Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 932: debated on Friday 20 May 1977

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

Written Answers To Questions

Friday 20th May 1977

Defence

Otterburn Range

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what recent farm rent increases have been proposed in respect of his Department's agricultural land on the Otterburn range; and to what extent these increases have been limited as part of the counter-inflation policy.

Since 1st January 1977 the rents for eight farms have been reviewed after an interval of three years as is the normal practice, resulting in increases of between 25 and 75 per cent., payable from May 1978. These in-increases have not been limited as part of the counter-inflation policy. Limitations on rent increases for agricultural land were removed by SI No. 59 of 1975—The Counter-Inflation (Agricultural Rents) (Decontrol) Order 1975.

Energy

Pipelines (New Inspection Regulations)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy when he will make regulations setting out the powers and duties of pipeline inspectors appointed by him under Part III of the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act 1975 and requiring reporting of accidents and other occurrences relating to offshore pipeline activities and pipelines.

I laid the Submarine Pipeline (Inspectors Etc.) Regulations 1977, which come into operation on 15th June 1977, before the House yesterday. They set out the powers and duties of inspectors appointed by me under the 1975 Act in relation to submarine pipelines with initial or terminal points in the United Kingdom or on the United Kingdom Continental Shelf and to activities related to the construction, operation and maintenance of pipelines. Under the regulations an inspector may inspect a pipeline; obtain access to premises, vessels and installations used in connection with pipeline operations; inspect and test equipment; take measurements and photographs; inspect records and documents; and require the pipeline owner to convey him to and from any vessel engaged in pipeline activities. He may also require the pipeline to be shut down where he considers it necessary to avoid an accident causing either serious injury to a person or pollution from a pipeline.The regulations also require pipeline owners to report to me accidents to persons engaged in pipeline activities and certain other occurrences which could endanger the safety of those engaged in pipeline activities or the safety of a pipeline itself.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

British Youth Council

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he proposes to transfer the first instalment of the British Youth Council Grant for 1977–78, which was due to the council on 1st April 1977.

Parliamentary approval for the proposed grant in aid will be sought in the Summer Supplementary Estimates. An advance from the Contingencies Fund has been agreed and an instalment of £2,600 has recently been paid to the British Youth Council.

Commonwealth Heads Of Government (Meeting)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he proposes to compile a list of representatives of Governments of countries attending the Commonwealth Prime Ministers' Conference commencing on 8th June in accordance with his powers under Section 1 of the Diplomatic Immunities (Conference with Commonwealth Countries and Republic of Ireland) Act 1961; and, if so, whether he will exclude representatives of Uganda.

Lists of representatives and their official staffs of countries attending the forthcoming Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting are still being prepared and will be published in the London, Edinburgh and Belfast Gazettes shortly before those attending the meeting are due to arrive in the United Kingdom. Since the lists are not yet complete a decision as to which names are to be gazetted has not yet been taken.

Prime Minister (Press Conference)

asked the Prime Minister what was the purpose of the Press briefing given at midday on Thursday, 12th May, by his Press Secretary.

This was a routine meeting arranged to enable political journalists to ask questions about Government policy.

Scotland

Fishing Vessels (Building)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many fishing vessels are currently being built in Scotland.

23 fishing vessels are currently being built in Scottish yards with assistance from public funds; 10 more are on firm order, and a further five are in prospect. In addition. I understand that one complete vessel and three hulls are currently being built for export.

Barra (Landing Strip)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations have been made to him in the last year for assistance with a permanent landing strip on the island of Barra.

Social Services

Pensions (Payment Methods)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will extend to retirement pensioners living in the United Kingdom the same facility to have their pension paid directly into a bank account as is given to those retirement pensioners living abroad.

A person living abroad is paid by payable order unless special arrangements have been made with his country of residence. The order is normally sent direct to him or his agent for payment into a bank, and this facility is already available also to pensioners in this country. However, direct payment into a bank account may be made for security reasons where a large payment of arrears is to be made to a pensioner abroad, or where the absence abroad is temporary. Only some 8 per cent. of pensioners abroad are paid in this way. The possibility of a wider use of direct payment into bank accounts, for pensioners both here and abroad, has recently been the subject of discussions between the Department and the Inter-Bank Research Organisation, but no decisions have yet been reached. It would, in any event, be some time before such a system could be offered as an alternative method of payment.

Ipswich Hospital

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will expedite the next phase of the District General Hospital in Ipswich, which on current plans will bring no relief until 1983–84, in the light of the population growth, increasing numbers of elderly people, and the closure of Foxhall Wing.

The regional health authority has received notification of its capital allocation for 1977–78 with resource assumptions for the years 1978–79 and 1979–80. As soon as it is in a position to do so, which on present information is likely to be later in the year, it will be considering its programme of capital building schemes to start in the years from 1978–79. In doing so it will take account of the relative needs and pressures on services in various parts of the region. I am asking it to let the hon. Member know the outcome of its deliberations.Meanwhile, from funds provided by a voluntary organisation and for which the RHA is most grateful, a scheme to provide 50 geriatric beds and 70 day places is due to be put in hand later this year and to be completed by the end of 1979.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the present average delays in orthopaedic consultations and operations, respectively, in the Ipswich Hospital; and by how much it is expected that the bringing into use of an orthopaedic ward for general medical patients will further extend the delays.

Dependent upon the type of operation, non-urgent major operations may have to wait between 10 and 18 months once the case is placed on the waiting list. Minor non-urgent operations will probably have to wait between three and four months. Currently, there are 349 non-urgent operations on the waiting list, which is one of the smallest in this specialty within the East Anglian Region. Waiting times for non-urgent out-patient consultation are between 28 and 48 weeks. Urgent patients are seen earlier on the recommendation of the general practitioner. All of these figures are abnormally high at present owing to the prolonged illness of one of the consultants last year.The orthopaedic ward in use for general medical patients is a 24-bed female ward. It will be used flexibly by the department of medicine and the department of orthopaedics, depending on demand within the two specialties. The effect on the orthopaedic waiting lists is expected in an average year to be minimal.

Occupational Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what provision he will make to enable the Occupational Pensions Board to issue provisional certificates for companies intending to contract out, but whose procedures may not be completed by April 1978.

It is not intended that the Occupational Pensions Board should be enabled to issue such provisional certificates. The Board has stated in its Memorandum No. 29, paragraph 93, published in March 1976, that interim documentation, to establish a new occupational pension scheme or amend an existing one, may be used to give effect to the contracting-out requirements until definitive documents are completed. Companies have had a considerable period of notice as to the Board's requirements and should, by now, be well under way with the necessary procedures. Nevertheless, the Board and my Department will jointly be keeping under review any need for further relaxation of the procedural requirements.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the number of companies which have already indicated their intention to contract out of the State second pension scheme under the Social Security Pensions Act 1975.

Although only 12 formal elections to contract out have been received by the Occupational Pensions Board some 500 companies have so far indicated an intention to contract out by asking the Board to approve draft scheme rules, etc. The Board's officials have also had wide ranging discussions with many consultants who cover an unknown number of schemes.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he is taking to encourage the process of discussion about contracting-out under the Pensions Act 1975; and if he is satisfied with the speed of decision making on the issue.

The Occupational Pensions Board has recently arranged for copies of a reminder leaflet to be sent to some 1¼million employers on the Inland Revenue mailing list. My Department has distributed to employers who were contracted out of the former graduated pension scheme 45,000 copies of a revised employers' guide, with a letter urging them to institute the necessary procedures if they intend to contract out In addition DHSS officials in their day-to-day contacts with employers are now drawing attention to the new scheme and the procedural requirements for contracting out. Further publicity is being planned by both the Board and my Department.I would emphasise the need to press ahead if we are to avoid the difficulties for all concerned which would result if a large proportion of applications were delayed until shortly before April 1978.

Disabled Persons (Vehicles)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will introduce legislation to enable interest-free loans to be advanced to disabled people for the purpose of buying a suitable vehicle;(2) if he will introduce legislation to enable loans to be given for the purchase of a vehicle for disabled people against the security of their estates where a property is owned.

I would refer the hon. Member to what my right hon. Friend said in the course of the Supply debate on mobility for the disabled on 26th April.—[Vol. 930, c. 1064.]

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if any application has been made to the European Social Fund for the purpose of obtaining a grant to assist disabled people to obtain a suitable vehicle.

The purposes of the European Social Fund relate to the improvement of employment opportunities. Applications were made, though without success, in respect of the invalid vehicle scheme but have not been made in respect of the mobility allowance scheme, which provides the same benefit whether or not the disabled person is in employment.

One-Parent Families

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many one-parent families there are in total, including widowed, divorced, separated, and unmarried; and how many children they contain.

I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. Member for Wallasey (Mrs. Chalker) today.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make

GREAT BRITAIN
Thousands
Numbers of one parent families in receipt of
Supplementary benefit (a)Family Income Supplement (b)Widowed Mother's Allowance (c)
YearFatherlessMotherlessFatherlessMotherless
19712387231100
1972252733198
19732507431101
1974261837199
19752831331198
1976N. AN. A34197
(

a) Supplementary benefit: the figures for fatherless families include some in receipt of a national insurance widow's benefit, namely 22,000 in 1971, 21,000 in 1972, 20,000 in 1973, 14,000 in 1974 and 9,000 in 1975. The figures relate to a day in December or November of each year. Figures for 1976 are not yet available.

( b) Family income supplement (FIS): the figures relate to the end of December for each year.

a statement about the numbers of one-parent families indicating numbers of men and women heads of household by cause of single parenthood, their take up of benefits and the changes that have occurred over the last five years.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 29th March 1977; Vol. 929, c. 124], gave the following information:The estimates and analyses of the numbers of one-parent families and children in the Finer Committee's Report on One-Parent Families (Cmnd. 5629, July 1974) remain the most comprehensive source of information. The hon. Member will be aware that some tentative figures relating to 1973 were given in the replies to her on 13th February and 18th March 1976, and in my hon. Friend's reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Coventry, Southwest (Mrs. Wise) on 7th July 1976. It is not, however, possible to make reliable estimates of year to year changes, though it is evident that there has been some increase in overall numbers since 1971—chiefly because of increased marital breakdown as indicated by the trend in divorce statistics.Some information going back to 1971 is available about the broad numbers of one-parent families receiving supplementary benefit, family income supplement and widowed mother's allowance and this is set out in the following table:—(

c) Widowed mother's allowance: the figures include widows overseas as well as those in Great Britain and relate to December for 1971 and to November for each other year.

Estimates of the take-up of supplementary benefit by one-parent families are available from 1973 as follows:

197382 per cent
197490 per cent
197587 per cent

These estimates are derived from a DHSS analysis of the incomes and other information recorded in the Family Expenditure Survey and are subject to sampling error. The estimates of numbers of one-parent families apparently eligible for, but not receiving supplementary benefit, are of the order of 30,000 in 1974 and 40,000 in 1975 and are subject to very considerable sampling error.

About three-quarters of all eligible families were receiving FIS in 1975. Separate estimates of the take-up by one-parent families are not available.

In the case of widowed mother's allowance, there is evidence to suggest take-up approaching 100 per cent. This also applied to family allowances, which were replaced by child benefit in April 1977.

The child interim benefit in payment from April 1976 to April 1977 was being received by about 200,000 lone parents

FAMILIES AND PERSONS NORMALLY WITH LOW NET RESOURCES, DECEMBER 1975(1) GREAT BRITAIN

Thousands and percentages

Family Resources

Below supplementary benefit level and normally not receiving it

Normally on supplementary benefit (2)

Above supplementary benefit level but within 20 per cent. of it

Families

Persons

Families

Persons

Families

Persons Thousands (3)

Families under pension age:
Married couples with children130570120550200920
Single persons with children50(4)15026076020(4)80
Married couples no children601207013060130
Single persons no children260260340340130130
Married couples140280280560400810
Families over pension age:
Single persons4504701,3701,370690690
All families1,0901,8402,4303,7101,5002,750 Percentage(5)
Families under pension age:
Married couples with children222234
Single persons with children78404144
Married couples no children111111
Single persons no children445522
Married couples7713131919
Families over pension age:
Single persons111134331717
All families4310765

Source: DHSS analysis of FES data.

1. Families are included in this table if the head is either normally receiving supplementary benefit or if the family's net income less net housing costs less work expenses is less than 120 per cent. of their supplementary benefit

at the end of December 1976. Take-up was estimated to be about 80 per cent.:—[Vol. 905, c. 415; Vol. 907, c. 627–8; Vol. 910, c. 610].

Low-Income Group

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish a table similar to Table 5. 31 of Social Trends No. 7, comparing the numbers of families and of persons with low net resources in 1960, 1970, 1974 and 1975.

, pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 2nd May 1977; Vol. 931, c. 27], gave the following information:Estimates of the numbers of families and persons normally with low net resources are not available for 1960 and 1970. Figures for 1974 were given in the publication referred to by the hon. Member. Figures for 1975 are given below:scale rate. Figures in this table take account of a further analysis of the FES data where the head of a household was self-employed and include revised estimates of a few figures published in earlier Parliamentary answers.

2. This analysis of the FES treats respondents according to their normal income and employment situation within the three months preceding the interview; these figures exclude persons who have received supplementary benefit for less than three months in order that the information should be consistent with that obtained from the FES.

3. Rounded to the nearest 10,000.

4. Subject to considerable sampling error.

5. Rounded to the nearest whole percentage.

St Mark's Hospital, Finsbury

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will provide details relating to his estimate of £750 a month as the savings in administration and clerical staff resulting from the closing of one ward at St. Mark's Hospital, as given in his reply to the hon. Member for Islington, South and Fins-bury on 9th May.

Reduction in work load following closure of the ward has allowed economies to be made generally in administrative costs. One full-time and two part-time staff have left and have not been replaced. The estimated saving on wages is £750 a month.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Beef Imports (Botswana)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many tonnes of beef were imported into the United Kingdom from Botswana during the first quarter of 1977; and what were the comparable imports during the first quarter of 1976.

The United Kingdom imported 4,602 tonnes of beef from Botswana in the first quarter of 1977, compared with 3,508 tonnes in the first quarter of 1976.

Sugar

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the recent negotiations between the EEC and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries about the minimum price guaranteed for African, Caribbean and Pacific sugar under the sugar protocol to the Lomé Convention.

At its meeting on 16th-17th May the Council of Agriculture Ministers endorsed the settlement which had been negotiated the previous week on its behalf by the Commission with the ACP countries. In these negotiations agreement was reached on a guaranteed price of 27·25 ua/100 Kg. for raw sugar and 33·83 ua/100 Kg. for white sugar which will apply for the period from 1st May 1977 to 30th June 1978. In my view, this is a good settlement, which strikes a fair balance between the interests of the ACP suppliers, Community producers of raw sugar and the United Kingdom cane refiners.

Poultry Research Centre

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the cost to public funds of the Poultry Research Centre's study on the causes and prevention of eggshell breakage; how many staff, full and part-time, were engaged in it; and what salaries, fees, other remunerations and expenses were paid to them.

I have been asked to reply.The total cost of this programme since 1972 is £38,000. Of this about £13,000 is attributable to the remuneration of up to six staff who have been employed on the work, part-time.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total number of people employed at the Poultry Research Centre in each year since its inception.

I have been asked to reply.The centre was founded in 1947 by the Agricultural Research Council. Records of the number of scientific and experimental staff employed are available from 1949. The information available about the total number of staff is as follows:

YearTotal
196370
196479
196592
196695
1967118
1968135
1969153
1970169
1971217
1972224
1974222
1973222
1975216
1976210

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the cost to public funds of the Poultry Research Centre in each year since its inception.

I have been asked to reply.Figures are not available for the period 1947–56. Available information is set out below:

Financial YearNet Expenditure
(£000)
1956–5744·9
1957–5866·7
1958–5959·7
1959–6063·6
1960–6180·0
1961–6284·8
1962–6395·3
1963–64118·8
1964–65162·4
1965–66170·3
1966–67249·2
1967–68436·7
1968–69424·7
1969–70741·1
1970–71782·1
1971–72674·6
1972–73693·9
1973–74740·6
1974–75869·7
1975–761,019·5
1976–77 (provisional)1,107·3
8,678·4

Salmonellosis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether a fanner who voluntarily has his herd of cows slaughtered because of an outbreak of salmonellosis is entitled to compensation.

Environment

Rating Surcharge Relief (Commercial Premises)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether in reviewing the rating surcharge imposed under provisions of the General Rate Act 1967, he will include consideration of extending relief where the owner has tried his best to sell commercial premises.

Sports Clubs (Rating)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the average rate of rate relief given by district councils in England to athletic clubs under Section 40 of the General Rate Act 1967 in 1974–75, 1975–76 and 1976–77.

This information is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Office Buildings

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will place in the Library photographs of each of the office buildings mentioned in his reply of 17th May to the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South West.

As the buildings are under construction, photographs are in most cases not available.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many new office buildings are scheduled to be commenced by the Property Services Agency during the next 12 months; and if he will list them, indicating their estimated cost and purpose and what they are replacing;(2) whether, pursuant to his reply of 17th May to the hon. Member for Staffordshire, South West, he will give brief details of each of the office buildings mentioned therein, indicating its function, method of construction, estimated completion date, what the building is replacing, and how many new personnel will be employed within it.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list the office buildings already constructed by the Property Services Agency, indicating their cost and purpose; and what they have replaced.

This information is not readily available and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, pursuant to his reply of 17th May to the hon. Member for Staffordshire, Southwest he will indicate by how much the estimated cost of each of the office buildings mentioned exceeds the original estimate.

The following table compares the latest estimated with the pretender estimates. The increases are due

Estimated CostPre-Tender EstimatedDifference
£m.£m.£m.
Bootle15·69·56·1
Heaton Street, Gainsborough0·20·2
Benton, Newcastle2·02·0
North Shields on Tyne0·10·1
Belle Vale, Liverpool0·80·8
Preston New Road, Blackpool5·75·7
Clarendon Street, Hyde1·21·2
Beaufort House, Harlow0·30·3
Durham House, Washington11·21·93·5
St. Dunstan's House, London B;1·91·9
Shipley9·69·8−0·2*
Watford0·80·8
Cathays Park, Cardiff1·417·6−0·2*
Tiverton0·10·1
Newquay0·10·1
Crownhill, Plymouth2·11·70·4
Princes Street, Swindon1·11·1
Llandrindod Wells0·70·50·2
Fiveways House, Birmingham6·55·11·4
Shrewsbury0·50·5
Church Hill Street, Smethwick0·60·6
Titchfield1·82·0−0·2*
Benhall, Cheltenham8·67·31·3
Norcross, Blackpool0·40·4
Bathgate0·60·6
Stranraer0·40·30·1
Wick0·20·2
Kirkcaldy1·00·80·2
Cumbernauld8·98·10·8
*Saving

Trainsport Of Goods (Road And Rail)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the progress made in encouraging the transfer of suitable goods traffic from road to rail under the Railways Act 1974.

I have been asked to reply.Section 8 of the Railways Act 1974 authorises grant towards the cost of rail freight facilities. So far 28 applications have been approved. When these projects reach full potential, over 5 million tonnes of freight a year will have been transferred from road to rail. A further 24 applications are under consideration. The

1975–761976–77
EnglandWalesEnglandWales
Tax relief (£m.) on mortgage interest795301,01040
per mortgagor (£)152133190165
per owner-occupied dwelling (£)865110763

in part to inflation since the contracts were let and also, in the case of Bootle, to additional requirements and, in the case of Durham House, to the cost of dealing with problems caused by High Alumina Cement:

new financial arrangements introduced by the Act also improved the railways' competitive position, and the budget changes in lorry and full tax will also have an effect.

Mortgages (Tax Relief)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total value of tax relief on mortgage interest payments, the relief per mortgagor and the relief per owner-occupied dwelling, in England and Wales, respectively, in 1975–76 and 1976–77.

The latest estimates of tax relief on mortgage interest, excluding option mortgage subsidy, are as follows:

Home Department

Bailed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will institute an inquiry into the number and nature of offences committed by persons remanded on bail for the various types of more serious offences.

When the Bail Act 1976 comes into force more data will gradually become available, and we will consider then what studies can be undertaken into offences committed by persons remanded on bail.

Mr George Ince

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement regarding Mr. George Ince, serving sentence in HM prison.

I have carefully considered all the representations made by and on behalf of Mr. Ince, in the light of the reports of the police officers appointed to investigate his complaints and of other relevant documents. The Home Secretary can take action with regard to a conviction or sentence only if new considerations of substance arise which have not previously been before a court. He cannot reassess cases on the basis of the same evidence, nor can he substitute his own judgment for that of the courts. The very thorough inquiries which have been made have not brought to light any new information to alter the balance of the evidence which was carefully considered by the court of trial and the Court of Appeal. In particular, the whole question of the identification evidence was rigorously examined by the courts. I have therefore, reached the conclusion that, on present information, there are no grounds on which I would be justified in taking any action with regard to Mr. Ince's conviction or sentence.

Cypriots

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots are resident in Great Britain; and how many Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots arrived and were accepted for permanent settlement in Great Britain from 1960 onwards.

The information requested about the number of Greek and Turkish Cypriots resident in Great Britain is not available. In the 1971 Census about 64,000 persons were recorded as being resident in Great Britain who were born in Cyprus and who had one or both parents born outside the British Isles. The following table gives the number of citizens of Cyprus who were accepted for settlement on arrival in the United Kingdom between July1962 and Sent ember 1976:

1st July—31st December 1962*0·9
19631·8
19642·4
19651·5
19660·8
19670·7
19680·5
19690·4
19700·4
19710·3
19720·2
19730·2
19740·2
19750·3
January—September 19760·2
* Commonwealth citizens first became subject to control on 1st July 1962.

Copyright Infringement

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions have been brought under Section 21 of the Copyright Act 1956; and how many convictions have been obtained pursuant to these prosecutions.

One person has been prosecuted under Section 21 of the Copyright Act 1956—in 1970—and he was convicted.

Television (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the fact that the prevalence of English-language television programmes helps to erode the position of the Welsh language, he will consider the plans for the use of the fourth channel as a national Welsh channel by bringing forward its establishment to an early date.

I would refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a Question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Anglesey (Mr. Hughes) on 25th February.—[Vol. 926, c.721–2]

National Finance

Personal Allowances

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, taking account of the new rates of tax allowances announced in last Budget, what would be the additional revenue gained in a full year by abolishing the married man's allowance and replacing it by a single person's allowance.

About £1,800 million for 1977–78, assuming full implementation of the Budget proposals.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, taking account of the new rates of tax allowances announced in the last Budget, what would be the cost to the Treasury in a full year of abolishing the wife's earned income allowance, and replacing it by a single person's allowance which could be set against a married woman's unearned, as well as earned, income.

I regret that the information on which to base an estimate is not available.

Child Benefit

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the entire sum saved by abolishing the married man's allowance and replacing it by a single person's allowance were devoted to an increase in child benefit including benefit for the first child of all families, what would be the increase in child benefit per week.

The saving for 1977–78, assuming the full implementation of the Budget proposals, from abolishing the married man's allowance and replacing it by a single person's allowance would be about £1,800 million. This would enable an increase of approximately £3 per week to be made in child benefit for all children.

Transport

Royston

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he proposes to bring in the no waiting and limited waiting orders for Kneesworth Street, Royston, Hertfordshire (A14).

The restrictions will be brought into force as soon as a statutory notice to that effect can be published in The London Gazette.

M25 (A10-A12 Link)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects the report of the inspector to be published on the M25 motorway link between the A10 and A12 arising out of the public inquiries on this matter.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison) on 27th April.—[Vol. 930, c. 313.]

Road Signs (Woking)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many road signs have been put up in the Woking constituency within the last six months; what has been the total cost to public funds; and why this expenditure has been thought necessary.

I do not have this information. The provision of traffic signs on all roads in the constituency is the responsibility of the Surrey County Council as local highway authority.

Commuter Services

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he is satisfied with the way public subsidies to commuter services are distributed;(2) if he will take powers to allocate public subsidies to commuter transport services, including those currently operating at a loss.

Under the Railways Act 1974 my Department pays compensation to the Railways Board for the costs of operating the passenger railway as a public service. In addition local authorities have power to support local rail or bus services, including commuter services. For my proposals on future support for public transport services I must ask the hon. Member to await my White Paper.

Motor Vehicles (Insurance)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will consider the adoption of a standard form of insurance certificate detailing named drivers and conditions to be displayed on vehicle windscreens, as in Italy.

I refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Brentwood and Ongar (Mr. McCrindle) on 4th May—[Vol. 931, c. 176].

Vehicle Tests (Certification)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will consider the adoption of a MOT test certificate which could be displayed on vehicle windscreens.

A number of similar suggestions have been considered in the past,

LesseeService AreasOpening Date
Trust Houses Forte LtdScratchwoodMlMarch 1969
Newport PagnellMlNovember 1959
WoodallMlApril 1968
FleetM3June 1973
GordanoM5May 1973
CorleyM6January 1972
KeeleM6November 1963
Charnock RichardM6July 1963
BurtonwoodM62August 1974
Granada Motorway Services Ltd.ToddingtonMlMay 1964
Woolley EdgeMlJanuary 1972
HestonM4February 1967
Leigh Delamere.M4January 1972
FrankleyM5July 1966
ExeterM5Under construction
SouthwaiteM6July 1972
BirchM62November 1972
Washington-BirtleyA1(M)August 1970
Rank Leisure Services Ltd.Farthing Corner.M2May 1963
AustM4September 1966
Hilton ParkM6March 1967
KnutsfordM6July 1963
FortonM6January 1965
Ross Motorway Services Ltd.Leicester Forest EastMlFebruary 1966
MemburyM4February 1972
Hartshead MoorM62July 1973
Galleon Roadchef LtdTaunton Deane.M5June 1976
SandbachM6December 1975
RownhamsM27June 1976
Kenning Motor GroupStrenshamM5July 1962
AndertonM61April 1971
Blue Boar GroupRothersthorpe.MlUnder construction
Watford GapMlNovember 1959
Mobil Oil Company Ltd.Michael Wood.M5April 1971
Burton WestM6October 1970
Mecca Ltd.TrowellMlMarch 1967
BP Oil Company LtdKillington Lake.M6May 1972
Westmorland Motorway Services Ltd.Tebay WestM6June 1972

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what he considers to be a reasonable return on his Department's capital expenditure when deciding whether to accept or reject tenders for motorway concessions; and what part of

but I am not convinced that sufficient additional benefit would result from the adoption of such a system in terms of either road safety or the enforcement of compliance with vehicle testing requirements.

Motorways (Service Stations)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish starting dates for the operation of each of those motorway concessions listed in his previous answer to the Question from the hon. Member for Lewes, No. 102 of 5th May 1977.

The information requested is as follows:the total capital expenditure on a motorway is used as a basis for this consideration.

It is considered that a reasonable rate of return would be in line with the public sector test discount rate, currently 10 per cent., and, accordingly, forecasts of future rent at constant prices offered under tenders are expected at least to cover the Department's capital expenditure when discounted at that rate over the term of the lease. The capital expenditure taken into account is the cost of the site and of the necessary engineering works on it. In aggregate this amounts to about 1·25 per cent. of the total expenditure on the construction of motorways.

Beverley (By-Pass)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when the findings of the second public inquiry on the Beverley south-west bypass will be published.

As soon as my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Transport have reached a decision on the inspector's recommendations. I hope that this will be within three months.

Education And Science

Poultry Research Centre

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the cost to public funds of the Poultry Research Council's study on hatching-egg storage.

Research into hatching-egg storage forms part of a programme on the effect on hatching eggs of genotype and environment before and during incubation and the cost cannot be isolated.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the cost to public funds of the Poultry Research Council's study on lighting for broilers.

Research into the effects of lighting for broilers forms part of a wider programme on physiological and environmental factors influencing feeding and drinking behaviour and the cost cannot be isolated.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps are being taken to disseminate the findings of the Poultry Research Coun-cil's cil's study on the causes of eggshell breakage to member countries of the EEC.

All findings of the centre are disseminated in its annual report, in the scientific and farming Press, and through communications to scientific and industry meetings. Information to member countries of the EEC is made available in print and through participation in meetings.

School Transport

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations she has received on educational grounds relating to the proposal by British Railways to terminate the half-fare concessions for school pupils aged 14 to 18 years whilst continuing concessions to students of mature age; and if she will make a statement as regards recoupment from local education authorities.

My right hon. Friend has received about a dozen letters on this subject, and I understand that a greater number of representations have been made to the Department of Transport, which is more directly concerned. This action by British Rail is regretted, but the position is that, subject to the approval of the Price Commission—already given—the matter is within the discretion of British Rail. As regards recoupment from local education authorities, British Rail will be seeking larger payments from them in cases where school transport continues to be provided by rail after the concession for schoolchildren is withdrawn, and the increased cost to the authorities will be taken into account for rate support grant purposes.The concession to older students is designed for wider purposes than daily travel from home, which is virtually excluded.

Arts Council

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what progress she is making in persuading the Arts Council to become more democratic and representative of workers in the arts and entertainment.

In making appointments to the Arts Council I shall bear in mind the need to reflect the interests of those who work in the arts and entertainments field, but also the need to represent the interests of the wider public who support the arts directly and through taxation.

Prices And Consumer Protection

Hotels

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection (1) with which trade bodies his Department consulted, prior to the inquiries initiated by the Price Commission into hotel prices in Turnberry;(2) what power his Department possesses to order hotels not to alter their charges in the light of seasonal circumstances.

My Department neither conducted inquiries nor exercises the powers in question. Section 6 of the Counter-Inflation Act 1973 provides the Price Commission with powers to secure that the provisions of the Price Code concerning prices and charges are implemented.

Trade

Tourism

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has given further consideration to the Government's proposals to introduce more tourism to fragile districts of the development areas.

In the light of advice from the statutory Tourist Boards and others, my colleagues and I believe it should be possible to establish new growth points for tourism within the development areas. Extensive parts of these areas are not industrialised and have great scenic and recreational possibilities which have so far been only partially realised. We cannot neglect these if we are to build on the success of our tourism market. With careful handling, a much needed source of new prosperity could be introduced without environmental harm. The Tourist Boards can consider applications for financial help under Section 4 of the Development of Tourism Act 1969. But where individual resources are particularly limited it will be necessary for a wide variety of community, trade and investment interests to work in partnership and we conclude that the Tourist Boards should now take the initiative in offering help and encouragement.In the current economic climate, it will not be possible to increase overall Government expenditure on tourism. So if we are to hypothecate any significant part of these limited resources, it would be right to introduce such a policy on a pilot basis.In England I wish to have the possibilities pursued further in three relatively limited geographical areas for schemes regarded by the English Tourist Board as suited to their individual possibilities and characteristics. Each scheme consists of a number of inter-related projects which, associated with suitable marketing, could attract the attention of tourists more effectively than random developments. Investment over a period of three-four years would be of the order of £2·5–3 million in each case. Provided assurance is forthcoming of the right kind of cooperation, including independent finance, to offer a satisfactory prospect for the scheme as a whole, I shall be prepared to authorise injection of some of the required finance under Section 4.I have asked the Under-Secretary of State for Trade and the Chairman of the English Tourist Board to visit the pilot areas provisionally selected in the next few weeks to sound out the communities which would be affected and the interests whom it is hoped would be involved in implementation of schemes. The districts concerned are the High Pennines from Teesside to the South Tyne Valley; Scarborough; and the area from Bude to Wadebridge.

Footwear

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the value of imported shoes from Czechoslovakia in 1976.

Shoes are not separately distinguished in the overseas trade statistics, but imports of all types of footwear from Czechoslovakia were valued at £6·7 million c.i.f.

Textiles (Imports)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what was the value of imported textile goods from East Germany in 1975 and 1976;(2) what was the total value of textile imports from Poland in 1975 and 1976;(3) if he will list the value of textile imports from the Philippines during 1975 and 1976.

Following is the information:

£000 c i f
19751976
German Democratic Republic2,6394,056
Poland.5,0016,441
Philippines8936,369
These figures cover wool tops, synthetic and regenerated (artificial) fibres and textile yarns, fabrics and made-up articles, including clothing.

Waterproof Goods And Sails

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many tonnes of tarpaulins, tents, awnings and sails were imported during 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 to date;(2) what was the value of imported tarpaulins, tents, awnings and sails in 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 to date.

Following is the information:

Thousand metric tons£ million cif
1974*2·43·6
1975*2·44·5
19763·08·3
First quarter 1977.1·03·4

* Figures include other textile camping goods, which are not separately distinguished.

Television Sets (Japanese Imports)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many colour television sets have been imported into the United Kingdom from Japan in each of the last five years.

Following is the information:

Thousand sets
1972156
1973269
1974202
1975165
1976143

Hotels

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement outlining the Department's latest views of the statutory registration of hotel accommodation.

I am not able to add to the answer given to the hon. Member on 10th January 1977.

Cotton Yarn

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) how many tonnes of cotton yarn have been imported since January 1977;(2) how many tonnes of cotton yarn have been imported from Colombia since January 1977;(3) how many tonnes of cotton yarn have been imported from Brazil since January 1977.

Following is information for the first quarter of 1977, which is the latest available:

Meteric tonnes
Total8,101
Colombia41
Brazil183

Industry

Lighting

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what financial assistance has been granted by his Department to support research and development in the United Kingdom lighting industry.

Within the last few years there has been no financial support given by my Department for the purposes mentioned by the hon. Member. However, a Chief Scientist's (Electrotechnical) Requirements Board has recently been formed which is aimed at encouraging research and development projects in the whole of the electrical industry, including, of course, the lighting industry.

Electronics

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give an estimate of the total spent on research and development in the electronics industry in 1976–77, and the proportion of the total funded by the Government.

The latest available estimate of total industrial expenditure on research and development on electronics and telecommunications, including computers, is from the 1972 survey, when industry reported expenditure of £179·4 million, of which £74·0 million or 41 per cent. was financed by the Government.

The next survey for 1975 is nearing completion and the results are expected to be published next month.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what financial assistance has been granted to firms in the electronics industry under Sections 7 and 8 of the Industry Act 1972; and which firms have received such assistance;(2) what financial assistance has been received by the electronics industry under the accelerated projects scheme.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list all Government research establishments which are engaged in research in electronics; and what is the budgeted expenditure for each one in the current financial year.

None of the laboratories for which my Department is responsible is engaged in research in electronics to any significant degree. My Department, however, does commission research in electronic materials and devices at Royal Signals and Radar Establishment, Malvern, a Ministry of Defence establishment, which in 1977–78 is estimated to cost £0·9 million.

Advanced Instrumentation Project

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what financial assistance has been granted by his Department under the Advanced Instrumentation Project for each year since 1972–73.

Under the advanced instrumentation project the Department contributes not more than 50 per cent. of the cost of selected development projects with individual firms. Annual contributions by the Department since 1972 have totalled:

£
1972–7365,000
1973–7484,000
1974–75101,000
1975–76172,000
1976–77487,000

British Leyland

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether there is any information about the options being considered for the future level of public investment in British Leyland which he feels able to lay before Parliament.

Power Plant Manufacturing

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether there is any information about the options being considered for the future of the power plant manufacturing industry which he feels able to lay before Parliament.

Computers

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what financial assistance has been granted by his Department under the advanced computer technology project for each year since 1972–73.

Financial assistance provided by the Department of Industry through the advanced computer technology project since 1972 has been:

1972–73£665,000
1973–74£604,803
1974–75£381,425
1975–76£496,218
1976–77£611,857

Constructional Steelwork (Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry why the Government have not put into effect any of the recommendations of the Constructional Steelwork Sector Working Party that depend on Government action.

I have been asked to reply.Action has been taken by the Government on a number of the matters on which the sector working party made recommendations. Where recommendations have not been accepted this has been after very careful consideration, and the reasons have been given to the sector working party. Some recommendations are still under consideration.

Planning Agreements

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) how many planning agreements are in the process of discussion with the top 100 companies;

(2) how many planning agreements with the top 100 companies are nearing completion.

, pursuant to his reply[Official Report, 19th May 1977], gave the following information:Announcements have been made about planning agreement discussions with five category 1 companies.

* Of these a planning agreement has been made with Chrysler (UK). Talks with British Leyland have been suspended during the present review and discussions with the

other companies in the turbine generator and process plant industries have been deferred pending the outcome of the Government's consideration of the CPRS Report. Explanatory talks are in progress with a number of other companies in category 1.

* NOTE. Category 1 companies, broadly speaking, include manufacturers with total annual home sales of £50 million or more and service companies with total home sales of £20 million or more. All construction and distribution companies are excluded from category 1.