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Written Answers

Volume 974: debated on Wednesday 21 November 1979

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 21 November 1979

Public Security

asked the Prime Minister how many persons were questioned as a result of suspicions aroused in the light of the Burgess-Maclean affair; how many of these worked in the Civil Service; what action was taken as a result of these questionings; and how many persons were asked to leave the Civil Service.

Thorough investigations were undertaken following the defection of Burgess and Maclean and many interviews of public servants and members of the public took place. Not all those questioned were themselves under suspicion and it would not be in the public interest to give numbers. A number of people left the public service, or were transferred to work which did not involve access to classified information. I am satisfied that all appropriate steps were taken to safeguard national security.

asked the Prime Minister if she will publish the guidelines currently operated by the security services in respect of their relations with ministers.

Relations between the security service and the Prime Minister and Home Secretary are as set out in paragraphs 238 to 241 of Lord Denning's report—Cmnd. 2152—of September 1963.

Civil Service

Her Majesty's Stationery Office (Cash Limit)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if there has been any increase in the cash limit of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

HMSO's cash limit has recently been increased by £7·5 million to £114·3 million. This increase reflects substantial increases in prices for supplies purchased by HMSO, partly offset by reductions in departmental demands for HMSO's goods and services.

Wales

Royal National Eisteddfod

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what change is proposed in the WO2 cash limit to enable financial assistance to be provided for the Royal National Eisteddfod of Wales.

The WO2 cash limit has been increased by £70,000 to £441,971,000, which takes into account the adjustment of an error in Cmnd. 7604. This change involves no additional public expenditure as the amount has been met from within the planned total of public expenditure within my responsibility. As I indicated in my answer to my hon. Friend the Member for Brecon and Radnor (Mr. Hooson) on 26 October, a Supplementary Estimate will be presented to Parliament in due course.—[Vol. 972, c. 314.]

Home Department

Prisoners (Costs)

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what it will cost at the present rate to keep in prison the four men recently sentenced at Stafford crown court for the murder of Carl Bridgewater; and, on the assumption that the average increase costs of keeping a prisoner in prison during the past five years continues in the future, to what extent the costs will rise on the assumption that in each instance these men are imprisoned for the full period of their sentence.

Two men and a youth were convicted of the murder of Carl Bridgewater; one man was convicted of manslaughter. The two men were sentenced to life imprisonment with a recommendation that they be detained for a minimum of 25 years; it cannot be assumed that they will be released in 25 years' time. The youth was sentenced to be detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.Based on an estimate of the total expenditure in England and Wales on prisons in 1978–79, the average annual cost of keeping a person in prison is about £5,800. The average annual rise in these costs over the past five years has been around 17 per cent. But bearing in mind the preponderance of fixed costs in a prison service dealing with a population of some 42,000 it would not be meaningful to use this figure—with or without any hypothetical assumptions on inflation—as a basis for calculating the additional cost of keeping four extra prisoners for any specific period.

Criminal Records

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if all records of convicted criminals are kept at Scotland Yard; who has access to them and under what circumstances; if any records are kept at local police stations; and, if so, who has access to them and under what circumstances.

The national criminal record office at New Scotland Yard maintains the only complete record of all persons in the United Kingdom who have been convicted of a recordable offence—broadly, an offence for which an adult could be sentenced to imprisonment. Records are also kept by police forces: depending on local practice, they may be held at force headquarters, local police stations or the regional criminal record office. Direct access to criminal records is confined to police officers and civilian staff employed in the police service, and information is disclosed primarily to assist in the prevention and investigation of crime and in the sentencing of offenders.

Italian Tourist (Conviction)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will recommend a pardon for the Italian tourist who was attacked by three hooligans and fined £25 for carrying a defensive gas canister which he had brought from Italy where it is legal to use such weapons for self-defence; and whether he will consider introducing a law to permit such a defence to be carried by peaceful citizens in the United Kingdom.

"No", to both parts of the question; such canisters can too easily be used for offensive purposes.

Crime (Staffordshire)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what increase or decrease there has been in the past year in the county of Staffordshire in (a) crime generally, (b) crimes of violence, and (c) burglary, distinguishing between crimes committed by juveniles and those committed by adults.

The numbers of indictable offences recorded by the police by type of offence and by police force area, including Staffordshire, are published annually in "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales", table 32 of the volume for 1978, Cmnd. 7670, but the age of offender is known only for those who are found guilty or cautioned. Information on persons found guilty or cautioned by age group, offence group and police force area is also given in the publication for 1978 (tables 3(b), 3(c), 7(b), 7(c). 35(b) and 35(c)).

Wymott Prison, Leyland

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the maximum sentence that can be served at Her Majesty's prison, Wymott, Leyland; and if he will consider extending this period to cover sentences of up to three years.

Wymott prison is expected to be fully used accommodating prisoners serving up to 18 months' imprisonment and it is not proposed to exceed that period.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners Her Majesty's prison, Wymott, Leyland, can house; how many are at present in occupation there; and why it is so grossly underoccupied.

The certified normal accommodation figure is 816; on 16 November the population was 243. The build-up of population in a new prison is a gradual process which has been extended at Wymott primarily by the general shortage of prison officers.

Prison Officers (Hull)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if any of those prison officers convicted of assaulting prisoners at Hull have been reinstated in the prison service; and, if so, where.

Firearms And Shotguns

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the recent incident concerning the murder of Carl Bridgewater, he will introduce legislation to seek to make it an offence, punishable by life imprisonment, to have a gun or sawn-off shotgun without a current licence.

No. As the law stands, the maximum penalty for possession of a sawn-off shotgun is five years' imprisonment; for possessing a firearm with criminal intent, 14 years' imprisonment; and for carrying a firearm with intent to resist arrest or with intent to injure, life imprisonment. The tragic death of Carl Bridgewater resulted in two sentences of life imprisonment and one of detention during Her Majesty's pleasure for murder; and a sentence of 12 years' imprisonment for manslaughter.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if he will publish in the Official Report a list of the numbers of (a) new certificates, (b) certificates cancelled, (c) applications refused (d) certificates in force at the end of the year in relation to (i) firearms and (ii) shotguns as issued for each police area in England and Wales for the years 1976, 1977 and 1978;(2) if he will publish in the

Official Report the number of firearms registered or the total of certificates for firearms in force at the end of the year in each police area in England and Wales for the years 1976, 1977 and 1978.

Such information is not recorded centrally for England and Wales, and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost.

Children (Departmental Responsibilities)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list his Department's responsibilities relating to children and the statutes from which these arise showing which branch or division within his Department and which Minister deals with each of these responsibilities; who is responsible for co-ordinating the various responsibilities relating to children within his Department; and who is responsible for co-ordinating his responsibilities for children with those of other Departments.

Several of the Department's responsibilities, such as immigration, licensing laws, and safety regulations, affect children as well as adults. Those which primarily concern children and the main statutes under which they arise are as follows:

Constitution powers and procedures of juvenile courts—
Children and Young Persons Acts 1933, 1963 and 1969.
Setting up and management of junior attendance centres—
Criminal Justice Act 1948.
Guardianship, affiliation and matrimonial proceedings in magistrates' courts—
  • Guardianship of Minors Acts 1971 and 1973.
  • Affiliation Proceedings Act 1957.
  • Matrimonial Proceedings (Magistrates' Courts) Act 1960.
  • Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Courts Act 1978.
Enforcement of maintenance orders in Commonwealth countries and South Africa—
  • Maintenance Orders (Facilities for Enforcement) Act 1920.
  • Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972, Part I.
Processing of maintenance claims with certain United Nations countries—
Maintenance Orders (Reciprocal Enforcement) Act 1972, Part II.
Implementation of the Domestic Proceedings and Magistrates' Court Act 1978 and parts of the Children Act 1975.
Magistrates' courts legislation relating to children and young persons.
The Criminal law in relation to offences by or against children.
Precaution at sea and airports to prevent the unlawful removal abroad of children.
These matters are all dealt with in the criminal justice and policy departments which come under my general responsibility. In addition, the prison department is responsible for borstals and detention centres in which young persons under 17 years may be detained and for the allocation of those detained under section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933. The responsibility for co-ordination varies according to the particular matters at issue.

Vietnamese Refugees

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many of the boat people have been received to date into Great Britain from Hong Kong (a) into the reception centres and (b) into permanent homes; how many he expects to receive in November and December; and when he now estimates that the Government will have received into the United Kingdom the full quota agreed at the Geneva conference.

I understand from the joint committee for refugees from Vietnam that during the months February to October inclusive the refugees from camps in Hong Kong received into reception centres in this country numbered about 1,530 and the number of such refugees who went direct to permanent homes on their arrival here was about 30. About 1,500 refugees are expected to have arrived from Hong Kong during the period 1 November end December. It is not yet possible to say when the quota agreed at the Geneva conference will all have arrived.

Bedfordshire (Police Recruiting)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how successful the Bedfordshire police force has been in recruiting since the Edmund-Davies award.

Average monthly recruitment to the Bedfordshire police since 1 September 1978 has been 40 per cent. above the average before that date. The force's strength has increased by 55 to 904 on 31 October 1979, leaving 43 vacancies on its authorised establishment.

Non-Violent Criminals

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he will take to implement the May committee's recommendation of shorter sentences for non-violent criminals.

I have welcomed and will continue to support, for non-violent offenders, the committee's advocacy of shorter sentences. Implementation of the recommendation must primarily be for the courts in determining individual sentences.

Prisoners (Complaints Procedures)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the present procedures for dealing with allegations of maltreatment of prisoners by prison staff.

Departmental Staff

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current number of civil servants employed in the nationality division of his Department, giving comparable figures for the previous three years.

Following is the information:

STAFF IN POST ON 1 NOVEMBER
1976200
1977186
1978190
1979194
The 1976 figure includes staff who had been added temporarily to the division to consider applications for registration as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies from nationals of Pakistan under the provisions of the Pakistan Act 1973.

Immigrants (Medical Examination)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the review of medical examinations in connection with immigration control to be completed.

I cannot yet give a date. I shall inform the House when conclusions are reached.

Prison Officers (Training)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the high proportion of prisoners who have mental illness records, he will take steps to ensure that prison officers have some form of training in psychiatric nursing.

Prison officers' initial training includes advice and instruction on handling difficult and disturbed prisoners. Where further training is necessary this is arranged on an ad hoc basis by governors and prison medical officers.

Finer Report (Implementation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which recommendations of the Finer report his Department has implemented to date.

Of the recommendations listed in pages 492–519 of the Finer report which touch on my Department's responsibilities, those numbered 41, 52 and 225 have been implemented either in whole or in part. Recommendation 53 has been accepted in principle and will be implemented when resources permit.

Gaming And Amusement Machines

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will take steps to bring pay-outs on amusement-with-prizes machines in public houses more in line with the pay-outs available on gaming machines in working men's clubs.

The Royal Commission on gambling recommended that machines in public houses should be able to offer prizes in cash to the value of £1. I shall bear this recommendation in mind when there is an opportunity for legislation.

Transport

Jubilee Line

41.

asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the Government's intentions with regard to the Jubilee line.

The examination of the lower cost options is continuing and I expect to make a statement in due course.

Nuclear Waste (Transport)

asked the Minister of Transport (1) whether he will give the reasons why he will not agree to set up an independent inquiry into all aspects of the movement of nuclear waste through highly industrialised and populated areas such as London, and to ascertain to what extent the present safety precautions are satisfactory:(2) whether, in view of the recent events which occurred at Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, details of which have been supplied to him, he will review the whole question of the transport of nuclear waste through Stratford, East London, due to the danger in the event of an accident; and whether he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to my answers to his previous questions given on Thursday 8, Friday 9 and Thursday 15 about the safety precautions taken in the transport of irradiated nuclear fuel. [Vol. 973, c. 2723, 340–1 and 774–5.] The Government will certainly be considering what lessons may be learnt from the Mississauga accident which did not, of course, involve radioactive material. But I see no justification for a special review of the present arrangements for transporting irradiated nuclear fuels in this country.

Rail Network (Scotland)

asked the Minister of Transport what advice he has given to the British Railways Board about the future size of the railway network in Scotland.

I have written to the chairman to make it clear that it is my firm policy that there should be no substantial cuts in the passenger rail network. A copy of that letter is in the Library of the House.

Tachograph

asked the Minister of Transport what effect the proposed introduction of the tachograph will have on vehicle operators in rural parts of Scotland where the narrow roads and heavy traffic restrict the vehicle speed, causing additional costs to the vehicle owners.

The introduction of tachographs will simply alter the method of recording drivers' hours of work and rest, and should not therefore affect the position of vehicle operators.

asked the Minister of Transport what steps he is now proposing to take following his consultations with the industry on the introduction of the tachograph.

I have now completed my consultations with the industry on the draft proposals which were published by my Department on 26 September. I shall very shortly be laying my final proposals before Parliament. These will take account of the views expressed on the consultation draft. In particular, within the two-year period which I have agreed with the European Commission for implementing the judgment of the European Court of Justice in this matter, the phasing programme will be modified as follows:

Class of Vehicles and Date

  • Vehicles registered on or after 1 December 1979 1 April 1980
  • Vehicles first registered on or after 1 August 1979 but before 1 December 1979 1 June 1980
  • Vehicles first registered on or after 1 August 1978 but before 1 August 1979 1 October 1980.
  • Vehicles first registered on or after 1 August 1977 but before 1 August 1978 1 January 1981
  • Vehicles first registered on or after 1 August 1976 but before 1 August 1977 1 March 1981.
  • Vehicles first registered on or after 1 August 1975 but before 1 August 1976 1 May 1981
  • Vehicles first registered on or after 1 August 1973 but before 1 August 1975 1 August 1981
  • Vehicles first registered before 1 August 1973 31 December 1981

Buchan Freight Line

asked the Minister of Transport if he will meet the representatives of all parties interested in the Buchan freight line with a view to discussing aid for the retention of this line under the Industry Act 1972.

No. Rail services provided by the British Railways Board do not qualify for financial assistance under the Industry Act 1972; the Buchan line is therefore ineligible for grant under this Act.

Roads (Expenditure)

asked the Minister of Transport, in view of the 23 per cent. underspending in the English motorways and trunk road construction programme in 1978–79, what proportion of the budget is expected to be underspent in (a) the current year and (b) 1980–81.

For 1979–80 the cash limit, which applies to construction and maintenance expenditure together, will be the controlling factor. I have no reason at this stage to expect that expenditure will fall short of it or of the 1980–81 provision for these items in Cmnd. 7746. But I am keeping the balance between construction and maintenance under review.

asked the Minister of Transport what estimate has been made of the effects of cuts in road spending in current and future financial years on unemployment in the construction industry.

The employment effects of the revised figures for roads expenditure should not be measured against the previous Government's plans, which were not realistic. The present provision for motorway and trunk road construction and maintenance expenditure should lead to small increases in employment this year and next compared with 1978–79. It is too early to be certain what levels of local authority expenditure will be but if there is any fall in employment on local roads I would not expect it to do more than broadly offset the increased expenditure on this Department's roads.

asked the Minister of Transport what proportion of total expenditure on programmes the roads and transport budget represents.

Public expenditure on roads and transport in 1980–81 is expected to be between 4 per cent. and 5 per cent. of total expenditure on programmes.

asked the Minister of Transport what proportion the reduction in the roads and transport programme in 1980–81, as compared with 1979–80, represents of the total reduction in expenditure on programmes in those years.

The reduction in roads and transport expenditure in 1980–81 as compared with 1979–80 represents about 20 per cent. of the total reduction on programmes in those years. Since the Government's expenditure plans for 1980–81 provide for growth in some programmes, more than proportionate reductions have to be made in other services, including transport.

Road Accidents

asked the Minister of Transport, since 28 per cent. of all road accidents are caused by deficiencies in the road environment, what effect the reduction in road maintenance standards on trunk roads, other than motorways, is likely to have on accident involvement of goods vehicles.

The hon. Member appears to have misinterpreted the results of a Transport and Road Research Laboratory study. What it showed was that while only 2½ per cent. of accidents were caused solely by road conditions, when road user and vehicle condition were added these three factors then combined to cause 28 per cent. of accidents.I assure the hon. Member that road safety will continue to be a major consideration in determining the level of investment in the maintenance of trunk roads.

Driving Tests (Disabled Persons)

asked the Minister of Transport what representations he has had from disablement organisations about the problems of long delays in securing driving tests, particularly for those changing from the invalid tricycle to a four-wheeled car; and if he will take steps to alleviate this situation.

We can trace no representations from organisations for the disabled on this matter. But special arrangements are made to give disabled people priority in obtaining driving test appointments. If an explanatory letter is sent with the application, a disabled candidate is fitted into the earliest suitable appointment which arises as a result of a cancellation.

Motorways (Power Supply)

asked the Minister of Transport (1) for how long a section of the M4 motorway was left without signals or emergency telephones following the power failure commencing on Sunday 11 November;(2) what arrangements for alternative power supplies are available to ensure the continued functioning of motorway signals and emergency telephones when the primary power source fails.

The telephones were out of order, not because of a power failure, for a period of about 58 hours which included Sunday 11 November. Arrangements do exist for an emergency power supply but it will not necessarily operate all signals. I shall write to my hon. Friend with further information dealing with this failure and the emergency procedures available.

Prosecution Policy

46.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what instructions he is giving to the procurator fiscal service regarding prosecution policy in the light of the Scottish crime figures for 1978.

As the hon. Member will be aware, the trend in crime rose to a peak in 1977 but fell over the next year. There are at present no plans to give fresh instructions to the procurator fiscal service regarding prosecution policy in the light of the Scottish crime figures for 1978. However, it should not be thought that the procurator fiscal service is complacent as a result of these figures. There will be no slackening of the effort to bring offenders to justice.

Education And Science

Pupil Costs

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average annual cost per pupil for materials and tools, respectively, in the craft subjects of woodwork, metal work and pottery in primary and secondary schools.

This information is not available as the returns of annual expenditure which local authorities are required to submit to central Government do not differentiate between materials and equipment used for different subjects.

University Entrants

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his analysis of the reasons for the discrepancy between the percentage of school leavers from selective and from non-selective schools who enter university, as given in the reply to the hon. Member for Northampton, North, Official Report, 26 October, column 316.

There are many factors underlying the differences between the figures given to my hon. Friend recently. For example, the widening difference in the percentages over time, in part, could be due to the fact that the changeover to comprehensive schools has proceeded at a slower rate for grammar schools, particularly those which are voluntary-aided, than for modern schools, with the result that the spread of abilities in selective schools taken together—that is, both grammar and modern—has become

ENGLAND AND WALES: TEACHING STAFF EMPLOYED BY LOCAL FDUCAIION AUTHORITIES IN THE MAINTAINED SCHOOL SECTOR (FULL-TIME AND FULL-TIME FQUIVALENT OF PART-TIME)
Thousands
Nursery, primary & secondary school sectorSpecial school sector*Total: maintained school sector
(Feb)19602795284
(Feb) 19703548362
(Jan) 197746218480
(Jan) 197947119490
* Because of the transfer of responsibility in 1971 for the teaching of mentally handicapped children from local health authorities to local education authorities the figures for 1960 and 1970 in this column are on a narrower basis than those for 1977 and 1979.
Available information for teaching staff is as follows:
NON-TEACHING STAFF EMPLOYED BY LOCAL EDUCATION AUTHORITIES IN THE MAINTAINED SCHOOL SECTOR* (FULL-TIME AND FULL-TIME EQUIVALENT OF PART-TIME IN JANUARY 1977)
AdvisersAdmin. & Clerical ‡Educational supportPremises relatedKitchen staff and mid-day supervisorsOther†Total
3,60047,20049,30079,300139,40016,500335,300
* Including staff dealing with the administration and inspection of sectors of education other than schools (notably further education). Excluding (a) the local authority administration and technical staff who work in departments other than education; and (b) certain other staff such as groundsmen and some premises maintenance staff in respect of whom expenditure may be charged to educational departments.
† Including 1,700 catering staff in Boarding Special Schools.
‡ Employed in central offices22,650
Employed in schools22,250
Employed in the school meals service2,300
47,200

biased towards the more able pupil. Among other factors are the socioeconomic background of the pupils and local attitudes to further education.

Maintained Schools (Staff)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will publish figures to 1960, 1970, and the latest year available, showing the total number of people employed in the maintained school sector, and distinguishing between teaching staff, administrative or clerical staff, kitchen staff/mid-day supervisors and other workers.

Information on both teaching and non-teaching staff is available for January 1977 at which time there were 815,000 people—full-time and full-time equivalent of part-time—employed by local education authorities in the maintained school sector in England and Wales. This includes 480,000 teaching staff and 335,000 non-teaching staff.Available information for non-teaching staff is as follows:

School Meals

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, if he will list the level of public expenditure on the provision of school meals in Great Britain and in each of the EEC member nations.

Net expenditure on the school meals service in England and Wales in 1978–79 was £400 million. The school meals service in Scotland is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland. I have no information about expenditure on the school meals service in other EEC countries.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many school meals were served in each of the last five years, and to date in 1979; and what percentage of their costs was paid out of public funds.

Thousands
Total teachers (full-time and full-time equivalent of part-time)Head teachers (included in total)
Nursery, primary and secondary sector470·628·8
Special education sector19·51·6
Total (maintained school sector)490·130·4
Notes:
1. The total numbers of teachers are obtained from the Form 618G return which is completed by local education authorities. The numbers of head teachers are taken from returns by individual schools to my Department and to the Welsh Office.
2. The numbers of teachers on a head count basis, i.e. not reducing part-time teachers to a full-time equivalent basis, are:
Thousands
Full-timePart-timeTotal
Nursery, primary and secondary sector453·737·6491·3
Special education sector18·72·020·7
Total (maintained school sector)472·439·6512·0
3. Special education includes unattached special units for handicapped children and education provided otherwise than at school under section 56 of the Education Act 1944 as well as special schools.

Scottish Universities (Overseas Students)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, how many overseas students are studying at each Scottish university; and what are their countries of origin.

The information for England Wales is as follows:

YearMeals (millions)Percentage of cost met from public funds
1974–751,15169·9
1975–761,20369·7
1976–771,16674·1
1977–781,03469·6
1978–791,10167·1

Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, excluding further and higher education, what is the total number of teachers and head teachers employed in the service in the current year.

Information about the number of teachers employed in the current school year will be available shortly. Excluding further and higher education, the number of teachers employed by LEAs in England and Wales in January 1979 was:

The attached table gives the total number of overseas students at each Scottish university for 1977–78, the latest year for which information is available.The table lists countries for which there was a minimum of 10 students at at least one university.

OVERSEAS STUDENTS IN SCOTTISH UNIVERSITIES 1977–78

Country of Domicile

Aberdeen

Dundee

Edinburgh

Glasgow

Heriot-Watt

St. Andrews

Strathclyde

Stirling

Scotland Total

Australia1338
Canada21542537158
Ghana121235
Hong Kong36182722119
India102253
Kenya131151
Lesotho1012
Malaya211220
Malaysia*5063401216122361
Mauritius1441
Nigeria1521191658148
Singapore1136132199
Brazil1232
Chile1228
West Germany14241886
Greece11191939115015171
Iceland1830
Iran1715201417120113
Iraq3615261366177
Japan1123
Jordan1533
Mexico132339
Norway159416143
Pakistan1656
Zimbabwe Rhodesia1757
Saudi Arabia1433
Sudan1026131574
Egypt1372
United States of America51212221110639450
Venezuela1736
Other including not known195144289173102166225132861
Total3993498685663613098892083,949

* Students not allocated separately to Malaya,Sabah or Sarawak.

† The totals for each country include students at universities where there were fewer than 10 students from the country

School Curriculum

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what is his policy on the inclusion in the school curriculum of training in swimming, cycling and life-saving; and whether these are likely to be affected by cutbacks in educational expenditure;(2) whether lessons in road and home safety and accident prevention are being restricted as a result of cuts in educational expenditure.

My right hon. and learned Friend regards adequate provision of appropriate physical education and safety education as important, but the curriculum in individual schools is a matter for local decision. It should be possible for the bulk of the necessary savings in educational expenditure to be made in areas not directly concerned with teaching.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the overall effect that cuts in public expenditure will have on safety in schools.

Reductions in planned expenditure by local education authorities will not affect their statutory responsibility to ensure safe working conditions for pupils and staff in schools.

Nursery Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek to amend the Education Act 1944 so as to place a duty on local' authorities to provide nursery education for those who request it.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many nursery schools and classes he expects will close in 1980.

Any figures given would be pure speculation. It is a matter for each local authority to determine how best to effect the necessary reductions in expenditure across the whole range of services it provides. Although the rate support grant settlement for 1980–81 assumes that expenditure on nursery education provision will be maintained broadly at the present level, provision has been made for a small nursery education building programme to provide about 2,000 places enable those authorities who wish to do so to increase their nursery education provision.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will issue guidance to those local authorities who have no nursery schools or classes available but who are responsible for children who have been recommended for nursery places for special reasons.

No. My right hon. and learned Friend has no present plans to issue such guidance. Many local authorities which have little or no nursery education provision as such nevertheless make other arrangements for the care of pre-school children by providing various kinds of centre or by support to voluntary groups.

Absenteeism

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has held discussions with the Society of Education Officers on the subject of absenteeism in schools generally; what was the level of absenteeism in Staffordshire schools for the years 1976, 1977 and 1978 in percentage and real terms; whether the trend for 1979 on the figures thus far available show an upward or downward trend; and what is the percentage of absenteeism in (a) Lichfield, (b) Tamworth and (c) Burntwood for the current year.

My right hon. and learned Friend met representatives of the Society of Education Officers in August, but absenteeism in schools was not on the agenda. Detailed information on absenteeism is not collected by this Department. My hon. Friend, however, might like to get in touch with Staffordshire local education authority.

Employment

Long-Term Unemployment

asked the Secretary of State for Employment, further to his reply to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North, Official Report, 9 July, whether he is satisfied that sufficient supervision and guidance is given to the long-term unemployed; and if he will consider introducing more frequent interviews, with more emphasis on training or retraining as well as increasing the job opportunities under the special temporary employment programme.

The Manpower Services Commission has recently published a comprehensive review of the aims, objectives and priorities of the public employment service in which proposals are made for improving advisory and guidance services for unemployed people and other job seekers. These proposals are now being considered.Great emphasis is placed by the public employment service on bringing training opportunities to the attention of all job-seekers including the long term unemployed. Trained employment advisers identify potentially suitable applicants and this is backed up by extensive marketing and publicity. Over 90 per cent. of applicants for courses under the training opportunities scheme are made through jobcentres and employment offices. The special temporary employment programme is now being concentrated on the areas of greatest need and more exclusively on helping the long term unemployed. Provisions under this programme for 1980–81 is now being reviewed.

Wages Councils

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what purposes wages councils now serve; and if he will reconsider their relevance to present conditions.

Wages councils, which were first set up in 1909, make statutory wage orders determining minimum pay, holidays and other terms and conditions for workers they cover, in industries where there is no adequate machinery for collective bargaining. Councils are merged or abolished from time to time and I am always prepared to consider the case for this.

Textile Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total numbers of employees and how many are estimated to be on short-time in the Lancashire cotton, man-made fibre, spinning textile sector, taking cotton and man-made fibres separately.

At June 1976, the latest date for which employment figures are available for these areas, there were 32,000 employees in employment in the counties of Lancashire and Greater Manchester in the spinning and doubling on the cotton and flax systems industry—minimum list heading 412 of the Standard Industrial Classification. The corresponding figures for Great Britain is 51,200.Statistics of short-time working in single industries are available only for the whole of Great Britain. At 4 August 1979, there were 42,600 employees in employment in the industry and the number on short-time during the week ending 4 August was 200.Separate figures for cotton and man-made fibres are not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many mills have closed down in the Lancashire cotton, man-made fibre, spinning textile sector, taking cotton and man-made fibres separately.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that a total of 12 mills, 8 cotton and 4 man-made fibre, classified under minimum list heading 412 of the Standard Industrial Classification confirmed their intention to close between 1 November 1978 and 31 October 1979.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many employees have been made redundant in the Lancashire cotton, man-made fibre, spinning textile sector, taking cotton and man-made fibres separately.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that during the 12-month period to the end of October 1979, 3,669 redundancies were confirmed as having occurred in Great Britain in the sector covered by minimum list heading 412 of the Standard Industrial Classification—spinning and doubling on the cotton and flax systems. 1,223 of these redundancies were in the cotton sector and 2,446 in man-made fibres.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many workers have experienced short-time working during 1979 in the Lancashire cotton, woven fabric industry, taking cotton and man-made fibres separately.

Statistics of short-time working in particular industries are available only for the whole of Great Britain and for a selected week in each month. During the period January to August 1979 the average number on short-time in those weeks in the weaving of cotton, linen and man-made fibres industry—minimum list heading 413 of the Standard Industrial Classification—was about 150. Separate figures for cotton and man-made fibres are not available.

Weekly Earnings

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage increase in the average net weekly earnings of manual and non-manual workers in Great Britain would be necessary to raise them to the average net weekly earnings of (a) the highest paid director among the United Kingdom's top 100 companies, (b) a field marshal in the Army and (c) the members of the EEC Commission; and what are the total numbers of directors to the 100 top companies, field marshals, in the Army and members of the EEC Commission.

Figures on the basis set out in the notes below are as follows:

Percentage increase to bring the average net (1) weekly earnings of (a) manual and (b) non-manual employees to the corresponding earnings of:
(a)(b)
The highest paid director (2)3,0302,551
A field marshal of the Army (3)350281
A member of the European Commission (4)684564

Notes

(1) Net earnings will of course depend on the personal circumstances of an individual. For the purpose of these calculations it has been assumed that gross earnings are reduced in respect of national insurance contributions for a person not contracted out of the national insurance pension scheme, and in respect of 1979–80 tax rates and allowances applicable to a married man.

Average gross weekly earnings of full-time men whose pay was not affected by absence in April 1979 were £93 and £113 for manual and non-manual employees respectively (New Earnings Survey).

(2) Based on gross earnings of £272,672 per annum shown in the Guinness Book of Records.

(3) Based on basic full-time salary, before allowances, as at 1 April 1979 of £27,936 per annum.

(4) Based on basic salary, excluding entertainment allowances, and so on, of 255,864 Belgian francs—approximately £4,870—per month as at December 1978 (European Committees Commission Information Office).

The top 100 companies have about 1,400 directors. There are no active field marshals on full pay, although seven who are retired receive half pay. Excluding the president and four vice-presidents who receive a higher salary than an ordinary member, there are eight members of the European Commission.

Premises (Right Of Entry)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that the right to privacy is sufficiently protected in the present law in so far as it permits officials to enter premises under section 135 of the Factories Act 1961.

Yes. The number of cases covered by this section is minimal and it has not been necessary to use these powers since January 1975.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that the right of privacy is sufficiently protected in the present law in so far as it permits officials to enter premises under the Baking Industry (Hours of Work) Act 1954.

Yes. There have been no routine inspections since 1970 because practically all firms have been subject to exemption under section 9 of the Act. During that period a very small number of complaints have been investigated under section 6(2) for the purpose of establishing the facts.

Job Creation (West Yorkshire)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons were benefiting from each of the various employment subsidy and short-time working schemes in West Yorkshire, classified by industry of employment, at the latest available date.

The information requested is given in the schedule below, for 31 October 1979.

Temporary short time compensation scheme

Small firms employment subsidy

Adult employment subsidy

Temporary employment subsidy

Short time working compensation scheme

Jobs introduction scheme

1. Agriculture forestry, fishing
2. Mining and quarrying
3. Food drink and tobacco24180204
4. Coal and petroleum products1010
5. Chemicals and allied industries90191
6. Metal manufacture2020
7. Mechanical engineering80270453407
8. Instrument engineering3078108
9. Electrical engineering150150
10. Shipbuilding and marine engineering2020
11. Vehicles30131
12. Metal goods not elsewhere specified380114395
13. Textiles3,72045040537114,947
14. Leather leather goods and fur20929
15. Clothing and footwear168590314775
16. Bricks pottery glass, cement etc601162
17. Timber furniture etc20390130441
18. Paper, printing and publishing140140
19. Other manufacturing industries15030180
20. Construction33336
21. Gas, electricity and water
22. Transport and communication11
23. Distributive trades4119123
24. Insurance, banking, finance and business services
25. Professional and scientific services213
26. Miscellaneous services77
Totals4,0122,9802978537138,180

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons were benefiting from the short-time working compensation scheme in West Yorkshire in each month since May.

The number of persons benefiting from the temporary short time working compensation scheme, in West Yorkshire, in each month since May was as follows:

MonthNumber of jobs at risk of redundancyNumber of employees working short-time to cover the redundancies
May7332,555
June1,4473,821
July1,8494,931
August1,9194,480
September3,0247,141
October4,0128,962

Industrial Disputes

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many days were lost in industrial disputes in the six months ended 1 May; and how many days were lost in the six months period ended 31 October.

8·9 million working days were lost in industrial stoppages in the six months ended 30 April 1979. For the five months ended 30 September 1979, the figure is 17·2 million, three-quarters of which is accounted for by the recent engineering strike. Figures for October are not yet available.

Retraining

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will set out the ratio of people going into employment on completion of training on courses under schemes for retraining.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the employment position of course completers under the training opportunities scheme is the subject of a regular sample survey undertaken three months following course completion.Of adults completing TOPS training during the 1978–79 fiscal year. 70 per cent. were in employment three months following their course completion. The ratio differs quite substantially as between regions of Great Britain and as between types of training and training institutions.

Health And Safety

asked the Secretary of State for Employment in how many cases of death which appeared to have arisen out of industrial employment were coroners' inquests held in England and Wales and sheriffs' inquiries held in Scotland during the period 1976 to 1978; how many such deaths were attributable to (a) industrial accidents, (b) industrial poisonings, (c) industrial diseases, other than cancer, and (d) industrial cancers; and how many inquests and inquiries were attended by one of Her Majesty's inspectors of health and safety.

[pursuant to his reply, 25 October 1979, c. 265–57]: I am advised by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department that statistics are not available for the number of inquests held in England and Wales for the period 1976 to 1978 in the cases of deaths arising out of industrial employment. The only statistics available relate to the number of inquests held in cases of deaths arising from all types of industrial disease and are as follows:

YearNumber of inquests*
1976784
1977784
1978764
* Deaths arising from all types of industrial disease.
My hon. and learned Friend the Solicitor-General for Scotland advises me that there are no figures available for the number of sheriffs' inquiries, arising out of industrial employment, held in Scotland in the period 1976–78, and I refer the hon. Member to the written answer given to his earlier question on 12 July 1979.—[Vol. 970, c.

253–55.] I am further advised that the following table shows the number of fatal accident inquiries held, and the total number of deaths reported to the procurator fiscal in Scotland, for the period 1976 to 1978:

Year

Number of fatal accident inquiries

Deaths reported to the procurator fisca

19761968,250
19772367,950
197823910,980

It is not known in how many cases where coroners' inquests or sheriffs' inquiries were held, deaths were attributable to ( a) industrial accidents, ( b)

industrial poisonings, ( c) industrial diseases, other than cancer, and ( d) industrial cancers.

The only information available on the lines of the categories specified covers

Cause of death

1976

1977

1978

*

Industrial accident788737

8

Industrial Poisonings452
Other Industrial disease633619

42

Industrial cancers112111

66

* Figures for 1978 awards of industrial death benefit are provisional at this stage and will be revised upwards later in the year.

I am informed by the chairman of the Health and Safety Commission that 1977 and 1978 are the earliest years for which total attendances at coroners' inquests and sheriffs' inquiries have been recorded by all of Her Majesty's inspectorates of health and safety. The total attendances are as follows:

Year

Number of inquests and inquiries attended

1977431
1978461

European Community—United Kingdom (Balance Of Trade)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will circulate in the Official Report a table showing how many jobs would be created if the adverse balance of trade between the United Kingdom and the EEC Six could be eliminated as a result of a reduction in imports of (a) iron and steel, (b) motor cars, (c) commercial vehicles, (d) clothing and textiles and (e) mechanical engineering products, assuming that the output per head in each industry remained the same as at present.

[pursuant to his reply, 15 November 1979, c. 734]: No. The United Kingdom is a world trading nation and it would not be practicable to break down the balance of trade in individual sectors in employment terms without also estimating the effects on jobs of any likely retaliation by our trading partners. Our membership of the EEC commits as to free circulation of goods within its countries so the way to reduce imports is to improve the competitiveness and productivity of our own industry.

Escalator Safety

the payment of industrial death benefit to dependants. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Social Services, informs me that, for the period 1976 to 1978, they are as follows:

been made by the Health and Safety Commission in revising its proposals concerning the reporting of accidents caused by escalators.

[pursuant to his reply, 16 November 1979, c. 790]: I refer to the replies given to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker) on 26 July 1979.—[Vol. 971, c. 445–6.]Following the publication of a consultative document containing proposed regulations for the notification of accidents and dangerous occurrences earlier this year, the proposals are now being reviewed in the light of the comments received. It is intended that they will be considered by the Health and Safety Commission in the near future, following which the Commission will be able to advise me on the final form of the regulations and the date on which they should be laid.The proposals contain requirements for the notification of accidents arising out of or in connection with work. I have no plans for further legislation to make accidents on escalators specifically reportable.

Short-Time Working Compensation Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Employment when the present short-time working scheme expires; and if he intends to renew it.

The temporary short-time working compensation scheme is due to close for applications on 31 March 1980. A decision about the future of the scheme will be made as part of the normal annual review of the special employment and training measures, which is now in progress. Decisions will be announced as soon as possible before 31 March 1980.

Employment

Wolverhampton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what the numbers of registered unemployed men, women, boys and girls were in the Wolverhampton employment exchange area

MalesFemales
Aged under 18Aged 18 and overAged under 18Aged 18 and over
12 October 19786394,2488051,834
11 October 19796384,6666592,202

Small Firms

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what meetings he has held with bodies representing small firms during the last six weeks; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply 20 November 1979]: My right hon. Friend and I have had many contacts, both formal and informal, with representatives of organisations concerned with the interests of small firms.Since mid-September those organisations have included:

  • Association of British Chambers of Commerce
  • Confederation of British Industry
  • Engineering Employers' Federation
  • Engineering Industries Council
  • Liverpool Chamber of Commerce
  • Merseyside Local Authorities
  • National Federation of Self-Employed
  • Tyne and Wear County Council
  • Unquoted Companies Group

We are well aware of the contribution which small firms can make to the expansion of employment and have amended and are consulting on proposals for further amendments to departmental legislation with a view to promoting or safeguarding their interests.

Noise Levels

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has any plans to introduce legislation governing the level of noise at discotheques.

[pursuant to his reply, 19 November 1979, c. 6]: The Health and Safety Executive is preparing draft

at the latest date; and how this compares with the corresponding period in 1978.

[pursuant to his reply, 19 November 1979, c. 6]: The following table gives the numbers registered as unemployed in the area covered by the Wolverhampton employment office:proposals for legislation to minimise hearing damage due to noise at work, but these proposals are primarily directed to the protection of persons employed in work activities.The Noise Advisory Council, which keeps under review the progress made generally in preventing and abating the generation of noise and makes recommendations to Ministers with responsibility in the field, has received an evaluation of hearing damage risk to attenders at discotheques carriel out by the Leeds Polytechnic school of constructional studies and is currently considering its implications.

Special Temporary Employment Programme

asked the Secretary of State for Employment, in the light of the forecast made in the House by the Chief Secretary to the Treasury that unemployment may increase by 300,000 in 1980, if he will take steps to strengthen the special temporary employment programme; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 20 November 1979]: The special temporary employment programme, like all the special employment measures, is reviewed annually. The review for 1980–81 is now in progress.

Energy

British National Oil Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he proposes to give the British National Oil Corporation a specific directive limiting its discretion over crude oil pricing.

Anthracite And Phurnacite

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he is going to increase the import quotas for anthracite.

The requirement for imports of solid fuel into the United Kingdom to be individually licensed was removed in 1970. Since then there has been no restriction on solid fuel imports.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what stocks of anthracite and phurnacite are currently available; and why there has been a hold-up in deliveries of these fuels to retailers.

I understand that the National Coal Board is distributing all its supplies of prepared anthracite and of phurnacite as they are available and is not holding back any stocks. Supplies have increased in recent weeks. In addition, supplies of anthracite are being imported either under joint arrangements between the Board and the trade, or by the trade itself.

North Sea Oil (Equipment Subsidies)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list in the Official Report the total amount of subsidies given to national suppliers of equipment to the offshore oil industry since the inception of the scheme; if he will make a statement clarifying the present departmental policy on the continuation of the scheme; what discussions have taken place with representatives of the EEC on this matter; and if he will consider its resumption.

Grants under the offshore supplies interest relief grant scheme have since its inception been available both to companies developing oil and gas resources on the United Kingdom continental shelf and to the United Kingdom suppliers of offshore equipment and services. In practice, however, applications for grants have come only from the offshore operating companies and their consortium members. To date, 34 of these companies have received grants totalling £36 million.

The Government announced on 25 September 1979 that no applications to register contracts placed since 2 July 1979 for grants had been accepted and that the scheme was to be terminated forthwith. Expenditure on contracts registered before that date will continue to be eligible for grant.

There were a number of discussions with the European Commission before the Government decided to terminate the scheme for new contracts with effect from 2 July 1979. This decision followed from legal uncertainty created by the Commission's unwillingness to accept the Government's original intention to unwind the scheme over the period to 31 March 1980.

The Government have no plans to reopen the scheme; nor could they do so in view of the Commission's ruling that the scheme was incompatible with the Treaty of Rome.

Gas Pipelines (Scotland)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement on the adequacy in capacity of gas pipelines transporting Scots natural gas from landing through Scotland and indicate whether the pipeline to Peterhead power station is completed.

I understand that the onshore pipeline capacity in existence and planned will be sufficient to carry all the gas expected to arrive at St. Fergus from both the United Kingdom and Norwegian sectors of the continental shelf for at least the next five years.Shell/Esso have applied for authorisation to construct a pipeline to transport natural gas liquids from St. Fergus to Peterhead power station. Construction has not yet started.

Continental Shelf

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make a statement about the designation of further areas of the United Kingdom continental shelf.

An additional 18,250 sq km of the continental shelf have been designated by Order in Council made on 14 November as areas in which the United Kingdom's rights to the seabed and subsoil and their natural resources are exercisable. The designation order, which is made under section 1(7) of the Continental Shelf Act 1964, covers areas in the northern North Sea. The newly designated areas are adjacent to existing areas.The areas now designated are available to holders of petroleum exploration licences. The designation also increases the area of continental shelf in respect of which my right hon. Friend is to grant petroleum production licences.I have arranged for the designation order and a map showing the newly designated areas to be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Environment

Water Meters

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what the cost of installing water meters in each home in the United Kingdom would be if such a programme were undertaken over the next five years.

In 1975 it was estimated that over a 10-year period it would cost between £650 million and £950 million to install meters in all homes in England and Wales. The figure would clearly be higher now. No estimate is available for the cost of installing meters in homes throughout the whole of the United Kingdom.

Council Houses (Sale)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for each housing authority in England and Wales the number of council house sales since 4 May of this year.

Local authority dwelling sales figures are collected quarterly and it is therefore not possible to provide the information in the form requested.

Water Rates

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many objections the water authorities received to their rates levied in the last year for which figures are available.

This is a matter for individual water authorities. No central records are maintained by the Department.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he proposes to introduce measures to give relief to retirement pensioners in the payment of water rates.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what respresentations he has received from the local authority associations and other bodies objecting to the present method of levying water rates on domestic consumers.

Since May 1979 we have received complaints from two district councils, one ratepayers' association and one residents' association.

Trade Effluents (Yorkshire)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment on what date he is meeting the chairman of the Yorkshire water authority in order to examine the impact of the Water Act 1973 on wool scourers with regard to trade effluents; and when he expects to make a statement on the matter.

I met the chairman on 8 November to discuss further the problems of the wool scourers. I will write to the hon. Member as soon as possible about the outcome.

Rate Support Grant (Staffordshire)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why the Minister for Local Government and Environmental Services has refused to meet hon. Members from Staffordshire to discuss the rate support grant for Staffordshire.

I regret that all requests from hon. Members to discuss the position of particular authorities under the rate support grant have had to be refused in accordance with the normal convention that Ministers do not meet such delegations during the months preceding the rate support grant settlement while the overall balance of the grant distribution is being considered.

Betterment Levy

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many staff in his Department are engaged, whether full-time or part-time, in assessing or collecting betterment levy under part 3 of the Land Commission Act 1967; and what is their annual administrative cost to public funds, including provision for salaries, pensions and administrative costs.

Five officers are engaged full time in the assessment and collection of betterment levy. Separate detailed costings are not maintained but it is estimated that with supervision and support their full administrative costs are at the annual rate of £70,000.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the total number of transactions subject to betterment levy under the Land Commission Act 1967 currently under consideration by his Department; and in how many such cases (a) the assessment is determined, but still unpaid, (b) the assessment is in dispute but still under negotiation, (c) the assessment is the subject of proceedings before the Lands Tribunal or other legal body and (d) a legal decision has been made, but the tax not yet paid.

As at May 1979 there were 660 transactions subject to betterment levy under consideration. Of these

  • (a) 596 were determined assessments still unpaid;
  • (b) 62 were in dispute but still under negotiation;
  • (c) two are the subject of proceedings before the Lands Tribunal;
  • (d) on the basis of a 1978 review, not more than 33 of the determined assessments had been the subject of decision by the Lands Tribunal.
  • asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the amount of betterment levy and interest received by his Department in 1978–79; and what were the assessed costs of collection.

    Levy and interest thereon received in 1978–79 amounted to £190,834. The cost of collecting this amount was met within overall costs of dealing with betterment levy now estimated at £76,700.

    Land Commission

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what was the amount of land previously owned by the Land Commission, and held by his Department since 1971, which was (a) sold in 1978–79 and (b) held at the end of that financial year; and what were the receipts from the sales;(2) whether (

    a) the 220 acres of land at Hornchurch Airfield, ( b) the 0·2 acres at South End Road, Hornchurch, ( c) the 8·1 acres at Collinshill, Lichfield and ( d) the 7·6 acres at Asket Hill, Leeds, all of which were purchased by the former Land Commission prior to 1970, or by the Department subsequent to the Commission's abolition, and which were still in the Department's ownership in December 1978, have since been resold; if so, what were the receipts in each case; and, if not, what are his intentions regarding each site.

    The sites listed comprise all the land previously owned by the Land Commission and held by the Department at the beginning of 1978–79. None has been sold to date but:

  • (a) Hornchurch airfield a reply to a formal offer to sell is now awaited;
  • (b) South End Road, Hornchurch: the highest tendered bid has been accepted and completion of sale is proceeding;
  • (c) Collinshill, Lichfield: an offer has been accepted subject to contract.
  • (d) Asket Hill, Leeds: the future of this site is under consideration in the light of planning conditions.
  • Construction Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what effects the reduced government and local authority expenditure on transport will have on the construction industry.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to him today by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Secretary to the Ministry of Transport. I expect effects to be small as between 1979–80 and 1980–81.

    Wolverhampton

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was the total number of dwellings completed and under construction in the Wolverhampton area during the first quarter of 1979; how these figures compare with estimates for the second quarter; and how Government policy will affect these figures during 1980.

    The total number of dwellings completed and under construction in each of the first two quarters of 1979 were:

    Dwellings1st quarter2nd quarter
    Completed146171
    Under construction at end of quarter2,2681,268
    The amount of new building in 1980 will depend upon such things as existing
    Number of schemesNumber of dwellingsEstimated grant*
    ConversionImprovement
    £
    1979—First quarter5914751,110,000
    Second quarter242726614,000
    * Estimated grant at project approval stage. Grant is not paid until project completion.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many specially-designed dwellings for the chronically sick and disabled were started and completed in the Wolverhampton area during 1978; and how Government policy will affect these figures during 1980.

    Two hundred and ten dwellings specially designed for the chronically sick and disabled were started in 1978, in the Wolverhampton district, and 34 were completed. The figures include "Wheelchair" and "Mobility" housing units.The number of specially designed dwellings built in 1980 will depend upon such things as existing commitments, decisions yet to be taken about the housing investment programme allocation for 1980–81 for Wolverhampton, and the local authority's subsequent decisions about the mix of its housing expenditure.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many improvement and intermediate grants were paid to improve dwellings occupied by disabled persons in the Wolverhampton area during 1978; and how Government policy will affect these figures during 1980.

    During 1978 two improvement grants and five intermediate grants commitments, the decisions of private builders, decisions yet to be taken about the housing investment programme allocation for 1980–81 for Wolverhampton, and the local authority's subsequent decisions about the mix of its housing expenditure.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Housing Association grants were given for conversion and improvement in the Wolverhampton area during the first quarter of 1979; and how these figures compare with estimates for the second quarter.

    The information is as follows:were paid for improvement of dwellings in the Wolverhampton area occupied by disabled people.For the future the Government published proposals for changes to the grant system will allow local authorities to waive rateable value limits in hardship cases where works are for the benefit of a disabled person.

    Council House Building

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the figures for national council house building for the nine months to September 1979; how these compare with the comparable period for the last five years; and if he will take action to reduce council housing waiting lists.

    The number of dwellings started and completed by local authorities in England are as follow:

    January to SeptemberStartedNumber completed
    197474,30063,100
    197580,70074,300
    197689,70078,700
    197762,70074,500
    197854,90061,800
    197935,30044,300
    It is for each local authority to determine within its housing investment programmes' allocation how it can best help to meet the housing needs of its area.

    First-Time Buyers

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average cost of property for first-time buyers in London and in Birmingham; and whether he intends taking further action to help first-time buyers.

    The average price of dwellings in Greater London purchased by first-time buyers with a building society mortgage was £21,735 in the third quarter of 1979. Separate infornmation is not available for Birmingham, but the corresponding figure for the West Midlands region was £13,722.On the position of first-time buyers, I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Ludlow (Mr. Cockeram) on Wednesday, 14 November 1979.—[Vol. 973, c. 657–58.]

    Private House Building

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take action to stimulate private house building.

    I outlined the measures the Government are taking to help private house building in my speech to the annual conference of the House-Builders Federation yesterday. Copies have been placed in the Library.

    Housing Corporation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much of the £500 million allocated to the Housing Corporation will remain unspent by the end of the current year.

    I understand that the Housing Corporation expects to use its full allocation of £526·5 million for the approvals of new schemes this year.

    Homeless Families

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will take steps to deal with the rising numbers of homeless families.

    The homelessness statistics for England for 1978 show no significant increase between the first and second halves of that year in the number of homeless families accepted by local housing authorities. Figures for the first half of 1979 are not yet available.I am reviewing the operation of the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act.

    Liverpool Inner City Partnership

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what was discussed at the sixth meeting of the Liverpool inner city partnership held on 2 November and on Wednesday 14 November.

    There was no partnership meeting on 14 November. As to the meeting on 2 November, I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 16 November.—[Vol. 973, c. 860.]

    Building Control

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to complete his review of the system of building control.

    I am not able to indicate at present when this review is likely to be completed.

    Local Government Finance

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what has been the cost to public funds of the steps taken by his Department and others nominated by his Department to pursue inquiries into alternative means of collecting local government finance, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Aldridge-Brownhills on 30 October.

    Our consideration of alternatives to domestic rating is being undertaken within existing staff resources.

    Overseas Development

    Underdeveloped Countries (Advisory Services)

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will have discussions with the Scottish president of the National Farmers Union with a view to arranging a trade mission and advisory service to underdeveloped countries which could gain from the expertise of Scottish agriculture.

    I am very ready to arrange for officials to discuss with the Scottish president of the NFU any matters relevant to the provision of advice to the developing countries under the aid programme.

    Questions about trade missions are for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Trade.

    Overseas Development Administration (Management Review)

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if it is the Government's intention to go ahead with the proposed management review of the Overseas Development Administration.

    Yes. The management review formally began on 1 November, and the aim is to complete it before the parliamentary recess next summer. Full account will be taken of other relevant studies.

    Social Services

    Chiropody

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement about the present state of the chiropody service in England and Wales, giving details of those areas or sub-areas most affected by the shortage of chiropodists, particularly where either the service has had to be severely reduced or stopped completely.

    There has been a welcome increase in recent years in the number of NHS chiropody treatments. However, there are not enough State registered chiropodists to enable area health authorities to recruit on the scale they consider necessary, whether they do so by employing full-time chiropodists or private chiropodists on a part-time or fee-per-patient basis. This Department, the Department of Education and Science, the Council for Professions Supplementary to Medicine, the Chiropodists Board, the Society of Chiropodists and other relevant interests are jointly considering ways of increasing the number of training places in schools of chiropody. The numbers of chiropodists employed by area health authorities in England and their numbers per 1,000 population in each area were given in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) on 22 October.—[Vol. 972, c. 107–109.] Corresponding figures for Wales were given in my hon. Friend's reply on 18 July.—[Vol. 970, c. 730.] Statistics by smaller unit are not readily available.

    Tinnitus

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what allocation of funds for research is being made into the disease tinnitus, in view of the substantial increase in the number of people suffering from the disease.

    The main Government-funded body supporting such research is the Medical Research Council from funds provided by the Department of Education and Science and the health Departments. The council is currently spending about £25,000 annually on research into this condition. Other research from Government funds is being supported by universities and hospital medical schools, but details are not kept centrally. The council is always prepared to consider support for any soundly based projects of potential value for the effective treatment of this condition.

    Index-Linked Pensions

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many adults enjoy index-linked incomes or pensions, either State or otherwise; and if he will express the combined total as a percentage of all adults.

    Hearing Aids

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when the new, more powerful behind-the-ear hearing aids of the BE30 and BE50 series, are to be made available through the National Health Service.

    My right hon. Friend and I are considering this question at present and hope to be able to make an announcement before the end of the year.

    Supplementary Benefit Disregards

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services to what level supplementary benefit disregards would have to be raised now in order to implement the recommendation of the Finer committee; and what is the best estimate of the current cost of raising them to this level (a) for all claimants except the unemployed, (b) for all claimants and (c) for one-parent families only.

    The Finer committee recommended that there should be an increase in supplementary benefit disregards so that at least they kept pace with increases in the cost of living. To

    1966Present levelAmount needed to restore real value to 1966 levelApproximate annual cost
    ££££ million
    Earnings disregard for one parent families267·602
    Earnings disregard for others (including wives) except the unemployed247·607
    Earnings disregard for the unemployed123·80½
    Disregard of miscellaneous income including charitable payments143·80

    Benefits (Unemployed Persons)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list in the Official Report the average payment to unemployed claimants and their families drawing (a) national insurance unemployment benefit, (b) national insurance benefit and supplementary benefit and (c) supplementary benefit; and what are the numbers of claimants in each group.

    Christmas Bonus

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what steps he proposes to take to ensure that pensioners and people on supplementary, sickness and unemployment benefit in the West Midlands receive their due payments and Christmas bonuses in time and do not suffer as a result of the strike action and overtime ban proposed to be taken

    Family constitutionSupplementary benefit requirements (scale rates)Heating additionFree welfare milkFree school mealsTotal
    £££££
    Single person18·3018·30
    Married couple29·7029·70
    Married couple and 1 child (aged 3)34·900·951·0536·90
    Married couple and 2 children (4 and 6)41·150·951·051·5044·65
    Married couple and 2children(12andl4)46·753·0049·75
    Married couple and 3 children (3, 8 and 12)48·850·951·053·0053·85
    Married couple and 4 children 3, 8 11 and 16)60·100·951·054·5066·60

    restore the purchasing power of the present disregards to the 1966 level, to which the Finer committee recommendation referred, increases would have to be made as follows:

    by the Society of Civil and Public Servants.

    Industrial action in the West Midlands is affecting only a small number of payments and the steps taken to minimise the effect on beneficiaries vary according to the nature of the difficulty. It is not possible to say what steps are proposed for the future as they too will be fitted to the situation arising.

    Family Incomes

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the net weekly spending power of each family grouping using the same assumptions as in the written reply to the hon. Member for Norfolk, North Official Report, 7 November, c. 213, when entirely dependent on supplementary benefit; and if he will include the family group of a man with a wife and two children aged 12 and 14 years.

    [pursuant to his reply, 16 November 1979, c. 814]: The information is as follows:

    Trade

    United States

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what has been the increase in the value and volume of United States imports and exports in each

    UNITED STATES TRADE
    Percentage changes
    ValueVolume
    ExportsImportsExportImport
    1970H120·113·613·76·4
    H27·98·43·81·4
    1971H15·115·40·89·0
    H2-1·012·8-3·38·1
    1972H16·120·14·313·4
    H219·923·814·213·8
    1973H137·223·024·67·7
    H249·226·923·12·7
    1974H144·540·413·0-3·5
    H232·547·94·3-0·3
    1975H112·31·1-5·6-14·9
    H26·3-8·71·7-8·9
    1976H15·720·24·920·2
    H28·030·82·223·2
    1977H17·828·01·118·6
    H23·017·4-1·57·0
    1978H110·715·34·96·0
    H226·617·613·49·6
    1979H125·814·011·92·4
    Note: As data are not seasonally adjusted changes are derived from comparison with the same period a year earlier.
    Source:
    IMF International Financial Statistics.

    Multi-Fibre Arrangement

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what discussions he has had with employers and trades unions in the textile industries as part of the preparation of the negotiating brief for the continuation and strengthening of the multi-fibre arrangement when it expires at the end of 1981.

    My right hon. Friend has had meetings with a number of employers' and trades union organisations during which renewal of the multi-fibre arrangement has been discussed.

    Seals

    half year since 1970; anod what was the ratio of United States export prices to those of other countries.

    Mr. Nott