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Written Answers

Volume 978: debated on Wednesday 13 February 1980

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 13 February 1980

Energy

British Gas Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he is prepared to amend the Gas Act 1972 and the Energy Act 1976 to enable the British Gas Corporation to sell gas used as a feedstock for the chemical industry at preferential rates so that the added value in the product may be maximised.

Section 25(6) of the Gas Act 1972 already enables the BGC to enter into special agreements for the supply of gas where the tariffs are not appropriate.

Gas And Electricity Sales

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what were the sales of gas and electricity, respectively, in value terms in the latest year for which figures are available; what would have been the revenue from the imposition of value added tax at 15 per cent. on such sales; and how these amounts compare with the estimated gross profit of these two industries in 1980–81 as a result of the directives that have been issued.

The total sales of gas and electricity in value terms in 1978–79 were £2,524 million for the British Gas Corporation and £5,093 million for the electricity supply industry in England and Wales. It is estimated that VAT charged at the current rate of 15 per cent. on the domestic use of gas and electricity in 1978–79 would have been about £220 million and £325 million respectively. The pre-tax profit of British Gas in 1980–81 is expected to be of the order of £600 million. The electricity supply industry's profit will depend on movements in its fuel and other costs and it is too early to estimate how these will move in 1980–81.

Gas Diesel Oil

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if it is the intention of Her Majesty's Government to negotiate additional supplies of gas diesel oil for the United Kingdom users, particularly in rural areas where supplies are being consistently threatened by United Kingdom major oil companies.

No. The proportion of small garages retailing DERV is low, and so DERV outlets are likely to be relatively unaffected by the termination of supply agreements between the major oil companies and small garages; furthermore, 83 per cent. of DERV supplies are delivered direct to commercial users. Gas oil for non-road use is not marketed through garages. The current levels of supply of both products are adequate to meet demand in full.

Oil Costs

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether the price of oil supplied to the public electricity supply industry has risen as fast as the price of imported crude oil since 1978; and if he will circulate a table in the Official Report showing the estimated cost on the basis of current prices of (a) a ton of heavy fuel for power generation, (b) a ton of light fuel, (c) a ton of coal and (d) the estimated works cost per kilowatt hour of electricity supplied from coal and oil-fired steam power stations on an estimated annual basis using these prices and showing fuel costs, and, if available, estimated operational costs and capital charges.

I am advised by the CEGB that the rate of increase between 1978 and 1979 in the unit value of heavy fuel oil supplied to the CEGB has been greater than that for crude oil imported into the United Kingdom in the same period. The average price for oil supplied to the e.s.i. in 1979 is not yet available but will be published later this year in the digest of United Kingdom energy statistics for the CEGB and the Scottish boards together. Current prices paid for fuel supplied to the board are commercially confidential. Fuel costs and operational costs of generation are published annually in the CEGB's annual report and statistical yearbook. The latest available figures were contained in the report for 1978–79 published in July 1979. The estimates requested could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

Power stations in Scotland and Northern Ireland are the responsibility of my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Northern Ireland respectively.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has about the current cost per ton in shipping crude oil by very large crude carrier from Nigeria and North Africa; to what extent the price of North Sea oil takes account of this; and if he will publish a table in the Official Report outlining the position.

The most recently published world scale AFRA shipping rates to Rotterdam are:

From Africa$tonne
Nigeria5·11
Algeria2·53
Libya3·32
From the United Kingdom$tonne
Grangemouth4·81
Sullom Voe5·04
Flotta4·66
The relatively high cost of North Sea transport is due to the much smaller size of vessel used compared with the very large crude carriers used for intercontinental transport. On average North Sea transport costs to Rotterdam are some 17c/ barrel more than average costs from Africa to Rotterdam. Consideration is given to freight rates when prices are negotiated.

North Sea Oil

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the latest agreed price for North Sea oil; how this compares with the free market price of comparable oil delivered to Europe on a carriage, insurance, freight basis under (a) national price arrangements and (b) the spot market at Rotterdam; what is the estimated loss of petroleum revenue tax as a result of charging a lower price for United Kingdom oil; and what arrangements he has made for recovering this tax from the Federal Republic of Germany and other countries to which the oil is being supplied.

Following the recent round of increases in OPEC prices negotiations are taking place between producing companies and BNOC on prices for the remainder of the first quarter. In January BNOC had agreed prices based on $29·75 per barrel fob for Forties crude, which would equate with about $30·60 per barrel delivered to Rotterdam This could be compared with a Rotterdam delivered price for slightly higher quality Nigerian crude in January of about $30·80 per barrel, and does not suggest that North Sea oil has been under priced. In recent weeks there has been insufficient trading on the spot market to assess spot as opposed to term prices for comparable oils.

National Coal Board (Interest Payments)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the total cost per employee of interest payments by the National Coal Board.

In 1978–79 interest payments by the National Coal Board and its subsidiaries amounted to £152·4 million and the average number of employees was 300,000. This gives a figure of £508 paid by the NCB per employee.

British National Oil Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the current value of the assets of the British National Oil Corporation.

A statement of the net book value of its assets will appear in the corporation's 1979 report and accounts which will be published within the next two or three months.

Radio Chemical Centre

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are his plans for the future of the Radio Chemical Centre; and if he will make a statement.

I keep in regular touch with the company's affairs but have no announcement to make.

Coal Industry Tripartite Group

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will reconvene the research and development working party of the Coal Industry Tripartite Working Group.

At the last meeting of the Coal Industry Tripartite Group, the National Union of Mineworkers suggested that the group's research and development working party should be reconvened. I agree with this suggestion. Two years have passed since the report of this working party was prepared. Progress since then on coal conversion and utilisation and on unconventional coal mining should now be reviewed and the way ahead reassessed. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has reconvened the working party under my chairmanship. It will meet on 20 February 1980.

Home Department

Police (Complaints)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the police forces which intend to appoint additional assistant chief constables to handle allegations from the public under the police complaints procedure; and what will be the additional cost of such appointments.

Deputy chief constables are responsible for the investigation of complaints in forces in England and Wales outside London, and have full-time staff in the ranks of chief superintendent and/or superintendent to assist them. A deputy can, when necessary, obtain from the assistant chief constables of the force help in the management of the complaints procedure. A new post of assistant chief constable is authorised only where the overall work load of the chief officers of the force—of which complaints work forms only a part—makes an addition essential. An additional assistant chief constable post has recently been authorised on this basis for the Greater Manchester police, and the chief constable intends that the officer appointed should mainly be employed in giving assistance on complaints work. A similar post for Merseyside police is under consideration. The salary of an assistant chief constable is £14,188 per annum, plus rent allowance.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many immigrants were refused entry certificates by his Department in January; and what was their country of origin.

The only readily available information relates to entry clearances for settlement in the United Kingdom applied for in the Indian Subcontinent and dealt with by the end of September 1979. In the first three-quarters of 1979, 1,631 persons were refused in Bangladesh, 868 in India and 3,198 in Pakistan. Statistics on the citizenship-nationality of these persons could be provided only at disproportionate cost, but normally applicants would be citizens-nationals of the country in which they apply.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the number of people detained as illegal immigrants for each of the last five years.

The numbers detained under the provisions of schedule 2 to the Immigration Act 1971 as having entered the United Kingdom illegally on or after 1 January 1973 were published, for the years 1973 to 1978, in table 15 of the annual Command Paper "Control of Immigration: Statistics 1978"(Cmnd. 7565). Figures for the first three-quarters of 1979 were published on 17 December 1979 in table XI of Home Office statistical bulletin "Control of Immigration Statistics—Third Quarter 1979", issue 12/79, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what has been the total cost to the taxpayer in each of the last five years for detaining illegal immigrants and over-stayers in prisons and detention centres;(2) what is the cost to the taxpayer of detaining each illegal immigrant or over-stayer in a prison or detention centre.

Illegal immigrants and over-stayers are normally held in custody in local prisons or remand centres and not in immigration service detention centres. The cost of keeping a particular category of inmate in custody is not separately recorded. In 1978–79, the latest year for which information is available, the average annual costs in England and Wales of keeping a male in a local prison or remand centre and a female in custody were £5,403 and £7,301 respectively. On this basis the total costs of holding illegal immigrants and over-stayers was about £1,084,000. On the same basis the total costs in 1974–75, 1975–76, 1976–77 and 1977–78 were£236,000, £279,000, £582,000and£986,000 respectively.

Metropolitan Police (Doctors)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many medical practitioners are employed by the Metropolitan Police to make periodic visits to police stations for the purpose of examining persons under arrest and detained in cells; how many visits they make on average each week or month; and what is the approximate sum of public money disbursed for this purpose.

I understand from the Commissioner that 83 doctors are employed part-time as police surgeons by the Metropolitan Police for a variety of purposes, including the examination where appropriate, of arrested persons. Records of visits are kept locally, and considerable analysis would be required to identify the numbers of visits for particular purposes. The total cost of employing police surgeons was some £664,000 in 1978–79.

Crimes Of Violence (Newham)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will publish in the Official Report the statistics contained in the letter he sent to the hon. Member for Newham, North-West, concerning muggings and rape in the London borough of Newham.

Yes. I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that in 1978 there were 36 arrests in the London borough of Newham for offences of robbery of personal property following a sudden attack in the open, there having been no previous association between the assailant and the victim, and 394 arrests for all other offences involving attacks on the person. It is not possible to distinguish those offences which took place on the public highway. In 1978, seven offences of rape were recorded by the police in the London borough of Newham. The number of cases where an offence of rape was alleged but where the allegation was un- substantiated is not known. During the same period five people were arrested for offences of rape in the borough.

London Taxi-Cabs (Charges)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on his negotiations with the London taxi-cab trade on fares and extra charges for passengers and their luggage.

My Department is responsible for ensuring that the fares payable in London taxi-cabs are reasonable from the points of view of both the passenger and the operator. To this end the Department is discussing with representatives of the London taxi trade the structure of the fare tariff, including the level and scope of the extra charges now payable.

Prison Officers

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representation he has received from the Prison Officers' Association to bring its members' conditions of service to the equivalent of a police officer's.

There have been no general representations, but following a recommendation in the May committee report, the POA has proposed that the basis of calculating rent allowances for prison officers should be changed to a system similar to that used by most police forces. This is under consideration.

Prisoners (Food Cost Allowance)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the weekly food cost allowance for a prisoner serving a prison sentence in Her Majesty's prison.

The current average weekly cost of food in penal establishments in England and Wales is £4·15 per inmate. This takes into account the value of foodstuffs provided by the prison department's own horticultural and agricultural output.

Urban Development Corporations (Merseyside And London)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he proposes to seek to exempt the Merseyside and London urban development corporations from the provisions of the Race Relations Act and the Sex Discrimination Act.

Nationality And Citizenship

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to publish his proposals on British nationality and citizenship.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he now expects to present his proposals for changes in the present nationality laws.

I cannot yet say when we will be ready to publish the White Paper on changes in the nationality law, but I hope that it will be within a few months.

Vagrancy

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will tabulate for the most convenient 12-month period the disposals within the Metropolitan Police district where magistrates courts have convicted under section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824.

Canterbury Prison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the longest period of time that a prisoner currently in Canterbury prison has been there on remand; and with what he is charged.

[pursuant to his reply, 28 January 1980, c. 435–36]: The longest period for which any person held on remand in custody in Canterbury prison on 31 December 1979 had been so held was 446 days. Three men had been so held and each had been charged with drugs offences.

Defence

Royal Yacht "Britannia"

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the estimated cost of converting the Royal Yacht "Britannia" into a fully equipped hospital ship.

It is estimated that to adapt and equip "Britannia" in an emergency to act as a hospital ship carrier for casualties would cost about £300,000 including £240,000 for equipment.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the refit of the Royal Yacht "Britannia" is causing any holdup in any other work; and whether any facilities, such as plating or machining, are being used for "Britannia" when they were found to be available for other Royal Navy ships.

The refit is not holding up work on other ships currently in Portsmouth dockyard's programme.

Service Yachts

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the number of yachts, their size by category, current value and annual maintenance costs, owned by the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy and the Army, separating the information for each Service.

This information is not readily available, but I will write to the hon. Member.

Education And Science

Overseas Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the number of overseas students studying in the United Kingdom over the past five years to the latest available date; and if he will give the country of birth, Commonwealth, EEC and other countries.

Statistics for 1977–78 and earlier years are published in the British Council's annual volume "Statistics of Overseas Students in Britain", copies of which are in the Library. Provisional information for 1978–79 relating to students classified as "overseas" for fees purposes at universities and maintained, assisted and grant-aided establishments of higher and further education in the United Kingdom, is set out below:

Country of originStudents
COMMONWEALTH
Canada1,065
Cyprus1,578
Hong Kong5,133
India1,170
Kenya1,169
Malaysia12,679
Nigeria5,883
Rhodesia1,534
Singapore1,813
Sri Lanka2,067
Countries where numbers are less than 1,0008,610
Total42,701
EEC
Belgium191
Denmark158
France501
Germany, Federal Republic of1,028
Ireland, Republic of739
Italy363
Luxembourg42
Netherlands316
Total3,338
OTHER FOREIGN
Greece3,153
Iran9,151
Iraq2,485
Jordan1,876
Libya1,014
Turkey1,469
United States of America3,720
Countries where numbers are less than 1,00017,935
Total40,803
ALL COUNTRIES86,842

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what the average cost to overseas students from Commonwealth, EEC and other countries was for degree courses over the past five years; and what the average cost will be during the next financial year.

No precise information is available on the average cost to an overseas student for a degree course, or its equivalent, over the past five years. The best indication that can be given for the period is the recommended fee for a first degree course plus the rate of maintenance grant payable through a mandatory award to home students. The cost of travel from abroad is not included.

Following is the available information:

Academic year

Fee £

Maintenance* £

Total £

1975–763201,0481,368
1976–774161,2181,634
1977–786501,4132,063
1978–797051,5492,254
1979–809401,7612,701
* Rate for ordinary maintenance (outside London) adjusted for a full year. Insufficient data is available to calculate the average cost for the next financial year.

Dyslexia

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list by local authority the numbers of children suffering from dyslexia, distinguishing those which are being educated in (a) maintained and (b) private schools.

Shop Steward Training

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has yet completed his discussions with the Trades Union Congress about the level of public subsidisation of shop steward training in 1980–81; if so, when he did so; and what is the agreed amount.

My right hon. and learned Friend wrote to the TUC on 7 January saying that the Government were unable to agree to its requests for an increase in real terms in the grant paid jointly by his Department and the Department of Employment and for a capital grant towards the cost of its proposed national centre for trade union education, but offering to maintain grant at its current real value for a further year. The TUC accepted that offer and my right hon. and learned Friend has today written to it confirming that the amount for 1980–81 will, therefore be £1·674 million, an increase of some 15 per cent. on this year's figure of £1·455 milion.

Cash Limits

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if any further adjustments are being made to his Department's cash limits for the financial year 1979–80, in particular the cash limits for the research councils.

The cash limits for Vote 13 (Medical Research Council), Vote 16 (Social Science Council) and Vote 18 (Other Science) announced in the Government's White Paper on Cash Limits (Cmnd. 7604) have been increased to take account of the revised forecast cost of university pay settlements in the financial year 1979–80 The revised cash limits are:

£m
Vote 1357·263
Vote 1616·765
Vote 182·989
Subject to parliamentary approval the recurrent grant available to the bodies concerned will be increased by the amounts shown below:

£m
Medical Research Council0·660
Social Science Research Council0·250
Royal Society.0·036
The only other adjustment is to the cash limit on Vote 6 (Educational Services) which has been increased to £75·918 million.

Trade

Manufactured Imports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the increase of manufactured imports into Great Britain in 1979.

This information can be obtained from tables E2—in value terms—and E8—in volume index terms—of the January 1980 issue of the "Monthly Review of External Trade Statistics", which is in the Library.

Limited Companies

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) if he will take steps to make the directors of a limited company personally guarantee sums due to former employees should the limited company become insolvent;(2) if he will take steps to debar the directors of a limited company which has become insolvent from forming any other limited company until the debts of the original company have been met.

The Insolvency Law Review Committee is at present reviewing matters such as these. We shall be con- sidering them in the light of the committee's report, which is expected later this year.

Maritime Accidents

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will discuss with his EEC colleagues the incidence of involvement of Greek maritime interests in maritime accidents, with a view to ensuring that Greece is required fully to comply with EEC regulations in matters of maritime safety.

The Greek Government are fully aware of our concern and that of other members of the European Community about the safety record of the Greek fleet.After accession Greece will be bound by Community instruments relating to maritime safety in the same way as other members.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list the numbers of serious maritime accidents involving ships (a) registered in, (b) owned by and (c) with masters from, the following countries, for each of the last five years for which statistics are available: Greece, West Germany, the United States of America, Denmark, France, Holland, the United Kingdom, Norway, Italy, Belgium, Japan, Sweden, Canada, the USSR, Spain and Portugal;(2) if he will list for each of the last five years the names of ships which have (

a) been involved in serious collisions and ( b) sunk in United Kingdom territorial waters, indicating (i) ownership, (ii) country of registration and (iii) nationality of master.

Textiles

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) in view of the artificially low price of Romanian suits imported into the United Kingdom, which is adding to the redundancies in the menswear industry, and the unwillingness of the Commission to operate the multifibre arrangement price clause, if he will seek to take unilateral measures to stop imports;

  • (2) in view of their disruptive effect on the clothing industry, what steps he proposes to take, either nationally or through the EEC, to exercise strict control at the Customs point to prevent the dumping of goods whose prices are fixed in relation to currency needs and not the costs of production such as those from COME-CON countries.
  • (3) what plans he now has to introduce compulsory origin marking legislation as favoured by many United Kingdom clothing manufacturers, to help stop the growth in unfair and fraudulent trading practices.
  • asked the Secretary of State for Trade if, during the impending review of the European Community's generalised scheme of preferences, he will seek to remedy the situation in which newly industrialised countries which are highly developed and fiercely competitive in the textile and clothing sector enjoy high preferences under the scheme but, with the exception of Hong Kong, impose high tariff barriers against British exports.

    In the case of most textile and clothing products, the total amounts that can be imported from these countries, whether under the GSP or paying the Community tariff, are subject to strict quantitative limitation. Further, the new GSP arrangements for textiles and clothing introduced on 1 January this year set new and more restrictive limits on the preferences available to the most advanced and competitive suppliers.

    Export And Shipbuilding Credit Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he intends to change the arrangements for the fixed rate sterling export and shipbuilding credit scheme; and whether he will make a statement.

    Under long standing arrangements the Export Credits Guarantee Department has provided the banks with refinance for certain fixed interest rate sterling export credits. After a review of the arrangements, the Government propose to withdraw the refinance facility for new business with effect from 1 April 1980. In future, therefore, the banks will provide sterling export credits entirely from their own resources. This will result in increasing and significant savings of public expenditure over the coming years.The Government have decided to continue the present arrangements under which the banks receive a commercial rate of return on the finance they provide for fixed rate export credits on terms of two years credit or more. However, it has been agreed that in future the level of the return will be reviewed more frequently.In addition, the range of institutions which will be eligible to participate under the ECGD supported fixed rate schemes will be widened so that all acceptable banks which are recognised under the Banking Act 1979 will be eligible to lead or participate in sydicates providing sterling export credit. In addition, the Export Credits Guarantee Department will be prepared to consider requests from other acceptable deposit-taking or non-deposit-taking institutions to participate as lenders in such syndicates. These wider eligibility rules also apply to foreign currency financed credits.The revised arrangements will apply to new commitments from 1 April 1980. The review has shown that these arrangements are generally acceptable to the banks. They should continue to ensure an adequate supply of fixed rate export finance to our exporters whilst reducing the burden on public expenditure of the support of these funds.My hon. Friend the Minister for Industry has asked me to confirm that they will also apply to the home shipbuilding scheme with effect from the same date.

    Overseas Development

    Bangladesh

    47.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what was the value of overseas aid to Bangladesh in each of the last three years, including the current year.

    In the financial years 1977–78 and 1978–79, disbursements, excluding those for food aid, were £23·2 million and £43·9 million respectively. I cannot yet give a figure for the current financial year.

    Afghanistan (Refugees)

    49.

    asked the Lord Privy o Seal if he will make a statement on the economic assistance which the United Kingdom has so far provided, or has specifically programmed for Pakistan, for the relief of refugees from Afghanistan.

    :A consignment of essential supplies was flown out by special charter last month at a cost of about £120,000 We are also providing out share, amounting to £1·1 million, of the European Community response to an appeal by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

    Malawi

    50.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a report on his recent visit to Malawi.

    My right hon. Friend has not recently visited Malawi. However, I was there from 23 to 26 January. I was there from 23 to 26 January. I met Presidet Banda, the Ministers of Finance and Health, and the governor projects with which the United Kingdom is assisting, the national seed farm in Lilongwe, and the Smallholder Tea Authority in Mulanje.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will reconsider the level of future aid to Malawi in view of the serious abuse of human rights in that country.

    The Government's position on the provision of aid to Malawi remains as stated in the reply given by my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, my hon. Friend the Member for mix-Oxen (Mr. Hurd) to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Springburn (Mr. Martin) on 28 November 1979 –[Vol.974,c.704.]

    Zambia

    asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) if he will have discussions with the Zambian Government regarding the cost of replacing the 10 bridges destroyed by Rhodesian military forces;(2) if he will increase aid to Zambia to pay for the cost of restoring the 10 bridges destroyed by Rhodesian military forces.

    We offered to make available for reconstruction purposes part of the £10 million project loan to Zambia, signed on 24 January. The Zambian Government preferred the loan to be devoted entirely to agricultural development and we were happy to accept this. Zambia's needs for further aid for reconstruction or for other purposes will be kept under review.The European development fund has agreed to provide 1·7 million European units of account towards the reconstruction of the Chambeshi and Lunsemfwa bridges. The United Kingdom contributes to the fund and strongly supported this proposal.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will raise the question of additional aid to Zambia at the next meeting of the Development Council of Ministers of the European Economic Community.

    No. We believe that satisfactory provision for Zambia's needs has already been made by the European Community, through Zambian participation in the arrangements under the Lomé convention, and through the Community's food aid programme.Under the Lomé convention, Zambia benefits from the European development fund—from which it will receive 47 mua (£30 million)—as well as from preferential trade provisions, the stabex scheme, emergency assistance, and loans from the European Investment Bank.Zambia will receive comparable benefits from the second Loméconvention, which should enter into force later this year, and which also includes special provisions to assist mineral producing countries. Zambia was allocated 10,000 tonnes of cereals, 1500 tonnes of skimmed milk powder, and 500 tonnes of butter oil from the Community's 1979 food programme.

    Overseas Development Administration (Budget)

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he is satisfied with the extent of the cut in the budget of the Overseas Development Administration from £790 million for 1979–80 to £782 million for the year 1980–81; whether he intends further cuts to be made; and, if so, if he will make a statement.

    Any changes in the planned level of overseas aid for 1980–81 will be announced in the next public expenditure White Paper.

    Technical Co-Operation Awards

    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether it is now possible to estimate the number of new technical co-operation awards for the coming year; how they compare with such awards during the current year; and how many will be for six months or longer and tenable at British higher educational establishments.

    Provision for country programmes for 1980–81 is still subject to revision, but present indications are that new awards will be some 30 per cent. below the comparable figure—estimated at about 4,300—for 1979–80. Their duration and level cannot yet be determined.

    Northern Ireland

    Electricity

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether, in view of the importance of cheap power to Ulster's economy, he will consider the setting up of a high-powered inquiry into the means of reducing the high cost of electricity, both in the short and long term.

    The days of cheap energy are gone for all of us, but I share the hon. Member's concern that electricity prices in Northern Ireland should not be any higher than necessary and, while I am not sure precisely what kind of inquiry the hon. Member has in mind, I would not rule out any investigation which might contribute to this objective.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether, as an interim measure, he will seek to allocate out of the Northern Ireland Consolidated Fund, an annual subsidy to the Northern Ireland electricity service sufficient to keep the cost to domestic consumers down to the Great Britain average.

    Domestic electricity consumers in Northern Ireland continue to benefit significantly from the write-off in 1977 of £250 million indebtedness of the electricity service to the Government. The recent rapid increase in the cost of primary fuel for electricity generation in Northern Ireland has implications for the finances of the electricity service and its tariffs, which are being investigated.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what sums are available from the European regional fund to assist the Northern Ireland electricity service in keeping down the cost of electricity to the consumer, both industrial and domestic.

    Grants are available from the European regional development fund towards the cost of projects which contribute to the development of Northern Ireland's economic infrastructure. The Northern Ireland electricity service has benefited from such grants, which have reduced the cost of producing and supplying electricity in Northern Ireland. Since its inception in 1975 the fund has approved grants of some £3·7 million to NIES in respect of capital projects. In addition, the fund has provided a grant of £7·9 million towards relief of the interest payable by NIES to the European Investment Bank under the terms of a £33·3 million loan provided by the EIB towards the capital expenditure on Kilroot power station.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he will immediately commission an urgent study by Queen's University of the possibility of harnessing the tidal flow at Strangford Lough for the purposes of generating electric power.

    Following discussions which I had with the chairman of the Northern Ireland Economic Council, a study of the technical and financial aspects of tidal generation at Strangford Lough is already under way, under the council's auspices. The study will be headed by Professor Eric Wilson of Salford university. The department of civil engineering of Queen's University, Belfast will be involved.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the amount of the Exchequer contribution towards the electricity supply industry in Great Britain in the last 10 years; and what is the equivalent amount in Northern Ireland.

    The electricity supply industries in England and Wales and in

    Nature of payment periodAmountmillion)
    Compensation for price restraint1973–74—1975–7671·3
    Grant towards accrued revenue deficit1975–76—1976–7726·3
    Grant towards reduction of industrial tariffs1977–78—1979–8060·0
    The Northern Ireland electricity service has also benefited from a financial reconstruction under which £250 million of its capital debt to Government was written off in 1977.

    European Community Budget

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if Northern Ireland is a net beneficiary or net contributor to the EEC budget.

    I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to him on 31 January by my hon. Friend the Financial Secretary to the Treasury.—[Vol. 977, c. 769–70.]

    Management Consultants

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish the list of approved management consultants who may be employed by Northern Ireland Government Departments.

    There is no list of approved management consultants who may be employed by Northern Ireland Government Departments. According to their ability to undertake a specific assignment, a minimum of three firms are normally approached and selection is then made by competitive tender.

    Constitutional Conference

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how much money has been claimed or paid to the participants at the Stormont conference up to 8 February; and how many individuals have claimed.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will esti- Scotland are the responsibilities of my right hon. Friends the Secretary of State for Energy and the Secretary of State for Scotland. The principal sums paid to the electricity supply industry in Northern Ireland in the period 1969–70 to 1979–80 are as follows:mate the cost of heating, lighting, telephone, postage, and catering at the Stormont conference up to 8 February.

    It is not possible to apportion the cost of heating and lighting used in Parliament buildings for the conference. The buildings are heated and lit as one unit. The holding of the conference has not involved any additional heating or lighting costs.The postage costs of the Northern Ireland Office on conference business cannot be separately identified. Participants at the conference pay their own postage.The estimated cost for telephones is £1,100.The estimated cost of catering is £1,000 to 25 January, the latest date for which figures are available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what have been the takings in (a) the bars provided for the participants at the Stormont conference and (b) the press bar up to 8 February.

    Employment

    Skillcentres

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the total number of places available at skill-centres for courses commencing during 1979; what proportion of such total was actually taken up; and what reasons had been identified as contributing significantly to the shortfall.

    I am advised by the Manpower Services Commission that the information is not available in the form requested. However, on 10 December 1979 there were approximately 18,000 possible places of which 16,541 were operational places. 13,008 (78 per cent.) of the operational places were occupied. The main reasons for the shortfall are:

  • (1) lack of recruits;
  • (2) difficulty in filling vacant places at short notice;
  • (3) failure of applicants to report for training;
  • (4) premises and equipment difficulties;
  • (5) the progressive build-up of new classes.
  • The difference of approximately 1,500 places between possible and operational places is the result of shortage of instructors.

    Unemployed Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people who were in employment on 10 May 1979 have since become unemployed; and whether a breakdown can be given by region.

    Information is not available in this form. It is not practicable to distinguish and count separately all those who were at work on a given date and who had one or more than one subsequent period of unemployment.

    Steel

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many employees in the private steel sector have been laid off as a result of the industrial dispute in the nationalised steel industry.

    Figures are not available but it is believed that up to the end of January only a small number were affected. Lay-offs varied throughout the private sector, but many more are likely if the strike continues.

    Barker And Dobsons, Liverpool

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many redundancies have been notified to his Department by Barker and Dobsons of Liverpool.

    I am unable to reply as information given to my Department under the notification of redundancy provisions of the Employment Protection Act 1975 is given in confidence.

    Leicestershire Careers Service

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will send an inspector to examine the implications of the cuts in staffing of the Leicestershire careers service from 83 to 43; and whether he will make a statement.

    As the hon. Member will know from my reply to his question on 8 February—[Vol. 978, c. 360]—the Secretary of State is taking steps to keep himself informed about the staffing position of the careers service.An inspection in part of Leicestershire is currently taking place as part of this year's normal inspection programme and an inspector is therefore already in close touch with the Leicestershire career service.

    Tops Courses

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what instructions have been issued concerning the withdrawal of semi-skilled TOPS courses; whether he will list those courses; and whether he will make a statement.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that as part of the reduction which is being made in the training opportunities scheme the numbers completing courses at the semi-skilled level are expected to fall by about half over a period of three years from the figure of about 6,000 completions originally planned for 1980–81. It is not possible to list courses which will be affected by this reduction.

    Unfair Dismissals (Compensation)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will take steps so that employees who are unfairly dismissed should, in the event of the former employers going into liquidation, still obtain payments from the redundancy fund.

    The basic element of an unfair dismissal award is payable under the Insolvency Provisions of the Employment Protection (Consolidation) Act 1978. The compensatory element is not so payable, but the employee has the right to claim in the insolvency as a creditor.

    Since the basic award is calculated on the same lines as a redundancy payment under the Act, the employee is thus assured of equivalent treatment to those made redundant in the event of insolvency.

    It is not proposed to amend the provisions. No new evidence has emerged since the legislation was passed in 1975 which would justify a change in practice.

    Race Relations Employment Advisory Group

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when the Race Relations Employment Advisory Group will next meet; and what it is due to discuss.

    Homeworking Advisory Committee

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when the Home-working Advisory Committee will next meet; and what it is due to discuss.

    No meeting has been arranged. The future of the committee is under consideration and will be decided in the light of reports from various research projects into homeworking, the first of which is expected within the next few months.

    Standing Commission On Pay Comparability

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to begin the review of the position of the Standing Commission on pay comparability.

    The Government continue to keep the work of the Standing Commission under review.

    Wages Inspectorate

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) if public expenditure cuts have affected or will affect the Wages Inspectorate; and, if so, to what extent;(2) when he envisages the cycle of inspection in wages council trades will be reduced to five years and four years respectively, or what alternative cycle is anticipated;

    (3) if public expenditure cuts have affected or will affect the homeworking unit of the Wages Inspectorate; and, if so, to what extent.

    The Government are considering to what extent proposals for a reduction in public expenditure would affect the planned programme of the Wages Inspectorate and its homeworking unit. In the meantime, both continue to operate unchanged and the inspectorate's annual target remains at contacting one-sixth of the number of establishments on its lists.

    Health And Safety Executive

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if public expenditure cuts have affected or will affect the staffing of the Health and Safety Executive; and, if so, to what extent they concern the committed expansion of the Factory Inspectorate and the frequency of visits, the increasing work on major hazards, local authority planning permission inquiries and the testing of equipment and appliances for safety purposes, the attitude of the inspectorate towards recommended and statutory standards and general recruitment.

    Royal Liverpool Hospital

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many times the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has been asked to intervene in disputes at the Royal Liverpool teaching hospital since it opened.

    I understand that the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service has been asked to assist in resolving industrial relations difficulties at the Liverpool royal teaching hospital on three occasions since September 1978.

    Retail Trades Councils

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what consultations have been held with employers, trades unions and other interested parties over the merger proposals for retail trades councils over the past five years; and on what dates those consultations took place.

    I am informed that over the past five years my Department has consulted the following organisations over the merger proposals for retail trades wages councils.

    Date of consultationOrganisation, etc. consulted
    24 March 1975Workers' sides of the 9 retail wages councils comprising USDAW, TGWU, URTU, APEX and Retail Book, Stationery and Allied Trades Employees' Association, Bakers' Union Scottish Union of Bakers.
    24 March 1975Employers' sides of the 9 retail wages councils comprising Booksellers' Association of Great Britain and Ireland, Federation of Bakers, Scottish Association of Master Bakers, Multiple Shops' Federation, Menswear Association of Great Britain, Scottish House Furnishers' Association, Scottish Grocers' Federation, National Association of Retail Furnishers, Retail Confectioners' and Tobacconists' Association, Scottish Tobacco Federation, Retail Distributors' Association, National Federation of Fish Friers, The National Association of Master Bakers, China and Glass Retailers' Federation, Multiple Wine Merchants' Association, British Stationery and Office Products Federation.
    The National Chamber of Trade.
    Co-operative Employers' Association.
    Drapers' Chamber of Trade.
    The Multiple Shoe Retailers' Association.
    The Retail Credit Federation.
    The National Shoe Retailers' Council.
    The Scottish Retail Drapers' Association.
    The Scottish Retail Credit Association.
    The Federation of Merchant Tailors.
    Mail Order Traders' Association.
    Amalgamated Master Dairymen Ltd.
    National Dairymen's Association.
    National Federation of Fishmongers.
    National Federation of Meat Traders' Associations Incorporated.
    National Food and Drink Federation.
    The National Union of Small Shopkeepers.
    The Retail Fruit Trade Federation Ltd.
    The Licensed Grocers and Wine Merchants' Association of Scotland.
    Multiple Food Retailers Employers' Association.
    Retail Fruit Trade Federation Ltd. (Scottish Region).
    Radio and Television Retailers' Association Ltd.
    The Society of Master Saddlers Ltd.
    The National Association of Tool Dealers.
    The National Federation of Ironmongers.
    The Scottish Hardware Association.
    The Federation of Sports Goods Distributors.
    Radio and Television Retailers' Association of Scotland.
    British Hardware Federation.
    The Electrical Contractors' Association of Scotland.
    National Association of Cycle and Motor Cycle Traders.
    National Association of Toy Retailers.
    Wallpaper, Paint and Wall-covering Retailers' Association.
    National Federation of Retail Newsagents.
    The Ice Cream Alliance Ltd.
    The Newspaper Publishers' Association Ltd.
    National Federation of Retail Newsagents (Scottish Council).
    25 March 197517 Independent Members of the 9 retail wages councils.
    11 December 1975*Draft order sent to all organisations represented on the 9 wages councils and also CBI and TUC.
    18 February 1976British Flower Industry Association.
    20 February 1976The National Association of Goldsmiths of Great Britain and Ireland.
    4 May 1976British Flower Industry Association.
    15 July 1976National Association of Goldsmiths of Great Britain and Ireland.
    18 October 1977Multiple Shops Federation.
    15 December 1977The National Association and Master Bakers and Scottish Association of Master Bakers.
    26 January 1978Employers' Side of the Retail Newsagency, Tobacco and Confectionery Trade Wages Council (England and Wales).
    28 April 1978Dairy Trade Federation.
    25May l978 †Sent to all organisations represented on the 9 wages councils.
    3 August 1978Multiple Shops' Federation.
    11 October 1978Retail Wages Liaison Committee (Retail Consortium).
    31 January 1979USDAW.
    26 March 1979Retail Wages Liaison Committee (Retail Consortium).
    10 April 1979† Sent to all organisations represented on the 9 retail councils.
    21 June 1979 Employers' Side of Retail Newsagency, Tobacco and Confectionery Trades Wages Council (England and Wales).
    *Draft order.
    †Consultative document.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if public expenditure cuts have affected, or will affect, services concerning the employment of disabled people; and, if so, to what extent.

    Services provided by the Manpower Services Commission (MSC) for the employment of disabled people have not been affected by public expenditure cuts in 1979–80.My right hon. Friend is at present considering the Commission's corporate plan for 1980–84, and will be seeking to protect the Commission's services for disabled people from cuts in their resources. It is hoped that, as far as possible, cuts can be made through administrative savings.

    Low Pay

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what consideration he is giving to the problem of low pay and, in particular, to the role of wages councils.

    The problems of low pay relate to a wide range of the Government's policies, which the Government keep under review. The need for wages councils in particular trades and industries is also kept under review.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is his policy regarding the proposals contained in the report of the Low Pay Unit, "Low Pay in the Eighties", a copy of which has been supplied to him; and if he will make a statement.

    Redundancies

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many redundancies have been declared since 4 May 1979, and how many more are in prospect in the Manchester travel-to-work area; and if, where possible, he will break these down into sex, age, below 21 years, and below 18 years, trade and ethnic origins.

    [pursuant to his reply 12 February 1980]: I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the number of workers involved in redundancies affecting 10 or more employees and notified as due to occur in the Manchester travel-to-work area between May 1979 and January 1980 was 6,747. Redundancies involving a further 895 workers have been notified as due to occur in this area later in the year.No breakdown as requested is available.

    Textiles

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is, for each month since January 1978, the number of redundancies covered by notices under the Employment Protection Act 1975 he has received from employers in wool textiles (MLH 414), carpets (MLH 419) and men's outer wear (MLH 442) sectors in comparison with the list of actual redundancies he gave in answer to the hon. Member for Batley and Morley on 29 November 1979; and what estimate he has made of the effects of loss of jobs through voluntary redundancy, early retirement and natural wastage in West Yorkshire.

    [pursuant to his reply, 11 February 1980, Vol. 978, c. 361–2]: Details are given below of the number of redundancies notified under the Employment Protection Act 1975, each month in 1978 and 1979 in the sectors covered by MLH 414, MLH 419 and MLH 442 in Great Britain and the Yorkshire and Humberside region. These figures are listed according to the month in which advance notification of an impending redundancy was received. I regret that it is not possible to set out the information according to the months in which the redundancies were due to take place.It should be noted that many of the redundancies notified in this way do not in the event take place.The figures provided in reply to the hon. Member's question of 29 November 1979 were of redundancies which were known to have taken place. But these were not fully comprehensive as there is not statutory obligation on employers to provide the Department with figures of actual redundancies.

    The figures below are, therefore, not comparable with those supplied on 29 November 1979.

    I regret that a breakdown for West Yorkshire could be provided only at disproportionate cost. The vast majority of employees in these three sectors in the Yorkshire and Humberside region are, however, located in West Yorkshire. The

    REDUNDANCIES NOTIFIED UNDER THE EMPLOYMENT

    PROTECTION ACT 1975 IN GREAT BRITAIN AND THE YORKSHIRE AND HUMBERSIDE

    REGION*

    MLH 414

    MLH 419

    MLH 442

    GB

    Y&H

    GB

    Y & H

    GB

    Y&H

    January 1978742647365446353
    February 1978590590364851,398188
    March 19781,5531,3499901,722725
    April 1978409346651475920387
    May 1978828690650256138
    June 19787175715051631,355422
    July 19781,0841,044274391132
    August 19785144992992,366276
    September 19781,4871,137333135
    October 1978980886326170536322
    November 19781,07380316130246116
    December 197861956453289122
    January 19797805831,12638
    February 1979721664411129174121
    March 19791,7001,109421119230
    April 19791,05892041885266207
    May 1979457457199470416
    June 1979334267528119273121
    July 19792,1801,85637458451333
    August 1979714611108707394
    September 19792,9632,761366798389
    October 19792,0031,483245733416
    November 19791,5341,4382,2619501,634600
    December 19791,0126321,9371,223991276
    TOTALS26,05221,90711,5273,49818,0736,657
    * These figures are listed according to the month in which the notification was

    received by the Department of Employment.

    Network And Actions Campaigns

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many publications in the Network and Actions campaigns have been published to date by the Manpower Services Commission; what is the average number of each issue produced; and what is the total cost of their compilation, production and distribution;

  • (2) what evidence he has that the Network and Actions publications produced by the Manpower Services Commission have produced results which would not have been obtained without the expenditure of taxpayers' money involved;
  • (3) how many names and addresses are on the mailing list for the Network
  • regional figures for notified redundancies given below mostly relate, therefore, to West Yorkshire.

    The figures provided include many voluntary redundancies and early retirements and some natural wastage, but these cannot be identified separately. Nor is it possible to estimate the total number of jobs in West Yorkshire which have been lost in this way.

    and Actions publications produced by the Management Services Commission; and how the list was compiled;

  • (4) how many business reply cards enclosed with the recent issues of Network and Actions have been returned to the Manpower Services Commission;
  • (5) when the production and distribution of Network and Actions by the Management Services Commission commenced; and what is the target readership for these publications.
  • [pursuant to his reply, 12 February 1980]: I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that Network was launched in November 1977. Its primary function was to provide sponsors of schemes designed to help unemployed young people, the careers service and local authorities, with up to date information during the launch of the youth opportunities programme and the special temporary employment programme.The original list of recipients consisted of all careers officers, chief executives and chief educational officers of local authorities sponsors of work experience schemes and colleges of further education—making a total circulation of 37,000. After the launch of the new programmes, the role of

    Network was expanded to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and experience as well as the flow of detailed information about policy and developments in Special Programmes.

    Fourteen editions of Network have been published.

    Actions was launched in September, 1978. Its function was to provide deeper information about special programmes than was possible within the confines of Network and to improve the quality of new and existing schemes by publicising improved standards and practice.

    The first issue of Actions was distributed to the Network mailing list with a pre-paid card asking those who wished to receive future editions to return the card. This provided Actions with an eventual mailing list of around 17,000. Eight regular editions of Actions and four special issues dealing exclusively with one specific subject have been published.

    A review is currently taking place to assess the contribution of Network and Actions to the success of special programmes. This review has included the issue of a pre-paid reply card to the Actions readership to ask those wishing to continue to receive the publications to return it. By 7 February 1980, 1,362 cards had been returned. This is part of a general review of special programmes publications, intended to improve their cost effectiveness and relevance to their markets. Cost to date of publishing and distributing Network, Actions and the special editions has been £169,000.

    Industry

    Steel Closures

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what response he has had to the latest representations made by Her Majesty's Government to the EEC, in relation to aid for areas affected by steel closures.

    We are continuing to make maximum use of the various types of aid already available from the European Coal and Steel Community. In addition, we are currently pressing for more of the proposed non-quota aid from the European regional development fund to be allocated to the United Kingdom, and to the steel closure areas in particular. We have also applied for aid from the European social fund to help retraining in steel closure areas.

    Corby

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will undertake that Her Majesty's Government will provide matching finance to the level of any grants that may be negotiated with the European Coal and Steel Community to alleviate the economic situation that will arise in Corby new town subsequent to the closure of the British Steel Corporation's iron and steel works.

    Readaptation benefits, of which the European Coal and Steel Community pays up to half the costs, are the only grants available from the European Coal and Steel Community which require matching finance. This is provided by the Government under the statutory iron and steel employees readaptation benefits scheme.

    Manufacturing Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the current investment per employee in manufacturing industry at current exchange rates in the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, the United States of America, the Netherlands, Italy, the Republic of Ireland, France and Belgium.

    Exchange rates do not necessarily reflect the purchasing power of national currencies in terms of the goods and services available in the countries being compared. The use of purchasing power parities rather than exchange rates would considerably reduce the investment per head figures for all countries except the United Kingdom and Ireland.

    The investment figures are on the basis of ownership, the usual basis, and so do not include assets leased to manufacturers from outside their industry. The extent of leasing will vary in different countries and between different years:

    Gross fixed capital formation at current prices (converted

    by the exchange rates of 1976 and 1977 respectively)per head of employment, in manufacturing

    industry

    £
    19761977
    United Kingdom537651
    Federal Republic of Germany1,075n.a.
    United States of America1,7552,074
    Netherlands*1,6822,218
    Italyn.a.n.a.
    Ireland907n.a.
    France†1,6891,815
    Belgium1,2381,305
    n.a.=not available
    * The figures given include the petroleum and natural gas industries and are

    'per man year' not 'per head'.

    †Covers manufacturing, mining and quarrying, electricity, gas and

    water.

    Source:

    National Accounts of OECD countries 1960–77 vol II: on the basis of the

    United Nations' present System of National Accounts (SNA) except for Belgium which is on

    the former SNA.

    Labour Force Statistics 1966–77 OECD.

    Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Sugar

    54.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what plans he has to meet representatives of African, Caribbean and Pacific countries following the recent Caribbean sugar symposium held in Jamaica.

    Biotechnology (Spinks Report)

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in the light of the Spinks report, he will raise with his colleagues on the EEC Council of Agriculture Ministers the need to introduce cheaper and improved products of biotechnology, notwithstanding the interests of existing industrial and agricultural producers, in the formulation of any EEC policy on agrochemicals.

    The Government will consider the report's recommendations when it is received.

    Herring

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) whether he is satisfied with arrangements

    for United Kingdom leased assets represented additions to investment expenditure of 6 per cent. in 1976 and 7 per cent. in 1977.

    The information is as follows:

    made in EEC countries for stopping landings of herring caught illegally in British waters and for enforcing catch quotas generally; and what representations he has made to the Fisheries Council concerning controls;

    (2) What arrangements exist for policing Danish catches of herring and for comparing market sales of herring with permitted quotas; and whether he will pass-on to his Danish counterpart the strong fears of British fishermen that herring are being caught illegally in British waters by Danish vessels.

    Member States are responsible for enforcing bans on fishing for herring in waters under their sovereignty or jurisdiction. No evidence has been found of Danish or other member States' vessels fishing for herring in British fishery limits in areas where such fishing is banned.I also refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to him on 1 November last.—[Vol. 972, c.

    662.]

    Herbicide 2,4,5-T

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many local authorities have decided to ban or are considering taking such action in regard to the use of 2,4,5-T or any other chemical preparation which contains a significant proportion of dioxin.

    Products containing a significant proportion of dioxin are not available in this country. The use of 2,4,5-T as an active ingredient in formulating herbicides is prohibited if it contains any dioxin impurity exceeding the FAO standard of 0·1 mg/kg. Press reports indicate that two county councils and one district council have suspended use of approved herbicides of this kind. Based on recommendations by the expert Advisory Committee on Pesticides, it is the Government's view that there are no medical or scientific grounds for doing so. If others are contemplating similar action I hope that they will first study the advisory committee's reference document, which explains why these products are safe if properly used; and that they will contact my Department if they need any further information or have any evidence for questioning the findings.

    Dog Licences

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he has anything to add to his answer of 23 November 1979 to the hon. Member for Weston-super-Mare (Mr. Wiggin) on increasing the charges for a dog licence.

    I take it that the hon. Member is referring to the answer I gave on 23 November 1979 to my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, North (Mr. Mills). I have nothing to add to that answer.—[Vol. 974, c. 410.]

    Deer Antlers

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to receive the report of the Farm Animal Welfare Council on the harvesting of live deer antlers in velvet.

    The council's advice should be available in time for us to take any necessary action before antlers in velvet would be ready to be removed in late May or early June.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list the legisaltive provisions under exist- ing legislation relating to the control of the harvesting of live deer antlers in velvet.

    Each of the following could apply according to circumstances:

    The Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964.
    Part I of the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968.
    The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966.

    Vegetables

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many kinds of vegetables have been withdrawn from the EEC list for 1980; if the ban on the "Little Gem" marrow is in the best interests of British horticulturists; and if he will make a statement.

    I assume that the hon. Member is referring to the EEC common catalogue which is an amalgam of the national lists maintained by individual member countries. In 1979, 406 varieties of vegetable species were deleted from this catalogue and 398 were added.The marrow variety "Little Gem" was deleted from the United Kingdom national list, and thence the common catalogue, at the request of the supplier concerned and after no objections had been received to an advertised proposal to do so. Our general experience is that if sufficient growers value a variety somebody will be willing to maintain it. The United Kingdom Agriculture Departments would readily entertain proposals to restore "Little Gem" to the list if an applicant came forward with an undertaking to maintain this variety with all its essential characteristics.

    Agricultural Training Board

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will consider strengthening the Agricultural Training Board and extending its activities to include the training of workers in the poultry section of the industry.

    The Agriculture Ministers for Great Britain will be reviewing all relevant aspects of the Agricultural Training Board in the light of the Government's conclusions on the current review of the ITB sector being undertaken by the MSC.The ATB already provides training for workers in poultry production enterprises and certain related activities. Enterprises engaged wholly or mainly in poultry processing unrelated to poultry production come within the scope of the Food, Drink and Tobacco Industry Training Board.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if, in view of the importance of agriculture to the United Kingdom economy, he will review the proposals to cut the size of the Agricultural Training Board and to cut the programme of activities.

    The chairman and all 26 members complete their terms of office on 31 March, 1980 and my right hon. Friends are at present considering the views of industry organisations concerned on the future size and composition of the board.

    Wales

    Local Government, Planning And Land (No 2) Bill

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales from which organisations and individuals he has received representations concerning the Local Government, Planning and Land (No. 2) Bill.

    I received comments on provisions now included in the Bill from the local authority associations and their Welsh organisations, and (either direct or through hon. Members or area associations) from the majority of Welsh local authorities and community councils. Other organisations which submitted comments were the National Federation of Building Trades Employers, the Federation of Master Builders, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, the Historic Buildings Council for Wales, the Civic Trast for Wales, the Country Landowners Association, the National Farmers Union, the Royal Town Planning Institute, the Welsh Consumers' Council, the Land Authority for Wales, the Development Board for Rural Wales, the National and Local Government Officers Association, the British Quarrying and Slag Federation, the County Planning Officers' Society for Wales, Glyncorrwg branch of the National Allotments Society—through the right hon. and learned Member for Aber- avon (Mr. Morris) and Conwy Valley Civic Society. Twelve hon. or right hon. Members have written to me, some on behalf of local authorities or constituents. In addition, I received letters from a small number of members of the public.

    Ussr (Official Delegates)

    asked the Prime Minister what advice is issued to Departments and public bodies concerning the reception of official delegates from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the present time; when new instructions were last issued; and if she will make a statement.The Prime Minister: The Government's policy since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan is to avoid high-level and ministerial contacts with the Soviet Union for the time being. Other contacts and visits may proceed. Government Departments concerned are aware of these guidelines.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Cyprus

    8.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal when the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs intends to visit Cyprus; and how many Ministers from his Department have visited Cyprus since May 1979.

    My right hon. and noble Friend has no plans to do so but I hope to visit Cyprus in April.

    28.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the situation in Cyprus.

    The Government welcome the fact that there have been some indications from Nicosia of progress towards resumption of intercommunal talks. We have made it clear to the United Nations Secretary-General and to the parties that we stand ready, together with our partners, to help in any way that they would find useful.

    33.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has yet decided upon the date for his visit to Cyprus.

    Lebanon

    10.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what reports have been received from the Secretary-General of the United Nations about the situation in South Lebanon and the execution of its mandate by the United Nations interim force in the Lebanon; and if he will make a statement.

    A copy of the Secretary-General's latest report, published on 14 December 1979, is in the Library of the House. Her Majesty's Government support its conclusions and voted for the extension of the force's mandate for a further six months, until 19 June 1980. Recent events in the Lebanon indicate how necessary it is for all parties to exercise restraint not only in the south but throughout the whole country. We call on all concerned to back the Lebanese Government in their efforts to restore national unity.

    Rhodesia

    11.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement on Rhodesia.

    20.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement about progress towards elections in Rhodesia.

    21.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the arrangements for the election to be held in Zimbabwe.

    22.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the current situation in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.

    The problem of intimidation of voters in the rural areas, the scope of which has now been confirmed to the Governor by the British election supervisors, continues to cause great concern. The Governor has enacteda further ordinance enabling him if necessary to suspend elections in selected districts where serious intimidation is taking place. There has been a further deplorable attack upon Mr. Mugabe. Investigations are being pursued.

    12.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what considerations will influence the Governor of Rhodesia in the steps he takes leading to the formation of an administration in that country after the forthcoming elections.

    The Governor will be guided by the relevant constitutional provisions.

    27.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a further statement about the elections in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia at the end of the month, with particular reference to identification of voters and the security of polling stations and ballot boxes.

    The presiding officer may request proof of identity and eligibility to vote. The police will be on duty at polling stations and will escort the ballot boxes to their places of overnight storage, where the boxes will be guarded. Voters' fingers will be marked with an invisible fluid to prevent multiple voting. Additional arrangements for the protection of polling stations will be considered in the light of the security situation. Used ballot papers will be transferred to the United Kingdom and will be stored here for the statutory period.

    32.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has received any information about the source of funds moving from Mozambique to Rhodesia to finance the campaign of the ZANU party in the forthcoming general election there.

    No. We have already stated that it will not be practicable to monitor contributions to individual parties.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether the bussing of voters across the boundaries of electoral districts in the forthcoming Common roll elections will be an offence.

    The Election Commissioner has decided that it will not in general be necessary to take specific action to ban bussing across the boundaries of electoral districts. However, under the terms of the Elections (Prevention of Disruptive Activities) Ordinance, enacted on 5 February, the bussing of voters from an administrative district in which a party has been disqualified from contesting the election to another administrative district for the purposes of voting there will be an offence.

    Middle East

    13.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he has any plans to make a tour of the Middle East.

    My right hon. and noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs and I have recently visited the area and my right hon. Friend hopes to do so in the near future.

    19.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on Her Majesty's Government's attitude on progress towards peace in the Middle East.

    The urgent need for further progress towards a comprehensive peace settlement has been underlined by recent events in the region. To this end we continue to support current negotiations between Israel and Egypt and will do all we can to help bring about wider negotiations between all the parties.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom Government's current attitude to the implementation of United Nations resolution 242, stating what changes have been made in British policy since the present Government took office.

    We are committed to implementation of resolution 242, in all its parts and on all fronts, as the basis of a lasting Middle East peace. There has been no change in policy in this respect since the present Government took office. Like our predecessors, we believe that to the principles of Security Council resolution 242 should be added the need to take full account of the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people, including their right to a homeland.

    South-West Asia

    14.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on recent visits by Ministers to the South-West Asia area.

    In January my right hon. and noble Friend visited Turkey, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and India, and made a brief call at Bahrain. My hon. Friend the Minister of State the Member for Mid-Oxon (Mr. Hurd), visited Qatar Bahrain, Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah. In addition, I visited New Delhi on my way back from South-East Asia. We welcomed the opportunity for these further talks in the area.

    Turkey

    15.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal when next he intends to hold discussions with the Government of Turkey.

    I hope to be able to visit Ankara during the course of this year. We are in frequent touch with the Turkish Government, and my right hon. and noble Friend was in Ankara last month.

    Cuba

    16.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has received information from the United Nations Human Rights Commission about recent improvements in human rights conditions in Cuba; and if he will make a statement.

    No. Her Majesty's Government understand that the number of political prisoners in Cuba is well down from the original figure of about 20,000 in the sixties but regret that there are recent reports of increasing abuses of the personal freedom of those who are at liberty.

    24.

    Chile

    17.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if the exchange of ambassadors between the United Kingdom and Chile has now taken place.

    No. Both ambassadors are expected to take up their appointments later this month.

    Pakistan

    18.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the approaches made to him by the United States Government with a view to providing a $400 million military aid package to Pakistan on an international basis.

    The Americans have announced that they propose to seek congressional approval for a package of economic aid amounting to $200 million and credits to cover military sales amounting to a further $200 million, over a two-year period.In discussions with us and with others, the Americans have expressed the hope that other countries will also contribute to assisting Pakistan. As my right hon. and noble Friend announced in another place on 24January, we shall be providing economic aid amounting to something in the region of £30 million in 1980–81.—[Vol. 404, c. 531–2.]

    Diego Garcia

    23.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what recent discussions he has had with the Administration of the United States concerning the expansion of the base at Diego Garcia.

    I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Kingston upon Hull, Central (Mr. McNamara) on 8 February.

    East Timor

    25.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the position adopted by the United Kingdom in the United Nations, on the issue of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor.

    Under United Kingdom chairmanship the Security Council approved a resolution of 22 December 1975 upholding the right of the East Timorese to self-determination. We supported a similar resolution on 22 April 1976. With the other members of the European Community we have abstained on subsequent General Assembly resolutions.

    Detente

    26.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he is taking, or will take, to improve detente.

    We remain committed to the pursuit of better East-West relations. The Soviet Union's recent actions cause grave doubt whether that remains their view. But it is still possible for the Soviet Union to show by its future actions that it is interested in detente which is both indivisible and reciprocal.

    Albania

    29.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will review relations with the Republic of Albania, in the light of the present situation in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan; and if he will make a statement.

    Successive British Governments have made clear their willingness to find a way round the problems standing in the way of a resumption of relations with Albania.

    Madrid Review Conference

    30.

    asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the latest progress for preparation for the Madrid Review Conference.

    As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in the House on 28 January—[Vol. 977, c. 942.]—we shall continue preparations for next November's Madrid meeting, though much will depend on Soviet actions meanwhile.

    Dumisco Ndabangwa

    31.