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Written Answers

Volume 974: debated on Tuesday 27 November 1979

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 27 November 1979

Environment

Council Houses (Sale)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what proposals he has to enable local authorities to replace (a) all, (b) a proportion of, council houses sold, with new or acquired properties.(2) what information on the sale of council houses he collects from local authorities and other sources; and if he will make this available in the Library.

Pursuant to my reply of 26 July—[Vol. 971, c. 466]—in which I said that information was not available in this form, I regret that this was in error. The information requested in the hon. Member's first question is as follows:

Local authorities' capital allocations will continue to be settled in the context of discussions of housing investment programmes.
In respect of the hon. Member's second question, the information is as follows:

England and Wales figures for each quarter derived from authorities' returns on dwellings sold or leased are published in "Housing and Construction Statistics". The number of dwellings sold by each authority each calendar year is published in "Local Housing Statistics".
Annual information about individual authorities also appears in "Housing Statistics—Part 2" published by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
As part of their housing investment programme submissions, authorities are asked for forecasts of sales in future years. A copy of each authority's original submission is placed in the Library of the House.

Defence

Regular Reservists (Mobilisation)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he proposes to take to reduce the time required for the mobilisation of regular reservists.

A major objective of current NATO planning is to accelerate the processes of mobilisation and reinforcement in an emergency in order to strengthen the defence and deterrent capability of the Alliance in the face of the continuing build-up in Warsaw Pact military strength and readiness. In accordance with this objective I have decided to introduce a new mobilisation scheme for the Army's Regular reservists. Under existing arrangements these Regular reservists are required in peace time to report their availability by post at quarterly intervals and, when mobilised, to report to a central depot according to their regimental affiliation. No direct personal contact with these reservists is maintained in peacetime.Under the new scheme Regular reservists will report in person on one day a year to a specified local unit so that their records may be updated, their fitness for their role assessed and the uniform and equipment, which they will maintain at home, inspected. A small amount of refresher training may also take place. An annual reporting grant of £100—taxable—and travelling expenses will be paid. On mobilisation Regular reservists will report either to their local unit or to a local centre, which will be dedicated to reinforcement of a specific formation. I am confident that the new scheme will prove attractive both to those members of the Army's Regular Reserve who already have a liability to report annually for training in peacetime and to reservists with no such liability who will be invited to volunteer to participate in the new arrangement. All those reservists concerned are being informed individually of the new scheme and initial issues of uniform and equipment will be made in November 1980.A similar scheme is being introduced for the Royal Marine element of the Royal Fleet Reserve. In due course this will be extended to the Royal Navy element but on a selective basis. There is no present intention to extend the scheme to RAF reservists.I estimate that the new scheme will halve the time required to mobilise these Regular reservists and it will therefore be an important and valuable enhancement of our defence capability.

Privy Council Office

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what adjustments are required to the cash limits for the Privy Council Office in 1979–80.

The cash limit of £363,000 for the Privy Council Office for 1979–80 will be raised by £13,000 to cover salary and other increases which cannot be contained within the existing provision.

House Of Commons

Select Committees (Specialist Advisers)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list in the Official Report the total cost of specialist advisers to the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee for each year since the establishment of the Sub-Committee, the names of these advisers and how often the services of each were used,

Financial YearDays WorkedTotal CostPer Diem Allowance
££
1971–72101·7518·50
1972–7326½490·2518·50
1973–7421388·5018·50
1974–7514348·7918·50 then 25·00
1975–7683½2,213·7925·00
1976–77902,385·2725·00
1977–78681,680·1620·00 and 25·00
1978–7961½1,594·9325·00 then 27·50
1979–8015½518·7827·50
Total385½£9,722·22

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list in the Official Report the total cost of specialist advisers to all Select Committees for 1977–78 and 1978–79, the total number of hours for which these advisers

Financial YearTotal CostDays WorkedPer Diem Allowance
£
1977–7826,662·78944Between £15 and £25
1978–7927,092·58939Between £13 and £27·50
1979–807,754·24273¼Between £16·50 and £27·50

the total number of hours for which these advisers were paid, the per diem allowance for these advisers and the number of these advisers who were full time.

Between 1971 and 1979 the Defence and External Affairs Sub-Committee of the Expenditure Committee used the following special advisers:

Brigadier K. Hunt, OBE, MC.
Rear-Admiral E. F. Gueritz, CB, OBE, DSC.
Air Chief Marshal Sir Christopher Foxley Norris, GCB, DSO, OBE.
Brigadier W. Thompson.
Mr Richard Davy.
Mr. David Watt.
Air Vice-Marshal R. Harding, CBE.
There were no full-time specialist advisers. In addition, between 1973 and 1979, the Sub-Committee had the full-time assistance of two staff seconded from the Exchequer and Audit Department.It is not the practice to give details of the pay and conditions of individual servants of the House. Specialist advisers are paid on the basis of days—or part days—worked. Following are the details of the number of days worked and payments made to the part-time specialist-advisers to the Sub-Committee.were paid, the per diem allowances for these advisers, the number of these advisers who were full-time and the number of hours they were employed.

Works Of Art

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, bearing in mind paragraph 58 of the Third Report of the Expenditure Committee (Environment Sub-Committee) of Session 1977–78, he proposes to make use in due course of the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries in order to ascertain, with the assistance of appropriate expert assessors selected ad hoc in each case by that commission to advise it, the preeminence or otherwise of works of art offered to the Commissioners of Inland Revenue in satisfaction of capital transfer tax in accordance with paragraph 17(4) of schedule 4 to the Finance Act 1975, as amended by section 124 of the Finance Act 1976.

I recognise the importance of the point which the hon. Member is making. I am at present considering this matter in consultation with the expert advisers, the Standing Commission on Museums and Galleries, and the Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts.

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in which year the practice was commenced of covering by Government indemnities against loss or damage of works of art on loan from national museums and galleries to buildings belonging to the National Trust; and what has been the total sum paid since that year in satisfaction of claims thus arising.

Except for one case this year on which no claim has arisen, it has not been the Government's practice to indemnify national museums and galleries in respect of loans to buildings belonging to the National Trust. However, the National Heritage Bill now before the House makes provision for such indemnities.

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether, pursuant to his written answer to the hon. Member for Warley, East, Official Report, 2 November, column 674, formal allocation procedures having now been completed, he will make a further statement on the matter.

Yes. On 13 November my right. hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland announced the allocation of the Fisher Papers to Churchill College, Cambridge.

Energy

Coal Industry (Eec Funds)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what allocations of EEC funds have been made to assist development of the coal industry in Scotland in (a) the medium term and (b) the longer term; and what proportion these will be of the overall allocations to the industry in the United Kingdom.

Substantial loans have been made by the ECSC to the NCB for groups of colliery projects and for other expenditures which are not specific to particular pits. In most cases these loans cannot be ascribed to individual projects or areas, but they have covered groups which included projects at Bogside and Frances/Seafield in Scotland. In addition, the Board has received grants for research and development from the Community, but again it is not possible to attribute the assistance these might provide to the development of particular parts of the United Kingdom coal industry.

Electricity

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the current estimate of the medium-term trend of annual growth of electricity demand in England and Wales.

The Electricity Council currently estimates average growth in electricity requirements from the Central Electricity Generating Board over the period from now until the middle 1980s at about 2 per cent. per annum.

Wave Energy

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the annual layout of the United Kingdom and Japan upon their joint venture on wave energy; and what are the comparative figures for the United States of America.

The United Kingdom, United States, Canada and Japan agreed a three-year collaborative programme of work to develop wave power air turbine generating systems in April 1978. The Republic of Ireland subsequently joined the programme. The centrally funded part of the programme will cost 140 million yen—approximately £320,000. The individual contributions are approximately equivalent to:

Canada£55,000
Republic of Ireland£34,000
Japan£77,000
United Kingdom£77,000
United States£77,000
In addition, the United Kingdom Government agreed to contribute one of the two turbines associated with the project—the other being supplied by the United States Government. For the United Kingdom turbine a £265,000 contract was placed with a United Kingdom firm.
First supply to national grid i.e. synchronised
StationOriginal estimated cost £'000Final cost (current estimate) £'000Unit No.Original estimated dateActual date or current estimate (E)
Drax "A"103,125155,0001January 1971November 1973
(March 1966 prices)2January 1972December 1973
3January 1973December 1974
Drax completion685,100780,000*419841984 (E)
(March 1978 prices)519851985 (E)
619851986 (E)
* Expenditure incurred to date plus estimated balance to completion based on current price levels (October 1979).
Power stations in Scotland and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Northern Ireland.

Diving Operations

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many inquiries or investigations into diving deaths in the North Sea are presently taking place; and when such accidents occurred.

I have been asked to reply.Inquiries are being made into two fatal accidents involving diving operations in the North Sea. In the first, which occurred on 8 August 979, two men died when a bell from which they were working broke loose from the hoisting wire. In the second accident, on 17 October 1979, a diving supervisor died as a result of being dragged overboard from a diving support vessel by a diving bell cable.

In 1978–79, £207,000 was spent on this project by the United Kingdom. Comparative figures for the United States and Japan are not known.

Coal-Fired Power Stations

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what were the original estimates of construction cost and time and the actual construction cost and time, or the latest available estimates of these, for each coal-fired power station ordered in the United Kingdom since 1965 or ordered before 1965 and still under construction.

No coal-fired power station ordered before 1965 is still under construction in England and Wales. For coal-fired power stations ordered since 1965, the figures are:

asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) what laws or regulations govern the procedures and actions to be taken in the case of or loss of a diving bell while in the water;(2) what are the minimum emergency provision of air, heat and communication required on a diving bell in the event of it breaking free from its support whilst underwater.

I have been asked to reply.Inshore diving operations which come within the scope of the Factories Act 1961 are governed by the Diving Operations Special Regulations 1960. Offshore the following virtually identical codes of regulations apply:

The Offshore Installations (Diving Operations) Regulations 1974.
The Merchant Shipping (Diving Operations) Regulations 1975.
The Submarine Pipe-Lines (Diving Operations) 1976.

The Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 also applies to all divers at work in Great Britain and its territorial waters and to those engaged in diving in connection with offshore installations and submarine pipelines on the continental shelf.

There are general requirements in these regulations for the issue of diving manuals or rules for securing the safety, health and welfare of divers, including emergency procedures. More specifically, a diving bell is required to be provided with a means whereby, in the event of the failure of the main lifting gear, the chamber can be returned to the surface. If this involves the shedding of weights they have to be capable of being shed from the chamber by a person inside and there must be arrangements to prevent their accidental shedding.

The regulations applying to diving operations involving the use of a bell require an emergency supply of breathing mixture to be provided in the event of a diving bell breaking loose; this reserve supply has to be immediately available for divers inside or outside the bell. The regulations also require that a diver in a bell should have a two-way oral communication system for maintaining contact with the surface and with any diver outside the bell; in addition, there must be arrangements for emergency signalling. In respect of heating the regulations make no specific reference to emergency provision, but there is a continuing requirement that a diving bell should be equipped for heating and this requirement continues to apply even when the bell has broken free.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many divers have died in each year since 1970, giving this as a proportion of the number of divers employed; and how this compares with the occupational death rate for seafarers, fishermen and miners.

I have been asked to reply.The numbers of divers reported to have suffered fatal accidents while working offshore in the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf, together with

broad estimates of the maximum number so employed in each year, are as follows:

YearEstimated maximum number employedFatalities
19712001
19722001
19734002
19745005
19756006
19768009
19771,0003
19781,5002
1979 (to date)1,500(3)
I am advised that, because divers tend to be employed in the North Sea for only part of the year, and may move from one national sector to another during that time, it would be misleading to derive any fatal accident incidence rates from these figures. It is, however, clear from these figures that despite the recent reduction in fatalities diving is still a more dangerous occupation than any of the others cited.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many divers have died while operating in, or from, a diving bell; and how many of them occurred after the diving bell broke free from its supports.

I have been asked to reply.Since 1971, 11 divers have died while operating in or from a diving bell in connection with the exploration and exploitation of oil and gas in the United Kingdom sector of the continental shelf, and four of these died after the diving bell broke away from its support system.

Government Policies (Co-Ordination)

Q5.

asked the Prime Minister what plans she has to co-ordinate taxation, welfare, employment and housing policies to restore incentive to work.

We try to co-ordinate those policies in our day-to-day work. I know my hon. Friend is particularly concerned that the gap between welfare benefits and net take-home pay is too small and we are mindful of the points he continues to argue so cogently.

Wales

Nuclear Waste (Dumping)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to permit the dumping of nuclear waste in any area of Wales; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Caernarvon (Mr. Wigley) on 29 October.—[Vol. 972, c. 378.]

Tuc And Cbi

Q6.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister when she expects next to meet the Trades Union Congress general council.

Q43.

asked the Prime Minister when she will next meet the TUC and the CBI.

Q45.

West Midlands

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister what plans she has for visiting the West Midlands.

Ussr

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister what plans she has for meeting the President of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

I renewed an invitation extended to President Brezhnev by the last Government to visit this country. There has been no discussion about dates for such a visit.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her public engagements for 27 November.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for 27 November.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q33.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q40.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q44.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

Q46.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q47.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

Q49.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for Tuesday 27 November.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 27 November.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook).

Lord Chancellor's Department

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will appoint an hon. Member to be a junior Minister assisting the Lord Chancellor in his administrative and parliamentary responsibilities.

No. The Lord Chancellor's main responsibilities are personal to himself; too few could be delegated to justify the appointment of a further Minister to answer for him in this House in addition to the Law Officers.

Purine Laboratory

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will provide alternative funding so as to ensure the continuance of the medical research work now being undertaken by the Purine Laboratory at Guy's Hospital medical school.

No. The question of seeking support for the work being undertaken by the laboratory is essentially one for Guy's Hospital medical school.

Book Of Common Prayer

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister whether, notwithstanding the provisions of the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974, she will bring forward legislation to provide that the 1662 Book of Common Prayer shall remain available for use in any parish church should the incumbent or parochial church council so desire.

The use of the forms of service in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer is protected by the Worship and Doctrine Measure 1974, and the use in churches of these forms of service is a matter for decision by incumbents and parochial church councils.

European Community Heads Of Government

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister when next she expects to meet EEC Heads of Government.

I shall be meeting all my EEC colleagues at the European Council in Dublin on 29 and 30 November.

European Community (Monetary Arrangements)

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister what proposals she intends to put before the European Council meeting at Dublin regarding the need for for change in the monetary arrangements within the Community.

If the hon. Gentleman is referring to the United Kingdom contribution to the Community budget, I refer him to the speech made by my right hon. and learned Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer in this House on Thursday last, 22 November.

Latin American Refugees

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister what representations she has had regarding the Government's future policy towards refugees seeking entry into Great Britain from Latin America.

Local Authority Associations

Q38.

asked the Prime Minister if she has any plans to address the local authority associations.

Rhodesia

Q41.

asked the Prime Minister how many letters she had received from the general public concerning Rhodesia.

Since the announcement of the Lancaster House conference I have received over 400 letters.

Public Expenditure Cuts

Q48.

asked the Prime Minister what representations she has personally received about her Government's cuts in public expenditure.

I have received several hundred letters and a number of petitions.

European Communities (Treaties)

asked the Prime Minister how she proposes to allocate ministerial responsibility for the introduction of draft Orders in Council designating community treaties pursuant to section 1(3) of the European Communities Act 1972.

The Government noted from earlier debates on section 1(3) orders that Parliament is concerned with the impact a Community Treaty entered into by the United Kingdom may have upon United Kingdom domestic law. Accordingly, we have decided that it would normally be more appropriate for departmental Ministers rather than Foreign and Commonwealth Office Ministers to introduce draft orders so that they may explain the significance of the Treaty and answer questions on detail.

Telephone Tapping

asked the Prime Minister which Minister is responsible for the authorisation of telephone tapping.

The position remains as described in the report of the Birkett committee, Cmnd. 283.

Security Services

asked the Prime Minister if, in the light of the Blunt affair, she will now set up a full inquiry, whether of Privy Councillors or others, into procedures for the public accountability of the security services and the co-ordination of political control between Ministers for this purpose.

Prime Minister (Speech)

asked the Prime Minister if she will place in the Library a copy of her public speech on foreign affairs given at the Lord Mayor's Banquet on Monday 12 November.

Education And Science

Universities

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has any plans to close down any British university within the next five years; and if he will make a statement.

Contraceptive Pills (Studies)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what studies he is making of the effects of contraceptive pills when usage has been discontinued after a period of years.

The Medical Research Council is currently supporting two long-term studies concerned with contraception. One, at the Royal College of General Practitioners in Manchester and entitled "A study of Oral Contraception", is a large-scale study of the effects of oral contraceptives on health. In particular, the morbidity and mortality in current and past users of oral contraceptives is being monitored. It began in 1968 and is at present funded until 1983. The second study, at the Department of Social and Community Medicine, University of Oxford, is a prospective investigation of different methods of contraception including contraceptive pills. This study will provide information about the very long-term and delayed effects of oral contraceptives on serious chronic diseases—principally cancer and cardiovascular diseases. The study, which includes follow-up of women who have discontinued contraception, began in 1969 and is funded until 1984.

School Transport

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many children in the Bolton metropolitan district have a journey in excess of three miles from home to their school.

This information is not collected by my Department. I advise the hon. Member to approach the local education authority direct.

Pupil-Teacher Ratios

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will collect statistics on pupil-teacher ratios in the private sector.

Average pupil-teacher ratios for independent schools are published each year in Statistics of Education, Volume 1, Schools, which is available in the Library.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the national pupil-teacher ratio in local authority secondary and primary schools; and if he will take action to lower the pupil ratio to teachers in local authority schools.

The ratios in England in January 1979 were: within primary schools 23·1:1; and, within secondary schools, 16·7:1. In January 1979, the overall pupil-teacher ratio, which relates all the teachers being paid by authorities to the pupils in maintained nursery, primary and secondary schools, was 18·9:1. The Government's expenditure plans provide for an overall ratio in 1979–80 and 1980–81 of 18·7:1. This is the lowest ever recorded.

Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science in what disciplines there is a shortage of teachers; and what action he is taking to train unemployed teachers for these vacancies.

There is known to be a serious and persistent shortage of teachers of mathematics, the physical sciences, and craft, design and technology.The one-year retraining courses for qualified teachers who wish to teach the shortage subjects are to continue in 1980–81, and unemployed teachers may apply for local education authority awards to attend these courses or, if they are over 28, awards from the Manpower Services Commission.

School Buildings (Expenditure)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what has been the expenditure in 1977, 1978 and in the current year to date on the construction of school buildings in England and Wales, excluding new projects.

The Department's records identify expenditure by financial years. For the year 1977–78, expenditure was £237·9 million and, for 1978–79, £208·3 million. Expenditure figures for 1979–80 are not available at present.

Overseas Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what arrangements he is making to help outstanding research students from overseas to attend British universities.

Following discussion with the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, the chairman of the UGC is writing today to universities notifying them of a scheme of assistance to overseas research students. Awards will be equivalent in value to the difference between the fee for a home research student and the fee which would normally be charged to the overseas research student. Selection, under arrangements to be made by the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, will be purely on academic merit and research potential, irrespective of means, nationality or subject field. The intention is to enable outstanding students to contribute to British university research which has an international reputation. It is expected that some 400 to 500 students will be assisted in the first year beginning in September 1980.

Northern Ireland

Security

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what progress has been made with cross-border co-operation with the Republic of Ireland's security forces.

I am satisfied with the progress made in implementing the measures agreed with Irish Ministers on 5 October. Security considerations preclude my giving specific details, but I am confident that the measures will add to the effectiveness of the common campaign against terrorism and to the two Governments' already extensive co-operation.

Housing Executive (Information)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will give the detailed information about tenants, applicants, and applicants for loans and grants given to the Housing Executive which was not available to members of local authorities when they were responsible for housing in Northern Ireland.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1979, c. 553]: I have nothing to add to my letter of 9 October 1979 to the hon. Member on this subject.

School Grounds (Parking)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland under what circumstances the lands, playgrounds or car parks in schools grounds could be used as a car park by any religious body or church in Northern Ireland for the purpose of parking cars during a religious service.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1979, c. 553]: This is a matter for the courts to decide.

Richmond Street, Londonderry

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) what is now the estimated cost of the Richmond Street scheme in Londonderry; and on this basis what are the economic rental values for (a) retail shops and (b) offices;(2) when he now expects work to begin on the Richmond Street development scheme in Londonderry.

[pursuant to his reply, 19 November 1979, c. 80]: The estimated cost of the scheme on completion and taking into account notional interest on capital employed during construction is £11·5 million. Present market levels would produce annual rentals of:

  • (a) approximately £450,000 for the retail shops, and
  • (b) approximately £130,000 for the offices.
  • The scheme is still under consideration in the light of these figures and the constraints upon public expenditure.

    Defence

    Nuclear Alert

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what contact the United States Government had with Her Majesty's Government over their recent six-minute nuclear alert; and if he will make a statement.

    31.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if the British Government were alterted when the United States computer miscalculation occurred recently; and if he will make a statement.

    36.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the liaison between his Department and the Pentagon, particularly during the recent false nuclear alert.

    As I explained in the answer which I gave on 14 November, the contact was at command level, and the fact that the error was false was confirmed within a minute by the normal checking and verification procedure.

    37.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the safeguards which exist to prevent a nuclear war being initiated as the result of the development of a computer fault.

    When an alert signal is triggered it is subject to the most careful evaluation and verification by highly skilled operators. This is what happened in the recent incident when the alarm was diagnosed as false within seconds.

    41.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence, as a result of the recent red alert for a nuclear war, what further consideration is being given to extending the United Kingdom's nuclear war capacity.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the future of the United Kingdom strategic nuclear deterrent.

    I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook).

    Killed And Injured Personnel (Financial Awards)

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he is satisfied with existing procedures for the assessment and payment of financial awards made to members of the Armed Forces killed or severely injured on active service and their dependants.

    Yes, but if my hon. Friend considers there are any inadequacies in the existing procedures, I shall be pleased to look at them.

    Nuclear Deterrent

    21.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on progress being made towards achieving an effective theatre nuclear deterrent.

    38.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the recent meeting of NATO Ministers at The Hague in connection with the modernisation of medium range nuclear weapons in Europe.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what agreement has been reached with North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allies on future disposition of nuclear weapons.

    I refer my hon. Friend and the hon. Members to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Oldham, East (Mr. Lamond).

    Expenditure

    23.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement concerning the items which will figure in the intended 3 per cent. increase in defence expenditure.

    Defence Estimates for 1980–81 are still in preparation and it is, therefore, too early to say precisely how the defence budget for that year will be be allocated. Our intention is, however, to devote the additional funds to strengthen the fighting efficiency of the forces, in particular by pressing ahead with their re-equipment programmes.

    42.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is his latest estimate of the percentage of gross national product spent on military purposes by (a) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and (b) the NATO Alliance.

    I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave him on 15 November on Soviet military expenditure. NATO calculates its own defence expenditure as a proportion of gross domestic product, and the average such proportion in 1978 was 4·2 per cent.

    48.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the current level of defence expenditure.

    The original total of defence budget Estimates for the current year was £8,557·7 million at forecast outturn prices. The proposed increases which I explained in my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Stretford (Mr. Churchill) on 16 November—[Vol. 973, c. 801–802]—will bring the total defence cash provision for the current year to £9,106·3 million.

    British Army Of The Rhine

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the strength, readiness and training of BAOR.

    Although there is room for improvement in the effectivness of BAOR to match the increasing Warsaw Pact threat, it is fully capable of making its major contribution to the implementation of NATO strategy.

    Royal Navy

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the level of recruitment into the Royal Navy.

    Recruitment into the Royal Navy is showing an encouraging increase by comparison with last year. Numbers in some categories are however still short of requirements but various measures are in hand aimed at improving the position. There is considerable ground to make up, at least in part because of the poor recruiting and retention of recent years.

    Hong Kong

    25.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what percentage of the cost of the garrison of Hong Kong was paid by the Hong Kong Government during each of the past five financial years; and what was the global sum in each case.

    In 1974–75 and 1975–76 the Hong Kong Government made a flat rate contribution of £8·5 million per annum. The global costs of the garrison were not assessed at that time, but they are estimated to have been £42 million in 1974–75 and £44 million in 1975–76.

    Since 1 April 1976, under the terms of the defence costs agreement, the Hong Kong Government have contributed 50 per cent. in 1976–77, 62½ per cent. in 1977–78 and 75 per cent. since then. In calculating the contribution due from the Hong Kong Government, the costs of the garrison have been assessed as £49 million in 1976–77, £51 million in 1977–78 and £56 million in 1978–79. These figures are based on prices prevailing in the quoted years.

    Expenditure (Wales)

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will reconsider the proposed increase in the level of defence expenditure in Wales.

    Although defence expenditure overall will increase by 3 per cent. next year, there is no specific proposal to increase the amount spent in Wales.

    Royal Dockyards

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the progress of the current study being undertaken on the Royal dockyards.

    I have nothing to add to reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Portsmouth, North (Mr. Griffiths) on 25 October.—[Vol. 972, c. 271.]

    Defence Capability

    29.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the state of Great Britain's defences.

    I believe that the United Kingdom's defences, together with those of our NATO allies, remain adequate to fulfil their deterrent task. But there is no room for complacency in the light of the Warsaw Pact military build-up; all member Governments of NATO have accepted the need to strengthen the Alliance. We shall seek to improve the United Kingdom's contribution to collective defence.

    Nuclear Explosions (Accidents)

    30.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received on the dangers of nuclear explosions in East Anglia and in other parts of Great Britain, arising from military accidents; what steps he is taking to reduce such dangers; and if he will make a statement.

    I have received a few letters from Members of Parliament and members of the public about the incident at RAF Lakenheath in 1956. I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bury St. Edmunds (Mr. Griffths) on 9 November.—[Vol. 973, c. 321–2.]

    Northern Ireland

    32.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about the operations of the security forces in Northern Ireland.

    I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made on 30 October 1979.—[Vol. 972, c. 486.]

    Staff (Dispersal)

    33.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects the first personnel from his Department to move to the West of Scotland as a result of the recent announcement on Civil Service dispersal.

    I have nothing to add to the reply I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Dunbartonshire, East (Mr. Hogg).

    Royal Air Force

    34.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether it is planned to re-equip or improve the performance capabilities of the Harrier force within the Royal Air Force.

    Yes. Options for the procurement of a number of new Harriers are currently being evaluated, and ways of improving the Harriers already in service are also under investigation.

    Europe (Ussr Proposals)

    35.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consideration he has given to the defence implications of the proposals made by President Brezhnev that no Soviet nuclear weapons would be targeted on countries in Europe that refuse to have nuclear weapons sited on their soil.

    In consultation with our Allies, we are carefully considering all the proposals made by President Brezhnev in his 6 October speech. However, the undertaking on use of nuclear weapons against European countries merely repeats the assurance given by the Soviet Union in the United Nations in 1978. At the same time the United Kingdom gave an undertaking not to use nuclear weapons against any State which had agreed not to acquire such weapons unless a State, in association with a nuclear power, attacked the United Kingdom or its allies. The repetition of the Soviet position at this time is clearly intended to be divisive within NATO.The Alliance needs to retain the freedom to deploy its forces, both conventional and nuclear, throughout its territory and the strength of NATO rests on the acceptance of collective defence and shared risk.

    43.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations he has carried out with other NATO members about a possible response to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics' recent offer to reduce the level of its forces in Europe.

    I have had a number of meetings with other NATO Defence Ministers. In the NATO nuclear planning group of 13–14 November I agreed with my colleagues that recent Soviet statements should not be allowed to obscure the disturbing growth in their long range theatre nuclear capability. At the same time we reaffirmed the need for arms control to be pursued in parallel with the modernisation of NATO's theatre nuclear forces, and we welcomed the constructive preparations in the Alliance of proposals to the Soviet Union aimed at reducing the disparity in the level of nuclear forces.

    Royal Naval Reserve

    39.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what particular offshore role the new Royal Naval Reserve Air Reserve will be expected to play.

    On present plans it is intended that the Royal Naval Reserve, Air Branch, will provide a pool of trained officers to assist the Royal Navy in fulfilling two war roles: first, to augment front line squadrons engaged in anti-submarine and commando squadron roles and, second, to supplement communications flying by regular naval crews in fixed wing aircraft and helicopters for a variety of support roles.

    Recruitment (Wales)

    40.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many members of the Armed Forces have been recruited in Wales during the past 12 months.

    A total of 2,432 Service men and women were recruited through careers information offices in Wales in the 12 months to 30 September. This total does not include officers or entrants to the Queen Alexandra's Royal Naval Nursing Service since they are recruited on a central basis and regional figures are not readily available.

    United States Secretary Of Defence (Discussions)

    44.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what recent discussions he has had with the United States Secretary of Defence.

    I met the United States Secretary of Defence and fellow members of the nuclear planning group earlier this month when we discussed a range of issues, including the need for modernisation of NATO's long range theatre nuclear forces in parallel with an arms control approach to the Soviet Union.

    Salt Ii

    46.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what impact the non-ratification of SALT II is likely to have on Western defence.

    SALT II is an important step in the continuing process of arms control which aims to stabilise the strategic balance while safeguarding the essential security interests of the North Atlantic Alliance; its non-ratification would represent a serious check to this process. Western defence planning would, therefore, have to be undertaken against a background of greater unpredictability in East-West relations. The United Kingdom's firm commitment to NATO will, of course, continue whatever the outcome of the SALT debate in the United States Senate.

    Polaris

    45.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a further statement on proposals for replacing Polaris by a new nuclear weapons system.

    I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central (Mr. Cook).

    Civilian Personnel

    47.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will give the number of skilled civilians employed in his Department in support of Service personnel at the end of April.

    At 1 April 1979 some 31,900 United Kingdom based civilian craftsmen were employed in the Ministry of Defence, including some 3,750 in the Royal ordnance factories. There were, in addition, some 7,750 apprentices of whom about 1,000 were in the Royal ordnance factories.The number of locally entered civilian craftsmen employed at the same date at the major overseas stations, Germany, Gibraltar, Cyprus and Far East, totalled some 4,850.

    Terminal Grants

    49.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will introduce terminal grants retrospectively for Service men retiring before the scheme was introduced.

    The terminal grant has been an integral part of pensions benefit for the Armed Forces since 1950. The expenditure and other implications for both the Armed Forces pension scheme, and elsewhere in the public service, make it impracticable to pay terminal grants retrospectively to Service men who retired before then.

    Army Cadet Force

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will give the figures of the current establishment and strength of Army Cadet Force officers; what proposals he has for encouraging recruitment of officers; and if he will make a statement on the Army Cadet Force.

    The current establishment and strength of Army Cadet officers is around 4,700 and 2,800 respectively. This degree of undermanning, plus the current level of wastage, is serious and two recruiting campaigns have been held this year in an attempt to improve the position. The number of inquiries has increased as a result of these campaigns, but it is too soon to forecast whether these will lead to a real improvement in strengths. It is planned to repeat the campaign next year.The Army Cadet Force is a youth service sponsored by the Ministry of Defence. In addition to the important role it plays in this field, there is an invaluable by-product in the number of cadets who elect to join the Regular and Reserve Forces.

    Ships (Refits)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what ships, and by what amount, have had their long refits lengthened by industrial disputes, shortage of spare parts, etc.

    Industrial disputes over the past 18 months have resulted in a loss of about one-quarter of the total annual capacity of the dockyards. As a result there have been major changes in refit programmes and more work has had to be put out to contract. The effects on operational capability have been alleviated by running on ships that would normally have gone to refit. It is not the practice to disclose the details requested by my hon. Friend as these directly concern operational availability.

    East Of Suez

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what plans he has for establishment of a permanent naval force east of Suez.

    I have no plans to establish a permanent naval force east of Suez. Groups of Royal Navy ships do, however, deploy to the area at regular intervals. At present a task force of a destroyer, five frigates and four support vessels is passing through the Indian Ocean en route for the United Kingdom following a deployment which has taken it to Australia and South-East Asia.

    Ships' Companies (Overseas Allowances)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what steps he is taking to make overseas allowances available to ships' companies that spend the greater part of the year in foreign waters.

    Naval personnel serving in Her Majesty's ships in foreign waters receive a seagoing local overseas allowance to compensate for the higher costs experienced abroad. This allowance was extended to North-West European waters in July 1979, having been available elsewhere since 1954. The allowance is not paid while on passage to or from the United Kingdom, but otherwise ships' companies in foreign waters can receive it continuously.

    Employment

    Income And Wealth (Distribution)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will update the tables in paragraphs 5.2, 5.12 and 6.3 in the Royal Commission on the distribution of income and wealth's background paper No. 8.

    The latest figures corresponding to the tables in the Royal Commission on the distribution of income and wealth's background paper No. 8 are:

    Ratio of non-manual to manual average weekly pay(1 )(2 ) ( paragraph 5.2)

    Men

    Women

    19791·201·08

    Great Britain: Pay differentials by skill in engineering

    Ratio of weekly earning including overtime, to average for all adult male workers in engineering(2 ) (paragraph 5.12)

    1979

    Skilled1·06
    Semi-skilled0·96
    Labourers0·83
    Total1·00

    Great Britain: Ratio of women's to men's weekly earnings in industry Adults only (1 )(3 ) ( paragraph 6.3)

    1979

    Non-manual0·53
    Manual0·59
    All0·58

    Notes:

    (1 ) Based on full-time adult employees—men aged 21 and over, women aged 18 and over—in production industries whose pay was not affected by absence.

    Source: New Earnings Survey, April 1979.

    (2 ) Based on June 1979 survey of earnings by occupation.

    (3 ) In interpreting the differences between men's and women's earnings it needs to be emphasised that such differences will reflect differences in the distribution of men and women betwen various occupations, industries and age-groups and differences in length of service and hours—including overtime hours—worked. They do not necessarily imply differences in the rates of pay for men and women doing similar work.

    Incomes Division

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will estimate the annual cost of maintaining his Department's incomes division.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the right hon. Member for Doncaster (Mr. Walker) on Friday 16 November.—[Vol. 973, c. 789.]

    Tuc

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects next to meet Trades Union Congress leaders; and if he will make a statement.

    My right hon. Friend will be meeting representatives of the TUC on Thursday 29 November.

    Job Release Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are being paid an allowance under the job release scheme.

    At 7 November 1979, 55,477 people in Great Britain were being paid allowances under the job release scheme.

    Retail Prices (International Comparisons)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for the principal exporting countries the annual increase in retail prices between 1952 and 1978 in the form of an index or otherwise.

    Consumer prices indices for some main exporting countries are shown in the following table.In making comparisons it is important to note that there are differences between countries in coverage and methods of construction of their price indices.

    CONSUMER PRICES INDICES
    1970=100

    Belgium

    Canada

    France

    Germany (F.R.)

    Italy

    Japan

    Netherlands

    United States

    United Kingdom

    1952687051705848546854
    1953686951695951546955
    1954687051696154566956
    1955687051706253576959
    1956707152716454587062
    1957727354736555627264
    1958737561756755637466
    1959747665756655647567
    1960747667766857657667
    1961757770786960667770
    1962767873817364687872
    1963787976837869717974
    1964818179858372758076
    1965848381888677798180
    1966888683918881838483
    1967908985929284868685
    1968939389949388899089
    1969969795969593969494
    1970100100100100100100100100100
    1971104103106105105106108104109
    1972110108112111111111116108117
    1973118116120119123124125114128
    1974133129137127146154137127148
    1975150143153135171172151139184
    1976163153168141200188165147215
    1977175165183146237204176156249
    1978183180200150265211183168270

    Source: International Labour Office—Year Book of Labour Statistics

    Teachers

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many teachers are unemployed at present and at the same time in each of the past 10 years.

    The following table gives the numbers of unemployed people registered at employment offices in Great Britain for employment as schoolteachers at September 1979, the latest date for which an occupational analysis is available, and for the corresponding month each year from 1973. Corresponding figures prior to 1973 are not available.

    September 19732,662
    September 19742,452
    September 19754,062
    September 19767,820
    September 197713,672
    September 197813,136
    September 197911,701

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the number and percentage of firms employing (a) under 50 workers, (b) 50 to 99 workers, (c) 100 to 249 workers, (d) 250 to 500 workers, and (e) about 500 workers, or in any convenient similar classification, which fail to employ their quota of disabled workers, and (i) do and (ii) do not, have a permit; and if this data could be presented over a convenient time span.

    I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that information in the form requested is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. Only national figures for all employers subject to quota are available centrally, and these were given in my reply to the hon. Member on 12 November.—[Vol. 973, c. 490.]

    Standing Commission On Pay Comparability

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the work on references and cases still to be completed by the Standing Commission on pay comparability; and when he expects to begin the review of the Commission's position.

    [pursuant to his reply, 26 November 1979]: Current references to the Standing Commission are as follows: nurses and midwives; professions supplementary to medicine; university technicians; ambulance officers; municipal airport manual workers; British Waterways Board salaried staffs; primary and secondary school and further education teachers; some groups of local authority craftsmen; new towns staff; justices' clerks' assistants—outside inner London; and Scottish local authority chief officials. The Government continue to keep the Commission's work under review and have recently made further references, included in this list.

    Special Temporary Employment Programme

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons are currently employed in each region of England under the special temporary employment programme.

    [pursuant to his reply, 26 November 1979]: On 2 November 1979 the number of people employed under the programme in each region was as follows:

    Northern2,769
    North-West3,312
    Yorkshire and Humberside1,153
    Midlands2,588
    South-East550
    South-West666
    London801

    European Community

    Foreign Ministers (Meeting)

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what were the results of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nine on political co-operation held on 20 November.

    My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs met his colleagues in the Nine in the framework of political co-operation in Brussels on 20 November. The Foreign Ministers discussed Rhodesia, Iran, and Euro/Arab Dialogue and proposals for a conference on disarmament in Europe.Ministers of the Nine made the following statement on Rhodesia:

    "The Foreign Ministers of the Nine warmly welcome the progress made at the Constitutional Conference at Lancaster House. They commend the parties to the negotiations for the spirit of compromise they have shown and they recognise the role played by other African leaders who have encouraged the efforts to achieve a settlement.
    The Ministers note the agreement reached on an independence constitution providing for genuine majority rule, and on arrangements for the holding of free and fair elections and for the administration of Rhodesia until these take place.
    The Conference has now moved to its final stage—the effort to agree on proposals for a ceasefire. The Foreign Ministers of the Nine note that the British Government has put forward proposals to this end. They hope that agreement will quickly be negotiated on the basis of these proposals so that the present destructive conflict will be brought to a speedy end. This would clear the way for elections and bring about the emergence of a free and independent Zimbabwe to take its rightful place as an accepted member of the world community."

    On Iran, Ministers made the following statement:

    "Ministers of the Nine meeting in Brussels on 20 November considered the latest developments in Iran. They expressed their deep concern at the fact that the Iranian authorities have not fulfilled their obligations under the Vienna Convention and have not given appropriate protection to both the staff and the premises of the American Embassy in Tehran. They have already made their concern known to the Iranian authorities on several occasions through diplomatic channels.
    At their meeting today, the Ministers recalled that in 1976 the European Council expressly condemned any attempt to exert pressure on governments by the taking of hostages. They consider that whatever the nature of the dispute between Iran and the United States the continued holding of diplomatic personnel of the Embassy of a foreign State as hostages and the threat to put them on trial is a breach of international law and as such must be rejected by the Governments of the Nine and the international Community as a whole. The Ministers reject this violation of international law and call upon the Iranian Government to release all the hostages."

    In discussion of the Euro/Arab dialogue Ministers confirmed the importance they attached to the dialogue and expressed their wish to see it go forward. They agreed that contacts should shortly be made with the Secretary-General of the Arab League at Tunis to examine practical ways of pursuing work undertaken in particular raeas of the dialogue. They agreed at the same time that steps should be taken to ensure that all countries concerned should be kept properly informed of developments. The Ministers expressed their hope that conditions would soon exist which would enable all Arab countries to take part in a comprehensive dialogue with the European Community.

    Ministers also considered next year's meeting in Madrid to review progress on the Helsinki conference on security and co-operation in Europe (CSCE). In this context they discussed the proposals made by President Giscard in 1978 for a conference on disarmament in Europe. They reaffirmed their view that it was essential to maintain an overall balance between military and other aspects of security in the CSCE process. Taking into account the French proposals, they agreed that the Nine should work for the adoption, at the Madrid meeting, of a mandate for further negotiations within the CSCE framework on militarily significant and verifiable confidence-buiding measures applicable to the entire European continent. They agreed that the process should take account both of the security interests of member countries and of negotiations already taking place on other aspects of European disarmament.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Albania

    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is the policy of the Government to make the payment of their financial claims against the Albanian Government, directly or indirectly, an obstacle to the return to Albania of the Bank of Albania's gold which was looted from Albania by Hitler.

    Her Majesty's Government would like to bring this problem to a conclusion. Albanian compliance with the International Court of Justice's judgment of 1948 would certainly help in resolving it. There are, however, several problems which must be settled before the three Governments concerned can instruct the Tripartite Commission to deliver to Albania its share of the gold recovered after the last war.

    Commonwealth Institute

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the cash grant during the current year payable to the Commonwealth Institute; and whether he considers this is sufficient to cover the maintenance costs of the building and salary increases granted by the most recent Civil Service pay award.

    The grant to the Commonwealth Institute during the current year is expected, subject to parliamentary approval, to be £1,351,000. Whilst the institute, like other bodies funded by Government money, is having to make some economies in expenditure to keep within the amount of its grant, it is continuing to operate effectively and to cover the maintenance costs of the building and the salary increases of staff.

    Home Department

    Immigration

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what reduction he estimates in the number of male fiancés entering the United Kingdom under the new immigration rules.

    It is not possible to be precise about the effect on numbers. But it is estimated that when the new rules are fully operative something like a half of the likely total reduction in recent acceptances for settlement of all nationalities of some 3,000 to 4,000 a year would be as a result of changes in the rules on fiancés and husbands.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the usual practice adopted by his Department concerning the admission of wives and relatives of husbands now resident in the United Kingdom but born in other countries, where such wives are additional to the first wife still existing and the relatives' children are born from other than the first existing wife.

    Such wives and their children would be admitted for settlement only if they held entry clearances. An entry clearance should be issued only in a case where the marriage is thought to be valid under the law of any part of the United Kingdom. The circumstances in which such a marriage may be valid in our law were set out in a reply I gave to a question by my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow) on 9 July.—[Vol. 970, c. 7.]

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what studies he made of international opinion before formulating his proposals on im- migration; and what consultations he has had with EEC countries and others before doing so.

    There have been no formal studies or consultations, but as my right hon. Friend said in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Ealing, Southall (Mr. Bidwell) on 5 November, there have been a number of useful discussions with members of other Governments.—[Vol. 973, c. 9.]

    Electoral Arrangements (East Lindsey)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he received concerning the report of the Local Government Boundary Commission for England for new electoral arrangements for East Lindsey.

    Postal Voting

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to tighten the law in relation to incidents of unfair duress and contravention of the secret ballot in relation to postal voting at elections.

    If the hon. Member sends me details of such incidents, I shall consider the matter.

    Vandalism (Wales)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prosecutions were taken out in Wales for acts of vandalism in each of the past 10 years on record.