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Written Answers

Volume 978: debated on Monday 4 February 1980

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 4 February 1980

Home Department

Tote Inquiry

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the findings of the inquiry into the Tote; and if he will make a statement.

I am grateful to Mr. Aglionby, a recorder of the Crown Court, for carrying out this inquiry into the Horserace Totalisator Board's procedures for the inclusion in its on-course pools of bets made off the course. In the course of his inquiry Mr. Aglionby received full co-operation from the Tote. He also had the benefit of a special audit carried out by Messrs. Deloitte, Haskins and Sell. His findings are as follows:

  • 1. The various transmission procedures operated by the Horserace Totalisator Board ("The Tote") did not involve any breach of any statutory provision or of the common law.
  • 2. The transmission of bets before September 1977 was conducted properly.
  • 3. The procedure for transmitting to the relevant pool bets laid off by Tote Credit Limited, one of the Tote's bookmaking subsidiary companies, during the period from the 1st September 1977 to the 17th July 1979 permitted the inclusion of such bets after the result of the race was known, on the basis that such bets embodied decisions to lay off taken before the start of the race. This put Tote Credit Limited into a uniquely privileged position. Although this procedure was intended to protect the company when, through no fault of its staff, bets could not be transmitted to the course before the start, no other person on or off course could bet in this way. It was unfair that this distinction should be made.
  • 4. Bets laid off by Tote Credit Limited were normally transmitted before the start of the race. However, difficulties arose unexpectedly in telephoning to the course and contact was sometimes not made until after the start of the race. Some bets transmitted after the start and indeed after the result of the race was known embodied genuine forecasts. It is not possible to give reliable figures for the numbers of bets embodying decisions revised after the start of the race, where there were difficulties in telephoning, but they were probably infrequent. This malpractice took the form usually of omitting losing money which normally would have been transmitted before the race. The amount of winning money was not altered.
  • 5. An unacceptably high incidence of clerical errors in collating the bets for the Dual Forecast Pools led to the introduction of a recheck of bets if the dividend to be declared was exceptionally large. Advantage was taken of this recheck by some employees of Tote Credit Limited to transmit to the pool further bets which bore no relation to the bets received from clients and which were intended to reduce artificially the dividend. This improper practice did not occur before the end of August 1978. 15 out of 697 Forecast Pools examined by Messrs. Deloitte, Haskins and Sell were certainly affected in this way and in each case the dividend was reduced by a very large amount. A very few additional forecast pools may have been improperly affected in this way without the dividend being dramatically affected.
  • 6. Bets laid off by outside bookmakers for inclusion in the pool were placed with Tote Credit Limited as agent for the Tote for onward transmission to the course after the result of the race. The opportunity existed, therefore, for this procedure to be abused by the staff of Tote Credit Limited. It was abused because not all losing bets were put into the pool. 6 out of 995 Win Pools examined were affected in this way.
  • 7. These various malpractices did not arise out of a desire for personal financial gain and no individual in the Tote or in its subsidiary companies benefitted thereby. The abuses arose out of misplaced enthusiasm by some employees of Tote Credit Limited who took improper advantage of opportunities presented to them believing that it was in the Tote's interest to depress dividends. High Forecast Pool dividends are in the Tote's interest but this was not appreciated by those employees who were all experienced in starting price betting practices and applied them to pool betting.
  • 8. Of 1,635 Place pool dividends examined, 2 late transmissions were noted. One occurred after the start of the race concerned and the other after the result was known but this second late transmission was probably innocently delayed. The Daily Double and the Daily Treble pools examined were all properly conducted. Indeed, the inclusion of off-course bets tended to increase the dividends. Jackpot and Place pot pools were also fairly conducted.
  • 9. There were a number of instances of errors in transmission revealed but these can fairly be attributed to innocent human error which is inevitable from time to time, given the size of the business conducted and the speed required to conduct it on busy race days.
  • 10. Since the 17 July 1979 all bets must be transmitted before the start of the race. This procedure is entirely fair.
  • 11. In practice, therefore, the overwhelming number of transmissions have been made fairly, but certain procedures were open to abuse and were abused. That situation no longer exists.
  • 12. Those involved in these various abuses were all employees of Tote Credit Limited. The Chairman of the Board of the Tote, the members of the Board, the Chief Executive and other senior officials were ignorant of these abuses.
  • The Horserace Totalisator Board accepts these findings, but has pointed out, in regard to paragraph 3, that the privileged position held by Tote Credit Limited was also held by its predecessors—the Tote Board and its subsidiary Tote Investors—from 1962 to 1977. The board is considering the position of the staff concerned. On 17 July last the Tote altered its procedures so that transmission of bets after the start of a race ceased for all pools except the jackpot and the place pot. Mr. Aglionby has examined the present procedures and is satisfied that they are entirely fair. The chairman of the board has also assured me that all necessary steps have been taken to ensure that the staff adhere to the new procedures. They are based upon time-stamping and photographing of original documents, tape recording telephone conversations between the course and the Tote's London racing room and continuous audit of all transmissions by an outside security firm.Mr. Aglionby's findings refer to a number of occasions on which Tote dividends were improperly reduced. The Tote is today publishing full particulars of those occasions and is announcing that it will be prepared to make good the losses incurred by any persons who can prove that they had these winning bets, whether on or off the course.

    Sunday Trading

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the existing laws on Sunday trading.

    The Government are aware that many people regard the existing law on Sunday trading as unsatisfactory, but there does not appear to be any general agreement on how the law should be amended to resolve the present difficulties.

    Radio And Television Programmes (Schedules)

    62.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will take steps to end the monopoly of the British Broadcasting Corporation and the Independent Broadcasting Authority in issuing forthcoming radio and television programme schedules only to newspapers which are sold rather than given away.

    No. It is the long-standing policy of successive Administrations that there should be no interference by Government in the day-to-day running of the broadcasting organisations.

    Meter Charges (Diplomatic Immunity)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide, for the most convenient and recent 12-month period, the amount of money lost to the public, and the number of persons involved who have claimed diplomatic exemption, from the payment of fixed penalty and excess charge notices within the city of Westminster.

    Records of fixed penalty notices issued in the Metropolitan Police district for which diplomatic immunity is claimed relate to vehicles rather than persons and specify the street but not the borough in which a notice was issued. It would not be possible to identify those notices issued within the city of Westminster without very substantial effort, which would involve disproportionate cost.

    Immigration

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were received into prison department establishments under Immigration Act powers during 1979; if he will list those who were persons (a) awaiting deportation for breach of conditions of leave to enter or remain, including overstayers, (b) awaiting deportation deemed conducive to the public good, (c) illegal entrants, (d) having been recommended for deportation by the courts and (e) having entered in breach of a deportation order; and how many person in each of these categories were in detention on 31 December 1979.

    Information is published annually in "Prison Statistics, England and Wales"—for example table 1.1 of the issue for 1978, Cmnd. 7626—on receptions and the average daily population of all persons held under the Immigration Act 1971 in prison department establishments in England and Wales. Figures for 1979 are not yet available. Analyses of receptions or population in the form requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were detained at prison department establishments under the Immigration Act 1971 as at 31 December 1979 (a) up to one month, (b) over one month and up to two months, (c) over two months and up to three months, (d) over three months and up to six months, (e) over six months and up to nine months, (f) over nine months and up to 12 months and (g) over 12 months.

    A breakdown in the form requested could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the longest period for which any non-criminal prisoner was held in custody under the Immigration Act on 31 December 1979.

    On 31 December 1979 the longest period for which a person had been detained in a prison department establishment in England and Wales under the Immigration Act 1971 was 270 days.

    Member's Correspondence

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why it took his Department until 23 January to send a brief note in answer to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West's letter of 12 December 1979; what was contained in this letter of reply which could not have been sent sooner; and whether he will ensure that the Metropolitan Police reply more quickly when complaints are alleged against them and their officers.

    The hon. Member's letter, received on 17 December, was dealt with as quickly as possible given the requirements of other business and the intervention of the Christmas period. Responsibility for the handling of correspondence addressed to the Metropolitan Police and for the investigation of complaints against them rests with the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis.

    Wormwood Scrubs

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why a known psychopath was allocated a cell in Wormwood Scrubs with a young prisoner whom he subsequently killed.

    The decision that these two young prisoners should share a cell was taken in the light of what was then known about their previous history, including medical and personal facts. The circumstances of this case, and what was said at the trial, are now being urgently considered to see what lessons can be drawn. I very much regret the young man's tragic death.

    Jockey Club

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department on what matters it is his practice to consult the Jockey Club.

    Consultation takes place as appropriate on matters within my field of responsibility, such as the recommendations of the Royal Commission on gambling.

    Prisoners (Interpreters)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are made for interpreters during prison disciplinary proceedings against prisoners with imperfect understanding of English; and whether he can give an undertaking that no such prisoner is punished without the presence of an interpreter at the disciplinary proceedings.

    In general, it is for the governor to make local arrangements to deal with any problems of communication that may arise because a prisoner cannot speak or understand English. In addition to a prison's own linguistic resources—including other prisoners—the governor may approach embassies or consulates, the United Kingdom Immigrants Advisory Service, the courts and the police, who keep approved lists of interpreters. If necessary, disciplinary proceedings are delayed or adjourned until a suitable interpreter is available. I am not aware of any problems which have arisen but I should be glad to hear from the hon. Gentleman if he knows of any particular difficulty.Prison rule 49(2) provides that a prisoner against whom any disciplinary charge has been laid shall be given a full opportunity of hearing what is alleged against him and of presenting his case. If his understanding of the English language is inadequate for this purpose he must have the services of an interpreter before the requirements of this rule can be met.

    Prison Staff

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many members of the prison staff have been away from work as a result of injuries received from mentally disturbed prisoners in the most recent period for which figures are available.

    The information which is collected centrally about assaults by prisoners on prison staff does not include any judgment about the mental state of the prisoners concerned, and I regret that the information requested could only be

    1975*1976†19771978*§1979†Total
    Countries visited63101727
    United Kingdom Ports visited5424‡91153
    Total Ports visited2018591226135
    Total annual mileage steamed21,80016,50042,20010,10020,000110,600
    Notes:
    * participated in Exercises Highwood (1975) and Display Determination (1978).
    †in dock for refit; followed by sea trials (1976)
    ‡ includes Fleet review at Spithead.
    §in dock for maintenance followed by sea trials.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the annual revenue cost of running the Royal yacht "Britannia"; and what is the complement in total and the weekly salaries attributed to it.

    The running cost of the Royal yacht "Britannia" for the financial year 1979–80 is estimated to be some £2 million. This figure excludes the cost of her current refit. The complement when on royal duty is 276 and the average weekly salary bill is some £33,000. The complement and salary bills are reduced when she is in refit.

    Dartmoor Steering Group (Report)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has received the first report of the Dartmoor steering group; and if he will make a statement.

    obtained, even in approximate form, at disproportionate cost.

    Detained Persons (Deaths)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if, further to his answer to the hon. Member for Oldham, West Official Report, 24 January, col. 313, in connection with the case of James Kelly, he will now publish the report of Mr. David Gerty.

    Defence

    Royal Yacht "Britannia"

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many times the Royal yacht "Britannia" has been used in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.

    During the years in question Her Majesty's yacht was used for royal visits at home and abroad, and participated in exercises as follows:

    The Dartmoor steering group, under the independent chairmanship of Sir Peter Stallard, has presented its first annual report to me and to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment. The report has been carefully studied within our Departments. Copies of the report have been placed in the library.The Government are most grateful to the members of the Dartmoor steering group for their valuable work and particularly welcome their constructive approach based on a continuing need for military training to be carried out on Dartmoor.

    Conscription

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has any plans to introduce legislation to re-establish military conscription in any form.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Walsall, North (Mr. Winnick) on 31 January.

    Amble North Pier Breakwater

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what response he has made, following his hon. Friend's letter to the chairman of Alnwick district council of 30 July 1979, to the council's appeal in respect of repairs to the Amble north pier breakwater, for which a joint scheme had been agreed before he decided to abandon the Amble dock project.

    Responsibility for negotiations in respect of the repairs to the Amble north pier breakwater rests with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

    Olive St Barbe

    asked the Attorney-General if he will refer the case concerning the late Olive St. Barbe to the Director of Public Prosecutions, with a view to undertaking a prosecution for deception.

    Arts Council

    asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the sums made available by the Arts Council to Greater London and Greater Manchester, respectively, for each of the past five years; and if he will indicate the expenditure that this represents per 1,000 of population.

    The Arts Council holds detailed statistics on its clients'activities from which it may be possible to derive the figures which my hon. Friend seeks. As the assembly of these will take a considerable time, I have asked the Arts Council to write to him direct to provide the relevant information.

    European Community

    Convention On The Suppression Of Terrorism

    asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects the publication of the protocol to the European convention on the suppression of terrorism, which was signed at the EEC summit in Dublin in December 1979.

    My right hon. and noble Friend expects to lay before Parliament on 12 February the text of the agreement concerning the application of the European convention on the suppression of terrorism among the member States of the European Communities.

    Budget (United Kingdom Contribution)

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will undertake to refuse to accept a net contribution to the EEC in excess of £300 million in 1980–81.

    The matter of our budget contribution is currently under negotiation. It is premature to anticipate a specific outcome, given that the Commission's paper on possibilities for additional community expenditure in the United Kingdom became available only on 1 February and that action on the basis of this will be an integral part of a solution. We have told our partners that we are seeking a genuine compromise but that our margin of manoeuvre is small.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what progress Her Majesty's Government are making in securing a reduction in the £1,000 million in the Government contribution to the EEC budget for the year 1980–81.

    My recent tour of Community capitals indicated a widespread desire to get the problem of our budget contribution solved. An important step in this direction was the issue on 1 February of the Commission's paper on possibilities for increased Community expenditure in the United Kingdom. The Italian Prime Minister, Mr. Cossiga, assured my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister during his visit on 29 and 30 January that, as President of the Council, he would play an active role in finding a generally acceptable solution.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affaris

    South Lebanon

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations have been made by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of Syria about the redeployment of Syrian about and artillery in the South Lebanon area.

    None. There is no evidence that Syrian forces have moved south of their existing positions. Reports of Syrian concentrations close to positions occupied by the Christian militia have not been confirmed.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations have been made by Her Majesty's Government to the Government of Israel about the movement of armoured forces across the border into South Lebanon.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what attempts are being made currently by the Security Council to strengthen the United Nations Interim Force in the Labanon.

    None. The Secretary-General's report of 14 December 1979 showed that UNIFIL's force levels were in excess of its authorised ceiling and we do not believe that any further strengthening of the force is necessary at this stage. A copy of the Secretary-General's report is being placed in the Library of the House.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what discussions have been held in the Security Council about the movement of Israeli armour into South Lebanon and the redeployment of Syrian forces in that area.

    Ascension Island

    asked the Lord Privy Seal when he expects to receive the pre-feasibility study of tourism on Ascension Island, currently being studied by the St. Helena Government; and what proposals he has to safeguard the nesting beaches of the green turtle on Ascension Island.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Essex, South-East, (Sir B. Braine) on 11 December.

    Nuclear Security

    asked the Prime Minister what efforts she is now making towards ensuring that there is no repetition of the Khan incident at the joint centrifuge project at Almelo, Holland.

    As I have already told the hon. Member on a number of occasions the implementation of Troika security rules and procedures throughout the collaboration are being improved in order to ensure there is no repetition of the Khan affair. This is a continuous process and the hon. Member will understand that I cannot go into the details.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will detail the efforts she made to secure undertakings from the Government of Pakistan to the effect that they would not transfer any nuclear technology anywhere else.

    The Pakistani authorities are well aware from our many exchanges with them of the concern in this country at their unsafe guarded nuclear programme. Our discussions are necessarily confidential but include confirmation on their part that Pakistan does not intend to transfer nuclear technology to other countries.

    Civil Aviation Authority Radar System

    asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the co-ordination between the Departments of Trade, Industry and Defence on the contract for a new Civil Aviation Authority radar system; and if she will make a statement.

    Yes, the three Departments have been in close touch over this matter. But the procurement of such equipment is a matter for the Civil Aviation Authority. I understand that no contract has yet been placed.

    Dog Licensing (Ministerial Responsibility)

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list which Minister or Ministers are responsible for the operation and enforcement of dog licensing, giving details of responsibilities.

    Local authorities are responsible for collecting the dog licence fee and are required to keep a register of licence holders. The police are concerned with proceedings for licence evasion. The Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and the Secretaries of State for Scotland and Wales have powers to alter the level of the licence fee.

    Industry

    Electronics Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he is satisfied that undertakings to consider the purchase of British components given by foreign companies in receipt of subsidies from the United Kingdom to invest in the domestic electronics industry, are being adequately complied with.

    The extent of British component purchase by foreign investors in the domestic electronics industry varies, but there is no reason to think that where undertakings have been given they are not being adequately complied with.

    Input And Output Prices

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what has been the latest three-monthly increase in input and output prices.

    The input index for all manufacturing rose by 8¼per cent. and the output index by 2¾ per cent. over the three months to December.

    Redpath Dorman Long Limited

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry (1) whether he is prepared to authorise the disposal of all or part of the assets of Redpath Dorman Long Ltd. to a Dutch company, a member of the De Groot group;(2) in the event of the disposal of Redpath Dorman Long Ltd. to a company mainly operating abroad, whether he will seek assurances for the staff relative to the continuity of their company's operations in the United Kingdom, that the steel fabrication capacity of the United Kingdom plant at Westburn, Warrington, Manchester and Stockton will not be further diminished, and that the United Kingdom company's prospects will not be sacrificed to secure the bidding group's operations in Rotterdam or elsewhere;(3) what is his policy towards the disposal of Redpath Dorman Long Ltd.; and what stage the negotiations with the De Groot group of the Netherlands have reached.

    British Steel Corporation

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the percentage increase in the salary of the members of the board of the British Steel Corporation between 1978 and 1979 what is the proposed increase between 1979 and 1980; and what the net increase in their salaries was compared with the net increase in their take-home pay after allowing for the recent tax changes.

    Increases vary, but taking, for example, a full-time member of the board the percentage increase on 1 April 1979 over his salary on 1 January 1978 was 20·6 and the increase proposed for 1 April 1980 will be 7·7 per cent. The increases in money terms will be £5,005 and £2,255 respectively. Information on take-home pay is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the percentage increase in the salary of the chairman of the British Steel Corporation between 1978 and 1979; what is the proposed increase between 1979 and 1980; and what the net increase in his salary was compared with the net increase in his take-home pay after allowing for the recent tax changes.

    The percentage increase on 1 April 1979 over the chairman's salary on 1 January 1978 was 32·8. The increase proposed for 1 April 1970 is l6·3 per cent. The increases in money terms are £10,305 and £6,805 respectively. Information on take-home pay is not available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what has been the effect of the steel strike so far on the cash flow of the British Steel Corporation.

    The BSC estimates the strike is costing it £10 million a week. Full implications for cash flow cannot yet be established.

    Robb Caledon Shipyard

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what action the Government are taking in assisting the Robb Caledon Shipyard in Dundee to win new orders.

    The statement by my hon. Friend the Minister of State on 23 July to the House sets out the substantial support being provided to all our shipbuilding yards.

    Steel Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will circulate in the Official Report a table showing output of basic iron and steel per operative in the principal producing countries in 1978 and in 1979 together with the wage costs per ton in each of these years in terms of the rate of exchange between sterling and the currencies

    1976 $1978 $Percentage change 1976–78
    Wage cost for manual workers per tonne of liquid steel produced43·361·241
    Wholesale Price Index of Steel Products n Dollar terms37
    Sources:
    British Steel Corporation; Financial Statistics;
    Monthly Digest of Statistics
    Quarterly data on wage costs are not available; neither are the 1979 figures.

    Transport

    Safety-Crash Tests

    63.

    asked the Minister of Transport whether he will arrange for the results of safety-crash tests by the road research unit to be published in respect of those cars which are subsequently permitted to be sold.

    Impact tests on selected cars representative of different types of design are carried out by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory for the purpose of developing test pro-

    in question in ( a) the fourth quarter of 1976 and ( b) the latest available figures.

    Figures for 1979 are not available; nor are wage costs per ton of steel.The available information is as follows:

    Crude Steel produced per Process Worker
    Tonnes 1978
    USA330
    Japan510
    West Germany460
    Italy520
    France465
    United Kingdom190
    Belgium570
    Spain305
    Australia525
    Luxembourg770
    Source: OECD

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the wage cost in dollars of producing a ton of basic iron and steel in the United Kingdom; what has been the increase in cash terms since the last quarter of 1976 in dollars; and how this increase compares with the increase in the price of steel in cash dollar terms over the same period.

    The available information is as follows:cedures. Summaries of the results are made available and I am sending my hon. Friend copies of TRRL leaflet LF 689 and other more technical papers.Crash tests are also carried out by the Department as part of the vehicle type approval scheme. If the vehicle passes the test, a certificate is issued indicating that the required standard has been met. The certificate does not specify the actual results.

    Salesmen (Insurance Green Cards)

    64.

    asked the Minister of Transport what discussions he has had with the British insurance industry to secure the abolition of green cards and any other insurance barriers to British salesmen working from the United Kingdom into mainland Europe.

    I am not aware of any such barriers. A green card is no longer essential for travel in the EEC and a number of other European countries as a result of arrangements stemming from an EEC directive which provides that our domestic policies automatically provide the minimum insurance required in each State. A green card is, however, an internationally recognised document which provides a ready means for a British motorist to arrange the territorial extension of the full cover provided by his domestic policy. A green card is a facility rather than a barrier and I see no case for its abolition, but if my hon. Friend has a particular difficulty in mind and would write to me I would be very ready to consider it.

    Vehicle Loads

    asked the Minister of Transport if he has any plans to publish a new code of practice about safety of loads on vehicles; and if he will make a statement.

    The Department's code of practice "Safety of Loads on Vehicles" was published in 1972. Much of the advice in it is still useful but I have decided that the code should be updated to take account of more recent experience and developments. Preliminary consultations on revision of the code have now started.

    European Community (Transport Infrastructure)

    asked the Minister of Transport on how many occasions British representatives have been present at meetings of the EEC transport infrastructure committee; what schemes they have put forward for consideration as of Community interest; and what input, in terms of transport infrastructure schemes of potential Community interest, has been made by the United Kingdom Government prior to the publication of the Commission's green paper on transport infrastructure.

    British representatives have attended all three meetings of the committee already held and will attend the meeting planned for 5 February. No scheme of Community interest from any country has yet been put to the Committee. Like most other member States, the United Kingdom has complied with the Commission's request for information on conditions on main traffic arteries. The Commission may draw on this information for the purposes of its report to the Transport Council on bottlenecks in transport infrastructure, but the information was supplied on the understanding that it did not necessarily represent the United Kingdom's views on priorities and in no way prejudged the Government's choice of projects of Community interest.

    Transport Supplementary Grant

    asked the Minister of Transpart if, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for West Bromwich, East, Official Report, 15 January, column 704, he will show the division of public transport revenue support between support to the British Railways Board and to bus services for each authority listed.

    No. I took a view, on the broad components as listed, of local authorities' transport plans for the purpose of calculating transport supplementary grant. It is now for county councils to decide how best to apply the total resources available to them.

    A39

    asked the Minister of Transport if, in view of recent accidents causing loss of life and serious injury, he will arrange for a 30 miles per hour speed limit to be placed on the A39 through Fremington village, and arrange without delay for a survey to be carried out into the speed limits on the A39 between Barnstaple and Instow.

    I deeply regret the recent accidents at Fremington and am urgently reviewing the speed limit through the village. I will also consider whether a change in the speed limit on any other part of the A39 between Barnstaple and Instow would be justified.

    Employment

    Skillcentres

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to the written answer to the hon. Member for Wolver Hampton, North-East (Mrs. Short), Official Report, 11 December 1979, columns 549–50, whether Sir Derek Rayner is discussing with the Manpower Services Commission the appropriate length for courses at skillcentres.

    The Manpower Services Commission informs me that Sir Derek Rayner is not discussing with it the appropriate length for skillcentre courses.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of places expected to be available at skillcentres for courses commencing during 1980; and what are the six skills for which retraining will be most widely available at skillcentres.

    I have been advised by the Manpower Services Commission that approximately 18,400 places will be available in skillcentres during 1980. The six trades for which most places will be available are:

    • Bricklaying.
    • Motor vehicle repair and maintenance
    • Carpentry and joinery
    • Welding—electric arc.
    • Capstan setting/operating.
    • Radio, television and electronic servicing

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what plans he has for the Blackburn skillcentre.

    Redundancies

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a list showing the names of firms known to him which have laid off more than 100 workers at any one time since 1 January 1978, together with such information as he may have on the goods and services being produced by the workers concerned.

    I regret that this information is not available, as there is no statutory requirement for an employer to notify lay-offs to my Department.

    Kirkby

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many redundancies in Kirkby have been reported to his Department since May 1979.

    From the beginning of May 1979 to 29 January 1980, 1,005 proposed redundancies involving 14 firms in the Kirkby area were notified to the Department under the redundancy handling provisions of the Employment Protection Act 1975.During the same period 162 redundancies at two firms were formally withdrawn.

    Docklands

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many persons were registered as unemployed at the latest available date at each employment office located in the Docklands designated area; how many of these were school leavers; what is the seasonally adjusted figure for each office, and the percentage of all employees; and if he will give comparable figures in each case for January 1977, 1978 and 1979;(2) how many notified vacancies there were at the latest available date at each employment office located in the Dock-lands designated area; how many notified vacancies there were at each careers office in the Dock lands designated area; what is the seasonally adjusted figure in each case; and if he will give comparable figures for January 1977, 1978 and 1979.

    Small Firms Employment Subsidy

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment why the number of people covered by the small firms employment subsidy in Scotland dropped from 12,400 at the end of November 1979 to 6,500 at the end of December 1979; and what further measures he has in mind to encourage employment in small firms.

    The December figure shows a decrease on the previous month due to a combination of the effects of the changes made to the small firms employment subsidy scheme in July 1979 and delayed claims over the Christmas period.All special employment measures are currently being reviewed. My right hon. Friend hopes to make an announcement about the future of the small firms employment subsidy scheme and other measures very shortly.

    Bury And Radcliffe

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons in the Bury and Radcliffe travel-to-work area (a) have been given temporary employment subsidy since its inception (b) are receiving support from the temporary short-time working scheme and (c) are taking advantage of the job retirement scheme since its inception.

    The Bury travel-to-work area comprises the employment office areas of Bury, Heywood, Radcliffe and Rams bottom. In this area,5,181 jobs have been supported by the temporary employment subsidy and there have been 683 applications approved for the job release scheme. At 31 January 1980, 378 jobs were receiving support under the temporary short-time working compensation scheme.

    Health And Safety

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if he is satisfied with the present level of health and safety at work; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he will take steps to encourage factory inspectors to disclose the problems and difficulties they find in the course of their inspections to the public and the press.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many of the planned staff savings of 260 people at the Health and Safety Executive are factory inspectors.

    The Health and Safety Commission and the Executive are reviewing the allocation of resources to future programmes of work, but it is too early to say how this will affect the number of factory inspectors.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the current frequency of visits to the average establishment by factory inspectors; and what will be the frequency of visits following cutbacks in resources and manpower.

    On frequency of visits by factory inspectors to the average establishment I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Keighley (Mr. Cryer) on 8 November 1979—[Vol. 973, c. 260–611] It is too early to say what effect the Government's announced cut in the Health and Safety Executive's staff costs will have on the inspectorates activities.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he has made an estimate of the cost to industry as a result of health and safety legislation; and if he has made an estimate of the saving of life and health standards as a result of health and safety legislation.

    Lancashire Textile Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the average numbers of (a) persons employed (b) persons made redundant from employment, and (c) persons onshort-time, in the Lancashire textile industry in each of the years 1969 to 1979, inclusive.

    I regret the information is not available in the precise form requested.(

    a) The number of persons employed nationally in the Lancashire textile industry—defined as the sector covered by minimum list headings 412 and 413 of the standard industrial classification—in June of each year from 1969 to 1979 inclusive was as follows:

    Year

    Employees (000's)

    1969141·0
    1970137·0
    1971125·4
    1972112·5
    1973110·5
    1974106·6
    197596·5
    197691·3
    *197790·5
    *197884·1
    *197980·2
    * Figures are provisional

    ( b) The Manpower Services Commission has informed me that according to its records the total number of workers involved in actual redundancies of 10 or more in the Lancashire textile industry

    in each of years 1969 to 1979 was as follows:

    Year

    Redundancies

    19693,193
    19704,880
    197111,526
    19725,430
    19731,984
    19741,290
    19754,725
    19763,666
    19772,487
    19783,690
    19795,110

    There is no statutory obligation on employers to notify actual redundancies and these figures are not therefore a comprehensive record of all redundancies which have occurred.

    ( c) Statistics on short-time working are collected in respect of one week in each month. The following table gives the average number of operatives on short-time in the Lancashire textile industry for those 12 weeks each year for the years 1969 to 1979.

    Year

    Operatives (000's)

    19690·3
    19701·1
    19714·3
    19721·0
    19730·1
    19741·9
    19754·6
    19761·3
    19770·8
    19780·6
    19791·3

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what estimate he makes of the effect upon employment in the Lancashire textile industry following the ending of the short-time working compensation scheme;(2) what plans he has for assisting the Lancashire textile industry once the short-time working compensation scheme has ended; and if he will make a statement.

    The temporary short-time working compensation scheme is open for applications up to 31 March 1980. A decision about the future of the scheme will be made as part of theannual review of the special employment and training measures, which has not yet been completed. My right hon. Friend hopes to make an announcement about the scheme very shortly.

    Community Workshops

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what progress has been made by the Manpower Services Commission in developing its proposals for community workshops in which unemployed people, specially those who are disabled, could undertake light manufacture or repair work to provide a local service, without undue pressure to produce a financial profit; and if he will make a statement.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, in money terms and in terms of numbers affected under each heading, what is the effect on (a) the North-West, (b) Merseyside, (c) Kirkby and (d) Ormskirk of his cuts in job promotion, job protection and training schemes, giving full information itemised for each scheme.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 January 1980, c. 118]: I announced on 12 June 1979 some changes in my Department's special employment measures and in the programmes of the Manpower Services Commission, but it is not possible to say, in detail, what the effects were in terms of expenditure or numbers of people supported in the areas mentioned by the hon. Member. One of our aims was to concentrate help on areas where it was most needed. Not all programmes were restricted, however, and some have continued to expand.I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that for the North-West region the effect of Government expenditure cuts will be to reduce the number of training opportunities programme places planned for the current financial year from 15,638 to 13,490. The reduction will be mainly on commercial and clerical training. This represents a reduction in planned expenditure of £3·2 million.I am further informed by the MSC that there has been no reduction in the youth opportunities programme's planned level of operation in the areas mentioned. The national budget for STEP was reduced in June 1979 by concentrating the programme in the special development areas, development areas, and designated inner city areas. However, in the North-West there will be an increase in the number of entrants to programmes this year under both STEP and YOP; in the first three quarters of 1979–80 the number of YOP places had almost exceeded the number available in the whole of 1978–79–29,700 as against 29,900—and the number of STEP places was already higher than in 1978–79–4,400 as against 3,700.There was a reduction of £1 million in the planned provision for community industry in 1979–80. It is estimated that the effect on the numbers of places in units in the North-West was small, but detailed figures are not available. It is estimated that even after this reduction there will be about 250 more places in community industry in the North-West this year than in 1978–79, and most of these will be on Merseyside.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will place in the Library a copy of the limited warrants held by 323 inspectors appointed by the Health and Safety Executive under section 19 of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act.

    [pursuant to his reply, 31 January 1980]: I am arranging for a specimen set of the executive's limited warrants to be placed in the Library.

    Wales

    Microelectronics Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what efforts he is making to develop the microelectronics industry in Wales.

    YearsMotorways (miles)Dual carriageway trunk roads (miles)Single carriageway trunk roads (miles)Substantially improved trunk roads (miles)
    1974–7510·21·34
    1975–765·634·65
    1976–772·98
    1977–7831·2
    1978–791·0
    1979–803·74·56·5
    1980–8116·45·44·420·9

    Overseas Development

    Iran

    My Department is promoting the development of the microelectronics industry in Wales by encouraging expansion projects and seeking to attract new firms in this field to Wales. It is also encouraging the application of microelectronics in industry and other areas.

    Nuclear Installations

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales under what circumstances, and under what statutory procedures, the Government can grant planning permission for a nuclear installation in an area whose local planning authority is opposed to the development.

    A proposal could come before me for decision on appeal, under section36 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, or could be called in under section 35 of the Act. Section 40 of the Act may also apply.

    Road Construction

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many miles of (a) new trunk motorway route, (b) new trunk dual carriageway route, (c) new trunk single carriageway route and (d) substantially improved trunk route were opened for use in each of the last five financial years; and what are the estimated figures for 1979–80 and 1980–81.

    The following is the information relating to schemes of improvement costing over £0·5 million. Where schemes involve both single and dual carriageway improvement, the mileage has been allocated to the major category.ing at 31 March 1979, and noted on page 132 of Appropriation Accounts, volume 1, classes I to III, 1978–79, is outstanding.

    £1,140,593. A further repayment of £130,000 is due on 19 March 1980.

    Commonwealth Scholarship And Fellowship Plan

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the sum provided by the Overseas Development Administration in respect of each of the academic

    1978–791979–80
    ££
    (a) Tuition fees387,000412,000
    (b) Fares (Overseas and United Kingdom)167,000245,000
    (c) Maintenance and related expenditure, including dependants allowances1,505,0001,475,000

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list the universities and other institutions in Great Britain at which academic award holders from the Commonwealth began in the academic year 1979–80 postgraduate studies under the Commonwealth scholarship and fellowship plan, together with the names of the member countries of the Commonwealth from which such award holders have come, showing how many persons from each of such Commonwealth countries have gone to each such university or other institution.

    As the answer is rather detailed, I will arrange for the information to be placed in the Library.

    Energy

    North Sea Oil (Gas Flaring)

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will give the estimated volume of gas flared off British North Sea oilfields and terminals for the latest period for which he has figures.

    An average 480 million cu. ft. a day (mcfd) and 7 mcfd respectively for December 1979.

    Civil Service

    Promotion

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service (1) how many administrative category staff and how many professional, scientific and technical staff were promoted to the principal or equivalent level before the age of 29 years in 1978 and 1979;(2) how many administrative category staff and how many professional, scientific

    years 1978–79 and 1979–80 to meet (

    a) tuition fees, ( b) fares and ( c) board for award holders under the Commonwealth scholarship and fellowship plan.

    Sums provided in the academic year 1978–79 and the estimated provision in 1979–80 are as follows:and technical staff were promoted to the assistant secretary or equivalent level before the age of 45 years in 1978 and 1979.

    I am having the information the hon. Member has asked for collected and will write to him.

    Senior Professional Administrative Training Scheme

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many officials have entered the senior professional administrative training scheme since 1976.

    In the four-year period 1976 to 1979 inclusive, 89 officials were assessed as suitable for the senior professional administrative training scheme. Since the scheme was introduced in 1972 a total of 245 candidates have entered the scheme.

    Open And Limited Opportunity Posts

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many open and how many limited opportunity posts exist in the Civil Service.

    Details of open and limited opportunity posts in Civil Service departments are collated on a two-yearly basis. The latest figures available, given below, relate to the position at 1st October 1977.

    Open opportunity posts1166
    Limited opportunity posts2739
    I shall let the hon. Member know when the figures relating to the position at 1 October 1979 are available.

    Manpower

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will publish a list of the main Departments with more than 5,000 permanent staff, showing how many such staff were employed in each Department on 1 April 1974, 1 April 1975 and at the most recent date for which figures are available.

    Permanent staff in post (full-time equivalents)
    1 April1 April1 January
    Department197419751980
    Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food15,02315,31613,623
    Customs and Excise24,79028,36227,429
    Inland Revenue69,80274,19678,970
    Department for National Savings13,62113,31810,313
    Ministry of Defence248,876247,600220,213
    Royal Ordnance Factories18,20019,01421,520
    Department of Employment Group*28,29719,18651,380
    Departments of Environment and Transport†25,22226,79725,353
    Property Services Agency (including Supplies Division)44,26643,85237,444
    Foreign and Commonwealth Office10,21710,2999,545
    Home Office28,69630,72933,680
    Department of Industry10,14910,3659,187
    Lord Chancellor's Department9,4259,7449,905
    Land Registry4,7474,5985,808
    Civil Service Department5,0725,3263,264
    Civil Service Catering Organisation‡1,805
    HM Stationery Office7,1397,1836,290
    Scottish Office9,70410,03910,668
    Department of Health and Social Security83,23288,62995,391
    Department of Trade7,0167,3697,239
    Notes:
    * During 1974 the Manpower Services Commission took over responsibility for the Training Services Agency and Employment Service Agency from the Department of Employment. These staff were transferred back into the Civil Service with effect from 1 January 1976
    † In September 1976 transport once again became the responsibility of a separate department, the Department of Transport. At 1 January 1980 there were 13,600 staff, in the Department of Transport
    ‡ With effect from 1 January 1980, figures for the Civil Service catering organisation are shown separately

    Open Structure

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service what percentage of posts in the Civil Service open structure is held by scientists and by professional and technical staff.

    Posts in the open structure may be held by any civil servant with the ability and qualifications to do the job successfully, irrespective of the occupational group or class in which he has previously served, and records are not kept in the form required to answer the question precisely.On 2 January 1980 about 40 per cent. of posts in the Civil Service open structure

    1976197719781979
    Appointed from outside the Civil Service1361109673
    Appointed from among serving officers50325237
    Totals186142148110

    Numbers of permanent staff in post in the main Departments at 1 April 1974, 1 April 1975 and 1 January 1980, the latest date for which figures are available, are set out in the following table.were held by staff with a scientific or technical background. There will be others whose careers have been mainly in administration whose basic training or qualifications were scientific or technical or who have professional qualifications.

    Recruitment

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many administration trainees were recruited externally; and how many were recruited from serving officials in 1976 to 1979.

    The following table shows the number of people taking up appointment as administration trainees in the Home Civil Service in each of the years 1976 to 1979.principals were recruited to the Civil Service in 1978 and 1979.

    24 men and women took up appointment in the principal grade of the Home Civil Service through the competition run in 1978 by the Civil Service Commission for those aged 28 and over. No direct entry principal competition was held in 1979 because of the temporary ban on recruitment which was then in force.

    Lateral Postings

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many lateral postings of scientific and professional staff into the administration category have been made in 1976 to 1979.

    Complete records of postings of scientific and other professional staff into the administration group are not held centrally and the information could only be obtained at disproportionate cost.

    Government Departments (Review)

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether any further studies in Government Departments under the guidance of Sir Derek Rayner have now been decided.

    In addition to those studies to which I referred in my reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) on 23 January—[Vol. 977, c. 207–101—there will be a scrutiny of the organisation of the training services division in the Manpower Services Commission. I am also setting in hand a general review of the Government's statistical services which Sir Derek Rayner will conduct.

    Environment

    Development Projects (European Community Directive)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy towards the new preliminary draft directive of the EEC involving an environmental impact analysis of public and private development projects which would require an additional stage in the United Kingdom planning process.

    We are studying this document, which appears to adopt a different approach from the Commission's earlier thinking.

    Rent Officers

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has made of the number of extra rent officers who will be required, and at what cost to the public, to cope with the additional work that would result from a change in the period of review for fair rents from three to two years.

    Paragraph 25 of the explanatory memorandum to the Housing Bill estimates that the additional work for the rent officer service resulting from the proposed aboliton of controlled tenancies and from the change to which my hon. Friend refers may cost abount £1 million annually by 1982–83. This assumes a possible increase in staff, who currently number 1,330, of about 10 per cent. It is not possible to forecast the breakdown of any increase between rent officers and supporting staff.

    Pollution

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to implement those sections of the Control of Pollution Act 1974 which are not yet implemented.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 12 December 1979 to the hon. Member for Mancheseter, Gorton (Mr. Marks)—[Vol. 975, c. 682–3.]

    Domestic Water Rate

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated average national increase in domestic water rates for 1980.

    Not all water authorities have finalised their budgets for 1980–81, but, on the best information we have, the average national increase for water services charges in England and Wales is likely to be about 22 per cent.

    Nuclear Waste Disposal

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish details of the progress made to date of field studies, planning applications or other steps, in each of the areas identified by him in his statement of 24 July 1979 as being suitable for investigation as part of the Government's programme of geological research into methods of nuclear waste disposal; what developments are anticipated in each area during the next six months; and if he will list any new areas or research programmes into methods of nuclear waste disposal decided upon since his statement.

    Applications for planning permission to drill exploratory boreholes have so far been made at four sites in the United Kingdom. In Caithness drilling has been completed. Periodic visits to the site will be made to carry out hydrogeological measurements. An application to drill in the Carrick forest was refused by the Kyle and Carrick district council. The United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority appealed against the refusal to my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland, who has ordered a public inquiry to be held, beginning on 19 February 1980. The UKAEA has also appealed to my right hon. Friend against the refusal by Northumberland county council of two applications to drill in the Chillingham and Usway forests.The geological research programme is to be extended to include study of the properties and structures of further formations. Proposals for surface reconnaissance within four of the areas identified in my right hon. Friend's statement of 24 July 1979 were announced on 17 January 1980, and may be followed by the Natural Environment Research Council submitting planning applications in due course. These areas are central and north-west Somerset; south-east Hereford and Worcester, and north Gloucestershire; north Leicestershire and south Nottinghamshire; and south Gwynedd and north-west Powys.Announcements are expected to be made during the coming months about some or all of the remaining areas identified in my right hon. Friend's statement of 24 July.—[Vol. 971, c. 215–19.]

    Screening For Lead

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what further progress has been made in the United Kingdom survey implementing the EEC directive on the biological screening of the population for lead since the first report was placed in the Library on 15 November 1979; and if he will make a statement.

    Local authorities have now sent results for all remaining groups of people in the survey except for those for mothers and children in Glasgow, which will not be available until later this year. I am placing in the Library of the House a further report giving the preliminary analyses of the results for the groups not covered in the first report. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have sent copies of the report to hon. Members with a constituency interest.These two reports show that all but four groups meet reference levels set in the directive. The levels are exceeded by three groups of children in Chester and Leeds—Thorpe—and one group of adults so far reported from Glasgow. In each case a likely principal source of exposure has been identified and action is either in hand or planned by local authorities and Her Majesty's Inspectorates to tackle these. In addition, individuals with high blood lead levels have been told and investigations made to see whether they are exposed to other specific sources of lead. The report gives an account of these actions.The report will be sent to the Commission of the European Communities, and the Department is preparing more detailed analyses which will also be reported to the Commission later this year.I would like to thank all those who took part in the survey, particularly those who volunteered samples.

    Cayman Turtle Meat

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why he is prepared to allow imports of turtle meat from Cayman turtle farms to enter Great Britain, in the light of the United States Federal case against Cayman turtle farms.

    The import of turtle meat from Cayman turtle farms is governed by the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976. The green turtle is listed under appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species—CITES—and its import is governed by the Endangered Species (Import and Export) Act 1976. Cayman turtle farm turtles are captive-bred, which means that they are treated as if they were listed on appendix II of CITES—the object of which is to monitor trade—and therefore may be imported under licence. The United States imposes a complete ban on the import of green turtle products irrespective of whether they fulfil CITES definition of captive-bred.

    St John's House, Bootle

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what is the estimated date of the completion of St. John's House, Bootle; what was the estimated cost on the date when the building was first started; and what is the estimated cost today;(2) if he will make a statement on the results of the review mentioned in a written answer of 24 November 1977 about St. John's House, Bootle; what is the remainder of the building being used for; and what new jobs have been brought into the area as a result.

    I invited tenders in December for the occupational services work necessary for the building to be completed on a phased basis from February 1981. In respect of the occupation of the building I would refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Civil Service Department on 20 December in the context of the Government's plans for the dispersal of jobs to Bootle. When the first contract for the construction of this building was let in 1969 it was for a sum of £4.9 million. I presently estimate that construction—excluding work in the occupational services contract—will have cost £23·7 million.—[Vol. 976, c. 306.]

    Manchester Main Drainage System

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement regarding the revitalisation of the main drainage system in the city of Manchester; and if he will be prepared to make additional funds available so that surface and environmental improvements do not take place over a worn-out sewerage and water supply network.

    No. Maintenance and renewal programmes for public sewers in Manchester are matters to be dealt with by the North-West water authority in consultation with its agents, the city council.

    Expenditure by regional water authorities is limited by national economic circumstances. However, when deciding the capital allocations for the nine English authorities, the special circumstances of the North-West water authority are taken into consideration.

    Amble North Pier Breakwater

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to ensure that the Amble north pier breakwater is repaired.

    My officials have recently had an informal discussion with representatives of the Alnwick district council about this problem. It is now a matter for the council to formulate proposals and submit them for consideration under the Coast Protection Act 1949 and I understand that it has this in hand.

    Walsall Housing Investment Programme

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the housing investment programme for the borough of Walsall has now been finalised.

    Housing investment programme allocations for 1980–81 will be made as soon as this is possible.

    Derelict Land (Manchester)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what effect the loss of intermediate area status will have on the city derelict land grant to the city of Manchester and on the future rolling programme.

    The change of status will not take place until 1 August 1982, and until then Manchester will continue to be eligible for 100 per cent. derelict land grants. The whole of Greater Manchester, including the city, is currently being considered for designation as a derelict land clearance area with continuing access to 100 per cent. grants.

    National Finance

    Rate Of Exchange

    60.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will encourage the expansion of trade by allowing the natural supply and demand for the £ sterling to be reflected more freely in the rate of exchange.

    It is indeed the Government's policy that the exchange rate is and should be determined primarily by market forces. Intervention is confined to moderating excessive short-term fluctuations in the rate and preserving orderly market conditions.

    Pension Funds (Tax-Free Status)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many pension funds are currently awaiting approval for tax-free status by the Inland Revenue; and what is the total value of those funds.

    As at 31 December 1979, 128,000, of which probably about one half are arrangements for the benefit

    Reference number and dateReference number in PCA's Quarterly ReportNature of complaintWhether upheld
    C278/T August 1973HC42Delay in processing of claim for car tax refundApology by Department.
    528/T March 1974HC170Refusal of meeting with Treasury Ministers.No.
    453/T June 1974281Misleading information given by VAT Central Unit regarding Purchase Tax Rebate Scheme.No (but apology was made by FST in ministerial correspondence).
    51/J June 1974281Accountants alleged that Customs had no statutory authority to require production of information and documents from client claiming not to be registrable for VAT purposes.No.
    69/J October 197449Delay in tax repaymentYes.
    200/J December 1974241Refusal to reimburse registered person with costs incurred because of delay in repayment of Purchase Tax/VAT.No.
    203/J November 1974241(a) Rejection of Purchase Tax Rebate Scheme claim in respect of tax-paid stocks at inception of VAT.No comment by PCA: VAT Tribunal had dealt with appeal.
    (b) Alleged official discrimination against trader.No.
    511/J April 1975405Refusal to vary frequency or method of VAT repayments.No.
    686/J July 1975529VAT liability of foreign-built yacht bought before, but imported after, the introduction of VAT.No (but owner was advised that Personal Reliefs Order 1970 might apply).
    25/V July 1975529Refusal of tax relief following monetary loss through burglary.No.
    452/V September 197537Delay in repayment of VAT on personal export.No (but ex gratia payment made).
    749/V January 1976259Refusal to refund part of tax included in advance payment of TV rental, when VAT rate fell before due date.No.
    469/V February 1976496Refusal to pay Purchase Tax Rebate to VAT-registered trader.No.
    699/V August 197646Inadequate Departmental enquiry into complaint about officers investigating suspected VAT irregularities.No.
    195/K December 1976223Tax arrears demanded in respect of VAT Returns completed with official advice and assistance.No.

    of a single employee. In about 124,000 of these cases provisional relief will have been given to employees where appropriate. In the vast majority of cases—116,000—the Inland Revenue is waiting for further documentation, and so on, from the applicant with a view to giving final approval. No information is available on the value of these schemes.

    Value Added Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish a list in the Official Report of all cases involving value added tax on which the Parliamentary Commissioner for Administration has taken evidence from his Department since 1973.

    Reference number and date

    Reference number in PCA's Quarterly Report

    Nature of complaint

    Whether upheld

    43/K February 1977413Secondhand car dealer complained of actions of officers investigating his VAT affairs; in particular, their accusation of fraudulent evasion.Upheld only in respect of accusation of fraudulent evasion.
    427/K March 1977413Incorrect advice leading to demand for unpaid tax.No.
    569/K May 1977528Arbitrary action of officers in levying distress in respect of VAT debt already paid.Yes.
    409/K October 1977126Incorrect advice leading to demand for unpaid tax.No.
    577/K September 1977126Complaint about attitude of investigating officer.Yes.
    601/77 May 1978664Reimbursement of costs incurred by publican through inaccurate VAT assessment.No (but small ex gratia payment made).
    761/77 May 1978664VAT arrears: maladministration by Customs and Excise.No (but apology made).
    812/77 June 1978664VAT: Special retail schemes. Retailer criticised content of relevant VAT Notice.No.
    803/77 July 1978664Insufficient time allowed to pay VAT arrears.No.
    727/78 November 1978302Delay in handling voluntary application for registration for VAT purposes.No.
    900/78 February 1979124Refusal to refund VAT and car tax on United Kingdom vehicle purchased tax-free (irregularly) for export, and official treatment at place of intended exportation.No.
    528/78 March 1979124Substantial VAT arrears accrued as a result of incorrect information given by Customs and Excise.No.
    714/78 March 1979124Failure by Customs officers to provide adequate information promptly, on request.No.
    1129/78351Official delay in finalising VAT claim against company in receivership led to substantial tax burden falling on associated company.Yes (part of tax debt was waived).

    Public Expenditure

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report a statement describing the transmission mechanism by means of which the saving of £3·5 billion in Government expenditure will reduce inflation and lead to a sustained growth of private sector output; whether this is expected to operate during the forthcoming recession; and what is his estimate of the likely timetable.

    The reduction in public expenditure plans below those of the previous Administration will, over the medium term, allow a lower rate of monetary growth than would otherwise have been the case. This will be reflected in a lower rate of inflation, for a number of reasons, especially that the exchange rate will be higher than otherwise and pressure of demand lower. Any loss of output will be temporary. Both the lower level of interest rates that should accompany this process and the slower rate of inflation itself will increase private sector demand and output. As to the length of time over which this process might be expected to operate, I refer the hon. Member to the answer given to a previous question of his on 18 January 1980.—[Vol. 976, c. 894.]

    Public Contracts (Labour Terms)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek to ensure that contracts placed by public bodies do not include terms which insist on the employment of unionised labour.

    Public Expenditure

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give a breakdown of all the cuts in public expenditure that the Government have so far implemented, indicating both the amounts cut in each item and the total; and if he will give a similar breakdown of cuts already announced but not yet implemented.

    [pursuant to his reply, 31 January 1980]: I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave on 18 December 1979 to my hon. Friend the Member for Northampton, North (Mr. Marlow)—[Vol. 976, c. 136–37]—and to the answer given by my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State on 15 November 1979 to the hon. Member for Thurrock (Dr. McDonald).—[Vol. 973, c. 766.]

    Money Supply, Earnings And Output

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will circulate in the Official Report a table showing for each quarter since 1 January 1967 a moving average over the four preceding quarters of (a) the real money supply, (b) earnings per hour and (c) output per man hour in manufacturing and in the whole economy.

    I regret that this information cannot be provided without a disproportionate expenditure of time and resources.

    Paye Centre

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the first PAYE centre will be sited in St. John's House, Bootle; and if he will make a statement.

    Invisible Earnings

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list in the Official Reportthe net surplus in invisibles for each of the last five years, including 1979.

    The latest estimates are as follows:

    £ million
    1975+1615
    1976+2759
    1977+2037
    1978+2207
    1979+815
    The estimate for 1979 includes a projec-

    tion of the surplus on invisibles in the fourth quarter and so is particularly subject to revision. Detailed information on invisibles up to the third quarter of 1979 is available in the quarterly article on the balance of payments published in

    Economic Trends, December 1979.

    Trade

    Inflation

    8.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade during which periods over the last two years the inflation rate has been below 10 per cent. per annum.

    Inflation fell from 27 per cent. in August 1975 and was in single figures from January 1978, but by the autumn of 1978 it was again rising and returned to double figures in April 1979.

    25.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present rate of price inflation.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Aberdare (Mr. Evans).

    33.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present annual rate of price inflation.

    The retail prices index increased by 17·2 per cent. over the past 12 months.

    35.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present six-monthly rate of price inflation; and what is its yearly equivalent.

    The retail prices index has increased by 9 per cent in the past six months. The yearly equivalent of this figure would be 18·8 per cent., but this annualised rate double-counts all the factors which have affected the RPI in the past six months—including the Budget increases in indirect taxes.

    38.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is his forecast for price inflation at the end of 1980.

    Tourism

    9.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he is taking to improve tourism in new towns.

    The British Tourist Authority and the three national boards are responsible for encouraging the development of tourism in Britain as a whole, including new towns. In addition, through the national boards, financial aid for specific tourism projects is available in the assisted areas, including projects in new towns in those areas. My Department makes grants for both these purposes to the British Tourist Authority and the English Tourist Board.

    30.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action is being taken at EEC level to promote the development of tourism in the United Kingdom.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the total value of the tourist trade in the United Kingdom for each of the past five years; and of each year's total how much represented earnings on the external account.

    Official information on the total value of the tourist trade is not collected. Figures of earnings in the United Kingdom from overseas visitors are published quarterly in Economic Trends, which is in the Library. The latest information appears on page 82 of the December 1979 issue under "Services, Credits, Travel."

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give a general direction to the British Tourist Authority that Northern Ireland should be represented equally with England, Wales and Scotland in any promotional activities abroad.

    Section 5(3) of the Development of Tourism Act 1969 provides for the British Tourist Authority to carry on activities outside the United Kingdom, at the request of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board and on terms agreed between the British Tourist Authority and the Northern Ireland Tourist Board, in order to encourage people to visit Northern Ireland. The British Tourist Authority already makes use of these powers to undertake overseas promotional activities on behalf of the Northern Ireland Tourist Board.

    Generalised Preferences

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will enter negotiations to exclude from the generalised scheme of preferences a number of countries whose production and competitiveness are reaching Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development levels.

    The matter will be considered in the European Community's forthcoming review of the structure of its generalised preference scheme.

    Export Credits Guarantee Department

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied that the cost of subsidising interest rate payments incurred by the Export Credits Guarantee Department is necessary for the purposes of trade promotion.

    The interest support arrangements provided by the Export Credits Guarantee Department apply only to the 5 per cent. of our exports sold on two years' credit or more. These arrangements enable our exporters to provide credit to overseas buyers at interest rates which are both broadly comparable with those of our competitors and in line with the levels set by international agreement. Without this support, which most of our major competitors also provide, there is no doubt that some United Kingdom exporters would be placed at a serious competitive disadvantage.

    Vessels (Navigation Devices)

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will discuss with other maritime nations the desirability of an international requirement that all ships should carry electronic position fixing devices, in order that ships, particularly oil tankers, are not necessarily obliged to approach a coastline in order to fix their positions accurately, thus lessening the risk of disasters similar to that caused by the "Amoco Cadiz."

    We have for some time been in detailed discussion with other maritime nations at IMCO regarding the mandatory carriage of electronic position fixing devices by ships.

    Overseas Legislation

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what efforts are being made to achieve the standardisation or modification of consumer protection legislation overseas which amounts to an artificial barrier to British exports.

    A considerable number of EEC directives, some concerned with consumer protection, are designed to eliminate artificial barriers to trade within the Community. The agreement on technical barriers to trade negotiated in the recent multilateral trade negotiations should also make a contribution in this field.

    Dumping

    29.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the exercise of his powers against dumping.

    Since July 1977 the European Commission has been responsible for taking action against dumped or subsidised imports into the Community. However, my Department has retained its anti-dumping unit to advise and help United Kingdom industry in preparing cases for submission to the Commission. I have recently issued guidance notes giving advice to industry on procedures.

    Liverpool Airport

    31.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what assessment he has made of the extra employment opportunities which result from the operation of Liverpool airport.

    I understand that about 660 people are employed at Liverpool airport, of whom 159 are direct employees of the airport authority. Employment is expected to increase in the coming year but I have made no assessment of other jobs which might now or in the future result from operation of the airport.

    Advertising

    32.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement about the progress of the EEC draft directive on advertising and con- sultations on the Director General's report on advertising.

    Both matters are covered in a report by a working party on the self-regulatory system of advertising control, which has now been presented to me. I intend to publish the report on 11 February, when copies will be placed in the Library of the House.

    Departmental Activities

    34.