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Written Answers

Volume 959: debated on Wednesday 29 November 1978

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 29th November 1978

Home Department

Prison Service

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what the Government's plans are for increasing staff in the prison service; what would be the cost in salaries and related expenditure; and what is the current ratio of staff to offenders.

The White Paper"The Government's Expenditure Plans 1978–79 to 1981–82 "—Cmnd. 7049—includes the following provision for increases in the total average number of non-industrial staff in the prison service in England and Wales by comparison with the figures for 1977–78:

Staff numbersFinancial provision (£ million)
1977–7820,130115·2
1978–7921,241118·2
1979–8021,827119·5
The current ratio of non-industrial staff to inmates in England and Wales is 1:2·1.

Prison Department (Reports)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to substitute the word"paternity"on all occasions in legislation and reports of the work of the prison department, for example, for"bastardy"as in"bastardy arrears ".

So far as legislation is concerned, I shall be pleased to consider any specific proposals that my hon. Friend may wish to put to me. I will arrange for the amendment of references to"bastardy"and"bastardy arrears"in future prison department reports where appropriate.

Gartree Prison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why he will not publish the report on the riot at Gartree prison.

The reports on the riot at Gartree by the governor and the regional director contain detailed commentaries, disclosure of which would be prejudicial to the maintenance of security at the establishment in the future and to the control of any future disturbance or incipient disturbance. It is not the practice to publish such reports and I see no reason to do so in this case.

Horserace Betting Levy Board

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has appointed a chairman for the Horserace Betting Levy Board for the coming year; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. I have reappointed Sir Desmond Plummer as chairman for a further period of two years up to 31st January 1981. I appreciate the good work which Sir Desmond has done over the past five years and am grateful to him for having agreed to serve for a further period.

Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department at what prison each of the 11 suicides by men occurred in 1977.

Canterbury, Cardiff, Gartree, Leeds, Parkhurst, Pucklechurch, Shrewsbury, Stafford, Swansea, Wakefield and Wormwood Scrubs.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the weekly cost of keeping a prisoner in prison.

In 1976–77, the last financial year for which full figures are available, the average weekly cost of keeping a person in custody in England and Wales was £85. This average cost covers all expenditure required to operate the Prison Service, and to maintain the prison system. It is estimated that this figures will be about £112 per week in the current financial year.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cause of death of the woman prisoner who died in custody in 1977; what was her age; what was her offence; and why she was not released.

The information requested is as follows:Natural causes (cardio-respiratory failure due to asthma attack); age 30; theft; although the prisoner was under treatment for asthma, her death was sudden and unexpected.

AgeOffencePlace of deathCause of death
1.25RobberyHMP AlbanyEpileptiform convulsions.
2.34Theft and burglaryNHS hospitalCardio-respiratory failure; myocardial, splenic and renal infarcts.
3.37FraudNHS hospitalIntracerebral, intraventricular and subarachnoid haemorrhage.
4.61FraudNHS hospitalCoronary thrombosis.
5.50Violence against the personHMP BrixtonCoronary thrombosis.
6.56FraudNHS hospitalCoronary thrombosis.
7.51ArsonNHS hospitalCoronary thrombosis.
8.48Fine default (drunkenness)HMP DorchesterTuberculous bronchopneumonia.
9.44BurglaryNHS hospitalHeart failure due to alcoholic cardiomyopathy.
10.47TheftHMP Durham Heart failure due to mycocardial degeneration.
11.63BurglaryHMP FordCoronary thrombosis.
12.46TheftHMP LeedsPneumonia resulting from fracture of ribs sustained before reception.
13.47Wandering abroadNHS hospitalChronic bronchitis and emphysema.
14.54Criminal damageNHS hospitalBronchopneumonia.
15.22BurglaryNHS hospitalChronic renal failure due to sarcoidosis.
16.56WoundingHMP ParkhurstCoronary thrombosis.
17.74Violence against the personHMP ParkhurstCoronary thrombosis.
18.55TheftNHS hospitalCoronary thrombosis.
19.47Conspiracy to robNHS hospitalCoronary artery occlusion.
20.55Handling stolen goodsHMP RudgateCarcinoma of the bronchus.
21.36Burglary and theftHMP RudgateMyocardial infarction due to coronary occlusion.
22.47Indecent assaultHMP WakefieldMyocardial fibrosis.
23.73FraudNHS hospitalAbdominal neurofibrosarcomatosis.
24.62FraudNHS hospitalCarcinoma of the bronchus
Most of these deaths were sudden and unexpected.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what was the cause of death of each of the five men who died while in custody in 1977; and where they died.

I assume that my hon. Friend has in mind the five deaths due to non-natural causes which occurred in 1977. One remand prisoner died by gunshot wounds sustained while resisting arrest following his escape during the course of a journey under escort from Leicester prison. One inmate died of head injuries inflicted by another inmate at Chelmsford prison; one died as a result of self-administration of drugs at Brixton prison; and two inmates—one at Stafford prison and one at Wakefield

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cause of death of each of the 24 men who died from natural causes while in custody in 1977; what were their ages; what were their offences; and where each died and why they were not released.

Following is the infomation requested:prison—died as a result of cardiac inhibition and asphyxia caused by hanging.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many, and what proportion of, prisoners in prisons for which he is responsible are confined to their cells for periods exceeding 18 hours per day; and whether such confinement is conducive to their rehabilitation.

The information is not available in the form requested. Conditions vary widely from prison to prison, and from time to time in the same prison.Prison regimes aim to enable prisoners to have as much activity in association with others as circumstances allow.

Custodial Remands

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people were remanded in custody by the courts in the following cities during each of the last three complete years for which figures are available and what proportion of the total number of people charged this represents: Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds. Leicester. Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield;(2) how many people remanded in custody in the following cities during the latest 12-month period for which this information is available were subsequently acquitted of the charges brought against them or given prison sentences of shorter duration than the time they had already spent in custody; and what proportion of the total number of custodial remand prisoners tried during that year in each of these cities, respectively, this represents: Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield;(3) if he will publish in the

Official Reporta list of all sentences imposed by courts in the following cities on persons in custodial remand, together with the period of remand imprisonment served in each case up to the date of sentencing, during the latest 12-month period for which figures are available: Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

Parole

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now allow the Parole Board to give reasons for refusing parole.

Before reaching a decision on the desirability of giving reasons, about which we shall need to enter into various consultations, we are awaiting the results of a feasibility experiment by a number of local review committees. This is necessary because the majority of parole refusals result from recommendations of local review committees, not from those of the Parole Board.

Wales And Chester Circuit (Staff)

asked the Attorney-General how many members of the courts' administration staff of the Wales and Chester Circuit arc Welsh speaking and how many of such Welsh sneakers serve (a) the Crown courts and (b) the county courts in North Wales.

Eighty-four of the staff referred to speak Welsh. Of these, three arc employed in the Crown court and 24 in county courts in North Wales.

Civil Service

Official Report (Printers' Earnings)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what were the average weekly earnings of a skilled printer engaged in the printing of the Official Reporton 23rd November; what was the comparable figures six months ago; and if the dispute is now settled and on what terms.

The average weekly earnings of printing machine managers employed at St. Stephen's Parliamentary Press on the night shift—when the Official Reportis produced—on the dates shown were as follows:

Week ending 19th May 1978£160·00
Week ending 24th November 1978 £155·27
The fluctuations is due to the effect of overtime.There has been no very recent dispute at St. Stephen's Parliamentary Press affecting production of the

Official Report.

Race Relations Policy

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will publish the findings of the Tavistock Institute report on equal opportunities in the field of race relations.

The report by the Tavistock Institute of Human Relations,"Application of race relations policy in the Civil Service ", was published on 1st November 1978 and a copy was placed in the Library on that date. Consultations with staff and other interests are now proceeding in the light of the report.

Pay Research Unit

asked the Minister for the Civil Service when he intends to publish the Pay Research Unit findings for 1979.

The Pay Research Unit's survey reports, the first of which have now been received, are confidential to the negotiating parties, but the independent Pay Research Unit Board will publish in due course its annual report to the Prime Minister on the work of the unit.

Employment

International Statistics

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the percentage increases in employment and unemployment between 1974 and the latest available date in (a) the United Kingdom, (b) the EEC excluding the United Kingdom, (c) Norway, (d) Sweden, and (e) Switzerland.

Information to the latest available dates is given in the following tables:

Percentage change in civilian employment between 1974 and 1977
United Kingdom-0·7
EEC excluding the United Kingdom-10·4
Norway+90·9
Sweden+30·5
Switzerland-90·0
Sources: Statistical Office of the European Communities OECD—Labour Force Statistics, The Swiss Embassy.
Percentage increases in the numbers of unemployed—based on national definitions—between October 1974 and October 1978
United Kingdom123
EEC excluding the United Kingdom67
Norway (a) 130
Sweden17
Switzerland (a), (b)7,700
(a) Change between August 1974 and August 1978.
(b) In August 1974 there were about 100 unemployed and in August 1978 about 7,800.
Sources: Statistical Office of the European Communities, OECD Main Economic Indicators, Labour Attaches Reports.

Health And Safety At Work (Crown Immunity)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received concerning the desirability of legislation to remove the Crown's immunity from enforcement and prosecution under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act; and if he will make a statement about his intentions on this matter.

Apart from representations from the Health and Safety Commission, the Government have received representations on Crown immunity from the TUC, some individual trade unions, and a number of hon. Friends and hon. Members. As far as the Government's intentions on this matter are concerned I have nothing further to add to what I said in reply to my hon. and learned friend the Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on 24th October [Vol. 955, c. 841] and 28th November [Vol. 959, c. 209.]

Unemployment Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what steps he is taking to ensure that payments of unemployment benefit are in future sent through the post without identifying the contents as unemployment benefit.

pursuant to his reply[Official Report,27th November 1978; Vol. 959, c. 39], gave the following reply:We do use some envelopes which relate the correspondence to an unemployment benefit office, but these are being phased out.

Wages Council Awards

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in rank order from lowest to highest, all wages council awards which currently apply; and if he will also list all other categories of workers whose basic rate is less than the highest wages council awards.

It is not possible to list all current rates laid down for the large number of categories or workers covered by wages councils without disproportionate cost. However, for typical adult grades—for example, shop assistant in retail trades,"other workers"in other trades—the current weekly rates are shown in the following table. Where area rates are set, the rates shown are for large towns outside London.

Council and Current statutory minimum
£
Fur27·50
*Hairdressing undertakings other worker)27·85
Coffin furniture etc.31·20
*Licensed non-residential establishment (bar staff)32·30
*Hairdressing undertakings (operative hairdresser)32·50
Made-up textiles33·00
Rubber proofed garment making33·19
*Retail bread and flour etc. (England and Wales)33·20
*Licensed residential establishment etc34·00
Laundry34·00
Cotton waste reclamation 34·00
Toy manufacturing34·10
Retail news agency, tobacco etc.(Scotland)34·15
Dressmaking and women's light clothing (Scotland)34·36
Hat, cap and millinery34·39
Lace finishing34·40
Shirtmaking34·40
Aerated waters (England and Wales)34·50
Dressmaking and women's light clothing (E & W)34·60
Corset34·60
Retail food etc. (Scotland)34·60
*Retail food etc. (England and Wales)34·60
Wholesale mantle and costume 34·62
Unlicensed place of refreshment 34·92
Linen and cotton handkerchief etc.35·20
Retail bespoke tailoring 35·46
Sack and bag35·75
*Licensed non-residential establishment (club stewards)35·80
Rope, twine and net35·90
*Retail furnishing and allied trades36·00
Boot and shoe repairing36·50
Retail news agency, tobacco etc.(England and Wales)36·70
General waste materials reclamation37·20
*Pin, hook and eye etc37·40
Ostrich and fancy feather etc.†38·00
Button manufacturing†38·00
Retail bread and flour confectionery(Scotland)†38·20
Retail drapery outfitting and footwear trades38·50
Perambulator and invalid carriage40·50
Flax and hemp41·01
Aerated waters (Scotland)†41·60
Retail bookselling and stationery trades†42·50
*These councils have issued proposals for increased rates, mostly from the anniversary date.
†These rates include the settlement in the 1978–79 pay round.
Comprehensive information upon which to base the second list is not available.

Trade

Blood Pressure Machines

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many do-it-yourself blood pressure machines have been imported from the United States of America.

This information is not available. Machines for testing blood pressure are not separately distinguished in the Overseas Trade Statistics. Electro-diagnostic apparatus of all kinds—other than electro-cardiographs—fall within a single heading of the Standard International Trade Classification. Documents submitted to Her Majesty's Customs by individual traders may be insufficiently detailed to enable goods imported under this heading to be identified more precisely, an undue cost would be incurred in such an investigation.

Air Travel

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what part has been played by his Department in proposals to provide cheaper air travel between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and whether he will make a statement.

Air fares between Great Britain and Northern Ireland are a matter for the Civil Aviation Authority. In reaching its decisions, the Authority has a duty under the Civil Aviation Act 1977 to see that services are provided at the lowest charges consistent with a high standard of safety and an economic return to efficient operators.

Prices And Consumer Protection

Cement (Northern Ireland)

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection whether he will refer to the Monopolies Commission the supply and distribution of cement in Northern Ireland.

There are no plans to do so at present. Monopoly references are normally made by the Director General of Fair Trading, and if the right hon. Member has any views on the desirability of such a reference, perhaps he would care to write to the Director General direct.

Caravans (Plot Rental Charges)

asked the Secretary of State for Prices and Consumer Protection if he will consider introducing legislation to protect caravan owners against excessive increases in plot rental charges.

I am still considering possible legislation to protect the owners of holiday caravans. I have also invited the industry to deal with abuses itself. To this end my Department has been in touch with the National Federation of Site Operators and the National Caravan Council, which will now I hope take speedy and effective action. In the meantime, I welcome the willingness of these bodies to investigate and endeavour to resolve complaints against their members.

Defence

Beira Patrol

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what was the total cost to public funds of the Beira patrol.

The Beira patrol was one of many tasks undertaken by Royal Navy ships east of Suez between the years 1966 and 1975. It is therefore not possible to isolate the total cost to public funds of the patrol.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Batter

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what invitations have been made to Third world countries to inquire whether or not any of them wish to receive any of the intervention surplus butter now being offered to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at preferential prices; and what replies if any, have been received.

All exports of butter from the European Community, except those to the United States, would qualify for the same export subsidy as butter sold to the USSR. I understand that the butter currently being sold to the USSR comes from the market rather than from intervention stocks.

Under the Community's food aid programmes, quantities of butter, in the form of butter oil, are supplied to developing countries on the basis of requests received. Currently, these amount to about 45,000 tonnes per annum.

Fish

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what estimate he has made of the quantity and value of fish lying in United Kingdom waters within (a) the 12-mile limit; (b) 12–50 miles; and (c) 50–200 miles.

I regret that the information is not available in the form requested. Estimates of the quantity of fish taken in various zones under United Kingdom sovereignty or jurisdiction are as follows:

ZoneTotal Catch
(Nautical miles)('000 tonnes fresh weight)
0–12488·7(1)(2)
0–50l,928–9(3)
50–200701–7(3)
NOTES

(

1 ) Based on member States' own estimates of catches, excluding invertebrates, in the period 1975 to 1977—except France where only average catches over 1971 to 1975 are available.

(2 )Excluding catches by Norwegian vessels.

(3 )Estimated by Fisheries Laboratories,

Lowestoft on the basis of 1975 catch data.

They are in thousand tonnes fresh weight

and exclude invertebrates.

Crop Spraying

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether there has been an increase in complaints about crop spraying affecting private gardens in the last two years; and what action he is taking.

Any complaints of this kind which reach my Department are referred to the Health and Safety Executive. I am informed that the Executive received a total of 29 such complaints in 1976, 24 in 1977 and 40 up to 24th November of this year. My Departmnet is kept informed of spraying incidents generally, so that cases can be referred to the Advisory Committee on Pesticides if there are any grounds for reviewing the fact or conditions of the clearance of a particular product. We also sponsor research, development and advisory work aimed at imparting greater precision to spray equipment, techniques and practice.

Whales

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if the United Kingdom will propose a resolution at the December meeting of the International Whaling Commission calling for the quotas for areas 5 and 7 of the Southern Hemisphere not to be taken following evidence from the scientific committee and the Australian inquiry which show them to be in need of immediate protection.

The scientific committee of the International Whaling Commission is considering the available data on Southern Hemisphere sperm whale stocks and will submit its report to the special meeting of the Commission in December. At the United Kingdom's suggestion, an item has been included on the agenda to enable these stocks to be reviewed again in the light of the scientific committee's assessment.

Education And Science

Pay

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the total cost of salaries of all staff in all sections of education, excluding salaries of her Department for the last two years for which statistics are available; and what proportion of this total was paid as salaries to academic and academic related staff in universities.

The following table gives the information:

ENGLAND AND WALFS
Total cost (salaries of all specified staff in education)£ million at outturn pricesProportion(salaries of academic staff etc. in universities)Per cent.
1975–763,8965·5
1976–774,4115·6

Independent And Maintained Schools(Exchange Of Pupils)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is her view concerning individual arrangements made between schools in the independent and maintained sectors in the same locality, for exchanges of pupils or staff on a temporary basis, to facilitate better understandings between the two sectors.

Co-operative arrangements between maintained and independent schools must be viewed individually. They require my right hon. Friend's approval only if they fall within the terms of section 9(1) of the Education Act 1944, section 6(1) of the Education Act 1953, or regulations made under section 81(b) of the Education Act 1944.

16 To 18-Year-Olds (International Comparisons)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of the 16 to 18-year-old age groups is currently continuing in full-time education, at school or elsewhere; and how this figure compares with the figures for each of the other EEC member States. Sweden and Norway.

In the United Kingdom in 1976–77, the latest year for which data are available, 37–4 per cent, of the 16 to 18-year-old age group were in full-time education in schools, universities and public sector further education establishments. For the other countries, following is the latest information available for this age group derived from the OECD"Educational Statistics Yearbook ":

Percentage
Belgium1966–6742·2
Denmark1970–7140·6
France1970–7145·6
Federal Republic of Germany*1969–7022·3
Ireland1971–7238·4
Italy1966–6727·1
Luxembourg1970–7131·0
Netherlands1970–7143·5
Norway1970–7160·3
Sweden1972–7358·3
*Excluding vocational training schools.
Because of wide variations between countries in educational structure and policies and of differences in definition which underlie these figures, they should not be regarded as fully comparable indicators.

Experimental Projects

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what is the purpose of the Experimental Projects Group;(2) if she will outline the criteria to be used when applying for grants from the fund administered by the Experimental Projects Group; what has been the budget of this fund for the last complete financial year; and how much has been spent in each year;(3) if she will list each and every project financed out of the Experimental Projects Fund in the last three years, specifying the amount awarded to each;(4) if she will name the members of the Experimental Projects Fund committee and detail their experience in youth work,(5) with regard to grants awarded by the Experimental Projects Group, how many of the projects financed over the last three years were visited by officials of her Department to assess the degree of experimentation and innovation.

The Experimental Projects Group is a small informal committee set up by my Department to advise us on the award of grant to experimental projects likely to be of value to the youth service.The membership of the group varies. At present it comprises one representative of each of the following:The National Council for Voluntary Youth ServicesThe Council for Wales of Voluntary Youth Services

SponsorDescriptionGrant awarded (£)
National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs." Countryside projects ": local initiatives to improve the environment.1975–768,000
1976–774,300
1977–78700
Young Men's Christian Association.The Perry Common Project: to provide accommodation and help for homeless young people.1975–762,300
National Youth Bureau A study of current provision and future need for the training of part-time youth and community workers.1975–7610,800
1976–7712,900
1977–784,300
Young Women's Christian Association." Avenues unlimited ": the effectiveness of a team approach to neighbourhood problems.1975–767,200
1976–779,400
Albany TrustThe appointment of a youth officer to advise Youth Service training agencies on the counselling of young people with sexual problems.1976–775,700
1977–787,800
National Association of Youth Clubs.An inner city action project to help girls and young women at risk.1977–785,500
Church of England Board of Education.A follow-up study of young people who have stayed at the Boot night shelter for the homeless.1975–762,800
1976–774,200
1977–78500
This list does not represent the sum total of the Department's support for innovation in youth work, since grants towards the headquarters expenditure of national voluntary youth organisations may be especially supplemented in recognition of planned work of a developmental nature.

  • The National Association of Youth Clubs
  • The Scouts' Association
  • Her Majesty's Inspectorate
  • Department of Education and Science
  • Welsh Office

Most of the membership have considerable practical experience and knowledge of youth work.

Projects must normally be sponsored by a national voluntary youth organisation or a recognised research organisation. The main criteria are that they should be:

  • (i) of national significance, even if locally based
  • (ii) breaking new ground, not covered by previous work
  • (iii) limited in duration, and never exceeding three years
  • (iv) economic, adequately staffed and properly supervised.
  • The budget for experimental projects is not distinguished within the total resources made available each year for grants to national vountary youth organisations. Expenditure on experimental projects in the past three years was as follows:

    1975–76£31,100
    1976–77£36,400
    1977–78£18,800

    Experimental projects for which grants have been made in the past three years are as follows:

    I have no detailed record of the amount of contact which my Department has had with particular projects which we have funded. The Department does, however, participate in the monitoring of all work and is represented by HMI on the steering group which it is normal practice to set up for each project.

    Northern Ireland

    Rural Planning

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he has yet reached a decision on the recommendations of the Cockcroft committee on rural planing in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

    The Government's response to the report of the committee to review rural planing policy is being published today, and copies of this statement and a new rural planning policy document have been placed in the Library.The new policy will meet many of the recommendations made by the committee and in future it wil be easier to obtain planning permission for a single house in most areas of Northern Ireland.

    Grant-Making Charitable Trust

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made on setting up in Northern Ireland an independent grant-making charitable trust, referred to in the consultative document"The Government and the Voluntary Sector"; to what

    Single personMarried coupleMarried couple with two children under II
    Gross income before allowances and reliefsTax as a proportion of gross income Per cent.Marginal tax rate Per cent.Tax as a proportion of gross income Per cent.Marginal tax rate Per cent.Tax as a proportion of gross income Per cent.Marginal tax rate Per cent.
    £1,000
    £2,0003·425
    £3,0008·1332·9251·325
    £4,00011·4336·8335·233
    £5,00013·3339·7338·433
    £6,00014·63311·63310·533
    £7,00015·53312·93312·033
    £8,00016·13313·93313·033
    £9,00017·43315·33314·633
    £10,00018·63316·83316·133
    £15,00024·85022·95022·345
    £20,00032·56530·76530·065
    National insurance contributions are not included in the figures. Mortgage interest relief is calculated on the assumption that the interest is payable on a loan for the full amount specified subject to the restriction to £25,000. To obtain an interest rate for 1978–79 it has been assumed that the rate recently announced will be unchanged to the end of the financial year. It is assumed that no investment income surcharge is payable.

    extent the trust would initially be financed by the Government; and if he will make a statement.

    National Finance

    Taxation

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Reportthe average and marginal tax rates for (a) a single person, (b) a married couple and (c) a married couple with two children, under 11 years, on incomes of £1,000 to £10,000 at £1,000 intervals, £15,000 and £20,000 and assuming that they are receiving the following personal allowances: mortgage tax relief on a mortgage of three times annual salary, superannuation at 5 per cent, of annual salary and average life assurance; and if this can be on the same basis as the Answer to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr, Official Report,3rd August, column 625.

    The figures at 1978–79 rates of tax and on the basis of the specified allowances and reliefs are as follows:

    Inflation

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what is the rate of inflation, over the latest available 12-month period, as defined by the general gross domestic product price deflator;(2) if he will provide a table showing, for each quarter since the first quarter of 1974, the annual rate of inflation as

    defined by (

    a) the general index of retail prices and ( b) the general gross domestic product price deflator, using the base of 1975 = 100 in each case; and if he will state the reason for any discrepancy between these two measures of inflation.

    General index of retail prices*

    Implied deflator for gross domestic product at factor cost

    1975=100

    Percentage increase on corresponding quarter of preceding year

    1975=100

    Percentage increase on corresponding quarter of preceding year

    1974–1st quarter75·212·972·412·2
    2nd quarter79·715·974·113·7
    3rd quarter81·717·080·719·9
    4th quarter75·418·286·022·2
    1975–1st quarter90·520·392·928·3
    2nd quarter99·124·397·231·2
    3rd quarter103·426·5102·627·1
    4th quarter107·025·3107·224·7
    1976–1st quarter110·922·5108·717·0
    2nd quarter114·916·0112·515·7
    3rd quarter117·613·7115·712·8
    4th quarter123·015·0119·911·8
    1977–1st quarter129·216·5122·112·3
    2nd quarter134·917·4124·911·0
    3rd quarter137·016·5129·411·8
    4th quarter139·013·0131·59·7
    1978–1st quarter141·49·5135·711·0
    2nd quarter145·37·7137·910·4
    3rd quarter147·87·9n.a.n.a.
    n.a. = Not available.

    *Not seasonally adjusted.

    †Seasonally adjusted implied index of total home costs.

    Source:Economic Trends, October 1978.

    There is no discrepancy between these two measures because they apply to different things. The retail price index is a direct measure of price changes of goods and services purchased by households. The gdp deflator covers the whole economy and is an implied index obtained by dividing the current price estimates of gdp at factor cost by the corresponding estimates at constant prices. It is, therefore, affected by changes in the"mix"of expenditure components which together make up gdp, and by any estimation errors in either the current or constant price series. Since gdp measures domestic output, the implied deflator does not directly reflect changes in import prices; and since the deflator is based on estimates valued at factor cost it also excludes the direct effects of any changes in rates of taxes on expenditure.

    Council Of Ministers

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer on how many occasions the Council of Ministers (Finance) has

    pursuant to his replies [Official Report,27th and 28th November 1978], gave the following answer:The information is given in the table below.met in the last 12 months; and on how many occasions Treasury Ministers have made oral statements to the House to report specifically on those meetings.

    pursuant to his reply[Official Report,28th November 1978], gave the following reply:Since 28th November 1977 there have been 10 meetings of the Finance Council. Treasury Ministers have made written statements on Finance Councils which have taken place when the House was in Session and have made one oral statement.

    Scotland

    Remands In Custody

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many prisoners were admitted to Scottish prisons on remand awaiting trial for the latest year for which figures were available; what percentage this represented of the total number of admissions; what percentage of the average daily prison population consisted of this category; and for how long they were held on average in prison prior to trial.

    In 1977, 12,988 persons were received in custody on remand awaiting trial in Scottish penal establishments. The total figure for remand receptions—that is, those first received to await trial and those first received to await sentence—was 16,296. The number of receptions of persons under sentence was 17,540. As the figure for receptions under sentence includes some of the persons previously received on remand, it is not possible to express remand receptions as a proportion of total admissions.The average daily population of penal establishments was 4,871 in 1977. On average 10·3 per cent, of this number were persons on remand awaiting trial. It is estimated that in 1977 the average period on remand awaiting trial was approximately 14 days.

    Bail

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will make an estimate of the average sum set for bail in the sheriff courts in Scotland as a whole and in each of the individual sheriffdoms in Scotland together with the number of accused refused bail in each sheriffdom and the number who were granted bail in both summary and indictment cases;(2) what was the total amount of money lodged for bail in the sheriffdom of Glasgow and North Argyll, the sheriffdom of North Strathclyde, Dumfries and Galloway and in Scotland as a whole for the latest convenient year; and, in each case, what percentage of these amounts were forfeited as a result of the non-attendance of the accused.

    I regret that up-to-date information is not readily available and cannot be supplied except at undue cost. However, the Scottish Office"Social Research Study Pre-trial Bail and Custody in the Scottish Sheriff Courts", published in 1976, which provides certain figures on this matter, estimates the total amount of money lodged for bail in Scottish sheriff courts between 1st February 1972 and 31st January 1973 at slightly more than £100,000; the average sum set for bail in sheriff courts in that period was £13·80.

    The study also shows that in Scotland as a whole in the same period 7,798 people were granted bail and 2,658 were refused bail, and that about 6 per cent, of those granted bail failed to appear at court when required.

    Separate information about individual sheriffdoms and about summary and indictment cases is not available.

    A92, Aberdeen-Fraserburgh

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much money has been spent on the section of the A92 Aberdeen-Fraserburgh road in each of the last five years.

    Expenditure on improvements to the A92/A952 Aberdeen-Fraserburgh trunk road in each of the last five years was as follows:

    Financial YearExpenditure
    £
    1973–7440,000
    1974–75130,000
    1975–76340,000
    1976–77320,000
    1977–78440,000

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans are (a) proposed and (b) approved for improvements to the A92 Aberdeen-Fraserburgh road.

    In the following list of improvement schemes, those marked with an asterisk have been approved for a start in the next five years: The others are under consideration.

    A 92

    • Roundabout at North Donside Road
    • *Murcar-Balmedie Stage I
    • Murcar-Balmedie Stage II
    • *Balmedie Bypass
    • *Tipperty
    • *Ellon Bypass
    • Mill of Waterton Stage III

    A952

    • *Auchenten-Standingstones
    • Midmill
    • *Invernettie Diversion
    • Inverugie-Balmoor
    • *West Blackwater

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many abnormal loads have required police escort on the A92 Aberdeen-Fraserburgh road in each of the last 10 years.

    The information requested by the hon. Member is available only for the current year and for 1977, and is as follows:

    197758
    197834
    (up to 24th November)

    Irish Beef Imports

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how much Irish beef has been imported into Scotland during the current year to the most recent convenient date; and how much was imported for the same period in each of the last 10 years.

    I regret that separate figures for imports into Scotland are not available.

    Scots Language Teaching

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he has taken to encourage the teaching of the Scots language in schools.

    A report on"Scottish Literature in the Secondary School" which was published in 1976 includes advice to teachers on the use of the Scots language in the secondary school curriculum; discussions have been initiated in primary schools on the questions of accent, dialect and local speech; and a three-year project for the development of Scottish resources in primary, secondary and special schools has recently been established. These initiatives have all been taken by the consultative committee on the curriculum which is the Secretary of State's main advisory body on the school curriculum, but it is for education authorities and head teachers to decide what place the Scots language should be given in the curriculum.

    Scottish Youth Hostel Association

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total amount of Government assistance to the Scottish Youth Hostel Association in each of the last five years.

    The information is as follows:

    £
    1973–748,400
    1974–758,400
    1975–767,000
    1976–779,045
    1977–789,350

    Remanded Persons (Glasgow)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many people remanded in custody in the city of Glasgow during the latest 12-month period for which this information is available were subsequently acquitted of the charges brought.against them or given prison sentences of shorter duration than the time they had already spent in custody; and what proportion of the total number of custodial remand prisoners tried during that year in Glasgow this represents;(2) if he will publish in the

    Official Reporta list of all sentences imposed by courts in the city of Glasgow on persons in custodial remand, together with the period of remand imprisonment served in each case up to the date of sentencing, during the latest 12 month period for which figures are available;

    (3) how many people were remanded in custody by the courts in the city of Glasgow during each of the last three years for which figures are available; and what proportion of the total number of people charged this represents.

    Water Authorities (European Investment Bank Loans)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Reportdetails concerning financial asistance given by the European Investment Bank to water authorities in Scotland.

    The following loans have been made by the European Investment Bank to local authorities in Scotland for water supply projects or groups of projects including water supply schemes:

    £ million
    Lothian regional council
    November 197725
    April 19788·5
    Grampian regional council
    April 19785
    November 19785

    Secondary Schools

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report(a) all four-year secondary schools in each Scottish regional authority, (b) all four-year secondary schools in each Scottish regional authority which have been upgraded to six-year status in the last five years; and if he will state what plans he has to upgrade all four-year secondary schools to full six-year status.

    Dundee College Of Education (History Department)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) how many representations he has received from individuals and organisations in connection with the future of the department of history at Dundee college of education;(2) what discussions he has had with representatives of Dundee college of education on the future of the department of history at that institution; and if he will make a statement on proposed plans.

    My Department has suggested to the governing body of Dundee college of education that the history department—four members—and the geography department—two members— should be combined into a new social studies department. I consider that this development, which is paralleled in other colleges of education, would be educationally and managerially sound. No final decision, however, has yet been taken and I have asked my officials to discuss the matter further with the governing body.My right hon. Friend has had representations from 18 individuals, including 10 hon. Members, and five organisations.

    European Community

    Direct Elections

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the amount of money allocated by the EEC Commission for general information services in the United Kingdom concerning direct elections; what terms of reference have been given to those administering this expenditure; and what is the budget authority for it.

    The sums available to the United Kingdom Office of the Commission are 600,000 EUA from the 1978 budget and 100,000 EUA from the 1979 budget, which has yet to be finally adopted, making 700,000 EUA in all, or some £469,000. The London offices of the Commission and the Assembly have stated that they will be joining in a common programme of factual information about the Assembly and the direct elections, which will end before the election campaign itself begins. Funds contributed to the programme by the Assembly Information Office are expected to bring the total to a little over £1 million.The rubric to article 2729 of the general budget of the European Communities, which gives the authority for the expenditure of the sums allocated to the Commission, reads:

    "This appropriation is intended to cover Community participation in certain activities to be carried out in preparation for direct elections to the European Parliament. As well as information projects, this appropriation will cover subsidies to European movements and other bodies for the financing of activities they have planned in this field ".

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Somalia

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (1) if he will make a further statement concerning the refusal of the British Government to supply arms to Somalia;(2) why the British Government are refusing to supply arms to Somalia;(3) what request he has received from the Government of Somalia for arms.

    We do not supply arms to Somalia or Ethiopia as we favour a peaceful negotiated settlement to their dispute. We have, however, undertaken a new aid programme to Somalia initially for £2 million, and we are considering with the Somali Government further ways we can help their civil development programme.

    Belize

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the negotiations with Guatemala about Belize.

    As I informed the House on 8th November, my right hon. Friend put forward in September proposals designed to speed up negotiations and end the controversy. A British statement on these proposals was made at the United Nations yesterday. The text is as follows: —In accordance with the wishes of the people of Belize, the recommendations of the Commonwealth and of the United Nations, Britain is determined to bring Belize to secure independence as soon as possible. We believe that the best way of achieving this is by a settlement of the present dispute with Guatemala.Over the past three years we have been engaged in negotiations with the Government of Guatemala in an attempt to find a settlement. The Guatemalans wanted territory to be included in a settlement and, while we were prepared without commitment to look at this possibility it proved to be unacceptable, not only to the representatives of the people of Belize, whose wishes we are bound to respect, but also to other States in the region including some of the Latin American members of the Organisation of American States. They were concerned at the implications of any redrawing of any Latin American boundaries. After consultation with the Belizean parties, and in conformity with the Memorandum of Understanding which they had signed on 5 June 1978, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Dr. David Owen, discussed the situation with the Guatemalan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Senor Castillo Valdez, over four days in New York in September. Dr. Owen suggested that a new approach should be adopted, aimed at eliminating the original cause of the dispute.The present Guatemalan claim to the territory of Belize was first formulated in 1939 on the grounds that Article VII of the 1859 Treaty, by which Guatemala recognised the already existing boundaries of Belize, had not been fulfilled. Article VII of the Treaty called on Britain and Guatemala jointly to use their best efforts to build a road from Guatemala City to improve Guatemalan communications with the Atlantic (i.e. Caribbean) coast. That road was never built jointly and this fact led to Guatemala's present claim.A road to the Caribbean coast has subsequently been built by the Guatemalans alone. Successive Guatemalan Governments have stressed the need for better access to the Guatemalan province of Peten which is adjacent to Belize.We therefore proposed to the Guatemalan Government in September that we should help with a major road project. Such a project would be a modem equivalent of the provision in Article VII of the 1859 Treaty and would be of considerable economic benefit in helping to develop the Peten. We also proposed that Guatemala should enjoy free port facilities in the Belize City port and access by road to the port. The free port facilities (such as several maritime states provide to other countries) would enable Guatemala to import and export goods from its department of the Peten by the most direct route free of customs formalities.The Guatemalan Government have also stressed their need for secure, permanent and guaranteed access to the sea from their Caribbean ports. At present they enjoy such access but believe they may be deprived of it after Belize becomes independent. We have therefore proposed that a seaward boundary should be agreed by treaty as part of a settlement which would guarantee Guatemala permanent secure access from her ports to the high seas through her own territorial sea. Such an agreement would eliminate all doubts and problems for the future.We have further suggested a separate Treaty of Amity and Mutual Security between Belize and Guatemala, with provisions covering non-aggression and subversion, to ensure the security of the area. These would include limitations on the stationing of foreign, but not British, armed forces.We believe these proposals are constructive and fair to both sides. Guatemala's complaint that the road envisaged under the 1859 Treaty was never built would be satisfied. In addition she would gain greatly improved communications to assist the development of the Peten and permanent access to her Caribbean ports through her own territorial sea guaranteed by the Treaty. Belize would gain security once the Guatemalan claim had been withdrawn following a settlement of the problem. She would have an agreed seaward boundary which would eliminate future disputes. (No seaward boundary has previously been agreed). The settlement of the problem would enable Belize to go to secure independence, and to concentrate on the development of the country which has been inhibited by the present uncertainty caused by the dispute.We hope therefore that Guatemala will accept these proposals and that an early settlement can be reached, so establishing a basis of friendship between Belize and Guatemala, to the benefit of stability in the whole area.

    Industry

    National Enterprise Board

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much money has been invested by the National Enterprise Board in United Medical Enterprises Limited, either by shares or loans; when these shares were acquired; and when the loan is due for repayment.

    I would refer the hon. Gentleman to the NEB's interim statement, of which copies have been laid before the House.

    Micro-Electronics

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much money has been spent by his Department in each of the past three years on investigating the likely impact of silicon-chip microelectronics on manufacturing industry; and what resources he is currently applying to this field.

    In recent years the likely impact of silicon chip microelectronics on manufacturing industry has increasingly featured both in studies directly carried out by my Department and in other programmes of work in which it has participated. However, these activities form part of the Department's on-going programme and are not separately identified in the expenditure records.

    Ford Motor Company

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry why it was necessary to depute senior civil servants to visit the headquarters in the United States of America of the Ford Motor Co. to discuss the current industrial dispute rather than discuss the matter with the British management; and what was the cost of the visit.

    I would refer my hon. Friend to my reply of 27th November to the hon. Member for Mid-Sussex (Mr. Renton). The civil servant concerned did not visit Ford's in Detroit in connection with the company's British pay settlement, which has been entirely a matter for discussion with the management in this country.

    British Shipbuilders

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the shipbuilding intervention fund has been used for the order received by British Shipbuilders from the Bank and Savill Line; how this compared with the intervention fund payment proposed in the British Shipbuilders tender for the European Ferries Limited order: and if he is satisfied that the financing of both these proposed orders are within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development rules.

    British Shipbuilders are seeking assistance from the intervention fund to obtain the order from Bank Line and Shaw Savill Line. The amount of assistance sought is similar to that sought by British Shipbuilders in their unsuccessful tender for the European Ferries order. All assistance given under the intervention fund is fully in accordance with our international obligations.

    Wales

    Green Pound

    asked the Secretary or State for Wales whether he will now consider a further devaluation of the green pound.

    The level of the green pound is always kept under review. We look for a change only when the needs of the agriculture industry and the national interest as a whole call for it, as was the case earlier this year when the Government secured a phased devaluation.

    School Closures (Rural Areas)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what guidance he has given to local education authorities in Wales about the closure of small rural schools; and if he will make a statement

    Guidance on this matter is contained in Welsh Office circulars 3/69, 39/78 and 72/78 and Welsh Office design study 2. Copies have been placed in the Library.

    Common Fisheries Policy

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement on the latest negotiations for an EEC fishing policy as they affect Wales.

    The current negotiations of a common fishery policy reflect the interests of the whole of the United Kingdom industry. I can add nothing to the reply which my right hon. Friend the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Sheffield, Heeley (Mr. Hooley) on 2nd November.—[Vol 957, c. 2.]

    Dyfed (Population)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the

    PopulationTotal Rate Support Grant
    Financial year000's(1)Annual percentage change£000's (at 1968 prices) (2)Annual percentage change
    1968–69317·014,548
    1969–70316·3-0·2215,471+6·3
    1970–71316·1-0·0616,+3·8
    1971–72313·8-0·7216,430+2·3
    1972–73314·9+0·3517,352+5·6
    1973–74317·6+0·8519,486+12·3
    1974–75320·7+0·9722,412+15·0
    1975–76323·3+0·8122,911+2·2
    1976–77324·2+0·2721,187-7·5
    1977–78324·8+0·1819,539-7·8
    Notes:
    (1)Mid-year estimates by Office of Popula tion Census and Surveys. Figures for 1978 are not yet available.
    (2) The figures of grant are shown on a common 1968 price level, derived by using the gross domestic product deflator. Final grant totals for 1978–79 are not yet available.
    (3) Data prior to 1974–75 are those for the pre reorganisation Counties of Cardiganshire, Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire.
    The amount of rate support grant to Dyfed increased by about 34 per cent, in real terms between the grant years 1968–69 and 1977–78. During the same period, the population of Dyfed increased by 2·4 per cent.

    Schoolteachers (Employment)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the current number of registered unemployed qualified teachers in (a) the primary and (b) the secondary school sector in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

    National Outdoor Sports Centre

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the anticipated capital cost and date of completion of the Welsh national outdoor sports centre currently being built near Caernarfon.

    Lime

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give details of lime sales in Wales for the five years prior to the withdrawal of the lime subsidy, and in each subsequent year; and if he will make a statement. population of Dyfed in the years 1968 to 1978; how these changes compare in real terms with the level of rate support grant in each of those years; and if he will make a statement.

    No figures for total lime sales are available. The amount of lime subsidised under the agricultural lime scheme in Wales in the five years prior to the withdrawal of the subsidy was as follows:

    Calendar yearThousand tons
    1972267
    1973286
    1974233
    1975222
    1976298
    No figures are available for subsequent years.The importance of lime and fertilisers in maintaining soil fertility is fully recognised and officers of the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service are always ready to advise farmers. Grant aid is available for the use of lime under the farm capital grant scheme and the farm and horticultural development scheme.

    European Community (Education Committee)

    asked the Secretary of State of Wales who will be the Welsh Office's representative sitting on the Education Committee of the EEC which is to meet on 27th November to discuss a programme on modern languages.

    The meeting of EEC Education Ministers which was to have taken place on 27th November was postponed.

    Transport

    Severn Bridge (Tolls)

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will seek to amend the Severn Bridge Tolls Act 1965 with a view to suspending the collection of tolls on the bridge.

    No. Suspension of tolling would worsen the finances of the bridge without improving the flow of traffic during the present repairs.

    Vehicle Excise Duty

    21.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what staff savings at the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre he estimates will result from his proposed abolition of vehicle excise duty.

    44.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to announce the abolition of vehicle excise duty.

    54.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends to announce the abolition of vehicle excise duty.

    I refer the hon. Members to my Answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Birmingham, Ladywood (Mr. Sever) on 21st November.—[Vol. 958, c. 525.]

    72.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what staff savings at the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre he estimates will result from his proposed abolition of vehicle excise duty.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Carshalton (Mr. Forman).

    Rail Freight (Grants)

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many section 8 grants, amounting to what total sum of money, have been made in the past 12 months; and if he is satisfied with progress made under this provision of the Railways Act 1974.

    Since 1st December 1977, 23 schemes affecting 3·5 million tons of freight traffic, and involving grant of £6·1 million have been agreed. The scheme is working well.

    Road Accidents

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the latest figures for road accident rates per 100 million vehicle km. in Great Britain on motorways and A(M) roads, and on all roads.

    30.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the latest figures for road accident rates per 100 million vehicle km. in Great Britain on motorways and A(M) roads, and on all roads.

    In 1977, there were 16 accidents per 100 million kilometres on motorways and A(M) roads, compared with 99 on all roads.

    Railways (Commuter Services)

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the financial support provided from central Government funds for commuter rail services in the Home Counties and outer London area.

    The Government support British Rail's commuter services in this area as part of the national rail passenger network.

    M63 Extension, Stockport

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to publish the notices to complete the compulsory purchase orders in order to acquire all the land for the extension of the M63 in Stockport.

    Drivers' Overnight Accommodation(Report)

    29.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish, and make a statement on, the report of drivers' overnight accommodation.

    We are not aware of any such report, but the matter is under consideration.

    Petrol Prices

    31.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, in his proposals to reduce car registration charges and increase petrol prices, he has considered the position of those who are already obliged to pay an average of 10p per gallon more for petrol than the price which prevails generally; and if he will make a statement.

    Variation in the existing price of petrol will not affect the impact on individual motorists of phasing out vehicle excise duty. The net result in terms of costs and benefits will be the same.

    M6 Motorway

    32.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he has any plans to construct a relief motorway to the M6.

    No, but a number of planned road schemes should provide some relief for the M6 in the West Midlands.

    Diesel-Powered Passenger Vehicles

    33.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will outline his policy for the promotion of diesel-powered passenger vehicles, in the interests of energy conservation.

    Diesel engines are already widely in use in heavier vehicles. The scope for their economic use in lighter ones depends on whether the mileage likely to be done is great enough to justify the additional capital cost involved. Discussions on their possible advantages are continuing.

    National Bus Company

    34.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends next to meet the chairman of the National Bus Company.

    46.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he next intends to meet the chairman of the National Bus Company.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Northampton, South (Mr. Morris).

    Bus Services (Shire Counties)

    35.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what recent discussions he has had with local authorities about increased support for the bus services in shire counties.

    In all our contacts with county councils we stress the importance of their considering public transport needs and providing adequate revenue support. This year's transport policy and programmes show that revenue support for buses in the English shire counties will be £41½ million in 1979–80, an increase of £8 million or nearly 25 per cent, on expenditure this year.

    British Railways

    36.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether, in the light of the proposed increase in rail fares, he will now institute an independent in quiry into methods of improving productivity at British Railways.

    69.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on his last meeting with the chairman of British Railways.

    Such meetings are usually informal and confidential, but my hon. Friend may take it that we discussed a number of problems currently facing the railways.

    71.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends next to meet the chairman of the British Railways Board.

    78.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects next to meet the chairman of British Railways.

    I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to the answer I gave the hon. Members for Chertsey and Walton (Mr. Pattie), Chingford (Mr. Tebbit) and Hemel Hempstead (Mr. Corbett) earlier today.

    Ports Industry

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans he has to give financial assistance to the ports industry in line with financial aid to other sectors of industry.

    For the most part Britain's ports are providing an efficient and competitive service out of the revenue they earn. Where financial assistance is needed, it is considered on the merits of the case.

    Roads

    38.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, in view of the need to improve the condition of many roads throughout the United Kingdom, he will now take steps to provide more funds for road building and maintenance, thereby also reducing the number of unemployed road construction workers.

    I believe that my existing priorities for transport spending are broadly right and cannot hold out any promise that any funds will be available for road building or maintenance in the near future.

    Concessionary Fares

    39.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total amount of money allocated, during the present financial year, to local authorities for the provision of concessionary travel fares for retirement pensioners; and if he is satisfied that these resources have been used by local authorities for this purpose.

    £103 million was included in relevant expenditure for the 1978–79 rate support grant settlement for England and Wales on account of the cost of providing concessions for the elderly and handicapped. Latest indications are that local authorities will spend rather less on concessions this year than had been assumed.

    61.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what further steps he is taking to ensure concessionary bus fares for pensioners in all local authorities; and if he will make a statement.

    I hope that recalcitrant local authorities will still choose to act on the advice in circular 2/78 that they should introduce a half fare concession as a minimum. I shall consider what further steps are necessary in the light of developments.

    Tachographs

    40.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to appear before the European Court on the issue of tachographs.

    The public hearing of the Commission's application to the European Court of Justice will take place on 6th December. The procedure does not require any personal appearance by the parties. The United Kingdom will be represented by counsel.

    47.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the implementation of the directive on tachographs.

    I refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold).

    68.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to appear before the European Court on the tachographs issue.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Hazel Grove (Mr. Arnold).

    Railways (Electrification)

    41.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to receive the report of the joint British Railways-Department of Transport study of the case for further railway electrification.

    I understand that the steering group hopes to make a preliminary report to us next Spring.

    42.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the chairman of British Railways with regard to the provision of subsidies for commuter services.

    The chairman is aware of my policy on this as set out in the White Paper on transport policy—Cmnd. 6836.

    Freight Traffic

    43.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what current proportion of goods traffic is on (a) road and (b) rail.

    In 1977, 89 per cent, of the tonnage carried by road and rail was by road and 11 per cent, by rail. In terms of tonne kilometres the rail share was higher, with road taking 81 per cent, and rail 19 per cent.

    Driver And Vehicle Licensing Centre

    45.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the latest figures for the annual cost of the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre; how many people are currently employed at the centre; and what were the original figures estimated by the 1965 working party.

    76.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the latest figures for the annual cost of the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre; how many people are currently employed at the centre; and what were the original figures estimated by the 1965 working party.

    The estimated cost of running the centralised licensing system in 1978–79 is £49·3 million at November 1977 prices. There are 5,100 staff at the DVLC and 2,100 in local offices. The working party estimated in 1965 that annual running costs would be £10·5 million in 1973 and that staff would total 3,950. If the figure of £10·5 million is expressed in November 1977 prices, and adjusted for the growth in licensing since 1973, it becomes £39 million. The staff total could also be expected to have increased with the growth in drivers and vehicles.

    57.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the latest figures for the annual cost of the Swansea Driver and Vehicle Licen- sing Centre; how many people are employed at the centre; and what were the equivalent figures under the previous non-centralised system.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Stechford (Mr. MacKay).

    A604 (Minibus Accident)

    48.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will hold an inquiry under section 47 of the Road and Rail Traffic Act 1933 into the accident on the A604 last May, in which six children in a minibus were killed.

    Much as I regret the tragic accident to which the hon. Member refers, we do not think it would be appropriate to hold a formal public inquiry into its cause. Our vehicle examiner inspected the vehicles involved in the accident and his evidence was available at the inquest, at the coroner's discretion. In view of pending legal pro-cedings, it would not be appropriate for me to make any further comment.

    Roads (Public Inquiries)

    49.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is fully satisfied with the present operation of highways inquiries.

    I refer the hon. Member to the Answer I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Derby, North (Mr. Whitehead) and the hon. Member for Hertfordshire, South-West (Mr. Dodsworth).

    53.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the cost to public funds of all inquiries into trunk road proposals in the latest available period.

    I regret that this information cannot be provided without a disproportionate expenditure of time and resources.

    59.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what representation he has received about public inquiry procedure for which his Department is concerned; and in what circumstances he would authorise an independent investigation.

    I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave him on 28th November 1978.

    National Ports Council

    50.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends next to meet the chairman of the National Ports Council.

    A259, Hythe

    51.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he proposes to publish the inspector's report on improvements to the A259 trunk road through Hythe; and when he expects construction work to commence.

    The inspector's report will be released when the decision is announced in a few days' time. I will write to the hon. Member about the second part of his Question.

    National Union Of Railwaymen

    52.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he intends next to meet the general secretary of the National Union of Railwaymen.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Plymouth, Drake (Miss Fookes).

    Motorway Service Areas (Vehicle Emergency Repairs)

    55.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it possible for road patrolmen employed by the national motoring organisations to attend to vehicle emergency repairs within motorway service areas.

    Under present arrangements this would require the consent of the service area operators, because of the terms of their leases. The Prior committee recommended changes in the arrangements and consultations will start shortly with the operators, the national motoring organisations and others about the committee's recommendations.

    Pedestrian Crossings

    56.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will allow more freedom to local authorities to install pedestrian crossings on dangerous and busy roads.

    The provision of pedestrian crossings on trunk roads is my statutory responsibility, although we do of course consider the views of the local authorities concerned. On other roads, highway authorities already have considerable discretion.

    Road Safety

    58.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what further measures he intends to introduce to improve road safety.

    We shall continue to tackle the problems of road safety on a wide front. We place particular emphasis in the immediate future on compulsory seat belt wearing, on which we have already announced our intention to introduce a Bill in the present Session of Parliament, and on expanding facilities for motorcycle training and encouraging riders to use them.

    A45, Cambridge

    60.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department intends to make actively to encourage heavy through traffic to use the A45, Cambridge northern bypass, when it is completed and thereby to alleviate the heavy pressures upon the city of Cambridge.

    Roads (White Paper)

    62.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has yet concluded his discussions on the White Paper on roads.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Upminster (Mr. Loveridge).

    Bus Fares

    63.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what estimate he has made of the likely increase in the cost of bus travel during the coming year; and if he will make a statement.

    Bus fares vary with local circumstances. In general, we expect them to rise in line with operators costs but not more often than once a year.

    Evesham Bypass

    64.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what progress he has made towards publishing out line plans for the alternative routes for the Evesham bypass.

    We hope to be able to consult the public about alternative routes for this scheme early in 1980.

    Public Inquiries

    65.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what action he intends to take to improve public confidence in the committee of inquiry system carried out under the auspices of his Department.

    Lorries (Weights And Dimensions)

    66.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what are the maximum weights and the maximum dimensions of goods vehicles permitted on British roads.

    The maximum permitted weights and dimensions of goods vehicles in Great Britain are as follows: —

    Weightskg (tons in brackets)
    Weight transmitted by any single axle10,170(10)
    Weights of laden rigid lorries:
    With 2 axles.16,260(16)
    With 3 axles24,390 (24)
    With 4 or more axles.30,490 (30)
    Weights of laden articulated lorries:
    With 3 axles24,390 (24)
    With 4 or more axles32,520 (32)
    Weight of laden lorry and trailer32,520(32)
    DimensionsMetres
    Width2·5
    Length—rigid lorry11
    Length—articulated lorry15
    Length—lorry and trailer18
    Height.None

    74.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has any plans for any form of public inquiry to con- sider the question of changes in the maxi-a mum levels of lorry weights.

    I am considering 1 whether to set up an independent inquiry n of some kind that might enable conflicting it evidence and views to be assessed.

    75.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether the question of increased lorry weights was discussed at the November meeting of the EEC Transport Council; and if he will make a r statement.

    I refer my hon., Friend to the answer I gave him on 27th; November.

    Foreign Cars (Registrations)

    67.