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Written Answers

Volume 934: debated on Monday 27 June 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 27th June 1977

Trade

European Community And Commonwealth

1.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give as a percentage Great Britain's export and import figures to the EEC and the Commonwealth, respectively, in 1962 and the equivalent figures for 1976.

The information is as follows:

United Kingdom Exports and Imports by Area as Proportions of Total Exports and Imports Respectively
Percentages, overseas trade statistics basis EEC*
1962
Exports26
Imports22
1976
Exports35½
Imports36½
Commonwealth*
1962
Exports29
Imports29
1976
Exports15
Imports13½
*As at present constituted.

Roofing Slates

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the volume and value of roofing slates that were imported and exported by the United Kingdom for the most recent available year.

In the first five months of this year, 1,200 metric tons of slate roofing and wall tiles were imported, valued at £160,000 cif and 1,000 metric tons valued at £211,000 fob were exported. Comparable figures are not available for 1976.

Airports (Security Personnel)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has received any representations from the trade unions concerning the phasing out of the use of private security agencies for passenger searching in United Kingdom airports under the management of the British Airports Authority.

I have not received any representations from the trade unions since I announced the proposed changes in passenger searching arrangements at British Airports Authority airports. I had discussions with the Transport and General Workers Union before making the announcement. They welcomed the change.

Ferrous Scrap

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how much ferrous scrap has been imported from the United States of America in the last 12 months; and at what average price per tonne.

In the 12 months ending April 1977, 431 thousand tonnes were imported at an average value of £73 per tonne. This average value derived from the import statistics is not a true price and would be influenced by different qualities of scrap, transport costs and other factors.

Exports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what percentage of exports from the United Kingdom went to other EEC countries in each of the past four years.

The figures are:

UNITED KINGDOM EXPORTS TO EEC AS PROPORTION OF TOTAL UNITED KINGDOM EXPORTS
Percentages, balance of payments basis
197332·5
197433·8
197532·3
197635·6

United Kingdom-United States Air Travel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) whether, under the new air service agreement, Laker Airways remains a United Kingdom designated flag carrier on the London-New York route; and whether he hopes to be able to negotiate better terms for Laker's United States of America permit for the Skytrain service than that at present granted by the CAB for the service;(2) to what extent United States of America scheduled or supplemented operators will be able to operate services similar to the Laker Skytrain as a result of the recent agreement: (

a) on the London-New York route and ( b) on other United Kingdom to United States of America routes;

(3) what change in United Kingdom-United States of America air fares he expects to see in real terms up to 1981;

(4) what has been the annual growth in recent years in United Kingdom-United States of America air travel: and what rate of annual growth he expects up to 1981;

(5) what reduction he expects to take place in seat capacity on the United Kingdom-United States of America air route as a result of the new air services agreement;

(6) what restrictions on United Kingdom—United States of America charter flights he expects to see as a result of the recent air services agreement;

(7) what is the present value in money terms of the total United Kingdom-United

Unit

EEC

Rest of World

Live animalsThousand1,799136
Meat and meat productsThousand metric tons584485
FishThousand metric tons54148
Cereals and cereal preparationsThousand metric tons5,0703,868
Fruit and vegetablesThousand metric tons1,0902,840
Sugar and sugar preparationsThousand metric tons3882,370
HoneyThousand metric tons311
CoffeeThousand metric tons11101
TeaThousand metric tons18206
CocoaThousand metric tons9118
SpicesThousand metric tons116
Feeding stuffs for animalsThousand metric tons5031,119
Other food preparationsThousand metric tons703224

Performing Right Society Limited

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will institute an urgent inquiry under the Companies Act into the affairs of the Performing Right Society Ltd.

Business Names

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list in the Official Report his statutory duties with

States of America air market; what are the United Kingdom and United States of America percentage shares of the market; what is his estimate of the total market in 1981 expressed in current £ sterling; and what he expects to be the United Kingdom and United States of America shares in that year.

Food Imports

asked the Secretary of Trade if he will set out in the Official Report a table showing the total imports of the commodities set out below, by weight or volume as relevant, firstly from the EEC and secondly from the rest of the world: (a) live animals, (b) meat and meat products, (c) fish, (d) cereals and cereal preparations, (e) fruit and vegetables, (f) sugar and sugar preparations, (g) honey, (h) coffee, (0 tea, (j) cocoa, (k) spices, (l) feeding stuffs for animals and (m) other food preparations not covered in these categories.

Following is the information for year 1976:regard to the registration of business names.

The Registration of Business Names Act 1916, as amended by the Companies Acts 1947 and 1976, empowers the Secretary of State to:

appoint the Registrar of Business Names; make rules concerning—
the fees (within limits prescribed in the Act) to be paid to the Registrar;
the forms to be used under the Act;
the duties to be performed by the Registrar;
the performance by Assistant Registrars and other officers of acts required to be done by the Registrar;
generally, the conduct and regulation of registration under the Act;
hear appeals against the decision of the Registrar;
request information for the purposes of ascertaining liability to register under the Act;
allow an extension of time in which to report a change of registered particulars to the Registrar.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, further to his replies, Official Report, 27th May, c. 655–6 and 20th June, c. 355–6, on the rate of applications for registration of a business name and daily output of new registrations, what steps are being taken to improve the present position in which the backlog of applications is shown by his answers to be increasing at a rate of 1,750 per week.

There will shortly be an increase in the number of staff employed on the examination and registration of new applications. A further study is being made of the Registry's organisation, work load and resources to decide whether additional relief is necessary.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

My Department owns 201 vehicles, most of which are in the Coastguard Service. 160 are Land Rovers, 35 saloons, four vans and two specialist vehicles. Three people are employed as drivers.

British Airports Authority

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many airports in the United Kingdom are now under the control of the British Airports Authority.

The British Airports Authority owns and operates seven airports at Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Prestwick.

Noise Insulation (Birmingham)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, under the terms of the "Municipalisation Agreement" 1960 (Birmingham), his Department may make financial grants for noise insulation schemes.

The agreement of 28th March 1961 relating to Birmingham Airport makes no provision for the payment of grants for noise insulation schemes.

Birmingham Airport

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consideration his Department is giving to the scheme drawn up by the city planners to extend the main runway of Birmingham Airport across the A45 Coventry road, as a possible future development at the airport.

The possible further development of Birmingham Airport was considered in Part 2 of the consultation document "Airport Strategy for Great Britain", but no proposal for an extension to the main runway at the airport has been submitted to my Department.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if the designs for new terminal facilities, aprons and taxiways for Birmingham Airport drawn up by the West Midlands County Council and the British Airports Authority are now completed.

I understand that studies for a new passenger terminal and related facilities at Birmingham Airport have been undertaken by the West Midlands County Council and by the British Airports Authority at the county council's request. No proposals have been submitted to my Department.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give the estimated number of passengers for which the designs for new terminal facilities at Birmingham Airport will provide.

I understand that the studies for a new terminal at Birmingham Airport are related to a capacity of about 3 million passengers a year, but no proposals have been put to my Department.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to announce his regional airport strategy plans.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to the hon. Member for Colne Valley (Mr. Wainwright) on 21st June.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what discussions have taken place between his Department and the West Midlands County Council about the future ownership and control of the Birmingham Airport.

The acquisition of further airports by the British Airports Authority was considered in Part 2 of the consultation document "Airport Strategy for Great Britain", but there have been no discussions between my Department and the West Midlands County Council about the future ownership of Birmingham Airport.

Defence Equipment (Exports)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proportion of total exports is represented by exports of defence equipment including vessels and aircraft; and how much this proportion would have risen but for the refusal of export licences in the three years since March 1974.

Exports of defence equipment represent about 2·5 per cent. of total exports. The information requested in the second part of the Question is not available.

Jet Aircraft (Night Movements)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what restrictions are to be applied to night jet movements at Heathrow and Gatwick in the winter period from 1st November 1977 to 31st March 1978.

I have decided that the number of night jet movements permitted in the coming winter should be 2,000 at Heathrow and 1,400 at Gatwick. This represents a cut of 200 in the quotas at both airports last winter. The hours of restriction will be unchanged. This decision continues the progressive reductions in the permitted level of night time disturbance and is compatible with both long term strategies proposed in the consultation document "Night Disturbance from Aircraft Noise at Heathrow and Gatwick".

Israel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the latest balance of trade between Israel and the United Kingdom.

River Pollution (Ayrshire)

asked the Lord Advocate how many cases are now being considered in South Ayrshire in respect of river pollution.

There is one case now being considered in South Ayrshire in respect of river pollution.

Prices And Consumer Protection

Price Increases

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection to what extent the increases in the retail price index between 23rd April 1974 and 19th April 1977 on the items as stated in the reply of Tuesday 14th June arose as a result of tax increases, other Government actions or policy and membership of the Common Market.

Estimates of the effect on the retail price index of tax increases and other Government actions implicit in Budget and interim Budget measures over the period were given in a reply to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire [Vol. 930, cols. 305–306.] These measures were necessary to contain the public sector borrowing requirement and to maintain confidence in sterling. There is no official estimate of the extent to which EEC membership has affected retail prices throughout that period because it is not possible to calculate precisely how prices would have behaved had we not joined.

Liquor (Dispensing)

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection, in view of the difficulty of licensees and their staff in dispensing an exact amount of liquor as required by law, if he will consider amending legislation to allow for a maximum and minimum tolerance level.

No. While I accept that the serving of draught beer or cider in brim measures can present difficulties I do not believe that it would be in the best interests of consumers to legalise tolerance levels on quantity delivered. It is open to licensees to use oversize lined glasses and my Department is currently considering whether brim measures should be phased out.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

My Department owns two vehicles; both are vans. Nobody is employed as a driver.

Price Levels

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection by how much the general level of prices is above or below that prevailing in London in each of the other capital cities of EEC countries according to the latest available information.

According to estimates produced by the Statistical Office of the European Communities, comparative levels, based on a survey of prices carried out in October 1975, are as follows:

CONSUMER PURCHASING POWER PARITIES FOR THE EEC CAPITALS (LONDON = 100)
Bonn129
Paris131
Rome101
Amsterdam119
Brussels122
Luxembourg113
Dublin98
Copenhagen147
These estimates are based on appropriate selections of goods and services normally consumed by households in each country, but excluding health and housing. An explanation of the methods used, together with further details of the estimates, is given in the

Department of Employment Gazette (Vol. 85 No. 5).

Banks (Account Books)

asked the Attorney-General if he will consider bringing to the attention of all magistrates the judgment of Lord Chief Justice Widgery in Williams and Others v Summerfield (1972), 2 A.E.R., 1334, which concerns the circumstances in which an order under Section 7 of the Bankers Books Evidence Act 1879 should be made.

Since a full account of the judgment of the Lord Chief Justice in this case is given in Stone's Justices' Manual, a copy of which is supplied to every magistrates' court, it should not be necessary for my noble Friend to draw the attention of magistrates specifically to it.

Terrorism Prevention (Northern Ireland)

asked the Attorney-General how many arrests and prosecutions there have been in Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Regulations 1973 (S.I., 1975, No. 2213).

From the coming into operation on 5th January 1976— 5th April 1976 in the case of Regulation 3(d)—of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Regulations 1975 until 21st June 1977, directions for prosecution for contravention of the provisions of Regulation 3 of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Regulations 1975 have been given by the Director of Public Prosecutions for Northern Ireland in respect of 161 cases. I am informed that there is no record of anyone having been arrested in respect of this offence.

Injury (Compensation)

asked the Attorney-General if he will introduce legislation seeking to require automatic compensation for accidental injury; what estimate he has made of costs associated with such a change; and if he will make a statement.

No. This question falls largely within the terms of reference of the Royal Commission on Civil Liability and Personal Injury whose report the Government expect to receive before the end of the year.

Law Officers' Department (Vehicles)

asked the Attorney-General how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

Legal Aid

asked the Attorney-General how many civil legal aid certificates were issued in England and Wales during the 1976–77 financial year.

Energy

Drax B Power Station

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a further statement concerning the construction of Drax B Power Station.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

The Department of Energy owns one vehicle, a 1½-ton Bedford van which is driven by a porter/messenger who combines driving with other duties.

Oil Refining

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether it is still his policy that two thirds of North Sea oil must be refined in the United Kingdom; and whether there will be a significant advantage for the United Kingdom to obtain the premium on low sulphur high quality crude oil by exporting a substantial part of it abroad.

In his written reply of 6th December 1974 my right hon. Friend and predecessor explained the factors effecting the disposal of North Sea oil, including its low sulphur quality, and said that it would be reasonable to expect that up to two-thirds of the oil would be refined in the United Kingdom. That remains the Government's policy.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, under his policy of requiring a substantial part of North Sea crude oil to be refined in the United Kingdom, whether he will continue to allow substantial imports of crude oil from abroad both for blending and maintaining the correct product balance.

Yes. Some United Kingdom requirements can suitably be met by refining cheaper imported crudes.

Chemical Manufacturing

asked the Secretary of State for Energy in what year he anticipates there will be a switch from petrochemicals based on petroleum and natural gas feedstocks to coal-based feedstocks.

The National Coal Board anticipates that, subject to appropriate price relativity of coal to crude oil, there will be a gradual movement in favour of the use of coal as a feedstock in chemical manufacture, and the impact of this trend should be felt before the year 2000.

Oil Supply

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, under the European Community arrangements for sharing indigenous oil in the event of an oil crisis, which authority designates the cuts to be made by member countries and which authority authorises the retrenchment to be made.

There are no such arrangements. Our oil emergency arrangements are governed by the IEA oil emergency demand restraint and sharing scheme. The Community is, however, considering a scheme proposed by the Commission under which the Commission could, for two months during an an oil crisis, set a target for reducing consumption of petroleum products in the Community by up to 10 per cent. of normal consumption, and under which any further cuts would be a matter for Council decision on proposals by the Commission.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, in an energy crisis situation in Europe, whether there is an agreement with EEC partners under which the United Kingdom could be obliged to curtail its self-sufficiency in crude oil and petroleum products in 1979, 1980 and thereafter to make additional supplies available to Community partners.

Coal And Gas

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he anticipates that synthetic natural gas in the United Kingdom will be produced substantially from indigenous coal or from imported supplies.

The National Coal Board's "Plan for Coal" and "Plan 2000" aim to make production capacity available to meet the range of developing demands for coal as production of North Sea oil and gas declines.

Home Department

Terrorist Offences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons are at present on trial in England and Wales for alleged Irish Republican Army terrorist offences.

Four people are at present on trial at the Central Criminal Court for a number of offences in connection with bomb and shooting attacks which occurred in London in March 1976.

Terrorism (Prison Sentences)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many prisoners are currently serving sentences in prisons in England and Wales for Irish Republican Army terrorist offences; and what is the average length of these sentences;(2) how many persons are at present remanded in custody in England and Wales for alleged Irish Republican Army offences; and how long each of them has been on remand.

There is no separate offence of terrorism in our criminal law. Whether an offender can be regarded as a terrorist and whether his offences were linked with particular organisations is a matter of judgment. The following figures are based on our assessment of all relevant information about offences believed to have been connected with Irish Republican organisations:(

a) Convicted prisoners

Total number 92.
Number serving sentences of life imprisonment (including detention under Her Majesty's Pleasure) 29.
Average length of determinate sentences 11·4 years.

( b) Unconvicted prisoners

Total number 5.
Time spent on remand* 15 months (2 cases), 14½ months, 13½ months, 4½ months.

* In one case some time on remand was spent on bail.

Crunwick Processing Laboratories Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many police constables, sergeants and inspectors were employed to supervise the picket lines at Grunwick Processing on each day in the week beginning Monday 13th June; and what is his estimate of the total cost to public funds of police supervision on each day.

The information is as follows:

DatePolice Constables
13th June252
14th June420
15th June294
16th June441
17th June576
DateSergeants
13th June36
14th June60
15th June42
16th June54
17th June78
DateInspectors
13th June12
14th June20
15th June14
16th June18
17th June26
Information about the costs involved could not be obtained without disproportionate effort.

Parliamentary Electorates

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the electorate in each parliamentary constituency in Kent; what is the percentage by which each constituency's electorate differs from the average in England; and how many constituencies there would be

ConstituencyProvisional 1977 parliamentary electoratePercentage difference from 66,056 (English quota)
Ashford60,417-8·5
Canterbury88,686+34·3
Dartford57,689-12·7
Dover and Deal75,912+14·9
Faversham78,282+18·5
Folkestone and Hythe66,091+0·1
Gillingham63,778-3·4
Gravesend.88,248+33·6
Maidstone91,540+38·6
Rochester and Chatham79,782+20·8
Royal Tunbridge Wells71,641+8·5
Sevenoaks78,956+19·5
Thanet East48,828-26·1
Thanet West45,036-31·8
Tonbridge and Malling67,270+1·8
On the basis of the current electoral quota for England, the provisional 1977 parliamentary electorate of Kent would entitle the county to 16 constituencies.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

994 motor vehicles are owned and used by the Department. They comprise 137 load carriers, 382 vans—85 being over 30 cwt.—229 personnel carriers, 70 utility vehicles, and 176 cars and estate cars; 222 staff are employed wholly or mainly on driving duties. Many other members of staff are required to drive in the course of their official duties.

Licensed Premises

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider amending legislation to prevent outsiders other than the Bench or those engaged in the licensed trade from seeking to alter the hours of licensed houses.

On present information we see no grounds for imposing such a restriction.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many cases under the Licensing Act 1964 have been brought to his attention in which outsiders not engaged in the

in Kent if every Kent constituency had the average English electorate.

The information is as follows:licensed trade have requested a change in public house hours.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of continuing violence, whether he will now consider a ban on those found guilty of crimes of violence entering licensed premises, as in the case of those convicted under the breathalyser provisions.

No. I remain unconvinced that any practical purpose would be served by a statutory power to ban certain offenders from public houses over and above the common law right of a licensee to decide who he will admit and to eject any person at his discretion.

Probation Committees

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many probation committees have sought prior permission from his Department to make appointments of ancillary staff in accordance with the Probation Rules; how many such requests were agreed; and how many refused.

Only one probation and after-care committee has sought to appoint additional staff above the limit envisaged by the rate support grant settlement for the current financial year. The committee concerned was informed that grant could not be paid in respect of any expenditure incurred on the post in question.

Battered Wives

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received representations from the Justices Clerks' Society to the effect that magistrates' courts should provide a 24-hour service to give legal protection to battered wives; what reply he has sent; and if he will make a statement.

No, but there is a suggestion in a discussion paper by the Justices' Clerks' Society entitled "Towards a Workable Family Court", which was published in the Society's journal for May 1977, that urgent and emergency remedies in the family court field should be readily available on a 24-hour basis. The society has not made any detailed proposals on how this might be done or what it would involve but we would of course be prepared to consider any proposals it may wish to make on this matter.

Civil Service

University College Of Buckingham

asked the Minister for the Civil Service, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Croydon, Central, Official Report, 20th June, column 349, whether the determination as to the status of the licence of the University College of Buckingham is based on matters of selection in which the Civil Service Commissioners act independently or is a matter of recruitment policy where they are responsible to his Department.

It is a matter in which the Civil Service Commissioners act independently.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

My Department does not own any automobiles; our needs are met by vehicles on loan from the Department of the Environment. Two full-time drivers and six part-time drivers are employed. The latter combine driving duties with messenger-porter duties.

Pensions (Indexation)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service, further to the reply to the hon. Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wrigglesworth), Official Report, 21st June, column 1089, whether it is his intention after the present year to abandon the link between public service pensions and the cost of living; and if he will make a statement.

I cannot anticipate the outcome of next year's review of public service pensions.

Chancellor Of The Duchy Of Lancaster (Vehicles)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

Education And Science

Arts Council

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action she proposes to further Her Majesty's Government's policy of making membership of the Arts Council more democratic and representative of workers in theatres and entertainment.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to him by my right hon. Friend on 20th May 1977.— [Vol: 932, 314–5.]

Teachers

163.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many British teachers of English have been sent to Third world countries by her Department or with funds supplied by her Department.

During the past five years, 28 teachers of English have been assisted with funds under the Commonwealth teacher exchange scheme, to go to Kenya, Jamaica, Barbados and other Third world countries in the Commonwealth, It is, however, unlikely that any of these will be teaching English as a foreign language, since all participants in the exchange scheme, except those from Quebec, are from schools where English is the medium of instruction.

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when List 42 was last updated; and when she expects to issue a revised edition.

The present edition of List 42 appeared in 1974. My Department has been considering a new type of publication which would be more useful in the light of developments in the assessment and placement of children with special educational needs. It would, however, be wise to await the findings of the Warnock Committee early next year before reaching a firm decision.

231.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many qualified teachers are currently unemployed; what proportion is newly qualified; what proportion is over 28 years of age; and what proportion is women.

5,195 people were registered by the Department of Employment in March 1977 as seeking teaching posts in schools in England and Wales, of whom 60 per cent were women. I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Employment that his Department's records do not distinguish either newly qualified teachers or those over 28 years of age.

Rolle College

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she will announce that Rolle College is no longer to be included in those teacher training colleges which are having to close.

Cancer

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what sum Her Majesty's Government are devoting to cancer research in the financial year 1977–78.

I understand from my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services that his Department will be spending approximately £1·35 million in the financial year 1977–78. The Medical Research Council's expenditure during 1977–78 cannot yet be reliably estimated. The figure for its expenditure in 1976–77 will shortly be available and I will arrange for it to be circulated in the Official Report. Information is not available about work supported by universities and hospital medical schools.

Student Grants

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will increase the sum allocated to relieve hardship arising from the increase in student fees; and how the sum allocated is to be disbursed.

It is not now practicable to increase the allowance for hardship made in the university and rate support grant settlements for 1977–78. Disbursement is in the hands of the universities, local authorities and colleges which will determine what help to give from the total resources available to them.

Multiple Sclerosis

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what resources the Medical Research Council devotes to studying the causes of or cures for multiple sclerosis; and which of its publications describes progress of any work or investigations completed on its progress;(2) what resources her Department devotes to studying the causes of and possible cures for multiple sclerosis; and what publication or paper summarises progress in this field.

The Medical Research Council's expenditure on research specifically concerned with multiple sclerosis in the financial year 1976–77 amounted to £735,000, an element of which was provided by the Health Departments. The Council also supports a substantial amount of other work which may be of considerable relevance such as studies on the nervous system and aspects of immunology and virology. The fullest account of progress and plans in this field is contained in "Multiple Sclerosis Research" (HMSO 1975)* based on the proceedings of a conference organised by the Council and the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in October 1974. Some of the ideas discussed in it are mentioned in a review article published in the MRC Annual Report 1975–76 summarising the main lines of work supported by the Council.

* A copy of which is available in the Library.

Departmental Vehicles

Moore asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many automobiles are owned by her Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by her Department.

The information is as follows:

Cars (self-drive):
Ford Escort (1 estate version)19
Vauxhall Viva4
Mini Clubman11
Mini 850 cc13
Morris Marina3
50
Vans:
Bedford 22 cwt.2
Bedford 18 cwt.1
Morris 10 cwt.3
Morris 6 cwt.1
Morris Mini1
Ford Transist1
Vauxhall Beagle1
Bedford Luton1
11
In addition the Victoria and Albert Museum holds the following:

Cars:
Austin A601
Vans:
Ford 3 ton3
Ford 18 cwt. 1
Ford 15 cwt. 1
6
My Department employs six messenger/drivers.

Schoolchildren (Work Experience)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what consideration she has given to the future relationship between work experience schemes, further education for the 16 to 18 year olds and the school system; and whether she proposes any change in the system of education maintenance awards.

The Report of the Manpower Services Commission's Working Party on Young People and Work proposes that all forms of work experience should wherever possible include a fully-integrated element of further education. The Government have been considering the MSC's proposals, and their implications for the education service, and an announcement will be made shortly.

University Grants

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will give an assurance that she will supplement the recurrent grant to the universities, should the assumptions on which it has been calculated be exceeded; and at what point she would actually do so.

I have nothing to add to what my right hon. Friend said in reply to my hon. Friend the member for Brent, South (Mr. Pavitt) when announcing the universities' recurrent grant for 1977–78 on 28th March 1977.—[Vol. 929, c. 63–64.]

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Milk Products

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he will take at the forthcoming meeting of the Council of Ministers to ensure that the EEC draft regulations on the marketing of milk products does not result in the loss of many traditional British product names.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Minister to my hon. Friend the Member for Thornaby (Mr. Wriggles-worth) on 24th June 1977.—[Vol. 933, c. 509–10.]

Common Agricultural Policy

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is able to give an assessment of the benefits gained for the British consumer from the agricultural policies which have been pursued as a result of United Kingdom entry to the EEC.

I cannot provide an overall assessment, because there is no way of knowing how prices for imported and home produced food would have moved if we had not joined the EEC. For particular details of the merits which the Government's agricultural policies have brought to the consumer I would refer the hon. Member to the many references made by my right hon. Friend on this subject, for example those in his report to the House on the outcome of the meeting of the Council of Ministers (Agriculture) on 25th–26th April.—[Vol. 930, c. 1234–53.1

CommodityWhite Paper Table No.Production1974–751976–77 forecastPercentage change
Beef and veal14Thousand tonnes1,1651,038-11
Mutton and lamb 14Thousand tonnes252252
Pigmeat14Thousand tonnes902811-10
Poultrymeat14Thousand tonnes622675+8½
Eggs17Million dozen1,1381,126-1
Milk (output for human consumption) 15Million litres13,36413,817+3½
Butter16Thousand tonnes5182+61
Cheese16Thousand tonnes225221-2
Wheat7Thousand tonnes6,1304,800-21½
Barley7Thousand tonnes9,1337,760-15
Potatoes9Thousand tonnes6,7914,596-32½

Potatoes

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the estimated production of potatoes for the current year; and what acreage has been planted in the United Kingdom.

The 1976–77 crop season, which is now coming to an end, has been one of overall shortage in which total United Kingdom production was reduced, by weather conditions, to about 4·8 million tonnes compared with the normal 6½–7 million tonnes. It is too early to make firm forecasts relating to the 1977–78 crop but the indications are that the area planted to potatoes in the United Kingdom will probably be slightly above the 1976–77 crop figure of 222,000 hectares. Given reasonable weather this should provide sufficient supplies to meet our requirements.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantity of potatoes was imported into the United Kingdom during 1976.

Production Statistics

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the percentage increase in the production of beef, sheepmeat, pigmeat, chickens, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, wheat, barley and potatoes since the date of publication of the White Paper "Food from Our Own Resources" to the most recent available date.

Production figures for the commodities specified for 1974–75 and 1976–77 are given in the White Paper on the Annual Review of Agriculture 1977 (Cmnd. 6703). The information is as follows:

I have been asked to reply.This information is published under heading SITC(R) 054.1 in Table III of the December 1976 issue of the "Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom", a copy of which is in the House of Commons Library.

Sea Pollution

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) if, in view of the fact that shellfish have been caught in the Bristol Channel showing heavy lead deposits, he will institute a study of levels of pollution in the Bristol Channel;(2) if, in view of the fact that fish have been caught in the Bristol Channel exhibiting heavy concentrations of lead and cadmium, he will institute a study of levels of pollution in the Bristol Channel.

Fisheries Departments have for many years carried out a monitoring programme covering all British coastal waters to establish pollutant levels of lead, cadmium and other heavy metals in fish and shellfish. The data are supplied to the Working Party on the Monitoring of Foodstuffs for Heavy Metals, which has issued a number of reports, including surveys on lead and cadmium in food. These reports contain data and commentary relating to the Bristol Channel area. Copies of the reports are available in the Library of the House.

Honey

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress is being made in reducing imports of honey from countries which are able to sell honey much more cheaply than the equivalent British goods on account of their low standard of living.

The United Kingdom tariff will be increased to 27 per cent. on 1st July when the final transition step to the full common customs tariff is made. As we rely on imports for the majority of our honey supplies it would not be in the national interest to seek any increase in this high level of protection.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

My Department owns 573 automobiles. These include 183 cars, 255 vans and other goods vehicles—excluding vehicles with a carrying capacity over three tons—22 minibuses, one coach and 112 Land Rovers. Excluding agricultural workers, 53 staff are employed for driving duties, mostly in conjunction with other duties.

Beer

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what ingredients additional to malt, yeast, hops and water may be used in the production of alcoholic beverages and still be sold legally as beer in each of the EEC countries; and what proposals he has for a common EEC definition of beer.

I regret that information regarding permitted ingredients in beer in each of the EEC countries is not readily available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost. The EEC Commission has now withdrawn an earlier proposal for the harmonisation of the legislation of member States on the composition and labelling of beer which has been under consideration in the Community for a number of years.

Wine

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what ingredients additional to grapes may be used in the productioin of wine and still be sold legally as wine in each of the EEC countries; and what proposals he has for a common EEC definition of wine.

EEC provisions already contain a definition of wine and provide for the controlled use of certain ingredients and additives in wine, including sucrose, tartaric acide, sulphur dioxide, citric acid, neutral potassium tartrate and calcium carbonate. Wine making processes which involve the use of other additives are permitted in accordance with the legislation of individual member States; details of these national provisions are not available. The EEC Council of Ministers is currently studying proposals to harmonise wine making practices throughout the Community.There is also provision for member States to allow the use of composite names including the word "wine", for example, British wine, which is the product made in Britain from concentrated grape juice or must.

Artificial Insemination

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is now able to announce when revised regulations for the artificial insemination of cattle will be made.

Since I announced the Government's decisions in principle on 27th February 1976, in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend, there have been consultations with the interested organisations on the details of revised regulations. I regret that progress with the drafting of these regulations has taken longer than I had hoped when I made my statement in February last year, but I am glad to say that copies of a draft of the regulations have now been sent to interested organisations for any comments they may have on the operational details.My right hon. Friend the Minister intends to make the regulations with a view to their coming into operation on 1st September. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland will be making corresponding regulations for application in Scotland.In addition to implementing the policy announced in my statement in February last year, the new regulations will take account of the way in which artificial insemination has developed since the present regulations were made 1957. In particular, they will make it clear that the statutory controls apply to all use of bull semen for AI, with a tightly drawn exemption for raw semen used on the farm where the bull is kept; they will introduce a new system of controls based on bull approvals which will not differentiate between the use of semen from bulls owned by AI centres and those owned by other individuals or organisations; and they will put on a statutory basis the requirement to quarantine semen between completion of processing and its distribution for use.I realise that there has been concern amongst those involved with AI at the slow progress made in drawing up these regulations. I hope, therefore, that the distribution of the draft regulations for comment, and this statement of our intention concerning the making of the regulations and their operative date, will clarify the position for all those affected.

Flood Precautions (Elwy Valley)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what progress has been made in flood precaution work in the Elwy Valley, Clwyd, and in particular in the vicinity of Llan-fair Talhaiarn, since the serious flooding of October 1976;(2) when it is proposed to construct an embankment in, and in the vicinity of Llanfair Talhaiarn, Clwyd, with a view to avoiding future flooding from the River Elwy such as occurred in Octber 1976.

The Welsh National Water Development Authority and the Colwyn District Council have applied for grant on schemes to alleviate flooding from the River Elwy and the Nant Barrog, respectively. Both projects will improve flood protection at Llanfair Talhaiarn. Our examination of these applications is well advanced and decisions will be taken shortly. If they are approved it will be for the two authorities to decide on the timing of the work.

Pig Farming

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what financial advantages he estimates will accrue to the pig sector of British agriculture if accession compensatory amounts are abolished immediately instead of at the end of 1977.

The accession compensatory amounts for pigmeat were abolished on 15th June. This will have the effect of reducing total payments on imports by almost 15 per cent. In the case of bacon this will mean a reduction of about £42 a tonne. This should help our pig-meat processing industry and should also help strengthen our pig market.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what financial advantage he estimates will accrue to the pig sector of British agriculture if the current EEC proposals for improved pigmeat storage schemes are adopted.

The scheme of aids to private storage was improved from 20th June by the addition of new categories of pigmeat of particular interest to United Kingdom producers and processors. The improvements are designed further to encourage the storage of pigmeat by the trade with the objective of strengthening the market. This scheme should generally help to moderate the effects of the pig cycle in the Community. The beneficial effects in the United Kingdom should derive both from the quantity of home-produced pigmeat that is stored and from the impact of the scheme in other member States and the resulting influence on their market prices and their offer prices to our market.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what financial advantage, if any, he estimates will accrue to the pig sector of British agriculture if the current EEC proposals to increase export restrictions are adopted.

The export restitutions on processed pigmeat, including canned hams and certain bacon cuts were substantially increased with effect from 15th June. The United Kingdom is only a minor exporter of these products but the increases, coupled with the abolition of the accession compensatory amounts, will benefit our exporters. More importantly, the improved restitutions should help strengthen our pig market if they encourage exporting countries in the Community to look to other markets outside the United Kingdom.

Industry

National Enterprise Board

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many new firms have been established as a direct result of the activities of the National Enterprise Board.

Steel Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing the prices, in each of the nine member States of the

CRUDE STEEL PRODUCTION
million tonnes
19601965197019751976
United Kingdom24·727·527·920·122·7
Belgium7·29·212·611·612·1
France17·319·623·821·523·2
Federal Republic of Germany34·136·845·040·442·4
Italy8·512·917·321·823·4
Luxembourg4·14·65·54·64·6
Netherlands1·93·15·04·85·2
Denmarkna0·40·50·60·7
Republic of Ireland na0·10·10·10·1
Total EEC countries98·1114·0137·6125·5134·4
United States of America91·9119·0119·1106·0116·3
Japan22·141·193·2102·3107·4
Rest of the world118·4182·5245·7312·5325·4
World Total330·5456·6595·6646·3683·5
Sources:
Iron and Steel Statistics Bureau.
International Iron and Steel Institute.
European Economic Communities "Eurostat".

EEC, of the main categories of steel products covered by the Treaty of Paris.

Details of mandatory minimum prices for concrete reinforcing bars and guidance prices for certain steel products covered by the Treaty of Paris, over which the EEC Commission has taken anti-crisis measures, were published in the Official Journal of the European Communities, Volume 20, No. L 114 on 5th May 1977, copies of which are available in the Library. Prices charged by individual firms within the EEC are at the discretion of these firms in dealign wih their customers and are not readily available.

Industrial Development Advisory Board

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the members of the Industrial Development Advisory Board, together with their directorships.

Steel Production

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, from international sources available to him, what was the production of steel by the United Kingdom the nine member States of the EEC, the United States of America, Japan and the rest of the world, respectively, in 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975 and 1976.

Courtaulds Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if any payment has been made to Courtaulds Ltd. in respect of the £750,000 interest relief grant for the Belmont weaving factory.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if any Government money paid to Courtaulds Ltd. in respect of its Skelmersdale factory has been recovered.

Motor Industry Tripartite Group

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when the Motor Industry Tripartite Group last met.

As explained to my hon. Friend on 20th June [Vol. 933, c. 382–3] —the group meets as and when it is necessary and dates are settled by mutual agreement. The group's discussions are confidential and cover a wide range of industry problems. The group last met on 27th June.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

My Department owns 79 vehicles, of which 25 are saloon cars, five dual purpose vehicles, 25 vans, five buses, and 19 commercial vehicles of various types, Twenty-one drivers are employed.

Chemicals

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what advantages he estimates will be available to industry for bringing forward any of the 130 major chemical projects which are currently being appraised; and if he will list the grants and type of financial assistance available to industry which take advantage of the Government proposals.

The chemical industry is eligible for regional financial incentives, including regional development grants and selective financial assistance under Section 7 of the Industry Act 1972.Companies in the industry may also apply for assistance under Section 8 through the Selective Investment Scheme towards major new investments. The 130 applications received under this scheme to date cover a wide spectrum of manufacturing industry.

Advance Factories

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will sponsor a programme of building advance flatted factories in inner city areas to create jobs and encourage small businesses which will not damage amenity to return to those areas.

Phosphate Rock

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the current price of phosphate rock ex Moroccan ports; and whether the United Kingdom demand is related to the needs of agriculture or market stringency.

My Department does not collect information on prices of phosphate rock. Data published by the industry shows that the listed price of Khouribga 72 per cent. TPL rock fas Casablanca as at 1st January 1977 was $3800 per tonne. I have received no complaint of difficulties in supply.

Minerals

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the important metals and minerals obtainable from South Africa and indicate whether alternative supplies are available from other free world countries in sufficient quantities to meet United Kingdom requirements should deliveries from South Africa become disrupted.

Significant quantities of chromium, gold, manganese and platinum are imported from South Africa. The United Kingdom also imports significant quantities of some chromite ores from the Philippines and manganese ores from Brazil and Ghana, and of chromium, manganese and platinum as metals, or alloys of those metals, from the USA and some Western European countries. The extent to which other sources could replace supplies currently obtained from South Africa would depend on such factors as the timescale of any disruption and the extent of spare capacity in the mining and processing industries of alternative suppliers at the time.

Computers

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many orders for computers have been made by the British Steel Corporation, by means of open-tender system, in the years 1974–75, 1975–76 and 1976–77.

Wind Energy

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what research and development work on the exploitation of wind energy is being supported by his Department.

I have been asked to reply.I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply on 23rd June 1977.—[Vol. 933, c.

517–19.]

Overseas Development

Mozambique (Vehicle Purchases)

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) on 16th May, Official Report, column 7, she will specify the exact nature, including the make, of the vehicles and spare parts being purchased by Mozambique with £3·3 million of United Kingdom aid; and whether she will give an assurance that there is no possibility of any of the vehicles being used for transporting ZANU terrorists to, or beyond, the borders of Rhodesia.

40 trucks and 100 bus chassis, together with a range of truck, bus and other vehicle spare parts worth £0·95 million, are being purchased from British Leyland. The balance of the £3·34 million allocation from the £5 million programme loan is for Land-Rovers for the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture. The other goods are to help meet a number of urgent development needs—e.g., re-equipment of municipal bus companies. British development assistance is for peaceful purposes only, and the Government of Mozambique accept this.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Minister for Overseas Development how many automobiles are owned by her Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by her Department.

Eleven vehicles are owned: one Austin Mini, one Bedford van, one Ford Cortina 2000 Estate Car, one Ford Transit van, and one Land Rover at scientific units in this country, and one Austin 1800, one Ford Cortina 1600, one Ford Granada, two Range Rovers and one Vauxhall Cresta at Development Divisions overseas. One driver is employed in this country and five locally engaged drivers overseas, three of whom also undertake other duties. In addition there are 25 Land Rovers and 25 4-ton Bedford lorries in the Disaster Unit Vehicle Pool. Vehicles purchased for specific projects or schemes under the aid programme, for which the information requested is not readily available, are not included.

asked the Minister of Overseas Development, if she will publish in the Official Report a table of figures showing total aid disbursements and administrative costs for disbursements for her Department, the European Development Fund, the International Development Association, the Development Assistance Committee and the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development over the same five-year period to the latest convenient date.

This information is being collected and I will publish it in the Official Report as soon as possible.

Textile Projects

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what textile projects her Department is supporting in developing countries; if she will list these projects and the financial aid being given in each case; whether British textile machinery is being supplied on any of these schemes; what commitment exists to purchase the products; and if she will list the projects concerned and the amount undertaken to be purchased.

The list below shows textile projects currently under way or recently completed under my Department's bilateral aid programmes, and the

ProjectApproximate cost £
1.Afghanistan: Construction of new cotton ginnery1,700,000
2. Afghanistan: Extensions to cotton ginnery450,000
3. Bangladesh: Study of textile industry possibilities carried out by the Shirley Institute14,700
4. Bangladesh: Jute marketing survey10,300
5. Bangladesh: Consultancy to improve management efficiency, accounting and costing, production, operatives and supervisors at the Adamjee Jute Mills395,000
6. Bangladesh: Allocations to the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation, the Adamjee Jute Mills and to private importers:
Commodity Loan 2–1972 642,000
Commodity Loan 1–1973221,500
Commodity Loan/Grant 1–1974632,000
Commodity Loan/Grant 2–1974135,000
Commodity Grant–19753,000,000
Commodity Grant–19772,500,000
7. Bangladesh: Establishment of two ring-spinning plants at Adarsha and Mohini Mills7,140,000
8. Bangladesh: Allocations to the Bangladesh Textile Industries Corporation, mainly used for small items of capital equipment, spare parts etc.:
Commodity Loan 2–197250,000
Commodity Loan 1–197371,516
Commodity Fund 1–1974 (65 per cent. loan/35 per cent. grant) 263,000
Commodity Grant–19752,000,000
Commodity Grant–19771,500,000
9. Burma: Capital grant to Burma Textile Corporation for the purchase of spare parts for jute mill machinery180,000
10. Chile: Assistance to the Catholic Association for Overseas Development to help in establishment of cooperative textile workshop160,000
11. Colombia: Personnel and equipment for training at the Textile Centre of the National Apprentice Training Service at Medellin550,000
12. Egypt: Rehabilitation of Tala cotton ginnery500,000
13. Ghana: Consultancy to determine requirement for additional cotton ginnery capacity7,000
14. Ghana: Provision of Financial Controller to the Cotton Development Board for three years60,000
15. India: Since 1st January 1973 tied aid for the purchase of textile machinery has been provided to a large number of firms in the Indian textile sector*4,200,000
16. Mozambique: Goods relating to the textile industry will be financed712.000
17. Pakistan: British machinery and equipment has been purchased for three textile projects to establish a new blended yarn spinning plant, a new cotton yarn manufacturing unit and a new cloth finishing unit† 509,000
18. Peru: Personnel and equipment for training in the textile section of the National Apprentice Training Service at Lima275,000
* In addition to this aid for capital investment, maintenance aid has been made available for the purchase of spare parts and raw materials for existing plant in all sectors of the Indian economy. No figures are available for the proportion which has gone to the textile sector.
† In addition some maintenance aid to Pakistan may be used for the purchase of British textile machinery although no breakdown of the figures is readily available.

Mozambique (Aircraft Purchases)

asked the Minister of Overseas Development whether, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold) on 16th May, Official Report, column 17, she will specify the exact nature of the aircraft spares and tyres, including the type of aircraft for which they are intended, being

financial aid being provided in each case. British machinery is being provided for all projects except Nos. 3, 4, 5, 10, 13 and 14 which relate to the provision of technical co-operation only. In no case is there a commitment to purchase the products deriving from any of these schemes.

purchased by Mozambique with £325,000 of United Kingdom aid; and whether she will give an assurance that there is no possibility of any of the aircraft involved being used in any military capacity by ZANU terrorists against Rhodesia.

So far £23,000 has been paid from the £5 million programme loan for main tyres and nosewheel tyres of British manufacture. It is understood these tyres are for Boeing 737s operated by DETA, the national airline of Mozambique. A further small payment for these tyres should be made shortly. Orders for the balance of the £0·325 million allocation for aircraft tyres and spare parts have yet to be received. British development assistance is for peaceful purposes only, and the Government of Mozambique accept this.

Transport

Railway Freight Services ("Stag" And "Railbox" Schemes)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what evaluation he has made of the "Stag" vehicle mounted container crane and the "Railbox" concept in his evaluation of the future of British Railways freight services.

Evaluation of new concepts such as these is a matter for the Railways Board. I understand that they have studied both systems and found them to be unsuitable for their rail freight operations.

Driver And Vehicle Licensing Centre

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport pursuant to his answer on 11th May, what further improvements are needed at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre, Swansea.

A whole range of minor improvements to be expected of any installation on the scale of the Centre's as it is establishing itself.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many people are now employed at the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea; whether it is intended to employ more people and, if so, to what extent; what was the number of people originally intended to be employed; how many people are employed on licensing work other than at Swansea; and what was the total number of people employed on this work in the country before the Swansea scheme was introduced.

5,350 staff are now employed at DVLC Swansea. 200 more are being recruited to help deal with the final stage of conversion of vehicle records, but the total number will fall to about 5,400 next year when this stage is complete.In 1971, when the first full manpower forecast was compiled, the estimate was 4,700 staff on completion of centralisation.1,540 staff are currently employed in local vehicle licensing offices outside Swansea. This will increase to 2,000 on completion of centralisation. Local taxation offices, which are due to close in March 1978, at present employ about 2,300 staff, most of whom are local government employees.Before centralisation started in 1973 about 6,250 staff—excluding common service staff—were employed on licensing work.

Departmental Vehicles

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many automobiles are owned by his Department; what they are; and how many drivers are employed by his Department.

I have been asked to reply.Ninety-seven, of which 61 are saloons and 36 are estates. The number of drivers is not separately identifiable but the gross total is included in my reply today to the hon. Member's Question to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Transport Policy (Rail Travel)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what studies he has made, as part of his preparations for the White Paper on Transport Policy, of schemes for unlimited travel for a given sum over specific railway routes.

Such schemes are for the Railways Board to consider as part of its marketing policies. The Government welcome sensible experiments, but any resultant loss of revenue would have to be met by savings elsewhere in the Board's budget.

Departmental Undertakings (Mr Grooby)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will ensure that any undertakings given to Mr. Grooby, of 48 London Road, Boston, Lincs, by his Department will now be carried out.

A detailed formal offer to provide noise insulation in Mr. Grooby's house is expected to be sent to him by Boston Borough Council, the Department's agents, within a few days. Unless he opts to make his own arrangements and claim grant towards the cost, the work will then be carried out when the council is able to find contractors prepared to do it. Its difficulties in finding interested firms account for most of the delay since I wrote to the hon. Member on 18th March 1977.

British Railways (Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will make a statement on the Select Committee Report on British Railways.

As I told the House on 27th May, I welcome the report. In accordance with the usual practice, a considered reply will be given in due course.

Road Accidents (Reporting Of Injuries)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has for increasing the penalties for vehicle drivers who fail to stop and report accidents in which they are involved, and in which injuries have been sustained by other individuals.

None at present. The Road Traffic Act 1974 removed the power of the courts to award imprisonment for an offence under Section 25 of the Road Traffic Act 1972, but increased the maximum fine from £50 to £100. A driver found guilty of this offence must also have his licence endorsed, and may be disqualified.

Driving Tests

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what proposals he has for establishing a time limit within which provisional driving licence holders should apply for a driving test.

None at present. A provision of this kind was tried some years ago, but it proved ineffective in terms of road safety as well as being costly to administer. The powers were removed by the Vehicle and Driving Licences Act 1969.

British Transport Docks Board

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what financial objective has been set for the British Transport Docks Board.

I have agreed with the British Transport Docks Board that it should aim to achieve a return of not less than 20 per cent. on average net assets by 1980 after provision for historic cost depreciation but before tax, interest and additional depreciation. This compares with the 15½ per cent. return on net assets which it earned in 1976. To meet the financial objective it will be aiming to improve the rate of return by approximately 1 per cent. per annum up to 1980.

Motorway Construction

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the latest estimated starting and completion dates for all sections of the M20, M25 and M26 motorways.

I give below the time bands within which, subject to the completion of the statutory procedures and the availability of funds, construction of all sections of the M20, M25 and M26 not yet begun or open to traffic is expected to start:

M20 Maidstone to Ashford1980–1982
Ashford to Folkestone 1978–1979
M25 Swanley to Sevenoaks1980–1982
Reigate to Wisley1978–1979
Wisley to Chertsey1978–1979
Chertsey to Thorpe1978–1979
Egham to Yeoveney 1978–1979
Yeoveney to Heathrow Airport Spur1978–1979
Airport Spur to M41980–1982
M4 to Maple Cross1980–1982
Micklefield Green to South Mimms1980–1982
A10 to M1l1978–1979
M1l to A121978–1979
The sections of the M25 from Seven-oaks to Godstone are under construction and are expected to be open to traffic in the second half of 1979. The date for which the start of work on the section from the A12 to the A13 is now being revised.Construction work on the section of the M20 from West Kingsdown to Wrotham, on the Sevenoaks Interchange, Runnymede Bridge and the section of the M25 from the Alll to the A10, and on the M26, is expected to start later this year.I would expect the contract periods to be from two to three years.

British Railways (Computers)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many orders for computers have been made by British Railways, by means of open-tender system, in the years 1974–75, 1975–76 and 1976–77.

This information is not readily available. The general policy of the British Railways Board is to go out to competitive tender, but, for reasons of compatibility, the Board orders replacements of or additions to existing equipment from the original supplier wherever possible.

London Orbital Route

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether talks are continuing between his Department and the Greater London Council concerning the implementation of the improvements to the orbital road network of London, as specified in the roads map of the modified Greater London development plan; and when he expects that positive proposals for these improvements will be forthcoming.

Yes, but it is not yet possible to say when specific proposals will be formulated.

Vehicle Ferries (Stranraer And Cairnryan)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he can give an estimate of the numbers of vehicles, private and goods, crossing from Stranraer or Cairnryan to Northern Ireland by drive-on drive-off ferries during each of the last 10 years or other convenient dates.

I regret that this information cannot be provided, for reasons of commercial confidentiality.

Bere Regis (Traffic Conditions)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what action he proposes, in light of the traffic conditions and dangers which exist at Bere Regis in Dorset including on the A31 and the A35.

Environment

Mobile Homes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the Building Research Establishment surveys for the mobile homes review have yet been published, as indicated in the reply by the hon. Member for Durham, North-West (Mr. Armstrong) on 22nd October 1976; and, if so, on what date and in what form.

The report has not yet been published. I shall inform the hon. Member as soon as it is available.

Community Land

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the actual financial benefit to local authorities in buying 1,571 acres of land for £12·1 million in 1976–77 net of development land tax; what was the total assessed tax; and how the benefit is being distributed, in accordance with the provisions of the Community Land Act 1975.

The actual benefit to authorities of buying land net of development land tax will not be known until firm tax assessments are available at a later date. Most purchase prices of land bought in the last financial year were calculated on estimates of the tax liability. With regard to the last part of the Question, it is not the benefit of purchasing net of development land tax which is distributed but any cash surplus in community land accounts at the end of the financial year. These accounts will not be received in the Department until later this year, but because most purchases were made very late in 1976–77, little land was disposed of in that financial year and there will therefore be few surpluses in the accounts.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many of the 729·6 acres acquired by local authorities under the Community Land Act 1975 for industry have subsequently been resold to developers, or let directly to clients; what were the total receipts by way of premium and rental income; and by how much the £54 million acquisition cost exceeds the receipts;(2) how many of the nine acres acquired by local authorities under the Community Land Act 1975 for commer cial purposes have subsequently been resold to developers or let directly to clients; what are the total receipts by way of premium and rental income; and by how much the £0·44 million acquisition cost exceeds the receipts;(3) what proportion, both as a numeri cal figure and as a percentage, of the 832·4 acres of land acquired for housing under the Community Land Act last year was intended for: (

a) council housing, ( b) housing associations and ( c) private development; how much has subsequently been resold in categories ( b) and ( c); for what total price; and by how much the £6·25 million acquisition cost exceeds the receipts.

Provisional figures from authorities show that disposals up to the end of 1976–77 were:

  • Land for industry—nil.
  • Land for commerce—nil.
  • Land for housing—29 acres.
Financial information about the disposals so far made is not yet available.The figures of land acquisitions referred to by the hon. Member relate to land bought primarily for disposal for private development. It is understood that little land intended for council housing was included.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether part of the nine acres acquired by local authorities under the Community Land Act 1975 for commercial purposes in 1976-77 included any existing shops or office blocks which were acquired solely for reselling.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, pursuant to the reply of the hon. Member for Greenwich (Mr. Barnett) on 15th February, he is now in a position to state the date by which he will require local authorities, arising from paragraph 5 of GNLA/2, to reduce their staffing and administrative costs in respect of the Community Land Act 1975 to 1976–77 levels; and whether he will make a statement.

Revised forecasts of staff and administration costs for 1977–78 have been received from most authorities. When necessary my Department is discussing the expenditure levels proposed.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment for what proportion of the land acquired by local authorities for (a) housing (b) industry and (c) commerce specific proposals already existed for a local authority to acquire prior to the enactment of the Community Land Act 1975, and had been notified accordingly to t