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Written Answers

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 6 February 1980

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 6th February1980

Misuse Of Drugs Act 1971


asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he is satisfied with the operation of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 in view of the recent judgments in the High Court of Justiciary in the cases of Gallagher and McLeod concerning definition of possession of drugs.

These cases involved contravention of section 5 of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, that is, being in possession of a controlled drug unlawfully. The Crown does not require to prove that the drug found in the possession of the accused is "capable of being used". In making these decisions the Scottish Court of Appeal specifically disapproved the English case of R. v. Carver [1978], 2WLR, 872 in which it was held that possession of a quantity so minute that it is not usable is not possession within the meaning of section 5 of the Act. I respectfully agree with the decision of the Scottish Court.

Scottish Law Commission


asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland when next he plans to meet the chairman of the Scottish Law Commission.

My right hon. and noble Friend the Lord Advocate at present has no plans to meet the chairman of the Scottish Law Commission. He keeps in close touch with him and meetings are arranged as and when necessary.

Custody Orders


asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what progress he has made in ensuring that there is reciprocity between English law and Scottish law as respects custody orders for children.

The problems relating to reciprocal recognition and enforcement of orders for the custody of children as between the various jurisdictions of the United Kingdom are being considered jointly by the Scottish Law Commission and the Law Commission for England and Wales. A consultation document was issued by the commissions in 1976 and account has been taken by them of the comments received on consultation. I understand that the two commissions are now close to an agreement on a scheme for common grounds of jurisdiction within the United Kingdom.

High Court Of Justiciary (Clerks)


asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland whether he has any plans to meet the clerks of the High Court of Justiciary.

Education And Science

Braunton School And Community College

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will expedite approval of the Devon county council application for a grant in respect of a 150 place extension to Braunton school and community college together with the new primary school in Braunton, in view of the need to accommodate the children of Royal Air Force and civilian personnel at the Royal Air Force station, Chivenor which is due to be operational again in August.

The Devon local education authority has applied for an increase in its school building allocation for 1980–81, amounting to £1,513,000, in respect of projects in Braunton and three other parts of the county. These applications relate to permission to start work up to a particular value and not to grant. They are being considered, on the basis of need, in the light of competing bids from other local education authorities and the limited resources available. I expect a decision to be taken shortly.

Youth Organisations (Departmental Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the grants made available by his Department to the National Youth Bureau and other leading organisations concerned with youth during the most recent year for which figures are available.

Grants paid to national youth organisations during the financial year 1978–79 were as listed below. The figures include grant towards headquarters expenditure; grant to support development, experiment and research; and, in a few cases, grant towards capital projects of national or regional significance. The list excludes youth service grants to organisations not national in scope, or not primarily concerned with youth work.

OrganisationsAmount paid in
National Youth Bureau216,486
Anglican Young People's Association550
Army Cadet Force Association 4,900
Association for Jewish Youth9,750
Baptist Union of Great Britain and Ireland4,300
Boy's Brigade18,500
British Council of Churches3,350
British Red Cross Society5,700
British Youth Council19,537
Catholic Youth Service Council7,100
Church Lads' Brigade and Church Girls' Brigade6,050
Church of England Board of Education22,400
Co-operative Union1,500
Council for Nature3,350
Dockland Settlements1,200
Duke of Edinburgh's Award44,050
Endeavour Training14,650
Foudroyant Trust6,900
Girl Guides Association60,000
Girls' Brigade15,850
Girls' Friendly Society8,550
Girls Venture Corps15,600
Jewish Lads' and Girls' Brigade2,500
Methodist Association of Youth Clubs30,650
Methodist Association of Asian Youths4,102
National Association of Boys' Clubs110,150
National Association of Youth Clubs214,771
National Council for Voluntary Youth Service11,800
National Elfrida Rathbone Society14,900
National Federation of 18+ Groups6,500
National Federation of Gateway Clubs4,750
National Federation of Young National PHAB (Physically Handicapped and Able Bodied)9,450
National Youth Assembly1,400
National Youth Theatre12,400
Ocean Youth Club2,850
Outward Bound Trust10,650
Sail Training Association2,650
Salvation Army2,800
Scouts Association52,050
Sea Cadet Association12,050
St. John Ambulance Brigade4,550
Union of Maccabi Associations 2,000
UK Federation of Jazz Bands4,000
United Reformed Church9,550
Woodcraft Folk2,250
Young Christian Workers11,800
Young Men's Christian Association128,422
Young Women's Christian Association44,500
Youth Hostels Association91,387

Engineering Subjects (Instruction)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what action he proposes to take on the recommendations of the Finniston report entitled "Engineering Our Future", relating to the changes required in school instruction referred to in pages 40 and 41 of the report; and if he will make a statement.

:The Government are considering all aspects of the report and consulting a large number of organisations, including major educational organisations, with an interest in it. In the course of seperate consultations my right hon. and learned Friend will be holding on a national framework for the school curriculum, attention will be given to the place of mathematics, science, careers education and school/industry links, all identified in the Finniston report as aspects of the school curriculum requiring emphasis.

Research (Fort Detrick)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if the Agriculture Research Council's Institute of Animal Physiology at Babraham, or any other institution within his sphere of responsibility, has carried out research on chemical or biological agents, derived from Fort Detrick in the United States of America, in addition to that in relation to shellfish toxin; and if he will make a statement.

Other than the instance described in my reply on 14 January 1980 to the previous question from the hon. Member—[Vol. 95, 573–574]—I am aware of only one sample received from Fort Detrick. This chemical agent was used in the 1950s by the Agriculture Research Council's former Unit of Experimental Agronomy, in connection with a programme on the control of wild oats.


asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the cash limit on funding from the national pool and the effect this will have on the higher education service provided by the city of Manchester.

In full consultation with the local authority associations and in the light of the Government's public expenditure plans and the assumptions underlying them, my right hon. and learned Friend has pre-determined that the total expenditure on advanced authorities may claim from the pool in 1980–81 shall, subject to the passage of the Education (No. 2) Bill, be £375 million at November 1979 prices. Arrangements have been made to increase this sum in the light of inflation in a way that recognises the overall RSG cash limit. It is for individual authorities to decide how best to organise their advanced further education provision in the light of their allocations from the pre-determined pool and any other resources they choose to make available.

Expenditure (Cumbria)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what the effect of Government expenditure cuts on education expenditure in Cumbria in 1980–81 will be; whether these cuts will maintain the quality and standard of education in Cumbria; and if he will make a statement;(2) if, in the light of the commitment made by Her Majesty's Government in the Queen's Speech to maintain and improve the quality of education, he will review the reductions in expenditure in Cumbria on teaching posts, the employment of non-teaching staff, capitation, the further education budget, adult education, discretionary awards, catering standards, the youth service and in-service teacher training, with a view to making additional funds available; whether he is satisfied that these cuts will help to fulfil the commitment in the Queen's Speech; and if he will make a statement.

The Government's plans, set out in last November's public expenditure White Paper—Cmnd. 7746— and embodied in the rate support grant settlement for 1980–81 provide nationally for the maintenance of per capita standards in the essential parts of the education service. It is, however, for individual local authorities to determine the detailed distribution of their expenditure reductions between and within services in the light of local needs and conditions.


asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will update the figures given in paragraph 9 on page 129 of Cmnd. 7439 relating to the margin of teachers surplus to numbers required to maintain pupil-teacher ratios and to make provision for in-service training.

Projections of the number of teachers expected to be employed in the years up to 1983–84 will be included in the Government's White Paper on public expenditure, which is to be published in March.

Student Fees

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what fees will be charged for courses in higher and further education for the academic year 1980–81 to home students, and to overseas students who began their courses before 1 September 1980, respectively; and if he will make a statement.

The recommended fees are as follows:

Undergraduate and equivalent:
*Full-time non-advanced:
* Fees for home students on full-time non-advanced courses are a matter for the local authority associations.
These amounts are designed to maintain fee levels in real terms.


"Pool Fisher"

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the present position in respect of his Department's investigations into the loss of the "Pool Fisher" off the Isle of Wight in in November 1979.

My Department's preliminary inquiry into the cause of the loss of the "Pool Fisher" is nearing completion and I expect to receive the report within 21 days.

Greetings Cards

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many Christmas cards manufactured in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics were imported in the United Kingdom in 1979.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the up-to-date total of greetings cards imported into the United Kingdom that were originally printed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The number of Christmas and other pictorial greeting cards of

£ million, OTS basis
Total Trade (0–9) less Crude Oil and Division 66Manufactures (5–8) less Division 66
EEC (6)Rest of WorldEEC (6)Rest of World
* Exports valued fob less imports valued cif.
Crude oil is defined as SITC (R) 331.01; SITC (Rev 2) 333.
Full details of trade in previous stones are not available, but they formed around 85 per cent. of trade in Division 66 (non-metallic mineral manufactures) in 1979.

Works Of Art

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what cases there have been of the sale abroad of works of art, following the issue of export licences for temporary exhibition abroad.

It is not the practice to disclose particulars of individual export licensing cases, but my Department is aware of two instances in the last 10 years in which works not of national importance were temporarily exported and subsequently sold while abroad. The pro-

Russian origin imported in 1979 was 52.2 million.

European Community (Balance Of Trade)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing in free-on-board and cost-insurance-freight terms, taking account of the latest revision in the trade figures, the balance of trade with the EEC Six and the non-Six, respectively, for (a) manufactures, less precious stones and (b) visible trade, less crude oil and precious stones, for each year since 1970.

The available information, which is the difference between exports valued fob and imports valued cif, is given in the following table. These figures have not been affected by recent revisions.cedure for temporary exportation is under review

Man-Made Fibres

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will refer the man-made fibres industry to the Monopolies Commission for investigation as to pricing.

Monopoly references are normally made by the Director General of Fair Trading. I understand that he has no plans for a reference at present.

Imports And Exports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will give the value of United Kingdom imports and exports for the first nine months of the present financial year, or latest available period, with each of the following countries; the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, and Yugoslavia.

The information for the period April to December 1979 is as follows:

£ million
United Kingdom Imports (cif)United Kingdom Exports (fob)
German Democratic Republic93·146·0
Note: The effects of industrial disputes led to some under-recording of imports in the early months of 1979, which was corrected in the later cumulative figures. The net figures for imports in the last nine months of the year are therefore likely to be overstated.

Holiday Caravans And Chalets

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list the legislation which covers owners of holiday caravans and chalets against costs such as increases in ground rent and other non-rate charges.

None. I hope, however, that agreement will be reached on a code of conduct which will protect holiday caravan and chalet owners against abuse in this respect.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, further to his reply to the hon. Member for Batley and Morley on 29 January, what discussions are taking place aimed at securing agreement on a code of conduct governing arrangements between site owners and holiday caravan and chalet owners; and when he expects discussions to be concluded and the code of conduct to be announced.

A draft code prepared by the National Caravan Council and the National Federation of Site Operators was circulated last autumn to representatives of holiday caravan owners and to other interested parties. My officials have discussed with representatives of the organisations the comments made by other interested parties. I hope that agreement on a code can be reached fairly soon.The code under discussion would apply only to holiday caravans. If agreement can be reached on such a code, however, I hope that it will be possible to negotiate a similar code applying to holiday chalets.

Birmingham And Midland Counties Trust

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will take steps to ensure that Birmingham and Midland Counties Trust abides by the provision of the Companies Act 1948, section 124 and 126, in view of the fact that this company has not lodged its report and accounts for the years 1977–78 and 1978–79.

Birmingham and Midland Counties Trust Ltd. filed an annual return made up to 12 December 1978 on 27 February 1979 and accounts made up to 30 September 1977 on 16 March 1979. Letters have been sent to the company and to each of the directors asking them to file the outstanding documents.

Noise Insulation (Heathrow And Gatwick)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he intends to introduce new noise insulation grant schemes at Heathrow and Gatwick.

I have today made orders which provide for both schemes to come into operation on 1 April 1980.

Select Committees (Reports)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will list the reports of Select Committees of the House of Commons for which Government replies are still awaited, together with the date and subject of the reports and the names of the Government Departments concerned.

Departmental replies are outstanding in respect of the following Select Committee reports:

Select Committee on Overseas Development, 1st Report, Session 1978–79 (March 1979). "The Pattern of United Kingdom Aid to India". (Foreign & Commonwealth Office).
Expenditure Committee Report, Session 1978–79 (July 1978). "Reduction of Pressure on the Penal System". (Home Office).
Public Accounts Committee, 3rd Report, Session 1979–80 (November 1979). "Department of Energy: Off-shore Supplies, Interest Relief Grants". (Treasury).
Select Committee on Nationalised Industries, 2nd Report, Session 1978–79 (April 1979). "Consumers and the Nationalised Industries: Pre-Legislation Hearings". (Departments of Industry and Trade).

National Security

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will move to appoint a Select Committee to examine the operation of the security services.



asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will consider special measures to increase the number of places for apprentices, in view of the shortage of skilled labour in many parts of industry.

The Government are continuing to support the Manpower Services Commission's "Training for Skills" programme under which Exchequer funds are made available where

Aged under 20 yearsAged 20–24 yearsAged 25–34 yearsAged 35–44 years
* The July figures for those aged under 20 include considerable numbers of school leavers not present in the January figures.
The January 1980 figures are affected by the introduction, in September 1979, of fortnightly attendance and payment of benefit. Estimates by age are not available, but for all unemployed in Great Britain the numbers are about 20,000 higher than under weekly attendance.

required to support extra training, including extra places for apprentices, to help to meet the skill needs of industry.

British Steel Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry why, in the light of the statement by Commissioner Vredeling that generous sums are available to assist the British Steel Corporation, no application for such support from the social fund has yet been made by the United Kingdom.

[pursuant to his reply, 31 January 1980]: The sums which Mr. Vredeling is reported as mentioning refer principally to existing European Coal and Steel Community assistance.The Department of Employment has forwarded an application for assistance from the European social fund by British Steel Corporation (Industry) Ltd. The application, which is for assistance towards the retraining of unemployed persons in areas affected by steel plant closures, has been submitted under the provisions of the fund designed to assist provisions of the fund designed to assist regions suffering from structural unemployment.

Unemployed Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give the numbers unemployed in the age groups 16 to 19 years, 16 to 25 years and 35 to 44 years for each of the past five years.

Following is the information for Great Britain for the age ranges nearest to those specified at January and July each year from July 1975.

Blackburn Skillcentre

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

[pursuant to his reply, 4 February 1980]: I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that construction of a new skillcentre in Accrington to replace the existing Blackburn skillcentre began in September 1979. It should be ready by early summer 1981. Training capacity will be increased 50 per cent.

School Leavers

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many school leavers entered the labour market in each of the past five years; and what are his estimates for 1980, 1981 and 1982.

I have been asked to reply. The numbers of school leavers in England and Wales not entering full-time further education, and therefore likely to be available for employment, are as follows:

Male adults (aged 21 and over) in manufacturing industryAll adults (men aged 21 and over, women aged 18 and over) in all industries covered in Department of Employment survey(c)Index of retail prices (October 1979=100)
Thousands per academic year
* Estimated.


asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the average annual earnings for male adult industrial workers and for all workers, respectively, both at current values and at October 1979 prices for each fiscal year since 1954–55.

Comparable figures for financial years are not readily available for the categories mentioned. However, in respect of October each year since 1954 the average weekly earnings of manual employees at current values and the index of retail prices—October 1979=100—have been as follows:

Home Department

Prison Officers

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the establishment of basic grade and other prison officers in each prison in England and Wales; and how many vacancies there are at the present time.

The following schedule gives the position at each prison service establishment:

Authorised strengthVacancies
Appleton Thorn445
Askham Grange283
Blantyre House404
Buckley Hall392
Bullwood Hall8212
Camp Hill1744
Campsfield House322
Channings Wood91
Cookham Wood355
Deerbolt Camp938
Drake Hall599
East Sutton Park181
Eastwood Park464
Finnamore Wood
Foston Hall26
Gaynes Hall495
Glen Parva1216
Grendon and Spring Hill15732
Guys Marsh503
Hewell Grange425
Hollesley Bay13912
Latchmere House755
Long Lartin31828
Lowdham Grange691
Low Newton84
Moor Court358
New Hall332
North Sea Camp563
Portsmouth (Kingston)653
Shepton Mallet716
Stoke Heath1217
Standford Hill11420
Swinfen Hall794
Thorpe Arch RC566
Wormwood Scrubs47730
* Not fully operational.

Bullwood Hall Borstal

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what percentage of women and girls entering Bullwood Hall borstal in 1978 and 1979 had (a) no previous convictions, (b) one or two previous convictions, (c) three to five previous convictions and (d) six or more previous convictions.

Information is not available in the form requested. However, information on previous convictions is available for about two-thirds of those discharged from Bullwood Hall borstal in 1978 at the end of their period of borstaltraining, although they may not be representative of all those so discharged. Of those so discharged in 1978 for whom information is available, none had no previous convictions, 19 per cent. had one or two previous convictions, 59 per cent. had three to five previous convictions, and 22 per cent. had six or more previous convictions. Figures for 1979 are not yet available.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many girls under 17 years were received in Bullwood Hall borstal in 1978 and 1979; what percentage of these had received (a) a previous supervision order imposed in criminal proceedings, (b) a previous care order imposed in criminal proceedings and (c) both a previous supervision order and a previous care order imposed in criminal proceedings.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many prisoners released in each of the last five years served the latter part of their sentences in Wandsworth prison.

To provide information for all the years requested would involve disproportionate cost. During 1978, 1,128 males were discharged from Wandsworth prison after serving sentences of imprisonment. Figures for 1979 are not yet available.

Myra Hindley

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the cost to public funds of the Open University degree course recently completed by Myra Hindley.

£287 has been paid to the Open University, spread over six years. The cost of books, stationery and materials is extra, but they were provided from general prison education funds for such supplies and are not recorded under the names of individual prisoners.

Public Order Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what are the full terms of reference and coverage of the review being conducted within government of the Public Order Act and related matters; and, in particular, what aspects of the right to demonstrate are being covered by the review.

The review is primarily concerned with the statutory provisions relating to public order, principally the Public Order Act 1936, as amended, and sections 82 to 84 of the Representation of the People Act 1949. It embraces questions relating to different forms of demonstration, including public marches, assemblies and meetings, as well as to the right to demonstrate itself.

Category A Prisoners

asked the Secretary of Stale for the Home Department what is the number of men and women at present serving prison sentences who are classed as category A prisoners.

On 1 February 1980, 283 male and seven female sentenced prisoners were being held in security category A.


asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of representations he has received from Asian community leaders or associations (a) expressing opposition to his proposed changes in immigration laws and (b) supporting the proposed changes.

This information is not readily available and could only be obtained at disproportionate cost, but in all we have received something in the order of 1,500 letters about the White Paper on the immigration rules.

Prisons (Officer-Prisoner Ratios)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present ratio of prison officers to prisoners in Her Majesty's prisons.

The ratio of staff in post of the prison officer class as a whole to prisoners in the penal establishments of England and Wales on 1 January 1980 was 1:2·59.

World Peace Council

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what his policy is towards the granting of visas to the international membership of the World Peace Council to attend conferences in the United Kingdom;(2) if he will make a statement as to the reason why he has refused representatives of the World Peace Council temporary admittance to the United Kingdom for the purpose of their attending a conference held in London on 26 and 27 January.

One representative of the World Peace Council, Mr. Romesh Chandra, sought entry to the United Kingdom to attend the conference held in London on 26 and 27 January and was refused leave to enter on my personal certification that his exclusion on that occasion would be conducive to the public good. He is a senior official of an organisation which is a disguised instrument of Soviet foreign policy.The Government do not consider that it is in the national interest to allow free rein to the activities in the United Kingdom of leading officials of such organisations who are subject to immigration control. Applications for entry will be carefully considered on an individual basis.

Vagrancy (Arrests)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many arrests have been made in the Y division of the Metropolitan Police during the last 12 months under the terms of section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824;and if, in table form, he will set out in the most commonly understood way the variously classified groups and whether or not they were ultimately convicted.

I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that the information requested on arrests is available for offences of being suspected of frequenting a public place with intent to commit an arrestable offence, but that information for other offences under section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 could be obtained only at disproportionate cost. The information for 1979 is given in the following table. The number of these persons ultimately found guilty is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.Persons arrested

1 for being suspected of frequenting a public place with intent to commit an arrestable offence:

Y District, Metropolitan Police District, 1979

Ethnic appearanceNumber of persons
White-skinned European29
Dark-skinned European3
Black-skinned (including West Indian/African)20
Arabian /Egyptian
Not Known

1Persons proceeded against by means of a charge, referral to a juvenile bureau, a caution or in some other way; arrests not followed by any action are not included.

St John's Shopping Precinct, Liverpool

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has received the letter from the chief fire officer of the Merseyside county council concerning the proposed design of the rebuilt Liverpool St. John's shopping precinct; what reply he has sent; and if he will make a statement.

The chief officer of the Merseyside fire brigade wrote to Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Fire Services on 28 December about the fire at St. John's precinct, Liverpool on 17 December 1979. That letter did not deal with the proposed design of the rebuilding of the precinct; but, in the case of requirements relating to public health and safety in the design and construction of new buildings, including public shopping precincts, any variation in the procedure currently required to be followed in the enforcement of building regulations is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment.

Illegal Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he expects to be in a position under current arrangements to estimate the rate of illegal immigration by June 1981.

No. It is not possible to estimate reliably the number of those who enter illegally—whether clandestinely or by deception. Experience suggests that attempting to estimate evasion through prolonged overstaying is likely to be expensive and of limited value. It will probably be preferable to use the available resources to tackle the problem directly by inquiring more effectively into particular cases.




asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the present target date for the completion of each of the bypasses scheduled for construction on the A75; and if he will make a statement.

I am reviewing the timing of all schemes in the trunk road programme as part of the commitment to contain public expenditure. After the Government's public expenditure plans have been announced it will then be possible to give some indication of likely construction dates, including those for the A75.

Heart Disease


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will initiate research into the reasons why more people die of heart disease in Scotland than any other part of the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

This is a subject receiving much attention from my Department. A working group recommended last year that a unit for ischaemic heart disease epidemiology should be set up in Scotland to intensify research in this area. Proposals for the unit have been obtained from the four Scottish medical schools and these are now under consideration.

Fishing Industry


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Scottish fishing industry.

The industry faces many problems, mainly as a result of rising costs and the decline in many of the more important fish stocks. These difficulties can best be removed by a satis- factory settlement of the common fisheries policy, and the Government are working urgently to this end.

District Ward Boundaries


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the criteria which the Boundaries Commission must apply in determining district ward boundaries.

I am well aware that the statutory criteria which the commission is required to apply have given rise to criticism in a number of areas, as failing to allow sufficient weight to be attached to local ties. There is, however, no doubt that Parliament clearly intended that parity of electorates should be the overriding factor when it passed the appropriate clauses in the Local Government (Scotland) Act 1973. It would be premature to contemplate altering the criteria before the commission has completed the current initial review, which is now very far advanced, but I would be glad to receive representations regarding any future changes.

Fishery Protection Service


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to improve the fishery protection service.

The DAFS fleet shares the fishery protection task with the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force and there is excellent co-operation between these three arms of the fishery protection service. My noble Friend the Minister of State recently visited Maritime HQ at Pitreavie and the RN Fishery Protection Squadron at Rosyth.I am satisfied that, within the current financial constraints, our fishery protection service is efficient and effective though I am always prepared to receive proposals about how it might be improved.



asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what measures he proposes to take to curb the rising unemployment figures for Scotland.

We have already stated clearly our policies for tackling the severe unemployment problem which we inherited. These are to reduce inflation by sound economic and monetary measures, and to establish a securely based economy in which industry in Scotland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, can expand and provide more jobs.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects next to discuss unemployment with the Scottish Trade Union Congress.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave earlier to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton).


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the latest unemployment figures for the Strathclyde region.

On 10 January 117,800 people were registered as unemployed in Strathclyde region, representing an unemployment rate of 10·8 per cent. This figure is disappointingly high, but reflects the particular problems of the area which the Government's policies are designed to help overcome.

Local Authority Rates


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will issue guidance to local authorities on the rate of inflation to assume in determining their rate for the forthcoming financial year.



asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects next to meet the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities.

I look forward to addressing the annual conference of the convention at Dumfries on 28 March.

Job Creation (Lanarkshire)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what further plans he has to increase employment in Lanarkshire.

Our economic policies are designed to generate the fundamental improvement in the economy essential to the creation of secure and last- ing employment. The changes which we have made in regional policy will concentrate assistance for the creation of new jobs into areas of greatest need, including Lanarkshire.

Hospitals (Argyll And Clyde)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the closure of hospitals in the Argyll and Clyde area.

As part of the reorganisation of hospital services following the recent commissioning of the recent Inverclyde royal hospital, five hospitals were closed in 1979 in the Inverclyde district.The health board recently decided on the basis of professional advice to make alternative arrangements for the services provided at Dumbarton cottage hospital. The board is now considering the future of the hospital and will be consulting interested bodies. If it considers closure is desirable, the Secretary of State's authority will be required.

Engineering (Finniston Report)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the Finniston report on engineering with regard to Scottish industry and education.

The Finniston report is an important and comprehensive study, which the Government welcome. Appropriate interested bodies in Scotland have been invited to comment on the report's recommendations before the Government reach any decisions on it.

Rating Revaluation


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the present system of rating revaluation.

The fact that there have been 109,000 appeals arising from the 1978 revaluation in Scotland illustrates some public dissatisfaction with the system. I am seeking the views of the Scottish Valuation Advisory Council on problems which remain unresolved when outstanding appeals have been decided. Once I have its advice I will consider future arrangements for revaluation.

Economic Prospects


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future prospects for the Scottish economy.

The economic situation internationally and in the United Kingdom is likely to make the period ahead a difficult one for the Scottish economy. Our policies aim to bring about a fundamental improvement in economic performance in all parts of the United Kingdom through controlling inflation and encouraging enterprise and initiative.

Scottish Office (Manning Levels)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is satisfied with the measures currently being carried out to reduce manning levels in his Department.

I am satisfied that the reductions I have sought are being made. The staff in post in Scottish Office departments has fallen by 326 since 1 May 1979 and further measures are planned over the next three years to reduce functions and manning levels.

Football Matches (Crowd Control)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of the correspondence between his Department and Mr. Tom Hart, of Hibernian football club, he will make a statement on control of football supporters attending away matches.

There has been no correspondence with Mr. Hart on this subject.

Unemployed Young Persons


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many young people in Scotland are unemployed at present; and if he will make a statement on the job prospects for such school leavers in 1980.

On 10 January 22,400 young people under the age of 18 were registered as unemployed in Scotland, of whom 13,300 were school leavers. Job prospects for these young people, as for adults, will depend largely on the way in which industry—employ- ers and trade unions—respond to the measures we have taken to reduce inflation and create a soundly based economy in Scotland and in the rest of the United Kingdom.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what has been the number of unemployed under the age of 18 years in Dundee in each year since 1970; and what percentage of the total number of unemployed in Dundee each number represents, taking the figures for June of each year as the annual figure.

Information is not available in the precise form requested because no analysis of the unemployed register by age is carried out in June. The information for July of each year is given in the following table.

JulyNumbers under 18 registered as unemployed in DundeeAs percentage of total unemployed in Dundee

Forth Road Bridge (Toll Charges)


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will withdraw his request to the Forth Road Bridge Joint Board to increase the toll charges on the Forth road bridge, in view of the increasing unemployment in Fife.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today to the hon. Member for Fife, Central (Mr. Hamilton).

Legal Aid


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the provision of legal aid for pursuing Scottish legal cases in courts in England.

Where a Scottish pursuer wishes to institute or follow up proceedings before an English court, legal aid would he available under the English legal aid scheme. This, however, is a matter for my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consultations he has had regarding the availability of legal aid in Scotland.

My right hon. Friend has not undertaken any recent formal consultations, but he is always willing to consider constructive suggestions for improvement of the legal aid scheme. He will, of course, give careful consideration to any recommendations which may be made in this field by the Royal Commission on legal services in Scotland.

Local Government Reform


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on his plans for the reform of local government, particularly in reference to his intentions regarding the area presently administered by the Glasgow district council.

Paternity Awards


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he is satisfied with the ability of Scotswomen granted paternity awards against residents of England to secure payment, as a result of the different legal systems.

Alimentary decrees of a Scottish sheriff court, consequent on an action for affiliation and aliment, may be registered in a magistrates' court in England, and will thereafter be enforced in the same way as would be an order of the English court.I am not aware that this procedure in general gives rise to any difficulty.

Fishing Quotas


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what difference the agreement on total allowable catches for 1980 reached by the Council of Fisheries Ministers on 29 January will make to the quotas for Scottish fishermen for the current year.

The landings allowances now in force for haddock and whiting were set taking account of the total allowable catches recommended for 1980. The slight increases since agreed by the Council of Ministers would not justify any change.

Football Matches (Policing Fees)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the average fee for 1,000 spectators charged by police authorities in the Strathclyde, Lothian, Tayside and Grampian regions for police cover at football matches for 1979; and what are the proposed charges for the current year.

The charges made by police authorities in these circumstances are a matter for local arrangement and the information sought is not available centrally.

Industrial Retraining

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in view of the level of unemployment in Dundee, he intends to increase the level of industrial retraining facilities in Dundee.

The Manpower Services Commission is increasing its training provision under the training opportunities scheme in the Dundee area, and expects to cater for an additional 90–100 trainees in 1980–81.

Primary Education (Inspectors' Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will publish Her Majesty's inspectors' study "Evaluation of Primary Education"; and if he will make an interim statement of his conclusions on its recommendations.

I understand that a report on this study is in the final stages of preparation, and that publication should be possible in the summer. I do not propose to make any comment on the study at this stage.

Teachers (Pay)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make an interim pay award to Scottish teachers as recommended by the chairman of the Clegg Commission.

This is a matter for negotiation in the Scottish Teachers' Salaries Committee, which on 31 January agreed on a flat-rate interim pay award of £408 a year.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will enter into negotiations with the organisations representing the teaching professions over improvements in Red Book and circular 1029 standard, with a view to upgrading the quality of education in Scotland.

I have no plans at present for consultations about possible changes in school staffing standards. In the White Paper "The Government's Expenditure Plans 1980–81" (Cmnd. 7746) provision is made for a marginal improvement in both primary and secondary national pupil-teacher ratios as compared with those for which provision was made by the previous Administration for 1979–80.


asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what estimate he is now able to make of the average increase in local rates for the forthcoming financial year.

I have nothing to add to what I said on this subject during the debate on 17 January on the Rate Support Grant (Scotland) Order 1979.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs


asked the Lord Privy Seal what arrangements have been made for the official transfer of power in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia and for the independence celebrations.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many people are still under sentence of death in Rhodesia; how many have had their sentences commuted; and if he will make a statement.

Seventeen persons are at present under sentence of death in Rhodesia. The Governor has commuted 11 death sentences to life imprisonment. No death sentence can be carried out in Rhodesia until the Governor has decided whether to exercise the prerogative of mercy.

Alexander Sakharov


asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he will now propose concerted action to be taken by the European Community in regard to recent actions by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics including the banishment to Gorki of Alexander Sakharov as a denial of human rights.

As I told the House on 28 January, the Italian presidency raised the banishment of Dr. Sakharov with the Soviet authorities on 25 January.—[Vol. 977, c. 1084.] The Nine will continue their consultations with a view to concerting their attitudes to the implementation of the Helsinki Final Act, including respect for human rights, in the forthcoming review at Madrid.

Malta (Territorial Waters)

asked the Lord Privy Seal what undertakings have been given by Her Majesty's Government to clear World War II wrecks from the territorial waters of Malta.

Expert advice is that World War II wrecks in Maltese territorial waters do not constitute a hazard to shipping; clearance is therefore unnecessary. The Government have, nonetheless, told the Maltese authorities that any request for help or advice regarding a survey of wrecks would be given sympathetic and practical consideration in the context of specific harbour development schemes.

British Nuclear Fuels Ltd

asked the Lord Privy Seal what assurances the United Kingdom has obtained from the Governments of Italy and Switzerland regarding the contracts of British Nuclear Fuels Limited to reprocess spent nuclear fuel from those countries.

Notes were exchanged with the Swiss Government on 22–31 October 1979 and with the Italian Government on 11 January about the return of waste and the form in which plutonium should be transported. Copies of these are being placed in the Library of the House.


Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woolwich (National Health Service Patients)

asked the Secretary of State for Defence in what circumstances charges are made for the treatment of National Health Service patients at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Woolwich; what has been the annual income from this source; and whether any changes in the financial arrangements with the National Health Service are planned.

No charges have been made for treating National Health Service patients at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, Woolwich. The recovery of costs for making certain specialised facilities at the hospital available to the National Health Service is under consideration.

Shellfish Toxin

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if any supplies of shellfish toxin are currently held in the United Kingdom for military or special military or other operations; and, if so, if the use of this toxin would be in accordance with all the United Kingdom's international obligations on the use of chemical and biological agents.

Aircraft Losses

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what funds are set aside to cover the cost of the loss of Royal Air Force aircraft; and what third party cover is provided for compensating next-of-kin when airmen are killed or injured and for civilian casualties and their properties.

No funds are specifically set aside to procure new aircraft to replace losses as they occur. Aircraft are bought in numbers intended to be sufficient to sustain those required in operational service, and to replace those lost or damaged beyond repair.It is not the practice for the Department to take out insurance in order to provide compensation for the victims of aircraft or other accidents involving the Armed Services. Costs incurred by the Department as a result of any such accidents are met directly from the defence budget. In some cases involving death or injury to members of the Armed Services, the Department of Health and Social Security also has responsibility for the payment of pensions or gratuities.

International Military Services Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) why he is proposing to transfer some defence sales work to International Military Services Ltd.; and if he will make a statement;(2) whether defence sales work transferred to International Military Services Ltd. will be subject to the scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General.

An examination of alternative arrangements for the organisation of some defence sales work is in hand with a view to removing part of this activity from Defence Votes and of developing a more commercial approach. This has included consideration of the future role of International Military Services Ltd. but final decisions have yet to be made. International Military Services Ltd. is at present subject to the scrutiny of the Comptroller and Auditor General and this will continue under any new arrangements.


Gas Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what would be the effect on gas prices of raising the wellhead price to a figure equivalent to the posted price for North Sea crude oil.

Gas is not sold at the wellhead in the United Kingdom. If BGC were to pay a price at the beach equivalent to present North Sea oil prices, it would have to pay on average at least 18p a therm more than in 1978–79. Because the costs of gas transmission and distribution have to be added to the beach price of gas, contracted volumes of gas could not then be sold against competition from other fuels.

Nuclear Power Stations

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if, in connection with the Government's new nuclear power station programme, he will make a statement as to how he proposes to ensure the fullest possible participation in major new decisions.

I have already made it clear in my statement of 18 December 1979 that, so far as the first PWR station is concerned, there will be an inquiry in due course. No decisions have been made on precisely what type of inquiry should be established, but it is my view that the fullest explanations and the fullest discussion should inform the inquiry.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if, even where full planning consent becomes available for the construction of new nuclear power stations, he will take steps to ensure that, at Government expense, the county authorities retain the services and advice of an independent nuclear expert during construction, with adequate site access, and that seminars are organised at an early stage to improve local knowledge and minimise apprehensions.

This is a matter for county authorities. The independent Nuclear Installations Inspectorate of the Health and Safety Executive has responsibility for the inspection and enforcement of nuclear safety standards, and the National Radiological Protection Board for advice on radiological protection. I understand that it is the practice of the CEGB to engage in wide local consultations in connection with any proposal to build a power station.

Coal Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether, pursuant to his reply, Official Report, 13 December 1979, column 743, he has any adjustment to make to the cash limit on his Class IV, Vote 8 for 1979–80.

I announced on 13 December 1979 that the Government are making available to the NCB in the current financial year up to £255 million in grants at 1979–80 outturn prices; this will not involve any change in the board's external financing limit £709 million for 1979–80 set in June 1979. Of the £255 million, some £159,324,000 will be subject to the cash limit on my Depart- ment's Industrial Support Vote (Class IV, Vote 8) which is currently set at £53,055,000, but after taking into account this grant assistance and the current forecast for outturn for the Vote, the total provision will be increased, subject to parliamentary approval by £146,200,000 to £199,255,000. This will not involve any increase in the planned total of public expenditure.

Fuel Costs

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will ease the burden of fuel charges on the poorer members of the community by giving a directive to the electricity and gas industries to abolish the standing charge

No. The Government are currently reviewing the range of help available to assist poor consumers with their fuel bills, and will announce their proposals as soon as possible.

North Seal Oil (Licensing)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he will adopt as a criterion for allocation of licences in the Scottish sector of the North Sea the number of jobs and enterprises offered by the aspirant licensee in Scotland.

I would not expect to differentiate on the basis suggested by the hon. Member. In taking the final decisions on the licensing arrangements it will be my aim to maximise the benefit to the nation as a whole.



asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many industrial robots are currently operating in Great Britain; and how this compares with the numbers in Japan, America, West Germany, France and Italy.

It is estimated that there are about 130 multi-role programmable robots in operation in Great Britain, 4,000 in Japan, 2,500 in the United States of America, 700 in the Federal Republic of Germany, 400 in Italy and 150 in France.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many preproduction orders for robots his Department has financed and at what cost; what similar schemes are being planned in the future; and what resources are involved.

The Department is financing four pre-production orders for robots, at a total cost of £228,800. The Department is also discussing possible future robot projects with other companies, but these are not yet at a stage at which detailed costs can be given.


asked the Secretary of State for Industry, in the light of the worldwide shortage in semiconductor supplies and the growing demand for such supplies, what is being done to assist British industry and in particular companies assisted by the National Enterprise Board to take advantage of the market situation.

[pursuant to his reply, 5 February 1980]: As well as regional support under section 7 of the

'000 tonnes
YearBritish Steel CorporationPrivate SectorTotal
Ingots, blooms, billets and slabs (including tube rounds and squares).1970311·037·9348·9
Heavy rails (20 kg and over per metre) and accessories.1970232·63·4236·0
Plates 3 mm thick and over (including coil).19703,166·3231·73,398·0

Industry Act 1972, selective assistance is available to companies in the semiconductor industry, including National Enterprise Board companies, under sections 7 and 8 of the Industry Act 1972, and under the Science and Technology Act 1965, provided eligibility criteria are met.

Steel Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will tabulate in the Official Report, from information available to him, the tonnage and value of steel produced by the British Steel Corporation and the private sector of the steel industry, respectively, and in total, broken down into the categories recognised by his Department including bulk steel, construction and engineering steels, stainless steel, heat resisting steels, tool and die steels, and high speed steel for each of the past 10 years.

[pursuant to his reply, 28 January 1980, c. 438–39]: The value of steel produced is not available. The rest of the information is as follows:

'000 tonnes


British Steel CorporationPrivate SectorTotal
Other light rolled sections and hot rolled bars.19701,073·8530·51,604·3
Bright steel bars197052·0518·5570·5
Hot rolled strip1970369·6238·6608·2
Other heavy rolled products (angles, tees and sections over 102 mm (4 in) and channels over 76 mm (3 in) web; joists and beams 76 mm (3 in) web and over; rounds, squares and hexagons 76 mm (3 in) and over and flats over 127 mm (5 in) wide).19701,951·5326·52,278·0
Wire rods and other rods and bars in coil (including reinforcing bar in coil).19701,282·51,355·02,637·5
Arches, light rails and accessories1970242·238·6280·8
Cold rolled strip1970161·3386·9548·2

'000 tonnes


British Steel CorporationPrivate SectorTotal
Sheets, coated and uncoated (including coil).19704,041·9BSC production4,041·9
Tinplate (and blackplate for sale as such).19701,298·4BSC production1,298·4
Tubes and pipes (all sizes)19701,394·1413·31,807·4
Tyres, wheels, axles and rolled rings.197056·46·863·2
Forgings (excluding drop forgings)19709·456·565·9
Stainless and heat-resisting1970Not available140·7

'000 tonnes


British Steel CorporationPrivate SectorTotal
Other alloy (including stainless and heat resistant tubes and pipes).1970Not available1,216·8
TOTAL ALLOY1970609·4748·11,357·5
.. Not available

Sources: BSC Annual statistics; ISSB Annual Statistics.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what discussions he has had with the EEC Commission in Brussels about the pace and extent of the rundown of the British Steel Corporation; whether the Commission agrees with the current plans of the British Steel Corporation; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 31 January 1980, c. 755]: Officials in the Department of Industry maintain regular contact with Commission officials, and keep them informed of BSC's closure plans in relation to, inter alia, potential requests for contributions to readaptation assistance. The system of applying for ISERB's aid involves warning Commission officials of the likely needs—as for example in the letter which went to the Commission on 12 December in respect of 20,000 additional redundancies in South Wales, Scunthorpe and Consett. This is followed by a detailed application once the United Kingdom steel employer has submitted is to the Department. The actual closure plans are, of course, the responsibility of the corporation, exercising its commercial judgment, in consultation with the trade unions.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will state the gains or losses for each year since 1970 of the main steel plants in (a) West Germany, (b) France, (c) Italy, (d) Belgium, (e) Luxembourg, (f) the United Kingdom and (g) the United States of America, giving both total gains or losses and gains or losses before charging interest, tax or

extraordinary items; and what information he has about state aids to each of these plants.

[pursuant to his reply, 31 January 1980]: This information is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether the Government propose, in view of their directive to British Steel regarding profits, to impose a countervailing duty on all steel sold hereby firms which are not operating profitably, whether or not imported from the EEC.

I have been asked to reply.The imposition of any duties in the case of imports from outside the European Community would rest primarily with the European Commission, which is prepared to take action where the appropriate criteria of the GATT countervailing code are met. Countervailing duties cannot be imposed on steel produced within the Community, but member States are already seeking to rationalise their industries and eliminate loss-making.

European Community

asked the Prime Minister if it is the view of Her Majesty's Government that there is authority in the Treaty setting up the European Economic Community for the Assembly elected by direct universal suffrage to exercise other than advisory and supervisory powers expressly conferred upon it by the Treaty; and if she will publish a list of those powers, distinguishing between the advisory and the supervisory.

There is no authority in the Treaty for the directly-elected Parliament to exercise any power other than those conferred on it by the treaties.The Parliament exercises advisory powers when it uses its right under a treaty provision to express its opinion or make a recommendation. There are numerous instances throughout each of the Community Treaties where consultation of the Parliament is mandatory in the legislative process, but in none of these instances is the Council required to follow the advice given by the Parliament.The Parliament exercises supervisory powers of two kinds—budgetary powers and powers in relation to the Commission.The budgetary powers may be summarised as follows:—

  • (1) The Parliament can amend any provision in the draft community budget relating to non-obligatory expenditure—almost all expenditure items except those connected with the CAP. The Parliament has the last word subject to a ceiling on total expenditure—calculated by the Commission—which can be overstepped only by agreement of both Parliament and Council;
  • (2) The Parliament can also propose to modify items of obligatory expenditure—that is, largely CAP. If these modifications increase expenditure they fall unless approved by a qualified majority vote in the Council. If they do not increase overall expenditure they stand unless rejected by the Council's qualified majority vote;
  • (3) The Parliament has the power to adopt the budget;
  • (4) The Parliament may reject the entire draft budget by a majority of its members and two-thirds of the votes cast.
  • The Parliament may require the Commission to reply orally or in writing to questions put to it either by the Parliament or by its members. By passing a vote of censure by a two-thirds majority on the Commission the Parliament may force it to resign as a body.

    Spinks Report

    Mrs. Renée Short asked the Prime Minister if she will list the members of the working party under Dr. Alfred Spinks set up at the beginning of 1979 to inquire into biotechnological research; when she expects to receive the report of the working party; and if she will publish this in full.

    The members of the joint working party on biotechnology set up by the Advisory Council for Applied Research and Development, the Advisory Board for the Research Councils and the Royal Society were:Dr. A. Spinks, CBE, FRS (


    Formerly Director of Research, Imperial Chemical Industries, Second Deputy Chairman of ACARD and member of the ABRC.

    Sir William Henderson, FRS ( Deputy Chairman)

    Chairman of the Genetic Manipulation Advisory Group and formerly Secretary to the Agricultural Research Council.

    Sir Austin Bide

    Chairman, Glaxo Holdings Ltd., and Chairman of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) Research and Technology Committee.

    Sir Arnold Burgen, FRS

    Director, National Institute for Medical Research.

    Professor J. F. Davidson, FRS

    Shell Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Cambridge.

    Professor B.S. Hartley, FRS

    Professor of Biochemistry, Imperial College of Science and Technology, London.

    Professor A.. W. Johnson, FRS

    Professor of Chemistry, University of Sussex and Board Member of the National Research Development Corporation (NRDC).

    I expect to receive the report of the joint working party shortly, and I hope to be able to publish it in full.

    Telephone Tapping

    asked the Prime Minister if she will publish in the Official Report the assurances of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) concerning the tapping of hon. Members' telephones, which describes the practice currently followed.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will publish in the Official Report the assurance of the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) concerning the tapping of hon. Members' telephones, which describes the practice currently followed.

    In answers to questions on 17 November 1966 the right hon. Member for Huyton (Sir H. Wilson) said that on taking office as Prime Minister in October 1964 he had given instructions that there was to be no tapping of the telephones of Members of Parliament; that that remained the policy of the Government; and that, if there was a development of a kind which required a change in the general policy, he would, at such moment as seemed compatible with the security of the country, on his own initiative make a statement in the House about it. I can reaffirm, as has each of my predecessors since that time, that the policy remains as stated by the right hon. Gentleman.

    Social Services

    District Handicap Teams

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made (a) in London and (b) in England generally, in relation to the establishment of district handicap teams; and if the policy of his Department is to encourage the development of such teams.

    We support the principle of district handicap teams as recommended by the Court committee on child health service. The establishment of teams is a matter for local initiative and the indications are that good progress is being made.


    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied with the current facilities for the treatment of alcoholics who are convicted of criminal offences but who are not in custody; what are his proposals for the future; and if he will make a statement.

    It is the responsibility of health and local authorities to decide, in the light of their resources and priorities, the services which are needed to help alcoholics. My right hon. Friend is including, in his consideration of the report of the advisory committee on alcoholism on the pattern and range of services for problem drinkers, consultation with my right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for the Home Department on the recommendations relating to links with the prison, probation and after-care services.

    Contraceptives And Abortion(Young Girls)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to ensure that all medical practitioners employed by the National Health Service are obliged to inform the parents of a girl who is under 16 years of age if a prescription for contraceptives or an abortion is contemplated.

    My right hon. Friend and I are reviewing the guidance issued to health authorities in 1974 by the Department on the provision of contraceptives to young people under 16: we hope to complete this review shortly and my right hon. Friend will then make an announcement.

    Steel Works (Supplementary Benefit)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why deductions of £15 were made from payments of supplementary benefit to dependants of steel workers on strike in North Staffordshire despite the fact that no strike benefit had been received.

    These deductions relate not to strike pay but to earnings for safety work done at the plant. The Supplementary Benefits Commission is assuming £15 in each case where these earnings are not declared.

    Child Benefit

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services by how much the value of the £4 child benefit has fallen in real terms since it was increased to that amount.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the present value of child benefit in real terms compared with £4 in April 1979; and at present rates of inflation, what he estimates will be the real value in November 1980 and April 1981.

    Compared with April 1979 the value of child benefit at December 1979 was £3·58. On the basis of the Industry Act forecast of the movement of prices from quarter 4 1979 to quarter 4 1980 of 14 per cent., the value would be about £3·16 in November 1980. In the absence of any such forecast to April 1981, I cannot speculate as to the value at that date.

    Whooping Cough

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will issue figures as to the percentage of apparent pertussis (whoopingcough) cases during the epidemic year of 1978, that were bacteriologically diagnosed as positive; and what percentage were diagnosed on clinical grounds alone.

    It is not possible to say what percentage of notifications were bacteriologically confirmed. The whooping cough organism is difficult to isolate unless specialised techniques are used and this is not considered clinically necessary in most cases. The published number of notifications—65,942 for England and Wales in 1978—is that of notifications based on clinical diagnosis. The Public Health Laboratory Service

    Directly employed staff* (whole-time equivalents) (1)Independent contractors (number) (2)Total (3)=(1)+(2)
    1. Northern RHA49,0822,39751,479
    2. Yorkshire RHA56,3373,00559,342
    3. Trent RHA65,3733,58568,958
    4. East Anglia RHA26,4531,58828,041
    5. North West Thames RHA56,8694,25061,119
    6. North East Thames RHA67,0923,74970,841
    7. South East Thames RHA64,4553,55568,010
    8. South West Thames RHA47,4943,18650,680
    9. Wessex RHA38,4162,56440,980
    10. Oxford RHA30,9502,02132,971
    11. South-Western RHA49,0343,22552,259
    12. West Midlands RHA75,7274,24579,972
    13. Mersey RHA43,3852,17045,555
    14. North Western RHA66,6943,39270,086
    Total regional manpower737,36141,621778,982
    * The figures for directly employed staff include whole-time equivalents of hospital and community health, medical and dental staff, excluding locum staff, hospital practitioners and part-time medical (or dental) officers (clinical assistants). Also excluded are GPs participating in hospital staff funds and occasional sessional staff in community health services for whom no whole-time equivalent is collected. The figures exclude agency nurses and midwives.
    †The figures for independent contractors are numbers of general medical practitioners, general dental practitioners, ophthalmic medical practitioners, ophthalmic opticians and dispensing opticians in the general ophthalmic services. Estimated numbers of general practice pharmacists (that is chemists, drug stores and appliance contractors) are based on the number of establishments, not the actual number practising, and the estimates for 1978 are not yet available. These have, therefore, been excluded. The figures for general medical practitioners relate to 1 October 1978, and those for the general ophthalmic services relate to 31 December 1978. There is a minor element of double counting between general medical practitioners and ophthalmic medical practitioners. In addition, the sum of the regional figures for independent contractors is greater than the total for England because both qualified medical practitioners who also hold an ophthalmic qualification and ophthalmic medical practitioners may register in more than one region.

    isolated whooping cough organisms in 4,273 cases in 1978 but swabs would also have been sent to other laboratories from which figures are not available. The total number is, therefore, not known. In recent years, however, the number of isolations of whooping cough organisms by the Public Health Laboratory service has closely corresponded with whooping cough notifications and this trend continued during the recent epidemic.

    Regional Health Authorities

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list, separately, the number of employees of each regional health authority.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 January 1980, Vol. 977, c. 172–3]: Information about NHS staff and independent contractors in each region is given below. A special exercise would be needed to identify staff employed by regional health authorities.

    Royal Liverpool Hospital

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, in view of his answer on the strike by the catering staff at the Royal Liverpool hospital and his view that it is deplorable for a hospital staff to take such action, what steps he is taking to bring the matter to a speedy conclusion.

    The issues at the centre of the dispute relate entirely to detailed local working arrangements and are essentially for local management to resolve: I am assured that every effort is being made to do so.

    Residential Accommodation

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will report on the progress of the discussion between his Department and the local authority associations on the proposals made by the joint working group on fees and charges for part III residential accommodation; when the proposals will be published; and if he will make a statement.

    The joint working group on personal social services charging policies has reviewed charging policies in a number of areas, including that of adults in residential accommodation and hopes to conclude its work by the early summer. When the group has completed its report, I shall be consulting the local authority associations about action required.

    Mentally Handicapped Persons

    Mr. Tinn