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Written Answers

Volume 972: debated on Tuesday 30 October 1979

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 30 October 1979

Education And Science

Research Councils

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has for the amalgamation of the functions of the five research councils to which he appoints members to reduce the cost of administration and to eliminate the need for the advisory board for research councils, three inter-council committees with specialist subcommittees, and the multiplicity of joint council committees and liaison units currently required to avoid project duplication.

We have no proposals to amalgamate the research councils because the functions of each council differ. A single amalgamated research council could be so unwieldy that the resultant extra administrative cost would offset any administrative savings arising immediately from the amalgamation. I doubt whether a single council would be a more effective instrument than the five separate councils for meeting the purposes for which my Department funds them.

Nursery Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans there are for expanding nursery school places in Nottinghamshire.

My Department has recently invited local authorities to make bids for the 1980–81 building programme, which is expected to provide an additional 2,000 nursery places nationally. It is a matter for each local authority to decide on the provision it wishes to make within its own area.

Norfolk Education Committee

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many people were employed by the Norfolk education committee in 1960 and in 1979; and what percentage was employed (a) as teachers and (b) in administration.

Regrettably these data are not identified in the annual returns made by local authorities to central departments; I therefore suggest that my hon. Friend seeks the information from the Norfolk local education authority.

School-Leaving Age

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will introduce legislation to enable young people to leave school at the end of the term in which they have their sixteenth birthday, or at the headteacher's discretion, immediately on or after their sixteenth birthday if they have an apprenticeship or permanent job to go to.

No. My right hon. and learned Friend has no such plans at present. Correspondence on this issue reveals a variety of opinion on this matter but the many views expressed will be borne in mind.

Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proposals he has to continue or to extend the provision for alleviating shortages of teachers in technical studies and mathematics through extra retraining facilities for qualified teachers.

The special one-year courses of retraining for qualified teachers who wish to teach craft, design and technology—including engineering—and mathematics in secondary schools which were run by various colleges throughout the country in 1977 and 1978 have been approved to run for a further two years.Financial assistance to encourage teachers and local education authorities to make use of the retraining courses and appropriate initial training courses continues to be available through the Manpower Services Commission.

Disabled Students (Discretionary Allowance)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many disabled students have been assisted by the discretionary allowance for disabled students, and at what cost, during the last academic year; and if he intends to increase the limit in line with inflation.

This information is available only for mandatory awards and other awards intended to provide full maintenance. In 1977–78 local education authorities made payments under the provisions relating to disabled students to 166 students, at a total cost of £20,768. These figures do not include items such as payment of travelling expenses, for which expenditure on disabled students is not separately identified.The maximum allowance for a disabled student is revised annually in accordance with the cost of living.

Disabled Children

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what steps he is taking to implement the recommendations of the Warnock committee on the education of disabled children; and if he will make a statement.

The Warnock committee's report is wide-ranging and of concern to several Government Departments. My right hon. and learned Friend will be consulting his colleagues on what Government action is desirable and possible in present circumstances. I cannot indicate exactly when a statement will be made, but I can assure the right hon. Member that there will be no unnecessary delay.

Disabled Students (Access To Buildings)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what efforts are being made to ensure that all new secondary and higher or further educational buildings are accessible to disabled pupils and students; and if he considers current progress satisfactory.

Earlier this year my Department published design guidance on access for the physically handicapped to educational buildings. Many of the recommendations are being put into effect in new buildings and I am generally satisfied with the progress which is being made withtin the limits of the resources available to local education authorities.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

There are no special arrangements of this kind. For my Department most purchases are made either by Her Majesty's Stationery Office or by the Department of the Environment—Property Services Agency. Insignificant small purchases are made from the retail trade.

Home Department

Police National Computer

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now received the report of the chief officer of police concerned in respect of the misuse of information held on the police national computer in events concerning casinos run by the Ladbroke group; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. I understand that the matters alleged may be the subject of proceedings. Therefore I cannot comment on the case which gave rise to this question. However, I can say that the chief officer concerned has reviewed procedures in his force and, with Home Office agreement, has introduced additional precautions to enable checks to be made more easily on the use of information received at computer terminals.

British Broadcasting Corporation (Welsh Language Programmes)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what additional funds he proposes to make available to the British Broadcasting Corporation for extending the number and time of Welsh language television programmes.

The cost to the BBC of producing additional Welsh language programmes is a factor to be taken into account in discussions between the Home Office and the BBC on the Corporation's future finances.

Schoolchildren (Remand)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has ended the committal of 14 to 16-year-olds on remand to Shrewsbury prison.

No. Severe pressure upon accommodation and staff in nearby remand centres makes it necessary, for the present, for such committals to Shrewsbury prison to continue.

Suspected Persons (Merseyside)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were (a) arrested, and (b) proceeded against for being suspected of frequenting a public place with intent to commit an arrestable offence, by Merseyside police division, and ethnic appearance, in the last year for which figures are available.

The only information readily available is that there were 489 persons arrested who were proceeded against in 1977 in the Merseyside police force area whose principal offence was frequenting a public place with intent to commit an arrestable offence.

Wakefield Prison (Female Probation Officers)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if female probation officers and psychologists at Wakefield prison have yet been issued with keys; if not, why not; and what action he proposes to take to ensure that keys are supplied to such persons.

The staff concerned have not yet been issued with keys because the local branch of the Prison Officers' Association has instructed its members not to do so; the matter is under discussion with the Prison Officers' Association at national level and it is hoped to reach an early conclusion.

Maximum Security Prison (Low Newton)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the construction costs, the proposed staff complement, and the estimated annual running costs of the new maximum security prison at Low Newton.

The latest estimate of the construction costs, including staff quarters, for the new prison at Low Newton, named Frankland, is approximately £18 million. The staffing complement will be decided nearer the commissioning date, and an estimate of the annual running costs is not available. In 1977–78, the last financial year for which figures are available, the average annual cost of keeping an inmate in a similar type of establishment was £9,724.

Low Security Prison (Wymott)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what will be the staff complement and the estimated annual running costs of the new low security prison at Wymott.

Wymott came into operation in April and the build-up to full capacity will be gradual. The present staff complement of 203, including 119 members of the prison officer class, will be kept under review as the population increases. Cost estimates for individual establishments are not readily available, but during 1977–78, the last financial year for which figures are available, the average annual cost of keeping an inmate in a similar type of establishment was £4,732.

Custodial Sentences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in each of the years 1975, 1976, 1977, and 1978, what percentage of convictions for (a) indictable and (b) non-indictable offences, resulted in a prison sentence.

The percentage of offenders sentenced for indictable offences and for non-indictable offences who received sentences of imprisonment are published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales"—tables 6.1 and 6.9 of the volume for 1978, Cmnd. 7670.

Detention Centres

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the catchment areas for the two detention centres at which he proposes to introduce short sharp shock treatment; and what proportion of the total number of young people attending detention centres are sent to these two centres.

New Hall detention centre takes persons aged 17 and under 21 from West Yorkshire and part of South Yorkshire; Send detention centre takes persons aged 14 and under 17 from London, Kent, Surrey, East Sussex and West Sussex. The catchment areas will be reviewed before the start of the pilot project. The two centres provide approximately 11 per cent. of all detention centre accommodation in England and Wales.

Young Persons (Custodial Sentences)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many males and females under 17 years of age, and aged 17 and under 21 years, were respectively, sentenced to (a) borstals, (b) prison sentences of six months or less, and (c) prison sentences of three years or more in each of the past three years.

Information on the number of persons in these age groups sentenced to borstal training, immediate imprisonment, or suspended imprisonment is published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales"—tables 1(c), 1(d), 5(c) and 5(d)—of the volume for 1978—Cmnd. 7670. Information on the number of persons aged 17 and under 21 given in the specified sentences of imprisonment is given in the following

BORSTAL TRAINEES UNDER THE AGE OF 17 IN LOCAL PRISONS* ON 31 AUGUST 1979: BY AGE AND TIME IN CUSTODY IN A LOCAL PRISON SINCE DATE OF SENTENCE
Number of persons
Time in custody in local prisons
Local prisonsMalesFemalesUp to and including 1 monthOver 1 month up to and including 2 months
Birmingham
Age 1633
Leeds
Age 1511
Age 1611101
Lincoln
Age 1622
Liverpool
Age 1611
Total18171
* Holloway prison has been excluded as it contains special accommodation where borstal trainees can serve the whole of their sentence.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many 14 to 16-year-old (a) boys and (b) girls were in borstal at the latest available date.

On 31 August 1979, 817 boys and 27 girls aged 14 to 16 were serving sentences in borstals in England and Wales.

table; persons aged under 17 cannot be sentenced to imprisonment.

PERSONS AGED 17 AND UNDER 21 SENTENCED TO CERTAIN LENGTHS OF IMPRISONMENT IN ALL COURTS

England and Wales 1976–78

Number of persons

Immediate

Suspended

*

Up to and including 6 months

3 years and over

Up to and including 6 months

Males:
19762,6997384,062
19773,3946564,288
19783,9207344,718
Females:
197620312477
197721912572
197826818658

* The maximum length of suspended sentence is two years.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) boys and (b) girls sentenced to borstal training were in local prisons at the latest available date; at which prisons they were located; what their ages were; and how long they have been in prison.

Open Prisons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in view of prison department research suggesting that the number of prisoners suitable for open prison conditions has been seriously underestimated, he will revise the policy of closing open prisons.

The criteria for selecting prisoners for open conditions are under review. There is no policy of closing open prisons.

Penal Establishments (Population)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the population of remand centres, remand prisons, detention centres, borstals and

31 DECEMBER 1976
MalesFemales
Under 2121 and overUnder 2121 and over
Remand centres1,46441149126
Local prisons1,42214,77276193
Training prisons96012,86253500
Borstals5,669173
Detention centres1,661
Total11,17628,045351819
Overall total40,391
31 DECEMBER 1977
MalesFemales
Under 2121 and overUnder 2121 and over
Remand centres1,49543255144
Local prisons1,30714,45888205
Training prisons1,09413,03155560
Borstals5,373184
Detention centres1,677
Total10,94627,921382909
Overall total40,158
31 DECEMBER 1978
MalesFemales
Under 2121 and overUnder 2121 and over
Remand centres1,40546471127
Local prisons1,51614,52089230
Training prisons1,15112,94963573
Borstals5,531159
Detention centres1,675
Total11,27827,933382930
Overall total40,523
30 SEPTEMBER 1979
MalesFemales
Under 2121 and overUnder 2121 and over
Remand centres1,86650898161
Local prisons2,11214,838104264
Training prisons1,17713,42780609
Borstals4,963164
Detention centres1,830
Total11,94828,7734461,034
Overall total42,201

prisons, and the total population of all penal establishments, with males and females and adults and under-21s given separately in each case on the latest available date and on 31 December in each of the last three years.

The population of prison department establishments in England and Wales on the dates requested is shown in the attached table:

Maximum Security Prisons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the total capacity of the existing maximum security prisons; and how many of the prisoners at present in these prisons are in the maximum security category A.

The total normal capacity of the seven dispersal prisons in England and Wales on 30 September 1979 was 2,692. On 24 October 1979 they held 227 category A prisoners. In addition, 31 category A prisoners were located in certain local prisons and six female category A prisoners were held in the women's wing at Durham prison.

Sedition (Irish Republican Army)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied that chief constables are sufficiently aware of their powers in relation to charging on the rounds of sedition when dealing with the Irish Republican Army and its associated organisations; and whether any such charges have been brought.

Yes; in 1972 three people were charged in London inter alia with seditious conspiracy and uttering seditious words.

Postal Voting

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, to assist those elderly and housebound who take a close interest in parish affairs, he will take steps to amend the Representation of the People Act to provide for postal voting in parish council elections.

I shall be considering this matter in the course of my review of absent voting procedures.

Fire Service And Police Pensions

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in view of the position of fire service and police officers' widows of post-retirement marriages prior to April 1978, who receive no service pension despite the fact that throughout the whole of the officer's service for 30 years or more he has contributed to a pension fund in order to provide a pension for himself or, on his demise, for his widow, if he will seek to amend the fire service and police pension Acts so as to provide for the payment of widows' pensions in such cases.

No. No public service pension schemes made provision before 1978 for widows of post-retirement marriages.

Wormwood Scrubs Prison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the terms of reference, the membership and the likely date of the inquiry set up to look into the disturbance at Wormwood Scrubs prison.

I have asked the regional director of the south-east region of the prison department, Mr. K. Gibson, to produce for me a comprehensive report on the events leading up to the act of concerted indiscipline by inmates in D wing of Wormwood Scrubs prison on 31 August, the manner in which control was re-established, and the subsequent management of the wing, taking into account allegations which have been made about these matters.Mr. Gibson has the assistance of two senior governors from the headquarters of the prison department, together with supporting staff.Mr. Gibson has already started his work.

Airguns

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to be able to introduce legislation to restrict the ownership and use of airguns, particularly amongst young people.

I have no plans at present to introduce such legislation, but am examining the existing law in the light of representations made to me by the hon. Member and others.

Young Persons (Remand Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many 14 to 16-year-old boys and girls were on remand in (a) remand centres and (b) local prisons at the latest available date.

On 31 August 1979 there were 207 boys aged 14 to 16 on remand in remand centres and 31 on remand in local prisons in England and Wales. The corresponding figures for girls were nine and two.

Local Police Stations (Closures)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what public petitions has he, or the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis, received in the past five years concerning proposed closures of local police stations; to what stations they referred; and what was the approximate number of signatures on each petition.

It would involve disproportionate cost to make an exhaustive check, but the following information is available as to petitions about the closure or alteration of status of the stations named and the approximate number of signatures. In some cases the petition followed press speculation about the future of a station, and the receipt of a petition does not imply that the closure or alteration of status of the station was even contemplated.

Petitions received by the Commissioner
Sidcup1,300
Erith and Belvedere40
Belvedere1,800
Barnes40
Barnes800
Barnes100
Barnes200
Barnes/Richmond1,000
Richmond2,000
Richmond300
Sunbury60
Winchmore Hill150
Gerald Road9,800
Bow700
St. John's Wood7,600
St. John's Wood20
Highgate2,500
Hornsey30
Upminster60
Harold Hill60
Other Petitions received by the Home Secretary and forwarded to the Commissioner
Wallington100
Belvedere and Erith2,400
Cobham5,100
East Molesey2,700

Note

The information in the first part of the table has been compiled from records kept centrally by the Metropolitan Police, and may not include some petitions which were received and retained locally.

Detention Centres (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many 14 to 16-year-old boys were in detention centres at the latest available date.

On 31 August 1979 there were 646 boys aged 14 to 16 serving sentences in detention centres in England and Wales.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

No special arrangements exist for this purpose in my Department. On past trends small firms could expect to supply not less than 25 per cent., by value, of the Department's purchasing needs in 1979–80 and in 1980–81.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 30 October.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 October.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 October.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 30 October.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister if she will state her official engagements for 30 October.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 30 October.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 October.

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 October.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 30 October.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 30 October.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 30 October.

I refer my hon. Friend and hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Ormskirk (Mr. Kilroy-Silk).

Greater Manchester

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister when she expects to visit Greater Manchester.

Security Services (Manning)

asked the Prime Minister if she will set up an inquiry into the manning of security services in all Her Majesty's Government Ministries and public buildings.

Works Of Art

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in which year the issue of Government certificates of indemnity for loss of, or damage sustained by, works of art lent to Arts Council exhibitions was commenced; and what has been the total sum paid since that year in satisfaction of claims under such certificates of indemnity.

In 1973; claims paid between then and 31 March 1979 totalled £40,344.

Industry

Ship Repairing And Marine Engine Industries

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he intends to make a statement on the nationalised ship repairing and marine engine industries.

The ship repair industry, both nationalised and private, will benefit from the proposed extension of the home credit scheme to conversions and alterations. The marine engine industry prospects are closely linked to those of shipbuilding, on which my statement of 23 July set out the Government's policy.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

There are no special arrangements of this kind; the information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Employment

Unfilled Vacancies

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether, in view of the high registered unemployment figures in Essex and elsewhere despite the many unfilled vacancies for skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled jobs, he will describe what special measures are being taken to persuade school leavers and others without work to accept employment in such vacancies.

It is normal practice for both the careers service and the employment service to submit suitable unemployed persons to outstanding notified vacancies. In recent years the careers service has been strengthened by the appointment of specialists to deal solely with unemployed young people.Any person who places unreasonable restrictions on the type of work he or she will consider or who declines to take up an employer's offer of a job is liable to incur a penalty affecting his or her entitlement to unemployment benefit or supplementary benefit or both.The co-existence of unemployment and unfilled vacancies is not unusual. Some unemployment is always generated by flows in and out of jobs, but more importantly the requirements of particular employers cannot necessarily be met from the labour available.The Manpower Services Commission has recently made a study of hard-to-fill vacancies which concluded that these vacancies usually arise for reasons with which it is not within the Commission's competence to deal. There is, nevertheless, some scope for improving the co-ordination

Over 26 weeks and up to 52 weeksOver 52 weeks
NumberPercentage of total unemployedNumberPercentage of total unemployed
July 1977242,61015·6307,05319·8
July 1978243,04716·1328,37221·7
July 1979211,55515·2340,54324·5

Disabled Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what decisions he has taken concerning the continuation of the quota scheme for the employment of disabled people; whether he has taken representations made in response to the Manpower Services Commission's consultative document on the quota into account in making any decision about the future of the scheme; and whether he is satisfied with the presentation of background information in that document;(2) how many grants have been made to employers towards the cost of adaptations to premises or equipment to enable

of MSC action to alleviate the problems which result.

Benefits

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the details of each of the codes used by insurance officers in his Department in determining benefit.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given on 25 October 1979—[Vol. 972, c. 297–98]—by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, whose Department is responsible for matters concerning determination of benefit by the adjudicating authorities.

Unemployed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish the number and percentage of unemployed claimants registered for work for over 26 weeks and up to 52 weeks and over 52 weeks for 1977, 1978 and the latest available date.

The quarterly duration analysis relates to all registered unemployed people, regardless of whether they are claimants to benefit. Following are the latest figures, which are for July 1979, together with corresponding figures for 1977 and 1978:disabled people to obtain or retain employment since October 1978; and whether he intends to expand the provisions of the scheme.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how much money has been spent since July 1978 on help with travel-to-work costs for severely disabled people who are unable to travel by public transport because of their disabilities; if he has any plans to vary the scheme; and whether it is intended to increase the level of assistance in line with the rate of inflation.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that expenditure on its fares-to-work scheme from July 1978 to September 1979—the latest date available—was £173,376.There are no plans to vary the scheme. There is a built-in mechanism to take account of inflation, and the current maximum weekly grant of £30 will be raised to £36 on 14 November 1979.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give an assurance that there will be no reduction in allocated spending on the fares-to-work, job introduction, capital grant and special aid schemes for the employment of disabled people.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will give an assurance that employment rehabilitation centres will not be closed;(2) if he will give an assurance that job training for the disabled at specialist residential colleges will not be reduced;(3) if he will give an assurance that the number of employment advisers will be maintained;(4) if he will give an assurance that the disablement resettlement service will not be reduced;(5) if he will give an assurance that plans to increase sheltered employment places will not be abandoned or revised to reduce the number of extra places proposed;(6) if he will exempt services designed to aid the employment of disabled people from planned public spending cuts in the budgets of his Department and the Manpower Services Commission.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 October 1979]: The existing services to disabled people, provided by the Manpower Services Commission, will not be subject to expenditure cuts during 1979–80.Future staffing and expenditure on the Manpower Services Commission's training and employment services, including those for disabled people, is currently being reviewed as part of the Government's general reappraisal of public service expenditure and manpower.Services to disabled people are being examined within the general context of the necessary reductions in the scale of MSCs operations with a view to establishing the most effective means of helping disabled people. It remains our concern to concentrate help on those who most need it.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give an assurance that disablement advisory committees will not be abolished.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 October 1979]: A working party of the national advisory council on employment of disabled people was set up in April 1978 to review the role of disablement advisory committees. I will await the outcome of that review before making any decision as to their future.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give an assurance that the national advisory council for the employment of disabled people will not be abolished.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will maintain the timetable for consultation on review of the quota scheme for the employment of disabled people regardless of public expenditure considerations.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will withdraw the document sent to members of the national advisory council on the employment of disabled people asking for the council's advice on ways to cut public spending on the employment of disabled people.

Rehabilitation Courses

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he intends to continue the system of allowances paid to people going on employment rehabilitation courses; and whether he intends to increase the allowance in line with inflation.

Socioeconomic Groups I To V

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the unemployment rate amongst the various socioeconomic groups I to V amongst the registered unemployed in Great Britain.

Statistics of the registered unemployed are not compiled for socioeconomic groups.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what arrangements there

Part of Department of Employment GroupDutyNumber of staffStatutory authority
1. Department of Employment.(a) Authorised officers for Employment Agencies Act.56Employment Agencies Act 1973 (as amended by the Employment Protection Act 1975).
(b) Wages Inspectors192Wages Council Act 1979.
(c) Special investigators for unemployment benefit fraud cases.86Social Security Acts 1975–77.
2. Manpower Services Commission.Authorised officer under Disabled Persons Act.10Disabled Persons (Employment) Act 1944.
3. Health and Safety Executive.Inspectors1,847Health and Safety and Work Act 1974.

Occupational Cancer

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish details in the Official Report of surveys covering occupational cancers currently being undertaken throughout Great Britain.

[pursuant to his reply, 25 October 1979, c. 256–7]: I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the following studies concerning occupational cancers are being undertaken by the Health and Safety Executive:—1. A mortality study of workers in the rubber industries.2. A mortality study of workers exposed to acrylontrile.3. A record of all deaths in the United Kingdom from ongio-sarcoma of the liver, these being investigated for possible occupational exposure to vinyl chloride.

are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

There are no special arrangements of this kind and information is not available on which to base an estimate of proportions.

Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

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

[pursuant to his reply, 25 October 1979, c. 256–7]: I am in-in my Department currently holding the power to enter premises are as follows:4. A survey of asbestos workers which provides information on the incidence of mesothelioma and carcinoma of the bronchus in asbestos workers and information on asbestosis.5. A mortality study of polyvinyl chloride manufacturing workers.6. A mortality study of styrene manufacturing workers.7. A mortality study of carbon black workers.8. A mortality study of iron, steel and non-ferrous foundry workers.9. A mortality study of steel foundry workers in Scotland, as detailed in my reply to the hon. Member of 16 July 1979.The above studies are in adidtion to those being carried out by research organisations and industry itself.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment 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 54,000 per annum.

[pursuant to his reply, 25 October 1979, c. 256–7]: I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that it is not possible to make a reliable estimate of deaths in Great Britain due to occupational cancer, mainly because of the difficulty of determining the extent to which cancer has an occupational origin in each case.I do not propose to instruct the Commission to undertake a study of this subject as I am satisfied that the Commission, which is currently undertaking several studies of occupational cancer, has adequate procedures for determining, in the light of the various demands made on its funds, research needs and priorities.

Scotland

Mrs Maggie Jones

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will discuss with the Scottish Paraplegic Association the case of Mrs. Maggie Jones of Edinburgh, recently banned from international competition by the British Paraplegic Sports Society for distributing anti-apartheid leaflets at the European Paraplegic Games, with a view to urging it not to impose a similar ban.

No. Participation in athletic events is entirely a matter for the governing body concerned and it would not be appropriate for me to intervene.

Secondary School Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the present net deficit or excess of secondary teachers in Scotland for each of the following subjects: mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, music, business studies, English, modern languages, history, geography, modern studies, technical subjects and classics; and what are the corresponding figures for Tayside region.

The information requested is being collected but is not yet available. I shall write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Teachers (Unemployment)

asked the Secretary of of State for Scotland what is the number of (a) primary teachers and (b) secondary teachers registered as unemployed in each region and island authority in Scotland; and what percentage of each has been unemployed for more than one year.

The numbers of primary and secondary schoolteachers registered as unemployed in each region and island authority in Scotland on 13 September 1979—the latest date for which unemployment figures analysed by occupation are available—are set out in the table below. Information about duration of unemployment is not available in relation to individual occupations.

RegionPrimary teachersSecondary teachers
Borders96
Central4920
Dumfries and Galloway186
Fife5026
Grampian8661
Highland2319
Lothian182120
Strathclyde329119
Tayside6543
OrkneyNil2
Shetland42
Western Isles46
Scotland819430

Community Radio Services

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what have been the individual amounts of money given by local government authorities in Scotland in helping to establish BBC community radio services.

I understand that the Western Isles islands council has contributed towards the cost of setting up a BBC community radio station based in Stornoway. The provision of such assistance is a matter between the council and the BBC, and I have no information on the detailed arrangements.

Newly Qualified Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the number of newly qualified teachers in 1979 from each teacher training college in Scotland for each course leading to a teaching qualification, secondary education.

The information requested is being collected but is not yet available. I shall write to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Curriculum

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) if he will make a statement on the future of the consultative committee on the curriculum;(2) what is the number of those employed at each curriculum development centre in Scotland; and what effect Government restrictions on public expenditure will have upon the activities of curriculum development centres.

Decisions on the future of the consultative committee on the curriculum and the Scottish curriculum development service must await the outcome of a study of their functions and organisation which has recently been carried out as part of an examination of the efficiency with which resources are used on specific functions

DWELLINGS BY TENURE: 1 APRIL 1979
Percentages
LA SSHA NTOwner-occupiedPrivately rentedOther (including housing associations)
Dundee5925124
Aberdeen5039101
Glasgow642683
Edinburgh3452112
Scotland5335102
Note: Due to rounding, percentages may not total 100.

Cumminestown (Health Centre)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the present position regarding the construction of a health centre in the village of Cumminestown in the constituency of Aberdeen-

and activities in a number of Government Departments.

The numbers of staff at present employed in each curriculum development centre are as follows:

Academic Staff

Non-Academic Staff

Centre

Full-time

Full-time

Part-time

Aberdeen264
Dundee27
Edinburgh222
Falkirk23
Glasgow568

In addition, specific development projects are being assisted by a number of teachers, lecturers and advisers on temporary secondment.

Households (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the percentage of households in Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Edinburgh and Scotland overall which are (a) council/Scottish Special Housing Association/new town tenants, (b) owner-occupiers, (c) privately rented tenants, unfurnished and (d) privately rented tenants, furnished.

Reliable figures are available only for dwellings, not households, and I cannot distinguish between furnished and unfurnished private tenancies. The following table shows the available information.shire East; and when this health centre will be completed for use by the local medical practitioner.

This is a matter for the Grampian health board and its secretary will write to my hon. Friend describing in detail the latest position.

Acute Hospital Beds (Tayside)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the percentage of acute hospital beds occupied by patients over 60 years in the case of females, and over 65 years in the case of males, in Tayside health board area and in Scotland.

The latest information is for 1977 and is as follows:

TaysideScotland
Per cent.Per cent.
Males 65+16·216·2
Females 60+33·529·3

Grampian Region (School Teachers)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many qualified primary school teachers in the Grampian region have applied for positions without success during the period 1 January to 30 August.

This information is not available centrally. I am asking Grampian regional council to send direct to my hon. Friend particulars of applications which it has received.

National Finance

Share Ownership

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, in view of the desirability of wider ownership of wealth, he will bring forward proposals further to encourage wider share ownership, particularly in regard to share option schemes for company employees and tax incentives which encourage saving and investment by companies and individuals.

It remains our intention, as we made clear in our election manifesto, to encourage employee share ownership and to ensure that our tax policies generally will provide incentives to save and build up capital. We are examining possible methods of achieving these aims.

Works Of Art

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the Treasury's policy on offers of works of art, either singly or in groups, in satisfaction of capital transfer tax conditional upon those works passing to particular eligible destinations is still as set out in the reply given to the hon. Member for Warley, East on 31 March 1977, Official Report, column 239.

Yes, the Treasury's approach to such offers is unaltered. Executors and testators are free to make an offer conditional on allocation to a specific institution. If the Treasury decides that the condition is not acceptable the offer may be withdrawn.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it remains his policy to accept, in conformity with written answers to the hon. Member for Warley East, Official Report, 23 July 1973, column 283, and Official Report, 31 March 1977, columns 239–40, the national art collections fund as an appropriate and eligible institution or body to be specified in a will as a recipient by a testator who directs that works of art are to be offered in satisfaction of capital transfer tax conditionally on their passing in the first intance to the fund.

Yes. Testators are still free to name the national art collections fund as the ultimate recipient of an object which is to be offered in lieu of tax.

Inspector Of Foreign Dividends

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what are the estimated savings that would result from a transfer of the office of the Inspector of Foreign Dividends from the Greater London area to Bootle;(2) how many posts would be moved to Bootle if the office of the Inspector of Foreign Dividends was transferred there; and what building in Bootle would be most suitable to accommodate the move.

The office of the Inspector of Foreign Dividends, current staff 291, was not included in Sir Henry Hardman's—1973—proposals for the dispersal of work from London and has not been included in the dispersal plans of any Administration since that time. No costings are therefore available.

Public Sector Borrowing Requirement

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is still the Government's policy to achieve a year-by-year reduction in the size of the public sector borrowing requirement.

[pursuant to his reply, 26 October 1979, c. 359]: I refer the right hon. Member to what I said in my Budget Statement.—[Vol. 968, c. 243.]

Business Premises (Powers Of Entry)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has any plans to review the powers of Customs and Excise and Inland Revenue officers to enter business premises.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

Short-Time Working Compensation Scheme

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if it is the practice of the Inland Revenue to tax as income payments received under the short-time working scheme which replaced temporary employment subsidy.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 October 1979]: Payments to employers under the temporary short-time working compensation scheme which began on 1 April 1979 are, in the Revenue's view, trading receipts for tax purposes.

European Community (Budget Contributions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the estimated annual contribution which Great Britain will now make to the EEC from the proceeds of a 15 per cent. rate of value added tax is by comparison with the annual amount payable when value added tax was levied at 8 per cent. and 12½ per cent.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 October 1979]: The change in the rates of VAT in the United Kingdom has not of itself affected the amount of own resources payable.The own resources decision of 21 April 1970 provides for contributions by member States to be paid at a rate not exceeding 1 per cent. of the value of all transactions included in a harmonised base laid down by the sixth Council directive on VAT. The common rate for 1979, specified in supplementary budget No. 2 and applicable to the six member States contributing on a VAT basis, is 0·744399976697 per cent. It is estimated that in 1979 the United Kingdom payment would be about £790 million on a full own resources basis—before allowing for refunds under article 131 of the Treaty of Accession.

Transport

Mentally Handicapped Persons (Concessionary Fares)

asked the Minister of Transport what guidance he has given to local authorities in relation to the granting of concessionary fares to mentally handicapped persons under the provisions of section 138 of the Transport Act 1968.

None. The Transport Act 1968 does not enable local authorities to give concessions to mentally handicapped people. Local social services authorities in England and Wales have powers to offer such concessions under section 29 of the National Assistance Act 1948 and advice to that effect has been issued by the Department of Health and Social Security.

Goods Vehicles (Convoys)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he has considered introducing legislation to make it an offence for goods vehicles above a certain gross vehicle weight to travel in closely bunched convoys; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend does not consider it appropriate to try to regulate such a practice by specific legislation. Where it constitutes driving in a dangerous or inconsiderate manner, there are already general powers available under the Road Traffic Act 1972.

Driving Tests

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the current average waiting time for a driving test at the test centre in Dundee; and how this compares with the same period last year.

25 weeks. Last year the average waiting time at Dundee was 22 weeks.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is the pass rate for driving tests for the Dundee driving test centre in the past year.

Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

asked the Minister of Transport what training is given to officers in his Department and in public bodies ultimately answerable to him, who have powers of search and entry, with regard to surveillance techniques and methods of gaining entry into business premises and private homes.

Although no specific training is given I would expect my officials to act in a reasonable manner at all times. I regret that information about public bodies for which I have some responsibility is not readily available.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Minister of Transport what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

In accordance with Government purchasing policy of obtaining value for money my Department lets contracts for provision of supplies stores and services on the basis of competitive tendering by contractors from a selected list approved by my professional and technical officers. There are no special arrangements for the deliberate channelling of a proportion of purchasing contracts to small businesses, but many of my Department's contracts will give rise to subcontracts and these will often be awarded to smaller firms.

Motor Cycle Training (Report)

asked the Minister of Transport when he intends to publish the report of the advisory committee on motor cycle training; and if he will make a statement.

I am publishing the report today and placing copies in the Library.Far too many motor cyclists, especially the young and inexperienced, are killed and injured on our roads. I believe that one way of tackling this problem is to increase the deplorably low number of riders now taking training. I am therefore most grateful to the committee, which was set up by the previous Government, for the valuable work that it has completed. I have not at this stage reached conclusions on the committee's report or its recommendations.As the next step I have asked my hon. Friend the Member for Rushcliffe (Mr. Clarke), my Parliamentary Secretary, to discuss the whole subject of motor cycle safety with interested organisations, including the local authority associations. These discussions will cover the recommendations in the committee's report and other suggestions to promote training and motor cycle safety generally. Meanwhile, I take this opportunity to emphasise to all new riders the importance of taking training before going on the road.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Hill Livestock (Compensatory Allowances)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any plans to increase the hill compensatory allowances for sheep in the maximum of 1 January 1980; and if he will make a statement.

The review of hill livestock compensatory allowances for both sheep and cattle, which I promised would be carried out this autumn, is now well in hand. I intend to announce the Government's decision in the light of this review before the end of November.

Wales

Co-Operative Enterprises

asked the Secretary of State for Wales, further to his reply of 20 June to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill (Mr. Craigen), if he will

Organisation receiving grantNature of projectExpenditure approved for grant
1. West Glamorgan Common Ownership Development Agency, 3 Christina Street, Swansea, West Glamorgan (through the West Glamorgan County Council).The employment of a Development Officer (with part-time secretarial assistance) with the prime responsibility of encouraging and supporting the development of viable common ownership enterprises in West Glamorgan.£7,500 per annum plus £1,000 initial costs.
2. Rhondda Enterprise, Penrhiwgwynt Road, Porth, Rhondda, Mid Glamorgan (through the Rhondda Borough Council).The extension and renovation of a building to provide a training workshop. In addition an Employment Resource worker (with part-time secretarial assistance) provides training opportunities for the young unemployed and permanent jobs in co-ownership enterprises.£40,000 capital plus £7,500 per annum.
3 and 4. North Wales Employment Resources and Advice Centre, c/o Afallon, Tanygrisiau, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd (through the Clwyd and Gwynedd County Councils).Two schemes (one in Clwyd and one in Gwynedd) each involving the employment of a Community Employment Officer to provide advice and assistance to groups desiring to set up co-operatives.£7,440 per annum plus £1,250 initial costs, for each scheme.
5. Antur Teifi, c/o Tanygraig, pontshaen, Llandyssul, Dyfed (through Dyfed County Council).The employment of full-time Employment Resources Officer to facilitate the establishment of co-operative ventures fitted to the needs of the Teifi Valley.£8,500 per annum plus £1,000 initial costs.
The Welsh Office grant is paid at the rate of 75 per cent. of expenditure approved as above, with the sponsoring local authorities funding the balance.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if the Development Board for Rural Wales has any plans to promote or service co-operatives; and if he will make a statement.

Environment

Domestic Rates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what proportion of the total rate income for England the domestic rate contribution is in percentage and fiscal amounts;(2) what proportion of the total rate is represented by the domestic rate contribution in percentage and fiscal amounts for 1977–78 and 1978–79 in the following cities: Southampton, Portsmouth, Plymouth, Cardiff, Bristol, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Belfast.

list the names and addresses of the five organisations which have received urban aid, stating the nature of their project and the amount received, or approved.

Estimates of rate income, and the domestic rate contribution to it, for local authorities in England and Wales can be derived from the annual publication of the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy—"Financial, General and Rating Statistics" for 1977–78 and 1978–79. Rating matters in Scotland fall within the area of responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland; equivalent information for Scotland is, however, available in the CIPFA publication "Rating Review". The information in respect of Belfast is not available in published form but I shall arrange for it to be sent to my hon. Friend.

Local Authorities (Expenditure)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to penalise those local education authorities which do not meet the target for reductions in spending by altering the rate support grant.

The Government expect all local authorities to co-operate in reducing their expenditure. But we do not intend to stand by if certain authorities flout Government policy, without regard to the nation's economic circumstances and at the expense of the great majority of responsible authorities. We expect shortly to anounce measures to bring home to such authorities the consequences of their behaviour.

Inter-City Partnership Areas

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will confirm that no more special expenditure is to be granted to deal with inner-city partnership area problems.

My right hon. Friend has already declared his intention that urban aid in 1980–81 to deal with inner city problems will continue at about the same level in real terms as in 1979–80.

County Structure Plans

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether all counties have now completed and filed their county structure plans.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

There are no arrangements which ensure this. The Property Services Agency, however, weights its tender lists for smaller value contracts in favour of the smaller and, in the case of works services, local firms.I regret that statistics of contracts awarded to small businesses are not available.

Ordnance Survey (Review Committee)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the report of the Ordnance Survey review committee.

The report of the Ordnance Survey review committee is being published today by Her Maejsty's Stationery Office. Copies have been placed in the Library. I am considering the report and shall make a further statement in due course. I would welcome comments on the review committee's conclusions and recommendations. These should be sent to me by 28 November.

Defence

Recruitment Costs

6.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the latest figures available for the cost of recruiting a soldier, sailor, and airman; and what steps he is taking to reduce these figures.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave him on 12 June.—[Vol. 968, c. 222.] All three Services are currently examining aspects of their recruiting efforts in response to an earlier review. I would like to take this opportunity of paying tribute to my predecessor, the hon. Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Wellbeloved) who I know was the guiding spirit behind the recent report on Service recruiting.Many of the recommendations of that review have in fact already been implemented. In addition, I am monitoring the whole position closely, since this Government are determined to achieve the maximum cost efficiency without prejudicing our ability to meet recruiting targets.

Northern Ireland

16.

asked the Secretary for Defence if he will make a statement about the armed forces in Northern Ireland.

The armed forces in Northern Ireland continue to operate in support of the Royal Ulster Constabulary with the aim of defeating terrorism and restoring normal policing throughout the Province. I would again like to express my profound admiration for the way in which they carry out their arduous duties.

Land Forces (Europe)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his current assessment of the balance of land forces in Europe between the Warsaw Pact countries and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation; and if he will make a statement.

The Warsaw Pact enjoys a marked numerical superiority in manpower and equipment. Progressive improvements allow the Warsaw Pact to maintain and enhance its forces well in excess of those required for defence. In face of this continuing expansion NATO member Governments are taking steps to maintain the credibility of Alliance deterrence.

Her Majesty's Dockyard, Devonport

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the quality of the work and the maintenance of refitting schedules at Her Majesty's dockyard, Devonport.

I am satisfied that the work undertaken in Her Majesty's dockyard, Devonport, is of the high quality required for the refitting and repair of the complex Royal Naval ships and submarines. The refitting schedules there and at the other Royal dockyards in the United Kingdom have been adversely affected by periods of industrial unrest in the past 18 months, shortages of skilled labour and the uncertain supply of equipment from industry, but I hope that with the recent settlement of the industrial pay claim problems affecting the dockyards will now be eased.

Theatre Nuclear Weapons

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his discussions with United States of America and other North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Ministers on the need for theatre nuclear weapons in Europe.

At the defence planning committee in May and in subsequent meetings with Alliance Ministers I have made clear the Government's firm support for the need for NATO collectively to modernise its theatre nuclear weapons in Europe.

Air Defence Procurement Policy

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what effect the delay in the first flight of the Tornado air defence variant aircraft will have on Royal Air Force air defence procurement policy.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

There are no special arrangements and information on the proportion of contracts placed with small firms is not readily available.

Staff Colleges

asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many officers from the armed forces of other European member countries of NATO are now studying at staff colleges in the United Kingdom; and how many British officers are now studying in staff colleges, other than the NATO defence college, in other European member countries of NATO.

At present 15 officers from the armed forces of other European members of the North Atlantic Alliance are studying at our Service staff colleges. Ten British officers are currently studying at staff colleges other than the NATO defence college in other European member countries of the Alliance.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to increase the number of British officers studying in staff colleges of other European members of NATO, and of their officers studying in British staff colleges; and if he will make a statement.

We attach considerable importance to such exchanges as a means of strengthening military ties and fostering mutual understanding. There are, however, a number of practical constraints which militate against any significant expansion of the current arrangements. There are limits on the number of British officers who can be sent to staff colleges on the Continent because of such factors as manpower shortages and high linguistic requirements. There is also a good deal of competition among other countries for the places available at British staff colleges and, without incurring heavy cost, we could materially increase the allocation only at the expense of our own officers.

Tornado Aircraft

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will bring forward the construction programme for the air defence variant of the Tornado and order extra Tornado F2 interceptors to re-equip the additional Lightning squadron which is currently being formed.

These are amongst the options currently being studied for improving the air defence of the United Kingdom. The studies have not yet reached the point where decisions can be taken, but I can assure my hon. Friend that they are proceeding as quickly as the many complex issues permit.

Officers (German Language Qualification)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the number of officers now serving in British forces, Germany, who have a knowledge of German of a recognised standing; and what was the number 12 months ago.

At present there are 582 Army and 122 RAF officers serving in British Forces Germany who are qualified at colloquial level or above in German. In October 1978 the comparable RAF figure was 98. In the case of the Army the April 1979 figure—the earliest now available—was 549.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he is taking to ensure that an increasing number of officers serving in British forces, Germany have a working knowledge of German; and if he will make a statement.

We consider it most important that Service personnel who are based, or who are likely to be based, in the Federal Republic of Germany should have at least a working knowledge of German, both for military reasons and in the interests of good community relations. German language training is already provided on an extensive scale but the need for further improvements will be kept under continuing review. As from 1 April 1980 the value of our language proficiency awards is to be updated and this will involve substantial increases in the case of the German language awards.

Energy

Solar Energy

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what studies he is making of the energy resources which can be provided from solar energy picked up in areas of the world where there is a high level of sunshine; and if he is satisfied that adequate research is being undertaken into the collection, transmission and other problems associated with such energy sources; and if he will make a statement.

As part of the United Kingdom's participation in the EEC solar energy research, development and demonstration programmes my Department is involved in projects designed to make use of solar energy in those parts of the world where insolation levels are higher than average. In addition, my Department is providing support for United Kingdom organisations which are participating in some of the IEA solar energy and biomass projects. The United Kingdom participates in exchanges of information on solar energy developments within the IEA, EEC and elsewhere.I am satisfied that the content of my Department's solar energy research and development programme fulfils our requirements. Progress with the programme is reported from time to time and I will keep the House informed of major developments as and when they arise.

Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what training is given to officers in his Department and in public bodies ultimately answerable to him, who have powers of search and entry, with regard to surveillance techniques and methods of gaining entry into business premises and private homes.

The officials in my Department who have power to enter premises, subject to statutory conditions, were listed in the reply to my hon. Friend's question of 25 October 1979. They are given no training in surveillance techniques or methods of gaining entry to premises. The officers listed are principally concerned with installations and equipment and it is difficult to envisage circumstances in which they would need to enter private homes.So far as the public bodies ultimately responsible to me are concerned, I shall ask the chairmen of the Electricity Council, the British Gas Council, the National Coal Board, and the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority to write to my hon. Friend giving him the information that he requires.

Oil Supplies

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make representations to the oil companies to reconsider their decision to impose delivery cuts of up to 15 per cent., with no priority supply for heating in hospitals.

I have no evidence of such a decision having been made by any oil company.

"Plan For Coal"

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will indicate the current policy of the Government on a "Plan for Coal" and on the future level of investment in the coal industry.

British National Oil Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will make a statement on advance oil sales by the British National Oil Corporation.

The Government have agreed to proposals that the Corporation should negotiate to receive payment in advance for the sale of some of its oil. The intention is that payment should be received during this financial year for oil to be delivered in 1980–81. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced on 15 October, the effect of these sales will be to reduce the PSBR in 1979–80 by £400 million to £500 million. The precise terms of the sales are a matter for commercial negotiation by BNOC.

Small Businesses (Purchasing Contracts)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what arrangements there are in his Department to ensure that small businesses receive a proportion of all purchasing contracts issued by his Department; and what proportion he expects this will be in 1979–80 and 1980–81.

National Oil Account

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he intends to make a transfer of funds from the national oil account to the Consolidated Fund, as provided for in section 40(3) of the Petroleum and Submarine Pipe-lines Act 1975.

With Treasury agreement I have today made a transfer of £300 million from the NOA to the Consolidated Fund. This represents money which has accrued to the account largely from petroleum royalties and from BNOC's receipts, and which is now forecast to be surplus to the needs of the account.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

German Democratic Republic

asked the Lord Privy Seal, in view of the fact that the German Democratic Republic has now been in existence for 30 years, and that in an apparent gesture of good will a number of Soviet military personnel and tanks, even if of a token amount, have been removed from the German Democratic Republic, if his noble Friend will consider making an official visit to that country to see whether he can contribute to the reduction of tension between East and West, particularly in Germany and Berlin.