Written Answers To Questions
Tuesday 29th March 1977
Eastern Mediterranean Defence
asked the Prime Minister whether he will hold consultations with the Heads of Governments of the other members of the European Community with a view to establishing a common defence policy in conjunction with Greece and Turkey for the Eastern Mediterranean.
No. The defence of Europe rests upon the North Atlantic Alliance and matters of concern to the Alliance as a whole are considered within the framework of the Alliance. Defence is not covered by the Treaty of Rome, nor is it discussed in the European political co-operation framework.
Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference
asked the Prime Minister if he is yet in a position to announce the likely range of subjects to be discussed at the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Macclesfield (Mr. Winterton) on 27th January.
asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Zambia.
Prime Minister (Engagements)
asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 29th March.
asked the Prime Minister what are his official engagements for 29th March 1977.
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his offical engagements for Thursday 29th March.
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 29th March.
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 29th March.
I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke on Trent, South (Mr. Ashley).
asked the Prime Minister if he will now open Cabinet meetings to the news media, in the light of his policy of encouraging open government.
asked the Prime Minister when he last met the TUC.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) on 3rd February.
European Council (Rome Meeting)
asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on the European Council meeting.
asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement on his recent meetings with the other Heads of Government of the EEC countries.
asked the Prime Minister what changes he has made in the terms of reference for the Security Commission.
asked the Prime Minister what changes he has made in the terms of reference for the Security Commission.
asked the Prime Minister when he next expects to make a television broadcast.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Sowerby (Mr. Madden) on 7th December.
asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to appear on television to answer questions from viewers on Government policies.
I have at present no further plans to do so.
asked the Prime Minister whether he is satisfied with the degree of co-ordination between the Foreign Office and the Department of Trade with regarding to combating the operating of foreign boycotts against British exporters.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Melton (Mr. Latham) on 1st March.
asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to meet the Commonwealth Secretary-General.
I hope to do so shortly.
Parliamentary Secretary To The Treasury
asked the Prime Minister whether he will list the responsibilities of the Patronage Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury.
The chief responsibilities of the Patronage Secretary and Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury are those of the Chief Government Whip in the House of Commons. As such, he is responsible for the day-to-day management of the Government's programme of parliamentary business. He is also responsible for duties in relation to the Government's supporters in the House which are common to the Whips of all parties in relation to their supporters.
asked the Prime Minister when he next intends to pay a visit to Walsall.
asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to north Cornwall.
Mr Iver Hoppe
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the present position with regard to the sums of public money paid to Mr. Hoppe by way of salary while he was managing director of Harland and Wolff Ltd.; how much money was to be paid to him on termination of his contract; and how much money in fact has been paid.
During the period of Mr. Iver Hoppe's association with Harland and Wolff Ltd., the ownership of the company was predominantly in private hands. No public money has been paid to him by way of salary or otherwise.
Road Schemes (Planning Inquiries)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the title and
|Short Title of Scheme||Type of Order(s)||Last date of Inquiry|
|A487||Llanfarian Village improvement||Side Roads and CPOs||4th February 1975|
|A494||Mold By-pass||Line and Roads Orders||20th February 1975|
|A48||Carmarthen-Bancyfelin Diversion||Line and Side Roads Orders||8th April 1975|
|A4042||Llantarnam By-pass||Line and Side Roads Orders||3rd December 1975|
|A470||Dolgellau By-pass||CPO||6th January 1976|
|A55||Llanddulas-Aber||Line, Side Roads and related Orders.||13th February 1976|
|A473*||Traffic lights at Penybont Road Junction Pencoed.||CPO||10th August 1976|
|A465||Llanfihangel Crucorney Diversion||CPO||9th November 1976|
|M4||Castleton-Coryton Section||Supplementary Side Roads Variation and CPO.||30th November 1976|
|A40/A48||Carmarthen Southern By-pass||Line and Side Roads Orders||26th January 1977|
|* Local Authority Scheme.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers were made redundant as a result of British electrical and electronic firms ceasing production or transferring their production lines to other countries, whilst retaining a proportionately small number of staff for the purpose of operating the domestic market.
In 1976, 17,266 redundancies were notified to the Employment Services Agency as due to occur in the electrical engineering sector, which includes both electrical and electronic firms. I cannot say how many of these redundancies were caused by the factors outlined by my hon. Friend. Following the report of the NEDC sector working party on electronic components, the Government have introduced a scheme of assistance to assist modernisation, restructuring and the development of new products and have selected the electronic components sector as one of the five sectors of potential growth in which an intensive effort will be made by the Government.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many trained nurses are now registered as unemployed in the Birmingham area.
At 10th March 143 unemployed qualified nurses were registered
date of conclusion of public inquiries into highway schemes for which his decision is still awaited.
The information is as follows:at employment offices in the city of Birmingham. This figure is provisional.
New Year Bank Holiday
asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to be able to announce the date of the 1978 New Year's Bank Holiday.
I expect to make an announcement before the end of this week.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what improvement there has been during the last three years in the number of employers who employ their full quota of disabled people in the Stockport employment area, and in the North-West of England as a whole.
I am advised by the Chairman of the Manpower Services Commission that there was an improvement in the proportion of employers satisfying their quota from 39·4 to 44·4 per cent. during the period 1st June 1973 to 1st June 1976. In the Department of Employment's North-West Region the proportion of employers fulfilling quota, fell slightly in the same period from 45·5 to 45·0 per cent.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were unemployed in the United Kingdom: at the most recent count; and if he will make a statement.
At 10th March 1,383,773 people were registered as unemployed in the United Kingdom. This figure is provisional. The fall in unemployment, for the second month in succession, is encouraging and may well be in part a result of the success of the Government's special measures. I would, however, wish to see a downward trend over some months before believing that we are over the hump.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what further steps he is taking to reduce unemployment: and if he will make a statement.
I announced measures to reduce unemployment as recently as 3rd March 1977. Further to that, I would refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's Budget Statement earlier to day.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the figures for registered adult unemployed persons in the Greater London area in each of the years from 1970 to 1976, inclusive.
Age analyses of the numbers unemployed are made in respect of January and July each year. The available information is:
|Numbers aged 18 years and over registered as unemployed in Greater London|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is, in arithmetical terms, the progress that has been made since March 1974 towards the Government's election commitment to the reduction of unemployment.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the levels of unemployment in August 1945, March 1950. October 1951, June 1955, October 1959, November 1964, April 1966, July 1970, December 1973, March 1974, October 1974, and at the latest available date.
The information available is as follows. The present series of statistics commenced in 1948 and earlier information is not strictly comparable. The following table shows the numbers registered as unemployed in Great Britain, excluding school leavers and seasonally adjusted, together with the corresponding rates of unemployment.
|…||Numbers registered as unemployed||Percentage rates of unemployment|
|* Because of industrial action at local offices of the Employment Service Agency the figures for October 1974 include estimates.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the totals for unemployment in England and Wales in each of the years from 1970 to 1976; and, of these, what proportion in each year took place in the first three months of the year.
The numbers registered as unemployed are counted on a selected day in each month and the figures in column I are the averages of all monthly counts made in each year. Column 2 gives the averages of the counts made in January, February and March only and these are expressed as percentages of the annual averages in column 3.
|NUMBERS REGISTERD AS UNEMPLOYED IN ENGLAND AND WALES|
|Annul average||Average of first three months of the year||Col. (2) as a percentage of col. (1)|
|* Because of industrial action by staff in the Department of Employment Group the counts of the numbers unemployed in December 1974 and November and December 1976 were not made. The annual averages are based on 11 months for 1974 and 10 months for 1976.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action he will take following his investigations into the underpayment of workers; and if he will make a statement.
I explained the action we were taking in my reply to my hon. Friends the Members for Chorley (Mr. Rodgers), West Stirlingshire (Mr. Canavan), and Consett (Mr. Watkins) on 1st February. In addition I had a most useful discussion about enforcement problems with wages council chairmen this morning and with the CBI yesterday. I shall be having similar talks with the Retail Consortium later this week and with the TUC next month. I shall consider what further action might be taken in the light of those meetings.
Redundancy Payments Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will now take steps to wind up the redundancy payments scheme and to reallocate the resources so released to provide better retraining and resettlement schemes for the long-term unemployed.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with current trends in employment in manufacturing industry.
No. Although I am pleased to report that employment in manufacturing has begun to rise in recent months after a long period of decline, it is still not high enough.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will institute a national job evaluation scheme before 1st August; and if he will make a statement.
No. I do not believe that this is a practical proposition.
Employment Transfer Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he is satisfied with the working of the employment transfer scheme.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is now satisfied with the working of the employment transfer scheme.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the employment transfer scheme is under consideration by the Employment Service Agency and the Manpower Services Commission at official level, as part of a general review of geographical mobility.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the rate of unemployment in the Southend area at the most recent convenient date; and how this compares with the figures for the same period in the years 1973 to 1976, respectively.
At March 1977 the provisional rate of unemployment in the Southend travel-to-work area was 7·5 per cent. The corresponding rates for earlier years were 3 per cent. in 1973 and 1974, 4·2 per cent. in 1975 and 6·5 per cent. in 1976.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many disabled school leavers are currently unemployed; and what was the number a year ago.
I regret that separate figures for unemployed disabled school leavers are not available. On 10th February 1977, however, the number of young people registered both as disabled persons and unemployed at careers offices totalled 520–296 boys and 224 girls. The comparable figures for February 1976 were 441–241 boys and 200 girls.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the long-term value to the school leaver of the Job Creation Programme.
I am satisfied that the Job Creation Programme is significantly improving the chances of obtaining permanent employment for a large number of unemployed school leavers. The Manpower Services Commission is, however, reviewing the current measures for assisting unemployed young people and will be reporting on the rôle of job creation in April.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current level of unemployment in the Yorkshire and Humberside Region among school leavers.
At 10th March 1,740 school leavers were registered as unemployed in the Yorkshire and Humberside region. This figure is provisional.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total number of unemployed school leavers out of those who left school in 1976 in the area covered by the Bournemouth employment office on a convenient date in January and February 1977, respectively.
In the area covered by the Bournemouth employment office on 13th January 1977 the number of unemployed school leavers under 18 was 39 and on 10th February 1977 it was 50. The statistics do not specify the date of leaving school, but the majority were 1976 summer school leavers.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what study he has made of pre-retirement courses; and what plans he has to stimulate such courses.
My Department has not made any special study of pre-retirement courses, although it recognises their value and importance. However, I hope that the survey on reasons for retirement, commissioned from the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys by my Department and the Department of Health and Social Security, will provide useful information about the demand from workers for pre-retirement help and advice, including pre-retirement courses.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects an improvement in the levels of unemployment in the construction industry.
When the economy is stronger.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what vacancies for skilled workers are currently available in the county of South Yorkshire at the latest available date and three years earlier.
This Department's vacancy statistics do not provide comprehensive occupational analyses on a skill basis. However, separate figures are now compiled, for counties and larger areas, showing the numbers of unfilled vacancies in six broad groups, one of which is craft and similar occupations, including foremen in occupations associated with processing, production, repairing, etc. This group will include many but by no means all skilled occupations. At September 1976, the latest date for which information is available, there were 1,061 unfilled vacancies in this group notified to employment offices in the South Yorkshire Metropolitan County. This figure relates only to notified vacancies and is not a measure of total vacancies. Similar information is not available for earlier dates.
Training (European Social Fund)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what measures he is taking to ensure dissemination of information on the availability of European Social Fund moneys for industrial training purposes.
The Regulations of the European Social Fund require that, to be eligible for assistance, operations must either be conducted by a public sector body or be financially supported by such a body. My Department is in regular contact with other Departments and agencies which may provide assistance towards eligible training or retraining schemes. In addition, the Training Services Agency is on the alert for operations carried out or assisted by industrial training boards which might be eligible for Social Fund aid. Summary information about allocations to the United Kingdom from the Fund is given through DE News which is widely distributed in industry. The Government take the view that a great publicity effort would be unlikely to be cost effective and might well raise false hopes. However, my officials are ready to give advice to any company or other organisation on the scope for making a successful application.
Incomes And Wealth (Royal Commission)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will recommend the abolition of the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Incomes and Wealth.
Cambridge Evening News (Advertisement)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he remains satisfied with the operation of the law relating to trade unions and the freedom of the Press, in the light of the circumstances in which the trade unions known as SLADE and NGA refuse to allow the Alexandra Studio at Eaton Socon to advertise in the situations vacant columns of the Cambridge Evening News because the advertisement contains a simple monogram not produced by union members, a refusal which is in conflict with arrangements previously agreed: what action he is able to take to assist in this situation; and if he will make a statement.
It will not be possible to know whether the law relating to trade unions and the freedom of the Press is operating satisfactorily until a charter on the freedom of the Press has been prepared and has been in operation for a while. But on the facts as des- cribed by the right hon. and learned Member I would not necessarily accept that this dispute is very relevant to the issues involved in maintaining the freedom of the Press. I do not consider that any action on my part would assist in resolving this dispute.
Occupational Guidance Service
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total cost in the last full year for which figures are available of the advertising campaign, including promotional and advertising literature, for the Occupational Guidance Service.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the total cost of advertising, including promotional and advertising literature, for the Occupational Guidance Service in the 1976–77 financial year will be £12,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons are currently employed on job creation schemes and community industry in (a) the North-West, (b) Merseyside, (c) Kirkby and (d) Ormskirk.
The number of young people employed by community industry in the North-West on 18th February was 480, of whom 386 were employed on Metseyside. Within the Merseyside area the Knowsley Community Industry Unit employed 156 young people, some of whom were from Kirkby which forms part of the unit's operational area. Community industry does not operate in the Ormskirk area.I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that some 3,000 jobs are currently being provided on job creation projects in the North-West and 5,000 on Merseyside. Within the Merseyside area there are 98 in Kirkby and 54 in Ormskirk.The number of people currently employed on Job Creation Programme projects is not readily obtainable.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage, respectively, of manual and non-manual workers work less than 40 hours a week.
The New Earnings Survey indicates that, in April 1976, about 28 per cent. of manual employees and about 80 per cent. of non-manual employees in Great Britain had normal basic hours of 39 or less per week, excluding main meal breaks and overtime. These estimates cover full-time and part-time workers. They exclude persons who were not members of PAYE schemes and those without specified normal hours because of the nature of their jobs.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many clerical and administrative positions are now occupied or available in the county of South Yorkshire at the latest available date and three years earlier.
Regarding positions occupied, this Department does not compile comprehensive analyses of the numbers employed by occupation. Regarding positions available, figures for September 1976, the latest date for which information is available, show that there were 541 unfilled vacancies notified to employment offices in the South Yorkshire Metropolitan County for managerial, professional, clerical and related occupations. This figure relates only to notified vacancies and is not a measure of total vacancies. Similar analyses are not available for earlier dates.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons are in employment in the county of South Yorkshire at the latest available date; and how many were employed three years earlier.
At June 1975, the latest date for which employment estimates for counties are available, there were 556,000 employees in employment in South Yorkshire. This compares with 528,000 employees in employment in June 1972.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he now has plans to pay an official visit to Merseyside to investigate the causes of unemployment.
My right hon. Friend at present has no plans to do so. However, I visited Ellesmere Port on 18th March 1977 and Knowsley on 28th March 1977.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the latest unemployment figures on Merseyside.
Between February and March 1977 the number of persons registered as unemployed in the Merseyside special development area decreased by 2,238 to a total of 77,937. There was a corresponding fall in the unemployment rate from 10·6 per cent. in February to 10·3 per cent. in March. This decrease is encouraging, but the area's high unemployment rate continues to give cause for serious concern. As I explained in the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend to 2nd March, the Government are fully aware of the special problems of Merseyside and have taken action to help the area.
Trade Unions (Ministerial Meetings)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment which trade union leaders he has met himself in the last month.
I am constantly meeting trade union officers, both publicly and privately, in carrying out my duties as Secretary of State for Employment.
Agricultural Tractors (Accidents)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will state for each year since 1970 the number of accidents involving either fatal or serious injuries resulting from the mechanical failure of agricultural tractors.
I will reply to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
National Exhibition Centre
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has any plans to visit the National Exhibition Centre.
I plan to visit the National Exhibition Centre as soon as a visit can be fitted in.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade, with regard to the Companies Act 1976, how many statutory forms were sent out for ascertaining the date of company accounts; what was the total cost, including postage, of these forms; and why a note could not have been put on the next annual return reminder of the company.
From 1st to 25th March 171,000 forms for notification of a company's accounting reference date, together with an explanatory letter—out of an estimated total of 700,000—were despatched at a cost of some £13,000 for stationery and postage. Inclusion of a note on the annual return reminder would not suffice, as reminders are sent only to companies whose returns are overdue.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will authorise investigations under Section 165 of the Companies Act into the affairs of Syston Publishing Company and System Estates Ltd.
I have no information to justify exercise of the Department's investigatory powers under the Companies Acts, but I shall look at the matter afresh if my hon. Friend will let me have all the material he has about these two companies.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give the value of British exports of goods and services to Israel for each of the last five years in money terms and in constant value terms; and if he will show for each of the same years the percentage of Israeli imports represented by British goods and services.
There is no information available relating to services, or estimates of the trade in goods at constant prices. The value of United Kingdom exports of goods at current prices and percentage share of Israeli imports of goods are as follows:
|United Kingdom experts of goods to Israel*(£ million fob)||United Kingdom share of Israeli imports of goods†(Per cent.)|
* Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom.
† IMF Direction of Trade Annual
asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what was the total in tons of imports of coal in the EEC in 1976 excluding the United Kingdom; and what were the exports of coal from the United Kingdom to the EEC;(2) to which countries British coal was exported in 1976; and what was the total amount exported to each;(3) from which countries coal imports came into the United Kingdom in 1976; and what was the amount for each such country.
Details of EEC imports in year 1976 are not yet available. Following is the information for United Kingdom trade in coal, excluding briquettes. (Heading SITC(R) 321.4):
|Thousand metric tons|
|Federal Republic of Germany||169|
|Belgium and Luxembourg||82|
|Belgium and Luxembourg||263|
|Federal Republic of Germany||253|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what percentage of British exports went to the countries now forming the EEC in the four years before the United Kingdom joined; and what percentage has gone there in the four years since the United Kingdom became a member;(2) what percentage of British imports came from the countries now forming the EEC in the four years before the United Kingdom joined; and what percentage has come from there in the four years since the United Kingdom became a member.
In the four years 1969 to 1972 an annual average of 28·6 per cent of total United Kingdom exports were to the EEC; in 1973 to 1976 the figure was 33·6 per cent. Corresponding figures for imports from EEC were 30·2 per cent. and 36·7 per cent. respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is satisfied that co-ordination between the Department of the Environment and his Department is adequate to ensure that information of the Government's moratorium on road improvement projects in Worthing will not result in an increase rather than a reduction of public expenditure.
There is no question of co-ordination on this issue as it is entirely a matter for this Department. A moratorium involves a deferment, not necessarily a reduction of public expenditure.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will include in the public consultation on new road schemes an option that the proposed road should not be built at all.
I am already considering this suggestion.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the revised starting date for the M1—A1 link, following the recent changes in the road programme.
I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Wigan (Mr. Fitch) on 1st February.—[Vol. 925, c. 106–18.]
asked the Secretary of State for Transport why the "Transport Statistics Great Britain 1965 to 1975", promised for publication in February, have not yet appeared.
"Transport Statistics Great Britain 1965 to 1975" was published on 17th March.
Motor Vehicle Accident Casualties
asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many passengers in motor vehicles were killed or seriously injured in road accidents when travelling in the back seats of cars during 1974, 1975 and 1976.
Following is the information:Back seat occupants of cars, killed or seriously injured, 1974–1976: Great Britain:
asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers and passengers in motor vehicles were killed or seriously injured in road accidents whilst wearing seat belts during 1974, 1975 and 1976.
I regret that the information is not recorded for all types of motor vehicle, but the following information is available:
|Front Seat Occupants of Cars and Light Vans, killed or seriously injured while wearing Seat Belts|
asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many drivers and passengers in motor vehicles who were killed or seriously injured in road accidents during 1974, 1975 and 1976 were travelling in front seats of vehicles in which there is no legal obligation to fit seat belts.
I regret that the information is not available in the precise form requested, but the following information is available.
|Drivers and front seat passengers killed or seriously injured in vehicles in which no seat belt was fitted|
asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how many copies of the Department of the Environment document on rolines were distributed;(2) to which bodies the Department of the Environment document on rolines has been distributed;(3) if the investor of rolines was consulted on the Department of the Environment pamphlet on rolines;(4) who authorised the production of the Department of the Environment pamphlet on the subject of rolines.
The Department has not published any document on rolines. A relevant aide-memoire was prepared for internal use within the Transport and Road Research Laboratory, with the approval of senior management. The inventor was not consulted. It is thought that only two copies have been distributed, one to the BBC and the other to Motor magazine.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many inquiries the Transport and Road Research Laboratory has received about rolines.
The TRRL has received very few such inquiries, and these have come mainly from the Press.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the average added cost to the production of a car of fixing seat belts.
Manufacturers estimate that a pair of inertia reel seat belts adds some £25 to £30 to the cost of the car. The comparable figure for static belts is about £18 to £20. Costs can increase significantly when seat belts form part of a car's interior styling.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport if any estimate has been made of the cost in total to motor cyclists of having to wear crash helmets.
I regret that this information is not available. Helmets manufactured to the approved British Standards may be purchased from about £10, although some helmets cost much more than this. It is not known how many motor cycle riders and pillion passengers there are, but in 1976 the estimated number of licensed motor cycles was 1,270,000. In 1973, when the wearing of crash helmets was made compulsory, there were 1,006,000 licensed motor cycles. About three-quarters of all riders were then wearing helmets voluntarily.
asked the Secretary of State for Transport how much of each of the following taxes the average private car owner pays annually, assuming an average of £10,000 miles per year: (a) fuel duty, (b) car tax and (c) VAT.
I have been asked to reply.A private motorist driving 10,000 miles a year would pay an average £100 a year duty on petrol and £30 a year VAT on petrol. He would pay car tax only if he bought a new car. Car tax is charged at the rate of 10 per cent. of the wholesale price of the car, and, of course, VAT at the standard rate of 8 per cent. of the VAT-exclusive retail price is also charged.
Riot Control Weapons
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the minimum permitted range for an impact-based riot control weapon in terms of impact energy; and what is the maximum acceptable level of impact energy.
Soldiers in Northern Ireland issued with impact-based riot control weapons, such as the baton round, are provided with full guidance on the circumstances in which they can use these weapons. Their instructions take fully into account the requirement to use only such force as is reasonable in the circumstances. It would not be in the interests of the security forces in dealing with rioters to make public details relating to the rules of engagement applying to these weapons.
Germany (Offset Agreement)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish a table showing by how much in each of the years since the German Federal Republic signed the first offset agreement in relation to British forces stationed in Germany the shortfall has been.
For the years up to and including 1975–76, I have nothing to add to the reply given by my predecessor on 22nd July 1976. The foreign exchange costs of British forces in Germany during 1976–77 are estimated to amount to some £521 million, as shown in Table 5 of Annex A to the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1977 (Cmnd. 6735).
Millbank Technical Services
asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about Millbank Technical Services.
Millbank Technical Services Limited is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Crown Agents which was set up in 1967 to enable the Crown Agents to offer a number of associated services outside their traditional agency rôle. As with other subsidiaries of the Crown Agents, sponsorship has hitherto rested with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Overseas Development. With the passage of time, this company has come to provide most of its services in the field of defence exports; and it has therefore been decided, with the approval of the Prime Minister, that I shall assume the responsibility for the defence activities of MTS from 1st April 1977 while my right hon. Friend remains responsible through the Crown Agents for its non-defence activities. I will ensure that an appropriate Sub-head is opened in Defence Estimates as soon as possible to provide for any contingent liability which I will be assuming with effect from 1st April 1977.
Bolivia And Peru (Arms Sales)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his policy on the sale of arms to Bolivia.
I have been asked to reply.Any proposals for the supply of defence equipment to Bolivia or Peru would be considered under our normal criteria, which include relevant political, security and financial considerations.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if any British representative has been present at any meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Commission or any other UN agency when allegations have been made about violations of human rights in Bolivia; and if, on any such occasion, there has been any statement on behalf of Her Majesty's Government on this issue.
Bolivia was not considered in open meetings of the recent 33rd Session of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights. I cannot confirm whether Bolivia was amongst the countries discussed in closed session because of the confidential nature of those proceedings.Trade union rights in Bolivia are the subject of an investigation by a committee of the International Labour Organisation which operates under the general supervision of the Governing Body of the International Labour Organisation of which the United Kingdom is a member. The United Kingdom is not, however, a member of the committee concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) when a member of the Bolivian Government last made an official visit to Great Britain; and if any such visit has been arranged for the future;(2) if he will make a statement on the current state of Anglo-Bolivian relations.
Relations with Bolivia continue to be normal. There is no record in recent years of any Bolivian Minister having visited Britain as an official guest. No such visits are at present planned.
Bolivia And Peru (Arms Sales)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy on the supply of arms to Bolivia and Peru in view of the tense situation in connection with Bolivian demands for an exit to the sea.
Any proposals for the supply of defence equipment to Bolivia or Peru would be considered under our normal criteria, which include relevant political, security and financial considerations.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people between the ages of 16 and 65 years in (a) England and Wales (b) Great Britain and (c) the United Kingdom, have been convicted of an indictable offence in the last year for which figures are available.
The readily available information shows that the number of persons aged 16 years or over found guilty of indictable offences in England and Wales in 1975 was 335,841, and the number of persons aged 17 years and over found guilty of indictable offences in Northern Ireland in 1975 was 3,694. The number of persons aged 16 years or over against whom, in 1975, a charge was proven in Scotland in respect of a crime was 33,716. Because of the different definition of offences in Scotland, it is not possible to give an overall figure for Great Britain or for the United Kingdom.
Police Headquarters, Liverpool
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated cost of the new police headquarters, Liverpool; who authorised its building; and who will be responsible, and in what proportion, for the cost.
The new police headquarters in Liverpool is one of only two major police buildings selected by my Department as meriting the highest priority on operational grounds to go ahead within the limited capital resources available. The total cost of the headquarters is expected to be some £8 million, to be borne by the Merseyside County Council with the assistance of a 50 per cent. grant from the Home Office.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his Department has subsidised an organisation one of whose objects is to legalise the smoking of cannabis; and when such subsidy started and how much subvention this organisation has received.
The Home Office Voluntary Services Unit makes grants to the Prince-dale Trust, which supports the welfare and advisory services of the organisation called Release. Payments amounting to £53,000 have been made since the grant was approved in 1974. This money can be used only for charitable purposes, and can thus be put only towards the welfare activities of Release; it may not be used to promote any wider objectives of that organisation.
Accused Persons (Deaths)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to establish procedures where the next of kin of persons who have died while charged with criminal activity may, before such charges have been resolved, seek a hearing to clear the name and honour of the deceased person.
Criminal Cases (Identification)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he intends to make a further statement on the Devlin Report on evidence of identification in criminal cases; and, if so, when.
I have no present plans to make a further statement; but I shall consider whether such a statement is desirable when a new circular to the police is issued about the conduct of identification parades and the showing of photographs, or when there has been an opportunity to assess the impact of the guidelines laid down in R v Turnbull.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what further investment plans he has for (a) Merseyside, (b) Kirkby and (c) Ormskirk; and how many jobs will be created.
The following offers of regional selective assistance have been made under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 from its commencement until 28th February 1977. About half the total value of the offers has been paid to date. The jobs associated with the offers are expected to be created in the period up to 1980. The offers exclude assistance to the shipbuilding industry.
|Offers||Estimated new employment|
|Value||Estimated new employment|
Selective Investment Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many companies have submitted requests for assistance under the new selective financial assistance scheme announced in December 1976.
The selective investment scheme has got off to a very encouraging start, and well over 200 inquiries from a wide spectrum of manufacturing industry have been received. 60 are under detailed appraisal.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry to what principal cause he attributes the wide differences in the level of Government spending on regional assistance per head of the population in regions with similar high levels of unemployment such as the South-West and the Northern Regions; and if he proposes to take any steps to reduce these differences.
The amount of expenditure on preferential regional assistance to industry depends upon the grading of the assisted areas concerned and upon industry's response to the incentives on offer.
Co-Operative Development Agency
asked the Secretary of State for Industry why he has invited one political party only, namely the Co-operative Party, to nominate a representative as a member of the joint working group set up by his Department with outside bodies to develop the idea of a Co-operative Development Agency; and whether he will now invite other major political parties to nominate members of the group.
The Co-operative Party was invited to nominate a representative to serve on the working group because it plays an important rôle in the co-operative movement in this country and has relevant experience which is likely to be helpful to the group's work. I do not propose to invite other political parties to participate, but the group will of course, consider any written observations that interested organisations or individuals may submit.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish in the Official Report a list of the British firms previously prominent in the production of electrical and electronic equipment for most purposes, including defence equipment, which are now importing this type of equipment for the domestic and defence market, respectively.
The information requested by my hon. Friend is not available from official sources.
Cars And Seat Bats
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many new cars have been produced since it became compulsory to install seat belts in cars.
Between 1st April 1967* and 26th February 1977, the latest date for which figures are available, 16·1 million cars were produced in the United Kingdom.
* Seat belts became compulsory on cars registered from 1st April 1967 tinder legislation enacted in 1966.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) why it has become clear to the Inland Revenue that certain divers should be treated as employees for tax purposes;(2) what is his estimate of the number of divers who will be required to become employees for tax purposes;(3) what consultations he had with representatives of divers before recommending that certain divers should be treated as employees for tax purposes.
I will let the hon. Member have a reply as soon as possible.
Child Tax Allowances (Students' Parents)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether any transitional arrangements are to be made for parents of students whose child tax allowances are being reduced and who cannot benefit from adjustments to parental contribution scales.
Yes. The Government do not consider that it would be right to retain child tax allowances on a permanent basis for any parents of students when child tax allowances are being phased out, and believe that it is right that the system of student support and family support for children should be clearly separated. But we have decided that special transitional measures are justified for certain parents, whose student children were already following a course in the autumn of 1976 when we announced our proposals for phasing out child tax allowances.The parents concerned are those who cannot benefit from the proposed reduction in parental contribution scales for grant purposes—details of which were announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science on 28th March—either because their income is below the threshold for parental contribution, or because no grant is received. We are proposing that these parents should, subject to certain conditions, be able to claim child tax allowances at the 1976–77 level instead of the reduced level proposed for 1977–78 —and for subsequent years. This relief will run for up to three years, viz., 1977–78 to 1979–80 inclusive.The conditions for a claim are that the student concerned (
a) was following a full-time course of education at 31st December 1976; ( b) if the course was not an advanced course, was 19 or over at 31st December 1976; and ( c) for the academic year which starts in the relevant year of assessment either is in receipt of no grant from any Government Department, local authority or other public funds, or is receiving a grant which is liable to be reduced to take account of parental contribution but which has not in fact been so reduced because the parent's income is below the threshold for such a contribution.
Education authorities awarding grants will provide parents of children receiving grants with relevant claim forms (form 11CTA (LA)). Claim forms (form 11CTA(S)) for other qualifying students will be obtainable from tax offices or local PAYE enquiry officers after 1st June 1977.
Council Of Ministers Meeting (Value Added Tax)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the latest meeting of EEC Finance Ministers, in particular on value added tax.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 28th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 38], gave the following information:The Council of Ministers has now reached agreement on a common position with regard to the draft Sixth Directive on VAT. The directive remains subject to examination by the European Parliament and to formal adoption thereafter by the Council of Ministers.It is proposed that the directive should come into operation on 1st January 1978; this is dependent on completion of the procedures just mentioned in time to allow parliamentary approval for the consequential national legislation.The position agreed at the Fiscal Council is on the lines outlined in the written reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Ilford, North (Mrs. Miller) on 26th January, and agreement has now been reached on the proposal mentioned in paragraph 4 of that reply under which a member State would be free to alter its turnover limit for the registration of small businesses so as to maintain the value of the limit in real terms.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is now the total indebtedness of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the members of the COMECON, listed separately and in United States $ terms, as the result of medium- and long-term credits granted to them since 1st August 1975 by major Western creditor countries generally and specifically by the United Kingdom.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 28th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 38–9], gave the following information:The estimated total indebtedness, including short-term trade finance, in convertible currencies, increased in the period from August 1975 to the end of 1976 as follows:
|German Democratic Republic||1·5||0·3|
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what proportion of the total indebtedness of COMECON to the United Kingdom that has accrued since February 1974 was calculated in sterling for repayment purposes; what has been the average rate of interest on these loans and their average duration terms capital before redemption; what was the relevant exchange rate of sterling vis-à-vis the rouble at that time; and what is the comparable rate today.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 28th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 38–9], gave the following information:
It is estimated that nearly 20 per cent. was calculated in sterling for repayment purposes. Information is not available from which to calculate the average interest rate and, the period of the loans. The exchange rate was 1·72 roubles to the pound in February 1974 compared with 1·27 roubles today.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officials in his Department are employed in answering parliamentary Questions.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 28th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 39], gave the following information:Most officials from the grade of clerical officer upwards can on occasion be involved in preparing material for answering parliamentary Questions. The number of officials employed in the Treasury at the grade of clerical officer and above on 1st March 1977 was 643.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of the total amount involved in the switch from sterling to foreign currency financing for trade between non-British ports; and how much of this has already taken place.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 28th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 39], gave the following information:The once-for-all inflow associated with the November prohibition on the provision of sterling for the finance of third country trade is likely to be substantially greater than the original estimate of £½ billion. It has probably been one important factor underlying the exceptional demand for sterling in recent months. However, it is not possible to make precise estimates of the total sums involved, or of the extent to which loans will be switched into foreign currency. Statistics for the fourth quarter of 1976 suggest that repayment of sterling loans made by United Kingdom banks may have begun before Christmas, though the impact of the November measures on sterling finance provided by United Kingdom merchants cannot be identified from the balance of payments accounts. Detailed information on external capital flows in the current quarter is not yet available.
Grampian Regional Council (Transport Policy)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report the sum of money under the resources or needs element of rate support grant available to Grampian Regional Council for the support of an integrated transport policy.
Rate support grant is paid in aid of the revenues of local authorities generally and not in respect of particular functions. The current estimate of total rate support grant payable to Grampian Regional Council in 1977–78 is £67·58 million, of which £3·64 million is the domestic element, £50·28 million is the needs element and £13·66 million is the resources element.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about his proposals for the reform of public sector housing subsidies.
The Government's plan to introduce legislation in the present Session of Parliament on public sector housing subsidies in Scotland followed discussions with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities which endorsed the need for early reform of the present subsidy arrangements.I have now decided to postpone the introduction of legislation to allow further discussion of the details of the new system, which I would aim to have in operation by 1st April 1979. This postponement does not prejudice the introduction of local housing plans which I intend to have operating from 1st April 1978 or the review of housing policies and finance whose findings I intend to publish in a Green Paper as soon as possible.
National Health Service (Superannuation Scheme)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when the report by the Government Actuary on his investigation of the National Health Service Superannuation Scheme for Scotland for the live-year period ended 31st March 1974 will be published.
Tomorrow, when copies will be placed in the Library of the House.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if any further changes have been made to cash limits for 1976–77 which are within his responsibility since the Chief Secretary's announcement on 6th December 1976.
The Government have decided to authorise additional expenditure of £3·1 million by Shetland Islands Council for payments this financial year in respect of land acquisition for the oil terminal at Sullom Voe. An increase of £3·1 million has been made in the cash limit for block SO/LA2—which covers local authority capital expenditure on a range of local services including land acquisitions under planning powers. This increase has been fully offset by a reduction of £3·1 million in the cash limit for block SO/LA1 which covers local authority capital expenditure on roads and other transport.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many miscarriages were attended by general practitioners in 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975, and 1976.
The nearest indication to the number of miscarriages attended by general practitioners is the number of "miscarriage fees" paid. As explained below, however, these do not give an accurate guide. The numbers for the years in question are as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what percentage of the population of the United Kingdom was under the age of 18 years, between the ages of 18 and 65 years and over the age of 65 years for each of the last 20 years; and what is his estimate of the same categories of age distribution for the next 10 years.
The information is as follows:
|PERCENTAGE OF THE POPULATION OF THE UNTIED KINGDOM|
|Mid-year Estimates||Under 18||18 to 64||65 and over|
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to the recent communication from the European Commission (Com (76) 719 final) suggesting that member States should adopt common principles for the index-linking of social security benefits; and whether, in particular, the British Government will seek to align themselves with the majority of EEC member States by making provision for the systematic adjustment of child benefits in line with inflation.
The European Commission invited the Council of Ministers on 12th January to take note of a communication on the systematic adjustment—dynamisation—of social security benefits. The Commission makes no legislative proposals, and merely reserves the right to make proposals in this field at a later date. The Government have noted the conclusions reached by the Commission, which are that, while in some respects the present time might have been considered opportune for establishing certain common standards, there should be no attempt to impose such standards in the difficult economic situation at present facing member States.As regards child benefit, there is a statutory requirement for the rate to be reviewed annually.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which social security benefits are not liable to tax; and what was the total paid in respect of each benefit for 1975–76 and 1976–77 to date.
The information requested is given below. The benefits which are not liable for tax, their cost in 1975–76 and provisional estimates of expenditure for 1976–77 are as follows:
|Benefit||£ million||£ million|
|Industrial disablement benefit||145||165|
|Industrial death benefit (gratuities only)||—||—|
|Workmen's compensation supplementation||3||3|
|Industrial diseases benefit in respect of pre-1948 employment||1||1|
|War disablement pension||168||185|
|War widows' allowances for children||2||2|
|Family income supplement||12||17|
|Non-contributory invalidity pension||12||44|
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average time taken to provide hearing aids through the National Health Service; and what proposals he has for reducing such time.
Information about average waiting times is not collected. I am advised, however, that approximately 12,500 people, including those who exchanged a body-worn aid for a behind-the-ear model, were seen in December 1976, the latest month for which figures are available, and about 47,000 were on the waiting list. Health authorities are very conscious of the need to ensure that waiting times are kept as short as possible, and we have made available special funds to assist them in implementing the current hearing aid programme.
|Children in care||Boarded Out|
|1975||1976 (provisional)||1975||1976 (provisional)|
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in order to speed up the processing by the Occupational Pensions Board of applications from firms wishing to contract out of the State pension scheme, he will issue clear and detailed guidance to employers stating the requirements which the Board expects schemes to meet.
The issue of such guidance is a matter for the Occupational Pensions Board. Since March 1976 it has published detailed guidance about the contracting-out requirements, and, although I understand that this will be supplemented in the near future as a result of new legislative changes and inquiries from pensions practitioners, the
Children In Care
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish the number of children in the care of each social services department in the north-west of England, the number of those children boarded out and the number of extra foster parents obtained by those authorities for each of the last three years for which figures are available.
The numbers of children in care and those boarded out at 31st March 1975 and 1976 (provisional) are given below. Comparable figures for 1974 are not available because of the reorganisation of local authorities which took place on 1st April 1974. Information about the number of extra foster parents obtained by local authorities each year is not collected centrally.guidance already published is sufficient to enable employers to institute the necessary procedures.
National Health Service Staff
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects the report on an occupational health service for NHS staff to be published.
My officials will shortly be consulting the NHS professions and trade unions about the guidance about occupational health services for NHS staff to be issued to health authorities.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) whether his Department has any record of the number of adults who have suffered brain damages following head injuries;(2) how many persons in 1974, 1975 and 1976, respectively, have received treatment in the special units provided for the care of adults receiving brain damage following head injuries.
The report of the hospital in-patient inquiry gives the number of people over 15 years old treated in hospital for intra-cranial damage and the number of those whose damage was due to road traffic accidents. In 1973, the latest year for which information is available, the figures are as follows:
|All Intracranial damage||Intracranial damage due to road traffic accidents|
|Cerebral laceration and contusion||590||290|
|Other and unspecified haemorrhage||110||60|
|Intra-Cranial injury of other and unspecified nature||49,130||18,160|
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how it is possible for a 17-year-old schoolboy, Mr. Verrell Holness, to claim supplementary benefits of up to £25 per week.
Young people at school are normally excluded from claiming supplementary benefit in their own right, but the Supplementary Benefits Commission may exceptionally award benefit if the young person is over 16 and would otherwise suffer harship—eg, in the case where a child is orphaned or, like Mr. Holness, is estranged from his parents.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people were found guilty of making false claims for social security benefits in the following years (a) March 1974 to March 1975, (b) March 1975 to March 1976, and (c) March 1976 to March 1977.
The records kept centrally by my Department are by calendar years, and it would not be possible to provide statistics for the periods requested without a great deal of extra work. In any case, of course, the figures for the first quarter of 1977 cannot yet be available. However, we can provide figures for 1974, 1975 and 1976, showing the number of cases prosecuted, and of those in which guilty verdicts were returned; these are as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the hospitals in which at 31st August 1976 the advice of the Environmental Health Officers' Association, as commended to regional hospital boards in his Department's circulars, has not been acted upon or accepted for action; and what steps he is taking to ensure that food handling areas in these and all other hospitals meet the standards of the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he has received the report on hygiene standards in hospital kitchens which names 153 hospitals which, but for immunity, would be open to prosecution; and if he will name them;(2) what steps he has taken following the 1975 survey by environmental health officers to bring standards in hospitals up to the level required by the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations.
Following the 1975 survey by the Environmental Health Officers' Association a meeting was held between officials of my Department and of the association, and a joint programme of action was agreed, which included the preparation of new guidance for health authorities and co-operation in the preparation of training programmes at national and local levels. Neither that survey, nor the recent report received in my Department on 15th March 1977, identifies individual hospitals. A further meeting is being arranged with the Environmental Health Officers' Association to discuss the significance of the latest findings and to assess what further action may be necessary.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to remove the difficulties which make it impossible for environmental health officers to have the same right of access and right of prosecution in hospitals as they have on private premises.
Although local authority environmental health officers have no power to inspect Crown premises, including National Health Service hospital kitchens, health authorities have been instructed to ensure that the standards of the Food Hygiene (General) Regulations are observed and to submit their hospital kitchens to inspection as though Crown immunity did not apply. I do not consider prosecution to be appropriate in the case of Crown premises, but there is a standing arrangement whereby the failure of a health authority to take necessary action may be reported directly to my Department.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has yet received the report of the inquiry on funeral expenses; what action he proposes to take thereon; and if he will make a statement.
The report was published on 24th March. I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection to my hon. Friend the Member for Peterborough (Mr. Ward) on 24th March.—[Vol. 928, c. 589.]