Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 979: debated on Thursday 21 February 1980

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 21 February 1980

Exclusive Brethren

asked the Attorney-General what representations he has had in respect of the Charity Commissioners' refusal to grant charitable status to the Exclusive Brethren; whether, in the light of the Kingston room case he will reconsider the Brethren's application; and if he will publish a statement.

I have received many letters from hon. Members concerning the charitable status of the Exclusive Brethren. The registration of charities is a matter for the Charities Commission, for which I have no ministerial responsibility. I shall make a statement once the Kingston case is concluded.

Energy

Gas Flaring

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, for the last year for which figures are available, of the total gas available from the United Kingdom continental shelf how much was (a) flared, (b) reinjected, (c) used by the producers and (d) available for internal consumption by the British Gas Corporation.

AVERAGE DAILY GAS FLARING RATES, 1975–79
Period19751976197719781979 Year
Million cubic metres0·22912·518
Million cubic feet773326440639
As percentage equivalent of United Kingdom oil production45877
Period1979 January-June1979 July-September1979 October1979 November1979 December
Million cubic metres19·518·51615·514
Million cubic feet685656565546487
As percentage equivalent of United Kingdom oil production876·56·56

Electricity Industry (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he has any plans for establishing a national electricity board for Wales which will be responsible for generation and distribution.

United Kingdom continental shelf gas utilisation during 1979 was as follows:

TotalAverage daily rate
(million cubic metres)(million cubic metres)(million cubic metres)
Flared6,60018639
Reinjected1,0303100
Used by producers9002·587
Disposals to BGC38,2001053,690
These figures do not include deliveries to the petroleum industry either for its own energy uses or for marketing as petroleum products—a daily average of about 3 million cubic metres; they do include the United Kingdom share of Frigg. The volume of gas flared in 1979 was equal to about 14 per cent. of the volume of gas supplied by BGC—including Norwegian share of Frigg and other imports. The following table gives United Kingdom continental shelf gas flaring rates since oil production began in 1975. It can be seen that in recent months the flaring rate has decreased in absolute terms and relative to United Kingdom continental shelf oil production. Although month by month flaring figures are subject to substantial fluctuations, I hope that this improvement will be maintained as more operating companies bring gas conservation systems into reliable operation.hon. Member for Skipton (Mr. Watson) on 11 February.—[Vol 978,

c. 420.]

Natural Gas Explosions

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many natural gas explosions have occurred in the gas distribution system and in associated houses and buildings in each of the past five years.

In the table below, the incidents recorded are those resulting from explositions which caused death, or damage of value greater than £100 at 1976 prices, and whose origin was in the gas distribution system up to the customer control point (that is, the meter):

Number of explosions
1974–7528
1975–7632
1976–7733
1977–7835
1978–7929

Energy Labelling (Electrical Goods)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many objections, and from whom, he has received to his proposals to introduce a system of energy labelling on electrical goods.

I have so far received comments and constructive criticism from one association of manufacturers. A consultative document on energy labelling to be issued soon will outline the Government's proposals and reflect the informal discussions already held with consumers, manufacturers and standards bodies. All interested parties will be invited to comment on the proposals.

Ex-Departmental Staff (Re-Employment)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy, since 1970 how many civil servants at his Department have taken up employment with oil companies within two years of leaving his Department.

I am unable to answer for the period before 1974 when the Department of Energy was set up.As far as we are aware, 12 staff have left the Department since 1974 to join oil companies. In addition, 14 staff went to BNOC.Senior staff leaving the Department of Energy are reminded of the need to obtain Government assent before accepting within two years of leaving the Department certain types of employment which might lend themselves to misunderstanding.

Nuclear Waste (Disposal)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will enter into consultations with other nations which have nuclear power stations, with a view to a pooling of efforts and experience in the storage and disposal of waste.

I have been asked to reply.It has been the policy of successive Governments to engage in international discussions, co-operation projects and research with a view to improving the state of knowledge about matters relating to the storage and disposal of radioactive waste.As a member of the EEC the United Kingdom takes part in the Community's programmes on radioactive waste management and storage research. The results of these programmes are available to all member States alike. The United Kingdom also contributes to the work of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development's Nuclear Energy Agency whose members include the major producers of nuclear power.

House Of Commons

Refreshment Department (Special Dish)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the cost of the two days spent by the House of Commons chef in preparing the Thatcher Valentine steak, kidney, mushroom and oyster dish; and why special facilities were provided for this purpose.

I have been asked to reply.No special facilities were provided for the preparation of the dish, which appeared on the table d'hote menus of 14 February.

Education And Science

Education Services (Wandsworth)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science which organisations in the London borough of Wandsworth, other than the borough council, he is seeking the views of regarding the possible transfer of the education services in the borough from the Inner London Education Authority.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he expects to report on his discussions with the London borough of Wandsworth regarding its application to seek the transfer of the education services in the borough from the Inner London Education Authority.

Student Unions

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, following his proposals for changes in the methods of financing student unions, he is making recommendations to university polytechnic and college authorities on the future legal status of unions, the procedures for allocation of funds to unions and the preferred means of negotiation of the distribution of funds.

I have no proposals in mind concerning the legal status of student unions. As I indicated in my answer to my hon. Friend the member for Wokingham (Mr. van Straubenzee) on 5 February, the amount of money to be made available for each union will be a matter for settlement at institutional and, where appropriate, local authority level.

University Of Wales

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of the students in the various colleges of the University of Wales come from Wales.

In the academic year 1977–78, the latest year for which information is available, 32 per cent. of full-time and sandwich students at the University of Wales gave a usual permanent home address in Wales.

Mandatory Grants (Cambridgeshire)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will publish in the Official Report the number of Cambridgeshire youths who have received mandatory grants in respect of education at universities and polytechnics in each of the last five years.

Inforamtion in this detail is not available in my Department. I suggest that the hon. Member approaches the Cambridgeshire local education authority.

Illiteracy

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the percentage of pupils who left school illiterate during each of the last 20 years for which records are available.

No records are available on the number of pupils who left school illiterate in the last 20 years.

Shop Stewards (Training Grants)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how the grant allocated by his Department in the current year, for the training of shop stewards, will be monitored to ensure that it is properly spent.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Orpington (Mr. Stanbrook) on 31 January.

Comprehensive Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many pupils there were in comprehensive schools in England and Wales at the latest date for which figures are available; and what proportion of the relevant age groups this figure represents.

In January 1979 there were 3,328,000 pupils in comprehensive schools—(including middle schools deemed secondary)—in England; this represented 86 per cent. of pupils in all maintained secondary schools, and 72 per cent. of pupils aged over 11 in all schools —maintained, direct grant and independent. Educational provision in Wales is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

Blind And Partially Sighted Persons

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the policy of his Department concerning encouraging local education authorities to employ blind or partially sighted persons.

I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that measures to encourage the employment of disabled people apply equally to the employment of blind or partially sighted persons by local education authorities.

The Manpower Services Commission's "Fit for Work" campaign, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State launched last autumn, is aimed at reminding all employers, including local authorities, of the importance of adopting positive attitudes towards the employment of disabled people.

The Arts

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was the per capita grant for the arts in Wales and England, respectively, for the last financial year.

Public expenditure on the arts, museums and libraries from central and local government is estimated to have been about £7·30 per head in England and £7·60 per head in Wales.

Home Department

Members (Correspondence)

55.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why it took him until 13 February to reply to a letter dated 13 January from the hon. Member for Newham, North-West concerning hare coursing and what was contained in the reply which could not have been sent within days, and whether he will take action to expedite replies to the communications he receives from hon. Members and others.

The hon. Member's letter also referred to other matters which required consideration before reply. All communications are dealt with as soon as possible.

Cruelty To Animals

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will list in the Official Report the Acts of Parliament, and amendments, orders and regulations under which the police have powers to investigate complaints made by members of the public of sus- pected cruelty to animals on either private or public property; and in which cases the police have powers to enter private property without a warrant to investigate allegations of cruelty to animals.

A comprehensive reply would require undue expenditure of official resources but the main provisions are as follows.The police may investigate complaints under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 and the Protection of Animals Acts 1911 to 1964—that is, the 1911 Act; the Protection of Animals Act (1911) Amendment Act 1912; the Protection of Animals Act (1911) Amendment Act 1921; the Performing Animals (Regulation) Act 1925; the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1927; the Protection of Animals (Cruelty to Dogs) Act 1933; the Protection of Animals Act 1934; the Protection of Animals (Amendment) Act 1954; the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act 1954; the Abandonment of Animals Act 1960; the Animals (Cruel Poisons) Act 1962; the Protection of Animals (Anaesthetics) Act 1964. The police and local government officers have powers of entry without a warrant: under section 3 of the 1925 Act to premises accommodating performing animals; the police also have powers of entry to knackers' yards under section 5 of the 1911 Act.

Citizenship Applications

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications for British citizenship are waiting to be processed by his Department at present.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to a question by the hon. Member for Tooting (Mr. Cox) on 15 February.—[Vol. 978, c. 849.]

Pirate Cabs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many pirate cabs he estimates operate in the London area; and what proposals he intends to introduce to bring them under licence according to the law.

I have no reason to believe that more than a small minority of the estimated 30,000 private hire cars in London are acting illegally by plying for hire. We have no present plans to licence private hire cars in London; the object of hire car licensing elsewhere is to set minimum standards for both drivers and vehicles and not to permit hire cars to act as taxi-cabs.

Civil Defence

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the estimated capacity of fall-out shelters in Great Britain (a) in square metres and (b) in numbers of human beings.

As any solid building will give a measure of protection against fall-out, it is not possible to answer the question in the terms sought by the hon. Member.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he intends to instruct local authorities to distribute leaflets advising procedure to be adopted in case of nuclear attack.

Some local authorities have done this in response to requests in their area for guidance on what a householder might usefully do should nuclear war threaten. The whole question of information to the public in this field forms part of my present review of home defence arrangements.

Palace Of Westminster Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department why police officers on duty in the Palace of Westminster may not be considered for service in the Rhodesian elections.

I understand from the Commissioner that there were more than 2,700 volunteers from the force and that in selecting 95 officers he took account of a variety of factors, including whether relief would have to be provided in their absence.

Mr Peter Cahill

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a full statement as to the circumstances surrounding the death of Peter Cahill at Brixton police station on 13 February and if he will institute an inquiry to discover in particular why, when he had been found collapsed outside King's College hospital from which he had just been discharged, he was taken into police custody rather than returned into hospital care.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Cahill will be the subject of a public inquest to be held by the Southwark coroner, before a jury, on 2 April. It would not therefore be appropriate at present for me to make any statement or institute an inquiry.

Scotland

District Council Elections (Candidates' Expenses)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration he has given to increasing the limits on candidates' election expenses in the forthcoming district council elections to take account of rising costs since the previous elections.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department, will shortly lay an order under section 2(1) of the Representation of the People Act 1978 to increase the limits on expenses for candidates at local government elections, including those to the Scottish district councils.

Highlands And Islands (Roadworks)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in conjunction with his consideration of road equivalent tariffs to the Scottish Islands, he will consider increasing the level of grant assistance available to reconstruct single track and badly aligned principal roads in the Scottish Highlands.

Financial support to the Islands' councils is given through the rate support grant. Exceptional circumstances of the Islands' areas relative to other areas are taken into account in the distribution of that grant.

Housing Expenditure

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will announce the final allocations to local housing authorities for capital expenditure in 1980–81.

I have today informed local authorities that their allocations are as shown below.These figures do not include the amounts of loans that authorities give for the purchase of council houses.

HOUSING CAPITAL ALLOCATIONS 1980–81

Authority

HRA Block

Non-HRA Block

Out-turn prices Total

BORDERS REGION
Berwickshire0·7950·1350·930
Ettrick and Lauderdale0·5500·4000·950
Roxburgh2·0100·5802·590
Tweeddale0·6550·1150·770
CENTRAL REGION
Clackmannan2·2250·2002·425
Falkirk4·2350·9005·135
Stirling4·4500·7405·190
DUMFRIES AND GALLOWAY REGION
Annandale and Eskdale3·0650·3503·415
Nithsdale1·9850·3352·320
Stewartry1·1450·2001·345
Wigtown1·4550·2501·705
FIFE REGION
Dunfermline3·7500·6004·350
Kirkcaldy5·0251·3506·375
North·East Fife3·1950·5303·725
GRAMPIAN REGION
Aberdeen City12·0002·00014·000
Banff and Buchan3·9500·9604·910
Gordon2·3800·3502·730
Kincardine and Deeside1·5000·2501·750
Moray5·3400·7706·110
HIGHLAND REGION
Badenoch and Strathspey0·9100·1151·025
Caithness1·4500·4001·850
Inverness2·9000·5003·400
Lochaber2·0600·3352·395
Nairn0·5700·0400·610
Ross find Cromarty2·6700·7503·420
Skye and Lochalsh0·5200·2000·720
Sutherland0·4800·2000·680
LOTHIAN REGION
Edinburgh City8·68510·80019·485
East Lothian3·1900·5003·690
Mid-Lothian1·8000·2302·030
West Lothian2·3000·7603·060
STRATHCLYDE REGION
Argyll and Bute3·6051·7505·355
Bearsden and Milngavie0·8050·0700·875
Clydebank2·3000·8003·100
Cumbernauld and Kilsyth0·9000·2001·100
Cumnock and Doon Valley1·8200·0801·900
Cunninghame5·3050·9406·245
Dumbarton1·9050·6002·505
East Kilbride0·6300·2500·880
Eastwood0·2250·1350·360
Glasgow City61·00017·15078·150
Hamilton5·8150·4906·305
Inverclyde3·6502·3506·000
Kilmarnock and Loudoun2·2400·6702·910
Kyle and Carrick3·2000·4703·670
Lanark1·0900·3001·390
Monklands7·2301·1508·380
Motherwell9·0250·6409·665
Renfrew7·9202·56010·480
Strathkelvin3·6850·8104·495
TAYSIDE REGION
Angus2·8850·8103·695
Dundee City6·4502·9609·410
Perth and Kinross3·7750·9404·715
ISLANDS AREAS
Orkney0·7000·9001·600
Shetland2·6000·6803·280
Western Isles2·9600·7503·710
GRAND TOTALS228·96564·300293·265

Cruelty To Animals

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will list in the Official Report the Acts of Parliament, and amendments, orders and regulations under which Government officers, the police and local government employees have powers to investigate complaints from members of the public of suspected cruelty to animals on either private or public property; and under which Acts there are powers to enter private property without a warrant to investigate allegations of cruelty to animals.

Statutory provision for the welfare of animals is made in a miscellany of Acts and subordinate legislation; and the preparation of an exhaustive list would be impracticable since many of these statutory measures, though helpful in this field, do not have the prevention of cruelty as their main or explicit purpose.So far as farm animals are concerned, the principal statutes are the Slaughter of Animals (Scotland) Act 1928—as amended—the Diseases of Animals Act 1950, the Agriculture (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1968 and the Slaughter of Animals (Prevention of Cruelty) (Scotland) Regulations 1955. Under these, authorised veterinary or other Department of Agriculture staff have powers under certain circumstances to enter private property without a warrant.For domestic and captive wild animals the main legislation is found in the Protection of Animals (Scotland) Act 1912, but the Act does not confer a power of entry without warrant except in relation to a knacker's yard. However, the police have a general responsibility for investigating any complaint alleging that a crime or offence has been committed and various common law powers to enable them to discharge that function. That responsibility and these powers would be relevant to complaints about cruelty to animals under the 1912 Act.There are also powers of entry and inspection by Government officials under the Cruelty to Animals Act 1876 which deals with animal experiments; and under various other statutes dealing with the licensing of establishments such as pet shops, riding stables, dog kennels, etc., there are powers whereby local authority officers may enter and inspect premises at any reasonable time without warrant to ensure that the licensing requirements are being met.

Tied Housing (Sales)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has completed his consideration of the ways in which Government policy in respect of the sale of public housing to sitting tenants is to be applied to public bodies, such as the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority, which have a need for tied housing; and if he will make a statement.

Consideration of the application of Government policy on the sale of publicly-owned housing to those public bodies which are not housing authorities, in which we are participating, has not yet been concluded.

Possilpark (Jobcentre Facilities)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what consideration the Manpower Services Commission has given to the provision of jobcentre facilities in the Possilpark area, in the light of Glasgow district council's local plan.

The network of jobcentres and employment offices is reviewed regularly by the Manpower Services Commission in the light of all relevant considerations and adjusted where necessary to meet changing local labour market needs. The commission considers that the Springburn employment office is within easy reach of Possilpark and has no proposals to establish a jobcentre there at present.

Public Sector House Sales

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish in the Official Report the table on public sector house sales contained in his answer to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, Central on 27 November 1979, updated to include the third quarter of 1979.

The following table shows the latest available information which has been updated since the earlier reply on 27 November 1979.

PUBLIC SECTOR HOUSE SALES (Numbers reported to date)

Type

Source of finance

Sector

1979 quarter

Total sales

Cottages

Low rise flats

Maisonettes

Not known

LA/NT loan

Building society

Other

Not known

Local authority1949494
2222372011642757183
37014134314353
New towns1136136136
29581104615227
3183179414522511
SSHA1999
2111
33213
Total public sector1239239239
231811831516488109211
3256195184315922867

Croft Houses

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give favourable consideration to applications for grant and loan assistance for improvement of croft houses when the crofter purchases a house site for his own continuing occupation and assigns the croft to a member of his family in anticipation of a bequest or where a crofter is unable to work his croft because of age or infirmity and consequently assigns it to another person again retaining the house for his own occupation.

Yes. Where a crofter acquires the site of a dwelling-house on or pertaining to his croft, grant and loan assistance for the improvement of that house can be made available under section 22(2) of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1955 for a period of seven years from the date of acquisition.Where such a crofter remains in occupation of that house and assigns the rest of the croft to a member of his family in anticipation of bequest or to an individual where the crofter is aged or infirm and unable to work the croft, sympathetic consideration is given to any application for housing grant and loan assistance submitted by the new crofter.

Vaccine-Damaged Children

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of children in each region who suffer from damage to the central nervous system have been awarded the maximum compensation available; and if he will break down the totals by the vaccination or immunisation thought to be responsible for the damage.

I have been asked to reply.I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him today.

Olympic Games

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will make a statement on her correspondence and discussions with representatives of the British Olympic Association regarding an alternative venue for the 1980 Olympic Games.

I wrote to the chairman of the British Olympic Association—BOA—on 22 January asking him to approach the International Olympic Committee—IOC—urgently proposing that the summer Games be moved from the Soviet Union. He replied that he would put the Government's suggestion to the IOC but that his association could not support it. On 12 February at Lake Placid the IOC decided that the Games should go ahead in Moscow. I wrote to Sir Denis Follows again on 19 February, asking that the British Olympic Association should accept the advice of the Government that British athletes should not go to the Moscow Games. The full text of that letter is:Dear Sir Denis,

Thank you for your letter dated 1 February 1980. I fully understand the difficulties faced by the International Olympic Committee and by the British Olympic Association in considering the suggestion that the Olympic Games should be moved from Moscow. Nevertheless, as you will have seen from my statement in the House of Commons on 14 February, the Government has decided that its advice to British athletes must be not to go to the Games in Moscow next summer.
We fully recognise the practical and constitutional difficulties involved in making changes to the present arrangements. We are deeply conscious of the disappointment which will be felt by British sportsmen and women who have been devoting themselves with heart, mind and body to preparations for the Games. Above all, we are conscious of the nobility of the Olympic ideal and the desirability of divorcing sport from politics. But the British Olympic Association, and the athletes whom you represent, must be aware that the decision to hold the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow is already being presented by the Soviet Government as "convincing proof of the general acknowledgement of the historical importance and correct foreign policy of the USSR and of the huge services of the Soviet Union to peace". This is a foretaste of the way in which the Soviet Union will exploit to its advantage every aspect of the propaganda value of the Olympic Games in Moscow, and will seek to identify attendance at the Games with support for the Soviet system.
British athletes have the same rights and the same responsibilities towards freedom and its maintenance as every citizen of the United Kingdom. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan on a flimsy pretext and its continued military occupation of a sovereign country violates all the principles governing relations between states and people. Western countries are already engaged in taking a number of far-reaching measures to bring home to the USSR their sense of outrage, and the overwhelming majority of the members of the United Nations have voted for a Resolution calling for the withdrawal of the invaders. Until this happens, for British athletes to take part in the Games in Moscow this summer would be for them to seem to condone an international crime.
We therefore ask that the British Olympic Association should accept the advice of the Government in this matter, and reflect it in your response to the invitation of the Moscow Organising Committee to take part in the Games in Moscow this summer.
I am sending copies of this letter to the Chairman of the Governing Bodies of the sports concerned in the summer Olympics.
Yours sincerely,
Margaret Thatcher

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q5.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if she will state her official engagements for 21 February.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q23.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 21 February.

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 21 February.

Q37.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official enagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q38.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 Feb-February.

Q40.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q41.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 21 February.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed (Mr. Beith).

Families

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister what measures she intends to take to help families with children.

I refer the hon. Member to my answers to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) on 7 February and to the reply I gave him on 19 February.

Women (Employment Opportunities)

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister what policy she will pursue to expand the range of job opportunities for women.

We shall do all we can to bring this about. The various employment and training schemes include activities and initiatives designed specifically to widen job opportunities for women.

Child Benefit

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister whether it remains the policy of Her Majesty's Government to regard increases in child benefit as a reduction in taxation.

The Government's view is that as child benefit is a cash transfer from the public to the private sector it is appropriate to treat it as public expenditure in the national accounts. Any increase in child benefit adds directly to the public sector borrowing requirement, irrespective of the method of accounting.

Rural Areas

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied that the existing departmental structure is sufficiently flexible and responsive to assess the overall effect of policies pursued by the Government on rural areas and those living in the countryside; and if she will make a statement.

Yes. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment has special regard to the need to monitor the total effect of Government policies on rural areas as part of his responsibilities for regional policy.

"Why Work?" Syndrome

Q33.

asked the Prime Minister what plans she has to deal with the so-called "why work?" syndrome.

The Government recognise my hon. Friend's concern about the gap between incomes in work and benefits for those out of work. Taken together, our policies are designed to restore incentives and to encourage self-reliance.

Nuclear Hardware

Q43.

asked the Prime Minister, pursuant to her reply to the hon. Member for West Lothian, Official Report, 7 February, columns 276–7, whether, in the light of the sale of centrifuges to Libya, she will hold discussions in the Nuclear Supplies Group.

The Government of the Federal Republic of Germany have confirmed to us that they have no knowledge of the alleged cooperation with Libya on centrifuges referred to in recent articles in the press. The question of discussions in the Nuclear Suppliers Group does not, therefore, arise.

Pakistan

asked the Prime Minister if she will discuss with President Carter the nature of British participation in the United States sponsored international package of military assistance to Pakistan, in the light of the Afghanistan invasion.

In discussions with us and others the Americans have expressed the hope that other countries will also contribute to assisting Pakistan. We are increasing our economic aid. I am not aware of any "international package of military assistance to Pakistan".

French President

asked the Prime Minister whether she has any plans to meet the President of France.

I expect to meet President Giscard d'Estaing at the next meeting of the European Council.

Trade

Man-Made Fibres

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the proportion of the European Economic Community market for man-made fibres held by imports from the United States of America; and if he will publish in the Official Report a list of the products exported by the European Economic Community to the United States of America which enjoy a larger proportion of the United States market.

This information, even if available, could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what effect the man-made fibres cartel has had on the level of prices in the United Kingdom; and what steps he proposes to take to lower prices in the event of restrictions being imposed on imports of competitive fibres from the United States of America.

I have no evidence that the price of man-made fibres has been affected by any cartel arrangements.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proportion of total United Kingdom consumption of (a) non-textured yarn of continuous polyester fibres, (b) textured yarn of continuous polyester fibres and (c) tufted carpets and so on of man-made textile fibres is accounted for by imports from the United States of America in each case.

It is estimated that 17 per cent. by weight of total United Kingdom consumption of yarn of continuous polyester fibres—excluding high tenacity yarn—was accounted for by imports from the United States of America in 1979. Separate figures for textured and non-textured yarn are not available.It is estimated that 4 per cent. by area of total United Kingdom consumption of tufted carpets, carpeting and carpet type rugs of man-made textile fibres was accounted for by imports from the United States of America during the first nine months of 1979.

Manufactured Goods

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether the difference between the price which United Kingdom exporters charge for manufactures exported to the European Economic Community compared with the rest of the world is as great as it is in the case of the Federal Republic of Germany: and to what extent the German advantage, as shown in their published statistics, is taken into account in assessing the competitiveness of United Kingdom manufactures.

Information on the price of United Kingdom exports of manufactures by market is not available in the United Kingdom statistics; therefore, comparisons of the kind requested are not possible.The prices meaning of the phrase "the German advantage" is not clear. If the hon. Member would care to write to me and explain, I will of course reply in full.

Welsh Language

asked the Secretary of State for Trade 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.

In accordance with the provisions and spirit of the Welsh language Act 1967, my Department makes such arrangements as are practicable to conduct its varied business in Welsh with those who so wish.The Companies Act 1976 permitted limited companies to use "cyfyngedig" as the last word of their name instead of the word "limited". Such companies may also complete in the Welsh language the statutory forms required by the Companies Acts, provided they are accompanied by a certified translation into English.None of my Department's statutory forms is prescribed in the Welsh language or in bilingual form, but I am willing to consider any case in which the demand for such forms is sufficient to justify the cost of meeting it.

Import Restrictions

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether it is the practice of his Department not to consult representatives of British retailing prior to the introduction of import restrictions; and, if so, whether he will give assurances that he will provide for consultations in the future with a view to effective import substitution.

There is no fixed procedure, but we do in considering proposals for import restraints take very careful account of the need to avoid disruption to the retail markets, and to minimise any inconvenience to the consumer. Any representations by the importing, retailing or consumer interests are given full consideration.

Fireworks

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will publish the statistics of accidents caused by fireworks in October and November 1979.

I hope to be in a position to publish these statistics shortly.

Television Set (Imports)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether, in view of its effects on the voluntary restraint agreements entered into by other Far Eastern producer countries and upon the manufacture of monochrome television sets in the United Kingdom, he will take action to prevent the import by two British companies of up to 200,000 monochrome television sets from Thailand.

[pursuant to his reply, 19 February 1980, c. 140]: Following my meeting on 20 February with my hon. Friend and the hon. Member for Edmonton (Mr. Graham), I am investigating the matter.

Overseas Development

Exports

asked the Lord Privy Seal how far the feasibility for British exporters to export to an overseas developing country, as measured in terms of Export Credits Guarantee Department cover, is taken into account when deciding on the amount of development aid given by the United Kingdom; and if he will make a statement.

Not to any material extent, although general regard has always been given to industrial and commercial considerations. We intend to give such considerations greater weight in future.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Albania

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the Government's present policy in respect of restoring relations with the Government of Albania.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras, South (Mr. Dobson on 7 November.—[Vol. 973, c. 209.]

Chile

asked the Lord Privy Seal what representations he received from the Government of the United States of America about the decision of Her Majesty's Government to resume the exchange of ambassadors with the Republic of Chile.

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he consulted with Italy and Belgium regarding his decision to exchange ambassadors with Chile.

asked the Lord Privy Seal when he anticipates that the exchange of ambassadors with the Republic of Chile will take place.

Rhodesia

asked the Lord Privy Seal why Selous Scouts, for whom the Governor is responsible, carried out the bomb attacks on churches and chapels in Salisbury; whether the Governor had authorised these attacks, and if not what action he has taken against those officers of the security forces who were involved.

The police are pursuing their investigations into four incidents in Salisbury on the night of 14 February. Bombs exploded at two sites; an unexploded bomb was found at a third; and two members of the Rhodesian security forces were killed in a further incident. The police have not yet established responsibility for any of these incidents, and it is therefore not possible to say whether and, if so, how the four incidents were linked. The Governor is following the progress of the police investigations closely.

European Community (Council Of Foreign Ministers)

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the outcome of the meeting of Foreign Ministers of the Nine in political cooperation on 19 February.

The United Kingdom was represented at the meeting in Rome by my right hon. and noble Friend. The principal subject for discussion was the situation following the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Ministers confirmed the position stated by the Nine in their declaration of 15 January. They also considered a United Kingdom proposal for examination of possible international arrangements for guaranteeing the neutrality of Afghanistan. There was agreement that the crisis could be overcome constructively through an arrangement which made possible a neutral Afghanistan free from competition among outside powers. It will be for the Nine now urgently to examine how these ideas can be developed and carried forward.

Civil Service

Welsh Language

asked the Minister for the Civil Service 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.

My Department gives recognition to the Welsh language in the following ways:

  • (i) The Civil Service Commission issues bilingual competition regulations for recruitment to posts where a knowledge of the Welsh language is considered, by the Welsh Office, to be an essential part of the qualifications required. Such posts are then advertised in Welsh and on occasions in English. In addition, the commission's regional office in Wales has a bilingual member on its panel of school speakers.
  • (ii) The Welsh language is included on the list used by the Civil Service of approved subjects for external training and further education purposes.
  • My Department is not responsible for any forms which there is a statutory obligation to complete.

    Pay And Pensions

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service whether the amount paid out to civil servants by way of pension in the financial year 1978–79 was greater than the amount contributed by serving civil servants and by the Government in notional terms as a proportion of their pensionable pay; and by how much pay would have to be increased if inflation proofing were to be removed, and at what total cost to the Exchequer.

    Total expenditure under the Principal Civil Service Pension Scheme in 1979–80 is expected to be around £580 million, of which about a third represents the cumulative cost of inflation-proofing. Current annual payments by civil servants through direct contributions and salary reductions amount to about £266 million, or 46 per cent. of the current pension bill. If Civil Service pensions received no increases, the deduction from pay assessed by the Government Actuary in his 1979 report would be lower by 4·2 per cent. The annual cost to the Exchequer of a 4·2 per cent. increase in pay would be about £170 million.

    Industry

    Retirement Pensions (Payment Costs)

    56.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the costs of paying out a retirement pension at a Crown post office and at a sub-post office, respectively.

    This is a matter for the Post Office. The manner of financing of the whole Post Office network is, however, one of the matters that will need to be considered with the Post Office in further examination of the consequences for it of any changes in the arrangements for the payment of social security benefits.

    Microprocessors

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many surveys into the design, production or use of microprocessors were funded in total or in part during 1979.

    During 1979 the Department of Industry funded six broadly-based surveys connected with the design and use of microprocessors. In addition, 800 consultancy studies on the feasibility of individual applications of microelectronics were supported under the microprocessor applications project.

    Companies (Profits And Taxation)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will publish a table in the Official Report showing (a) the gross trading profits of companies in 1978, (b) the estimated return on capital in 1978 on a current cost accounting basis and (c) the amount of tax waived in 1978 for depreciation and stock appreciation, respectively.

    The estimates are:

  • (a) £19·5 billion for industrial and commercial companies.
  • (b) 5·3 per cent. for industrial and commercial companies.
  • (c) £4·0 billion for capital allowances and £1·2 billion for stock relief.
  • The figure at (

    a) is an estimate of gross trading profits before deducting either interest payments or stock appreciation.

    The figures at ( c)—which are subject to a wide margin of error—are the estimated effects on tax receipts in the financial year 1979–80 which would be derived largerly from profits earned in the calendar year 1978. Financial companies are included but the amounts involved would be small. The two figures are not additive: the combined effect of capital allowances and stock relief is provisionally estimated as £5·5 billion. For an explanation of this effect, see paragraph 21, page 3 of "Inland Revenue Statistics 1979".

    The figure at ( b) is calculated as gross trading profit plus rent received, less stock appreciation, less depreciation at current replacement cost as a percentage of the net capital stock of fixed assets other than land at current replacement cost plus the book value of stocks—see the article "Companies' rate of return on capital employed 1960 to 1978", Trade and Industry 28 September 1979. This omits the monetary working capital adjustment of current cost accounting which is unlikely to be significant at the level of aggregation of all industrial and commercial companies.

    Albright And Wilson Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what requests he has received from Albright and Wilson Ltd., or employees of that company, to investigate the propriety of instructions issued from that company's United States proprietors to desist from the fulfilment of export contracts entered into by Albright and Wilson Ltd. in accordance with provisions of United Kingdom export regulations: and what response he has made.

    We are considering representations to this effect from a trade union with members employed by Albright and Wilson.

    Sub-Post Offices (Annual Payments)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the average annual payment by the Post Office to a sub-postmaster.

    Individual remuneration varies considerably according to business transacted at each office, at rates agreed with the Post Office. The average payment in 1979 was £6,850.

    Northern Ireland

    Gas Industry

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is his current estimate of the cost of closing down the Northern Ireland gas industry.

    I cannot provide a useful estimate until I know what the Belfast gas undertaking and those undertakings which are supplied by it—together accounting for 80 per cent. of gas supplied in Northern Ireland—intend to do. I hope to arrange an early meeting with the Belfast council to review the situation in the knowledge that the city's gas undertaking is incurring heavy losses and that, as I reaffirmed in a public statement on 15 February, natural gas would not provide an economic solution.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the closure of the Northern Ireland gas industry indicating the action which has already been taken to ensure that it is done in a safe, efficient and economical manner.

    Of the 13 gas undertakings in Northern Ireland, two have indicated their intention of continuing a supply of town gas, while eight have decided to close. Belfast, together with Newtownards and Bangor, which take their gas supplies from the city's gas department, have yet to reach a decision. The Government are concerned that the closures should be orderly and have therefore asked those undertakings which are to close to submit their proposals for the timing and phasing of rundown in order that detailed plans can be agreed, tailored to the specific circumstances of each concern. Detailed plans for one undertaking are at an advanced stage of preparation and substantial progress has been made with another. The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has been closely involved in the planning process and is already strengthening the technical resources required for the task of converting gas appliances in its properties. The Department of Commerce has also had discussions with suppliers of alternative fuels, all of whom stand ready to put whatever resources are necessary into the situation. Should other undertakings indicate their intention to close, the same consultative process will be followed urgently with them.

    Natural Gas (Pipeline)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will now submit an application to the European Economic Community to determine the amount of grant that would be received for the construction of a natural gas pipeline to Northern Ireland.

    No. The Government are already aware that an EEC grant of up to 40 per cent. of the capital cost might be available towards a viable project, but this does not change the Government's conclusion, reached last July, that natural gas could not be supplied on a viable basis and that the continuing cost to the taxpayer could not be justified.

    Job Release Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why the job release scheme is not being operated by the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

    The Northern Ireland Housing Executive does operate the job release scheme. This scheme was suspended temporarily during the general ban on public service recruitment, but, as the right hon. Gentleman will know, it is now in operation again, and it will continue in a slightly modified form for a further year from April 1980.

    >Housing Executive

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether he intends that in future the Northern Ireland Housing Executive will be allowed to depart from Parker Morris standards and erect dwellings which do not reach those standards.

    I shall be discussing this matter with the chairman of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

    Quangos

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will provide the figures for sponsoring Departments' expenditure, omitted from table A, column 5, pages 165 and 166 of the "Report of Non-Departmental Public Bodies."

    The omission of any figures in column 5 of table A on these pages of the report indicates that no additional expenditure, beyond that shown in column 4, fell upon the sponsoring Departments.

    Companies (Registration)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what has been the total cost of the administration of the registration of companies in Northern Ireland and in each of the last three years for which figures are available; and what useful function the re-registration of companies serves.

    [pursuant to his reply, 19 February 1980, c. l84]: The costs have been estimated as follows:

    YearAmount
    1976–77£130,000
    1977–78£137,000
    1978–79£144,000
    A company is not required to reregister annually, but it is required, under existing legislation, to furnish an annual return detailing the current capital structure, the names of the directors, secretary and members of the company.

    In so far as registration confers limited liability on the members of the company, it is important for creditors and others to have access to the information in the annual returns. In fact, over 17,000 inspections of company files have been made in the last year.

    Vaccine-Damaged Children

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what percentage of children in each region who suffer from damage to the central nervous system have been awarded the maximum compensation available; and if he will break down the totals by the vaccination or immunisation thought to be responsible for the damage.

    I have been asked to reply.I refer the hon. Member to my reply to him today.

    Employment

    Unemployed Young Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he will list the number of unemployed youths under the age of 18 years (a) in Fenland, (b) in Cambridgeshire; and how these figures compare with youth unemployment in England and Wales.

    At 10 January, the numbers of people under 18 years of age registered as unemployed in Fenland, in Cambridgeshire and in England and Wales were 111, 582 and 83,218 respectively. The Fenland figure relates to the area covered by the employment offices of Ely, March and Wisbech.

    Iron And Steel Industries

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the increase in earnings or wage rates in the iron and steel industries of the United Kingdom's principal competitors since the fourth quarter of 1976; and how this compares with the United Kingdom.

    The latest available information is given in the following table. Similar data are not available for other major competitors. The comparisons shown are not meaningful without reference as appropriate to corresponding movements in exchange rates, productivity or general price or wage inflation in each country.Average gross hourly earnings of manual workers in the iron and steel industry (1): Percentage increase from October 1976 to October 1978.

    Belgium13
    France22
    Germany (FR)11
    Italy34
    Japan (2)10
    United Kingdom23
    Sources—Eurostat: social aspcts in the iron and steel industry, rapid information sheet 1—1979; monthly statistics of Japan.Notes (1) Iron and steel industry as defined under the ECSC treaty except for Japan where figures are based on national definitions.(2) Monthly earnings, including salaried employee: increase from fourth quarter 1976 to fourth quarter 1978.
    January 1980 Notified unfilled vacanciesSeptember 1979
    At employment officesAt careers officesSeptember 1979 Employees in(thousands) employment
    South-East85,43911,5688,068*
    East Anglia6,263584
    South-West11,9428661,576
    West Midlands11,8491,2002,203
    East Midlands11,2081,1541,530
    Yorkshire and Humberside11,0339672,004
    North-West14,6211,3242,646
    North7,9843061,277
    Wales7,3233911,016
    * Only a combined figure is available for South-East and East Anglia.

    Trade Unions

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many and which European Economic Community countries have trade union statutory immunity and closed shop arrangements, respectively, comparable to those contained in the Trade Union and Labour Relations Acts 1974 and 1976.

    Wide differences between legal systems in different countries make comparisons difficult. Most member countries of the European Economic Community provide trade unions with constitutional rights, or some other form of legal protection, which enable them to take industrial action. However, in general terms, the law on trade union immunities allow

    Employment Ratios

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the most recent ratio of vacancies to persons employed in Wales and in each region of England, respectively.

    The following table gives the numbers of notified vacancies remaining unfilled at January 1980 and the provisional numbers of employees in employment at September 1979, the latest date for which employment information is available. The vacancy figures relate only to those notified to employment offices and careers offices; vacancies notified to employment offices are estimated to be about one-third of all vacancies in the country as a whole. Because of this, and possible duplication between the separate figures for employment offices and careers offices, the two figures should not be added together and cannot be used to provide the ratios requested.trade unions in Great Britain greater scope for secondary industrial action than does trade union law in other countries.From the information available to my Department it would appear that closed shop arrangements are unlawful in most member countries with the exception, in certain circumstances, of Ireland and Netherlands.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the immunities from normal legal actions which trade unions enjoy.

    Section 14 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 provides trade unions—and employers' associations—with immunity from actions in tort against them in their own name for all acts done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute. It also provides immunity from any action in tort arising out of other acts except where the action is in respect of negligence, nuisance or breach of duty resulting in personal injury, or of breach of any duty in connection with the ownership, occupation, possession, control or use of property.Section 13 of the 1974 Act—as amended by the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Amendment) Act 1976—provides certain immunities for individuals for acts done in contemplation or furtherance of a trade dispute which induce or threaten breaches of contracts or interference with their performance.

    1 January 19751 January 1980
    OfficeCadreOfficeCadre
    Attleborough, Employment Office1Attleborough, Employment Office
    Cromer, Employment Office4Cromer, Employment Office4
    Dereham, Employment Office3Dereham, Employment Office4
    Diss, Employment OfficeDiss, Jobcentre5
    Downham Market, Employment Office3Downham Market, Jobcentre3
    Fakenham, Employment Office3Fakenham, Employment Office4
    Great Yarmouth, Employment Office17½Great Yarmouth, Jobcentre19·
    Hunstanton, Employment Office2Hunstanton, Employment Office1
    Kings Lynn, Employment Office14½Kings Lynn, Jobcentre20
    North Walsham, Employment OfficeNorth Walsham, Jobcentre
    Norwich, Employment Office39Norwich, Employment Office49½
    Swaffham, Employment Office2Swaffham, Jobcentre
    Thetford, Employment Office5Thetford, Jobcentre5
    Wymondham, Employment Office5Wymondham, Employment Office
    There will be no immediate increase in staff when Norwich jobcentre opens. However, if business increases, as is anticipated, this will be reviewed in the light of the jobcentre's need and the Government's plans to reduce Civil Service staffing levels.

    Welsh Language

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment 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 of Employment group produces as many forms, leaflets and posters as practicable in bilingual versions or separately in English and Welsh. The list of forms so produced is:

    • UB 25P Fortnightly postal claimants.
    • 77 Request to employer for details of standard rate contributions.
    • 85 Inquiry to previous employer of unemployment benefit claimant.
    • 86 Transcript of reply on effective unemployment benefit 85—letter to claimant.
    • 88P(S) Weekly postal claimant—record of unemployment.
    • 95A Request for information to employer.
    • 95B Transcript of claimant's reply Letter to employer.

    Jobcentres (Norfolk)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list all the employment offices and job-centres in Norfolk open in 1970 and in 1980, showing numbers of staff in each at each date; and how many extra staff will operate the new jobcentre in Norwich.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that information in the form requested is not available prior to 1975. The following table shows the employment offices and jobcentres in Norfolk in 1975 and 1980 and the staff cadre of each office.

    • 461(W) Claim for unemployment benefit.
    • 534A Dependants—wife and children.
    • Claim for increase of unemployment benefit.
    • 596 Doubt of entitlement to unemployment benefit.
    • Further information inquiry.
    • 605 Letter notifying claimant of 10's decision requiring repayment.
    • 605A Letter notifying claimant of 10's decision requiring repayment. Suspected fraud.
    • 606 Reminder to claimant starting work of outstanding unemployment benefit overpayment.
    • BF 39(UB) Appeal to local tribunal against 10's decision.
    • B 1 Application for supplementary benefit.
    • ED 90A, B & C Census of employment.
    • Youth opportunities programme—certificate of experience.
    • ES 1 Registration forms for postal applicants for employment.
    • ES 1 (Vac/Reg) Self-registration—for students seeking vacation employment.
    • PWC 1(5) Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979: Application for Compensation—Sufferer.
    • PWC 1(D) Pneumoconiosis etc (Workers' Compensation) Act 1979: Application for compensation—Surviving Dependant(s)

    Unemployed Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of registered unemployed persons in England and in Wales, respectively, has been unemployed for over eight weeks.

    At 10 January, the proportions were 72·2 per cent. in England and 74·7 per cent. in Wales.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the rate of unemployment in the United Kingdom in each of the years since becoming a member of the European Economic Community.

    School Leavers

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the average time that a 16 year old school leaver has to wait, to secure employment in each of the metropolitan districts of Greater Manchester and remaining regions of Great Britain.

    I regret that the information is not available. An analysis by age and duration of the registered unemployed is made quarterly on selected dates but does not distinguish school leavers from others registered as unemployed.

    Apprenticeships

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many apprenticeships were made available in the Bury and Radcliffe travel-to-work area for the latest available month, broken down into trades and, where possible, sex and ethnic origin, with the corresponding figures for the corresponding month since and including 1974.

    I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that the information requested is not available.

    Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has sufficient staff to carry out its duties effectively; how many specialist staff were employed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate in 1979; how this compares with each of the previous five years; what steps he is taking to encourage recruitment and reduce staff losses; and if he will make a statement.

    Wages Council Inspectorate

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will appoint stall to strengthen the Wages Council Inspectorate more effectively to ascertain those employers underpaying their employees in wages council industries.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will study the recently published report by the Low Pay Unit on the employment of disabled persons; and if he will make a statement.

    Jobcentres

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will give details in the Official Report of the considerations which led him to conclude that the rents paid for premises occupied by jobcentres were, or could be, matters of commercial confidentiality.

    Weekly Earnings

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the wide divergence between the gross weekly earnings of men and women in manufacturing industries; and what proposals he has for closing the gap.

    Health And Safety (Agriculture Industry)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many deaths and how many accidents there were in agriculture in 1978 and 1979, county by county; and how many health and safety prosecutions and convictions there were county by county in 1979 or up to the most recent date in 1979 for which figures are available.

    Household Incomes (Pensioners)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the price index for one-person and the price index for two-person pensioner households alongside the retail price index for every quarter in each of the last five years.

    [pursuant to his reply, 15 February 1980, c. 773]: The information requested is published monthly in table 132(a) of the Employment Gazette, copies of which are in the Library of the House. The pensioner indices do not cover housing costs and should be compared with the general index excluding housing.The retail prices index figures for the last quarter of 1979 taking January 1974 as 100 were:

    One-person pensioner households239·8
    Two-person pensioner households238·5
    General index of retail prices excluding housing239·8

    Rehabilitation Centres

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what reduction in staff is planned at employment rehabilitation centres over the next three years; and what effect this will have on individual centres.

    [pursuant to his reply, 19 February 1980, c. 6]: I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that it is preparing to reduce staffing levels within the employment rehabilitation service by 10 per cent. or 97 posts over the next three years. Thirty-six of these posts were already due to disappear as part of the planned re-building of Egham employment rehabilitation centre—ERC—on a slightly smaller scale, following the opening of a new residential centre at Preston. The remainder of the posts will be found by measures designed to achieve a more rational and effective use of ERC resources. The individual centres affected by these proposals are (i) Garston Manor and North Staffs, where it is planned to experiment with a new less staff-intensive form of employment rehabilitation, (ii) the three North-East ERCs, one of which will be closed and (iii) the larger ERCs, which will each lose one occupational supervisor post following a redistribution of activities within the centre. No final decisions have been taken by the Commission as to the precise implementation of these proposals but it is expected that the overall number of clients catered for by the service will not be significantly less than in the current year.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received on the effect of the projected staff reductions on the work of employment rehabilitation centres; what replies he has sent: and if he will make a statement.

    [pursuant to his reply, 19 February 1980, c. 6]; I have received a small number of letters on this subject from my hon. Friends and colleagues following lobbying by the Civil Service Union at the House on 17 January 1980. In replying to them I have stressed first that an effective rehabilitation service depends on the existence of a successful general employment service and that, conquently, it would be contrary to the best interests of disabled persons if the rehabilitation service were to be totally excluded from the saving of resources on MSC programmes at the expense of the general employment service, and secondly that the effect of the Commission's proposals on the number of persons going through the rehabilitation service is by no means as serious as has been suggested; it is anticipated that the overall number of clients catered for by the service in future will not be significantly less than in the current year.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people have been unable to join the training opportunities scheme as a result of the reduction in planned expenditure.

    [pursuant to his reply, 19 February 1980]: I am informed by the Manpower Services Commission that, as a result of the reduction in expenditure during the current financial year, the number of people starting TOPS courses during the year will be reduced by approximately 10,000 from 99,000 to 89,000. I have no estimate of the number of people unable to undertake TOPS training because of this reduction. The fact remains that there were, at the last count, some 4,600 training places available for which trainees could not be found.

    Occupational Guidance Unit (Manchester)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has yet made any decision on the future of the occupational guidance unit in Manchester.

    [pursuant to his reply 19 February 1980]: Following the request we have made to the Manpower Services Commission to achieve savings on staff and planned expenditure, the commission has decided that it is no longer able to justify an occupational guidance service separate from the advisory services in job centres. It has proposed that all occupational guidance units should be closed during 1980 and that the job centre advisory services be extended by improving the provision of occupational information to all its clients. It is, however, too early for me to say when the Manchester occupational guidance unit will be affected, or what alternative provision will be made.

    Environment

    Housing Investment Programmes

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will now announce details of the basis of financial allocation to local housing authorities for their housing investment programmes for 1980–81.

    Details of the basis of the allocations were given in the letter informing local authorities of their allocations, a copy of which was placed in the Library of the House today.

    Buildings (Safety Standards)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will issue guidance to local authorities on the need to ensure the strictest possible safety standards in the construction and management of high-rise blocks in order to avoid falls from windows as have occurred recently; and if he will issue without delay a new departmental circular on safety in the home and a more effective code of practice concerning building regulations, and the fitting of effective safety catches.