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Written Answers

Volume 973: debated on Thursday 8 November 1979

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 8 November 1979

Ussr

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister what representations she has received about her attitude to the Soviet Union; and if she will make a statement.

I have received no formal representations, though naturally I have received many letters from the public about the Government's policy towards the Soviet Union. I set out my attitude to the Soviet Union fully in the Winston Churchill memorial lecture which I gave in Luxembourg on 18 October. A copy is in the Library.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 8 November.

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 November.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 8 November.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 November.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her engagements for 8 November.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 8 November.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 8 November.

Q21.

asked the Prime Miinister if she will list her official engagements for 8 November.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 November.

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 8 November.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 8 November.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 8 November.

Q28.

I refer my hon. Friends and hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier.

Rhodesia

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the reasons for her policy on Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal made a full statement to this House yesterday. I have nothing to add.

Official Cars

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister why she changed her official Rover cars for Daimlers.

I shall be replacing two Rovers because they have been in constant use since 1972 and have covered very large mileages. I shall be replacing them with Daimlers because they are the best cars for the job, and because they are British made. Unfortunately, the 1972 style Rover is no longer in production.

Rural Jobs

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will make a statement of the Government's policy towards rural jobs.

I am aware of the particular problems of rural areas, including their employment problems. The Government's policy is to provide a climate to stimulate the growth of real employment opportunities in rural and other areas. In particular, in rural areas our policy is to encourage traditional industries, notably agriculture, food processing and small businesses.

Cbi

Q13.

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

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will meet the Confederation of British Industry.

Chairman Hua Guofeng

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on her recent meeting with Chairman Hua Guofeng.

Premier Hua Guofeng visited Britain from 28 October to 3 November. His delegation included Vice Premier Yu Qiuli, Foreign Minister Huang Hua, and four Vice Ministers.Premier Hua's programme reflected the importance which the Government attached to the first visit to this country by a Premier of the People's Republic of China. It included industrial and agricultural visits, as well as social, ceremonial and cultural occasions.I had two sessions of official talks with Premier Hua, as well as a number of informal discussions. Our discussions on international affairs were wide ranging, and we reached a useful measure of agreement on many issues. We paid particular attention to the dangers for South-East Asia of Vietnamese policies in Indo-China, and I underlined our deep concern at the situation in Kampuchea. I also explained our policies on Rhodesia.We both expressed satisfaction with the rapid expansion of our bilateral relations, and our determination to maintain this process. We agreed that we had a mutual interest in the stability and prosperity of Hong Kong, and Premier Hua gave assurances that immigration from China would be reduced. We also discussed trade and defence sales in general terms, and cultural and air services agreements were signed.Premier Hua's visit was the culmination of several years of steadily improving relations between Britain and China. I believe that the talks we had, and the visit itself, have made a significant contribution to the further development of our relations, and have established an excellent basis for increasing co-operation in all fields.

British Broadcasting Service

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister what representations she has received regarding the proposed cuts in the BBC overseas services.

I have received over 200 letters from people at home and overseas.

Education And Science

University Teachers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science by what date he expects to make the offer promised on 9 August 1979 to the negotiating parties on the pay of university teachers; and whether he intends in his offer to restore the real level of salaries as decided by the Leggatt arbitration announced in 1974.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why he has not fulfilled his promise in August to make an offer to the university negotiation parties of the Association of University Teachers and the university authorities panel on the pay award due on 1 October; when he expects to make an offer; and if he intends to restore the value of salaries to the 1974 level determined by the Leggatt arbitration award.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to a similar question from my hon. Friend the Member for Cambridge (Mr. Rhodes James) on 25 October.—[Vol. 922, c. 255.]

School Meals

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will establish forthwith a national working party to investigate all aspects of school meals and midday supervision, instruct it to report by a specified date, to make the report public and to pay due regard to the need to provide solutions to the problems.

My right hon. and learned Friend has no plans to do so. The question of midday supervision, including supervision of the school meal, falls within the scope of a joint working party of representatives of the teachers and their employers, the local education authorities.

Nato (Youth Project)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when the NATO project for 17 to 19-year-old pupils, for which field trials in selected schools and colleges are being held, was approved by his Department; which professional, political, local authority and Civil Service organisations were consulted before this project was approved; and if he will publish details of the pilot project and list the schools taking part.

No NATO project is undergoing field trials in schools or colleges here. The project developed by the European atlantic movement—TEAM— is a private initiative. The question of its approval by my Department does not arise, but individual members of Her Majesty's Inspectorate have responded to requests by those involved with it for advice. I understand that TEAM has been testing some of its materials with teachers in sixth forms in Teignmouth grammar school and Gordonstoun school and that it hopes to do so also with Marlborough college and Eltham Green comprehensive school.

Her Majesty's Inspectorate (Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make available to hon. Members the report of Her Majesty's Inspectorate entitled " Towards Political Competence in an Open Society".

There is no such report by Her Majesty's inspectorate, but a statement on "Political Competence" was included in the set of working papers, "Curriculum 11–16" published in 1978 as a contribution to current debate about the curriculum. A copy is available in the Library.

Private Schools (Replacement Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what would be the capital costs of building replacement schools if all private schools were closed; and what would be the revenue costs of running these additional schools.

If all private primary and secondary schools in England were closed and all the pupils at present attending them were accommodated in additional local education authority maintained schools, the capital building costs, including land, fees and furniture and equipment, would, it is estimated, be about £1,000 million. The cost of running the additional schools would be of the order of £200 million per annum. Of course, capital expenditure on this scale would not, in fact, be involved because spare capacity resulting from falling rolls would allow most, if not all, of the pupils to be accommodated in local education authority maintained schools.

Head Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what plans he has to make alterations to the conditions of employment of head teachers.

Responsibility for the conditions of employment of all teachers, including head teachers, rests entirely with the employing authorities. Advice to local education authorities is formulated by the Association of County Councils and the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, acting through the Council of Local Education Authorities—CLEA.

University Teachers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied that no hardship will result from the delay in completing the negotiations regarding a pay settlement for those involved in university education currently being considered by the university authority's panel.

I expect that any payments agreed to be appropriate for university teachers with effect from the normal date of their pay settlement—that is, 1 October 1979—will be made retrospectively. I hope that it will be possible to resume negotiations soon.

Public Lending Right

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement on the work being undertaken by his Department with regard to preparing for public lending right, specifying the expenditure which he estimates is likely to be incurred in the current year and in succeeding years, and stating the number of civil servants directly and indirectly employed in this connection.

The drafting of a consultative document and other preparatory work has occupied a fluctuating proportion of the time of some of the staff of the office of arts and libraries, who are also engaged on other work. Precise figures for cost and manpower cannot be calculated, but they are small.

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he thinks it will become necessary to appoint a registrar of public lending rights.

House Of Commons

Parliamentary Questions

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what has been the approximate total cost of answering parliamentary questions in this Parliament up to 31 October.

Based on estimated average costs at 31 October 1979 the approximate total cost of parliamentary questions tabled up to that date would have been £288,500.

"The Adoration Of The Shepherds" (Export)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will reconsider the advisability of the ban on the export of the silver plaque "The Adoration of the Shepherds" by the Dutch silversmith Paulus van Vianen in view of its greater importance in Dutch art history than in the British heritage.

No. Although I recognise that the plaque is of importance for the history of art in the Netherlands, none-the-less I agree with the recommendation from the reviewing committee on the export of works of art that the plaque is also of national importance to the British heritage. I therefore decided that the export licence should be withheld.

Land Certificates

asked the Attorney-General how many land certificates were returned to the Land Registry in 1978 because of errors.

No exact figures are available. It is estimated that in 1978–79 errors requiring amendment of a land or charge certificate were made by the Land Registry in less than 1 per cent. of the total of completed transactions.

Land Titles

asked the Attorney-General how many claims were made against the Land Registry in 1978 associated with errors in the title of land.

No exact figures are available. In 1978–79 payments of indemnity in respect of such claims were made in 57 cases, in 36 of which the errors were of a minor nature and indemnity was paid only in respect of costs.

Conveyancing

asked the Attorney-General what efforts he is making currently to make improvements and simplification in conveyancing procedures.

In accordance with the policy endorsed by the report of the Royal Commission on legal services—Cmnd. 7648—the Land Registry is working hard to extend the system of registered title, upon which the improvement and simplification of conveyancing largely depends. In addition, the Law Commission is preparing a report on land registration, which it hopes to publish before the end of next year; and the Royal Commission has made certain suggestions on conveyancing matters, which are being studied.

Home Department

Television Licences

46.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reconsider the arrangement whereby a licence holder who changes from a colour to a monochrome television set is not entitled to a refund on his current colour television licence.

No. The grounds on which refunds may be given must be limited if the licensing system is not to become unmanageable.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make it his policy, in any calculations for increasing the television licence fee, not to include movements in pay and conditions of BBC technicians brought about in an attempt to bridge the gap between BBC and ITV pay rates.

All relevant factors will be taken into account when I next consider the future level of the television licence fees.

Prisoners (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many people have been in Her Majesty's prisons for (a) five years and (b) 10 years and the latest date for which figures are available; and what was the average cost per annum per prisoner;(2) how many people, at the latest date for which figures are available, have been in Her Majesty's prisons for 20 years; and what is the number classified by offences.

Information in the form requested is not available. On 31 August 1979 881 persons in prison department establishments were serving sentences imposed over five years previously, of whom 232 were serving sentences imposed over 10 years previously and 16 were serving sentences imposed over 20 years previously. Seven of these 16 had been in custody continuously for 20 years or more; the remaining nine had spent some time at liberty on life licence which was subsequently revoked. All of the seven were serving sentences for murder.Details of the cost of maintaining an inmate in custody in the financial year 1977–78 are given in appendix No. 4 of the report on the work of the prison department 1978—Cmnd. 7619.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the cost of keeping in Her Majesty's prisons a man considered dangerous to the public.

A person who is a danger to the public is likely to be among those in security categories A or B. Such prisoners are normally held in dispersal prisons, but allocation to a particular type of establishment is also determined by other factors, including a prisoner's needs and the facilities available. As shown in the annual report on the work of the prison department 1978—Cmnd. 7619, para. 16—the average weekly cost in 1977–78 of custody in establishments for adult males was:

£
Six dispersal Prisons187
Other closed Training prisons91
Local prisons and remand centres85

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many adult males, adult females, young males

POPULATION OF PRISON DEPARTMENT ESTABLISHMENTS IN ENGLAND AND WALES (*) HELD ON REMAND OR ON SENTENCE ON 30 JUNE 1979: BY AGE, SEX AND TYPE OF INSTITUTION
AdultsYoung prisoners
Type of institutionMalesFemalesMalesFemalesTotal
Remand centres5571321,6551002,444
Local prisons14,3542362,18010116,871
Training prisons:
open3,104359293,492
closed10,2912591,1174511,712
Borstals:
open1,509401,549
closed3,5081173,625
Detention centres:
open201201
closed1,8391,839
Total28,30698612,00943241,733
* Excluding 570 male and 16 female civil prisoners for whom no age information is readily available

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many (a) untried prisoners, (b) convicted but unsentenced prisoners and (c) civil prisoners were in custody on 30 June.

The information requested is set out in the following table:

Population of unsentenced and non-criminal prisoners in prison department establishments in England and Wales on 30 June 1979 by status:
StatusNo.
Untried3,909
Convicted unsentenced2,212
Non-criminal586
POPULATION OF PERSONS SERVING SENTENCES OF IMPRISONMENT IN PRISON DEPARTMENT ESTABLISHMENTS IN ENGLAND AND WALES ON 30 JUNE 1979: BY AGE AND SENTENCE LENGTH
Sentence lengthAdult prisonersYoung prisonersTotal
Up to and including one month679189868
Over one up to and including six months3,0476693,716
Over 6 up to and including 18 months7,5345798,113
Over 18 up to and including three years6,5838237,406
Over three years up to and including five years3,6613614,022
Over five years—including life sentences and those prisoners detained at Her Majesty's Pleasure3,9071594,063
Total25,4112,78028,191

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many adults and young offenders in prison department custody on 30 June were

and young females were in prison department custody on 30 June; how many in each category were in local prisons, remand centres, training prisons, borstals and detention centres; and how many in each of the past three types of institution were in open conditions.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many adults and young offenders in prison on 30 June were serving sentences of (a) one month or less, (b) one to three months, (c) three to six months, (d) six to 18 months, (e) 18 months to three years, (f) three to five years and (g) over five years.

The information available is given in the attached table:imprisoned for (

a) fine default and ( b) maintenance defaults; and how many were imprisoned under the immigration laws:

(2) how many adults and young offenders in prison department custody on 30 June, including fine defaulters, had been convicted of ( a) drunkeness, ( b) offences relating to prostitution, ( c) possession of cannabis, ( d) other drug offences, ( e) breach of a probation order, ( f) breach of a community service order, ( g) breach of a conditional discharge, ( h) breach of a suspended sentence, ( i) criminal damage, ( j) theft, ( k) handling of stolen goods, ( l) robbery, ( m) burglary, ( n) fraud, ( o) forgery, ( p) murder, ( q) other homicide and attempted homicide, ( r) wounding, ( s) assaults, ( t) cruelty to children, ( u) other offences of violence—to be specified—( v) rape, ( w) buggery and indecency between males, ( x) gross indency with children, and ( y) other sexual offences, with details of these offences;

(3) how many people in prison department custody on 30 June were first, second, third, fourth, fifth and more than fifth time offenders.

The information requested is not yet available. I shall reply to the hon. Member as soon as possible.

Prison Medical Service

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will implement the recommendation in paragraph 77 of the fifteenth report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1977–78, that a special premium should be paid to psychiatrists in the prison service for the arduous and responsible nature of their work;(2) if he will implement the recommendation in paragraph 77 of the fifteenth report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1977–78, that a director of psychiatric services, to work in partnership with the director of prison medical services, should be made;(3) if he will implement the recommendation in paragraph 77 of the fifteenth report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1977–78, that more special wings such as C wing at Parkhurst prison should be established;(4) if he will implement the recommendations in paragraph 77 of the fifteenth report from the Expenditure Committee, Session 1977–78, that the prison department should expand its own psychiatric facilities.

The needs of the prison medical service are among the matters being considered in the light of the report of the committee of inquiry into the United Kingdom prison services—Cmnd. 7673.

Remembrance Service

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider the wish of war widows to be represented at the Remembrance service at the Cenotaph on Sunday 11 November.

I have received no request from the War Widows Association of Great Britain for war widows to be represented at the official ceremony on Remembrance Sunday, and I am afraid that there would, in any case, be practical difficulties about adding to the number of participants at that ceremony.

Divorce (Variation Applications)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many variation applications, in the case of divorced couples, were made during 1978 in the magistrates' and county courts in England and Wales.

Mr Mohammed Ahmed

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what section of immigration law and regulations was used to refuse admission to Mr. Mohammed Ahmed, case No. A.280907/2, at London Airport on 10 September, in spite of Mr. Ahmed being in possession of an entry certificate issued by the British Consulate, Karachi; and whether he will make a statement.

Mr. Ahmed was granted a visa to enable him to come to the United Kingdom to work as a domestic servant but when he was interviewed by an immigration officer on arrival it appeared from references he carried that he was contemplating employment as a garage hand. Mr. Ahmed also confirmed that his main employment in Pakistan had been in garages, and not as a domestic servant. The immigration officer was therefore satisfied that false representations had been employed or material facts had been concealed, whether or not to Mr. Ahmed's knowledge, for the purpose of obtaining the visa. He accordingly refused Mr. Ahmed leave to enter in accordance with paragraph 10 of the "Statement of Immigration Rules for Control on Entry, EEC and Other Non-Commonwealth Nationals"—House of Commons Paper 81, laid before Parliament on 25 January 1973.As the holder of a visa, Mr. Ahmed had a right of appeal to an adjudicator before removal, which he duly exercised. The adjudicator dismissed the appeal on 25 October. Mr. Ahmed is now appealing to the tribunal against the adjudicator's

PERSONS ARRESTED* FOR BEING SUSPECTED OF FREQUENTING A PUBLIC PLACE WITH INTENT TO COMMIT AN ARRESTABLE OFFENCE BY DISTRICT AND ETHNIC APPEARANCE METROPOLITAN POLICE DISTRICT: THIRD QUARTER 1979
Number of offences
Ethnic appearance
DistrictWhite skinned EuropeanDark skinned EuropeanBlack skinned (including West Indian/African)Indian/PakistaniChinese/JapaneseArabian/EgyptianNot knownTotal
A25218200047
B22021200045
C25729010062
D21329000053
E1818000027
F1400101016
G8010000018
H803000011
I30000003
J60100007
K1501000016
L4020000024
M1405000019
N00200002
P30100004
Q10023000033
R50200007
S80100009
T30200005
V20000002
W1206000018
X613000010
Y4210000016
Z727000117
TA00000000
MPD243182025111471
* Persons proceeded against by means of a charge, referral to a juvenile bureau, a caution or in some other way; arrests not followed by any action are not included.

Purchasing Contracts

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of the purchasing contracts issued

determination. Meanwhile, Mr. Ahmed has been granted temporary admission to the United Kingdom.

Arrestable Offences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of persons arrested and proceeded against for being suspected of frequenting a public place with intent to commit an arrestable offence by Metropolitan Police division and ethnic appearance for the second and third quarters of the current year.

[pursuant to his reply, 22 October 1979, Vol 972, c. 5–6]: The information is as follows:by his Department in 1978–79 was by means of selective tender, open tender and single tender, respectively.

For the supply of goods and services the proportions by value were (a) selective tendering, 91·7 per cent.; (b) open tendering, nil; (c) single tendering, 8·3 per cent. For construction contracts the proportions were (a) 98·6 per cent.; (b) nil; (c) 1·4 per cent.

Government Contractors (Racial Equality Policy)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has decided to abandon the plans of the previous Government to monitor the racial equality policies of Government contractors.

We are currently considering what steps can most usefully be taken to advance equal opportunities. This proposal is one aspect of that review.

Concessionary Television Licences

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will reconsider his decision not to introduce concessionary television licences for retired people living in their own homes; and if the fee is to be increased.

No; I have no comment to make on the possibility of any changes in the television licence fees.

Secretary Of State (Television Interview)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will seek to obtain and place in the Library a transcript of his interview on the television programme "Face the Press" on 4 November, in which he stated his policy on immigration.

I understand that a cassette recording of this interview has been placed in the Library of the House.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what statute or other legal authority requires legislation before the introduction of a register of those wives and children entitled to entry for settlement under the Immigration Act 1971.

This would depend on the system of registration being introduced. The parliamentary group chaired by Lord Franks reported—Cmnd. 6698—that in its view the only feasible system which would also meet the criterion at usefulness would require legislation to qualify section 1(5) of the Immigration Act 1971. Legislation could also be required if, as the Franks group thought desirable, there were to be criminal penalties for intentionally providing false information, or if there were to be any extension of the appeals system.

Industry

Wool Textile Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what proposals he has for further measures to improve the efficiency and productivity of the wool textile industry.

The wool textile industry has been extensively rationalised and modernised with the assistance of two sector schemes under section 8 of the Industry Act of 1972, aimed at improving its efficiency and productivity. Any further measures to improve efficiency and productivity are for individual companies in the industry to decide. The question of assistance woud arise only in so far as such measures were within the scope of the Industry Act arrangements announced to the House by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry on 17 July.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will reconsider his decision to declassify most of West Yorkshire as an intermediate area in view of the current decline in the wool textile industry.

I am considering the representations which a deputation from West Yorkshire put to me on 5 November.

Meriden Co-Operative

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what steps he is taking to recover the interest amounting to £1¼ million overdue to Her Majesty's Government from the Meriden Cooperative since 30 June.

British Leyland (Business Plan)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he has received the British Leyland 1979 business plan; and if he will place a copy in the Library.

My right hon. Friend's predecessor received the BL 1979 corporate plan together with the report and recommendations of the National Enterprise Board earlier this year and he reported to the House on 2 April. My right hon. Friend has not yet received the BL 1980 corporate plan though he expects to do so shortly.BL's corporate plans contain substantial material which is commercially confidential and the publication of which would be of value to BL's competitors. However, as much information as may be consistent with protection of BL's competitive position will be made available to the House when my right hon. Friend comes to report on the Government's conclusions and intentions, following his consideration of the 1980 plan and the NEB's recommendations.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Animal Welfare

47.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in the review of animal welfare currently being carried out by the Government; and if he will make a statement.

As a result of this review, the Agriculture Ministers have set up the farm animal welfare council whose terms of reference were announced on 25 July. I shall shortly be announcing its membership in full. The council has started to consider its advice on additional legal safeguards to protect farm animals and horses which are being exported and on the way in which the welfare codes for cattle, pigs, domestic fowls and turkeys need to be updated. The council is free to consider any farm animal welfare matter which falls within its remit and the Government will want its advice on other specific welfare matters from time to time.

World Commodities Centre

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consideration he has given to the establishment of a world commodities centre in London.

We are urgently considering this project, on which I hope an announcement will be made shortly.

Metrication

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what has been the total cost of the Metrication Board since its establishment;(2) how many letters his Department has received since the announcement of the ending of further compulsory metrication; how many were in favour of the decision; and how many were against.

Trans-Siberian Railway

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what estimate he has made of the effect to date and the likely effect over the next 10 years on British shipping of the competition offered by the Trans-Siberian railway.

Trade sources indicate that transit traffic via the Trans-Siberian landbridge has grown by some 60 per cent. since 1974. There has undoubtedly been some loss of traffic from the traditional shipping services—with consequent adverse effects upon the revenues of United Kingdom lines serving the Far East. It is impossible to quantify this but the competitive impact of the land-bridge will grow over the coming years as Soviet ports and railway facilities are improved especially if more Far East destinations, including Australasia, are served.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has made any estimate of the proportion of British exports to the Far East that now uses the Trans-Siberian railway; and, for purposes of comparison, what is the proportion of such German, French, Dutch and Belgian exports that uses this route.

We estimate that some 8·5 per cent. of United Kingdom liner cargo exports to Japan were carried by this route in 1978. No comparable figures are available for exports from other European countries.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he has made an estimate of the related cost per ton of freight moved from United Kingdom ports to Far East ports by Western Conference line ships and by the combination of such ships and the Trans-Siberian railway.

Rate comparisons are difficult because of the wide variation in tariff structures and pricing policies. It is our understanding that rates for many individual commodities carried via the landbridge are significantly below conference rates.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what consultations he has had with trade and shipping Ministers of the EEC and OECD countries about the increased competition being offered to British and Western shipping lines by the Trans-Siberian railway system; and if he will make a statement.

My Department regularly discusses this issue with our OECD partners and has placed our concern on record with the Soviet authorities.

Employment

Unemployment Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the weekly cost of administration per head in respect of all those registering at his Department for unemployment benefit.

Nationalised Industries (Race Relations)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether, further to his answer on 22 October, which of the replies from nationalised industries about their racial equal opportunity policies have been judged as needing guidance from his Department's race relations advisory service.

Family Expenditure Survey

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the annual cost of the family expenditure survey.

Disabled Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how much of the £½ million allocated in 1977 for altering work premises so as to give access to disabled workers has been claimed in that year and each subsequent year; whether this allocation has been increased; and if he will also classify these data according to the number of firms claiming help each year and the number of disabled persons gaining employment;(2) if he will classify according to percentages the number of workers employed in (

a) unskilled manual work, ( b) semiskilled manual work, ( c) skilled manual work, ( d) clerical work, ( e) managerial and supervisory work; and if he will also classify the numbers of disabled workers along the same lines;

(3) if he will estimate the number of workers who could be classified as disabled under the 1944 Act; and if he will list the numbers currently registered;

(4) if he will classify the numbers of registered disabled workers by each of the major industrial classifications; and if he will also list the numbers of unemployed registered disabled according to the same criteria along with the general level of employment in each of these industries;

(5) if he will classify the number of registered disabled workers who are in ( a) open employment and ( b) sheltered employment; and if the unemployment data for registered disabled workers could be similarly classified;

(6) if he will list the number and the percentage of firms ( a) given exemption

and ( b) without exemption from employing registered disabled persons for each year since the schemes' inception;

(7) if he will list ( a) the number of industrial enclaves and ( b) the number of registered disabled workers employed in industrial enclaves for each year since the schemes' inception;

(8) if he will list the number of people in sheltered employment for each year since 1960 together with the number of workers registering for sheltered employment over the same period;

(9) if he will list the number of firms failing to fulfil their quota who also failed to apply for a permit to employ able bodied workers for each year since 1960;

(10) if he will list the number of firms prosecuted under the Disabled Persons Act 1944 for failing to employ their quota of disabled workers, the number found guilty and the number against whom maximum fines were imposed for each year since the Act's inception.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what action he has taken to inform employers of the requirements of the Acts which impose obligations on them regarding the employment of disabled people;(2) what steps he proposes to take to make the quota scheme for the employment of registered disabled people more effective; if he sees the fit for work scheme as one of these steps; and if he proposes to end the quota scheme at any time;(3) how many Government permits have been issued to employees who claimed to be unable to employ their 3 per cent. quota of disabled people; what check is made on such claims; and if he will make a statement;(4) how many payments have been made under the Manpower Services Commission's scheme for capital grants to employers of disabled people; what has been the total expenditure to date; and if he will make a statement about the operation and effectiveness of the scheme;(5) what is the average length of time an unemployed registered disabled person has been out of work; by how much this figure is greater than the average for all unemployed persons; and if he will make a statement;(6) how many registered disabled people are unemployed; what is the number expressed as a percentage of the total registered disabled; and how this compares with the national average;(7) how many employers with over 20 workers are not at present employing their quota of 3 per cent. disabled people; and how many of them do not hold Government permits of exemption;(8) if he will publish in the

Official Report the latest known and convenient public sector quota figures of disabled, expressed as numbers and percentages, for national and local government departments, including county councils and district councils.

Job Release Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he intends to continue the job release scheme after 31 March 1980; and if he will make a statement.

A decision about the future of the job release scheme will be made as part of the annual review of the special employment and training measures, which will take place later this year. Such a review has been the practice since the scheme's inception. Decisions will be announced as soon as possible before 31 March 1980.

Trade Union Reform

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to bring forward legislation for trade union reform, to reduce the amount of taxpayers' money available to sustain strikers and their families, and to control the misuse of the overtime ban and work-to-rule.

Employment Protection Act

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what proposals he has to amend the Employment Protection Act with particular reference to the maternity provisions; and when he expects to introduce them.

The Government's proposals for amendment of the Employment Protection Act are contained in a set of working papers published on 25 September. Some of the proposals relate to the maternity provisions. Consultations are proceeding on the working papers, and it is hoped to publish a Bill at an early date.

Textile Industry (Oldham And Kirklees)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many jobs were lost to the textile industry within the metropolitan borough of Oldham and Kirklees for the period 1977, 1978 and 1979; and if he will make a statement.

In 1977 a total of 1,284 redundancies were confirmed to my Department as having occurred in the textile industry in the employment office areas which most closely correspond to the metropolitan borough of Oldham and Kirklees. The figures for 1978 and January to October 1979 were 344 and 1,281 respectively. The Government are aware of the difficulties facing the textile industry and are taking such steps as are open to them, for instance by pressing for the effective implementation of the multi-fibre arrangement, to protect the industry from unfair competition. More generally, the success of the Government's economic policies will provide the best prospects for the future of the industry.

Factory Inspectors

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the estimated number of factory inspectors he hopes to employ in 1980.

[pursuant to his reply, 7 November 1979]: The number of factory inspectors in post on 1 November 1979 was 981. It will be for the Health and Safety Commission to decide its future recruitment programmes for factory inspectors in the light of the 1980–81 estimates which have yet to be settled by the Government.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what provision of legal services for the assistance of the factory inspectorate is provided or envisaged; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 7 November 1979]: The Health and Safety Executive solicitor, with his staff of seven lawyers, is available to assist the factory inspectorate.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the number of factory inspectors in post and making factory visits for 1973–74, 1975–76, 1977–78 and 1979 at the most recent practicable date.

[pursuant to his reply, 7 November 1979]: I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that the number of factory inspectors in post and making factory visits for 1973–74, 1975–76, 1977–78 and 1979 is as follows:

April 1973595
April 1974603
April 1975653
April 1976685
April 1977707
April 1978802
April 1979820
November 1979881

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the average frequency of factory inspections for 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979 to the most recent practicable date.

[pursuant to his reply, 7 November 1979]: This information is not available. I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that since the introduction of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, Her Majesty's factory inspectorate has been responsible for the inspection of a large number of establishments outside its traditional field of work in factories. The inspectorate's policy on selecting workplaces for systematic inspection is to treat each workplace on its merits, and to inspect those workplaces most deserving of inspection in any year, without distinguishing factories from other establishments. Since 1976 the inspectorate has endeavoured to include in its national inspection programme the 25 per cent. of factories most meriting inspection, which will, of course, include unsatisfactory establishments inspected in the previous year, and some establishments that have not been inspected for a number of years. This may be compared with the 1973 policy of endeavouring, with variable success, to inspect every workplace subject to the Factories Act, however low the risk, every four years.A sample survey taken at the end of June 1979 of establishments about which information is currently held on the inspectorate's register—which includes some, but by no means all, establishments due to be inspected by Her Majesty's factory inspectorate under the 1974 Act—shows that, subject to sampling error 10 per cent. had received their last substantial inspection since 1 January 1979; 32 per cent. had received their last substantial inspection since 1 January 1978; 50 per cent. had received their last substantial inspection since 1 January 1977; 65 per cent. had received their last substantial inspection since 1 January 1976; 77 per cent. had received their last substantial inspection since 1 January 1975.The vast majority of the remaining 23 per cent. of establishments employ fewer than 10 persons.

Defence

Cadet Forces

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to bring the pay of cadet force staffs into line with that paid to Regular forces and the Territorials.

There are no plans to alter the existing relationship between the pay of staffs in the cadet forces and of those in the Regular and volunteer reserve forces.

Defence Ministers (Discussions)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the recent discussions he has had with the Ministers of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany and France, with particular reference to the prospects for co-operation on long-range anti-tank weapons and a new generation of tactical aircraft.

I met the French and German Defence Ministers in Hamburg on 15 and 16 October to discuss a number of equipment matters. In particular, we discussed possible collaboration on a future tactical aircraft and welcomed the examination the industries of the three countries are now making of the way in which such an aircraft might meet national requirements. We also signed a memorandum of understanding for a new phase of collaborative work in the antitank field which will carry into the next generation of weapons the trilateral co-operation now existing.

British Army Of The Rhine

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the cost of maintaining the British Army of the Rhine; and how much of this represents a charge on the balance of payments.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the Statement on the Defence Estimates 1979—Cmnd. 7474. Annex B shows that the functional costs of BAOR in 1979–80 are estimated at £1,079 million. Annex A, table 6, shows that local defence expenditure in Germany is estimated at £661 million, of which about £560 million is for BAOR. As the footnotes to that table point out, this figure represents only the initial incidence on the balance of payments and does not take into account offsetting factors arising from the presence of troops in Germany instead of the United Kingdom.

Widows (Pensions)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he intends to introduce pensions for pre-1950 Service widows; and if he will make a statement.

I have been considering how best to honour the commitment in our manifesto to introduce pensions for those widows of pre-1950 Service-men who did not receive one. I am glad to say that this examination is now complete and a special once-and-for-all-scheme to give pensions to the so-called "pre-1950 widows" will be introduced from Monday next, 12 November 1979.Briefly, the background is that, although Service officers' widows have been eligible for pensions for a century or more, the same facility was not available for ranks below that of warrant officer class I, until 1 September 1950. Thus the widows of many retired Service men were not able to receive any part of their husbands' pensions, which simply died with them.This anomaly is peculiar to the Armed Forces and my hon. Friend and others have fought a sustained campaign over many years to get this anomaly put right.I am glad to say that from 12 November pensions determined by reference to a minimum length of service will be available on application to those widows of regular Service men who do not now receive a Forces family pension or a war widow's pension and who fulfil the necessary conditions. The most important of these are that the husband was in receipt of a Service pension during his lifetime, or if he died in service, would have been eligible for a pension if he had been invalided on the date of his death; and that the widow was married to her husband while he was still serving.The rate of pension will be related only to the husband's pensionable rank, ranging from £21.47 to £35.33 per month and will be updated in line with pension increases.It is not possible at present to say how many widows will be covered by this

Number of jobs in United KingdomOf which in Scotland
Service personnel232,00019,000
MOD civilians (excluding ROF employees) 214,00019,700
PSA personnel employed on defence account19,8001,750
Estimated number of direct job opportunities in British industry (including ROF employees)200,000*
* No geographical breakdown available.

Energy

British National Oil Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many additional people his Department intends to recruit as a direct result of his decision to reduce British National Oil Corporation's advisory role; and how many have been so recruited since 3 May.

An additional 35 posts will be required of which 17 will be petroleum specialists, 10 engineering grades and 8 administrative support staff.A number of vacancies for petroleum specialists existed before the decision to reduce BNOC's advisory role was announced and the additional requirement has added impetus to the recruitment programme. Since the beginning of May,

scheme, since my Department does not keep records of Service widows who do not receive pensions, but I believe that up to about 30,000 might be eligible. I am, therefore, starting an intensive advertising campaign to tell people of the new scheme, and to invite those who believe they are eligible to apply for a pension. I must, however, say that the process of verifying applications may take a little while, and that, particularly if large numbers of applications are made in a short period, it may not be possible to put all into payment immediately. But, nevertheless, entitlement will be from 12 November, or the date of the husband's death, if later.

Employment

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report details showing the estimated number of jobs being provided in (a) the United Kingdom and (b) Scotland arising out of the current defence programme.

The information as at 1 October 1979 is as follows:nine petroleum specialists have been recruited and there are another 11 who have been declared successful at interview and whose candidature is being progressed.It is likely that all the administrative support posts and some of the engineering posts will be filled by redeployment of existing staff. Until these possibilities have been exhausted no additional staff in these categories will be recruited.

Departmental Personnel

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many people in his Department have five to 10 years, 10 to 15 years and greater than 15 years' experience of working for one or more publicly-quoted fully integrated oil companies; and how many have gained such experience in each of the following areas (a) economic research, (b) exploration, (c) development, (d) production, (e) refining, (f) distribution and marketing, (g) finance and (h) general management.

Area of experience5–10 years10–15 yearOver 15 yearsTotal
(a) Economic Research0000
(b) Exploration42511*
(c) Development0011
(d) Production2125
(e) Refining1012
(f) Distribution and Marketing0101
(g) Finance0000
(h) General Management0011
Total741021
* Includes officers with Exploration and Production experience one (5-10 years) and three (over 15 years)

District Heating

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what consideration he has given to the report of the combined heat and power group of which Dr. Walter Marshall was chairman; and what plans he has for further experiments in district heating.

As referred to in the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Dorset, South (Viscount Cranborne) on 26 July 1979—[Vol. 971, c. 356–7]—the report of Dr. Marshall's combined heat and power group is being given careful consideration but it is as yet too soon to make any announcement.

Coking Coal

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the current differential between the price of United Kingdom coking coal at the pit head and imported coking coal at English ports.

The average price of NCB coking coal at the pithead is currently £40·90 per tonne. The average price of third country coking coal imported at English ports is at present £30·37 per tonne.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will indicate the number of United Kingdom mines producing coking coal, specifying whether deep mine or opencast.

I understand that at the present time there are 57 collieries producing coking coal for the coke ovens

There are 21 officers in the Department of Energy who have had more than five years' experience of working in a publicly-quoted, fully integrated oil company. The details are as follows:market; and there are six opencast sites the output of which includes coking coal.In addition, there are four collieries capable of producing coking coal to prepared standards but which, for reasons of adverse market conditions, are not currently producing and supplying their output to coke ovens. Instead, their output is being prepared as steam-raising smalls for the industrial market.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what, of the total United Kingdom coking coal available, is the percentage of the specification required by United Kingdom steel manufacturers.

I have been asked to reply.In 1978 virtually all the available United Kingdom coking coal went to the BSC, which imported only 14 per cent. of its requirements. The Corporation recently announced that for 1979 it would be increasing the percentage of imported coking coal to 24 per cent. for operational and cost reasons. I have placed in the Library a copy of the press notice issued by BSC.

Anthracite

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on anthracite supplies and the level of imports.

In the first seven months of the current financial year—April to October inclusive—the NCB supplied the United Kingdom domestic market with 60,000 tonnes more of naturally smokeless fuels—anthracite and dry steam—than in the corresponding period last year. A further improvement is expected in the remaining five months of the year when the new mine at Betws in South Wales comes fully into operation.However, despite this upward trend, the NCB still has insufficient naturally smokeless fuels to meet all requirements, mainly because of an upsurge in demand following the oil crisis earlier in the year. Imports are therefore continuing and are expected to amount to about 200,000 tonnes over the year, representing between 13 per cent and 14 per cent. of the market for naturally smokeless fuels.

Oil-From-Coal Plants

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what progress is being made in the National Coal Board project for two 25 tonne per day oil-from-coal plants now being designed with financial assistance from the Government; and, in particular, what progress has been made in finding suitable sites for the pilot plants.

Design work for the oil-from-coal pilot plants has now reached the stage where site charcteristics

Health Board30 September 197830 September 1976
Argyll and Clyde2·52·5
Ayrshire and Arran3·53·4
Borders3·43·8
Dumfries and Galloway3·93·7
Fife3·63·4
Forth Valley3·13·4
Grampian3·02·9
Greater Glasgow3·74·0
Highland3·23·2
Lanarkshire3·33·3
Lothian3·73·7
Orkney3·62·9
Shetland2·93·2
Tayside2·82·7
Western Isles2·32·8
NOTE: In the absence of any specific definition, "administrators" has been taken to refer to officers in the administrative and clerical staff group in and above the grade of general administrative assistant-including managerial staff in hospital catering, domestic and laundry services.

Scotland

Health Boards (Staff Ratios)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the current ratio of medical staff to administrators in each health board in Scotland and what were the corresponding ratios in 1976.

In whole-time equivalent terms the ratios are as follows.responsibility of Strathclyde regional council, which should be approached for any information about them.

Cumbernauld Development Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list the names of the members of the Cumbernauld development corporation together with the dates their appointments expire or fall to be renewed.

The informations requested is as follows:

Appointment Expires
Chairman
Mr. H. B. Sneddon, OBE, JP31.12.1982
Deputy Chairman
Mr. T. M. Barrie, JP31.12.1982
Members
Mrs. C. Campbell31.12.1980
Mr. F. M. Cook, OBE31.12.1982
Mr. A. Fisher31.12.1980
Mr. W. U. P. Lawson, MBE, TD31.12.1982
Miss E. McIntyre, OBE31.12.1980
Mr. J. P. Moreland31.12.1982
Mr. M. Turner, OBE, JP31.12.1982

Scottish Development Agency

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what payments he is instructing the Scottish Development Agency to make to him in the financial year 1980–81 in reduction of the Agency's public dividend capital.

Provision enabling the Agency to make such payments is included in the Industry Bill. I have no immediate plans to require it to do so.

Mental Handicap Facilities (Gattonside)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether, in the light of the statement and answers on public expenditure by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury on 1 November, he will make a statement about the cancellation of plans to extend the facilities at St. Aidan's home for mentally handicapped men at Gattonside, Roxburghshire.

St. Aidan's is a private care institution, owned by the Brothers of Charity, with which the Borders health board has a contractual arrangement for the accommodation and maintenance of patients. The Borders regional council social work department has a similar arrangement with St. Aidan's for residents in the home for whom it is responsible. I understand that proposals to provide a social centre and extend the workshops at St. Aidan's have the approval in principle of the health board and of the social work department; but, because of existing commitments and the priorities of other developments, neither authority is able at present to assist the charity in financing the work.

Schools (Pamphlet On Disruption)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will discuss with representatives of local authority education committees the pamphlet issued by the National Union of School Students "How To Disrupt Your School in Six Easy Lessons"; and if he will make a statement.

Crofter Housing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will raise the level of grant and loan for crofter housing.

No. This matter is kept under review against the background of the movement of building costs and the extent of the demand. I have no plans meantime for an increase in the levels of grant and loan assistance available.

Salmon And Freshwater Fisheries Act

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report the number of representations he has received, since assuming office, against the operation of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries (Scotland) Act, giving a breakdown of these numbers on a regional basis; how many prosecutions have occurred under the workings of the Act on a regional basis; and if Her Majesty's Government has any plans to amend the Act.

In the period in question, 25 representations in relation to the Freshwater and Salmon Fisheries (Scotland) Act 1976 have been made as follows:

Central Region21
Tayside Region2
Highland Region2
Only one of these representations related to the operation of the Act itself, the remainder being in respect of proposals submitted under the Act for the Upper Spey catchment area.As no order has yet been made under the Act, no prosecutions have taken place. The Government are presently reviewing the administrative and legislative structure of salmon and freshwater fisheries and I expect to make an announcement on the matter in due course.

Transport

Mr B E J Smith (Printing Business)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will explain in detail why his Department has objected to the application of Mr. B. E. J. Smith, a disabled person of 231 Liverpool Road, Rufford, Ormskirk, to continue with his printing business at the above premises; and if he will reconsider his decision.

My Department was one of a number of bodies to which the West Lancashire district council, as local planning authority, referred Mr. Smith's application to continue his printing business in a garage at the rear of his home. Unlike the planning authority, my consideration is confined to the effect of the development on the trunk road, hence the view conveyed to the planning authority that the continuance of the printing business would be detrimental to the safety and free flow of traffic on the trunk road.In the light of the information that the West Lancashire district council, after considering all the planning aspects of the situation, would wish to grant permission, I have reconsidered my decision and no longer oppose the proposal.

Traffic Management (Plastic Cones)

asked the Minister of Transport (1) what has been the total expenditure for each of the last five years on plastic cones for traffic management (a) by his Department and (b) by highway authorities acting as agents of his Department;(2) how many striped plastic cones have been purchased by his Department for use in connection with traffic management systems on motorways and trunk roads, for each of the last five years for which figures can conveniently be given;(3) what is the current unit cost of the striped plastic cones purchased by his Department for use in connection with traffic diversion schemes on the motorways.

The approximate unit cost of traffic cones is £1·50 for the 0·45 metre high cone and £11 for those 1 metre high.

The information about the numbers and total cost of traffic cones purchased by or on behalf of the Department is not readily available. Some are purchased by the Department's agent authorities and others are supplied by roadworks contractors.

Driving Tests

asked the Minister of Transport what is the average waiting period for a driving test in (a) Bournemouth, (b) the South-West and (c) Great Britain generally.

The current average waiting periods are:

Bournemouth24 weeks
Western traffic area25½ weeks
Great Britain (estimated)28 weeks
Bournemouth is in the South-Eastern traffic area, where the average waiting period is 22 weeks.

Nuclear Waste (Transportation)

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will set up an independent inquiry into all aspects of the movement of nuclear waste through highly industrialised and populated areas such as London, to ascertain to what extent the present safety precautions are satisfactory.

asked the Minister of Transport what special provision is made for railway workers concerned with the transport of nuclear waste through Stratford E15 to check that the radiation dose is below the danger level; and in how many cases since 1976 there have been incidents notified to the Health and Safety Executive in which the exterior surface of the flasks used have been found to be contaminated in excess of these limits.

All flasks used to carry irradiated nuclear fuel are fully checked on site prior to despatch to ensure that the radiation levels are within internationally agreed limits. These limits are in themselves well below any danger level.The British Railways Board is satisfied that the regulatory provisions, together with its own well-proven operational procedures, are fully adequate to ensure the safety of its workers.

Since 1976, eight instances of minor contamination above the permitted levels have been reported to the Health and Safety Executive. In no case did this result in significant levels of radiation or a hazard to workers or to members of the public.

Rail Sidings Grants (International Comparisons)

asked the Minister of Transport what information he has of comparative figures for rail sidings grants awarded per year for Great Britain, France and the Federal Republic of Germany.

As far as I am aware, grants for rail sidings are not available in France or the Federal Republic of Germany. Grant approvals under section 8 of the Railway Act 1974 for Great Britain are as follows:

19753
197615
197719
197825
1979 (to date)15

Motorway And Trunk Road Schemes

asked the Minister of Transport whether he is satisfied that sufficient check and scrutiny is made upon motorway and trunk road schemes emanating from road construction units.

Yes. I should, however, point out that trunk road schemes do not "emanate" from road construction units. I decide what schemes enter the road programme and their priorities within it.

asked the Minister of Transport whether he will consider submitting major trunk road schemes to independent audit in the same way as the proposals of the British Waterways Board were submitted to the audit of Fraenkel & Co.

No. There is no analogy between that study of the need for and cost of waterways maintenance and the assessment of major trunk road schemes. Our methods of trunk road assessment have been examined by the independent Leitch committee, and its successor the standing advisory committee on trunk road assessment. The application of those methods to individual schemes can be considered at local public inquiries.

Cross-Channel Link

asked the Minister of Transport what is the current state of his examination of proposals for the development of a cross-Channel link; and if he will make a statement.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) on 7 November.

Elderly Drivers (Medical Certificate Charges)

asked the Minister of Transport, further to the answer given to the hon. Member for Hornchurch on 25 May in connection with the £10 charge for annual medical certificates, whether the level of this charge is fixed by the Government or by the British Medical Association.

I have been asked to reply.The fee charged for providing a medical certificate for private purposes is primarily for the doctor to decide. While the BMA gives guidance to its members from time to time on the reasonable level of fees, doctors are not bound to follow this advice.

National Finance

Exchange Controls

15.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the Trades Union Congress regarding the abolition of exchange controls.

37.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received about the abolition of exchange controls; and if he will make a statement.

The representations I have received have generally welcomed the abolition of exchange controls and have recognised the significance of this historic step.

Economic Growth

16.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what he anticipates the rate of economic growth will be in the current year.

For 1979 as a whole I expect output to be a little higher than last year.

Inflation

17.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the latest rate of inflation.

The retail prices index rose by 16·5 per cent. over the 12 months to September 79. The tax and price index, which is probably a better guide to changes in taxpayers' costs, rose by 14·1 per cent. over the same period.

24.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he expects the inflation rate to be in single figures.

There is no doubt that our fiscal and monetary policies offer the only lasting solution to the rapidly rising inflation which we inherited from the last Government. However, the speed with which our policies bring down the rate of inflation will depend, amongst other things, on whether wage bargainers seek to settle at unrealistically high levels in spite of those policies.

Life Assurance (Tax Relief)

18.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many representations he has received on life assurance tax relief since he took office.

National Savings Bank, Glasgow

19.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what further discussion he has had with the trade unions representing staff employed at the National Savings Bank at Cowglen, Glasgow; and if he will make a statement.

I am well aware of the right hon. Member's interest in this matter, and indeed I wrote to him about it some weeks ago. The National Savings Bank, Glasgow, is a part of the Department for National Savings whose staff side my right hon. and learned Friend met on 22 October. He explained that no decisions had yet been reached about possible reductions of functions in the Department in connection with the Government's policy of reducing Civil Service staff costs.

26.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give an assurance that there will be no reduction in the number of staff employed at the National Savings Bank at Cowglen, Glasgow.

The future level of staffing in the National Savings Bank will be related to the operational requirements in meeting the demands of its customers. Staff numbers have been falling over the past three years as a result of the mechanisation of the system and this trend is likely to continue for some time yet.

35.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the future of the National Savings Bank at Cowglen, Glasgow.

All the services provided by the Department for National Savings have been under examination as part of the Government's comprehensive review of options for reducing Civil Service staff costs. No decisions have yet been taken.

Pension Funds

20.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what assessment he has made of the outflow of sterling consequent on the ability of pension funds to invest freely overseas.

Pension funds can make their own judgments as to how far to invest abroad. Some outflows are to be expected, but their size and timing cannot be predicted. They will yield an income in the future.

Departmental Staff (Powers Of Entry)

21.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he is satisfied with the existing powers of search and entry into private homes and business premises available to the Inland Revenue and Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

The Inland Revenue must have adequate powers to prevent and detect tax evasion. Similarly, Her Majesty's Customs and Excise require sufficient power to safeguard the revenue and prevent smuggling. We have, however, undertaken to review these powers.

Value Added Tax

22.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what discussion his Department has had with the European Commission to try to obtain a uniform system of taxation for value added tax on British bloodstock; and if he will make a statement.

As my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State stated in his reply to the question by my right hon. Friend the Member for Taunton (Mr. du Cann) on 1 November, it is clear from letters received by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer from the President of the Commission and from Commissioner Burke that the Commission shares our view that certain of the French and Irish practices in regard to their VAT treatment of bloodstock and training services are not in conformity with Community VAT law. We have also been assured that the Commission's view has been conveyed to the French and Irish representatives.

30.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider making Churches and other registered charities exempt from value added tax.

No. The purely charitable and voluntary work of Churches and other charities is regarded as outside the scope of the tax and this has the same effect as exemption. There are also certain reliefs from the tax by zero-rating provisions which assist charities; but further reliefs of this kind would not be justified in the context of a broadly based tax.

31.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his current forecast of the yield from value added tax for 1979–80.

The Budget estimate was £8,325 million. It is not the practice to revise Budget estimates.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he proposes to raise the value added tax threshold limit to £20,000 annual turnover.

Mr. Peter Rees