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Written Answers

Volume 931: debated on Friday 6 May 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 6th May 1977

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Milk And Potatoes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is yet in a position to announce the guaranteed prices for milk and potatoes.

The milk guarantee for 1976–77 was originally determined at 9·458p per litre—43 pence per gallon; but this was raised to 9·678ppl (44 ppg) in October to help dairy farmers, who had suffered from the drought. It will now be raised again in three stages. For the month of April, payments will be at the maximum level permitted by Community rules for that month, namely 9·898ppl—45p per gallon. For the summer months from 1st May to 15th September, the level will be raised again, to 10·119 ppl (46 ppg). There will be a further increase on 16th September, and the rate between then and the end of December will be about 10·5ppl (47¾ ppg).In accordance with the Treaty of Accession, the guarantee arrangements will terminate on 31st December. The Government are consulting all the interests concerned on the pricing arrangements for milk for liquid consumption from January 1978, and I shall be making a further statement on this in due course.The standard quantity will be set at 11,350 million litres for the nine months, 1st April to 31st December, for which the guarantee will apply. This is almost 10 per cent. higher than actual production in the same months of last year and should allow ample room for additional production. As a result of the guarantee determination, I estimate that dairy production should be more profitable this year in real terms than it has been for several years and I hope that dairy farmers will now feel able to look forward with confidence and expand their production in line with the objectives set out in "Food from Our Own Resources".As a result of the decision announced last December to phase out the consumer subsidy on milk, together with this increase in the guaranteed price and increases in distributors costs, it will be necessary to increase the maximum retail price for milk by 1p per pint from 22nd May and by a further 1p during the autumnSo far as potatoes are concerned, the guaranteed price will be raised from the £40 per ton which applies during the current season to £46·50 per ton for the 1977 crop. The arrangements for intra-Community trade and support after 31st December have not yet been decided, but I can say that the Government will ensure that the price guarantee will be fulfilled for the 1977 crop as a whole. It continues to be the Government's objective that the United Kingdom should be self-sufficient in maincrop potatoes, and this increase in the guarantee should give producers the necessary confidence to ensure that this objective is met.

Civil Service

Government Hospitality Fund

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what is the total expenditure, for the last convenient 12–month period, of the Government Hospitality Fund; and what is the total number of people employed directly by his Department who are associated full-time with the work of the fund.

The total expenditure of the Government Hospitality Fund during the financial year 1976–77 was £277,321. The full-time staff employed by my Department in the Government Hospitality Fund number 27.

Defence

Plessey Company Limited

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if Plessey electronic communications equipment is used by the Armed Services; and what was the total value of such equipment acquired by each Service in each of the last five years.

Yes. The total value of such equipment acquired by each Service in each of the last five years is not readily available, but total payments made to Plessey under direct Ministry of Defence contracts were:

Financial YearTotal
1971–7229
1972–7330
1973–7436
1974–7546
1975–7649

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Argentina

asked the Secretary of Sate for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, in the light of the practice of terror, torture and repression of the present military dictatorship of Argentina, if he will withdraw Her Majesty's Ambassador.

Our diplomatic relations with Argentina have been conducted at the level of chargé d'affaires since January 1976.

Departmental Suspense Accounts

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many suspense accounts are maintained by his Department besides that used to make interest free loans for the purchase of cars; what the function is of each such account; and how the cost is brought into account in financial documents available to Parliament.

658 suspense accounts are maintained by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office besides that used to make advances for the purchase of cars. Of these, 398 are operated for the routine funding of posts abroad and to record certain payments and receipts at these posts which cannot for the time being be carried to the Vote account; 54 are operated for transactions involving Commonwealth Governments and 71 for inter-departmental transactions involving other United Kingdom Government Departments and official organisations. The remaining 135 suspense accounts are maintained to cope with a wide range of ephemeral transactions, including deductions from salaries, etc., which are ultimately payable to other Departments or bodies—e.g., for income tax, national insurance contributions and voluntary deductions.

Car loans are the only interest-free loans which are made without specific provision for their issue in the Supply Estimates.

The total net amount of the balances in all these suspense accounts as at 31st March each year is recorded in the Assets and Liabilities Statement rendered by the Accounting Officer of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to the Comptroller and Auditor General with the annual Appropriation Accounts. The Assets and Liabilities Statement is audited by the Comptroller and Auditor General, but it is not the practice of the Exchequer and Audit Department to publish the Assets and Liabilities Statements of Government Departments.

House Of Commons

Strangers' Dining Room

asked the Lord President of the Council whether, in the light of the fact that members of the Press Gallery are to be charged the same prices in their restaurant as Members of the House in the Members' Dining Room, Members and Officers of the House and their guests will be charged in the Strangers' Dining Room the same prices as members of the Press Gallery and their guests in the Press Gallery Restaurant.

I have been asked to reply.No. Prices in the Press Gallery are lower than in the Strangers' Dining Room. This is possible because any losses in the Press Gallery catering facility are made good by the newspaper proprietors.

Lord President Of The Council (Speech)

asked the Lord President of the Council, pursuant to his answer of 2nd May to the hon. Member for Chingford, which concerned The Times newspaper report of the Lord President of the Council's speech at Ashfield about the Socialist republic in Great Britain, on what day and in which section of The Times that report was published.

The point of my previous answer was that The Times correspondent who actually heard my remarks assessed correctly the context in which they were made and did not consider them to be of sufficient importance to merit being recorded for posterity.

Scotland

Peroneal Stimulators

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will send a definitive reply to Mr. David B. McNicoll, 15, Pitberro Road, Dundee, in response to his letter of 11th February 1977 regarding supply of a peroneal stimulator.

A reply was sent on 22nd April explaining that a decision, on whether the stimulator should be supplied as a service item to National Health Service patients, would not be made until my Department had received and considered the report of the research team which conducted an evaluation of the stimulator at Dundee Limb Fitting Centre.

Traffic Signals

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration the Scottish Development Department is giving to devolving more decision-taking to regional roads departments over traffic signals design and installation to reduce the time and expense involved by the need for departmental approval.

This is one of the relaxations of traffic management controls which the Government are considering and on which the local authority associations will be consulted. Amendment of the Traffic Signs Regulations and General Directions 1975 will be required.

Higher And Further Education

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of secondary school pupils in Scotland entered universities in 1976; and what percentage entered other further education establishments.

It is estimated that, in 1974, 8·3 per cent. of school leavers entered full-time courses in universities and 139 per cent. in other establishments. Information for 1976 will be available later this year.

Fishery Protection

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many days the fishery protection vessel which detained the Russian trawler in Lerwick recently was off station because of having to guard the offender while in port.

Social Services

Pensions (Contracting Out)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will set out his estimate of the numbers of people who may be contracted out of the forthcoming earnings-related pension scheme.

It is not yet possible to estimate how many employers or employees are likely to be involved in the contracting-out arrangements.

Dependency Increases

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, further to his reply, Official Report, 2nd May 1977, cols. 31 and 32, if he will indicate the basis of his estimate that the cost of extending entitlement to dependency increases to a wife on the same terms as now apply to a male benefit claimant would rise over a period of years to about £50 million at current benefit rates.

The bulk of the cost would arise from payments made to married women during periods of incapacity or unemployment in respect of their children. The estimate is based on the average length of claims for sickness, invalidity, injury and unemployment benefit currently being made by married women, and the average number of child-rent of economically active women, derived from census data. The estimate ignores the cost of paying dependency increases to retired women in respect of their under-65 husbands. The cost increases as the present option to pay reduced rate contributions, which do not give title to benefit, ceases to be available to married women who start employment after April 1978, or who cease to be employed for a period of two complete tax years or more after that date. It is not possible to estimate the extent to which married women would choose to pay full contributions if increased benefit for dependants became available; to the extent that they did so, the effect would be to shorten the period before the full cost accrued.

Benefit Uprating

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what were the reference months chosen for the calculation of the movement of average national earnings and prices for the purpose of the upratings of pensions and benefits in 1975 and 1976 in fulfilment of the provisions of Section 4 of the Social Security Benefits Act 1975; and what basis he in-tends to take in the current year for the same purposes.

Date of uprating

Reference period for earnings and price movements, used for the purpose of uprating of benefits in pursuance of Section 4(3) of the Social Security Benefits Act 1975 (subsequently consolidated into Section 125(3) of the Social Security Act 1975):

April 1975

November 1973–August 1974.

November 1975

August 1974–March 1975.

November 1976

November 1975–November 1976.

November 1977 ( proposed)

November 1976–November 1977.

My right hon. Friend will be aware that the single pension rate introduced last November represented an increase of 31·9 per cent. over that of April 1975, compared with an increase in average earnings over the same period of 26·4 per cent. and in prices of 28·4 per cent.

Blind Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the cost of restoring the value of the blind person's supplementary benefit allowance to its 1948 level.

I would refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam) on 18th March.—[Vol. 928, c. 331–2.]

Home Department

Police (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the pay increases the police force has had since 1st January 1976; and if he will list the increments for each rank of the force.

Supplements to pay since 1st January 1976 were offered to and accepted by chief constables, deputy and assistant chief constables and associated ranks in the Metropolitan and City of London police forces, under phase 1 of the Government's pay policy. They were effective from 1st July 1976 as follows:

Pay per annum

I. Up to £8,188

Pay per annum

Between £8,189 and £8,499

Pay per annum

£8,500 or over

Supplement per annum

312.

Supplement per annum

An amount equal to the difference between an officer's earnings and £8,500 to the nearest multiple of £3, subject to the sum not exceeding £8,500.

Supplement per annum

Nil.

Increments on established scales were paid to officers whose pay including pay supplements was not subject to the £8,500 limit (Deputy and Assistant Chief Constables) as follows:

II. Deputy Chief Constables

Salaries

£8,268 (minimum)

Salaries

£8,268—£8,499

Salaries

£8,500 and over

Increment

£126

Increment

£126 or a proportion thereof subject to the sum not exceeding £8,500

Increment

nil

Assistant Chief Constables

Salaries

£8,142 (minimum)

Salaries

£8,142–£8,499

Salaries

£8,500 and over

Increment

£126

Increment

£126 or a proportion thereof subject to the sum not exceeding £8,500

Increment

nil

With effect from 1st April 1977, an officer whose increment was wholly or partially withheld because of the £8,500 limit qualifies for a full or part increment depending on his circumstances.

Supplements to the pay of all ranks from constable to chief superintendent have been offered in accordance with the guidelines for phase 2 of pay policy with effect from 1st September 1976 but have not yet been accepted by those concerned. No supplement has, therefore, been paid since 1st January 1976. Increments on established scales were paid as follows:

Pay—per annum £

Increment received £

Constable

On appointment2,400
After 1 year2,526126
After 2 years2,775249
After 3 years2,901126
After 4 years3,024123
After 8 years3,150126
After 12 years3,276126
After 15 years3,402126

Sergeant

On promotion3,402
After 1 year3,588186
After 2 years3,774186
After 6 years3,960186

Station Sergeant

On promotion4,011
After 2 years4,176165

Inspector

On promotion3,960
After 1 year4,176216
After 2 years4,395219
After 5 years4,614219

Inspector (Metropolitan and City of London Police)

On promotion4,176
After 1 year4,395219
After 2 years4,614219
After 5 years4,836222

Chief Inspector

On promotion4,614
After 1 year4,836222
After 2 years5,061225
After 5 years5,286225

Chief Inspector (Metropolitan Police)

On promotion4,836
After 1 year5,061225
After 2 years5,286225
After 5 years5,511225

Chief Inspector (City of London Police)

On promotion5,169
After 1 year5,427258
After 2 years5,691264
After 5 years5,934

Superintendent

On promotion6,222
After 1 year6,453231
After 2 years6,717264
After 3 years6,918201

Superintendent (Metropolitan and City of London Police)

On promotion6,660
After 1 year6,780120
After 2 years6,900120
After 3 years7,023123

Chief Superintendent

On promotion7,110
After 1 year7,308198
After 2 years7,509201
After 3 years7,704195

Chief Superintendent (Metropolitan and City of London Police)

On promotion7,263
After 1 year7,461198
After 2 years7,662201
After 3 years7,860198

In the case of members of the Metropolitan and City of London police forces an additional £319 should be added at each point to the total pay of all the above ranks.

Increments as shown remain payable in full under pay policy since they do not increase the overall pay bill.

In addition, two other points should be borne in mind. First, under the special arrangements set out in paragraph 8 of Cmnd. 6151, pay supplements averaging 30 per cent. were paid to all ranks from constable to chief superintendent with effect from 1st September 1975. This was more favourable than the application of the £6 policy. Secondly, all police officers are provided with a house or quarters free of rent and rates, or a rent allowance in lieu which varies from force to force and is effectively free of tax. Maximum limits of each allowance are reviewed every two years. Some examples of recently approved maxima for federated ranks are:

£
Surrey 19.86 payable from 1.7.76
Avon and Somerset 18.69 payable from 1.4.77
Metropolitan 22.55 payable from 1.4.77
S. Yorks 13.28 payable from 1.4.77
Sussex 17.15 payable from 1.4.77

Transport

Leitch Committee

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will list the various organisations and individuals from whom the Leitch Committee expects to take evidence.

An open invitation was given for the submission of written evidence. It is for the committee itself to decide on who is to be invited to give oral evidence.

Road Safety

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what were the reasons for the disbandment of the area road safety units in England and Wales.

On 1st March 1975 county councils in England and Wales became responsible for the promotion of road safety. Their statutory duties include the study of accidents on local authority roads and the identification of measures to make roads safer—work which had been pioneered by the area road safety units. The five road safety units in England were accordingly closed in 1975, but my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales still maintains a unit to carry out general road safety functions on his behalf.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list those local authorities with populations in excess of 100,000 that do not currently employ full-time road safety officers.

Statutory responsibility for the promotion of road safety rests with county councils, the Greater London Council, London boroughs and the Common Council of the City of London. I am not aware of any such local authority in England which does not currently employ at least one full-time road safety officer.

A412, Maple Cross

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to control the environmental damage caused to the residents of Maple Cross by increased traffic on the A412, utilising diversions for road works.

I am not aware of any diversions for road works currently affecting the volume of traffic on A412 at Maple Cross. It is hoped to provide the Maple Cross—M4 section of the M25 motorway in the early 1980s, and that should result in a substantial reduction of traffic on the A412 through Maple Cross. It is for Hertfordshire County Council, as local highway authority, to consider whether, in the short term, measures are needed to control traffic on the A412.

Motor Vehicles (Licensing)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many private vehicles and how many commercial vehicles he estimates are currently in use unlicensed.

In the reply I gave to my hon. and learned Friend on 25th April—[Vol. 930, c. 215–16]—I said that no figures are available to distinguish private from business use of licensed motor vehicles. This is also the case with unlicensed ones. But the special survey to which I referred in a further reply to my hon. and learned Friend on the same day—[Vol. 930, c. 216]—should provide a reliable estimate of the numbers of unlicensed private cars and goods vehicles in use.

Public Corporations (Board Vacancies)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish a list of the vacancies for membership of the boards of public corporations for which he is sponsoring authority which have been advertised publicly in the last five years.

Supplementary Benefit (Appeals To Court Of Session)

asked the Lord Advocate when he will introduce an order under Section 15(3) of the Tribunals and Inquiries Act 1971 to allow appeals on points of law to the Court of Session from supplementary benefit appeal tribunals.

In accordance with the undertaking given by my right hon. Friend the Minister for Social Security on 19th January 1977—[Vol. 924, c. 164]—my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor and I will be making a joint order applicable to England, Wales and Scotland in the course of the summer.

Education And Science

Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many teachers in Hampshire have been seconded for in-service training in each of the last four years; and how many it is proposed to second in the current year.

The information requested is not available centrally. My hon. Friend may care to approach the Hampshire local education authority direct.

Sex Discrimination

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether she will list the local education authorities in respect of which complaints or representations have been made (a) to her and (b) to the Equal Opportunities Commission alleging infringements of the Sex Discrimination Act; and whether she will, in the case of each such authority, state the number of such complaints and representations and their general nature.

Since the Act came into operation, my right hon. Friend has received about 30 such complaints or representations, including inquiries, which have caused the Department to make inquiries and to offer comment or advice. The subject matter has included selection and choice of school, rules for school uniform and other clothing, and curricular options. Many of the representations have had little substance, and none has been sustained to the extent of requiring a direction to be given under the provisions of Section 25(2) of the Act. The Equal Opportunities Commission will be writing to the hon. Member about the part of the Question that refers to it.

Trade

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 Multi-Fibre Agreement 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 Multi-Fibre Agreement; and if he will list the respective quota levels for those goods for 1976 and 1977.

Multi-Fibre Agreements

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list the countries with which the EEC has negotiated a multi-fibre agreement; and if he will list the countries with which the EEC is currently negotiating or shortly to negotiate multi-fibre agreements.

Environment

Property Services Agency

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is yet able to estimate the cost of the plan to disperse parts of the Property Services Agency from London to Teesside.

Housing Action Areas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many housing action areas he has approved within the statutory 28-day period; how many he has taken longer than the statutory period to approve; and how many weeks on average he takes to acknowledge receipt of a housing action area declaration report.

Up to 31st March last, in 136 cases local authorities were notified within the 28–day period that my right hon. Friend did not intend to intervene. In a further 50 cases more time was requested for consideration. The average time taken from the date of the dispatch of documents by a local authority to the date of acknowledgement by my right hon. Friend was 12 days.

Housing (Repair Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many repair grants have been approved to date in England; and whether there are any plans to increase their take-up.

233 up to 31st March 1977. This is an issue which has been considered specifically within our general review of housing policy, and our conclusions will be contained in the forthcoming Green Paper.

Ordnance Survey

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is yet able to make a statement about the financial and pricing policy of the Ordnance Survey.

Yes. With a view to formulating long-term policy guidelines for the Ordnance Survey, the Government have decided to put in hand a study, in the context of national survey needs and in consultation with users, of the range and level of the Survey's activities, the basis on which costs should be incurred and charges made, and the interaction of these factors. The study will cover current and expected developments in the collection, presentation and utilisation of survey information and the quality of service required, both to meet the likely day-to-day demand and for any additional contingent needs. Account would be taken of the needs of the various categories of map user, such as the general public, professional and commercial users, public authorities and Government Departments.The Ordnance Survey is currently dependent on the Exchequer for about two-thirds of its costs, the remaining third coming from sales of maps, copyright fees and other products and services. We need not only to ensure that the Survey remains efficient but also to define the proper balance for the future between what proportion of the Ordnance Survey costs should be borne by the user and what proportion by the taxpayer.The full study will be directed primarily to the period beyond 1980, that is, after the completion of the re-survey of the country for which augmented staffing was introduced in 1966—the "1980 plan".For the intervening years the Ordnance Survey needs a basis on which to conduct its pricing policy and which will reflect the current need to contain public expenditure. I think it right for this purpose to assume that the Ordnance Survey should gradually increase the proportion of costs recovered through prices and charges. Thus, as soon as possible over the next five years, the Ordnance Survey will endeavour to: (

a) increase from one-fifth to about one-quarter the proportion of costs recovered on large-scale information and on the 1:25,000 series; ( b) achieve full cost recovery including servicing of capital on the small scale map and survey information.

The achievement of these objectives, which will be subject to annual review, would decrease the proportion of costs borne by the Exchequer from the present 65 per cent. to between 55 per cent. and 60 per cent. The prices will, of course, also be subject to commercial considerations and to Government pricing and charging policies.

Wales

School Milk

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many gallons of milk were supplied to State schools in Wales during 1964, 1970 and 1977, respectively.

Detailed figures are not available, but about 2 million gallons were supplied in 1976–77.

Agricultural Loans (Young Farmers)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has plans to ensure low-interest loans for young farmers in Wales.

Established young farmers can benefit from Ministry grants and from free guarantees provided by the Agricultural Credit Corporation for expenditure on approved farm and horticulture development scheme plans. New-comers wishing to purchase agricultural land have access to the facilities of the Agricultural Mortgage Corporation in the usual way. The recent substantial lowering of commercial interest rates will be of significant benefit to those seeking credit. Successive Governments and the agriculture industry generally have preferred a system of capital grants to subsidised credit.

Health Services (Resources)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether, in the light of the report of the Steering Committee on Resource Allocations in Wales, he will take steps in the next financial and subsequent years to allocate increased health service resources to West Glamorgan and Dyfed above those already planned out of the total resources available to the health service in Wales for that period.

The committee made no recommendations as to resource distribution beyond 1977–78 but suggested that additional studies should be undertaken. Allocations for future years will, therefore, depend on the further advice I receive from the committee, which is expected towards the end of 1977.

Advance Factories

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many advance factories are currently approved but not started in Wales; and how many are currently under construction.

79 advance factories have been approved but not yet started, of which 61 were announced on 22nd April 1977. 28 are currently under construction.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many advance factories were completed in Wales in 1976 and in the first three months of 1977; and how many advance factories were standing empty in Wales at 31st December 1976 and 31st March 1977.

46 advance factories were completed in Wales in 1976 and four in the first three months of 1977. On 31st December 1976, tenants were being actively sought for 34 advance factories and on 31st March 1977 for 33.

Houses

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the number of public and private sector housing starts, completions and houses under construction in Wales in each month of 1976 and in the first three months of 1977.

The information is as follows:

Public Sector
1976
StartsCompsu/c
January
7156139,930
February
3835789,735
March
6255429,818
April
5747229,670
May
7745989,846
June
1,12486010,110
July
1,17968710,602
August
35963510,326
September
49362610,193
October
3005839,910
November
3986359,673
December
4315759,529
1977
StartsCompsu/c
January
4524119,570
February
4364129,594
March
4616889,367
Private Sector
1976
StartsCompsu/c
January
61063011,626
February
44854821,261
March
53052611,530

April
96377411,719
May
72460511,838
June
90863712,109
July
81857012,357
August
92470312,578
September
70579012,493
October
48454612,431
November
53178012,182
December
31447112,025

1977

Starts

Comps

u/c

January
35349911,879
February
33349011,722
March
53554711,710

Caernarvon Inner Relief Road

asked the Secretary of State for Wales, in view of the recent opening of the extension of the M4 at Pontardulais, the announcement of progress with the St. Clears bypass, and statements made by his Department on road priorities in Wales, if he will now make a statement on his intentions relative to the Caernarvon inner relief road.

My intentions remain as stated in the answer given to the hon. Member on 2nd March 1977.—[Vol. 927, c. 209–10.]

National Finance

Value-Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the general agreement achieved at the Fiscal Council's discussion in Brussels in February 1977 that member States would be free to maintain their existing turnover limits for exemption from VAT prevents the United Kingdom from doubling its existing turnover limits for this purpose.

The agreement on the draft Sixth Directive on VAT would allow a member State to increase its national exemption limit so as to maintain the value of the limit in real terms. At present, this would not cover an increase quite as far as £10,000 a year in the United Kingdom limit.

Corporation Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of total revenue corporation tax has formed in each of the past eight years.

Corporation tax has formed the following percentage of total central Government revenue from taxation in the past eight financial years:

Financial YearPer cent.
1969–7011·4
1970–7110·4
1971–729·6
1972–739·3
1973–74130
1974–7512·9
1975–767·1
1976–77*8·2
* Provisional
Source: Annual Abstract of Statistics; FSBR.

£ Sterling

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage rise or fall in the value of the £ sterling compared with the United States dollar at December 1976 compared with December 1975, December 1974, December 1973 and December 1972, respectively; and what the corresponding figures were for the value of the currencies of the other member countries of the EEC.

The information is as follows:% appreciation (+) or depreciation (-) of currency against US dollar at end-December 1976 compared with end-December:

1975197419731972
Pound sterling and Irish pound-16-28-27-28
Belgian and Luxembourg francs+100+15+23
Danish krone+7-2+9+18
Guilder+9+2+15+31
Deutschemark+11+2+14+36
Lira-22-26-31-33
French franc-10-11-5+3

Government Departments (Suspense Accounts)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many Government Departments are authorised to maintain suspense accounts out of which interest-free loans are provided to the staff of the Department as is done by the Foreign Office; and by what means the cost of providing loans free of interest is brought to account in published documents available to Parliament.

Departments do not require prior Treasury authority to open suspense accounts. The established rule is, however, that all such accounts must be closed at the end of a financial year by the transfer of any balances to the relevant published account. Any exception to this rule would require prior authority. The cost of providing loans free of interest should be displayed in the Appropriation Account of the Vote responsible for the transactions.

Mortgage Interest

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Official Report his estimate of the cost to the Exchequer of mortgage tax relief for 1977–78 as soon as the figures are available.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 5th May 1977], gave the following answer: Yes.

Child Tax Allowances (Overseas)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what savings he anticipates making in 1978–79 by ceasing the child tax allowances for children resident overseas;(2) if he will estimate the cost of retaining child tax allowances for children overseas born before 31st December 1976, until they cease entitlement on age or other grounds;(3) what is the latest annual cost of granting child tax allowances for children resident overseas.

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.

Income Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how many taxpayers were paying tax at the higher rates in 1976–77; and how many taxpayers will be paying tax at the higher rate during 1977–78, before the Budget changes take effect and after they do so;(2) how many taxpayers were paying tax at the standard rate in 1976–77; and how many will be paying tax at the standard rate in 1977–78 before the Budget changes take effect and after they do so.