Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 957: debated on Tuesday 7 November 1978

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

Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 7th November 1978

Social Services

Disabled Housewives' Allowance

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the amending of the qualifying regulations for receipt of the disabled housewives' allowance.

The Social Security Act 1975 provided for the payment to eligible married women of a non-contributory invalidity pension (HNCIP). Eligibility was linked to incapacity for work and for performing normal household duties. To ensure that the benefit was not restricted to married women who were helpless, or nearly helpless, a regulation was made requiring only that a woman should be incapable of household duties to any substantial extent. This was approved by the National Insurance Advisory Committee. It was the intention that consideration would be required both of what a woman could do and of what she could not do.For nearly a year, the adjudicating authorities interpreted the legislation in that sense in some 60,000 cases, leading to over 40,000 awards. But on 8th September a tribunal of national insurance commissioners, whose decision is binding on all adjudicating authorities, decided that there was entitlement to HNCIP if the married woman was unable to do a substantial part of her household duties, regardless of what she could do. The regulation was, therefore, amended to restore the Government's original intention and to ensure that the available resources are allocated according to agreed priorities.Expenditure on HNCIP is currently running at £23 million a year. Had amending regulations not been made, this figure would perhaps have increased by twice as much or more. My Department had no money to meet the extra expenditure called for by the tribunal's decision. Moreover, it would, in the Government's view, have been wrong to allow the whole process of settling priorities about further progress to be pre-empted by a commissioners' decision which changed the intended effect of the law.

Death Grant

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the latest figures available for average funeral costs and what proportion of this figure is met by the £30 death grant; what were the corresponding proportions met by the death grant in 1948, 1958 and 1968; what plans he has to bring the death grant in line with current funeral costs; and if he will make a statement.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the present level of the death grant.

75.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to review the level of the death grant.

The £30 death grant represents at present about 15 per cent. of the cost of an average funeral, estimated to be about £200. The £20 grant introduced in 1949 then represented about 60 per cent. of the cost. The grant was increased to £25 in 1958, when it represented about 50 per cent. of the cost. In 1968 the grant of £30, introduced in the previous year, represented about 35 per cent. of the cost of an average funeral.I have no plans to increase the grant at present. Its level is kept under review, but when resources are limited a choice has to be made between competing priorities. In these circumstances the Government have thought it right to concentrate on protecting, and where possible improving, the position of pensioners, families with children and the disabled.

58.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the rate of the death grant if it had kept pace with inflation since its inception; and when he proposes to increase the present grant.

Based on the movement of the General Index of Retail Prices up to September 1978, the latest date for which a figure is available, the present grant of £30 would need to be increased to over £123 to restore the value which the £20 grant had in 1949, when it was introduced. As to the question of an increase in the grant, I refer my hon. Friend to my reply earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Cannock (Mr. Roberts).

72.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by how much the death grant would have to be increased to restore its real value at the time of the last increase.

Based on the movement of the General Index of Retail Prices up to September 1978, the latest date for which a figure is available, the present grant of £30 would need to be increased to over £96 to restore the value it had in 1967 when it was last increased.

Hospital Waiting Lists

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in Great Britain were awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals at the latest date for which figures are available.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in Great Britain were awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals at the latest date for which figures are available.

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in England and Wales were awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals at the latest date for which figures are available.

67.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in Great Britain were awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals at the latest date for which figures are available.

68.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people are awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals at the present time.

70.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people in Great Britain were awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals at the latest date for which figures are available.

On 31st March 1978 there were 603,240 patients awaiting admission to National Health Service hospitals for in-patient treatment in England.

Disabled Persons

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what financial help is available to those disabled persons who are able to drive their own cars but who are too old to apply for mobility allowance, and whose need for transport on grounds of disability has arisen since 1st January 1976.

So far priority has been given to helping disabled children and people of working age, whether or not they are able to drive. We shall keep in mind all suggestions for extending mobility help to disabled people generally.For pensioners, our immediate priority has been to increase the level of retirement pensions. We have done this five times since we took office in 1974. A further increase takes effect next week. As I know my hon. Friend appreciates, we have committed very substantial resources to benefits and services for disabled people.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further proposals he has to help disabled people.

69.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further measures are proposed to extend benefits for the disabled.

We hope to make an announcement on further help for disabled people in the very near future.

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the help given to disabled people.

No, but we have made substantial progress in helping disabled people since we took office. We have introduced the mobility allowance, the invalid care allowance and the non-contributory invalidity pension and its extension to housewives. Expenditure on cash benefits for the disabled has increased in real terms by over £387 million since we took office. I recognize that there is much more which could be done, but further progress must be limited by the availability of resources.

62.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with mobility assistance to disabled people.

Since taking office in 1974 we have improved mobility help for disabled people very considerably in terms of both cash and scope. We have raised spending on all forms of mobility help from £13 million a year in the financial year 1974–1975 to about £65 million in the current financial year. Our planned expenditure will exceed £80 million by 1980–1981. Large numbers of disabled who cannot drive themselves, including children, have been given mobility help for the first time ever. Moreover, through the setting up of Motability at our suggestion, cars are now within the reach of more disabled people, drivers and non-drivers alike, than ever before. We do fully recognise, of course, that there is still much more to do further to improve the mobility of disabled people.

Supplementary Benefit (Rent Payments)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the provision by local Department of Health and Social Security supplementary benefits offices for making arrangements for tenants on supplementary benefit who wish to, to have their rent paid direct to the landlord whether private or local authority.

It is the policy of the Supplementary Benefits Commission to pay benefit direct to a private landlord or local authority housing department only where this seems necessary in order to safeguard the interests of the claimant or his dependants.

Gorleston-On-Sea

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will report on the progress in building the new general hospital at Gorleston-on-Sea.

I understand from the East Anglian regional health authority that building is proceeding satisfactorily. It is hoped that the first patients will be admitted to the new hospital in April 1981.

Heart Surgery Patients (Merseyside)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he has taken and proposes to take to improve the facilities for patients on Merseyside requiring heart surgery.

The provision and planning of facilities for heart surgery on Merseyside are matters for the Mersey regional health authority to determine. I understand that new cardiology equipment has been installed this year at Sefton general hospital and, with the exception of one item, is now fully operational. Since April an additional emergency operating theatre has been in use at Broadgreen hospital, alongside the two main threatres. The regional health authority is carrying out feasibility studies into the possibility of transferring medical cardiology from Sefton general and providing both the medical and surgical services at Broadgreen. The authority's view is that this would lead to more efficient working and they intend to give priority to such a development. A number of Liverpool patients have also been referred to NHS and private cardiac centres in London.

Maternity Services

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will take action to improve the provision of maternity services in the area of South Buckinghamshire and East Berkshire.

Service planning issues are primarily matters for the health authorities. The planning for a new obstetric unit to be built at Wexham Park is currently being undertaken by the Oxford regional health authority and Berkshire area health authority. In the shorter term the area health authority is making efforts to recruit more trained midwives.

National Health Service (Expenditure)

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the level of expenditure on the National Health Service.

No, but as I said in the debate on the Address on 2nd November, increases are already planned and I hope that we will be able to do better as the economy improves.

Hospitals (Derbyshire)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects next to visit Derbyshire hospitals; and it he will make a statement.

Health Service Trade Unions

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services when he expects next to meet the health service trade unions.

I have frequent meetings with the TUC health services committee; the date of the next meeting has been fixed for 4th December.

Motability

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on progress in providing vehicles under the Motability scheme.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Braintree (Mr. Newton) on 24th October. [Vol. 955, c. 904–5.]

59.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he next plans to meet the chairman of Motability.

While my right hon. Friend and I have no immediate plans to meet the chairman, my Department keeps itself closely informed of Motability's progress.

Supplementary Benefit (Review)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he hopes to reach a conclusion about the reform of the supplementary benefit scheme.

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied that the present supplementary benefit system is flexible enough to assist genuine cases of urgent need; and if he will re-examine its workings.

I refer the hon. Members to my reply to the hon. Members for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) and for Birmingham, Edgbaston (Mrs. Knight) earlier today.

Deprived Health Areas

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress is being made in the implementation of proposals for the redistribution of financial resources to deprived health areas within otherwise theoretically over-provided regions.

Progress is necessarily slow because the bulk of additional funds nationally is being directed to the more deprived regions. Redistribution within the better-off regions requires careful planning to ensure that rationalisation of services in the better provided areas, leading to a more equitable distribution of resources, is achieved without serious disruption. This is bound to take time. Only an improving national economy, allowing more resources to be provided for the NHS in general and the better-off regions in particular, will speed up the process.

Hospitals (Surrey)

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning staffing levels in hospitals in Surrey; and what replies he has sent.

I am aware that there are difficulties in Surrey over nurse staffing numbers and I have received some letters concerning this. The Surrey area health authority is striving to improve the situation.

Mobility Allowance

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the level of the mobility allowance.

Mobility allowance was first proposed at a weekly rate of £4 and was introduced in January 1976, at £5 a week. In July 1978, we doubled the weekly rate to £10. This increase not merely kept pace with increased transport costs but improved the value of the allowance in real terms.It would be premature for me to anticipate what increases will be proposed following the general review of social security benefits in 1979.

Hospital Nurses

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last met representatives of the Royal College of Nursing.

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last met representatives of the Royal College of Nursing.

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent representations he has received from the nursing profession about staffing levels and about their career structure.

65.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he last met representatives of the Royal College of Nursing.

I have nothing to add to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Chorley (Mr. Rodgers) and the hon. Member for Bromsgrove and Redditch (Mr. Miller) earlier today.

Nurses (Pay)

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on nurses' pay.

On 16th October I received a deputation from the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council which claimed that the pay of nurses and midwives should be treated as a special case for the purposes of incomes policy. I pointed out to the deputation that the overriding need is to defeat inflation and reminded them that the White Paper "Winning the Battle Against Inflation" made clear that any claim to special treatment would have to be examined very critically. I undertook, however, to consider carefully with colleagues the arguments which had been put to me.

64.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, in the light of the salary increase campaign being organised for the nursing profession, called "Nurses Are Worth More", whether he will refer to the committee which investigated police pay this special case for settlement.

I have received representations from the Nurses and Midwives Whitley Council, which I have undertaken to consider carefully with colleagues. Until that consideration has been completed it would be premature to comment on possible procedural questions.

National Insurance Contributions

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to make it possible to pay voluntary national insurance contributions, for those not obliged to do so, which will give cover against sickness and unemployment.

No. Any such arrangement, which would need to be consistent with the concept of insurance against interruption of employment, would be of limited value and would add considerably to the complexity of the social system.

Pensioners (Christmas Bonus)

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what the pensioners' Christmas bonus would be this year if it had been adjusted for inflation since its original introduction.

Based on the movement of the general index of retail prices up to September 1978, the latest date for which a figure is available, a bonus of £22·56 would be needed this year to be equivalent in value to the bonus paid in 1972.

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the arrangements for paying a Christmas bonus in 1978.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Essex, South-East (Sir B. Braine) earlier today.

Primary Medical Care

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what share primary medical care will have in further expenditure on the National Health Service.

Primary medical care is mainly provided by general practitioners as part of the family practitioner services, and expenditure increases to meet the demands placed upon them. In 1976–77, general medical practice took up 6·7 per cent. of the revenue expenditure of the NHS in England; the current estimate is that this figure will be the same in 1981–82. The corresponding figures for expenditure on prescriptions issued by general practitioners are 9·8 per cent. and 11·0 per cent., respectively. The corresponding figures for health visiting, and district nursing services, which are provided by health authorities in association with general medical practice are 2·6 per cent. and 3·3 per cent. It is my right hon. Friend's intention to stress the increasing importance of primary health care within the NHS.

Creaton Hospital, Northamptonshire

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will make a decision on the future of Creaton hospital, Northamptonshire.

As soon as possible. It would not be proper for a decision on the future of Creaton hospital to be taken before full and proper consideration has been given by Ministers to all the views and representations that have been put forward.

Secure Units

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that there is adequate provision of secure accommodation for girls aged 14 to 17 years.

I expect that when the present building programme is completed the programme will substantially meet the need for secure accommodation for girls under the age of 17.

76.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many additional places he anticipates being able to provide during the next 12 months in small secure units for juveniles suffering from mental disorders which are considered to be capable of cure.

One regional health authority is planning a secure unit for adolescent psychiatry with about 20 places, but it will not be ready within 12 months. Local authorities are planning to provide a number of small secure units in community homes, but these are not intended for juveniles suffering from mental illness.

Health Services (Cornwall)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what provision he has made in his plans for the development of health services in Cornwall in the light of the policy of the Greater London Council of settling retired Londoners in Cornwall.

Financial allocations to regional health authorities are determined broadly in line with the recommendations of the resource allocation working party report published in September 1976. The most recent population statistics, which are revised annually, are used and these are weighted for age, sex and other factors. Thus any changes in a region's population in terms of numbers or structure are taken into account in this way. Regional health authorities are expected to adopt similar principles in allocating resources to area health authorities, at the same time having regard to special local circumstances.

Hospital Consultants

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what estimates he has made of the number of examinations and interviews conducted by hospital consultants, on patients under the National Health Service; and by what percentage this compares with examinations and interviews done privately.

During the year ended 31st December 1977, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 33,282,196 out-patient attendances at National Health Service hospitals in England. Attendances by private outpatients at NHS hospitals during that period, which are not included in the former total, numbered 105,029; 0·3 per cent. of the NHS figure.

National Health Service (Industrial Disputes)

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will make a statement about recent industrial disputes in the National Health Service.

66.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on recent industrial disputes in the National Health Service.

I have nothing to add at this stage to what I said during the debate on the Address on 2nd November.

74.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what estimate he has made of the number of patients in National Health Service hospitals who have died as a result of the current industrial dispute; and if he will list the names.

Birmingham

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to visit Birmingham.

Council Of Ministers

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he plans next to meet his opposite numbers in the EEC Council of Ministers of Social Affairs.

There is to be a Council meeting of Labour and Social Affairs Ministers on 27th November at which my right hon. Friend will be represented.

National Health Service (Staff Morale)

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the level of morale in the National Health Service.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Members for Carshalton (Mr. Forman) and Melton (Mr. Latham) earlier today.

Benefits

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many non-resident claimants of social security benefits within four weeks of arrival in the United Kingdom there have been in the last 12 months for which statistics are available.

57.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what plans he has to end the discrepancy between the bases for increases in short-term and long-term social benefits, respectively.

The current uprating provisions are laid down in the Social Security Act 1975 but, following a recommendation of the Expenditure Committee in its Eighth Report for the Session 1977–78, I am putting in hand a review of those provisions and in due course will present to the House an analysis of the alternative policy options. The review will cover the different statutory provisions for uprating long-term and short-term benefits.

60.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the administrative cost of supplementary benefit for each £1 of benefit paid to claimants.

63.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, as the cost of administering means-tested benefits is much greater than that of paying benefits by right, he will seek to reduce the former and increase the latter.

It is the Government's policy to reduce dependence on means-tested benefits, and our new pensions and child benefits schemes are important steps in that direction. We have also introduced a number of benefits as of right for the disabled. However, administrative savings are likely to be greatly exceeded by the extra cost of universal benefits.

71.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the proposed increase in long-term benefits in November 1978.

Yes. The increase in pensions and other long-term benefits which will take effect in the week beginning 13th November will fulfil the statutory requirements of the Social Security Act 1975, and will substanially increase their real value compared with November 1977, when they were last increased.

Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will report what progress has been made in the negotiations with the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee.

I am reviewing the position in the light of the views expressed in the debate on 29th June—[Vol. 952, c. 1590–653]—and subsequent correspondence with the chairman of the Pharmaceutical Services negotiating committee. I am meeting representatives of the committee on 14th November for further discussions.

Bromley Area Health Authority

61.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will seek an early meeting with the chairman of the Bromley area health authority.

I expect to meet Mr. Bolland on 28th November at one of my regular meetings with chairmen of area health authorities.

One-Parent Families

78.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he now proposes to take to remedy the situation that has arisen in the payment of child benefit or supplementary benefit to one-parent families.

I have no plans to change the present arrangements whereby supplementary benefit is payable to the extent necessary to bring a claimant's income, including any child benefit, up to the supplementary benefit level appropriate to his or her circumstances.

Infant Mortality

77.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what are the perinatal mortality rates in Preston and Surrey, respectively.

The rates requested, expressed as stillbirths and deaths under one week of age per 1,000 total births, are as follows:

PrestonSurrey
19752117
19762014
1977 (provisional)2314

Resource Allocation Working Party

73.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the progress towards implementation of the recommendations of the Resource Allocation Working Party; and if he will make a statement.

The recommendations of the Resource Allocation Working Party have been fully implemented at national level and, in general, form the basis of the calculation of target allocations by regional health authorities within their regions. I shall not be satisfied until an improving national economy allows us to devote more resources to the NHS and speed up the pace of change to a fairer distribution of resources as indicated by the targets.

Rubella

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what advice he has received from the Children's Committee concerning the number of children who are likely to be born with congenital rubella as a result of the current epidemic; and if he will make a statement;(2) what recommendations he has received from the Children's Committee concerning the action which needs to be taken to protect babiees from congenital rubella; what action he proposes to take; and if he will make a statement.

I am glad to have the opportunity to remove any misapprehensions which may have arisen on this matter.The report which I received from the Children's Committee in September suggested that the number of infants born this coming winter with congenital rubeila could, as a result of the recent steep increase in the incidence of the disease, possibly rise to 1,500 to 2,000. This figure was based on the assumption that the average annual number of children affected by congenital rubella was 400. While there is no firm evidence on which to base statistics, a surveillance scheme which has been in progress since 1971 suggests that that figure is probably twice as high as the true figure even without allowing for the effect of pregnancy terminations.

The Children's Committee has suggested that my Department should launch in 1979 an extensive campaign to promote the take-up of rubella vaccination by all women between the ages of 20 and 45 and by all girls between the ages of 11 and 20 who have not so far been immunised. This recommendation was considered at a meeting of the Central Health Services Council last month and will be before the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, the medical body to which I principally look for expert advice in the field, later this month.

Rubella vaccination was first introduced for girls between their eleventh and fourteenth birthdays in 1970, and its availability was extended, as soon as the necessary facilities for serological testing were available in 1972, to women of child-bearing age at special risk—for example teachers and nurses. The extension of availability to all susceptible women of child-bearing age took place in 1976. Letters were sent to all doctors in 1972, 1974 and 1976 emphasising the need for vaccination. On 15th August 1978, the chief medical and nursing officers issued a letter setting out a revised schedule on vaccination and immunisation procedures, including rubella vaccination both for girls aged 11 to 13 and for adult women of child-bearing age who are seronegative and therefore susceptible. In all this we have had the advice of the joint committee. A seminar on measles and rubella vaccination involving the Department and practising doctors and nurses was held in Harrogate last month.

There is evidence that the number of women of child-bearing age susceptible to rubella has already fallen. But I have decided that further action is needed, and that, subject to the expert advice I shall receive from the joint committee, we should in 1979 mount a considered campaign designed to eliminate congenital rubella—though we should be fortunate indeed to achieve complete elimination.

It is by no means clear that the enhanced effort needed should all be directed at the vaccination of adult women, as distinct from children. Moreover, in working out the details of a campaign, it will be important to ensure that all branches of the medical and nursing professions are able to play their full part; that the resources for serological testing in the public health laboratory service are available to meet the additional need; and that any publicity campaign is carefully planned and executed. It is by no means self-evident that a national advertising campaign would necessarily be the best way of increasing the take-up of rubella vaccination by all sections of society. We are now working urgently on all these matters.

Finally, I am glad to be able to tell my hon. Friend that we appear now to have reached substantially the end of this year's rubella epidemic.

Child Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how the increases in child benefit will affect families receiving particular means-tested benefits; and if he will make a statement.

Child benefit is being increased to £4 a week for each child from 2nd April 1979, with an interim increase to £3 from 13th November 1978. The one-parent family premium is being doubled, to £2 a week, in November. The cost of these changes in 1979–80 will be over £500 million.The arrangements for dealing with these increases will be on broadly similar lines to those made for the first two phases of the introduction of child benefit. The November and April changes are part of a single operation, the third and last in the introduction of the child benefit scheme. The important thing is therefore their overall impact, but I will explain the effects of the changes separately.The November 1978 increases in child benefit will coincide with the general uprating of awards of supplementary benefit. It is, however, possible that small numbers of families receiving supplementary benefit will be lifted off that benefit as a result of the increases in November 1978 and the same might happen in April 1979. Such families will normally be able to continue to receive other benefits such as free school meals and free milk and vitamins by direct claim on grounds of low income. Existing discretionary powers will be used to protect from net income loss all families receiving free milk and vitamins by direct claim on grounds of low income.

The November 1978 increases in child benefit have already been taken into account for family income supplement (FIS) in the coincident uprating of the prescribed amounts of gross income below which FIS is payable. There will be no reduction in FIS awards in April 1979 on account of the April 1979 increases in child benefit and therefore no loss of the other means-tested benefits, such as, for example, free school meals and free milk and vitamins, which are received automatically under the FIS "passport" arrangements.

Families in receipt of rent rebates, rent allowances or rate rebates—"housing benefits"—for which my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for the Environment and for Scotland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales are responsible, will have their housing benefits reduced following the two increases in their income from child benefit. But such families will still gain on balance from the combined effect of the increases.

A relatively small number of families at the top end of the qualifying income scale receiving free school meals by direct claim may be at risk. However, the qualifying income scale was substantially increased in 1977 by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Education and Science and for Scotland and my right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Wales. Since the general rule is that entitlement to free school meals is granted for 12 months at a time and is not therefore affected if the family income goes up in that period, very few, if any, families would be liable to lose their entitlement to free school meals solely as a result of the net gains from the increased child benefit.

I am placing in the Library a note on this final phase in the introduction of the child benefit scheme. This reply is reproduced in the note. There is also a series of tables illustrating the position of families paying no income tax, tax at the 25 per cent. rate, and tax at the 33 per cent. rate, including those families who are receiving housing benefits. I am also arranging for copies of this note to be sent to a number of organisations with an interest in this subject.

Employment

Low-Paid Workers

80.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a special reference to the Royal Commission on the Distribution of Income and Wealth concerning low pay asking for a report on how a statutory minimum income could best be introduced into Great Britain as a means to helping the low paid.

The Royal Commission has already examined the problem of low pay in its report on lower incomes.

Toluene Di-Isocyanate

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what research is being currently undertaken into possible damage to the health of industrial workers from long term exposure to toluene di-isocyanate; what steps are being taken to control the amount of such exposure; and whether he considers that the code of practice revised in 1977 is adequate to protect workers involved in the use of this material.

I understand from the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that a study has recently started of the acute and long-term respiratory effects of isocyanates in a number of factories in the United Kingdom. This research, which is proceeding under the aegis of the Medical Research Council is being funded by the council and the British Rubber Manufacturers Association with a contribution from the Health and Safety Executive. The steering group directing the work, which is chaired by an eminent scientist in the field of occupational medicine, has members from the industry in addition to independent experts and government representatives.The Health and Safety Executive in its Guidance Note EH15 "Threshold Limit Values" has published a threshold limit value for toluene di-isocyanate of 0·02ppm. This is a ceiling figure which should not be exceeded in the workplace atmosphere at any time. I am advised that normal industrial hygiene control measures, such as enclosure of the plant, exhaust ventilation, if properly designed and used, and as a last resort respiratory protective equipment are adequate to control exposure of workpeople to below the ceiling value of 0·02ppm. The executive has also published a technical data note 41 "Isocyanates: Toxic Hazards and Precautions" which outlines the precautions to be taken when handling isocyanates, including toluene di-isocyanate, in a variety of industrial applications.I presume that the code of practice referred to by the hon. Member is that produced by the British Rubber Manufacturers Association. In that case I am advised by the executive that it considers that precautions given therein are broadly in line with the advice given in the executive's own publication mentioned earlier but that it has made certain suggestions for improvements which the association will consider when the code is reprinted.

Government Bodies (Members' Pay And Expenses)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what annual increases in the rates of pay of the chairman, deputy chairman and members of the Central Arbitration Committee have been introduced since April 1976; and what were the expenses claimed by each during the last 12 months for which figures are available.

The pay rates for the posts in question are shown in the "Directory of Paid Public Appointments made by Ministers", the 1978 edition of which was placed in the Library today.It is not possible to provide information on expenses on an individual basis without incurring disproportionate cost, but the total figure for chairman, deputy chairman and members for the year ended 31st March 1978 was £11,647.,

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what annual increases in the rates of pay of the chairman, secretary and members of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service have been introduced since April 1976; and what were the expenses claimed by each during the last 12 months for which figures are available.

The pay rates for the posts in question are shown in the "Directory of Paid Public Appointments made by Ministers", the 1978 edition of which was placed in the Library today.It is not possible to provide information on expenses on an individual basis without incurring disproportionate cost, but the total figure for chairman, secretary and members for the year ended 31st March 1978 was £11,677.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what annual increases in the rates of pay of the chairman and members of the Health and Safety Commission have been introduced since April 1976; and what were the expenses claimed by each during the last 12 months for which figures are available.

The pay rates for the posts in question are shown in the "Directory of Paid Public Appointments made by Ministers", the 1978 edition of which was placed in the Library today.It is not possible to provide information on expenses on an individual basis without incurring disproportionate cost, but the total figure for chairman and members for the year ended 31st March 1978 was £7,860.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what annual increases in the rates of pay of the chairman, deputy chairman and members of the Manpower Services Commission have been introduced since April 1976; and what were the expenses claimed by each during the last 12 months for which figures are available.

The pay rates for the posts in question are shown in the "Directory of Paid Public Appointments made by Ministers", the 1978 edition of which was placed in the Library today.It is not possible to provide information on expenses on an individual basis without incurring disproportionate cost but the toal figure for chairman, deputy chairman, and members for the year ended 31st March 1978 was £7,363.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what annual increases in the rates of pay of the chairman and members of the Royal Commission on the distribution of income and wealth have been introduced since April 1976; and what were the expenses claimed by each during the last 12 months for which figures are available.

The pay rates for the posts in question are shown in the "Directory of Paid Public Appointments made by Ministers", the 1978 edition of which was placed in the Library today.It is not possible to provide information on expenses on an individual basis without incurring disproportionate cost, but the total figure for chairman and members for the year ended 31st March 1978 was £9,562.

Local Authority Employees, Scotland (Closed Shop)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will take steps to advise Scottish local authorities of the desirability of holding a secret ballot of employees before introducing any closed shop arrangements within their authorities; and if he will make a statement.

No. The Government have consistently maintained a position of neutrality on the question of closed shop agreements: they believe that whether, how and in what form they should be introduced is a matter to be determined between employers and trade unions.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many regional authorities in Scotland have made trade union membership a condition of employment; and if he will indicate, in the case of each regional authority, the date on which the decision was made and the exclusions which are permitted.

The information is not readily available. We do not monitor the establishment or operation of closed shop agreements in either the public or private sector.

Trade Union Membership (Religious And Conscientious Objection)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has given any guidance to Scottish local authorities on the arrangements for considering religious and conscientious objections to compulsory union membership and, in particular, whether a clergyman should serve on committees set up to consider such applications.

Home Department

Diana Irons

82.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make a statement on the case of Diana Irons, a patient in Broadmoor special hospital, details of which have been sent to him.

It would be premature to make a statement about this case. The proposal which my hon. Friend and others have very recently put to me requires careful investigation, and before taking a decision I shall in any event wish to have the advice of the Mental Health Review Tribunal to which the case has been referred at Miss Iron's request.I have written to my hon. Friend.

Firearms

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the operation of legislation relating to the dissemination and sale of firearms; and what changes he proposes to make to legislation on the subject.

I have no reason to believe that the present controls under the Firearms Act 1968 are ineffective, but I have it in mind to strengthen them when a suitable legislative opportunity occurs, in ways which would affect the purchase and possession of certain firearms.

Armed Robberies

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many armed robberies of business property in transit in an armoured vehicle in the Metropolitan Police district have taken place since 1st January.

Such figures for part of a year could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Rhodesia

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications from people living in Rhodesia are currently awaiting a decision in his Department as to whether or not the applicants can enter the United Kingdom; and how many of these have been awaiting a decision for more than three months.

On 2nd November, 17 Rhodesian citizens who had been refused leave to enter the United Kingdom were awaiting, while temporarily admitted, the outcome of their representations to the Home Office against refusal. Of those, two have been here for more than three months. The granting of concessionary passport facilities and, in the first instance, applications for entry clearance are matters for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. A few applications for entry clearance from people living in Rhodesia are referred to the Home Office, but they are generally dealt with well within three months.

Certificates Of Unruliness

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many certificates of unruliness were issued by the courts in respect of girls between the ages of 14 and 17 years in the most recent convenient 12-month period.

During the 12-month period October 1977 to September 1978 a total of 132 certificates of unruliness were issued in respect of girls; 53 related to 15 year olds and 79 to 16 year olds. The reception of 14 year old girls into prison on remand was prohibited by the Children and Young Persons Act 1969 (Transitional Modifications of Part I) Order 1977 which came into operation on 15th March 1977.

Elections (Ballot Papers)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he proposes to issue guidance to presiding officers as to the manner in which the condition specified in the Representation of the People Act 1948, third schedule, part III, paragraph 5(1) and (3) is to be complied with in the case of persons ignorant of both English and Welsh.

I shall be considering the need for guidance to presiding officers about the statutory questions that may be put to a voter before he is provided with a ballot paper.

Strangeways Prison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will ensure the representation of the Manchester trades council on the prison visitors boards of Her Majesty's Prison, Strangeways.

Membership of boards of visitors must include people with a wide spread of experience and background. Each member is, however, appointed on merit and not as the representative of any organisation. It would not, therefore, be appropriate to appoint a person as a representative of the Manchester trades council as such but any nominations from that trades council will be carefully considered alongside other names put forward.

Open Government

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now take the opportunity to correct the information given in answer to the hon. Member for Ormskirk on 1st August 1978, column 203.

I have no reason to believe that the information given to my hon. Friend was incorrect.

Status Of Refugees

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is proposed to give legislative authority for the enforcement in the United Kingdom of the provisions of the convention relating to the status of refugees 1951, and the protocol to the convention 1967.

I have no proposal for legislation in this field at present: but I am considering suggestions put to me on the matter by the representative in the United Kingdom of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

Official Secrets Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will lay down guidelines to be observed pending the amendment of the Official Secrets Act.

If my hon. Friend has in mind guidelines relating to the institution of proceedings under the Act, that is a matter within the discretion of my right hon. and learned Friend the Attorney-General.

Motoring Convictions (Insurance)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many convictions for driving a vehicle without proper insurance cover there were in each of the past five years.

The number of convictions in England and Wales for using a motor vehicle uninsured against third party risks is published annually in "Offences relating to motor vehicles"—table 8 of the volume for 1976. The volume for 1977 will be published when the present industrial dispute at Her Majesty's Stationery Office is over.

Standards Of Conduct In Public Life

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement outlining progress in the consultations with bodies affected by the recommendations of the Royal commission on standards of conduct in public life, Cmnd. 6524, to which he referred in his answer of 16th May 1977 to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr.

The process of consultation is now nearly complete. Its results are being studied by my right hon. Friends who have responsibility for the various aspects of the Royal Commission's report. On matters which can be dealt with separately in advance of legislation, action has been or will be taken as decisions are reached. On police procedures for handling allegations of corruption, for example, I announced new arrangements in reply to a Question by my hon. Friend the Member for Norwich, South (Mr. Garrett) on 25th May this year.—[Vol. 950, c. 664.] But consideration of the Royal Commission's report as a whole, and of its recommendations for amendment of the law, is a major task, and it will be some time yet before a comprehensive statement of the Government's conclusions can be made.

Civil Service

Personal Data Bases

84.

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what plans he has to ensure that there is no centralisation or cross-departmental amalgamation of the various personal data bases now being created by individual Government Departments and other public bodies.

As was made clear in the supplement to the 1975 White Paper, "Computers: Safeguards for Privacy" (Cmnd. 6354), the Government have no intention of allowing the computer systems under their control to be linked together to produce a centralised or amalgamated data base. Limited transfers of personal information take place between Government Departments and other public bodies for specific and well-defined purposes. These transfers were listed in the 1975 White Paper supplement, and an updated list will be published shortly with the report of the Data Protection committee.

Pay Research Unit

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what research relating to comparability of pay of the Civil Service and of different groups in the private sector has been carried out in 1978 by the Pay Research Unit; and upon what date a report on such research will be published.

The terms of reference for the director of the Pay Research Unit, including the research to be undertaken, are set out in the 1977 Civil Service pay agreement, a copy of which has been placed in the Library of the House. The survey reports of the Pay Research Unit are confidential to the negotiating parties, but the Pay Research Unit board will publish its first annual report on the work of the unit in due course.

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will give an assurance that the findings of the independent Civil Service Pay Research Unit will be implemented in full by Her Majesty's Government as from 1st April 1979.

The findings of the Pay Research Unit will provide a basis for negotiations leading to a settlement for the non-industrial Civil Service from 1st April 1979. It is too early to consider what form the settlement will take and no assurances can be given at this stage.

House Of Commons

Members (Severance Pay)

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will take immediate steps to rectify the anomaly whereby if an hon. Member has decided not to contest the next General Election, and has given notice to his party to that effect, he will receive no severance pay at all, but if he decides to stand in another constituency, he will receive three months salary in the form of severance pay; and if he will restrict this right to hon. Members who have served a minimum of five years, and given an undertaking that they do not intend to seek re-election to the House at any future General Election.

As my hon. Friend knows, the general issue of severance pay is being looked at by the Review Body on Top Salaries. I intend to await the Review Body's recommendation before proposing any changes.

Scotland

Rating Revaluation (Argyll)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many representations he has now received from Argyll regarding the recent revaluation.

School Milk

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will make a statement on the provision of free

Regional and Island AuthoritiesNumber of Teachers
1974*197519761977
PrimarySecondaryPrimarySecondaryPrimarySecondaryPrimarySecondary
Central211
Grampian1122
Highland20943471858218520
Western Isles142271442715431
Lothian111
Strathclyde18917919121930
Tayside214131
* The 1974 figures are based on groupings of the education authorities which were in existence prior to local government reorganisation.
Information for September 1978 is not yet available.

school milk from EEC funds, and, in particular, on the age range covered by the arrangements and on the financing arrangements;

(2) if he has issued guidance to local authorities on whether the free school milk being provided from EEC funds should be supplied to grant-aided and independent schools; and if he will make a statement.

The Community offers a subsidy of 4·83p per pint on all milk supplied free, or at a reduced charge, to all children in school up to a limit of 0·4 pint per child daily, provided that the member State makes a contribution of at least half of the EEC subsidy. Under these arrangements free milk is now available to all pupils in public primary and special schools in Scotland. In the current financial year the total expenditure, net of EEC subsidy, incurred by the education authorties as a result of the extension of free school milk to primary pupils not previously eligible will be met by the Government. In future financial years the expenditure will be reckonable for rate support grant in the ordinary way. Some local authorities supply free milk to pupils in fee-paying schools, but I have given no guidance to them on this subject.

Teachers Of Gaelic

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many teachers of Gaelic have been employed by each region and island authority in Scotland in each year since 1974.

The numbers of teachers giving tuition in Gaelic language and literature in education authority schools at September 1974, 1975, 1976 and 1977 were as follows:

School Children (Free Bus Travel)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what guidance he has given to local authorities on the determination of the area beyond which pupils are eligible for free bus travel to and from school.

Energy

Council Of Ministers

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the meeting of the EEC Council of Ministers (Energy) on 30th October.

The Council of Ministers (Energy) had a general discussion on the international energy relations of the Community with particular reference to co-operation with developing countries and on the energy situation in the Community. It also considered three specific proposals.The Council invited the Commission to draw up, in consultation with interested developing countries, inventories of their energy requirements, resources and instruments and to submit the results of these and other studies to a later meeting of the Council. It was made clear that the Commission should not duplicate the work of other international organisations in this field and that their studies should not be confined to countries which had signed the Lomé Convention. No funds beyond those already programmed will at this stage be made available for this work. In the general discussion of external relations I emphasised that there could be no restrictions on the freedom of member States to engage in their own international energy discussions, and indeed that bilateral contacts by them were to be encouraged.The general discussion of the Community energy situation showed wide agreement that the main contributions to achieving Community objectives in the energy field must come from the national programmes of member States, but that there was scope for some Community action to fill gaps in those programmes provided it was undertaken in a way which did not undermine the interests of member States. I endorsed this general approach whilst sounding a warning against any extensions of competence by the Commission and emphasising that the development of energy policy was primarily a matter for member Governments, co-ordinated through the Council.The Council approved a further round of projects under the scheme for Community projects in the hydrocarbon sector. United Kingdom companies should receive 31 per cent. of the funds of 39 meua allocated to these projects. The Council also approved a resolution taking note of the Commission's intention to organise an exchange of information on the problems of siting power stations in a group of representatives nominated by the member States. A reference in this resolution to Commission proposals for Community action in this field was deleted, without prejudice to the Commission's normal rights to put forward such proposals and the rights of member States to form their own views on them.The Council discussed the proposals that an expert working group should be set up to consider whether there were any projects to explore for hydrocarbons at great depth which might merit Community support. The United Kingdom doubts if such a scheme would be useful because the hydrocarbon industries are likely to develop economic projects. It is not our current intention to put forward projects in the United Kingdom or any areas where the United Kingdom regulates exploration. Nevertheless, we were ready to co-operate in the proposed working party provided it was made clear that its establishment was not a first step towards the extension of Community competence in hydrocarbon resources.I moved an amendment to the proposed terms of reference for the working party, so that the first paragraph would read as follows:

"to carry out a stocktaking of those objects of hydrocarbon exploration already put forward to the Council or which member States wish to put forward in respect of areas where they regulate exploration, on the clear understanding that the appointment of this working party does not involve the acceptance by the Council of any extension whatsoever of the competence—if any—of the Community as exercised by the Council or the Commission, in the exploration, development, depletion or utilisation or any other aspect of the control of the hydrocarbon resources areas where member States presently enjoy the responsibility for regulating these matters".

Although it was argued that there was no intention to extend Community competence in hydrocarbon resources, the Council was not able to reach agreement on my words which made the position clear beyond doubt. The question has, therefore, been referred back to the Committee of Permanent Representatives and our ambassador is awaiting instructions from the Government on this important issue.

Turbine Generators

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will take action to ensure that the Central Electricity Generating Board's contract for new turbine generators will be allocated so as to prevent the demise of the turbine generator industry in Trafford Park, Manchester.

The Government are concerned about the problems facing the power plant industry and are reviewing the position with the electricity supply industry. The placing of contracts is, however, a matter for the CEGB.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Saudi Arabia (Detained British Subjects)

81.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he can arrange for legal aid to be given to Mr. Ken Bottoms, a bosun from Dagenham, and other seamen imprisoned in Saudi Arabia.

Where, as in Saudi Arabia there are no local legal aid facilities, my right hon. Friend is prepared to consider the advance of public funds to meet essential legal costs where the detainees cannot do so out of their own resources and where funds are not available from any other private source such as relatives, friends, employers or charitable organisations. No request for legal aid has been received from Mr. Bottoms and the other imprisoned seamen. If they so wish, they may make such a request through the British consul. The decision on whether funds should be advanced would be influenced by such factors as the gravity of the possible sentence and the likelihood that the availability of legal advice would significantly affect the outcome of the trial. The detainees would be required to undertake to repay any public funds advanced.

Namibia

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what action is being taken by Her Majesty's Government to avoid delays to free elections in Namibia; and if he will make a statement.

The Government are concerned that free and fair elections as caled for under Security Council resolution 385 should take place as soon as possible. The South African Government have agreed that the Secretary-General's special representative should visit Namibia to discuss the modalities and to fix a date for elections under United Nations supervision. We are actively seeking the agreement of all concerned to this visit.

National Finance

Trustee Savings Banks (Commercial Lending)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his policy with respect to commercial lending by trustee savings banks.

Trustee savings banks are now in a transitional stage, during which they are moving towards the status recommended for them by the Page committee. During the transitional period their internal organisation is being strengthened, and their range of services is being expanded. The intention is that at the end of the period the banks would compete on equal terms with the commercial banks and other financial institutions.The Page report suggested that in the early stages of the transitional period at least the banks should not seek to attract commercial accounts, and this recommendation was reflected in the statement by the then Paymaster General in the Second Reading debate on the 1976 Bill when he said that it was not the intention that the banks should make loans to the corporate sector.—[Vol. 905, c. 1209.] It was thought that such loans could involve the banks in risks which their existing expertise could not easily cope with.However, the Page committe accepted that the line between purely private accounts and accounts for small businesses might not be easy to draw, that there might be mutual advantage to the bank and customer in allowing the banks to undertake such business, and that no hard and fast lines should be drawn which would exclude them from profitable business in this area.The banks are now making good progress in strengthening their expertise and developing their services. They have proposed, and the Government have agreed, that they should now undertake a pilot scheme for small-scale commercial lending. Lending would be concentrated on small businesses—sole traders, the self-employed, partnerships and private companies—in the main run by or partly owned by existing customers. The

October 1977November 1977December 1977January 1978February 1978March 1978
Belgium6·56·56·35·85·45·8
Denmark13·112·412·212·613·112·2
France9·59·19·09·29·29·2
Germany3·83·73·53·23·13·1
Ireland10·88·2
Italy16·415·014·114·513·012·3
Luxemburg5·45·34·33·83·33·2
Netherlands5·45·55·45·24·74·6
United Kingdom14·113·012·19·99·59·1
EEC (total)9·99·99·58·68·48·2
Austria5·04·44·24·03·83·8
Switzerland1·61·31·11·01·11·3
Norway9·69·29·19·39·18·5
Sweden12·012·513·014·013·912·9
Japan7·56·24·84·34·24·5
USA6·46·76·86·66·36·5
April 1978May 1978June 1978July 1978August 1978September 1978
Belgium5·34·43·74·04·1
Denmark11·510·810·510·19·5
France9·09·09·09·39·4
Germany2·92·72·42·62·4
Ireland6·28·2
Italy12·211·912·212·1
Luxemburg3·12·92·72·42·8
Netherlands3·63·53·44·14·2
United Kingdom7·97·77·47·88·07·8
EEC (total)7·77·57·47·77·1
Austria3·93·83·23·03·6
Switzerland1·41·61·11·11·2
Norway8·27·77·27·37·6
Sweden12·211·59·18·68·3
Japan3·93·53·54·14·2
USA6·57·07·37·77·9

Source: OECD Main Economic Indicators.

— Not available.

maximum loan would be £25,000. The results of the pilot scheme will be reviewed with the Government before a decision is taken on whether to extend the scheme.

Inflation

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what has been the rate of inflation for each of the last 12 months in the nine EEC countries and Austria, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden, Japan and the United States of America;(2) what has been the rate of inflation for each of the last 12 months in the United Kingdom and the eight other EEC countries.

The information is as follows:

Percentage increase in consumer prices in year to:

Overpaid Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he estimates to be the amount of overpaid tax currently due to taxpayers and awaiting repayment.

National Savings Bank

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has given consideration to plans to alter the structure of the National Savings Bank, in particular, to a merger with the National Giro; and if he will make a statement.

Proposals for a merger have been examined. There are a number of complex issues arising out of this subject and the possibilities are still being studied.

Settling-In Allowance

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give consideration to a system of special and individual application to the Treasury for an increase in the amount that can be taken out of the United Kingdom as settling-in allowance, by persons emigrating from the United Kingdom, who are over 55 years of age, and thus ineligible for normal mortgage arrangements in the country to which they are emigrating.

Such a system could not be worked without disproportionate administrative cost. The permitted transfer of sterling assets upon emigration was increased to £40,000 per family unit from 27th October 1977 and, for emigration to other EEC countries, to £80,000 from 1st January 1978.

Premium Bonds

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he has decided to discontinue £1,000 prizes in the weekly premium bond draw; and what steps he takes to ensure a proper balance between large, but restricted, prizes and smaller but more frequent ones.

Experience of operating the premium savings bond scheme for 22 years shows that it is the larger prizes which attract new investment and thereby increase the total size of the prize fund. The recently announced change in prize structure has resulted in the highest sales for one month since the bonds first came on sale in 1956.For the draws in November 1978 there are 120,583 prizes of which 120,521 are smaller prizes—£25 to £1,000—and only 62 are large prizes. As the total investment in premium savings bonds rises, the number of smaller prizes increases each month and therefore the withdrawal of the 25 £1,000 weekly prizes from January 1979 and the introduction of one weekly £75,000 prize will not upset the present balance.

North Sea Oil

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what benefit to the balance of payments from North Sea oil is expected in the current year.

Estimates of the direct contribution of North Sea oil and gas to the United Kingdom balance of payments were published in the Treasury's Economic Progress Report for October 1978. The contribution in 1978 of oil and gas valued at the price of the nearest comparable imported fuel was estimated to be as follows:

£ billion 1977 prices
Oil and gas sold5·0
Less
Imports of goods and services directly for the progamme1·1
Less
Interest, profits and dividends due overseas0·8
Net contribution to the current account3·2
Net effect on capital account1·1
Net effect on balance for official financing4·3

Note: Components do not add to total because they have been rounded separately.

Money Supply

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how the United Kingdom figure for the increase in the real money supply, after taking account of increases in gross domestic product, so far in the current year compares with the corresponding figures for Japan and West Germany.

£ Sterling

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what percentages the £ sterling has appreciated or depreciated in real terms, after taking account of differential inflation rates, against the dollar, mark, yen, French franc and lira.

Contingency Reserve

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the contingency reserve for the current financial year has now been allocated; to which Departments and for what purposes; and how much of it remains to be allocated.

The last public expenditure White Paper—Cmnd. 7049—included provision for a contingency reserve in the current year of £750 million at 1977 survey prices—£815 million at 1978 survey prices. The main allocations from the reserve have been:

£ million at 1978 survey prices
Employment measures156
Measures announced in the Budget396
Christmas bonus and winter fuel scheme141
After allowing for these and other smaller allocations, the amount remaining in the reserve is around £50 million. Details of announced changes in expenditure are set out in returns sent regularly to the Expenditure Committee. I refer my hon. Friend to HC92-ii and 92-iii of Session 1977–78.

Manufacturing (Competitiveness And Terms Of Trade)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest figures for the index of competitiveness and the terms of trade for manufacturers.

Productivity

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the percentage increase in national productivity, defined as output per person employed over the economy as a whole, between 1973 and 1977, and for each of the six previous four-year periods, viz. 1969–73, 1965–69, 1961–65, 1957–61, 1953–57 and 1949–53; and if he will provide similar figures relating to productivity in manufacturing industry alone.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 58], gave the following reply:The table below shows percentage increases in output per person employed over the whole economy and in manufacturing industries. Such data as are available for the earliest period for manufacturing industries only permits calculation of the increase from 1950, and a similar calculation is shown for the whole economy for purposes of comparison.

OUTPUT PER PERSON EMPLOYED: PERCENTAGE CHANGE;
Whole EconomyManufacturing Industries
1973–19771·4*1·4*
1969–197312·318·3
1965–196911·816·4
1961–196510·915·9
1957–19619·99·9
1953–19577·08·6
1950–19533·32·4
1949–19536·1
‥Not available.
* Provisional.
Output over the whole economy is measured by the output-based measure of gross domestic product at constant 1975 factor cost, and persons employed include employees in employment, self-employed persons—with or without employees—and Her Majesty's Forces. Output in manufacturing industries is measured by the index of manufacturing production, and persons employed include employees in employment and self-employed persons —with or without employees. Full-time and part-time workers are counted as full units in each of the employment series. The series of index numbers on which these percentages are based is subject to some breaks due to redefinitions particularly between 1958 and 1959.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average annual percentage increase (a) in total national productivity, defined as output per person employed over the economy as a whole, and (b) in productivity in manufacturing industry, between the first quarter of 1974 and the latest quarter for which the figures are available; and how this compares with the average long-term annual rates of increase over the past 10, 20 and 30 years respectively.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 57], gave the following information:Such comparisons as can be made from available data are shown below.

OUTPUT PER PERSON EMPLOYED: AVERAGE ANNUAL PERCENTAGE INCREASES
Whole EconomyManufacturing Industries
1974 1st quarter–1978 2nd quarter1·9*1·6*
1967–19772·02·9
1957–19772·22·9
1950–19772·02·6
1948–19772·1
‥Not available.
* Provisional.
Output over the whole economy is measured by the output-based measure of gross domestic product at constant 1975 factor cost, and persons employed include employees in employment, self-employed persons—with or without employees—and Her Majesty's Forces. Output in manufacturing industries is measured by the index of manufacturing production, and persons employed include employees in employment and self-employed persons—with or without employees. Full-time and part-time workers are counted as full units in each of the employment series. The series of index numbers on which these percentages are based is subject to some breaks due to redefinitions particularly between 1958 and 1959.

Money (Domestic Demand)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he considers to be the best independent indicator of the aggregate domestic demand for money; and if he will publish a table showing, for each of the past five financial years, the aggregate domestic demand for money, the aggregate domestic supply of money, the difference between these two aggregates and the percentage increase in each of these two aggregates.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th November 1978; Vol. 957, c. 58], gave the following information:

My right hon. Friend considers that the Government's monetary objectives can best be quantified by specifying a target range for the rate of growth of the sterling M3 measure of the money stock. But no one indicator can give a full account of the monetary situation and he also takes account of the development of other indicators, including the expansion of domestic credit—DCE.

The growth of the money stock is influenced by a number of factors, some operating from the supply side and others from the demand side. The published figures for money stock reflect the interaction between these demand and supply factors. There are, therefore, no separate series for the demand and supply of money.

Capital Transfer Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the published practice of the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in regard to interests in possession for the purposes of capital transfer tax has been altered in the light of the decision in Pearson v. Commissioners of the Inland Revenue.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 6th November 1978], gave the following information:The Inland Revenue is considering the implications of this decision.

Industry

Microprocessors (Acard Reports)

83.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when the reports of the three Advisory Council on Applied Research and Development (ACARD) committees on microprocessors will be completed and available for public distribution.

The report of the first ACARD working group, on the applications of semi-conductor technology, was published on 18th September. The second working group's report, on industrial innovation, has been presented to Ministers. It will be published in the next few weeks. The report of the third working group, on the social and employment conseqences of microprocessor technology, is not expected to be completed until next year.

Joint European Transport Aircraft

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the assistance given by his Department to the joint European transport aircraft studies and the view of his Department as to the future of this project.

It is for British Aerospace to assess the commercial prospects of new civil aircraft projects. My right hon. Friend has received no request for assistance, or other proposals, from British Aerospace regarding the Joint European Transport.

Regional Aid

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is his estimate of the cost of granting the same regional aid to laundry and dry cleaning plants as that enjoyed by manufacturing industry in the assisted areas; and if he will make a statement.

I regret that the information available does not permit any such estimate.

Former Departmental Employees (Confidential Information)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give an assurance that former employees of his Department are not encouraged to jeopardise British technological developments by selling their expertise, gained during confidential work in his Department, to foreign competitors, in the light of a case notified to him by the hon. Member for Christchurch and Lymington; and if he will make a statement.

Former employees are not so encouraged. In the case notified to my right hon. Friend by the hon. Member the information concerned was not confidential, being freely available

1975197619771978 (January—September)
Gloucestershire1191255560
South West England (excluding Gloucestershire)341279198150
TOTAL SOUTH WEST OF ENGLAND460404253210

from Warren Spring laboratory to anyone who inquired.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Badgers

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many badger sets have been gassed in each of the counties of the South-West region.

The information is as follows:

Avon547
Cornwall857
Devon475
Dorset264
Gloucestershire1,198
Wiltshire209
These figures relate to the period from the commencement of gassing in 1975 to 25th October 1978.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many badgers have been killed in the South-West region and in Gloucestershire in the campaign against bovine tuberculosis.

I regret that it is not possible to estimate these figures with any accuracy.

Bovine Tuberculosis

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many cattle have been identified as carrying bovine tuberculosis in Gloucestershire and the South-West region, respectively, in 1978, 1977, 1976 and 1975.

The following table gives the numbers of cattle which reacted to the tuberculin test and were found at postmortem examination to have lesions of tuberculosis:

Environment

Rating Appeals

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what percentage of appeals by ratepayers in England to local valuation courts for reductions of their rating assessments, during the years 1975, 1976 and 1977, respectively, were successful.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what plans he is considering for improvement in the present system of appeal against rating assessments in England by enabling aggrieved ratepayers to have speedier and cheaper access to the Lands Tribunal, wherever possible by way of written submissions, and, if necessary, abolishing local valuation courts.

We have no reason to believe that the present system of appeals against rating assessments needs improvement and we have no plans to abolish local valuation courts in England. On appeal from the local valuation courts, aggrieved ratepayers already have speedy and cheap access to the Lands Tribunal which is empowered to hear cases based on written submissions.

Footpath Orders

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he is carrying out a similar policy during the industrial dispute concerning the distribution of the London Gazette, with regard to advertising footpath orders, as is being carried out with respect to road proposals;(2) what is his view about the desirability of printing public path order notices in the

London Gazette during the period of failure of Her Majesty's Stationery Office to distribute the London Gazette to subscribers;

(3) if he will make a statement about the continued inclusion by Her Majesty's Stationery Office in the London Gazette of notices of pub