Written Answers To Questions
Thursday 21st April 1977
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to make a substantive statement on the level of agricultural prices agreed by the EEC Council of Ministers.
I hope to be able to do so after the meeting of the Council next week.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied with the rôle and responsibilities of the Eggs Authority.
The rôle and responsibilities of the Eggs Authority are set out in the Agriculture Act 1970. I have already undertaken that Ministers will consider the need for an inquiry into the rôle and functions of the Authority. This matter is still under review.
Sugar Beet Quotas
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what he anticipates will be the percentage uptake of United Kingdom sugar beet quotas for the 1977 season.
The British Sugar Corporation currently estimates that the area contracted by growers will be sown in full. At normal yields this area should produce the equivalent of about a million metric tons of refined sugar, that is around 100 per cent. of the United Kingdom's basic production quota.
Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Council Referrals
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many of the Agricultural Dwelling House Advisory Council referral cases to which reference was made in his answer to the hon. Member for Sudbury and Woodbridge of 17th March 1977 involved prevailing upon district councils to use their best endeavours; and, of these, how many were in the livestock sector.
In all the 42 cases mentioned in the reply I gave the hon. Member on 17th March the agricultural dwelling-house advisory committees recommended that the cottage occupiers should be rehoused, but with varying degrees of urgency. In 39 cases the farm business was either wholly or partially concerned with livestock; and in 28 cases there were specific references to the cottage occupier's employment as a worker concerned with livestock.—[Vol. 928, c. 293.]
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the level of competitiveness attainable by the United Kingdom horticulture industry.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to ensure an adequate supply of potatoes for 1977–78.
The target area for potatoes has been set at a level which, given normal weather conditions, should provide sufficient potatoes to meet our requirements. Plantings have been delayed in some areas because of wet ground conditions but I expect the target area to be achieved.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what success he had in the negotiations in Brussels on the common agricultural policy with regard to surpluses of produce such as butter; and if he will make a statement.
I have nothing to add at present to the statement I made on 30th March immediately after the last meeting of the Council of Agriculture Ministers.—[Vol. 929, c. 411–22.]
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what he anticipates will be the total tonnage of cheese produced in the United Kingdom for 1977.
The level of cheese production in the United Kingdom in 1977 will depend upon a number of factors and I regret that we are unable to make a forecast.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what foodstuffs have to be raised in price in the United Kingdom in 1977 to comply with the Treaty of Accession to the EEC.
The main commodities directly affected by the remaining transitional steps are butter, cheese, beef, pig-meat, eggs, poultry and cereals But there could also be indirect effects on other commodities and some foodstuffs are subject to the adoption of the full Common Customs tariff.
asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food if he will continue to resist proposals in the Council of Agricultural Ministers which would lead to an increase in food prices for consumers.
I can assure my hon. Friend that we will continue to work for a settlement on CAP prices which reflects the overall United Kingdom interests including the need for the maximum restraint on food prices.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action is being taken to protect important fish breeding grounds off the South Coast of England.
The interim conservation measures taken by the Community in February, on the initiative of the United Kingdom, together with the reductions in catching opportunities of non-member countries within our fisheries limits, represent a significant step towards the protection of resources.
asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the position of British fishing interests in the light of the latest developments in the EEC negotiations.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the progress to date of the negotiations with the EEC to arrange a 50-mile exclusive fishing limit around the United Kingdom for British fishermen.
The slowness of progress in these negotiations is not satisfactory. It is now recognised within the Community that action is urgently needed and we are awaiting a new Commission initiative on the long-term fisheries regime.
National Farmers' Union
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he will next meet the National Farmers' Union and the trade unions representing employees in agriculture and related activities.
I met the Council of the NFU yesterday, and shall be keeping in close touch with all sides of the industry.
asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in his Department; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target.
All officers responsible for recruitment have been reminded of the obligation on the Ministry to employ at least 3 per cent. registered disabled persons. The percentage achieved has varied, but it is the continuing aim to exceed this minimum.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, what regulations govern the welfare of farm animals being transported by sea.
The welfare of farm animals transported by sea to or from ports in Great Britain is safeguarded by a number of orders made, or deemed to have been made, under the Diseases of Animals Act 1950. These orders include the Transit of Animals Order 1927, the Animals (Sea Transport) Order 1930, the Exported Animals Protection Order 1964 and the Transit of Animals (General) Order 1973.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if United Kingdom regulations govern foreign vessels transporting farm animals from or to a United Kingdom port.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if any provision exists for the reporting of numbers of animals injured during a voyage to or from a United Kingdom port.
Yes. This is required by Article 2 of the Animals (Sea Transport) Order 1930 and Article 3 of the Transit of Animals Order 1927, and by similar legislation for Northern Ireland.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what action he is taking to ensure that beef production is maintained at a satisfactory level.
I would refer the hon. Member to my replies to him of 15th and 17th February 1977.—[Vol. 926, c. 179 and 690–6.] Our objective for beef in the current CAP price discussions is to secure continuing support arrangements which will maintain production in the United Kingdom at a satisfactory level.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by what percentage his Department estimates that feed costs for (a) pigs and (b) cattle in Great Britain would increase for each 1 per cent. reduction in the gap between the current value of the green pound and the current sterling exchange rate; and how these estimates are made.
A 1 per cent. devaluation of the green pound would raise CAP support prices in sterling terms by fractionally more than 1 per cent. The effect that this would have on cereal prices depends on a number of factors, in particular the market situation and any change in the level and pattern of demand for feeding stuffs arising from the devaluation itself. As present United Kingdom market prices are considerably above the level of institutional prices it is likely that changes in the latter would not be fully reflected in the former. However, assuming that the change in support prices was fully reflected in market prices the effect would be to increase pig feed prices by 0·5 per cent. and cattle feed prices by 0·4 per cent. This calculation is based on the assumption that at the time of the devaluation compound prices were at their current levels and that the cereals content of pig and cattle feeds are 80 per cent. and 70 per cent respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will raise the matter of safety in agriculture at the next Council of Agricultural Ministers.
In the European Economic Community responsibility for Occupational safety, including agriculture, lies with the Council of Ministers dealing with Social Affairs, on which the representative of Her Majesty's Government is the Secretary of State for Employment. An action programme for safety at work, including agriculture, is at present under consideration by the Advisory Committee on Safety, Hygiene and Health Protection at Work which was set up by a Council of Ministers' decision in June 1974.
Scotland And Wales (Departmental Responsibility)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is now able to make a statement on the decentralisation of responsibility for employment and training to the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th August 1976; Vol. 916, c. 1139], gave the following information:I announced on 6th August 1976 that the Government had decided to transfer from myself to the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales responsibility in those countries for the activities of the Manpower Services Commission and its executive arms the Employment Service Agency and the Training Services Agency. Following consultations with the Commission and with others concerned, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has given approval for the transfer of responsibilities to take effect from 1st July 1977. Responsibility for oversight of the Careers Service in Scotland and Wales will be similarly transferred from the same date.
Government-Liberal Party (Joint Consultations)
asked the Lord President of the Council how many meetings he has had with the Leader of the Liberal Party regarding the future programme of the Government since his speech in the House on 23rd March.
I would refer the hon. Gentleman to my answer to the hon. Member for Surrey, North-West (Mr. Grylls) on 28th March.—[Vol. 929, c. 34.]
Political Parties (Government Aid)
asked the Lord President of the Council what comments he has now received on the recommendations contained in the Houghton Report on State Aid for Political Parties; and what proposals he has in mind regarding the report's conclusions.
There has been widespread public comment on this report, and a number of hon. Members have let me know their views. The Government are still considering what recommendations to make to the House.
House Of Commons
asked the Lord President of the Council what proposals he intends to bring forward to reform the sitting hours of the House.
This matter is within the present terms of reference of the Select Committee on Procedure. I think the House should await any recommendations made by the Committee in this field.
Leader Of The Liberal Party
asked the Prime Minister when he last met the Leader of the Liberal Party.
asked the Prime Minister when he last met the Leader of the Liberal Party.
I refer my hon. Friends to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Harrow, East (Mrs. Dykes) on 5th April.
Secretary Of State For Energy
asked the Prime Minister if he will list the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Energy.
asked the Prime Minister whether he will list the responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Energy.
I refer the hon. Members to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) on 19th April.
Prime Minister (Engagements)
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st April.
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 21st April.
asked the Prime Minister what are his official engagements for 21st April.
asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Thursday 21st April.
I refer my hon. Friend and the hon. Members to the reply that I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Romford (Mr. Neubert).
asked the Prime Minister if he will visit Rossendale.
asked the Minister what plans he has for meeting the TUC.
asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the TUC.
asked the Prime Minister when he last met the TUC.
I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Member to the reply that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) on 3rd February.
European Assembly (Directel Ections)
asked the Prime Minister in what recent speeches he has made specific reference to Her Majesty's Government's views on direct elections to the European Assembly.
I referred to this issue in my speech in the House on 23rd March.
asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to Grimsby.
At present I have no plans to do so.
asked the Prime Minister when he last met the CBI.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave him on 17th February.
asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the CBI.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply that I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) on 17th February.
Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference (Reception)
asked the Prime Minister whether he has now issued invitations to the reception which he intends to hold at 10 Downing Street in connection with the forthcoming Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference.
North Sea Oil Installations
asked the Prime Minister if he will pay an official visit to a North Sea oil rig.
Brigg And Scunthorpe
asked the Prime Minister if he will visit Brigg and Scunthorpe at an early date.
Ulster Defence Regiment
asked the Prime Minister whether he will make a statement about the revised terms and conditions of service for the full-time element of the Ulster Defence Regiment.
As my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland told the House on 2nd July 1976 and 17th December 1976, the full-time element of the UDR, which has hitherto been employed on training, administrative and static guard duties, is being increased and is being given new tasks. It will in future participate in a range of operational duties similar to those undertaken by the Regular Army in Northern Ireland. In the light of this new rôle, the Armed Forces Pay Review Body has recommended new rates of pay for the full-time element of the UDR that are equivalent to those for the Regular Army, but with some small abatements in recognition of the fact that the UDR will not suffer disturbance or separation from home and family in the same way as the Regular Army. The revised rates, which have been accepted by the Government, will be placed in the Library of the House.
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland on what Votes the cost falls of the extra payments made to compensate Ulster livestock producers for the disparity between the sterling/green pound and Irish pound/green pound rates, and the monthly totals paid out in this manner in each of the last 12 months: and what is his projected out-turn for the present financial year of these payments.
The disparity referred to led to the introduction of the Meat Industry Employment Scheme under Northern Ireland Estimates Class 1 Vote 3 Subhead A4 (Employment Schemes).The monthly amounts paid out in 1976–77 were as follows:
National Ports Council
asked the Secretary of State for Transport what decision he has reached about the chairmanship of the National Ports Council; and whether he will make a statement.
Mr. John Page, currently Chairman of the Mersey Dock and Harbour Company, has accepted my invitation to succeed Mr. Philip Chappell as Chairman of the National Ports Council on 15th June.Active collaboration between the council and the ports industry is essential and I am inviting the council to discuss with the port authorities how it can best continue to assist in furthering the interests of the ports and their contribution to the efficient handling of the nation's trade, and to report to me.
Milton Keynes (A5 Diversion)
asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will re-examine the projected A5 diversion for the future development of Milton Keynes, in view of the fact that there are considerable Roman remains outside the scheduled area of Magiovinium.
The alignment of the A5 diversion carefully avoids the scheduled area of the Roman town of Magiovinium. I am not aware of any major new evidence, not produced at the public inquiry held in June 1975, that would justify my reconsidering whether the present alignment should be altered. Meanwhile, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment hopes to arrange for an exploratory dig, followed by excavation where necessary, to be undertaken before the construction work starts.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish the White Paper on the Water Industry in England and Wales.
Local Government Finance
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment in view of the lack of close contact between the Government administrative civil servants and the administrative and treasury officers of local government, if he will consider a policy of active inter-secondment between the two services for periods of a year or so for selected middle seniority officers of both, in order to promote better understanding and efficiency for the public service.
The extent to which day-to-day contacts contribute to mutual understanding between the Civil Service and local government should not be underestimated. Nevertheless, I share the hon. Member's desire to see that understanding strengthened. Exchanges of staff are made, but at a time of severe restraint on public expenditure and manpower it is impossible to do as much as we would like. My own Department will, however, continue to seek exchanges with individual local authorities where these would be beneficial to both.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish a list of the research in the last five years undertaken by his Department, and those projects funded by his Department and carried out by other bodies into the causes of damp in modern buildings and feasible curative action.
Over 40 research projects in this field have been undertaken or supported by my Department in the last five years. I will send the hon. Member a list. The Building Research Establishment publishes an annual account of its research programme, which provides further details.
European Parliament (Direct Elections)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has had with the Leader of the Liberal Party in regard to direct elections to the European Parliament.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has had with the Liberal Party on the question of proportional representation with regard to direct elections to the European Parliament.
I have discussed direct elections, among other matters, with members of the Liberal Party on a number of occasions on the basis of the speech made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister in the debate on 23rd March.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take early action to avoid unnecessary conflict at carnivals being organised in the summer, particularly those being planned for areas with a high proportion of immigrants.
Arrangements for the supervision of events such as carnivals are matters for consultation between the organisers, the police and the local council. It is in the best interests of all concerned that those intending to organise carnivals come forward with their plans at an early stage so that appropriate arrangements can be made.
Police (Purchasing Policy)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will advise police authorities to purchase British equipment wherever possible, particularly in relation to cars and motor cycles.
Police authorities and chief officers of police have been told that we assume that they will wish to survey the market carefully before buying foreign cars and motor cycles and satisfy themselves that no suitable British-made vehicles of comparable specification and price are available. Authorities and chief officers no doubt take a similar view of purchases of other equipment.
Commission For Racial Equality
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he can now announce the membership of the Commission for Racial Equality to be set up under the Race Relations Act 1976.
I am glad to be able to announce that the following people have accepted my invitation to serve as members of the new commission:
Mrs. Juliet Cheetham: Lecturer in Applied Social Studies, Department of Social and Administrative Studies, University of Oxford.
Mr. Frank Cummins: Headmaster of Thomas Telford School, Sandwell, West Midlands.
Mr. Tom Jackson: General Secretary, Union of Post Office Workers.
Mrs. Anowara Jahan: Liaison Officer, Asian Centre, Finsbury Park.
Mr. Courtney A. Laws: Director of Brixton Neighbourhood Community Association.
Mr. William Morris: District Secretary, Transport and General Workers' Union, Northampton.
Mr. Robert J. Ramsey CBE: Director of Industrrial Relations, Ford Motor Company.
Miss Gwenneth M. Rickus: Director of Education, London Borough of Brent.
Dr. Preetam Singh QC: Barrister.
The commission will consist of 15 members. As already announced, Mr. David Lane will be the chairman and Mr. Clifton Robinson OBE, Mr. Bashir Maan and Mr. Pranlal Sheth deputy chairmen. A further appointment will be announced in due course.Mr. Alan N. Wilson: Group Personnel Director, Tootal Ltd.
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in his Department and Royal ordnance factories; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target in each case.
Recruiting authorities in the Department, including the Royal ordnance factories, give special consideration to applications from registered disabled persons, who are accepted to fill vacancies provided that they are capable of doing the job and judged suitable in other respects against the normal criteria.At present about 2½ per cent. of the staff of the Department as a whole are known to be registered disabled persons. Many other disabled people are employed by the Department but for personal reasons prefer not to register. It is not possible to predict when the 3 per cent. target will be formally met but the Department will continue to do its best to fit registered disabled people into suitable posts.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
Fishing Quotas (Arctic Waters)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what progress has been made in the negotiations between the EEC and the USSR regarding fishing quotas in their Arctic waters; and whether he is satisfied with the progress up to the present time.
Negotiations on a framework fisheries agreement between the Community and the USSR are currently taking place in Brussels. Good progress has been made, though I am not able to say when an agreement might be concluded.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether Her Majesty's Government are prepared to provide Belize with a guarantee as to its security following independence.
Her Majesty's Government are engaged in negotiations in an attempt to reach a settlement which would enable Belize to proceed to speedy and secure independence. The precise nature of any post-independence arrangements would be a matter for discussion with the Belize Government at the appropriate time.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons in his Department; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target.
In accordance with the Civil Service Department's code of practice, my right hon. Friend has appointed a departmental disabled persons officer who liaises with those responsible for the recruitment and career development of disabled employees, and ensures that their potentialities are not overlooked. The opportunities for registered disabled persons in the Diplomatic Service are limited because of the mobility requirement, but the latest figures show that 2·2 per cent. of our staff are registered disabled people. I cannot forecast when the 3 per cent. target will be reached.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the state of negotiations between Her Majesty's Government and the Government of Guatemala.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Shoreham (Mr. Luce) on 7th April.—[Vol. 929, c. 605.]
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Soviet Government to inquire into their intentions in relation to the deployment of intermediate-range nuclear missiles with multiple independently targeted re-entry vehicle warheads in positions where they could be used against Western Europe.
I doubt that any such inquiry would elicit a useful answer. We must continue to rely on our own assessments of Soviet military intentions. The new Soviet SS20 which, as well as being MIRVed, is mobile and very powerful, poses some new problems for Western defences. But it represents an advance in Soviet nuclear weapon technology, rather than necessarily any change in intention.
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has yet appointed a new ambassador to Chile; and when he will be instructed to present his credentials.
No new ambassador has been appointed. My right hon. Friend continues to keep the matter under review.
China (Leader Of The Opposition's Visit)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether briefing was provided for the Leader of the Opposition before her visit to China; and whether he intends to hold discussions with her on her return.
In accordance with normal practice my right hon. Friend's Department provided briefing for the Leader of the Opposition before her visit to China. We would, of course, be happy at any time to receive an account of her recent Far Eastern tour.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what secondary upgrading capacity he estimates will be necessary to produce the yield pattern needed to meet national demand for light distillates; how that figure compares with existing capacity; and what schemes have been submitted to his Department for additional plant;(2) what proportion of heavy oils is being catalytically cracked to produce gasoline and naphthas in the United Kingdom.
At the end of 1976 the gross throughput capacity of catalytic, thermal and hydrocracking plants at United Kingdom refineries was about 13 million tons a year. At a normally high rate of utilisation, this level of capacity would correspond to the use as feedstock, or as a source of feedstock, of roughly 40 per cent. of the residual fuel oil produced by crude oil distillation in 1976. My Department is aware of new cracking units planned or under construction at the Shell Haven, Lindsey and Mobil Coryton refineries. Texaco and Gulf have also announced a possible further project at Milford Haven. These schemes would provide additional capacity of 7 million tons a year.It is not possible to provide a simple estimate of the amount of new upgrading capacity needed to balance the national demand position. Different types of cracking plants produce different yields of light distillate at a given throughput level, and there are also important product quality considerations. Changes in the type of crude oil refined and in other secondary refining plant will also affect the position. The schemes now in hand will make a valuable contribution, but further projects will be needed to eliminate the United Kingdom's net deficit of light distillates and cater for future growth in demand.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the size of the gasoline market in the United Kingdom and the expected drop in sales following the recent additional Budget levy on the product.
In 1976, 16·9 million tonnes of motor spirit were delivered for inland consumption in the United Kingdom. This is an increase of just under 5 per cent. on the 1975 figure. The budget increase in road fuel duty is expected to reduce motor spirit consumtion by about 1 to 2 per cent. in 1977–78 below what it would otherwise have been and by substantially more in later years.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of North Sea crude oil is being refined in the United Kingdom and what portion of the barrel is attributable to light distillates.
About two-thirds of North Sea production has been disposed of for refining in the United Kingdom in recent months. In basic distillation, net of fuel and loss, Forties crude oil yields about 20 per cent. of light distillate. Some variation can be expected for other United Kingdom Continental Shelf fields.
Nationalised Industries (Employees' Perquisites)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list any benefits such as discounts available to employees in the nationalised industries for which he is responsible.
I am asking the chairmen of the energy nationalised industries to write to the hon. Member.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in his Department; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target.
When recruiting staff, my Department encourages registered disabled persons to apply, and in the case of clerical vacancies disabled persons may be accepted on the basis of ability to pass a short answer test as an alternative to the possession of GCE qualifications. With current restrictions on recruitment it may take some time to raise the current 1·8 per cent. to the target of 3 per cent., but my Department will take every opportunity to bring this about as soon as possible.
Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the implications for Great Britain of the United States decision to place in abeyance British contracts for reprocessing nuclear fuel.
No such decision has been taken.
Oil Production Costs
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the most recent estimates for the cost of producing North Sea oil; and how these compare with earlier estimates.
The costs of producing oil vary widely from one oilfield to another and the overall range for the 14 currently commercial fields is now estimated to be $3 to $9 per barrel at 1976 prices. This compares with a range of $2 to $8 at 1975 prices given previously. Both ranges include the cost of exploration, development and operation of the fields including an allowance for the cost of the capital funds employed. Payments to the Government of taxes and royalties—which do not represent a using up of resources—have been excluded in line with normal practice for this sort of calculation.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussions he has had with the Leader of the Liberal Party regarding the further nationalisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange.
Customs Officers (Dover)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many officers of the Customs and Excise have been allocated for out-of-hours examination at the port of Dover, at the landing office, at the station presentation of entries, repectively; and what were the equivalent figures for officers allocated for normal hours examination.
The numbers of officers of Customs employed in the port of Dover in landing and SPE offices vary from time to time according to the demands of the traffic. Figures given below are for out-of-hours and, in brackets, for normal hours attendance during a representative average week for import and export work.
|Landing Offices||SPE Offices|
|* The whole of Sunday is out-of-hours.|
Tax Reserve Certificates
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consideration he has given to the reintroduction of tax reserve certificates; and what conclusions he has reached.
A scheme of certificates of tax deposit which may be applied to the payment of personal or corporate tax liabilities was introduced in the autumn of 1975. I shall send the hon. Member a copy of the prospectus.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in (a) the Royal Mint, (b) the Inland Revenue, (c) National Savings, (d) Her Majesty's Customs and Excise and (e) Her Majesty's Treasury; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target in each case.
All recruitment is governed by rules laid down by the Civil Service Commission which include a code of practice for the employment of registered disabled persons. Preference is given to registered disabled persons subject only to their ability to undertake the duties required. Every effort is being made to increase the number of registered disabled employed. The Royal Mint already employs more than 3 per cent. registered disabled persons but I am not able to forecast when the targets will be achieved in the other Departments.
Inland Revenue Staff (Pay)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what were the wage costs of the Inland Revenue in each of the past six years.
The wage costs of the Inland Revenue Department from 1971–72 onwards, including employer's national insurance and overtime but excluding the remuneration of clerks to commissioners, have been as follows:
National Insurance Pension Contributions
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the discussions with the TUC on the next round of pay policy will take account of the increases in national insurance pension contributions due to take effect in April 1978 under the Social Security Pensions Act 1975.
Our discussions will cover a wide range of matters including social security provisions.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current rate of inflation, as defined by the percentage rise in the retail price index over the three months to March, expressed as an annual rate.
I shall let the hon. Member have a reply as soon as possible.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates will be the saving in tax relief over a 12-month period from the 1 per cent. reduction in: the mortgage interest rate.
I shall let my hon. Friend have a reply as soon as possible.
Advance Corporation Tax
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest date on which he can announce the possible change in the rate of advance corporation tax from 35 per cent. to 33 per cent.
It would be my right hon. Friend's intention to announce the consequential change in the rate of advance corporation tax from 35/65ths to 33/67ths on the same day as he announced a reduction in the basic rate of income tax from 35 per cent. to 33 per cent. If the hon. Member has a particular problem in mind, he may like to write to me.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) whether payments made to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue can be regarded as public expenditure, with particular reference to the payments totalling £1,848,318 specified in his Written Answer to the hon. Member for Warley, East, Official Report, 31st March 1977, column 240;(2) whether the discharge in kind, to the extent permitted under statute, of obligations in respect of capital taxes can be regarded as public expenditure.
Public expenditure is incurred when the National Land Fund meets the cost of the revenue forgone through these transactions.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list in the Official Report the total of all personal income which is currently taxed at the basic or higher rates of income tax, all those allowances which are deducted from income before tax is levied, together with the value of the income allowed and the tax expenditure involved and the total of personal income which would be taxed if no allowances were given.
, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 31st March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 237], gave the following answer:
The estimates for 1976–77 are as follows:
|Allowances and deductions||33·1|
|Cost of allowances and deductions (assuming 1976–77 tax rates would have been maintained in their absence)||12·0|
Social Security Benefits (Commutation)
asked the Chancellor of the Evxchequer in what circumstances cash allowance paid from public funds may be commuted.
I have been asked to reply.I believe that the right hon. Gentleman wishes to know what steps would be necessary to enable mobility allowance to paid as a lump sum covering a forward period of some years. This would require principal legislation.
Health Services (Joint Funding)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish examples of good practice in joint funding projects by area health authorities and local authorities.
Good practice in joint funding depends upon local circumstances, and for this reason local and health authorities in England have been given a large measure of discretion in deciding how allocations should be used. I have been particularly interested in some of the imaginative projects authorites have planned—for example, provision of intensive domiciary support, night sitting services, appointment of staff to organise group home and lodging schemes for mentally ill or handicapped people, provision of a community mental health centre for use by both the health and the local authority and experimental day centres for the support of mentally handicapped children and their families. My right hon. Friends and I, and officers of my Department, are active in participating in conferences and seminars in which knowledge of these and other projects is disseminated. We will consider in due course publication of descriptions of successful projects.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many local authorities are involved in joint financing of local social services policies with their area health authorities, where (a) capital projects under £50,000 are involved, or (b) no question of loan sanction is involved; what is their total value; and what proportion of this is for capital or revenue schemes.
Information is not available in precisely the form requested. Reports from regional health authorities in England during 1976–77 identified proposals to spend £1·3 million in that year on capital projects costing less than £50,000—including projects where no question of loan sanction arose—and £2·3 million on revenue schemes. Projects costing £50,000 or more of a total value of £1·5 million, where no question of loan sanction arose, were notified.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take action to foster the exchange of information about successful joint funding projects between local authorities and those concerned with their positive development in the United Kingdom.
Yes, when projects have had time to prove themselves.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what monitoring of the use of joint funding his Department is carrying out.
Regional health authorities in England are required to provide information on the use of their joint finance allocations in a form to enable my Department to identify and take up with the authorities issues which call for discussion. Regional health authorities have a similar monitoring rôle within their regions.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list in the Official Report the percentage of the total population dependent on national assistance/supplementary benefit for each year since 1948.
The information requested is as follows:
|NUMBER OF CLAIMANTS AND DEPENDANTS IN GREAT BRITAIN AS A PERCENTAGE OF POPULATION|
|* Number of claimants and dependants are derived from annual sample inquiries in November of each year. No such inquiries were made in 1949 or 1966.|
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in his Department; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target.
Recruitment of executive officers for my Department is undertaken by the Civil Service Commission. If a candidate offered is disabled, every effort is made to find a suitable post.Recruitment to clerical and similar grades is delegated to Departments.All recruitment exercises are publicly advertised and the advertisements now mention that my Department is willing to consider registered disabled persons for vacancies. Local recruitment boards have been reminded of the undertaking to employ a quota of disabled persons.Disablement resettlement officers are kept informed by the Civil Service regional adviser when my Department is recruiting.Staff now retiring include war disabled persons. Other registered disabled persons suitable for employment are not coming forward in response to recruitment advertisements in sufficient numbers to attain the 3 per cent. target. Since my Department tends to attract more female recruits than males, and because of the lower percentage of registered disabled persons amongst females, it is impossible to estimate when the overall quota target will be reached. Over 4 per cent. of the male staff in my Department are registered disabled.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many consultant rheumatologists there are in each of the health board areas in England.
Figures for consultant staff in England are not collected centrally on an area basis. At 30th September 1976 the whole-time equivalent consultants in rheumatology and rehabilitation in each of the regions were as given in the table below. Figures are not collected separately for the sub-specialty of rheumatology.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services under what circumstances social security pays for children to go into care at the taxpayers' and/or ratepayers' expense while one or both parents go on holiday abroad on money saved out of social security benefits; and if he will make a statement on the case of Mrs. Anna Gupta, currently a social security claimant, currently on two months' holiday in Italy, while her four children have been put in care.
Social security offices do not pay for children to go into care in the circumstances described by the hon. Member. My Department is looking into the individual case he mentioned and I will write to him when more information is available.
Mentally Handicapped Persons
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if his Department has agreed to Cornwall County Council's request for loan sanction for the establishment of an adult training centre for the mentally handicapped at Liskeard for the financial year 1977–78; and if he will make a statement.
Consideration of proposals by local authorities in England for inclusion in the programme of social services projects provisionally approved for loan sanction purposes in 1977–78 has taken longer than I expected when writing to the hon. Gentleman recently. But the list will issue shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many retirement pensioners have had their pension reduced by £1 per week as a result of the introduction of child benefit for the first child at the latest date.
I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to his Question yesterday.—[Vol. 930, c. 108.]
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the regulations regarding the number of pairs of shoes a disabled person may have from the National Health Service at any one time.
There are no statutory regulations, but, when surgical footwear is prescribed, health authorities normally provide two pairs. Exceptionally, a third pair may be supplied where there are strong medical or occupational grounds or where the patient would suffer hardship without them.
asked the Minister for Overseas Development what aid she intends to provide for Botswana, in view of the economic difficulties that country is sustaining in coping with the movement of refugees from Southern Rhodesia and South Africa.
I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to the hon. Member for Haltemprice (Mr. Wall) on 9th March—[Vol. 927, c. 600.] The report has now been received on the visit to Botswana by a United Nations mission and its recommendations are being studied.My hon. Friend will be pleased to learn that Her Majesty's Government are now to offer £200,000 to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide assistance for Rhodesian refugees, particularly children, who are now fairly widely spread in countries adjacent to Rhodesia, including, of course, Botswana. This will be in addition to our regular contributions to the UNHCR and to the special contribution of £100,000 for Rhodesian refugees in Mozambique which was pledged in October 1976. Parliamentary approval of this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the Overseas Aid Vote. Pending that approval, any expenditure required for urgent needs will be met by repayable advances from the Contingencies Fund.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether the recent aware of a contract to British Rail Engineering to supply new rolling stock to Kenya Railways will be partly financed out of British aid funds.
No. The contract was won because the tender was fully competitive on price and commercial terms.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development what action he is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in his Department; and when he expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target.
The Ministry carries out its own recruitment only for the more junior posts. It is our practice to invite disabled people to apply for these and to give them some preference. We are anxious to reach the 3 per cent. quota, but when we shall do so depends on the number of well-qualified disabled people who present themselves for recruitment.
asked the Minister of Overseas Development when she expects to complete her next review into British funding of the Vipyha forestry project in Malawi.
My officials will be having talks in May with the Malawi Government, and these will include both a review of the Viphya forestry project and discussions about our continued support for the project.
Education And Science
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she is taking to increase the number of registered disabled persons employed in her Department; and when she expects to achieve the 3 per cent. target.
In common with other Government Departments my Department has appointed a departmental disabled persons officer who is responsible for ensuring that the code of practice governing the employment of registered disabled persons in Government Departments is complied with. There has been an encouraging increase recently in the number of RDPs employed in my Department and efforts are being made to achieve the 3 per cent. target as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether works on other major road schemes in Wales, that have hitherto had to wait for the completion of the M4, will be delayed until after the completion of the Baglan-Lonlas section of the M4, for which there is currently no forecast completion date.
Elderly Persons' Bungalows (Talysarn)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received from Arfon Borough Council concerning the construction of bungalows for elderly persons at Talysarn, Gwynedd; and what answer he has given to these representations.
Yardstick approval was given in respect of this scheme on 30th December 1976. At the same time, certain changes in design detail were suggested to the council, to which it responded on 1st April 1977. A further letter agreeing to the amendments has now been sent to Arfon Borough Council.
|1974 (January-March)||1974–75 (April-March)||1975–76 (April-March)||1976–77 (April-March) (provisional)|
|* Includes FEOGA expenditure||…||…||…||2·5||11·6||21·4||8·7|
|† Includes expenditure under Appropriation Acts||…||56·5||46·4||10·1||—|
|The food subsidy programme will be phased out during this year. The precise timing will be announced nearer the event. Variations in the approximate retail level of subsidies since February 1974 have been as follows:|
|February 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||1p per pint|
|From April 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2p per pint|
|From October 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2½p per pint|
|From April 1975||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2p per pint|
|From December 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||1p per pint|
|From April 1977||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||½p per pint|
|February 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2p per lb.|
|From 1st April 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||5½p per lb.|
|From 7th October 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||9p per lb.|
|From 1st March 1975||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||11p per lb.|
|From 6th June 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||7p per lb.|
|From 14th November 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||4p per lb.|
|From 28th December 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||Abolished|
|From 6th May 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||7p per lb.|
|From 11th November 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||12p per lb.|
|From 25th January 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||10p per lb.|
|From 14th November 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||7p per lb.|
|From 28th December 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||3p per lb.|
Prices And Consumer Protection
asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the level of food subsidies provided by Her Majesty's Government since February 1974, both in global terms for each commodity and in price per unit and those changes already announced but not yet implemented.
The level of expenditure on food subsidies since April 1974 is given below. It is not possible, without incurring disproportionate cost, to give figures from February 1974, but expenditure in the first quarter of 1974 is shown, where applicable.
|From 25th March 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||½p per large loaf|
|From 13th May 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2p per large loaf|
|From 16th August 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2½p per large loaf|
|From 13th January 1975||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||3p per large loaf|
|From 16th February 1975||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2½p per large loaf|
|From 30th November 1975||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||2p per large loaf|
|From 9th August 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||1½p per large loaf|
|From 2nd January 1977||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||1p per large loaf|
|From 2nd September1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||1p per lb.|
|From 2nd September 1974||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||8p per lb.|
|From 26th September 1976||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||Abolished|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has granted any exemptions under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976; and if he will make a statement.
The Secretary of State has granted one exemption under Section 27(9) of the Companies Act 1976 in favour of Bank of England Nominees Ltd., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Bank of England. Bank of England Nominees Ltd. have given a number of undertakings about the use to be made of the exemption. They will hold securities as nominee only on behalf of Heads of State and their immediate family, Governments, official bodies controlled or closely related to Governments, and international organisations formed by Governments or official bodies. They will in turn seek certain assurances from anyone in the eligible categories who wishes them to hold the securities as that person's nominee. These assurances are to cover (a) the fact that the person is the beneficial owner of the securities to be held by Bank of England Nominees Ltd.; (b) that the beneficial owner will not use his interest in any securities held by Bank of England Nominees Ltd. to influence the affairs of the company in which shares are held except as shareholders in general meetings of that company; (c) that the beneficial owner is aware of his overriding obligation, under Section 33 of the Companies Act 1967 as amended, to disclose his interest to the company in which shares are held if he is interested in 5 per cent. or more of that company's share capital.
Bank of England Nominees Ltd. has also undertaken to make a report annually to the Secretary of State for Trade of the identity of those for whom it holds securities, and, provided that it holds securities for two or more people, the total value of the securities held. The contents of such reports are to be confidential to the Secretary of State.
Post Office (Questionnaires)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry under what statutory authority the Post Office is permitted to send out a questionnaire asking addressees to give details of sex and the Independent Television channels they watch.
The Post Office's power to provide telecommunications services extends to related commercial activities, including market research. It is made clear to customers that their participation is entirely voluntary.
Power Plant Manufacturing
asked the Secretary of State for Industry at what extent his proposals for the future of the power plant manufacturing industry will require a contraction in manufacturing capacity and in employment.
The measures in mind are intended to establish an internationally competitive manufacturing industry which offers the only prospect of long-term security of employment. As I said in my answer to the hon. Member on 19th April, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry expects to be in a position to announce proposals for action shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what is his estimate of the tonnage of merchant ships produced annually by Common Market countries; and what percentage of total capacity in each state these figures represent;(2) what is the United Kingdom capacity for building merchant shipping; and
|'000 Gross Registered Tons|
|Republic of Ireland||…||…||…||…||…||0·4||30·5||29|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) whether Resolution 639 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on multi-national corporations has been drawn to his attention; and what action the Government intend to take upon it;(2) what action he intends to take to strengthen international co-operation in the field of operations of multi-national corporations to ensure that such corporations adhere strictly to the guidelines specifically applicable to the activities as laid down by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development Council in June 1976;(3) what part he is playing within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to ensure that all industrialised countries observe the recommendations laid down by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development with regard to multinational corporations;(4) what proposals he has to give effect to the various recommendations in paragraph 18 of Resolution 639 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
Her Majesty's Government believe that international co-operation is needed to deal with the international aspects of the operations of
what percentage of that capacity is under utilised at the latest date for which figures are available.
There is no satisfactory measure of shipbuilding capacity as such or of its utilisation. One indication is the output achieved in recent years. Lloyds Register of Shipping has published the following figures for merchant ships completed in EEC countries during each of the last three years:transnational corporations. We are playing a full part in the relevant activities of the various international organisations, particularly in the work of the United Nations Commission on Transnational Corporations which has just begun work on a code of conduct. We will keep the relevant provisions of Resolution 639 in mind in the course of this work. In my right hon. Friend's foreword to Cmnd. 6525 he expressed Her Majesty's Government's full support for the OECD declaration on international investments and multi-national enterprises to which Resolution 639 refers and commended the guidelines for multinational enterprises contained therein to United Kingdom companies. Her Majesty's Government will continue to play a full part in the inter-governmental consultation machinery which has been established in OECD to provide a forum for reviewing the application of the OECD guidelines.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether, within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, he has produced proposals introducing mandatory legislation concerning the multi-national corporations.
This is a complex field where we have to adopt an evolutionary approach, and the next step is to gain experience of the application of the guidelines.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has proposals to make to the Council of Ministers at the Council of Europe to require multinational corporations to fulfil more stringent social obligations in the social charter of the Council of Europe and that they respect human rights in all countries in which they operate.
I will reply to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.
Building Research (Dampness And Condensation)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what use is being made of the Building Research Station by the Scottish Development Department, the Scottish Special Housing Association and new towns and local housing authorities in Scotland in finding new methods of overcoming the problems of dampness and condensation in multi-storey blocks and other dwellings.
Wide use is made by my Department and by housing authorities of the specialist advisory service of the Building Research Establishment (Scottish Laboratory) on building problems, including those associated with dampness and condensation. In 1971 a study by the Scottish Development Department and BRE resulted in the issue of a memorandum "Condensation: Diagnosis, Treatment and Remedial Measures in Existing Houses" to all housing authorities in Scotland. BRE has recently co-operated also with the National Building Agency in the production of reports for Glasgow District Council on condensation problems in flats.
|BASIC NON-DOMESTIC RATE POUNDAGES|
|1976–77||1977–78||Increase or Decrease|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||21||23||+2||+10|
|Ettrick and Lauderdale||…||…||…||…||33||34||+1||+3|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||13||13||NC||NC|
Scottish Council (Development And Industry)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what Government assistance is given to the Scottish Council (Development and Industry);(2) what attempts are being made to concentrate the task of attracting new industry to Scotland in the hands of the Scottish Development Agency.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Glasgow, Pollok (Mr. White) on 19th November 1976.—[Vol. 919, c. 765–6.]
Glasgow (Planning Application)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department asked Strathclyde Regional Council to call in the planning application approval by Glasgow District Council for a large-scale super store at Summerston, Glasgow; and what were the main considerations.
My Department had no part in the decision.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how rate poundages for 1977–78 compare with those for 1976–77.
Rate poundages for 1977–78 notified to me are shown in the following table, in comparison with those for 1976–77. Over Scotland as a whole rate poundages, excluding domestic water rates, will rise by an average of approximately 14 per cent.
Increase or Decrease
|Dumfries and Galloway Region||…||…||…||107||129||+22||+21|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||21||21||NC||NC|
|Annandale and Eskdale||…||…||…||…||24||24||NC||NC|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||8||9||+1||+13|
|North East Fife||…||…||…||…||…||31||34||+3||+10|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||23||25||+2||+9|
|Banff and Buchan||…||…||…||…||…||41||46||+5||+12|
|Kincardine and Deeside||…||…||…||…||25||32||+7||+28|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||17||24||+7||+41|
|Badenoch and Strathspey||…||…||…||…||30||34||+4||+13|
|Ross and Cromarty||…||…||…||…||40||52||+12||+30|
|Skye and Lochalsh||…||…||…||…||25||26||+1||+4|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||9||10||+1||+11|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||13||12||-1||-8|
|Argyll and Bute||…||…||…||…||…||66||66||NC||NC|
|Bearsden and Milngavie||…||…||…||…||44||47||+3||+7|
|Cumbernauld and Kilsyth||…||…||…||40||40||NC||NC|
|Cumnock and Doon Valley||…||…||…||51||51||NC||NC|
|Kilmarnock and Loudoun||…||…||…||55||59||+4||+7|
|Kyle and Carrick||…||…||…||…||…||52||60||+8||+15|
Increase or Decrease
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||…||16||16||NC||NC|
|Perth and Kinross||…||…||…||…||29||29||NC||NC|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||20||25||+5||+25|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||20||25||+5||+25|
|Domestic Water Rate||…||…||…||…||23||25||+2||+9|