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Written Answers

Volume 958: debated on Tuesday 21 November 1978

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 21st November 1978

Civil Service

Civil Servants (Grades)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many general Treasury classes and how many departmental classes of civil servants there are currently.

There are at present about 500 departmental classes and 36 general service classes, together containing some 27 per cent. of the total staff in post of the non-industrial Civil Service. The remaining 73 per cent. have been restructured into 19 occupational groups in 10 categories, with a fully unified open structure at under-secretary level and above.

Home Department

Custodial Remands

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were on custodial remand at the latest date for which figures are available; and of these, how many have been imprisoned for one month or less, one and up to three months, three and up to six months, and more than six months.

On 30th September 1978, 3,941 persons were remanded in custody awaiting trial in prison department establishments in England and Wales. The information available on the length of time they had spent in custody is given in the following table:

Prisoners awaiting trial on30th September 1978 by time already spent in custody
Number of Persons
Less than or equal to one month1,685*
Over one month and up to and including three months1,260*
Over three months and up to and including six months700*
Over six months and up to and including nine months220*
Over nine months76
*Rounded estimates; precise figures are not available.

Firemen

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many part-time firemen there are in the United Kingdom; and how this compares with the position 12 months ago;(2) in the light of the opposition of the Fire Brigades' Union to the continued employment of part-time firemen, what is his policy towards the future recruitment of part-time firemen.

The numbers of part-time retained firemen in the United Kingdom at 31st December 1977—the latest date for which figures are available—and 31st December 1976 were 17,883 and 17,969 respectively. As to the recruitment and employment of part-time retained firemen, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to Questions by the hon. Member for Devon, West (Mr. Mills) on 17th November.—[Vol. 958, col. 382.]

Isle Of Man (Birching)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he has taken with the Government of the Isle of Man following the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the recent birching case.

As soon as the decision of the court was known, I communicated it to the Government of the Isle of Man, and thereafter informed the lieutenant governor of the island that, having studied the judgment, the United Kingdom Government took the view that judicial corporal punishment in the Isle of Man must now be held to be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights. The Chief Justice of the Isle of Man—the First Deemster—subsequently took action to bring the judgment to the attention of all persons who, under the existing legislation, could pass a sentence of birching. He has informed them that the effect of the judgment is that judicial corporal punishment must now be held to be in breach of the convention.Article 54 of the convention provides that judgments of the court shall be transmitted to the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which shall supervise their execution. The committee was informed of the action taken in consequence of the judgment, and completed its consideration of the case at its meeting on 13th October with the adoption of a resolution declaring that, having taken note of the information supplied by the United Kingdom Government, it had exercised its functions under the convention.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Fishery Protection Measures

50.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the present state of fishery protection measures; and if he will make a statement.

I am satisfied that our fisheries protection measures continue to be effective. So far this year our fishery protection vessels have carried out some 1,600 boardings of fishing vessels at sea, in addition to the checks made on fishing vessels in port. Thirty-one skippers of fishing vessels have been convicted this year of offences against United Kingdom fishery regulations.

Milk Marketing Board

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food which provisions of the Rome Treaty determined the terms under which the ballot now being held among British farmers on the future of the Milk Marketing Board should be conducted.

The polls of producers in each of the United Kingdom milk marketing board areas have been carried out in accordance with the terms of EEC regulations nos 1421/78 and 1422/78. These regulations were adopted by the Council of Ministers under general powers given to them by the provisions of articles 42 and 43 of the Treaty of Rome.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what majority will be required to retain the services of the Milk Marketing Board in the milk producers' ballot now being organized; on what basis the ballot is being conducted; and if he will make a statement.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Nelson and Colne (Mr. Hoyle) on 16th November.

Education And Science

Comprehensive Schools (Lancashire)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals she has received relating to closures of comprehensive schools in Lancashire as a consequence of the declining birth rate.

No proposals have been received from the Lancashire education authority relating to the closure of any comprehensive school in the county.

National Library

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when it is expected to start building the National library.

The necessary preliminary demolitions are planned to begin in April 1979.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q4.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q5.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st November.Q10. Mr. Goodlad asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister if he will state his official engagements for 21st November.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q33.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q38.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will state his official engagements for 21st November.

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for Tuesday 21st November.

Q41.

asked the Prime Minister whether he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his official engagements for 21st November.

Q43.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public engagements for 21st November.

Q44.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public appointments for 21st November.

Q45.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list his public engagements for 21st November.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Hereford (Mr. Shepherd).

France (Prime Minister)

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister when he will next meet the Prime Minister of France.

I shall be meeting Monsieur Barre when I visit President Giscard d'Estaing in Paris on 24th November.

Tuc And Cbi

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister when he plans next to meet the Trades Union Congress.

Q30.

I meet represesentatives of the TUC from time to time, at NEDC and on other occasions. Further meetings will be arranged as necessary.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister when he expects next to meet the Confederation of British Industry.

Q36.

Q37.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Newcastle-upon-Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas) on 14th November.

23.

Q46.

I refer my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Southampton, Test (Mr. Gould) on 9th November.

Secret Service

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if he will now answer Questions relating to the secret service.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Cirencester and Tewkesbury (Mr. Ridley) on 29th June.

Unicameral System

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if he will appoint a Minister to supervise the constitutional problems associated with the establishment of a unicameral system.

My hon. Friend may assume that I do not intend to make any changes in ministerial appointments or responsibilities—including my taking on any of the existing responsibilities of other Ministers—unless and until I make a statement to the contrary.

Cabinet Policies

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister what invitations he has received to visit work places for the purpose of explaining agreed Cabinet policies to trade unionists.

I will continue to explain the Government's policies at every opportunity, including industrial visits, which will be announced in the usual way.

Secretary Of State For Defence

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister if he will list the duties of the Secretary of State for Defence.

The Secretary of State for Defence has overall responsibility for the work of the Ministry of Defence and for the Armed Forces.

European Monetary System

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister what discussions he has had with Heads of Government within the EEC about the proposed European monetary system.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave him on 7th November.

Yugoslavia

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister if he will seek to pay an official visit to Yugoslavia.

I have a longstanding invitation to visit Yugoslavia and hope to be able to take this up in due course.

Transport

Vehicle Excise Duty

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he will be able to give an indication of the outcome of the Government's consideration of the future of vehicle excise duty on cars.

After careful consideration the Government have decided to abolish vehicle excise duty on petrol driven vehicles and replace the lost revenue by increased petrol taxation.The change will be phased. VED will be progressively reduced and petrol taxation progressively increased over a period. The Government aim to complete the change no later than 1983. The timetable will be finally decided after consultations with the car industry, representatives of the staff involved and with other interests.I am publishing today a document which sets out the scope and effects of the decision. Copies have been placed in the Library of the House and the Vote Office.

Accidents (Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the comparable economic costs of road and rail accidents, including costs arising from personal injuries and deaths, for the last 10 years to the latest available date.

I regret that only costs associated with casualties are available for both road and rail accidents.

PERSONAL INJURY ACCIDENT COSTS*: 01968–78 GREAT BRITAIN
£ million (June 1977 prices)
RoadRail
19686126
19696446
19706597
19716756
19727025
19736985
19746705
19756337
19766595
19776715
1978 (January to June) (P)3102
* Excludes costs of damage to vehicles or property.
† Excludes casualty costs of suicides and trespassers.
(P) Provisional.

Motorways (Lighting)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many motorway and dual carriageway miles in Great Britain are lighted; and how this compares with other EEC countries.

About 271 miles of motorway in Great Britain are lit, of which 252 miles are in England and are my right hon. Friend's responsibility. I do not have information about the total amount of lighting on other dual carriageways in this country, some of which are the responsibility of local authorities, or on motorways and dual carriageways in other EEC countries.

Disabled Persons (Concessionary Fares)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what action he is taking to draw attention to the failure of some local authorities to use the Government grants available to them to provide cut-price bus fares for the disabled; and if he will make a statement.

I and my hon. Friend the Minister with responsibility for the disabled take every opportunity to refer to this matter in speaking to local authorities. Most recently I drew the attention of the Association of District Councils to our circular on concessionary fares, with its specific reference to provision of appropriate schemes for the disabled. Under the new Transport Act, county council public transport plans must give an account of concessionary fares schemes and what is being done to improve them. The first plans are now being prepared and will be published before the end of March 1979.

A33 (Popham—Compton)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many accidents involving personal injury have taken place on the A33 road between Popham and Compton since the beginning of the public inquiry in June 1976; and how many deaths there have been.

One hundred and ninety-two accidents involving 21 deaths have occurred on the A33 from Popham to Compton during the period 30th June 1976 to 30th September 1978.

Road Schemes (Inspectors' Reports)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will analyse the number of times in each of the past five years when inspectors' reports of public inquiries into road schemes have been overruled; and if he will outline what criteria are used in such situations.

This information is not readily available, but I will write to the hon. Member.

Port Of London Authority

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, and in what terms, he has endorsed the short-term trade and manpower plan for 1979 presented to him by the Port of London Authority and unions last month.

On 31st July I informed the House that the Government were prepared to provide financial assistance up to £35 million in grants towards severance costs of registered dock workers and staff on condition that the PLA set in hand urgent measures, in co-operation with the trade unions, to secure the most rapid possible rundown of surplus manpower.—[Vol. 955, c. 169.] No grant assistance would be provided until the PLA had produced a detailed costed plan establishing specific targets of manpower reductions.On 24th October the PLA submitted a short-term trade and manpower target plan for 1979 which had been prepared, following discussions with the trade unions in the PLA/ Trades Unions Committee, providing for an agreed target manpower reduction figure of 1,489 in the period from 5th May 1978 to 30th June 1979. I understand that the trade union side of the joint committee is confident that the target figures will be attained. The PLA is still at work on a corporate plan covering the full range of issues involved which will be submitted as soon as possible.I have informed the PLA that the Government agree that the authority should proceed as rapidly as possible with securing the agreed target figure of 1,489 manpower reductions referred to in the short term plan, but hope that the authority will be able as soon as possible to identify and implement further reductions in manpower. The Government agree in principle to make grants available to cover the net cost of the voluntary severance of registered men in the Port of London and non-registered personnel in the PLA, from 5th May 1978.I have placed copies of the full text of my reply in the Library.

Defence

Aldermaston (Radiological Safety)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the report by Sir Edward Porchin on radiological safety at Aldermaston is to be published; and if he will make a statement.

On 17th August I asked Sir Edward Pochin to carry out a full investigation into radiological safety at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment and Aldermaston because a considerable number of staff appeared to have high levels of plutonium contamination in their chests.I have now received Sir Edward Pochin's report; and in view of the anxieties of the staff and members of the public I have thought it right to make the report available in full as soon as practicable. Copies are available to hon. Members in the Library.

The report, as well as dealing with plutonium contamination in the chest, covers plutonium taken up in the rest of the body, uranium, tritium, americium and general radiation from other facilities. It also covers the low level release of radioactivity from the active area buildings to the site itself, and releases from the site to the general environment. Sir Edward concludes that the standard of health protection in the establishment is good and that releases of radioactivity from the buildings and from the establishment itself are low and well below the agreed level. Nevertheless he has found evidence to suggest that the levels of plutonium contamination in air in some of the working spaces in certain of the buildings commonly exceed the limits recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection and that the present standard of protection at the establishment must be regarded as border-line in respect of inhaled plutonium.

However, the incidence of actual plutonium contamination in the chests of members of the AWRE is now known to be much lower than it appeared in August. When Sir Edward wrote his report, the results of the first 339 chest monitoring cases were available. He has subsequently provided me with more up-to-date figures. Out of over 700 persons tested, it is likely that rather less than 3 per cent. apparently had plutonium in the chest at the first measurement. Re-testing has proceeded, and so far only about one-third of those re-tested appear to retain any persistent activity.

The report makes constructive suggestions for the improvement of health protection and safety standards at Aldermaston, particularly in regard to airborne plutonium contamination in working spaces. The Government have acepted all Sir Edward's suggestions and recommendations for improvements to health and safety. A programme of action to implement his recommendations, both for the immediate and for the longer term, is being put in hand, in full consultation with the staff associations and trade unions concerned. Additional health and safety staff will be appointed as soon as they can be recruited.

In addition, all Ministry of Defence radiation workers will be entered in the National Registry of Radiation Workers. Arrangements have also been concluded which enable the Health and Safety Executive to carry out Health and Safety at Work etc. Act inspections of all AWRE buildings including laboratories while maintaining a high standard of security. Special arrangements for the security and distribution of Health and Safety Executive reports on this establishment are being made in order to prevent information on nuclear weapon design coming into unauthorised hands.

While Sir Edward Pochin has been investigating the active areas at AWRE the work in these areas has been suspended and the staff employed on other duties. Negotiations are under way with the staff and trades union sides concerned to ensure an early and phased resumption of work in the active areas as and when the agreed health and safety precautions can be instituted for each building. Any person who has to be withheld from active work in future because of an overdose of radiation will have his pay and allowances appropriately protected.

I should like to conclude by putting on record my thanks to Sir Edward Pochin for his extremely thorough report. I know that he felt that speed was necessary because of the anxieties of the workers at the establishment, and I am most grateful to him for reporting so promptly. I believe that his report puts into its correct perspective the question of the health and safety of our staff in Aldermaston, to which I attach the highest priority. As he says in paragraph 59 of his report:

"In identifying the defects in radiation procedure in Aldermaston it is important to emphasise the general high quality of the industrial safety record and the good record also in the prevention of major radiation exposures. The problems arise from the occurrence of quite moderate over-exposures at the level of, or at a few times the level of, the limits recommended by the International Committee on Radiological Protection".

I hope we can now proceed to an orderly resumption of work with improved protection for our staff.

Floating Arms Sales Exhibition

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the planned ports of call of the floating arms sales exhibition which sailed from Portsmouth on 20th September.

Battle Of Britain Collection

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make available at RAF station, Biggin Hill, suitable accommodation to house the private Battle of Britain collection now kept at Chilham Castle.

No. We have received no approach on behalf of the Chilham Castle collection, but if the owners are seeking an alternative home for its exhibits they may wish to consider offering them to the RAF museum at Hendon, where the new Battle of Britain museum is to be officially opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother, next Tuesday, 28th November.

Women's Armed Services

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether all three of the women's Armed Services are up to establishment; and why it is not possible to provide a waiting list for volunteers eligible to join.

The women's Services are generally up to establishment. Waiting lists are provided for most of these Services. Where they are not provided, arrangements can be made either to give a date of entry or to suggest a date at which there are likely to be immediate vacancies.

Zambia (British Personnel)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many British Service men are currently serving in Zambia; and how many are expected to be serving there in six months' time.

Low Level Strike Aircraft (European Collaboration)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has had with Ministers of Defence from West Germany and France regarding the design capabilities and possible collaboration in manufacturing low level strike aircraft.

The RAF requirement for low level strike aircraft will be met by the Tornado. However, I have been discussing with my European colleagues the possibility of harmonising our requirements for tactical combat aircraft which, in the case of the RAF, will be to replace Harriers and Jaguars.

Anti-Aircraft Missiles

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the number of anti-aircraft missiles currently in service.

The stocks of anti-aircraft missiles at present in service or on order are sufficient to meet the Services' requirements on the basis of existing usage criteria. The requirement for additional stocks is, however, under consideration.

Rhodesia

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied that no British weapons are finding their way into the hands of the Smith regime in Rhodesia.

The Government are supplying arms neither to Rhodesia nor to any third party for transmission to Rhodesia.

Experimental Establishments (Noise Abatement)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what recommendations he is in a position to make in relation to Property Services Agency reports on noise abatement at source level of proof and experimental establishments such as Inchterf, Kilsyth.

Inchterf is the only proof and experimental establishment for which the Property Services Agency is conducting a study of the possibilities of noise reduction. As I inforced the hon. Member last week, I hope that the technical report will be available within a matter of weeks. When it is, I will send her either a copy of it or a summary of its main findings and conclusions.Before any recommendations can be made on the basis of the technical study, it will be necessary to consider the practicability of its findings in relation to the operational functioning of the establishment and how worth while the measures would be in relation to their likely cost.

Hms "Ark Royal"

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has any plans to visit HMS "Ark Royal".

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will announce his decision about the future of HMS "Ark Royal" at the end of her commission in December 1978.

I announced on 27th February—[Vol. 945, c. 90.]—that HMS "Ark Royal" would pay off at the end of the year. After very careful consideration it has now been decided that arrangements will be made for her to be scrapped. We have had many suggestions about how she might be used in future but, if she were to be sold for a purpose other than scrap, we should have to be satisfied that she could be properly maintained. It would be inappropriate for Defence funds to be used for this purpose.

Nato Defence Ministers

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he last met the other NATO Defence Ministers.

At the six-monthly ministerial meeting of NATO's nuclear planning group on 18th and 19th October, which I attended with five of my fellow NATO Defence Ministers.

China

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his Department's current attitude concerning the sale of military equipment to China.

Her Majesty's Government remain ready to respond to Chinese interest in British military equipment, taking into account the usual political strategic and economic criteria, and our international obligations.

Forces Journal

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why the Forces journal refused an advertisement from a trade union inviting applications for union membership.

I assume that the Question refers to our refusal to accept an advertisement prepared by the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs for publication in Soldiermagazine. The decision was taken on the grounds that its basic theme ran counter to departmental policy on the question of union representation for the Armed Forces and that its dissemination in an official publication might have given the impression that this policy had been modified.

Mr C Pile

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why he terminated the commission of former Lieutenant C. Pile number C.020515A after seven and a quarter years' service in the Royal Navy, thus depriving this officer of the £6,00 gratuity he would have received had he completed eight years' service; and whether he will undertake not to operate this procedure in the future and provide some redress to Mr. Pile.

Lieutenant Pile's commission was terminated as he had reached the stage where, due to professional incapacity, he could no longer be employed usefully and effectively and the continued expenditure of public money could not be justified.Had lie completed eight years' satisfactory service his gratuity would have been of the order of £4,000. He did not complete such service and therefore was not eligible for such an award. However, he was awarded a gratuity, under the discretionary powers vested in the Admiralty Board of the Defence Council.I am satisfied that the procedure under which officers' commissions may be terimnted is both just and fair, that it was correctly applied in Lieutenant Pile's case and that it should continue to operate.

Expenditure

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the latest estimate of the annual world military expenditure; and what is the latest annual military expenditure of the United Kingdom.

I cannot give an authoritative figure for total world military expenditure, since reliable data on a comparable basis are lacking. The latest edition of "The Military Balance", published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies, suggests a total of about 410 billion US dollars for 64 countries in 1977, and the work of other analysts tends to support this as a reasonable blobal estimated. United Kingdom defence expenditure in 1977–78 was £6,787 million or 11½7 billion US dollars at the exchange rates used by the IISS.

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence by how much in real terms spending on defence has increased or decreased since 1973.

The Defence budget for the current financial year is 8.7 per cent. lower in real terms than that for 1973–74.

Territorial And Volunteer Reserve

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when the Shapland committee report on the Territorial and Volunteer Reserve will be made available to Members.

As I explained to the hon. Member for Tynemouth (Mr. Trotter) on 27th July—[Vol. 954, c. 886]—it would not be appropriate to make this report available as it is an internal document. Nevertheless, I hope to be able to announce the Government's decision on the report early next year.

Redford Barracks, Edinburgh

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is now in a position to make a statement about the long-term future of Redford barracks in Edinburgh.

Defence Codification Authority

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the future of the Defence Codification Authority, Motting-ham.

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 3rd November.

Service Men (Allowances)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to increase the allowances for moving baggage and household possessions owned by Service men when posted overseas, in light of the fact that the allowances have not changed for more than 25 years.

I have nothing to add to the remarks made on this subject by my right hon. Friend the Minister of State, Ministry of Defence in the debate on 22nd May 1978.—[Vol. 950, c. 1248.]

War Medals

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average time taken for processing applications for war medals; how many people are employed on this task; and how many applicants are on the waiting list.

The Army Medal Office is largely responsible for handling the issue of all medals for all three Services and has a total staff of 68. It is impractical to identify the exact proportion devoted directly to this particular task. An additional four people are employed on work arising specifically from war medal applications for the other two Services.Once the task of processing actually begins the time taken to deal with each application is normally between three and 10 weeks according to the Service. The Army Medal Office currently has a waiting list of some 15,000 applicants while the total for the other Services is of the order of 400.

"The Way Ahead"

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he plans to publish the unclassified document prepared by the chiefs of staff and entitled "The Way Ahead".

The content of this material prepared for the chiefs of staff is and has always been classified.

Nuclear Weapons

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what agreement was reached at the NATO Defence Ministers' meeting in October with regard to (a) increasing the number of nuclear strike aircraft based in Great Britain, and (b) fitting neutron warheads to existing missiles and shells based in Western Europe.

There was no discussion of nuclear strike aircraft based in the United Kingdom at the ministerial meeting of NATO's nuclear planning group in October. The United States' Defense Secretary did, however, inform his colleagues that President Carter had decided to give technical effect to his decision on enhanced radiation weapons in April. This involves no change to the policy announced in April which the Government fully support.

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied that neither tactical nor strategic nuclear weapons owned by the British Government can be fired in the absence of a decision first taken by the Prime Minister and his senior colleagues.

The Government are indeed satisfied that their arrangements ensure that all British nuclear weapons are subject to the most stringent political control.

Procurement Policy

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what instructions he had issued by 6th November to those responsible for procurement for defence needs to ensure that an increasing proportion of private sector procurement is obtained from small firms.

Small firms already make a vital contribution in meeting the needs of the Services, both directly as contractors and in subcontracting for larger firms. I do not think it would be appropriate to specify that a particular proportion of those needs should be met by small firms.

Armed Forces (Pay And Conditions)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the terms of reference for the study of Service men's pay and conditions to be undertaken by the three Services.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is setting up a committee to review Forces' pay and conditions; and what arrangements are junior officers and other ranks on the being made for the representation of committee.

A departmental management study has been set up with wide-ranging terms of reference covering many aspects of Service life and conditions, including a review of the work of the military salary concept since this was introduced at the beginning of the 1970s. The study is being undertaken by a small number of senior officers with recent experience in the field of personnel management. They are therefore very aware of the more pressing personnel problems throughout the Services and will be supplementing this knowledge from a wide range of sources, including of course the views of both commissioned and non-commissioned personnel of all the ranks. I expect the study to be completed next year and its recommendations will then be a matter for internal consideration, and, in as far as appropriate, no doubt for the consideration of the Review Body on Armed Forces Pay as well.

Royal Air Force (Operational Capability)

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the current operational capability of the Royal Air Force to deter any hostile interventions into United Kingdom air space.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to the hon. Member for Bexleyheath (Mr. Townsend) earlier today.

Weapon Standardisation

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what progress has been made on the standardisation of weapons since the Euro-Group communique of 5th November 1975.

Common missile systems have been adopted and there has been useful progress in the Independent European Programme Group and in harmonising requirements and in making better use of resources in the Alliance generally.

Disarmament

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action has been taken by his Department to implement the policy set out in the Prime Minister's speech to the recent United Nations Special Session on Disarmament; and what further action he intends to take.

The Ministry of Defence, in close consultation with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, is actively pursuing the policy objectives set out by the Prime Minister, and will continue to do so.

North Atlantic Treaty Organisation

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has to correct the imbalance of North Atlantic Treaty Organisation conventional forces against Warsaw Pact forces in central Europe.

At the Washington NATO summit in May 1978, Heads of State and Government considered a long-term defence programme—LTDP—developed in order to ensure that the defensive capability of the North Atlantic Alliance would remain fully effective in the face of the continuing build-up in Warsaw Pact strength. They endorsed a wide range of measures designed to help adapt NATO's defence posture to meet the challenges of the 1980s. The United Kingdom has played a full and positive part in the LTDP and is reassessing its defence programme with a view to accommodating as many LTDP measures as possible.Moreover, we responded promptly to the call by NATO to aim for real increases in defence budgets of around 3 per cent. This has helped us to make a number of improvements to United Kingdom Forces including an increase in the planned size of the Army by 6,000 men.

Zambia (Arms Supply)

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received concerning the supply of arms to Zambia.

I have answered a number of Questions from hon. Members on military assistance to Zambia; one hon. Member has written to me; and I have also received several letters from members of the public.

Northern Ireland

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about the future of the Ulster Defence Regiment.

The Ulster Defence Regiment will continue to provide military support for the maintenance of law and order in the Province. The recruitment of full-time members of the regiment is going well and has enabled the UDR's participation in security operations to be increased. As to the future organisation of the regiment, I refer the hon. Member to my reply on 9th November 1978.—[Vol. 957, c. 331.]

Iran

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what recent representations he has received about the supply of military equipment to Iran.

Since the end of July there has been a handful of letters from hon. Members and members of the public.

Armed Forces (Premature Retirement)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied with the trend of applications for premature retirement by officers and men, following the recent Forces pay awards.

No clear trend since April 1978 is yet discernible. It is still too early to see the effect of the recent pay award and the forward commitment which the Government have given to restore the full military salary by 1980.

Nuclear Deterrent

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) he will outline the system of political control which is used to ensure that the nuclear deterrent is subject to a fail-safe firing mechanism and cannot be employed without the authority of Her Majesty's Government.

Monitoring Buoys (Irish Sea)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what steps have been taken by the Royal Navy to clear monitoring buoys that have been laid by foreign submarines in the Irish Sea off the coast of Anglesey.

I have no evidence that any monitoring buoys have been laid by foreign submarines in the Irish Sea off the coast of Anglesey.

Aircraft Speed And Height Control

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, in view of the recent accident at Selkirk, he will take steps to reduce the maximum speeds and increase the minimum altitudes permitted in flights by military aircraft over South-East Scotland.

No. The heights and speeds flown on military low level sorties already represent the most reasonable compromise between the need for realistic training and the interests of the public. The pilot's orders before flight invariably specify heights and speeds which are no more demanding than the particular sortie requires.

Interceptor Aircraft

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to announce orders for a new single-purpose high-performance interceptor fighter for the Royal Air Force to replace the Lightning.

It is not the practice to indicate when orders are likely to be placed for equipment which is still in the early stages of development. However, it is planned that the Tornado F2 interceptor aircraft should enter service in the mid-1980s to replace both the Phantom and the Lightning.

Royal Air Force (Defensive Capabilities)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied with the ground-to-air defensive capabilities of Royal Air Force bases in the United Kingdom; and whether he will make a statement.

I am satisfied that the various elements of the United Kingdom's air defences, of which active airfield defences are a part, together constitute a strong deterrent to air attack. We are, of course, always seeking to improve our capability in this particular area and have already announced the purchase of equipment for a further Rapier squadron, additional stocks of Bloodhound missiles, and the deployment of a second Bloodhound squadron in the United Kingdom in 1981. We are keeping under review the need for any further measures to meet changes in the threat.

Offshore Oil Installations

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if the policing of the United Kingdom's offshore economic zone will continue indefinitely to be the responsibility of the Armed Forces, mainly Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, or if some form of civil surveillance and enforcement is being contemplated.

Fishery protection within the United Kingdom's extended fishery limits is undertaken by the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force, acting on behalf of the fisheries Departments, and by the fishery protection vessels of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force also undertake surveillance of, and deterrent patrolling around, the United Kingdom's offshore oil and gas installations on behalf of the Department of Energy; the Armed Forces may also be called upon to come to the aid of the civil power in emergencies. There are no plans to change any of these arrangements.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

South Africa (Arms Supplies)

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the export of arms to South Africa via Antigua.

I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the member for Bedwellty (Mr. Kinnock) on 10th November. Investigations are continuing.—[Vol. 957, c. 355.]

Immigration Applications (India And Pakistan)

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) what is the current waiting time between application and interview at the high commission in New Delhi for finances of British residents who wish to enter the United Kingdom for marriage;

(2) what is the current waiting time for interviews at the British Embassy in Islamabad in respect of fiancés of British residents; and how this compares with the position one year previously and four years previously;

(3) how the current waiting time for interviews at the high commission in New Delhi in respect of fiancés of British residents compares with the position one year and four years previously.

The waiting time (in months) for a male fiancé interviewed on 30th September was as follows:

197819771974
Islamabad21¾15½*
New Delhi*
* See below.
The rule allowing male fiancés to enter the United Kingdom for marriage only came into force on 27th June 1974. On 30th September 1974 no records were yet being kept for this category.

Economic And Social Committee

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list in the Official Reportthe names of the United Kingdom nominees to the Economic and Social Committee of the European Communities for the years 1977–78, together with the number of possible and actual attendances over that period at meetings for which expenses were payable.

The names of the United Kingdom members of the Economic and Social Committee in 1977 and until 18th September 1978 are given below. Members are appointed in their personal capacity and may not be bound by any mandatory instructions. Arrangements for meetings of the committee and its sections and the question of attendance at them are not the responsibility of the British Government.ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMITTEE OF THE EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES UK MEMBERSHIP FROM 1ST JANUARY 1977 TO 18TH SEPTEMBER 1978.

Group 1 (Employers)

Mr D. A. Clark—Chief Economist, Imperial Tobacco Group Ltd., Member of CBI Council

Mr. B. R. V. Z. de Ferranti—Director, Ferranti Ltd., ex-Director, ICL Ltd.

Mr. T. W. H. Gailey—Former Chief Executive, National Bus Company

The Marquess of Hamilton—Director, Northern Bank

Mr. C. A. C. Henniker-Heaton, CBE—Consultant to British Textile Employers' Association

Miss Anne Mackie (Until 31st March 1977)—Deputy to Industrial Relations Adviser Unilever.

Replaced by: Mr. S. J. Lawton—Food Manufacturers Federation

Mr. W. G. N. Miller—Executive Director, Save and Prosper Group Ltd.

Mr. M. J. G. Wylie—Director, Matthew Wylie (1972) Ltd. Chairman, Post Office Users' Council for Scotland

Group II (Employees)

Lord Allen of Fallowfield, CBE—Union of Shop, Distributive and Allied Workers

Mr, David Basnett—General Secretary. National Union of General and Municipal Workers

Mr. Reginald Bottini, CBE—General Secretary, National Union of Agricultural and Allied Workers.

Mr. Jack Jones, MBE—General Secretary. Transport and General Workers Union

Mr. Lionel Murray, OBE—General Secretary, Trades Union Congress

Mr. Terence Parry, OBE—General Secretary, Fire Brigades Union. Mrs. C. Patterson, OBE—National Woman Officer Transport and General Workers Union

Mr. M. T. Walsh (Until 31st March 1977)—Assistant Secretary, International Department, Trades Union Congress

Replaced by: Mr. T. Jenkins—International Department Trades Union Congress

Group III (Other Interests)

Mrs. June Evans, OBE—Chairman, Housewives Trust Member, BBC General Advisory Council

Mr. Guy Hunter, CBE—Overseas Development Institute

Sir Patrick McCall, MBE—Formerly Clerk, Lancashire County Council, Police Authority, and Lieutenancy of Lancaster

Sir John Peel, KCVO—Obstetric and Gynaecological Surgeon; Former President, British Medical Association

Mr. Hugh Rees, FRICS, FRVA—Chartered Surveyor, Auctioneer and Estate Agent: Former MP for Swansea West

Miss Eirlys Roberts, OBE—Head of Research and Editor-in-Chief, Consumers' Association

Dr. Albert E. Sloman, Vice-Chancellor, University of Essex

Sir Gwilym Williams, CBE—Former President. National Farmers' Union

Southern Africa

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, in line with his provision of missiles and other military equipment to Zambia, he will look with favour on requests from other Commonwealth States in Africa for similar assistance; and, in particular, if it is his policy that the war between Tanzania and Uganda justifies the supply of British arms to the former, or to the latter country.

The special help provided to Zambia was given in the circumstances described in my right hon. Friend's statement of 2nd November.A number of Commonwealth States in Africa purchase defence equipment from suppliers in the United Kingdom; and the Government also provide some assistance in training.The British Government provide no military or other assistance to Uganda whose attack on Tanzania we have condemned. Tanzania has our full support.

Zambia

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to protect the lives of British subjects in the copper belt against attacks by alien guerrillas operating in Zambia.

There have been no reports of attacks on British nationals in the Zambian copper belt.On the question of the protection of British nationals in Zambia, I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 16th November to the hon. Member for Epping Forest (Mr. Biggs-Davison).—[Vol. 958, c.

323.]

Mattiya Kambona

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will raise at the United Nations, in the context of human rights, the imprisonment without trial and ill treatment of Mattiya Kambona by the Government of Tanzania.

No. Mr. Kambona was released on 5th February under an amnesty declared by the Government of Tanzania.

Antigua

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he is satisfied that the majority of people in Antigua wish to be independent.

In his eleventh statehood day anniversary speech on 31st October, the Premier of Antigua indicated that in his view Antigua should proceed to independence. However, no formal proposals have been submitted by the Government of Antigua to the British Goverment.

Employment

Employed Persons And Benefit Recipients

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list, for each of the past 10 years, the number of persons gainfully employed and the number of persons in receipt of State benefit whether due to age, sickness, unemployment or any other cause.

Information in the form requested is not available.The following table gives estimates of the number of people gainfully employed, together with estimates of the number of payments of State benefits in a week, for each of the 10 years to 1977. Some of these payments are made to people who are gainfully employed.Because an individual may receive more than one benefit at the same time, a count of the separate payments made will overestimate the numbers receiving benefits.

Great Britian (thousands)

Number of benefit paid in a week

Number of people gainfully employed (1)

Unemployment benefit

Family allowance or child benefit

Widows' benefit

Retirement pension

War pension

Supplementary benefit

Sickness or invalidity benefit

Disablement benefit

Noncontributory invalidity pension

Other benefits (5)

Total (2)

Month of count

June

Nov.

Dec.

Nov. (3)

Nov. (3)

Dec.

Dec. (4)

June

Sept.

June

196824,8362944,1245606,9735572,640934205*20216,500
196924,8522794,1895517,1705392,680923208*19816,500
197024,7453024,2495427,3635192,740932207*18817,500
197124,3994594,3235647,5155022,910857205*25017,500
197224,3903524,3625567,6684812,910870204*34617,500
197324,9701974,4535427,8244642,670885202*41617,500
197425,0602594,4635287,9724472,680899201*42118,000
197524,9295254,4585098,1494302,790855201*44118,500
197624,761(6)5874,4454868,3374132,9408682029054519,000
197724,877(6)5617,135(7)4708,5313972,990957201(8)10362122,000

Notes:

(1) Employees in employment, self-employed (with or without employees) and members of Her Majesty's Forces.
(2) Because counts of the different benefits are not all made at the same time of the year, the total is shown to the nearest half million.
(3) Count was in December prior to 1972.
(4) Count was in November prior to 1975.
(5) Other benefits comprise maternity allowance, injury benefit, guardian's allowance (with effect from 1977), child's special allowance, family income supplement (with effect from 1971), industrial death benefit, workmen's compensation, pneumoconiosis and byssinosis, benefit scheme, attendance allowance (with effect from 1972), and mobility allowance (with effect from 1976). The counts for these benefits are made in different months. No estimates are available for non-contributory invalidity pension and invalid care allowance both of which were introduced in 1977.
(6) Self-employed estimates are assumed unchanged from the 1975 figure. The estimate of employees in employment for 1977 is provisional.
(7) The large increase in the figure for 1977 is due mainly to the introduction in April 1977 of child benefit, which included payment for one-child families for the first time.
(8) Estimate.
* Benefit not in existence.

Industrial Disputes (Lost Days)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has to review the method of compiling statistics relating to the number of days lost in industrial disputes.

The present statistics cover a very high proportion of days lost in both official and unofficial strikes. The methods and coverage of the statistics are very similar to those used in most other industrial countries. However, the system is under review to see whether some amendment is justified, but a considerable amount of investigation is required before coming to final decisions. I shall want to avoid significant increases in costs of data collection, to either industry or the Government.

Chorley And Leyland

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of unemployed persons in (a) the Chorley, Lancashire, travel-to-work area

Percentage increases for the first half of 1978 compared with the average for 1975 in:
(1)(2)(3)
Average hourly earnings in manufacturingUnit labour costs (wages and salaries per unit of output) in manufacturingColumn (1)—Column(2)
Per cent.Per cent.Per cent.
Great Britain43*385
USA25†169
Japan30‡228
Germany185║13
Italy74§....
* Weekly earnings.
† Production workers.
‡ Monthly earnings.
§ Hourly rates.
⁕ Including mining.
.. Not available.
Sources:
OECD Main Economic Indicators.
Department of Employment Gazette.
There are no internationally accepted forecasts.

European Community (Employment Agencies)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will seek to institute further controls over the recruitment of workers by agencies for employment in other EEC countries; and if he will make a statement.

and ( b) the Leyland, Lancashire, travelto-work area is under the age of 20 years.

Chorley and Leyland are parts of the Preston travel-to-work area.At 12th October the proportions of those registered as unemployed who were under 20 years of age in the Chorley and Leyland employment office areas were 22·7 per cent. and 23·3 per cent. respectively.

Manufacturing Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Japan, Germany and Italy the amount by which the percentage increase in hourly earnings in manufacturing in the first half of 1978 compared with 1975 exceeded the corresponding increase in unit costs in manufacturing, and the internationally accepted forecast for the year-on-year increase in the third and fourth quarters of 1978.

The Employment Agencies Act 1973 and the regulations I have made under it already place appropriate obligations on employment agents in Britain for the protection of workers whom they introduce to employers abroad. I doubt if further regulations can help at present since the basic problem is one of combating contraventions of the existing law.

The difficulties experienced by British workers on the Continent, particularly in the construction industry, often arise through the activities of recruiters suspected of operating in Britain in contravention of the 1973 Act or of staff contractors in other member States suspected of operating illegally under the laws of those States. My officers are thoroughly investigating all such cases which come to their attention and are collaborating closely with the responsible authorities in other member States, particularly in the Federal Republic of Germany and the Netherlands, to combat such illegal activities.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many prosecutions have been brought against employment agencies recruiting workers for employment in other EEC countries in each of the past two years.

No such prosecutions were brought in 1977; two have been brought so far in 1978.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what study he has made of misleading advertisements in national newspapers placed by employment agencies recruiting workers for employment in other EEC countries; and if he will take steps to prevent any abuse.

False and misleading advertising by employment agencies is dealt with under the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 which is not my responsibility. However, my Department has kept a close watch on advertisements placed in both the national and regional press concerning recruitment for employment in other EEC countries. It has taken any necessary corrective action in relation to regulations made under the Employment Agencies Act 1973 where a licensed employment agency or business was concerned and carried out appropriate investigations where it has had cause to believe that an unlicensed employment agency or employment business was involved.Further, it has disseminated information about the Employment Agencies Act regulations to newspapers concerned and has sought and obtained a large measure of assistance from them in securing compliance and in preventing much of the advertising by illegal agents

Low-Paid Workers

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers are estimated to be earning £40 per week or less on basic wages.

My Department's earnings surveys do not provide estimates of the numbers of employees with basic rates of particular amounts. The results of the new earnings survey indicate that in April 1978, amongst employees whose pay was not affected by absence, about 200,000 full-time men—aged 21 and over —and 900,000 full-time women—aged 18 and over—had gross weekly earnings excluding overtime of less than £40.

Consett And Stanley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what special employment measures he is taking to support jobs in Consett and Stanley, County Durham.

Consett and Stanley will continue to benefit from the Government's various special employment measures which have so far helped over 1,900 people in the area. In the coming months the extension of the small firms employment subsidy which my right hon. Friend announced on 9th November 1978 will provide further help. In addition, because of the area's status as a special development area, Consett and Stanley will also continue to benefit from the highest levels of regional assistance available under the Industry Act 1972.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of unemployed persons in Consett and Stanley, County Durham, is under 20 years of age.

At 12th October the proportions of those registered as unemployed who were under 20 years of age in the Consett and Stanley employment office areas were 23·8 per cent. and 24·5 per cent. respectively.

Picketing Law

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in suitable form an explanation of the law on picketing for the guidance of those involved and the police.

Northern Ireland

Government Employment (Health And Safety)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether, in view of the responsibilites of central Government for water, sewerage and roads, he will introduce legislation to extend the provisions of the health and safety at work order to Crown employment.

The provisions of the order already extend to employment under the Crown, and so apply to people em-

£million
Costs
Allowance1976-771977-78 (provisional)1978-79 (estimated)
Single person's allowance2,7003,2503,200
Married person's allowance5,0006,5006,600
Wife's earned income allowance1,5501,8501,800
Age allowances295260265
The estimates are the costs of withdrawing the allowances singly and should not therefore be totalled. They do not include the tax which would become collectable if the allowances were withdrawn from persons whose incomes are not reported to the Inland Revenue— mainly elderly persons with national insurance retirement pensions and possibly small amounts of other taxable income, which in total are too small to be liable to tax.The costs of the single person's allowance and married person's allowance include the cost of the allowance to persons benefiting from the age allowance, up to the limit of the single and married allowance. The extra cost of the age allowances, on top of the single and married allowances, is shown in the table.

Taxation (Simplification)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will specify in detail the proposed simplification of taxes as announced in September 1978 by the Financial Secretary to the Treasury; and what methods will be used to explain these simplifications to the taxpayer.

I am sending the hon. Lady a copy of the press notice which contains the relevant extracts from ployed on the services mentioned; the Crown is exempted, however, from certain provisions relating to offences and enforcement.

National Finance

Allowances (Cost)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the cost of each of single person's tax allowance, married person's tax allowance and wife's earned income allowance in 1976–77 and in 1977–78; and what are the estimated costs in 1978–79.

The estimated costs are as follows:the speech I gave in September 1978 to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.

Government Borrowing (International Comparisons)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list central Government borrowing expressed in United States dollars per capita at the end of June 1970, February 1974 and the latest available month for Canada, France, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and West Germany.

There is no internationally agreed definition of central Government outstanding debt. The table below is derived from various publications which give figures for central Government borrowing according to the definitions employed by the individual countries, which vary widely. Those for the United Kingdom are derived from Financial Statistics, February 1978 (Supplementary Table C). The figures are in terms of nominal value and are for the dates nearest to those in the question for which figures are available.The figures are affected by the different administrative arangements of each country; in particular by differences in the methods of financing local authorities and public trading enterprises, and by the extent to which they include Government's holding of their own debt. Furthermore, the data have been converted to dollars using official or market rates of

CENTRAL GOVERNMENT BORROWING PER HEAD ($)
End-June 1970End-February 1974Latest available
Canada1,6702,5303,150 (31st June 1976)
France340350620 (31st December 1977)
Italy2505101,290 (30th November 1977)
Japan1703601,810 (30th June 1978)
United Kingdom*1,4101,6502,000 (31st March 1977)
United States1,8702,2703,570 (31st August 1978)
West Germany3606302,060 (31st March 1978)
* Total central Government liabilities

Gross Domestic Product

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, further to his Written Answer to the hon. Member for Carshalton on 15th November, if he will publish a table showing by how much gross domestic product increased or decreased

Gross domestic product at current factor cost
Expenditure basedIncome basedAverage earnings of full-time manual men aged 21 and over* in October of each year (United Kingdom)Monthly index of average earnings (GB) (older series seasonally adjusted—all employees)Index of prices of consumer goods and services†
Percentage change over preceding year
1949+6·2+7·3+3·4..+2·4
1950+4·0+3·5+5·4..+2·9
1951+11·3+10·9+10·4..+9·0
1952+9·1+9·1+7·5..+6·2
1953+7·8+6·3+6·0..+1·7
1954+5·6+6·4+8·1..+1·7
1955+7·3+8·0+9·1..+3·5
1956+8·3+7·2+6·7..+4·3
1957+6·0+5·4+5·7..+3·3
1958+4·2+4·2+2·0..+2·7
1959+5·1+5·6+5·5..+0·6
1960+6·5+8·7+7·3..+1·0
1961+7·0+5·8+5·6..+2·8
1962+4·3+4·6+3·4..+3·9
1963+6·5+6·6+5·6..+1·9
1964+8·6+8·2+8·1+7·6+3·3
1965+6·9+7·6+8·2+7·1+4·8
1966+6·1+5·4+3·7+6·6+3·9
1967+5·5+4·8+5·3+3·6+2·5
1968+7·1+7·8+7·6+7·8+4·7
1969+5·5+7·3+7·9+7·8+5·4
1970+10·1+9·8+13·0+12·1+6·4
1971+13·4+11·6+10·3+11·3+9·4
1972+11·6+13·2+15·8+12·9+7·1
1973+16·3+14·5+14·2+13·5+9·2
1974+15·3+14·6+18·8+17·8+16·1
1975+25·5+26·8+22·5+26·5+24·2
1976+18·4+17·7+12·4+15·6+16·5
1977+12·7+13·0+8·8+10·2+15·8
* Employed in manufacturing and certain other industries.
† Based on the implied consumers' expenditure deflator for the period 1949-62 and the general index of retail prices for the period 1963-77.

exchange, which do not necessarily reflect the relative purchasing powers of the currencies. Direct comparisons between the countries are therefore inadvisable and even comparisons over time for individual countries should be made with caution.

at both current and constant prices in each year since 1949; and if he will show by how much average earnings increased in each case at both current and constant prices.

Year-to-year percentage changes in the gross domestic product at constant factor cost based on expenditure, income and output data and the average of the three are given on pages 126 to 129 of the October 1978 edition of Economic Trends.

The only available information on changes in average earnings on a consistent basis over the period 1949 to 1978 relates to manual workers in manufacturing and certain other industries from the regular survey conducted by the Department of Employment. The monthly index of average earnings of employees covering the whole economy was only introduced in January 1976. The increase in the annual average of this index between 1976 and 1977 was 9·0 per cent. The older monthly index of average earnings, which covers production and a limited number of other industries, was introduced from January 1963. Annual changes based on this index are given in the table above.

There is no unique way of measuring changes in the real value of gross earnings, part of which are deducted as taxes on income which, in turn, are spent or redistributed by Government in a variety of ways. In the table the year-to-year changes in average earnings are compared with the year-to-year changes in prices which underlie the Central Statistical Office estimates of the internal purchasing power of the pound.

A number of factors need to be taken into account in comparing changes in GDP with changes in average earnings. GDP covers all factor incomes in the United Kingdom—income from employment, self-employment, profits and rent. Earnings cover only part of income from

TAX THRESHOLD AS A PERCENTAGE OF AVERAGE EARNINGS

Year

Single person

Married couple

Married couple with 1child under 11

Married couple with 2 children under 11

Married couple with 3 children (2 under 11, 1 between 11 and 16)

Married couple with 4 children (2 under 11, 2 between 11 and 16)

per cent.

per cent.

per cent.

per cent.

per cent.

per cent.

1977–7824·938·444·349·855·961·8
1978–79 (September)22·835·639·843·748·252·4
1977–78 excluding October 1977 increases (see Note)22·334·240·245·751·957·8

As in the previous answer to the hon. Member, the earnings figures relate to full-time male manual workers aged 21 and over for 1977–78 up-dated to Octo- employment, the principal omission being employers' contributions to national insurance, health and superannuation funds. Changes in average earnings are not the same as changes in total earnings which are the product of average earnings and numbers in employment. Finally the average earnings series shown in the table do not cover the whole economy.

"Vat News"

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is now the cost per issue of printing and distributing VAT News to all registered traders; and whether in future he will restrict its circulation to those who write to request it.

VAT News no. 14 was distributed with other VAT material and the total distribution cost was £145,183. Printing and paper costs for VAT News no. 14 amounted to £21,253.I shall bear in mind the hon. Member's suggestion but since

VAT News provides new information of which traders would not otherwise be aware it is not possible for them to identify only those issues which cover matters affecting their business.

Tax Threshold

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will up-date the answer given to the hon. Member for Aylesbury, Official Report, 11th November 1977, column 274.

pursuant to his reply [Official Report 13th November 1978; Vol. 958, c. 91), gave the following information:The figures are as follows:ber 1977 and for 1978–79 to September 1978, the latest month for which a figure is available. For the sake of comparability with the figures for 1973–74and previous years given in the previous answer to the hon. Member—and in the answer to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North (Mr. Howell) to which it referred —the tax-free child benefit has been included in both thresholds and average earnings for the married couples with children.I regret that the 1977–78 figures for married couples with children in the previous answer to the hon. Member were not on the basis then indicated, since the child benefit was added to earnings but not to the thresholds.The fall in the threshold compared with earnings between the two years for the single person and married couple reflects the increases in personal allowances in October 1977 which anticipated the increases required for indexation in 1978–79. If these increases had taken place in 1978–79 rather than 1977–78 the 1977–78 figures would have been as shown in the table. The remaining fall in thresholds for families with children reflects the continuing transition from child tax allowances to child benefit.

International Borrowing

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will make a statement on the future of the Basle facility and the International Monetary Fund standby.

The Basle facility came into effect on 8th February 1977. The facility was to run for two years, and it will expire on 7th February 1979. The IMF standby came into effect on 3rd January 1977. It too was for a two-year period, and it will expire on 2nd January 1979.

Hotel Construction

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is yet able to monitor any movement on investment in new hotel construction, pursuant to the granting of industrial building allowances to hotels.