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Written Answers

Volume 929: debated on Wednesday 6 April 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 6th April 1977

Prices And Consumer Protection

Petrol (Price Displays)

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will now introduce legislation to improve the display of petrol prices.

Yes. I told the House on 7th February that the local authority associations had agreed to carry out a national survey to establish the extent of compliance with the voluntary agreement on petrol price display introduced last September. The results of that survey indicate that of those garages with a promotional display of some sort little more than half were complying with the code. This overall result conceals considerable differences between one area and another, and in some cases the reasons for non-compliance may not be serious. Nevertheless it is clear that voluntary measures are not enough to secure general adherence, and we now propose to take statutory action to ensure that the objectives of the agreement are attained.We have decided to introduce an order under Section 4 of the Prices Act 1974 to regulate the display of petrol prices. We intend that the order should provide that every pump should be marked with the price of the petrol. We also intend that where garages are advertising their prices or price reductions their signs should be clear and unambiguous, and that the information which we shall require should be at least as prominent as any other information. Provisions will be introduced to this end broadly on the lines of the voluntary agreement. The trade organisations such as the Motor Agents Association and most of the major oil companies co-operated in the drawing up of the voluntary agreement and have encouraged their members to comply with it. I am grateful for their efforts, and I regret that so many petrol retailers have not followed their lead, so making statutory action necessary. We shall, of course, consult the trade and other interested bodies on our new proposals.We shall shortly send out a consultative document explaining the detailed provisions which we have in mind and we shall press ahead with the aim of making an order next month.

Administrative Agencies

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether he will make a statement on the future rôles of the Price Commission, the Office of Fair Trading and the Monopolies Commission.

The Price Commission Bill, published Monday, makes specific provision for delineating the relationship between the authorities involved in the administration of prices policy and competition policy.The Office of Fair Trading will continue to keep watch on commercial activities and competition in the United Kingdom and to protect the consumer against unfair trading practices, and the Monopolies and Mergers Commission to investigate and report on monopolies, mergers and uncompetitive practices that are referred to it.

Bank Charges

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if, in view of the intention of banks to introduce bank charges which have an inflationary effect, he will refer such charges and profit margins to the Price Commission.

I am not aware of any intention on the part of the banks to increase charges above the level notified to the Price Commission late last spring. The largest banks will need to notify the Price Commission of any intention to introduce higher charges.

Milk Subsidy

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is his estimate of the cost of the milk subsidy in 1977–78; and what is the rate of subsidy per pint.

Expenditure on the milk subsidy paid by the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food through the guarantee arrangements in 1977–78 is estimated at £19 million; this is equivalent to about ½p per pint for four months of the year. The rate of subsidy paid in accordance with schemes under Section 1 of the Prices Act 1974 on milk produced in certain Scottish islands and in the Isles of Scilly was accordingly reduced from 1p per pint to ½p per pint on 1st April 1977. No change is being made in the statutory maximum retail price of milk.

Gas Prices

asked the Prime Minister what recent approaches he has had from the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers concerning the proposed increases in gas prices; what was the nature of this approach; and what was his reply.

The General Secretary of the Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers wrote to me on 14th March passing on a message from the executive council of the union about prices. I have now replied.

Prime Minister (Visits)

asked the Prime Minister (1) if he will pay an official visit to the Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency;(2) if he will pay an official visit to Orkney;(3) if he will pay an official visit to the Rochdale constituency;(4) if he will pay an official visit to the Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles constituency;(5) if he will pay an official visit to the Isle of Ely constituency;(6) if he will pay an official visit to the Montgomery constituency;(7) if he will pay an official visit to the Devon, North constituency;(8) if he will pay an official visit to the Truro constituency.

Urban Programme

asked the Prime Minister if he will make a statement about ministerial responsibility for urban policies.

The Urban Programme has proved its worth as a valu- able source of support for projects benefiting those living in urban areas of special social need. So long as the programme was innovatory, responsibility appropriately rested with the Home Office. It is now to be greatly expanded and there will be room for measures going beyond specifically social projects.I have, therefore, decided to transfer responsibility for the Urban Programme and associated work from my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment in England and to my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales in Wales.The Home Secretary will retain the central responsibility for the Government's race relations policies and for Section 11 of the Local Government Act 1966, which provides for grants to be made to local authorities which have within their areas substantial numbers of Commonwealth immigrants. The Voluntary Services Unit will also remain in the Home Office. The interests of the ethnic minorities and the voluntary sector will be fully taken into account in the allocation of resources under the enlarged urban programme.

Civil Service

Political Affiliations (Recruitment Candidates)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many applications to the Civil Service have been rejected on the grounds of the applicant's political affiliations in each of the last 10 years; and what were these political affiliations.

The Civil Service Commissioners are required to examine the qualifications of all candidates for permanent appointments to the Civil Service without regard to their political affiliations, race or religion, and they could not, therefore, reject an application on any of these grounds.It has, however, been the policy of successive Governments since 1948 that no persons may be employed in the Civil Service in connection with work the nature of which is vital to the security of the State if they are, or have recently been, members of the British Communist Party or of a Fascist organisation; or if, in such a way as to raise legitimate doubts about their reliability, they are or have recently been sympathetic to Communism or Fascism. This is made clear to all candidates in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment literature.These restrictions relate to the work of certain Departments, and of certain posts in other Departments, and are the responsibility of the Ministers in charge of those Departments. There is no central record of departmental decisions of this kind.

Her Majesty's Stationery Office

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will itemise the causes of the increase in Her Majesty's Stationery Office wage costs from £15·9 million in 1973–74 to an estimated £30·3 million in the current financial year.

The principal causes of the increase in HMSO salaries and wages costs between 1973–74 and 1976–77 were:

  • (a) Pay settlements during the period;
  • (b) Staff increases stemming from various causes, notably the extension of double-shift working to enhance plant productivity on telephone directory production—about 100 staff;
  • (c) Increases in payments of employer's contributions to national insurance.
  • Energy

    Electricity Generating

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of electricity is generated in Great Britain by nuclear power stations, oil-fired power stations and coal-fired power stations, respectively; and what coal equivalent they consume for their output.

    Table 9 of "Energy Trends", published monthly and available in the Library of the House, contains figures for fuel used and electricity generated by the public supply system in the United Kingdom and in England and Wales. A detailed breakdown of the electricity generated by steam plant—other than nuclear—is not available on a monthly basis. The latest available percentage shares of gross electricity supplied (1) for the public supply system in Great Britain by type of station relate to the financial year 1975–76 and are given in the following table:

    Type of StationPercentage share
    Nuclear power—
    Electricity Boards(2)9·9
    UKAEA & BNFL1·4
    Oil fired(2)9·9
    Coal fired(2)(3)66·8
    Mixed fired(2)(3)(4)9·4
    Other(5)2·6
    100·0
    (1) Gross electricity supplied is total electricity generated less electricity used on works for lighting and auxiliary power, and includes electricity supplied by pumped storage stations. Electricity purchased from sources other than UKAEA and BNFL are excluded but these are small relative to the total.
    (2) Includes associated diesel and gas turbine plant, except where such plant comprises a separate section of a station, when it is shown against "other" stations.
    (3) Stations, or sections of stations, burning pulverised fuel also use oil for lighting up purposes.
    (4) Stations with a mixture of coal, oil or natural gas fired boilers.
    (5) Diesel engine, gas turbine, hydro-electric (including pumped storage) stations, or sections of stations. Includes the net amount supplied from all stations pre-commissioned or de-commissioned in the period.
    Information on fuel consumption corresponding exactly to the electricity supplied by the stations in the above table is not readily available, but the following table shows, in terms of coal or coal equivalent, the shares of the separate fuels which were used in 1975–76:

    Type of FuelMillion tons of coal or coal equivalent
    Nuclear(1)—
    Electricity Boards9·3
    UKAEA & BNFL1·5
    Oil for firing boilers(2)14·4
    Oil for lighting up boilers(3)2·4
    Coal(4)74·2
    Natural gas(5)3·5
    Other(6)1·9
    Total107·2
    (1) Expressed in the terms of the primary fuels that would be needed if the same amount of electricity was produced in contemporary conventional steam stations.
    (2) Used in oil fired stations, and oil fired sections of mixed fired stations.
    (3) Used in coal fired stations, and pulverised coal fired sections of mixed fired stations. Also used for flame control and overburning.
    (4) Used in coal fired stations, and coal fired sections of mixed fired stations. Includes a small quantity of coke.

    (5 ) Used in mixed fired stations.

    (6 ) Includes oil used for diesel engine and gas turbine stations, or sections, and hydroelectricity expressed in terms of the primary fuels that would be needed if the same amount of electricity was produced in conventional stations.

    Offshore Oil (Licensing System)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether the Government concept of a minimum selling price for oil involves a system of import licensing similar to that recommended by the Government to the European Commission over a minimum reference price for steel.

    Her Majesty's Government consider that a minimum safeguard price for oil in the EEC should be maintained by means of an external levy. If this system were adopted, it would be unlikely to involve an import licensing system.

    North Sea Oil And Gas

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy, of the 248 million cubic metres of gas per month currently being flared from seven producing oilfields in the North Sea, if he will allocate the volume flared to each field.

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether the Auk oilfield is consistently producing beyond its original estimated maximum production rate of 40,000 barrels per day; and, if so, by how much.

    Model clause 31 of petroleum production licences constrains the publication of individual as opposed to aggregate information. However, through the United Kingdom Offshore Operators Association, licensees will be consulted about the publication of more information about individual fields.

    Gas Gathering Pipe Lines (North Sea) Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give the percentage holdings of all the participants in Gas Gathering Pipe Lines (North Sea) Ltd, and the expected date of the company's report.

    As my right hon. Friend announced in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Dunbartonshire, West (Mr. Campbell) on 1st April, the private sector participation in Gas Gathering Pipelines (North Sea) Ltd. has now been agreed. Four companies, BP, ICI, RTZ and Total/Elf, will hold one-third of the shares equally divided between them. The remainder of the shares will be held by British Marine Pipelines Ltd., a public sector holding company jointly owned by the British Gas Corporation and the British National Oil Corporation.GGP has been asked to submit an initial report to my right hon. Friend by 31st December 1977, updated by the end of March 1978.

    Empty Houses (Fuel Industries)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) how many empty houses are owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board in the following areas: Greater London, Avon, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Warwickshire, Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the West Midlands, respectively; which have been empty for up to six months, one year, two years, and more than two years; and which are surplus to requirements;(2) how many empty houses are owned by the National Coal Board in the following areas: Greater London, Avon, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Warwickshire, Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the West Midlands, respectively; which have been empty for up to six months, one year, two years, and more than two years; and which are surplus to requirements.

    I am asking the Chairmen of the Electricity Council and the National Coal Board to write to the hon. Member.

    Auk Oilfield

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether his Department is satisfied that good operating practices are now being employed on the Auk field, in view of the fact that separators on the Auk platform overheated during testing of oil flow rates exceeding 90,000 bpd.

    We are satisfied that good operating practices are being employed on the Auk field. The separators did not overheat at 90,000 bpd. It was the inverse that happened; the oil leaving the hot reservoir rock did not cool down as rapidly when flowing to surface at high rates as when at low rates. At these higher temperatures, additional gas is liberated from the oil at surface within the separators. This loss of liquifyable element of hydrocarbon has been eliminated by adding oil coolers to the platform and gas coolers to the gas flare line.

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether Shell has at any time reported to the Department escape of oil to the sea from the Auk field installations; and whether such reports were attributable to tanker loading operations, escapes via the flare stack or from any other source.

    On 13th January 1976, Shell reported to the Department a spillage of an estimated 50 barrels of oil attributable to tanker loading operations. Successful clean-up operations were completed by a standby vessel within five hours.

    Departmental Staff

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give his estimate of the percentage of persons employed in his Department who left the department in 1976 for reasons other than having reached retirement age.

    Trade

    Hotels (Charges)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he intends to introduce compulsory displays in hotels; and whether he will make a statement.

    Extensive discussions have been held with the industry about providing guests with adequate information in advance about their charges for accommodation. I am glad to say that a new code of booking practice will be voluntarily introduced in time for this year's main holiday season in establishments with four or more guest bedrooms. The main feature will be that, before a booking is taken up, managements abid- ing by the code will give the customer a card at reception stating the total charge for his room and meals included in the booking, taking account of VAT and any service charge. Certain other basic particulars about the accommodation will be included, such as the provision or otherwise of a private bathroom.Publishers of some leading accommodation guides have taken part in the discussions leading to the introduction of the code. Furthermore, I have been given to understand that from 1978 onwards those guides will list establishments agreeing to observe this code, and I am inviting other publishers to extend this principle to their guides.These arrangements, which will enable guests to check the prospective minimum charge for their own bookings from the start, go rather further than could be required by order, and I hope they will prove to be but a start to raising the booking services provided in our tourist trade. I congratulate the industry on their establishment.My colleagues, the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales, and I also wish to provide for the display in the reception areas of hotels maximum and minimum overnight charges, and discussions are being held with local authority organisations and others concerned with a view to introducing an order in this Parliament to require such display under Section 18 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969.

    Real Estate Fund Of America

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement about his Department's investigation of the Real Estates Fund of America under the Companies Act.

    My Department has not investigated the Real Estates Fund of America Ltd. under the Companies Acts. As I have previously told my hon. Friend, the Department's inquiries were made into two London-based companies connected with this company.

    Cuba (Technology)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what British technology has been transferred to Cuba under the May 1975 agreement in the fields of port and harbour development, transport, airport and communication developments, chemicals and petrochemicals, food and refrigeration or equipment or supplies in the public health sector; and whether any such technology has been used to support the Cuban invasion of Angola.

    None. The Anglo. Cuban Agreement to which the hon. Member refers provides for economic and industrial co-operation. No projects have yet come to fruition specifically as a result of that agreement.

    Bankruptcy (Discharge)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the implementation date of proposals for automatic discharge from bankruptcy as included in the Insolvency Act 1976.

    Subject to the Advisory Committee appointed under Section 10 of the Insolvency Act 1976 clearing necessary amendments to the bankruptcy rules, it is hoped to bring Section 7 of the Act (automatic discharge of bankrupts) into force on 1st June 1977.

    Common Fund

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what estimate has been made of the loss or gain to the United Kingdom balance of payments of the Common Fund proposals for commodity stabilisation; what commodities will be covered by these proposals; and who will administer the Common Fund.

    At the recent UNCTAD Common Fund Conference there was a wide measure of consensus that the aim of a fund should be to stabilise commodity prices around longer-term market trends. On such a basis the long-term effect on the United Kingdom balance of trade would be neutral. The financial structure, commodity coverage, and management of a fund would depend on further negotiations which, as I replied today to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth), it is proposed should be resumed later this year.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the outcome of the negotiating conference on a common fund which was held in Geneva.

    The United Nations Negotiating Conference on a Common Fund ended on 3rd April. The conference did not adopt a formal decision or resolution. Instead the chairman, Ambassador Walker of Jamaica, made a statement in which he summed up his understanding of the principal developments during the session and invited the conference to reconvene not later than November this year.Following is the Chairman's statement:

  • "1. This Conference was convened in pursuance of resolution 93 (IV) for the negotiation of a Common Fund under the Integrated Programme for Commodities.
  • 2. During the course of the negotiations the developing countries affirmed their unanimous commitment to the establishment of a Common Fund, to serve as the main instrument for attaining the objectives of the Integrated Programme for Commodities as embodied in Conference Resolution 93 (IV) and to function as the central source of finance for specific objectives and purposes as outlined in a preliminary way in Annex I to document TD/B/IPC/CT/8. In this context, the Group of 77 also submitted to the Conference the draft decision contained in TD/IPC/CP/CONF/CW/L.1.
  • 3. China supported the proposals made by the developing countries. Some Group B countries supported, or were prepared to support, the proposals made by the developing countries, while a number of developed countries also expressed their readiness to participate in and financially support a Common Fund.
  • 4. Group B submitted a discussion paper in Annex I to TD/B/IPC/CP/6 and a provisional position paper in TD/IPC/CP/CONF/L.3.
  • 5. The countries members of the European Economic Community agreed that there should be a Common Fund. Other developed countries stated that they were prepared to consider, with a positive and open attitude, the establishment of a common funding arrangement.
  • 6. The countries members of Group D agreed in principle with the idea of a Common Fund in the framework of the Integrated Programme for Commodities.
  • 7. Although it was not possible to proceed further at this session, it appears to me that there is a large consensus that a Common Fund should be established in accordance with resolution 93 (IV) to serve as a main instrument of the Integrated Programme for Commodities. In the light of this, there is agreement that the Conference reconvene at a plenipotentiary level to complete its work.
  • 8. Taking into account the urgency which the Conference attaches to this work and the time-table agreed upon in Nairobi it would seem desirable that the Conference should reconvene not later than November 1977. To this end the Secretary-General of UNCTAD is requested:
  • (1) to propose specific dates for the reconvened session of the Conference for approval by the Trade and Development Board at the second part of its sixteenth session;
  • (2) to make the necessary arrangements in the light of the decision of the Trade and Development Board;
  • (3) to conduct such consultations as may be appropriate in order to facilitate the work of the reconvened Conference, in consultation with the President of the Conference and taking into account the terms of reference and the programme of work of the ad hoc Intergovernmental Committee for the Integrated Programme for Commodities."
  • Transport

    Speed Limits

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the outcome of the Government's consultations about the national speed limits; and if he will make a statement.

    As I told the hon. Gentleman the Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Budgen) this afternoon, with effect from 1st June I and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales propose to restore the 70 mph limit on dual-carriageway roads and to raise the limit for single-carriageway roads to 60 mph.In reaching this decision we have taken careful note of the replies to the consultation letter which was sent last November to more than 50 representative organisations, seeking their views on the right level for national speed limits on roads other than motorways.The 50 and 60 mph limits were introduced in December 1974 in the light of the urgent need to cut fuel imports. The response to the consultation letter shows that the continuing need for fuel economy is recognised, but there is a broad measure of agreement that this is best achieved by prudent driving habits. Speed limits are most likely to command respect if they are fixed at a level which reflects safety and traffic considerations. This accords with the policy which has been advocated for many years in relation to local speed limits, and we accept the view that the same principles should apply to the fixing of the national limits.

    Surveys have shown that a significant proportion of drivers have been exceeding the 50 and 60 mph limits and that compliance fell between 1975 and 1976. Those findings suggest that if the present limits are continued they would be difficult to enforce to the extent needed to maintain respect for road traffic law.

    The decision to revert to 70 mph for dual-carriageway roads takes into account that some of these roads are nearly of motorway standard and they all physically separate the opposing streams of traffic. But some stretches of dual-carriageway road will need to be kept at 60 mph for safety reasons, and these lower limits will be signed.

    Many representative organisations thought that on single carriageway roads the speed limit should not be as high as on motorways and other roads separating the two streams of traffic. Nearly all European countries have a lower limit for ordinary highways. In raising the limit on single carriageway roads to 60 mph, I do not expect present driving speeds to rise to any significant extent, but it will assist road safety by providing a better margin for the safe overtaking of slow vehicles, and reducing the frustration which causes some drivers to take risks. It should also help the police to enforce the law by enabling them to concentrate on those who drive irresponsibly fast. If, as I hope, drivers generally respect of the 60 mph limit on single carriageway roads, it will serve the interest of fuel economy as well.

    Under the provisions of the Road Traffic (Regulation) Act 1967 the initial order imposing the new limits will not be laid before Parliament, but would need to be extended by a continuation order—subject to annulment by resolution of the House—after 18 months.

    Railways

    16.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions have been held between his Department and the British Railways Board on proposals to maintain the present limit on Government financial support for rail passenger services and investment for a further five years beyond 1981; and if he will make a statement.

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions have been held between his Department and the British Railways Board on proposals to maintain the present limit on Government financial support for rail passengers services and investment for a further five years beyond 1981; and if he will make a statement.

    My officials have been examining with the British Railways Board the detailed implications of maintaining the present levels of support and investment beyond 1981, but no decisions have yet been taken.

    31.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will consider the public financing of the permanent way of British Railways' routes on the same basis as the financing of motorways and trunk roads.

    As I told my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, South (Mr. Spearing) on 28th March, Government support to railway operations in 1976 in fact exceeded their track and signalling costs.

    33.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport on the basis of a railway system of how many track miles his White Paper on transport policy will be based.

    The White Paper will set out an important and continuing rôle for the railways. I do not expect it to specify a total length of track.

    36.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has received to reduce the existing rail network by 2,500 track miles; and if he will make a statement.

    Harbours (Derelict Craft)

    25.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport, in view of the hazards caused by derelict craft in harbours to children and other craft using the harbours, and the risk of serious accidents, if he will take steps to empower local authorities and port authorities to remove such derelict craft in default of action by the owner.

    Most harbour authorities already have a variety of such powers, but I am arranging to consult the British Ports Association and the National Ports Council about the adequacy of these for dealing with incidents where a derelict craft or object might be a danger to the general public or to children.

    Parking (City Centres)

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he is yet ready to make a statement on restrictions on city centre parking.

    We have received a wide response to recent consultation documents, and my decisions will be announced in the forthcoming White Paper.

    Investment

    35.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received about the levels of investment which must be maintained to guarantee the availability of a modern efficient transport system in the 1980's; and if he will make a statement.

    Many organisations have made representations about levels of investment, most of them seeking an increased provision for one or other form of transport. I shall set out my conclusions in my forthcoming White Paper.

    Walking

    34.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department takes to encourage walking as a means of transport.

    About 40 per cent. of all journeys are made entirely on foot, and I therefore naturally attach great importance to the increasing provision of pedestrian facilities. This is mainly a responsibility of local authorities, but my Department has an active programme of research, issues general advice and is very ready to help with particular initiatives.

    Bus Lanes

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what study he is making of the effectiveness of bus lanes.

    The effects of bus lanes on buses, other traffic and road safety are the subject of many recent and current studies by the Deparment and TRRL in collaboration with local authorities.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the effectiveness of bus priority lanes, reducing delays in journey times through congested traffic.

    Bus lanes, when satisfactorily located and designed, can reduce bus journey times without appreciably delaying other traffic.

    A52

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish an order for the trunking of the A52 between Nottingham and the A1 near Grantham; and what has caused the delay in publishing the order since his reply to a parliamentary Question to the hon. Member for Rushcliffe on 12th November 1976.

    Schoolchildren's Fares

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, in the light of the raising of the school leaving age over a period of years, he will initiate discussions with the National Bus Company and with British Railways to raise the age at which they charge full fares for children from 14 years to 16 years of age for journeys to and from school.

    This is a matter for the commercial judgment of individual bus and rail operators, and I am sure they are aware of the issues involved.

    Tyres

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if it would be possible for MOT application forms, in relation to heavy goods vehicles, to make provision for the inclusion of the serial number of each tyre on the vehicle.

    I doubt whether such a provision would benefit road safety, since a certificate of roadworthiness can only relate to the condition of the vehicle at the time it was tested. Tyres, like other items of equipment subject to testing, may legitimately be changed between one annual test and the next. The real safeguard is that it is an offence to use or sell a vehicle with tyres which do not meet the legal requirements.

    Kidney Donor Cards

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he will extend the scheme for issuing kidney donor cards with driving licences to all renewed licences; and if he will extend it to include other organis such as corneas.

    A re-examination of the practicability of issuing kidney donor cards with all driving licences will be concluded shortly; and I will consider the right hon. Member's further suggestion with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services.

    Roads (Maintenance)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has considered the statement of the Wiltshire County Council in its transport policies and programme submissions for 1977–78 that considerable lengths of principal an dnon-principal roads have become structurally weak; and whether, in the light of this statement, he will reconsider the terms of his Department's circular 1/77 in which it is claimed that maintenance standards are still proving acceptable.

    The maintenance of roads which are not trunk roads is the responsibility of the local authority. It is for the authority to establish its own priorities. I note, from Wiltshire County Council's statement in its submission for 1977–78, that priority will be given to expenditure on surface dressing and structural maintenance at the expense of routine maintenance—for example, sweeping and grass cutting. This accords with the advice given in Circular 1/77. I se no reason at present to reconsider the terms of that circular.

    Colchester Railway Station

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions on capital investment he has had with the Chairman of British Railways regarding the extended delays in bringing into operation the new single deck car park at Colchester Station; and what adverse impact on other capital programmes these have caused in the East Anglian region.

    County Councils

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he will seek powers to channel support to British Railways for uneconomic rail services through the county councils with a view to involving counties in consideration of rail problems;(2) what steps he is proposing to take to ensure a more thorough co-ordination of public transport by county councils;(3) what steps he is taking to encourage county councils to give greater consideration to rail transport and, where appropriate, to ensure that unnecessary competition between rail and bus services is eliminated.

    Metropolitan county councils already have powers to integrate and develop passenger transport services by road and rail. Elsewhere, county councils have a statutory duty to develop policies to promote the provision of a co-ordinated and efficient system of public transport in consultation with bus operators and, as appropriate, the Railways Board. I am considering whether any changes in the present arrangements are needed.

    Questionnaires

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what was the number of different questionnaires requiring an answer which were sent out by his Department in 1976; and how many of each sort were sent out;(2) what was the number of different questionnaires requiring answer sent out by agencies of his Department; and how many of each sort were sent for the most recent year for which this information is available.

    During 1976 there were 39 different statistical inquiries conducted for the Department, either directly or by TRRL and other bodies. This includes 13 home interview surveys totalling 95,000 questionnaires, six postal surveys to individuals totalling 80,000 questionnaires, two roadside car surveys in which about 1 million motorists were asked their journey details. Five regular inquiries of the bus and road haulage industries involved a total of 32,000 returns from operators. There were 11 research surveys that in total interviewed 25,000 people either in public places or at work. There were two postal inquiries of local authorities.

    Motor Cars (Insurance Write-Offs)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when, and in which areas, it is intended to conduct a survey into the incidence of repairs carried out on motor cars which have been classified for insurance purposes as write-offs; and whether he will make a statement.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given earlier today to the hon. Members for Flint, West (Sir A. Meyer) and Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle).

    Bradford (Interchange)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether there was a subsidy given to enable the city of Bradford, Yorkshire, to complete its new transport interchange.

    Yes. The interchange was first assisted by specific grant under Section 56 of the Transport Act 1968. Subsequently the costs of construction became eligible expenditure for the non-specific transport supplementary grant on its introduction in April 1975. West Yorkshire County Council assumed financial responsibility for the project in 1974.

    Transport Supplementary Grant (Yorkshire)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what further representations he has had from South Yorkshire on the question of the transport supplementary grant.

    The leader of the county council wrote to me recently, and I have said that I would be prepared to meet him at a convenient time.

    Mersey Tunnel Tolls

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the Mersey Tunnel tolls.

    I have given careful thought to Merseyside County Council's application for increases in tolls and for an extension of its capitalisation powers under Section 3 of the Mersey Tunnel Act 1972. I agree with the county council that immediate toll increases are necessary. I have, there fore, made the order to give effect to its proposals. The new charges which will come into effect on 1st June are:

    New(Old)
    Pedal cyclesFree(1)
    Motor cycles and 3-wheelers15p(10)
    Cars and light vehicles not exceeding 3 tons unladen25p(20)
    Coaches and goods vehicles over 3 tons unladen60p(50)
    But the financial situation of the tunnels undertaking will remain serious. Even with the increases the council will be borrowing large sums to meet interest charges on its loans and adding each year to the public sector borrowing requirement. Revenue from users will still fall considerably short of expenditure.Users of estuary crossings like the Mersey Tunnels receive exceptional benefits from these expensive facilities, and I, like my predecessors, think it right that those who benefit should meet the cost. I have, therefore, asked the council to examine again urgently the tunnels' finances and to bring forward as soon as possible proposals for such further toll increases as it will need to put its finances progressively on to a sounder base. These further proposals will be published so that, although there is no statutory obligation to hold a public inquiry, they may be made the subject of an inquiry which will cover the whole prospective financial situation of the Mersey Tunnels.In the meantime I have informed the council that I am not prepared to extend its borrowing powers beyond 31st March next year.

    Environment

    Otters

    38.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what representations he has received from the Nature Conservancy Council following completion of the interim report of the working party, set up by the Council in conjunction with the Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation, on the current status of the otter; and if he will make a statement.

    No representations have yet been received. I understand that the working party's draft interim report is currently being considered by the governing bodies of the Nature Conservancy Council and the Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservation.

    Gipsies

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the Cripps Report on Gipsies has now been published; and if he will make a statement.

    The report was published today; copies have been placed in the Library. My right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales have long been concerned about the mounting evidence of dangerous tensions between gipsies and house dwellers, of which the lack of caravan sites for gipsies is the basic cause. They commend the report as a throughtful and concise analysis of the many problems connected with the provision of adequate accommodation for gipsies.Some of the recommendations endorse the Departments' present policies and the work now in progress; others if adopted would mean new policies and in some instances new legislation. However, no decisions will be taken on the new proposals until the completion of the wide-ranging consultations now being initiated; comments and suggestions on the report and its recommendations are wanted—preferably by the end of July—from all those concerned in any way with this difficult subject. In the meantime the Departments will continue to assist and advise, and to carry out discussions with authorities and groups of authorities with a view to assessing the scale of need for sites and to establishing timetables for their provision.I shall be visiting a number of areas in England to see the situation for myself and talk about it to the people concerned.

    Air Pollution

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what air quality control requirements exist in the United Kingdom; and how these requirements relate to those of other countries.

    In the United Kingdom there is a very wide range of controls over industrial, domestic and vehicular emissions into the atmosphere. I will write to the hon. Member with details. Most other industrial countries have broadly similar measures.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what pollutants are released by nuclear power stations, oil-fired power stations and coal-fired power stations.

    The principal discharge into the atmosphere from nuclear power stations is carbon dioxide, together with some radioactive contaminants, namely, tritiated water vapour, sulphur 35, argon 41 and small amounts of other radionuclides.Discharges into the atmosphere from oil-fired power stations include carbon dioxide, water vapour, sulphur dioxide, particulates, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and trace elements.The airborne effluents from coal-fired stations are similar to those released from oil-fired stations. The particulates emitted are mainly inert, but can contain trace quantities of a large number of elements present in the coal and do include radionuclides.Liquid effluents containing some pollutants are also released from all three types of power station. In the case of nuclear power stations, these contain traces of radionuclides.

    Building Cost Yardstick

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what provisions he makes in relation to the cost yardstick for housebuilding to allow for the differences in building costs between various of England.

    Differences in building costs between one part of the country and another are reflected through a series of regional variations to the basic yardstick cost tables. These variations are set out in DOE Circular 61/75.

    Animals (Legislation)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if his Department frequently includes in controls on endangered species' products phrases, such as specified in his reply to the hon. Member for Isle of Wight, at column 130 supra, which have no significance in relation to the control of those products; and if he will ensure that, in future, the wording of all proposed controls is referred to the relevant scientific authority under the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976.

    My Department is always ready to improve the clarity of such controls when the need to do so arises. I already consult the relevant scientific authority on all scientific matters in connection with the administration of the Act.

    Property Services Agency

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is the present staffing establishment of the supplies division of the Property Services Agency; and what is the total annual cost to public funds of this division, including provision for salaries and administrative overseas;(2) what was the value of the supplies procerud by the supplies division of the Property Services Agency for 1976–77; and whether he will break down the total to show specific costs of the major items of expenditure.(3) when the first annual accounts for the; supplies division of the Property Services Agency since it was set up as a trading fund will be published; and what target rate of return on net assets employed has been set for the fund for the 1977–78 financial year.

    The activities of the Supplies Division of the Property Services Agency were put on a trading fund basis from 1st April 1976 and renamed PSA Supplies. A full report and accounts on the first year's trading will be published when available, with appropriate breakdowns of sales, costs and revenues in accordance with commercial practice, and showing clearly how far the financial objective—effectively 12 per cent. return on capital—has been achieved.The present staff in post is put at 4,040.

    Fire Precautions (Maisonettes)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will arrange an investigation of the particular fire hazard of split type maisonettes, in view of the recent fire in Liverpool when children were burned to death.

    The Building Regulations Advisory Committee is to examine the question of fire precaution requirements in domestic premises generally and I shall ask it to consider the circumstances of this tragic fire in the course of its review.

    New Towns Commission

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is now able to make a statement on the future of the Commission for the New Towns.

    Following the transfer to local authorities of rented housing the Commission for the New Towns will not have a housing rôole. It will, however, have a vital part to play in securing the orderly wind-up of development corporations and in the management of the very substantial commercial and industrial assets which have been created in our new towns by Exchequer funding. But the natural aspirations of local authorities to own and manage public sector property provided under the New Towns Act in their areas must be taken into account. I propose, therefore, in consultation with the interested parties, to consider how and on what terms other community related property, for example, parks, woodlands and open spaces, may be transferred from the Commission, and indeed from development corporations in the period after housing transfer to the relevant local authorities. I will also consider whether a local authority should be able, in due course, to acquire commercial and industrial property from the Commission for the New Towns if it wished to do so and had the resources.My policy is to strike a balance between the need to ensure that the major commercial and industrial assets are managed in the national interest and a recognition of the right of the local community to influence its own development.

    Severn Bridge

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details in the Official Report of the allocation of the costs, by spending programme and Department, of the remedial work that is currently taking place on the Severn Bridge, and of the remedial work that has occurred since the construction of the bridge.

    I have been asked to reply.The costs of all remedial and maintenance work on the Severn Bridge are allocated by the Department of Transport in accordance with the Severn Bridge Tolls Act 1965. I am not readily able to give more detail than is published in the annual accounts.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimates have been made of the expected useful life of the Severn Bridge; and if no such estimates have been made, whether he will consider commissioning them and announce the findings.

    I have been asked to reply.In common with all new highway bridges built for the Department, the bridge is designed for a life of at least 120 years and it will be maintained to meet this requirement.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details in the Official Report of all strengthening operations carried out on the Severn Bridge since its construction which have subsequently proved ineffective, together with the names of the firms responsible for the deficient repairs.

    There have been no strengthening operations carried out on the Severn Bridge which have subsequently proved ineffective.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give details in the Official Report of the structural deficiencies that have been detected since the Severn Bridge was opened, together with an estimate of the cost of remedying each of them.

    I have been asked to reply.In addition to routine maintenance, the following items have required attention:

  • 1. Flotation diaphragms. Temporary diaphragms were provided to enable 60 ft. sections of the deck to be floated from the construction yard to the site. The connection between these and the deck had to be released in 1971 to avoid detrimental effects to the structure. The cost was not large and is not identifiable.
  • 2. Intermediate diaphragms. These were stiffened in 1975 in accordance with the Merrison recommendations at a cost of approximately £564,000.
  • 3. End diaphragms and rocker assemblies. During the reappraisal of the design the end support assemblies were found to be inadequate for certain unlikely but possible loading conditions. Remedial work is urgently in hand at present at an estimated cost of about £200,000.
  • 4. Deck trough stiffener welds. About 20 short cracks have been detected in a total length of 75 miles of weld. Arrangements for their repair is in hand. The cost has not been established.
  • Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Food Prices

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Newham, South, Official Report, 30th March, column 420, he will study the 1971 estimate of the annual increase in the price of food consequent to United Kingdom entry to the EEC, and provide his estimate of the actual figures.

    The right hon. Member for Sidcup (Mr. Heath) estimated that membership of the EEC would affect food prices gradually over a period of about six years, with an increase of about 2½ per cent. each year in retail food prices. Between February 1973 and February 1977 the index of retail food prices increased by 118 per cent., but I cannot estimate the proportion attributable to our membership of the Community.

    Anthrax

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the current trend in the incidence of anthrax and the measures being taken to counter this disease.

    There has been an increase recently in the number of cases of anthrax in livestock. During the last month, 18 cases have occurred in Salop, nine in Hereford and Worcester and 11 in fairly widely scattered locations. Some of the 11 may be connected with those in the main area involved. Information so far points to an imported vegetable feed ingredient. Feed compounders are co-operating with the Ministry and local authorities in attempting to trace and identify affected feeds. Wherever anthrax is diagnosed, affected carcases are destroyed by burning or buried under the supervision of the local authority diseases of animals inspectors, and the parts of the premises involved are throughly disinfected.

    Floods (London Warning System)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied that the London tidal flood warning system gives adequate safeguards to people who live or work in London; and whether he will make a statement.

    The present arrangement for a tidal flood warning in London have been in existence since 1968. Since then the river walls have been increased in height to reduce the risk of flooding until the Thames Barrier is completed. Nevertheless an adequate warning system is still essential and we have, therefore, recently reviewed the arrangements in consultation with the authorities concerned.As a result of this review we have decided to improve the warning system by issuing a public alert about four hours ahead of expected flooding. This alert will serve two purposes. First it will help to ensure that people in the risk areas will be listening for the warning sirens which will still be sounded one hour ahead of expected flooding; and second, it will enable commuters to avoid being seriously inconvenienced by the disruption of public transport which will occur when the one hour warning is given. Details of the new system are being worked out by the authorities concerned with a view to bringing it into operation at the beginning of the 1977–78 flood season. Publicity will be given to the new arrangements during the summer.I should emphasise that the existing warning system will continue to operate until the end of April when the present flood season comes to an end.

    Eggs

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what new system of grading of eggs in the United Kingdom will be required under EEC Regulations; and if he will make a statement.

    A five weight grade system for eggs is currently in use in the United Kingdom. When we joined the Community we agreed to adopt the EEC seven weight grade system, but a five-year derogation was allowed to give our industry time to adapt, and this ends on 31st December 1977. The relative merits of five and seven weight grade systems have been widely discussed in trade and producer circles in the Community but this has not let to unanimous agreement for changing the present EEC system.Representatives of all sectors of the United Kingdom trade and a representative of the Consumers Association, who met officials of our Department on 24th March, were agreed that it was now right to plan to make the necessary changeover to the EEC system by the end of the year. The industry sees advantage in carrying through the change during a limited period and envisages that this should be in the autumn. The aim will be to make the changeover as smooth and trouble free as possible. My Department will keep in close touch with those concerned and will give all the help and advice it can.

    Imprisonment (Appeals)

    asked the Attorney-General (1) how many appeals against sentences of imprisonment were finally considered after the sentences had been served in each of the past five years;(2) what has been the average time between sentence and the final consideration of an appeal against sentence in cases tried (

    a) in the magistrates' court and ( b) in the Crown Court in each of the past five years.

    I regret that this information is not available and cannot be obtained without an expenditure of time and manpower which would not be justified. However, both the Court of Appeal and the Crown Court take special care to ensure that appeals involving short custodial sentences are expedited and priority is given to the disposal of such appeals. If the hon. Member has any specific case in mind I shall be glad to look into it.

    Court Sentences (Appeals)

    asked the Attorney-General how many appeals against sentence from (a) the magistrates' courts and (b) the Crown Court were considered in each of the past five years.

    This information is readily available in the Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, which are published annually and presented to Parliament.

    Defence

    Languages

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Arabic;(2) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Portuguese;(3) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Polish;(4) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Persian;

    (5) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Japanese;

    (6) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Chinese;

    (7) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in German;

    (8) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Italian;

    (9) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in French;

    (10) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Spanish;

    (11) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Russian;

    (12) how many officers and Ministry of Defence personnel are trained each year to obtain a certified proficiency in Czech.

    The numbers of Service officers and Ministry of Defence civilians who receive language training to a certified level of proficiency vary from year to year. Following are the figures which are immediately available for 1976:

    LanguageService OfficersMinistry of Defence Civilians
    Arabic88
    Chinese91
    Czech
    French5523
    GermanApproximately 1,27016
    Italian7
    Japanese5
    Persian3
    Polish2
    Portuguese51
    Russian402
    Spanish84
    The figures for Ministry of Defence civilians are those which are recorded centrally. To produce more comprehensive statistics would involve a disproportionate amount of time and effort.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many people working on defence sales have passed a Civil Service proficiency examination in Portuguese;(2) how many people working on defence sales have passed a Civil Service proficiency examination in Arabic;(3) how many people working on defence sales have passed a Civil Service proficiency examination in Persian.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many of the military/naval/air force attachés serving in Iran, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the USSR, Indonesia, Japan, China, Korea, Egypt, France, Syria, Iraq, Israel, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Italy and West Germany have passed a Civil Service examination in the language of the country to which they are accredited.

    18; and a further four have passed an examination set by the Armed Forces.

    Island Class Ships

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the operational and maximum speeds of the new Island Class patrol boats.

    The operational speed is varied to suit particular circumstances; the maximum speed is 16 knots. This is sufficient for normal patrolling duties, but there are faster ships available, such as frigates, which can be called up to support Island Class vessels if the need arises.

    Hms "Brinton"

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the maximum speed of H.M.S. "Brinton".

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate has been made of the maximum speed of the latest Russian trawlers.

    The maximum speed of the latest Russian trawlers is estimated to be of the order of 17–19 knots. The great majority have design speeds of less than 15 knots.

    Trawlers

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the highest speed found in the study of the trawlers built in 1976.

    The highest speed found in the study, which excluded Soviet vessels, was 18 knots. Only 5 per cent. of some 100 trawlers considered were capable of more than 15 knots.

    Icelandic Gunboat "Thor"

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what estimate has been made of the operational and maximum speeds of the Icelandic gunboat "Thor"

    I understand that the maximum speed is about 17 knots and that the operational speed is varied to suit particular circumstances.

    Houses

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many empty houses are owned by the Civil Defence section and the Territorial Army section of the Ministry of Defence in the following areas: Greater London, Avon, Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Warwickshire, Sussex, Kent, Hampshire and the West Midlands, respectively; which have been empty for up to six months, one year, two years, and more than two years; and which are surplus to requirements.

    No married quarters owned by the Ministry of Defence are specifically held for personnel concerned with Civil Defence or serving with the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve. Information about married quarters owned by the County Associations of the Territorial Army Volunteer Reserve is not available and could not be obtained without disproportionate effort.

    Expenditure

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence by how much extra, in real terms, British defence expenditure will increase in the year 1977–78 following his signature being put to the NATO Defence Planning Committee Communique of 7th and 8th December 1976.

    Civil Staff

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give his estimate of the percentage of persons employed in his Department who left the Department in 1976 for reasons other than having reached retirement age.

    About 7 per cent. of staff employed by this Department in 1976 left before reaching retirement age. This figure takes no account of personnel in the Regular Armed Forces, whose career structure is not comparable with that of civilian staff.

    Education And Science

    Tuition Fees

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she has any indications from universities and colleges of further education that the increased tuition fees for home-based postgraduate and undergraduate students is likely to encourage these bodies to concentrate on offering the more popular and therefore economically-run courses rather than less popular but industrially orientated courses.

    It is too early to say whether increased tuition fees for home students will affect the courses offered by universities and colleges.

    Languages

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) how many first degrees or equivalent in Italian were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(2) how many first degrees or equivalents in French were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(3) how many first degrees or equivalents in German were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (4) how many first degrees or equivalents in Portuguese were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (5) how many first degrees or equivalents in Persian were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (6) how many first degrees or equivalents in Arabic were obtain in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (7) how many first degrees or equivalents in Korean were obtain in 1966, 1970 and 1976.

    (8) how many first degrees or equivalents in Malay/Bahasa Indonesia were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    NUMBERS OF STUDENTS OBTAINING UNIVERSITY FIRST DEGREES IN GREAT BRITAIN

    Language

    Academic year 1965–66

    Academic year 1969–70

    Academic year 1974–75

    French1,9971,0891,002
    German513512
    French/German401324
    Hispanic languagesn.a.†175
    Other West European languages614†367
    Russiann.a.*195168
    Chinese7010127
    Other Oriental, Asian and African languages104
    n.a. = not available.

    * In 1965–66, 123 first degrees were awarded in Slavonic and East European languages.

    † Other West European languages include Hispanic languages.
    In addition, 50 students in the calendar year 1970 and 330 students in the calendar year 1975, obtained first degrees in languages awarded by the Council for National Academic Awards, mainly in joint language courses.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Chinese in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(2) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Korean in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(3) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Malay/Bahasa Indonesia in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(4) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in German in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(5) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Spanish in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(6) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Italian in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (9) how many first degrees or equivalents in Chinese were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (10) how many first degrees or equivalents in Spanish were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (11) how many first degrees or equivalents in Russian were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976;

    (12) how many first degrees or equivalents in Japanese were obtained in 1966, 1970 and 1976.

    The available information is as follows; students on joint language courses other than those indicated are excluded.(7) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Japanese in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(8) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in French in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(9) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Persian in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(10) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Portuguese in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(11) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash courses in Arabic in 1966, 1970 and 1976;(12) how many business men and engineers availed themselves of crash cousres in Russian in 1966, 1970 and 1976.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) at which specific institutions Japanese is taught to first degree standard;(2) at which specific institutions Chinese is taught to first degree standard;(3) at which specific institutions Russian is taught to first degree standard;(4) at which specific institutions Portuguese is taught to first degree standard;(5) at which specific institutions Persian is taught to first degree standard;(6) at which specific institutions Arabic is taught to first degree standard;(7) at which specific institutions Korean is taught to first degree standard;(8) at which specific institutions Malay/Bahasa Indonesia is taught to first degree standard.

    This information is published in "The Compendium of University Entrance Requirements for First Degree Courses in the United Kingdom, 1977–78", and the Council for National Academic Awards "Directory of First Degree Courses" Copies of these publications are available in the Library.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) how many institutions provide crash courses in French for business men and engineers;(2) how many institutions provide crash courses in German for business men and engineers;(3) how many institutions provide crash courses in Spanish for business men and engineers;(4) how many institutions provide crash courses in Italian for business men and engineers;(5) how many institutions provide crash courses in Chinese for business men and engineers;(6) how many institutions provide crash courses in Japanese for business men and engineers;(7) how many institutions provide crash courses in Russian for business men and engineers;

    (8) how many institutions provide crash courses in Portuguese for business men and engineers;

    (9) how many institutions provide crash courses in Arabic for business men and engineers;

    (10) how many institutions provide crash courses in Persian for business men and engineers;

    (11) how many institutions provide crash courses in Korean for business men and engineers;

    (12) how many institutions provide crash courses in Malay/Bahasa Indonesia for business men and engineers.

    Teachers (Mentally Handicapped Children)

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in addition to the programme announced in the Budget for training unemployed teachers in mathematics and science, she will also institute a programme of training unemployed teachers in the teaching of the mentally handicapped.

    Adult Education

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will make a statement on her Department's proposal to establish an Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education.

    The Department's outline proposal to establish an Advisory Council for Adult and Continuing Education has received widespread support from the many bodies consulted. I am now issuing a paper embodying my conclusions, which will form the basis of discussions on matters of detail with the major interested parties and enable me to make the final arrangements for the setting up of this body. Copies are available in the Library.

    Race Relations

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science to what extent the great debate on education takes account of the need to educate children for a multi-racial society.

    The importance of encouraging among children an understanding of the legitimate needs and aspirations of those of different ethnic origins and with different cultural traditions has been widely recognised by those taking part in the debate.

    Employment

    Thanet

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how much money has been allocated to date in Thanet under the job creation scheme; what are the estimates for the next 12 months; how this compares with the national average; and if he will make a statement.

    SponsorTotal MNC Grant £Number of JobsProject
    Thanet District Council62,82849Clearance and landscaping of derelict sites to provide allotments and amenity areas.
    Isle of Thanet Archaeological Unit (2 projects).19,82613Excavation and cataloguing of finds in a Bronze Age site and a Roman Building.

    Scotland

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many men were employed in the fishing, agriculture, forestry and steel industries, respectively, in Scotland five years ago, and at the latest count.

    Following is the information for June 1972 and June 1975, the latest date for which detailed employment figures are available for Scotland:

    MALE EMPLOYEES IN EMPLOYMENT IN SCOTLAND
    (Thousands)
    June1972June 1975
    Fishing (Minimum List Heading 003 of the Standard Industrial Classification)2·42·2
    Agriculture and horticulture (MLH 001)39·835·4
    Forestry (MLH 002)4·44·3
    Steel (MLHs 311 and 312)25·627·0

    Apprentices

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will review the assistance available to employers to encourage them to recruit more apprentices for recognised crafts and skills; and

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that grants totalling £82,654 have been allocated to three approved projects in Thanet which provide 62 jobs under the Job Creation Programme. As future allocations are dependent on the number of applications received and subsequently approved it is not possible to provide a forecast.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what projects have been undertaken under the Job Creation Programme in the Thanet area; and what was their cost to public funds.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the information is as follows.if he is satisfied with the number of young persons taking up apprenticeships.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the greater proportion of the £46 million, allocated on 3rd March to support training in industry in 1977–78, will be devoted to the creation of additional apprenticeships and other long-term training opportunities with employers. This further support follows a review by the Commission of existing measures. The level of support takes account of industries' assessments of their longer-term needs for skilled labour, and will ensure the continuation of a high intake of young people into training.

    Government And Employers

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list the responsibilities, of whatever nature, placed upon employers by the Government since February 1974.

    Responsibilities have been placed on employers under the following Acts in the employment field since February 1974. In certain instances these responsibilities have arisen under legislation enacted before February 1974 but not implemented until after that date:

    • Equal Pay Act 197.
    • Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974
    • Trade union and Labour Relations Acts 1974 and 1976
    • Employment Protection Act 1975
    • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
    • Race Relations Act 1975
    Of these items, the Race Relations Act and certain provisions of the Employmet Protection Act have not yet come into force.Inquiries regarding legislation outside the employment field should be addressed to the Departments concerned.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to extend his travel-to-work scheme for the disabled to those who will otherwise find it more expensive to continue working than to be totally dependent on benefit.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the fares to work scheme is currently under review. The point raised by the hon. Member will be borne in mind in this review, although some people in the category mentioned benefit from the present scheme.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to extend the information about the travel-to-work scheme for the disabled to those registered disabled persons who cannot drive and for whom the mobility allowance (a) cannot be paid or (b) will not cover their costs of travelling to work.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the fares to work scheme for disabled people does not discriminate between car drivers and non-drivers; but is designed to assist certain registered disabled persons whether or not they are in receipt of mobility allowance. The Employment Service Agency has recently issued a leaflet specifically about the scheme to publicise it more widely. I will make a copy of this leaflet available to the hon. Member. Disablement resettlement officers bring the scheme to the notice of those disabled people likely to benefit when employment prospects are being discussed.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many disabled people are registered as unemployed in the area of the Rotherham employment office.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 384], gave the following information:I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that on 10th March, the latest date on which information is available, 163 registered disabled people were unemployed in the Rotherham employment office area.

    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.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 29th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 98], circulated the following information:I am informed by the Chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the number of fatal accidents in agriculture in each year since 1970 which the agricultural inspectorate considered might have resulted from mechanical failure of agricultural tractors is as follows:

    1970
    19711
    1972
    1973
    19741
    1975
    1976

    In addition, there were fatal accidents where there was evidence of unsatisfactory maintenance which led to mechanical failure, as follows:

    19703
    19712
    1972
    19731
    19742
    1975
    19761
    The chairman also informed me that there is no classification of agricultural non-fatal accidents by degree of seriousness. Of the 43,775 non-fatal accidents to workers in agriculture reported to DHSS during 1970–76, 17,208 were investigated by agricultural safety inspectors. Of those involving serious injury

    the following numbers might have resulted from mechanical failure of agricultural tractors:

    19702
    1971
    19722
    1973
    19741
    19751
    19762

    In addition, among the serious non-fatal accidents investigated there was evidence of unsatisfactory maintenance which led to mechanical failure, as follows:

    19702
    19711
    19723
    19736
    1974
    19751
    1976

    Home Department

    Acklington Prison (Staff Quarters)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has offered, or intends to offer, to staff occupying married quarters close to Her Majesty's Prison, Acklington, the opportunity to transfer to the quarters near Acklington village.

    Some of the houses on the site near Acklington village are already occupied by prison staff. Applications have been received from staff to occupy the vacant quarters on this site, but the use of these houses is still under consideration and no decision has yet been reached.

    Police Chief Superintendent F Lambert

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to secure the reinstatement of former Chief Superintendent Fred Lambert of the Metropolitan Police, in view of the admission that he was wrongly obliged to retire in 1971.

    No. I am informed by the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that, in accordance with the authorised procedures, Mr. Lambert was retired in 1971 with an ill-health pension, on being certified medically unfit for further police service; the question of reinstatement does not arise.

    Immigration Control

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to review and tighten the administration of the law on immigration control, in view of the concern of many persons who are former immigrants whose relatives are not permitted to join them while others appear to circumvent the rules by means of education courses or business partnerships.

    My right hon. Friend announced on 9th February—[Vol. 925, c. 1433–1442]—that he was studying further action to check a number of attempted abuses of our immigration control.

    Parliamentary Elections (Deposits)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department to what amount the deposit, currently required from candidates in parliamentary elections, would have to be raised to take account of the effects of inflation from the time it was first fixed at £150.

    Official Secrets Act

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which nationalised industries are covered by the requirements of the Official Secrets Act.

    Section 2 of the Official Secrets Act 1911 applies to information belonging to the Post Office and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, because their employees are deemed by statute to be holders of an office under Her Majesty for this purpose. As explained in Appendix 1 to the Franks Report (p. 113) the position of some other public bodies is unclear. In addition, Section 2 applies to anyone entrusted with official information in confidence and anyone who receives official information knowing or having reasonable ground to believe that the information had been communicated to him in contravention of the 1911 Act. As the hon Member will know from my statement of 22nd November, the Government are proposing to bring before Parliament proposals for reforming Section 2 of the 1911 Act.

    Chief Constables

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why no confidential reports on chief constables are regularly prepared and considered; and if he will give attention to this management deficiency, where any shortcomings can have repercussive effects on entire forces.

    Under the Police Act 1964, the primary responsibility for the appointment of a Chief Constable and for the maintenance of an efficient police force rests with the police authority for the area concerned. I already receive regular reports from Her Majesty's Inspectors of Constabulary to assist me in discharging my responsibilities under the Act.

    Aliens

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many aliens holding work permits are currently resident in the United Kingdom; how many of them are actually in employment; and how this compares with the situation at the same time in each of the five preceding years.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to his Question of 31st March.—[Vol. 929, c. 199.] Stastics are not maintained of the number of foreign work permit holders currently resident in the United Kingdom. Nationals of EEC countries do not require work permits to take employment here. Neither I nor my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment have any figures of the number of permits holders who are actually in employment, but the proportion who are unemployed is likely to be very small because of the restricted circumstances in which work permits are issued by the Department of Employment.

    Armed Robbery

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to amend the law so as to make prison sentences mandatory for armed bank robbery.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will set in train consideration and con- sultation with interested parties, including the judiciary, of whether the law should be amended in order to make the imposition of prison sentences mandatory for those convicted of armed robbery.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people have been convicted (a) of armed robbery and (b) of armed robbery of a bank in particular during each of the last 10 years; and how many in each case have been awarded a suspended prison sentence.

    Information collected centrally on court proceedings relating to offences of robbery does not distinguish armed robberies or bank robberies. The available information for all types of robbery is as follows:

    PERSONS FOUND GUILTY OF OFFENCES OF ROBBERY AND GIVEN A SUSPENDED SENTENCE OF IMPRISONMENT—ENGLAND AND WALES
    YearFound guiltyGiven suspended sentence
    19661,702*
    19671,888*
    19682,123140
    19692,526156
    19702,612133
    19712,999120
    19723,415146
    19733,159132
    19742,767129
    19753,458196
    * This sentence was not available in these years.

    Police Act 1976

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he has made in implementing the Police Act 1976.

    I have made the Police Act 1976 (Commencement No. 2) Order 1977, which provides for the coming into force of all the provisions of the Act not yet in force. Except for Section 7, they will come into force on 1st June 1977; Section 7, which deals with constabularies maintained by authorities other than police authorities, will come into force on 1st September 1977. I made the order on 28th March, and it is published today.I have laid before the House today the main regulations which, with effect from 1st June, will govern the new procedures for the handling of complaints

    against the police introduced by the Police Act 1976 together with amended and consolidated Discipline Regulations for police officers. These regulations are:

    • The Police (Complaints) (General) Regulations 1977.
    • The Police (Copies of Complaints) Regulations 1977.
    • The Police (Discipline) Regulations 1977.
    • The Police (Discipline) (Senior Officers) Regulations 1977.
    • The Police (Amendment) Regulations 1977.
    • The Police Federation (Amendment) Regulations 1977.

    The Police (Withdrawn, Anonymous Etc. Complaints) Regulations 1977 which were approved in draft by both Houses of Parliament in March are also published today. All these regulations have, as appropriate, been the subject of consultation with the Police Advisory Board, the Police Council and the new Police Complaints Board.

    The new complaints procedure will apply only to complaints relating to events or conduct which occur on or after 1st June: there will be no retrospection. The revised disciplinary arrangements apply also only to disciplinary charges brought on or after 1st June.

    Industry

    Departmental Hospitality

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if it is the policy of his Department to avoid holding receptions in premises which are being picketed.

    Thanet

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has any plans to assist industrial development in Thanet; and if he will make a statement.

    Industry in Thanet is eligible for selective assistance to promote investment under the selective investment scheme and the various schemes for individual industries.

    Computers

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, in reviewing the Government's policy on preferential purchasing from ICL, he will take into account other investigative work which is taking place in relation to other sectors of the computer industry; and whether there will be overall consideration of the work going on throughout the industry leading to a strategy for the industry as a whole.

    The Government's internal review of computer procurement policy is being conducted against the background of other relevant studies of the data processing industry, including the work of the NEDC Computer Sector Working Party which is examining the industry as a whole within the industrial strategy.

    Power Plant Manufacturing

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he accepts the conclusion of the CPRS that if the power plant manufacturing industry is allowed to contract as a result of no action being taken by the Government the export potential of the industry would be severely impaired, the boiler manufacturers would probably not be able to meet even home requirement and nuclear systems would have to be bought from abroad.

    British Shipbuilders

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry why he has not yet decided on the location of the headquarters of the nationalised shipbuilding industry, having regard to the fact that the steering committee was set up over a year ago.

    My right hon. Friend expects to announce a decision on location shortly.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry why he has not yet appointed replacements for the members of the steering committee for the nationalised British Shipbuilding who resigned.

    Further appointments to the Board of British Shipbuilders will be announced shortly.

    National Finance

    Personal Incomes

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what a married man earning £10,000 a year in 1974 would have to earn currently, after taking into account income tax, family allowance, and national insurance, for the equivalent in real terms, if he had then and has at

    (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)
    Net income 1974–75Real value of net income in 1976–77 at 1974–75 pricesGross income required to give net income in Col. (2) in 1976–77Equivalent net income to that in Col. (1) at 1976–77 pricesGross income required to give net income in Col. (4) in 1976–77
    Married couple with:
    1 child not over 116,185·274,335·796,3628,823·6718,277
    2 children not over 116,324·474,433·376,3799,022·2418,172
    3 children (2 not over 11, 1 over 11, but not over 16)6,483·974,545·176,3989,249·7818,077
    4 children (2 not over 11, 2 over 11, but not over 16)6,643·474,656·986,4189,477·3217,982
    Gross income in column 3 includes family allowance. At the income levels of the other columns it would be to the taxpayer's advantage to relinquish the allowance. 1974–75 gross earnings were £10,000 in all cases.
    The price index used was the average general index of retail prices for the tax years 1974–75 and the first 11 months of 1976–77.
    "Real net income" in column 2 takes account of the change in the retail price index between 1974–75 and the first 11 months of 1976–77, whilst "equivalent net income" in column 4 is the net income necessary to maintain the purchasing power of the 1974–75 net income in column 1.

    European Community (Grants And Loans)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the total sums in grants and loans which British interests have (a) been promised and (b) received from the following EEC institutions since 1st January 1973: the Regional Develop-

    £ million
    LoansGrants receivedGrants committed
    Regional Development Fund99·949·0
    European Social Fund63·1159·7
    European Coal and Steel Community:
    Steel467·7*10·0
    Coal178·813·328·6
    European Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund:
    Guidance section20·363·9
    Guarantee section844·9844·9†
    European Investment Bank599·0
    * Information on grants received is not available.
    † Grants committed are the same as grants received.

    present, one, two, three and four children, respectively;

    (2) what would be the value currently in real terms of an income of £10,000 a year in 1974, after taking into account income tax, family allowance and national insurance contributions of a man who has now and had then one, two, three and four children, respectively.

    The information is as follows.ment Fund, the Social Fund, the European Coal and Steel Community, the Agricultural Guidance and Guarantee Fund and the European Investment Bank.

    The amounts of grants and loans which have been received by or committed to the United Kingdom since our entry into the European Communities are as follows:

    Value Added Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why chiropodists on the State register or roll are zero-rated for VAT while other chiropodists are charged to VAT.

    Professional services provided by those on the appropriate statutory medical register are exempt from VAT (not zero-rated); otherwise such services are liable to tax at the standard rate. Linking relief with the statutory medical registers provides a clear borderline generally accepted by all concerned.

    Oil And Gas (Government Revenue)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his latest estimate of Government revenues from North Sea oil and gas for each year from the present until the middle of the 1980s.

    The Government revenue from North Sea oil and gas depends on a number of factors which cannot be precisely estimated for particular future years. These include changes in the price of oil, the exchange rate, costs and the production programme.

    Finance Bill

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Finance Bill will be published.

    Tax Yields