Written Answers To Questions
Friday 2 November 1979
House Of Commons
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the approximate cost of answering an oral and a written parliamentary question, respectively.
The estimated average cost as at the end of October 1979 is £39 for an oral answer and £24 for a written answer.
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will take steps to improve service on the House of Commons telephone system, in view of the long delays which are experienced before calls on the main number, 219 3000, are answered.
I have taken up my hon. Friend's complaint with the authorities of the House. He will realise that the rate at which calls are received on the switchboard varies considerably, but I am confident after my intervention that every effort is being made to speed up the response. If the service does not improve, perhaps my hon. Friend will let me know.
Education And Science
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, further to his written answer of Thursday 25 October, he will list the variety of opinions presented to his Department on young people leaving school if they have an apprenticeship or permanent job to go to.
The reply I gave to my hon. Friend on 25 October referred to opinions related to early leaving generally. Employers offering jobs or apprenticeships wish to take on school leavers earlier than the present law allows; parental views vary accoding to family circumstances and the value placed upon work and education; teachers and other professional educationists are mainly opposed to change because of the disruptive effect on final year courses if pupils left haphazardly throughout the year.
Works Of Art
asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, since the beginning of the parliamentary recess, any further works of art or museum objects pre-eminent for national, scientific, historic or artistic interest which have been accepted in satisfaction of estate duty or capital transfer tax have been allocated by him to public institutions in the United Kingdom; and whether he will give particulars, together with information, where applicable, as to the wishes expressed in the matter of allocation by testators and executors.
Formal allocation procedures have not been completed in respect of any cases in the period in question.
Nato And Warsaw Pact Forces
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the most recently published Government appraisal of the balances of NATO and Warsaw Pact forces as to air forces, naval and land forces, respectively.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend, the Member for Dartford (Mr. Dunn) on 1 November.
Young Soldiers (Lichfield)
asked the Secretary of State for Defence what action he plans to take following the inquiry by the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police into the alleged ill-treatment of young soldiers at Lichfield: and if he will make a statement.
Some the allegations of ill-treatment of young soldiers at Whittington barracks, Lichfield have been substantiated following an investigation by the special investigation branch of the Royal Military Police. Disciplinary action has been taken against an officer and six-non-commissioned officers in respect of a number of charges involving 10 recruits. Individual punishments included fines of up to £400, reprimands and sever reprimands. The officer and five of the NCOs involved have been removed from the depot and are no longer involved in training recruits.
asked the Minister of Transport whether it is intended that his officials and/or police will have the right to stop drivers with the primary purpose of checking (a) whether a tachograph is fitted; and (b) what is recorded on the chart.
Unlike the police, the enforcement staff of my Department do not have the right to stop moving vehicles and it is not proposed that they should. The draft regulations which I shall shortly be laying before Parliament would confer powers similar to those already available with respect to written records. Enforcement officers would have the power to enter vehicles, to inspect the vehicle and the tachograph, to inspect and copy the charts, and to seize charts if falsification is suspected; and to detain the vehicle for as long as is necessary to exercise these powers. The draft regulations provide that the proposed powers may also be exercised by the police.
asked the Minister of Transport whether he will confirm that a tachograph chart will not be used as primary evidence for speeding charges.
Implementation of the EEC tachograph regulation will not have the effect of making tachograph records acceptable as the sole evidence in prosecutions for speeding. The draft regulations which I shall shortly be laying before Parliament do not alter the present law in this respect. Although the tachograph chart contains information about the vehicle's speed at any particular time, it does not indicate where the vehicle was at that time, and some evidence of this would be needed to establish whether an offence had been committed. The courts could, in addition, require proof of the accuracy of the tachograph. Drivers' fears of convictions for speeding solely on the basis of tachograph records are, therefore, groundless.
asked the Minister of Transport for what driving offences tachograph charts will be admissible as evidence.
The draft statutory instrument, which I shall be laying before Parliament later in this Session, provides that where a tachograph is installed in accordance with the requirements of EEC regulation 1463/70, and is calibrated and sealed as the regulation requires, tachograph records are to be accepted in evidence in proceedings under part VI of the Transport Act 1968, which concerns drivers' hours. In relation to any other driving offence the tachograph record on its own would not normally provide enough information to establish that an offence had been committed.
asked the Minister of Transport how his officials will be able to confirm that an individual tachograph chart actually belongs to the driver of a particular lorry; and whether identity cards will be necessary as confirmation.
Article 17.3 of EEC regulation 1463/70 requires that a driver should enter on each tachograph chart his name, the date and place where use of the chart begins and the date and place where it ends, the registration number of all vehicles driven, and the odometer readings at the start of the first journey and end of the last journey recorded on that chart. If he changes vehicles he must record the time of the change and the odometer readings on each vehicle. Where appropriate, the entries must be made before the chart is put into the tachograph. I am proposing that failure to fill in this information will be an offence, carrying a penalty on summary conviction of a fine not exceeding £200. The details on the chart can be compared with actual odometer readings on the vehicle, and checked with the operator. There is no question of requiring identity cards, which would not in any case give the confirmation required.
asked the Minister of Transport whether he will list the offences and penalties for which drivers will become liable for failing to fit or use, or for abuse of, the tachograph,
I am sending the hon. Member a copy of the draft statutory instrument which I published for consultation on 27 September.Briefly, these draft regulations would make it an offence to use a vehicle, after the prescribed dates, in a way which breaches any of the requirements of EEC regulation 1463/70 on the installation or use of tachographs. The regulations provide that an offender shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding £200.
Port Of London Authority
asked the Minister of Transport what appointment he is making in respect of the chairmanship of the Port of London Authority.
Sir John Cuckney, the present chairman of the Port of London Authority, has informed me that for personal reasons he does not wish to be reappointed for a further term when his current appointment expires at the end of the year. I am appointing Mr. Victor Paige, currently deputy chairman of the National Freight Corporation, to succeed Sir John Cuckney for a term of three years from 1 January 1980. Mr. Paige will continue to serve as part-time deputy chairman of the National Freight Corporation.I take this opportunity to pay a warm tribute to Sir John Cuckney for the invaluable work he has done during his term as chairman.
Liverpool St-Cambridge Line (Electrification)
asked the Minister of Transport whether he has yet reached a decision about the electrification of the Liverpool St. to Cambridge line; and if he will make a statement.
I understand that this project is being evaluated by the British Railways Board, but I have not yet received formal proposals from it.
asked the Minister of Transport what priority be attaches to the reconstruction and improvement of the A249 route to the port of Sheerness; and whether its omission from the list of road schemes in the context of the Kent structure plan has occurred because the road is due shortly to become a trunk road; and if he will make a statement.
I understand that the A249 route to Sheerness was omitted by Kent county council from the list of road schemes in its structure plan because of the intended trunking of the road between the M2 and Sheerness. Priority for improvements on this length as a trunk road will be further considered nearer the time when a firm date for trunking is known, but the process of trunking should not in itself cause any delay in necessary improvements to the route.
Travel-To-Work Costs (South-East)
asked the Minister of Transport if he will compile statistics to show the average cost of travel to work in the South-Eastern Region in each year from 1974–75 to the latest available date; and what this will be in 1980–81, based on an average fare increase of 20 per cent.
I shall write to my hon. Friend.
asked the Minister of Transport what travel concessions are given by transport organisations in the United Kingdom, including airlines: and what is the estimated value of these concessions, as divided between the different forms of transport.
I understand that my hon. Friend has in mind travel concessions offered to their employees by British Rail and British Airways. The question he raises is a matter of the day-to-day management of the industries concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what action he intends to take to reduce the current delay of about two years before a decision on applications for naturalisation can be given; and if a system of priority can be established which would assist those who have already lived in the United Kingdom for 10 years and whose cases are clearly and accurately documented.
The main reason why applications for naturalisation are currently taking about two years to be decided is that there has been a substantial increase in the number of applications made in the past three years, which has coincided with a period of restraint on Civil Service manpower. A good proportion of all applicants for naturalisation have lived in the United Kingdom for 10 years or more and I would not feel justified in giving preferential treatment to applicants on this criterion. It has been the practice of successive Administrations to deal with applications strictly in the order in which they are received and this has been accepted as the fairest way of proceeding.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement regarding the Government proposals to restrict the entry of foreign husbands of women holding British passports.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. Friend gave to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) on 1 November.—[Vol. 972, c. 585.]
Development Council (Meeting)
asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress was made at the recent meeting of the Development Council in Luxembourg.
The Council gave general approval to a list of projects proposed by the Commission for the 1979 programme of aid to the non-associated countries, and to guidelines for the 1980 programme. The latter correspond closely with our own approach. Some progress was made in negotiating a Council regulation designed to relate the Community's food aid policy and its management more closely to the development needs of recipient countries. There was a useful discussion of the importance of profitable cane sugar production to the developing countries and the significance, in this context, of the Community's relationship to the International Sugar Agreement.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list in the Official Report every occasion during 1979 when Ministers of the Guyanese Government have been received by Foreign Office Ministers or officials.
There have been no calls by Guyanese Ministers on Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers or officials so far this year. However, the Guyanese Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office, Mr. Nascimento, will at his request see Overseas Development Administration officials to discuss current aid projects when he passes through London on 30 November.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what plans he has to have consultation with the Barbuda council as part of any future discussions about Antiguan independence.
The Antiguan Government have made no formal request for independence. Preliminary talks with the Antiguan Government and Opposition leaders and with the Barbuda council have already taken place.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will give details of the extent of the financial aid and other assistance provided in Kampuchea; what further assistance is envisaged; and what co-ordinated action is being taken in conjunction with other EEC countries.
Details of all commitments known as at 26 October are attached. The Community and its member States have agreed to pledge help worth $50 million—including aid already promised—and will confirm this at the conference called by the United Nations Secretary-General on 5 November, which I shall be attending.
Following is the information:
Rice, at least 1,500 tonnes; two aircraft for relief supplies; and assistance with a further $5 million.
1,500 tonnes of dried skimmed milk; 8,000 tonnes of rice (including 3,000 through the International Emergency Food Reserve); 1,100 tonnes of other foodstuffs (through the World Food Programme); and other emergency assistance worth 29 million EUA.
5,200 tonnes of rice
Commodities worth £2 million and $5 million cash contributions.
20,000 tonnes cereals
1,000 tonnes rice and cash contributions worth about £965,000
1,602 tonnes rice
Vegetable oil (562 tonnes) and fish (100 tonnes)
6,240 tonnes rice, 550 tonnes fish
8,698 tonnes of rice and cash contributions of some £1,140,000
3,408 tonnes of rice, 200 tonnes of dried skimmed milk and £870,000 cash contributions
Food, medicines and supplies worth $39 million.
250 tonnes rice
World Food Programme
1,540 tonnes rice, 250 tonnes other food stuffs.
In addition OXFAM and other voluntary agencies have pledged 5,200 tones of rice, 500 tonnes of flour, 500 tonnes of maize, and 75 tonnes of sugar and oil.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
International Organisations (Membership)
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list all those international commercial, social, cultural and religious bodies upon which both the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union are represented.
The information is being assembled and I shall write to my hon. Friend as soon as possible.
asked the Lord Privy Seal when it is expected that British subjects who had financial interests in hotels in Cyprus will be compensated, in the light of the fact that a number of owners of other types of property in Cyprus have now had the level of their compensation agreed.
The Turkish Cypriot Claims Commission has so far approved compensation only in respect of claims from individual private property owners. The Commission has said that commercial claims will not be dealt with until consideration of all other claims has been completed, which will not be for some months.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is satisfied with the monitoring arrangements of Russia's observance of the SALT II agreement.
Several provisions of the SALT II agreement are designed to facilitate monitoring. On the information available we have no reason to doubt the United States Government's judgment that their monitoring arrangements are sufficient to ensure that the agreement is adequately verifiable.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the composition, function and cost to public funds of the Belfast agency of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office passport agency in Belfast provides passport services for Northern Ireland residents. It is staffed by a higher executive officer and seven clerical officers. The estimated cost of the agency for the current financial year is £63,500. This burden will not fall on the general taxpayer, since receipts from passport fees cover the administrative costs of the passport offices in the United Kingdom as well as contributing towards the cost of consular services overseas.
Official Secrets (Enigma And Ultra)
asked the Prime Minister whether, in the light of the recent publication of volume I of the official history of British intelligence in the Second World War, she plans any alterations or additions to the new rules regarding reticence by former members of the Government code and cypher school set out by the previous Foreign Secretary in his reply to the hon. Member for Dagenham (Mr. Parker), Official Report, 12 January 1978, columns 828–30.
I have no plans to amend the rules governing the disclosure of classified information by former members of the Government code and cypher school. These remain as stated by the then Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary on 12 January 1978.—[Vol. 941, c 828–30.] Those concerned must satisfy themselves that any disclosure which they have it in mind to make does not go beyond information contained in records released to the Public Record Office.
Ford Motor Company (Waterton)
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what extra provision he will be making to the local authorities to allow for the growth of population envisaged as a result of the Ford development at Waterton.
The calculation of the amount of rate support grant a local authority receives each year takes into account any increase or decrease in population.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether any investigation has been carried out into the socio-economic balance due to the Ford development at Waterton concerning wage structure, public transport infrastructure, health services, education and the integration of socio-economic groups.
The Manpower Services Commission is undertaking a study into recruitment by the company and any displacement effect on the South Wales labour market.Other aspects are taken into account in normal contacts with the local authorities concerned.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what traffic flow projections are envisaged to show the additional flow of traffic through and circumventing the town of Bridgend as a result of the Ford development at Waterton.
The capacity of the trunk road between Bridgend and the site of the Ford factory at Waterton has been increased by the provision of a second carriageway. There will be further relief when the M4 Bridgend northern bypass is completed. No further traffic predictions or trunk road improvements are necessary. Other roads are the responsibility of the county council. I understand that Mid-Glamorgan county council is considering traffic management measures to deal with the extra traffic which will arise in Bridgend.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what assessment he has made of the total increase in employment directly or indirectly due to the Ford development at Waterton.
It is expected that there will be jobs for about 2,500 when the plant is fully operational. It is not possible to quantify indirect employment effects.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he plans to take action to amend the Leasehold Reform Act 1967 to ensure (a) that all leaseholders become qualified to purchase the freehold and (b) that a fixed priced formula is established for the valuation of freeholds.
I am aware of the problems facing some leaseholders in Wales. The Government are considering whether to include in the forthcoming housing Bill provisions amending some aspects of the Leasehold Reform Act 1967.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what research work is being done in the use of new materials and new techniques for prostheses of all types; and if he will make a full statement.
I refer the hon. Member to the annual report "Research and Development Work on Equipment for the Disabled 1978"—HC191—published this July, prepared by my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Social Services, for Scotland and for Wales, which covers research into prostheses in relation to artificial limbs.Other research into materials and techniques for prostheses is so wide-ranging that the information could be provided only at disproportionate cost. If the hon. Member would like information about research in any particular area perhaps he would write to me.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress is being made in the recruitment and training of specialists in limb manufacture and limb fitting.
Since 1968 the basic training of limbfitters has been carried out under a four-year course. The course is approved by the Department and organised by the British Institute of Surgical Technicians in conjunction with the United Kingdom centre for biomedical technology at Paddington technical college. It comprises academic studies, including the life sciences, clinical and prosthetic instruction, and a final intern year of practical experience. All limbfitters who treat National Health Service patients are now required to have completed this course successfully, or to have been trained to an equivalent approved standard.Refresher and post-certification courses for limbfitters are also arranged at Paddington college and at the national centre for training and education in prosthetics, University of Strathclyde.All those engaged in the manufacture of artificial limbs will have served a trade training or a normal trade apprenticeship in their particular field.
So far as I am aware recruitment is sufficient to meet the needs of the industry.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consideration he has given to the Disabled Living Foundation's report to his Department on "The Elderly Person with Failing Vision"; what action he is taking; and if he will make a statement.
I have read the report with interest and have asked officials to get in touch with the foundation about those recommendations which call for action by central Government.
Broadmoor (Visits To Patients)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he considers it approapriate that the Prison Officers' Association is able to lay down the criteria on which visits can be made to patients in Broadmoor.
The Prison Officers' Association does not lay down the criteria for visits to patients in Broadmoor.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any proposals for introducing a code of practice for kidney or other organ transplants; and if he will make a statement.
I shall be making an announcement in two to three weeks' time on a new code of practice and improvements to the donor card scheme.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many spare beds are available for the treatment of psychogeriatric cases in the Cuckfield and Crawley health district; and if be will make a statement.
I am writing to my hon. Friend.
Health Services (Ealing, Hammersmith And Hounslow)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he plans that the Ealing, Hammersmith and Hounslow area health authority will be taken over by the regional health authority.
No. The area health authority (teaching) has accepted that it must keep within its cash limits.
Republic Of Ireland Citizens (United Kingdom Residence)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many citizens of the Republic of Ireland of voting age were estimated to be resident in the United Kingdom on 1 May.
From replies to the labour force survey that was undertaken in May-June 1977, it is estimated that, at that date, the number of persons resident in the United Kingdom who were of voting age and who believed they were citizens of the Irish Republic, amounted to about 440,000. A similarly derived estimate of those born in the Irish Republic was about 570,000. Results from the 1979 labour force survey are not yet available.
Short-Time Working (Keighley)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many firms have taken advantage of the short-time working scheme in the Keighley travel-to-work area; and how many employees are covered by the scheme.
As at 31 October 1979 11 firms in the Keighley travel-to-work area had taken advantage of the temporary short-time working compensation scheme. There were 312 jobs at risk, and 671 employees were working short-time to cover the redundancies.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he will list the numbers of firms (a) fulfilling their quota, (b) partially fulfilling their quota and (c) exempted from fulfilling their quota obligations in respect of registered disabled people; and if he will present these data for each of the past 10 years;(2) if he will list the numbers of unemployed registered disabled people for each year since 1948, presenting the data also as a percentage of all unemployed people;
(3) if he will list ( a) the numbers of unemployed registered disabled people and ( b) the numbers of registered disabled in work for each year since 1948; and it he will express ( a) as a percentage of ( b):
(4) if he will list the number of local authorities which employ their quota of 3 per cent. registered disabled workers and the number which fail to do so, classifying the data according to whether the authority is ( a) county council, ( b) district council, ( c) Greater London area council, ( d) Scottish district council, ( e) Scottish regional council and ( f) Scottish island council;
(5) if he will list the number of Government Departments employing 3 per cent. of registered disabled employees.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report (a) numbers of unemployed workers aged up to 21 years and (b) the percentage of all unemployed workers who are aged up to 21 years in Birkenhead, the Birkenhead travel-to-work area and Great Britain, respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment approximately what percentage of those unemployed for more than two years live in areas where unemployment is less than 5 per cent.
The following information is based on counties and could be provided for smaller areas only at disproportionate cost. There are 23 counties with unemployment rates lower than 5 per cent. At July 1979, out of all those unemployed for more than two years in Great Britain, 21 per cent. were in these 23 counties.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment approximately what percentage of those unemployed for more than two years live in areas where registered vacancies are about 25 per cent. of the total number of registered unemployed.
The following information is based on counties and could be provided for smaller areas only at disproportionate cost. There are 13 counties where the numbers of unfilled vacancies at employment offices are from 20 to 29·9 per cent. of the numbers unemployed. At July 1979, out of all those unemployed for more than two years in Great Britain, 11 per cent. were in these 13 counties.The vacancy statistics relate only to those notified to employment offices and remaining unfilled on the day of the count. A survey carried out in April-June 1977 estimated that vacancies notified to employment offices are about one-third of all vacancies in the country as a whole.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will consider passing the control of skillcentres to boards of directors whose majority would be made up of industrialists, and allowing such boards flexibility with regard to individual (a) rates of pay of staff, (b) levels of activity and (c) charges.
The TOPS review, published last year, recommended that skillcentres should seek to become better known to local industry in their areas and more responsive to its needs, but also recognised that skillcentres should continue to serve national as well as local needs, and the needs of individuals as well as of industry. While we are constantly making efforts to come closer to these objectives, I am satisfied that they are best met if skillcentres are managed by the regional organisation of the Manpower Services Commission's training services division.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what criteria are used before reaching a decision to open a new jobcentre in any particular location.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that in deciding whether a jobcentre should be opened in a particular location a thorough examination is made of how best and most cost-effectively the public employment service can meet the needs of both employers and job seekers in that locality. Various options are considered, including updating and converting existing employment offices to jobcentre standard, rehousing offices in new, better sited premises and rationalising the network so that, for example, where appropriate, smaller offices replace larger ones.The majority of cases involve rehousing. Where this is considered, the new jobcentre would be expected to show a significant improvement in vacancy finding and placing performance—and it should be clear that this improvement could not be obtained with existing premises. Furthermore, the unit cost of placings should normally be reduced after taking into account the capital costs of rehousing. Any exceptions to these criteria require special justification.
Special Temporary Employment Programme
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will name those schemes now funded through the special temporary employment programme of the Manpower Services Commission whose funding will cease during the current financial year as a result of the cuts that have been made in the special temporary employment programme.
[pursuant to his reply, 2 November 1979]: All schemes funded under the special temporary employment programme will continue to be funded until the expiry of the contract between their sponsors and the MSC. I regret that a list of current schemes running in areas of the country where STEP no longer applies and where contracts cannot be renewed could be made available only at disproportionate expense.
European Parliament (Members' Privileges)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what statutory authority or exemption members of the European Assembly are being allowed to pass through Her Majesty's Customs without examination or impediment.
There is no statutory exemption from Customs control for members of the European Parliament. They are not exempt from baggage in section.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how, pursuant to his reply of 26 October to the right hon. Member for Llanelli, the Treasury was able to monitor the effects of his earlier relaxation of exchange controls if, following that relaxation, information was not available to the Government of the total value of applications for permission to export the £ sterling at the official rate.
Information was available on the value of those applications for official exchange, mainly relating to direct investment, which still had to be made to the Bank of England: and we had some information on certain other flows from returns to the Bank during the period. But this did not enable us to measure at all precisely the effects of the earlier relaxations, since other factors also would have been at work.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, in view of the marked decrease in the tourist trade during 1979, he will give serious consideration to the introduction of a system, similar to that currently in force in Austria, whereby foreign visitors will be entitled, on leaving the United Kingdom, to recover all value added tax payments made by them during their visits in respect of all individual accounts of, or in excess of, £35 or some other similar minimum sum.
We already have a similar system to that currently in force in Austria. As in Austria, our schemes require the completion of a form at the time of purchase, presentation of the goods and form to a Customs authority for certification as to export, and the return of the form to the shop. The refund of VAT is made, in both the United Kingdom and Austria, by the retailer. By agreement with our partners in the EEC, a lower value limit is applied for sales under these schemes to travellers who are resident in another Community country, but no official limit for other travellers has been set. The decision to apply any limit is left to the individual retailer, as is the choice as to whether he operates the export schemes.
Value Added Tax Headquarters
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an assurance that the value added tax headquarters will remain in Liverpool; and if he will seek to transfer other work to Liverpool so as to consolidate the position of the headquarters.
The part of Customs and Excise headquarters which is located in Liverpool cannot be excluded from the staff savings which are being required from the Civil Service, or from other reductions in complement necessitated by changing work patterns. Customs and Excise intends to maintain an assistant secretary command at Liverpool headquarters so long as sufficient headquarter work can be found for Liverpool to justify this, and to consider Liverpool as the location for any new headquarter work, provided that this can be done without impairing the operational efficiency of the Department. The staff side of the departmental Whitley council is being kept advised of developments.
Building And Construction Industry
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what plans he has for reviewing the operation of the tax exemption certificate scheme for the building and construction industry.
I am now reviewing the scheme and intend issuing a consultative document in the near future with a view to introducing amending legislation.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of the total personal wealth of (a) Great Britain, (b) Scotland and (c) England and Wales is held by the following groups: top 1 per cent., top 5 per cent., top 10 per cent. and top 20 per cent. of the population.
Estimates of the distribution of personal wealth are made only for the adult population and for the United Kingdom as a whole. Separate estimates are not available for the different parts of the United Kingdom. The latest United Kingdom figures for marketable wealth—that is, those for 1977—can be found on page 127 of Inland Revenue Statistics 1979: estimates which take account of the values attributable to accrued pension rights for 1976 can be found on pages 110 and 111 of the fourth report of the Royal Commission on the distribution of income and wealth—Cmnd. 7595.
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what has been the total of tax relief granted in each year since 1960, respectively, for life assurance premiums, mortgage interest tax relief, employers' and employees' contributions
|Estimated cost £ million|
|Life assurance relief||Mortgage interest relief†||Approved pension schemes‡||Employers' contributions to approved pension schemes‡||Retirement annuity relief||Age allowance|
|* For 1979–80 relief for life assurance is given by deduction from the premiums payable to the life assurance company and not in the computation of income tax as in former years.|
|† The estimate for mortgage interest relief incorporates qualifying interest paid on bank loans which is not readily distinguishable in Inland Revenue statistics.|
|‡ The loss of revenue from granting tax relief to approved pension schemes has been calculated on the basis set out in the inland Revenue's note of February 1978 to the General Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee of House of Commons—second report 1977–78, appendix 15. The figures shown under the heading "approved pension schemes" include the cost of relief for employees' contributions, the cost of exempting funds' investment income and tax payable on pensions under these alternative arrangements, net of tax now payable on pensions. Employers' contributions in general qualify as a deduction as part of overall labour costs, under the normal rules for computation of profits. If, however, these contributions were made not deductible in calculating profits, the extra tax estimated to be payable by employers is shown separately in the table. I regret that information prior to 1970 is not available, nor has it been possible to allocate the cost amongst income groups.|
|All these figures are subject to a wide margin of error. It has been assumed for the purpose of these calculations that there would be no change in the nature and rate of pension provision, despite the large amounts of additional liability to tax.|
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the present value of the metal in the 1p and 2p coins; and what was that value one year ago.
to occupational pensions schemes, relief on funds' interest income, net of adjustment for tax on pensions paid, relevant annuity relief, age allowance and bank loan interest relief; and in each case for the latest year what was the value of the relief per capita for those with incomes less than £3,000, £3,000 to £5,000, £5,000 to £7,000, £7,000 to £10,000, £10,000 to £20,000, and over £20,000, respectively.
[pursuant to his reply, 23 October 1979, c. 152, 153]: I regret that it is not possible to give all the details requested. The information which is available without the expenditure of undue time and resources is as follows:
[pursuant to his reply, 1 November 1979]: On the basis of the London Metal Exchange cash prices for raw material ruling at 29 October 1979 the value of the metal content of the 2p coin was 0·69p and of the 1p coin 0·34p.
At 30 October 1978 the corresponding values were 0·55 and 0·28 respectively.
Value Added Tax (Horses)
asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he has yet completed his consideration of the tax disadvantage suffered by the purchasers of horses in the United Kingdom in respect of which value added tax is charged at the full rate whereas no tax is charged in the Republic of Ireland and tax is charged on only carcase value in France.
[pursuant to his reply, 1 November 1979]: In accordance with the assurance which I gave on 3 July—[Vol. 969, c. 1290]—my right hon. Friend lost no time in writing to the President of the Commission and to Commissioner Burke to protest about those aspects of the VAT treatment of bloodstock in France and Ireland which in our view are in breach of the EEC sixth directive and which constitute unfair competition to the detriment of our own industries. From the replies received from the President and Commissioner Burke it is clear that our points have been well taken and the French and Irish representatives have been informed that the Commission regards the French valuation formula for bloodstock, and the French and Irish treatment of training services, as being not in conformity with Community VAT law. As I explained on 3 July, the Irish exemption for supplies of racehorses is permissible as a transitional derogation under the sixth directive. I met Commissioner Burke personally on 16 October and repeated our concern about the problem and the way it was distorting competition within the EEC. We shall be looking to the Commission to exert its full authority to ensure a speedy and satisfactory conclusion.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has any plans to change the standards for the thermal insulation of houses; and if he will make a statement.
I am at present considering the need for higher standards of insulation for domestic properties.
Inner City Programmes
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if inner city programmes are being exempted from those cuts in public expenditure upon which his Department is embarking.
The inner city partnership and programme authorities have been told that for the coming financial year their allocations for planning purposes will be at about the same level in real terms as in 1979–80.
Chemical Factories (Residential Dwellings)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many planning applications for housing within 2 km of chemical factories have been refused on the advice of the Health and Safety Executive.
I regret that the information requested is not readily available.
Palace Of Westminster (Central Heating)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the average temperature in the Palace of Westminster and its associated offices on 24 and 25 October; and if he is satisfied that the temperature levels reflect the Government's fuel conservation policy.
68°F and 69°F respectively. This is in keeping with the Government's policy.
Parliament Square (Flag Display)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the purpose and cost to public funds of the display of United Nations flags in Parliament Square.
The flags were flown to commemorate United Nations Day, 24 October. The cost was £3,023.
Palace Of Westminster (Asbestos)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much asbestos fibre in million fibres per cubic metre were found, prior to recent renovation, in the Chamber and Clerks' Offices of the Palace of Westminster; and how that measure compares with the new recommended limits for workshops in the recent report on asbestos regulations and safety.
Tests carried out prior to the removal of the remaining blue asbestos above the roof of the Chamber and the Clerks' Offices were asbestos within the House of Commons Chamber and the Clerks' Offices, were below those for which accurate measurements can be made by the latest equipment—that is 100,000 fibres/cu. metre. These figures are well below the recommended limits as set out in the recent report on asbestos regulations and safety.
Government Car Service
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total cost per annum of the regional Government car service.
The budgeted cost for the current year is £700,000.
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many members of Her Majesty's Opposition are presently using the Government car service; and what is the cost to public funds of this service.
Four, at a total estimated cost of about £50,000 a year.
Tree Planting (Grants)
asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether, in view of the Countryside Commission's warning of exceptional tree losses in recent years, he is prepared to increase the tree planting grants to offset these arboreal losses.
It is for the Countryside Commission to decide how best to allocate the funds available to it. I understand that it expects to spend nearly twice as much on tree planting grants this year as last.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the pupil-teacher ratio for (a) primary and (b) secondary schools, in each of the past 10 years.
The following table sets out the information requested for education authority schools:
|* The figures for the sessions up to 1973–74 relate to the position at January, and those for the subsequent sessions to the position at September. The pupil/teacher ratio for session 1979–80 is not yet available.|
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the school population for (a) primary and (b) secondary schools, in each of the past 10 years.
The total numbers of pupils in primary and secondary schools in Scotland in each of the past 10 sessions were as follows:
|Session||Primary Total||Secondary Total|
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total number of (a) primary and (b) secondary pupils who take school meals; and how many of each total receive free school meals.
At the most recent school meals census 307,000 primary—including nursery—and 123,000 secondary pupils took school meals. A total of 143,000 pupils received free meals but information on the breakdown of this figure between primary and secondary pupils is not available to my Department.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total subsidy given to the school meals service.
In 1979–80, £39·3 million at 1979 survey prices—estimated.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total number of staff employed in the school meals service.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many kitchen and canteen staff supervisors and others are employed in the school meals service in Scotland.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many pupils of each age group receive free school transport; and how many of those pupils attend denominational schools.
This information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the estimated cost of free school transport.
In 1979–80, £15·0 million at 1979 survey prices.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will list details of the free school transport scheme operated by each local education authority in Scotland.
My information is that nine authorities provide free transport for children who would have to walk more than the statutory distances—2 miles up to the age of 8 and 3 miles thereafter—with minor local or seasonal variations in four cases. Fife and Lothian reduce the walking distance to 2 miles for the over-eights, and Strathclyde operate distances of 1 mile for all primary and 2 miles for all secondary pupils.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many schoolchildren in each age group receive free school milk.
This information is not available. A total of about 535,000 primary pupils received free milk on the census day in January 1979.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the cost of providing free school milk.
In 1979–80, £3.3 million at 1979 survey prices—estimated.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many intended courses were recently cancelled in Scottish technical colleges; and how many potential students subsequently became unemployed.
Information of this kind is not collected centrally, but I understand that 23 full-time and 120 part-time courses at colleges in the area of Strathclyde regional council have had to be cancelled following the introduction of new conditions of service for further education teachers. A total of 16 courses have been cancelled in other local authority colleges in Scotland for other reasons, chiefly insufficient student demand. Information on the number of potential students who became unemployed following the cancellation of courses in Strathclyde is not available.
Council Housing Stock
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will supply the total number of tenants in Scotland who occupy council properties that are (a) multi-storey flats; (b) maisonette flats; (c) tenement flats and (d) cottage types; and if he will supply figures for these groups of applications for home purchase.
Precise figures on occupation of local authority houses in Scotland by type of dwelling are not available. It has been estimated, however, on the basis of a sample survey, that there are approximately 50,000 flats with lifts, 400,000 other flats, and 430,000 cottage-type houses. Records of applications by tenants to purchase their homes are not kept by my Department; they are a matter for individual housing authorities.
Council House Sales (Kirkaldy)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will supply figures relating to the 700 applications for purchasing council homes in the Kirkaldy district, defining the totals for the following types of dwellings (a) multi-storey flats, (b) maisonette flats, (c) tenement flats, (d) cottage types and (e) other types.
This is a matter for Kirkcaldy district council. The Government do not have this information available.
Hill Livestock Compensatory Allowances
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied that the level of hill livestock compensatory allowances is adequate; and if he will make a statement.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Aberdeenshire, East (Mr. McQuarrie) on 24 October.—[Vol. 972, c. 183.]
Housing Associations (Kilmarnock)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many housing associations related to the Housing Corporation are currently operating in Kilmarnock; and if he will name them.
The only housing association registered with the Housing Corporation currently operating in Kilmarnock is Hanover (Scotland) Housing Association Limited.
Wool Textile Industry Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if his Department has ever requested any firm which has ceased to use assets, plant and machinery provided under either the first or second stages of the wool textile industry scheme, and has declared redundancies within five years of project completion, to repay grants; and if he will give details.
Under the first stage, wool textile scheme grants paid were reclaimed from 28 firms which took assets, plant and machinery out of use. The total reclaimed was £130,239.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give details of the amount of grant, associated employment change and year of completion, of projects which obtained assistance under both stages of the wool textile industry scheme.
The following table shows the number of projects completed in the two wool textile schemes in each year and the amounts paid:
|Year||No. of Projects||Amount Paid|
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the loss of employment directly associated with projects approved under the first and second stages of the wool textile industry scheme; and if he will give details for West Yorkshire and for the United Kingdom as a whole.
Participants in the first stage of the wool textile scheme, according to a study carried out by the economic and statistics division of the Department, declared 3,563 redundancies as a direct result of their projects. No separate figure is available for West Yorkshire. No figure is yet available for the second stage scheme, which will not be completed until 31 December 1979. I am arranging for a copy of the report on the first wool textile industry scheme to be sent to the hon. Gentleman.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many firms which obtained assistance under the first and second stages of the wool textile industry scheme have since declared redundancies which were not a declared part of the projects financed, or have closed completely; and if he will give details of the loss of employment arising in West Yorkshire and in the United Kingdom as a whole.
I regret that the information requested is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many firms in West Yorkshire and in the United Kingdom as a whole have obtained financial assistance under the second stage of the wool textile scheme; and if he will make a statement on the scheme's achievements.
Under the second stage of the wool textile scheme 52 offers of financial assistance were accepted by firms in the Yorkshire and Humberside region. For the United Kingdom as a whole the figure was 67. The second stage of the wool textile scheme will not be completed until December 1979. No assessment has yet been made of the effects of this scheme.
Fishing Boat Building Industry
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the Government's policy for the future of the United Kingdom fishing boat building industry.
The industry's prospects depend on its success in obtaining orders. Government help to this end is available through a scheme of financial assistance to the United Kingdom fishing industry for the construction of fishing vessels administered by the White Fish Authority. Intervention fund assistance is also available for orders for fishing vessels over 150 gross registered tons.
Woollen Fabric Manufacturers, Prato (Pricing Policies)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if his Department has completed its consideration of whether or not the EEC Commission should be asked to examine some of the pricing policies of woollen fabric manufacturers in Prato, as referred to in a letter dated 31 August 1978 from the then Secretary of State for Industry to the hon. Member for Batley and Morley; and if he will make a statement.
After consideration of the information provided by representatives of the wool textile industry a formal request was made in February to the Commission of the European Communities to examine the pricing policies of wool textile manufacturers in the Prato district of Italy in the context of article 92 of the Rome Treaty. The examination by the Commission is still taking place. Officials of the Commission intend to visit West Yorkshire as part of this examination. Like the industry, I wish to see this examination completed and I shall be looking for a definitive response from the Commission as quickly as possible.
Development Area Status (Wales)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry on what basis the decision was made to downgrade the North-West area of Wales, with the exception of Ynys Mon, from its status as a special development area to that of a development area.
These decisions were based on the criteria prescribed in the Local Employment Act 1972, as amended by the Industry Act 1972.
Co-Operative Development Agency
asked the Secretary of State for Industry, in view of the reply given to the hon. Member for Islington, Central (Mr. Grant) on 23 May, if he has met Lord Oram, chairman of the Co-operative Development Agency; and if he will make a statement.
I regret that due to Lord Oram's illness a meeting arranged for 23 October had to be cancelled. This meeting will be re-arranged shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the amount of money being made available to the Cooperative Development Agency in the current year.
The Co-operative Development Agency has estimated that £260,000 will be required in the current year and this sum is being made available.
Development Area Grant (Devon)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much development area grant in Devon has cost in the latest two financial years for which figures are available.
The information is not available in the form requested and could not be provided without disproportionate cost. Whilst the total grant paid in any administrative area cannot readily be identified, particulars of regional development grant payments exceeding £25,000 are published in "Trade and Industry". Totals of such payments in assisted areas in Devon in the financial years 1977–78 and 1978–79 are as set out below:
Industrial Common Ownership Act
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what types of enterprises can be assisted under the Industrial Common Ownership Act.
Common ownership and co-operative enterprises which are wholly or mainly engaged in manufacturing industry can be assisted. In order to qualify for a loan they must be in possession of a certificate issued under the Industrial Common Ownership Act by either the Registrar of Friendly Societies—in the case of common ownerships—or the Secretary of State for Industry—in the case of co-operatives.
asked the Attorney-General what are the guidelines controlling the checking of jury panels as issued in July 1975.
The guidelines controlling the practice of jury checks are contained in the statement made by the then Attorney-General on 10 October 1978, a copy of which was laid in the Library of the House.
asked the Attorney-General whether he has made any estimate of the length of time added to trials when particulars of a jury panel have been given to the Crown or the defence.
The making of a check on the jury panel does not itself extend the length of the trial on the very rare occasions it is undertaken.
Radio And Television Service (Disruption)
asked the Attorney-General what guidelines he has given the Director of Public Prosecutions in relation to decisions to prosecute or not to prosecute persons who interfere with radio or television programme transmitters, in contravention of the law, or conspire to do so.
I have given the Director no special guidance regarding such matters.
Heathrow Airport (Passenger Handling Capacity)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what the projected increase in the passenger handling capacity of Heathrow would be if a fifth terminal were to be approved.
A fifth terminal at Heathrow, if approved, could increase the airport's capacity by about 15 million passengers a year.
Air Services (China)
asked the Secretary of Trade whether the recently concluded air services agreement between the United Kingdom and the People's Republic of China is consistent with the arrangements under which air services are operated between Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland have handled the matter of regular air traffic between the two countries in accordance with the principles laid down in the 1972 agreement between them on raising the level of their diplomatic relations to that of ambassadors. The air services agreement between the People's Republic of China and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is an agreement between the two States, while the air link between Hong Kong and Taiwan is operated under non-Governmental arrangements.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he expects to receive the final reports from the advisory committee on airport policy and the study group on
|Thousand square metres||£'000 cif||Thousand square metres||£'000 cif|
|Source: United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics—SITC (Rev 2) subgroup 654 2 and items 654.31 .32 and .33.|
|(1) The above figures exclude pile, chenille, knitted and crocheted fabrics of wool or fine animal hair.|
|(2) The United Kingdom trade figures so far in 1979 have been distorted by the effects of industrial action, resulting in under-statement of both imports and exports. They must therefore be interpreted with caution.|
asked the Secretary of State for Trade which United Kingdom ports are currently closed to Soviet merchant ships; and which Soviet ports are closed to United Kingdom shipping.
Third London Airport
asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many letters he has received protesting against the construction of a third London airport at Hoggerton, Willingdale, Yardley Chase, Stansted, Maplin and Cargley, respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, when assessing the question of noise nuisance as a factor in deciding
South-East airports; and whether he intends to publish both documents in full.
I expect to receive the reports very soon. They will be published in full.
Italian Cloth (Imports)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what are the monthly import figures of Italian cloth, by value and by metres, into the United Kingdom since January 1978.
Following are details of United Kingdom imports of worsted and woollen fabric consigned from Italy:the location of a third London airport, he will call for studies to be made at each site under consideration plotting the noise and number index down to 25 NNI, and publishing the results with an indication of the populations affected; and if he will further cause similar comparative studies to be made of night time noise.
I shall form my own judgment once I have received the advice of the bodies now considering this matter, but a separate study is already in hand on aircraft noise and sleep disturbance.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations he plans to have with the Kent county council as a result of the listing of Maplin as one of the possible sites for a third London airport; if he accepts that Kent would suffer from serious noise nuisance and even more serious night time noise nuisance from such an airport; and if he will study the noise contour maps produced by noise consultants, copies of which have been sent to him by the hon. Member for Faversham.
I understand that noise contour maps have been prepared by the study group on South-East airports for the six sites it is evaluating. I shall consider these when I have its report, together with any other relevant information available to me.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the likely time scale of decision-making for the location of a third London airport, indicating whether he has yet received the final report from the study group and whether a White Paper will be published.
The reports of the two advisory bodies which are currently considering the question of a third London airport are expected to be completed shortly. A statement will be made as soon as the Government have reached a view on the matter.
Trading Agreement (Government Sponsorship)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list all current Government sponsored trading agreements with the Soviet Union, and with each of its Eastern European COMECON partners.
I shall reply to my hon Friend as soon as possible.
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he proposes to introduce a scheme for the restructuring of the British fishing industry.
The subjects of restructuring and licensing have been discussed with representatives of the fishing industry by my right hon. Friend and myself during our visits to ports. We are considering the views expressed to us.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will issue a statement on the effect of increases in oil prices on the British fishing industry and the resultant increase on the price of fish to consumers.
The effective increases in the price of oil on the costs of fishing depend on a number of factors including the age and type of individual fishing vessels and the nature and location of the fishing operation. The extent to which higher costs can be passed on to consumers depends on the market forces influencing the first-hand price of fish.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he plans to increase the guaranteed price for lamb in November; and if he will make a statement.
No. The guaranteed price for fat sheep is determined annually following the annual review of agriculture, which is shortly to take place.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many vessels of over 80 ft., and with what total deadweight tonnage, were built in United Kingdom yards in the years 1975 to 1978 inclusive and in 1979 to date.
The information relates to the number and total gross registered tonnage of fishing vessels over 80 feet completed by United Kingdom yards in the years specified.
Common Fisheries Policy
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what discussions have taken place recently with the French Government on a common fisheries policy; and what has been the outcome.
I reported to the House on 31 October the discussions with the French and other Fisheries Ministers at the Council on 29 October.
Fishing Vessels (Modernisation)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make representations to the EEC Commissioner for Fisheries that any interim scheme which may be introduced in January 1980 should contain provisions for modernisation of fishing vessels.
My right hon. Friend notes the suggestion, which will receive careful study should the question of a further extension to the current scheme of interim aid from FEOGA be proposed by the Commission.
Marginal Land (Exchequer Assistance)
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what proposals he has in mind for providing adequate Exchequer assistance for farmers of marginal land.
This will depend on the conclusions reached following my right hon. Friend's present study of the cost and feasibility of assisting marginal land farmers under the less favoured areas directive, 75/268/EEC.
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the latest information he has on the results of research into the effect of seals on fishery resources; and what provisions he has made to ensure that policy towards seals is based on scientific assessment of seal behaviour and ecology.
The International council for the exploration of the sea has recently provided advice on the interaction between grey seal populations and fisheries and a copy of its report has been placed in the Library of the House.My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has responsibility for the conservation of seals in England and Wales. Under the Conservation of Seals Act 1970 he is required to consult the natural Environment research council, which has a statutory duty to provide him with scientific advice on matters related to the management of seal populations before issuing a licence for the killing or taking of seals in the close season.