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Written Answers

Volume 972: debated on Thursday 25 October 1979

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 25 October 1979

Retail Price Index

Q3.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list the decisions of the Government that have had the effect of increasing the retail price index; and, in each case, by how much.

The effect of all the Budget changes announced by the Chancellor was to add some 4 per cent. to the RPI. They were accompanied by the reductions in income tax. The effects on the RPI of other price increases have generally been given at the time of the individual announcements. For example, the 1½p increase in the price of a pint of milk added one-quarter of 1 per cent. to the RPI. School meals charges rose by 5p—that is by one-eighth of 1 per cent. But that decision was taken by the last Labour Government.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for Thursday 25 October.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 25 October.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 25 October.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for Tuesday 25 October.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements on 25 October.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 25 October.

Q15.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for Thursday 25 October.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 25 October.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 25 October.

I refer hon. Members and my hon. Friends to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald).

Scotland (Employment)

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if she will estimate the number of jobs in Scotland hitherto supported by Government funds from which such support has been withdrawn since 4 May.

Local Government (Job Opportunities)

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister what is her estimate of the reduction of job opportunities in local government as a result of Her Majesty's Government's cuts in local authority spending.

The Government have asked local authorities to reduce the volume of current expenditure in 1979–80 by 1½ per cent. in real terms below the actual outturn for 1978–79, and by a further 1 per cent. in 1980–81. It will be for individual local authorities to implement the reductions and to decide in the light of their own circumstances how they can best be achieved.

Industrial Investment

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister what is her estimate of the impact on industrial investment of the level of interest rates and the minimum lending rate since 4 May.

The latest official survey on investment intention, taken in August/September, suggested that the volume of capital expenditure by industry is likely to rise to a new record level this year with the possibility of a further increase in 1980.

Inflation

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister what is Her Majesty's Government's present estimate of the rate of inflation by 1 January 1980.

I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Woolwich, East (Mr. Cartwright) on 23 October 1979.

Rural Affairs (Ministerial Responsibility)

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will designate a Minister with overall responsibility for rural affairs.

No. I set out the Government's policy towards rural areas in the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Eye (Mr. Gummer) on 26th July, and the Secretary of State for the Environment has special regard to this in the course of his responsibility for regional policy.

European Community (British Contributions)

asked the Prime Minister if she will move to appoint a Select Committee to investigate the spending of British contributions to the EEC fund, what is her policy towards open EEC accounts; and if she will make a statement.

No. Since the Community budget is financed on a global basis through the own resources system, Community expenditure of United Kingdom contributions cannot be accounted for separately. The Communities' revenue and expenditure accounts are drawn up by the Commission in summary form each quarter under the title "Financial Situation of the European Communities". Copies of the latest document, 8982/79, relating to the second quarter of 1979 were deposited in Parliament by the Treasury on 23 October 1979.

St Vincent

asked the Prime Minister whether it is proposed that gifts should be presented to the Government and to the House of Assembly of St. Vincent to mark the attainment of independence on 27 October, when the country will be known as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The House will, I feel sure, wish to send congratulations to St. Vincent on its impending independence, along with best wishes for the happiness and prosperity of the people of the Islands. Her Majesty's Government will propose that this House should offer a gift of a parliamentary character to the House of Assembly. Her Majesty's Government for their part will also offer a suitable gift to the Government of St. Vincent to mark the occasion.

Home Department

Mr R Bauer

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the reason for delay in considering the case of Mr. R. Bauer's application to the British consul in New York in September 1978 for permission to enter the United Kingdom; and when the application will be decided.

My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State wrote to the hon. Member on 19 October. Mr. Bauer arrived on 4 October and was given leave to enter.

Clwyd (Television Reception)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the fact that there has been deterioration in the standard of television reception in the area of Pentrednor, Llanyllen, Clwyd, following the erection of a new television mast in the locality, what steps he proposes to take to improve television reception in the area.

I understand that my hon. and learned Friend's question refers to Pentredwr, Llangollen.The primary responsibility for extending the coverage of the UHF television services lies with the BBC and the IBA which are jointly engaged on an engineering programme to extend coverage to communities with permanent populations of 500 or more. This programme still has some years to run. The population of Pentredwr, which is regarded as nominally unserved by UHF television, is well below this figure.Pentredwr lies outside the service area of the new UHF TV relay at Llangollen which opened in April, being shielded from reception by the surrounding terrain. But the presence of the new relay station should not have adversely affected the reception of neighbouring television transmitting stations within their service areas. New UHF television relay stations are very carefully planned to ensure that this does not happen. The BBC is, however, sending an engineer to the area to investigate the quality of reception and to give what advice he can.

Mentally-Disordered Offenders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, further to his answer of 21 June, Official Report, columns 631–32, what is the nature and circumstances of the contempt of court of which two mentally-disordered offenders were held, respectively, for 51 days and 323 days in prison; what were the ages and sex of the offenders; and where they were held.

The person in custody for 323 days was male, aged 30 years, held in Pentonville for breach of an injunction; the person held for 51 days was female, aged 40 years, in Holloway. Details of the circumstances in which the court made the orders are not available.

Contempt Of Court

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the age and length of time imprisoned of the 34 women imprisoned in 1978 for contempt of court, and the nature of and circumstances surrounding the contempt.

The age distribution of the 34 females received into custody for contempt of court in 1978 is given in "Prison Statistics, England and Wales" (Cmnd. 7626), table 6.1. The following table shows the length of their imprisonment. Information about the nature of and circumstances surrounding the contempt is not recorded centrally.

FEMALES RECEIVED INTO PRISON ESTABLISHMENTS IN ENGLAND AND WALES IN 1978 IN CONTEMPT OF COURT: BY LENGTH OF TIME SPENT IN CUSTODY
Length of time spent in custodyNumber of females
Up to and including 1 week21
Over 1 week up to and including 1 month8
Over 1 month up to and including2 months2
Over 2 months up to and including 3 months1
Over 3 months up to and including 6 months2
Over 6 months
TOTAL34

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he proposes to improve the rights of children in respect of the operation of the immigration laws as recommended by the United Kingdom association for the international year of the child.

The interests of children are taken into account in the application of the immigration control, but I cannot accept all the recommendations of the association.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now make a statement about the Government's proposals to restrict the entry of foreign husbands and male fiancés of British-born women.

No, but I shall announce my proposals on this and other aspects of the immigration rules shortly.

Special Patrol Group

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many policemen were members of the special patrol group during each year since it was first established; how many persons they have, respectively, stopped or arrested during each of these years what percentage is the latter of the former for each year; and how many of those enrolled in the special patrol group carry firearms.

I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that the information requested is as follows:

Average strengths (all ranks) of the Special Patrol Group since its formation
YearStrength
196597
1966121
1967123
1968135
1969135
1970168
1971170
1972204
1973204
1974204
1975204
1976204
1977202
1978202
The present strength of the group is 195.
Stops and Arrests
YearStopsArrests
1965*396
1966*727
1967*1,057
1968*1,318
1969**
1970**
1971**
197216,3403,142
197314,2583,339
197413,0013,262
197518,9074,125
197619,8624,032
197714,0182,990
197816,2654,166
Notes
(a) * Records no longer available.
(b) There is no practical method of separately identifying those arrests which result from stops, and comparison of the numbers of stops and arrests would therefore be misleading.
Fifty-four members of the group are fully trained in the use of revolvers. Firearms are issued and carried only when the nature of the duty requires it.

Harmondsworth Detention Centre

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children have been detained at Har- mondsworth detention centre so far in the current year; and if he will take steps to stop this practice forthwith.

Between 1 January and 18 October 1979, 243 children under 17 years of age were detained at the immigration service detention centre at Harmondsworth. Detention of children is kept to the minimum. I regret that any children are detained, but there is sometimes no alternative, for example when their parents are also detained.

Immigrant Children

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether an instruction has been given to immigration officials that children shall not be interviewed except in the presence of a parent or adult relative.

It is the practice of entry clearance officers not to interview alone children under 14 years of age. Circumstances at ports of entry to the United Kingdom are such that it would be impracticable to place a similar restriction on interviews by the immigration service.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children in 1977, 1978 and 1979 to date were interviewed by immigration officials without any parent or adult relative present at the interview.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what discussions he has had with public health authorities about the hazards of X-ray examination of children for immigration purposes;(2) if he will seek specialist advice about the advisability of subjecting immigrant children to X-ray examinations.

Medical examinations in the context of immigration control, including the use of X-ray examinations, are currently being reviewed in consultation with the chief medical officer Sir Henry Yellowlees. The conclusions will be announced in due course.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many children in the course of 1977, 1978 and 1979 to date have been subjected to X-ray examination at the direction of immigration officials, and for what purposes.

I regret that figures to show the number of children X-rayed after being referred for examination by medical practitioners are not available.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will discuss with the United Kingdom committee for the international year of the child is proposed code for the protection of children affected by the immigration laws.

Linpac Industries (Picketing)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of the South Wales constabulary on the use of police in response to picketing activities at the Rosedale, Bedacres plant of Linpac Industries since 10 September, with particular regard to the numbers on duty and in reserve at this site on 18 October, and the cost to public funds.

No. Police deployment at this plant is an operational responsibility of the chief constable.

Charity Commissioners

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects

Persons authorisedNumberStatutory authority
HM Fire Service Inspectors37Fire Precautions Act 1971: section 19
Home Office Drugs Branch Inspectors9Misuse of Drugs Act 1971: section 23(1)
Prison Officers14,209Prison Act 1952: sections 8 and 23
In addition, the Secretary of State has power under section 15 of the Wireless Telegraphy Act 1949 to authorise Post Office officials acting as his agents to apply for a warrant to enter and search specified premises. In October to date 17 Post Office officials have been so authorised.

Detained Persons (Deaths)

pects to publish a White Paper on the tenth report of the Expenditure Committee 1975 on the Charity Commissioners; and whether this will take into account the Goodman committee report of 1976.

I refer my right hon. Friend to the answer I gave on 23 October to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Devizes (Mr. Morrison).—[Vol. 972, c. 141.]

Taxis (London Airport)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of the acute shortage of taxis at London airport to meet tourists on incoming evening flights from the United States of America and elsewhere, particularly on Sundays; and if he will consider what steps can be taken to improve this situation.

I understand that the British Airports Authority is satisfied that under normal circumstances there is an adequate supply of taxis at London Airport—Heathrow—during the evening.

Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if in each case he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

The following Home Office officials are authorised to enter premises in the circumstances specified in the relevant legislation:person who has died whilst in custody in a police station since 1970, what is the name of the person, the police station where the death occurred, the date of death, the cause of death as stated on the death certificate: and, in each case, whether the death is classified as from natural or non-natural causes or suicide.

I will write to the hon. Member with such information as can be readily obtained.

Traffic Wardens

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish in the Official Report the approximate annual cost for each policy authority area of traffic wardens and the approximate income in each area from parking meters and other public parking facilities that are serviced by traffic wardens.

The cost of the pay of traffic wardens in each police authority in the year 1978–79 is given in the table below.The other elements of the annual cost of running the traffic warden service in each area cannot be obtained without disproportionate expense. The revenue obtained from parking meters is a matter for local authorities.

Traffic Wardens Pay 1978–79
£
Avon and Somerset P.A.495,526
Bedfordshire C.C.141,605
Cambridgeshire C.C.157,118
Cheshire C.C.181,726
Cleveland C.C.110,493
Cumbria C.C.82,414
Derbyshire C.C.308,437
Devon and Cornwall P.A.529,707
Dorset C.C154,456
Durham C.C.90,553
Dyfed-Powys P.A.97,690
Essex C.C.389,044
Gloucestershire C.C.112,945
Greater Manchester C.C.711,804
Gwent C.C.70,456
Hampshire P.A.413,221
Hertfordshire C.C.316,203
Humberside CC.207,666
Kent C.C.472,163
Lancashire C.C.311,434
Leicestershire C.C.313,290
Lincolnshire C.C.104,955
Merseyside C.C.456,236
Norfolk C.C.187,683
Northamptonshire C.C.126,217
Northumbria P.A.481,871
North Wales P.A.148,328
North Yorkshire C.C.181,373
Nottinghamshire C.C.299,655
South Wales P.A.348,925
South Yorkshire C.C.234,843
Staffordshire C.C.167,909
Suffolk C.C.148,131
Surrey C.C.80,752
Sussex P.A.428,423
Thames Valley P.A.322,022
Warwickshire C.C91,009
West Mercia P.A.220,030
West Midlands C.C.742,726
West Yorkshire C.C.498,083
Wiltshire C.C.139,435
City of London187,970
M.P.D.5,121,465
Total16,385,992

Woolworth's, Manchester (Fire)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the outcome so far of inquiries into the fire at Woolworth's store in Piccadilly, Manchester; and what further action he is taking.

The evidence submitted for the purposes of the coroner's inquest is being made available to the subcommittee of the central fire brigades advisory councils for England and Wales and for Scotland which is charged with considering the issues to which the fire gives rise. The sub-committee will report to me as soon as possible, and I will then consider what further action needs to be taken in the light of its recommendations.

Education And Science

Overseas Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what decision he has reached concerning the increase in tuition fees for overseas students attending Brunel university following representations that have been made to him by the hon. Member for Uxbridge; and if he will make a statement.

Government policy regarding tuition fees for all overseas students has been under review and an announcement will be made shortly.

School Transport

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, in his forthcoming enabling legislation, he proposes to give local authorities discretion to make an economic charge for school transport.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on Tuesday, 23 October to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Eastleigh (Mr. Price).—[Vol. 972, c. 126.]

Departmental Officials (Powers Of Entry)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if, in each case, he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

Under section 77 of the Education Act 1944, Her Majesty's inspectors of schools inspect and have the right to require admission to all schools and to all maintained institutions of further and higher education; also to voluntary institutions of further and higher education receiving direct grant from my Department.At 1 October 1979 there were 413 of Her Majesty's inspectors in post.Section 77 also provides that other persons may be authorised by the Secretary of State to assist Her Majesty's inspectors and act as additional inspectors.

School Meals

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the average cost of the food provided for each child for dinners taken under the schools meal service in the United Kingdom as a whole and in each local education authority.

The average food cost per meal for England and Wales in 1978–79 was 16·58p. Figures for individual local education authorities are given in the following table. My Department does not have figures for Scotland or Northern Ireland.

p
Greater Manchester
Bolton17·38
Bury16·09
Manchester15·97
Oldham16·91
Rochdale15·82
Salford16·78
Stockport15·77
Tameside15·33
Trafford17·49
Wigan15·90
TOTAL16·30
South Yorkshire
Barnsley15·92
Doncaster16·28
Rotherham17·23
Sheffield15·26
TOTAL16·08
West Yorkshire
Bradford18·39
Calderdale16·63
Kirklees14·78
Leeds14·59
Wakefield15·49
TOTAL15·76
p.
Tyne and Wear
Gateshead16·77
Newcastle/Tyne17·20
North Tyneside16·39
South Tyneside17·06
Sunderland15·29
TOTAL16·48
West Midlands15·07
Merseyside17·47
Greater Manchester16·30
South Yorkshire16·08
West Yorkshire15·76
Tyne and Wear16·48
TOTAL MET. DISTRICTS16·05
Non-Metropolitan Counties
Isles of Scilly
Avon15·63
Bedfordshire17·61
Berkshire15·15
Buckinghamshire17·29
Cambridgeshire15·77
Cheshire16·52
Cleveland17·44
Cornwall15·87
Cumbria18·13
Derbyshire15·78
Devon17·95
Dorset17·72
Durham16·28
East Sussex17·00
Essex16·34
Gloucestershire17·24
Hampshire17·55
Hereford & Worcester15·22
Hertfordshire17·08
Humberside17·30
Isle of Wight15·07
Kent15·05
Lancashire16·50
Leicestershire15·70
Lincolnshire19·30
Norfolk16·46
North Yorkshire19·05
Northamptonshire15·05
Northumberland15·54
Nottinghamshire17·54
Oxfordshire15·07
Salop16·84
Somerset15·25
Staffordshire13·93
Suffolk16·51
Surrey16·82
Warwickshire16·84
West Sussex15·85
Wiltshire15·94
TOTAL16·50
Welsh Counties
Clwyd18·83
Dyfed19·88
Gwent17·14
Gwynedd17·14
Mid-Glamorgan17·20
Powys20·25
South Glamorgan14·56
West Glamorgan17·92
Total17·73
p.
England:
Greater London17·53
Metropolitan District16·05
Non-Metropolitan Counties16·50
Total16·51
Total Welsh Counties17·73
Total England16·51
Total (England and Wales)16·58
Greater London
Barking15·24
Barnett17·12
Bexley18·10
Brent17·49
Bromley18·27
Croydon17·99
Ealing19·53
Enfield17·73
Haringey18·24
Harrow14·59
Havering17·94
Hillingdon16·64
Hounslow18·67
Kingston upon Thames16·08
Merton19·05
New Ham16·61
Redbridge16·24
Richmond upon Thames15·77
Sutton16·37
Waltham Forest14·58
Total outer London17·33
ILEA17·91
Total Greater London17·53
West Midlands: Metropolitan Districts
Birmingham15·43
Coventry15·69
Dudley15·35
Sandwell14·26
Solihull14·30
Walsall15·83
Wolverhampton13·15
Total15·07
Merseyside:
Knowsley16·23
Liverpool23·15
St. Helens14·91
Sefton13·18
Wirral15·07
Total17·47

University Teachers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he will be making a specific pay offer through committee B of the universities academic staff negotiating machinery in respect of a pay settlement due for university teachers on 1 October 1979.

Committee A of the negotiating machinery, representing jointly the university teachers and university authorities, has asked in principle for a study by the Standing Commission on pay comparability. Its proposals involve an unquantified payment from 1 October 1979, and also raise other important questions. Careful consideration is being given to a response to committee A and to the level of grants to universities in the context of the Government's public expenditure policy. I hope that a meeting of committee B can be held soon. In the meantime, university teachers re-received an increase of some 6 per cent. with effect from 1 October 1979 as the second stage of the rectification of a pay anomaly resulting from previous pay policies.

General Teaching Council

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to set up a general teaching council.

My right hon. and learned Friend would like to see teaching as a self-governing profession. If the parties concerned could agree on the basis on which a teachers' professional council might be established, he would be ready to play his part in taking the matter forward.

Employment

Brixton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs in the Brixton employment office area have been supported by temporary employment subsidy, small firms employment subsidy and the temporary short-time working subsidy.

As at 30 September 1979 the cumulative numbers of jobs supported by each of these schemes was as follows:

Temporary employment subsidy—1,115 jobs.
Small firms employment subsidy—627 jobs.
Temporary short time working compensation—Nil.

Health And Safety

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will publish details in the Official Report of surveys covering occupational cancers currently being undertaken throughout Great Britain;(2) in how many cases of death which appeared to have arisen out of industrial employment were coroners' inquests held

in England and Wales and sheriffs' inquiries held in Scotland during the period 1976 to 1978; how many such deaths were attributable to (

a) industrial accidents, ( b) industrial poisonings, ( c) industrial diseases, other than cancer, and ( d) industrial cancers; and how many inquests and inquiries were attended by one of Her Majesty's inspectors of health and safety;

(3) what estimate he makes of the annual rate of occupational cancer deaths in Great Britain; and if he will instruct the Health and Safety Commission to undertake an investigation under section 12( b) of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, in conjunction with the Registrars General and cancer registries using linked records, into a recent estimate that such deaths now total between 32,000 and 54,00 per annum.

Departmental Officials (Powers Of Entry)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if, in each case, he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

Jobcentres

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether it is necessary for jobcentres to occupy prime trading positions; if he is satisfied that the rental or capital outlay is justified; and whether he proposes any economies or savings in this regard in view of the proposed expansion of jobcentres to a total of 800 in 1981–82.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that job-centres were developed to bring together all the local services of the employment service in a way which was administratively practical, operationally efficient and publicly visible and convenient. To meet these criteria it is essential that jobcentres are centrally located within the area they serve. This does not, however, always mean that a prime high street site is necessary.A proposal to replace an existing employment office with a jobcentre on a different site is given careful consideration. Where the existing employment office is on a satisfactory site and is capable of being modernised it is converted into a jobcentre. Where the existing premises are not on a satisfactory site, or cannot be converted satisfactorily, the estimated cost of the proposed new premises is measured against existing costs and against estimated changes in the value of business. In reaching a decision cost effectiveness is the single most important consideration.Jobcentres are not normally opened unless these conditions are met. However, the limited research undertaken by MSC shows that less well sited jobcentres are markedly less cost effective than job-centres in better locations. In general, therefore, I am content with the rental or capital outlay on jobcentres.Although the Government support the plans of the MSC to modernise the public employment service they are reviewing expenditure in this area in the light of their plans and priorities on public expenditure generally. In the current financial year £1 million—out of a planned expenditure of £6·4 million—has been cut from the jobcentre programme and in common with other Government Departments the future expenditure plans of the MSC are being closely scrutinised.

Civil Service

Pensions

asked the Minister the Civil Service what Civil Service pension is likely to be received on 18 January 1980 and 1 January 1981 by a principal with 40 years' service who retired on 31 December 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979 and 1980, assuming that (a) the latest increases in salary are implemented on the due dates and (b) the increases in the retail price index for pension purposes are 15 per cent. in 1979 and 10 per cent. in 1980.

The rates of pension likely to be received on 1 January 1980 and 1 January 1981 by a principal with 40 years' service who retired on 31 December for the years listed are set out below. It is assumed in each case that pension is based on pensionable pay at the maximum of the pay scale, excluding London weighting and pensionable emoluments. The percentage increase to be applied to Civil Service pensions from November 1979 onwards will be the same as that announced by the Secretary of State for Social Services for uprating the additional component of the new State pension. Assumptions about the retail price index are therefore irrelevant, but, for the purposes of the question, it is assumed that Civil Service pensions will be increased in November 1980 by 10 per cent.

Last day of service and annual rate of pension on 1 January 1980 and 1 January 1981:
Retirement Date19801981
31 December 1973£6,597£7,257
31 December 1974£6,230£6,853
31 December 1975£6,438£7,082
31 December 1976£5,546£6,100
31 December 1977£4,736£5,210
31 December 1978£4,819£5,300
31 December 1979£5,497£5,955
31 December 1980*15,875
* Based on pensionable salary as at 1 April 1979.

Procurement Policy

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what proposals he will be putting forward to maintain procurement preference for ICL products in the post-1980 period.

The Government are currently examining the implications of the EEC supplies directive and the forthcoming GATT Government procurement code, both of which will affect the operation of the existing preferential computer procurement policy from 1 January 1981.

Scotland

Seven-Day Fishing Licences

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the widespread concern at the situation on the West Coast of Scotland during the mackerel fishing season as a result of the granting of seven-day fishing licences, the opposition of many persons, including the churches, to such licences and the threats to the fish population of seven day fishing, he will undertake to discuss all licens- ing periods in future with the fishermen's organisations and to act on their recommendations.

I have nothing to add to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend on 24 October.—[Vol. 972, c. 183.]

Rating Revaluation

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are his intentions regarding the next rating revaluation in Scotland.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Argyll (Mr. Mackay) on 17 July.—[Vol. 970, c. 467.]

Livestock Farmers (Financial Assistance)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will state what assistance he intends to provide for livestock farmers who face additional costs as a consequence of the effect of bad weather on winter keep production.

I propose to pay grants to farmers and crofters on the Scottish Islands related to the quantities of hay, straw and concentrates purchased from the mainland and consigned or delivered to them between 1 October 1979 and 31 January 1980. Separate rates have been calculated for each of these commodities for each of the main islands and are shown in the table below. The maximum rate of grant will be £15 per tonne and the total cost is not expected to exceed £500,000. Parliamentary approval to this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for Agricultural Support (Scotland) Vote. Pending that approval, the necessary expenditure will be met by repayable advances from the Contingenies Fund. I anticipate offsetting savings in the Agricultural Support (Scotland) Vote and do not expect any increase in planned expenditure for 1979–80.In addition, my Department will take a number of steps to assist producers in the islands and also on the mainland in the former crofting counties. These include:

  • (a) payment of 75 per cent. of the claims for hill livestock compensatory allowances for 1980 for that area will be expedited with the balance to follow after the usual, more formal, checking.
  • (b) relaxation of the normal departmental rules regarding—
  • (i) payment on animals missing from holdings on the qualifying day for hill livestock compensatory allowances;
  • (ii) the carrying through of development plans under the farm and horticulture development scheme;
  • RATES OF GRANT
    per tonne)

    Straw (£)

    Hay (£)

    Concentrates (£)

    Orkney and Shetland Islands15·0015·0015·00
    Western Islands—
    Lewis and Harris11·009·0011·00
    Uists and Barra14·0011·0014·00
    Skye2·502·001·50
    Mull11·009·005·50
    Coll and Tiree11·009·0011·00
    Colonsay15·0015·0011·00
    Lismore9·007·004·50
    Islay15·0012·007·50
    Gigha8·006·504·00
    Arran10·509·005·50
    Cumbrae5·004·002·50
    Bute5·004·002·50
    Other rates will be applied in respect of claims from producers in the smaller islands where additional charges have been incurred.

    Energy

    Departmental Officials (Powers Of Entry)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if in each case he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

    The number of officials for whom the Secretary of State is responsible and who have the power to enter premises subject to statutory conditions are as follows:

    Pipelines inspectors16
    Regulation 3(1) of the Submarine Pipelines (Inspectors etc.) Regulations 1977.
    Diving inspectors5
    Mineral working inspectors16
    Internal audit officers4
    Pipeline permit holders for gas standards branch13
    Section 6 of the Petroleum (Production) Act 1934 and under that section as applied by section 1 of the Continental Shelf Act 1964.
    Gas examiners24
    Section 26 of the Gas Act 1972, Electricity meter examiners13
    Section 51 of the schedule to the Electric Lighting Clauses Act 1899 as amended by the Electricity Supply Meters Act 1936 and the Electricity Act 1947.

    (iii) capital grants for reseeding of grassland and laying down of permanent pasture.

    These arrangements should go some way to alleviating the serious situation that now exists in these areas as a consequence of exceptionally adverse weather over a long period.

    195 fee paid gas examiners—part time—are also appointed by the Secretary of State in pursuance of his powers under section 26(2) of the Gas Act 1972.

    Coal Policy

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will publish the text of his letter to Commissioner Brunner regarding future EEC coal policy.

    I have today placed a copy of the letter in the Library of the House.

    Wales

    Mentally Handicapped Services (Gwynedd)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what were the conclusions of the investigation by the health advisory service into joint planning by the health and social service authorities in Gwynedd in respect of services for the mentally handicapped; and what action he is taking as a result of this report.

    The report contains detailed advice on the improvement of joint planning of services for the mentally handicapped in Gwynedd. This advice is being considered by the health and social services authorities.

    Welsh Language

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what steps he has taken since coming into office to encourage non-Welsh speaking persons in Wales to try to learn the Welsh language.

    I hope that the Government's declared support for the Welsh language will give encouragement to those who are prepared to make the effort to learn the language.

    Housing Waiting Lists

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest estimate of the number of applicants currently on waiting lists for local authority rented accommodation in Wales.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave the hon Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson) on 18 June 1979.—[Vol. 968, c. 382.]

    Employment (Gwynedd)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he proposes to hold the meeting with local authorities and other interested parties in Gwynedd planned for the autumn, to determine how the employment situation in Gwynedd can be improved, particularly in view of the impending completion of the Central Electricity Generating Board pump-storage scheme at Dinorwic.

    There are no plans to hold such a meeting this autumn but my right hon. Friend is fully apprised of the situation and is keeping a close watch on developments.

    Welsh Office (Employees)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales, how many persons were employed by the Welsh Office on 1 May 1979; and what is the latest number of persons so employed.

    Leasehold Reform Act 1967

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether, pursuant to his letter of 18 September to the hon. Member for Bedwellty, he has decided upon the means for amending the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.

    I have nothing to add to the letter which I sent to the hon. Member on 17 October.

    Linpac Industries Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest communication which he has received from the owners of Linpac Industries Ltd. in respect of the £1·9 million of public funds allocated to the company in the form of grants and loans and now repayable in view of the intention of the company to close its Rosedale Ltd. plant at Bedwas, Gwent.

    Linpac Containers Limited has now submitted formal proposals concerning the repayment of the £1·65 million loan made to Linpac Mouldings Limited, and for the payment of interest charges which have accrued. These proposals, together with other options which are open to me in the present circumstances, are being carefully considered. If they are acceptable the question of the repayment of the grant of £300,000 made under section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 does not arise. I shall be writing to the hon. Member in more detail in response to his recent letter to me.

    Council Houses (Construction Costs)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the latest estimate of the cost of constructing a three-bedroom council house in Wales.

    Trade

    British Holidaymakers (United States Of America)

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he will initiate discussions with British travel operators with a view to them offering adequate medical insurance cover to British subjects taking holidays in the United States of America;(2) if he will initiate discussions with the British Insurance Association with the object of encouraging British insurance companies to issue policies to those taking holidays in the United States of America which provide substantial cover against claims for medical expenses.

    No. The British travel and insurance industries are aware of and are considering the problems facing travellers in countries with which the United Kingdom has no reciprocal health care arrangements.

    Film Makers (Grants)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade how much has been paid by way of the Eady levy grant to the makers of the films "The World is Full of Married Men" and "Adventures of a Private Eye".

    Between 24 September 1978, the date from which details of payments began to be published, and 28 July 1979, the latest date for which details are presently available, distributions from the British film fund in respect of the films "The World is Full of Married Men" and "Adventures of a Private Eye" have amounted to £74,730 and £34,180 respectively.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade how much will be distributed to film makers by way of the Eady levy grant in the current year.

    The 1978–79 levy year ended on 22 September 1979. Final figures of the amounts paid to film makers are not yet available, but it is estimated that approximately £6 million will be payable in respect of this period. Forecasts for the current levy year cannot be completed until details of proposed legislation affecting the collection and distribution of levy have been finalised. I shall give the House these details as soon as possible.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he intends to implement the Wilson committee recommendation that the Eady levy should not be paid to the makers of pictures which exploit violence or sex.

    I have studied the recommendations of the interim action committee on the film industry with great interest. I have also received recommendations concerning the distribution of the Eady levy from the cinematograph films council, trade organisations and some individuals. Draft regulations amending some aspects of the present system will be laid before the House in the near future.

    Departmental Officials (Powers Of Entry)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if in each case he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

    Inspectors of aircraft accidents—22—have powers of entry for investigation purposes under paragraph 9(e) of the Civil Aviation (Investigation of Accidents) Regulations 1969.Five officials have powers to enter premises on any United Kingdom aerodrome or any land in the aerodrome, under section 17 of the Protection of Aircraft Act 1973.Individual officers may be appointed as Department of Trade inspector with powers of entry as specified in section 27(1) of the Merchant Shipping Act 1979 for the purpose of investigations under various sections of the earlier Merchant Shipping Acts 1894 to 1970 and the Prevention of Oil Pollution Act 1971.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Ussr (Compensation Claims)

    27.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what action he is taking to obtain a settlement of British citizens' compensation claims against the Soviet Government.

    Negotiations over many years have so far proved unproductive since the Soviet authorities have insisted on parallel discussion of their counter-claims against the British Government. We have impressed on the Russians within the last month the need for progress.

    Commonwealth Secretary-General

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what are the terms of appointment of the Commonwealth Secretary-General; and what proportion of the salary of the Commonwealth Secretary-General and of other expenses of the Commonwealth Secretariat is borne by the United Kingdom.

    Commonwealth Secretaries-General are appointed by Commonwealth Heads of Government acting collectively, in accordance with the agreed memorandum on the Commonwealth Secretariat which was published as Cmnd. 2713 in 1965 and is available in the Library of the House.The present Secretary-General, Sir Shridath Ramphal, was appointed in 1975. At their meeting in Lusaka in August this year Commonwealth Heads of Government agreed to extend his appointment for a further five-year term from mid-1980.The British Government contribute 30 per cent. of the costs of the Commonwealth Secretariat, an element of which is the salary of the Secretary-General.

    Antigua

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he proposes to hold any discussions on Antigua; and if he has any proposals to make regarding the termination of the status of Antigua as an Associated State under the West Indies Act 1967.

    Although exploratory discussions with the Antiguan authorities on the termination of association have been going on for some time, no formal request for this has yet been made. The British Government are ready to consider any proposals.

    Disputes (Advisory Committee)

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the future of the Foreign and Commonwealth advisory committee on the peaceful settlement of disputes.

    We are reviewing the future of this and other sub-committees of the advisory group on United Nations affairs, and I will write to my hon. Friend as soon as a decision is reached.

    Armaments

    asked the Lord Privy Seal, in application of article IV of the modified Brussels treaty, what steps he has taken to ensure that European armaments co-operation develops along lines which conform to the latest technological requirements and to the defence policy and strategy applied by the members of the Atlantic Alliance.

    Her Majesty's Government want to see European armaments co-operation develop in ways which meet the challenges of new technology and the needs of the Alliance. Work in the European programme group—the main focus of European efforts in this area—is closely co-ordinated with work in NATO through NATO's conference of national armaments directors.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what is his policy regarding the limitations which should be placed nationally and within Europe on exporters and importers of armaments to prevent the trade in arms stepping up the armaments race, particularly m areas where peace is threatened.

    Proposed arms exports are carefully examined, on a case-by-case basis, taking into account all relevant factors. Particular care is taken in considering sales to areas of tension. A policy of restraint by European States alone would not be effective, since it would exclude the major exporters. The Government, however, support efforts to focus attention on this matter in the United Nations.

    Cambodia

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if, in the light of two million suspected deaths in Cambodia at the hands of the Pol Pot regime, Her Majesty's Government intend to withdraw recognition of this Government.

    Recognition does not imply approval of a regime's actions or policies. The previous Government, who cited the enormity of Pol Pot's human rights violations before the United Nations Human Rights Commission in March 1978, continued to recognise that regime. Despite the loss of control of the greater part of the territory of Cambodia by the Pol Pot regime, there is no other Government which satisfies the criteria for recognition which have been applied by successive British Governments.

    Defence

    Royal Fleet Auxiliary Tankers (Orders)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence why the order for two Royal Fleet auxiliary tankers, expected to have been placed in May or June of the current year, has not yet been placed, in the light of the need for work in the merchant building sector of the shipbuilding industry.

    The order was the subject of competitive tender. The tenders received were substantially higher than expected and this necessitated a thorough review of the requirement, which will be completed as soon as possible.

    Defence Attachés And Advisers

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) whether he has been able to make arrangements with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office for greater integration of the supporting staffs of defence attachés and defence advisers serving overseas, as proposed in the report of the central policy review Staff;(2) whether he proposes to reduce in the coming 12 months the number of defence attachés and defence advisers serving overseas; and if he will make a statement;(3) what is the present number of defence attaché posts in British embassies overseas; and how it compares with the figure 12 months ago;(4) what is the present number of defence adviser posts in British high commissions abroad; and how it compares with the number 12 months ago.

    The present number of military and civilian posts for defence advisers and their supporting staff is approximately 105 and for defence attachés and their staff, including the British defence staff, Washington, some 495. Comparable figures 12 months ago were some 110 and 515 respectively. Like other areas of the Department, these numbers have been under examination with a view to establishing the implications of further reductions. It is too early to say whether the outcome of these studies will affect the numbers of defence attachés and advisers abroad.

    As regards the particular Central Policy Review Staff recommendation to which the hon. Member refers, arrangements already exist, through the medium of regular Diplomatic Service inspections, for such greater integration as is possible to be regularly studied and where appropriate implemented.

    European Community (Armaments Study Groups)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what differences there are between the study undertaken by the European Commission on European Armaments Industries and the task allotted to the Western European Union Standing Armaments Committee on 31 May 1976; whether there is duplication of work in these two studies; and what steps he intends to take to avoid this being so.

    I hope that duplication between the two studies will be avoided although I understand that both cover similar ground. The scope of the European Commission study and how it will be used is a matter for the Commission, over which I have no influence.

    Armaments (Procurement)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will consider, with his colleagues in the Western European Union Council, measures to be taken jointly to provide a common structure for national defence budgets, national defence equipment procurement processes and procedure for supplying classified information, with a view to instituting a European policy of procurement of new weapons systems.

    The Western European Union Council is at present considering an Assembly recommendation on precisely these matters.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he considers that consultations between military headquarters of the European member countries of the Atlantic Alliance are regular enough to produce agreement on joint specifications for the military equipment required by these countries and on replacement schedules leading to the organisation of the joint production of armaments on a European basis: and if he is satisfied with results achieved by FINABEL, the independent European programme group, the conference of national armaments directors and the standing armaments committee, respectively, in this field.

    The many international institutions available, including those mentioned, provide adequate machinery for exploring opportunities for collaboration in the defence equipment field. However, I recognise that the problems of reconciling different national interests and capabilities are formidable.

    Royal Naval Dockyards

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is now able to make a statement about the purpose, methods and composition of the review body which is to investigate the future role of the Royal naval dockyards.

    My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has set in hand a study of the role, organisation and structure of the Royal dockyards in the United Kingdom and how they might best be organised to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy in the next two decades, taking account of recent manpower and productivity trends and those forecast for the future.The study will be carried out under the direction of a steering group chaired by me and comprising the Vice-Chief of the Naval Staff, the Deputy Under-Secretary of State (Navy), the Chief Executive of the Royal dockyards, Professor B. P. Smith—formerly chairman of the board of PA Management Consultants Ltd.—and a representative of the Department of Industry. The final report on the study is to be submitted to the Secretary of State for Defence by 1 April 1980.As the above makes clear, the study is to be a wide-ranging one with the long-term needs of the Royal Navy in mind. The views of those who might contribute to our work, both within and outside the Ministry of Defence and including the trade unions and staff associations, are being sought and will be very welcome to the group.

    International Peace Academy (Paper)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has studied the paper, a copy of which has been sent to him, "The Armed Forces as a Cost Effective Instrument of Foreign Policy", by British members of the International Peace Academy; if he supports its general conclusions; and if he will take steps to implement its recommendation for more military aid to the civil power both at home and overseas.

    I have read the paper with interest and agree with many of the points made. The Armed Services will continue to respond to requests for appropriate assistance to the civil community, so far as resources and operational commitments allow. For example, the assistance provided by HMS "Fife" made a major contribution to disaster relief in Dominica recently.

    Industry

    Shotton Steelworks

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has received any proposal from the British Steel Corporation for the sale of Shotton steelworks to a private buyer; and whether he has authorised such a sale.

    Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if in each case he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

    Peyton And Calvert (Liverpool)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what proposals he has to provide alternative employment for workers made redundant as a result of the decision of Peyton and Calvert to wind up its Liverpool operation.

    Liverpool is a special development area so the highest levels of regional incentives in Great Britain are available to encourage investment there. Our revision of regional policy is designed to give greater priority to such areas. The facilities of the Manpower Services Commission will be available to individuals made redundant by Paton Calvert to find new jobs or to train for fresh employment.

    Transport

    Motorway Service Areas (Alcoholic Refreshments)

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the question of the sale of alcoholic refreshments at motorway service areas.

    The sale of alcohol at motorway service areas is prohibited by section 9 of the Licensing Act 1964. The suggestion that this prohibition should be repealed is not, and never has been, part of my proposals for selling the Government's interest in motorway service areas.

    Speed Limits (Enforcement)

    asked the Minister of Transport if he is satisfied with the standard of observation of speed limit law; and, if not, what he proposes to do about it.

    Enforcement is for the police and courts, but speed limits, if they are to be observed, must appear sensible. In this connection my Department issues advice to local authorities on setting limits with this as well as other factors in mind.

    Motor Cyclists

    asked the Minister of Transport if he plans to make training schemes for young motor cyclists compulsory.

    I have no plans to do so, but I shall be examining all possible means of promoting training in the context of my consideration of the report of the advisory committee on motor-cycle training.

    asked the Minister of Transport if he plans to increase the minimum age for the riding of high-powered motor bicycles over 50cc and up to 250cc to 18 years.

    I have no plans to do so, but licensing is an issue which I shall be taking into account in my consideration of the report of the advisory committee on motor-cycle training.

    Tachograph

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will ensure that the regulations regarding the installation of tachographs are not made compulsory until full agreement has been reached with Scottish vehicle operators, in view of the fact that the regulations will cause particular problems for them due to the conditions and width restrictions on Scottish roads which preclude normal speeds, and to the lack of adequate dual carriageways or motorways.

    The tachograph is simply a mechanical device to replace the driver's log book which is required under present regulations. Its introduction will not affect other rules regulating the operation of goods vehicles, in particular those regulating drivers' hours. I will, of course, take full account of all comments on the draft regulations which I published in September before putting to Parliament my proposals for phasing in the tachograph.

    Goole Bypass

    asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to reach a decision in respect of confirmation of the compulsory purchase order proposed by Humberside county council for acquisition of land for the Goole bypass.

    Inter-City High-Speed Train

    asked the Minister of Transport what is the present position in respect of proposals by the British Railways Board for additional sets of inter-city high-speed trains.

    The Railways Board has recently submitted proposals for further high speed trains for its Eastern region. These are now being considered.

    Driving Tests

    asked the Minister of Transport what is the percentage of passes and failures at the Jarrow driving test centre; how this compares with other centres in the area; how the northern test centres compared with other parts of the United Kingdom; what is the backlog at the Jarrow centre; and how it compares with other centres.

    The pass rate for tests taken at the Jarrow centre during the first nine months of this year was 46·6 per cent. The pass rate in the Northern traffic area was 45·7 per cent, and, nationally, 47·4 per cent.Comparative waiting periods for tests are:

    • Jarrow—19 weeks.
    • Northern traffic area—20 weeks.
    • Estimated national average—28 weeks.

    asked the Minister of Transport what the average waiting period for a driving test is in (a) Lichfield and Tamworth, (b) Staffordshire and (c) the West Midlands as a whole.

    The average waiting periods are:

  • (i) Lichfield—29 weeks. There is no centre at Tamworth.
  • (ii) Staffordshire—28 weeks.
  • (iii) West Midlands—31 weeks.
  • Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

    asked the Minister of Transport how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if, in each case, he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

    I have powers under the following statutes to authorise my officials to enter premises for the purposes shown:

    Enactment and Purpose

    The regulation of Railways Act 1871, s.4. Entry of any railway and all stations, works, buildings and offices belonging thereto for purposes of inspection or inquiry.

    The regulation of Railways Act 1871, c.7. Entry and inspection of any place or buildings in connection with an accident inquiry.

    Road Traffic Act 1960, s.128. Entry to inspect public service vehicles.

    Road Traffic Regulation Act 1967, s.63. Entry to land for placing, removing etc, traffic signs and for removal of unauthorised signs.

    Transport Act 1968, s.99(2). Entry to premises in which passenger or goods vehicles are kept for inspection of vehicles, records and other documents.

    Highways Act 1971, s.64. Entry to survey land, including power to search and bore to ascertain subsoil.

    Road Traffic Act 1972, ss.43, 48, 56, 61 and 61(1A). Entry to premises in connection with testing, examining, approving vehicles or vehicle parts.

    Road Traffic Act 1972, s.60A. Entry to premises in connection with the fitting, or sale of vehicle parts.

    The number of officials involved is not readily available.

    Motorists (Services)

    asked the Minister of Transport if, in pursuance of his policy of encouraging private enterprise to cater for motorists needing services on major highways, he will instruct his officials to facilitate applications from firms to open service areas on dual carriageways as well as motorways, wherever these are needed, and, in particular, on the A45 in Suffolk.

    The initiative in providing service areas on trunk roads lies entirely with private developers. Under the Town and Country Planning General Development Order, planning applications for this type of development have to be referred to me. Provided that the proposed development has no adverse implications for traffic or road safety, my policy is not to stand in the way of any proposal which improves the range of services available to motorists. I am aware that there is a potential demand for more services on the improved stretch of the A45 between Cambridge and Ipswich. A proposal to develop a service area at Exning received renewed planning permission in 1976 but has not yet been implemented by the developer. A similar proposal for services at Quarries Cross, Haughley, is currently being considered by my regional controller.

    Level Crossing Protection

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he has considered the report of the joint working party of his Department and the British Railways Board on level crossing protection, which was published in July last year.

    I have considered the report and I have taken into account the comments made by various bodies. I accept the main conclusion of the working party that the replacement of many manned, gated crossings by automatic crossings would improve safety, would save both money and manpower, and in many cases would reduce delays to road traffic. I have, therefore, asked the chief inspecting officer of railways to revise the requirements for level crossing protection as recommended in the report. The British Railways Board has already accepted the report's recommendations and the chairman has told me he is anxious to implement them.The report makes a number of other recommendations which, with three minor exceptions, I accept in principle. I am considering how these should be implemented.The exceptions are that I do not propose it should be made an offence to stop a vehicle on a crossing; I do not propose to impose a charge on developers where increased use of a crossing calls for improvements; and I do not propose to circulate a list of crossings with poor road profiles, since they will be individually marked.Some of the report's recommendations will be of interest to local highway authorities. It is for individual local authorities, in planning their transport expenditure, to determine the priority they attach to reducing road delays at level crossings, but I hope they will be ready to discuss such proposals with the Board.The Board will now be able to bring forward proposals to install safer, cheaper and more effective level crossings. There will be no change in the existing statutory procedures for the making of representations to me before new arrangements are approved, so that each individual crossing will continue to be considered on its merits, before any change is made.

    Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Sheepmeat

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps the Government propose to take to ensure that the recent decision of the European Court declaring the French ban on sheepmeat imports from the United Kingdom to be illegal, shall be fully enforced.

    I have received a letter from the French Minister of Agri- culture about imports of United Kingdom sheepmeat into France. The letter does not state clearly or categorically that the French Government propose to comply with the recent decision of the European Court by admitting United Kingdom sheepmeat immediately, freely and permanently into the French market without restriction, levy or any other impediment. I have therefore asked the Commissioner and our ambassador in Paris to put to the French Government the simple question: will you as from this week permanently allow free access of British sheepmeat to the French market free of all levies and restrictions? If the answer is "No" the Community remains in a situation of crisis.The reason for my doubts lies in the ambiguities of the French Minister's letter. The first paragraph states that imports of sheepmeat from the United Kingdom can resume from the week of 22–28 October. The second paragraph says that the resulting purchases

    "should make it possible to observe the patterns of trade traditionally established in periods when the frontier is open".

    If this implies any form of quantitative limit, based on past trade which was subject to enormous levies, it would be wholly illegal. The third paragraph says that the meat so purchased will be stocked by ONIBEV, the French intervention agency for meat. This seems to imply that it will not be free to be sold in France. This is also the impression that the British meat trade have been given today.

    I hope that M. Mehaignerie will remove all these doubts and uncertainties by stating clearly and unambiguously that France will comply immediately with the unequivocal decision of the European Court.

    Milk

    21.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has put forward to the Council of Agriculture Ministers to reduce the structural milk surplus; and what is his latest estimated cost of the EEC milk regime in 1980.

    At the Council of Agriculture Ministers meeting on 18 to 22 June my right hon. Friend was successful in persuading his EEC colleagues to accept a price freeze for the common support prices for milk for the first time since the United Kingdom joined the Community. Nevertheless, it is clear that further measures are required in order to reduce the Community's milk surplus.The cost of the milk regime in 1980 is currently estimated at 4,962 million European units of account, equivalent to £3,330 million.

    22.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what steps he is taking to maintain the daily delivery of milk.

    My right hon. Friend has made clear on a number of occasions his determination to maintain the doorstep delivery of milk.

    French Cheese

    23.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the volume and value of French cheese imports into the United Kingdom in 1978; and to the latest available date in the current year.

    The United Kingdom imported 9,473 tonnes of cheese, valued at £13,274,000, from France in 1978. In the period to 31 August 1979, the latest date for which information is available, 9,270 tonnes were imported, at a value of £13,216,000.

    New Zealand Butter

    24.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his policy in relation to the import of butter from New Zealand.

    New Zealand's right of access to the United Kingdom butter market was protected by protocol 18 of the Act of Accession, and the original provision was extended in 1976 to allow imports of specified quantities up to the end of 1980. We share New Zealand's concern that the levy associated with these arrangements should be set at a level which allows her to make full use of her entitlement, and that satisfactory arrangements providing continuing access for New Zealand butter after 1980 should be concluded as quickly as possible.

    European Community (Council Of Agriculture Ministers)

    25.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when next he will meet his EEC colleagues.

    When my right hon. Friend attends meetings of the Fisheries and Agriculture Councils on 29 and 30 October.

    French Apples

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the volume and value of French apple imports into the United Kingdom in 1978 and to the latest available date in the current year.

    During 1978 imports into the United Kingdom of French apples totalled 191,400 tonnes and were valued at £53 million. In the current year up to the end of August—the latest date for which statistics are available—imports amounted to 162,300 tonnes with a value of £37·1 million.

    Departmental Officials (Powers Of Entry)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many of the officials for whom he is responsible have the power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions; and if, in each case, he will indicate the statutory authority under which such power is exercised.

    The relevant information is being collected and I will reply to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.

    European Community (Council Of Agriculture Ministers)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make available reports on meetings of the Council of Agriculture Ministers held on 18 September and 15, 16 October.

    French Agricultural Produce

    asked the Minister of Agriculture. Fisheries and Food what was the value of French agricultural imports into

    UNITED KINGDOM AGRICULTURAL IMPORTS FROM FRANCE
    £ million cif
    19781979
    January—DecemberJanuary—August
    Food, feed and other agricultural products415·5278·8
    Beverages160·0132·0
    Fertilisers3·43·2
    Agricultural machinery and spares39·229·7
    Total Agricultural Imports618·1443·7
    Notes:
    1. The figures in the table have been drawn from the Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom.
    2. The details shown for 1979 are subject to revision.

    Environment

    Quangos

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what saving his Department has made by abolishing quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations in the current year.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what costs will be incurred by the setting up of the two quasi-autonomous non-governmental organisations to oversee urban development in London and Liverpool.

    The precise costs of setting up urban development corporations in London Docklands and Merseyside docks will depend on the range of powers afforded to them. No decision has yet been taken on this matter.

    Manchester (Ministerial Visits)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list, with notes, the occasions on which he and his ministerial colleagues in the Department of the Environment have visited Manchester since 4 May.

    Since May of this year I have not visited Manchester. My right hon. Friend the Minister for Local Government and Environmental Services paid

    the United Kingdom in 1978 and to the latest available date for the current year.

    The information requested is set out in the following table:a visit on 13 September to look at sewer collapses in the city. My hon. Friend the Minister for Housing and Construction was in Manchester on 14 September to address the annual conference of the National Federation of Housing Associations. My noble Friend the Under-Secretary of State, Lord Bellwin, visited the city on 18 June and 16 and 31 July for meetings of the Manchester/Salford partnership.

    Operation Clean-Up

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the ending of the operation clean-up scheme as a separately financed programme.

    The Government have streamlined and simplified the arrangements for the urban programme. As a result, operation clean-up will cease to exist as a separate exercise at the end of this financial year. The resources originally set aside for the next financial year will be shared between the partnership and programme authorities. Resources will also be made available to complete existing projects. It remains the Government's view that there is a real place in the urban programme for environmental improvements. What this change does is to allow local authorities more flexibility in the way they can include environmental schemes in their inner area programmes, by removing the need for authorities to apply under separate procedures.

    Land Registration

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will require private land as well as public land to be registered in his proposed legislation.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will specify the minimum size of land to be registered in his proposed legislation.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will name those areas where the proposed register of public land will be operative.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what scale of charges he intends that district councils should operate for allowing access to the proposed land register.

    Public Land (Sales)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment who would ultimately decide, if he and the appropriate sponsoring Minister disagree over a plot of public land being offered for sale.

    Land Valuation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will consider reviewing the procedures and methods surrounding land valuation.

    Town And Country Planning Acts

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the workings of the Town and Country Planning Acts; and what revisions to the planning procedures are being contemplated.

    My right hon. Friend set out his views on the workings of the Town and Country Planning Acts, and on the revisions to the planning procedures which are being contemplated, in a speech to the town and country planning summer school on 13 September. I am sending my hon. Friend a copy.

    Building Regulations (Inspection Procedures)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment to what extent the inspection of building work by building inspectors against statutory building regulations is holding up work; what estimate he has made of the cost of these delays; and what simplification of these procedures the Government intend.

    We have no evidence that inspection of works under the building regulations causes delay; under the existing system, construction may proceed if inspectors do not arrive. However, my right hon. Friend has already announced his intention to identify options for radical reform of building control and the inspection of works is among the points under study.

    Inner Cities (Expenditure)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what effect, in money terms and in the number and type of projects, cuts in public expenditure will have on the inner cities programme in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

    Urban programme resources for 1979–80 were cut by £7·6 million to some £180 million. The reductions affected only the seven partnership authorities and in general reflected a degree of possible underspend, together with the need to rephase some projects. For 1980–81, partnership and programme authorities have been told that their allocations will be roughly the same in real terms as the revised allocations for 1979–80. This represents a level programme, not a cut. The types of projects to be approved are matters for discussion between all the authorities concerned, including central Government, in the light of my right hon. Friend's policy statement on 14 September.

    Council And New Town Houses (Sale)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council homes, and, separately, how many new town houses, have been sold in the United Kingdom since 3 May to the latest available date.

    Sales figures for local authority and new town corporation dwellings are collected quarterly, and those for England and Wales are subsequently published together. The latest available figures relate to the second quarter of 1979.According to provisional estimates, 6,831 local authority and 77 new town dwellings were sold in England and Wales during April, May and June 1979.The sales of local authority and new town corporation properties in Scotland and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Northern Ireland.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, consequent to his written answer to the hon. Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) Official Report, 25 July, column 329, he will state, for each of the new towns listed in that answer, how many of the inquiries have resulted in (a) firm negotiations and (b) actual sales concluded.