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Written Answers

Volume 13: debated on Monday 16 November 1981

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 16 November 1981

National Finance

Duty Free Shops

47.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek to introduce legislation giving a statutory definition of duty free shops.

No. Duty free shops are approved under existing legal provisions as warehouses for the storage and subsequent exportation of goods.

Paye

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will institute an independent investigation into the proposed timetable for the computerisation of the PAYE system.

Independent expert advice was obtained on the plans for the computerisation of PAYE. The most recent independent advice on the timetable is that it is adequate but tight. I do not see that a further review now would serve any useful purpose.

European Community (Member States' Contributions)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the European Commission has made available to Her Majesty's Government estimates of the net contributions of each member State in 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981; and if he will publish these in the Official Report.

The Commission has made available the following estimates of net contributions (-) and receipts in respect of the Community budgets for 1980 and 1981:

million ecus
19801981
Germany-1,540-1,647
France423624
Netherlands441223
Belgium255388
Denmark331302
Luxembourg232282
United Kingdom-1,521-1,505
Italy735619
Ireland644591
Greecena123
These estimates—which the Government are studying—are intended to be on the basis used in the agreement of 30 May 1980 on United Kingdom budget refunds. The figures do not take account of the agreement itself, which gave the United Kingdom net refunds of 1,175 million ecus in respect of 1980 and 1,420 million ecus in respect of 1981. The Commission has not, to our knowledge, provided comparable estimates for 1978 and 1979.

Mortgage Interest (Tax Relief)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the cost to the Exchequer of tax relief on mortgage interest for owner-occupiers in 1980–81, 1981–82 and 1982–83.

The available information is:

Cost of tax relief on mortgage interest
£ million
1980–811,960
1981–821,950
No estimate is available for 1982–83, as this will depend on income tax rates and allowances, and on the amounts of allowable mortgage interest in that year.

Unemployment Costs

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his best estimate of the amounts of income tax revenue lost to public funds during the financial year 1980–81 on account of unemployment.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. and learned Friend the then Minister of State on 8 July to a question from the hon. Member for Bolton, East (Mr. Young). [Vol. 8, c. 126].

Gross Domestic Product

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if there has been any significant change in the last decade in the proportion of gross domestic product taken up by wages and salaries.

The proportion of gross domestic product taken up by wages and salaries varies according to the stage in the economic cycle. In each of the years 1970 to 1980 it was as follows:

Per cent.*
197061·5
197160·4
197259·4
197358·7
197461·1
197562·9
197660·2
197758·0
197857·5
197958·3
198059·9
* Proportion of income based measure of gross domestic product at factor cost. Wages and salaries exclude the pay of Her Majesty's Forces..

Source: National Income and Expenditure 1981 Edition Tables 1.2 and 4.1.

Company Residence

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek to repeal section 482 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970 and to redefine company residence.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he plans to take action following the publication of the Inland Revenue consultative documents "Tax Havens and the Corporate Sector" and "Company Residence"; and if he will publish a list of those persons and bodies who have made representations on these documents, distinguishing those resident in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list, for each of the last five years, the total amounts of tax loss estimated under information item 28 of Treasury circular of 1975 regarding application for special consent under section 482 of Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list, for each of the last five years, the locations of the non-resident bodies corporate which have applied for specific consent under section 482 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970, in accordance with the procedure set out in the Treasury memorandum of 1975.

I regret that the information requested cannot be supplied except at disproportionate cost. In the last five years approximately 10,000 applications have been made for consent under section 482 of the Income and Corporation Taxes Act 1970.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will seek to impose on companies operating in the United Kingdom but resident in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man a surcharge equivalent to the amount of tax which would have been paid by them had they been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the annual tax forgone by the Exchequer in respect of companies operating essentially as companies registered in the United Kingdom but registered in the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Retirement Annuities

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will consider allowing a higher limit of relief on self-employed retirement annuities for those born before 1936.

European Community (Budget Deficit)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what are the latest estimates of the net European Economic Community budget deficit for 1980 and 1981, showing the likely and recorded monthly net cash flows for each year.

Personal Pension Schemes (Loan Facilities)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if the practice of providing loan facilities under personal pension policies is acceptable to the Inland Revenue.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1981]: Retirement annuity contracts and occupational pension schemes are approved for tax purposes by the Inland Revenue if they meet the conditions, especially those relating to the sole or main object or purpose of the contract or scheme, provided for in the Taxes Acts.

One-Parent Families

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the loss of revenue if payments to child minders by one-parent families were to be deducted from gross income before tax.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1981]: I regret that information on which to base an estimate is not available.

Life Assurance

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he has any plans to withdraw life assurance tax relief from policies containing a guaranteed surrender value;(2) if he has any plans to withdraw life assurance tax relief from bond contracts linked to building society investments;(3) if he has any plans to extend the clawback period from four years in respect of guaranteed income bonds on which life assurance tax relief is claimed.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1981]: We are keeping these and other aspects of the life assurance relief under review.

Overseas Development

Cancun Summit

42.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many officials of the Overseas Development Administration were present at the international meeting for co-operation and development at Cancun.

Of the four official advisers at Cancun, one was from the Overseas Development Administration.

44.

asked the Lord Privy Seal how he intends to accommodate the increased aid for agricultural development undertaken at the Cancun conference within the overall aid budget.

The Cancun participants met for a wide-ranging exchange of views rather than to negotiate specific commitments. My right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal announced to the House in July a new initiative to strengthen agricultural research in Africa. We are ready to give greater priority to agricultural development in our country aid programmes if that is what recipient countries want. [Vol. 9, c. 731.]

46.

asked the Lord Privy Seal what specific initiatives Her Majesty's Government expect to take upon the conference at Cancun, Mexico.

Those present at Cancun agreed that their discussions should be followed up in the United Nations and its specialised agencies. The President of the General Assembly has already taken the initiative in undertaking informal consultations with a number of countries.

Development Aid

asked the Lord Privy Seal what proportions of the total development aid granted to the poorest developing countries come from the following sources: (a) the member States of the European Community both individually and through the Lomé Convention, (b) the United States of America, (c) the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and (d) the Arab countries in membership of Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

In 1979, the latest year for which complete figures are available, the proportion of total net official development assistance provided to the least developed countries and others with a 1978 GNP per capita of $450 or less by each donor was:

per cent.
(a) European Community (EC)
Belgium2·7
Denmark1·7
France5·4
Germany, FR8·2
Italy0·1
Netherlands4·4
United Kingdom6·4
Bilateral total29·0
Through the EC5·9
EC Total34·8
(b) United States of America12·0
(c) USSR6·0
(d) Arab members of OPEC7·3
The balance of the poorest countries' receipts came from other OECD members and from multilateral agencies.

Trade

Manufactured Goods (Trade)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what were the values of exported manufactured goods during each of the past six years; and what were the corresponding figures for imported manufactured goods.

Figures on the preferred balance of payments basis for 1980 show exports of manufactured goods valued at £34·9 billion and imports at £29·4 billion. The rest of the information is as follows:

United Kingdom Visible Trade in Manufactures
£ billion BOP basis
Exports FOBImports FOB
197515·812·1
197620·615·7
197725·619·7
197827·722·7
197931·028·3

Note: Figures are given on the preferred balance of payments basis, in which the coverage and valuation of exports and imports are the same.

Textile Industry

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will introduce additional measures which will have the effect of safeguarding the interest of the British textile industry.

The multi-fibre arrangement, together with the related arrangements for limiting imports of textiles and clothing from other low-cost sources, remains the Government's primary instrument to safeguard the interest of the British textile industry against foreign competition.

Air Transport (Pool Agreements)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will review the pool agreements of airlines operating to and from the United Kingdom with a view to the abolition of these agreements and the consequential reduction of air fares.

No. Fares are not governed by pool agreements and their abolition would not lead directly to any reduction.

British Airports Authority (Ministerial Meeting)

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when next he expects to meet the chairman of the British Airports Authority.

Trucks (Imports)

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will take action to control the import of trucks into the United Kingdom.

There are no plans to introduce import controls on trucks. But it has been made clear that we are seriously concerned about the excessive level of imports of light commercial vehicles from Japan and that we expect Japanese manufacturers to reduce the level of these exports significantly.

Trade Data (Publication)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade when he now expects the publication of trade data for March to August 1981 to be completed.

Figures for total imports in March and April 1981 have already been published. Of the remainder, each month's figures will be published as they become available. We expect the work on the backlog to be completed by the middle of 1982.

Industrial Performance (Exports)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he intends to introduce any new measures in connection with the finding of the National Economic Development Corporation, in its report "Industrial Performance—a review", that too many companies are apathetic towards exports.

The fact that the United Kingdom exports a greater proportion of its GDP than any other major manufacturing country shows that many companies are committed to exporting. The thrust of the Government's comprehensive range of export services is being maintained, but I have no plans for new measures at present. Government policy is directed to creating the right conditions to enable all firms to compete more effectively at home and abroad.

Multi-Fibre Arrangement

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he intends to take any action in the multi-fibre arrangement discussions in the light of the Cancun summit.

We shall continue to take very careful account of the needs of the developing countries, and particularly those of the poorest countries, in deciding our overall policies towards textile imports. The Community has already decided that the arrangements to be negotiated under the new MFA should, where possible, differentiate in favour of the poorest countries.

Anglo-Lebanese Air Services Agreement

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will make a statement on the renewal of the Anglo-Lebanese civil air transport services agreement.

At talks in early November with the Lebanese authorities new procedures were agreed for determining the capacity to be mounted by the airlines and specific entitlements were settled for a period of two years beginning next April. The talks were cordial and there are no outstanding problems.

Japanese Vehicles (Imports)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will report separately the latest figures for imports of motor cars and light commercial vehicles from Japan this year.

Owing to the Civil Service pay dispute, detailed statistics of overseas trade are available only for three months of the year to date. Vehicle registrations in the period from January to October 1981 included 151,514 passenger cars and 27,365 light commercial vehicles from Japan.

Anglo-Romanian And Yugoslavian Trade

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what efforts are being made to stimulate trade between the United Kingdom and Romania and Yugoslavia.

There have been several visits by Ministers in both directions between the United Kingdom and Romania and Yugoslavia in the last two years. A wide range of opportunities for the development of trade were identified during these visits and are being pursued. The United Kingdom-Romania Joint commission and the Anglo-Yugoslav trade council meet annually to review the scope for developing trade.

Arab Boycott List

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps Her Majesty's Government plan in the light of the Arab-British Chamber of Commerce's recent statement that if British companies invest in Israel they will be placed on the Arab boycott list.

None. I understand that the statement in question relates to the proposed Israeli project to construct a canal between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. As my hon. Friend the Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, made clear to the House on 30 July, the Government consider this project unlawful in international law.

Air Fares

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many representations he has received from airlines concerning the current level of air fares.

Fare levels for British airlines are of course primarily a matter for the Civil Aviation Authority. However, my right hon. Friend and I are in frequent touch with British airlines and we discuss fares amongst other subjects. I have not had any direct representations from foreign airlines on this subject in recent months, but when new fares for foreign airlines are filed my officials are as necessary in touch with both the airlines and their governments.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what recent negotiations he has had with his European counterparts with a view to reducing European air fares.

The Government lose no opportunity to impress upon our European colleagues what we see as an urgent need to Introduce more liberal arrangements for setting air fares in Europe. During the course of this year we have pressed this issue at a number of bilateral and multilateral gatherings. In particular, I have recently travelled to Brussels and Rome to visit my counterparts in the Governments of those countries to discuss with them both inter-regional air services and fares, and I plan to make a similar visit to Copenhagen early in December.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he has taken any initiative to reduce air fares within the European Community.

Yes. It was as a result of an initiative by the United Kingdom that the Commission was asked to report on air fares and have now put a draft directive before the Council of Ministers. On 8 October my right hon. Friend and I held a press conference to make public our reply to the Commission's letter on air fares and competition. We made it clear that we are not satisfied with progress and believe that changes are urgently needed to bring about a more liberal system for approval of fares.

Brazil (Trade Agreement)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement about the recent trade agreement with Brazil, particularly the proposed purchase of container ships and containers.

Under the memorandum of understanding, ECGD-backed credits totalling £380 million are to be made available to Brazil provided firm contracts for export orders to that amount are signed by 30 April 1982. The orders for ships—four roll-on-roll-off and two container ships—will be worth about £120 million.

Imports (Unfair Competition)

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will take steps to ensure that British industry, in particular the steel industry, is not harmed by the unfair importation of goods which purport to be of equivalent quality and which may not receive adequate testing and assessment on entry into the United Kingdom.

There are in general no legal requirements for steels to be tested and assessed on entry to the United Kingdom. However, any goods bearing a false trade description within the meaning of the Trade Descriptions Act 1968 may be the subject of a prosecution. Enforcement of the Act is the responsibility of the local weights and measures authorities, though other persons may institute proceedings.

Vacuum Cleaners (Imports)

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what is the current level of imports of vacuum cleaners.

The available information for 1981 is given as follows:

United Kingdom Imports of Vacuum Cleaners, 1981
NumberValue cif (£ thousand)
January50,5481,049
February59,2231,384
September104,5222,901
Monthly average
198097,9051,758

Source: Overseas Trade Statistics of the UK, SITC (R2) 775.71 (part).

Note: The processing of figures for March to August 1981 inclusive has been delayed as a result of the Civil Service pay dispute.

Competition Act 1980

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade on how many occasions he has used the powers under section 13 of the Competition Act; and to which commodity the price increase concerned related.

Less Developed Countries

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what percentage of British trade is conducted with less developed countries.

The information for exports and imports may be derived from tables 11 and 15 respectively of the press notice on the current account of the United Kingdom balance of payments for September 1981. A copy of the press notice is available in the House of Commons library.

College Of Air Training (Hamble)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he is taking to ensure the continued existence of the College of Air Training at Hamble.

I hope that a means will be found of preserving the college as a flying training school, but I do not believe that the Government should take over responsibility for the college.

Restrictive Trade Practices Act

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied that the Restrictive Trade Practices Act does not impede the ability of British firms to meet foreign competition.

I have no evidence that the Act impeded the British firms' competitiveness.

Audio Cassettes

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what was the number of blank audio cassettes imported into the United Kingdom in each month since January 1981.

The available information may be found in table IV of the Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom for January, February and September 1981 against Code No. 9212–1111, under SITC (R2) item 898.31. A copy of this publication is available in the Library. Figures for the intervening months are not yet available because of the Civil Service pay dispute.

Company Registrations

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many new companies were registered for each month in the current year compared with the corresponding months in 1980.

The number of new companies registered in England, Wales and Scotland for the months January-October 1980 and 1981 is as follows:

England/WalesScotland
1980198119801981
January6,1395,767201164
February5,7545,280257234
March6,2716,226269358
April5,9584,938281299
May4,6645,699351360
June5,6776,455322409
July5,1986,185194262
August4,6655,466258233
September4,6725,266215210
October6,2246,158344302
Total55,22257,4402,6922,831

Radio Broadcasts (Illegal Taping)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will estimate the revenue lost to the British phonographic industry by illegal home taping of radio broadcasts during the year ended 31 December 1980 or for the latest 12-month period for which estimates are available.

The effect of illegal home taping of broadcasts on the sales of sound recordings is considered in detail in chapter 3 of the Green Paper published in July—Reform of the Law relating to Copyright, Designs and Performers' Protection—A Consultative Document: Cmnd. 8302. The conclusion reached in the paper is that the sales lost as a direct consequence of private copying cannot be precisely quantified. Nevertheless, the paper invites public comment on the whole question of home taping and doubtless the extent of this loss will be one of the matters on which further comment will be submitted.

Citizens Advice Bureaux

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he is satisfied with the level of financial support planned for citizens advice bureaux.

The financing of individual citizens advice bureaux is primarily a matter for local authorities, which I hope will do everything possible to support the CAB service within current financial constraints. I am satisfied with the current level of Government support for the Citizens Advice Bureaux' national association, which we have increased from £1·852 million in 1979–80 to £4·963 million in the current financial year.

Minch And Sound Of Mull (Oil Spillage)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, what regulations govern the passage of crude oil tankers (a) in the Minch and (b) in the Sound of Mull; and if he is satisfied that they are sufficient to prevent an accident resulting in oil spillage.

There are no special regulations governing the passage of crude oil tankers in the Minch and the Sound of Mull: under international law all vessels enjoy the right of innocent passage in these waters. I am not aware of any accident in this area resulting in a crude oil spillage. The provisions of the Prevention of Oil Pollution Act 1971 apply and I do not envisage, at present, seeking further powers: regulations of themselves will not prevent accidents. But my Department keeps the position under continual review, in consultation with local interests.

Press And Public Relations Officers

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many press and public relations officers are currently employed in his Department; what is the total cost per annum; and what were the comparable figures for May 1979 and May 1980.

The number and cost of pay and national insurance contributions of Information Officer Group staff in my Department's Press Office on these dates was as follows:

NumberCost £000
May 197916151
May 198016198
November 198114187
The figures for May 1979 include staff in the Department of Prices and Consumer Protection which has since been absorbed in the Department of Trade.

Music Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what representations have been made to him on the financial damage being caused to the music industry by the illegal taping of pre-recorded music; and if he will make a statement.

Estimates of the financial damage being caused to the music industry were discussed at a series of meetings with representatives of the British phonographic industry prior to the publication in July of the Green Paper—Reform of the Law relating to Copyright, Designs and Performers' Protection: Cmnd. 8302, and these estimates are considered in detail in chapter 3. Since publication further representations have been received and I have met representatives of the industry again. I still consider that the conclusion reached in chapter 3 of the Green Paper—that the sales of pre-recorded music lost as a direct consequence of private copying cannot be precisely quantified—is correct.

Balance Of Trade

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will list the balance of trade for (a) Syria, (b) Jordan, (c) Iraq, (d) Iran, (e) Saudi Arabia, (f) Egypt, (g) Israel, (h) Kuwait, (i) United Arab Emirates and (j) Libya over the first nine months of this year and the preceding five years; and what were the percentage changes in imports and exports with each of these countries for the nine-month period and the aye-year period.

The information which can be provided within acceptable limits of cost is as follows:

United Kingdom Crude Balances of Trade (Exports Valued FOB less Imports Valued CIF) with Selected Countries, 1976 to 1980
(£ million).
19761980
Syria+56·8+69·3
Jordan+55·3+88·8
Iraq-127·4-210·6
Iran-531·2+286·2
Saudi Arabia-577·1-935·4
Egypt+104·8-9·5
Israel+124·4-3·4
Kuwait-440·6-397·1
United Arab Emirates+124·9+17·9
Libya-31·7+241·9
Change in Value of United Kingdom Trade (at Current Prices) with Selected Countries, 1980 Compared with 1976
(per cent.)
ExportsImports
Syria+26·6+59·5
Jordan+69·5+659·0
Iraq+111·7+90·6
Iran-23·7-89·8
Saudi Arabia+136·1+92·4
Egypt+88·7+395·8
Israel-7·9+86·0
Kuwait+71·0+10·3
United Arab Emirates+54·0+141·3
Libya+113·8-72·1

Source: Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom (1981 basis).

Note:

(a) Information for the period March-August 1981 is not at present available.

(b) The United Arab Emirates comprise Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, Ras al Khaimah, Ajman, Umm al Qauwain and Fujairah.

"Richard Montgomery"

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what were the findings of the survey carried out earlier this year into the wreck of the munitions ship "Richard Montgomery"; what steps he proposes to take to dispose of the contents of the wreck; and if he will make a statement.

I expect to receive the report on the survey fairly soon. It will take some time to consider.

Greece

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether, following the accession of Greece to the European Economic Community, he is satisfied that that country complies with operational and navigational maritime standards according to European Economic Community requirements.

The main standards relating to maritime safety and the prevention of pollution are set by the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organisation. Greece has ratified the most recent convention on the safety of life at sea and its related protocol and, in company with certain other members of the European Economic Community, has undertaken to initiate the necessary procedures leading to the ratification of all the outstanding conventions in this field, including those relating to marine pollution and the standards of training, certification and watchkeeping.

Imports (Standards)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what tests are carried out on imported goods to ensure that these meet the standards which may be claimed in respect of quality and durability.

The Trade Descriptions Act prohibits false or misleading trade descriptions, including false or misleading claims about standards, in respect of imported and domestically produced goods alike. No central record is kept of tests carried out in the enforcement of these requirements, which is a matter for local authority trading standards departments.

Steel Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he is taking to protect the public and private sectors of the steel industry from unfair overseas competition; and if he will study the prices charged for imported steel and compare these with production costs.

We have given—and continue to give—strong support to the Community's steel anti-crisis measures which aim inter alia to restore the steel industry to stability and profitability and to ward off the adverse effects of unfair competition. The measures include mandatory quotas for Community production of certain steels and voluntary production restraints for others, voluntary restraint arrangements between the Community and major steel exporting countries and a basic import price scheme designed to facilitate anti-dumping action against other suppliers.There is also a system of surveillance licensing for most ECSC steels which enables us to monitor the price and volume of imports from third countries. The overall effect of these measures has been greatly to reduce damage to the United Kingdom from unfair competition.

Flight Voice Recorders

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he intends implementing the recent resolution on the use of flight voice recorders on all fixed wing aircraft over a certain minimum weight and whether he will include helicopters under the same regulations.

I await advice from the Civil Aviation Authority on this matter. I understand however that the authority has recently consulted the industry on a proposal to extend the fit of cockpit voice recorders to aircraft not at present covered by the requirements of the Air Navigation Order 1980.Following this consultation, the Civil Aviation Authority is expected to recommend that these requirements be amended in respect of the carriage of cockpit voice recorders to include turbine powered aeroplanes having a maximum authorised weight between 11,400 kg and 27,000 kg. Helicopters present particular technical problems and the CAA consider they should be treated as a separate case. The Authority has been in discussion with my Department about requirements for the carriage of recording apparatus in helicopters and will shortly be consulting the industry on this matter before coming forward with proposals.

Tractors

asked the Secretary of State for Trade (1) what evidence he has that export sales of tractors are being lost to the United Kingdom due to the practices of other European Economic Community member States which are contrary to European Economic Community regulations;(2) if he will devise incentives in order to put the British tractor industry on an equal basis with competitors in the European Economic Community; and if he will take steps to ensure that British tractor producers can compete on a fair basis with other European companies;(3) what evidence there is that other members of the European Economic Community are breaking the Community regulations by subsidising tractor sales of domestic producers;(4) what evidence there is of lost export orders by British tractor producers due to unfair competition contrary to European Economic Community regulations in markets outside the European Economic Community.

I have no such evidence, but if the hon. Member has some my Department will certainly consider it.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will bring forward proposals to enable excess capacity for tractors in the United Kingdom to be sold to Third world countries in need of these products.

The Government provides a wide range of services to exporters of tractors, as for other goods and services, to pursue available opportunities.

Aircraft (Passenger Loading)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what information he has on the passenger loading of aircraft as a proportion of capacity on main routes into and out of the United Kingdom.

The Civil Aviation Authority publishes statistics of seat-kilometres used as a proportion of those available on scheduled international services operated by United Kingdom airlines. The figure for 1980 was 62·6 per cent. It does not include traffic by foreign airlines flying on the same routes. However, the authority is monitoring scheduled traffic by both British and United States airlines between London and the United States, and I understand that on these routes the passenger load factor for the 12 months up to 1 April 1981 was 70·6 per cent.

Coal Imports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how much coal was imported during the first nine months of 1981 by country of origin; and what was the average price per tonne of coal imported from each country.

Consumer Education

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what further action is proposed to increase the protection of the consumer and to improve information in the field of consumer education.

The record of this Government shows that we have already taken a number of important steps to protect the consumer in various ways. Indeed, we have introduced measures on a wide range of consumer issues. I am proposing a number of future measures which include new safety regulations on hazardous domestic chemical products, VAT inclusive pricing, further regulations under the Consumer Credit Act, and steps to reinforce competition.In addition the Director-General of Fair Trading is monitoring and keeping under review the behaviour of certain sectors which have given cause for concern, I shall take any additional action that proves necessary and practical.On the question of consumer education I have recently published a consumer education pack for schools which has been extremely well received. It has been circulated to secondary schools and we have had requests for a further 3,050 copies from schools and the general public. To meet this demand, the pack is to be reprinted and we are now considering offering copies for sale to members of the public.

Prime Minister

Polish Hospital Services

asked the Prime Minister if she will respond to reports of the lack of medicine, drugs and surgical equipment in the Polish hospital services which have led to secondary infection and the deaths of children, by arranging for the shipment of equipment to Poland during the current crisis and destabilisation to relieve the pressures that arise in the Polish medical services.

The Government have demonstrated our support for the efforts of the Polish people to overcome their difficulties, both by our prompt response to the requests of the Polish Government for economic assistance and, through the European Community, by providing urgently needed supplies of food.We shall continue to respond to specific requests as far as it lies within our power to help. But we believe that, in the first instance, it is for the Polish Government to decide their priorities for assistance and to determine what best responds to Poland's needs. I am aware that many of the voluntary agencies in Britain have concentrated their efforts on raising funds for the supply of medicine and medical equipment to Poland to help meet the need to which the hon. Member refers.

Third London Airport

asked the Prime Minister which Departments of State will be represented by witnesses and which solely by written statements of evidence at the inquiry into a third London airport; for what reasons the decision was taken to represent different Departments in a different manner; and if she is satisfied that those who wish to contest Government evidence orally at the inquiry will have adequate opportunity to do so if that evidence is given in writing.

The Departments concerned have submitted written statements to the inquiry. A list of witnesses that the Government propose to call to give oral evidence is being made available to all concerned. Where it is clear that a witness might be of material assistance his name has been included on the list. Where, on the application of any party, the inspector considers that other Government witnesses might be of material assistance, the Department concerned would provide them. I am sending the right hon. Member a copy of the list of witnesses.

asked the Prime Minister if she will publish the letter received by the Treasury Solicitor conducting the Government's case at the inquiry into a third London airport from the North of England regional consortium; what response has been made to that letter; and if she will publish the Treasury Solicitor's reply in the Official Report.

The Consortium's letter of 3 November 1981 is receiving careful consideration and will be answered as soon as possible. As it relates to matters raised at the Stansted public inquiry, I think it would be more appropriate for the letter and the reply to it to be published as inquiry documents. I will arrange for the right hon. Member to receive copies when they are available.

Spastics Society (Letter And Enclosure)

asked the Prime Minister whether, pursuant to her reply to the right hon. Member for Manchester, Wythenshawe, she will publish in the Official Report the letter and enclosure she received from the Director of the Spastics Society acting on behalf of the Reform VAT Group, together with the text of her reply.

I am grateful to the right hon. Member for his suggestion, but I do not publish letters which are sent to me. The writers of those letters are free to publish if they wish.

Home Department

Street Trading

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the measures currently available to local authorities in order to control street trading.

The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which was introduced on 6 November, contains a new code of controls over street trading, which we believe will prove satisfactory.

Wildlife And Countryside Act

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what training or information will be made available to police forces in order to deal with the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

The Home Office and the Scottish Home and Health Department are to issue guidance to chief officers of police about the Act; this will include a list of local sources of expert advice and assistance. In addition, a tape and slide training package is being prepared for use by the police.

Illegal Gambling

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied with the effectiveness of the measures available to the police to contain illegal gambling; and what training is given to the police to cope with this problem.

The Royal Commission on Gambling recommended some minor extensions of police powers, but in general I am satisfied that the police have adequate powers to deal with illegal gambling. Police training centres and individual forces, with the assistance of Gaming Board inspectors, give probationer police constables training in the laws relating to gambling. Further in-force training is at the discretion of chief officers of police.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what were the numbers of convictions for illegal gambling for the years 1978, 1979 and 1980.

Information collected centrally does not distinguish all offences relating solely to illegal gambling. Information on the number of offenders found guilty of any offence against the betting, gaming and lotteries legislation is published annually in the 'Criminal Statistics, England and Wales'—offence classification 75 for indictable offences and offence classification 106 for summary offences in tables S1.1(A) of 'Supplementary tables 1980, Vol. 1' for magistrates' courts and offence classification 75 in table S2.1(A) of Vol. 2 for the Crown Court. Corresponding information for 1978 and 1979 was published in table 1(a) and 5(a) of Cmnd. 7670 and 8098 respectively. In 1978 offence classification 75 was not applicable to proceedings at magistrates' courts.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, when he examines the evidence pertinent to the dispute between the Horserace Levy Board and the bookmakers' committee of the Horserace Levy Board, he will take into consideration the possible resurgence of illegal gambling should small bookmakers be faced with an exceptionally high levy.

Horserace Betting Levy Board

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whom he proposes to consult before adjudicating in the dispute between the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the bookmakers' committee of the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

I will consult the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the bookmakers' committee and I am also willing to receive any representations which other interested parties may wish to make to me.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to announce his determination on the dispute between the bookmakers' committee of the Horserace Betting Levy Board and the Horserace Betting Levy Board.

Energy

Oil Exports (European Community)

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will provide the latest figures for oil exports to each of the European Economic Community countries from Great Britain.

Figures for the period January to August 1981 are as follows:

United Kingdom shipments of crude oil, process and refined petroleum products to the European Community
Crude and process oilsRefined petroleum products
January to August 1981 (thousand tonnes)
United Kingdom shipments* to European Community,16,5846,134
of which to:
Belgium334529
Denmark1,641450
France1,796624
Germany, Federal Republic7,093376
Greece5
Irish Republic2681,915
Italy154220
Luxembourg
Netherlands5,2982,015

Source: United Kingdom Petroleum Industry Association Ltd.

Notes:

* Including re-exports.

Shipments to the Netherlands may include oil for transhipment or in transit to other destinations (e.g. Belgium and the Federal Republic of Germany).

Provisional.

British National Oil Corporation

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy why, before embarking on legislation in relation to making fundamental changes in the working of the British National Oil Corporation, he has decided not to publish and lay before the House detailed articles of association; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State proposes to follow the normal course of introducing legislation before embarking on detailed discussion of its implementation.

Energy Conservation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what relative level of importance he gives in his policy on energy conservation to (a) the price mechanism and (b) taking positive steps to reduce usage.

The single most effective instrument of energy conservation policy is the economic pricing of energy, but the policy also requires a range of positive measures to promote more efficient energy use.

Industrial Fuel Prices

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will take steps to reduce the cost of industrial fuel by 20 per cent. in order to give an incentive to British industry; and if he will make a statement.

No. The Government remain committed to the economic pricing of energy. The price of each fuel must reflect its costs and scarcity value in use. We shall continue to do all we can to enhance the day-to-day operational efficiency of the supply industries and to ensure that United Kingdom energy is produced at the lowest possible cost. This must also involve a sustained effort over time to improve the nation's supply structure and bring investment in competitive new supplies to fruition.

Airguns (Damage)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will estimate the cost of the damage done by the use of airguns in acts of vandalism or of damage attributable to airguns, to the property of the electricity boards in each of the last five years; and if he will give the figures for each board area.

Teachers in service with LEAs at major establishments of further and higher education
1975–761976–771977–781978–791979–801980–81
Full-time teachers3,443*3,546*3,588*3,7173,8163,778
Part-time teachersn.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.583541
Totaln.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.4,3994,319
Student/staff ration.a.n.a.n.a.n.a.7·68·1
* Includes full-time, teachers at adult education centres in addition to those at major establishments of further and higher education.
Full-time equivalents.

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many (a) primary and (b) secondary teachers are currently unemployed in each authority area in Wales; and what is the ratio of pupils to teachers in each authority area at the latest date for which information is available, and at comparable dates for each of the last five years.

I am advised by the Electricity Council that this information could only be obtained by boards at disproportionate expense.

Home Insulation

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what steps he is taking to encourage householders who are not owner-occupiers to insulate their homes.

The Government's policy of economic energy pricing provides an incentive to all householders to insulate their homes. These price signals are supported by an advertising campaign and information and advice leaflets which tell householders about particular measures they can adopt to save energy. In addition, grants are made available towards the cost of insulating lofts through the Homes Insulation Scheme administered by the Department of the Environment. Householders who are not owner-occupiers can also apply under the scheme.

Wales

Teaching Staff (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) how many teaching staff were employed in the polytechnics and colleges of further education which offer degree courses in Wales in October 1981, and on a comparable date each year for the last five years; and what is the ratio of pupils to teachers in these colleges al the latest date for which information is available, and at comparable dates for each of the last five years;(2) how many teaching staff were employed in the non-advanced colleges of further education in Wales in October 1981; how many were employed on a comparable date in each of the last five years; and what is the ratio of pupils to teachers in these colleges at the latest date for which information is available, and at comparable dates for each of the last five years.

Information is not available separately for those colleges of further and higher education which offer degree courses and the figures below relate to all maintained colleges of further and higher education in Wales. Figures for October 1981 are not yet available and the series following relates to counts made in January of each year.

Table 1

Numbers of unemployed primary and secondary teachers in Wales*†

Primary

Secondary

Clwyd142148
Dyfed82114
Gwent7874
Gwynedd7184
Mid Glamorgan7896
Powys4028

Table 2

Pupil-teacher ratio within schools*

1975–76

1976–77

1977–78

1978–79

1979–80

1980–81

Primary Schools

Clwyd23·223·323·223·023·122·9
Dyfed19·919·919·619·318·418·8
Gwent23·323·523·822·722·822·8
Gwynedd21·721·621·621·020·519·9
Mid Glamorgan24·724·323·923·323·623·6
Powys19·118·619·918·118·718·7
South Glamorgan23·823·923·723·423·222·8
West Glamorgan22·722·321·921·221·120·7

Secondary Schools

Clwyd16·816·717·016·917·017·0
Dyfed17·818·017·717·116·816·6
Gwent17·116·816·716·516·116·6
Gwynedd17·117·317·316·816·2161
Mid Glamorgan17·217·117·116·916·816·8
Powys15·816·116·316·216·015·9
South Glamorgan17·417·317·217·016·816·9
West Glamorgan16·616·716·416·416·416·1

*At January each year.

Private Homes For The Elderly

asked the Secretary of State for Wales, further to the answer to the hon. Member for Ogmore Official Report, 22 May, c. 223, and the reply of the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security, Official Report, Vol. 994, c. 139, when the consultative proposals on the registration and inspection of private homes for the elderly will be published.

I would refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Health and Social Security to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Foulkes) today.

Road Contracts

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list the ten contractors which have received the largest share of motorway and trunk road construction contracts in the last three years, giving for each contractor the total value of contracts received.

During the three years ended 31 October 1981 the ten companies securing the greatest value of work on trunk road and motorway new construction and improvement schemes in Wales costing over £0·1 million were:

£ million
Norwest Hoist Civil Engineering Ltd.17·3
Reed & Mallik Ltd.11·6
Sir Alfred McAlpine & Son Ltd.11·1
Brunswick Contractor (Cardiff) Ltd.4·3
Maenex Construction Co. Ltd.3·8

Primary

Secondary

South Glamorgan176256
West Glamorgan123173
Wales790973

* September 1981.

The definition of local authority which has been used for this table is one based on local employment office areas which means that the areas do not correspond exactly to administrative counties.

£ million

A. Monk & Co. Ltd.2·8
F. G. Whitley & Sons Co. Ltd.2·7
McTay Construction Co. Ltd.2·1
A. P. W. Construction Co. Ltd.1·9
Wrekin Construction Co. Ltd.1·6

In that period a contract valued at £34·7 million was also let to Sir Alfred McAlpine & Son Ltd., and Fairclough Civil Engineering Ltd., in consortium and a contract for £13·5 million was let to Cementation Construction Co. Ltd., and Costain Civil Engineering Ltd., in joint venture. Fairclough Civil Engineering Ltd., also won contracts worth £1·2 million.

Deeside (Employment)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will estimate the number of jobs in the pipeline for the Deeside travel-to-work area; how many of these are expected to be provided from the area of the Deeside industrial park; and if he will make a statement.

Some 1,300 manufacturing jobs are estimated to be in the pipeline for the Shotton travel-to-work area, of which just over 500 are expected from projects secured for the Deeside industrial park.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Press And Public Relations Officers

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many press and public relations officers are currently employed in his Department; what is the total cost per annum; and what were the comparable figures for May 1979 and May 1980.

There are now 12 officers in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office's news department. The total cost is £175,000. The comparable figures for May 1979 were 12 and £126,000, and for May 1980, 12 and £167,000. The relevant figures for the Overseas Development Administration are four and £63,000 now, four and £44,000 in May 1979, and three and £44,000 in May 1980.

Passports (Commonwealth Citizens)

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he proposes to continue the practice of requiring counter-signatures of passport applications by a British subject; and, if so, which of the two meanings of "British subject" created by the British Nationality Act 1981 will apply for this purpose.

The definition of a Commonwealth citizen contained in part V of the British Nationality Act 1981 includes all the categories of British subjects who are currently qualified, on nationality grounds, to countersign passport applications made in the United Kingdom. When the 1981 Act comes into force, the counter-signature section of the passport application form will refer to "a Commonwealth citizen" rather than "a British subject".

Brunei (Detained Persons)

asked the Lord Privy Seal whether he has made any representations to the Government of Brunei seeking the release of Lisa bin Lamat and Sulaiman bin Ahmad; and, if so, what has been the outcome.

The matter is an internal one and as such the responsibility of the Government of Brunei. But Her Majesty's Government continue to urge the Government of Brunei to consider releasing all those at present detained without trial.

Iran

asked the Lord Privy Seal if, in view of the fact that the new President, Prime Minister and Minister of Defence in Iran are hard-line Marxists, he has made any reassessment of the degree of influence of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in Iran and its effects upon security in the Gulf.

We recognise the right of the Iranian people to be governed by whatever regime they choose for themselves. The situation in Iran, together with all its implications, including those involving the Soviet Union, is kept under continual review.

Drug Smuggling (Caribbean)

asked the Lord Privy Seal what action Her Majesty's Government are taking to help the United States authorities combat drug smuggling in the Caribbean.

An exchange of notes between my right hon. and noble Friend and the American Ambassador in London took place on 13 November. A copy of the exchange has been placed in the Library.

Her Majesty's Government are happy to extend our cooperation with the United States authorities in their attempts to suppress the serious problem of the trafficking of narcotic drugs, as set out in the exchange. I should emphasise, however, that this agreement should not be regarded as a precedent for the conclusion of any further agreement affecting British vessels on the high seas.

British Broadcasting Corporation (Advertisements)

asked the Lord Privy Seal, pursuant to his answer of 12 November to the hon. Member for Swindon, whether the British Broadcasting Corporation's advertisements regarding its new wavelengths to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe were accepted by the Morning Star.

The BBC placed an order in October with the Morning Star for a series of six twice-weekly advertisements. Four were carried but the Morning Star declined to publish the other two.

Industry

British Steel Corporation

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, in view of the fact that the Iron and Steel Trades Confederation is currently without worker-director representation upon the main board of the British Steel Corporation and that in June 1981 the executive council of the Confederation nominated to the British Steel Corporation main board Messrs. D. Caddich and T. Butterworth, if he will direct the chairman of the British Steel Corporation to appoint Mr. D. G. Caddich of the Shotton works to the main board; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend is responsible for appointments to the BSC board, in consultation with the BSC chairman. There are no plans to appoint either Mr. Caddich or Mr. Butterworth. Five employees of the corporation, including Mr. J. McLaren of the ISTC, were offered re-appointment as part-time board members in August. All have accepted except Mr. McLaren, who is reluctant to do so without ISTC support.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will publish in the Official Report the total amount of public subsidies given to the British Steel Corporation in each year since 1970; how much was allocated for specific capital investment projects; and how much covered operating losses in each case.

The amount of Government finance provided to BSC each year is set out in the corporation's annual report and accounts, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. Government finance is not allocated to specific capital investment projects, nor to cover operating losses. Total spending on capital investment for each year, and operating losses when these have occurred, are also shown in the BSC annual report and accounts.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the total number of employees of the British Steel Corporation on the last date for which figures are available; and what were the figures on that date in each of the preceding 10 years.

Information on the total numbers employed by the British Steel Corporation at the end of each financial year is contained in the Corporation's Annual Report and Accounts for the years in question, copies of which are available in the Library of the House. I understand that since March 1981 employment has fallen further, from 120,900 to about 109,000 now.

Bl Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what was the total number of employees of BL Ltd. on the last date for which figures are available; and what were the figures on that date in each of the preceding five years.

Weekly average numbers of BL employees, taken from the company's 1980 annual report and accounts, are as follows:

Year('000)
*1976183
1977195
1978192
1979177
1980157
* 15 months to 31 December 1976.
In his statement of 28 August presenting the company's half-year results to June 1981, Sir Michael Edwardes said that manning levels had fallen to below 129,000 on 1 July 1981. The comparable figure for 31 December 1980 was 143,000.

Steel Production

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list by company the 10 leading world steel producers and by country the 10 largest producers of crude steel.

10 leading steel producers, 1980*

  • Nippon Steel (Japan)
  • US Steel (USA)
  • Nipon Kokan (Japan)
  • FINSIDER (Italy)
  • Bethlehem (USA)
  • Sumitomo (Japan)
  • Kawasaki (Japan)
  • Thyssen-Aktiengesellschaft (Federal Republic of Germany)
  • USINOR (France)
  • Jones and Laughlin (USA)

* Covers IISI countries only, that is essentially Western World.

Source: International lion and Steel Institute (IISI).

10 largest steel-producing countries, 1980

  • USSR
  • Japan
  • USA
  • Federal Republic of Germany
  • China

Manufacturing investment decisions, known to the IBB, by foreign owned companies, including first-time investments, expansions and joint ventures, and estimate of associated long-term employment* (January 1979—November 1981)

U.S.A.

Canada

Japan

Projects

Employment

Projects

Employment

Projects

Employment

Scotland365,22052693919
Wales191,34153,47273,070
Northern Ireland277,6651133
North East142,235150149

  • Italy
  • France
  • Poland
  • Canada
  • Brazil

Source: International Iron and Steel Institute.

Note:

Steel production in the United Kingdom in 1980 was reduced by the effect of the steel strike. As a result, the British Steel Corporation was 11th in the IISI list in 1980, having been 4th in 1979; by country, the United Kingdom was 15th in 1980, compared with 8th in 1979.

Small Businesses Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what consultation he has had with the Institute of Directors regarding its small businesses scheme; if he is satisfied with the success of the scheme; and what lessons his Department has learnt from its operation.

The Institute of Directors undertakes a number of activities of relevance to small firms. The Business Investment Digest launched in October has been welcomed by the Prime Minister as a timely initiative which complements the measures the Government have introduced to stimulate investment in small businesses. The Digest is still in its early days but we are watching its development with interest. Arrangements have just been concluded to refer clients to the Department's small firms service, in appropriate cases, to the Institute's non-executive director appointments service as a source of long-term management expertise. Again this development is too recent for its value to be assessed.

Manufacturing (Foreign-Owned Companies)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list for each of the English economic planning regions those American, Japanese and Canadian-owned companies which have opened new manufacturing units over the past five years; and to what extent he has information that a substantial part of the investments made have been with a view to exporting to the member States of the European Community or its European associates.

I am sorry that I cannot provide the information in precisely the form requested. The table below shows, for each of the standard regions of the United Kingdom, the numbers of decisions, known to the Invest in Britain Bureau, taken by United States, Japanese and Canadian owned companies to invest in manufacturing projects, between January 1979—when these figures were first collected—and 31 October 1981; estimates of associated long term employment are also shown. A large number of foreign-owned companies have told the Invest in Britain Bureau that ready access to European Community or other European markets has been one reason for choosing a United Kingdom location for a manufacturing project.

U.S.A.

Canada

Japan

Projects

Employment

Projects

Employment

Projects

Employment

North West121,1581915
Yorkshire and Humberside209882206
East Midlands6675210515
West Midlands6610
South West173,8021300
London and South East91,69418
Totals16625,388175,150144,351

* Estimates of associated employment are not known for every project.

Press And Public Relations Officers

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many press and public relations officers are currently employed in his Department; what is the total cost per annum; and what were the comparable figures for May 1979 and May 1980.

The number and cost of pay and national insurance contributions of information officer group staff in my Department's press office on these dates was as follows:

NumberCost £'000
May 1979763
May 1980782
November 1981678

Telephones

asked the Secretary of State for Industry when consumers will be able to buy privately-supplied telecommunications subscriber apparatus.

The Government's target is that independent arrangements for the approval of most kinds of attachment to the public switched telephone network (PSTN) will come into operation in July 1982.We are, however, taking steps to bring forward the benefits of liberalisation immediately. As of today suppliers can submit extension telephones for evaluation under arrangements for interim approvals prepared jointly by the Department of Industry and British Telecom. In the following week the same arrangements will apply to discrete modems.The Government have also released details of the overall liberalisation programme. Where competitive supply has not already been allowed by British Telecom it should be able to begin soon after July 1982, as the first independent approvals are given. These arrangements will be extended to other PSTN attachments over the following twelve months; independent approval of private automatic branch exchanges (PABXs) is expected to begin in July 1983.The corresponding target date for the approval of simple telex teleprinters is October 1982, and arrangements for other telex equipment are expected to take effect in the period from then to July 1983. Details are contained in a statement which has been placed in the Libraries of both Houses.In the light o f the importance that the Government attach to the successful implementation of this programme, I have asked my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Industry to supervise these arrangements.

Alarm Systems

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what information he has as to the number of private lines for alarm systems supplied by the Post Office or British Telecom which were in use in each year from 1978.

British Telecom, whose responsibility this is, tells me that the information is not available.

British Telecommunications

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what are the criteria upon which licences to carry messages and information on behalf of others, and in conformity with the provisions of the British Telecommunications Act 1981, have so far been granted.

Subject to the phasing provisions announced by my hon. Friend the Minister of State on 30 July, the criteria agreed with British Telecom are that in order to be licensed telecommunications services should add genuine additional value to the basic telecommunications network services by providing one or both of the following elements:

  • (a) a significant storage of information, apparent to the user of the service;
  • (b) processing of the information by the value added network services (VANS) operator, such that the output information clearly and significantly differs from the input information in format, protocol and content.
  • I understand that British Telecommunications will shortly be granting the first licenses under these criteria and the provisions of the British Telecommunications Act 1981.

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether IBM, Extel, Swift, Topic or Reuters have been licensed, under the provisions of the British Telecommunications Act 1981, to convey messages on behalf of others; how many other companies have been so licensed; and how many companies have been refused licences.

    Extel, Swift, Topic and Reuters already run telecommunications systems under licences granted by the Post Office, which remain valid under the British Telecommunications Act 1981. I am not aware that IBM has applied for a specific licence. No applications for licences under the provisions of the Act have yet been granted or refused. British Telecom expect to grant the first such licences shortly.

    Steel Imports

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is satisfied that imported steel invariably meets the specifications claimed; and what action is taken by his Department when it is clear that the imported steel is of an inferior quality.

    The quality of imported steel is a matter for the importer. The Department of Industry does not undertake quality testing.

    Tractor Imports

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he is prepared to offer any assistance to the British tractor-producing industry in view of unfair competition from other European Economic Community countries.

    I have received no evidence of unfair competition from other EC countries. United Kingdom tractor manufacturers are eligible for the full range of assistance that is offered to manufacturing industry generally. Similar schemes of assistance throughout the EC are subject to the approval of the Commission. If there is any evidence of a breach of EC rules, I should be happy to examine it.

    Intermediate Areas (Unemployment)

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry what is the average rate of unemployment in intermediate areas; and if he will list the unemployment rate in each of those areas.

    [pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1981]: In October the average rate of unemployment in intermediate areas on the proposed post-1982 boundaries was 14·3 per cent. and on current boundaries 12·5 per cent. The rates in individual travel-to-work areas which are currently intermediate areas were as follows:

    Unemployment rate per cent.
    Aberdeen6·8
    Aberystwyth12·1
    Accrington14·0
    Alfreton14·1
    Alnwick13·7
    Anstruther13·5
    Ashton-under-Lyne13·7
    Banff8·6
    Barmouth10·9
    Barnsley14·9
    Barnard Castle9·7
    Barnoldswick9·7
    Barnstaple10·2
    Berwick on Tweed10·5
    Bideford12·0
    Blackburn14·2
    Blackpool11·3
    Bolton15·5
    Bradford14·8
    Brecon9·0
    Bridlington17·2
    Buckie13·5
    Burnley11·6
    Bury13·4
    Buxton8·8
    Carlisle10·3
    Carmarthen6·7
    Castle Douglas12·8
    Castleford12·5
    Chester12·7
    Chesterfield12·8

    Unemployment rate per cent.

    Clitheroe4·8
    Crewe10·3
    Cupar10·0
    Darlington and SW Durham (Split DA/IA)13·9
    Dartmouth12·8
    Denbigh9·8
    Dewsbury13·8
    Doncaster16·3
    Driffield5·2
    Dumfries12·2
    Edinburgh10·8
    Elgin10·7
    Eyemouth11·8
    Filey9·0
    Forfar12·0
    Forres20·3
    Fraserburgh10·0
    Furness10·4
    Gainborough13·8
    Galashiels7·3
    Goole15·4
    Haddington9·1
    Halifax11·8
    Harrogate7·9
    Hawick8·5
    Hexham8·6
    Horncastle9·3
    Huddersfield12·4
    Huntley8·2
    Keighley13·0
    Kelso7·1
    Keswick9·0
    Kingsbridge13·6
    Kirkwall10·3
    Lancaster12·2
    Leeds11·6
    Leigh15·9
    Lerwick4·6
    Llandeilo14·2
    Llandrindod Wells11·3
    Llandudno11·7
    Llanelli (Split DA/IA)18·4
    Llangollen13·1
    Llanrwst12·5
    Louth9·6
    Mablethorpe20·5
    Macclesfield9·0
    Machynlleth11·5
    Maltby17·8
    Malton6·9
    Manchester12·9
    Monmouth15·2
    Montrose9·5
    Nairn15·9
    Nelson13·6
    Newton11·1
    Northallerton10·1
    Northwich15·9
    Nottingham (Split Non AA/IA)11·5
    Okehampton9·7
    Oldham and Chadderton15·3
    Ormskirk (Split SDA/IA)21·8
    Oswestry11·6
    Peebles5·8
    Penrith8·3
    Perth8·4
    Peterhead9·1
    Pickering6·7
    Pontypool (Split DA/IA)15·7
    Preston12·0
    Rawtenstall17·0
    Richmond12·9
    Ripon8·8
    Rochdale17·1
    St. Andrews8·8

    Unemployment rate per cent.

    Scarborough12·8
    Selby10·2
    Sheffield13·0
    Skegness16·1
    Skipton7·0
    Southport16·0
    Stirling13·8
    Sutton-in-Ashfield8·6
    Swansea (Split DA/IA)15·7
    Tenby21·3
    Thirsk7·8
    Todmorden12·7
    Torbay13·9
    Tywyn16·1
    Wakefield11·2
    Warrington14·3
    Welshpool11·2
    Whitby20·7
    Worksop11·4
    York7·5

    West Midlands Region

    asked the Secretary of State for Industry if it is his intention to take any measures to assist the West Midlands region in view of the growth of unemployment.

    [pursuant to his reply, 13 November 1981]: The Government are already taking measures, through their general economic strategy, to encourage a climate in which industry in the West Midlands and throughout the country can once again grow and prosper. Against this background, action by management and workers at all levels to increase productivity and competitiveness is crucial in leading to new and secure jobs in the region.

    Civil Service

    Press And Public Relations Officers

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service how many press and public relations officers are currently employed in her Department, what is the total cost per annum; and what were the comparable figures for May 1979 and May 1980.

    The number and cost of information officer group staff in the Civil Service Department's press offices (including the Prime Minister's Office) on these dates was as follows:

    NumberCost
    May 197910£115,000
    May 19808£117,000
    November 19818£129,000

    Environment

    Domestic Rates

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the average cash payments for general rates in respect of (a) a two-bedroomed flat and (b) a three-bedroomed house in the London borough of Greenwich when the present ceiling on rate rebate was fixed; what is the average current rate payment for the same property; and what steps he is taking to ensure that the ceiling keeps pace with rate rises.

    The average cash payment for general rates in respect of a 'typical' (purpose-built) two-bedroom flat in the London borough of Greenwich was estimated to be about £4·00 per week in 1980–81 when the existing maxima were set, and about £6·00 per week in 1981–82; for a three-bedroomed (semi-detached) house it was estimated to be about £4·50 per week in 1980–81 and about £6·75 per week in 1981–82. The average rate bill for all types of domestic property in Greenwich is currently estimated to be about £5·25 per week.As from 23 November 1981, the rate rebate maximum in London will be increased to £9·00 per week. The average domestic rate bill for London as a whole is currently about £6·80 per week. I am satisfied, therefore, that the increased ceiling for rate rebate entitlement will remain in step with average rate levels in London.

    Homeless Households

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to publish the latest figures of the number of homeless households accepted by local authorities in England under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977.

    The Department's press notice 429, giving the figures for the second half of 1980, was issued on 13 November 1981.

    Caravan Sites

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will seek to legislate to provide that private caravan sites may be used only by travelling people.

    No. The terms and conditions relating to the use of private caravan sites are a matter for district councils as licensing authorities in terms of section 3(3) of the Caravan Sites and Control of Development Act 1960.

    Cadmium

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, (1) if he will list in the Official Report the members of the working groups within his Department examining the use of cadmium.(2) when he expects the reports of the working groups examining the use of cadmium to be issued.(3) if he has any plans to change the regulations related to the use of cadmium in the electro-plating industry.

    My right hon. Friend hopes to receive the reports of the two working groups examining the uses of cadmium within the next six months. The membership of the groups is set out as follows. It would be premature to consider changes in regulations at present.

    Membership of Working Group on Cadmium Plating

    • Mr. B. Hopson, Department of Industry
    • Mr. J. Rainer, Confederation of British Industry
    • Dr. S. Wernick, Institute of Metal Finishers
    • Mr. E. C. Mantle, British Non-ferrous Metal Technology Centre
    • Mr. B. Brinkley, Department of Industry
    • Mr. S. Hiscock, The Cadmium Association
    • Dr. B. E. Prater, BSC Teeside Laboratories
    • Mr. B. Johnson, W. Canning Materials Ltd.
    • Dr. R. D. Thomson, AM & S Europe Ltd.
    • Mr. J. Arthurs, Department of the Environment
    • Mr. J. F. A. Thomas, Department of the Environment
    • Mr. K. D. Roberts, M. & T. Chemicals Ltd.
    • Dr. S. Cromwell, Department of Health and Social Security
    • Mr. V. Frooms, Department of Industry
    • Dr. D. Simms, Department of the Environment
    • Mr. I. Baillie, British Aerospace Aircraft Group
    • Dr. N. Firth, Welsh Office
    • Mr. A. Tope, Montgomery Plating Co. Ltd.
    • Dr. V. C. R. McLoughlin, Royal Aircraft Establishment
    • Dr. D. R. Crump, Department of the Environment

    Working Group on Uses of Cadmium Pigments and Stabilisers

    • Mr. B. Hopson, Department of Industry
    • Mr. J. Rainer, Confederation of British Industry
    • Mr. M. Webb, Reckitts Colours Ltd.
    • Mr. G. R. Streatfield, Blythe Colours
    • Mr. K. A. Alexander, J. M. Brown Ltd.
    • Dr. P. J. Donnelly, Diamond Shamrock Ltd.
    • Mr. J. Arthurs, Department of the Environment
    • Dr. D. R. Crump, Department of the Environment
    • Mr. D. R. Mahoney, Department of Industry
    • Mr. N. Robinson, Department of Industry
    • Mr. J. F. A. Thomas, Department of the Environment
    • Mr. V. Frooms, Department of Industry
    • Dr. D. L. Simms, Department of the Environment
    • Dr. S. Cromwell, Department of Health & Social Security
    • Dr. J. McGuiness, Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food
    • Mr. T. Humphries, Ferro (GB) Ltd.
    • Mr. S. Hiscock, The Cadmium Association
    • Mr. D. McK. Strang, British Plastic Federation
    • Mr. A. C. Breakey, Victor Wolf Ltd.
    • Mr. H. Clayton, BIP Ltd.
    • Mr. R. D. Haddick, Durham Chemicals Ltd.
    • Dr. D. W. F. James, British Ceramics Research Association
    • Mr. A. B. Davey, Rubber & Plastics Research Association
    • Dr. D. Plester, ICI Ltd.
    • Mr. A. McLachlan, Borg Warner Chemicals Ltd.

    It would be premature to consider changes in regulations at present.

    Third London Airport

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why he decided that his Department should not give oral evidence at the inquiry into a third London airport; and if he will reconsider his decision in order to allow the oral examination of witnesses representing his Department by counsel representing the North of England regional consortium.

    My right hon. Friend has made no such decision. It has already been made clear to the Stansted inquiry that, if the inspector were to consider that a witness from the Department of the Environment would be of material assistance, one would be provided.

    Leasehold

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will introduce legislation to amend section 2(3) of the Housing Act 1980 to enable tenants of local authorities to acquire the leasehold of their homes in cases where the local authority has acquired the head lease from the private sector and the tenants own the freehold.

    The Government have under consideration proposals for extending the right to buy to tenants whose landlord does not own the freehold of their homes. At present, ownership of the freehold gives the tenant no right to the intermediate interest held by the local authority; but the authority is free to sell that interest to the tenant if it chooses to do so.

    Right To Buy

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish for the Teesdale district council area how many local authority houses and North-East Housing Association houses have been sold and are in the process of being sold in each village; and what proportion these numbers represent of the total local authority and North-East Housing Association houses in each village.

    information is collected by the Department on sales of council dwellings, but only in respect of entire local authority areas. Complete figures for right-to-buy sales by housing associations will not be known until associations' annual returns for 1981–82 are available.

    Local Government Superannuation Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will reconsider his refusal to make regulations which would allow admission to the local government superannuation scheme to part-time staff on an optional basis.

    My right hon. Friend has stated that he will make a final decision about these regulations when the Government have decided what action should be taken in the light of the Scott report, which was published last February. Although we have made considerable progress in this direction, I cannot yet say when that stage is likely to be reached.

    Housing Investment Programme

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to his reply to the right hon. Member for Brent, East on 9 November, Official Report, c. 30, when he expects to make a decision on the methods to be used in determining the housing investment programme allocations for 1982–83.

    Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree