Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 931: debated on Tuesday 3 May 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Friday 13th May 1977

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Research, And Development And Advisory Services

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what public funds were paid to the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service and the Agricultural Research Service in the last year for which figures are available.

My Department's Estimates for the current year 1977–78 provide for a net total expenditure of £36·2 million for the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service. This sum covers the salaries of all ADAS staff, their travelling expenses, capital and current expenditure at experimental centres, research establishments and regional laboratories, as well as the cost of other experimental, developmental and advisory work, less expected receipts of 2·9 million for sales of produce and supply of services.The Ministry commissions work with the Agricultural Research Council, and the current year estimate for this is £22·3 million. The total cost to public funds of the Agricultural Research Service is, however, a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Education and Science.

Green Pound

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current difference between the position of the Irish green pound and the British green pound.

The new representative rates agreed at this year's price settlement are £1 = 1·70463 units of account for the United Kingdom and £1 = 1·35190 units of account for the Irish Republic, a difference of 26 per cent.

Marketing Boards

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a further statement on the future of the milk, potato and egg marketing boards in the context of the United Kingdom's full EEC membership in 1978.

As my right hon. Friend told the House on 27th April—[Vol. 930, c. 1236]—Commissioner Gundelach is presently studying how the functions of the Milk Marketing Boards can be maintained. The future rôle of the Potato Marketing Board will depend upon the form of the CAP régime for potatoes, proposals for which have been discussed and are now being reconsidered in Brussels. The British Egg Marketing Board no longer exists.

Wine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is satisfied that the English wine growers are prepared for the new regulations on descriptions of wines, due to come in to effect on 1st September 1977.

Yes. The legislation has been freely available since last July, and my Department has given full advice to growers.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will encourage the English wine growers to continue the increase in production of quality wines and draw up a programme with the industry to enable the United Kingdom to subscribe to the EEC quality wine regulations (EEC 817/70) as soon as possible.

To achieve the Community status of "quality wine produced in a specified region" it is necessary to undergo an extensive programme of testing and controls lasting at least 10 years. I am willing to discuss with growers whether such a programme and the consequent expenditure by Government and producers would be worth while, but it is clear that United Kingdom growers cannot qualify for this status at present. There is an alternative provision for wines to qualify for description as table wines with an indication of geographical origin. The English Vineyards Association has agreed in principle to my Department's suggestion that it should make use of this provision, and I hope discussions about the detailed arrangements to achieve this will begin shortly.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what assistance his Department gives to British wine growers; whether he is satisfied with the growth of the industry; and whether he will make a statement.

Assistance is available under various grant schemes, including the Farm and Horticultural Development Scheme and the Farm and Horticultural Capital Grant Scheme. The Department makes every effort to encourage all producers and growers to make efficient use of their land and other resources in the light of market prospects for their products. It is for the producers and growers themselves to determine, within their general economic circumstances, the extent to which they develop any particular enterprise, such as vine growing, on their land.

Departmental Staff

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many members of his Department of the rank of Assistant Secretary or above have at least one year's practical experience in farming.

Detailed figures are not readily available. Most officers in the professional group at Assistant Secretary level and above have spent a substantial part of their careers dealing with on-farm problems. Many of them have necessarily had at least one year's experience working on farms before entering for academic qualifications in agriculture. In the Administration and Science Groups, however, such experience is uncommon, and an agricultural education or background is not required on entry.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many members of his Department of the rank of Assistant Secretary or above have at least one year's practical experience in forestry.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I are advised on forestry matters by the Forestry Commission. The Commission employs seven officers of rank equivalent to Assistant Secretary or above with professional qualifications and many years' experience of practical management in forestry.

Education And Science

Film Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what discussions have taken place between her Department and the Welsh Arts Council about financial support for film making in Wales.

Most public financial support for film making in Wales, as elsewhere, is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade. I am responsible through the Arts Council of Great Britain and the British Film Institute for the support of films about the arts and of the film as an art form. Officers of my Department discussed last November with representatives of the Welsh Office, the Welsh Arts Council and the British Film Institute the long-term policy for public funding of the art of the film in Wales.

British Film Institute

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what was the total spending of the British Film Institute in each country of the United Kingdom for each year since 1970; and if she will express the totals as a percentage of the population in each country;(2) how many films were financially supported by the British Film Institute in each country of the United Kingdom in each year since 1970; and in what languages these films were produced.

I regret that this information is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total amount expended by the British Film Institute in each country of the United Kingdom on support for cinemas.

The British Film Institute gives support to regional film theatres through its Housing the Cinema Fund which was set up in 1967 to assist with the provision of new buildings and equipment or adaptation of existing buildings. The total capital grants from this fund until 1975–76 were:

£
England663,000
Scotland130,000
Wales70,000
In addition, recurrent grants are made by the BFI to the National Film Theatre and to film societies, university centres and regional film theatres. I regret that corresponding detailed figures are not readily available.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will undertake an inquiry into the activities of the British Film Institute in Wales.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she is satisfied with the British Film Institute's policy towards the production of films in Wales and in the Welsh language.

Yes. The British Film Institute's policy is to support, in England and Wales, and within the resources available, projects that advance the art of the film wherever and in whatever language they are produced.

Employment

Textile Workers

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what

AVERAGE GROSS WEEKLY EARNINGS OF FULL-TIME MANUAL WORKERS
Industry—(Minimum List Heading of the Standard Industrial Classification)Men aged 21 and overWomen aged 18 and over
££
Production of man-made fibres72·0046·38
Spinning and doubling on the cotton and flax systems57·2240·13
Weaving of cotton, linen and man-made fibres58·1139·68
Woollen and Worsted59·1137·89
Jute54·4442·48
Rope, twine and net56·5539·67
Hosiery and other knitted goods59·0735·83
Lace59·1233·62
Carpets65·4348·31
Narrow fabrics (not more than 30 cms. wide)54·6835·57
Made up textiles52·6132·69
Textile finishing58·9338·95
Other textile industries66·8741·53

is his current estimate, to the latest convenient date, of the number of people employed in the United Kingdom textile industry;

(2) what proportion of those people employed in the United Kingdom textile industry are women.

At February 1977, the latest date for which information is available, the estimated number of employees in employment in the textile industry in the United Kingdom was 526,000, of which 45 per cent. were females.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate, to the latest convenient date, of the number of people who have been made redundant by firms in the textile industry during the last year.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the number of workpeople involved in redundancies recorded as due to occur in the textile industry during the period 1st May 1976 to 30th April 1977 was 9,870.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the current average wages in each section of the textile industry in the United Kingdom.

The latest available estimates relate to October 1976. They were obtained from my Department's annual inquiry in these and other manufacturing industries and relate to full-time manual workers including those whose pay for the reference week was affected by absence.

Energy

Research

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is satisfied with progress to date on the development of alternative renewable sources of energy.

Progress with the programmes already announced is encouraging. They are being kept under review by my Advisory Council on Research and Development (ACORD), which also advises on the level of R & D funding appropriate to each energy source. Current programmes are commensurate with the early stage in the development of renewable energy sources and with their likely contribution to the country's energy supply.

Nuclear Reprocessing

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has obtained the consent of the USA for the reprocessing of spent Japanese nuclear fuel elements at Windscale pursuant to delivery which is likely to be made to the BNFL under a contract now being negotiated with Japanese utilities.

No. It is a condition of supply of fuel of United States origin that the customer should seek United States approval for the transfer of irradiated fuel for reprocessing overseas.

UNITED KINGDOM ENERGY CONSUMPTION BY FINAL USERS—1976 (PROVISIONAL)
Percentage of Total consumptionApproximate percentage of import dependance*
(a) Industrial Sector (including iron and steel industry)39·735
(b) Commercial, agricultural and public administration Sectors.12·745
(c) Domestic Sector25·413
(d) Transport Sector22·285
100·0
* In the case of solid fuels it is generally possible to allocate imports and United Kingdom production between final users. However, in the case of gas, petroleum and electricity the primary fuels consumed are merged before distribution to final users and it is not possible, therefore, to allocate final use by origin. The above approximations are based on the assumption that the import and United Kingdom production relationship at the primary input stage is also reflected down through the individual consuming sectors.

Energy Research Support Unit

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what funds have been made available by his Department to the Scientific Research Council's Energy Research

Conservation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how much money has been allocated in the past year for which figures are available by the Government for research into energy conservation; and what are the organisations receiving State funds for this purpose.

Public expenditure on energy conservation research and development, defined here as excluding the alternative energy sources, totalled about £16 million in 1975–76. This figure includes considerable expenditure in the nationalised industries. Much of this work is carried out by Departments and nationalised industries themselves, but work is also contracted to many other bodies including research associations, research councils, universities and industry.

Consumption

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what percentage of total United Kingdom energy consumption in 1976 was accounted by (a) the industrial sector, including iron and steel, (b) the commercial sector, including agriculture and public administration, (c) the domestic sector, (d) the transport sector; and what was the percentage level of import dependence in each case.

As follows:Support Unit in recent years; and how the moneys have been allocated.

I have been asked to reply.The Science Research Council established the Energy Research Support Unit in 1976 to complement and support university research in the energy field. It is spending £400,000 on the Unit and associated university programmes in 1977–78. Funds have not been provided by the Department of Energy.

Environment

Rent Rebates And Allowances

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the number of claimants eligible but not claiming (a) rent rebates, (b) rent allowances for unfurnished tenants, and (c) rent allowances for furnished tenants on what basis his Department's calculation is made; what is the total value of unclaimed benefit for each of the three rebates; and what are the corresponding figures for the past five years.

Following are the available estimates:

NUMBER OF TENANTS ELIGIBLE BUT NOT CLAIMING RENT REBATES AND ALLOWANCES—ENGLAND AND WALES: 1973–1976
thousands
Rent Rebates NumberRent allowances (unfurnished) Number
May 1973300–350350–450
April 1974300–350350–400
April 1975300–350300–350
April 1976250–300Not available
Estimates of unclaimed allowances for furnished tenancies are not available.The total value of unclaimed benefit at April 1975 is estimated at around £20 million per annum in the case of rent rebates and at around £30 million per annum in the case of unfurnished allowances. Reliable estimates for earlier years are not available.The above figures are derived from an estimate of the numbers eligible for a rebate or allowance based on the Family Expenditure Survey and from returns by local authorities of the number of rebates or allowances granted. They are subject to sampling error and should be treated with caution.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the total expenditure on rent rebates and allowances for each year since 1970; and if he will also express these sums in 1977 prices.

Rent rebates and allowances first became mandatory under the Housing Finance Act 1972. The figures for England are:

£m£m
Outturn Prices1977 Survey Prices
1972–7370142
1973–74181337
1974–75219346
1975–76258330
1976–77 (Provisional)341385

Planning

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards the Environmental Impact Analysis Report recently prepared for his Department; and if he will make a statement.

The report raises wide issues affecting not only the evaluation of proposals for development but also the availability of specialised skills and the deployment of manpower resources in local government. It was published without commitment as a discussion document on which the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and I would welcome views.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) to what extent he considers an environmental impact analysis would contribute to the efficacy of planning; and what deductions he has made from a study of United States experience;(2) to what extent he considers that an environmental impact analysis would lengthen the time of the planning process; and whether he accepts the report's criteria about the type of projects that should be submitted for this procedure.

These are topics discussed in the Thirlwall/Catlow Report on which I have invited views. I shall announce my conclusions on them and on the recommendations in the report having regard to the comments I receive.

Housing Subsidies

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the total sum spent in council house subsidies for each year since 1970; and if he will express these sums in 1977 prices.

The figures for English local authorities are:

£m
Outturn prices1977 Survey Prices
1970–71219505
1971–72216472
1972–73202413
1973–74287536
1974–75591932
1975–76767982
1976–77*9661,092
* Provisional.
The figures are for Exchequer subsidies and ate fund contributions excluding rent rebates

Otters

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now add otters to Schedule 1 to the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975.

I can make such an order only on the basis of a representation by the Nature Conservancy Council. Before making such a representation, the Council must be satisfied that the status of the otter as a British wild creature is being endangered by an action designated as an offence under the Act. I understand that the Council is currently considering as a matter of urgency a number of conservation measures put forward by its joint working group on otters, whose report is due to be published shortly.

Building Societies (Local Authority Mortgages)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will take steps to lay down the criteria by which building societies which advance money under council mortgage replacement schemes should assess each nomination.

Sport (South African Teams)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what reply he has made to a letter from the Sussex Campaign Against Racist Sport seeking a meeting to discuss Government policy on proposed South African participation in the Federation Cup tennis tournament, and the proposed visit of the South African Wanderers Cricket Club; and if he will make a statement.

I have just received the letter to which my hon. Friend refers, and I shall be replying to it as soon as possible.

Mobile Homes Review Body

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish the report of the Mobile Homes Review Body.

The report has taken a little longer to prepare than expected, but I hope that it will be ready quite soon. I am anxious to bring it forward for publication.

Community Land

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many acres have been bought by Welsh local authorities to date under the powers of the Land Community Act; and at what price.

I have been asked to reply.Welsh local authorities have no power to acquire land under the Community Land Act 1975. Information about acquisitions by the Land Authority, which operates the land scheme in Wales, can be obtained from that Authority.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has had any discussions with Spain concerning a possible application from Spain to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Passports

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the name and nature of the international agreement adhered to by Her Majesty's Government relating to the introduction of a uniform passport for member States of the European Economic Community.

The European uniform passport stems from decisions taken at a Heads of Government Meeting held in Paris in December 1974 and the European Council Meeting held in Rome in December 1975.

Government Hospitality (Wine)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether British embassies and consulates abroad serve English wines on appropriate occasions; and whether he will take steps to encourage this practice.

I know of a number of specific occasions when British representatives abroad have served English wines at official functions. One of the principal tasks of British missions and posts overseas is to promote British exports, and they are always ready to assist with the promotion of English wines in appropriate ways.

Departmental Staff (Loans)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether his Department, as employer, has notified the Inland Revenue of extension of interest-free loans to its employees under Chapter II of the Finance Act 1976 and transmitted to the Revenue tax on the cash equivalent of such loans as defined in Section 66 of that Act.

The Civil Service Department, on behalf of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and other Government Departments, has notified the Inland Revenue, under Chapter II, of all allowances payable to civil servants, including interest-free advances and loans. The Revenue has told them that the notional interest on these advances and loans will be subject to tax. The provisions of Section 66 of the Act do not, however, take effect until the financial year 1978–79.

Prices

asked the Prime Minister if, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Lady the Leader of the Opposition on 5th May concerning the selective use of statistics, he will indicate from what date since the Labour Government came into office their policies, rather than the continuing effect of those of their predecessors, governed the movement of prices.

Government Hospitality (Wine)

asked the Prime Minister whether he arranged for English wines to be served to the Heads of Government during their visit to 10 Downing Street.

No. But English wines have been served at official functions on a number of recent occasions and will be served at a lunch which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture will be holding for the EEC Ministers of Agriculture on 24th May.

Home Department

Mr Zohair Yousif Akache

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has reason to believe that Mr. Zohair Yousif Akache has left the United Kingdom; if so, what was the date, time and place of departure; and under what name and travelling under what documents he left the United Kingdom.

It would not be in the public interest, while police inquiries are continuing, to add to the reply which I gave to a Question by the hon. Member on 2nd May.—[Vol. 931, c. 43.]

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report his reply to the Chairman of the Community Relations Commission on the new immigration regulations covering male spouses.

I am placing a copy in the Library of the chairman's letter and my reply.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take action to prevent persons with four wives from having the right to enter Great Britain with these four women and their children for settlement.

Such a case would be dealt with in accordance with the Immigration Rules under which a man settled in the United Kingdom may be joined by his wife for settlement where the marriage is one that would be recognised as valid under our law, subject to the issue of the necessary entry clearance. I have no reason to believe that wives by polygamous marriages which may be recognised in the United Kingdom are applying for entry clearances in any significant numbers.

Police (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what firm offers have been made to the representatives of the Police Federations in connection with their pay claim.

An increase of 5 per cent. on earnings with a minimum of £2·50 a week and a maximum of £4. This offer was made last July to be effective from 1st September 1976. It is still open. The average benefit to a constable at the bottom of the scale would be £2·83 a week, rising to £3·79 at the top of the constables' scale. Sergeants with two years' service or more and all inspectors and chief inspectors would get the maximum of £4 a week.In addition, I, in consultation with the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland, have agreed that there should be a review, under an independent chairman, of the police negotiating machine. Invitations to assist in this review have already been sent out, and it will be set up as soon as possible after the outstanding replies have been received. We have also agreed that there should be an inquiry into the constitution of the Police Federations.

Cypriots

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many refugees from Cyprus were admitted the United Kingdom after the Turkish invasion; how many remain in the United Kingdom; and what is his policy regarding their staying in the United Kingdom particularly if they came from areas now occupied by the Turkish Army;(2) in what circumstances and for what reasons Greek Cypriots who came to the United Kingdom as refugees after the invasion have been refused permission to stay.

As explained in the Home Office Memorandum of Evidence to the Select Committee on Cyprus—which was published with the Committee's report—no person has been admitted from Cyprus as a refugee, which is a term defined in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951), but the Immigration Rules have been applied flexibly and with sympathy in the light of conditions in Cyprus. The criteria which are applied in considering applications by Cypriots for permission to prolong a temporary stay in the United Kingdom were fully described in that Memorandum and in the Government's observations (Cmnd. 6579) on the Select Committee's Report.

Metropolitan Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) whether he will give, for the longest and most convenient stated period of time, the number of complaints and communications sent by Members of Parliament to him for the Metropolitan Police; what was the actual or average time for replies to be sent; and whether he will take action to ensure that taxpayers and Members of Parliament receive earlier replies to their communications;(2) whether he will cause an investigation to be made into the action of the Metropolitan Police in keeping the general public and Members of Parliament waiting months for replies which should be sent within a few days of the receipt of letters.

The information requested is not available and could be extracted only at disproportionate cost. The time taken to deal with complaints and communications from Members of Parliament and from members of the public varies from one case to another with the complexity of the case and the extent of investigation required. Both the Commissioner and I seek to deal with hon. Members' correspondence as expeditiously as circumstances and the need for proper consideration permit; but cases may sometimes take longer to deal with than either of us, or indeed my hon. Friend, would ideally wish, at a time of severe constraints upon manpower and resources in the public services.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will cause an investigation to be made into why it took the police so long to deal with matters connected with the case raised with them by the hon. Member for Newham, North-West affecting his constituent Mr. A. M. Qureshi; and what was contained in the letter dated 22nd April which could not have been sent within days of receipt of the original complaint.

No. This is a matter for which the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis is responsible, and I understand he is already in correspondence with my hon. Friend about it.

Sunday Trading

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, whether he is aware of the growing practice of shops opening every day of the week including Sundays, contrary to the Shops Act, which is upsetting those shopkeepers who obey the law and residents

YearIrish RepublicanIrish (Non-Republican)OthersTotals
196961016
197088
19718412
19722417
197320222
1974103114
197536238
197627835
1977 (to date)99
Totals1261718161

Community Service Orders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will set out the number of community service orders made by each court in Inner London during each of the last four years, indicating the number of persons covered each year;(2) how many hours were worked under community service orders imposed by who find their Sundays disturbed; and if he will issue a circular to local authorities drawing to their attention the need to enforce the law in this area.

I would refer my hon. Friend to what I said about enforcement of the Shops Act in the Adjournment debate on 28th April. I believe that local authorities are aware of their duty to enforce the Acts, and I see no need to issue a circular.

Terrorist Activities

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons in each year since 1969 have been imprisoned in England and Wales for Irish Republican Army or other terrorist activities.

There is no separate offence of terrorism in our criminal law. The table below is based on information kept by the Metropolitan Police giving an indication of the numbr of people sentenced to imprisonment in England and Wales for offences connected with terrorist activities in each year since 1969. The offences included range from murder and causing explosions to various firearms offences and offences under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. It is emphasised that the classification of particular offences as terrorist or connected with terrorism is a matter of judgment.Inner London courts during each of the last four years;(3) how many community service orders have been imposed for each major type of offence by Inner London courts during each of the last four years;(4) what was the average number of hours of community service imposed per offender by Inner London courts during each of the past four years.

I regret that not all the information requested is readily available. My noble Friend will write to my hon. Friend shortly with such information as can be provided.

Trade

Wine

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the marketing arrangements for English wines to help promote the tourist industry; and whether he will make a statement.

The promotion of English food and drink, including wine, is one of the aims of the "Taste of England" campaign sponsored by the English Tourist Board which has the statutory responsibility to encourage tourism in England.

Fraser And Borthwick Ltd, Irvine

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what indication he has had from Mr. H. B. Dawes, of Messrs. Mann, Judd, Gordon and Co. appointed Official Receiver in the case of Fraser and Borthwick Limited of Irvine on 17th February 1976, of the likely date of settlement of claims of former employees; and if he will make a statement.

Mr. H. B. Dawes, chartered accountant, is the receiver appointed on 17th February 1976 by the debenture holder of Fraser and Borthwick Limited. He is in possession of the assets and he is required to pay the preferential and debenture holders' claims. I am not in a position to intervene. I understand, however, that Mr. Dawes is doing all he can to resolve the preferential claims, including those of employees.

Sperm Oil Products

asked the Secretary of State for Trade why it is not the practice to publish port details in the publication of import figures for sperm whale oil.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 3rd May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 119], gave the following information:

Publication would reveal the commercial transactions of an individual trader, and it has long been normal practice not to disclose such information if the trader so requests. In this case it would reveal the trader's source of supply and unit value.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade which sperm oil products are not separately distinguished in the overseas trade statistics.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 3rd May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 119], gave the following information:My answer of 25th April gave details of those sperm oil products which are separately recorded. If there are any other imports of products or residues of the refinement of sperm oil, these would fall under the broad residual headings in SITC(R) 431.1 (Oils, animal or vegetable, boiled, oxidised, dehydrated, sulphurised, blown or polymerised) or 431.3 (Acid oils, fatty acids and solid residues from the treatment of fatty substances), where they are not separately distinguished.

Knitwear

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he will publish in the Official Report the quantity of imports, by volume, in 1974, 1975 and 1976 from Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan for knitted garments in categories, tariff headings 60.04 and 60.05, in a comparable form to the quota figures in the MFA and allied agreements; and if he will list the respective quota levels for knitwear imports from those countries that operated in 1975 and 1976, and will operate in 1977;(2) if he will publish in the

Official Report the quantity of imports, by volume, in 1975 and 1976 from Romania for knitted garments in categories, tariff headings 60.03, 60.04 and 60.05, in a comparable form to the quota figures in the MFA; and if he will list the respective quota levels for those goods for 1976 and 1977.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th May 1977], gave the following information:

Imports

Quotas

Country

Tariff Heading

Brief description of statistical heading

Unit of quantity

1974

1975

1976

Brief description of quota heading

1975

1976

1977

Hong Kongex 60.04Knitted shirtsThousand9,20112,4858,047Knitted shirts, T shirts, undervests singlets etc. (vest and singlets count as half a unit in 1977).11,52711,58511,473
Knitted undergarments other than shirts.Tonnes1,300934977Knitted undergarments other than shirts, T shirts, undervests, singlets etc. and mens and boys drawers and briefs.733763802
ex 60.05Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc. (including infants garments).Thousand15,92121,76418,064Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc. (excluding infants garments).17,58517,67317,761
Other Knitted outer garmentsTonnes1,8312,7412,629Other Knitted outer garments and infants garments.1,8211,8501,924
South Koreaex 60.04Knitted shirtsThousand8591,615880Knitted shirts, T shirts, undervests, singlets etc.No quota1,7081,995
ex 60.05Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc. (including infants garments).Thousand10,95813,53611,456Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc.No quota11,86011,919
Other knitted outer, garmentsTonnes124459478Other knitted outer garmentsNo quota300321
Taiwanex 60.04Knitted shirtsThousand3,0223,582943Shirts and sports shirts (including T shirts).2,3782,4842,575
Knitted undergarments other than shirts, tights and panti-hose.Tonnes393937Knitted undergarments other than shirts and sports shirts, tights and panti-hose (and drawers and briefs in 1977).134190240
ex 60.05Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc. (including infants garments).Thousand14,89118,0547,885Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc.15,65315,73115,810
Other Knitted outer garmentsTonnes327695142Other knitted outer garments348366390
Romaniaex 60.03Stockings, socks etcThousand pairsStockings, socks etc. (excluding womens stockings of synthetic fibres).350525
ex 60.04Knitted shirtsThousand1,2831,507Knitted shirts, T shirts vests, singlets etc.1,6001,859
Knitted undergarments other than shirts, tights, panti-hose, pyjamas and nightdresses.Thousand2,1701,905Knitted undergarments other than shirts, vests, tights, panti-hose, pyjamas and nightdresses.2,9003,215
ex 60.05Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc. (including infants garments).Thousand448673Jerseys, pullovers, cardigans, etc.9001,026
Other knitted outer garmentsTonnes7857Other knitted outer garments105112

Note.The statistical headings given above correspond as closely as possible to the quota headings, but in some instances are not exactly identical.

National Finance

Blind Persons

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost of restoring the original value of the blind person's tax allowance in a full year.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th May 1977], gave the following information:About £2 million.

National Debt

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many donations have been received by the Treasury to relieve the National Debt from members of the public in each year since 1945; and what was the total sum raised in each year.

Details in respect of the years 1945–48 are not readily available. The following shows the number of donations and sums raised in each of the years ending 31st March 1949 to 1977:

Year ending 31st MarchNumber of DonationsSums raised
£
194941595,310
19503752,409
19513741,012
19522950,347
195341137,883
19543331,669
195554100,886
19563448,745
19571831,239
19582811,588
19593652,186
19603583,012
19613041,381
19622827,904
19632629,155
19643051,403
19652645,611
19662112,227
19674232,894
19683925,350
19692241,680
19702627,396
197135501,796
19725453,442
197332197,037
19743345,384
197537110,744
19762263,476
197748117,912

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the size of the National Debt in (a) current prices, and (b) in constant prices in each year since 1945.

The National Debt at current and constant prices since 1945 was as follows:

£million
At current pricesIn constant prices (January 1974=100)
194521,366*
194623,63680,395
194725,63181,627
194825,62175,802
194925,16872,740
195025,80272,478
195125,92266,809
195225,89162,842
195326,05162,174
195426,58362,401
195526,93461,075
195627,03958,780
195727,00756,857
195827,23255,803
195927,37655,756
196027,73355,917
196128,25255,396
196228,67454,102
196329,84855,274
196430,22654,168
196530,44152,125
196631,34151,633
196731,98651,342
196834,19452,445
196933,98449,466
197033,07945,252
197133,44241,803
197235,84041,820
197336,88539,449
197440,12536,982
197545,92634,070
197656,58236,017
* A 1945 figure at constant prices is not available.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the biggest single donation from members of the public that has been received to relieve the National Debt.

The largest single donation for the reduction of the National Debt was about £527,000, given in 1928 by Lord Inchcape in memory of his daughter, the Hon. Elsie Mackay. This sum was to be accumulated for not more than 50 years and then applied in reduction of the National Debt. By 31st March 1976 the original sum had accumulated to the value of £4,039,000.

Wine

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the rate of duty on English grown wines; and what is the equivalent duty paid by wine growers in the other member States of the EEC on wine grown for domestic consumption.

The rates of excise duty and of VAT on table wine in each member State of the EEC are as follows:

Duty per gallon of Table WineRate of VAT
(£*)(per cent.)
United Kingdom3·258
Belgium0·8825
Denmark3·3115
France0·0517·6
Ireland2·3010
ItalyNil14
Luxembourg0·445
Netherlands0·8918
West GermanyNil11
* Converted at exchange rates on 10th May 1977.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the rate of duty on home-produced wine expressed as a percentage of the duty on home-produced beer in each of the member States of the EEC.

There is no recognised and uniquely fair way of comparing beer and wine. The following table shows the excise duty charged per degree of alcohol on table wine as a percentage of the excise duty on beer calculated on the same basis. In all EEC countries VAT is also charged.

United Kingdom152
Belgium134
Denmark75
France67
Ireland56
ItalyNil
Luxembourg86
Netherlands134
West GermanyNil

National Land Fund (Lord Rosebery's Treasures)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will specify the separate individual amounts paid from the National Land Fund to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in connection with the acceptance from Lord Rosebery in satisfaction of estate duty of each of three items, namely, (a) painting by Thomas Gainsborough of "Greyhounds coursing a fox", (b) bureau cabinet bearing monogram of Augustus III of Poland and (c) seventeenth century Franco-Flemish ebony and gilt bronze cabinet.

The amounts to be paid from the National Land Fund are as follows:

  • (i) eighteenth century bureau cabinet made for August III of Poland, £272,000;
  • (ii) seventeenth century ebony cabinet traditionally associated with Marie de Medici, £121,000;
  • (iii) painting by Thomas Gainsborough "Greyhounds coursing a fox", £83,250.
  • Guardian's Allowance

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much it would cost to disregard for income tax purposes the guardian's allowance.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 9th May 1977], gave the following information:Information on which to base a precise estimate is not available, but it is thought that the cost would be less than £½ million.

    Death Benefit (Deceased's Children)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much it would cost to disregard for income tax purposes the allowance paid for children of the deceased under Section 70 of the Social Security Act 1975, relating to industrial death benefit.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 9th May 1977], gave the following information:Information on which to base a precise estimate is not available, but the cost would be under £1 million.

    Pergamon Press Ltd

    asked the Attorney-General if he can now announce his decision following the Director of Public Prosecutions' investigation of Permamon Press.

    Yes. This complex matter has been the subject of a lengthy and extensive police investigation, involving a succession of police reports and consequent opinions from counsel instructed by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The final police report was received at the beginning of April, and together with all the papers, including the reports of the inspectors appointed by the Department of Trade under Section 165 of the Companies Act, it was carefully considered by counsel. They prepared a final series of opinions for the Director of Public Prosecutions. In these opinions counsel came to the conclusion that proceedings against anyone concerned would not be justified. The Director of Public Prosecutions agreed with this conclusion. Having studied the opinions and relevant papers, and discussed them with counsel and the Director of Public Prosecutions, I am of the same opinion.

    Social Services

    Mr Abdul Azid

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether Mr Abdul Azid, an unemployed person of Whitman Road, London, E.3, receives supplementary benefit or other benefits in respect of two wives and children of those two wives; and what is the total value of all social security benefits in cash, kind, allowance, rebate, or discount received per week at the latest available week by Mr. Abdul Azid.

    Information about the benefit entitlement of individuals is confidential, but I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Lewis) on 12th October 1976—[Vol. 917, c. 108.]

    Whooping-Cough Vaccination

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will ask the joint committee on whooping-cough vaccination to include in its report the evidence supporting its new recommendation for an earlier commencing age for vaccination, and to relate it to the advice it gave in 1972;(2) if he will give the reasons for the change of policy on the desirable commencing age for immunisation; and if the joint committee has changed its mind on all of the three reasons favouring six months of age which it stated in its 1972 advice as being that before this age the antibody response may be reduced by the presence of maternal antibody, that the child's antibody forming mechanism is immature in the early months of life and that severe reactions to pertussis vaccine are less common in children over six months old than at three months of age.

    My hon. Friend's suggestion will be conveyed to the joint committee.The committee no longer considers that severe reactions to whooping-cough vaccine are more common in children under the age of six months than over that age. It now considers that the balance of advantage lies in protecting the child from the age of three months, when the danger from whooping cough is greatest, even though the level of immunity achieved at that age may not be as high as in an older child. It also took into account the fact that nearly all European and North American countries recommend a start at three months.

    Departmental Mail (Newcastle Upon Tyne)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total cost of OHMS postage incurred by the Newcastle upon Tyne office of his Department and what percentage of the letters sent were by first-class post.

    The total cost of OHMS postage incurred by the Newcastle upon Tyne office of my Department in the year ending April 1977 was £ 2¼ million. It is not feasible to separate each individual postal category, but, overall, 30 per cent. of all outgoing mail—including letters and packages of all kinds and order books for the payment of pensions and allowances—was despatched by first-class post.

    Disabled Living Foundation

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what grants his Department proposes to make to the activities of the Disabled Living Foundation in the current financial year.

    A grant of £93,000 is being made. This will cover the greater part of the costs of the Foundation's Aids Centre and Information Service for the Disabled. The Foundation has many other valuable projects in hand to help disabled people which must rely mainly on voluntary sources of finance. I take this opportunity to pay warm tribute to the very valuable work of this charitable foundation in helping disabled people to live full and active lives.

    Benefits (Review)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will now set out in detail the conclusions of his review in 1976–77 of national insurance benefits under Section 125 of the Social Security Act 1975.

    The purpose of a review under Section 125(1) of the Social Security Act 1975 is to determine whether the rates of the benefits referred to in that subsection have retained their value in relation to the general level of earnings or prices. At the review carried out in the tax year 1976–77 my right hon. Friend determined that those rates had not so retained their value. Accordingly he will be laying before Parliament in due course a draft uprating order as required by Section 125(3) of the Act.

    Computers

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, in view of the need to simplify the United Kingdom's system, if he will make a study of the Finnish computer system employed to deal automatically with claims and increases in social benefits; and if he will make a statement.

    My Department already makes substantial use of computers for the payment of social security benefits and has plans for extending the use of such equipment in those cases where it is practicable and economic. I understand that, unlike the British system, the main component of the Finnish system is a flat-rate pension to which there are a number of supplements most of which are linked to the cost of living index and increases are paid automatically regardless of the individual circumstances. It is difficult to compare the complexity of the two systems. Any advantages arising from greater simplification of our benefits have always to be weighed against the rougher justice which must ensue in relation both to the claimant's needs and to the proper control of payments.The United Kingdom has a reciprocal agreement on social security with Finland which is at present in course of revision and information about both countries' schemes is being exchanged. In addition I have been invited to visit Finland later this year by the Finnish Minister of Social Affairs and Health.

    Pensions

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will bring forward the date of the next increase in the State retirement pension.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner) on 10th May.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to meet the National Association of Pensioners.

    My right hon. Friend has met representatives of the National Federation of Old-Age Pensions Associations on a number of occasions but has no immediate plans for a further meeting.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will be making an announcement on the date of the increase in the State retirement pension: and if he will make a statement.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Woolwich, West (Mr. Bottomley) on 10th May.

    Huntington's Chorea

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the number of sufferers from Huntington's chorea in the United Kingdom; what steps are taken to warn sons of sufferers; and if he will introduce machinery whereby home helps are automatically allocated to identified and non-hospitalised cases.

    No official figures are available for the number of sufferers from Huntington's chorea in the United Kingdom, and estimates vary widely, most being within the 3,000 to 6,000 range. Since Huntington's chorea can be passed on to children of either sex it is important to warn all children of sufferers, as well as other blood relatives, wherever possible. Counselling is available at genetic advisory centres over the country, and family doctors and others concerned with patients can also play an important part in counselling and alerting relatives, with the patient's knowledge and agreement. It is for local authority social services departments to decide priorities and allocate home helps according to need and availability, and it would not necessarily be appropriate to allocate a home help to every Huntington's chorea patient who is not in hospital.

    Prices And Consumer Protection

    Access And Barclay Cards

    asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what regard will be paid in considering applications for price increases as to whether firms have chosen to pay part of their employees' remuneration in the form of guaranteed expenditure on Access and Barclay cards.

    The Price Commission is responsible for examining notification of intended price increases to ensure that the increases comply with the Price Code. The Commission is required to refer to the Secretary of State for Employment for his determination as to whether increases in remuneration exceed the overall pay guidelines.

    Price Control

    asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how many cases have been taken against companies which have refused to provide information to the Price Commission since 1973; and what were the levels of fines levied in each case.

    There have been 10 such prosecutions by my Department. Questions about prosecutions for breaches of orders or notices issued by the Price Commission are for my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General, for cases in England and Wales, and my right hon. and learned Friend the Lord Advocate for cases in Scotland.

    Transport

    Roads (Traffic Densities)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of existing single two-lane, single three-lane, dual two-lane carriageways, dual three-lane carriage-ways, dual two-lane motorways, dual three-lane motorways, dual four-lane motorways are overloaded according to the present design standards for rural trunk roads.

    Car Registration Numbers

    asked the Secretary of State of Transport whether he has any plans to discontinue the alphabetical suffix to car registrations; and whether he will make a statement.

    Chemicals

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport, in view of the recent spillage of acid by a tanker on the M4 in the Avonmouth, Bristol, area, if he will introduce regulations to ensure that dangerous chemicals are transported by rail; and if he will make a statement.

    The Government already encourage industry to make greater use of rail for the transport of all freight, including dangerous substances, where it is economic and safe to do so. There are sound economic reasons why this cannot be done for some dangerous traffic where transport by road is essential—for example, the delivery of petroleum spirit to retail outlets which accounts for the bulk of the road transport of dangerous goods. Most chemical firms have no direct railhead, which would mean transferring goods from one mode of transport to another, which, particularly in the case of liquids, can be a hazardous operation. I have no plans to introduce legislation in this area.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the Health and Safety Executive to bring forward proposals for the periodic inspection of vehicles carrying dangerous chemicals; and if he will make a statement.

    Provision for the periodic inspection of dangerous goods vehicles is intended to figure in the proposals now being prepared by the Health and Safety Executive for new general regulations to further control the conveyance of dangerous goods by road. Since the commencement of its work was announced last year by the Health and Safety Commission, the Executive has made significant progress towards formulating its proposals, which will additionally include provisions relating to the design, construction, operation and labelling of dangerous goods vehicles.The first element of the new regulations to be introduced will be the statutory scheme for the marking of road tanker vehicles. The Commission has recently published for consultation its proposals for the labelling of such vehicles with information primarily to guide the emergency services on remedial measures necessary in case of an incident involving spillage, and after considering comments will submit its formal proposals to the Secretary of State for regulations to be made.

    Wales

    Housing

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he anticipates publishing the results of the latest survey of the condition of the housing stock in Wales.

    The results are being collated and will be published as soon as they are ready.

    Industry

    Reyrolle Parsons Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what proposals or suggestions the Government have put to the board and management of Reyrolle Parsons Ltd. about the proposed transfer of its turbine generator interests to GEC.

    Post Office Review Committee (Report)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has yet received the report of the Post Office Review Committee; and, if so, when it will be published.

    I have received the report and it is now being printed. I hope it will be ready for publication in July. I should like to place on record my thanks to the Chairman, Mr. Carter, and to his Committee for the speed at which they have completed this major inquiry.

    Dredge And Marine Ltd, Penryn

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what progress has been made in the discussions concerning the future of Messrs. Dredge and Marine Ltd., of Penryn, Cornwall, since 15th March 1977; and if a solution has been found to its problems.

    My Department has been approached by a privately owned company about the future of this undertaking and talks are continuing.

    British Leyland

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will place copies of the review study of the Leyland car plan prepared by British Leyland for the Government and the NEB in the Library, subject to the deletion of commercially confidential material.

    The material contained in these documents is largely commercially confidential and, accordingly, unsuitable for publication.

    Government Aid

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much money has been paid out to date under Section 8 of the Industry Act selective investment scheme.

    None yet. The payment of assistance is normally by tranches following proportions of project expenditure by the company. To date, several hundred inquiries have been received under the selective investment scheme, and 90 cases are under appraisal covering a broad range of industry.