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Written Answers

Volume 979: debated on Tuesday 26 February 1980

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 26 February 1980

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q5

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q37.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q41.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q44.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q45.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q46.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

Q48.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 February.

Q50.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 26 February.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to my hon. Friend the Member for Romford (Mr. Neubert).

Civil Service

Departmental Staffs

asked the Minister for the Civil Service, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Horsham and Crawley, Official Report 4 February, columns 28—30, if he will set out a list of the main Departments with more than 5,000 permanent staff, showing how many such staff were employed on 1 May 1979.

Figures are not available centrally for staff in post at 1 May 1979. The position at 1 April 1979 for the main Departments is set in the following table.

Permanent staff in post (full time equivalents) 1 April 1979
Department
Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food13,956
Customs and Excise28,771
Inland Revenue84,645
Department of National Savings10,808
Ministry of Defence224,697
Royal Ordnance Factories22,963
Department of Employment Group53,605
Department of the Environment12,358
Department of Transport13,908
Property Services Agency (including Supplies Division)40,095
Foreign and Commonwealth Office9,777
Home Office33,490
Department of Industry9,514
Lord Chancellor's Department10,211
Land Registry5,531
Civil Service Department (excluding CISCO)3,260
Civil Service Catering Organisation1,783
HM Stationery Office6,689
Scottish Office10,946
Department of Health and Social Security98,369
Department of Trade7,308

Arts And Libraries (Cash Limits)

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will make a statement about the cash limits of the Office of Arts and Libraries.

The cash limit for the Science Museum as announced in the Government's White Paper on cash Limits (Cmnd 7604) has been increased to £4,559,000 to take account of a revision in the forecast cost of increased London weighting and of unforeseeable problems with general administrative expenses. The cash limit for the Wallace Collection has been increased to £479,000 to take account of a revision in the forecast cost of pay settlements in 1979–80. There has been a compensating reduction in the cash limit of the Tate Gallery, reflecting changes in that Gallery's expected expenditure for the year.

Home Department

Custody

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the average daily number of prisoners remanded or committed in custody in 1979; and what percentage of the average daily prison population this represented.

The provisional figure for the average daily population of persons on remand in prison department establishments in England and Wales in 1979 is 6,130; this represents about 14½ per cent. of the total average daily population. Information on the average daily population of prison department establishments in England and Wales in 1979 will be published later in the year in "Prison Statistics England and Wales"—tables 1·1 and 1·4 of the volume for 1978, Cmnd 7626.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people were remanded or committed in custody in 1979; of these, in how many cases the person was found not guilty or the case was not proceeded with; and in how many cases the person was given a non-custodial sentence.

Information on the ultimate disposal of those received on remand is published annually in "Prison Statistics England and Wales"—tables 2·1 and 2·2 of the volume for 1978, Cmnd. 7626. Figures for 1979 are not yet available.

Juvenile Remands

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many juveniles were remanded or committed to prisons or remand centres in 1979; in how many of these cases the juvenile was found not guilty or the case was not proceeded with; and in how many cases the juvenile was given a non-custodial sentence.

Information on the ultimate disposal of juveniles received on remand is published annually in "Prison Statistics England and Wales"—tables 2·1 and 2·2 of the volume for 1978, Cmnd. 7626. Figures for 1979 are not yet available.

Juvenile Offenders

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many juveniles were in local prison and how many were in remand centres, on the most recent date for which figures are available.

On 30 November 1979 there were 32 juveniles in local prisons and 316 juveniles in remand centres in England and Wales.

Pickets (Prison Sentences)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will collect statistics on the number of pickets sentenced to periods of imprisonment since the beginning of the steel strike.

I shall be obtaining this information in connection with my review of the law on public order.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will state for the following periods, or those most nearly approximate to them as practicable, that is, the years ended 31 May 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979, respectively, and from 1 June 1979 to the latest available date (a) the number of applications for entry into the United Kingdom on account of alleged repression in South America, (b) the number of such applications granted, (c) the number of such applications refused and (d) the number of such applications pending.

I regret that the information requested is not available. I will consider what figures can be provided and will write to the right hon. and learned Member.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, further to the reply of 15 February to the hon. Member for Anglesey, how many of the 472 applications to remain which were refused were those who were deported by the then Home Secretary on the basis that their continuing presence in the United Kingdom was not conducive to the public good although they had earlier been accepted for permanent settlement on the basis of a marriage that had lasted for at least a year.

It is improbable that any of the 472 applications to remain related to people who had already been accepted for permanent settlement.

Prisoners (Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the cost to public funds of keeping a prisoner (a) in an open prison and (b) in a maximum security prison.

During the financial year 1978–79 the average weekly costs of keeping a male prisoner in an open prison and in a maximum security prison in England and Wales were £80 and £232 respectively. The average cost of keeping a female in custody was £140 a week.

Au Pairs

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many girls entered the country as au pairs during the last 10 years; and if he will list their countries of origin.

Statistics of persons subject to immigration control entering the United Kingdom are recorded on the basis of their citizenship/nationality, not their country of origin. Detailed breakdowns by citizenship/nationality of the numbers of au pair girls given leave to enter have been published annually since 1973 in "Control of Immigration Statistics"—tables 1(a), 1(b) and 2 of the issue for 1978, Cmnd. 7576.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list those nationalities who will be refused permission to enter the country as au pairs under the proposed new immigration rules.

All except nationals of Western European countries, that is:

  • Andorra
  • Austria
  • Cyprus
  • Finland
  • Greece
  • Iceland
  • Lichtenstein
  • Malta
  • Monaco
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • San Marino
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • Yugoslavia
  • and E.E.C. countries

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has had concerning the position of au pairs under the proposed new immigration rules; why boys are not allowed to enter the country as au pairs; and if he will make a statement.

We have received 27 letters on the subject and officials in the immigration and nationality department met representatives from the Internatinal Youth Welfare to discuss the proposals in December 1979. As a result of these representations and the comments made by members of both Houses during the debates on the proposals in Cmnd. 7750, the upper age limit on first admission as an au pair has been raised to 27.The new rules make no change as regards boys being ineligible for admission as au pairs.

Subversive Acts

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if he will publish in the Official Report the definition of "subversive acts" as adopted for working practices by his Department.

I refer the hon. Member to the definition given by my hon. and learned Friend the Minister of State in the Adjournemnt debate on 7 November.—[Vol. 973, c. 576–7].

Overseas Development

Jamaica

asked the Lord Privy Seal what loans and grants have been made by Her Majesty's Government to Jamaica since 1972.

Agreements were concluded in 1978 for three loans totalling £25·5 million and in 1979 for a loan of £2 million. These were all for the purchase of British goods, as part of an assistance programme led by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank and supported by other donor countries.The only grant made was £36,000 for disaster relief. However, technical cooperation has been provided to a total of just over £5 million, while investment by the Commonwealth Development Corporation amounted to some £11·5 million in 1972–78.

Pakistan

asked the Lord Privy Seal what is the amount of increased aid to Pakistan that is being provided from the reduced aid programme.

On the basis of existing commitments we anticipate that about £30 million will be available in 1980–81.

Turkey

asked the Lord Privy Seal, if any further aid is planned for Turkey; and if it will be provided from the reduced aid programme, or from contingency funds.

The question of further aid for Turkey is being discussed within the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, but it would be premature to make a statement.

Turks And Caicos Islands

asked the Lord Privy Seal if the announced grant of £3,950,000 for use in improving airport roads together with electricity and water supplies for a holiday village at Providenciales in the Turks and Caicos Islands in the West Indies is tied to British contractors and British suppliers; and if he will estimate the total population of the island which is benefiting from this grant.

The grant to this dependent British territory is tied to the use of British and local goods and services in the same way as for any other aid project. Although only 250 Islanders will be employed directly by the holiday village, it is foreseen that the whole territory (whose population totals some 7,650) will benefit indirectly from the improved airport and air terminal, roads, water and electricity to be provided through the grant.

Rhodesia

asked the Lord Privy Seal what steps he is taking to provide ODA staff in Salisbury following the elections in Zimbabwe.

We intend that, after independence, the First Secretary (Aid) in Salisbury should be an officer on secondment to the Diplomatic Service from the ODA.

Child-To-Child Programme

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will arrange for an exhibition relating to the Child-to-Child Programme supported by the Overseas Development Administration to be displayed in the Upper Waiting Hall.

Yes. Arrangements have been made to mount the exhibition from the beginning of March.

Trade

British Airports Authority

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has determined a new financial target for the British Airports Authority to run from 1 April 1980.

Yes. I have decided that a reasonable financial duty for the British Airports Authority would be to achieve on average a rate of return of 6 per cent. per annum on net assets revalued at current cost over the three financial years 1980–81 to 1982–83. The target is related to current cost operating profit after taking account of depreciation but before interest and tax.This target is set in accordance with the principles given in Command 7131 and will be adjusted if necessary after the introduction of the proposed new current cost accounting standard. It is designed to be consistent with the BAA's progressing towards a rate of return on their airports operations of 5 per cent. in real terms on its new investment.The target implies increases in the productivity of capital and employees and it has been supplemented by the establishment of the following performance aims which have been agreed with the British Airports Authority. Over the period of the financial target the Authority will aim:

  • (i) to seek to ensure after allowing for changes which may occur in the activities of the BAA (for example, in passenger search and apron handling services) that the number of passengers handled per employee grows at an average rate of 3 per cent. per annum;
  • (ii) to seek to reduce expenditure per passenger before depreciation (excluding any excess of payments of levy to the aviation security fund over reimbursement of security expenditure from that fund) on average by 2½ per cent. per annum.
  • The implications of the financial target for the Authority's pricing policies will depend upon a number of factors including the annual rate at which the number of passengers at its airports continues to grow, and the return on the consequent capital investment which will be required during the 1980s. For its part, the Government will expect the Authority:

  • (a) to move towards break-even in real terms at its Scottish airports within the period covered by the financial target; and
  • (b) to take account of the Government's policy towards the London area airports system, including the transfer of traffic from Heathrow, in its user charging structure.
  • Manufactures

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what the United Kingdom's deficit or surplus was in manufactured trade for 1977, 1978 and 1979 with (a) West Germany, (b) all European Economic Community countries, (c) Japan, (d) the United States of America, (e) the rest of the world outside the European Economic Community and (f) the whole world.

    £ million
    197719781979
    All countries+5,495+ 3,918+ 1,653
    EEC-626-1,615-2,730
    Rest of world+6,120+5,533+4,384
    Federal Republic of Germany-1,339-1,866-2,516
    Japan-641-800-961
    United states of America-251-247-541

    Source: United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics (SITC (Rev 2) Sections 5 to 8).

    Textiles (Imports)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade what action he has taken with regard to the illegal textile imports from Hong Kong referred to by the hon. Member for Burnley, Official Report, 13 November 1979, c. 1199.

    My officials were alerted to these illegal imports by a sudden increase in applications for import licences from Indonesia. Following investigation, a number of firms in Hong Kong were prosecuted and convicted. The EEC Commission is negotiating with Indonesia a system of import licensing which will make any future cases of origin fraud easier to detect. Meanwhile imports will continue to be monitored carefully.

    Art Exports

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether the export licence application form in respect of the Algardi Bust of Monsignor Cerri revealed the ownership as being a consortium of three art dealers; and whether he will make a statement.

    Information given in support of an application for an export licence is regarded as given in confidence, but I can confirm that my Department is looking into the matter to which the hon. Member has referred.

    Arsnic Trichloride Canisters

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will now state that the canister of arsnic trichloride washed up on the South Coast beaches definitely did not come from the "Aeolian Sky";(2) whether the drums of arsnic trichloride washed up on the South Coast beaches came off the deck of the SS

    The crude balance of trade (exports valued fob minus imports cif) is as follows:"Tozeur" bound from Rotterdam to Tunisia and, if so, what action he proposes to take.

    My Department's examination of the hazardous cargo list and the general cargo manifest relating to the last voyage of the "Aeolian Sky" has produced no evidence of arsnic trichloride having been carried on that voyage. The manufacturers of those packages of this substance which have been washed up on South Coast beaches have identified several of them as having been shipped in Hamburg on board the Tunisian cargo vessel "Tozeur", bound for Tunisia. We are now seeking to establish the total number of canisters lost from this ship during her passage through the English Channel in late January.

    Ss "Tozeur"

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade who are the registered owners of the SS "Tozeur" and for how much her last cargo was insured and with whom.

    The registered owner of the general cargo vessel "Tozeur" is the Compagnie Tunisienne de la Navigation in Tunisia. The responsibility for cargo insurance rests with the respective shippers of consignees.

    Defence

    Main Battle Tank

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions he has held with his French, West German and United States of America counterparts to secure the selection of a common gun for the new Franco-German, American and British main battle tank; and whether, as a result, he can ensure that the ammunition for the gun of the proposed British MBT 80 tank will be compatible with that required for the other new Allied main battle tank guns.

    There were several attempts in the 1970s to standardise tank guns; but different time scales, operational requirements and design philosophies have led to different approaches. It is intended that a British 120 mm rifled-bore gun having a considerable degree of ammunition interoperability with the existing Chieftain gun is planned for MBT 80, whereas the new tanks of our major Allies are likely to use 120 mm smoothbore guns. In these circumstances our ammunition will not be interoperable, but we are continuing to keep in close touch with our Allies on both gun and ammunition technology.

    Anti-Tank Missiles

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence (1) if he is satisfied that the Tow anti-tank missile is capable of penetrating and destroying tanks of the equivalent of the Soviet T64 and T72;(2) if he is satisfied that the Swingfire and Milan ground launched anti-tank missile is capable of penetrating the armour of tanks of the equivalent of the Soviet T64 and T72; and if he will make a statement.

    Although recent improvements to Warsaw Pact armour are a cause for concern, I am satisfied that each of the family of anti-tank guided weapons, comprising Swingfire, Milan and Tow, has an effective capability against the T64 and T72 tanks. Improvements in the performances of all three are also planned in order to counter the future threat.

    Insulation Grants

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to receive the report and recommendations of the Noise Advisory Council in respect of noise levels and insulation grants for people living near military establishments; and if he will make a statement.

    The Noise Advisory Council has undertaken a general review of Government noise insulation policies covering military establishments along with other sources of noise. I understand that a report setting out recommendations arising from this review is due to be published in two to three months' time. Ministers will then consider the implications of the report.

    Recruitment Policy

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will explain, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Thornaby, of 8 February, the criteria which led to 55 per cent. of Army officers being recruited from public schools.

    All Army officer candidates are required to show high personal qualities. Selection depends on ability and not on educational background and the same criteria are applied to all applicants.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if, in view of the fact that 55 per cent. of Army officers are recruited from public schools at which only 55 per cent. of children are educated, he will review the policy of recruitment into the Armed Services, with a view to making recruitment at officer level more representative.

    I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member on 14 February.—[Vol. 978, c. 760.]

    Colonels (Pay And Pensions)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the current pay of an army colonel and the pension that an officer of that rank would now receive had he retired in 1960, 1964, 1968, 1970 1972, 1974 or 1976.

    The current maximum pay of an army colonel which is reached after eight years in the rank, is £14,175 a year. The annual pension, including pension increases, that a colonel would now receive had he retired on the maximum rate of pension in the quoted years is:

    1960£6487·51
    1964£6835·05
    1968£7277·56
    1970£8030·76
    1972£8435·72
    1974£8138·69
    1976£7032·78

    Employment

    Industrial Accidents

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many and what percentage of fatal and of non-fatal accidents, respectively, suffered at work occur in the first and last two hours of the working day, respectively.

    I regret that information about the times of accidents in relation to the times of starting and finishing work is not available.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Birkenhead (Mr. Field) on 30 January, what measures his Department is taking to find the 33,113 jobs needed to reduce the unemployment rate amongst registered disabled people to the general level of unemployment.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, in view of the increased costs of motoring and public transport which are causing severe mobility problems for many disabled people, he has any plans to extend to other areas the free transport scheme operated by Coventry social services department and financed by the Manpower Services Commission.

    Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied that the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has sufficient specialist 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.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 February 1980, c. 295–6]: The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is able with its current resources to carry out its essential functions in relation to the safety of nuclear installations. There were 88 nuclear installations inspectors employed in the inspectorate on 3 December 1979. Figures for the period since the formation of the Health and Safety Executive are as follows:

    November 197598
    December 1976115
    December 1977111
    December 197891
    During 1978 responsibility for radiological protection work together with the necessary staff were transferred to another part of the HSE. This accounts for the drop in numbers of inspectors from 1977 to 1978.A recruitment competition began in December 1979 to fill existing vacancies at principal inspector and inspector levels. A further recruitment competition is planned for 1980.

    Licensed Nuclear Installations

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, pursuant to his reply of 11 February to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East, what follow-up medical checks are required for employees in licensed nuclear installations and what follow-up checks have been made on those employees who were exposed to more than the permitted level of radiation up to 1975.

    Incomes

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table listing the number of wage and salary earners in the following groups: up to £1,000, £1,000 to £2,000, £2,000 to £3,000, £3,000 to £4,000 and over £4,000 in Scotland, England, by region and Wales; and what is the percentage of total incomes in each area that falls within each group.

    I have been asked to reply.Figures for the fiscal year 1977–78—the latest year for which such information is available—are given in the following table.

    RANGE OF EMPLOYMENT INCOME

    £1–£999

    £1,000–£1,999

    £2,000–£2,999

    £3,000–£3,999

    £4,000 and over

    All ranges

    Place of residence

    Numbers in range

    Percentage of total employment income in range

    Numbers in range

    Percentage of total employment income in range

    Numbers in range

    Percentage of total employment income in range

    Numbers in range

    Percentage of total employment income in range

    Numbers in range

    Percentage of total employment income in range

    Numbers

    Total employment income

    (000)(per cent.)(000)(per cent.)(000)(per cent.)(000)(per cent.)(000)(per cent.)(000)(£ million)
    England3,3603·04,0009·54,89019·74,57025·34,81042·521,60062,700
    North2473·62539·533822·026924·030740·91,4103,900
    Yorkshire and Humberside4073·848811·850620·546125·944438·02,3006,180
    North West4723·158210·768620·861425·960539·62,9608,280
    East Midlands2663·237011·642422·437927·831735·11,7604,760
    West Midlands3773·04499·458020·758628·651138·42,5007,070
    East Anglia1142·815810·720222·916325·116238·57992,230
    South East1,1302·61,3208·21,59016·71,60023·22,04049·47,68024,000
    South West3083·535011·043823·139228·230334·31,7904,810
    Wales1743·220010·526823·722427·518735·01,0502,840
    Scotland3242·949012·251921·242824·544939·22,2106,100

    The income ranges relate to main sources of employment income (i.e., income from second jobs is excluded), and they cover all taxable emoluments net of allowable expenses and superannuation contributions.

    The data are derived from the Inland Revenue's survey of personal incomes, and cover almost all individuals who had employment income at any time during 1977–78.

    Members of the Armed Forces have been allocated to England but not to any particular region.

    Mines And Quarries Legislation

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will confirm that where subordinate Mines and Quarries Act legislation refers to notification to district inspectors such notification is effective by reference to any health and safety inspector holding a full warrant.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 February 1980, c. 390]: Whilst it would be legally sufficient for such notification to be given to any health and safety inspector holding a full warrant, administrative arrangements are in force to ensure that any notice received is referred to the appropriate mines and quarries inspector.

    Nuclear Installations Inspectorate

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report the principal grades of officers in the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and the salary range applicable to each grade.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The principal grades of officers in the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and their national

    GradeComplementShortfallPercentage
    Chief Inspector1
    Senior Deputy Chief Inspector1
    Deputy Chief Inspector3
    Superintending Inspector1218
    Principal Inspector6123
    Inspector261453

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list all the main sites, installations and laboratories which are subject to surveillance by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

    salary scales as at 1 January 1980 are as follows:

    £
    Inspector7,313–8,601
    Principal Inspector9,528–11,021
    Superintending Inspector14,250–15,748
    Deputy Chief Inspector17,000
    Senior Deputy Chief Inspector17,000
    (increasing to 17,670 on 1.4.80)
    Chief Inspector16,714
    (increasing to 18,000 on 1.4.80)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the establishment in each of the main grades in the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

    [pursuant to his replay, 25 February 1980]: The establishment (or complement) in each of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is as follows:

    GradesNo. of Posts
    Chief Inspector1
    Senior Deputy Chief Inspector1
    Deputy Chief Inspector3
    Superintending Inspector12
    Principal Inspector61
    Inspector26
    TOTAL104
    This establishment is kept under review in the light of the annual budgeting provisions and the functions of the inspectorate.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what was the shortfall of staff, by number and by percentage, in each of the main grades of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate at the end of January.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The shortfall of staff in the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate as at 31.1.80 was as follows:

    Major Sites Licensed Under the Nuclear Installations Act 1965

    • Berkeley Nuclear Power Station and laboratories
    • Bradwell Nuclear Power Station
    • Dungeness A and B Nuclear Power Station
    • Hartlepool Nuclear Power Station
    • Heysham Nuclear Power Station
    • Hinkley Point A and B Nuclear Power Station
    • Hunterston A and B Nuclear Power Station
    • Oldbury Nuclear Power Station
    • Sizewell Nuclear Power Station
    • Trawsfynydd Nuclear Power Station
    • Wylfa Nuclear Power Station
    • Capenhurst Works
    • Chapelcross Works
    • Drigg Works
    • Springfields Works
    • Windscale and Calder Works
    • The Radiochemical Centre, Ltd., Amersham
    • The Radiochemical Centre, Ltd., Harwell (two sites)
    • The Radiochemical Centre, Ltd., Cardiff
    • Rolls-Royce (1971) Ltd. Nuclear Fuel Element Plant

    Other Major Sites

    • UKAEA Windscale Nuclear Power Development Laboratory
    • UKAEA Windscale Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactor
    • UKAEA Dounreay Nuclear Power Development Establishment
    • UKAEA Springfields Nuclear Power Development Laboratory
    • UKAEA Winfrith Atomic Energy Research Establishment
    • UKAEA Harwell Atomic Energy Research Establishment

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many full time qualified (a) physicists and (b) engineers are currently employed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: There are currently 30 physicists and:57 engineers employed by the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the principal base locations of the staff of the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate and the numbers involved at each main location.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: Her Majesty's Nuclear Installations Inspectorate maintains offices in London and in Liverpool at which, on 31 January 1980, 64 and 23 nuclear inspectors were employed respectively.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the level of salary which a career officer in the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate might expect to attain by the age of 40 years.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: A career officer aged 40 with the rank of principal inspector would be paid on a salary scale of £9,528–£11,021.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the type of qualified staff, such as engineers, physicists, chemists or metallurgists most difficult to recruit into the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The qualified staff most difficult to recruit to the Nuclear Installations Inspectorate are structural engineers, electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and control and instrumentation engineers.

    Job Release Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons in the fenland area of Cambridgeshire have taken advantage of the job release scheme since its inception.

    Ninety-nine people in the fenland area of Cambridgeshire have taken advantage of the job release scheme since its inception.

    Industrial Disputes

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, consequent upon his reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Ardwick, Official Report, 14 December 1979, c. 805 and 29 January, c. 564, if he will now give the figure for working days lost in the United Kingdom from 1 May 1979 to the latest available date.

    The number of working days lost in industrial disputes in the United Kingdom from 1 May 1979 to 31 December 1979 was 21·8 million (provisional estimate).

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Diego Garcia

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what additional support services are planned on Diego Garcia; what is the estimated cost; and who will pay for them.

    Additional support services planned for Diego Garcia envisage the improvement of staging and handling capacity for ships and aircraft. The cost over the period 1981–84 is estimated at approximately $140 million, to be met by the United States Government.

    International Economic Aid

    asked the Lord Privy Seal what discussions are taking place with regard to the setting up of a new international economic order to assist Third world countries.

    There are a number of parallel discussions. They include preparations for a new international development strategy under the aegis of the United Nations, and preliminary discussions of a round of "global negotiations" on international economic co-operation for development, which will probably be launched at a special session of the United Nations General Assembly opening on 25 August.

    Industry

    British Steel Corporation

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what discussions have been held with the British Steel Corporation about the scale of redundancies which would be produced by cash limits of £450 million for 1980–81.

    The allocation of the £450 million between capital investment, working capital and BSC's other capital needs including for redundancies is at the discretion of BSC. We have had discussions with the Corporation from time to time so as to keep informed about changes it intends in this allocation, but the scale of redundancies is a matter for the corporation.

    Office Machinery

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the volume of production for the United Kingdom office machinery industry, excluding computers, in the most recent year for which figures are available; and what proportion this represented of total sales of office machinery in that year.

    Total sales of office machinery, defined as principal products of MLH 338 together with document copying machines and microfilm equipment, by United Kingdom manufacturers in the year ending September 1979 are estimated to have been £325 million at current prices. This represented some 103 per cent. of the United Kingdom market.

    Post Office

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the manner in which the Post Office pays Crown and sub-post offices.

    I refer my hon. Friend to the reply which I gave to him on 25 February 1980.

    Unpaid Telephone Accounts

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the current level of debt in respect of unpaid post office telephone accounts; how this compares with the figures for June 1978, January 1979 and June 1979; and what effect he estimates these debts had on the public sector borrowing requirement at each date.

    I understand from the Post Office that the estimated amounts owed to it in respect of telephone services were £200 million in June 1978; £200 million in January 1979; £600 million in June 1979 and £800 million in January 1980. On the basis that the position in June 1978 and January 1979 was normal, the addition to the PSBR attributable to the billing dispute was £380 million in June 1979 and £580 million in January 1980.

    Microprocessor Surveys

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish a comprehensive list of microprocessor surveys, and their costs, funded by his Department.

    Aircraft And Shipbuilding (Compensation Settlements)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will state, with details, all compensation settlements made since 4 May 1979 under the Aircraft and Shipbuilding Industries Act 1977; which cases have gone to arbitration; and which remain outstanding.

    I have nothing to add to my answer to the right hon. Member on 10 December 1979.—[Vol. 975, c. 459–60.]

    West Glamorgan (Development Area Status)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry when he expects to reach a decision on his current review of the development area status of West Glamorgan.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 February 1980]; The assisted area status of those areas affected by the British Steel Corporation's plans is currently being reviewed, and an announcement will be made as soon as possible after the BSC has made a decision about the future of its operations in South Wales and elsewhere.

    Co-Operative Development Agency

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much of the initial £900,000 granted to the Co-operative Development Agency has been used; and what discussions he has had concerning the provision of the further £600,000.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: Of the £900,000 available under the Co-operative Development Agency Act 1978, £277,647 has been allocated in the form of quarterly grants to date. Of this, the agency had spent £235,134 by 31 January this year.When my right hon. Friend met the chairman and director of the Co-operative Development Agency on 26 November he indicated that the Government would continue to fund the agency until September 1981 but warned that the agency could not depend upon receiving additional funds after that date.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list those projects and schemes that the Co-operative Development Agency is wholly or partly funding; what additional income apart from the Government grant the agency has received; and from what sources.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The Co-operative Development Agency was set up to promote, advise and represent the interests of co-operative organisations. It was specifically prohibited from making loans or grants under section 3(3) of the Cooperative Development Agency Act 1978. Its only income to date has been £1,000 (with a further £4,000 in due course) from Lewisham borough council for a feasibility study. £2,500 is due (with a further £5,000 to come) from Lambeth borough council for a feasibility study, and approximately £1,984 interest has been earned on the agency's deposit account at the bank.

    Microprocessor Application Project

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many people have attended the workshops of the microprocessors application project.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The workshops set up by the Department of Industry in 1979 were attended by some 2,000 managers and formed part of a much broader awareness programme under the microprocessor application project which has so far covered over 120,000 key decision makers in both sides of British industry and the financial and academic institutions.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied with the working of the microprocessors application project; what assessment has been made of the project's effectiveness; and whether any changes are planned.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The Department of Industry's microprocessor application project has proved to be highly successful. The awareness programme has covered over 120,000 key decision makers; the number of training places in microelectronics for engineers has been increased by a factor of 15; over 1,200 feasibility studies and over 700 project support applications have been received. Each part of the project is monitored separately and changes are made as appropriate to meet industry's expressed needs.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied with the operation of his policies in promoting and extending the microelectronic industry.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: The Department of Industry's policies for promoting the microelectronics industry have been developed in collaboration with industry and with other Government Departments and extend to education and training, awareness, social and employment implications, as well as encouragement of research, development and industrial investment. Government aid through the microelectonics industry support programme (MISP) and through the microprocessor application project (MAP) is part of this.

    Steel Consumption

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the approximate figures of the consumption by United Kingdom based industry of steel for each of the last 10 years, and any estimates for future years.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]; The information is as follows:—

    UNITED KINGDOM CONSUMPTION OF FINISHED STEEL PRODUCTS
    Million Tonnes
    196917·9
    197017·6
    197116·7
    197216·8
    197318·4
    197417·5
    197515·4
    197615·8
    197715·3
    197815·6
    1979 (provisional estimate)15·1
    A substantial decline in United Kingdom steel consumption is expected in both 1980 and 1981.

    Sealed Lead Acid Batteries

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if an application for financial assistance has been received from the Yuasa Company of Japan for the development of the manufacture of sealed lead acid batteries in the United Kingdom.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: We are bound by commercial confidentiality not to reveal the details of any discussions which we may be having, with particular companies about possible investments in Britain.

    Offers of assistance are published in British Business where a grant of £5,000 or more or a loan of £10,000 or more is involved.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry which firms in the United Kingdom manufacture sealed lead acid batteries; and what support has been given to them from Government services.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: In the United Kingdom there is at present no manufacture of those batteries.

    National Finance

    Tax Thresholds

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the tax expenditure saving would be in 1979–80, and by what percentage could tax thresholds, including child benefits, have been raised as a result of those savings, if all the present adult tax allowances were replaced by a single uniform fixed-amount tax deduction worth 30 per cent. of £900 for every adult, regardless of marital status, but which married couples could aggregate against the income of either spouse.

    If the present tax allowances were replaced by a fixed amount tax deduction of £270 for each adult, it is estimated that at 1979–80 income levels there would be a yield of the order of £3,300 million from the present population of taxpayers. There would be an additional yield from those at present not within the population of taxpayers, but the information with which to estimate the amount of this is not available. I regret it is not clear what further information my hon. Friend requires, but £3,300 million would allow an increase of about 29 per cent. on the allowance of £900 and on child benefit.

    Interest Rates

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the amount by which interest rates have had to be raised on account of the abolition of exchange controls.

    To the extent that the relaxation of exchange controls induces a net outflow from the non-bank private sector, there would be a tendency for the level of nominal interest rates consistent with a given monetary target to fall somewhat. But there are other factors, tending to work in the opposite direction, and it is not possible to place a precise number on the likely overall effect.

    Income Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will bring up to date the reply given to the hon. Member

    Groups of income recipients
    TopTopTopBottomBottom
    Year110403010
    per cent.per cent.per cent.per cent.per cent.
    1970–7117437930
    1971–7216417740
    1972–7317437930
    1973–741640765*
    1974–751538755*
    1975–761236745*
    1976–771236745*
    1977–781237755*
    1978–79 (estimate)1336755*
    1979–80 (estimate)1135755*
    * Less than 0·5 per cent.
    The figures up to and including 1977–78 are derived from the Inland Revenue survey of personal incomes. Those for 1978–79 and 1979–80 are provisional estimates based upon a projection of the 1977–78 Survey. The surveys cover most but not all income recipients, and the proportion covered varies from time to time with changes in the tax system. In general, most of those with incomes below the threshold for PAYE deductions are excluded, and the percentages given relate only to those in the surveys. In calculating the numbers in each group husband and wife are counted as one.The measure of income used up to and including 1974–75 is "total net income" as defined in "The Survey of Personal Incomes 1975–76 and 1976–77" pages 6–7. From 1975–76 the measure was changed to "total income"—for definition see reference above—but the effect of the change on the figures in this table is negligible.The percentages relate to tax payable by persons for the years shown, not to tax paid in those years.

    Stamp Duty

    for Woolwich West (Mr. Bottomley), Official Report, 10 May 1977, c. 456, showing, for the latest available year, and including estimates for 1979–80, the proportion of total income tax raised from the following income groups in each year since 1970–71 ( a) the top 1 per cent., ( b) the top 10 per cent., ( c) the top 40 per cent., ( d) the bottom 30 per cent. and ( e) the bottom 10 per cent.

    The proportion of income tax and surtax raised from the groups of income recipients is as follows:publish in the

    Official Report an estimate of the total revenue from stamp duty paid as a result of share transactions in the financial year 1979–80.

    It is estimated that the yield of stamp duty from transactions in stocks and shares in 1979–80 will be about £200 million.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what the loss of revenue would be to the Government as a result of raising the threshold at which stamp duty becomes payable for house purchases to £25,000 and £30,000, respectively.

    Assuming that the present rates of duty and £5,000 bands were retained, the estimated full-year cost of raising the thresholds to the suggested levels for conveyances of all land and buildings—with appropriate adjustments for leases—in 1979–80 would be as follows:

    ThresholdCost(£ million)
    £25,000120
    £30,000150

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much the present £15,000 threshold for payment of stamp duty on house purchase would have to be increased to take account of movement in (a) the general index of retail prices and (b) average house prices since it came into operation on 1 May 1974.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: On the basis of the most recent figures available the present £15,000 threshold would need to be increased by approximately the following amounts:

  • a. £19,000.
  • b. £15,000.*
  • * Derived from the increase in the average price of dwellings between the second quarter of 1974 and the last quarter of 1979, obtained from the figures published by the Department of Environment, which we based on the prices of dwellings known to building societies on completion of a mortgage.

    Stock Relief

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the extra amount of revenue that would accrue to the Exchequer if stock relief were abolished: and what reduction could be made in the rate of corporation tax if this extra revenue were to be available.

    It is estimated that the additional corporation tax that would have accrued to the Revenue for company accounting periods ending in financial year 1978–79 in the absence of stock relief was of the order of £1,200 million.An unchanged total tax yield could probably have been obtained with a reduction in the rate of corporation tax in the region of 10 percentage points. The actual amount would depend on a number of factors which cannot be quantified; it could also vary considerably from year to year. The change would, of course, bring about a considerable shift in tax burden between companies.

    Capital Transfer Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the cost to the Exchequer if the exemption from capital transfer tax in favour of a husband or wife were to be extended to children.

    Such an exemption would be likely to reduce the yield from the tax by between one half and three quarters.

    Textiles (Imports)

    asked the Chancellor I the Exchequer what legal action Her Majesty's Customs and Excise proposes to take against those firms which are receiving illegal textile imports from Hong Kong, as referred to by the hon. Member for Burnley, Official Report, 13 November 1979, c. 1199.

    Her Majesty's Customs and Excise has investigated this alleged origin fraud and reports are now being considered. Proceedings will be instituted if appropriate.

    Value Added Tax

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek to exempt grave headstones from value added tax.

    No. I have no plans to extend the scope of the present exemption for the basic and essential goods and services associated with funerals.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce a zero value added tax rating for substances used by non-Government supported pest control services, because of their value in improving the efficiency of agriculture.

    No. Those who use these substances in their business and who are registered for value added tax are able to reclaim the tax they incur.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated annual loss of revenue resulting from the current exemptions of small turnover from value added tax.

    [pursuant to his reply, 25 February 1980]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Atkinson) on 13 November 1979.—[Vol. 973, c. 537–38.]

    Trade Union Officials (Expenses)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the tax treatment of daily expenses payments of £25 to officials of trade unions.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 February 1980, c. 376]: In the case of a paid official, such payments are taxable except to the extent that they represent reimbursement of expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of his duties. In the case of an unpaid official, payment which does no more than reimburse him for reasonable expenses incurred in connection with his duties is not taxable.

    Tax Frauds

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many members of staff are currently employed in detecting tax fraud; and how this figure compares with each of the previous five years.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) how much money was recovered by those working on tax fraud last year; and how this figure compares with the amounts recovered for each of the preceding five years;(2) if he is satisfied that sufficient staff are employed to deal with tax fraud; what plans he has to increase the numbers of such staff; and what is his estimate of the amount of money that was lost last year as a result of tax fraud; and if he will make a statement.

    Senior Civil Servants

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many civil servants he has in his Department of under-secretary rank and above; and how many of them are qualified scientists or engineers.

    [pursuant to his reply, 22 February 1980, c. 377]: None of the 34 civil servants in the Treasury of undersecretary rank and above is a qualified scientist or engineer.

    Capital Outflow

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the amount of capital outflow from the United Kingdom in each of the years since becoming a member of the European Economic Community.

    [pursuant to his reply, 21 February 1980, c. 344]: It is possible to express capital outflows in a number of ways as they comprise a wide variety of transactions: some general information is contained in Table 1.3 of the 1979 edition of United Kingdom Balance of Payments published by the Central Statistical Office—the Pink Book. Quarterly articles on this subject are also published in Economic Trends.To take one possible definition, the net flow on investment and other capital transactions in the years since 1973 was as follows (inflows shown as +):

    Year£ million
    1973+148
    1974+1606
    1975+126
    1976-3016
    1977+4406
    1978-2987
    1979 (first 3 quarters)+3126
    (Source:

    Economic Trends, December 1979)

    These figures represent the net outcome of various inward and outward flows in both the private and public sectors.

    Transport

    Departmental Publications

    asked the Minister of Transport what house journals are produced by his Department; what is their function; how many people they employ; to whom they are distributed and what is the total cost to public funds per annum.

    My Department produces only one magazine called "The Examiner" which is published three times a year and distributed free to my Department's driving examiners at a total estimated cost for the financial year 1979–80 of £13,500. As part of the Government's public expenditure reductions publication will cease after the June issue.

    British Railways Track

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will cease to classify as investment the renewal of British Railways track.

    I have agreed with the British Railways board that the money it can spend on renewing its track should be deployed in the most cost-effective way. This means changing the present rules which classify some but not all methods of track renewal as investment. Accordingly, renewal of the track by continuous welded rail, which has now become the cheapest form of renewal in most circumstances, will no longer be classified as subject to the ceiling set on the board's investment. The ceiling for 1980–81 and future years will in consequence be adjusted to exclude the provision for continuous welded rail. The agreed adjustment will be the average annual level of spend over the last five years—£70 million at 1979 survey prices.

    Dipped Headlights

    asked the Minister of Transport what percentage of drivers he estimates use dipped headlights in cities during hours of darkness; and what percentage drives on parking lights alone.

    The last survey carried out by the Department, which was in 1978, suggested that on average about 76 per cent. of drivers used dipped headlamps in large towns at night while 24 per cent. used sidelights only. A more recent survey by the night safety advisory bureau suggests that there may have been a slight increase since then in the percentage using headlamps.

    Trunk Road Schemes

    asked the Minister of Transport if he will introduce a standard method of cost-benefit analysis of proposed trunk road schemes so as to enable like-for-like comparisons to be made between them.

    A standard method of cost-benefit analysis of proposed trunk road schemes has been in use since the 1960s, and has been up-dated at regular intervals. It was endorsed by the advisory committee on trunk road assessment.For the majority of schemes the method is applied in the form of a standard computer programme (COBA). This cannot, however, be applied to certain major schemes, especially in and around conurbations, where a specific cost-benefit analysis is carried out using the same principles. A simpler form of the same method is applied to schemes expected to cost less than £0·5 million.

    Social Services

    Benefits (Payment)

    19.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to announce his decision concerning any alterations to the system of paying benefits.

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further consideration has been given to the policy of altering the frequency and method of payment of social benefits and, in particular, the use of Post Office facilities.

    31.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has yet completed his consideration of Sir Derek Rayner's report on the arrangements for paying social security benefits; and if he will make a statement.

    40.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to be in a position to announce his conclusions regarding the Rayner proposals upon the payment of pensions and social benefits.

    43.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he will announce the results of the review of the methods for the payment of pensions and other benefits through banks and main post offices.

    50.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to be able to announce his policy in connection with the method of payment of pensions and other social security payments presently handled by sub-post offices.

    59.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what further considerations he has given to the agency arrangements presently being used whereby pensions and other benefits are paid through the Post Office.

    I have nothing to add to what I said in the House last Tuesday.—[Vol. 979, c. 264–308]

    36.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will undertake not to alter the agency arrangement between his Department and the Post Office relating to the payment of pensions and other welfare entitlements by village and neighbourhood sub-post offices; and if he will make a statement.

    refer my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for the Western Isles (Mr. Stewart) earlier today. The Government would be failing in their responsibilities if they did not consider very carefully the proposals emerging from the DHSS Rayner study on the arrangements for paying social security benefits.

    58.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received from rural areas on the effect upon sub-post offices of the new methods of payment he is considering for the payment of benefits.

    61.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has received regarding the payment of pensions and social security benefits through post offices; and what reply he has sent.

    I refer my hon. Friends to my right lion. Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Penistone (Mr. McKay) on 14 February.—[Vol. 978, c. 808–10.]

    12.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what representations he has had in respect of his proposals to change the functions of rural post offices in the payment of benefits.

    I refer the hon. Member to my speech in the debate last Tuesday.—[Vol. 979, c. 261–308.]

    Arthritis

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will commission research into the use of lasers in the treatment of arthritis; and if he will make a statement.

    No. I am aware of no view from any clinical source that lasers might be useful in the treatment of arthritis.

    Pharmacies (Closure)

    21.

    asked the Secretary of of State for Social Services what representations he has received concerning the closure of pharmacies; and if he will make a statement on the implementation of the Clothier committee recommendation.

    Very few. The decline in the number of pharmacies on NHS pharmaceutical lists in England and Wales has lessened substantially in the last two years and there was in fact a small net increase in pharmacy numbers in the second half of 1979.I hope very soon to tell the medical and pharmaceutical representative bodies the Government's decision on their joint request that the Clothier committee's recommendations be implemented.

    Children In Care

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will issue a circular to local authorities concerning the treatment of children in care, particularly regarding the age of consent.

    No. Responsibility for promoting the welfare of children in their care rests with local authorities. I would expect them to act as a good parent would do, but do not think it appropriate for me to offer them detailed advice.

    69.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Social Services if he is satisfied that provisions of current legislation adequately ensure that children taken into care are returned to one or both parents as appropriate subject to the necessary supervision if required, as soon as there is no longer any reason for keeping them away from home; and if he will make a statement.

    I am satisfied that the current legislation ensures that children are not kept in care unnecessarily and also safeguards children against premature discharge from care. Local authorities have a statutory duty to review the case of each child in care at six-monthly intervals and, if the child is in care under a care order, to consider in the course of the review whether to seek the discharge of the order. Courts have a statutory duty not to discharge a care order unless satisfied that the child will continue to receive the care or control that he needs, and they have the option to make a supervision order if they consider this appropriate.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the cost to public funds of keeping a child or young person in a community home.

    The average weekly cost to local authorities in England of maintaining a child in a community home during 1977–78—the latest year for which full information is available—was £92. This figures includes capital charges. Administration and field social work costs are excluded, and parental contributions are not deducted, because centrally held financial information does not enable these items to be attributed to specific services.

    Lambeth, Southwark And Lewisham Area Health Authority

    23.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to meet the chairman of the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham area health authority (teaching) commissioners.

    62.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the progress of the commission appointed to the Lambeth, Southwark and Lewisham area health authority in reducing overspending.

    1981 Census Of Population

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he intends to publish the proposed questions and the other information which will be required to be given in replies to the 1981 census.

    Sir George Young