Skip to main content

Written Answers

Volume 13: debated on Thursday 26 November 1981

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

Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 26 November 1981

Trade

Estate Agents Act 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what progress has been made in implementing the Estate Agents Act 1979; and whether he will make a statement.

I recently made a commencement order to bring into operation on 3 May next sections 1 to 15, 18, 20, 21, 23 to 34 and 36 of, and schedules 1 and 2 to, the Act. I have also made regulations that will from the same date require the keeping and auditing of accounts relating to clients' money.

Eady Levy

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will make a statement on the proposed changes in the Eady levy system; which screens will be subject to the levy, and which exempted; and what is the anticipated annual yield from the levy.

I propose two changes. The first is the subject of draft regulations on the distribution of levy, which I laid before the House yesterday. The second is in the collection of levy, where I have accepted the new formula recommended by my advisory body, the Cinematograph Films Council, but subject to consultation with trade bodies.The recommended formula should exempt single screens from levy slightly more than the current formula and transfer some of the burden from single screens with low occupancy to complexes with higher occupancy. It is estimated that the annual yield expressed as a percentage of total cinema box office takings would be stabilised at around the current level of approximately 5 per cent., but that it will be collected on a more equitable basis.

Companies (Incorporation And Closure)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many new companies are now being incorporated monthly; how many are closing down; and what were the comparable statistics in 1980 and 1979.

Make-Up Kits (Importation)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will introduce legislation making the importation of make-up kits with high lead content illegal; and if he will make a statement.

Although there are no powers under existing consumer safety legislation to prevent the importation of unsafe goods, the Cosmetic Products Regulations 1978 prohibit the sale of cosmetic make-up kits containing lead. In my reply to a question from the hon. Member for Rotherham (Mr. Crowther) I explained that enforcement was a matter for local authorities many of whom, I understand, already have it in hand. I have alerted local authorities generally, and on 24 November issued a press notice to warn the general public.

"A National Strategy For Quality"

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what proposals he has to implement the consultative document "A National Strategy for Quality"

The Government have been developing three main lines aimed at improving the quality of British products: supplier assessment; testing and certification; and education and training. On supplier assessment, a register of assessed firms is under preparation and this will help to reduce unnecessary multiple assessements. On testing, the national laboratory accreditation scheme was launched by the Minister of State, Department of Industry in October. On certification, draft guidelines for Government recognition of certification bodies have been sent to 400 trade associations: they have been asked to comment by the end of November. On education and training, discussions are being held with professional institutions and educational establishments to improve arrangements for education, training and dissemination of information on quality matters.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what discussions he has had with the Institute of Quality Assurance and the British Quality Association following the publication of the document "A National Strategy for Quality".

Discussions have taken place with the Institute of Quality Assurance and the National Council of Quality and Reliability on the development of a focal point for national activities in the field of quality. Out of these has emerged the British Quality Association which came into existence in April this year. My Department is represented on the board of management of this new body.

Solicitor-General For Scotland

Victoria Hospital Nurses' Home (Fire)

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland when he expects the procurator fiscal to complete his inquiries into the causes of the recent fire at the nurses' home at the Victoria hospital, Kirkcaldy; whether the procurator fiscal will be taking oral and written evidence from anyone prepared and qualified to give it; and whether such evidence will be published, along with the rest of the report.

A full and comprehensive investigation into this tragedy is being carried out by the procurator fiscal at Kirkcaldy. As detailed and expert inquiries are still continuing, it is not possible at this stage to state accurately when the investigation will be completed. The indications are that matters will take several weeks to conclude. The investigation is being conducted with the assistance of the police. Much detailed and expert evidence has already been collected and numerous lay witnesses have been interviewed, but any person who feels he has information relevant to the matter and who has not already been interviewed by the police should communicate with them or with the procurator fiscal. The report of the procurator fiscal, when completed, will not be published as the procedure does not permit that, but it will be submitted to my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate, who will decide what procedure, including the possible holding of a fatal accident inquiry, will follow.

National Finance

Building Societies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will take steps to require that in section A of form AR 11 (annual return), a return made under part VIII of the Building Societies Act 1962, the trading name of the company to which a special advance has been made shall be shown in addition to the register number of the company.

The annual return form AR 11, which is required to be sent to the Chief Registrar of Friendly Societies, is primarily a control document to assist him in carrying out his duties of prudential supervision of building societies. The chief registrar does not regard the inclusion of a company's trading name as well as its register number to be necessary to enable him to carry out his duties in this regard. Thus, in common with the regulations they supersede, the Building Societies (Accounts and Annual Return) Regulations 1981, which were laid before Parliament on 4 November last and come into operation on 31 December 1981, do not require that information to be given.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether steps are taken by the Registrar of Friendly Societies to ensure that building society returns show the extent to which advances are made to companies or other bodies corporate when a building society director held, either directly or through a nominee, shares in the company or other body corporate concerned or where the building society director of a company or other body corporate was a director.

Section 89 of the Building Societies Act 1962 requires that the annual return of a building society shall show, inter alia: the amount of any advances made by the society to a company or other body corporate in which a director of the society holds—either directly or through a nominee—shares the nominal value of which exceeds 2½ per cent. of the total paid-up share capital of the company or other body corporate; and also the amount of any advances made by the society to a company or other body corporate of which a director of the society is a director. In the new Building Societies (Accounts and Annual Return) Regulations 1981 (SI 1981 No. 1497), due to come into operation on 31 December this year, these requirements are contained in section B of part 9 of the annual return form. While these provisions require disclosure of such advances in the year in which they were made, section C of part 9 further requires disclosure of the amounts outstanding on such advances in subsequent years.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what steps are taken to ensure that directors of building societies declare an interest at board meetings which discuss the question of advances to companies in which they have an interest directly or indirectly.

This matter is governed by two provisions of the Building Societies Act 1962. In the first place, section 73 puts a general duty on a director of a building society who is in any way, whether directly or indirectly, interested in a contract or proposed contract with the society to declare the nature of his interest to the board. In the second place, pursuant to the society's obligation of disclosure in the annual return referred to in my reply to the hon. Member's preceding question, a director of the society has a specific duty, under section 89(2) of the Act, to give notice in writing to the society of such matters relating to his employment by, or other interest in, any company or other body corporate as may be necessary for the purpose of the society's obligation of disclosure. Failure by a director to comply with either of the duties mentioned is an offence.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether, as part of normal inspection and monitoring procedures, officials of the registry examine minutes of building society boards of directors.

Yes. As part of the continuing prudential supervision of building societies, officials of the Registry of Friendly Societies make regular visits to societies during which, as a matter of regular practice, board minutes are examined.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether the particulars required under part 8, section B of form AR11 (annual return) under the Building Societies Act 1962 extend to information concerning professional partnerships.

In the new Building Societies (Accounts and Annual Return) Regulations 1981, S.I. 1981 No. 1497, the particulars which I understand the hon. Member has in mind—advances to directors, and so on—are required to be stated in section B of Part 9 of the annual return form. In accordance with section 89 of the Building Societies Act 1962, this requires disclosure of, inter alia, advances made by the society to any director or the manager or secretary of the society. Any advance to a partnership in which such person is a partner would be treated, for the purpose of this requirement, as an advance to the director or manager or secretary personally.

Motor Vehicle Imports

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many requests have been made in the last year from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise for Booklet 120, "Importation of Private Motor-vehicles", and for the related form C384.

The numbers of Customs and Excise notice No. 120 and of form C384 issued from stock in the last year were 13,990 and 14,090 respectively. It is not possible to state how many of these were issued on request.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether form C384 relating to import of motor vehicles is available on request from Her Majesty's Customs and Excise.

Income Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the average individual payment of income tax in 1978–79 and in 1980–81.

The information is as follows:

Average income tax per "tax unit" paying tax (married couples counted as one) £Average income tax per taxpayer (Taxpayer wives counted separately) £
1978–79930770
1980–811,2801,060

Money Supply (Definition)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how he defines money supply; how long the Treasury has adhered to that definition for purposes of monetary management; and whether he expects to change the definition.

Treasury (Manpower)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many people are currently employed in the Treasury; how many of these are first division civil servants; and, of these, how many have any personal experience of industry, commerce or banking.

At 1 November 1981, 1,009 people were employed in the Treasury. Of these 195 were in the grades of principal up to permanent secretary—or professional equivalents—of whom 38 have had personal experience of industry commerce or banking. In addition, 16 Treasury staff are at present gaining such experience.

Public Sector Borrowing Requirement (Public Expenditure)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report the current Treasury rules as to which items of public expenditure, current and capital, and of public guarantees, appear in the public sector borrowing requirement.

National Economic Development Council

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether at his next meeting with the National Economic Development Council chairmen he will be addressing them on the subject of quality assurance; and if he will make a statement.

Oil (Revenue Yield)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total Government revenue yield from oil; and what is the breakdown of this figure into petroleum revenue tax, corporation tax, royalties and supplementary petroleum duty on oil companies, petrol duty, value added tax and other relevant tax elements for each of the past five years and the projected amount for the current year.

Total Revenue

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by how much total revenue is increased for each percentage point rise in the rate of inflation above the forecast in the last public expenditure White Paper—Cmnd. 8175.

Income Tax Liabilities

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, for the convenience of hon. Members, he will place in the Library a list of the changes already announced in respect of income tax liabilities and the administrative changes coming into force in April 1982 and April 1983.

Taxpayers (Statistics)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) if he will list the number of surtax payers or higher-rate taxpayers for each year since 1945; and if he will also present this data as a percentage of all taxpayers;(2) if he will list the number of higher-rate taxpayers for each year since 1978–79.

Inland Revenue Statistics

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will update table 1.2 of Inland Revenue Statistics 1980.

Capital Gains Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list the amount of revenue gained from capital gains tax for each year since its inception; and if he will present these data (a) in real terms and (b) as a percentage of total Government revenue.

Capital Transfer Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the revenue gained from capital transfer tax for each year since its inception (a) in real terms and (b) as a percentage of total Government revenue.

Small Units (Tax Allowances)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide further tax allowances for the conversion of former woollen textile mills to small units and to provide some flexible scale of allowances to enable developers to take into account both the structure of such buildings and the needs of small firms.

The small workshops allowance introduced in 1980 already provides an initial allowance of 100 per cent. for the capital cost of converting existing buildings for use as small industrial workshops with a gross internal floor area not exceeding 2,500 sq ft. The allowance applies for a period of three years—that is until 27 March 1983. Publication of the Government's forthcoming Green Paper on corporation tax will provide an opportunity to consider the scope of the capital allowances system generally.

Construction Industry (Group Of Eight)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he intends to meet the Group of Eight representatives of the construction industry who approached him at the end of September.

Private Health Sector

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will introduce proposals for increasing taxation on the private health sector.

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.

[pursuant to his reply, 16 November 1981, c. 2): I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 19 November 1981.

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.

[pursuant to his reply, 16 November 1981, c. 3]: I refer the hon. Member to the reply given on 19 November.Comments on the consultative documents were received from 29 representative bodies and 31 individual firms. No comments were received from any resident of the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

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 that would have been paid by them had they been ordinarily resident in the United Kingdom.

[pursuant to his reply, 16 November 1981, c. 3]: No. Such a provision would be arbitrary and unworkable.

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.

[pursuant to his reply, 16 November 1981, c. 3]: The practice to which the hon. Member refers does not result in the loss of any United Kingdom tax.

Oil And Gas (Tax Revenue)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the total tax revenue received from United Kingdom oil and gas production field by field at the latest available date.

[pursuant to his reply, 25 November 1981, c. 375]: I cannot comment on the tax position of individual taxpayers. The total tax take—including royalties—from North Sea oil and gas production up to 31 March 1981 was £7.2 billion.

Overseas Development

Cultural Property (Conservation And Restoration)

asked the Lord Privy Seal, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton North-East on 11 March, Official Report, column 321,if he will now reconsider his decision to withdraw from the International Centre for Conservation and Restoration of Cultural Property.

The decision has been reconsidered and a reply to the report by the Select Committee on Education, Science and Arts, setting out the Government's position on membership of the International Centre for the Study of the Preservation and Restoration of Cultural Property, will be published shortly.

House Of Commons

Charles Barker Watney And Powell

asked the Lord President of the Council what was the annual charge made in 1980 to Charles Barker Watney and Powell for the provision of House papers.

Between October 1979 and September 1980—the nearest annual period for which figures are readily available—Charles Barker Watney and Powell purchased papers from the Sale Office to the value of £16,181. It is not possible to differentiate between the papers of the two Houses.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Ice Plant (Amble)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now give grant aid to the Warkworth harbour commissioners in respect of works carried out on the fish quay at Amble and to the Amble fishermen in respect of an ice plant.

As the hon. Member knows, the decision on grant aid towards the fish quay and ice plant works at Amble harbour cannot be made until there is an acceptable commitment to the repair of the protecting north pier breakwater. I understand that the Department of the Environment is currently considering an application from Alnwick district council for assistance towards a major repair scheme for the breakwater.

Forestry Commission

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list by name and location the areas of Forestry Commission woodland where restrictions on public access have been imposed during the last two years.

Restrictions of this kind are imposed only in the circumstances which are set out in the reply which I gave to the hon. Member on 25 November. It is unlikely that there have been many such cases during the past two years but precise information is not held centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Energy

Electricity

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the current excess capacity of electricity generating plant in the United Kingdom; which stations and with what capacity (a) have been closed in 1981 and (b) will be closed in 1981 and are planned to close in 1982; and how many new power stations will generate electricity during 1982 and of which type, nuclear or coal.

I am advised by the CEGB that approximately 4,200 MW of its plant is expected to be surplus to operating requirements during the 1981–82 winter period and is not being kept at full operational readiness; this includes some 3,100 MW of plant proposed for decommissioning in October 1982. I am asking the chairman of the CEGB to write to the hon. Member about the closure of power stations and new power stations coming into operation.Electricity supply and power stations in Scotland and Northern Ireland are matters for my right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland and for Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister

Engagements

Q5.

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

Q6.

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

Q7.

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

Q8.

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

Q10.

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

Q11.

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

Q12.

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

Q13.

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

Q14.

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

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her public engagements for 26 November.

Q16.

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

Q17.

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

Q18.

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

Q19.

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

Q20.

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

Q22.

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

Q23.

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

Q24.

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

Q25.

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

Q26.

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

Q27.

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

Q28.

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

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 26 November 1981.

Q32.

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

Q33.

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

Q34.

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

Q35.

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

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for Thursday 26 November.

Q37.

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

Q38.

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

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for Thursday 26 November.

Q40.

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

Q41.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 26 November.

Q43.

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

Q44.

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

Q45.

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

Q46.

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

Q47.

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

Q48.

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

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

I have been asked to reply.This morning my right hon. Friend presided at a meeting of the Cabinet. This afternoon she is chairing the meeting of the European Council at Lancaster House.

Trades Union Congress

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister when last she met the leaders of the Trades Union Congress.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister met the TUC general secretary yesterday.

Supplementary Benefit

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if she will increase the level of supplementary benefit paid to the long-term unemployed.

I have been asked to reply.As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said to the hon. Member in July of this year—[Vol. 8, c. 73]—we have every sympathy with the problems faced by those who have been unemployed for a long time. With effect from 23 November, unemployed men of 60 or over who have been receiving supplementary benefit for a year or more and decide not to register for work have become eligible for the long-term rate of supplementary benefit. Before we can consider any further extension of entitlement to the long term rate to unemployed people, we must make progress in restoring the nation's economy and thus increasing opportunities for employment.

President Reagan

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister when she next expects to meet the President of the United States of America.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Persons On Remand

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister what steps she proposes to take to reduce the number of persons held in custody on remand and the length of time they await in prison before trial.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister will continue to offer my noble and learned Friend the Lord Chancellor and me every encouragement in our pursuit of ways to expedite criminal trials so as to reduce both the number of remand prisoners and the time spent in custody awaiting trial.

Middle East

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister when she next expects to visit the Middle East.

I have been asked to reply.My right hon. Friend has at present no plans to do so.

Minister Of State, Home Office

asked the Prime Minister whether she will dismiss the Minister of State, Home Office, the hon. Member for Aylesbury (Mr. Raison).

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply which I gave to the hon. Member for Cannock (Mr. Roberts) on 17 November.

Job Training (Departmental Responsibility)

asked the Prime Minister whether she is satisfied with administrative co-operation between the Departments of Education and Science and Employment in respect of their responsibilities relating to training for jobs.

Sinai Peacekeeping Force

asked the Prime Minister whether the public remarks made by the Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary at a press briefing for Arab journalists based in London on 2 November, in which he said that he could not agree with all eight points of the Fahd plan and that the United Kingdom could take a small part in the proposed Sinai peacekeeping force, represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Yes. We have welcomed Crown Prince Fahd's eight principles as a positive contribution to the search for peace in the Middle East and agree with President Reagan that they can be a beginning point for negotiations. Nevertheless, some of the principles cover areas which we believe are best left for negotiations between the parties concerned.On our participation in the Sinai peacekeeping force, I refer my hon. Friend to the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Lord Privy Seal on 23 November.

Palestine Liberation Organisation

asked the Prime Minister whether the official text of her press conference in Kuwait on 27 September has been circulated to all Her Majesty's ambassadors in Middle Eastern and European countries as the official statement of the policy of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom regarding the Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Appropriate extracts from my press conference in Kuwait were circulated to all Middle East and European Community posts on 27 September.

Home Department

Citizenship

17.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present average length of time taken to determine applications for United Kingdom citizenship.

The current average time taken to determine an application for registration is 12 months for an entitlement case and 2 years 4 months for a case where registration is at discretion. The average time taken to determine an application for naturalisation is 1 year 8 months.

Immigration

18.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if it is still the policy of Her Majesty's Government to introduce a register of eligible dependants of immigrants entitled to settle in the United Kingdom.

It remains our intention to assess more accurately the scale of potential immigration for settlement. We are examining ways of doing this.

Policing Policy

19.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any proposals to ensure that policing policy and practice in London is made more responsive to the needs of local communities.

I refer the hon. Member to the statement I made yesterday on Lord Scarman's report of his inquiry into the Brixton disorders.

Riots (Damage Claims)

20.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what claims he has received from police authorities for grant towards cost of damage due to riots.

The settlement of claims for riots damage is a matter for the local authorities themselves. Guidance about the submission of claims for the special grant offered by central Government is being prepared in consultation with the local authority associations and will be issued shortly.

Prisons (Construction)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress he is making in the programme for building new prisons.

A start has been made this year on a new cellular prison at Wayland, Norfolk; the construction of young offender establishments at Stocken, Leicestershire and Appleton Thorn, Cheshire, are due to start in the first half of 1982. Work on a new category B dispersal prison at Full Sutton, Humberside, will begin in 1982, and two category B non-dispersal prisons at Garth in Lancashire and Swaleside in Kent are due to start in 1984. In addition, design work on two prisons at Bovingdon, Hertfordshire, and Lockwood, Oxfordshire, is in progress, and feasibility studies are being carried out for a new prison for women at Featherstone, West Midlands and at Woolwich in the London borough of Greenwich.

Metropolitan Police Force

22.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any proposals for increasing the strength of the Metropolitan Police Force.

The strength of the Metropolitan Police continues to grow at an encouraging rate. On 31 October, the force strength was 24,939, the highest it has ever been, but it is still 6½ per cent. short of establishment.

Short, Sharp Shock Sentences

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many individuals have been sentenced to a "short, sharp shock" since the sentence was established.

As at 16 November, about 2,650 young offenders ordered to be detained in a detention centre had gone to centres operating the tougher regimes pilot project.

Prisons (Overcrowding)

24.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he intends to take to deal with the present overcrowding in Her Majesty's prisons.

We are proceeding with a major programme of prison building and modernisation, and we shall shortly publish our legislative proposals and a reply to the recent report by the Select Committee on Home Affairs.

West Yorkshire Police Authority (Byford Report)

25.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he plans any meetings with the West Yorkshire police authority in connection with the Byford report.

My noble Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State will be in touch with the West Yorkshire metropolitan police authority when the report has been received and considered.

Obscene Publications

26.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if his Department supplies to chief constables the names of magazines which it considers to be obscene.

Gartree Prison

27.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects Her Majesty's prison, Gartree, to return to full use.

A third wing was opened on 23 November, and the prison should return to full use when the fourth wing is ready for occupation in about 12 months' time.

Boundary Commissions (Reports)

28.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Goole on 11 November, Official Report, c. 84, whether he has made any proposals to the English and Welsh Parliamentary Boundary Commissions about the timing of the reports on their current general reviews.

Television Licence Fee

29.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate the number of pensioners living alone who pay the television licence fee.

About 2·7 million; there are a further 1·8 million households of two people, both of whom are pensioners.

31.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if, before agreeing to any proposal for increasing the level of the broadcasting licence fee, he will satisfy himself as to the contribution to the BBC's costs made by its levels of manpower efficiency.

The responsibility for the way the BBC uses its resources, including manpower, lies with the board of governors, which is fully aware of the importance of efficiency. In considering the BBC's application for an increase in the television licence fees, my right hon. Friend has regard both to the needs of the corporation and to what is fair to licence fee payers; in this context the corporation's efficiency is one of the factors which he has to take into account.

42.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has had any recent discussions with the British Broadcasting Corporation about increases in the licence fee.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given today to a question by the hon. Member for Bolsover (Mr. Skinner).

Broadcasting Wavelengths

30.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he is preparing for the next allocation of broadcasting wavelengths; and whether he will make a statement.

The next major international frequency planning conference of interest to broadcasting in the United Kingdom is a two-part conference on vhf sound broadcasting. The first part, which will take place next summer, will be concerned with the engineering aspects of planning. Frequencies will be assigned in the second session in late 1984. My right hon. Friend's intention would be to publish proposals for that session nearer the time.

Police (Complaints)

32.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consult interested organisations on possible improvements to the procedure for complaints against the police.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps he proposes to take following the decision of the Police Federation to favour independent public inquiries into complaints against the police.

I refer the hon. Members to my reply to questions on this subject earlier today.

Prisons

33.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give an estimate of the current expenditure necessary to renovate the prisons of Great Britain to 1981 standards for the present prison population.

A very rough estimate of the cost of modernising the existing Victorian prisons and old war-time camps, including the ending of cell sharing in England and Wales, is of the order of at least £1,000 million spread over, say, the next 25 years.

46.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any proposals in being to bring the conditions in prisons under his jurisdiction up to the standard of the "H" blocks in Northern Ireland.

Comprehensive proposals have been drawn up, within available resources, to improve conditions in prisons over a period of years by enhanced maintenance and a building programme of new prisons.

British Nationality Act

34.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review grants made to voluntary agencies which advise the public on the implications of the British Nationality Act.

No. Advice on nationality legislation is available from this Department, which does not make a grant to any voluntary organisations specifically for this purpose.

Anti-Racial Legislation

35.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce legislation to provide for the strengthening of the law against the incitement of racial hatred so as to provide for selective banning of marches and demonstrations designed to stimulate such hatred.

My right hon. Friend is considering whether there is need for those provisions in his review of the Public Order Act 1936 and related legislation.

Elections (Voting Rights)

36.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has any plan to allow United Kingdom citizens living or visiting abroad the right to vote in United Kingdom elections; and whether he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend will make a statement in due course about this and the other matters which he has been considering in his review of electoral law and procedures.

Citizens Band Radio

38.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will review the arrangements with regard to the licensing of citizens band radio in the light of the representations he has received.

The authorised CB service was introduced on 2 November and my right hon. Friend has no plans to change the licensing arrangements.

45.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what discussions he has had with chief constables about citizens band radio since the recent changes in the law.

Racial Equality

39.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how the Government will seek to ensure that all individuals, whatever their race, colour or creed, have equal rights, responsibilities and opportunities, as outlined in the Gracious Speech.

We shall continue to pursue policies designed to eliminate racial discrimination and combat racial disadvantage. My right hon. Friend has already indicated the lines of action he intends to pursue in relation to the report of the Home Office study of racial attacks and Lord Scarman's report on the Brixton disturbances. We are now considering the reports of the Home Affairs Committee on racial disadvantage and the law on public order, and hope to publish our responses to these reports shortly. We also look forward to receiving the Committee's forthcoming report on the operation and effectiveness of the Commission for Racial Equality.

Civil Disturbances (Serious Offences)

40.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of serious offences arising during the summer riots have yet to be finally disposed of by the courts.

Laurence Scott And Electromotors Ltd (Helicopters)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Greater Manchester on whether officers of his force were informed in advance that helicopters would be used to remove items from the premises of Laurence Scott and Electromotors Ltd., Openshaw; whether additional police were brought into the area shortly before the removal of the items; and how many officers and for what purpose.

The chief constable has informed me that the police had advance notice of the operation but were not in any way involved in its planning. The deployment of his officers is, of course, an operational matter for him. A greater number of officers than had usually been required at the premises were present outside to maintain the peace and to prevent criminal offences. There were 100 officers present, including eight mounted officers.

Anti-Racist Police Squads

44.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East on 21 October, if he will give consideration to the establishment of special anti-racist police squads.

: As my right hon. Friend said in the foreword to the report of the study of racial attacks carried out by officials, he is not persuaded in the light of their enquiries that it would be right to set up specialised police units to deal specifically with racial attacks. My right hon. Friend prefers to leave it to the judgment of chief constables to deploy their officers in the way best calculated to instil an appreciation of the problem throughout the force, and not merely within a small specialised unit.

Criminal Justice Bill (Sleeping Rough)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will introduce provisions in his forthcoming Criminal Justice Bill to repeal the offence of sleeping rough under the Vagrancy Acts 1824 to 1935.

No. The Select Committee on Home Affairs recommended in its Third Report, session 1980–81, H.C.271, that the offence should be retained, at least for the time being. The Government, in their reply to the report, said that they accepted this recommendation.

Television Licence (Physically And Mentally Handicapped Persons)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will consider extending the rule whereby all television sets in old people's homes may be run under one television licence to homes for the physically and mentally handicapped, in view of 1981 having been designated the International Year of Disabled People.

No. The special licence for residents in old persons' homes was introduced to correct an anomaly in the licensing of homes for retirement pensioners and was not intended as a welfare concession.

Satellite Broadcasts

49.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether the Government support recommendation 926 (1981) of the European Assembly proposing that a Council of Europe convention, or a recommendation to member States, be elaborated to regulate cable television and direct television broadcasts by satellites.

The recommendation is currently before the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe, which has sent it for information to the steering committee on the mass media, which is studying the issues raised by cable and direct broadcasting by satellite, and proposes shortly to consider it further in the light of the steering committee's preliminary deliberations. Meanwhile the government have not formed a definitive view on the recommendation.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is satisfied that United Kingdom legislation is compatible with the principles mentioned in recommendation 926 (1981) of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe.

As indicated in the answer given today to another question from my hon. Friend on this subject, the Government have not yet formed a definitive view on this recommendation.

West Yorkshire Police

50.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether any applications have been received from within the West Yorkshire police force to fill senior posts in that force; and whether he is prepared to accept for appointments officers from within the West Yorkshire force.

51.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what nominations he has received of police officers within the West Yorkshire force to fill the vacant post of assistant chief constable; and what action he has taken.

The appointment of senior officers in the West Yorkshire force is a matter for the police authority, subject to my approval under the Police Act 1964. I exercise my satutory function through well established consultation procedures which enable the police authority to know, before it prepares a short list, of any applicants whom I would not be prepared to approve.

Merseyside Community Relations Council

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has any plans to visit Liverpool to meet the Merseyside community relations council

Motor Accident, Park Lane

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made concerning the investigation into the motor accident between a Peugeot estate and an unmarked armoured police Jaguar car in Park Lane, London, on 8 July.

Marches And Processions

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many marches or processions have been banned in England and Wales in the last 12 months; and how this compares with each of the preceding 10 years.

In England and Wales there have been 39 orders prohibiting processions under section 3(2) or section 3(3) of the Public Order Act 1936 since 25 November 1980. The numbers for previous periods of 12 months since 26 November 1970 in which orders were made are: 6 (1979–80); 3 (1977–78); 1 (1976–77); and 3 (1973–74). The numbers of processions affected by orders are not recorded.

Industry

Loan Guarantee Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he has analysed by size those firms applying under the loan guarantee scheme; and if he will publish the results.

The scheme is being operated from the Department's point of view with very limited resources and I do not think that a detailed examination of the size of firms applying under the scheme would be justified at present. The limit of £75,000 on guaranteed loans is favourable to smaller firms, however, and to date just over half of the loans issued have gone to new firms which are almost certainly all very small.

Assisted Area Status

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will list in comprehensive form the criteria which govern his Department's decisions on the different levels of assisted area status.

The criteria which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry is required to take into account when designating development areas and intermediate areas are laid down in section 1(2) and (3) of the Local Employment Act 1972, as amended by section 13(1) of the Industry Act 1972. The criteria in respect of special development areas are laid down in section 1(4) of the Industry Act 1972.

European Community (Regional Policy)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, in the light of the first periodic report on the social and economic situation of the regions of the Community, (CON)(80) (816 Final), what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government towards the proposal that Yorkshire, Humberside and the South-West should be excluded from the regions eligible for assistance from the European regional development fund.

The European Commission's proposal would exclude these regions only from assistance from the quota section of the fund; they would remain eligible for aid from the non-quota section, which the Commission has proposed should be enlarged.The proposal is unwelcome, and we shall wish to explore the justification for it in the forthcoming multilateral discussions.

Non-Assisted Areas (Review)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Edinburgh, East on November 18, when the special review of areas due to be non-assisted on 1 August 1982, having been downgraded by more than one step, will take place; and when the results will be announced.

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Industry will be carrying out the special review to which the hon. Member refers in the early months of next year and he hopes to announce the results of the review in the spring.

Barnsley

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how many jobs have been created in the Barnsley travel-to-work area since May 1979; and how many have received Industry Act financial assistance.

There is no reliable information later than that contained in the June 1978 census of employment concerning employment in local areas such as the Barnsley travel-to-work area and hence no reliable estimate of the number of jobs created.Between May 1979 and September 1981 12 offers of assistance under section 7 of the Industry Act 1972 were made to firms within the Barnsley TTWA. These offers were associated with projects estimated to safeguard 2,669 jobs and to create 691 new jobs. Eleven offers of assistance under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 have also been made, but there is no estimate of the number of jobs with which these are associated.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list the names of firms that have closed down in the Barnsley travel-to-work area, and the number of jobs that have been lost as a result of these closures since May 1979.

There are no comprehensive statistics of closures. Twelve closures making 10 or more employees redundant were reported to the Manpower Services Commission as due to occur in the Barnsley travel-to-work area between May 1979 and October 1981. 814 employees were to be made redundant as a result of those closures. These figures include provisional information for September and October. The MSC record is not complete, since jobs are lost when closures occur other than through direct redundancy and since the record does not cover redundancies involving fewer than 10 employees.The information is often provided in confidence, so that the identity of the firms cannot be disclosed.

British Leyland (Tractor Interests)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will make a statement on the sale of the tractor interests of British Leyland; which companies have made offers for purchase of any part of those interests; what experience these companies have had in the motor industry; whether the management of these companies have had relevant experience; and, if so, with which company.

BL has made the decision to sell its tractor interests, and a purchaser has been identified, on a commercial basis, and it would not be appropriate for the Government to be involved. It is not for the Government to comment on the experience of companies or their management in any particular field.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what has been the total public investment in the tractor manufacturing interests of British Leyland over the past four years; if he will list the improvements that have been made in each tractor factory as a result of this investment; whether there are any arrangements for this investment to be repaid in any form; and whether, following the sale of those interests, it will be the responsibility of British Leyland to repay that investment or whether it will be the responsibility of the purchasers.

Government funding of BL is provided for the company's investment and restructuring programmes generally. Details of other public investment in BL tractor production—for example, by way of regional development grants—are not available except at disproportionate cost. It is for the company to reveal the amount of investment in any particular activity, and the improvements which this has provided.The Government funds BL by way of equity and, as with any form of equity participation, by the public or private sector, repayment comes in the form of the sale of the shares or dividend payment. Repayment of Government investment is therefore only feasible when BL returns to profitability. The Government expect BL to reinvest in its business the proceeds from disposals.

Woollen Textiles

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will introduce special measures to counter the decline in woollen textiles; and if he will make provision for assisted area status for those areas especially affected.

The wool textile industry has already received substantial aid under the temporary short time working compensation scheme and two specific sectoral schemes under the Industry Act. I have no plans to introduce any further schemes specifically for the industry.As far as assisted area status is concerned, my right hon. Friend is required to take account of the criteria laid down in sections 1(4) and 13(1) of the Industry Act 1972, but, as the Government have repeatedly made clear, they are always ready to consider new evidence of significant long term change in an area's circumstances relative to the rest of the country.

Co-Operative Ventures

asked the Secretary of State for Industry if he will list in the Official Report the assistance available for co-operative ventures; and if he will introduce legislation to provide for grant aid for co-operative manufacturing enterprises.

Co-operatives are, of course, entitled to whatever assistance is available to other forms of business, such as the loan guarantee scheme.We have no plans at present to introduce legislation to provide grant aid for co-operatives.The Government have agreed to provide a further £600,000 for the Co-operative Development Agency, but there are no other specific Government schemes of assistance for co-operative enterprises.

Employment

Printing Industry

asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether he has received assurances from employers in the printing industry that they will self-impose a voluntary levy for the purposes of funding an industrial training board for the printing industry.

I have received proposals from a number of employer organisations in the printing and publishing industries for organising training on a voluntary basis. These include proposals for raising money to pay for the voluntary arrangements.

Wolverhampon (Male Unemployment)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what effect he estimates that the closure of Guy Motors, Wolverhampton, will have on the male unemployment rate in Wolverhampton.

I understand that Guy Motors plant will close in 1982, but it is not possible to give any realistic estimate of the number of men currently employed there who will subsequently register as unemployed in the Wolverhampton travel-to-work area.All the facilities of the Manpower Services Commission will of course be made available to the workers affected to help them find new jobs or to train for fresh employment.

Barnsley (Unemployment Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons were unemployed at May 1979 in the Barnsley travel-to-work area, specifying male and female unemployed; and if he will give the similar figures for May 1980 and May 1981 and the most recent figures to date.

The following is the information. The figures include school leavers and are not seasonally adjusted.

MaleFemaleTotal
May 19793,6921,4765,168
May 19804,1351,9236,058
May 19817,1323,00510,137
November 1981*8,1483,72411,872
* Provisional.

Keighley

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many small firms benefited from the small firms employment subsidy in the Keighley travel-to-work area; and how many jobs were supported.

Seventy firms within the area covered by the Keighley employment office were approved for payment of small firms employment subsidy. Up to February 1981, when final payments were being made under the scheme, 755 jobs had been supported.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what action the Government are taking to reduce the level of unemployment in the Keighley travel-to-work area; and if he will make a statement.

A reduction in unemployment in Keighley, as in the country as a whole, will depend primarily on the ability of firms to produce goods and services which people in this country and abroad want to buy and at prices they are prepared to pay. The Government's policies are aimed at reducing inflation and developing a sound and competitive economy which will help such firms to create the jobs we all want to see.Meanwhile, Keighley will continue to benefit from the Government's programme of special employment measures. At present over 500 jobs are being protected through the temporary short time working compensation scheme in the area, and since 1 April 1981 nearly 1,500 young people have entered the youth opportunities programme in the Bradford local authority area.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what has been the percentage increase in unemployment in the Keighley travel-to-work area since May 1979 to the most recent practicable date.

Between May 1979 and November 1981 the numbers registered as unemployed in the Keighley employment office area increased by 182·5 per cent. The figures on which the increase is based include school leavers and are not seasonally adjusted.