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Written Answers

Volume 931: debated on Wednesday 4 May 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 4th May 1977

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Toxic Sprays

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many prosecutions have been instituted within the last 12 months by his Department against persons accused of the misuse of toxic sprays.

None. However, the hon. Member will appreciate that misuse may create offences under legislation which is not administered by the Agriculture Departments—eg, the Health and Safety at Work, etc., Act 1974, the Air Navigation Order 1974 as amended, and the Protection of Birds Acts 1954–76. I am informed that there were no such prosecutions over this period under the first and second of these measures; and that separate records concerning pesticide prosecutions are not maintained under the third.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will seek to impose a total ban on the spraying of crops from the air with dangerous toxic chemicals.

There is no occasion for a ban of this kind because only approved chemicals can be used for aerial spraying and then only if they are applied as authorised by the Civil Aviation Authority.

Fisheries Protection

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) how many EEC vessels other than British were fishing within 50 miles of the British coast in the week ended 16th April 1977;(2) how many fishing vessels from Norway, USSR, Poland and East Germany were fishing inside Great Britain's 200-mile limit on Tuesday 12th April 1977.

Information from fisheries protection units and other sources indicates that, during the week ending 16th April 1977, there were generally some 160 fishing vessels from other EEC countries inside United Kingdom fishery limits within 50 miles of United Kingdom base lines. Information from the same source indicates that, during that week, there were generally six Norwegian fishing vessels, some 40 Russian, one Polish and one East German fishing vessel within the United Kingdom's 200-mile fishery limits. Not all of the waters within United Kingdom fishery limits are surveyed every day so that an estimate for a particular day could be misleading.

Nuclear Pollution (Irish Sea)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what survey work has been commissioned by the Government into the levels of atomic waste pollution of the Irish Sea between the North Wales coast and Cumbria.

The Ministry is responsible for monitoring of all pollution in the Irish Sea. A substantial part of the commissioned programme is devoted to surveying the levels of radioactivity and the behaviour of radionuclides in sediments, fish, shellfish and seaweeds in this area. This work cost nearly £300,000 in 1976–7.

Legal Aid (Lawyers' Fees)

asked the Attorney-General what was the average hourly sum paid, under legal aid arrangements, to solicitors and barristers, respectively, during 1974, 1975 and 1976.

I regret that this information is not available. Time is only one of the factors to be taken into consideration in determining such remuneration; and there are no readily available records which quantify the time element separately.

Overseas Development

Departmental Staff (Dispersal)

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what steps have been taken to ascertain how many civil servants in those sections of her Department that are due to be moved to East Kilbride are willing to be transferred.

This move is not due before 1980. An initial questionnaire will be put to staff later this year.

Transport

Car Licensing (Uppingham)

35.

Lewis asked the Secretary of State for Transport why Upping-ham, Rutland, is not on the computer of the Swansea Licensing Centre; and if he will arrange for this lost town to be reinstated for car registration purposes.

Because the Post Office no longer treats it as a post town. The centre is arranging for Uppingham to be resurrected for vehicle registration purposes as a locality within the post town of Oakham.

Lincoln Relief Road

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if the undertakings on the start of public consultation for the Lincoln relief road given by the Under-Secretary of State on the 9th December 1976 still hold good; and if he will confirm that public consultation on the alternative routes for the proposed Lincoln relief road will take place early in 1978.

M25

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if any firm contracts have been entered into in connection with the construction of the A13–A12 section of the M25 motorway.

Firm contracts have been entered into on two sites for advance works in connection with this section of the M25. At Nags Head Lane an underline railway bridge is being constructed in three stages. The first stage was completed in late 1976, and the contract for the second stage was let in early December. The other contract involved the strengthening of a culvert at Tunnel Interchange. Work started in November 1976 and was completed in March 1977. Diversions of services along the route are also being carried out by statutory undertakers, either with direct labour or by contract. The main roadworks are programmed to start in the autumn of 1977, subject to the satisfactory completion of the remaining statutory procedures and the availability of funds.

Motor Vehicles (Insurance)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce legislation requiring evidence of insurance cover to be displayed by disc on the windscreen of a motor vehicle, rather than by the present certificate of insurance method.

This proposal has been considered in the past. Its disadvantage is that insurance policies often include restrictions as to use, entitled drivers, etc., which are too complex for display on a windscreen disc; and although a disc would show whether an insurance policy existed for a particular vehicle it would not prove that it was being used in accordance with the conditions of the policy. I prefer to rely on the existing power of the police to require a driver at any time to produce an insurance certificate.

British Rail (Exports)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans directly to assist British Rail Engineering Ltd. financially to develop its export potential with particular reference to its new type of track recorder, in which many overseas railways have shown an interest.

My Department has contributed towards the research and development costs of the High Speed Track Recording Coach and, in marketing it abroad, British Rail has access to the full range of export promotion and credit facilites provided by the Department of Trade and the ECGD.

Industry

C And A Parsons

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has met representatives of the management and work force at C. and A. Parsons since the firm announced a programme of 1,600 redundancies due to the lack of an order for Drax B power station.

No; but Ministers intend to continue to consult all interested parties about the future of the power plant industry as necessary.

European Community

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he next intends to meet the EEC Commissioner with responsibility for industry.

My right hon. Friend hopes to meet the Commissioner when a suitable occasion presents itself. I have had several meetings with him recently, both in London and Brussels.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what consultations he had with members of the Regional Policy Committee of the EEC during its recent six day visit to the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

The Committee spent most of its visit in the assisted areas, but I had the pleasure of entertaining it to lunch on the final day and had useful talks with the members.

Ambergris

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the uses of ambergris for which there is no known substitute.

A derivative of ambergris is used in the perfumery industry as a fixative for delicate scents. Substitutes for ambergris are available, but the natural product is preferred by manufacturers of high quality perfumes.

Manufacturing Technology (Advisory Service)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he intends to take under the industrial strategy to encourage manufacturing industry to use the best modern technology in order to improve its performance and productivity.

My Department is setting up a Manufacturing Advisory Service to make available specialist technological advice to smaller and medium-sized firms—i.e., those with between about 100 and 1,000 employees—in manufacturing industry. This service is intended mainly for those engaged in metal working and assembly, which are activities common to many industrial sectors, but a few schemes for specific sectors may be included. Advice will be offered on proven techniques, equipment and associated technological management practices. The advisory functions will be carried out by appropriate specialists from industry research associations, consultants, universities or Government research establishments. The service will be co-ordinated on behalf of the Department by the Production Engineering Research Association. It will start on a modest scale, aiming to cover some 700 firms in the first two years, at an estimated cost of £1·75 million. After review it may be extended. To advise me in developing the service I intend to appoint a steering committee with an industrialist as chairman. Names will be announced later.

Steel (Prices)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the progress of discussions within the European Coal and Steel Community on the fixing of minimum prices for steel; and if he will make a statement.

On 3rd May the Commission consulted the Council of Ministers on its proposal to introduce mandatory minimum prices for concrete reinforcing bars under Article 61 of the Treaty of Paris. It is now for the Commission to decide what action to take in the light of the views expressed.

Air Travel (Crime)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what powers are available to British Airways to institute criminal prosecutions and civil actions for damages on behalf of passengers assaulted by other air travellers while airborne; and if he is satisfied with existing arrangements to protect air passengers from physical violence or abuse in the air.

I have been asked to reply.Assaults on passengers in British aircraft over the United Kingdom are, covered by the ordinary criminal law. Such offences, whether over the United Kingdom or not, are covered by Section 1 of the Tokyo Convention Act 1967, Sections 1 and 2 of the Hijacking Act 1971 and Section 1 of the Protection of Aircraft Act 1973.

Prosecutions under these Acts would not normally be instituted by British Airways. They can be instituted in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland, only by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney-General, as the case may be. In Scotland prosecutions are normally instituted by the procurator fiscal, who is answer-able to the Lord Advocate.

British Airways have no power to institute civil actions on behalf of their passengers. It is for the passengers themselves to institute such actions.

Under the Protection of Aircraft Act 1973 my Department advises on security measures designed to prevent weapons or explosives being taken on board aircraft departing from United Kingdom airports. These measures are under constant review. Most other countries have similar measures.

National Finance

Jubilee (Coinage For Children)

38.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why the Royal Mint has so far failed to deliver the new 2p pieces to be presented to the children of Great and Little Gransden, as part of the celebration of the Queen's Silver Jubilee, which the Minister of State said the Royal Mint should be able to supply to banks from about mid-April but which now seems may not be available until July.

The coins were despatched by registered post to the bank concerned on 22nd April.

Child Benefit

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the net revenue effect, assuming a basic income tax rate of 33 per cent., of abolishing the child tax allowances for children under 11 years of age, making corresponding reductions for children over 11 years of age, and increasing child benefit by £1·25 per week for first children and by £1·10 per week for second and subsequent children.

Assuming that the benefit for the first child in single-parent families was the same as for second and subsequent children, the estimated net effect on the Exchequer for 1977–78 would be additional revenue of about £80 million. This is on the assumption that no special measures would be taken to compensate groups which would be worse off as the results of a scheme on these lines.

National Land Fund

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Land Fund is a permanent memorial to those killed in war.

The Finance Act of 1946 provides for land and other property acquired through the Fund to be disposed of for the use and enjoyment of the public. Statements by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Dr. Dalton, in his Budget speech on 9th April 1946 suggest that he conceived that in this way the land could be regarded as dedicated to the memory of the war dead as well as to the use and enjoyment of the living.

Dividend Control (Multinational Companies)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what criteria he applies to the exemption of so-called multi-national companies from United Kingdom dividend restraint;(2) if he will reconsider the lifting of the dividend restraint from Lonhro in the light of the recent history of that group and, in particular, in the light of the findings of the Heyman Slimmings Report in 1976, especially with regard to directors' expenses.

Companies which, though incorporated in the United Kingdom, have their operations almost exclusively overseas are put in particular difficulties by the dividend control in their relationships with overseas Governments and local shareholders since the dividend control, which is primarily part of counter-inflation policy in the United Kingdom, has little relevance in their circumstances. The criteria for exemption are set out in the Treasury announcements of 20th October 1975 and 28th April 1977. Companies which are officially accepted as resident abroad for taxation and exchange control purposes will be exempted. Companies which have 90 per cent. or more of their assets situated overseas and where 90 per cent. or more of their earnings derive from overseas operations will also normally be regarded as meeting the intentions of the announcement of 20th October 1975. However, all applications are considered on their merits.The report of the Department of Trade inspectors on Lonhro is not relevant to the decision to exempt the company under the dividend control provisions.

International Monetary Fund

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will report the outcome of the International Monetary Fund meeting which he recently attended in Washington.

Yes. I am glad to report that the meeting unanimously agreed upon steps to increase substantially the resources available to the International Monetary Fund for lending to Member countries. I am confident that the Managing Director and the Executive Board will now be able to complete negotiations to implement these decisions and thus enable the IMF to contribute in a practical way towards tackling the problems of recovery from recession.Following is the text of the Communiqué issued at the end of the meeting:

Press Communiqué of the Interim Committee of the Board of Governors on the International Monetary System

1. The Interim Committee of the Board of Governors of the International Monetary Fund held its eighth meeting in Washington, D. C. on April 28–29, 1977 under the chairmanship of Mr. Willy De Clercq, Minister of Finance of Belgium. Mr. H. Johannes Witteveen, Managing Director of the Fund, participated in the meeting. The following observers attended during the Committee's discussions: Mr. G. D. Arsenis, Director, New York Office, UNCTAD; Mr. Mahjoob A. Hassanain, Chief, Economics Department, OPEC; Mr. Pierre Languetin, General Manager, National Bank of Switzerland; Mr. René Larre, General Manager, BIS; Mr. Emile van Lennep, Secretary General, OECD; Mr. Olivier Long, Director General, GATT; Mr. Robert S. McNamara, President, IBRD; Mr. François-Xavier Ortoli, Vice-President, CEC; and Mr. Cesar E. A. Virata, Chairman, Development Committee.

2. The Committee discussed the world economic outlook and the functioning of the international adjustment process.

The Committee noted the expansion of activity that has taken place in the world economy over the past year and welcomed the improvement in economic outlook during recent months following cessation of the "pause" in the industrial countries. The Committee expressed concern, however, about the persistence of high levels of unemployment, especially among young people, and high levels of inflation in many countries.

  • I. On the broad question of the economic policy options and priorities of member countries, the Committee agreed on the following conclusions:
  • (a) Policies of demand management in most countries must emphasise the need to deal with problems of inflation and the balance of payments. These policies are being guided by the conviction that measures to combat inflation and, where necessary, to strengthen the external position are not only necessary in present circumstances but also will make for a better record over time in terms of economic growth and employment.
  • (b) At the same time, special efforts should be made to improve market access for the exports of the developing countries and to increasee the flow of official development assistance. Any tendencies toward protectionist trade policies cannot be considered acceptable from an international point of view and should be strongly resisted; indeed, increased attention should be paid to the need to reduce the existing restrictions on trade. Success in the current negotiations in Geneva would make an important contribution to this end.
  • II. The Committee drew the following conclusions from its review of the international adjustment process:
  • (a) The need for adjustment remain large and, as experience shows, delays in dealing with them can be very costly. It will take international co-operation, and determined action by surplus as well as deficit countries, to make continuing progress with respect to adjustment. An encouraging development is that a number of countries, both large and small, developed and developing, have adopted programs to strengthen their external positions, often in the context of stand-by arrangements approved by the Fund.
  • (b) Strategies of adjustment must include emphasis on conservation of energy, on elimination of domestic sources of inflation particularly in the deficit countries, and on improvement in cost-price relationships among countries. It is important that industrial countries in relatively strong payments positions should ensure continued adequate expansion of domestic demand, within prudent limits. Moreover, these countries, as well as other countries in strong payments positions, should promote increased flows of long-term capital exports.
  • (c) Given the persistence of large payments imbalances, important demands for the Fund's resources can be expected to materialise. The Committee found good grounds for believing that expansion of the Fund's rôle as a financial intermediary could contribute significantly to promotion of international adjustment and to maintenance of confidence in the continued expansion of the world economy and in the effective functioning of the international financial system.
  • 3. The Committee reviewed the developments in international liquidity and in the financial activities and resources of the Fund. In this connection, it had the benefit of a report of the Managing Director summarising the discussions that the Executive Directors have had to date on these subjects. As a result of this review, the Committee reached the following conclusions:

    The Committee recognised that there was an urgent need for a supplementary arrangement of a temporary nature that would enable the Fund to expand its financial assistance to those of its members that in the next several years will face payments imbalances that are large in relation to their economies.

    The Committee agreed that some of the main features of this supplementary arrangement would be as follows:

  • (i) The Fund would establish substantial lines of credit in order to be able to assist members to meet their needs for supplementary assistance.
  • (ii) Access to assistance under the supplementary arrangement should be available to all members and should be subject to adequate conditionality, and such assistance should normally be provided on the basis of a stand-by arrangement covering a period longer than one year.
  • (iii) The Fund should pay interest on amounts borrowed under the lines of credit at market-related interest rates, and charges by the Fund for the use by members of resources borrowed by it under these lines of credit should be based on these rates. The possibility of a subsidy related to the rates of charge that would be payable by low-income countries should be explored.
  • (iv) The claims of lenders under the supplementary arrangement should be appropriately liquid.
  • The Committee welcomed the willingness of a number of countries in a position to lend to the Fund to collaborate with it on arrangements for supplementary credit and urged the Managing Director to complete, as soon as possible, his discussions with potential lenders on terms and conditions and amounts. It further requested the Executive Directors to take the necessary steps for making such an arrangement operative as soon as possible.

    4. The Committee considered the main issues relating to the Seventh General Review of Quotas. It was agreed that, in view of the expansion of members' international trans actions and the need for the Fund to be able to give balance of payments assistance to members on a larger scale than would be avail able on the basis of quotas under the Sixth General Review, there should be an adequate increase in the total of quotas pursuant to the Seventh General Review. On the question of distribution of quotas, one view was that in order to conclude the Seventh Review at an early date, increases should be equiproportional to the quotas that will result from the Sixth General Review. Another view, however, was that a few special adjustments should be made for those members whose quotas are seriously out of line with their relative positions in the world economy, and in this connection some emphasis should be placed on increases that would strengthen the Fund's liquidity. The Committee urged the Executive Directors to pursue their work and to prepare a report, together with draft recommendations to the Board of Governors, on increases in the quotas of members under the Seventh General Review for consideration by the Committee at its next meeting.

    5. The Committee also considered the question whether a further allocation of SDRs would be advisable at the present time. The Committee noted that the Executive Directors have been discussing this question and agreed to request them to give further consideration to all aspects of this matter and to report to the Committee at its first meeting in 1978.

    The Committee also agreed to request the Executive Directors to review the characteristics and uses of the SDR so as to promote the purposes of the Fund, including the objective of making the SDR the principal reserve asset in the international monetary system.

    6. Although the Committee discussed the proposals for supplementary credit, the Seventh Quota Review and any allocation of SDRs separately as indicated above, members of the Committee attached importance to the interrelationships among them and particularly to the overall effect of the decisions as a whole.

    7. The Committee noted with satisfaction the work of the Executive Directors on the implementation of Article IV of the Proposed Amendment of the Articles of Agreement, and welcomed the consensus reached by them on the principles and proecdures for the guidance of members and for the exercise of surveillance by the Fund over the exchange rate policies of members in the period after the Second Amendment has become effective. The Committee endorsed these principles and procedures, and agreed that they will make an important contribution to the effective functioning of the international monetary system in the future.

    8. The Committee noted that so far no more than 24 members of the Fund having about 32 per cent. of the total voting power have notified the Fund of their acceptances of the proposed Second Amendment of the Fund's Articles and that very few members have given their formal consents to increases in their quotas under the Sixth General Review of Quotas. The Committee expressed its concern at this delay and urged all members that have not yet accepted the proposed Second Amendment to complete as soon as possible the arrangements that would enable them to take this action and to increase their quotas under the Sixth General Review.

    9. The Committee agreed to hold its ninth meeting in Washington on 24th September 1977.

    Personal Incomes

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, pursuant to his replies of 16th December 1976 and 2nd March 1977, he will now update the tables he then published in the Official Report in answers to Questions from the hon. Member for Chingford, which showed changes in the real value of take-home pay of an average worker.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 2nd May 1977; Vol. 931, c.81],gave the following information:The revised figures are as follows:

    Real take-home pay at February 1977 prices
    £ per week
    December 197362·24
    December 197464·89
    December 197560·05
    December 197658·80
    February 197756·92
    The figures have been calculated on the same basis as those given in reply to the hon. Member's previous Questions on 16th December 1976—[Vol. 922, c. 785–6]—and 2nd March 1977—[Vol. 927, c. 239–40]—except that the average earnings figure and the price index now relate to February 1977. In addition the figures take account of revisions to the Department of Employment's seasonally adjusted index of average earnings which have slightly reduced estimates of average earnings in December of each year.I regret that in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 2nd March 1977 the figures of real take-home pay at December 1976 prices were incorrectly described in the

    Official Report as being at August 1976 prices.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much in terms of the present value of money the real take-home pay of the average married industrial worker with two children has increased since February 1974.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 2nd May 1977; Vol. 931, c.81],gave the following information:Estimates of average earnings for February 1974 are not available owing to the three-day week. Between March 1974 and February 1977 the real take-home pay of a married man with two children not over 11 years of age earning the average manual wage fell by about £4·20 at February 1977 prices. The latest available figures relate to February 1977 and do not, therefore, take into account the reductions in tax announced in the Budget.

    Income Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the costs, in terms of loss of revenue to the Exchequer, of the changes in rates of income tax above 35 per cent. on bands of taxable income which now start at £6,000.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 3rd May 1977; Vol. 931, c.137],gave the following information:As stated in Table 16 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1977–78 the estimated full-year cost of the changes in the higher rate bands of taxable income above £6,000 is £185 million.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the costs, in terms of loss of revenue to the Exchequer, of extending the basic rate band by £1,000, thus making the entry point to higher-rate liability £6,000.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 3rd May 1977; Vol. 931, c.137], gave the following information:As stated in Table 16 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1977–78 the estimated full-year cost of the extension of the basic rate band to £6,000 is £90 million.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the costs, in terms of loss of revenue to the Exchequer, of the tax changes outlined in the Budget given to those earning £4,000 per annum and above.

    , pursuant to his reply[Official Report, 3rd May 1977; Vol. 931, c.137],gave the following information:The figures in respect of the income tax changes were given in my reply to the hon. Member for Blaby (Mr. Lawson) on 7th April 1977.—[Vol. 929, c. 623–4.]

    Civil Service

    Pensions (Increase) Act 1971

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service when, in the light of recent figures showing that price inflation in Great Britain is running at an annual rate in excess of 16 per cent., he pro-poses to bring forward amendments to the Pensions (Increase) Act 1971.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Teesside, Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth) on 25th April 1977—[Vol. 930, c. 239].

    Employment

    Company Chairmen (Pay Policy)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the increase of £5,000 in the income of the chairman of S. W. Berisford taking his pay to £55,000 a year, is within the terms of the Government's pay policy.

    I understand that the increase arises from a scheme for commission payments which was in operation prior to the introduction of the pay policy. Higher payments from such established schemes in the year commencing 1st August 1976 are not subject to the earnings cut-off which operated during the previous year of the policy.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the increase of £4,000 in the income of the chairman of S. W. Berisford, taking his pay to £36,000, is within the terms of the Government's pay policy.

    I understand that this increase results from the effects of fluctuating exchange rates on overseas salary paid in foreign currency.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the increase of £8,798 in the income of the chairman of the Orion Bank, taking his pay to £46,798, is within the Government's pay policy.

    I understand that the increase relates to increased responsibilities which result from the chairman taking on an additional appointment with a new overseas subsidiary of Orion Bank.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the increase of £7,572 in the income of the chairman of Barclay's Bank, taking his pay to £56,975, is within the terms of the Government's pay policy.

    I understand that part of the increase was implemented before the introduction of the pay policy and consequently was not fully reflected in company accounts until the year ended 31st October 1976 and that the remainder results from the effects of fluctuating exchange rates on overseas salary paid in foreign currency.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report all those firms and organisations in the Stockport employment area employing more than 50 people, who do not employ their full quota of disabled people, and indicate how many extra disabled people each of these firms would have to employ in order to meet the quota.

    I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that it would be contrary to recognised practice to publish this information.

    Button Makers (Pay)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment why he approved a pay award under stage 2 of less than the minimum laid down in Command Paper No. 6507 for the workers covered by the Button Manufacturing Wages Council.

    Wages Councils are not required to seek the Secretary of State's approval of their proposals.

    Advisory, Conciliation And Arbitration Service

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to receive the annual report of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

    I have received the ACAS report for 1976 and copies have been laid in both Houses. The report is being published today and I have arranged to put copies in the Library and in the Vote Office.

    Employment Protection Act 1975

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what conclusions he has reached in his Department's examination of apparent anomalies in the Employment Protection Act 1975 in relation to United Kingdom resident employees of United Kingdom based companies who make occasional trips overseas in the course of their regular work.

    I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) on 3rd May 1977. [Official Report, 3rd May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 210–11.]

    Health And Safety

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he proposes to implement those provisions of the Health and Safety at Work Act which would require directors' reports to include statements of safety policy and related matters.

    I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend would act on the advice of the Health and Safety Commission in making any necessary regulations pursuant to Section 79 of the Health and Safety at Work Etc. Act 1974.As yet the Commission has not put forward any proposals to my right hon. Friend, but the Chairman informs me that he expects consultations with interested parties to begin before the end of 1977.

    Unemployed Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the unemployment figures for each of the Greater London boroughs on the latest convenient date; and if he will give comparative figures for the same period in 1973.

    , pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 2nd May 1977; Vol. 931, c.59], gave the following information:I have ascertained that figures are only available for employment office areas and cannot be given for each of the Greater London boroughs.

    Home Department

    Young Offenders

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will outline the progress that has been made in implementing the proposals of Command Paper No. 6494.

    The proposals in the White Paper Command 6494 concern a number of Departments. Action has already been taken or is imminent on a number of those which are primarily the responsibility of my Department. Earlier this year I made an order which prohibits girls under 15 being remanded to Prison Department establishments and I hope shortly to prescribe by order conditions for the issue of certificates of unruliness. The Criminal Law Bill contains proposals for fine enforcement in respect of juveniles and we intend to add, by amendment, changes in the law to increase the effectiveness and flexibility of supervision. A modest increase in the number of juvenile attendance centres is planned. Consultations, in some of which I myself have taken part, are proceeding with the various bodies concerned with the working of the 1969 Act on a number of subjects, notably the problem of serious and persistent juvenile offenders and national and local arrangements for consultation.

    Departmental Correspondence

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when the hon. Member for Islington, South and Finsbury can expect an answer to his letter of 25th February.

    I understand that the police have only recently completed their inquiries in the case my hon. Friend raised in his letter. I expect to receive the report of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis very shortly, and my hon. Friend will receive a reply as soon as this report has been considered.

    Dartmoor Prison

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what improvements he proposes to make to the staff quarters at Dartmoor Prison; and if he will make a statement.

    The need for a comprehensive programme of improvements was recognised at a meeting between the Department and representatives of the Prison Officers' Association in November last year. The scope of the work was discussed with the association at a further meeting in January, and the Department is now ready to proceed with a detailed programme which includes: (a) installation of solid-fuel fired central heating for ground floors with replacement of flue linings as necessary; (b) improved insulation of roofs; (c) replacement of metal window frames and of doors and door frames as necessary; (d) vapour-proof lining to the inside of external walls; (e) provision or repair of storm porches as necessary; (f) provision of storage sheds where adequate storage is not already provided; (g) maintenance—for example, redecoration and attention to ceilings and gutters where necessary.This programme will provide a significant improvement in living conditions and standards of comfort. The staff at Dartmoor have asked for it to be extended to include full central heating and double glazing, and they have taken industrial action to support their demand. These additional items are not considered necessary to meet the agreed standards for prison service housing and they cannot be provided at present; but an extension to full central heating will be considered if the agreed standards are not met by the improvements now proposed.I am glad the staff have now suspended their industrial action, and I hope they will resume discussion of the programme so that the work can proceed without delay and in full consultation with all the interests concerned.

    Wales

    Road Signs

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if, in view of the new evidence recently submitted to him, prepared by a statistician and a psychologist, commenting on the Road Research Laboratory's study on bilingual road signs, he will now reconsider his policy on this matter; and if he will meet a deputation from Gwynedd County Council to discuss the subject.

    The reports are being examined. I shall consider the question of a deputation after I have studied them.

    St Clears (Bypass)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received in regard to an eastern ingress from the road planned to bypass St. Clears; and how many of these representations have supported and how many opposed the ingress.

    Since the decision on the St. Clears Bypass was announced there have been a total of six representations each advocating an eastern access to the town from the bypass. The issue of an eastern access was fully considered at the public inquiry and subsequently by my right hon and learned Friend before the decision was announced.

    Alcoholics

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many alcoholics there were in Wales in 1970; and what is his present estimate.

    There is no reliable estimate of the number of alcoholics in Wales.

    Road Improvements (Dyfed)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to give extra financial aid to Dyfed County Council to carry out essential road improvements in the county; and if he will make a statement.

    We shall be announcing shortly the extra programme of construction work to which my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer referred in his Budget Statement. I cannot yet say whether any road schemes in Dyfed will be included.

    Economic Prospects

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the prospects for the Welsh economy for the remainder of 1977.

    Prospects for the Welsh economy are bound up with those for the United Kingdom as a whole. Substantial investments are taking place in the basic coal and steel industries in the Principality. The most recent results of the index of industrial production for Wales indicate that manufacturing output is on a rising trend. The active rôle played by my Department, the Welsh Development Agency and the Development Board for Rural Wales will ensure that Wales continues to obtain a significant share of the increased manufacturing investment expected in the coming year.

    Dental Auxiliaries (Training)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what provision is made in Wales for training dental auxiliaries; and if he will make a statement.

    Dental auxiliaries are trained for the whole of the United Kingdom at the School for Dental Auxiliaries, New Cross, London.

    Area Health Boards (Expenditure)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has given any directions to Welsh area health boards on the matter of priorities in expenditure policies in the light of the latest White Paper on Public Expenditure.

    I discussed the question of health care priorities with area health authority chairmen when we last met on 22nd April. Having considered their views, we intend shortly to issue further guidance to them.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Helsinki Final Act (Belgrade Review)

    13.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what latest discussions he has had with the USSR Ambassador regarding the Belgrade Review Conference.

    The Review Meetings of the Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe were among the subjects which my right hon. Friend discussed with the Soviet Ambassador when he called on him on 23rd March. The implementation of the CSCE Final Act and preparations for the meetings at Belgrade have been discussed with Soviet representatives on several occasions this year by Ministers and officials, including the British Ambassador in Moscow, with the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and by senior officials of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office with a leading Soviet expert of CSCE, Ambassador Mendelevich.

    Angola

    15.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps are being taken to strengthen relations between Great Britain and Angola, following the discussions with President Neto.

    Since my visit to Luanda I have sent a further message to the Angolan Foreign Minister.

    Nuclear Suppliers' Group

    17.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the latest meeting of the Nuclear Suppliers' Group in London.

    The Nuclear Suppliers' Group met in London on 28th and 29th April. Representatives of Governments attending the meeting discussed their export policies in the light of their support for peaceful nuclear co-operation and their common concern with non-proliferation. They agreed to resume their discussions at a further meeting towards the end of June.

    Republic Of Ireland

    19.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs whether he will make a statement about relations with the Irish Republic.

    We have close relations with the Republic of Ireland and regular discussions with the Irish authorities at all levels on matters of common interest.

    Belgrade

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he next plans to visit Belgrade.

    Cambodia

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs in view of the fact that the next meeting of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights is not until February 1978, what other steps he is taking to secure support for an early resolution condemning the Cambodia Government for their present actions.

    It remains my view that the Commission on Human Rights is the most appropriate body in which to raise these matters. We are considering how this can effectively be done or whether there is any alternative course of action open to us.

    Ocean Island

    23.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs what progress has been made in regard to the constitutional future of Ocean Island; and whether agreement has now been reached concerning a financial settlement acceptable to both the Banabans and the Gilbert Islanders.

    I would refer the hon. Member to my answer earlier today to the hon. Member for Somerset, North (Mr. Dean).

    Dominica

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs whether he will seek to arrange for a referendum to take place before independence is granted to Dominica.

    A constitutional conference is due to be held in London beginning on 16th May at which the Government and Opposition in Dominica will be represented. I cannot anticipate the outcome of those discussions.

    Expenditure

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will specify in percentage terms the cuts made by his Department as a result of successive reviews of Government expenditure during the past 10 years.

    As a result of successive cuts in expenditure, the cost of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the Diplomatic Service, expressed in terms of 1977 prices, has fallen by 6·1 per cent. overall over the period 1968 to 1977. Over the same period, however, provision for salaries and allowances of United Kingdom based staff has fallen by 12·9 per cent.

    Diplomats (Cars)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the maximum amount available to a member of the Diplomatic Service as interest-free loan to buy a car on being posted abroad.

    The maximum loan at present available is £2,304, for which only officers in Grade 6 (First Secretary) and above qualify. Lower maxima apply to officers in Grade 7 (Second Secretary) and below.

    European Community

    Departmental Public Relations

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the average length of time taken to reply by his Department to an inquiry from a member of the public or a representative body with regard to current EEC business.

    All such inquiries are dealt with as rapidly as possible and normally without undue delay. If the hon. Member has a particular case in mind I suggest that he should write to me about it.

    Direct Elections

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions he has held recently with his opposite numbers in the EEC Council of Ministers on the various forms and systems of direct European Parliament elections in the member States which have been proposed.

    This is not a matter for the Council of Ministers. As Article 7(2) of the Direct Elections Agreement makes clear, pending the entry into force of a uniform electoral procedure the system to be adopted is a matter for each member State to decide.

    Environment

    North Sea

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will convene a conference of the riparian nations of North-West Europe for the purpose of reaching agreement on coordinated surveillance of the impact of oil development on the ecology of the North Sea and its surrounding coastlines, an international quick-reaction capability to deal with oil spillages and an information retrieval system to ensure that the Governments and oil companies concerned at all times are provided with up-to-date details of the most modern methods of handling accidents that may damage the marine environment.

    The North Sea coastal nations are very aware of the need to co-ordinate surveillance of the impact of oil development on the North Sea ecology. Monitoring and related surveys are being carried out by a working group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea and will be discussed at the Council's meeting later this week.The eight North Sea coastal nations are party to the Bonn Agreement (1969) for Co-operation in dealing with Pollution of the North Sea by Oil. Parties to this agreement help each other in dealing with oil spills, and exchange information about spills and about ways of avoiding pollution and new techniques for dealing with it. The member States met in Hamburg on 20th and 21st April and agreed, among other matters, on mutual exchange of information on points of contact and on available resources, in order to put the agreement on a more active footing. My colleagues and I will be carefully examining the lessons of the Ekofisk blow-out, and in the light of our examination we will consider what improvements may be necessary to strengthen national and international arrangements for preventing and dealing with pollution.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what international machinery is available to secure the environment against an accident in the Ekofisk field; what budget is avail-able; and what improvements he will suggest in view of the recent accident.

    The eight North Sea coastal nations are party to the Bonn Agreement (1969) for Co-operation in dealing with Pollution of the North Sea by Oil. Parties to this agreement help each other in dealing with oil spills, and exchange information about spills and about ways of avoiding pollution and new techniques for dealing with it.The funding of these arrangements is channelled through various Government bodies, so that the calculation of the overall budget would be a complicated and excessively costly task. My colleagues and I will be carefully examining the lessons of the Ekofisk blow-out, and in the light of that examination we will consider what improvements may be necessary to strengthen national and international arrangements of preventing and dealing with pollution.

    Inner Cities

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment which public expenditure programmes will be reduced in order to allow for the increase in spending on inner cities detailed in his reply to the hon. Member for Aylesbury dated 26th April.

    As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced in his Budget Statement, the extra sum for construction works in certain inner cities over the next two years will be made available from the contingency reserve. Additional expenditure on the urban programme thereafter will be met in part by modest savings in the new towns programme; to the extent necessary the remainder will be found by redirection of resources within other main programmes.

    Whale Products

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why the international trade in the products of whales requires control of whalebone only if unworked or simply prepared, and not if cut to shape or otherwise decorated; from what international conservationist usage the wording is derived; and why the wording is identical to that of paragraph 05.09 of the trade-based customs tariff.

    The Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976 reflects the provisions of the Washington Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. The Convention requires controls to be imposed on the readily recognisable parts and derivatives of endangered species. Whalebone is considered to be readily recognisable only when it is un-worked or simply prepared. Controls are framed to correspond, where possible, with the appropriate customs tariff heading, in order to assist effective enforcement.

    Water Authorities

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will now introduce legislation to make water authorities accountable for their expenditure to local authorities.

    No. But a majority of members of each water authority is appointed by local authorities.

    Flags

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the official flags which may be flown on Government buildings in the United Kingdom, together with any conditions that may apply in each instance.

    As follows:

  • (1) The Union Flag—except when stated below, this is flown on Government buildings on days nationally appointed for flag flying.
  • (2) The Lion Rampant—this is flown alone on the Scottish Office in London on all days nationally appointed for flag flying.
  • (3) The Saltire(also called St. Andrew's Cross)—this may be flown with the Union Flag on Government buildings in Scotland on all days appointed for national flag flying and on St. Andrew's Day. The Saltire is also flown over the Scottish Office in London on St. Andrew's Day in place of the Lion Rampant.
  • (4) The Red Dragon of Wales—this may be flown with the Union Flag on Government buildings in Wales and on the London Headquarters of the Welsh Office on all days nationally appointed for flag flying and on St. David's Day.
  • (5) The Royal Standard—except in the Greater London area, the Royal Standard is usually flown on any building the Sovereign may visit, while the Sovereign is within the building.
  • (6) The Customs Flag—this is flown every day on Customs Houses except on days actually appointed for flag flying, when it is replaced by the Union Flag.
  • (7) The Coastguard Flag—this is flown on Coastguard stations when the station is manned and able to receive messages except on nationally appointed flag flying days when it is replaced by the Union Flag.
  • (8) Departmental Flags—these may be flown with the Union Flag on all days nationally appointed for flag flying provided (a) the Sovereign has approved their use and (b) they are registered with the College of Arms.
  • Housing Cost Yardstick

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when he expects to remove the restriction in making market allowances, thus allowing housing schemes to progress;(2) if he will publish the data utilised in establishing the increase from 6 to 8 per cent. in the regional variance allowance of the housing cost yardstick;(3) in view of the fact that the regional variation allowance of the housing cost yardstick has been increased from 6 per cent. to 8 per cent., if he is satisfied that this is a true reflection of housing costs within the Northern Region.

    The recent increase in the level of the housing cost yardstick, as with previous quarterly reviews, is based primarily on movements in tender prices, which themselves reflect movements in such factors as labour costs, materials costs and the competitive state of the market, as well as future trends. As we aim to operate the yardstick at a realistic level I do not think it necessary to reinstate the market force allowance arrangements which were discontinued from March 1976.I am aware that some local authorities in the Northern Region have run into yardstick difficulties when tenders have come in but that it has usually been possible to bring schemes within yardstick arrangements.

    Defence

    Hong Kong

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many Service personnel from each of the three Armed Services are at present stationed in Hong Kong.

    Including Gurkhas and locally enlisted personnel, the figures are:

    Navy550
    Army7,800
    Air Force280

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what has been the cost over each of the past five years of retaining a military presence in Hong Kong.

    I regret that information is not available in the exact form requested. The annual cost of the garrison in Hong Kong was estimated at £42·5 million at 1976 Survey prices. The Hong Kong Government's contribution was 50 per cent. in 1976–77 and will rise to 75 per cent. in 1978–79. The annual cost of the previous garrison—before the reductions announced in December 1975—was approximately £65 million at the same price level. The Hong Kong Government contributed about 20 per cent. under earlier cost sharing arrangements.

    University College At Buckingham

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is his policy that holders of the licence of University College at Buckingham should not be considered for graduate entry to the Armed Services; and whether he will make a statement.

    An applicant for graduate entry to the Armed Services must hold, or expect shortly to be awarded, a degree of a United Kingdom university established by charter or Act of Parliament or a degree validated by the Council for National Academic Awards (CNAA). The CNAA refused in 1974 to validate courses proposed by the University College at Buckingham. In these circumstances the Armed Services would not regard a licence awarded by the college as sufficient qualification for graduate entry.

    Hovercraft

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what rôle the hover-craft has to play in the current defence strategy for the United Kingdom.

    Armed Forces percentageIndustry percentage
    1st April 1974–31st March 197512·527·9
    1st April 1975–31st March 197629·519·4
    1st April 1976–31st March 19779·69·1*

    Sources:

    Armed Forces—AFPRB Reports (MOD assessment for 1974–75).

    Industry— DE Gazette, index of average earnings.

    * April 1976-January 1977 only.

    Extensive studies have been undertaken into a variety of possible military uses for the hovercraft. In the last three years these have concentrated on its possible use in the mine counter-measures rôle. No decision has yet been taken on whether or not the Royal Navy should adopt the hovercraft for use in this or other rôles.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are his proposals for the future of the Hovercraft Trials Unit at Lee-on-Solent.

    There are no plans at present to close the Naval Hovercraft Trials Unit, but until a decision has been taken on the possible future use of hovercraft in the mine counter-measures rôle it is too early to say whether and, if so, in what form the unit will continue. A decision not to proceed with the MCM hovercraft programme would not necessarily result in the disbandment of the unit.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to be in a position to announce a decision on the future of hovercraft in an MCM rôle.

    Evaluation of the results of trials of the hovercraft in the mine counter-measures rôle is now well under way. We hope to reach a decision on future policy for the hovercraft in this rôle in the next 12 months.

    Pay

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the average percentage increase in the pay of the Armed Forces compared with the average increases received by those in industry in each of the years 1974–75, 1975–76 and 1976–77.

    Northern Ireland

    Stormont House

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what is the additional accommodation at Stormont House to be used for; why it was necessary to renovate further the existing house; and why the existing accommodation is not sufficient;(2) if he will publish details of the work which is being carried out at Stormont House;(3) whether a special type of glass is to be installed at Stormont House; where the glass is manufactured; and what is the estimated cost of the glass and the training of men to fit it;(4) whether the work at Stormont House is being carried out to normal Civil Service standards or whether any special features have been included; and, if so, for what purpose;(5) what is the name of the main and sub-contractors who are carrying out the work at Stormont House and Annex; what is the sum in which the contract is let; and what is the expected date of completion.

    Stormont House was adapted and renovated in 1974 to provide more suitable, more secure and cheaper residential accommodation than hotels for the Secretary of State, his ministerial colleagues and staff who travel between London and Belfast. It also provides office accommodation which, with the Annexe, when completed later in the year, will relieve gross over-crowding on the Stormont Estate and provide better working conditions, designed to normal Civil Service standards.For security reasons laminated glass manufactured in Leeds is being fitted in the Annexe at a cost of £7,600. There has been no expenditure on training men to fit it.The main contractor for Stormont House was H. and J. Martin Ltd and nominated sub-contractors were (mechanical) R. Finlay Ltd and (electrical) Weir and McQuiston Ltd. The main contractor for the Annexe is D. R. Martin and Sons Ltd and nominated sub-contractors are (mechanical) Wm. Coates and Son Ltd. (electrical) Crown House Engineering Ltd. An advance contract for the Annexe sub-structure was let to H. and J. Martin Ltd.The sum in which contracts have been let since 1974 for work at Stormont House and for construction of the Annexe amounts to £828,000.

    Social Services

    Child Development And Assessment (Lancashire)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the new child development and assessment centre being provided by Lancashire Area Health Authority is due to come into operation; and where it will be sited.

    The new unit will be sited at Ormskirk and District General Hospital and is expected to come into operation in June or July of this year.

    Orpington Hospital

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will give the number of beds available for patients in Orpington Hospital in each year since 1973, giving the categories to which they are allocated and indicating what categories of patients are now treated else-where.

    The table below shows the average number of beds available for each of the specialties named in each year since 1973, together with the number of beds allocated to each specialty on 31st December of that year. When patients are admitted under a specialty for which no beds are formally allocated these are made available by "borrowing" from another specialty within the ward of admission. There is thus a corresponding reduction in the bed availability of this later specialty Even when beds are available it is clearly open to a doctor to take a clinical decision to refer a patient to another unit providing similar facilities locally. The Bromley Area Health Authority is fully aware of the need to ensure that services at Orpington are integrated with these others so that any shifting pattern of demand may be properly met.

    ALLOCATION AND AVAILABILITY OF BEDS AT ORPINGTON HOSPITAL

    1973

    1974

    1975

    1976

    Allocated beds

    Average available

    Allocated beds

    Average available

    Allocated beds

    Average available

    Allocated beds

    Average available

    General medicine8085·88087·28081·48886·1
    Paediatrics117·5114·3114·8116·5
    Chest diseases207·1207·62012·12·3
    Dermatology1·51·50·81·7
    Neurology0·1
    Physical medicine6·56·85·91210·9
    Geriatrics224224·0224223·5224224·1224223·1
    General surgery8385·28983·78987·58983·8
    ENT surgery1110·1109·91010·0109·8
    Traumatic and orthopaedic surgery2740·63648·23647·33641·9
    Ophthalmology108·316·711·011·0
    Dentistry22·122·222·322·0
    Gynaecology1210·6109·9109·1108·6
    Mental illness4·12·52·32·5
    Staff44·043·843·943·9
    Unclassified2812·72513·12515·22516·6
    HOSPITAL TOTAL512510·1512510·9512507·8512500·7

    Trent Regional Health Authority

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how much he has added, or proposes to add, by way of service increment for teaching to the revenue funds of the Trent Regional Hospital Authority; and whether he will make a statement about the method used to calculate this increment.

    The revenue allocation to the Trent Regional Health Authority for 1977–78 includes a service increment for teaching amounting to £10·234 million at November 1976 price levels. This was calculated in accordance with the recommendations of the Resource Allocation Working Party and was based on forecasts of the numbers of medical and dental students receiving clinical teaching in 1980–81.

    Smoking

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his policy regarding the power of area health authorities to prohibit smoking in National Health Service hospitals.

    My right hon. Friend prefers to rely on persuasion and negotiation rather than prohibition. He has recently issued fresh guidance to health authorities urging further discouragement of smoking in hospitals, and suggesting particular ways of achieving this. It is for health authorities to implement this guidance in their local circumstances.

    Dentistry

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what proportion of dental service expenditure is currently channelled into preventive treatment.

    If the hon. Member has in mind conservative treatment which prevents tooth loss, over 50 per cent. of the total cost of the National Health Service general dental services is attributable to periodontal and restorative treatment, including scaling and gum treatment, fillings and crowns. Comparable information is not available about the community dental services and the less direct forms of preventoin such as oral hygiene instruction.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the balance between preventive and curative treatment in the dental service.

    The balance between various forms of treatment provided by dentists is generally determined by patients' clinical condition. Since I can never be fully satisfied while much remains to be done to improve the standard of the nation's dental health, I will continue to explore means of improvement, in consultation with the dental profession.

    Geriatric Patients (Stockport)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many representations have recently been received from members of the general public to the North-West Regional Health Authority concerning geriatric provision in Stock-port hospitals.

    Hypothermia (North-Western Region)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many deaths from hypothermia were recorded in the area of the North-Western Regional Health Authority last winter.

    In the six winter months to March 1976 there were among the residents in the North-Western Regional Health Authority area one death where hypothermia was recorded as the underlying cause and 51 deaths where hypothermia was mentioned as a contributory condition. I regret the information for the winter of 1976–77 will not be available for some months.

    Life Expectation

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish the latest life expectancy figures, tabulated by region, for England and Wales.

    The most recent figures for England and Wales, based on the mortality rates during the period 1972 to 1974, show an expectation of life at birth of 69·2 years for males and 75·6 for females. Expectations of life are not calculated for the regions of England and Wales. Figures of area mortality within England and Wales, and standardised mortality ratios for regions are however given in "Mortality Statistics, 1974" published by HMSO.

    Prisoners (Relatives' Fares)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services under what circumstances his Department pays fares and accommodation for the relatives of IRA prisoners, or prisoners convicted of terrorist activities, to visit the prison where the IRA, or other terrorist prisoner is held, either in Northern Ireland or in another part of the United Kingdom; on how many occasions this has happened in each year, respectively, since 1969; to which prisons the visits were paid; what was the cost of the fare on each occasion; and what was the cost of the accommodation.

    The arrangements to assist prisoners' relatives with the cost of visits, which the Supplementary Benefits Commission administers on behalf of the Home Office, do not extend to Northern Ireland. Within Great Britain the cause of imprisonment is not identified and the information is not, therefore, available.

    Benefit Increases

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the latest date by which national insurance benefit rises must be announced in order that they may take effect by the normal date in November 1977.

    The normal administrative arrangements for a mid-November up-rating require that the new benefit rates are announced by early in June.

    Working Days Lost (Sickness)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the average number of working days lost per employee as a result of sickness, in each year since 1970.

    Information is not available in the precise form requested, but is related to days of certified incapacity for work recorded in connection with national insurance claims. The figures exclude very short spells for which no claim is made, and include Saturdays; and cover the long-term sick, who may not have worked for many years.

    SICKNESS AND/OR INVALIDITY (a)

    Estimated Average Number of Days of Certified Incapacity per Employed Person at Risk

    2nd June 1969 to 30th May 19701817
    1st June 1970 to 5th June 19711716
    7th June 1971 to 3rd June 19721616
    5th June 1972 to 2nd June 19731716
    4th June 1973 to 1st June 19741816
    3rd June 1974 to 31st May 1975(b)1716
    (a) Invalidity benefit was introduced from 23rd September 1971.
    (b) A 1974–75 population at risk figure is not available; 1973–74 figures have been applied.

    Abortion

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what were the total numbers of notified abortions per 100 live births for each of the 15 regional health authorities in England and Wales during 1976; and what was the overall total per 100 live births for England and Wales during the same year.

    Provisional rates of abortions notified in the 52 weeks ended 29th December 1976 from all premises in respect of women usually resident in England and Wales per 100 live births are as follows:

    Regional Health AuthorityRate*
    England
    Northern12·0
    Yorkshire12·4
    Trent9·7
    East Anglian11·1
    NW Thames21·4
    NE Thames34·0
    SE Thames41·2
    SW Thames10·4
    Wessex7·0
    Oxford8·7
    South-Western13·2
    West Midlands27·7
    Mersey16·8
    North-Western7·6
    Wales8·9
    England and Wales17·3
    *Abortions are classified by region of operation. Births are classified by region of mother's residence.

    Hearing Aids

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now include as a category eligible to receive National Health Service behind-the-ear aids those who have successfully had a decision on hearing impairment given in their favour after a common law action.

    Consultant otologists have discretion to issue behind-the-ear aids to a patient who is not in any of the existing priority categories but who has particular clicinal, social or other needs justifying preferential treatment. I feel I must continue to leave discretion to the consultants; but if my hon. Friend has any particular case he would like me to look into I shall be glad to do so.

    St Mark's Hospital, Islington

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the increase in the overhead cost per bed in use at St. Mark's Hospital, Islington, as a result of the closure of one ward.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what

    Daily charge for private resident patients who have not made arrangements under section 1(2) for private treatmentDaily charge for private resident patients who have made arrangements under section 1(2) for private treatment
    Class according to classification dated 7th March 1977Single roomOther accommodationSingle roomOtheraccommodation
    ££££
    Class A Long Stay Hospitals22·3020·3021·2019·30
    Class B Psychiatric Hospitals15·1013·8014·4013·10
    Class C Acute and other, hospitals in non-teaching districts (including the 35 hospitals named below).41·3037·7039·4035·90
    Class D London teaching districts (other than hospitals in classes A, B and C).58·6053·6055·3050·30
    Class E Provincial teaching districts (other than hospitals in Classes A, B and C).48·5044·4045·8041·60
    Class F London Postgraduate Boards of Governors hospitals.63·6058·1059·9054·50
    Acute and other hospitals in teaching districts including in Class C:

    • Wharfedale General Hospital, Otley, Yorks
    • Killingbeck Hospital, Leeds
    • The Leicester Royal Infirmary, Leicester
    • Fielding Johnson Hospital, Leicester
    • Hinckley and District Hospital, Hinckley, Leicester
    • Market Harborough and District Hospital, Market Harborough, Leicester
    • Melton and District War Memorial Hospital, Melton Mowbray, Leicester
    • Rutland Memorial Hospital, Oakham, Leicester
    • Nottingham City Hospital, Nottingham
    • Weston Park Hospital, Sheffield
    • Papworth Hospital, Papworth Everard, Cambs.
    • Huntingdon County Hospital, Huntingdon
    • Acton Hospital, London W3
    • St. Stephen's Hospital, London SW10
    • Princess Beatrice Hospital, London SW5
    • Elizabeth Garrett-Anderson Hospital, London NW1
    • Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital, London WC1
    • German Hospital, London E8
    • Mother's Hospital, London E5
    • St. James' Hospital, London SW12
    • Bolingbroke Hospital, London SW11
    • South London Hospital for Women and Children, London SW4
    • Weir Maternity Hospital, London SW12

    is his latest estimate of the savings in expenditure per month resulting from the closing of one ward at St. Mark's Hospital, Islington.

    Pay Beds

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report a comprehensive and detailed list of charges currently made for pay beds within the NHS.

    The charges determined by my right hon. Friend for private resident—i.e., in-patients—patients for the year 1st April 1977 to 31st March 1978 are:

    Doctors And Consultants (Fees)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the minimum amount and what was the maximum amount paid by the NHS to an individual NHS consultant in gynaecology and obstetrics, including merit awards and service payments, during 1975 and 1976, respectively.

    I regret that information on the earnings of individual consultants is not centrally available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what, in 1976, was the total average annual fee paid for the equivalent of a full-time appointment as an obstetric and gynaecological consultant in the NHS including merit awards, service payments for family planning work and any other additional payments by the NHS.

    Average income per consultant from NHS salary and distinction awards was of the order of £10,500—£11,000 on a whole-time basis in 1976. No accurate information on earnings from fees and allowances is available: these could be up to several thousand pounds a year according to individual circumstances.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report a complete list of part-time medical services, and the fees as recommended by the British Medical Association for each of them, as recently approved by the Price Commission.

    I understand that the list my hon. Friend has in mind is confidential and available only to members of the British Medical Association. Publication is, therefore, a matter for the association.

    Mobility Allowance

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he intends to extend the mobility allowance to disabled people over the age of 51 years; and if he will make a statement.

    I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend that we shall shortly be making a further commencement order to enable claims to mobility allowance to be made by people who were born on or after 25th August 1923. Claims will be accepted from 25th May 1977, and payment of the allowance will start on 24th August 1977. This means that people aged between 5 and 53 will now be eligible for the new allowance.

    Scotland

    Arts And Crafts Schools

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will give an undertaking that no new art or craft teaching centres will be established in Scotland until the existing spare capacity in art schools is taken up;(2) what spare capacity in the existing schools of art he expects during the next 10 years.

    My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to establish a new art or craft teaching centre, but I understand that the Highlands and Islands Development Board is preparing proposals for the support of the craft industry in the Board's area; these include provision for training craftsmen. The Board has been asked to consult the art colleges about these proposals. While there is some spare capacity in the art colleges at present it is impossible to forecast precisely how this will be affected by course developments or student rolls over the next 10 years.

    Rent Acts (Review)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to issue a consultation paper in connection with his review of the Scottish Rent Acts.

    The consultation paper was issued today, and I have placed a copy in the Library of the House. The paper briefly describes conditions in the private rented sector of housing in Scotland and raises both general issues and questions of a more technical nature which have arisen on the Rent Acts. The document is written within the framework of existing policies and does not attempt to anticipate any conclusions which may result from the current review of housing policy and finance.

    Prices And Consumer Protection

    Petrol

    asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether he will institute an inquiry into the way petrol prices are fixed in various parts of the country and the matter of retailers' profit margins.

    My Department has already held an inquiry into petrol prices in co-operation with the Departments of Energy and Industry. Motor fuel retailers' margins were the subject of a separate study by the Price Commission. The results of these inquiries have been published. The Monopolies and Mergers Commission is at present investigating certain matters relating to the wholesale supply of petrol. I do not consider that any further inquiry is necessary at present.

    Trade

    Air Travel (Crime)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what powers are available to British Airways to institute criminal prosecutions or civil actions for damages on behalf of passengers assaulted by other air travellers while airborne; and if he is satisfied with existing arrangements to protect air passengers from physical violence or abuse in the air.

    Assaults on passengers in British aircraft over the United Kingdom are covered by the ordinary criminal law. Such offences, whether over the United Kingdom or not, are covered by Section 1 of the Tokyo Convention Act 1967, Sections 1 and 2 of the Hijacking Act 1971 and Section 1 of the Protection of Aircraft Act 1973.Prosecutions under these Acts would not normally be instituted by British Airways. They can be instituted in England and Wales, and in Northern Ireland, only by or with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions or the Attorney-General, as the case may be. In Scotland prosecutions are normally instituted by the Procurator Fiscal, who is answerable to the Lord Advocate.

    British Airways have no power to institute civil actions on behalf of their passengers. It is for the passengers themselves to institute such actions.

    Under the Protection of Aircraft Act 1973 my Department advises on security measures designed to prevent weapons or explosives being taken on board aircraft departing from United Kingdom airports. These measures are under constant review. Most other countries have similar measures.

    Motor Vehicles (Malaysia)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of exports of motor vehicles of every kind to Sabah for the year ended 31st December 1976.

    Sabah is not shown separately in the overseas trade statistics. Exports of cars and commercial vehicles to Malaysia were valued at £16·3 million.

    Knitted Products

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action has been taken on the recommendation of the National Economic Development Office working sector report for the knitting industry that the home market price should be marked on import documents for imported knitting products.

    I have taken it into account in a study of what domestic price information generally could usefully be obtained through Customs and Excise. I am now considering the results.

    Company Investigation

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he takes to investigate the suitability of potential appointees as inspectors to investigate the affairs of companies; and if he will publish details of their remuneration and terms of service.

    Accountant inspectors are appointed after consideration as to their suitability for the particular case and, if necessary, after consultation with their professional body. In the case of legal inspectors, who are either members of the Bar or solicitors, it is the usual practice to make appointments after consultation with my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General. Remuneration is negotiated with the accountant inspectors individually, taking into account the complexity of the investigation and the status of the supporting staff required. Similarly, the remuneration of legal inspectors has regard to their experience and standing. Inspectors who are departmental employees receive no additional remuneration. The terms of service of all inspectors are to investigate the affairs of specified companies and to report thereon in such manner as the Secretary of State may direct.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will provide particulars of the costs incurred in the company investigations completed since the beginning of 1975; and what costs have been incurred to date in the course of the investigation into Dowgate and CST.

    Costs so far of the 12 company investigations completed by outside inspectors since January 1975 total about £926,000. Apart from inquiries carried out under Section 109 of the Companies Act 1967 a further 12 investigations were completed in the same period by officers in the Department, but particulars of the costs involved cannot be provided without undue expense. Costs to date on the investigation into Dowgate and General Investments Ltd. and CST Investments Ltd. amount to some £102,000.

    Insurance

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, in view of the proposed exclusion of insurance contracts from the Unfair Contracts Terms Bill, he will make a statement concerning the protection afforded to insurance policy holders from unfair treatment as a result of the terms of insurance contracts.

    In general I consider that the insurance industry has a good record in treating policy holders fairly. But, in view of the proposed new legislation on contract terms in other fields, I asked the British Insurance Association and Lloyd's to consider drawing up a statement of practice in the field of personal non-life insurance to cover certain matters. I welcome the fact that the BIA and Lloyd's have now drawn up the following statement of insurance practice which they are recommending to their members:

    "Statement of Insurance Practice

    This Statement is restricted to non-life insurances of policyholders domiciled in the UK and insured in their private capacity only

    1 Proposal Forms

  • (a) The declaration at the foot of the proposal form should be restricted to completion according to the proposer's knowledge and belief.
  • (b) If not included in the declaration, prominently displayed on the proposal form should be a Statement:
  • (i) drawing the attention of the proposer to the consequences of the failure to disclose all material facts, explained as those facts an insurer would regard as likely to influence the acceptance and assessment of the proposal;
  • (ii) warning that if the proposer is in any doubt about facts considered material, he should disclose them.
  • (c) Those matters which insurers have found generally to be material will be the subject of clear questions in proposal forms.
  • (d) So far as is practicable, insurers will avoid asking questions which would require expert knowledge beyond that which the proposer could reasonably be expected to possess or obtain or which would require a value judgment on the part of the proposer.
  • (e) Unless the prospectus or the proposal form contains full details of the standard cover offered, and whether or not it contains an outline of that cover, the proposal form shall include a statement that a copy of the policy form is available on request.
  • (f) Unless the completed form or a copy of it has been sent to a policyholder, a copy will be made available when an insurer raises an issue under the proposal form.
  • 2 Claims

  • (a) Under the conditions regarding notification of a claim, the policyholder shall not be asked to do more than report a claim and subsequent developments as soon as reasonably possible except in the case of legal processes and claims which a third party requires the policyholder to notify within a fixed time, where immediate advice may be required.
  • (b) Except where fraud, deception or negligence is involved, an insurer will not unreasonably repudiate liability to indemnify a policyholder:
  • (i) on the grounds of non-disclosure or misrepresentation of a material fact where knowledge of the fact would not materially have influenced the insurer's judgment in the acceptance or assessment of the insurance;
  • (ii) on the grounds of a breach of warranty or condition where the circumstances of the loss are unconnected with the breach.
  • The previous paragraph does not apply to Marine and Aviation policies.

    3 Renewals

    Renewal notices should contain a warning about the duty of disclosure including the necessity to advise changes affecting the policy which have occurred since the policy inception or last renewal date, whichever was the later.

    4 Commencement

    Any changes to insurance documents will be made as and when they need to be reprinted, but the Statement will apply in the meantime.

    5 EEC

    This Statement will need reconsideration when the EEC Contract Law Directive is taken into English/Scots Law."

    The Chairman of the Life Offices' Association has also written to me, on behalf of the three Life Associations involved, to express their willingness to consider drawing up within the next few weeks a parallel statement of practice relating to life assurance.