth citizen who has the right of abode or was settled in the United Kingdom on 1st January 1973.There are similar requirements for dependants seeking entry not for settlement but to join a sponsor admitted to the United Kingdom subject to a time limit, to take or seek employment, or as a business man, a person of independent means or as a self-employed person.

Marriage Laws

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to announce his conclusions with regard to the Law Commission's proposals for the reform of the marriage laws in England and Wales.

We are considering the Law Commission's proposals in the light of representations which have been made by other bodies. It will be some time yet before we are ready to announce any conclusions.

Silver Jubilee

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what official ceremonies in connection with the Queen's Jubilee celebrations representatives of Commonwealth Governments have been invited; which Governments have accepted such invitations; and who the representatives of such Governments will be.

No invitations to Jubilee ceremonies have yet been sent to Commonwealth representatives from overseas, apart from invitations to those Commonwealth Governments with navies to send ships to the Naval Review on 28th June. Ships from Australia, Brunei, Canada, India and New Zealand will be participating in this event.

Government Guests (Security)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the cost to public funds of providing a 24-hour security guard to official guests of the Government while in the United Kingdom.

Any police arrangements involve officers who would otherwise be engaged in other duties; and, therefore, no separate cost arises.

Naturalisation

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average time which elapses in London between an application for naturalisation and a decision being made.

Mr Roy And Mr Prasad

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make a further statement on the detention of the two Indian monks Mr. Roy and Mr. Prasad seeking asylum in Great Britain.

I have kept the continued need for the detention of Mr. Roy and Mr. Prasad under close personal supervision, but I regret that I would not feel justified for the present in authorising their release or their admission to the United Kingdom.

Chief Constable Of Lancashire

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the terms of reference and the composition of the Committee of Inquiry into the conduct of the Chief Constable of Lancashire.

No. This is a matter for the Lancashire Police Authority as disciplinary authority.

Police Committees (Meetings)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statutory provision exists governing the withdrawal from meetings of police committees of persons concerned with matters under consideration by these committees.

There are no specific statutory provisions, but a provision of this nature could be included in the standing orders of a police committee, made under the provisions of the Police Act 1964 and the Local Government Act 1972.

Energy

Gas Prices

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he took into account the impact of a 10 per cent. rise in gas prices on pensioners and those on fixed incomes before giving an instruction to British Gas to increase prices.

We were aware of these considerations, but an increase in gas prices was necessary to reduce the level of Government financing.

Radioactivity

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many instances of radioactive leakage at nuclear power stations and at other Government institutions where radioactive materials are used have been reported during the last 10 years; in how many such cases illness attributed to radioactivity has been recorded amongst persons working in such places; and in how many cases death has occurred.

I am advised that no occurrences involving any release of radioactivity causing or likely to cause death or serious injury have been reported by licensees of nuclear installations during the past 10 years. Any such occurrences would have been required to be reported to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) under the Nuclear Installations (Dangerous Occurrences) Regulations 1965. Nuclear installations operated by the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) or by Government Departments are not subject to control under these regulations, but under equivalent arrangements during the same period no such occurrences have been reported. Comprehensive figures for all leaks of radioactivity, most of which are very minor, are not available, but in no instance are radioactive leaks at licensed sites, UKAEA or Government Department sites believed to have caused any significant risk of harm to anyone. I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Campbell) on 2nd February 1977 about the arrangements being made for future reporting of occurrences and the publication of a quarterly statement by the HSE.

Production

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the final figures for 1976 for total primary energy input, broken down into the standard categories; and what percentage of the total each category represented.

The latest available figures for primary energy input in 1976 in million therms, and the percentage share of the total represented by each primary fuel, are as follows:

Million thermsPercentage share
Coal29,76236·5
Petroleum33,74441·4
Natural gas14,68418·0
Primary electricity3,3984·2
81,588100·0
In compiling these figures, separate grades of coal and types of petroleum product are converted to thermal equivalents by the calorific factors appropriate to each.

Consumption

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the final figures for 1976 for United Kingdom final consumption of energy (a) by each category of user and (b) by fuel; and what percentage of the total each category and each fuel represented in each case.

Detailed information for 1976 for United Kingdom final consumption of energy by each category of user and type of fuel is not yet available. Provisional data will be published in Table 2 of the April issue of "Energy Trends" which will be available in the Library of the House on 28th April 1977.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the final figures for 1976 for United Kingdom inland energy consumption on a primary fuel input basis; and what percentage of the total each primary fuel represented.

The latest figures for 1976 of United Kingdom inland energy consumption on a primary fuel input basis were published in Table 1 of the February issue of "Energy Trends", available in the Library of the House. For convenience the figures and percentage shares of each primary fuel are given below.

Million tons of coal or coal equivalentMillion tonnes of oil or oil equivalentPercentage share
Coal120·572·037·1
Petroleum132·079·040·7
Natural gas57·634·417·7
Nuclear electricity12·77·63·9
Hydro electricity1·91·10·6
Total324·7194·1100·0

Radioactive Waste

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the processing of nuclear waste in the light of the decision taken in Washington that Energy Research and Development Agency has been acting unconstitutionally in its negotiations with Great Britain.

I understand that the National Resources Defence Council (NRDC) and other bodies jointly have filed with ERDA a rule-making petition asking that the recently-granted approvals of spent fuel transfer—which will enable United States-origin fuel to be reprocessed outside the United States—be rescinded. I am advised that this matter is sub judice in the United States.

Coal Mining (Incentives)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when the existing productivity incentive scheme was implemented by the National Coal Board; what has been the estimated effect on productivity and on earnings; what steps he has taken to urge the National Coal Board to introduce a new scheme with greater pit-based incentives; and when he expects such a scheme to commence.

The national production bonus scheme was introduced for one year in January 1975. In the first quarter production was 1,207,000 tons above the target figure of 30 million tons and a bonus of £.2·90 per week was paid to all employees of the Board from March to June 1975. In the following quarters production did not exceed the target figure and no further bonuses were paid. In "Coal for the Future", the third report of the coal industry's tripartite group which my right hon. Friend chairs and on which unions, NCB and Government are represented, we said:

"We continue to believe that, as stated in the Final Report of the Coal Industry Examination 1974, a sound and effective incentive scheme could make a major contribution in raising the efficiency of production and matching performance to the industry's true potential.' Such a scheme has not yet been introduced as it is not possible to initiate one within the current pay policy, but we are glad to know that the NUM has set up a study group to examine the various possibilities."

Coal Production

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the latest estimate of coal production for the National Coal Board financial year to the end of March; how this compares with production for 1975 –76; and what is the planned output for 1977 –78.

The National Coal Board's latest estimate of total coal production by the Board during its present financial year is 119 million tons. Production during the Board's financial year 1975 –76 was 1238 million tons. No firm estimate of production during 1977 –78 is possible until the effects of early retirement have been fully assessed. However, it is expected to be somewhat less than in the current year.

Research

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what progress is being made by his Department on research into combined heat and power.

A group under the chairmanship of my Chief Scientist is studying the future rôle of combined heat and power. A discussion document from this group entitled "District heating combined with electricity generation in the United Kingdom" is being published today. I have placed copies in the Libraries of both Houses.

Civil Service

Government Advertising

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will give the cost per 1,000 readers per single column centimetre of display advertisements for each of the national daily newspapers, in which the Government advertise for their United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland readership, or of the total readership where a breakdown is not disclosed.

Readership figures are only available for England, Scotland and Wales. Costs are as follows:

Cost per 1,000 Adult Readers New Pence
Daily Express·33
Daily Mail·33
Daily Mirror (including Daily Record)·26
Daily Telegraph·50
Financial Times1·45
The Guardian·98
Morning Star1·46*
Sun·24
The Times1·21
* Readership figures for the Morning Star are not published. This figure has been calculated on the basis of a United Kingdom circulation of some 26,290 and the assumption that readers per copy are approximately 3·1—in line with other national newspapers.

Pensions

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what conclusions Her Majesty's Government have reached about changing to the inflation-proofed systems for public sector pensions; and if he will make a statement.

This is a matter which the Government keep under continuous review in the light of the economic circumstances. That remains the position today.

Environment

Noise Abatement

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many local authorities are implementing Part III of the Control of Pollution Act.

Eight local authorities so far have designated noise abatement zones under the discretionary powers of Part III of the Act of 1974. There is no central record of action by local authorities under the other provisions of Part III.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his estimate of the first-year revenue cost to local authorities of the full implementation of Part III of the Control of Pollution Act.

I have no such estimate, but the present standstill on local authority current expenditure between 1975–76 and 1976–77 requires any action under Part III to be done within existing resources.

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of the civil servants in his Department he estimates will retire within the next 12 months.

The staff of the Departments of the Environment and Transport are jointly managed, and it is not possible to give separate figures for each Department. Approximately 2.6 per cent. of the staff of the two Departments will have reached the normal retirement age for their grade by 1st April 1978. Some staff in grades with a normal retirement age of 60 have short service and subject to health and efficiency can continue to serve beyond 60; it is not possible to estimate how many will in fact do so. Of the staff reaching normal retirement age, nearly half are industrial employees.

Commission For Local Administration

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the working of the Commissioner for Local Administration; and if he will make a statement.

The Commission for Local Administration has not yet completed its third year in existence. I agree with the Commission which, in its latest annual report, for 1975 –76, concludes that it is too early to judge whether changes in the present arrangement are necessary.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any proposals to put to Parliament to increase the powers of the Commissioner for Local Administration, so that local councils can no longer ignore his findings.

The Commission for Local Administration is statutorily responsible for reviewing annually the operation of Part III of the Local Government Act 1974. I will consider carefully any recommendations or conclusions which the Commission may reach about its powers in the course of their next review.

British Waterways Board

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the salary, expenses, and pension arrangements available to part-time members of the British Waterways Board; and list all benefits in kind which they may receive.

All members of the British Waterways Board are part-time. Their remuneration is listed each year in the Board' annual report and accounts, which are laid before this House. Actual travelling and related expenses incurred by members whilst engaged on the Board's business are reimbursed. Only the Chairman' appointment is at present pensionable, on arrangements similar to those provided by the Rules of the British Waterways (Salaried Staff) Pension Fund.I am not aware of any provision of benefits in kind.

Lower Covert Farm, Long Ashton

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why he has failed to inform the hon. Member for Somerset, North of his decision and of the inspector' report concerning the planning inquiry relating to Lower Covert Farm, Long Ashton; and why he has not answered the hon. Member' letter of 4th March 1977.

I am sorry that the hon. Member was not informed of my decision at the time. I have written to the hon. Member about this, attaching a copy of the decision letter and inspector' report.

New Towns (Housing)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to issue directions for the transfer of rented housing in the first generation new towns.

The consultations required under Section 2(1) of the New Towns (Amendment) Act 1976 have now been completed for all the towns concerned. Directions for the making of a transfer scheme have been issued in the case of Corby, Crawley, Hemel Hempstead, Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield. I am now considering the various issues raised at meetings with Aycliffe, Basildon, Bracknell, Harlow, Peterlee and Stevenage, and we hope to notify the parties of the decisions by the end of the month.

Helsinki Final Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress has been made in setting up the bank of cultural data planned in the Helsinki Final Act.

I have been asked to reply.It was agreed by European member States of UNESCO, in the autumn of 1975, that UNESCO should be asked to undertake this project. The 19th General Conference of UNESCO subsequently approved its inclusion in the programme and budget for 1977 –78. A meeting of experts serving in a private capacity was organised jointly by UNESCO and the Romanian National Commission for UNESCO at Bucharest in March 1977 to study the possibility of setting up the proposed cultural data bank. A United Kingdom expert attended the meeting. The meeting concluded that a cultural data bank would be important in promoting stronger co-operation between European countries, and made certain detailed recommendations which will be considered by a further meeting of experts scheduled to be held in 1978.

Overseas Development

Paraguay

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will increase the level of present British aid to Paraguay.

There is at present a small technical co-operation programme in Paraguay, on which I expect about £140,000 to have been spent during the current financial year. It is concentrated almost exclusively on help to small cultivators and livestock farmers; a modest increase for the same purpose is under consideration, but will depend upon recruitment of two key personnel.There is no programme of capital aid for Paraguay, nor do I intend to mount one.

Scotland

Crime

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he has made of the number of crimes in Scotland in 1976, or the latest 12 months for which figures are available, in which alcohol was a major factor.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the number of deaths occurring in Scotland in 1976, or for the latest 12-months period for which figures are available, as a result of criminal action; and how many occurred in the Strathclyde Region.

The number of deaths recorded by the Registrar General for Scotland in 1975 caused by homicide and injury purposely inflicted by other persons was 77. Of these 51 occurred in the Strathclyde Region.

Caravan Sites

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many caravan sites in Dumfries and Galloway are exclusively for touring caravans; and how many stances are available in all these sites taken together.

This information is not held centrally. District councils are responsible for licensing caravan sites and for prescribing conditions for their use. They are not required to make returns of licences issued.

Wales

Oakwood Park Estate, Conway

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current annual cost of maintaining the Oakwood Park Estate, Conway; and what has been the total cost to the taxpayer since the property became vacant.

Information about costs is readily available only since the establishment of the area health authority. Between 1st April 1974 and 31st March 1976, these amounted to £10,454.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he is taking to dispose of Oakwood Park, Conway before the property becomes derelict.

Contracts for the sale of the property have been exchanged. There has been some delay in completion and notice to complete has been served on the prospective purchasers.

Social Services

Health Centres And Surgeries

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will set up an independent inquiry to compare consumer satisfaction among NHS patients attending health centres with that among NHS patients attending general practitioner surgeries.

No. Facilities for general medical practice at health centres have much in common with those offered by primary care teams practising from purpose-built premises provided by the practitioners. Any variation of substance between one group practice and another is likely to result from individual differences in the personalities and working arrangements of the members of the primary care teams.My Department is financing several studies of the operation of health centres, and some small scale local surveys have been published. The reports which I have so far received indicate, inter alia, that most patients consider the health centre an improvement on their doctors' previous accommodation. In addition, my Department, in conjunction with the Scottish Home and Health Department and the Welsh Office, has asked the Social Survey Division of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys (OPCS) to carry out, on our behalf, a household survey to examine patients' experiences of and views about access to primary health care services which will include services provided from all types of premises.

Counter Clerks (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest average wage after tax for a counter clerk in his Department.

The average gross salary of local office clerical staff on counter duties in my Department is currently in the region of £2,560 per anunm. It is not practicable to give an "after tax "figure.

Electro-Convulsive Therapy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many deaths occur each year in the United Kingdom as a result of electro-convulsive therapy treatment; what safeguards are normally applied; and what warning of the risks involved is given to patients.

Statistics are not kept on a national basis of deaths associated with individual forms of treatment such as ECT. However, recent studies in the United States of America and this country have indicated that ECT is associated with mortality probably of the order of 3 to 9 per 100,000 treatments. The risks arise mainly from the anaesthetic and muscle relaxant. The Royal College of Psychiatrists is expected shortly to issue a document on the use of ECT, with recommended standards and procedures for the administration of ECT, as well as a section on consent to treatment. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends among other things that an anaesthetist should be present as well as the psychiatrist, to give the anaesthetic; and that the responsible psychiatrist should ensure that the patient is given a prior explanation of the benefits and dangers of ECT.

Doctors

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that enough doctors are being trained to guarantee a satisfactory service to the community in both hospitals and general practice.

Yes. The increasing output of our medical schools should eventually meet the needs of the National Health Service and allow a gradual reduction in dependency on doctors from overseas.

Life Expectancy

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the life expectancy at birth for men and women in each of the following years: 1900, 1920, 1940, 1960 and 1975.

The available information on expectations of life at birth (in years) for males and females is as follows:

MalesFemales
1901–191048·552·4
1920–192255·659·6
1930–193258·762·9
1950–195266·471·5
1960–196268·174·0
1972–197469·275·6
The figures are based on the mortality experience during the periods shown, and do not therefore represent the expectations of life of people who were born in those years.

Child Advocates

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in the light of the Wayne Brewer case, he will consider full implementation of the clauses in the Children' Act 1975 relating to child advocates.

We expect shortly to be consulting the local authorities' associations about the resources available for implementation of further provisions of the Children Act 1975. In these discussions we will bear in mind what the Review Panel in this case said about extending the arrangements for separate representation of a child to include opposed applications for the discharge of care or supervision orders.

Mentally Handicapped Children (Islington)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to decide if loan sanction can be given for Islington Council' proposal for a residential establishment at Leigh Road for mentally handicapped children.

We expect to be able to issue the provisional list of personal social services schemes selected for loan approval in 1977–78 at about the end of this month.

Widows

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what would be the cost of amending the overlapping benefits regulation so as to allow widows to claim industrial injuries benefit in addition to their pensions;(2) what would be the cost of amending the overlapping benefit regulation so as to allow widows to claim sickness benefit in addition to their pensions;(3) what would be the cost of amending the overlapping benefit regulation so as to allow widows to claim invalidity benefit in addition to their pensions;(4) what would be the cost of amending the overlapping benefit regulation so as to allow widows to claim unemployment benefit in addition to their pensions;(5) if he will give an estimate of the number of widows who forfeited their entitlement to unemployment, sickness, invalidity or industrial benefit in the last 12 months as a result of the overlapping benefits regulation;(6) what would be the cost of abolishing the overlapping benefits regulation in respect of widows.

Widows can, like married women, choose not to pay full national insurance contributions. Those with an age-related pension often pay the full contribution so that they can in due course qualify for a full-rate retirement pension; but widows receiving the full standard rate of widow's pension or widowed mother's allowance usually choose not to pay full contributions since they are assured of a full-rate retirement pension and cannot qualify for other national insurance benefits on top of their widow's benefit. It is not possible to estimate the cost of permitting the payment of unemployment benefit, sickness benefit or invalidity pension in addition to widow' benefit, since this would depend on the extent to which widows who had formerly been paying contributions at a reduced rate chose to pay full contributions; nor can the number of widows who forfeited all or part of their entitlement to unemployment benefit, sickness benefit or invalidity pension in the last 12 months as a result of the overlapping benefits regulations be estimated, although it is unlikely that many widows getting full-rate widow's benefit would be so affected since most of them would not be entitled to the other benefits. As regards industrial injuries benefit, eligibility for which does not depend on the payment of contributions, the cost of permitting the payment of this benefit with widow' benefit would be about £½ million a year. It is estimated that at any one time in the past 12 months about 600 widows would have been able to receive both industrial injuries benefit and widow's benefit but for the operation of the overlapping benefits regulations.The main cost of abolishing the overlapping benefits regulations for widows would arise in respect of widows over pensionable age as more and more women became entitled to retirement pensions on their own contributions, due to the phasing-out of the option at present open to married women and widows to pay reduced contributions, the abolition of the married woman's half-test and the new pension scheme provisions for protecting the basic pension rights of persons who cannot work because of responsibilities at home. The cost would be expected to build up over a period of years to over £1,000 million a year at current rates.

Disabled Persons (Vehicles)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made during the last eight years in developing electronic controls for thalodimide and seriously disabled drivers in order to enable them to achieve independent mobility; and if he will place an order for such a number of adapted vehicles as is required for a development programme.

I am aware of work that has been done by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory on the development of an electronically controlled steering system and have kept in touch with its progress because of my interest in any technical development which could result in a better choice of specialised vehicles, or specialised adaptations to production cars, for disabled people. I understand that this project is still at the stage of a feasibility study. My Department and the Department of Transport are currently considering what further research is desirable to identify feasible adaptations, or other developments, likely to result in vehicles which effectively meet the needs of disabled people. In the meantime, it would not be right for me to pick out one particular project for special support by my Department.

Blind Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the number of people receiving the additional supplementary benefit needs allowance for blind persons in 1976 –77; what is the cost of the extra allowance; and what would have been the cost of this allowance in 1976–77 if it had retained in real terms its value when it was introduced.

Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is the total number of national insurance retirement pensions currently in payment and the number of supplementary benefits;(2) how many graduated national insurance pensions are currently being paid; and what is the highest level of pension in payment and the average of all payments.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 16th February 1977; Vol. 926, c. 221–2], gave the following information:It is estimated that in November 1976 there were about 8·4 million retirement pensions in payment. In December 1976 there were about 1·7 million claimants in receipt of supplementary pension, of whom all but about 90,000 also received a national insurance retirement pension.The estimated number of graduated retirement pensions in payment in November 1976 was about 3·7 million. The highest graduated pension was £2·58 a week, and the average was 37p.

Whooping-Cough Vaccination

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, if he will publish in the Official Report details of the continuing study in the North West Thames Region of whooping-cough vaccination, giving the purpose of and the methods used in the study; and if he will arrange for the publication of an interim report of the information obtained so far.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 25th February 1977; Vol. 926, c. 727–8], gave the following information:The purpose of the on-going Public Health Laboratory Service study in the North-West Thames Region is to ascertain more precisely the incidence of serious adverse reactions associated with immunisation procedures. All doctors in the region have been told of the importance of reporting adverse reactions and all cases of severe adverse reaction are followed-up to detect any permanent disability. Hospital records of patients with any illness which could have been associated with vaccine are also checked. The number of doses of each vaccine used in the region is obtained so that reaction rates can be calculated.Information arising from the study is provided to the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation but the time and method of publication of formal reports on the study is a matter for the Public Health Laboratory Service and the other doctors concerned in the region.

Sterilisation

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will publish details of the number of sterilisations carried out (a) on a one-off basis and (b) with other procedures, for each region;(2) how many sterilisations have been carried out within each National Health Service region for each year since 1972, giving separate figures for each sex;(3) what is the cost to the National Health Service of male and female sterilisation, giving separate figures for each region;(4) what is the average time spent in hospital by women having sterilisation operations, giving separate figures for each region.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 16th March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 183–4], gave the following information:The numbers of male sterilisation (vacestomies) carried out in National Health Service family planning clinics in the last nine months of 1974 and in 1975 are as follows:

Regional Health Authority*1st April 1974 to 31st December 19741975
Northern1,0051,229
Yorkshire78305
Trent1,5922,362
East Anglia
North West Thames6711,334
North East Thames433779
South East Thames873711
South Wast Thames7552,063
Wessex8661,468
Oxford5471,083
South Western657755
West Midland1,7592,622
Mersey262426
North Western1,3831,935
Total10,88117,142
* The date the National Health Service Regions in England were established.
No information is available centrally on male and female sterilisations carried out in England as secondary procedures, on sterilisations carried out in private hospitals, on female sterilisations carried out on a day case or out-patient basis, nor on the cost of operations.In due course information will be available centrally on the number of male and female sterilisations which were main sterilisation operations during hospital in-patient spells in England in 1974 onwards. Before the reorganisation of the National Health Service in 1974 this information was available only as a combined figure for England and Wales and I give below the figures for 1973:

Estimated number of sterilisations of women which were main operations38,700
Estimated number of male sterilisations which were main operations4,400
Estimated length of stay in hospitals for women on whom were performed the main operations "Division and Ligation of Oviducts" which accounted for 75 per cent. of female main sterilisations9 days
As a result of differences in recording methods between the two countries this information is not directly comparable with the figure for Wales for 1973 provided by my right hon and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales yesterday.—[Vol. 928 c.

239–42.]

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement outlining fees received by surgeons and others, for carrying out sterilisations.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 16th March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 183–4], gave the following information:The following is the scale of fees, effective from July 1975, for sterilisations and associated procedures undertaken in hospitals by consultants and other hospital doctors under arrangements agreed with their Area Health Authorities which include a limit on the total number of remunerable cases:

SCALE OF FEES
£
i. a fee per case of male sterilisation performed performed
(a) as a separate procedure, and16·25
(b) during the course of another procedure11·00
ii. a fee per case of female sterilisation performed
(a) as a separate procedure, and22·00
(b) during the course of another procedure14·70
iii. fees per case for anaesthetists' services, corresponding to those above as follows:
For i. (a)8·00
(b)5·30
ii. (a)10·75
(b)7·20
iv. a fee per case for examination and report on pathological specimens referred in connection with NHS family planning cases3·00
v. a fee per case for radiological services provided in connection with NHS family planning cases3·00

National Finance

Forestry

58.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proposals he intends to introduce for the forestry industry in the light of the interdepartmental working party report on Forestry.

I am considering this report together with other interested colleagues, and a statement will be made as soon as practicable.

Widows (Tax Form)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many copies of Inland Revenue form SS 96(2) have been sent out to the public; at what cost in production and postage; and for what purpose.

About 11,000 each year at a printing cost of £45. There is no additional postage cost, as the form is usually sent with a tax return form. The form is sent to the widow of a public servant following his death. The information requested on the form is needed to enable the Public Departments tax office at Cardiff to ensure that the widow is correctly taxed.

Luncheon Vouchers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will raise from 15p to 50p the tax relief that may be given before luncheon vouchers are subject to tax.

Widows

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the annual cost of exempting from tax the short-term social security benefits received by widows and widowed mothers during the first six months of widowhood.

Blind Persons

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the number of people receiving the additional blind person's tax allowance in the current tax year; what was the cost to the Exchequer of this allowance; and what would have been the cost if the allowance had retained its value in real terms since its introduction.

Child Benefit

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has failed to answer the inquiries made about the effect of the introduction of the child benefit scheme upon the affairs of a constituent of the hon. Member for Chingford, despite having been in possession of the relevant papers for seven weeks.

I regret that the hon. Member's letter did not reach my right hon. Friend. I am having urgent inquiries made into this matter.

Exports (Competitiveness)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on what year the trade weights used in calculating the Index of Competitiveness are based.

I have been asked to reply.The index of export competitiveness, which is defined, for the published statistics, as the ratio of United Kingdom export prices of manufactures to a weighted average of those of our major competitors, both expressed in terms of United States dollars, is compiled as a chain-linked Laspeyre index. The weights used for combining individual competitors' prices in a given year are based on levels of trade in manufactures in the previous year. The latest statistics for 1976 use weights based on trade in 1975 and are given in Table 13, page 656 of the 11th March issue of

Trade and Industry.

Construction Industry (Sub-Contractors)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are currently employed in full-time equivalents, in administering the new 714 certificate scheme for sub-contractors in the building industry.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 14th March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 102], gave the following information:This depends partly on the rate at which applications are received, but it is estimated that at present less than 250 are employed on the new scheme.

Widowed Mothers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why, under the scheme which has replaced family allowances, widowed mothers who are employed are currently charged income tax on £1 per week which they do not receive, being deducted from their widow's pension; and whether he will take immediate action to stop this deduction.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 14th March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 102], gave the following information:As I explained in my letter to the hon. Member of 11th March, there is no question of any current deduction on this account. In some instances, PAYE code numbers issued for the coming tax year to widows and others receiving taxable child dependency allowances have not correctly reflected the changes which result from the introduction of the child benefit scheme. Tax offices have therefore recently been reminded of the need to ensure that the detailed instructions issued last autumn are properly implemented and to take all possible steps to correct errors that have occurred.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he is satisfied that tax offices are aware that, for 1977–78, £52 of the taxable dependency allowance for each child of a widow will be exempted from tax, to take account of the fact that widows with dependent children are not at present subject to clawback on any family allowance received;(2) what steps he is taking to correct the coding notices of widows where tax offices have failed to take account of the fact that widows with dependent children are not at present subject to clawback on any family allowance received;(3) what notification the Inland Revenue has sent to tax offices that widows will have £1 deducted from the taxable dependency allowance for the first child when child benefit is introduced in April.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 14th March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 103], gave the following information: Tax offices were notified of the special arrangements for widows and others receiving taxable child dependency benefits in detailed instructions issued in November 1976 for the preparation of 1977–78 PAYE codings. These instructions covered the reduction of the dependency benefit to offset the payment of child benefit for the first child and the exemption of £52 of the dependency benefit for each child. I am nevertheless aware that in some instances these instructions have been misunderstood or overlooked and that some code numbers issued to widows and others are incorrect. Inspectors in charge of tax offices have recently been reminded of the need to check whether these instructions have been properly carried out and to take all possible steps to correct any errors. Any widow who thinks that her PAYE code is incorrect should write to her tax office.

Tax Refunds

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the tax repayments in the week beginning 7th March 1977 paid to a married man with two children normally earning £65 a week, and without any other forms of income, if he was in receipt of unemployment benefit that week due to a trade dispute at his place of work in which he was not taking part, and had made full tax payments in the fiscal year prior to that date; who makes the repayments; and what delay there normally is in paying them.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 14th March 1977; Vol. 928, c. 104], gave the following information: The tax repayment to a married man with two children under eleven years of age would in these circumstances be at the rate of about £10 £50 per week. In most cases of this kind the employer continues to operate the PAYE scheme so that the repayment is then made on the normal pay day. Alternatively, the employer may supply the necessary details to the local tax office, who will then make the appropriate repayments normally at two-weekly intervals.

Employment

Pay And Conditions Of Work

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will recommend the setting up of a Royal Commission on differentials and relativities in conditions of pay and work.

Agriculture (Young Persons)

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with provisions made for safety of young persons engaged in agriculture especially in regard to schoolchildren.

I cannot be satisfied as long as young persons are involved in fatal accidents on farms. Ways of improving standards of health and safety are always being considered and the statutory provisions are kept continuously under review by the Agriculture Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive.The agricultural health and safety regulations and the general duties provisions of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 enable the Agricultural Inspectorate to maintain high standards on farms in Great Britain. Much of the educational and advisory effort of the Agricultural Inspectorate is devoted to the safety of young people when working on farms, and in May a special publicity campaign is being mounted with the co-operation of schools throughout the country in connection with EEC Farm Safety Week which has as its theme "Children and Machinery".The Health and Safety Commission is advised by its recently appointed Agricultural Industry Advisory Committee comprising six representatives each from the employers' and workers' unions.

Employment Transfer Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of paying the fees of house agents and solicitors, respectively; and what was the total cost;(2) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of housing removal expenses; and what was the total cost;(3) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of incidental expenses when moving to unfurnished accommodation under the rehousing grant; and what was the total cost;(4) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of incidental expenses under the rehousing grant for deposits on, respectively, gas, electricity and telephone installation; and what was the total cost;(5) if he will list all the items over the value of £10 for which grants were made under the rehousing grant of the employment transfer scheme in respect of incidental expenses.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that, under the employment transfer scheme, the number of people who received household removal assistance between 1st January 1976 and 30th September 1976, which is the last date for which figures are available, totalled 5,592. This assistance may include one or more of the following: removal expenses, rehousing grant and a grant towards the cost of solicitor's and agent's fees for sale of property and towards legal fees in the purchase of property. Statistics of the number of people who receive each of the three grants are not recorded. The full rehousing grant is paid when the worker and spouse and/or dependants move into unfurnished accommodation and no other incidental expenses are paid under this grant.Financial information is not available in the form requested. In 1976 expenditure on these items under the employment transfer scheme and the key workers scheme is recorded in the table below:

Removal expenses859,591
Rehousing grant3,680,200
Grant towards the cost of legal fees924,278
5,464,069

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of charges for furniture storage(2) if he will list all the items other than rent, mortgage interest and charges for furniture storage for which payments were made in 1976 under continuing liability allowances of the Employment transfer scheme;(3) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of mortgage interest and what was the total cost;

(4) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of rents; and what was the total cost.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the information on the number of people who have received a continuing liability allowance in respect of individual items of expenditure is not available.Financial information is not available in the form requested. In 1976 expenditure on continuing liability allowance under the employment transfer scheme, the key workers scheme and the nucleus labour force scheme totalled £135,629.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of free fares to their old home from their new place of work; how many such single journeys were made; and what was the total cost;(2) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of free fares for spouses or dependants joining them;(3) how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of visits home at times of domestic emergency; and what was the total cost.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that information about the numbers of people who received free fares to their old homes from their new places of work, free fares to enable their spouses and/or dependants to join them in the new areas and fares to enable them to visit their homes at times of domestic emergency is not available as statistics about these fares are not recorded.Financial information is not available in the form requested. In 1976 expenditure on these items under the employment transfer scheme, the key workers scheme and the nucleus labour force scheme totalled £43,627.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons were in receipt of money under the employment transfer scheme in 1976 in respect of free fares to take up work in a new area; and what was the total cost.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that, under the employment transfer scheme, the number of people who received a free fare to enable them to take up work in new areas between 1st January 1976 and 30th September 1976, which is the last date for which figures are available, totalled 13,348.Financial information is not available in the form requested. In 1976 expenditure on free fares to take up work under the job search scheme, the employment transfer scheme, the key workers scheme and the nucleus labour force scheme totalled £179,032.

Trade Unions (Postal Ballots)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will seek to amend the law so as to enable funds to be made available to trade unions with a view to facilitating their holding of postal ballots in their elections.

As we have stated on previous occasions, if the trade unions approach the Government for financial assistance for postal ballots, we will give the matter consideration.

Education And Science

Student Fees

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will give details in the Official Report of the numbers of home-based students at present engaged in full-time undergraduate and post-graduate courses, and on courses of advanced further education, responsible for their own tuition fees, because they are not supported from public funds.

The estimated number of full-time home students not supported from public funds for the academic year 1976–77 is about 29,000 of whom up to 13,000 may be postgraduate.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will indicate the increase in revenue expected during the academic year 1977–78 from the increase in tuition fees payable by students or full-time undergraduates, postgraduates, or advanced further education courses, where the home-based students are not supported by public funds.

About £6·5 million, at 1975 Survey prices, in respect of full-time home students on postgraduate, undergraduate and advanced further education courses.

School Places (Cost)

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average cost per place of providing education in: (a) primary and (b) secondary schools in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and in England and Wales, respectively.

Estimates of costs per pupil are given in Education Estimates Statistics, published jointly by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy and the Society of County Treasurers, copies of which are in the Library. For the financial year 1976–77, at November 1975 pay and price levels, they are as follows:

PrimarySecondary
££
Berkshire lea270413
Buckinghamshire lea266456
England and Wales273419
The costs reflect the nett recurrent institutional costs per pupil, including transport between home and school. Loan charges and revenue contributions to capital outlay are excluded.

Open University

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement about the marketing operations of the Open University.

The university considers that its marketing operations have a potential, particularly overseas, which has not to date been fully realised. It, therefore, transferred responsibility for them on 1st January 1977 to the Open University Educational Enterprises Ltd., a limited liability company. The shares of the company are wholly held by the university which is also responsible for the appointment of directors. Provision has been made for all profits for tax purposes to revert to the university by deed of convenant. The university considers that the new arrangements will lead to a more efficient marketing operation. I have, therefore, agreed subject to certain safeguards, that the university may make a loan to the company of a specified sum for use as working capital.

Tameside (Equal Opportunities)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the report on possible sex discrimination within schools in Tameside by the Equal Opportunities Commission has been completed; and when it is to be published.

I have been asked to reply.This is a matter for the Equal Opportunities Commission but I understand that the Commission hopes to complete the formal investigation which it is conducting in the exercise of its powers under Section 57 of the Sex Descrimination Act 1975 into secondary education in Tameside fairly soon.

Transport

M62 (Ouse Bridge Section)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport why the use of the Ouse Bridge section of the M62 motorway is being restricted to two lanes in each direction; and how long he expects this restriction to continue.

The use of the bridge is being restricted to two lanes to enable the contractor to complete the painting which had not been done when the bridge was opened. This will continue throughout this summer and possibly part of next year. Full carriageway facilities will be restored during the winter.

Cars (Testing)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how the tests carried on foreign cars for import to the United Kingdom market compare with those carried out by the Japanese on foreign cars prior to their being given clearance for sale in Japan.

With the exception of exhaust emissions, the scope and severity of the tests carried out on foreign cars after 1st April 1978 will be comparable to those tests carried out by the Japanese Government on cars imported into Japan. The Japanese exhaust emissions standards are much more severe than United Kingdom requirements.

Railway Land

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give a general direction to the British Railways Board to sell all the derelict land in its possession to interested parties.

Under a well-established procedure, British Railways offer their surplus land first to the appropriate local authorities. If the hon. Member has a particular problem in mind no doubt he will draw it to the attention of the British Railways Board.

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many civil servants from his Department were present in Committee Room 9 at the House on Tuesday 8th March 1977 during the Committee stage of the Transport (Financial Provisions) Bill; and whether he will list each of them and the appointments they hold and their salaries.

Advisers present were two assistant secretaries responsible for finance and rail freight; three principals responsible for rail freight, road freight and rail passenger services; and one senior legal assistant. One private secretary and two junior staff under instruction also attended. Salary scales are available at page 882 of the Civil Service Year Book 1976, subject to a subsequent increase of £6 per week for those earning less than £8,500 per annum.

Skips

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce legislation to require that skips left overnight on public roadways are either lit or have reflective strips fitted on each end.

Severn Bridge

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will arrange for the suspension of the Severn Bridge tolls while the bridge is partially closed to compensate users for the delays.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Cardiff, north (Mr. Grist) on 11th March.—[Vol. 927, c. 710.]—Even at a reduced standard of service, the bridge still offers considerable advantage to users compared with alternative routes.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether the designers, taxpayers or users will pay for the work now required to remedy design errors in the Severn Bridge.

The cost will be met out of toll revenue in accordance with Section 4 of and Schedule 2 to the Severn Bridge Tolls Act 1965.

Motor Cyclists

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will give consideration to the introduction of a national training scheme for motor cyclists, in view of the problem of an estimated 150,000 first-time riders per annum.

The Royal Automobile Club and the Auto Cycle Union have a training scheme for motor cyclists which they operate in conjunction with local authorities at about 250 centres. The schools traffic education programme, which is sponsored by the motor cycle industry, has recently prepared plans for a national scheme. These are being studied by my Department, with other proposals to reduce the casualty rate among motor cycle users.

Goods Traffic

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will support the German Minister of Transport at the April meeting of the EEC Council of Transport Ministers in Herr Gescheidle's approach to effect a certain transfer of international freight traffic from road to rail.

The letter which the German Minister of Transport wrote in December last to the other EEC Ministers of Transport was concerned primarily with the severe congestion on the roads of the Federal Republic of Germany which, he said, was caused by heavy international road transit traffic. I hope that there will be an opportunity at the next EEC Council of Transport Ministers for a full discussion of the points made by Herr Gescheidle and other general transport problems which face all the EEC countries.

Road Markings (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, in his current survey as to the opinions and policies of local authority engineers on the use of edge-of-carriageway markings for reducing road accidents and reducing road maintenance costs in non-built-up areas, he has surveyed the views of Welsh counties; what were the opinions and policies expressed; and what action he will take on the results of the survey.

In so far as Welsh counties are concerned, my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has responsibility for these matters. Nevertheless, as part of the current survey of policies on edge-of-carriageway markings being carried out by my Department, the views of the Welsh Office, Roads Division, have been sought, and I am advised that it is consulting highway authorities in Wales. The survey is still in progress and I cannot at this stage prejudge the results of these investigations.

Tankers And Road Vehicles (Hazardous Contents)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the present statutory requirements for the marking of road tankers and other vehicles containing chemicals or other hazardous materials.

The statutory requirements for the marking of heavy goods vehicles, including road tankers, are laid down in the Motor Vehicles (Rear Markings) Regulations 1970 and Amendments 1972, and the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1973. Requirements for the marking of vehicles carrying specified hazardous materials, including radioactive material, are stated in the Corrosive Substances (Conveyance by Road) Regulations 1971, the Organic Peroxides (Conveyance by Road) Regulations 1973 and the Radioactive Substances (Carriage by Road) Regulations 1974.Vehicles carrying dangerous goods to and from the Continent are required to conform with the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) and are subject to the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods (Rear Marking of Motor Vehicles) Regulations 1975.

Provisional Driving Licence Applications (Human Tissue Requests)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport under what authority applications for provisional driving licences are to be used as a vehicle for soliciting offers of human tissues for surgical purposes; whether he approved this use; and if he will make a statement.

I was pleased to inaugurate the despatch of kidney donor cards with first provisional driving licences on 14th March because, while no one who receives a card is in any way obliged to make use of it, a significant proportion of those who receive cards may be only too pleased to sign them. I do not think that humanitarianism needs statutory backing.

Industry

British Leyland

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will visit the British Leyland plant at Cofton Hackett.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether British Leyland Ltd. has made any application to him for Government guarantees of the company's borrowings from the banks or for any other assistance with the company's cash flow problems; and, if so, what response he has given.

I have not received requests from the company for assistance beyond the £100 million tranche already agreed.

Northern Ireland

Colleges Of Education (Student Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the cost per student in 1975–76 at (a) Stranmillis, (b) St. Joseph's and (c) St. Mary's; and what is the cost per student expected to be in 1977–78 and 1978–79, having regard to the expected drop in intake of students.

The average costs per full-time student in 1975–76, excluding payments to students under their awards, were as follows:

£
Stranmillis College1,366
St. Joseph's College1,232
St. Mary's College1,139
The overall requirements for training places in 1977–78 and 1978–79 have not yet been determined and it is not therefore possible to make any estimate of the costs per student in those years.

Prisons

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he is satisfied with the situation revealed in the 1975–76 Production and Trading Account of the Northern Ireland Prisons which show that £31 of firewood was sold at a loss of £1,288.

The figure of £31 represents the purchase of sacks. The timber is supplied free of charge.

Prices And Consumer Protection

Motor Vehicle Spares

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will refer to the Price Commission the price and profit margin of motor car spares; and if he will make a statement.

I assume that my hon. Friend is concerned about price levels for spare parts. This is not a matter for the Office of Fair Trading.

Food Packs (Price Surveys)

60.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how many local authorities have applied for the Government special grants to enable them to survey the prices of small packs of food.

Applications have been received from 22 local authorities to conduct small packs surveys in 94 different centres. In addition, four other groups have applied to run surveys in six centres.

Defence

Airborne Early Warning System

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimate he has made of United Kingdom jobs that would be created, and of the number in the high technology field, if the United Kingdom becomes a major base for the NATO AWACS aircraft.

A signficant number of job opportunities would be created if the main operating base of a NATO AEW force were to be established in this country. I cannot, however, answer the hon. Member's question in detail at this stage because of the manning of the base, like other aspects of the NATO AEW force, is still under discussion in NATO.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how he regards the statement in paragraph 151 of Command Paper No. 6735, that Her Majesty's Government will ensure the maintenance of a healthy European industrial and technological base as being compatible with the contemplated purchase of the Boeing E3A AWACS.

Major equipment decisions involve judgement on a range of operational, financial, industrial and other factors. The weight to be given to each factor will vary from case to case. But this is not inconsistent with the general policy objective to which the hon. Member refers.

Raf Brize Norton

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the RAF quarters serving RAF Brize Norton which were declared surplus to requirement in October 1976 are now empty; and what is the reason for the delay in disposing of these properties.

Personnel Reduction

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of the number of jobs (a) in the forces and (b) in civilian life likely to be lost as a result of all the defence cuts since 1st March 1974; and how many have been lost to date.

As set out in the 1975 and 1976 statements on the Defence Estimates, the Ministry of Defence's objective is a reduction of 38,000 in Service personnel and of 40,000 in directly employed civilian staff. The figure for civilians includes those staff of the Property Services Agency engaged on defence work, but excludes those in the Royal Ordnance Factory organisation which operates under a trading fund. In addition the effects of the £230 million cut for 1978–79 are now under study.Compared with the strengths at 1st April 1974–which is the baseline for the exercise—reductions to date amount to 15,200 Service personnel and 21,300 civilian employees.I estimate that, in comparison with the programme contemplated before the defence review, job opportunities in the defence industries and associated suppliers have been reduced by about 90,000 and that this figure will rise to some 140,000 by 1979.

Gurkhas

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost to the British taxpayer of the Gurkha battalion stationed in Brunei.

The Government of Brunei meet the full costs of the Gurkha battalion stationed there.

European Programme Group

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, with reference to paragraph 151 of Command Paper No. 6735, he will list the achievements of the European Programme Group since it was set up in 1976.

I refer to paragraph 152 of the Command paper and to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Belper (Mr. MacFarquhar) on 22nd December last. The achievements of the group to date are as follows:

  • (a) explicit agreement by all European members of NATO, except Iceland, that the Group constitutes the main European forum for collaboration in defence equipment;
  • (b) agreement by all members of the Group, including France, to the purposes listed in paragraph 151;
  • (c) in pursuance of these, the preparation of comprehensive European replacement schedules, which are, I believe, the fullest of their type yet compiled; the establishment of ten studies on the potential for equipment co-operation in specific fields; and the establishment of a panel to study various general aspects of defence procurement co-operation in Europe;
  • (d) work is also in hand to examine European interests in defence procurement in the context of the Alliance as a whole.
  • All of these studies are being pursued actively. While new weapons systems take years to develop, successful co-operative development of this kind will strengthen the European industrial base and promote the use of standardised weapon systems in NATO. The Government are satisfied with progress to date and are encouraged by the willingness of all members of the group to tackle realistically this important but difficult field of international co-operation.

    British Army Of The Rhine

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will detail by arm of Service the very substantial reinforcement of the British Army of the Rhine as referred to in paragraph 138 of Command Paper No. 6735.

    The peacetime strength of BAOR would be more than doubled upon mobilisation. It would not be in the public interest to give the details requested.