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Written Answers

Volume 982: debated on Tuesday 15 April 1980

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 15 April 1980

House Of Commons

Written Answers To Questions

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether any steps are being taken to ameliorate the present delays in the publication of written answers.

The Official Report has now arranged to provide to the Vote Office on the morning after written answers are delivered a Supplement in the form of a proof copy of all answers not included in the current Daily Part. The Supplement will include answers received by the Official Report by 5 pm the day before publication—12.30 on Fridays. Answers appearing in the Supplement and all outstanding answers will thereafter be published in succeeding Daily Parts.It is hoped that the provision of this extra material will go some way towards making good the present shortcomings in the availability of the

Official Report.

Departmental Correspondence

asked the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, in view of the fact that he has no knowledge of the time taken by ministerial Departments in replying to letters from hon. Members, whether he will take action to ascertain the average time taken by the various stated Departments in replying to mail sent to them by the taxpayer in general and hon. Members in particular.

Responsibility for replying to correspondence rests with individual Ministers, who are well aware of the need to respond as quickly as possible. In my reply of 3 April to the hon. Member's previous question on this topic I was indicating that my office does not keep detailed records of response times. If the hon. Member has any particular case in mind I suggest that he brings it to the attention of the Minister concerned.

Prime Minister (Engagements)

Q4

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q6

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q7

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q8

asked the Prime Minister if she will publish a list of her official engagements for 15 April.

Q10

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

Q11

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q12

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q13

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q14

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

Q15

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

Q16

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

Q17

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q18

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

019

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

Q20

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 15 April.

Q21

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 15 April.

I refer my hon. Friends and the hon. Members to the reply which I gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Huddersfield, East (Mr. Sheerman).

Afghanistan

Q5

asked the Prime Minister whether, in view of the continued Russian occupation of Afghanistan, she will seek an early meeting with the leaders of the Russian Government.

No. It is unlikely that such a meeting would prove useful at present.

Stockport

Q9

asked the Prime Minister if she will visit the Lancashire Hill area of Stockport.

Nuclear Power Programme

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the timing of the electricity boards' nuclear power programme.

The Government's general policy for the future development of the nuclear programme was set out in my right hon. Friend's statement of 18 December. He confirmed in the House yesterday the wish of the generating boards to proceed with the two AGR stations at Heysham and Torness, and also made clear that, in view of the heavy costs of these and other capital projects, the Government have urged the CEGB, the SSEB and the other boards to identify economies wherever possible.

Employment

Health And Safety Executive (Risk Appraisals Group)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what are the activities of the risk appraisals group of the Health and Safety Executive; what are its powers; to whom it is accountable; and under what legislation it was established.

Informal arrangements have existed since 1972 whereby planning authorities are asked before granting planning permission for developments at or in the vicinity of "major hazard" sites to consult the Health and Safety Executive. The request to planning authorities is contained in DOE circular 1/1972. A major hazard is defined for this purpose, and not very elegantly, as a situation where, if any incident occurred, there might be substantial loss of life or serious injury outside the confines of the workplace.The major hazards risk appraisal group is a committee of inspectors in the Health and Safety Executive with expertise in explosives, fires and chemical hazards. The group meets each week to advise on proposed developments referred to it by planning authorities. The group's role is purely advisory and it has no power to enforce its recommendations. The group was not established under legislation but was set up following discussions between the Secretaries of State for Employment, Environment, Wales and Scotland.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many planning applications were referred to the risk appraisals group of the Health and Safety Executive in 1979; and what was the average time taken for the group to come to a decision on an application.

469 planning applications were referred to the major hazards risk appraisal group in 1979. It would involve disproportionate cost to calculate the average time required by the group to make a recommendation in all 469 cases, but an estimate has been obtained using as a sample the 30 cases received during December 1979. Two of these planning applications are still outstanding—the median time needed to reach a decision in the remaining cases was 35 days.

Employment Rates (Manchester)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if, pursuant to the Under-Secretary of State's reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe on 27 March, concerning the proposed study of local employment rates in Manchester, he will publish in the Official Report his letter to Manchester city council on this matter.

[pursuant to his reply, 2 April 1980, c. 216]: Following is the text of the letter sent to the Manchester city council:

"At the meeting on 21 February I promised to look into your suggestion about deriving 'residence-based' unemployment figures for Manchester from Departmental records.
There has been close consideration over some period between local authorities, the Department of Environment and this Department with regard to 'residence-based' unemployment figures. In particular, there have been detailed discussions of the issues in the National and Local Government Statistical Liaison Committee, which is chaired by the Department of the Environment.
At the suggestion of that Committee a feasibility study was made in a number of employment offices in different parts of the country to see whether it was practicable to re-classify the individual records of registrants into local authority areas. It was found to be practicable, but costly. Bearing in mind that the present compilation is largely a manual exercise, we could not contemplate on economy grounds re-coding individual records to local authority areas for the local authorities who would be interested in having such data. In fact we have been unable to agree to similar requests from the Liverpool and London local authorities who, it must be recognised, are in some respects facing even greater problems than those of Manchester.
However, there is some prospect of securing progress on another front. My Department and the Manpower Services Commission's Employment Services Division will be carrying out trials towards a planned computerisation of the unemployment and vacancies statistics. Should these prove successful, and there is every prospect of this, it will be possible to provide computerised analyses according to areas other than employment office ones by use of the post-code which is gradually being introduced into addresses in individual records. It is hoped that this planned computerisation will be complete, ie cover the whole country, by mid-1983.
In advance of that, investigations are in hand at the moment, between officials here and at the Department of the Environment, to see whether the existing computerised system for the payment of unemployment benefit can be used to provide earlier information by a comparable method, ie by using post-codes. The information may be less complete than from the computerisation plans referred to above, but it is hoped that they may provide a useful guide to unemployment by local authority areas. A progress report on this approach will probably be made to the National and Local Government Statistical Liaison Committee at its next meeting this summer. You may wish to write to the secretariat of the local authority side of the Committee to ask to be kept informed about progress on both these computer-based developments."

Environment

Ring-Pull Cans

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he has taken any steps to encourage the use of alternatives to the ring-pull can for beer and other beverages.

None. Nevertheless, the packaging industry has been developing alternatives: so far none has proved to be entirely satisfactory.

Wheelchair Housing

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many local authorities have built units of wheelchair housing in each of the last three years;(2) how many units of wheelchair housing have been started by housing associations in each quarter of the last three years;(3) how many units of wheelchair housing have been started by local authorities, excluding new towns, in England and Wales in each quarter of the last three years;(4) how many units of wheelchair housing have been started by new towns in England and Wales in each quarter of the last three years;(5) if he will publish a breakdown by number of bedrooms of the number of units of mobility housing that have been built by local authorities in each of the last three years;(6) how many local authorities have built units of mobility housing in each quarter of the last three years;(7) how many units of mobility housing have been started by housing associations in each quarter of the last three years;(8) how many units of mobility housing have been started by new towns in each quarter of the last three years;(9) how many units of mobility housing have been started by local authorities in each quarter of the last three years;(10) how many units of wheelchair housing by the number of bedrooms have been built by local authorities during the last three years.

The available information is as follows:

DWELLINGS SPECIALLY DESIGNED FOR THE CHRONICALLY SICK AND DISABLED: LOCAL AUTHORITIES, NEW TOWNS AND HOUSING ASSOCIATIONS, ENGLAND AND WALES
Number
Dwellings startedDwellings completed by local authorities (including new towns)
WheelchairMobilityWheelchairMobility
Local authoritiesNew TownsHousing associations*Local authoritiesNew TownsHousing association*DwellingsNumber of authoritiesDwellingsNumber of authorities
1977—First quarter104109648719196(29)82(13)
Second quarter13312259614153187(44)163(19)
Third quarter148201822,02732710146(43)348(37)
Fourth quarter20951781,7004622203(38)419(51)
594473945,336471,676632(104)1,012(83)
1978—First quarter14941201,59928525135(34)616(50)
Second quarter1151391,60821267122(30)576(50)
Third quarter241871442,194177953259(50)1,126(83)
Fourth quarter2153651,603132267129(35)887(56)
7201073387,0093582,012645(97)3,205(133)
1979—First quarter1064341,11825590107(32)913(64)
Second quarter106191,24035423132(35)1,554(99)
Third quarter7514771,0072310120(33)1,556(94)
Fourth quarter2721192,46561993155(51)1,906(101)
559301295,8301232,316514(121)5,929(215)
* Figures are for England.
( ) = Number of authorities.Information on the number of bedrooms in units of mobility and wheelchair housing is not available centrally.

Kent (Local Authority Rates)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report the increase or decrease in local authority rates for each of the borough and district councils in Kent.

The figures for each of the borough and district councils in Kent are:

INCREASE IN GENERAL RATE (1980–81 OVER 1979–80)
Poundage PPercentage
Ashford16·5117·15
Canterbury17·4616·99
Dartford18·2216·93
Dover16·6416·26
Gillingham15·6817·37
Gravesham18·0018·83
Maidstone15·5115·91
Medway14·5114·69
Sevenoaks13·1713·09
Shepway17·4016·80
Swale14·5114·35
Thanet17·8016·90
Tonbridge and Malting16·0016·06
Tunbridge Wells15·4016·54

Disabled Persons' Accommodation

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) how many local authorities have made improvement grants for works required for making dwellings suitable for disabled occupants' accommodation, welfare or employment in the last three years;(2) how many improvement grants have been made for works required for making dwellings suitable for disabled occupants' accommodation, welfare or employment in each of the last three years.

A total of 294 local authorities in England and Wales have reported making 344, 688 and 1,126 such improvement grants in the years 1977, 1978 and 1979 respectively.

Design Guides

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress is being made in producing the circular on design guides; and whether he will make a statement.

Advice to planning authorities about the control of design and appearance of development will be included in a circular about development control which I hope to issue soon.

Community Land Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether the multi-disciplinary team previously providing professional advice on the Community Land Act, and to the Environmental Board, has now been disbanded; and what saving, if any, has accrued to public funds.

Standing Committee On Exports

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether his Standing Committee on Exports is still in existence; and, if so, whether he will make a statement on its activities.

No. The Standing Committee on Exports was a sub-committee of the National Consultative Council on Building and Civil Engineering on which my right hon. Friend made a statement on 2 April—[Vol. 982, c. 290]—I emphasise our continuing commitment, together with that of my hon. Friends at the Department of Trade, to provide assistance and advice for exporters in the field of construction and building materials.

Trade

Iran

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he intends to raise at the next meeting of his ministerial colleagues in the European Economic Community the subject of the prohibition of the importation of goods from Iran in support of the action taken by the United States Government.

The situation is already the subject of close consultations within the European Community.

Scotch Whisky

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) whether he will list, by volume in millions of proof gallons and by value in £ sterling for each of the calendar years 1978 and 1979, the total exports of bottled Scotch whisky, the total exports of bulk malt Scotch whisky and the total exports of bulk blended Scotch whisky, to each of the following countries: the United States of America, Australia, West Germany, France, New Zealand, Belgium, Luxembourg, Japan, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa;(2) Whether he will list by volume in millions of proof gallons and value in £ sterling for each of the calendar years 1978 and 1979, the total exports of bottled Scotch whisky, the total exports of bulk malt Scotch whisky and the total exports of bulk blended Scotch whisky; and if he will express these figures as a percentage of total exports of Scotch whisky.

Trade

Construction Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what specific recommendations have been made, or specific action taken, since 27 June 1979 by the Overseas Projects Board of the British Overseas Trade Board to assist the construction industry; and what further action he envisages.

Copies of the second report of the Overseas Projects Board, which was published on 5 March, have now been deposited in the libraries of both Houses of Parliament. It will be seen from the report that the board has considered issues of concern to the project industry as a whole. Since the construction industry constitutes an important part of the project industry, these are of particular interest to the construction industry. The Board maintains close contact during the course of its work with the main trade associations concerned with overseas projects, including those representing the construction industry.

Overseas Development

Middle East Development Division

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will make a statement on the future of the Middle East Development Division.

As part of the Government's policy to reduce Civil Service manpower, it has been decided that the ODA's Middle East Development Division should be withdrawn from Amman some time between March and June 1981. The reason for closure reflects the need for the most economic deployment of manpower in relation to administering the changing balance in the aid programme. It in no way reflects lessening interest in the region on the part of Her Majesty's Government. Following withdrawal it is envisaged that advice to heads of mission in the region will in general be provided from London.

Home Department

Summer Time Act (Costs Of Implementation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is his estimate of the cost of implementing the Summer Time Act in 1978 and 1979.

It is impossible to estimate the net cost, if any, of the operation of the Summer Time Act 1972 in any particular year.

Traffic Wardens

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the establishment for traffic wardens in the Metropolitan area; and what was the shortfall on the latest date for which figures are available.

On 31 March the strength of the Metropolitan Police traffic warden service was 1,075, compared with a ceiling of 1,800.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is the policy of his Department to advertise for recruits to the traffic warden service; if so, where; and what sum of money is available for such advertising.

Decisions on the initiation and financing of recruitment campaigns for traffic wardens are a matter for individual police authorities. In the Metropolitan Police district the Commissioner, with our support, is conducting a campaign in national and local newspapers to recruit extra wardens: provision of £191,000 had been made for the financial year 1980–81.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are being taken to reduce the shortage of traffic wardens in the Metropolitan area.

A study of Metropolitan Police traffic wardens' pay by representatives of the Home Office, the Metropolitan Police and the Civil Service Union is now taking place. In the meantime rates of pay are being increased with effect from 1 January 1980 to reflect an agreement which has recently been reached in the National Joint Council for Administrative, Professional and Clerical Services. The Commissioner is, with the support of my right hon. Friend, maintaining his efforts to improve recruitment.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the total number of traffic wardens employed in the Metropolitan area on 31 December 1977, 31 December 1978 and 31 December 1979.

Trades Union Congress (Day Of Action)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any plans to ensure the continuity of essential public services on the Trades Union Congress "Day of Action" on 14 May.

We are keeping the situation under review with my right hon. Friends principally concerned.

Telephone Interceptions

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) in respect of the number of telephonic interceptions published in Cmnd. 7873, what was the average length of time of a warrant, and whether the number of warrants refers to the number of individuals or if one warrant can be made in respect of groups of individuals, a family or a company;(2) whether he will publish in the

Official Report the cumulative number of his Department's warrants for interception of (a) telephone calls and (b) letters effective in (i) England and (ii) Scotland on 1 January in each of the last 10 years;

(3) if he will publish in the Official Report the breakdown of the figure of 411 telephone interceptions in 1979, Cmnd. 7873, into those instigated (a) by the police, (b) by the security service and (c) by Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

I have nothing to add to the contents of the White Paper (Cmnd. 7873) and to what I said in the House on 1 April.

Transport

Tyre Pressure Equalising Devices

asked the Minister of Transport if he will consider introducing regulations requiring the fitting of tyre pressure equalising devices for vehicles with twin rear wheels.

I welcome the development of such devices, but am not convinced that it would be justifiable on safety grounds to make their use compulsory.

Motor Vehicles (Spray Hazard)

asked the Minister of Transport if he will bring forward proposals to reduce the hazard resulting from the spray produced by heavy vehicles travelling at speed, particularly along motorways; and if he will bring forward legislation to reduce the maximum speed for heavy vehicles to 50 mph in wet conditions.

Research is continuing to establish more effective mechanical ways of limiting spray, but at present there is no basis for any amendment to the legal construction standards.A speed limit of 50 mph on heavy vehicles travelling in wet conditions on motorways would entail problems both in definition and enforcement. It is, however, open to the police to take account of wet conditions in deciding whether to signal temporary advisory speed limits on motorways.

Heavy Goods Vehicles Testing Stations

asked the Minister of Transport how many heavy goods vehicle testing stations are being sold; and what is their location.

My right hon. Friend is considering the changes in testing arrangements needed in order to involve the private sector, and aims to announce his proposals before too long.

Wales

Llanelli Hospital

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what will be the content and the money value of the first phase of the construction of the new Llanelli hospital;(2) whether the commencement date of the construction of the new Llanelli hospital remains January 1983;(3) whether the provision of a maternity unit is included in the plans for the new Llanelli hospital.

The content of the first phase of this new hospital, including the question of maternity provision, is in the consultative planning stage. Until this is determined I am unable to comment on the money value or on the likely starting date.

Council Houses (Waiting Lists)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will now undertake and publish a survey showing the number of families on the waiting lists for council houses in Wales.

We have no proposals to undertake a survey showing the numbers of families on the waiting lists for council houses in Wales. They do not provide an accurate assessment of housing needs.

Welsh Water Authority

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if the principle of current cost accounting is to be applied to the Welsh water authority; and if so, how much extra on average the water consumer will have to pay because of the introduction of such a system.

Yes: current cost accounting will be introduced by the Welsh water authority from 1 April 1981. It is not yet possible to say what the effect will be on the level of the authority's charges.

Kidney Machines

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to give extra financial aid to hospitals in Wales to install kidney machines; and if he will make a statement.

We have received bids from health authorities, but are not yet ready to announce how much extra money may be made available this year for the expansion of renal dialysis, to which we continue to accord high priority.

Defence

Air Defence

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what increase in the strength of British air defence has been effected in the last nine months.

The build-up of Sky Flash missiles for the Phantom force has continued. The transfer of Phantom aircraft from the Royal Navy to the Royal Air Force has been completed and they are now available for home defence. A Rapier squadron for low-level air defence has been formed at RAF Lossiemouth. The new radar site at Nancekuke is operational; and NATO has funded improvements to the radar station at Saxa Vord. In addition, three Royal Auxiliary Air Force Regiment squadrons have been formed for the ground defence of Royal Air Force airfields.Work on the implementation of the package of air defence measures that I announced last July is coming along well: for example, the first Sidewinder missile has just been fired successfully from a Hawk training aircraft, and trials should be completed in the next few weeks; and spares and support items are being built up to equip the new Lightning squadron. The decision was also taken recently to proceed with the improved Skyflash Mk. 2 missile, which is expected to enter service towards the mid 1980s, and will represent a major enhancement of our air defence capability.For the longer term, the first Tornado F2 development aircraft has already flown, and production aircraft are likely to be ordered later this year.

China

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his recent ministerial visit to China.

I refer my hon. Friend to the full answer I gave him on 31 March reporting on my visit.

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on his recent visit to the People's Republic of China.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Christchurch and Lymington (Mr. Adley) on 31 March.

Tornado Aircraft

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is satisfied with the safety of the multi-role combat aircraft, Tornado.

West Berlin

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence, in the event of either a conventional war in Europe or one in which theatre nuclear weapons are used, how the British Government intend to defend West Berlin.

The British forces in Berlin are highly trained and well equipped. Their presence, together with forces of France and the United States, represents the determination of the three Powers to maintain their rights and responsibilities relating to the city and their commitment to protect Berlin's freedom and viability. The other member States of NATO are committed to support the position of the three Powers. I cannot, of course, discuss operational plans.

Army Cadet Force

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what measures he proposes to take for the encouragement of the Army Cadet Force.

The Army Cadet Force makes a useful contribution to our national life as a youth service and as a source of recruits to the Regular Army. The Government will continue to provide support for the ACF within available resources. Recruiting campaigns will be mounted at national and local level and we shall support the efforts of Territorial, Auxiliary and Volunteer Reserve associations to find suitable officers and adults, who are so important to the well-being very of the force.

Northern Ireland

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about military operations in Northern Ireland, with particular reference to the border.

The Armed Forces continue to support the Royal Ulster Constabulary in the fight against terrorism in Northern Ireland. In the first quarter of this year, 167 people were charged with terrorist offences, including 26 for murder and 21 for attempted murder. There have also been a number of important finds of arms and ammunition both in the Province itself and by the Irish security forces in the Republic. Terrorist violence—albeit at a reduced level—continues and has this year claimed the lives of three regular soldiers and four members of the UDR. Along much of the border the RUC is able to conduct policing with reduced day-to-day military support, while the UDR is now supplementing the Regular Army at a number of border stations in the West of the Province. South Armagh presents special problems however, and regrettably, serious attacks on the security forces continue to take place there.

Defence Expenditure

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence by what proportion of gross national product he expects expenditure on defence to rise during the current financial year.

As a proportion of gross domestic product, defence expenditure according to the NATO definition is expected to increase from 4.9 per cent. in 1979–80 to 5.1 per cent. in 1980–81.

Departmental Cash Limits

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence which blocks of expenditure within his Department breached its cash limits in 1979–80 and why; and what steps he has taken to prevent a repetition in 1980–81.

By convention cash limited Defence expenditure is controlled as a single aggregate block within which shares are allocated to Votes 1, 2, 4 and 5. I expect the outturn on Votes 2 and 4 to exceed the provision as amended by the Winter Supplementaries, but to be within provision as revised in the spring Supplementary Estimates. The main reasons for the increase in spring supplementary provision on these Votes are faster progress and billing by contractors and non-availability of receipts. Every effort is being made to match programmes to cash limits in 1980–81.

Royal Auxiliary Air Force

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the recruitment achieved to date for the regiment squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force and on what plans he has for a further expansion of Royal Air Force reserves.

Recruitment to the regiment squadrons of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force is going well. They have already reached over half their planned strength and should reach full strength before the end of the year. There are no plans at the moment for the formation of further squadrons, but the situation will be kept under review.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Sheep Breeding

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much is to be spent by the Government on improved methods of sheep breeding.

The Government spent approximately £830,000 in 1979–80 on improved methods of sheep breeding. I expect a similar amount of research on this subject to be funded in 1980–81.

Herring Fishing

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is his estimate of the current level of herring stocks and of the improvement brought about by the ban; and what are the reasons for the shortfall between current levels and those predicted as likely to result from the ban.

An estimate of the size of the spawning stock of North Sea herring in 1979 will not be available until after the herring assessment working group of the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea has met later this month. However, it forecast in 1978 that the total spawning stock for 1979 would be about 435,000 tonnes compared to an estimate of 180,000 tonnes at the time the United Kingdom national ban was introduced in 1977. The rate of stock recovery is necessarily dependent on many factors including annual variations in recruitment which result from a number of different causes.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he intends to phase in the return to herring fishing rather than permitting a new free-for-all once the current ban is ended.

The International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) has recommended a ban on directed fishing on a number of herring stocks in 1980. ICES has, however, been asked to advise on the criteria which would allow fishing to start on stocks for which a ban is currently in operation, and any arrangements for a resumption of these fisheries would depend on its advice, including the size of any total allowable catch that was recommended.

Fluorine In Food

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food why the presence of fluoride in certain foods and food additives is restricted by the Fluorine in Food Regulations 1959, as amended, and the Miscellaneous Additives in Food Regulations 1974, as amended.

The limits contained in these regulations reflect the advice of the Food Standards Committee in its 1957 report on fluorine, to the effect that, while it was no longer necessary to manufacture certain food ingredients from materials with high levels of fluoride, limits consistent with good manufacturing practice should nevertheless be retained.

Fish Catches

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what are his estimates for the most recently available year of the proportion of their catch taken by France, Germany, Holland, Denmark and Belgium within (a) the British 200-mile and (b) the British 50-mile fishing limits, and the proportion of British catches made outside those two limits.

I regret that the information is not available in the form requested. The most recent year for which information was supplied to the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea in sufficient detail to permit an estimate to be made, but for the 200-mile belt only, was 1976. In that year the proportions were as follows:

CountryEstimated proportion of total 1976 catch taken within United Kingdom 200-mile belt (percentage)
France40
West Germany12
Netherlands29
Denmark38
Belgium42
The proportion of the total United Kingdom catch taken outside the United Kingdom 200-mile limit in 1976 was 33 per cent.

Poultry Meat

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he is satisfied with the present level of sluicegate prices governing the entry of poultry meat into the European Economic Community and with the working of the formulae for their computation.

We are not satisfied that the current sluicegate prices are in line with current production costs. The Commission is reviewing them in accordance with the provisions of the Community regulations.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to receive the results of the European Commission's survey of poultry meat hygiene inspection; and whether he will cause it to be published.

Our latest information from Commission officials is that their report should be ready by next month. I shall make the report available to interested organisations as soon as it is received.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is his intention to seek an amendment to the Poultry Meat Hygiene Regulations covering the sale of immersion chilled birds subsequently sold fresh rather than frozen when the present derogation expires in 1982.

The requirement that immersion chilled poultry meat should subsequently be sold frozen and not fresh and the provision for a derogation for domestic sales until August 1982 are contained in EEC directive 78/50. The Commission last year proposed an amendment to the directive which would remove the freezing requirement. We have strongly supported this proposal, but it has not so far been agreed.

Broiler Chickens (Water Content)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the current state of negotiations within the European Economic Community with regard to the development of practicable techniques for assessing the water content of broiler chickens offered for sale: and if he will give an assurance that no regulations will be introduced until such time as full agreement has been reached within all sectors of the industry.

Regulation EEC 2976/76 was adopted by the Council of Ministers in November 1976. Arrangements for the application of the in-plant tests in the United Kingdom came into operation in December 1977. Consultations in Brussels and with the various interests concerned are taking place about the application of the other tests for which provision is made in the regulation.

Civil Service

Government Hospitality Fund (Expenditure On Vodka)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service, for the longest and most convenient period of time, what is the amount of moneys spent by the Government hospitality fund on vodka: how much of this expenditure was on Russian vodka; and whether he has decided to change the purchase to vodka produced outside of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

The amount of money spent by the Government hospitality fund on vodka since July 1974 is £1,985·56. Of this sum £619·80 was spent on Russian vodka. The rest was produced in the United Kingdom.The Government hospitality fund has no plans at present to buy Russian vodka, but, if it requires vodka, will buy vodka produced in the United Kingdom.

Civil Servants (Industrial Action)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service what action he will take against civil servants who refuse to work as normal on the Trades Union Congress "Day of Action" on 14 May.

The normal rules for dealing with this type of action by civil servants will apply. There will of course be "no pay for no work".I very much hope, however, that civil servants will not take part in the "Day of Action" and that they will continue to carry out their full range of duties.

Fulton Committee Proposals

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he has any plans to implement the proposals of the Fulton committee on the Civil Service.

The fundamental aims of the Fulton committee, to maintain a Civil Service

"equal to the tasks of modern government"—
"Report of the Committee", Cmnd. 3638, paragraph 300—
with particular emphasis on economy and efficiency, remain continuing and active objectives. Many of the committee's recommendations have already been implemented in full or in part. If my hon. Friend has any particular proposal in mind, perhaps he would table a specific question.

Structure

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he is satisfied that the present Civil Service structure is adequate to meet the needs of the next decade.

I am confident that the structure of the Civil Service will adapt appropriately to the needs of the next decade. As time goes on, it may well be necessary to make changes in the structure of the Civil Service especially as it is difficult to make predictions so far ahead. For the moment I believe that the structure is generally adequate for the tasks that the Government require of the Civil Service.

Education And Science

Surplus Teachers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now update the figures in section 9, on page 129 of Cmnd. 7439 relating to teachers surplus to maintenance of pupil-teacher ratios in the light of the conclusions of Cmnd. 7841.

Royal Veterinary College

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will list the amount of money donated by the Government to the Royal Veterinary College during the most recent year for which figures are available; and for what purpose this money was used.

University grants are allocated to individual universities through the University Grants Committee, and the University of London is responsible for distributing its share between its constituent schools, including the Royal Veterinary College. The latest published figures relate to 1975–76 and are in volume 6 of the Department's "Statistics of Education". The provisional figure for Exchequer grants for 1978–79 in respect of the college is about £2·2 million.Government funds are used by the Royal Veterinary College to fulfil the objectives laid upon it by its Royal Charter.

Dental Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his estimate of the cost of implementing the Flowers report recommendation to build a new dental school at Tooting to replace the Royal Dental School and a new dental school at St. Mary's.

The plan to rebuild the Royal Dental Hospital School alongside St. George's Hospital at Tooting has existed for some years and accommodation for pre-clinical students at Tooting is already being occupied. The regional health authority plans to start the clinical building in 1982–83 at a building cost of £8·2 million at July 1979 prices, though no final approval has yet been given to the project.It is not possible to give a realistic estimate of what the cost would be of transferring the Eastman Dental Hospital and the Institute of Dental Surgery to a site alongside St. Mary's Hospital, Paddington, and of creating a new pre-clinical school. There is at present no firm proposal for such a development.

Student Grants

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to make mandatory on local education authorities the awarding of fourth-year grants to students pursuing courses such as law degrees where a fourth year is required to achieve their professional qualification.

As we made clear during debates on the Education (No. 2) Bill, we have no intention, within the immediate future, because of the current financial position, of introducing legislation to enable mandatory awards to be extended to professional and vocational courses not at present eligible.

Secondary Reorganisation (Tameside)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has considered the proposals of the Tameside education authority for the reorganisation of secondary schools in its area; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply my right hon. and learned Friend gave to him on 1 April.—[Vol. 982, c. 164.]

Sub-Degree Courses (Validation)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the arrangements for the validation of sub-degree courses in agriculture and related subjects.

My right hon. and learned Friend shares the desire of those concerned with arrangements for the validation of sub-degree courses in agriculture and related subjects that some rationalisation of the existing pattern of courses and awards should be secured. It is clear from efforts to achieve this over a number of years that no solution is feasible unless it stems from a concensus of views among those concerned and rests on a common commitment to its success.The consultations recently undertaken by the Technician Education Council did not suggest that the proposals put forward at the Department's request had so far attracted the necessary degree of commitment. They and others more recently advanced include features which merit careful consideration by those concerned, and we hope this will open up an approach which commands general support.We consider it important that such an approach, whilst recognising the particular needs of agriculture for a vertically integrated pattern of provision below degree level, should not isolate this area from developments in related subjects or from the work of bodies validating courses generally at this level by, for instance, introducing a distinct and separate system of awards; and should recognise fully the roles and responsibilities of the validating bodies concerned, including not only those with a major current interest, but also TEC and BEC.

Energy

Alexander Keilland Production Platform

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether his Department's inspectors will be associated in any way with the formal Norwegian inquiry into the Alexander Keilland disaster.

This inquiry is entirely a matter for the Norwegian authorities. My Department is, however, naturally concerned to learn all it can from the inquiry with a view to minimising the risk of any similar occurrence on the United Kingdom continental shelf. In the meantime, arrangements have been made for all semi-submersible rigs operating on the UKCS to be surveyed, and my inspectors are keeping closely in touch with the progress of the Norwegian investigations.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Iran

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he intends to sever diplomatic relations with Iran in support of the action taken by the United States Government.

The Government have throughout made clear their support for the United States in this crisis, and we are considering urgently with our partners in the European Community what further measures we should take.

Falkland Islands

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether Her Majesty's Government have any plans to hold discussions with the Argentine Government on the Falkland Islands.

Representatives of the British and Argentine Governments have agreed to meet at the end of April in New York to discuss the Falkland Islands and related issues.

Scotland

Postal And Telephone Interceptions

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the figures of warrants for postal and telephone interceptions issued by the Secretary of State for Scotland contained in Cmnd. 1873.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to the hon. Member for Stirling, Falkirk and Grangemouth (Mr. Ewing) on 3 April 1980.—[Vol. 982, c. 306.]

Wheelchair Housing

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many units of wheelchair housing have been started by local authorities, excluding new towns in Scotland in each quarter of the last three years.

The information available about wheelchair dwellings completed in the public sector is as follows:

NUMBER OF DWELLINGS COMPLETED
Wheelchair (including sheltered wheelchair) housing
Stock at 31 March 1979440
1979 second quarter*13
1979 third quarter†4
1979 fourth quarter‡13
* Based on returns from 50 authorities.
† Based on returns from 48 authorities.
‡Based on returns from 44 authorities.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many units of wheelchair housing have been started by new towns in Scotland in each quarter of the last three years.

The information about starts given in the table below excludes units started in each calendar year by adaptation of existing houses:

New TownTotal
East KilbrideNil
Glenrothes:
First quarter 197866
CumbernauldNil
Livingston:
Second quarter 197755
Irvine:
Second quarter 19777
Fourth quarter 19776
Second quarter 19781629
40

Rates

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many and what percentage of ratepayers in each region of Scotland is receiving rate relief; and what is the percentage of ratepayers who are in arrears with payment of rates.

The number and percentage of householders in receipt of rate rebates in each region of Scotland in 1978–79—the latest available year—is set out in the following table. Information on the numbers of recipients of other types of rate relief, and on the percentage of ratepayers in rates arrears, is not available centrally.

RATE REBATES 1978–79
Number of recipientsPercentage of householders
Borders6,99016·8
Central15,85616·7
Dumfries and Galloway8,40014·6
Fife26,40420·8
Grampian26,38514·5
Highland9,05411·8
Lothian60,32721·2
Strathclyde192,59521·6
Tayside25,54216·4
Orkney5317·0
Shetland4986·6
Western Isles1,0689·3

Disabled Persons (Employment)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many registered disabled persons are employed by each of the area health boards in Scotland; and what percentage of those employed by the boards is registered disabled.

As at 1 June 1979, the latest date for which figures are available, the numbers and percentages of staff employed by health authorities in Scotland who are registered as disabled were:

PrimarySecondary
Percentage of school population attending schools in Strathclyde region*48·049·7
Percentage of teaching force employed in schools in Strathclyde region*45·647·7
Percentage of students on initial teacher training courses in colleges of education in Strathclyde region†46·548·1
* The figures are derived from the September 1979 school census and relate to education authority schools in session 1979–80. Figures for grant-aided schools at that date are not yet available and no information is collected about independent schools.
† The figures are derived from a return made by the colleges of education in October 1979 and relate to the numbers of students in training at Craigie, Hamilton, Jordanhill and Notre Dame colleges.

Mathematics Teachers (Training)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish figures showing the number of students admitted during each of the past three years to courses of teacher training in Scottish colleges of education who were intending to teach mathematics; and what estimate he has made of the numbers likely to teach mathematics in his provisional figures on intake in session 1980–81.

The numbers of students admitted to teacher training courses leading to a teaching qualification (secondary education) in

Health Board

Number

Per cent.

Argyll and Clyde400·5
Ayrshire and Arran581·2
Borders70·4
Dumfries and Galloway281·0
Fife90·2
Forth Valley380·6
Grampian780·9
Greater Glasgow1480·5
Highland350·8
Lanarkshire470·5
Lothian810·5
OrkneyNilNil
Shetland20·7
Tayside900·8
Western Isles20·4

Education (Strathclyde)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what percentage of Scotland's school population is attending (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools in the Strathclyde region; what percentage of Scotland's teachers is employed in (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools in Strathclyde region; and what is the percentage of students in Scottish colleges of education, both primary and secondary intake, within the Strathclyde region.

The information requested is as follows:mathematics in each of the last three years are as follows:

SessionNo. of students
1977–78185
1978–79147*
1979–80156
*includes 18 students admitted to additional mid-session courses of secondary training at Hamilton and Notre Dame colleges starting in February 1979.
The colleges of education have been asked, in allocating places for the 1980–81 session, to give highest priority to qualified applicants for training in mathematics and certain other shortage subjects. This means that in practice all suitable applicants in mathematics are likely to be admitted.

Social Services

Community Care Projects

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services which area health authorities are operating community care projects; and what is their purpose in this exercise.

I understand that the question refers to the community care project for the elderly which is currently being operated by the social services department of the Kent county council. There are a considerable number and variety of schemes which individual social services authorities have introduced in order to foster the development of care in the community including some which incorporate some of the features of the Kent project. Comprehensive information on all such innovative schemes is not collected centrally.

Mr Dennis Clifford Stone

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, in view of the decision of the appeal tribunal regarding the entitlement of Mr. Dennis Clifford Stone to social security benefit, he will instruct the Controller (Wales) within his Department to commence payment.

Unemployment Benefit

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will review the arrangements whereby workers declared redundant are ineligible for unemployment benefit if the firm in which they work is concerned in an industrial stoppage.

I am aware of concern about this issue; but the long-standing rule that a claimant declared redundant whose employment has not terminated before a trade dispute begins is dealt with in the same way as other workers who have lost employment because of a trade dispute at their place of employment seems to me broadly right. As my hon. Friend knows, workers receiving payment in lieu of notice are in any event not eligible for unemployment benefit. My hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State will be writing to my hon. Friend about this problem.

1981 Census

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why a question on the number of cars available for the use of a household was omitted from the 1981 census.

In order to reduce demands on the public, the topics in the draft Census Order 1980 have been confined to those the Government consider to be most essential.

Disabled Persons (Local Authority Services)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if, further to the assurances given to the House on 19 March by the Minister with special responsibility for the disabled that the overwhelming majority of local authorities are not cutting their expenditure on services for disabled people, Official Report, column 508, he will provide the information from local authorities on which his statement was based.

In the debate to which the question refers, I fully recognised the difficulties facing local authorities and the difficult choices they have to make. However, contacts with local authorities indicate that most are doing all they can to respond to our request that they should not make cuts which would affect the most vulnerable sections of our society.

Dentists (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the number of general dental practitioners, hospital and community dentists for each of the 1,000 per head of the population within each of the regional health authorities and for each of the last five years.

The information is as follows:

General Dental Practitioners* per 1,000 populationHospital Dentists§ per 1,000 populationCommunity Dentistsper 1,000 population
Regional Health Authority19751976197719781979197519761977197819791975197619771978l979
Northern0·180·180·180·190·190·0150·0150·0160·0170·0170·0370·0360·0370·0380·038
Yorkshire0·200·210·220·220·230·0100·0140·0140·0140·0160·0290·0300·0290·0290·029
Trent0·180·180·190·190·200·0120·0120·0130·0130·0140·0240·0230·0240·0250·024
East Anglia0·200·220·220·230·230·0120·0110·0110·0110·0120·0310·0320·0320·0320·032
North West Thames0·390·390·400·410·400·0130·0130·0120·0120·0120·0340·0310·0330·0340·035
North East Thames0·270·280·280·270·280·0260·0230·0260·0260·0270·0340·0330·0310·0300·031
South East Thames0·280·290·290·290·300·0290·0320·0310·0320·0330·0330·0300·0340·0300·032
South West Thames0·340·350·360·360·370·0220·0190·0240·0240·0250·0310·0340·0340·0330·032
Wessex0·270·280·270·280·280·0120·0120·0120·0130·0130·0440·0420·0410·0420·044
Oxford0·240·240·250·250·260·0090·0090·0100·0100·0110·0290·0280·0280·0300·030
South Western0·280·290·300·300·310·0190·0180·0190·0210·0200·0350·0360·0370·0350·036
West Midlands0·190·200·210·210·210·0180·0190·0200·0200·0210·0310·0300·0300·0320·031
Mersey0·220·230·240·240·250·0180·0190·0210·0200·0220·0320·0290·0310·0340·033
North Western0·190·200·210·220·220·0170·0170·0190·0200·0210·0280·0300·0310·0350·034
* Dentists at 30 September each year who provided National Health Service General Dental Services, excluding dentists employed by Health Authorities.
† Mid-year estimates of civilian population.
‡ Provisional figures based on 1978 population figures.
§ Whole-time equivalent at 30 September each year excluding general dental practitioners holding appointments under paragraph 107 of the Terms and Conditions of Service of Hospital Medical and Dental Staff or Hospital Practitioner appointments.
║ Whole-time equivalent at 30 September each year.

Debendox

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will publish in the Official Report the names of the studies considered by the Committee on Safety of Medicines during its recent review of the safety of Debendox; whether the committee had available to it the complete transcript of the recent United States court trial; and, if so, how many copies were available to the committee, and how long it had to study it before it made its recommendation to the Minister on 27 March;(2) if the studies of Debendox considered recently by the Committee on Safety of Medicines were of a sufficient scale to have provided a reliable indication of whether or not Debendox could be a teratogenic agent carrying the following degrees of risk of danger to the foetus (a) one in 100, (b) one in 500, (c) one in 1,000 and (d) one in 10,000;(3) if he will publish in the

Official Report the total number of women in all the studies of Debendox considered by the Committee on Safety of Medicines that were known to have taken the drug before they were (a) six weeks pregnant and (b) eight weeks pregnant.

The Committee on Safety of Medicines in its recent review of Debendox considered a large number of published and unpublished epidemiological and animal teratology studies. The most important of the published studies were as follows:

  • Rothman et al. (A J Epidemiol 109: 433 (1979)).
Teratogenicity Testing in Humans: A Method Demonstrating Safety of Bendectin: Smithells R W, Sheppard Shiela (Teratology 17: 31–35 (1978)).
Antenatal exposure to doxylamine succinate and dicyclomine hydrochloride (Bendectin) in relation to congenital malformations, perinatal mortality rate, birth weight and intelligence quotient score: Shapiro S et al (Amer J Obstet Gynec 128: 480–85 (1977)).
An evaluation of the teratogenicity of certain antinauseant drugs: Milkovich L, van den Berg J (Amer J Obstet Gynec 125: 244–48 (1976)).
Morbidity and drugs in pregnancy: Birmingham Research Unit (J R Coll Pract 25: 631 (1975)).
A controlled Retrospective Survey in Evaluation of Teratogenicity: Bunde CA and Leyland HM (J New Drugs 5: 193–98 (1965)).
General Practitioner Clinical Trials Drugs in Pregnancy Survey (Practitioner 191: 775–80 (1963)).
Congenital Abnormalities in Children born in Alberta during 1961: A Survey and a Hypotesis: le Van (Canad Med Ass J 89: 120–26 (1963)).
An epidemiological study of congenital reduction deformities of the limbs: Smith ESO et al (Brit J of Preventive and Social Medicine 31: 19–41 (1977)).
Maternal Drug Histories and Congenital Abnormalities: Greenburg G, Inman WHW et al (BMJ 1977 2: 853–856).
The studies provided a substantial amount of scientific evidence on the basis of which the committee felt that it could reach a conclusion. The full transcript of the United States proceedings was not available, but the committee had no reason to believe from the final submissions made in the case that any new first-hand evidence had been presented which the committee had not considered. The committee will continue to monitor published evidence; the secretariat has asked for a complete transcript, which it will study when available and will report further to the committee. It will also keep the committee informed of the nature of any further proceedings in the case concerning the interpretation of the jury's decision.None of the studies considered by the committee demonstrated that the incidence of births of malformed children to mothers who took Debendox was greater than the spontaneous incidence of such births in the United Kingdom or that any specific abnormality was present in these children. Further studies involving very large numbers of women over a period of years would be required to attempt to identify any incidence of risk to the foetus of the sizes mentioned in the right hon. Gentleman's question, and there would be considerable difficulties in assessing the data collated.The relationship between the drug and possible teratogenesis was investigated at various stages of pregnancy in some of the studies but they contained no uniform statement of gestational age at the time of prescription of the drug which would provide total figures of the number of women who had taken the drug prior to any particular date in their pregnancy.

Deformed Children

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will publish in the Official Report the machinery by which information about the birth of children with deformities is collected; if he will publish the number of such births in each of the last five years; if he will express these as a percentage of all births; whether any information on the drugs taken by women who give birth to children with congenital malformations is collected: and, if so, by whom and in what form;(2) if he will establish machinery to collect information about the drugs taken during pregnancy by women who (a) have miscarriages and (b) have stillborn babies.

The method of collecting information about the birth of children with malformations is described in published reports by staff of the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys. In view of their length, I am arranging for copies of these reports to be sent to the right hon. Gentleman and placed in the Library of the House.The number of babies—live and still—having malformations at birth notified in the last five years for which figures are available are as follows:

YearNumber of malformed babiesPercentage of all live and still births
197412,7291·97
197512,2302·01
197612,3842·10
197712,4022·16
197812,7672·12
Information on the use of drugs taken by women who give birth to children with congenital malformations is collected for the survey carried out by the Committee on Safety of Medicines and referred to in my reply to the right hon. Gentleman on 3 April. This is based on a sample of children with malformations notified to the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys together with data for normal babies.The central collection of additional data on drugs taken by women during pregnancy who have miscarriages or have stillborn babies would have considerable resource implications, but the possibility of doing so will be kept under review.

Register Of Adverse Reactions

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) when a new issue of the Register of Adverse Re actions was published; on average, how many copies are circulated; and what would be the cost of circulating it to all general practitioners;(2) pursuant to his reply of 11 March to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, how many of the 1,777 medicinal products, about which 65,268 reports of suspected adverse reactions were received between January 1970 and 4 March, were, (a) cleared of suspicion of causing adverse reactions, (b) had their product licences withdrawn or (c) were voluntarily withdrawn from the market by the manufacturer respectively;(3) what is his estimate of the cost of sending annually to all medical practitioners a list of all the medical products for which the Committee on Safety of Medicines receives a suspected adverse reaction report for the first time during the preceding 12 months;(4) for each of the last five years, how many yellow cards received by the Committee on Safety of Medicines referred to medicinal products about which the committee had not previously received any reports of adverse reactions;(5) pursuant to his reply of 11 March to the right hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent, South, for each of the 14 drugs or groups of drugs for which yellow warning notices have been issued, whether the first reports of suspected adverse reactions came from, (a) the yellow card system, (b) the manufacturing company or (c) other sources.

When reports of suspected adverse reactions are received in respect of individual patients, they are scrutinised by the professional secretariat of the Committee on Safety of Medicines (CSM) and, where appropriate, are referred to locally based medical officers for follow-up with the doctor who submitted the report. The professional secretariat then considers whether to draw the individual reports, together with any previous ones, to the attention of the CSM's sub-committee on adverse reactions; if not, the reports will none the less be included in the cumulative record which is referred to the sub-committee at each meeting, each member scrutinising a section in depth. The question which most usually concerns the CSM and the sub-committee is whether the suspected adverse reactions are of a nature and frequency to justify further investigations or action in respect of the product—for example, restricting its availability, requiring warnings to be inserted in the product literature; it is not generally a question of formally clearing a product of suspicion of causing adverse reactions.Revocation of a licence has seldom been found necessary when action to remove a product from the market has been indicated. More usually the licence holder co-operates by withdrawing it before that stage is reached. It would not be practicable, to check all voluntary withdrawals against the Adverse Reaction Register to determine the relationship between reports and withdrawals.The CSM's sub-committee is, as stated above, regularly provided with a summary of reports of all suspected adverse reactions. This includes a statement of the number of reports received by drug and suspected adverse reaction, for each of the previous five years and for the current year to date, which enables the sub-committee to evaluate recent reports against the pattern of earlier years. It is the cumulative or developing picture which is most likely to reveal the need for some action, and the register would inevitably be less helpful and informative to general practitioners and others making only occasional reference to it. It is mainly for this reason that it is not thought practicable to issue it, or annual lists of newly-reported suspected reactions, to all general practitioners on a personal basis.The seven-volume register was last issued to medical schools, postgraduate medical centres, etc., in 1977. The total number of copies issued was 2,300. The cost of distributing copies to all general practitioners would probably be in the region of £500,000. The cost of issuing an annual list has not been estimated for the reasons mentioned but would clearly be substantial. I have no knowledge of any representative medical association ever suggesting that personal copies of the register or lists should be issued.As well as referring to the points where copies of the register are held, doctors are also at liberty to make enquiries of the CSM's secretariat. In addition, medical libraries generally hold copies of publications on the side effects of drugs, based on worldwide literature searches and careful, critical examination of these reports.For each of the 14 groups of drugs for which yellow warning notices have been issued, the suspected reaction was mentioned in the medical literature before yellow cards gave adequate indication of hazard but thereafter the yellow card system provided valuable confirmatory data. Moreover, of the products referred to in "Current Problems", in seven out of 22 the CSM's reference preceded any known reference in the medical literature.

Earnings Factors

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, in the current tax year, he has carried out a review as required by section 21 of the Social Security Pensions Act 1975 for the purpose of determining whether earnings factors have maintained their value in relation to the general level of earnings obtained in Great Britain.

Yes. I have carried out such a review and have concluded that earnings factors have not maintained their value. As required by section 21, I shall therefore be making an order to provide for them to be increased. In accordance with clause 3(3) of the Social Security Bill at present before Parliament, this order will be subject to the negative resolution procedure and will be made as soon as possible after the Bill receives the Royal Assent.The order will provide for a revaluation of earnings factors for 1979–80 by 19·7 per cent., the amount by which the Department of Employment's monthly index of average earnings—new series—increased between December 1978, the end of the period on which the 1979 review was based, and December 1979, the latest date for which a firm figure is available. The order will also provide for a consolidated increase in earnings factors for 1978–79 of 35·6 per cent., a figure which takes account of the increase in those earnings factors provided for in the Social Security Revaluation of Earnings Factors Order 1979, SI 1979, No. 832.

Short-Term Social Security Benefits (Taxation)

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many extra staff will need to be employed to cope with the taxation of short-term social security benefits.

I have been asked to reply.The staff cost of bringing into tax benefits paid to the unemployed from April 1982 will depend on the detailed procedures to be adopted. Until these have been more precisely defined it is not possible to calculate exactly the staffing need. However, offsetting savings would be sought for any additional staff needed.The procedures and staff cost for bringing into tax the remaining short-term benefits are still under consideration.

Supplementary Benefit

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what will be the future policy of his Department regarding the payment of supplementary benefit to unmarried mothers, in the light of the judgments on 31 March by Mr. Justice Latey and Mr. Justice Purchas on an appeal against a decision of the Derwentside magistrates.

[pursuant to his reply, 3 April 1980]: These judgments do not affect the payment of benefit, as they relate to the liability of a parent to maintain a child. Present policy in this respect will continue. The Supplementary Benefits Commission has always interpreted section 17 of the Supplementary Benefits Act 1975 as meaning that a parent's liability to maintain a child for whom Supplementary Benefit was paid extended to the full amount of supplementary benefit paid for the child unabated by any payment of child benefit made under the Child Benefit Act 1975. The judgments confirm that interpretation.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) if he will list the gross savings, the net savings and the extra numbers which will require supplementary benefit in 1980–81 and 198182, respectively, as the result of his decision to abate invalidity benefit by five points; and what is his estimate of the number of invalidity pensioners whose income in 1980–81 would not have exceeded their personal tax allowance even if the increase in their pension had not been abated;(2) what is his estimate of the gross savings, the net savings and the extra numbers which will become entitled to supplementary benefit as a result of his decision (

a) to abate the increase in sickness benefit and ( b) to phase-out the earnings related supplement to sickness benefit in 1980–81 and in a full year; and what is his estimate of the number of people receiving sickness benefit whose income in 1980–81 would not have exceeded their personal tax allowance even if the increase had not been abated;

(3) what is his estimate of the gross savings, the net savings and the extra number which will become entitled to supplementary benefit as a result of his decision ( a) to abate the increase in unemployment benefit and ( b) to phase out the earnings-related supplement to unemployment benefit in 1980–81 and in a full year; and what is his estimate of the number of people receiving unemployment benefit whose income in 1980–81 would not have exceeded their personal tax allowance even if the increase had not been abated;

(4) what is his estimate of the gross savings and net savings and the extra numbers which will become eligible for supplementary benefit as a result of his decision to abate the maternity allowance by five points; and what is his estimate of the number of women whose income in 1980–81 would not have exceeded their own personal tax allowances even if the maternity allowance had been unabated;

(5) what is his estimate of the increase in the number of people who will become entitled to means tested benefits in 198081, 1981–82, 1982–83, and 1983–84; what is his estimate of the increased number of officials who will be required to administer claims; and if he will make a statement.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]: It is not possible to give information in the precise detail which the right hon. Gentleman seeks since this depends upon the levels of both national insurance and supplementary benefits in the relevant years, and of course on the numbers of beneficiaries in these years.

COMBINED EFFECT OF ABATEMENT OF CERTAIN BENEFITS IN NOVEMBER 1980 AND REDUCTION/ABOLITION OF EARNINGS RELATED SUPPLEMENT BY JANUARY 1981
Gross saving£ millionAdditional cost of supplementary benefit (Note 1) £ millionAdditional claims to supplementary benefit 000s
1980–81First full year1980–81First full year1980–81First full year
Invalidity benefit20551555
Sickness benefit132152201030
Unemployment benefit171554621575
Maternity allowance240****
(Note 2)
Others235****
* Negligible.

Notes:

1. At current rates which are not directly comparable with the earnings related supplement element of the gross savings.

2. Including phasing out of earnings related supplement payable with maternity allowance. These estimates do not take account of any consequential changes in the receipt of other means-tested benefits.

In relation to these changes it is estimated at this stage that the net additional manpower requirements would be about

Man years

1980–81110
1981–82400
1982–831,020
1983–841,020

Data available from the Inland Revenue are not sufficiently detailed to enable the additional effect of the changes proposed in the Bill to be determined but it is estimated that in the course of a year, those drawing benefits, whose annual income does not exceed their personal tax allowances might be of the order of

  • Invalidity benefit—400,000.
  • Sickness benefit—data not available but likely to be small.
  • Unemployment benefit—200,000.
  • Maternity allowance—50,000.

National Finance

Publicans (Gratuities)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement regarding the Inland Revenue's proposals to tax drinks which customers buy for public house landlords.

No more than a broad estimate of the effects can be given at this stage and the table below provides a breakdown of the information in the Explanatory and Financial Memorandum to the Social Security (No. 2) Bill.

licensees are taxable. Free drinks bought for licensees and managers, even though they may be in the nature of gratuities, are not ordinarily taxable since they are not normally convertible into cash.

Petroleum Revenue Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the current yield of petroleum revenue tax, together with the estimated yield at 65 per cent. and 70 per cent.

The yield of petroleum revenue tax in 1980–81 at various rates would be:

Petroleum revenue tax at£ million
60 per cent.2,190
65 per cent.2,370
70 per cent.2,560

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, for fields above the tapering tranche of petroleum revenue tax, what is the Government take at the proposed new rate on each extra £ sterling of revenue.

Income And Wealth

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will take steps to collect statistics on the distribu- tion of income and wealth for each of the standard economic regions of the United Kingdom.

As I said in my reply to the hon. Member on 24 March 1980—[Vol. 981, c. 441–42]—the Inland Revenue does publish information at regional level on the distribution of incomes liable to tax. There is, however, no practicable way in which this source of data can be extended to include non-taxable income, although when sickness and unemployment benefit become subject to income tax, these new items of taxable income will be included.The information available to the Inland Revenue on total personal wealth in the United Kingdom is insufficient to support the preparation of estimates broken down by region of its distribution by ranges of wealth.

Profit Sharing Schemes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many companies to date have had profit sharing schemes approved under the 1978 legislation; and how many companies have schemes awaiting approval.

Members Of The House Of Lords (Travel Warrants)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, when introducing his 1980 Finance Bill to give legislative effect to his Budget and proposals on the taxation of cars and benefits from it, he will seek to ensure that Ministers and Members of the House of Lords pay tax on their travel warrants used on public transport in the same way as that applied to the Commons Members of Parliament.

Travel warrants used by Ministers and Members of the House of Lords are treated in the same way for tax purposes as those used by Members of this House.

Whisky, Beer And Cigarettes (Taxation Yields)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate what percentage of the population pays tax on cigarettes and tobacco.

It is estimated that about 45 per cent. of the adult population of Great Britain are smokers.

Taxation Changes

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish the official forecasts for each year up to 1983–84 for each item covered by table 2 in the Red Book.

The official forecasts cover only the period to the first half of 1981, for which there are figures in table 11 of the Financial Statement and Budget Report. The material in the medium term financial strategy which covers the period after 1980 is based on the assumption of an average growth rate of 1 per cent. between 1980 and 1983.

Expenditure

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will complete table 1:2 in Cmnd. 7841 by giving figures for the ratio of public expenditure to gross domestic product for each year covered by the Government's expenditure plans for 1980–81 to 1983–84.

I refer my right hon. Friend to the Financial Statement and Budget Report 1980–81. For 1980–81 the ratio is estimated at 42½ per cent.—see page 36 paragraph 3. The expenditure plans announced in Cmnd. 7841 and the GDP assumptions described in the medium-term financial strategy—see page 16 paragraph 5—imply a fall in the ratio to under 40 per cent. by 1983–84.

Iran

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he intends to raise at the next meeting of his ministerial colleagues in the EEC the question of introducing economic sanctions against Iran following the actions taken by the United States Government.

The situation in Iran is already the subject of close consultations within the Community.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what representations he has received from the United States Government for assistance in blocking the export of Iranian funds held in the United Kingdom.

Since President Carter's statement of 7 April, the United States Government have been in close touch with the United Kingdom and other Governments as to how best we might assist in the efforts to secure release of the hostages in Tehran. But these consultations have not touched on the question of the presidential order of 14 November freezing certain Iranian assets held by branches and subsidiaries of United States banks in the United Kingdom. Legal issues arising from the presidential order are matters for the courts to decide.

Special Grants

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what circumstances he has powers to make special grants; and for what sorts of purposes these grants may be made.

I have powers to make grants only for purposes approved by Parliament. If the hon. Member has in

Budget cost (£ million)Numbers (thousands)
(a) Tax units paying above the basic rate at 1979–80 rates and allowances3231,080
(b) Tax units paying at the basic rate at 1979–80 rates and allowances1,13618,890
(c) Tax units paying at the 25 per cent. rate at 1979–80 rates and allowances802,110

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many taxpayers will cease to pay tax as a result of the increase in personal allowances; and how many higher rate taxpayers will cease to pay higher-rate tax as a result of the increase in the higher rate threshold.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]: About 1,300,000 taxpayers, including 600,000 wives with earnings, are expected to be kept out of tax by the increase in personal allowances. About 400,000 tax units—counting married couples as one—are kept out of higher rate tax by the increases in allowances and thresholds, of whom about 250,000 are kept out by the increase in the higher-rate threshold. These figures refer to the numbers who would have been liable to tax at the 1979–80 level of allowances and thresholds but who are not liable at the proposed level of allowances and thresholds.

mind grants for a specific purpose, I suggest he should write to me or to the Minister responsible for the service.

Income Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the revenue forgone as a result of income tax changes announced in the Budget will benefit (a) taxpayers who were paying above the standard rate of tax before the Budget, (b) taxpayers who were paying the standard rate before the Budget and (c) taxpayers who were paying at the 25 per cent. rate before the Budget; and how many taxpayers were in each of these categories before the Budget.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]: The estimated allocation at 1980–81 income levels of the Budget cost of the main changes in allowances, together with the approximate number of taxpaying units—counting a married couple as one unit—is as follows:

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what percentage of those previously paying tax at the 25 per cent, rate will now be paying no tax; and what percentage will be paying at the 30 per cent. rate as a result of the changes announced in the Budget.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]: Of the 3½ million taxpayers—counting earning wives separately—who would have been liable in 1980–81 at the lower rate or 1979–80 rates and allowances, about 35 per cent. will not be liable to tax under the Budget proposals and about 65 per cent. will be liable at the basic rate.

Finance Bill

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Finance Bill will be published.

Family Income

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list for each year since 1945–46, including 1980–81, assuming the changes announced in the Budget, at constant prices, the tax-free income, including, where relevant, child benefit, of: a single person, a childless couple, a couple with one child aged

TAX FREE INCOME AT 1945–46 PRICES
YearSingleMarriedMarried 1 child aged under 11Married, 2 children aged under 11Married, 2 children, 1 under 11, 1 aged 11–16Married, 4 children, 2 under 11, 2 aged 11–16
££££££
1945–4690157212268268379
1946–47126205261317317428
1947–48125202268334334466
1948–49124199264328328458
1949–50123196259322322447
1950–51118188248308308429
1951–52109183248313313443
1952–53115197275352352507
1953–54113194270347347498
1954–55111190264339339488
1955–56125210294379379548
1956–57121203283365365527
1957–58117196275354373550
1958–59116194271349368543
1959–60116194271349368543
1960–61114191267343362534
1961–62116189262336354519
1962–63112183253324341500
1963–64154238318397415592
1964–65148229305382399569
1965–66140216290363379541
1966–67135209280350366522
1967–68132204273343357511
1968–69125193259304318422
1969–70138203266305318411
1970–71164235293330342429
1971–72150215287339351466
1972–73198259326375385494
1973–74181235296339349445
1974–75161223285333342448
1975–76140197247286293378
1976–77132195248293299395
1977–78149229268307313396
1978–79143223257291296369
1979–80145226252277277329
1980–81147229253276276324
The price index used in the General Index of Retail Prices—all items—and the index given in Table 2 of the publication "The Internal Purchasing Power of the Pound", issued by the Central Statistical Office, with an estimate for 1945–46. The indices refer to financial years except for 1979–80, for which the October 1979 figure has been used, and 1980–81, for which a figure 161 per cent. higher than October 1979 has been used. 16½ per cent. is the forecast change in the RPI between fourth quarter 1979 and fourth quarter 1980. The tax-free incomes

under 11 years, a couple with two children aged under 11 years, a couple with one child aged under and one over 11 years and a couple with four children, two aged under and two aged over 11 years.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]: The figures are as follows:for 1977–78 to 1980–81 include child benefit in the incomes of married couples where appropriate. For earlier years, they take account of earned income relief and family allowance deduction—clawback—where appropriate. The tax-free income is therefore the amount of income, including child benefit or family allowance, which can be received before liability to tax arises. The comparison over the years since 1976–77 for families is affected by the replacement of child tax allowances and family allowance by child benefit.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will update to 1980–81 the figures he gave in the Official Report, 22nd January, c. 177–8, in the light of the changes announced in the Budget.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]: I regret that figures of average earnings in 1980–81 on the same basis as in the previous answer will not be available until early next year.

Benefits (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, under the plans to tax short-term benefits, supplementary benefit will, in any circumstances, be treated as taxable income; and, if so, in what circumstances.

[Pursuant to the reply, 14 April 1980]: The details of these proposals, which will not take effect before 1982, are under consideration. But, as my right hon. and learned Friend said in his Budget Statement, it is intended to bring into tax benefits paid to the unemployed in such a way that in general the claimant will neither receive refunds nor suffer deductions of tax until return to work. These benefits include supplementary benefit paid in lieu of or in addition to unemployment benefit, but child increases, housing costs and exceptional circumstances additions paid with supplementary benefit will not be treated as taxable income.

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether it is his intention that secondhand dealers should have to discover for value added tax purposes the names and addresses of people from whom they buy goods and also seek the same information of those to whom they sell.

[pursuant to his reply, 14 April 1980]. Yes, in so far as the dealers are accounting for value added tax under one of the special schemes for secondhand goods. I am satisfied that the information in question is essential to the effective revenue control of these schemes.