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Written Answers

Volume 938: debated on Monday 7 November 1977

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 7th November 1977

Civil Service

Pay Research Unit

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will make a statement on the progress of the negotiations currently being held with the Civil Service unions on the revised criteria upon which the Pay Research Unit will operate.

I cannot comment in detail whilst negotiations are in progress but a full statement will be made as soon as negotiations are completed ; I hope that it will be possible to bring them to a conclusion very shortly.

Energy

Electricity Supply (Dispute)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what action he has taken to end the disruption in power supplies ;(2) if he will make a statement on the disruption of power supplies.

I would refer the hon. Member to the statement I made in the House on Friday 4th November.

Cwts
First 30 weeks ofOverallFaceElsewhereUndergroundSurface
1977–7842·0151·483·4192·0
1976–7742·5149·685·8193·5
1975–7644·0154·489·11198·5
974–7543·9153·290·4193·8
1973–7445·2[Breakdown not available]
1972–7344·4145·095·0196·4
I welcome the statement issued last week by the President, Secretary and Vice-President of the National Union of Mineworkers, following the result of the ballot on the productivity scheme, stressing the importance of an increase in coal production.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he proposes to discuss with the National Coal Board plans to implement the productivity scheme in those areas where there was a majority vote in favour.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what is the estimated daily loss of power supplies in kilowatt hours resulting from the present industrial dispute ;(2) how many power stations are affected by the current industrial dispute ; how many consumers have had cuts in power supplies ; and what is the estimated loss of industrial production caused by the disruption.

I am informed by the Electricity Council that the dispute has led to a shortage of capacity of around 20 per cent. at peak demand, resulting in a 15 per cent. level of disconnections.

Coal Mining

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on productivity in the coal mining industry.

The following are the figures for output per man-shift for the first 30 weeks of 1977–78—to 22nd October 1977—together with the figures for the same periods of the three previous financial years :schemes are for negotiation between the National Coal Board and the mining unions. They are fully aware of the Government's guidelines on this subject.

Environment

Ordnance Survey

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans the Ordnance Survey has for reducing or reshaping its archaeological division ; what consultations preceded those proposals ; what are the purposes of any such reorganisation ; and at what level the decision has been taken.

Beginning in 1979, there may be a reduction in office recording staff within the Ordnance Survey's archaeological unit as the Department implements a system whereby new archaelogical sites will be reported by professional archaeological bodies. Until now Ordnance Survey staff have extracted this information themselves from published archaeological inventories, books and journals. The new system aims to eliminate duplication of recording effort. It follows recommendations made in 1974 by an interdepartmental archaeological working group, and has been discussed with archaelogical interests.A further change concerns the development of some topographical surveyors who have hitherto been concerned only with the mapping of visible antiquities. These surveyors will in future be deployed more locally and will not be restricted to the mapping of archaeological detail. In both cases the relevant decisions were taken by the Director-General of the Ordnance Survey, as part of his normal management function, and have been discussed with representatives of the staff association concerned.

Mountaineering

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards the provision of public funds to the Sports Council for the purpose of encouraging mountaineering ; and if he will make a statement.

The Sports Council is responsible for allocating its grants in aid and encouraging the development of all sport and physical recreation including mountaineering. I understand that representatives of the Council will shortly be meeting the British Mountaineering Council and the Mountain Leader Training Board to discuss the future of mountain training.

Otters

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

The Secretary of State has laid an order to add the otter to Schedule 1 to the Conservation of Wild Creatures and Wild Plants Act 1975, in respect of England and Wales. Following a representation to this effect from the Nature Conservancy Council in July the Secretary of State indicated that he was disposed to make an order, and the necessary consultations were undertaken. These have now been completed and the Secretary of State is satisfied that in the interests of the proper conservation of the otter the species should be added to the schedule in respect of England and Wales.The order was laid on Tuesday, 1st November 1977 and is framed to take effect from 1st January 1978.

Housing Policy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the closing date for comments on the Green Paper on Housing Policy.

I recently announced that in order to give more time for comments the consultation period would be extended by one month from 1st November 1977 to 1st December 1977.

Home Department

Broadcasting

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of the Crawford and Annan Reports, he will publish a White Paper on the Future of Broadcasting.

As announced in the Gracious Speech, the Government will be bringing forward proposals on the constitution, structure and organisation of broadcasting in the United Kingdom. No final decision has yet been reached on the form in which these proposals will be presented. They are currently being formulated in the light of the Report of the Annan Committee on the Future of Broadcasting (Cmnd. 6753) and of the comments received on it. The Annan Committee took into consideration, as will the Government, the recommendations of the Crawford Committee on Broadcasting Coverage (Cmnd. 5774).

Refugees

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many refugees or exiles, voluntary of involuntary, from Cambodia have been allowed to enter the United Kingdom for residence since the Communist take-over following the withdrawal of all American forces from South-East Asia ;(2)how many refugees or exiles voluntary or involuntary from Vietnam have been allowed to enter the United Kingdom for residence since the Communist takeover following the withdrawal of all American forces from South-East Asia ;(3)how many refugees or exiles voluntary or involuntary from Laos have been allowed to enter the United Kingdom for residence since the Communist take-over following the withdrawal of all American forces from South-East Asia ;(4)how many refugees or exiles, voluntary or involuntary, from Chile have been allowed to enter the United Kingdom for residence since the military coup of 11th September 1973 and up to the present date.

2,369 Chilean refugees have been admitted.Information in the form requested in respect of refugees from South-East Asia is not readily available, but cntry clearance or permission to remain has been given to 381 Vietnamese, 115 Cambodians, and 75 Laotians.

Television Licences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether in the foreseeable future he has any intention of abolishing the concessionary television licences currently enjoyed by pensioners living in local authority homes and sheltered housing.

I have at present no intention of making any alterations to T.V. licence concessions. The Government are currently reconsidering the whole question of these concessions in the light of the Annan Comrnittee's recommendations that the concessionary licences available to residents in some old people's homes should be phased out and that no further concessions should be introduced.

Prices And Consumerprotection

Airport Shops

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will refer to the Director General of Fair Trading the practice at airport shops of applying the terms of "tax free" and "duty free" to certain goods offered for sale.

The DGFT has considered price claims based on non-payment of tax or duty and the problems were discussed in the Consultative Document "Bargain Offer Claims "published in 1975. Although the subject attracted wide comment no readily implementable solution has been found. If, however, the hon. Member has any suggestions which he would wish to put forward, the Director General would, of course. he pleased to consider them.

Company Investigations

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection how many companies are currently being investigated by the Price Commission ; and if he will publish their names in the Official Report.

The Price Commission currently has under investigation, in accordance with Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Price Commission Act 1977, certain prices, or intended price increases, of the following enterprises:

  • Barclays Bank Ltd.
  • British Railways Board
  • Central Electricity Generating Board
  • Electricity Council—acting as agent of and on behalf of the area electricity boards in England and Wales
  • Fisons Ltd. (Agrochemical Division) Metal Box Ltd.
  • South Western Electricity Board—in respect of tariffs for the Isles of Scilly
  • Tate and Lyle Refineries Ltd.
  • UG Glass Containers Ltd.
The Commission also has under investigation the margins of 14 enterprises or sole traders engaged in the distribution of coal in South-West Wales.

Social Services

Hospital Patients (Maintenencecosts)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what criteria he uses in assessing under Section 64 of the National Health Service Act 1977 how much a patient in hospital, who goes out to work, should pay towards his maintenance in hospital ; how much money has been recovered from such patients in the last year for which figures are available ; and if he will make a statement.

Health Circular HC(76)53 —a copy of which has been placed in the Library—sets out the formula which health authorities are at present asked to apply in assessing the amount which should be recovered from a hospital inpatient who engages in paid work outside the hospital, as a contribution towards his maintenance costs. The total amount received in 1975–6 was x00A3;431,500.

Child Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why child benefit is being deducted from widowed mothers' pensions ; and if he will make a statement.

It is easier, administratively, to pay child benefit for all children and fix the rates of dependency benefit payable to social security beneficiaries accordingly, than to make certain groups of people ineligible for child benefit. Widows and other long-term beneficiaries do, of course, receive, in total, a much higher rate of benefit for their children than do persons who receive child benefit alone. I am writing to the hon. Member about the individual case which he has brought to my attention.

Holloway Sanatorium, Virginiawater

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement concerning the future of Holloway Sanatorium, Virginia Water, and that of the patients.

The Surrey Area Health Authority is engaged in local discussions, after which it may decide to issue a formal consultation document.

Hearing Aids

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he intends to authorise extension of the arrangements governing issue of the National Health Service behind-the-ear hearing aid to patients not at present eligible to receive it ; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales and I have consulted a wide range of professional and national voluntary organisations working among people who are deaf and hard of hearing. There was general agreement that the issuing programme should be extended as soon as possible to all who can benefit from the behind-the-ear hearing aid, the majority of whom will be elderly people, and that details of how this should be done should be left to local discretion.Health authorities have been notified that, provided they have completed issues to those on the waiting lists in the earlier priority groups, they may now extend the programme to all others who wish to exchange their body-worn National Health Service hearing aid and to all new patients.Extension of the scheme will increase the number of referrals to hearing aid centres and to ear, nose and throat departments, and in order that the resultant workload can be managed within existing resources, each centre should make its own arrangements according to local circumstances. Health authorities have been asked to give maximum publicity to the arrangements they make. A copy of the health circular has been sent to directors of social services in England and Wales, to directors of social work in Scotland and to general medical practitioners. Our aim is to complete the exchange programme by 1980.My hon. Friend will recall that when the new hearing aid was introduced on 1st November 1974 the first priority groups comprised war pensioners requiring aids for accepted disability ; mothers with young children under the age of five years ; children and young people up to the age 18–21 if still receiving full-time education ; people whose head-worn aids have been replaced by body-worn models on leaving school ; people with an exceptional medical need not already included in these groups ; and people with an additional severe handicap such as blindness. The programme was extended from 1st September 1975 to include people of any age in full or part-time employment or education, and other people considered to have particular clinical, social or other needs justifying preferential treatment.

Social Services

Families

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the average size of the family in 1940, 1950, 1955, 1960, 1965, 1970, 1975 ; and what is his estimate for 1980, 1985, 1990, 1995 and the year 2000.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 26th October 1977 ; Vol. 936, c. 759], gave the following information:Two possible measures of the average size of the family in England and Wales, the period fertility rate and a cohort fertility rate, are given below. The period rate is the average number of live born children per woman that would result if women were subject over their reproductive ages to the age-specific fertility rates—live births per woman in each age group—of the year in question. Actual figures of completed family size, reflecting the whole child-bearing experience can be given only for women who have reached.piddle-age. The period fertility rate is more volatile than the cohort rate.

Calendar yearActualTotal periodfertility ratein the yearAverage numberof live bornchildren towomen reachingage 45 inthe year
Actual(a)(b)
19401·742·15
19502·181·80
19552·221·80
19602·661·91
19652·862·00
19702·412·12
19751·792·34
Assumptions
19801·652·42
19852·062·38
19902·102·19
19952·101·93
20002·101·82
The assumptions for future fertility shown in column (a) are annual figures incorporated in the 1976-based official population projections ; the figures in column (b) for 1980 and 1985 largely reflect the actual child-bearing experience of those women now aged 41 or 36 years respectively, but from 1990 onwards they increasingly reflect assumptions about future fertility summarised in column (a).

Birth Rate

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services in view of the fact that birth rate is declining and more married women are going out to work why is it assumed that there will be an increase in the birth rate in the consultative document "The Way Forward

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 26th October 1977 ; Vol. 936, c. 759], gave the following information:The increase in the birth rate and in the number of births in the 1980s shown by the latest, 1976-based, principal official projections reflects both the increasing numbers of women entering the childbearing ages, and fertility rates assumed to be above the present low level, which is believed to be affected by current economic and social conditions. The birth rate and the number of births is projected to reach a peak around 1990 when the relatively high numbers of women born in the early 1960s will between the ages 20 and 30, the ages where most child bearing occurs ; births projected to decline again in the 1990s as the number of women of childbearing ages will begin to decline.I am sending my hon. Friend a copy of an OPCS Monitor summarising the assumptions behind the 1976-based population projections. A more detailed commentary on the projections and the assumptions behind them will be given in "Population projections, 1976-2016 ", series PP2 No. 8, forthcoming through HMSO. This booklet will also present projections based on alternative high and low assumptions to illustrate the effects of uncertainty in the assumptions about future fertility.

One-Parent Families

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish a table showing the percentage of single mothers in part-time and full-time employment, respectively, in each year since 1969, and distinguishing between widows and divorced, separated or unmarried mothers.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 22nd July 1977: Vol. 935, c. 758], gave the following information :

The percentages requested are set out for April 1971 in table 1 below. This table was prepared for the Finer Committee on One-Parent Families and ap-

PROPORTION OF LONE MOTHERS IN FULL-TIME AND PART-LIME
EMPLOYMENT IN APRIL 1971

Status

Total oflone mothers

Percentage infull-time work

Percentage inpart-time work

Single90,0002712
Married190,0002318
Divorced120,0003020
Widows120,0002429
Total520,0002520

I regret that information in the same form and on the same basis is not available for other years since 1969. Table 2 below, however, includes estimates of the percentages of lone mothers in employment for 1974 and 1975 based on Family

TABLE 2
HEADS OF ONE-PARENT FAMILIES IN EMPLOYMENT
Thousands and percentages

Employment situation if heads of family

Female heads

1974 Male heads

All one-parent families

Female heads

1975 Male heads

All one-parent families

(1)(2)(3)(4)(5)(6)(7)
No.No.No.No.No.No.
Working for an employer.full-time1703170832403818033807426039
Working for an employer.part-time120211201880148012
Self-employed508[10][13]609[20][4][10][11][40][5]

Notes on Table 2. The numbers of families shown in table 2 are round to the nearest 10,000 and the percentages to the nearest whole number. In consequence, the sum of component parts may not equal the total. The percentages in columns (2) and (5) are of all female-headed one-parent families ; those in columns (3) and (6) are of all male-headed one-parent families ; and those in columns (4) and (7) are of all one-parent families. The current total number of all one-parent families is not known hut a total of 650,000 has been assumed for the purpose of producing this table.

The estimates in table 2 have been derived from a Department of Health and Social Security analysis of the incomes and other information recorded by respondents to the FES for 1974 and 1975. They are subject to sampling error—those in square brackets considerably so.

The FES does not distinguish between widows, divorced, separated and unmarried mothers.

The estimates in the table relate only to the population living in private households, since families and persons living in institutions are not included in the FES sample.

The self-employed are shown separately because their hours of work are not recorded pears on page 409 of volume 1 of its report (Cmnd. 5629 ; July 1974). It was based on an analysis of data from the last Census, held in 1971

Expenditure Survey (FES) data. These estimates are subject to the limitations described in the notes below the table. It is not possible without disproportionate expense to produce similar information for earlier years.

in the FES and it is not therefore known whether they should be classified as ful-time or part-time workers.

Families with the head in part-time work, including some self-employed—see note (v)— may he in receipt of supplementary benefit.

The estimates include those normally in employment who had been off work due to unemployment or sickness for less than three months at the date of the survey.

Allowances

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is his estimate of the number of people who were receiving at least one of the following benefits in 1973-74 and 1977-78 respectively : attendance allowance, mobility allowance, invalidity benefit, non-contributory invalidity pension, war disablement pension and industrial disablement benefit.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 26th October 1977 ; Vol. 936, c. 729], gave the following answer:

I regret that this information is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what is his estimate of the net cost to the Exchequer after allowance is made for savings in supplementary benefit and increased tax revenue, of expenditure in November 1977 prices, for each of the following benefits in the two periods 1973–74 and 1977–78: attendance allowance, mobility allowance, invalidity benefit, non-contributory invalidity pension, war disablement pension and industrial disablement benefit (2) what is his estimate of the savings on supplementary and other benefits, and of increased tax revenue, at November 1977 prices from each of the following benefits in 1973–74 and 1977–78, respectively : attendance allowance, mobility allowance, invalidity benefit, non-contributory invalidity pension, war disablement pension, and industrial disablement benefit ; (3) what is his estimate of the gross expenditure at November 1977 prices on each of the following benefits in 1973–74 and 1977–78, respectively : attendance allowance, mobility allowance, invalidity benefit. non-contributory invalidity pension, war disablement pension, and industrial disablement benefit.

pursuant to his replies [Official Report, 26th October 1977 ; Vol. 936, c. 728–9], gave the following information:The following shows the gross expenditure on the benefits listed at average 1977–78 prices:

£million
1973–741977–7869
Attendance allowance69168
Mobility allowance-19
Invalidity benefit467683
Non-contributory inval-idity pension51
War disablement pension 209202
Industrial disablement benefit169194
Of the above benefits only mobility allowance is taxable, but the extent to which the recipient would be liable to tax on this allowance varies according to individual circumstances. Thus it is not possible to estimate the tax revenue.Attendance allowance and mobility allowance are effectively disregarded for supplementary benefit purposes, so no savings arise in respect of those benefits. Savings in respect of the other benefits listed could only be quantified in the year in which the benefit is introduced or changed. The only significant change other than upratings causing savings in 1973–1977–78 is the extension of non-contributory invalidity pension to married women in 1977–78 which is expected to save around £3 million in a full year.

Transport

A27 (Worthing)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will place in the Library a copy of the map used by his Department to determine whether the proposed new route for the A27 in Worthing is more than 10 metres from property in Wentworth Close or 40 metres from property in Cotswold Road.

No such map is available. The figures quoted by the hon. Member represent the best estimate that can be made of the minimum distance of these properties from an improved A27 pending further study and the outcome of the promised further consultation.

Packaging (Standards)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will approve PIRA as an official testing station for package performance testing and so enable the United Kingdom to conform to United Nations performance standards for testing, marking and certifying packages.

The scheme for the testing of packagings used for dangerous goods is at the last stages of consultation, and I hope that approval of PIRA for this purpose will be given shortly.

Wales

Cattle (Imports)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what meetings he has held, since taking over responsibility for agriculture in Wales, with the farming unions and with the Irish Government to discuss the impact of Irish cattle exports to Wales on the agricultural economy of Wales.

My right hon. and learned Friend shares responsibility for agricultural policy with my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Under these joint arrangements each meets the National Farmers' Union of England and Wales from time to time to hear its views on all aspects of ongoing policy, and my right hon. and learned Friend also meets the Farmers' Union of Wales.Questions relating to imports of Irish beef were most recently discussed on Friday 4th November, when my right hon. Friend the Minister, accompanied by his Welsh Secretary, met the President of the NFU and members of its Council for Wales. Recent trends in the trade in cattle and beef between the Republic of Ireland will be discussed at a regular meeting between United Kingdom and Irish officials in Dublin later this month.

Trade

Balance Of Payments

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what were the balance of payments figures for each of the last five months, excluding British-produced oil figures and assuming a level of oil imports equivalent to 1976 levels.

The figures are:

ESTIMATES OF "OIL-ADJUSTED" VISIBLE BALANCE (BOP BASIS)*
£ million,
1977Seasonally adjusted
May—369
June—497
July—414
August—78
September—96

* NOTE. The estimates have been derived as follows:

Published visible balance for total trade

less published exports of crude oil.

plus published imports of crude oil.

less estimated imports of crude oil—estimated as average 1976 level at average value in month in question.

Air Services

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he plans to seek renegotiation of the United Kingdom-Australian bilateral agreement on air services between the two countries.

I have no plans to seek renegotiation of the United King- dom-Australia bilateral agreement on air services.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the present position regarding air services between Denmark and the United Kingdom.

Our general air services relations with Denmark are excellent and there is full co-operation between British Airways and Scandinavian Airlines System. Recently the Danish authorities refused to issue operating permission for a service between Birmingham and Copenhagen by British Midland Airways, an action which Her Majesty's Government consider to be a breach of our Air Services Agreement. We felt obliged to take counter-measures in respect of certain SAS services operating to the United Kingdom under temporary permit. We are in contact with the Danish authorities and discussions are expected to take place shortly which, I hope, will resolve the issue.

Shipwreck (" Richard Montgomery ")

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when the last survey of the munition ship "Richard Montgomery" took place ; whether this included underwater examination and an assessment of the state of the cargo ; and what arrangements exist to keep the safety situation under review.

Hydrographic surveys of the wreck and the sea bed around it are carried out at approximately three-monthly intervals. An underwater survey was carried out in July 1972. I am very conscious of the need to keep the condition of this wreck under review and am considering a fresh underwater survey for 1978.

Shipping

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he intends to take to ensure that the merchant navies of Warsaw pact countries do not capture the trade of British and other EEC merchant navies by the use of unfair trade.

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what further discussions he has had with the USSR regarding the activities of its merchant fleet.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what positive results he can announce following the recent consultations with the USSR over maritime problems.

I visited Moscow from 18th-22nd October for further discussions with the Soviet Minister of Merchant Marine, notably on the question of rate undercutting and the provision of excessive capacity by Soviet shipping lines. The outcome was disappointing, in that the Soviet side declined to take early steps to solve specific problem cases, although it remained willing to talk in general terms about an accommodation with Western shipping interests. We shall now be considering jointly with our EEC partners and others the question of an appropriate Western response to the shipping practices of the East bloc countries. I will be replying in greater detail in today's Written Answers to the hon. Member for Wirrall (Mr. Hunt).

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what progress he has made in persuading the Russian authorities to stop undercutting freight rate ;(2)whether his policy of non co-operation rather than confrontation with the Russian authorities over maritime problems has succeeded ; and if he can now announce agreed solutions to the current difficulties ;(3)what progress he has made in recent consultations over the threat to British shipping posed by the Russian provision of over-capacity on certain liner trades ;(4)whether he can announce agreed guidelines for the orderly development of maritime trade following the recent consultations with the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

I discussed a wide range of issues with Mr. Guzhenko, the Soviet Minister of Merchant Marine, during my recent visit to the USSR. The purpose of my visit was to review progress made in achieving an equitable resolution of the problems that face us, not just in the bilateral seaborne trade but, more importantly, on certain international trade routes where our shipping companies face undercutting of freight rates by the Russian merchant fleet and the provision of excessive capacity. I said in June that we had agreed that a meeting should be held in August in the USSR between officials and shipping interests from both sides to examine the possibilities of establishing mutually acceptable guidelines for Soviet participation in international maritime trades. I emphasised, however, that we required proof from the Soviet Union that parallel progress must be made in specific cases of difficulty. There has been little such progress. Accordingly, though there was a useful first round in August, 1 made it clear to the Soviet Minister that further work on trying to establish a set of general principles would have to be postponed.The outcome of my talks was, therefore, disappointing. We are, of course, considering and consulting urgently with others, particularly within the EEC, how the West in general should develop a common strategy to defend our shipping interests. Nevertheless, it is still my hope that the USSR will reassess its stance and provide specific evidence of translating into reality its declaration that it desires accommodation rather than confrontation.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what success he has achieved in establishing a fairer balance between United Kingdom and Russian ships in bilateral trades between the United Kingdom and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

When the Soviet Minister of Merchant Marine visited the United Kingdom in June there was agreement that we should move towards parity of carryings as between United Kingdom and Soviet vessels. The recent introduction of a container vessel in the United Baltic Corporation service between the United Kingdom and the USSR is a welcome move towards achieving this aim.

Mole Valley Routes

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many Members of Parliament, local authorities, and amenity and other groups were circulated with his report "Mole Valley Routes ; Monitoring Results and Reactions to Experience " published in August 1976 ; how many responded ; and what proportion of the latter thought the present route split should be confirmed.

The report was circulated to 12 Members of Parliament, 13 local authorities and 53 amenity and other organisations. 46 of these responded, of whom about one-fifth thought that the present split route should he confirmed.

Tourism

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will review the need for all areas of the United Kingdom to receive the same Government financial incentives for the development of tourism.

In view of the very limited budget for the development of tourist projects I believe that resources are best devoted to localities where the economic need is greatest. However, help in marketing tourism is, of course, not confined to particular areas.

South Africa

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will make an up-to-date statement about the United Kingdom's amount of trade with South Africa.

United Kingdom exports to South Africa in the nine months to the end of September 1977 were £445 million fob. United Kingdom imports in the same period were £649.2 million cif.

Company Law

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has any proposals for the reform of company law.

As Her Majesty announced in her Gracious Speech, a Companies Bill will be introduced this Session.

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received from the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies about the reform of company law.

The CCAB sent me in June a memorandum on Improvements to Company Law, and it subsequently sent me a copy of its memo- randum to the Select Committee on Procedure on parliamentary procedure and the form of legislation.

Air Traffic Control Assistants

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will estimate the percentage rise in the gross earnings of air traffic control assistants resulting from the recent pay settlement ; and in the light of present pay policy, what action he proposes to take against the management who were responsible.

It is not possible to be precise at this stage. The question of action against management does not arise.

Light Bulbs

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will now take steps to restrict the imports of light bulbs for motor vehicles in cases where the imported price of such bulbs is no more than the cost of the materials required to manufacture the same kind of bulb in the United Kingdom.

I have to take account of the fact that low-cost imports account for only a small proportion of the United Kingdom market.

Exports

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what effect he estimates the recent rise in the £ sterling will have on the volume of British exports.

In so far as a rise in sterling contributes to a loss in export competitiveness, I must expect it to reduce the volume of deliveries to some extent.

British Airports Authority

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will dismiss the Chairman of the British Airports Authority.

Netherlands And Germany

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the United Kingdom current trade deficit for the last 12 months in manufactured goods with the Netherlands and Germany.

In terms of the crude balance of trade, the deficit with the Federal Republic of Germany in the year to September 1977 was £1,284 million. Trade with the Netherlands showed a surplus of £278 million.

Power Plant Manufacturing

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress he has made in implementing the proposals of the Central Policy Review Staff report for export assistance to the power plant manufacturing industry.

The CPRS report recommended that additional assistance to exports should be conditioned on achieving restructuring of the industry—which remains the Government's objective. The Government will continue to provide all possible assistance to the industry in their efforts to secure export orders.

Proprietary Companies

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has received any proposals to amend company law to provide for the formation of a proprietary company with a limit on capital subscribed.

No, but the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies has recently put forward proposals for proprietary companies which might be exempt from certain requirements of the Companies Acts if their turnover, numbers of employees and shareholders do not exceed certain limits.

Aircraft Noise

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will seek power to consider applications for grants on an individual basis from any householder who could show that aircraft noise over his house was beyond the accepted level.

The Secretary of State's present powers allow him to deline the persons to whom noise insulation grants may be payable at designated airports.

Paper And Board

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations he has received about the level of imports of paper and board products into the United Kingdom ; and what replies he has sent.

I have recently received a request from the British Printing Industries Federation that its interests be taken into account when discussing 1978 duty free quota levels for paper from EFTA. I shall assure it that any decision reached on quota levels will take into account its interests as well as those of the United Kingdom paper producers.

Shoplifting

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has made any estimate of the increased loss to retailers from shoplifting during the recent power cuts.

Ussr

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, pursuant to the answer he gave the hon. Member for Stretford on 14th February 1977, he will state whether or not any United Kingdom-based firm remains in negotiation with the USSR over the supply of technology in connection with the Kuznetsov NK 144 engine.

I am not aware of any negotiations which are still continuing for the supply of technology for the NK 144 engine. Any exports of such technology would in any event require Government approval.

Dangerous Goods

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his policy on the use of intermediate bulk containers for hazardous goods in international trade ; and whether he will reply to the Chemical Industries Association's policy statement on this which was sent to him earlier this year.

Standards for intermediate bulk containers used in international trade are under consideration by the United Nations Committee of Experts on the Transport of Dangerous Goods on which Her Majesty's Government, and the Chemical Industry Association, through the European Council of Chemical Manufacturers, are represented. The Association's memorandum on this subject has been referred for consideration to my Department's Standing Advisory Committee on the Carriage of Dangerous Goods in Ships, whose membership includes representatives of the Chemical Industry Association, the shipping industry as well as other interested Government Departments.

Fishing Vessels (Survey Fees)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is yet in a position to make an announcement on the level of fees for the survey of fishing vessels.

Following representations by the Fishing Industry Safety Group it has been decided that initial surveys of existing fishing vessels will be charged for at the lower level applicable to subsequent renewal surveys. Together with an instalment system which is being introduced, this will ease the cost to fishing vessel owners where it is most needed.

Heathrow And Gatwick(Night Flights)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will announce the Government's long-term policy on restrictions on night flights at Heathrow and Gatwick.

Yes. Following the consultations I have carried out, I have decided that noisier aircraft flights at night at Heathrow and Gatwick will be phased out by equal cuts over 10 years from 1st April 1978.I have commissioned a three-year research programme on the relationship between aircraft noise and sleep disturbance, to provide a scientific basis for deciding whether quieter aircraft movements at night should also be phased out, and, if not, what restrictions should be placed on them.Meanwhile, there will be quotas for quieter aircraft movements, including non-jet movements, which will increase as the noisier quotas are reduced. The details of the quota arrangements will be announced shortly.

Industry

Small Businesses

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give details of the measures he is considering to assist small firms.

The Government arc considering a number of measures in the field of taxation including relaxing the close company rules for "first business loans ", allowing capital gains tax relief for losses on loans and allowing ;asses in the early years of an unincorporated business to be offset against income in previous years. Simplifications in the operation of VAT are also under consideration, and the possibility of a loan guarantee scheme is being explored.

Phoenix Shipbuilders

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will now set up an official inquiry into the circumstances of its Saudi Arabian contract and the subsequent liquidation of Phoenix Shipbuilders.

No, but my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade is seeking further information about this company.

Hs146 Aircraft

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the future of the HS146.

I understand that British Aerospace has decided to proceed with its present preliminary programme while further evaluation of HS146 and other civil aircraft options continues, with a view to making a firm recommendation to the Government around the end of this year. More detailed questions are a matter for British Aerospace.

British Steel Corporation

asked the St-cretary of State for Industry whether he still expects the British Steel Corporation to stay within its cash limit of £950 million for the fiscal year 1977–78.

Northern Region

asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he will list by name firms which, although their headquarters are outside the Northern Region, have subsidiaries operating within that region, which have received Government grants from his Department over the last 10 years ; how much grant was received ; in which year it was received ; and how many of these firms are still currently operating within the region ;(2) if he will list by name firms in the Northern Region which have obtained Government grant from his Department over the last 10 years ; how much grant was received ; and in which year it was received.

National Finance

Income Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he now expects the yield from income tax to be in 1977–compared with 1976–77 ; and how much of the reduction, if any, is due to the changes made in the last Finance Bill and the proposed changes he announced on 26th October, respectively.

I will let the hon. Member have a reply as soon as possible.

1974197519761977
January98·6101·697·2100·3
February100·0101·798·5100·0
March102·8100·498·5100·1
April104·498·698·798·8
May105·297·1100·4100·1
June106·097·198·296·7
July106·097·298·599·0
August106·295·797·899·2
September104·197·098·9
October103·097·699·3
November102·797·899·9
December100·797·0100·1

Computers

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many staff are engaged working with the 128K ICL 1902 computer for the Inland Revenue.

Capital Movements

Production And Productivity

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assumption he made, in preparing recent Treasury forecasts, with regard to the growth of production potential ; and to what extent this potential was implemented by changes in investment and other relevant variables since 1974.

The forecast assumed that the rate of growth of productive potential is, in present circumstances, of the order of 3 per cent. The relationship over short periods between productive potential, investment and other major economic variables is extremely difficult to establish.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, taking February 1974 as 100, he will list in the Official Report the index of industrial production for each successive month to date.

The index of industrial production is calculated taking the average for 1970 as 100. When this index is resealed, taking February 1974 as 100, the index numbers for total industrial production, seasonally adjusted, since that date are as followsobligations Great Britain has to the EEC with regard to freedom of capital movements and changes in exchange control ; when these next require changes to be made ; and if he will give an assurance that action will be taken on time.

Personal Allowances

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a table showing the estimated total net cost, in the last financial year and in the current financial year of (a) single person's tax allowances, (b) married couple's tax allowances, (c) child tax allowances (for 1976–77 net of yield from tax and claw-back on family allowance and child interim benefit), and (d) family allowances, child interim benefit and child benefit.

Reserves

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his best estimate of the total inflow of foreign currency to the United Kingdom reserves as a result of the measures taken in November 1976 to prohibit the sterling finance of third country trade.

No further estimates have been made since that given to the hon. Member for Hitchin (Mr. Stewart) on 29th March 1977 [Cols. 114-115]. That estimate was given as one

" substantially greater than the original estimate of £0.5 billion ".
It is still not possible to be at all precise, but it seems likely that the stock of sterling lending repaid by overseas residents as a result of this exchange control measure was around £1 billion. It is impossible to say how much of this was subsequently refinanced in foreign currency.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what assets the Treasury's foreign currency reserves are invested ; and what return is being earned on those assets.

Invisible Earnings

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his best estimate of the annual loss of invisible earnings to the United Kingdom as a result of the prohibition of sterling finance for third country trade.

Since it is not possible to be at all precise on the size of the capital inflows caused by this measure, nor to estimate how much of the stock of sterling finance was subsequently refinanced in foreign currency, it is impossible to estimate what the loss, if any, of invisible earnings might be.

Public Expenditure

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer to what causes he attributes the shortfall in public expenditure in 1976–77 ; and what he estimates the shortfall will be in 1977–78.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish a table showing planned public expenditure in 1976-77 and the outturn for that year, broken down into cash-limited and non cash-limited expenditure, central and local Government, and current and capital expenditure both at current prices and survey prices.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what saving in general Government expenditure results from a fall of 1 per cent. in the average interest rate paid by general Government.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the next Public Expenditure White Paper (a) will cover the full five-year survey period and (b) will include an analysis of the growth and use of resources over the full five-year period.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Public Expenditure White Paper will be published.

Personal Incomes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what increase in real personal disposable income will be entailed by the forecast he published on 26th October.

The path of real personal disposable income will be affected considerably by the timing of direct tax reductions. Between the calendar years 1977 and 1978 a rise in real personal disposable income of about 3 per cent. would be consistent with the published forecasts.

Public Sector Borrowing Requirement

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will list the successive forecasts he has made of the public sector borrowing requirement in 1978–79, specifying the date, anticipated size of the public sector borrowing requirement on each occasion and the causes of any revisions.

£Sterling

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the forecast published by the Treasury on 26th October assumed the revaluation of the £ sterling ; and if it did not, whether he will publish a revised forecast that takes the revaluation into account.

The forecast assumed that the effective exchange rate was constant at the level prevailing when it was prepared. It is not proposed to issue a new forecast on different assumptions.

Overseas Development

Tanzania

asked the Minister of Overseas Development what aid the United Kingdom has provided for the Tabora region of Tanzania, and to what precise use such funds are being put.

Britain is to provide £4·32 million over the next five years for the Tabora rural development project, which is to be co-financed with the World Bank and the Government of Tanzania. The project is intended to lay the foundations for the future long-term development of the Tabora region by providing master plans for water supply and land use, setting up pilot crop, livestock, and forestry programmes and starting new water and road schemes.Britain's contribution will finance the equipment and teams of experts to undertake road maintenance and reconstruction, and the land use planning element of the project, which will cost £2·47 million and £1·85 million, respectively.

Scotland

Economic Situation

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent studies his Department has made of the economy in Scotland.

Developments in the economy are continuously monitored by the Scottish Economic Planning Department and assessments are published regularly in the Scottish Economic Bulletin. The Bulletin also contains occasional articles on economic and industrial topics. In addition the Department commissions research on relevant subjects.

Foreign And Commonwealthaffairs

Human Rights(United Nations Investigations)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what are the criteria affecting decisions by Her Majesty's Government on whether to issue instructions to their Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support an on-the-spot investigation by a delegation of the United Nations Committee on Human Rights ; and whether such criteria include ideological and political considerations in regard to the country concerned ;(2)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Vietnam ;(3)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Laos ;(4)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in German Democratic Republic ;(5)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Cambodia ;(6)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics ;(7)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Poland ;(8)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Hungary ;(9)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Romania ;(10)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Czechoslovakia ;(11)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Bulgaria ;(12)if he will instruct Her Majesty's Permanent Representative at the United Nations to instigate or support the sending of a Commission of Investigation by the United Nations Committee on Human Rights to inquire into the observance of human rights in Chile.

I assume the hon. Gentleman has in mind the United Nations Commission on Human Rights rather than the Committee on Human Rights, which is the body of 18 independent experts supervising implementation of the United Nations Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.Our human rights policy is based on the standards set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenants, and the European Convention, as well as our own judgment of what it is legitimate to demand of civilised nations, irrespective of their ideological or political stance.The Government consider that the Commission on Human Rights should have a central role in the international application of those standards to offending countries and will support whatever action it judges most likely to be beneficial to victims.The Commission next meets in February 1978 and the Government have not yet decided on which problems it would be right to concentrate on that occasion.

Cyprus

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the murder of a British subject, Mrs. Maria Lallakouna Taenas, at Rizokarpasso in the Turkish sector of Cyprus, near Famagusta on 9th October 1977.

I was very sorry to hear reports that Mrs. Taina has been killed in Cyprus. We have sought urgent confirmation of her death and the circumstances in which it occurred from the Turkish Cypriot authorities.

Education And Science

School Curricula

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she expects to receive the report of the Warnock Committee ; and if she will make a statement.

The Warnock Committee is aiming to present its report early next year. The Committee is understood to be making good progress and to be hopeful of achieving that aim.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when she expects to announce the timetable for the consultations with local authorities, teachers' associations and others, concerning the conduct of a review of curricular arrangements in schools as outlined in paragraph 2.21 of her recent consultative document.

I held a preliminary meeting on 28th July with the local authority and teacher associations and the Schools Council about the review of local authority curricular arrangements proposed in the consultative document. Further meetings and written consultations have taken place since then, and have just been completed. I hope to issue a circular to local authorities to initiate the review by the end of November. which will request replies by the end of June 1978.

Higher Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what papers presented to Parliament define the purpose and scope and provide authority for institutions of higher education ; on whose authority they are being established ; and under what articles of association or other basis they will operate.

The White Paper in 1972 "Education: a Framework for Expansion" explained the purpose and scope of the institutions of higher education to be formed in the light of the broadening of function proposed for colleges of education. These institutions are provided by local education authorities or voluntary bodies in accordance with plans for individual areas agreed by me or my predecessors and, like other establishments of further education, under powers conferred by the Education Act, 1944. Their instruments and articles of government are regulated by the Education (No. 2) Act 1968. Apart from polytechnics, the titles of individual institutions are a matter for local decision.

Agriculture, Fisheries Andfood

Butter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the approximate price of one pound of butter, expressed in pence, in each country of the Common Market.

The following is the latest available information which relates to wholesale prices in July :

P/lb.
Belgium86
Denmark82
France73
Germany92
Irish Republic*50
Italy69
LuxembourgNot available
Netherlands 85
United Kingdomt(a)†52
Notes(

a) Ex-factory price for English packet butter minus £33 per tonne packaging.

* Price after deductions of subsidy.

†Price before deductions of subsidy.

Source : Milk Marketing Board "Dairying Overseas".

Floods (Precautions)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food in the light of the fact that at the present rate of expenditure, flood alleviation and land drainage works in Greater London will take 120 years to complete and, in the light of the heavy flooding which took place in Hillingdon on 16th–17th August, what is his policy concerning the provision of grant aid for such works ; and if he will make a statement.

The responsibility for carrying out land drainage and flood alleviation work in the London excluded area—which broadly covers Greater London—rests with the Greater London Council under the provisions of the Land Drainage Act 1976. I understand that the Council is now considering a programme to improve the non-tidal rivers in the area at a total estimated cost of £100 million spread over a number of years. It seems likely that this expenditure will be eligible for grant aid from the Ministry, and a meeting is due to take place later this month to consider what rate of grant might be appropriate having regard to all the relevant factors, including the resources available to the Council.

Defence

Cruise Missile

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made in evaluating the Cruise missile ; and if he has any plans to acquire any version of it for the Armed Services.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the type of long-range cruise missile under development in the United States. We are continuing to study the characteristics of such weapons in order to take part in consultations concerning their possible deployment in the Alliance. We have no plans to acquire them.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has studied the report submitted to him by the Royal United Services Institute entitled "The Future of the British Nuclear Deterrent: Technical, Economic and Strategic Issues "; and if he has reached any decision on its recommendations in regard to the Cruise missile.

I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the private study of that title by the Royal Institute of

19771976
AllServicesRN/RMArmyRAFAllServicesRN/RMArmyRAF
January12,2003,2006,2002,80013,5003,5006,5003,400
February13,0003,9005,7003,40012,6003,9005,8003,000
March 15,0005,4006,0003,60014,2004,6006,2003,400
April9,4003,2003,9002,30010,3004,4003,9002,000
May8,9002,6003,9002,4009,9002,8004,7002,400
June9,8002,3005,1002,40011,0002,6005,4003,000
July8,4001,7004,7002,0008,1001,9004,5001,700
August8,3001,5005,1001,7008,2001,4005,0001,800
September12.5002.0008,5002,00012,0002,1007,7002,200

International Affairs. We have no plans for a successor to the Polaris force, which has many years of effective life ahead of it.

Pay

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report how far behind the civil sector, in percentage terms, services pay has fallen since 1st March 1974.

In normal circumstances the Armed Forces Pay Review Body looks at a range of analogues as between the Armed Forces and outside rates of pay and, after considering these and other factors, recommends comparable rates of pay for comparable work. This was last done in the Review Body's 1975 Report. In its two most recent reports, however, the Review Body, whilst recommending the maximum increase possible under pay policy, confined itself to a statement that Armed Forces pay had fallen markedly short of the levels justified by outside evidence, but did not quantify the extent of the shortfall. I am therefore unable to express in percentage terms the extent to which services pay has fallen behind the relevant civil sector comparators since 1st March 1974.

Recruitment

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish the monthly figures of applicants to serve in the Army, the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force from January 1977 to date.

The monthly numbers of male applicants to join each of the Armed Services during the period January-September 1977, and for purposes of comparison during the corresponding period of 1976 are as follows:

Royal Air Force

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will place in the Library a copy of the recent unclassified report compiled by three Royal Air Force liaison teams after visiting RAF stations between July and September 1977.

No. This was a report prepared internally for RAF management purposes.

Service And Civilian Personnel(Reductions)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress he has made towards achieving his target of 218,000 Services, civilian and defence industry job losses by 1979, in consequence of the present Government's defence cuts.

The target reduction for Service and civilian personnel amounted to 38,000 and 40,000 respectively. Reductions amounting to 23,000 Service personnel and 29,000 civilians have been achieved so far. There has never been any target for reductions in employment in the defence industries.

Army Youth Teams

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for disbanding the Army Youth Teams ; what savings would thus be made ; and whether inquiries have been made into the social cost of this decision.

It has been decided to disband the Army Youth Teams by 5th April 1978. The 395 Service personnel employed in the Army Youth Teams will be released for work of greater military priority elsewhere. In addition, there will be a saving of £500,000 in annual running costs. The decision to disband the Army Youth Teams was taken as part of a larger package of measures intended to reduce defence recruiting expenditure and to switch resources to other areas with a greater military priority and was based on these considerations only.

Hms "Dreadnought "

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the recent deployment of HMS "Dreadnought" in the Mediterranean ; and if he will outline the circumstances relating to the fact that she did not sail through the Suez Canal.

HMS "Dreadnought ", a nuclear-powered fleet submarine, was due to accompany HM ships of a Royal Navy task group deploying to the Indian Ocean and the Far East in order to take part in naval exercises with friendly nations. In accordance with the established practice for ships transitting the Suez Canal, advance written notification was submitted of the intention that the whole task group, including HMS "Dreadnought", should pass through the canal. The Egyptian Government indicated that, since no nuclear-powered vessel of any sort had previously used the canal, they would like more time to consider the implications, particularly those related to public safety. In deference to this request, the notification in respect of HMS "Dreadnought" was withdrawn and she sailed elsewhere on 27th October. The Egyptian Government at no time refused permission ; our dealings with them throughout were conducted in a spirit of co-operation.