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Written Answers

Volume 958: debated on Monday 20 November 1978

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Written Answers To Questions>

Monday 20th Novermber 1978

House Of Commons

Oral Questions

asked the Lord President of the Council if he will list in the Official Report the days on which Welsh Oral Questions were taken during the 1977–78 parliamentary Session, and indicate the total time taken up by such sessions.

Welsh Oral Questions were taken on the following Mondays:

  • 21st November 1977
  • 9th January 1978
  • 16th January 1978
  • 20th February 1978
  • 3rd April 1978
  • 15th May 1978
  • 2th June 1978
  • 3rd July 1978
The approximate total time taken up was three hours, 20 minutes.

Home Department

Departmental Houses (Insulation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what programme he has for providing insulation to the housing stock of his Department for those employed in the police service; and whether he will make a statement.

My Department provides housing only for certain police officers seconded to central service. Arrangements have been made to ensure that all such houses are insulated. Housing for members of police forces is provided by police authorities.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what programme he has for providing insulation to the housing stock of his Department for those employed in the fire service; and whether he will make a statement.

The insulation of houses at the fire service staff and technical colleges which are occupied by fire service officers is a matter for the Property Services Agency. The provision of houses for members of fire brigades, where appropriate, together with their insulation, is a matter for the fire authority concerned.

St Albans (Electoral Arrangements)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what date he received the final report from the Local Government Boundary Commission for England on its proposals for future electoral arrangements for the district of St. Albans; and on what date he proposes to make the necessary order under section 51(2) of the Local Government Act 1972 giving effect to the changes involved.

The Local Government Boundary Commission for England submitted its report with final proposals for new electoral arrangements for the City of St. Albans on 4th November 1977. This was one of a number of reports on which I deferred action until the Commission's appeal against the High Court's judgment in a case brought by the London borough of Enfield had been heard. I have now resumed consideration of these reports, but I cannot at present say when an order providing new electoral arrangements for the city of St. Albans will be made.

Mentally Abnormal Offenders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mentally abnormal offenders are in (a) prisons and (b) other prison Department establishments; if he will list the number at each location; and how many were unsentenced.

On 30th June 1978, the latest date for which figures are available, there were 581 persons held in prison department establishments who were considered by prison medical officers to be suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree warranting their detention in hospital for medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1959. Of these 377 were serving a sentence.A breakdown of the figures, by category and by establishment, is given in the following table:

INMATES CONSIDERED TO BE SUFFERING FROM MENTAL DISORDER WITHIN THE MEANING OF THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT 1959 IN CUSTODY ON 30TH JUNE 1978

Sentenced

Unsentenced

Total (including Non-Criminal)

Establishments

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

MALES—
Remand centres—
Ashford415415
Risley1111131214
Winchester1111112
112522963211
Local prisons—
Bedford1121143115
Birmingham221621818220
Bristol1111
Brixton55555555
Canterbury2135167119
Cardiff11133144127
Dorchester2222
Durham1124112125
Exeter9161691616
Gloucester223355
Leeds115566
Leicester1166617
Lewes314314
Liverpool617617
Manchester4444
Norwich2222
Oxford12362816631019
Pentonville11138*8*9*1111*
Swansea3227223429
Wandsworth143174418321
Winchester1110101111
Wormwood Scrubs1011110111
59101887131*811150*190*1829237*

Sentenced

Unsentenced

Total (including Non-Criminal)

Establishments

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

Adult closed training prisons—
Albany8223082230
Blundeston21142114
Camp Hill314314
Coldingley1111
Dartmoor549549
Featherstone1111
Gartree734353734353
Kingston (Portsmouth)6666
Long Lartin1111
Maidstone718718
Parkhurst264571264571
Reading1111
Stafford21252125
Wakefield173653173653
77131572477713157247
YP closed training prisons—
Aylesbury729729
Exeter1111
Onley1111
Swinfen Hall213213
101314101314
Adult open training prison Ashwell1111
Closed borstals—
Feltham358358
Rochester1111
459459

Sentenced

Unsentenced

Total (including Non-Criminal)

Establishments

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

M

SS

S

P

Total

FEMALES—
Remand centres—
Pucklechurch226398311
Risley11415516
33101314131317
Closed prisons—
Durham13371337
Holloway11125152143116131636
Styal2222
414514152143119161945
Total (male)15225183360136*1013159*288*35196519*
Total (female)714517253174532172262
Total (male and female)159129188377161*1330204*320*142218581*

* Includes four Non-Criminal mental cases.

Category of Mental Disorder—
M—Mental Illness.
SS—Severe Subnormality.
S—Subnormality.
P—Psychopathic Disorder.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many mentally abnormal prisoners are currently awaiting transfer to NHS hospitals; and how long they have been waiting.

The cases of five prisoners, reported to be suffering from mental disorder warranting their detention in hospital for treatment, are currently unresolved following approaches to the relevant regional health authority. The approach was made in July 1978 in two cases, and in September 1978 in three cases. Hospitals have agreed to admit two further prisoners, once a bed is available, following approaches made to them in June.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that mentally abnormal persons should have to be in prison.

We are concerned about those cases where a prisoner is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree warranting detention in hospital for medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1959, but where my right hon. Friend cannot make an order directing transfer to hospital because a suitable hospital place cannot be found. The majority of mentally abnormal prisoners are not mentally disordered to this degree and it is for the courts when passing sentence on such persons to decide whether imprisonment or some other penalty or order is appropriate.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he remains satisfied that mentally abnormal offenders are adequately cared for in prison.

Prison medical officers and other prison staff care for mentally abnormal offenders to the best of their ability within the resources and powers available to them. But where the offender is suffering from mental disorder of a nature or degree warranting detention in hospital for medical treatment under the Mental Health Act 1959 it is clearly desirable that he should be in a suitable hospital rather than cared for under the constraints imposed by the prison environment.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will give a full account of the steps he has taken to transfer mentally abnormal prisoners to NHS hospitals and the difficulties he has encountered;(2) if he will list those hospitals that have refused to take mentally abnormal prisoners.

When it is decided to seek the transfer to an NHS hospital under section 72 of the Mental Health Act 1959, of a sentenced prisoner reported to be suffering from a mental disorder warranting detention in a hospital for medical treatment, the health authority for the prisoner's home area is sent details of the case and asked to make a bed available in a suitable hospital.I am not aware of any NHS hospitals which have refused to take mentally disordered prisoners in principle. In those instances where the health authority has not felt able to accept the prisoner the grounds for refusal are often that the available resources are insufficient to cater for the particular case. The general problem is the subject of continuing discussion between the Home Office and the Department of Health and Social Security.

Certificates Of Unruliness

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the prison establishments in which the 132 girls in respect of whom certificates of unruliness were issued between October 1977 and September 1978 were accommodated, showing how many were held in each establishment.

The 132 certificates of unruliness issued between October 1977 and September 1978 were in respect of 101 girls; 24 girls were remanded on more than one occasion. The girls were received into the following establishments:

Holloway prison45
Risley remand centre42
Low Newton remand centre7
Pucklechurch remand centre7

National Remembrance Ceremony (War Widows' Association)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on whose authority the War Widows' Association of Great Britain was excluded from participation in the national ceremony of remembrance at the Cenotaph; and if he will ensure that steps are taken to ensure that this decision is reversed before 1979's ceremony of remembrance.

The War Widows' Association of Great Britain made no request to me to participate in the official ceremony at the Cenotaph. I shall, however, be considering, well in advance of next year's ceremony, whether it would be appropriate for any changes to be made in the traditional arrangements.

Metropolitan Police (Press Accreditation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will establish a working party to investigate procedures for accreditation of the press with the Metropolitan Police.

Naturalisation Applications

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, pursuant to his reply of 15th November concerning applications for naturalisation, the differences between the total numbers of applications received in each year and the sum of those granted and those refused, comprised those still pending, or withdrawn or other categories.

The process of naturalisation has always been a lengthy one and is now taking on average about 19 months. Consequently, many of the applications granted or refused in any one year will have been received in previous years; and the number of applications granted and refused in any one year thus bears little relation to the number received in that year.Some applications are withdrawn, as the hon. Member suggests, and consideration of others is postponed.

Rhodesian British Passport Holders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons in possession of a British passport who previously lived in Rhodesia have taken up residence in the United Kingdom in each of the last five years for which this information is available.

Richard Milhouse Nixon

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will prohibit the entry into the United Kingdom of Richard Milhouse Nixon as an undesirable alien, in the light of the criminal activities revealed in the Watergate affair.

Television Licences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action his Department took to ensure that the information conveyed to social services departments in connection with television licence concessions changes was passed on to district council housing departments; and whether any specific requests to do so were made in the relevant correspondence.

No specific request was made to directors of social services to notify district council housing departments about the changes in the arrangements for the old persons' home licence announced on 6th April. Social Services departments have an overall responsibility for the welfare of the elderly in their areas and it was therefore within their discretion to decide to whom the necessary information should be passed.

Police Forces (Computers)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list in the Official Report the location in London of the computers on which the police maintain details of criminal records.

Criminal records are held by the police in London in manual form. A national index of these records is provided by the police national computer at Hendon. Limited information about crime and criminals is held on a computer maintained by the Metropolitan Police, but it would not be in the public interest to disclose its precise location.

Overseas Development

Ministerial Travel Expenses

asked the Minister of Overseas Development if she will table details of her expense accounts on overseas travel during her period of office.

I regret that this information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. When travelling overseas, I receive subsistence allowance at the same rate as senior civil servants and incidental expenses are reimbursed in accordance with the same rules.

Education And Science

Higher Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether adjustments will be made to the financial support for higher education to take full account of the first step towards the rectification of the university teachers' pay anomaly during the next financial year.

The universities' recurrent grant for the current academic year, which spans the financial years 1978–79 and 1979–80, includes provision for pay increases for all university staff. The need for an adjustment to the grant to take account of the rectification of the university teachers' pay anomaly will be considered in the light of the level of actual pay settlements as well as the movement of prices generally.

Professional Association Of Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why she has not made provision for the Professional Association of Teachers to be represented on the Burnham Committee.

The reasons are given in the answer I gave on 6th November 1978 to a Question from the hon. and gallant Member for Winchester (Rear-Admiral Morgan-Giles).—[Vol. 957, c. 52.]

Polytechnics (Technicians' Pay Scales)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will list in the Official Report the current pay scales for each grade of technicians employed in polytechnics.

The current scales for technicians employed in polytechnics, which came into effect from 1st July 1978, are as follows:

£
Grade 11,821
1,935
2,088
2,205
2,355
2,556
2,652
2,727
2,823
2,895
2,988
3,087
3,180
3,279
Grade 23,279
3,369
3,465
3,561
3,651
Grade 33,732
3,831
3,933
4,035
4,146
Grade 44,245
4,368
4,500
4,632
Grade 54,773
4,920
5,073

These figures include a supplement of £312 introduced in 1976 which has not been consolidated.

Research Establishments (Technicians' Pay Scales)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will list in the Official Report the current pay scales of technicians employed in Government research establishments which fall within the general responsibility of her Department.

The current pay scales for technicians in the Science Research Council, Natural Environment Research Council and Agricultural Research Council, which have operated since 1st April 1978 are:Professional and technology officer

£
Grade IV3,148
3,251
3,355
3,458
3,562
3,671
3,774
3,878
3,981
4,085
4,206
4,326

£
Grade III4,326
4,435
4,545
4,654
4,763
4,869
Grade II4,869
5,039
5,208
5,378
5,559
5,739
Grade I5,739
5,926
6,112
6,298
6,484
6,670
6,862
7,064

The current pay scales for technicians in the Medical Research Council, which have operated since 1st April 1978, are:

Junior technician A

£
1,905
2,037
2,247
2,427
2,604
2,775
2,829
2,904

Junior technician B

£
2,169
2,370
2,538
2,718
2,889
2,937
3,015
Technician
£
3,261A3;
3,366
3,471
3,582
3,696
3,813
3,930
4,047
4,167
4,293

Grade 1 A and B2,193— (51)—2,499
Grade 2 A2,364— (63)—2,616— (69)—2,685
Grade 2 B2,529— (69)—2,736— (72)—2,880
Grade 32,688— (72)—2,760— (75)—3,060
Grade 42,955— (87)—3,042— (90)—3,402
Grade 53,186— (99)—3,285—(108)—3,609—(111)—3,720
Grade 63,654—(111)—3,765—(I20)—4,365
Grade 74,254—(132)—4,782
Grade 8 (c)4,746—(138)—5,160
Grade 8 (b)5,085—(144)—5,517
Grade 8 (a)5,412—(156)—6,036

£
4,419
4,545
4,680

Senior technician

£
4,347
4,485
4,623
4,764
4,902
5,040
5,178
5,322
5,463
5,613
5,769

Chief technician

£
5,472
5,586
5,697
5,817
5,937
6,063
6,192

Senior chief technician

£
6,063
6,213
6,372
6,543
6,723
6,909
7,098
7,311

Principal technician

£
7,311
7,671
8,055

University Technicians (Pay Scales)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if she will list in the Official Report the current pay scales for each grade of university technician.

The current national pay scales for university technicians, which have operated since 1st October 1977 are as follows—expressed in £ annually, with increments in parentheses:

Independent Schools (Maintained Places)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which local authorities bought places at independent schools and paid for pupils to attend them during 1977–78 and 1978–79; how many students were involved; and what were the costs of providing such schooling to local authorities.

Using their powers under the Education Acts, local education authorities supported a total of 21,346 non-handicapped pupils and 7,362 handicapped pupils at independent schools in the academic year 1977–78. Corresponding figures for 1978–79 are not yet available. Information as to the costs for independent school placements alone are not readily available. However, for all non-maintained schools, including former direct grant schools and non-maintained special schools, the total number of students was 74,888 and according to provisional outturn figures, the expenditure by local education authorities in the financial year 1977–78 on the support of pupils in all such non-maintained schools was at November 1977 prices £41·7 million for non-handicapped pupils, of which approximately £18·5 million was for pupils in former direct grant schools, and £47·5 million for handicapped pupils. The number of pupils supported by each local education authority was as follows:

Number of pupils
Local education authorityNon-handicappedHandicapped
GREATER LONDON
Barking459
Barnet185120
Bexley11028
Brent512104
Bromley51283
Croydon639115
Ealing16979
Enfield15562
Haringey21131
Harrow24173
Havering2326
Hillingdon15148
Hounslow9673
Kingston27767
Merton6126
Newham4030
Redbridge4769
Richmond66069
Sutton8174
Waltham Forest217
ILEA177291

Number of pupils

Local education authority

Non-handicapped

Handicapped

Birmingham8926
Coventry2014
Dudley428
Sandwell79
Solihull12126
Walsall159
Wolverhampton269
MERSEYSIDE
Knowsley12
Liverpool1011
St. Helens2924
Sefton4144
Wirral36384
GREATER MANCHESTER
Bolton2851
Bury1422
Manchester12665
Oldham2227
Rochdale4916
Salford386
Stockport572
Tameside6135
Trafford93512
Wigan238
SOUTH YORKSHIRE
Barnsley5
Doncaster115
Rotherham5
Sheffield323
WEST YORKSHIRE
Bradford1748
Calderdale510
Kirklees514
Leeds5274
Wakefield312
TYNE AND WEAR
Gateshead12415
Newcastle31530
North Tyneside282
South Tyneside69
Sunderland3
Isles of Scilly3
Avon237236
Bedfordshire303118
Berkshire1,163236
Buckinghamshire106152
Cambridgeshire13994
Cheshire2,71243
Cleveland4340
Cornwall3152
Cumbria5556
Derbyshire29132
Devon133272
Dorset662230
Durham3714
East Sussex233236
Essex239187
Gloucestershire460129
Hampshire1,267469
Hereford and Worcester310112
Hertfordshire423245
Humberside71101
Isle of Wight1216
Kent890339

Number of pupils

Local education authority

Non-handicapped

Handicapped

Lancashire566183
Leicestershire8472
Lincolnshire5049
Norfolk32034
North Yorkshire21920
Northamptonshire1439
Northumberland3712
Nottinghamshire16977
Oxfordshire316168
Salop43
Somerset688107
Staffordshire7991
Suffolk44677
Surrey559246
Warwickshire33692
West Sussex65105
Wiltshire212169
TOTAL ENGLAND21,3467,362

Overseas Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is her policy towards the total number of overseas students by 1980–81; how this target relates to the total in 1975–76; and if she will make a statement.

As indicated in the public expenditure White Paper of January 1978 Cmnd. 7049. Volume II, Page 78—the Government's present policy is to reduce the total number of overseas students from 1978–79 onwards to 67,000 by 1980–81. This compares with a total of 75,000 in 1975–76.

Prices And Consumer Protection

Director General Of Fair Trading

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection when he plans next to meet the Director General of Fair Trading.

I have no plans to meet the Director General in the immediate future, but Ministers and officials are regularly in contact with the Director and his staff.

Inflation

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is the six-month rate of inflation, excluding seasonal foods.

The six month rate of inflation as measured by the retail price index excluding seasonal foods fell from 4·7 per cent. in September to 3·8 per cent. in October.

British Railways (Fares)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will state the reason for his reference of British Railways application for a rail fare increase to the Price Commission.

Responsibility for deciding whether or not to investigate particular price increases lies entirely with the Price Commission.

Essential Goods (Prices)

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether he will consider legislation to impose a six months' price freeze on certain essential goods.

No. A price freeze would prevent firms in both public and private sectors from recovering unavoidable cost increases, with damaging consequences for jobs and investment. Existing prices policy enables the Price Commission to consider whether specific price increases are justified and to make recommendations to me for restrictions, if appropriate.

Price Commission

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what consultations he has had with the Confederation of British Industry about new powers for the Price Commission.

I discussed with the CBI the Government's willingness to include in a joint Government/TUC statement proposals to strengthen the Price Commission, review the safeguard clauses and secure the maximum practicable interval between price increases.

Advertising

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he plans to introduce legislation on advertising.

I am already consulting the advertising industry, the Advertising Standards Authority and the National Consumer Council on the need to reinforce the voluntary regulation of advertising. I would welcome the views of other interested parties.

Nationalised Industries (Consumer Protection)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will seek to abolish the individual nationalised industry consumer protection bodies, in the light of the growth of general provision for consumer protection through such bodies as the National Consumer Council, the Scottish Consumer Council, the Welsh Consumer Council, the Office of Fair Trading and the Price Commission.

No. The Government's reasons for maintaining the individual nationalised industry consumer protection bodies were explained in paragraphs 30 and 33 of the White Paper—Cmnd. 7131—on the nationalised industries published earlier this year.

Television Rentals

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what consideration was given to the television industry's future investment programme when he recently arranged a standstill in television rentals from certain companies.

The connection between the television rental and manufacturing industries, and the investment plans of the latter, were considered in some detail in the Price Commission report on which my right hon. Friend's action was based. Against this background, the Price Commission advised that the rentals of a number of companies should not be increased before 1st April 1979 beyond the levels applying at 31st August 1978.These same issues were also discussed with the companies after the report was published. Following these discussions my right hon. Friend accepted voluntary assurances on levels of rental which fully reflected the advice of the Commission.

Motor Vehicles (Spare Parts)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what were the considerations leading to the reference of the prices of British-made spare parts for motor vehicles to the Price Commission.

The considerations which my right hon. Friend had in mind in making this reference included extensive public concern at the price of motor car spares and that running a car is a substantial and essential part of the budget of very many households.

Maize Starch, Glucose Syrup And Derived Products

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will make a statement on the price of maize starch, glucose syrup and derived products, in view of the Price Commission's report on this subject.

I have nothing to add to the Price Commission's report on CPC(UK) Ltd., which was published on 27th July and which recommended no restriction on the price increases sought.

Price Increases (Disallowed Applications)

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether, and on how many occasions, the Price Commission has disallowed a price increase because a productivity scheme has been found not to be self-financing.

The Price Commission assesses price increases in the light of the criteria in section 2 of the Price Commission Act 1977 and does not pay exclusive attention to any one consideration. But the commission regards productivity schemes, and the extent to which they are self-financing, as one of the matters which it takes into account when it considers factors which contribute to increased costs.

Conglomerate Companies (Takeover Bids)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what recent studies his Department has made of the activities of conglomerate companies which use large financial resources to take over companies whose business is unrelated to their own and in fields where they have no technical expertise.

An interdepartmental group of senior officials has reviewed this issue amongst others as part of a wider study of monopolies and mergers policy. Their report which my right hon. Friend published as a Green Paper last May contained certain recommendations for strengthening control over the activities of conglomerate companies. But these recommendations are still the subject of consultation and do not represent current Government policy.

Animal Feedingstuffs

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether he will now announce the outcome of discussions with interested parties on the Price Commission report on prices, costs and margins in the production and distribution of compound feedingstuffs for cattle, pigs and poultry; and what action it is proposed to take to promote greater price competition, as recommended by the report.

Following discussions with interested parties my right hon. Friend announced his conclusions on 21st August. He indicated that the Director General of Fair Trading would take action against those suppliers shown by the Price Commission to be engaged in price co-ordination; and that the Commission's comments on loyalty discounts would be considered by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in the context of its current study of discounts in general. Other recommendations in the report, particularly in respect of labelling of ingredients, home mixing and independent test results, were all drawn to the attention of the industry, and any further action rests with them in the light of such additional discussion with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food as may be necessary.

Roof Repairs

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what steps he has taken to deter firms from extorting money from aged householders for unnecessary roof repairs, despite repeated fines.

Aged householders, and inexperienced consumers generally, would be wise to take advice before contracting for roof repairs.

The Director General of Fair Trading has the power to take action against a trader who persistently breaches his contractual obligations or the criminal law and is currently seeking assurances from two such firms.

I am keeping under review whether there are sufficient powers to deal with shortcomings in the service trades.

Royal Doulton Tableware Ltd

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what action he proposes to take in the light of the Price Commission's report on Royal Doulton Tableware Ltd.

The Price Commission did not recommend any price restrictions in this case, but suggested that the scale of gross margins in the retail distribution of tableware in the United Kingdom domestic market might be pursued by means of a sectoral examination. My right hon. Friend is considering this suggestion.

Minimum Lending Rate

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what effect he estimates the 2½ per cent. increase in minimum lending rate will have on the retail price index in the period up to the end of 1979.

Changes in the minimum lending rate have no direct effect on the RPI, but the recent increase in the mortgage rate will add about one half of one per cent. to the index for as long as it is in operation. On the other hand, a rise in interest rates was necessary to keep the growth of the money supply within the announced targets, which is essential if we are to keep inflation under control.

Food Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what discussions he has had with the Food and Drink Industries Council concerning the impact of the common agricultural policy upon British food prices; and if he will make a statement.

Although my right hon. Friend has not had any recent discussions with the FDIC on the CAP, my Department keeps itself informed of the views of the food industry, as well as consumers and farmers on the subject.

Electricity Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether, bearing in mind that many electricity prices are cheaper in the United States of America than in the United Kingdom, in spite of higher United States prime and labour costs and longer distances for distribution, he will now refer pricing policies of the British electricity supply industry to the Price Commission for investigation.

National Association Of Citizens Advice Bureaux Information Services

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what grants were made to the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux Information Service during each of the past four years; and if he will take necessary steps to ensure that further grants be given so that the National Association of Citizens Advice Bpreaux Information Services can continue to carry out its service to the public.

Specific grants are not given separately to the Information Service of the National Association of Citizens Advice Bureaux. Total grants given to the association during the past four years were as follows:

1974–75£377,000
1975–76£766,000
1976–77£1,193,000
1977–78£1,424,000
My Department expects to provide a total of £1·26 million in the present financial year. We have assured the National Association that our grant aid to it will continue at no less than its present level until March 1981. This should enable it to assist a limited number of new projects, notably in Scotland.We intend to undertake a review which would consider the funding and coverage of advice services. This will, among other things, provide a means of considering whether any changes are called for in present government policy towards the citizens advice bureaux service. The form of our support to this service beyond March 1981 will depend very much upon the outcome of this review which will take particular account of the findings of the Royal Commissions on legal services in England and Wales and in Scotland. The National Association's own proposals for its development, and the reports by the national and Scottish consumer councils on local advice services will also provide important inputs to this review.

Domestic Coal Consumers Council

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is the cost to public funds of the Domestic Coal Consumers Council; who are its members; what remuneration they are paid; and what steps are taken to draw the attention of the public to its existence.

The cost to public funds of the Domestic Coal Consumers' Council for the year 1977–78 was £35,000 The members of the committee are:

  • Mr. D. Tench, (Chairman).
  • Mrs. J. Upward.
  • Mr. C. Needham.
  • Mrs. M. Brown.
  • Mr. K. W. Nattrass.
  • Mr. D. Holdsworth.
  • Mr. W. Devlin.
  • Mr. R. G. Greening.
  • Mr. R. Parry.
  • Mrs. M. A. Bell.
  • Mrs. J. Saunders.
  • Mr. T. Nawaz.
  • Mr. M. Ward.
  • Mr. P. H. Clarke.
  • Mr. M. Winslow.
  • Mrs. Y. Neville.
  • Mr. P. Brewis.
  • Mr. E. Hayhurst.
  • Mrs. J. Knott.
  • Mrs. M. Ewan.
  • Mrs. F. J. Clark.
  • Mr. E. Lee, OBE.
  • Mrs. D. Saunderson.
  • Mrs. D. M. Sergeant.
No remuneration is paid to members of the committee, but travelling and subsistence costs are reimbursed. The Domestic Coal Consumers' Council does not deal directly with complaints but ensures that the means exists for dealing with them. The point of contact for a consumer who is not satisfied with the response of a coal merchant is the appropriate regional secretary of the Approved Coal Merchants Scheme. The DCCC does, however, comment upon policy issues affecting domestic coal consumers through the press and radio.

Central Transport Consultative Committee

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what is the cost to public funds of the Central Transport Consultative Committee; who are its members; what remuneration they are paid; and what steps are taken to draw the attention of the public to its existence.

The cost to public funds of the Central Transport Consultative Committee for the year 1977–78 was £51,000. The members of the committee are:

  • Mr. W. F. Higgins, (Chairman).
  • Mr. L. V. Pike, MBE, JP.
  • Mr. S. A. Campbell.
  • Mr. C. George, JP.
  • Mr. M. Kellner.
  • Dr. E. C. Midwinter.
  • Mr. P. J. Kenyon.
  • Mr. W. J. Price.
  • Mr. C. L. Ricketts.
  • Mr. M. D. D. Newitt.
  • Professor D. Wiggins.
  • Mr. T. Carbery.
  • Mr. J. C. H. Meakin.
  • Mrs. A. Munro, CBE.
  • Mr. B. S. Jeuda
  • Mr. J. Daly
  • Mr. M. Shapley.
  • Mrs. N. Bloom.
Members of the committee, other than the chairman, are not remunerated but do have their travel and subsistence costs reimbursed. The chairman is paid £1,375 per annum. The CTCC is a national body which concerns itself mainly with broad policy issues. It regularly issues press releases about its activities. Individual complaints are handled by the area transport users' consultative committees which are advertised at all railway stations.

Prices (Northern Ireland)

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection what progress he has made on his promise during his visit to Northern Ireland that he would be prepared to examine the reasons for the generally higher price levels that pertain in the Province.

I made it clear during my visit to Northern Ireland that, while recognising that there was genuine concern over the levels of prices there, I had reached no conclusions as to possible causes or solutions. The first task must be to establish the facts and I am considering with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland the scope for a study with this purpose.

Transport

Odiham (Public Inquiry)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is able to indicate when his consideration will be completed of the report to him by his' inspector following the local public inquiry into the proposals of Hampshire county council for a bypass of the village of Odiham in Hampshire.

British Railways (Financial Support)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the estimated level of financial support to British Railways in 1978–79; what proportion of operating costs this represents; and how these figures compare with 1973–74.

The financial support payable to the British Railways Board for the calendar year 1978 is estimated to be about £458 million, excluding pension funding. This represents about 28 per cent. of the estimated railway operating expenses. In the calendar year 1973 the support paid was £181 million—£385 million at 1978 prices—representing 26 per cent. of railway operating expenses.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with British Railways about the level of Government financial support in the context of the British Railways Board's application to the Price Commission for approval of fare increases; and if he will make a statement.

The chairman is aware of my views that fare increases should be consistent with the Government's policy on support to the passenger railway as set out in the White Paper on transport policy—Cmnd. 6836.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is his estimate of the increase in Government financial support which would be necessary to reduce the average rise in British Railways fares to 5 per cent. from the figure currently proposed for January 1979 and now under investigation by the Price Commission.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) what is his estimate of the effect on fare levels since 1973–74 of his policy of increasing the level of financial support to British Railways;(2) what is his estimate of the effect on British Railways' fare levels since 1973–74 of his policy of increasing the proportion of operating costs covered by Government financial support.

The fares increase since 1973 would undoubtedly have been higher and services would have been reduced but it is not possible to describe the precise outcome since many factors enter into the way the Railways Board achieve a balance between costs and revenues.

A17, Norfolk (Bypass)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he is now in a position to confirm the start date for the West Lynn/Clenchwarton/Terrington St. Clement/Walpole Cross Keys bypass on the A17; and if he will make a statement.

This scheme is still programmed to start in 1979–80. Draft orders were published in 1976, and there was considerable opposition to the proposed closure of some side roads. Further orders taking account of these and other representations will be published early in the new year.

Coach Operators (Temporary Licences)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will discuss with the traffic commissioners the granting of temporary licences to coach operators to run emergency bus services during rail disputes.

No. The traffic commissioners are statutorily independent bodies and I cannot intervene in such matters.

British Railways (Industrial Action)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the ASLEF unofficial action on the south-western division of the Southern Region of British Railways.

The action arises from disatisfaction with a recent decision of the Railway Staff National Tribunal to reject ASLEF's claim for payments to footplate staff in parallel with bonus payments for pay train guards for the extra duties of issuing and inspection of tickets. It is quite unjustified, damaging to the long-term prospects of British Railways and inexcusable in the inconvenience it is causing to the travelling public.I understand it is taking place against advice of the general secretary of ASLEF.

A57 Road (Worksop Bypass)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when the public inquiry into the A57 Worksop bypass was held; what has been the reason for the delay in announcing his decision; and when he expects to issue the findings.

The public inquiry was held between 9th and 18th May 1978. The inspector's report needs careful consideration and my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Transport and for the Environment will reach a decision as soon as possible.

Concessionary Travel Schemes (Grant)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport, in the light of the fact that it has been announced by Her Majesty's Government that concessionary travel schemes attract rate support grant at a rate of 61 per cent., why many local authorities are this year receiving a level of grant at a rate of 35 per cent.

Expenditure on concessionary fares is relevant for rate support grant. The Government currently finance 61 per cent. of local authorities' aggregate relevant expenditure but the grant is not earmarked for particular purposes. It is distributed according to each area's needs and resources and the proportion of grant to expenditure varies between authorities.

Motor Vehicle Mileages

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, on annual re-registration for MOT and third party insurance, he will include a record of the total mileage reached at the date of registration so that frauds induced by false speedometer readings may be obviated.

No. To do so would be expensive, would put motorists to extra trouble, and would be unlikely to he very effective.

A6 Bakewell-Buxton

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, in view of the recent spate of serious accidents on the A.6 road between Bakewell and Buxton, he will bring forward proposals to improve the road at that point.

The section of this road at Taddington Dale, where serious accidents have occurred recently, is at present being surveyed to see to what extent safety can be improved. In the meantime, additional road signs and markings are being provided on the approach from the north to make drivers more aware of the hazards.

Energy

Technology Support Group (Technicians' Pay Scales)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list in the Official Report the pay scales for each grade of technician employed by the Energy Technology Support Unit.

There are no technicians employed in the Energy Technology Support Unit. The unit provides management services, supported by desk studies, for the Department's programmes of research into renewable sources of energy and energy conservation technology, for which technician involvement is not appropriate.

European Coal And Steel Community

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the totals of loans and grants, respectively, to the United Kingdom from the European Coal and Steel Community from 1973 to the latest convenient date, and separately in the last financial year; and of these totals what sums have been made available for projects in Norfolk.

To 31st October 1978 the United Kingdom coal industry received £391 million in loans and £25·8 million in grants. In 1977–78 the figures were £93·6 million and £40 million respectively.The National Coal Board has no projects in Norfolk. Steel industry matters are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry.

Morecambe Bay Gas Field

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has supplied to the Lancashire trades council about the exploitation of the Morecambe Bay gas field; and whether he will place in the Library a copy of the documents supplied to it.

After addressing a meeting of the Lancashire Association of Trades Councils on 28th July, I left a copy of my speaking notes and some background information with its secretary. A copy of the papers has been placed in the Library.

Mining Subsidence

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many claims have been lodged against the National Coal Board in respect of subsidence; what is the total compensation payable in the last full year for which figures are available; and whether consequential damages such as loss of profits are claimable under the revised code.

These are matters within the day-to-day responsibility of the National Coal Board and I am asking the chairman to write to the hon. Member.

Pit Closures

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will give a general direction to the National Coal Board to require it to inform men in writing of all propositions affecting them when a pit falls under the closure procedure;(2) if he will set up a departmental inquiry into the National Coal Board's handling of its withdrawal from deep mining in the Doon valley, with special reference to the lack of precise advance information to the workforce and local authorities.

There are long established and well defined arrangements agreed between the board and the unions for the discussion of possible colliery closures. Any adjustment to these procedures would be for the industry to discuss with the Secretary of State for Energy, who has indeed made suggestions for improving them.

Rent And Rate Rebate Recipients

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what would be the cost of extending the electricity discount scheme to rent and rate rebate recipients on the same terms as apply to supplementary benefit recipients; and how this compares with the cost of his current proposals.

The cost of such extension would be about £16 million compared with the total of £45 million allocated to next winter's scheme.

Opencast Coal

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many applications for opencast developments he has approved during the last three years; and in how many cases approval has been given against the recommendation of the Department of the Environment's inspector who has presided at an inquiry.

Since the beginning of 1976, 50 applications have been approved, four of them after the inspector at a public inquiry had recommended refusal. In two of the latter cases, significant modifications were made to the boundaries of the sites in accordance with the inspectors' suggestions.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Cyprus

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the present situation in Cyprus, with special regard to consideration of United Nations discussions about the future of the island.

The British Government are working for a resumption of the intercommunal negotiations, which are essential for progress towards a settlement. The British attitude at the United Nations reflects this. In my right hon. Friend's view, the resolution recently adopted in the General Assembly will not help towards a resumption of negotiations and the United Kingdom therefore abstained in the vote.

Hong Kong

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from elected members of the Hong Kong urban council, concerning a phasing-out of appointed members, expansion of the franchise and expansion of urban council jurisdiction; what reply he has sent and if he will make a statement.

Three elected members of the Hong Kong urban council put forward these proposals in a letter to my right hon. and noble Friend of 24th June. In reply, they were told that we would naturally like to see appropriate moves at the right time towards a more representative system of government in Hong Kong but that patience and caution are necessary when considering changes which could affect the stability and prosperity of the territory. The councillors have recently renewed their proposals. A reply will be sent shortly.

Saudi Arabia (British Detainees)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many people normally resident in Scotland are presently detained in Saudi Arabia for alleged offences relating to the sale and manufacture of alcoholic drinks.

Moscow Olympics (British Citizens)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what guarantees he has sought from the Soviet Union regarding the freedom of movement for British visitors, contestants and the press should the 1980 Olympics take place in Moscow; and what discussions he has held with his EEC partners on the matter.

It is for the International Olympic Committee to satisfy itself that its rules and regulations, including those relating to participation and the press, are complied with. My right hon. Friend has not discussed the question of guarantees with the Soviet Government, or with colleagues in the Nine.

Judicial Delays

asked the Attorney-General if he will indicate for the most recent period for which figures are available the maximum and minimum delay experienced in the hearing of applications for judicial review after leave has been granted by the Queen's Bench Division to apply for such review in accordance with order 53 of the Rules of the Supreme Court (S.I., 1977, No. 1955); and how these days compare with those expe-

19731974197519761977
TonnesTonnesTonnesTonnesTonnes
'000s£ '000s'000s£ '000s'000s£ '000s'000s£ '000s'000s£ '000s
Total landings23·11,16031·11,48648·62,31087·35,262186·914,673
of which—
for human consumption10·954815·169920·41,15938·82,959119·810,123
exports7·278013·11,42614·81,66525·53,29853·37,823
Human consumption as percentage of landings47·248·642·044·464·1

asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food what is the figure representing the quantity of mackerel that his Department's scientific fishery officers believe can be caught in any one season without prejudicing future stocks of mackerel; when this figure was last revised; what was the previous estimate; and what is the quantity of mackerel that he expects will be caught during the current mackerel season based on his department's catch quotas and regulations.

In these matters the Government are guided by the recommendations of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea—ICES—in whose work scientists of the United Kingdom Fisheries Departments play a leading part. In May 1978 ICES recommended that the total allowable catch—FAC—from the Western mackerel fishery should be 450,000 tonnes in 1978—compared with an earlier recommendation rienced under the former order 53 (R.S.C. 1965).

I regret that the information is not available, since all motions for hearing before the Divisional Court are included in the same list.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Mackerel

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food for the past five years for which figures are available, what are the total quantities and financial value of the mackerel catch landed in United Kingdom ports and the estimated proportions that were sold for human consumption and the estimated quantities and corresponding values of mackerel exported.

The information is as folows:for 1978 of 300,000 tonnes—and 435,000 tonnes in 1979. The United Kingdom catch so far in 1978 totals some 225,000 tonnes. The objective of the Government's licensing arrangements is to keep the United Kingdom catch to a reasonable share of the latest recommended TAC.

Rabies

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the latest preventive measures he has taken against rabies reaching Great Britain from the Continent; and what discussions he has had with representatives of foreign Governments on this subject.

The Government's objective continues to be to keep rabies out of the country. This is achieved by stringent control measures coupled with a vigorous rabies awareness campaign designed to inform the public of the Government's requirements.We maintain continuing contacts with foreign Governments and international organisations about our controls and about the measures that they adopt. En addition, everything possible is done to ensure that travellers from abroad are alert to our requirements.Details of our control measures and our contingency plans are set out in a memorandum which was placed in the Library of the House earlier this year.

Marginal Land

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will look

INTERVENTION STOCKS (TONNES)
United KingdomOther EECTotalUnited Kingdom as percentage of total
Skimmed milk powder70,364715,075785,4399·00
Butter …25,838189,587215,42512·00
Beef16,915*205,574222,4897·60
Cereals20,9431,695,5501,716,4931·1
* Includes 2,500 tonnes of Eire beef in intervention stores in the United Kingdom.

Pork Imports (Health Regulations)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, whether he will give an assurance that the Government will resist any attempt to weaken the health regulations against the import of fresh pork from the Continent.

We shall do so in furtherance of our general policy of safeguarding the health status of British livestock.

British Sugar Corporation (Bury St Edmunds Factory)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the fact that thousands of tons of sugar beet already harvested and awaiting delivery to the British Sugar Corporation factory in Bury St. Edmunds are liable to rot because the factory is unable to receive them, and that hundreds of thousands of tons of sugar beet still in the ground are also at risk due to the dislocation of delivery arrangements, he will personally intervene to ensure a speedy end to the disputes and delays that have held up the British Sugar Corporation's completion of its latest works at this factory; and if he will make a statement on at the possibility of meeting the special needs of farmers of marginal land.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Cardigan (Mr. Howells) on 16th November.—[Vol. 958 c. 296–97]

Intervention Stocks

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much food and agricultural produce is held in intervention in the United Kingdom in the case of each product covered by intervention; and how these amounts compare with the EEC totals.

The latest available figures are shown in the table.the losses already suffered by both farmers and the British Sugar Corporation and an arrangement for compensation to the growers of sugar beet.

No. I understand from the British Sugar Corporation that the industrial action that delayed the completion of capital works at the Bury St. Edmunds factory involved contractors installing equipment and not the corporation itself. The operation of the factory and the supply of beet to it are matters for the corporation and the farmers concerned.

Northern Ireland

Ballantine Knitwear Company

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will make a statement on the circumstances which led to the closure of Ballantyne knitwear factory in Coleraine; and what was the number and the total value of grants made to the Ballantyne Knitwear Company from public funds during its operation.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report, 14th November 1978; Vol. 958, c. 165], gave the following information:The closure of the Ballantyne factory followed 11 weeks of industrial action resulting from a trade dispute. I deplore this development, which was quite uncharacteristic of the good industrial relations which I understand the company enjoyed in Northern Ireland during the past 20 years.The factory was established in 1958 in premises rented from the Government. It received the following grants:

  • (i) from the Department of Commerce, towards capital expenditure—£24,695, of which over £18,500 was given in the two years up to 1960.
  • (ii) from the Department of Manpower Services, under the training on employers premises scheme—£18,643, of which some £14,400 was provided between 1964 and 1966.
  • Ex-President Nixon

    asked the Prime Minister if, in the light of his willingness to meet ex-Prime Minister Mrs. Gandhi, if he will meet ex-President Nixon on his forthcoming visit to Great Britain.

    Employment

    Industrial Action (Governmental Action)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what, if any, discussions he has had with the Trades Union Congress concerning the future use of the services by Her Majesty's Government to frustrate industrial action, similar to that employed by Her Majesty's Government in the firemen's dispute, and the Glasgow refuse dispute; and if he will make a statement.

    Working Week

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the percentage by which labour costs would rise in industry generally and engineering, respectively, if the working week was reduced to 35 hours without loss of earnings.

    An article setting out the possible effects of various methods of work-sharing was published in the April 1978 issue of the Department of Employment Gazette. On the assumptions set out in it, the estimates were that total labour costs would be increased by between 6 per cent. And 8·5 per cent., assuming there was no loss of earnings. No corresponding estimates have been made for manufacturing industry or engineering alone.

    Industrial Tribunals

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he proposes to introduce legislation aimed at amending procedures at industrial tribunals so as to reduce complaints of no merit; and if he will make a statement.

    Under present procedures, over 3,000 applicants a year are told by the secretaries that their applications are out of scope. The vast majority of them do not pursue their cases. I have at present no plans to amend tribunal procedures further, but I shall continue to keep them under review.

    Pay Policy (Leap-Frogging Awards)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that schedule 11 to the Employment Protection Act has sufficient safeguards against leap-frogging pay awards; and if he will make a statement.

    Yes. I have no evidence that the schedule has given rise to such awards.

    Departmental Premises, Walthamstow (Political Meetings)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment why extreme Left wing demonstrators have been allowed to use the forecourt of his Department's premises at Walthamstow for political meetings.

    Four "Right to Work" campaigners recently demonstrated against the Government on the forecourt of my Department's premises at Waltham-stow. My Department did not give authority for this attack on itself. The police were informed, but the occurrence did not call for further action.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment why he has not yet replied to the letter of 25th September from the hon. Member for Waltham Forest, Chingford, concerning the political meetings held on the forecourt of his Department's office at Walthamstow on 22nd and 30th August.

    Pay Settlement (Trades Union Congress)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, pursuant to his reply of 10th November concerning his inquiries made on 26th September concerning the Trades Union Congress pay settlement which appears to breach the Government's pay guidelines, he has yet had a reply from the Trades Union Congress giving details of the settlement.

    The main features of the settlement have been reported to me by the TUC, but I am awaiting a reply to my subsequent request for additional information, to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member on 10th November.—[Vol. 957, c. 360.]

    Temporary Employment Subsidy

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many companies and how many employees were the subject of payments under the temporary employment subsidy at the latest date, and at what rates.

    I regret that information is not available in the precise form requested. As at 31st October an estimated 104,580 jobs in 2,050 establishments were currently being supported by main scheme TES and 28,850 jobs in 570 establishments by TES (Supplement).TES is paid at the rate of £20 per week for each full-time job supported and £10 per week for part-time jobs. TES (Supplement) is paid at half these rates.

    Walsall

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many schemes and individual places have been approved by the Manpower Services Commission's programme dealing with youth unemploy- ment (STEP and YOP) in the Walsall area since 1st April; how many of these have been sponsored by: (a) the local authority, (b) firms and (c) voluntary bodies; and if he is satisfied with the response so far.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the information requested is as follows. Since 1st April 1978, 269 schemes comprising 676 places have been approved under the youth opportunities programme and the special temporary employment programme in the Walsall area up to mid-October. Of these schemes, five have been sponsored by local authorities giving eight places. Private firms have sponsored 228 schemes with 370 places and voluntary bodies have sponsored 11 schemes with 130 places. The area board which is responsible for the management of the special programmes in the Walsall area has assured me that the response is sufficient to meet the needs of unemployed people in the Walsall area.

    Jobcentres

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will give instructions to Government job-centres to supply names and addresses of people ready to fill company vacancies on a self-employed basis.

    No. I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission, which is responsible for the public employment service that it is not its policy to submit people to vacancies for self employment, i.e. under a contract for services. This policy is based on concern to safeguard the interests of workers who may not be fully aware of the implication of self employment, and in particular the lack of some forms of employment protection for the self employed. However, the employment service division of the MSC has in hand a review of this policy.

    Glasgow Transport Executive (Industrial Dispute)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will make a statement on the steps which have been taken by officials of his Department and of the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service to seek a solution of the strike within the Greater Glasgow Transport Executive;(2) if he will now consider meeting both sides in the Glasgow transport dispute, if the current discussions are unsuccessful in finding a solution.

    I am pleased to say that, following talks which the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service held with both sides, normal working was resumed on 17th November.

    Environment

    Mortgages

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the monthly mortgage payment payable by an owner-occupier purchasing a £10,000 house in February 1974 with a 90 per cent. mortgage; what would be the repayment for a purchaser buying the same house at present; and what proportion of average earnings the mortgage payments would represent in each case.

    Monthly repayments on a new 25-year repayment mortgage of £9,000 in February 1974 would have been £8910 gross or £64.35 net of tax at the basic rate of 30 per cent. and at a mortgage interest rate of 11 per cent. House prices have risen, on average, by about 50 per cent. since that time and a house purchased for £10,000 in February 1974 might now cost around £15,000. Repayments on a 90 per cent. mortgage—that is, £13,500—would be £141–08 gross or £9745 net of tax at 33 per cent. and at a mortgage interest rate of 11·75 per cent. The increase in the monthly mortgage repayment would therefore have been about 50 per cent. net or about 60 per cent. gross; between February 1974 and September 1978 the index of average earnings in Great Britain increased by 116 per cent.It is unlikely that a purchaser on average earnings would have obtained a mortgage of these sizes. A typical first-time purchaser who took out an average advance in 1974 could have expected gross monthly mortgage repayments to be about 30 per cent. of his net income; the equivalent proportion is now about 27 per cent.

    Council House Rents

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the latest figure for the average increase in council house rents since February 1974, in cash and percentage terms; and how this compares with the increase in the retail price index and the increase in average earnings.

    On the latest available information, rebated and unrebated rents in England and Wales are estimated to have risen on average by £1.87 or 56 per cent. and £2'06 or 55 per cent. respectively during the period February 1974 to April 1978.Over the same period the retail price index for the United Kingdom rose by 91 per cent. and the index of average weekly earnings for Great Britain rose by 108 per cent.

    Rate Support Grant (Northamptonshire)

    asked the Secrettary of State for the Environment what was the amount of rate support grant payable to the Northamptonshire county council in each of the years 1973–74 to 1978–79; what was the value of the grant in real terms related to 1973–74 prices; and what proportion of the country's total expenditure this represented in each year.

    The amount paid in rate support grant to Northamptoshire

    YearsGrant £Grant expressed at 1973–74 pricesPercentage of total expenditure
    ££
    1973–7426,792,10026,792,10060·82
    1974–7524,504,05320,108,36540·75
    1975–7632,431,62721,425,39935·28
    1976–7735,357,68420,642,00137·60
    1977–7834,671,44218,234,69135·53
    1978–7933,413,39615,972,75029·97
    For the year 1973–74 these figures include the payment made to the former Northampton county borough whose major functions were transferred to the county council in the local government reorganisation in 1974; they include both the resources and needs elements of rate support grant which were payable to these authorities at that time. Since 1974–75 only the needs element is paid direct to the county council and therefore the figures shown do not include resources element.

    Council House Sales (Greater London Council)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Department is investigating the £10 million losses made by the Greater London Council on selling of council housing.

    I am concerned at reports of the Greater London Council's decision to sell council housing at less than the cost of providing it and I am inquiring into this.

    Water Conservation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what assistance his Department has given to those local authorities wishing to implement schemes to conserve water since mid–1976.

    The only scheme serving a conservation purpose for which grant has been paid by my Department since 1976 is the Northumbrian Water authority's Kielder water scheme, which qualifies for assistance under section 7 of the Local Employment Act 1972 to the extent that it makes provision for the county council for each of the years 1973–74 to 1977–78 and the latest figures for 1978–79, together with the estimated value of the grant, in each of the years related to 1973–74 prices, and the proportion of the county's total expenditure this represented are as follows:future needs of industry. Payments exceeding £10 million have been made to date, of which more than half relate to the storage element of the scheme.

    Mansfield/Alfreton Growth Zone (Development)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the purchase and development of the Broadmeadows site in the Mansfield/Alfreton growth zone by the Derbyshire county council; and if he will investigate the loss of public money in this venture.

    As I explained to my hon. Friend in my letter of 26th June, on the information available, I do not see justification for intervention.

    Dawn House, Mosley

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, in view of the fact that the £25,000 paid by the Copec housing trust for Dawn House, Mosley, in Birmingham, represents value for money in his opinion, if he will explain the basis on which this price was determined.

    The price was based on the district valuer's certificate of the vacant possession value. The property is expected to be vacant by the anticipated completion of the purchase later this month.

    Rates

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the rates paid per domestic hereditament in each district council within Cambridgeshire and in the London boroughs of Southwark, Havering, and Enfield, in 1977–78 and 1978–79, respectively.

    The information is as follows:

    AVERAGE ANNUAL RATE PAYMENT PER DOMESTIC HEREDITAMENT
    Authority1977–781978–79
    ££
    Cambridge district council145·42172·35
    East Cambridgeshire district council91·68111·59
    Fenland district council86·26107·51
    Huntingdon district council107·74131·74
    Peterborough district council117·13139·83
    South Cambridgeshire district council129·78151·28
    London borough of Southwark130·21138·05
    London borough of Havering168·07174·33
    London borough of Enfield134·12141·17

    Home Loans

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will establish a departmental inquiry into the present situation of home loans finance and the effects of and reasons for each increase in building society interest rates over the last four years.

    Planning Inquiries (Environmental Evaluations)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give full details of how the recommendations of the Thirlwall-Catlow report on environmental evaluations can be used in major planning inquiries such as for coal mining in the Vale of Belvoir in North East Leicestershire.

    I envisage that, for any particular case, the considerations to be examined, and the method of examination, should be tailored to the issues identified for that case. At Belvoir I hope that, if necessary, the important environmental considerations that have already been the subject of a joint study by the county council and the NCB will be further developed for presentation at the inquiry, perhaps under guidance from the pre-inquiry meeting.

    Industry

    British Shipbuilders

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has received a report from British Shipbuilders; and if he will make a statement.

    If my right hon. Friend is referring to British Shipbuilders' corporate plan, we do not expect to receive it until towards the end of the year.

    Government Chemist

    38.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish the current cost to public funds of the move of the Laboratory of the Government Chemist from London to Cumbria, together with figures showing (a) the building costs, (b) the cost of relocating employees, (c) the cost of terminating existing contracts and of redundancies, (d) the annual expected operating costs, including those of accommodation, compared with present costs and (e) the costs and return from the sale, conversion or other use of the previous premises and the present value of the overall benefit of the move.

    The new laboratory will not be ready before 1984 and it is far too early to provide detailed costings; the design is still at an early stage. Estimates for the dispersal programme as a whole were given last year by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal, but estimates for individual elements are not available.

    Steel Imports

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the degree of import penetration of the United Kingdom market in respect of tool steel, high speed steels, and stainless steel bar in each of the years 1974, 1976, 1977 and 1978, to 30th September (a) by volume, (b) by value, and (c) as a percentage of the United Kingdom market, showing the main exporting countries to the United Kindom.

    The information is given below. The estimates of import penetration are based only on volume figures because figures of the value of home deliveries are not available.

    IMPORT PENETRATION OF UNITED KINGDOM MARKET BY MAIN EXPORTING COUNTRIES TO UNITED KINGDOM
    197419761977

    1978 (January-September)

    Imports

    Imports penetration

    Imports

    Imports penetration

    Imports

    Imports penetration

    Imports

    Imports penetration

    tonnes

    £000

    %

    tonnes

    £000

    %

    tonnes

    £000

    %

    tonnes

    £000

    %
    Alloy tool, die and magnet steel—
    France7,5101,15714·865,1541,22814–5811,2362,48623·099,6102,84222·93
    Netherlands6901821·36141650·408582171·762,2866285·46
    Federal Republic Germany5,7421,38811·372,4201,0526·854,5452,5939·346,5543,19715·64
    Italy9953171·972,0004515·663,9081,0828·032,3327095·56
    Sweden8,9082,26317·634,8032,13813·605,3482,11610·991,7189414·10
    Finland5,74095711·375,9101,58516·723,5261,1627·253,4561,2728·25
    Austria1,1426702·261,1891,1233·362,2262,5814–575174451·23
    Japan84340·171,2135563·431,9097873·926282881·50
    USA4,2801,1388·471882340·532092440·433354810·80
    Brazil1,2452492·97
    All countries36,7278,52372·6923,8028,68567·3535,52513,86573·0129,89511,51871·34

    High speed steel bar and rod
    (including wire rod)—
    France3415272·862524862·317181,6246·183601,0304·23
    Federal Republic of Germany1862731·56521080·484338213·731894922·22
    Sweden2,8753,49824·092,4914,39422·802,2574,59019·442,0974,15124·65
    Austria1,3341,70811·183828503·504161,1093·584091,3964·81
    All countries5,0876,60942·633,4196,36531·304,2518,70136·613,1907,31337·49
    Stainless steel bars—
    France1,5789404·578531,1823·861,1891,8924·371,3412,1335·72
    Federal Republic of Germany1,6831,1824·882,1271,8239·623,0112,75111·052,1872,3099·33
    Italy2891650·844704022·132,5022,6999·182,7362,73111 · 67
    Austria4122971·194534782·057499892·756107942·60
    Spain1,4978784·341,2451,0675·632,2512,1458·261,2871,2065·49
    All countries8,2795,52024 · 007,9557,60235 · 9812,20113,54844·789,67011,07941 25
    In order to provide comparability as between the trade statistics of Customs & Excise and the delivery figures from 1SSB the three product categories covered are as follows:—
    (a) Alloy tool, die and magnet steel excludes carbon tool steel.
    (b) High speed steel includes high speed wire rod.
    (c) In addition to stainless steel bar this steel category includes valve steel and tube rounds.

    Sources: Iron & Steel Statistical Bureau, H. M. Customs & Excise.

    Special Steels Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the current involvement of the National Enterprise Board in the special steels industry.

    None, but the board is of course always ready to consider proposals for worthwhile investment.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish the report of the Iron and Steel Industry Sector Working Party on the special steels industry.

    After consideration last summer, the working party decided not to publish this report as it contained commercial information supplied in confidence by United Kingdom producers and consumers.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) if he will hold discussions with the principal trade unions concerned about possible re-organisation of the special steels industry;(2) if he will initiate discussions with the British Independent Steel Producers Association with a view to producing a planning agreement for the special steels industry.

    The problems of the special steel industry including the need for possible reorganisation are one of the main issues already being considered by the NEDO iron and steel sector working party. Both the employers and the trade unions are represented as well as the Government. My right hon. Friend asked the sector working party to give further thought to ways in which the industry can best be helped to improve its efficiency and competitiveness, but my right hon. Friend is always willing to consider any practical ideas and proposals to help the industry that are put to him. Planning agreements are negotiated with individual companies rather than with sectors of industry but the British Independent Steel Producers Association is represented on the sector working party and participates actively in its discussions. My right hon. Friend would, however, welcome, at the same time, the conclusion of planning agreements with companies in this sector.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) what discussions have taken place between his Department and Commissioner Davignon on the problem of special steels and the need for orderly marketing of these steels within the Community;(2) if he will seek to place on the agenda of the next meeting of EEC Industry Ministers the problem of special steels with a view to eliminating dumping and discriminating pricing by producers in EEC countries.

    Mr. Les Huckfield