Written Answers To Questions
Wednesday 20 February 1980
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will lay before the House new immigration rules; and if he will make a statement.
I have today laid before Parliament, in accordance with section 3(2) of the Immigration Act 1971, a statement of changes in the Immigration Rules. The new rules will come into force on 1 March and will remain in force unless disapproved by either House of Parliament within 40 days or until replaced by further changes. They will apply to all decisions taken on or after that date, except as provided under the transitional provisions in paragraphs 157–162. Under these all applications made before 14th November 1979—when the Government published their proposals for revision of the rules—will be decided under the present rules. Also, further applications to remain in the same capacity by those already given leave to enter or remain in certain categories will be decided under the present rules.The rules follow broadly the draft rules contained in the White Paper we published on 14th November (Cmnd. 7750), which has been debated and approved in this House. In the light of what was said in the debates in this House and in another place I have made several changes. The most significant are as follows.As already mentioned, the new rules contain transitional provisions. These give effect to our undertaking in paragraph 13 of Part 1 of the White Paper. They ensure in particular that any appeal against refusal of an application covered by that paragraph will be determined on the basis of the old rules.As I announced in the debate on 4th December, there are two changes in our proposals relating to husbands and fiances. It remains the case that a husband or fiance will be ineligible to enter or remain if the marriage has been contracted primarily in order to obtain his admission to the United Kingdom or if one of the parties has no intention of living permanently with the other or if the parties to the marriage have not met. But where there is no reason to believe this, an entry clearance will—not "may"—be issued to the husband or fiance provided that the woman is a citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies who was born here herself or one of whose parents was born here. The latter addition brings within the rules those cases which we had first proposed should be dealt with by administrative discretion. There remains scope for discretion where a woman's connection with this country is very substantial (for example, by descent from people in Crown Service overseas) but she does not meet the formal requirements.We undertook in the debate to reconsider the changes proposed in the qualifications for entry of elderly parents and grandparents. There seems to us to be force in the argument that there would be great difficulty in some circumstances in showing that an applicant was both being supported by children in the United Kingdom and enjoying a standard of living below that of his own country. I have therefore removed the latter requirement. It will still, however, apply, as now, to more distant relatives, and to parents and grandparents under the age of 65, except widowed mothers.It has also been argued that our proposals to prohibit from working the wives and children of students and of people allowed to stay in approved employment could severely affect the prospects of students and unnecessarily deter people whose scarce qualifications or skills make their presence here desirable. We accept this argument and the rules will accordingly not be changed on this point.Our proposals for changes in the provisions relating to au pair girls and working holidaymakers set an upper age limit of 25. We have decided to relax this slightly to take account of those who are engaged in studies from their early to mid-twenties. The age limit will now be 27.Paragraph 91 of the new rules governs applications to remain for employment from those admitted as visitors or students or for some other temporary purpose. We have, however, ensured that it does not debar the employment on completion of their training of nurses and midwives at hospitals in this country, provided that the training was not financed by an international scholarship agency or by their home Government.The drafting of the provisions about refugees has been improved.Finally, we undertook to look again at the proposed condition of stay of writers and artists, which would have prohibited them from taking employment or engaging in any business or profession. We have decided to substitute a condition which would allow them to engage, with consent, in business. Consent would be given for business which is part and parcel of an artist's or writer's profession, such as the holding of an exhibition.
Police Officers (Compensation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will make a statement on the entitlement of United Kingdom police seconded to Southern Rhodesia to compensation in the event of death or injury.
Arrangements are being made to ensure that the provisions of the Police Pensions Regulations 1973 (as
|Minimum point on the salary scale effective from 1 January 1980 (National rates)|
|1 Assistant Solicitor||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£14,772 per annum|
|1 Legal Assistant||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£5,330 per annum|
|6 Senior Executive Officers||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£7,350 per annum|
|1 Senior Research Officer||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£6,650 per annum|
|3 Higher Executive Officers||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£5,950 per annum|
|1 Information Officer||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£5,950 per annum|
|2 Research Officers||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£4,200 per annum|
|9½ Executive Officers||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£3,200 per annum|
|1 Graphics Officer Grade IV||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£4,635 per annum|
|4½ Personal Secretaries||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£3,277 per annum|
|1 Clerical Officer||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£2,021 per annum|
|1 Messenger||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£55·30 per week|
|10 Clerical Assistants||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£35·32 per week|
|½Typist||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||…||£48·84 per week|
amended), which provide for the payment of enhanced pensions in the event of death or injury sustained on duty, will apply to the police officers seconded for duty in connection with the elections in Rhodesia.
Equal Opportunities Commission
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the next financial year, he will seek to reduce by half the funds allocated to the Equal Opportunities Commission.
The approved expenditure for 1980–81 will be published in the Supply Estimates in the near future.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will itemise in the Official Report the additional posts in the Equal Opportunities Commission approved in late 1978, and the current annual cost of each; and what is the number currently employed in this body, as compared with the numbers employed in May 1979.
In late 1978, the approved complement of the Equal Opportunities Commission was increased from 134½ to 172 posts. A total of 42½ new posts were approved and five existing posts were deleted from the complement. Details of the additional posts are as follows:
Bbc And Harlech Television
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, in the light of the Broadcasting Bill, he will arrange for the British Broadcasting Corporation and Harlech Television to avoid overlapping programmes and repetitions of important items, and consider making an early announcement of extra financial assistance.
Clause 20 of the Broadcasting Bill requires the BBC and the IBA to consult each other so as to ensure that the scheduling of their respective Welsh language programmes is such as will best serve the interest of Welsh and non-Welsh speakers as a whole. There are already informal arrangements between the authorities which are designed to prevent clashes between Welsh language programmes on the BBC and on HTV Wales. I have no plans to make available any extra financial assistance for the provision of Welsh language programmes.
Police Officers (Compensation)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will arrange for United Kingdom policemen seconded to supervise the elections in Southern Rhodesia who sustain death or injury to be entitled to at least as large compensation as they would be in similar circumstances in the United Kingdom from the Criminal Injuries Compensation Board.
|HOME DEFENCE EXPENDITURE IN ACTUAL TERMS|
|£ million||£ million||£ million||£ million||£ million|
|Department of Health and Social Security||…||0·8||0·8||0·8||0·9||0·7|
|Scottish Home and Health Department||…||0·6||0·8||0·9||0·8||1·0|
|Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food||…||9·4||11·6||7·6||3·0||3·3|
|Department of the Environment||…||…||0·1||0·0||-0·1||0·1||0·1|
|Property Services Agency||…||…||…||0·1||0·8||1·2||0·6||0·4|
|Department of Transport||…||…||…||0·2||0·3||0·2||0·1||0·2|
|Department of Industry||…||…||…||—||—||—||—||0·1|
Custody And Kidnapping Of Children (European Convention)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Council of Europe convention on the custody and kidnapping of children has been received by Her Majesty's Government; and what consultations on the document are envisaged prior to a decision of ratification.
The text of the European convention on the recognition and enforcement of decisions relating to the custody of children and the restoration
As my hon. Friend is no doubt aware, the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme does not apply to injuries sustained outside Great Britain, but I am considering alternative arrangements with my noble Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, with a view to making extra funds available to the BBC, he will consider taking steps to permit advertising on both channels.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will now produce the actual figures for Civil Defence expenditure for the years 1974–75 to 1978–79, following his answer to the hon. Member for Harrogate's question on 12 February.
The figures are as follows:of the custody of children was adopted by the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe in November. The Government are consulting interested bodies about its acceptability in the United Kingdom, with a view to deciding whether the convention should be signed when it is opened for signature in May.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what consultations he has had with the chief constable of Merseyside regarding local reorganisation of police divisions.
A major reorganisation of the force has been in progress since 1977, with the agreement of the police authority. Her Majesty's Inspector of Constabulary and Home Office officials have kept in touch with developments.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he
|PERSONS FOUND GUILTY AT MAGISTRATES COURTS FOR OFFENCES UNDER SECTION 4 VAGRANCY ACT 1824 BY TYPE OF SENTENCE OR ORDER|
|METROPOLITAN POLICE DISTRICT 1978|
|Number of persons|
|Sentence or order||Sleeping out||Found in enclosed premises||Frequenting ('Sus')|
|Hospital order under s. 60 Mental Health Act 1959||…||…||…||…||…||…||3||2||8|
|Community service order||…||…||…||—||5||42|
|Attendance centre order||…||…||…||…||1||4||25|
|Detention centre order||…||…||…||…||1||10||33|
|Committed for sentence under s. 28 Magistrates Courts Act||…||…||…||…||—||5||22|
|Otherwise dealt with||…||…||…||…||—||9||37|
|Total found guilty||…||…||…||…||119||250||1,520|
Office Management Services
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what guidance he issues to Departments on the provision of office management services.
The Civil Service Department publishes guidance about staffing levels in a whole range of activities common to all Departments such as messengerial typing, registry and catering services. I have asked my officials to review all of these.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he has any further plans for reducing Civil Service manpower.
I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to the hon. Mem-
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.
[pursuant to his reply, 13 February 1980, c. 647]: The latest available information is for 1978 and is shown in the following table. Information for other offences under section 4 of the Vagrancy Act 1824 is not available.ber for Blackburn (Mr. Straw) on 23 January.—[Vol. 977, c. 205.]
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what steps he is taking to achieve expenditure cuts throughout the Civil Service.
I refer my hon. Friend to the statement I made on 6 December 1979.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what evidence he has of racial discrimination in the recruitment, job placement, reports on individuals and promotion of Civil Service staff.
I have no evidence of this, but, as the hon. Member will know from my answer to her on 11 February, a joint working party with the unions has been established to consider the monitoring of race relations policy in the Civil Service. It has not yet reached any conclusions.
Government Departments (Efficiency Techniques)
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what steps are being taken to apply efficiency techniques in all Departments throughout the Civil Service.
All Ministers are actively seeking to improve the efficiency of their Departments using a range of techniques. The Civil Service Department and Sir Derek Rayner are assisting.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service what stage has been reached in the evaluation of the last pay research exercise.
The Pay Research Unit has now delivered the majority of its updated reports to the negotiating parties, and the normal joint processing of the evidence is now proceeding.
asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether he will make it his policy to award an annual cycle allowance for public officials who use their bicycles on official business.
I believe that the current system of allowances described in my reply to the hon. Member for Ipswich (Mr. Weetch) on 18 January [Vol. 976, c. 888] is satisfactory.
Education And Science
National Union Of Students
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if it is his policy to regard the National Union of Students as a representative negotiating body.
So long as substantial numbers of student unions remain affiliated to the National Union of Students my right hon. and learned Friend will be happy to continue to consult it on student affairs.
Shop Stewards (Training Grants)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how his Department monitors grants for the training of shop stewards to ensure that the operation of such grants is in the public interest.
I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on 31 January.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will give a general direction to the British Steel Corporation to retain steel works in working order once they are closed to enable them to be reactivated.
No. This is a matter for the corporation.
Benefit Payments (National Giro)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish any estimates made by the Post Office of (a) the number of additional personal accounts likely to be opened with National Giro and (b) the number of additional transactions likely to be transacted on National Giro accounts at post offices if claimants are able to have national retirement pensions or other social security benefits credited direct to a National Giro account.
The National Girobank would expect to attract a proportion of new accounts if recipients were able to have national retirement pensions or other social security benefits paid direct into bank accounts. I understand, however, that the Post Office has not made estimates of the likely number of new personal accounts which would be opened with National Girobank or of the number of additional transactions likely to be undertaken through National Girobank accounts at Post Offices.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry in what ways his Department gives recognition to the Welsh language; and if he will list the statutory forms used by his Department which are either bilingual or have Welsh versions.
The Department gives recognition to the Welsh language by following both the provisions and the spirit of the Welsh language Act 1967.There has been insufficient demand so far for any of the statutory forms used by my Department to be either bilingual or to have a Welsh version; but assistance would be provided for anyone in Wales having difficulty in completing a form in English.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what action has been taken by the Government to publicise the importance of the resources of the oceans, other than gas and oil; and what further action is envisaged.
[pursuant to his reply, 19th February 1980]: Should the has been taken and none is envisaged in the near future.
asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether any future legislation in the United Kingdom on deep seabed mining will include any reciprocity arrangement with the United States of America arising from legislation in that country.
[pursuant to his reply, 19th February 1980]: Should the Government decide to introduce legislation on deep seabed mining they would need to consider whether such legislation should make provision for reciprocal arrangements with the United States and any other States legislating for deep seabed mining.
Assistance To Industry (North-East Lancashire)
asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the total value, at constant prices, of assistance to industry in the North-East Lancashire sub-region in respect of regional development grants and other assistance under sections 7 and 8 of the Industry Act 1972, in each of the years 1973–74 to 1979–80; and what will be the estimated value of such or similar assistance in 1980–81.
The information relating to selective financial assistance offered under sections 7 and 8 of the Industry Act 1972 is as follows:
|Value of offers made (£'000)|
|1979–80 (to 31 December 1979)||1,812|
|1979–80 (to 31 December 1979)||297|
|* Includes £3·8 million for a share of on project covering two regions.|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many men aged between 60 years and 65 years he estimates are at present employed; and how many and what percentage of such men are unemployed.
It is estimated that in Great Britain in 1977, the latest year for which information is available, there were about 1 million male employees aged 60 to 64. On 10 January 1980 there were 128,000 unemployed males aged 60 to 64. This gives an unemployment rate (the unemployed as a percentage of the employed plus the unemployed) of about 12 per cent.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) how many staff were employed by the wages councils for each year since 1971; and how many it is estimated will be employed on 1 June;(2) how many inspectors were employed by the wages councils for each year since 1971; and what is the estimate of the number to be employed on 1 June.
The number of inspectors and other staff in the Wages Inspectorate in post at 1 January each year is shown below:
|Wages Inspectors||Other Staff|
Lost Working Days
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish the aggregate number of working days lost through unemployment in 1978.
Multiplying the monthly average number of registered unemployed for 1978 by the estimated number of days worked in the year by those in employment gives very approximately 300 million days.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest number of personnel employed by his Department in Wales and how this figure compares with that of 3 May 1979.
On 1 January 1980 the number of DE group permanent staff in post in Wales was 2,934 and at 1 April 1979, which is the nearest date for which figures are available, the number was 3,034.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the percentage of apprenticeships gained by entrants to industry in Wales and England, respectively, in each of the years from 1976 to 1979.
I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the information requested is not available.
Job Release Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many men have taken advantage of the job release scheme in each month since it was introduced, and at what age.
Following is the information:
|ACCEPTED APPLICATIONS—MEN AGED 64|
|ACCEPTED APPLICATIONS—MEN AGED 60–64|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) whether he will now extend the job release scheme either immediately or by stages to cover all men aged over 60 years;(2) when he expects to announce the outcome of his annual review of the current job release scheme due to end on 31 March.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is yet in a position to announce whether the job release scheme will be extended beyond 31 March.
I refer the hon. and learned Member and hon. Members to my right hon. Friend's statement to the House on Thursday 14 February 1980. —[Vol. 978, c. 1755–66.]
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number and percentage of registered unemployed in the Manchester travel-to-work area, and the number of vacancies for the latest available month and for the same month of each preceding year back to and including 1970; and if he will break down the unemployment figures according to sex and, where possible, age, including those unemployed aged 18 years and under, and, if the figures are available, unemployed according to ethnic origin for those aged 21 years and under and 18 years and under.
[pursuant to his reply, 11 February 1980, c. 362]: Table 1 gives
|Registered unemployed||At employment offices||At careers offices|
|The vacancy statistics relate only to those notified to employment offices and careers offices; vacancies notified to employment offices are estimated to be about one-third all vacancies in the country as a whole. Because of possible duplication the two series should not be added together.|
|The unemployment figures for January 1980 may be affected by the introduction, in September 1979, of fortnightly attendance and payment of benefit. Estimates are not available for individual local areas, but for the country as a whole, the figures are about 1½ per cent. higher than they would have been under weekly attendance.|
|January 1979||January 1980|
|Aged under 18||…||1,712||1,310||3,022||1,606||1,357||2,963|
|65 and over||…||112||—||112||94||—||94|
|Total, All Ages||31,230||9,328||40,558||31,035||10,234||41,269|
Labour Force (Lancashire)
asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what estimate he
the numbers registered as unemployed, the percentage rates of unemployment and the numbers of unfilled vacancies, where readily available, in the Manchester travel-to-work area at January each year from 1970.
Table 2 gives an age analysis of the numbers unemployed in the Manchester travel-to-work area at January 1979 and January 1980. Similar analyses for earlier dates could be compiled only at disproportionate cost.
The numbers registered as unemployed in the ethnic minorities in February 1979 were 184 aged 18 and under and 300 aged 19 to 24. This information is collected in February each year and is not readily available for earlier dates.
made of the size of the labour force in the North-East Lancashire sub-region in each of the years 1980 to 1983; and what is estimated to be the number of ( a)
school leavers and ( b) persons retiring, in each of those years;
(2) what was the size of the labour force in the North-East Lancashire subregion in each of the years 1970 to 1979; and what was the number of ( a) school leavers and ( b) persons retiring, in each of those years;
(3) if he will list in the Official Report the numbers of males and females unemployed, and the percentage rates, in the North-East Lancashire sub-region, in each of the years 1970 to 1979.
Census Of Employment
asked the Secretary of State for Employment when he expects to make available the 1977 and 1978 census of employment information; whether investigation of the 1977 figures is complete, and if he will make a statement.
[pursuant to his reply, 14 February 1980]: The results of the 1977 census of employment are now available. The national results will be published in the Department of Employment Gazette at the end of February. Compilation of the 1978 results will begin shortly and it is hoped that they will be published by the end of this year. The serious delay in the results stems from problems encountered in the computerisation of the census operation. This was embarked upon in 1976 to achieve a rapid saving in staff but without allowing for adequate preparation and testing of the complex systems involved. Intensive efforts have been and are being made to overcome the problems.
Temporary Short-Time Working Compensation Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will investigate allegations that officers in the Northern regional office of his Department are demanding from applicant firms for short-time working compensation scheme subsidies, what are the names of those persons being made redundant if he will ensure that this new practice ceases and if he will make a statement.
[pursuant to his reply 18 February 1980]: The explanatory leaflet on the temporary short-time work- ing compensation scheme makes it clear that support under the scheme is available only where employers adopt short-time working as an alternative to implementing redundancies. It is stated in the leaflet that employers must provide evidence that they genuinely intend to make 10 or more workers redundant in each establishment concerned; the nature of the evidence to show this may vary in particular cases.It is also stated in the leaflet that employers must ensure that the workers on short-time in any week can be identified in their records.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list, by country of origin, the waiting list of applicants for work permits from the dependent territories.
[pursuant to his reply, 18 February 1980]: Applications for work permits are not listed. However, 48 applications, all from Hong Kong, for workers who do not satisfy the skills criteria of the general work permit scheme are being held pending a decision on the continuance in 1980 of the special arrangements for the issue of work permits for citizens of the dependent territories.
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the average number of males and females registered as unemployed for the past five years and what these figures represent in total and percentage terms in Hull, Stoke and the United Kingdom.
[pursuant to his reply, 13 February 1980, Vol. 978, c. 449]: The following table gives the available information for the Hull employment office area, for Stoke (taken as the employment office areas of Stoke, Burslem, Hanley and Longton), and for the United Kingdom. Percentage rates of unemployment are calculated only for the whole of a travel-to-work area and not separately for its constituent parts. Hull and Stoke form only parts of their respective travel-to-work areas and the monthly average rates of unemployment shown in the table are for these wider areas. They are readily available only from 1976.
|For 1975 the averages for Hull and Stoke are of 11 months and for 1976, for all areas, they are of 10 months|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the total number of registered unemployed under 21 years in the borough of Walsall; how long they have been unemployed; and what action he intends to take to reduce the amount of youth unemployment in the Black Country districts of the West Midlands.
[pursuant to his reply, 13 February 1980, c. 449]: Information for the precise age range is not available. The following is the information at 10 January for those aged under 20 years for the area covered by the Walsall, Brownhills, Darlaston and Willenhall employment offices, which closely corresponds to the Borough of Walsall. Youth unemployment in the West Midlands and elsewhere will only be reduced when general unemployment is reduced, and the Government's economic policies are designed to achieve this. Meanwhile the youth opportunities programme continues to provide temporary work experience and training for the young unemployed, and has succeeded in helping 7 out of 10 former trainees find jobs immediately on completing their training.
|One week or less||68|
|Over 1 and up to 2 weeks||87|
|Over 2 and up to 4 weeks||99|
|Over 4 and up to 6 weeks||103|
|Over 6 and up to 8 weeks||106|
|Over 8 and up to 13 weeks||161|
|Over 13 and up to 26 weeks||268|
|Over 26 and up to 39 weeks||181|
|Over 39 and up to 52 weeks||53|
|Over 52 and up to 65 weeks||26|
|Over 65 and up to 78 weeks||13|
|Over 78 and up to 104 weeks||15|
|Over 104 and up to 156 weeks||5|
|Over 156 weeks||—|
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what study he has made of the industrial shortage of computer operators and allied staff.
Textile And Clothing Workers
asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the level of unemployment among textile and clothing workers at the latest available date.
[pursuant to his reply 18 February 1980]: At 8 November 1979, the numbers of people registered as unemployed in Great Britain who last worked in the textiles and clothing industries were 25,584, and 18,262, respectively.
Motor Cycle Safety
asked the Minister of Transport what representations he has received on motor cycle safety.
I am now midway through my programme of discussions with leading organisations and I have received a number of useful written representations. While my discussions are covering the whole field of motor cycle safety, the main interest has been in ways of getting more learners to take training and pass their test.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the future of the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre at Swansea.
I have already announced changes in the vehicle excise duty system, which will enable us to cut out over 1,000 posts in administration. Most of these posts are in the local vehicle licensing offices which operate under the control of the centre at Swansea and are in addition to some 400 posts already saved over the last year at the centre. Apart from issuing driving licences the main function at the centre is to maintain the central register of drivers and vehicles which we continue to need for road safety and other purposes.
asked the Minister of Transport how many accidents in the winter were due to drinking and driving.
I regret that information in this form is not available. But I would draw attention to the findings of the Blennerhassett committee that alcohol was a factor in 25 per cent. of accidents. Over the Christmas and new year period special campaigns were carried out by a number of police forces.
asked the Minister of Transport what effect he estimates road improvements have had on the accident rate over the last 10 years.
Road improvements undoubtedly contributed substantially to the impressive fall in the injury accident rate, from 129 per 100 million vehicle kilometres in 1969 to 95 in 1978, but it is not possible to isolate their effect from that of other road safety measures.
asked the Minister of Transport when he now expects to publish the report of the inspector into the M3 inquiry held in 1976–77.
When my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment and my right hon. Friend the Minister of Transport announce their joint decision following consideration of all objections and representations, together with the inspector's comments and recommendations.
asked the Minister of Transport when next he expects to meet the chairman of British Railways.
asked the Minister of Transport when next he plans to meet the chairman of the British Railways Board.
asked the Minister of Transport when he plans to meet the chairman of the British Railways Board.
asked the Minister of Transport when he next proposes to meet the chairman of British Railways.
asked the Minister of Transport when he intends next to meet the chairman of British Railways.
asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to meet the chairman of the British Railways Board.
asked the Minister of Transport when he proposes next to meet the chairman of British Railways.
I met him on Monday and will meet him again soon.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will relax the cash limits applied to the British Railways Board.
I refer the hon. Member to my reply earlier today to the hon. Member for Sunderland, South (Mr. Bagier).
asked the Minister of Transport if, in view of the need to restrict public expenditure, he will transfer effort and expenditure away from schemes for new trunk roads and concentrate available resources on providing for bypasses for historic towns and villages, in order to arrest deterioration of their fabric caused by heavy lorries and other traffic.
We are reviewing the roads programme. The only completely new trunk roads contemplated are on major industrial routes but these themselves will relieve many historic towns and villages. In assessing priorities we intend to find room for an early start on a number of urgently needed bypasses which will achieve the aims described by my hon. Friend.
Imported Trucks (Type Approval Scheme)
asked the Minister of Transport if he is satisfied with the type approval regulations for imported trucks.
There is no general type approval scheme for lorries in this country, but I am currently reviewing the situation.
Hazardous Substances (Carriage By Rail)
asked the Minister of Transport if he is satisfied that consignments of nuclear fuel by British Railways are carried under the most stringent safety conditions and if he will make a statement.
Yes. I am fully satisfied.
asked the Minister of Transport if he is satisfied with the security provision laid down by legislation in respect of the transport of dangerous materials by rail.
Yes. The carriage of dangerous substances by British Rail conforms with the regulations prescribed under the international convention concerning the carriage of goods by rail, to which we and other European Governments are signatories. The ultimate responsibility for security on railway property rests with the British Transport police force. I am satisfied that these arrangements adequately protect the public.
asked the Minister of Transport what representations he has received about the safety of trains carrying nuclear waste through South London.
There have been numerous questions and letters on this subject from hon. Members representing constituencies affected by these movements, including the hon. Member for Battersea, South. I have consistently emphasised in my responses that I am satisfied that there is full and adequate protection for the public.
asked the Minister of Transport when he intends to place a speed restriction upon that section of the trunk road A27 running through the residential parish of Chilworth, Hampshire.
The A27 through Chilworth is a principal road, so this is in the first instance a matter for Hampshire county council. If the council concludes that a limit is desirable, it will need to apply for my right hon. Friend's consent; any such application will be carefully considered.
Commuter Trains (Cycle Ban)
asked the Minister of Transport when he hopes to make a statement as to the outcome of his discussion with the chairman of British Railways over the ban on bicycles on commuter trains.
As my hon. Friend knows, I have written to the chairman asking him to consider whether the board could adopt a more flexible attitude towards the carriage of bicycles on commuter trains. I understand that the board is now considering what might be done. I very much hope that it will be able to devise a more acceptable scheme.
Minibuses (Rural Areas)
asked the Minister of Transport if he will take steps to permit the use of minibus services from rural areas to larger town areas, in view of the inadequacy of the national omnibus group services.
I wish to encourage any initiatives to provide new bus services in rural areas. The changes to the licensing system made by the Transport Bill are designed to do just that.
British Railways (Subsidiaries)
asked the Minister of Transport what proposals he has received for participation of private investment in British Railways subsidiaries.
I refer the hon. Member to my reply earlier today to the hon. Member for Swansea, East (Mr. Anderson).
M3 And M27 (Winchester)
asked the Minister of Transport if, in order to endeavour to meet the conflicting wishes of those who want the M3 and M27 joined urgently, and those who disrupted the Winchester bypass inquiry, he will complete the road without any Winchester interchanges.
My hon. Friend's suggestion would not meet the wishes of objectors, many of whom questioned the need for this proposed section of motorway. Neither would it commend itself to those who agreed with the Department's proposal. The final decision will have to depend on a judgment of all the objections and representations and a consideration of the report of the inspector who conducted the public inquiry.
asked the Minister of Transport what efforts have been made to encourage the greater use of the waterways rather than roads and railways for the transportation of both raw materials and manufactured goods.
The Government's policy is that each mode of transport should carry the traffic for which it is best suited. Nevertheless, I am keen to encourage the development of waterway transport wherever it is commercially viable, and am keeping in close touch on this subject with my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment, who has primary responsibility for the canal network.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will give a breakdown of his Department's planned expenditure in 1980–81 as between (a) motorway construction, (b) bypass construction, (c) realignments and (d) maintenance.
Details of planned expenditure on trunk roads will be given in the roads White Paper, which we hope to publish in April 1980.
Motorways (Surface Noise)
asked the Minister of Transport what research his Department has conducted into minimising surface noise arising from motorways.
The Department has a continuing programme of research on the specification of road surfaces with the aim of achieving the lowest noise levels commensurate with safety and structural integrity.
Bus Purchases (Capital Grant)
asked the Minister of Transport if he will provide financial assistance to bus operators when the present capital grant system for the purchase of new buses is phased out.
Local authorities give financial assistance to bus operators with the help of grant from central Government, and these arrangements will continue.
asked the Minister of Transport what is the Government's attitude to the proposed larger types of lorry; and if he will investigate the possibility of a new kind of compensatory tax to offset the damage to roads, buildings, and the environment.
Until I have received the report of the inquiry on lorries, people, and the environment, which Sir Arthur Armitage is conducting, I will not take any decision on whether the United Kingdom maximum limits on lorry weights or dimensions should be changed.On the question of taxation, the Government's proposed restructuring of vehicle excise duty on heavy lorries will enable us to ensure that all the different classes of goods vehicles at least pay in motoring taxation for their fair share of allocated road costs.
asked the Minister of Transport what representations he has received concerning the powers of the traffic commissioners.
I have received about 80 representations about the changes to the powers of the traffic commissioners made in the Transport Bill, the majority of which welcome my proposals.
St Ann's Square, Manchester
asked the Minister of Transport what is the latest position regarding the submissions for the St. Ann's Square scheme in Manchester.
Greater Manchester council has made application to my right. hon. Friend for an order to pedestrianise a substantial part of St. Ann's Square and St. Ann's Street, Manchester. The current position is that we are waiting for the council to provide additional information which will enable us to reach a decision on the matter.
Transport Supplementary Grant
asked the Minister of Transport what representations he has received about the level of the transport supplementary grant allocation to the West Midlands county council.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will publish in the Official Report the results of the limited survey of local authority transport concessions referred to in his written answer on 5 February.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will publish in the Official Report the results of the sample survey of local authority travel concessions referred to in his written answer on 5 February.
The report on the survey is too long for the Official Report, but I am sending copies to my hon. Friend and the hon. Member, and I a m placing copies in the Library.
Road Safety (Central Crash Barriers)
asked the Minister of Transport what studies his Department has made of the effect on road safety of central crash barriers and road markings and if he will make a statement.
The safety value of crash barriers is well established, and means of increasing it are regularly examined, as are possible improvements in road markings. I shall write to the hon. Member with details of published material.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will arrange for all the evidence submitted to the Armitage inquiry to be placed in the Library of the House of Commons.
I shall arrange for copies of the evidence so far submitted by my Department in response to requests from the Armitage inquiry on lorries, people and the environment to be placed in the Library of the House. Copies of further evidence from my Department will also be placed in the Library as it becomes available.The availability of other evidence submitted to the inquiry is a matter for those submitting it, and for Sir Arthur Armitage.
Road Users (Taxes And Duties)
asked the Minister of Transport how much in total road users will pay in vehicle excise duty, fuel duty, car tax and value added tax on fuel and car sales in 1979–80; and how this compares with funds spent on roads.
asked the Minister of Transport what proportion of the income derived from the road fund licence is currently being spent on the roads; and what is the total sum expected from licences in the year 1979–80.
Total revenue from motoring and vehicle taxation for 1979–80 is estimated to be £5,570 million. This comprises £1,120 million vehicle excise duty, £2,610 million fuel duty, £510 million car tax and £1,330 million VAT on fuel and car sales.Central and local government expenditure on road construction and maintenance in 1979–80 is estimated to be £1,850 million—1979–80 outturn prices.
Disabled Persons (Orange Badge Scheme)
asked the Minister of Transport whether he has completed his discussions with organisations representing the disabled regarding his proposed changes in the orange badge scheme.
Most of the organisations consulted about our proposals have now replied and the views put forward are being considered.
Haslingden Bypass (Rossendale)
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the progress of the Haslingden bypass in Rossendale.
Construction began on 18 June 1979 and is progressing satisfactorily, I hope that the bypass will be open to traffic by the end of next year.
Central Line (Epping-Ongar)
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the latest developments in contacts between his Department, the Greater London Council, the Essex county council and London Transport designed to reach agreement on the provision of financial help from public funds intended to assist the Epping-Ongar section of the Central Line.
The position has not changed since I met the hon. Member and the local authorities concerned on 27 November 1979. The Government remain willing to consider sympathetically for the purposes of determining transport supplementary grant in future years any contribution which Essex county council may choose to make towards meeting the losses incurred on London Transport rail services in the county. That grant is the appropriate channel for Government support which is, in effect, on offer to the county. I understand that Essex county council has refused to make any revenue support contribution to these services in 1980–81; and that the Greater London Council has accordingly asked London Transport to consider alternative ways of reducing its losses on these services.
asked the Minister of Transport when he expects to receive the final report of the steering group on railway electrification.
I expect to receive the final report from the steering group by early summer.
asked the Minister of Transport if he will make a statement on the delays to the A12-A13 section of the M25.
The section between North Ockendon and A13 is under construction. The orders for the section from A12 to North Ockendon have been made, but the compulsory purchase orders for the acquisition of the necessary land have been challenged in the High Court. Progress depends upon the outcome of this challenge.
Industrial Costs (Transport Element)
asked the Minister of Transport what proportion of industrial costs is accounted for by transport.
Inland freight transport costs are about 5 per cent. of industrial costs. This is an average and the proportion varies widely between different industries. The figure does not include the cost of personal travel in the course of work or the cost of shipping and air freight services.
London-Manchester Express Train Derailment
asked the Minister of Transport what steps he has taken following the derailment of a London to Manchester express train on 16 February: and if he will make a statement.
I have ordered a public inquiry into the derailment at Bushey of the 20.25 express passenger train from Euston-Manchester. Some 52 passengers were taken to hospital, one of whom I understand will unfortunately be detained for some time. All six lines were initially blocked, but most services are running normally, although all lines will not be fully restored until 28 February.Initial investigations indicate that the immediate cause of the accident appears to have been a defective weld in one rail. This caused a crack to develop which spread until the rail broke. The British Railways Board has instituted the necessary precautionary measures and is examining other welds which were made at the same time as the suspect one. The inquiry I have announced will consider this and all other relevant matters, The report will of course be published.
A46 (Leicester Bypass)
asked the Minister of Transport whether he will make a statement on the progress of his consultations over the proposed A46 Leicester bypass; and what response he has so far received.
Public consultation about possible routes ended on 7 December 1979. Over 3,700 completed questionnaires have been received and most of the 121 public bodies and local groups who were individually consulted have given their views. The response received so far is now being examined and analysed.
asked the Attorney-General how many commons commissioners his right hon. and noble Friend has appointed how many are currently in post; and whether he intends to appoint any more.
The normal complement of commons commissioners is four, including the Chief Commissioner. Three are currently in post, following the death of the fourth in November 1979. The recruitment of further commissioners is dependent upon the outcome of the current consideration being given to their future work.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what the differential is in price between ethyl alcohol produced by accelerated fermentation of organic materials and petrol processed in an oil refinery, the likely date of parity pricing and the implications for the motor car industry.
It is estimated that ethyl alcohol derived from sugar or grain purchased at world market prices would, at present, cost 2–3 times as much to produce as petrol derived from crude oil. Because of the large amount of energy used up in its production it is unlikely, given current technology, that ethyl alcohol will move to a parity price with petrol. Motor spirit containing up to 10 per cent. ethyl alcohol (often referred to as "Gasohol") could be used in the existing car fleet without any implications for the motor car industry. Motor spirit containing more than this amount of ethyl alcohol might require modifications to vehicles.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy, on the basis of methyl alcohol derived from natural gas or coal, to what extent it would be economic to use it as a petrol extender and octane improver; and at what price of crude oil the break-even point is likely to be reached.
At current market prices and on a thermal equivalent basis, the use of methanol (ie methyl alcohol-currently made from natural gas) is about 20 per cent more expensive as a petrol extender than the motor spirit from natural crude it replaces. The use of methanol as an octane improver is similarly uneconomic when compared to conventional improvers.It is estimated that on current coal prices, methanol from coal would not be competitive as a petrol extender until natural crude oil rose to about $40 to $50 per barrel.
Power Stations (Radioactivity)
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the ratio of radioactive emission from a typical or average (a) nuclear power station, (b) coal-fired station and (c) an ash disposal site, compared with the natural emission of a green field site.
[pursuant to his reply, 11 February 1980, c. 427]: The following further information: A distinction should be made between the total amount of radioactive material emitted from the sources mentioned and the resulting radiation exposure to the public. Any comparison of emissions needs to take into account the widely different characteristics of the radioactive materials involved, the dilution of power station emissions by atmospheric dispersion, and the contribution of natural background, including cosmic radiation, to United Kingdom radiation levels.I am advised by the National Radiological Protection Board that present evidence relating to the most exposed persons living near power stations indicates that in general similar radiation exposures are received form effluent emissions from both modern coal-fired and existing nuclear stations, but that these exposures are low—representing an addition of only a few percentage points to the exposure arising from the natural background.CEGB further estimates that the average radiation exposure experienced by an average member of the population arising from the natural background, compared with the additional radiation exposure attributable to power stations and waste ash sites is as follows:—
|Green field site (United Kingdom typical||1·0|
|Green field site (United Kingdom Maximum||1·3|
|Additional Exposure from a nominal 1000 MW United Kingdom Nuclear Power Station||0·000015|
|Additional Exposure from a nominal 1000 MW United Kingdom Nuclear Power Station including reprocessing of the irradiated fuel||0·0006|
|Additional Exposure from a nominal modern 1000 MW United Kingdom Coal fired Power Station||0·00015|
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Lord Privy Seal what contingency plans have been arranged to ensure the safety of white Rhodesians, and their evacuation if necessary, in the event of increased risk to their lives and property after the forthcoming elections in Rhodesia.
Contingency plans exist for the evacuation of United Kingdom citizens in many countries. The future Government of Zimbabwe will be responsible for the safety of all their citizens.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what plans exist for the rehabilitation in the United Kingdom of white Rhodesians who may be forced to leave Rhodesia after the forthcoming elections, should they wish to come to the United Kingdom.
We are seeking a settlement in which all will have a place and will wish to stay in Rhodesia to contribute to its future.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what consideration he has given to the question of compensation to white Rhodesians in the event of being deprived of their property or jobs following the elections in Rhodesia.
The incoming independence Government will have to proceed in accordance with the fully justiciable Declaration of Rights contained in the Independence Constitution agreed by all the parties at Lancaster House.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will take steps to discover how many citizens of the Republic of South Africa are at present members of the security forces in Zimbabwe-Rhodesia.
No. I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) on 19 February.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will instruct the Governor of Southern Rhodesia to remove immediately all Customs charges and duties on material imported into Rhodesia for electoral campaigning.
No. Special arrangements have been made with the political parties to facilitate the clearance of election material.
asked the Lord Privy Seal Seal what is the purpose of the total mobilisation of the armed forces in Rhodesia, ordered for 24 February.
All police and army reservists have received call-up notices. The purpose of the call-up is to maintain law and order and security respectively during the forthcoming common-roll elections, as well as to provide practical assistance, for instance in establishing polling stations in remote rural areas.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will instruct the Governor of Southern Rhodesia that Rhodesian police shall not be used as polling officers in the forthcoming elections.
No members of the police force will be polling officers during the common-roll elections.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will instruct the Governor of Southern Rhodesia to disclose forthwith to the bereaved families the names of all persons secretly hanged since April 1965.
If the Governor is approached by anyone who believes that his relative may have been executed, he will be prepared to make inquiries and inform the person concerned of the results.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will instruct the Governor of Southern Rhodesia to order the police and armed forces not to interfere with or intimidate public election meetings during the election campaign.
Such activities would be in contravention of the Lancaster House Agreements. We are not in any case aware that any such allegations have been made.
asked the Lord Privy Seal how many clashes have occurred between members of the monitoring force and the Rhodesian armed forces and police, since the monitoring force took up its duties.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the purpose of encircling the assembly points for guerrilla troops in Rhodesia with minefields.
I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Grimsby (Mr. Mitchell) on 14 February.
asked the Lord Privy Seal how many unarmed persons have been shot dead by the Rhodesian armed forces since the Governor assumed power in Rhodesia.
The information is not available here. I will reply to the hon. Member in due course.
asked the Lord Privy Seal how many refugees have been readmitted to Rhodesia since the Governor took office and what estimate has been made of the numbers still awaiting repatriation.
About 30,000 refugees had been repatriated by 18 February. Those still waiting to return under the current programme number just under 120,000. We estimate that there are about 70,000 refugees (mostly schoolchildren) in neighbouring countries who will not be covered by the current programme.
asked the Lord Privy Seal in what ways the Foreign Office gives recognition to the Welsh language; and if he will list the statutory forms used by his Department which are either bilingual or have Welsh versions.
I am not aware of any way in which the Foreign and Commonwealth Office formally recognises the Welsh language. There are no statutory forms used in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office which are either bilingual or have Welsh versions.
Soviet Trade Inspectors
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will give the average length of stay of the 65 Soviet inspectors in the United Kingdom who are monitoring the manufacture of goods and equipment to be delivered to the Soviet Union.
The 65 Soviet inspectors presently in the United Kingdom have been here for an average of one year and two weeks.
asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list the names and addresses of the British companies to which the 65 Soviet inspectors monitoring the manufacture of goods and equipment to be delivered to the Soviet Union under export contract are attached.
This information is confidential as between the Government and the companies concerned.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what restrictions have been placed on the activities of the 65 Soviet inspectors in the United Kingdom who are monitoring the manufacture of goods and equipment to be delivered to the Soviet Union.
Soviet inspectors resident in the United Kingdom are subject to a travel notification scheme. This requires those who are resident in London to give at least two working days' notice of travel to destinations beyond 35 miles from central London. Those resident outside London are required to give one working day's notice of travel outside the immediate area of their residence. Soviet inspectors are also normally required to apply for extensions of their stay in this country every four months.
asked the Lord Privy Seal what restrictions are placed on the number of Soviet inspectors of goods being exported to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
All Soviet inspectors entering this country are required to demonstrate that they are needed here under the terms of particular contracts and that they qualify for entry under the immigration rules. There are no numerical limits on the number of inspectors permitted to work here at any one time.
asked the Lord Privy Seal how many Soviet inspectors of goods were at work in Great Britain in each of the last five years.
This information is not readily available. When it is assembled, I shall circulate it in the Official Report.
Drinking And Driving Offences
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will publish a table in the Official Report showing how many persons have been charged with being drunk in charge of a motor vehicle in Northern Ireland during the last year, on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, respectively.
It is not possible to provide the detailed information requested as records are not maintained on a daily basis. During the year ended 31 January 1980, 2,920 persons were charged with the offence of driving, attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle while under the influence of drink or drugs to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control of a motor vehicle. In the same period a further 1,393 persons were charged with driving or attempting to drive or being in charge of a motor vehicle whilst the level of alcohol in his blood or urine was in excess of the prescribed limit.
Mentally Handicapped Children
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill on 8 February, if he will publish the report of the survey of provision for profoundly mentally handicapped children and place a copy in the Library.
This report will be sent to education, health and social work authorities within the next few weeks and will be available also on request to other interested parties. I shall be happy to place copies in the Library and to send one to the hon. Member.
Industrial Injuries Scheme
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any plans for amending the industrial injuries scheme.
In the light of a study by officials, the Government have decided to undertake a thorough review of the industrial injuries scheme. The study was launched by the last Government following the report of the Royal Commission on civil liability and compensation for personal injury—the Pearson report—which recommended a number of changes affecting the scheme. The report by officials is published today in the form of a DHSS discussion document as the basis for public comment and consultations with those most concerned about the scheme.The industrial injuries scheme is the one major part of the social security system to have remained substantially unchanged since 1948. The discussion document identifies a wide range of questions and options for change, stemming both from the Pearson report recommendations and from improvements which have been made over the years in the main social security benefits, in particular sickness, widows and retirement benefits. The views of those outside the Department will be welcomed on these questions and options. The document contains no firm proposals for change and, at this stage, the Government are not committed to particular solutions. A lengthy period for consultations is allowed—views are invited by 31 December 1980.However, there are two Government commitments underlying the review. First, the review will not be used as an opportunity to abolish the industrial injuries scheme; we shall retain "industrial preference" as a feature of social security though not necessarily in its present various forms. Secondly, the review must be carried through without adding to the cost of the scheme; there is no possibility, in current economic circumstances, that extra money could be made available to meet the cost of any improvements. Desirable changes can be made only if resources can be found by adjustments elsewhere in the scheme. The discussion document indicates that this is possible. Copies of the discussion document, and of a summary, have been placed in the Library of the House and are available at the Vote Office.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will now announce the terms of reference of the committee of inquiry into the death of Paul Brown.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will report progress on establishing the inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Paul Brown.
I am pleased to be able to announce that Mr. Michael Morland QC has agreed to chair the inquiry, which will be held under section 98 of the Children Act 1975 and section 84 of the National Health Service Act 1977, with the following terms of reference:
Although, as I said in my reply to my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) on 20 December—[Vol. 976, c. 364–651—no new evidence has come to light to date on the involvement of the Wirral area health authority, my right hon. Friend has decided to invoke both the Children Act 1975 and the NHS Act 1977 to ensure that the inquiry is fully equipped to investigate all aspects of the case.Names of other members of the committee of inquiry will be announced later."To inquire into (a) what information or professional opinion relating to Paul and Liam Brown existed, was made available to, or could have been obtained by, the relevant authorities; (b) the action taken by any relevant authority or by any individual in connection with such information or professional opinion; (c) the arrangements for communication within and between the relevant authorities and other persons and agencies holding information about Paul and Liam Brown; (d) the working relationships of the social services committee within the Metropolitan Borough Council of the Wirral in so far as they are relevant to the discharge of functions of that committee in relation to children—and to report".
Pensions And Benefits (Comparisons)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how the rate of retirement pensions compares with that of unemployment pay and supplementary benefit for single women over 55 years.
The standard rate of basic retirement pension for a single woman is £23·30 a week. The standard rate of unemployment benefit for a single woman under pension age is £18·50. For a single woman over pension age who has not retired, the rate of unemployment benefit is normally equivalent to the rate of retirement pension that would have become payable if she had retired at pension age.Additional sums may be payable on top of these amounts depending on individual circumstances. In the case of retirement pension, these may include earnings-related additional pension, graduated pension, and increments for deferred retirement. In the case of unemployment benefit, women under 60 may receive an earnings-related supplement, and both retirement pensioners and single unemployed women would be eligible for supplementary benefit to the extent that their resources—including retirement pension and any unemployment pay—fell short of their requirements by supplementary benefit standards. The requirement of a householder would be set at £23·70 for a person over 60 and £18·30 for an unemployed woman under 60, together in each case with provision for rent. For a non-householder the requirement including rent would be £20·65 and £16·35 respectively.
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, further to the Minister of State's statement, Official Report, Vol. 977, col. 571, if he will name the two localities, at least, where there are unused health centres because local practitioners are refusing to practice from them; what are the reasons for this reluctance; and what conclusions he has drawn.
I should perhaps have made it clear that I was referring to empty general practitioner suites in health centres and not to empty health centres as such. I would prefer not to mention the particular health centres I had in mind since the position changes rapidly and my information may now be out of date. In the past general practitioners have been reluctant to enter new health centre premises because of planning and building delays, increases in proposed health centre running charges, fears about jeopardising their independence, and security in tenure. On other occasions, a change in the membership of the practice during the planning or building period has resulted in a change of attitude. The conclusion which I draw is that doctors should not be pressurised to enter health centres but that, where they are willing to do so, they should be fully involved in the planning process.
Regional Health Authorities
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what has been the total of capital expenditure on regional health authorities to date since their inception.
I regret that information in this form is not readily available, but the annual accounts submitted to the Department show that during the period 1974–75 to 1978–79 capital expenditure of approximately £12 million was incurred by regional health authorities on administrative offices of health authorities. Some part of this expenditure, which is not separately identified in the accounts, but is thought to be small, may have been in respect of administrative offices of other than a regional health authority.
Industrial Injury Benefit (Pearson Committee)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what action he proposes to take on the recommendation of the Pearson committee on the payment of industrial injury benefit in respect of accidents going to and from work.
The question whether such accidents should be covered by the industrial injuries scheme is considered in a discussion document prepared by officials, publication of which I have announced in reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Sevenoaks (Mr. Wolfson) today. The document makes no firm recommendation on this or many other questions about the scheme but invites comments from interested persons and organisations.
Medical Profession (Pay Claims)
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what his policy is regarding pay claims by the medical profession for amounts which exceed the rate of inflation; and what effects any such settlement would have on the allocation of resources within existing cash limits.
The levels of pay for doctors working in the National Health Service are recommended by the independent Review Body on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration. Its recommendations are accepted by the Government except when there are clear and compelling reasons for not doing so. Health authority cash limits for 1979–80 have been inc