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Written Answers

Volume 928: debated on Wednesday 23 March 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 23rd March 1977

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Cyprus

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what agreement has been reached with the Turkish Government over compensation for British property which has been looted or damaged since the Turkish occupation of Eastern Cyprus.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply of 7th March to my hon. Friend the Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mrs. Jeger). Negotiations are continuing but I regret that at the present stage these must remain confidential.—[Vol. 927, c. 368–9.]

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to maintain the right of free movement for British subjects resident in Cyprus.

As a result of representations in both Nicosia and Ankara there has been considerable relaxation of travel restrictions in Cyprus durng the last year, benefiting both the British residents of northern Cyprus and those who own property there but who live elsewhere. We will continue to strive for further improvements.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what compensation has been paid to British residents in Cyprus by the British, Cypriot or Turkish Governments for damaged property since the Turkish occupation of Eastern Cyprus.

None, but we are awaiting replies to claims lodged with the Turkish and Cyprus Governments. The Turkish Cypriot Administration are setting up a claims Committee to deal with the bulk of claims. Meanwhile, the Turkish Cypriots have settled administratively some claims by compensation in kind, repairs to property and, in a few cases, with cash. Cars, boats and personal possessions have been restored to some claimants.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many British-owned properties have been damaged or looted since the Turkish occupation of Eastern Cyprus.

Some 1,000 claims have been notified to us by individual United Kingdom nationals representing loss by looting or damage in respect of both movable and immovable property. Additionally, at least 250 potential claimants have not yet evaluated their losses.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications have been received by the British High Commission in Cyprus in the years 1974, 1975 and 1976 for temporary work permits for refugees from Cyprus; how many applications have been permanent work permits for such refugees; how many have been granted; if he will give the reasons for the refusals; and if he will make a statement.

A work permit is issued only for a specific job with a specific employer and the application must be made to the Department of Employment by the employer not the worker. The decision whether to grant or refuse an application is a matter for that Department.Applications are not made to the British High Commission in Cyprus, which is involved only in the issue of the permit after it has been authorised in London.

Falkland Islands

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations the Minister of State received at Goose Green in the Falkland Islands; and what reply he made to allay popular misgivings arising from discussion of Her Majesty's sovereignty with Argentina.

During the public discussions I held with the Falkland Islanders at Goose Green, the local branch of the Falkland Island Committee read out an eight-point statement, prepared before my arrival, which expressed concern over discussion of the Falkland Islands sovereignty dispute with Argentina. I assured those present that, contrary to the suggestion in the statement, I had not discussed sovereignty with the Argentine Government en route to the islands. I explained why the Government thought it right to establish whether Anglo-Argentine negotiations might be held and how United Kingdom sovereignty over the islands and the position of the islanders would be fully protected. Those present at the Goose Green meeting indicated their satisfaction with these explanations and with the Government's intention to see whether a climate for Anglo-Argentine negotiations existed.

Conservative "Monthly News"

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many copies of Conservative Monthly News are purchased by his Department to keep Ministers and senior civil servants informed of current Conservative policy and thinking.

No copies of the Conservative Monthly News are purchased by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London.

Rhodesia

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what reply he has sent to the request of the Rhodesian Minister of Foreign Affairs to make inquiries about the condition and whereabouts of children abducted from the Manama Mission School in Rhodesia.

Greece

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will make representations to the Greek Government about the four British citizens sentenced for alleged spying in Greece who deny the charges and insist their activities were solely concerned with innocent plane spotting.

On 18th March, five United Kingdom nationals were each sentenced to 10 months' imprisonment for an unauthorised attempt to make sketches and drawings of areas contain- ing military fortifications. They have appealed. As the case is sub judice representations would not be appropriate.

Home Department

Television (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will use his influence to ensure better reception of television programmes in the areas of Llangollen and Llantysilio, Clwyd; and whether he will make a statement with regard to proposed improvements in reception in those areas.

The provision of UHF 625-line television services is primarily the responsibility of the broadcasting authorities. The BBC tells me that it now hopes to commission a station late in 1978 to serve the Llangollen area but that, because of the intervening terrain, it is unable to say whether or how far the Llangollen station is likely to benefit Llantysilio. There are no separate plans for serving the latter area.

Penal Institutions

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list in the Official Report the penal institutions in England and Wales, with the parliamentary constituencies in which they are situated.

Details of the accommodation and population of prisons, remand centres, borstals and detention centres are published annually in the report on the work of the Prison Department. The information requested is as follows:

  • HMP Acklington—Morpeth
  • HMP Albany—Isle of Wight
  • HMDC Aldington—Ashford
  • HMP Appleton Thorn—Runcorn
  • HMRC Ashford—Spelthorne
  • HMP Ashwell—Rutland and Stamford
  • HMP Askham Grange—Barkston Ash
  • HMP Aylesbury—Aylesbury
  • HMP Bedford—Bedford
  • HMP Birmingham—Birmingham, Ladywood
  • HMDC Blantyre House—Royal Tunbridge Wells
  • HMP Blundeston—Lowestoft
  • HMP Bristol—Bristol, West
  • HMP Brixton—Lambeth, Central
  • HMRC Brockhill—Bromsgrove and Redditch
  • HMDC Buckley Hall—Rochdale
  • HMB Bullwood Hall—Essex, South-East
  • HMP Camp Hill—Isle of Wight
  • HMDC Campsfield House—Mid-Oxon
  • HMP Canterbury—Canterbury
  • HMP and RC Cardiff—Cardiff, South-East
  • HMP Channing Wood—Totnes
  • HMP Chelmsford—Chelmsford
  • HMP Coldingley—Surrey, North-West
  • HMP Dartmoor—West Devon
  • HMB Deerbolt—Bishop Auckland
  • HMP Dorchester—West Dorset
  • HMB Dover—Dover and Deal
  • HMP Drake Hall—Stafford and Stone
  • HMP Durham—Durham
  • HMB East Sutton Park—Maidstone
  • HMDC Eastwood Park—Gloucestershire, South
  • HMP Erlestoke—Devizes
  • HMB Everthorpe—Howden
  • HMP and RC Exeter—Exeter
  • HMP Featherstone—Staffordshire, South-West
  • HMB Feltham—Hounslow, Feltham and Heston
  • HMB Finnamore Wood—Wycombe
  • HMP Ford—Arundel
  • HMDC Foston Hall—Belper
  • HMP Gartree—Harborough
  • HMB Gaynes Hall—Huntingdonshire
  • HMB Glen Parva—Blaby
  • HMP Gloucester—Gloucester
  • HMP Grendon/Springhill—Aylesbury
  • HMB Gringley Camp—Bassetlaw
  • HMB Guys Marsh—Dorset, North
  • HMDC Haslar—Gosport
  • HMB Hatfield—Goole
  • HMP Haverigg—Whitehaven
  • HMB Hewell Grange—Bromsgrove and Redditch
  • HMB Hindley—Ince
  • HMB/DC Hollesley Bay—Sudbury and Woodbridge
  • HMP Holloway—Islington, North
  • HMP Hull—Kingston-upon-Hull, East
  • HMB Huntercombe—Henley
  • HMP Kingston-Portsmouth — Portsmouth, South
  • HMP Kirkham—South Fylde
  • HMDC Kirklevington—Richmond, Yorks
  • HMP Lancaster—Lancaster
  • HMRC Latchmere House—Richmond-upon-Thames
  • HMP Leeds—Leeds, West
  • HMP Leicester—Leicester, South
  • HMP Lewes—Lewes
  • HMP Leyhill—Gloucestershire, South
  • HMP Lincoln—Lincoln
  • HMP Liverpool—Liverpool, Walton
  • HMP Long Lartin—Worcs. South
  • HMB Lowdham Grange—Newark
  • HMRC Low Newton—Durham, North West
  • HMP Maidstone—Maidstone
  • HMP Manchester—Manchester, Central
  • HMDC Medomsley—Consett
  • HMP Moor Court—Leek
  • HMDC New Hall—Wakefield
  • HMP Northallerton—Richmond, Yorks.
  • HMP Northeye—Rye
  • HMDC North Sea Camp—Holland-with-Boston
  • HMP Norwich—Norwich, North
  • HMP Nottingham—Nottingham, North
  • HMP Onley—Daventry
  • HMP Oxford—Oxford
  • HMP Parkhurst—Isle of Wight
  • HMP Pentonville—Islington, Central
  • HMB Portland—Dorset, South
  • HMP Preston—Preston, North
  • HMRC Pucklechurch—Gloucestershire, South
  • HMP Ranby—Bassetlaw
  • HMP Reading—Reading, South
  • HMRC Risley—Newton
  • HMB Rochester—Rochester and Chatham
  • HMP Rudgate—Barkston Ash
  • HMDC Send—Dorking
  • HMP Shepton Mallet—Wells
  • HMP Shrewsbury—Shrewsbury
  • HMP Stafford—Stafford and Stone
  • HMP Standford Hill—Faversham
  • HMB Stoke Heath—Oswestry
  • HMP Styal—Cheadle
  • HMP Sudbury—Derbyshire, West
  • HMP Swansea—Swansea, West
  • HMP Swinfen Hall—Lichfield and Tamworth
  • HMRC Thorp Arch—Barkston Ash
  • HMB and DC Usk—Monmouth
  • HMP The Verne—Dorset, South
  • HMP Wakefield—Wakefield
  • HMP Wandsworth—Wandsworth, Battersea South
  • HMB Wellingborough—Wellingborough
  • HMDC Werrington House—Leek
  • HMB Wetherby—Barkston Ash
  • HMDC Whatton—Rushcliffe
  • HMP Winchester—Winchester
  • HMP Wormwood Scrubs—Hammersmith, North

Surveillance Devices

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he is satisfied that the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1969 and other legislation are adequate safeguards against the illicit use of bugging devices;(2) what action has been taken on the Recommendations 53(ii), (iii) and (iv) of the Younger Committee on Privacy, Command Paper No. 5012, 1972;(3) if he is satisfied that the laws and regulations governing the importation of surveillance equipment are adequate; and whether any changes are contemplated.

The Government are carefully considering the recommendations put forward by the Younger Committee on Privacy for controls over surveillance devices. But there are difficult problems of definition to be solved if the Committee's very broad proposals are to be translated into effective legislation.

Parliamentary Electorates (London)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will set out in the Official Report the current parliamentary electorates for each of the constituencies in (a) inner London and (b) outer London, indicating the variation in each case from the 1971 electorate.

CONSTITUENCIES IN GREATER LONDON
A—INNER LONDON
ConstituencyProvisional 1977 Parliamentary electorateParliamentary electorate 1971Variation (Column (2) minus Column (3))
(1)(2)(3)(4)
Camden, Hampstead63,65570,004-6,349
Camden, Holborn and St. Pancras South39,50544,031-4,526
Camden, St. Pancras North40,72944,573-3,844
Greenwich52,94452,575+369
Greenwich, Woolwich East51,78051,063+717
Greenwich, Woolwich West57,05358,420-1,367
Hackney Central48,17751,095-2,918
Hackney North and Stoke Newington49,10556,866-7,761
Hackney South and Shoreditch44,67351,576-6,903
Hammersmith, Fulham56,74564,304-7,559
Hammersmith North50,57757,952-7,375
Islington Central42,43051,261-8,831
Islington North38,74047,093-8,353
Islington South and Finsbury39,78947,203-7,414
Kensington and Chelsea, Chelsea61,41674,304-12,888
Kensington and Chelsea, Kensington57,06168,025-10,964
Lambeth Central47,05950,593-3,534
Lambeth, Norwood51,21955,556-4,337
Lambeth, Streatham56,30259,063-2,761
Lambeth, Vauxhall43,27150,906-7,635
Lewisham, Deptford56,68165,235-8,554
Lewisham East68,49771,465-2,968
Lewisham West60,98865,360-4,372
Southwark, Bermondsey53,77060,028-6,258
Southwark, Dulwich63,92466,703-2,779
Southwark, Peckham59,15473,140-13,986
Tower Hamlets, Bethnal Green and Bow51,37259,499-8,127
Tower Hamlets, Stepney and Poplar60,09964,588-4,489
Wandsworth, Battersea North43,25345,189-1,936
Wandsworth, Battersea South44,82352,320-7,497
Wandsworth, Putney65,54768,766-3,219
Wandsworth, Tooting51,95456,180-4,226
City of London and Westminster South51,74657,478-5,732
City of Westminster, Paddington57,00466,187-9,183
City of Westminster, St. Marylebone41,70046,846-5,146
B—OUTER LONDON
ConstituencyProvisional 1977 Parliamentary electorateParliamentary electorate 1971Variation(Column (2) minus Column (3))
(1)(2)(3)(4)
Barking49,95649,599+357
Barking, Dagenham68,69972,020-3,321
Barnet, Chipping Barnet58,94360,178-1,235
Barnet, Finchley56,30461,572-5,268
Barnet, Hendon North54,62453,854+770
Barnet, Hendon South54,71659,868-5,152
Bexley, Bexleyheath51,36952,473-1,104
Bexley, Erith and Crayford62,00458,854+3,150
Bexley, Sidcup50,09950,148-49
Brent, East57,49267,561-10,069
Brent, North72,06973,725-1,656
Brent, South59,75463,919-4,165
Bromley, Beckenham58,61660,874-2,258
Bromley, Chislehurst54,17954,959-780
Bromley, Orpington67,28066,168+1,112
Bromley, Ravensbourne48,33747,593+774
Croydon, Central67,70466,922+782
Croydon, North-East57,56859,575-2,007
Croydon, North-West55,42456,916-1,492

The information is as follows:

B—OUTER LONDON
ConstituencyProvisional 1977 Parliamentary electorateParliamentary electorate 1971Variation (Colmn (2) minus Column (3))
(1)(2)(3)(4)
Croydon, South62,10760,908+1,199
Ealing, Acton58,97663,839-4,863
Ealing, North74,79778,073-3,276
Ealing, Southall73,69174,773-1,082
Enfield, Edmonton61,43262,245-813
Enfield, North68,30068,790-490
Enfield, Southgate70,60671,887-1,281
Haringey, Hornsey58,87063,826-4,956
Haringey, Tottenham45,92348,850-2,927
Haringey, Wood Green51,97753,660-1,683
Harrow, Central45,39946,055-656
Harrow, East50,13750,309-172
Harrow, West57,34657,664-318
Havering, Hornchurch61,03060,193+837
Havering, Romford55,31456,392-1,078
Havering, Upminster65,52564,760+765
Hillingdon, Hayes and Harlington56,41856,528-110
Hillingdon, Ruislip-Northwood55,17954,926+253
Hillingdon, Uxbridge60,29959,171+1,128
Hounslow, Brentford and Isleworth70,81574,872-4,057
Hounslow, Feltham and Heston78,93177,469+1,462
Kingston upon Thames58,43460,401-1,967
Kingston upon Thames, Surbiton47,32047,673-353
Merton, Mitcham and Morden64,59765,314-717
Merton, Wimbledon68,96772,557-3,590
Newham, North-East66,21468,431-2,217
Newham, North-West54,61155,412-801
Newham, South55,66959,297-3,628
Redbridge, Ilford North65,49266,725-1,233
Redbridge, Ilford South55,30657,946-2,640
Redbridge, Wanstead and Woodford57,80259,221-1,419
Richmond upon Thames, Richmond51,82756,663-4,836
Richmond upon Thames, Twickenham72,32774,087-1,760
Sutton and Cheam62,40660,812+1,594
Sutton, Carshalton67,54768,232-685
Waltham Forest, Chingford56,56859,140-2,572
Waltham Forest, Leyton61,79065,408-3,618
Waltham Forest, Walthamstow50,71855,060-4,342

Privacy (Younger Committee's Recommendations)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many recommendations of the Younger Committee on Privacy have so far been implemented.

The Consumer Credit Act 1974 gave individuals a right of access to information held about them by credit reference agencies and made such agencies subject to licensing by the Director General of Fair Trading.The Government published a White Paper on Computers and Privacy (Cmnd. 6353) in December 1975. As promised in that White Paper, the Government last year established an interim committee—the Data Protection Committee—to prepare the way for a permanent statutory agency which will oversee the use of computers to ensure that they are operated with proper regard for privacy and with the necessary safeguards for the personal information which they contain.The law on breach of confidence has been referred to the Law Commissions for England and Wales and for Scotland; the Law Commission for England and Wales has since produced a working paper on this subject.The other recommendations addressed to the Government are under consideration. Action on the recommendations addressed directly to other bodies is primarily a matter for them.

Deportation

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in how many instances in the last 20 years aliens have not been deported following representations against deportations being made when his Department has recommended deportation.

This information is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list all those aliens who have been deported from Great Britain in the last six years, indicating in each case whether or not representations have been received from the Embassy or United Kingdom-based representative of the Government of the deported alien.

The information requested in the latter part of the Question could be provided only at disproportionate cost, nor would I think it appropriate to publish lists of names of persons deported from the United Kingdom. Representations of the kind mentioned are, in the Department's experience, rare.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens have been deported from Great Britain for each of the last 20 years.

The information for all the years in question is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.The numbers of foreign nationals deported from the United Kingdom in each year since the Immigration Act 1971 came into force on 1st January 1973 are as follows:

1973147
1974159
1975208
1976291

Broadcasting (Annan Report)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to receive the Annan Committee's Report on Broadcasting.

As I told the House in reply to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Mr. Cohen) on 28th February—[Vol. 927, c. 78]—I received the report that day; and, as I told the House in the reply I gave yesterday to the Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Lichfield and Tamworth (Mr. Grocott)—[Vol. 928, c. 476]—I will publish it tomorrow.

House Of Commons

Offices (Star Chamber Court)

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will list in the Official Report the rooms in the office accommodation over Star Court, giving the number and size of each room, by whom each is occupied, and where the occupants are not right hon. or hon. Members the name of the person employing them.

Of the rooms over Star Chamber Court 19 are allocated to Ministers, 24 to other hon. Members, eight to the Chairman and Deputy Chairmen of Ways and Means and their staff, three to Mr. Speaker's staff, two to the staff of the Leader of the Opposition and one to the Parliamentary Press Gallery.

Civil Service

Royal Commission On The Environment (Sixth Report)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many copies of the Sixth Report of the Royal Commission on the Environment were produced; and how many are still in stock at Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

12,000 copies of this report were produced; the present stock at Her Majesty's Stationery Office is 4,274.

Pay Differentials

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether, in view of the Government's policy of refusing to allow the toolmakers at Leyland's to maintain their differentials, he will adopt this system for Ministers of the Crown, Crown civil servants, chairmen and members of nationalised boards and all those in Government employment.

The current incomes policy applies equally to all these groups.

Staff Costs

asked the Minister for the Civil Service why cuts in Civil Service staff costs not allocated to programmes in Command Paper No. 6393, but announced in Command Paper No. 6393, of £62 million in 1977–78 and £175 million in 1978–79—at 1976 survey prices—have been reversed in Command Paper No. 6721.

These cuts have not been reversed. I would refer the hon. Member to note (2) to table 10 in Command Paper 6721–I.

Disabled Persons

asked the Minister for the Civil Service (1) how many employees in each Government Department were persuaded to register as disabled with the Department of Employment in the last year for which figures are available;(2) how many unemployed registered disabled persons were recruited by each Government Department in the last year for which figures are available.

I am having the information requested collected and will write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

Defence

Airborne Early Warning System

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether, in view of the interoperability of the Nimrod airborne early warning system and the Boeing airborne warning and control system, he will seek to purchase the former to meet Great Britain's defence needs.

The United Kingdom continues to support the concept of a single NATO force of AEW aircraft based on the Boeing E3A AWACS aircraft modified for NATO conditions, though our allies are well aware that final decisions on it must be taken soon. In the event that establishment of such a force did not prove practicable, the United Kingdom could meet its AEW requirement using the Nimrod AEW aircraft. Such an aircraft would be inter-operable with any Boeing E3A aircraft that were operated in the NATO area.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will inspect the recently rolled out Nimrod AEW at Woodford.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will state the date of last deliveries that would apply in the case of the purchase of the Boeing AWACS and Nimrod AEW, respectively.

I cannot disclose the details requested as discussions are still continuing.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what would be the relative unit costs of purchasing the American Boeing AWACS and the British Nimrod AEW, respectively, assuming an operational need of 11, on the basis of the latest figures provided by Boeing and Hawker Siddeley; and what proportion of these costs would be in foreign currency.

I regret that I cannot provide these cost comparisons and details since financial and other aspects of the Boeing AWACS are still being examined by NATO.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what changes there have been in unit cost for the Boeing AWACS since original estimates taking into account both revised estimates and the lower value of the £ sterling in relation to the dollar.

The estimated cost of a NATO force of Boeing E3A AWACS and the United Kingdom share of those costs have been kept under continuous review to take account of changes in the programme, the offset work in Europe and Canada and the fluctuations in the value of currencies. Since the programme is still under review in NATO, I am unable to provide details of cost changes.

Training

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, in the light of the fact that the 10 per cent. reduction in training will not affect basic training, training associated with fighting efficiency and safety at sea, in which directions the saving will be effected.

The 10 per cent. reduction in the manpower committed to naval shore training affects in various degrees advancement training, career training and the special training given to a man before he joins a particular ship, other than that concerned with operational efficiency. Of the total reduction, about 25 per cent. will be accounted for by cuts in the numbers being trained, and most of the balance from cuts in the number of teaching and administrative personnel at training establishments.

Army

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many combat soldiers and line of communication soldiers are currently in the Army.

Excluding the women's services, there are in the Regular Army about 99,000 in the six main combat arms of armour, artillery, engineers, signals, infantry and air corps. The balance of some 65,000 are in the remaining arms and services though many of these would serve in the battle area in war.

Establishments (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has any plans to expand any of the defence establishments in Wales, and if he will make a statement.

Cardiff features in the Government's dispersal proposals but there are no other plans to expand any defence establishment in Wales. Employment in these establishments will, however, fluctuate slightly from time to time as a result of normal management changes.

Hms "Mermaid"

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when HMS "Mermaid" was acquired and at what cost; at what dates she has since been refitted; what has been the cost of each refit; and why she is now to be disposed of.

HMS "Mermaid" was originally ordered by Ghana in 1964, but in 1971, following agreement with the then Government of Ghana, the out-standing balance of her construction costs was written off by Her Majesty's Government. She was acquired by the Royal Navy in 1972 at no cost to Defence Votes. HMS "Mermaid" had a normal refit in 1973–74 at a cost of £1036 million. The main reason behind the decision to dispose of her, which was taken last year, was the problem of supporting a ship of her unique type within the Fleet.

Employment

Apprentices (Building Trades)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what use is being made of skillcentre facilities by building trades apprentices undergoing City and Guilds (London) Institute courses; how these are funded; and what recognition they have received from employers in the industry.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that building trade apprentices do not use skillcentre facilities specifically for City and Guilds of London Institute courses.

Acrylonitrile

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether workers engaged in the production of acrylonitrile are exposed to any hazard to health due to inhalation of the chemical.

I have been advised by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that acrylonitrile is well recognised as a highly toxic chemical. Health and safety precautions at those plants in Britain at which it is produced are, therefore, very strict and there have been no reports of untoward health effects from exposure to acrylonitrile in recent years.

Disabled Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will list the conditions of the scheme under which employers may be given capital grants by the Manpower Services Commission for adaptation of premises and equipment required to meet the needs of disabled employees; and if he will make a further statement;

(2) from what date applications are invited from employers for capital grants for adaptation of premises and equipment required to meet the needs of disabled people;

(3) if there is any limit on the amount of an individual grant payable by the Manpower Services Commission for adaptation of premises or equipment required to meet the needs of a disabled employee;

(4) if he will list the categories of employers eligible for grants for adaptation to premises and equipment required to meet the needs of disabled people;

(5) what publicity the Manpower Services Commission is giving to the scheme whereby employers may receive capital grants for adaptation of premises and equipment required to meet the needs of disabled people;

(6) if Government Departments, local authorities and nationalised industries will be eligible for capital grants from the Manpower Services Commission for adaptations to premises and equipment for disabled people.

Transport

Statutes (Enforcement)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish a list of the Acts of Parliament for whose administration he is responsible from which the police are statutorily excluded.

I know of no Acts of Parliament, for the administration of which I am responsible, from which the police are statutorily excluded.

Rail Fares

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what increase in the retail price index can be attributed to the increase in British Railways fares since the summer of 1975.

0·3 points of the RPI can be attributed to increases in BR fares since July 1975. This represents less than 1 per cent. of the total increase in the RPI over this period.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what was the average annual expenditure per household on travel by British Railways in the latest convenient period; and what proportion of average household income this represented.

Average expenditure per household on rail travel by BR in 1975 was £23. This represented less than 1 per cent of average household income.

Motor Vehicle Taxation Offices

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will state the effect on employment of the decision to close local motor taxation offices and transfer them to Swansea; and if he will list these by local authority, where applicable, in the Northern Region.

As against an original figure of 6,200 staff, excluding common service staff, in local taxation offices (LTOs), there are at present 3,200 in LTOs, 1,250 in local vehicle licensing offices and 5,300 at the Swansea Centre. When transfer of records is complete early next year, the figures will be nil, 2,200 and 5,400 respectively, including common service staff.The number of staff now employed in LTOs in the Northern Region is as follows. Original figures are given in brackets.

North Tyneside MBC4 (5)
Borough of South Tyneside4 (7)
Newcastle Upon Tyne EDC13 (20)
Northumberland CC24 (41)
Gateshead MBC3 (6)
Borough of Sunderland4 (9)
Durham CC22 (49)
Hartlepool BC4 (6)
Middlesbrough BC12 (24)
North Berkshire CC18 (29)
Borough of Barrow in Furness4 (6)
Cumbria CC11 (20)
City of Carlisle2 (5)
Berwickshire DC2 (3)
Darlington BC4 (7)
When transfer is complete, the region will be served by six local vehicle licensing offices employing about 100 staff. Driver licensing is already being dealt with wholly at Swansea.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, in the interests of the consumer, he will halt further transfers of work from local motor taxation offices to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea.

No. The interests of the consumer—in this case the Exchequer, for vehicle excise duty, and the police, for the purpose of enforcing road safety and vehicle licensing excise law—will be better served by the new system than by the old. Despite teething troubles, I believe that the interests of the public and of the motor trade will be best served too.

Road Schemes (Public Inquiries)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if the Leitch Committee on Trunk Road Assessment will consider the methods of assessing road schemes by inspectors at public inquiries; and, in particular, whether provision should be made for the presence of technical assessors.

No, this is not within its terms of reference. An inspector takes all relevant matters into account and assessors can be appointed when this is considered necessary.

Conservative "Monthly News"

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many copies of Conservative "Monthly News" are purchased by his Department to keep Ministers and senior civil servants informed of current Conservative policy and thinking.

None, but I would be happy to receive complimentary copies if the hon. Gentleman thinks that I should.

Wales

Welsh Drama Company

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to make an ex gratin payment to the Welsh Drama Company; and if he will make a statement.

Government support for the Welsh Drama Company is given via the Welsh Arts Council which has full discretion in the disbursement of funds. We have no plans to supplement the Council's grant to the company.

Forestry

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what percentage of the land area of Wales is at present under afforestation in the private sector; and what were the corresponding figures for the last 10 years;(2) what percentage of the land area of Wales is at present under afforestation in the public sector; and what were the corresponding figures for the last 10 years.

The information is as follows:

Year ending 31 MarchForestry CommissionPrivate Sector
1966/67(A)6·0 per cent.4·0 per cent.
1967/69(B)6·1 per cent.4·1 per cent.
19706·2 per cent.4·2 per cent.
19716·3 per cent.4·2 per cent.
19726·3 per cent.4·3 per cent.
19736·4 per cent.4·3 per cent.
19746·5 per cent.4·4 per cent.
19756·5 per cent.4·5 per cent.
19766·6 per cent.4·5 per cent.
NOTE:
(A) Year ending 30th September 1967.
(B) 18 month period.

Scotland

Hospital Building Programme

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to publish details of his hospital building plan.

My right hon. Friend hopes to make an announcement within the next few weeks on the outcome of the review of the Scottish Health Service major building programme.

Blue Whiting

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress is being made in the exploitation of blue whiting in waters off the coast of Scotland.

Interest in the commercial exploitation of blue whiting is expected to increase during the coming season. The Fisheries Departments are working closely with the White Fish Authority and the Highlands and Islands Development Board in encouraging this interest. Vessels attached to these organisations and to the Departments have begun a further catching programme in order to study the distribution of stocks, and the development of suitable filleting machinery is being pursued.

Scottish Assembly

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland to what extent his Department has been concerned in the acquisition and preparation of the former Royal High School Building in Edinburgh as the site for an Assembly in Scotland as envisaged in the Scotland and Wales Bill; and whether he will make a statement about the involvement of his Department in the preparation of the new Assembly building.

My Department has worked closely with the Property Services Agency both prior to and following the announcement on 30th July 1975—[Vol. 896, c. 534–5]—of the Government's proposal to acquire the former Royal High School buildings. The conversion of the buildings for Assembly use is the responsibility of the Property Services Agency, working on the basis of accommodation requirements prepared by my Department in consultation with the Agency.

Small Businesses

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what assessment he has made of the extent to which the Scottish economy depends on small businesses; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Employment to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Sillars) on 5th August 1976—[Vol. 916, c. 953–41—giving provisional estimates, since confirmed, of employees in employment in small businesses. The Government fully recognise the important contribution of small businesses to the Scottish economy, and their rôle in providing the starting point for the growth of the new enterprises which are of great importance to Scottish industrial development.

Hampden Park

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the Hampden Park Working Party; and if he will make a statement on what Government resources will be made available to reconstruct the stadium.

The working party disbanded on the publication of its report in May 1975. Since not all the bodies concerned agreed with the recommendations, the Scottish Sports Council was invited to consider with them how broad agreement on the next step might be achieved. They are now doing this through a National Stadium Committee which is examining ways of accommodating major matches. When the views of the bodies concerned are received their recommendations will be considered in the light of the resources available.

North-East

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will visit the North-East of Scotland.

Mallaig

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will pay an official visit to Mallaig.

Motorway (Ayrshire)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the starting date of the North Ayrshire motorway.

The provision of such a motorway link is not included in the current transport policy programme proposals of Strathclyde Regional Council with which the initiative rests in this matter.

Fishing Industry

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next plans to meet representatives of the fishing industry.

I propose to meet representatives of the Scottish Fishermen's Federation in the near future. I remain prepared to meet representatives of the industry whenever the circumstances warrant a meeting.

House Building

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses were approved, started and completed in 1976 for the public and private sectors, respectively;

SCOTLAND: 1976
HousesApprovedStartedCompleted
Public Sector10,38114,70022,640
Private Sector*16,44013,260
Total31,14035,900
* Not applicable.

Urban Aid (Dundee)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if grant payments to the Beechwood urban aid project in Dundee will be included in the rate support grant to the Tayside Regional Council for the coming financial year.

Tayside Regional Council will be entitled to claim a specific grant at a rate of 75 per cent. for expenditure incurred on the Beechwood urban aid project in 1977–78. After payment of specific grant, net expenditure is taken into account in the distribution of resources element of rate support grant.

World Rheumatism Year

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultations he has had over the importance of World Rheumatism Year; what guidance he has given to area health boards in Scotland on this subject; and how this is likely to be reflected in allocations to the area boards.

As indicated in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Galloway (Mr. Thompson) on 26th January 1977—[Vol. 924, c. 1486–7]—the Arthritis and Rheumatism Council (Scotland) is organising conferences and other events during 1977 to mark World Rheumatism Year. My right hon. Friend has not so far been consulted by that body or any other voluntary body in this connection and he has no plans for issuing special guidance on this subject to health boards. The yearly allocations of funds which my right hon. Friend makes to health boards in respect of hospital services cover all services without distinction, and the question of earmarking provision for rheumatism does not arise.

and what the projection of these figures would mean in 1977.

It is not yet possible to make predictions for 1977. Following is the information:

Local Authorities (Oil-Related Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give an undertaking that the oil-related grants to local authorities in respect of extra burdens placed on ratepayers in regions of oil development will not be phased out next year; and if he will make a statement.

I have no plans to terminate this form of assistance, but, as I announced last December during the debate on the Rate Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1976, the present arrangements, which are now entering their third year, are to be reviewed. The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities will be consulted in the course of the review.

Teachers (Special Schools)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what percentage of teachers in special schools in Strathclyde Region, giving a breakdown into each education sub-division, has a qualification in special education;(2) in special schools in Strathclyde Region, formerly classified as junior occupation centres, what percentage of the staff has a qualification in special education;(3) in special schools in Strathclyde Region, formerly classified as junior ocupation centres, what percentage of the staff has a teaching qualification;(4) how many teachers are being seconded during 1977 by the Strathclyde Region, giving a breakdown into each education sub-division, for a training in special education.

I am asking the Regional Council to let the hon. Member have the available information.

Forestry

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what percentage of the land area of Scotland is at present under afforestation in the private sector; and what were the corresponding figures for the past 10 years;(2) what percentage of the land area of Scotland is at present under afforestation in the public sector; and what were the corresponding figures for the last 10 years.

The land area under afforestation in Scotland in the public and private sectors, now and for the last 10 years, as a percentage of the total land area, is set out in the table below:

Year ending 31st MarchForestry CommissionPrivate Sector
per cent.per cent.
1966–67(A)4·34·5
1967–69(B)4·54·5
19704·74·6
19714·94·7
19725·14·9
19735·35
19745·54·7(C)
19755·74·9
19765·95
(A) Year ending 30th September 1967.
(B) 18-month period (1st October 1967 to 31st March 1969).
(c) This apparent fall in area was due to a change in the definition of woodlands for the purpose of forestry statistics.

Police (Housing)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the arrangements for police housing; and what rents are paid.

Regulation 42(1) of the Police (Scotland) Regulations 1976 provides generally that a police officer who is not provided with a house or quarters free of rent and rates shall be paid a rent allowance.

Donaldson Institute Junior School

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he proposes to sanction the purchase of the Donaldson Institute's Junior School in Henderson Row, Edinburgh, by the Lothian Regional Council.

Police (Pensions)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much the police contribute to their pensions; what is the present rate of pension for each rank; how long they must serve before being eligible; whether their pensions are linked to the cost of living; and whether there is any reduction if they take other jobs.

A policeman contributes 7 per cent. and a policewoman 5 per cent. towards pension. The amount of pension depends on service and remuneration, but a full pension after 30 years' service is forty-sixtieths of pensionable pay and, on the maximum of the scale for each rank, would be:

£
Constable2,268
Sergeant2,640
Inspector3,076
Chief Inspector3,524
Superintendent4,640
Chief Superintendent5,234
A pension of thirty-sixtieths is payable on retirement after 25 years' service and after five years' service a deferred pension is payable at age 60. Pensions are subject to increases on annual review under the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971.Pensions are not reduced on taking up other employment.

Environment

Inner-City Areas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will pay special attention to the pockets of deprivation on the edges of decaying inner-city areas such as Wallasey and Birkenhead in his consideration of the reports on inner-city stress areas.

I must ask the hon. Member to await the Government's statement on inner-city policy which is likely to be made next month.

Housing Starts (Allerdale)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many housing starts took place by year from 1970 to 1976 in the constituency of Workington or Allerdale Council in (a) the public and (b) the private sector; and what are the estimated figures for 1977.

Available information is as follows:

DWELLINGS STARTED IN THE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS IN THE AREA NOW THE DISTRICT OF ALLERDALE: 1970 TO 1976
Public SectorPrivate Sector
1970359219
1971139180
1972257355
197340582
19748623
1975552559
1976172290
Estimates for 1977 are not available for individual local authority areas.

Water And Sewerage Rates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has yet received from the National Water Council the detailed information he asked for at the meeting on 28th October last about the direct billing of plans of water authorities; and whether he will be giving the local authority associations an opportunity to comment on this information before issuing further advice to water authorities.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave on 16th March—[Vol. 928, c. 198–9]—to the hon. Member for Wycombe (Sir J. Hall). After considering detailed information

DWELLINGS STARTED AND COMPLETED PUBLIC AND PRIVATE SECTORS NORTHERN REGION: 1971 TO 1976
Number
197119721973197419751976
Started—
Publicsector8,6408,8006,6209,15011,08010,420
Private sector10,51011,07012,8505,4007,3008,050
Completed—
Public sector11,2008,1206,6509,1009,60011,480
Private sector9,05010,11010,9506,8607,9108,080

Local Councillors (Attendance Allowance)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to receive the report of the Robinson Committee on Councillors' Attendance Allowances.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given on 25th January by my right hon. Friend to my hon. Friend the Member for Woolwich East (Mr. Cartwright).—[Vol. 924, c. 538.]

supplied to me by the water authorities about direct billing I saw no reason to change the advice that I gave last year. I have made arrangements for that information to be made available to the local authority associations, and I have asked the associations to let me have the factual information on direct billing on which they base their arguments.

Fire Precautions (Factory Farms)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he proposes to take to extend the statutory provisions relating to structural fire precautions necessary to be observed in factory farm buildings.

My right hon. Friend has no such proposal. Our regulations are made under public health powers and affect factory farm buildings only minimally because there is no significant hazard to human life.

Housing (Northern Region)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will list the latest available housing returns, public and private, in the Northern Region; and how these compare with figures for the previous five years.

Peterborough New Town

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he will give his decision on the western sector outline plan for the Castor township of Peterborough New Town;(2) whether he will make a statement on the future policy for third generation new towns, in particular his intentions towards the completion of Peterborough New Town.

I expect to make a statement on the reappraisal of new towns' programmes, including Peterborough, quite soon. Any decision on the western sector outline plan will be taken in the context of that reappraisal.

Rate Support Grant

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the percentage change in the rate support grant payable to Hampshire measured in real terms from one year to the next from 1974 to 1977 and for 1974 to 1977 as a whole.

Percentage change in real terms* in rate support grant—needs and resources elements—payable to Hampshire County Council since 1974–75:

Annual changeCumulative change
1975–76+6·9+6·9
1976–77-5·9+0·6
The change in grant in 1977–78 in real terms will not be known with any precision until later this year when the first increase order is settled.

* Based on the estimated average annual change in local authority costs nationally.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the percentage change in rate support grant payable to Leicestershire over the past three years.

Leicestershire's entitlement to needs element in the main RSG Orders for 1975–76, 1976–77 and 1977–78 show increases of 47 per cent., 29 per cent. and 5 per cent. respectively over the corresponding payments for the preceding year.

Conservative "Monthly News"

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many copies of Conservative Monthly News are purchased by his Department to keep Ministers and senior civil servants informed of current Conservative policy and thinking.

House Of Commons (Members' Entrance)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the cost of the proposed erection of double doors in the arch of the Members' entrance; and if he will cancel this work.

At the request of the House authorities, my officials are considering ways of eliminating draught through the Members' entrance and cloakroom. No proposal has yet been put to me.

Planning Appeals

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans for speeding up the handling of appeals made against enforcement notices served by local planning authorities; and whether he will make a statement.

Yes. My right hon. Friend, with the agreement of my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales, has made regulations transferring to inspectors a large proportion of appeals against enforcement notices. The regulations have been laid before the House and are to come into effect on 12th April. An advisory circular is being sent to local authorities today explaining the effect of the regulations and how the Departments will operate under them. Appeals will no longer be reserved for decision by the Secretary of State simply because the grounds of appeal include a legal point. If the inspector finds that, in the light of the arguments on either side, any legal issues are within his competence, he will proceed to determine the appeal. If he wishes to obtain clarification of the law on a particular matter he will be free to consult the Departments lawyers and will then give his decision applying the law to the facts of the case as brought out in the evidence he has heard. Where he finds that the appeal raises complex legal issues he will ask the Secretary of State to recover jurisdiction; indeed, at whatever stage it becomes evident that jurisdiction ought to be recovered, it will be done.It is expected that about 70 per cent. of enforcement appeals will be decided by inspectors under the new arrangements, as compared with 30 per cent. at present. This will lead to a substantial reduction in the average time taken to determine these appeals.

Gipsies

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he can now give the date on which Mr. John Cripps' report on gipsies will be published.

Waste Glass

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of the glass used in the drinks and beverage industry is recycled for reuse; and what steps the Government are prepared to take to prevent the waste of this national resource.

I have been asked to reply.The percentage of glass bottles for beverages which are returnable for reuse varies with the product packaged. It ranges from nil for wine and spirits bottles, 30 per cent. for carbonated soft drinks, and 64 per cent. for beer and cider to 100 per cent for milk bottles. The Waste Management Advisory Council is giving further consideration to the case for extending the use of returnable bottles. My Department, together with the Department of the Environment, maintains a close liaison with the glass container industry in its efforts to increase the reclamation and recycling of waste glass, and to find new applications for waste glass, and will be holding further talks with the industry on these subjects.

Prices And Consumer Protection

Launderettes (Effluent Disposal)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will refer to the Price Commission the profit margins of water authorities on charges levied for the current year for the disposal of effluent from launderettes.

No. Under the Price Code, water authority charges are effectively governed by the Water Act 1973, which provides that, taken overall, charges by water authorities must not result in higher revenue in any accounting year than is required to comply with their statutory duty to break even.

Postal Charges

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection (1), in view of the fact that on 15th March the Price Commission stated that it had not approved the Post Office application for postal increases, on what authority his Department issued a statement on 14th March that the Commission had agreed upon these increases; and whether he will make a statement;(2) on what date proposals for further price increases in postage rates were officially submitted to the Price Commission; when these were vetted; when the Commission announced its decision; and when, and on what authority, his Department decided that these increases were not out of line with the Price Code.

I regret that I told the House on 14th March that the Price Commission had considered the proposed postal increases and found them in accordance with the Price Code; and that my right hon. Friend did not propose to intervene. As my Department's statement made clear, the Price Commission had not yet considered the Post Office application for tariff increases and the question of intervention does not arise at this stage. I wrote to hon. Members involved in the exchanges to correct the position, and I now take this opportunity of informing hon. Members generally.It is not the practice of the Price Commission to disclose when it receives notifications of intended price increases or to announce its decision on them, since announcements of increases are the responsibility of the enterprise concerned.When the Price Commission has considered the proposals which the Post Office wishes to implement and reports to the responsible Minister my right hon. Friend will have an opportunity to consider the position.

Flour And Cheese

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will list in the Official Report the statutory maximum retail prices for cheese and flour during the last two years, indicating the dates on which new limits were introduced.

The information is as follows:

HOUSEHOLD FLOUR PRICES
Maximum in pence per bag
Flour7th July 19758th December 197510th August 197625th October 197622nd November 197614th February 1977
Plain or self-raising (other than strong, wheatmeal and wholemeal):
1 lb.911½11½10½11½
3 lb.24½24½26½26½2931
Chupatty (other than batch, brown and wholemeal):
70 lb. or 32 kg.£4·00£4·00£4·20£4·50£4·50£4·50
CHEESE PRICES
Maximum in pence per lb.
Cheese27th January 19757th April 197516th September 19751st December 197530th January 197622nd November 197614th February 1977
Cheddar (including Dunlop) other than farmhouse or matured produced in New Zealand or in the EEC48535659616775
Farmhouse or matured Cheddar (including Dunlop), produced in the EEC58636669717785
Cheshire, produced in the United Kingdom, other than Farmhouse or matured46515457596573
Farmhouse or matured Cheshire, produced in the United Kingdom56616467697583
Caerphilly, Derby, Double Gloucester, Lancashire, Leicestershire, White produced in the United Kingdom (other than farm house matured)48535659616775
Edam and Gouda (other than farmhouse or matured)48535659616775

Aerosols

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what progress has been made in studying the metrological control of aerosols and the possibility of prescribing the quantity of their contents.

An informal working group chaired by my Department and with representatives of the industry, enforcement authorities and consumer organisations, has recently published a report, and I have placed copies in the Library of the House.

Retail Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what has been the cumulative increase in the retirement pensioners' cost of living index in the three years to the end of February 1977.

The all-items indices for pensioner households exclude housing and are published on a quarterly basis. The indices for one-person and two-person pensioner households rose by 69·4 and 68·3 per cent. respectively between the first quarter of 1974 and the fourth quarter of 1976.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what has been the cumulative increase in the retail price index in the three years to the end of February 1977.

The retail price index increased by 71·2 per cent. between 19th February 1974 and 15th February 1977.

Food Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what has been the cumulative increase in the food price index in the three years to the end of February 1977.

The food index increased by 82·9 per cent. between 19th February 1974 and 15th February 1977.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Potatoes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what figures he has to show the likely imports of early or new season potatoes into the United Kingdom; and what estimate he has of the likely effects of these imports on existing stocks of Scottish ware potatoes.

The United Kingdom traditionally imports new potatoes in the spring and early summer. In the first half of 1976 about a quarter of a million tonnes were imported. I would expect the same or slightly greater supplies this year. These imports will help to ease the supply position and meet consumer demand for new potatoes in the period before our own new crop is available in quantity. I do not expect the imports to have any direct effect on existing stocks of Scottish ware potatoes.

Green Pound

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the present value of the green pound expressed in terms of the £ sterling, in relation to the unit of account; and if he will give the fluctuating value of the green pound over the last 24 months.

Since 27th October 1975 the representative rate or green pound has been £1=1·7556 ua. Previous rates in the last 24 months were £1=1·96178 ua, which applied from 3rd March 1975 to 3rd August 1975 and £1=1·86369 ua, which applied from 4th August 1975 until 26th October 1975.

Forestry

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what percentage of the land area of England is at present under afforestation in the public sector; and what were the corresponding figures for the last 10 years;(2) what percentage of the land area of England is at present under afforestation in the private sector; and what were the corresponding figures for the last 10 years.

The following table shows the land area under afforestation in England in the public and private sector now and for the last 10 years as a percentage of the total land area of that country:

Year ending 31st MarchForestry Commission per cent.Private Sector per cent.
1966–67(a)1·95·2
1967–69(b)1·95(c)
19701·95
19711·95
19721·95
19731·95
19741·95
197525
197625
(a) Year ending 30th September 1967.
(b) 18-month period.
(c) Adjusted figure in the light of the 1965 Census of Woodlands.

Sugar Refining

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to make an announcement about the long-term organisation of the cane sugar refining industry.

I cannot at present add anything to my reply to my hon. Friend on 20th January.—[Vol. 924, c. 624–25.]

Exmoor

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many acres of moorland grazing on Exmoor have been improved with the aid of Ministry grants in the last five years; and whether he is satisfied that the provisions of Section 11 of the Countryside Act 1968 are acted upon within his Department.

Of the 41,800 acres within the critical amenity area on Exmoor, the area of natural moorland, it is estimated that about 650 acres have been improved with the aid of Ministry grant in the last five years, although there were variations from year to year. These improvements were all the subject of prior consultation and agreement by the applicants with the Exmoor National Park Authority.Section 11 of the Countryside Act 1968 requires every Minister, Government Department and public body to have regard to the desirability of conserving the natural beauty and amenity of the countryside. Officers of my Land Service, whose training in the Ministry includes landscape evaluation, are under standing instructions to take the requirements of Section 11 into consideration when inspecting for approval applications for grant made under the capital grant schemes and to certify that they have done so on their inspection report.

Industry

Steel (Pricing)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) whether the Government in conjunction with the European Commission, are considering a minimum selling price or a minimum reference price for certain steel products; and if he will make a statement;(2) whether a minimum reference price for specified steel products is sustainable on a voluntary basis without maintaining a system of import licensing; and whether the current situation warrants this approach.

The European Commission is considering possible additional measures, which may include setting minimum prices, to supplement those already taken to counter the recession in the steel industry. The Commission has still to make firm proposals. It is the case that minimum reference prices could be undermined by imports from third countries. We have made this point to the Commission.

Lewis Radio

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what representations he has received regarding the withdrawal of the Lewis Radio; and if he will make a statement.

Merseyside

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to receive the report commissioned by the Prime Minister from the National Enterprise Board on the investment needs of Merseyside; if he will publish the report and if he will take action on its recommendations.

The NEB is pressing forward with the report as a matter of urgency. Until my right hon. Friend sees it he cannot say what action he will take on it.

Computers

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish a list of the companies in the computer industry he has invited to discuss with him and the NEB possible mergers; what is his policy towards mergers between computer companies; and what are the views of the Sector Working Party on the Computer Industry on this subject.

My right hon. Friend has received suggestions from the Sector Working Party on Computers about steps to strengthen the United Kingdom computer industry. As a result, commercially confidential discussions have been initiated, involving my Department, the NEB and companies concerned.

Anglo-Venezuelan Railway Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, further to the reply given to the hon. Member for Surrey, North-West (Official Report, 14th March, c. 64), concerning the National Enterprise Board's 35 per cent. equity holding in the Anglo-Venezuelan Railway Corporation, he will now publish in the Official Report his latest estimate of the current value of the holding.

British Leyland

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether it is his intention to direct the National Enterprise Board to prohibit British Leyland from signing building contracts for the new Mini replacement programme facilities, pending his review of the future structure and investment for British Leyland.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, following the Press statement number 79, issued by his Department on 15th March, confirming that a review of British Leyland will now be needed, he will state by what date he expects this review to be completed; and whether he will undertake to publish the result of the review as a White Paper.

No. The form in which the Government's conclusions on the review will be published cannot be anticipated before the review is completed.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many cars have been lost by British Leyland since the start of the toolmakers' dispute; and what is the total sales value of the cars lost during the dispute.

Timber

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will take steps to reduce the import bill of £2,000 million currently being spent on timber.

The import bill for timber and timber products in 1976 was £1,940 million. Of this total, £827 million represented imports of timber—i.e., softwood, hardwood, plywood, particle board; and some simply worked wood. Timber is an international commodity in which the United Kingdom is not self-sufficient, and the price of which is set by world supply and demand. The Waste Management Advisory Council is considering ways of increasing the use of waste paper, which would reduce our dependence on imported wood pulp. The £23 million waste paper scheme announced by the Government on 5th June 1976 has in part the same objective.

Steel (Workington)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the capital investment in the steel operations in Workington from 1960 to 1976 by year; and what are the proposed figures for 1977 and 1978.

National Research And Development Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much investment has been made, in the last available 12-month period, by the National Research and Development Corporation in Wales, Scotland and England, respectively; and how many jobs are likely to be created by this investment.

The Corporation does not maintain records in such a way that details of the geographical distribution of its support could readily be extracted without disproportionate cost.

Telephones (Pensioners)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will issue a general direction to the Post Office to produce for retirement pensioners a special low installation fee for a telephone.

No. Such a direction would not be appropriate. But local authorities have powers to help with the installation of a telephone in certain cases of special need.

Aircraft And Shipbuilding

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is now in a position to indicate the vesting date for the nationalised aircraft and shipbuilding industries, respectively.

29th April for British Aerospace and 1st July for British Shipbuilders.

Steel (Investment)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish details of the annual investment in British Steel for all the years from 1968, showing investment from non-United Kingdom sources.

Information on investment and foreign borrowing by the British Steel Corporation is given in the Corporation's annual report and accounts, which are laid before Parliament.

Hs 146 Aircraft

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a further statement on the HS146 aircraft.

The Government have agreed to an extension of the current holding programme in order to give British Aerospace time to decide whether to recommend proceeding with the project from the resources available to it. Subject to agreement by Hawker Siddeley Aviation on extension of the present arrangements, the additional funding of up to £1 million, which should continue the current HS 146 work until September, will be the responsibility of British Aerospace on vesting day and will, therefore, be met from within the funds of the new corporation.

Trade

Export Taxes

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he will list the countries which impose export taxes on commodities and the extent of the levy in each case;(2) if he will estimate the extent to which export taxes have increased the cost of commodities.

A number of countries, including many developing countries, impose taxes or levies on certain commodity exports. Disproportionate effort would be required to compile a comprehensive list, and to estimate the effect on prices, which would depend on the nature of the tax and the market situation of the commodities concerned.

Statutes (Enforcement)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish a list of the Acts of Parliament for whose administration he is responsible from which the police are statutorily excluded.

The Secretary of State for Trade is not responsible for the administration of any Acts of Parliament from which the police are statutorily excluded.

Social Services

Cleveland Family Practitioner Committee

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many complaints from the public have been considered by the Cleveland Family Practitioner Committee in each year since it was established; and what was the average length of time it took to process such complaints.

The numbers of complaints formally considered under the service committee procedure by the Cleveland Family Practitioner Committee in each period of 12 months since 1st April 1974, when the committee was established, are two in 1974–75, four in 1975–76 and three in 1976–77. The average time it took to process these complaints from the date of receipt to the date the Family Practitioner Committee came to a decision on the complaint following an investigation by the service committee was four months and 26 days.

Out-Patients

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total number of private out-patient attendances at National Health Service hospitals in the last year for which figures are available; and what this figure is expressed as a proportion of all outpatient attendances over the same period.

The number of private out-patient attendances at National Health Service hospitals in England during 1975, the latest year for which figures are available, was 85,000 representing 0·27 per cent. of all out-patient attendances, excluding attendances at accident and emergency departments.

Mobility Allowance

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consideration he is giving to raising the terms of reciprocal social security agreements with other countries to include payment of the mobility allowance from the day of arrival in the United Kingdom.

Any extension of the scope of existing bilateral social security agreements to include mobility allowance would normally be appropriate only if the other countries concerned had an equivalent benefit. So far as I am aware, mobility allowance is not a benefit generally available as part of the social security schemes of those countries.

Disabled Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give, for each regional health authority, the number of registered disabled people employed by the health authority as a proportion of its total work force.

The majority of NHS stall are employed by area health authorities, and, as my hon. Friend told the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) in reply to his Question on 14th March—[Vol. 928, c. 89]—the percentages of employees of each authority who are registered as disabled will be published in the March edition of the Department of Employment Gazette. Similar information about the staff of each regional health authority is included.

Dextropropoxyphene

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the practice of doctors prescribing dextropropoxyphene without warning patients that the drug is dangerous when taken with alcohol.

Yes. Adverse interaction can occur when alcohol is taken in combination with drugs which stimulate or depress the central nervous system; these include dextropropoxyphene, but it is for the individual doctor to advise each patient in the light of all the relevant facts. The established interactions are referred to in the appropriate literature and should be well known to practising doctors.

Employers' Contributions

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish a table showing contributions made by employers for all pensions and other social security benefits, per employee, on a weekly basis, expressed in £ sterling in each of the following countries, at the latest convenient date, United Kingdom, USA, Japan, France and West Germany.

In each of the countries mentioned the employer's social security contribution, including that for pensions, is calculated as a percentage of the total payroll or as a percentage of each employee's earnings up to a given ceiling. The relevant information is given in the table below, which shows the current position except where otherwise indicated. Exchange rates for the appropriate dates have been used in calculating the sterling equivalents of earnings ceilings.

EMPLOYER'S CONTRIBUTIONS

United Kingdom

USA

Japan

France

West Germany

1st January 1975

Percentage Rate

Weekly ceiling

Percentage Rate

Weekly ceiling

Percentage Rate

Weekly ceiling

Percentage Rate

Weekly ceiling

Percentage Rate

Weekly ceiling

£££££
Maternity8·75 (1)95·00(2)3·80None2·50 Plus 10·95None4·50 (3)142·83
Sickness97·10
Invalidity4·95None3·80 (6)None9·00190·44
Survivors
Retirement7·7097·10
Industrial injury1·10 (3)None0·3 to 8·1None3·97 (3)97·101·50 (3)168·04
Unemployment0·50 (4)None0·80None1·76388·381·50190·44
Family allowancesNone(5)(8)9·0097·10None
(1) Provided the employee earns £13 a week or more.
(2) In most States no scheme exists.
(3) Average.
(4) Federal scheme. In addition, each State has a separate scheme with an average employer's contribution in 1974 of about 2 per cent. of the payroll.
(5) No scheme exists.
(6) For a man. 2·9 per cent. for a woman.
(7) According to accident rate.
(8) 70 per cent. of cost of employees' allowances. No information is readily available of how the cost is distributed among employers.

Benefit Claims And Refusals

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) on how many occasions in the last 12 months persons have been prevented from returning temporarily to their country of origin and leaving their family dependent on social security benefits; and if he will make a statement;(2) under what circumstances his Department warns persons who temporarily leave the United Kingdom for their country of origin, leaving their family dependent on social security benefit; and under what circumstances his Department prevents someone from leaving, as in the case of Mr. Ibrahim Mohammed Marten, of Blackburn, who was warned the first time he acted in this way and prevented the second.

Neither my Department nor the Supplementary Benefits Commission has any powers to prevent anyone returning temporarily to his country of origin. Under the Supplementary Benefits Act a man is liable to maintain his wife and children, and if he fails or neglects to do so proceedings can be taken against him. If anyone wishing to return temporarily to his country of origin asks beforehand about the possible payment during his absence of supplementary benefit to his family in this country he is made aware of these statutory provisions. If he simply leaves his family without first making inquiries and supplementary benefit has therefore to be paid, he is interviewed on his return, when the question of repayment is raised.

War-Widowed Mothers

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a further statement on how the new child benefit scheme coming into force on 4th April 1977 will affect war widows with children.

The child dependency allowances paid with war widows' pensions are tax free. Child benefit is also to be tax free, but there are to be consequential reductions in the child tax allowances. The overall effect, if the war widow's dependency allowance for her eldest child was reduced by £1 to offset the introduction of child benefit for the first child, with the other child dependency allowances left at their present rates, would have been that war widows paying income tax would have suffered a loss of income. To avoid this, the dependency allowance paid for the eldest child is to be reduced by only 30p instead of by £1, from £7·65 to £7·35, and the rate for children other than the eldest is to go up from £6·65 to £7 a week. The effect of these adjustments, together with the child benefit payable, will be that the war widow paying basic rate tax in 1977–78 does not suffer any loss of income. War widows not paying income tax will, of course, be better off by 70p for the first child and an extra 35p for each subsequent child.

National Marriage Guidance Council

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what reply he has sent to the National Marriage Guidance Council to its request for financial support for a nation-wide sex-therapy service.

The National Marriage Guidance Council (NMGC) recently submitted a detailed report of its two-year pilot project, largely funded by my Department, in the training of counsellors to treat sexual difficulties as part of their general marriage guidance work. The report concluded that suitably trained volunteer marriage guidance counsellors can successfully counsel clients with certain sexual problems. After careful consideration of the report and NMGC's proposals to develop this aspect of its work, my Department has agreed in principle to support a development of this work up to March 1980.

Prescription Charges

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give wider publicity to the "season ticket" arrangements for NHS prescriptions under which patients likely to need more than 10 prescriptions in a half year can save money.

I welcome this opportunity of drawing attention to the scheme under which patients who need more than 10 prescriptions in six months, or more than 17 in a year, can save money on prescription charges by buying a prepayment certificate. This is an excellent investment for patients who are not entitled to exemption but need frequent prescriptions. Information about the scheme is given on the prescription form itself, and in leaflets, forms and posters available from or displayed by doctors, pharmacists, hospitals, post offices, local social security offices and NHS family practitioner committees. I hope that doctors, pharmacists and organisations concerned with patients' welfare will continue to help in making the "season ticket" scheme known to all those whom it could benefit, and I hope that this reply will receive wide publicity.

Hospital Kitchens

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether it is his policy that environmental health officers should be responsible for the inspection of hospital kitchens.