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Written Answers

Volume 929: debated on Thursday 7 April 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 7th April 1977

Legislation (Preparation)

asked the Lord President of the Council what change is proposed, following the establishment of the joint consultative committee on policy, in the practices relating to the drafting of legislation and its consideration by Ministers prior to introduction into the House.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) on 28th March.—[Vol. 929, c. 34.]

House Of Commons

Pension Fund

asked the Lord President of the Council how fees of £12,650 and £24,270 were justified in regard to the managing and public trustees, respectively, as reported in the Accounts 1975–76 of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund.

The sum of £12,650 represents a proportion of the salaries etc. of the Fees Office staff who are directly concerned with the day-to-day administration of the pension fund. This amount has been credited to the House of Commons Vote—Class XIII,2—as Appropriations in Aid. The sum of £24,270 represents fees due to the custodian trustee in accordance with the scales laid down under the Public Trustee Act 1906.

asked the Lord President of the Council what was the percentage return on investments received by the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund in 1975–76; what percentage of investments were at year end held in Government or similar securities and what in quoted equities; what was the year's capital gain

CategoryNumber of awardsHighestLowestMedium (Average)
£ p£ p£ p
Members1382,620·031,039·391,777·63
Widows641,416·14611·55884·71
Widowers
Children12292·84152·87236·71

to the Fund; and what proportion of this derived from each of these two classes of investments.

The percentage return on investments held by the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund in the year 1975–76 amounted to 6·90 per cent. At the end of the year, 41·15 per cent. of the total market value was represented by Government stock or similar securities and 58·85 per cent. in quoted equities.The capital gain to the fund in the year amounted to £750,472; of this amount 9·47 per cent. was derived from Government etc. stock and 90·53 per cent. from equities.

asked the Lord President of the Council when the Government Actuary is next due to report on the general financial position of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund in terms of the 1972 Act.

Under the terms of subsection (2) of Section 5 of the Parliamentary and Other Pensions Act 1972, the Government Actuary is next due to report on the general financial position of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund as at 1st April 1978. The report is expected to be available towards the end of 1978.

asked the Lord President of the Council how many retired Members, widows, widowers and children, respectively, received the benefits reported in the accounts of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund for 1975–76; what was the highest, lowest and medium benefit in each category; and if this information can be incorporated in future Accounts laid before the House.

I will ask the managing trustees whether such information can be incorporated in future accounts.

asked the Lord President of the Council why it has taken one year for the preparation and publication of the March 1976 report and accounts of the Parliamentary Contributory Pension Fund; and if he will take steps to improve efficiency in this matter.

It took three and a half months to collect the final instalments of contributions, four months to prepare the detailed accounts, three months to audit and certify them and two weeks for printing and presentation. The accounts were prepared and audited during a period of abnormal pressure of work in the Departments responsible. Every effort will be made to produce the accounts earlier in future.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Departmental Staff

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food 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.

Slaughterhouses

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what is the total number of abattoirs in the United Kingdom at the present time; and how many were licensed at the time of United Kingdom entry into the EEC;(2) how many of the existing United Kingdom abattoirs meet the standards laid down by the EEC;(3) What effect on employment in British abattoirs is expected if EEC standards relating to slaughterhouses are introduced.

There are at present 1,525 public and private abattoirs: there were 1,844 on 1st January 1973. The declining trend in total numbers has been in evidence for several years. Seventy five slaughterhouses are approved for export to other EEC countries. It is not possible to say how many more might qualify for approval if the operators were to apply. I know of no present proposals either here or in Brussels to apply EEC requirements to abattoirs producing meat solely for the domestic market.

Livestock Exports

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proportion of cattle and sheep exported on the hoof from the United Kingdom are destined for non-EEC countries.

No farm animals have been exported from the United Kingdom for immediate slaughter to countries outside the EEC for many years.

Pigs

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what further representations he has received from pig producers about the current condition of that section of the agricultural industry; what is his latest estimate of the numbers of sows slaughtered in recent weeks; and what effect this is having on the overall balance of the breeding herd.

My right hon. Friend met leaders of the industry last week when they drew attention to the difficult situation facing pig producers. The figures for sow and boar slaughterings in the last few weeks are set out below. Whilst slaughterings have declined since the introduction of the subsidy they continue at a rate which implies some reduction in the breeding herd.

Slaughter of Sows and Boars—United Kingdom '000 head
Week ended:
March 5th9·2
March 12th8·6
March 19th8·3

Potatoes (Seed Royalties)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions he has had with the National Seed Development Organisation following its decision to raise the royalty rate for the protected variety of potatoes from £20 per hectare to £60 per hectare, adding to the cost of potatoes to the housewife.

None. I understand that the company recently consulted seed potato interests about proposed royalty increases which would vary with the grade of the seed and would be payable from January 1979, and that later this month the governing body aims to reach a decision after considering any views received.

Dogs

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in the light of representations on the working party report on dogs, he will indicate his intention with regard to his statutory power to vary the dog licence fee.

I would refer the hon. Members to the reply given to the hon. Member for Wells (Mr. Boscawen) on

ServiceCivilian
Public Transport Rate4·9p per mile5·4p per mile
Effective date1st April 19771st February 1977
Standard Rate:
501–1,000cc9·4p per mile9·4p per mile
1,001–1,750cc11·0p per mile11·0p per mile
Over 1,750cc12.0p per mile12.0p per mile
Effective date1st December 19761st December 1976
The public transport rate is based on the cost of using public transport, while the standard rate is based on the actual cost, including fixed costs such as depreciation, incurred in using a private car on official business. Approval for the higher rate is given only where the use of a private car can be shown to be cost-effective or is considered essential to the efficient conduct of public business.
The public transport rate is slightly lower for service personnel than for civil servants because of the discount we receive from British Rail on Service men's fares.

Aerospace Expenditure

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give a list of the financial assistance given each year by his Department over the last 10 financial years to the aerospace equipment manufacturing industry for work on civil projects, showing how much money each project received during each year.

The Ministry of Defence does not provide assistance to civil projects, except as agents of, and on repayment by, the appropriate civil Department.

Civil Disturbances (Service Casualties)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he will set out in the Official Report a table showing the instances of disabling injury sustained by serving members of Her Majesty's Forces whilst serving in Northern Ireland, the degree of disability sustained, the amount of compensation received and the source of their compensation for each year since and including 1969;

7th March by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State for the Environment.—[Vol. 927, c. 391–2.]

Defence

Car Allowances

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the mileage rate paid to civil servants in his Department; what are the comparable rates paid to Service men; and when these rates were last determined.

The motor mileage rates paid to staff using their private cars—of over 500 cc capacity—on authorised public business are:(2) if he will set out in the

Official Report a table showing the instances of disabling injury sustained by serving members of Her Majesty's Forces whilst deployed in support of a civil authority elsewhere than Northern Ireland, the degree of disability sustained, the amount of compensation received and the source of that compensation for each year since and including 1969.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 28th February 1977; Vol. 927, c. 36], gave the following information:156 Service personnel have been discharged for medical reasons following injury sustained in Northern Ireland while on operations in support of the civil power. In some cases the service man has not yet had his degree of disability assessed by the Department of Health and Social Security, or his claim for criminal injury compensation finalised. The following table, compiled from information held by the Ministry of Defence, summarises cases in which disability has been assessed and compensation paid:

CRIMINAL INJURY COMPENSATION PAID TO SERVICE PERSONNEL MEDICALLY DISCHARGED FOLLOWING INJURY SUSTAINED WHILE ON OPERATIONS IN SUPPORT OF THE CIVIL POWER IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Percentage Disability

Year of Medical Discharge

Number of Cases

Below 20%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

(£)(£)(£)(£)(£)(£)(£)(£)(£)(£)
1972154,5005,0002,0007,56820,00032,500
5,5205,50053,000
15,0007,85054,000
8,36857,000
9,000
1973311,5005002,2505,0006,00024,0009,50010,00020,000
4,00012,5003,0008,00015,00025,00031,000
10,00012,8008,00035,000
14,00015,00014,00052,000
15,00056,000
15,00060,000
20,00074,000
25,000
1974414506001,25018,1257,00010,00019,0006,50014,500
5008,5003,0009,50011,00022,00023,50015,000
2,00018,0006,00014,25020,00028,00045,000
4,25018,0008,50055,000
5,5009,00055,000
11,0009,50057,000
13,50060,000
21,00065,000
21,50065,000
88,300
1975137,00010,00012,00015,00067,50025,00025,000
7,50012,50060,000
10,00015,000
15,000
1976310,00025,00050,150
(103)

Note: As far as is known, there were no such discharges between 1969 and 1971.

In every case compensation was that awarded under the provisions of the Criminal Injuries to Persons (Compensation) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968. All service men invalided from the forces as a result of a disability caused or aggravated by service are eligible for consideration for benefits under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme and under the War Pensions Scheme operated by DHSS. The level of benefits awarded takes into account rank, length of service and degree of disability. I understand that the value of these benefits may be taken into account by the Northern Ireland courts when awarding compensation under the Act.

Since 1969 no service man has been medically discharged following injury sustained during deployment in support of a civil authority elsewhere than Northern Ireland. However, two service men have been medically discharged following injury in Oman—one in 1975 and one in 1977. They have both been assessed as 100 per cent. disabled by the Department of Health and Social Security. They are eligible to be considered for benefit under the Armed Forces Pension Scheme and under the DHSS War Pensions Scheme, but are not eligible to claim compensation under the Criminal Injuries to Persons (Compensation) Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 or any similar scheme.

Some Service personnel, although disabled, have been able to continue to serve; no assessment of disability has been made in such cases since the Department of Health and Social Security assesses the degree of disability only after discharge.

Polaris

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the effective life span of the Polaris boats and missiles.

The Polaris force has many years of useful life before it; we are taking steps to ensure the effectiveness of the system.

Hms "Ark Royal"

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will review the decision to remove HMS "Ark Royal" from active service before the entry into service of the first ASW cruiser.

Civil Service

Government Car Service

asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will publish in the Official Report a detailed statement giving the number of civil servants with salaries over £5,000 per annum who have been using official cars to take them to and from their Whitehall offices and railway stations in London; which stations and which offices they have been conveyed to and from; for how long this practice has been in operation; and whether they have to pay tax on these emoluments.

I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as the information has been collected.

Government Publications (Supply)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service why no copies of Command Paper No. 6768 "Direct Elections to the European Assembly" were available in Her Majesty's Stationery Office in Edinburgh on 1st April 1977, the day of publication; and what steps he is taking to ensure that this does not recur and that all Government publications are simultaneously available at Her Majesty's Stationery Offices throughout the United Kingdom.

Normally parliamentary papers are available only in London on the day of publication and do not reach Government bookshops and booksellers outside London until the following day. Papers are often produced at very short notice and it is physically impossible to distribute them for sale outside London on the same day. Moreover, considerations of parliamentary privilege and the high degree of confidentiality attaching to some papers require special security safeguards.In exceptional circumstances papers may be made available simultaneously in all Government bookshops where no undue security risk is involved. Copies of Cmnd. 6768 "Direct Elections to the European Assembly" were not available in Edinburgh at publication time since no special arrangements were made by the Stationery Office to achieve this.

Home Department

Explosives Control

13.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the Government's current system for the control of explosives determines the point in the legitimate distribution chain at which the detonator falls into terrorist hands.

There are a number of techniques in operation, but to reveal details of these would defeat their purpose.

Otters

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated level of the otter population in Scotland, Wales and England, respectively; and whether he will take action to stop otter hunting as a sport.

I understand that, while it is not possible at present to give a reliable figure for the level of otter populations, a survey in England, Scotland and Wales is planned for 1977–78 and this should enable an estimate to be made. A joint working group of the Nature Conservancy Council and the Society for the Promotion of Nature Conservaion is at presentt considering the need for conservation measures for the otter and expects to publish a report soon. I shall be prepared to consider taking such action as may be appropriate.

Prison Costs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report a breakdown of the cost of keeping a person in prison; and what action he has taken, or intends to take, to reduce these costs by reducing the number of amenities to prisoners.

A breakdown of expenditure on the Prison Service, including the annual average cost per inmate in four categories of establishment, appears annually in the report on the work of the Prison Department: the last published Report (Cmnd. 6523) gave details of costs in 1974–75. As shown in Cmnd. 6721 and earlier White Papers on Public Expenditure, the Prison Service has been required to make economies on prison building and to restrict staff growth. These constraints, coupled with limitation on overtime working, have adversely affected prisoner employment, recreation and amenity.

Police Authorities

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the interest of improving police efficiency and their place in the community, he will consider a change in the constitution of police authorities to permit a limited number of co-opted members thereof.

A police authority is composed of county councilors—two-thirds—and magistrates—one-third; the composition is fixed by statute and it cannot lawfully co-opt additional members. It can, however, invite observers to attend its meetings, or advisers to give their views on specific items of business. On present information I can see no reason to alter this.

Accused Persons (Death Before Trial)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he will not seek to establish procedures whereby the next of kin of persons who have died while charged with criminal activity, before such charges have been resolved, may seek a hearing to clear the name and honour of the deceased person.

In many cases it will be impossible to discover the truth once the defendant has died, but in any event I cannot see that it would be right to spend public money on proceedings or to demand the attendance of witnesses when the issue has ceased to be a matter for the criminal courts.

African Yellow Scorpion

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in the light of his reply to the hon. Member for Ealing, Acton on 21st March, Written Answer No. 124, he will confirm that the African yellow scorpion falls within the definition of an animal contained in the Pet Animals Act of 1951.

Only the courts have authority to decide whether the African yellow scorpion falls within the definition of an animal contained in that Act. The powers that the Act confers on local authorities, however, are wider in a number of respects than any limitation that may apply to that definition and, as I have already indicated, there is no evidence that they are inadequate.

Messrs Agee And Hosenball

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the cost to public funds of the proceedings involving Messrs. Agee and Hosenball.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the cost to the Crown of the proceedings in the English and Scottish courts. This is not yet known.

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department 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.

Hull Prison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, when the Fowler Report into the Hull Prison riot will be published; and if he will make a statement.

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to his Question on 24th February—[Vol. 926, c. 645.] I have not yet received the report by the Chief Inspector of the Prison Service.

Architects

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many architects are presently employed by his Department; how this compares with three years ago; and if there are any plans to reduce them.

On 1st April 1977 there were 43 architects compared with 34 on 1st April 1974. The complement is currently under review following a staff inspection.

Bailed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many and what percentage of persons awaiting trial were granted bail in Leicestershire during each of the last five years for which records are available; how many and what percentage of such persons were subsequently convicted of having committed offences while on bail; and what were those offences;(2) how many and what percentage of persons awaiting trial were granted bail in the United Kingdom during each of the last five years for which records are available and how many and what percentage of such persons were subsequently convicted of having committed offences while on bail; and what were those offences.

I am seeking this information and will write to my hon. and learned Friend.

Corporal Punishment

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will now establish a departmental committee to consider all aspects of the care, treatment and appropriate punishment of young offenders and to consider, in particular, whether or not to recommend the introduction of corporal punishment in appropriate cases;(2) if he will now establish a Royal Commission to consider all aspects of the care, treatment, and, in appropriate cases, punishment of young offenders and to consider in particular whether or not to recommend the introduction of corporal punishment in appropriate cases.

No. The Government keep the treatment of juvenile offenders under continuing review and are in regular consultation with the responsible organisations in the field. We do not contemplate the introduction of corporal punishment as a penalty available to the courts.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to allow the use of corporal punishment in appropriate cases on young offenders.

Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what is the rate of accidents suffered by prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons on slate gangways for each of the last five years.

I regret that the information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Capital Punishment

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now introduce legislation to reintroduce the death penalty for terrorist murders and also for the murder of police and prison officers acting in the course of their duty.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will now establish a departmental committee to consider whether or not the death penalty should be reintroduced for terrorist murders and also for murders of police and prison officers acting in the course of their duty;(2) if he will now recommend the establishment of a Royal Commission to consider whether or not the death penalty should be reintroduced for terrorist murders and also for the murder of police and prison officers acting in the course of duty.

National Councils For Social Service

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total Exchequer grant to the National Councils for Social Service in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, respectively, for 1976–77 and 1977–78.

The information is as follows:

Total Exchequer Grant
1976–771977–78
£
National Council of Social Service (England)443,059Not yet settled
Scottish Council of Social Service66,400
Council of Social Service for Wales55,618
Northern Ireland Council of Social Service69,000
In addition, the National Council of Social Service was responsible for the administration of £1,204,344 made available by the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection in 1976–77 for the support and development of citizens advice bureaux.

Rape

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases of rape have been reported, how many convictions have been obtained, how many offenders have escaped whilst awaiting trial, and how many of these have been at large since December 1976 to the latest available date compared, in actual figures and percentages, with 1975, 1974 and 1973.

The available information is as follows:

OFFENCES OF RAPE RECORDED AS KNOWN TO THE POLICE
THE POLICE
ENGLAND AND WALES
Year of RecordingNumber of offences
1973998
19741,052
19751,040
19761,094
PERSONS CONVICTED OF THE OFFENCE OF RAPE ENGLAND AND WALES
Year of convictionNumber of persons found guilty
1973331
1974343
1975336
1976not yet available
The rest of the information asked for could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Immigrants

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give the figures of dependants of New Commonwealth citizens, United Kingdom passport holders and Pakistan citizens, respectively, admitted for settlement in 1976 corresponding to the figures given for earlier years in his Written Answer to the hon. Member for Orpington on 3rd May 1976.

Football Hooliganism

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of the violence in Norwich on the occasion of the visit of the Manchester United football supporters, he will further consider specific action aimed at curbing this particularly violent section of the community.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to a Question from my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, South (Mr. Johnson) on 31st March.—[Vol. 929, c. 560–2.] The Chief Constable of Norfolk is sending me a report on the disorder connected with the football match between Norwich and Manchester United on 2nd April, and I shall take it into account in my further discussions with the football organisations and the police.I would also refer to what my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Department of the Environment with responsibility for sport, said in the debate on 6th April.

Fire Precautions (Universities)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why universities offering bedroom accommodation on a casual basis to paying guests are exempted from the fire precautions regulations applicable to hotels and boardinghouses.

Fire Precautions (Hotels and Boarding Houses) Order 1972 (S.I. 1972 No. 238) contains no specific exemption for university premises. Whether the provision by a university of sleeping accommodation for guests on a casual basis brings the premises within the scope of the order depends upon the facts of the particular case. Fire authorities have been informed of the position.

Fire Precautions (Hotels)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated cost per year of the scheme whereby loans can be made to hotels and boarding-houses with up to 25 beds to enable them to meet the current fire regulations; what would be the estimated additional cost of extending this provision to an upper limit of 50 beds; and whether the Government will so extend the limit.

We understand that, during the financial year 1975–76, local authorities made loans totalling £69,301 under the Fire Precautions (Loans) Act 1973 to meet the cost of fire precautions in hotels and boarding-houses providing sleeping accommodation for up to 25 persons. It is not possible to calculate the cost of any extension of the scheme, since the grant of such loans lies within the discretion of local authorities. Nor am I satisfied that there are grounds for extending it.

Mr V B Cummings

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when Mr. V. B. Cummings, of 147 Lincoln Road, Peterborough (Ref. C 204165), can expect a reply to his application for nationalisation made in January 1975.

Spitting

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has received from local authorities for the extension of byelaws to prohibit spitting in public places; and whether such byelaws have been approved by his Department for Greater London.

Since I answered the hon. Gentleman's earlier Question on this subject on 20th December—[Vol. 923, c. 54–2.]—we have received no proposals from local authorities for new byelaws to prohibit spitting in public places. From information immediately available to me, it appears that such byelaws are in force in the following London boroughs:

  • Barnet.
  • Bexley.
  • Brent.
  • Ealing.
  • Enfield.
  • Haringey.
  • Hounslow.
  • Kingston upon Thames
  • Merton.
  • Newham.
  • Waltham Forest.
  • Westminster.

Civil Defence

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the Civil Defence expenditure in 1976–77 related to expenditure in or for the county of Kent; and what proportion of the Civil Defence estimates for 1977–78 relates to expenditure in or for the county of Kent, broken down under appropriate heads.

The information is not available in the form requested and could not even be estimated without disproportionate expenditure in time and money.

Police (Drug Squads)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the total number of officers serving in drug squads during each year from 1971 to 1976; and what has been the annual expenditure on these squads during these years.

This information is not available centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate expense.

Cannabis

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many persons were remanded in custody,

PERSONS SENTENCED TO IMMEDIATE IMPRISONMENT, SUSPENDED SENTENCE, BORSTAL TRAINING AND DETENTION CENTRE FOR OFFENCES* INVOLVING CANNABIS—UNITED KINGDOM
YearImmediate imprisonmentSuspended sentenceBorstal trainingNumber of persons Detention centre
19737256288491
19747675446556
19757986014056
* Offences under drug legislation and other offences involving drugs.
Comparable figures for earlier years are not available.

Special Constabulary

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement about the report of the Working Party on the Special Constabulary.

The Working Party on the Special Constabulary was set up by the Police Advisory Board for England and Wales in July 1974 to review aspects of the employment and conditions of service of special constables. Its members comprised representatives of the Home Office, the local authority associations, the police associations and the Special Constabulary. The report has been approved by the Police Advisory Board and will be published on 12th having been charged with possession of cannabis resin, or with cultivation of cannabis, in the last three years for which figures are available; and how many of these persons subsequently received non-custodial sentences;(2) how many persons, following conviction for simple possession of cannabis or cannabis resin, or for cultivation of cannabis, were remanded in custody for reports in the last three years for which figures are available; and how many of these persons subsequently received non-custodial sentences.

I regret that this information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, for each year from 1965 to 1975, how many persons were given sentences of immediate imprisonment, suspended imprisonment, borstal training or detention centre for offences involving cannabis.

The available information is shown in the table below.April. I am asking chief officers of police and police authorities to implement its recommendations as soon as possible.The report confirms the value of the Special Constabulary in supporting the regular police on special occasions and in emergencies, and the necessity for their proper training in this vital rôle. It makes recommendations which will have the effect of extending to all forces the best practices found in the working party's review of the whole country. The recommendations likely to have the most immediate impact are that special constables should wear diced cap-bands—in those areas where regular officers wear them—and distinguishing shoulder flashes, and that the supervisory grades should be limited to four, with titles and badges distinct from those of regular officers. These changes combined underline both the full constabulary status of the special constable and the administrative rather than operational role of the supervisory posts.I should like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to the excellent work being done by this loyal and devoted body of men and women in their leisure time and without monetary reward, and to commend membership of the Special Constabulary to those citizens who wish to make a worthwhile contribution to the maintenance of law and order in our country.

Overseas Development

United Nations University

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what contribution has been made by Her Majesty's Government to the United Nations University; and what projected contributions are planned in the future.

No financial contribution has yet been made by Her Majesty's Government to the United Nations University, and none is planned at present.

Zambia

asked the Minister of Overseas Development (1) whether the Government are proposing to make a £5 million loan to Zambia;(2) whether any loan money advanced to Zambia is to be earmarked for industries in which British companies already have a financial stake.

My hon. Friend the Member for Hornchurch (Mr. Williams) was informed on 23rd March 1976 in a Written Answer—[Vol. 908, c. 159–60]—of our offer of million aid to Zambia. This offer, as a grant, was accepted by the Zambian Government and the money will be used to pay for the purchase of British goods and services as may be agreed between our two Governments. A large part of the grant has already been allocated, but none so far for use by industries in which British companies already have a financial stake.

Mozambique

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether she will specify the adequate safeguards to prevent any misdirection of British aid to the People's Republic of Mozambique which she cited in her observations on the petition from the Anglo-Rhodesian Society and Others presented to the House on 9th March.

For each order that is to be financed under the £5 million programme loan, the Government of the People's Republic of Mozambique complete a detailed certificate of end-use. British Embassy officials are empowered to inspect goods ordered under this loan on arrival and subsequently. The proposed £10 million of development assistance will relate to approved projects.

Wales

Comprehensive Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will publish a list of all comprehensive schools that have been closed in Wales under a Section 13 proposal;(2) how many comprehensive schools have been closed in Wales in the last 10 years.

All school closures require approval by my right hon. and learned Friend under the provisions of Section 13 of the Education Act 1944. Such approval has been given to the closure of the following comprehensive schools in the last 10 years:

  • Glyndwr Junior High School, Rhyl.
  • Shotton Junior High School
  • St. Julian's Junior High School, Newport Ogmore Comprehensive School
  • Glanmor Senior Girls Comprehensive School, Swansea
In most cases the closure of comprehensive schools is associated with further reorganisation of secondary education in the area concerned. Not all schemes of reorganisation involve school closures, however.

Speech Therapists

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many speech therapists are employed by local education authorities;(2) how many speech therapists are employed by local education authorities specifically for children with speech and language difficulties who are not classified as educationally subnormal.

Since 1st April 1974 the speech therapy service has been unified and organised by the area health authorities. No speech therapists are employed by local education authorities in Wales.

Handicapped Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will now give Gwynedd County Council approval to go ahead with its proposal for a new adult centre for handicapped persons at Y Ffôr to replace the existing facility at Bodfuan.

We are not in a position to do so at the moment, but we shall shortly be considering the competing proposals submitted by all the county councils in Wales.

Tan-Yr Unto Corner, Llanbedr

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether, in view of the recent fatal accident at Tan-yr-Unto Corner, Llanbedr, Dyffryn Clwydd, near Ruthin, he will expedite the carrying out of road improvement works at this accident black spot.

The cause of this accident have not yet been established. As I informed the hon. and learned Member on 24th January—[Vol. 924, c. 532–533]—double white lines, warning signs and a skid resistant surface have been provided. An advisory speed limit and the possible extension of the double white lines are being considered. We have no immediate proposals for further improvements at Tan-yr-Unto Corner.

Unemployed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he has taken to reduce unemployment in Gwynedd over the past 12 months; what have been the effects of these steps; and whether he is satisfied with the success, or otherwise, of his policies.

The combined effect of the temporary employment subsidy, job creation programme, youth unemployment subsidy, work experience and community industry schemes has been to save or create 2,980 jobs in Gwynedd between 1st April 1976 and 31st March 1977. The recently announced extensions of the temporary employment subsidy and job creation programme, together with the other measures and the new small firms employment subsidy scheme, the short-term grant for the disabled scheme and the selective job scheme for long-term unemployed will provide continuing help towards reducing unemployment.

Cardiff Exchange

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether a decision has yet been made regarding further contract work at the Exchange, Cardiff.

Preliminary work on the Exchange, which is held on a 10-year lease, is now complete. In the light of the statement by my right hon. Friend the Lord Pesident of the Council on 24th February—[Vol. 926, c. 1640–1]—the main work of conversion will not proceed at the present time, but its timing will be kept under continuous review in the light of the progress of the interparty talks now proceeding and any other developments. The Government remain fully committed to the principle of devolution in Wales.

European Community

Aerospace Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's policy towards the declaration of the EEC of 14th March 1977 concerning Community policy towards the European aerospace industry.

I have been asked to reply.The EEC statement of 14th March sets out the general objectives which the Council considers should underlie the consultation and concertation on future civil aircraft provided for in its previous resolution of 4th March 1975. The statement does not commit any member States to collaboration on specific projects.

United Kingdom Veto

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the number of Common Market initiatives the Government have vetoed in the Council of Ministers during the past year and the results achieved thereby up to the present date.

As has often been explained in the House, it is the Council's practice to continue discussion of important questions of policy until there is sufficient area of agreement to enable a decision to be taken by consensus. Each member State is in a position to block agreement unless interests to which it attaches importance are met. There are several questions of importance to the United Kingdom currently under discussion in the Council on which no consensus has yet emerged, but where we shall continue working for an agreed solution.The Council thus seldom resorts to formal voting except on budgetary matters, and the United Kingdom has not found it necessary to exercise a veto during the past year.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Belize

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, what is the latest position with regard to negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and Guatemala on the future of Belize; and if he will make a statement.

The present round of negotiations with Guatemala, which started in April 1976, is still continuing. A number of problems remain in the way of a settlement and these we are trying to resolve.

Ocean Island

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what answer has been given to the formal submission from the Rabi Council of Elders requesting the separation of Ocean Island from the Gilbert Islands Colony.

The Rabi Council of Leaders presented a submission to Mr. Richard Posnett on 28th January, shortly before his departure for the Pacific, in which it expressed the wish that Ocean Island be separated from the Gilbert Islands by 1st April 1977. In response to a written inquiry on 30th March, the council's solicitors were informed on 1st April that my right hon. and noble Friend expected soon to receive Mr. Posnett's report which would provide a basis for the consultations necessary to achieve a settlement which would take account of the legitimate interests of all concerned, including the Banaban community; and that the proposal that Ocean Island be separated by 1st April 1977 could not therefore be entertained.

Schoolchildren (Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs to what extent boarding school fees are paid for the children of officers of the Diplomatic Service serving overseas; and if there is any ceiling on the figure.

I would refer the hon. Member to the Answer given on 14th March by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the hon. Member for Hampstead (Mr. Finsberg). Diplomatic Service staff serving overseas, whose children attend a boarding school in the United Kingdom are eligible for reimbursement of school fees within certain ceilings. Current ceilings are as follows:

Boys' senior schools£1,473 per annum
Girls' senior schools£1,414 per annum
Boys' preparatory schools£1,325 per annum
Girls' preparatory schools£1,272 per annum

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 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.

Employees of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office—including locally engaged staff—work not only in the United Kingdom but in 120 countries abroad. The information required to answer the Question fully is not readily available in London, and to assemble it would require consultation with posts in many countries overseas. Such a process would be disproportionately expensive. However, information readily available shows that of the persons in the mainstream grades (1–10) of the Diplomatic Service approximately 3·5 per cent. left in 1976 for reasons other than normal retirement, for example, because of premature retirement in the public interest, death and resignation. Of the senior grades (1–4) approximately 3 per cent. were retired prematurely in the public interest.

Hong Kong

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what further progress is expected over the next five years in the provision of preventive health services in Hong Kong.

Over the next five years the Hong Kong Government plan:

  • (a) to take steps to ensure the continued absence, further reduction and, where possible, eradication as appropriate of a number of communicable and other diseases;
  • (b) to increase the number of health centres for mothers and children;
  • (c) to introduce a comprehensive scheme for the early detection of disabilities among infants and to improve arrangements for eyesight and hearing tests in schools;
  • (d) to establish a central health education unit and three regional health education centres; and
  • (e) to improve the organisation and standard of health services for workers.
  • asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give figures to show how the increase of hospital beds in Hong Kong over the past three years and the coming five years.

    The information requested is as follows:

    YearNo. of hospital beds available
    197417,645
    197518,056
    197619,004
    197719,063
    197820,003
    197920,083
    198021,508
    198121,608

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what are the plans for expanding and improving the existing medical services and introducing new services to meet the changing demands of the community in Hong Kong.

    The Hong Kong Government's plans include the following:

  • (a) the completion of three new major hospitals, a further five clinics, one health centre and three poly-clinics by 1983–84;
  • (b) the regionalisation of medical and health services to ensure a more efficient use of hospital beds and other facilities;
  • (c) the establishment of a dental training school and a second medical school by 1980 and 1981 respectively;
  • (d) the completion of a third nurse training school by 1981; and
  • (e) the opening, as necessary, of additional methadone maintenance and detoxification clinics for the treatment of drug addicts.
  • Central African Public Offices Agreement

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will take steps to ensure that the obligations to pensioners of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland under Articles 8(1) and (2) and 10(1) and (3) of the Central African Public Offices Agreement, dated 27th May 1964, a copy of which has been sent to him, and which was signed on behalf of Her Majesty's Government, are honoured.

    Responsibility for the remittance of pensions under Article 8(1) lies with the Central African Pensions Agency. It is for the successor Governments of the constituent territories of the Federation to honour obligations under Articles 8(2) and 10(1) and (3).

    Banabans

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he will offer a cash settlement to the Banaban community; how much money he proposes to offer; and if interest will accrue on the sum because of the delay by his Department in producing proposals.

    As I made clear in my Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Handsworth (Mr. Lee) on 26th January, we have been actively considering with the partner Governments of Australia and New Zealand certain proposals to help the Banabans secure their future after phosphate revenues end. These consultations are not yet complete.

    Council Of Europe And Western European Union (Delegation)

    asked the Prime Minister if he will announce the composition of the United Kingdom delegation to the Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe.

    The Consultative Assembly of the Council of Europe will be meeting in Strasbourg from 25th to 29th April. I have appointed 18 delegates from the Parliament of the United Kingdom. The delegation this year will consist of eight Members of the Labour Party, eight Members of the Conservative Party, one Member of the Liberal Party and one Member of the Ulster Unionist Party. I have also appointed a number of substitute delegates.The appointments of representatives and substitutes have been made on the basis of nominations by the Leaders of those parties concerned.The same delegation will be representing the United Kingdom Parliament at the Assembly of the Western European Union.Representatives from the Government Benches will be:

    The hon. Member for Houghton-le-Spring (Mr. Urwin), who will act as Leader.
    The hon. Members for:
    • Warley, East (Mr. Faulds)
    • Rother Valley (Mr. Hardy)
    • Gloucestershire, West (Mr. Watkinson)
    • Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis)
    • Farnworth (Mr. Roper)
    • Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead)
    • and the Lord Peddie.

    Representatives from the Conservative Party will be:

    The hon. Members for:
    • Torbay (Sir F. Bennett)
    • Southend, West (Mr. Channon)
    • Aldershot (Mr. Critchley)
    • Harborough (Mr. Farr)
    • Solihull (Mr. Grieve)
    • Norfolk, South-West (Mr. Hawkins)
    • Harrow, West (Mr. Page)
    • Sevenoaks (Sir J. Rodgers).

    The representative from the Liberal Party will be the Lord Beaumont.

    The representative from the Ulster Unionist Party will be the right hon. Member for Belfast, East (Mr. Craig).

    The following substitutes have been appointed to act as necessary on behalf of the delegates:

    From the Government Benches:
    The hon. Members for:
    • Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier)
    • Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook)
    • Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen)
    • Kingston - upon - Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara)
    • Dudley, West (Dr. Phipps)
    • Hammersmith, North (Mr. Tomney)
    • Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer)
    • and the Lord Hughes.
    From the Conservative Party:
    The hon. Members for:
    • Harrogate (Mr. Banks)
    • Bournemouth, East (Mr. Cordle)
    • Harrow, Central (Mr. Grant)
    • Twickenham (Mr. Jessel)
    • Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight)
    • Hastings (Mr. Warren)
    • The Lord Duncan-Sandys
    • and the Lord Selsdon.
    From the Liberal Party:
    The hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith).
    From the Scottish National Party:
    The hon. Member for Clackmannan and East Stirlingshire (Mr. Reid).

    Press Notices

    asked the Prime Minister what instructions his office has issued concerning the timing of Press notices by Government Departments.

    Prime Minister (Engagements)

    Q3.

    asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 7th April.

    In addition to my duties in this House I shall be holding meetings with ministerial colleagues and others.

    Roxburgh

    Q7.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton).

    Indian Prime Minister

    Q8.

    asked the Prime Minister if he intends to meet the new Indian Premier.

    I hope to meet the new Indian Prime Minister at the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London in June.

    Liberal Party Leader

    Q9.

    asked the Prime Minister if he will hold conversations with other party leaders in order to provide a salary and official car for the Leader of the Liberal Party.

    Brockhurst, Gosport

    Q11.

    asked the Prime Minister if he has any plans to make an official visit to Brockhurst, Gosport.

    West Suffolk

    Q12.

    asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to West Suffolk.

    Energy

    Conservation Policy (Costs)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy how much public money his Department has spent in the last year on its publication of the Energy Paper Series and in other publications on the subject of energy policy conservation; and what is the revenue from the sale of these publications.

    In 1976 the Department spent £27,762 in printing and putting on sale Energy Papers Numbers 6–18, which dealt with different aspects of energy policy and/or energy conservation as well as the Government's reply to the Select Committee on Science and Technology's Report on Energy Conservation (Cmnd. 6575). The revenue received from the sale of these publications is £21,710 to date.The Department also published and offered free of charge certain papers submitted to the National Energy Conference held in June 1976, fuel efficiency booklets and other energy conservation material at a cost of £41,000.

    Mullwharchar (Test Boring)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if a date has been fixed for the start of test boring on Mullwharchar; and if he will give the date.

    Northern Ireland

    Industrial Development Grants

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the companies or firms concerned with the write-off of £13,029,389 as irrecoverable under the Industrial Development Acts 1966 and 1971, showing the amount in each case.

    The £13,029,389 referred to in the Northern Ireland Trading and Other Accounts 1975–76 as having been written off as irrecoverable under the Industries Development Acts (Northern Ireland) 1966 and 1971 was in respect of loans to two companies, Harland and Wolff Limited and Tyrone Metalcraft Limited, Dungannon, Co. Tyrone. The respective amounts involved were £13,000,000 and £29,389.

    Prisoners

    6.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the present situation in relation to special category status for certain prisoners.

    It is the Government's firm intention to phase out special category status, which has not been granted to prisoners whose offences were committed after 1st March 1976. There will be no going back on this policy.

    Departmental Staff

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland 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.

    The figure is 14 per cent., of which 10 per cent. left to take up posts in other Government Departments.

    Prison Staffs

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he is satisfied with the arrangements for the disposal of firewood by the Northern Ireland prison service; to whom the firewood is supplied; and what is the rate at which it is sold.

    Yes. Sales outlets, which are governed by security requirements, are made to prisons staff at current market rates.

    Speech Therapists

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many speech therapists are employed by the education authorities;(2) how many speech therapists are employed by education authorities specifically for children with speech and language difficulties who are not classified as educationally subnormal.

    Republic Of Ireland (Security Forces)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on how many occasions in the 12 months ended 31st March 1977 personnel of the Irish Army or the Irish police have strayed into Northern Ireland.

    In that period, 19 incursions were reported to have been made by the Irish security forces; 13 of these were made by aircraft.

    Mrs Hester Mcmullan

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which Mrs. Hester McMullan was murdered by the IRA on Monday 28th March.

    Early on the morning of 28th March, Mr. James McMullan was ambushed by four terrorists as he was driving his lorry to work. The attack took place about three and a half miles to the north-east of Toomebridge in County Antrim. Mr. McMullan drove through the ambush but was chased by the men who fired at him from their car. Although the lorry was hit a number of times and Mr. McMullan was cut by flying glass, he was able to escape into a neighbour's house. The gunmen then switched their attack to the home of Mr. McMullan's parents in Crosskeys. They fired indiscriminately into the house, killing Mrs. Hester McMullan. Police investigations into these two incidents are continuing.

    Bomb Explosions

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement on the bomb explosions in Belfast on Monday 4th April and on how the Provisional IRA were able to penetrate the defence ring of the city.

    Shortly before noon on 4th April a small bomb exploded in the Rosemary Cafe in Belfast City Centre. Two minutes later a similar device exploded in Isobel Ervine's Coffee Shop in the same street. 29 people, including women and young children, were admitted to hospital and eight of the casualties were detained for further treatment. The devices had been placed under tables inside the cafes. Since only one minute's warning was received at the Belfast telephone exchange there was no time to evacuate the victims. Investigations are taking place to establish how the devices were brought into the secure area and to apprehend the culprits.

    Road Construction Programme

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the major road construction and road improvement projects expected to start in 1977–78 and 1978–79, together with the total cost of each scheme and the cost in the financial year.

    The major road schemes costing more than £100,000 included in the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment capital works programme for the financial years 1977£78 and 1978£79 are set out below. The estimated expenditure for each financial year for the schemes starting in these years is £8 million and £13·02 million, respectively. The total value of the schemes starting in the respective years is £26·4 million and £14·8 million.SCHEMES PROGRAMMED TO START 1977–78

    Category £100,000—£250,000

    • B4 Cranny Bridge
    • Irish Gate
    • Lonemoor Road I, Londonderry
    • Castle Street, Bangor

    Category £250,000—£500,00

    • Western Development Road (Banbridge)
    • A28/A51 Armagh Link
    • A2 Main Street (Newcastle)
    • Poleglass Road Works
    • T3 Eastern Distributor I (Cookstown)
    • C265 Kings Road (Belfast)
    • T7 Caw Roundabout Londonderry
    • Portwilliam Interchange/Harbour Link Carriageway
    • Sydenham By-Pass III and IV Belfast

    Category £500,000–£1,000,000

    • Steelstown Londonderry
    • A4 Enniskillen Throughpass
    • A1 Balmoral Junction (Belfast)
    • M1-Grosvenor Road 1st Carriageway

    Category over £1,000,000

    • T4 Banbridge By-Pass
    • Outer Ring East I
    • T3 Dungannon By-Pass
    • A26 Dublin Road/Castle Street (Antrim)
    • M5 Greencastle/Rushpark Fill Contract
    • T7 Ballymoney By-Pass
    • Dunbar Street Link (Belfast)
    • Harbour Square/Strand Road (Londonderry)
    • B102 Stewartstown Road
    • Globe Road II (Newtownabbey)

    SCHEMES PROGRAMMED TO START 1978–79

    Category £100,000–£250,000

    • A54 Agivey Bridge
    • Patrick Street/Dorans Hill (Newry)
    • A21 Zion Place (Newtownards)
    • Coolhill Development Road (Dungannon)
    • Belfast Road/William Street (Newtownards)

    Category £250,000–£500,000

    • M1 Grosvenor Road (2nd Carriageway) Belfast
    • East Link II Dundonald
    • Circular Road/Court Street (Newtownards)
    • A4 Market Street/Meetinghouse Street (Strabane)

    Category £500,000–£1,000,000

    • M1–M2 Grosvenor Road-York Street Belfast (1st Carriageway)
    • Poleglass Road Works
    • A2 Belfast Road, Carrickfergus
    • Edward Street/Union Street/Malcolm Road (Lurgan)

    Category over£1,000,000

    • Outer Ring East II Belfast
    • Durham Street Belfast
    • M2–Great George Street Belfast
    • T4 Sheepbridge
    • M5 Greencastle-Rushpark (Works)
    • A26 Bridge Street/Ballymoney Road (Ballymena)
    • Strabane Throughpass Stage I.

    Electricity Generating And Supply

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland when the Shepherd Report will be published; and what action is being taken on the report.

    The report is being published today through Her Majesty's Stationery Office and I shall arrange for copies to be placed in the Library as soon as possible.The report identifies the problems facing the Northern Ireland Electricity Service' and makes recommendations designed to overcome these problems over a period. As a first step, a complete overhaul of the capital spending programme is recommended. This has been examined jointly with the service, with particular reference to the new Kilroot power station. I am satisfied, following exhaustive financial studies, that it would not at this stage be in the interest of the service and its consumers, or of the economy generally, to cancel or postpone any part of this project. Cost comparisons of alternative options—calculated on the appropriate present value basis indicate that the net financial savings would be insignificant. Moreover, cancellation or postponement would not in themselves have justified tariff reductions in the foreseeable future. I have accordingly asked the service to proceed with the full contract for four 300 MW sets.The report goes on to recommend a capital restructuring of the service to ease the massive burden of interest charges, but the report itself does not provide sufficient information on which detailed decisions can be taken. This is the subject of intensive study within the departments concerned which should be completed with in a matter of weeks. Decisions will then be taken with a minimum of delay.The report makes a number of other recommendations, some aimed at the service and some at Government, which are still being examined but which are subsidiary to the points which I have highlighted.In the meantime I have had to consider the tariff policy of the electricity service during the period when capital restructuring is under review and take into account the April tariff increases in Great Britain. In 1976–77, even though very substantial increases in tariffs were made by the Service, these were not sufficient to enable the undertaking to break even.To assist the service in the period before decisions are taken about financial restructuring I propose to make a grant to the service to eliminate the deficit which has accrued up to 31st March 1977, and which is estimated to be £24 million. I have also advised the chairman of my view that for the present the main industrial and commercial tariffs should be frozen at their existing levels and that other tariffs should increase but by no more than 4 per cent.-5 per cent. on average.The effect of implementing these tariff decisions would be to reduce by a small, but, I hope, helpful, extent the serious imbalance which has arisen in the main industrial and commercial electricity tariffs between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and to retain the present relationship of other tariffs.

    Strangford Ferry

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will take steps to prevent any increase in the present charge on the Strangford ferry service.

    The review of the charges for the Strangford ferry service is to be considered in the light of comments from the local councils directly involved. A meeting is being arranged for this purpose and I do not wish to prejudge its outcome.

    Housing Finance

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what was the total debt of the various public housing authorities on the last date for which the figures are available prior to local government reorganisation; and what is the amount currently owed by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

    I understand that the Housing Executive inherited loan liabilities of £289 million from the former local housing authorities, new town commissions and Northern Ireland Housing Trust. Although the Executive's accounts for the financial year 1976–77 are not yet available it is estimated that loan liabilities at 31st March 1977 were £585 million.

    Water Supply

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will list the major water schemes to be started in 1977–78 and 1978–79, together with the total cost of each scheme and the cost in the financial year.

    The major water schemes costing more than £100,000 included in the Northern Ireland Department of Environment capital works programme for the financial years 1977–78 and 1978–79 are set out below. The estimated expenditure for each financial year for the schemes starting in these years is £1·7 million and £2·8 million respectively. The total value of the schemes starting in the respective years is £2·5 million and £6·3 million.

    Schemes programmed to start 1977–78
    Category £100,000–£200,000Division
    Glenarm-Carnlough Water SchemeNorth
    Knockloughrim Service ReservoirNorth
    Extension to Ballinrees Water Treatment PlantNorth
    Ballinrees Sludge Treatment Phase 1North
    Dungannon Town DistributionSouth
    Category £200,000–£500,000
    Tullyhill Service ReservoirNorth
    Mullaghboy-Gulladuff Trunk MainNorth
    Category £500,000–£800,000
    Moyola Water Treatment WorksNorth
    Schemes programmed to start 1978–79
    Category £100,000–£200,000
    Water Supply to Garstings HillNorth
    Raw Water Storage at Moyola Treatment WorksNorth
    Crosskeen Creavey Trunk MainNorth
    Ballyclare Service ReservoirNorth
    Storage for Bann WaterNorth
    Kilcraig Reservoir ExtensionNorth
    Red Bay Service ReservoirNorth
    Foffany Treatment WorksSouth
    Rostrevor Area Additional SupplySouth
    Derrylin Service Reservoir and MainsWest
    Category £200,00–£500,000
    Garstings Hill Service ReservoirNorth
    Maddybenny Service ReservoirNorth
    Ballykine-Villa Water SupplyEast
    Creggan ReservoirWest
    Armagh Breagh Trunk MainSouth
    Duplication of Main from Lough FeaNorth
    Killylane/Killyglen Trunk MainNorth
    Category £500,000–£900,000
    Derrykeegan Service ReservoirWest
    Coleraine Service ReservoirNorth
    Ballygomartin Service ReservoirEast
    Lough Fea AugmentationNorth
    The execution of the listed schemes as planed is subject to the procedural, contractual and financial constraints which apply to any Capital Programme.

    Newry And Mourne District Council

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under what statutory authority the payment of £500 grant by Newry and Mourne District Council in respect of repairs to a parochial hall in Cullyhanna was made.

    The grant of £500 from the Newry and Mourne District Council to the Cullyhanna Community Association in 1974 was paid under Section 115 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972.

    Social Security Benefits

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what payments have been made by his Department for the support of poor families through the social work services in Northern Ireland in 1974–75 and 1975–76;(2) what was the average amount paid out by his Department per family in 1974–75 and 1975–76 in support of poor families through the social work services in Northern Ireland.

    Payments of £20,883 and £25,449 respectively were made by health and social services boards under Section 164 of the Children and Young Persons Act (Northern Ireland) 1968 and Article 15 of the Health and Personal Social Services (Northern Ireland) Order 1972 to families in the years 1974–75 and 1975–76. Figures for the average amount payable to each family are not readily available.

    Road Construction (Employment)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many road men were employed by the former local and road authorities before 1st October 1973; and how many are employed at present.

    The information could not be provided in the precise form requested without a disproportionate use of resources. However, the information on the number of industrial employees in the roads service of the Northern Ireland Department of the Environment is as follows:

    Number employed immediately following reorganisation of local government (mid-October 1973)4,200
    Number employed at 28th February 19774,020
    The above figures include workers employed on the urban and rural improvement campaign.

    National Finance

    Child Tax Allowances (Students' Parents)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what respect the arrangements now proposed for students on the phasing in of the child benefit scheme, the phasing out of child tax allowances and the changes in grants differ from those set out at length by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury in his letter to the right hon. Member for Wan-stead and Woodford dated 22nd March 1977.

    There has been no change, with the exception that parents of certain students on full grant or with no grant, who were already on courses at 31st December 1976, will benefit from transitional arrangements, as announced in answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Islington South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) on 29th March.—[Vol. 929, c. 111–12.]

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when local tax offices were notified of the transitional arrangements to be made for parents of students whose child tax allowances were to have been reduced and who cannot benefit for adjustments to parental contribution scales.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 349], gave the following information:Copies of the relevant Inland Revenue Press release dated 29th March, and of an instruction dated 30th March, were despatched to tax offices during the two days 31st March and 1st April.

    Peers (Allowances)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will give a table of figures showing what a £16·50 per day tax-free allowance to be paid to Members of the House of Lords would be worth gross to a person with and without a married allowance for tax purposes who is in receipt of £1,000, £2,000, £3,000, £4,000, £5,000, £10,000, £20,000, £30,000 and £50,000 per annum.

    Assuming the tax rates and allowances proposed for 1977–78—including the reduction of the basic rate of income tax to 33 per cent.—the figures are as follows:

    Value before tax of £16·50 per day tax-free allowance to:
    Annual incomeSingle personMarried man
    ££ per day£ per day
    1,00024·6323·89
    2,00024·6324·63
    3,00024·6324·63
    4,00025·3425·01
    5,00026·9526·18
    10,00045·8444·07
    20,00091·4390·12
    30,00097·0697·06
    50,00097·0697·06
    The figures represent the gross amount per day that, at different income levels, leaves £16·50 per day after payment of tax. It has been assumed that in 1977–78 the allowance will be paid for 151 days, the same number as in 1976–77, and that after-tax income for the year is thus increased by 151 times the allowance.

    Blind Persons

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the percentage value at the latest possible date of the blind person's tax allowance, compared with its value on introduction.

    Taking into account the change in the retail price index between April 1962 and February 1977, about 43 per cent.

    Income Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many persons have given as their employment for purposes of income tax assessment, astrologer, palmist, numerologist, yoga adept, psychic consultant, or other related practices.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to him on 1st April.—[Vol. 929, c. 294–5.]

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the standard rate of income tax rose or fell between November 1951 and October 1964, between November 1964 and June 1970, between July 1970 and February 1974 and between March 1974 and March 1977.

    The standard or basic rate of tax for the relevant fiscal years was as follows:

    DateStandard rateBasic rate*
    November 195147·5 per cent.
    (9s. 6d. in the £)
    October 196438·75 per cent.
    (7s. 9d. in the £)
    November 196438·75 per cent.
    (7s. 9d. in the £)
    June 197041·25 per cent.
    (8s. 3d. in the £)
    July 197041·25 per cent.
    (8s. 3d. in the £)
    February 197430 per cent.
    March 197430 per cent.
    March 197735 per cent.
    * Basic rate from 1973–74 is not comparable with standard rate, owing to the operation of earned income relief (for earlier years) and investment income surcharge (from 1973–74).

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what amount of the estimated outturn of income tax for 1976–77 of £17,030 million, and the 1977–78 forecast of £18,065 million, relates to taxes at the higher rates.

    The tax at higher rates included in the estimated receipts of income tax for 1976–77 and the post-Budget forecast for 1977–78 is £2,380 million and £2,405 million respectively. These figures include the basic rate element of tax at the higher rates.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost, both in 1977–78 and in a full year, of raising the P11 D limit, defining higher-paid employees for the purposes of Section 69 of the Finance Act 1976, from £5,000 to (a)£6,000, (b) £7,000 and (c) £8,000.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 347], gave the following information:Information on which to base precise figures is not available, but it is estimated that in a full year the cost would be about £7 million, £10 million and £12 million respectively. About two-thirds of the cost in each case would be incurred in the first year in which the charge was made.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, of the estimated outturn of income tax for 1976–77 of £17,030 million, and the 1977–78 forecast after all Budget changes including those of a conditional nature of £18,065 million, what amount relates in each case to tax at the higher rates.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 347], gave the following information:The tax at higher rates included in the estimated receipts of income tax for 1976–77 and the post-Budget forecast for 1977–78 is £2,380 million and £2,405 million respectively. These figures include the basic rate element of tax at the higher rates.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the breakdown of the £2,293 million of income tax reliefs granted in his Budget between the amount that will accrue to taxpayers with incomes of £4,000 or less and the amount that will accrue to those with incomes in excess of £4,000; and what the corresponding amount would have been merely to keep pace with inflation over the past 12 months.

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 348], gave the following information:It is not possible to give a breakdown by range of income for the £43 million tax relief relating to the treatment of foreign earnings, retirement annuities and savings bank interest, but for the remaining £2,250 million the figures are as follows:

    Total net incomes*£ m
    Under £4,000796
    £4,000 and above1,454
    On the basis of the increase in the retail price index between April 1976 and February 1977 expressed at an annual rate, the cost of revalorising the main tax allowances—excluding the child tax allowances—and the tax rate bands would have been about £1,620 million, broken down as follows:

    Total net incomes*£ m
    Under £4,000570
    £4,000 and above1,050
    * Total net income is defined on page 35 of Inland Revenue Statistics 1976.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he proposes to compensate those parents of students over 19 years of age for the reduction in child tax allowances for the rest of the current academic year who do not qualify for the transitional relief set out in the reply by the Chief Secretary to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury (Mr. Cunningham) on 29th March 1977.

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 348], gave the following information:As announced by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science on 28th March, the parental contribution towards grant is to be adjusted from the beginning of the 1977–78 academic year to compensate for the reduction in child tax allowances. The adjustment will apply for the full academic year, corresponding with the tax year for which the allowance is reduced, and will thus generally include a final term in the subsequent tax year for which the parent would not ordinarily in any event receive the child tax allowance since the child's income would exceed the income limit. Parents of students whose courses end this summer will not benefit from the adjustment, but similarly they would not ordinarily get the child tax allowance for 1977–78 owing to the size of the child's income.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if a high income tax payer will be given the option, if it is to his advantage, of refusing the minimum grant of £80 for the next academic year and keeping the child tax allowance at the 1976–77 level.

    Between:Change per lb
    1st November 1951 and 31st October 1964+17s. 2½d.
    1st November 1964 and 30th June 1970+£1 3s. 5½d.
    1st July 1970 and 28th October 1964-£0·7364*
    1st March 1974 and 31st March 1977+£5·5228**
    * Reflecting the abatement of the revenue duty following the introduction of V.A.T. on 1st April. 1973.
    ** Including an estimate of the equivalent by weight of the excise duty on tobacco products in force at 31st March 1977, but excluding the increases in tobacco products duty announced in the Budget on 29th March 1977 which did not become effective until 4th April 1977 and which led to an estimated further increase of £1·2187 per lb.

    Vehicle Excise Duty

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the vehicle excise duty on cars rose or fell between November 1951 and October 1964, between

    PeriodRate at beginning of periodRate at end of periodIncrease
    £££
    November 1951-October 196410155
    November 1964-June 1970152510
    July 1970-Febrary 19742525Nil
    March 1974-March 1977255025

    Profits

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the tax on profits rose or fell between November 1951 and October 1964, between November 1964 and June 1970, between July 1970 and February 1974 and between March 1974 and March 1977.

    I assume that the hon. Members refers to the rates of the various taxes on company profits. However, these are not comparable because of the changes in structure of the taxes in each of the periods mentioned.

    pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 4th April 1977; Vol. 929, c. 348], gave the following answer:No.

    Cigarettes

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the excise duty on cigarettes rose or fell between November 1951 and October 1964, between November 1964 and June 1970, between July 1970 and February 1974 and between March 1974 and March 1977.

    Changes in the fiscal element of the Customs revenue duty on cigarettes between the dates in question were as follows:—tween November 1964 and June 1970, between July 1970 and February 1974 and between March 1974 and March 1977.

    Petrol

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report his estimate of the increase in the price of petrol if vehicle tax were abolished and the revenue which this yields now paid for through petrol prices.

    Petrol prices would have to be increased by 18½p to produce sufficient revenue to compensate for the abolition of vehicle excise duty on private vehicles.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish details of tax revenue collected from an additional 3p tax on a pint of beer compared with 5½p on a gallon of petrol, respectively.

    It is estimated that raising the duty on road fuel by 5p a gallon—which with VAT increases taxation on petrol to the private motorist by a little over 5½p a gallon—and increasing taxation—duty and VAT—on beer by 3p a pint each yield about £300 million additional revenue in a full year.

    CHANGE PER GALLON
    BetweenLight oils and road fuelGas oil, fuel oil and KeroseneOther oil: mainly lubricating oil
    1st November 1951 and 31st October 1964+10½d.+2d.+2d,
    1st November 1964 and 30th June 1970+1s. 9d.+0·4d.-0·6d.
    1st July 1970 and 28th February 1974No changeNo changeNo change
    1st March 1974 and 31st March 1977+12·5pGas oil, fuel oil and aviation turbine fuel:+1·5p
    +1·5p
    Other kerosene: No chance

    Spirits

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the excise duty on spirits rose or fell between November 1951 and October 1964, between November 1964 and June 1970, between July 1970 and February 1974 and between March 1974 and March 1977.

    Changes in the Excise duty rate for spirits between the dates in question were as follows:—

    BetweenChange per proof gallon
    1st November 1951 and 31st October 1964+ £2.6s.8d.
    1st November 1964 and 30th June 1970+ £5.19s.6d.
    1st July 1970 and 28th February 1977- £3·40*
    1st March 1974 and 31st March 1974+ £11·64
    * Reflecting the abatement of the revenue duty when VAT was introduced on 1st April 1973.

    Tax Increases

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report a detailed state

    Hydrocarbon Oil

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the excise duty on hydrocarbon oil rose or fell between November 1951 and October 1964, between November 1964 and June 1970, between July 1970 and February 1974 and between March 1974 and March 1977.