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Written Answers

Volume 20: debated on Tuesday 16 March 1982

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 16 March 1982

Trade

Food Imports

asked the Secretary of State for Trade whether he will publish in the Official Report a table

United Kingdom Imports of Sweet Fresh Oranges, 1980
(Value, £ thousand cif)
Imported duty-freeImported at preferential duty rateImported at full duty rate
Duty period:
April7077,2090
1 to 15 May9424,620446
16 May to 15 October2,6086,59319,772
1 January to 31 March, 16 October to 31 December95326,58321

Source:

Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, SITC (R2) 057.11 (part).

Note:

(a) Values have been allocated on the basis of tariff rates currently in force.

(b) 0 signifies trade less than £500 in value.

Pre-Contract Delays

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what steps he intends to take in respect of the recommendations on pre-contract delays in civil engineering made to him by the Construction Industry Research Information Association.

British Airways (Manpower)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many (a) management, (b) engineers and (c) ramp workers are employed by British Airways.

It is not easy to define unambiguously these groups of staff. British Airways estimate that on a reasonable definition it employs 1,058 management staff, 11,305 engineering staff and 6,941 ramp staff.

Industrial Delegations (Subsidy)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade, in view of the disadvantages to British manufacturers likely to ensue from the proposal to end Government subsidy for delegates from industry attending meetings abroad for the setting of international standards, if he will reconsider this proposal.

The British Overseas Trade Board provides a travel fund for certain delegates to international standards meetings, but has decided to end the scheme in March 1983. That decision, which was announced by the then Secretary of State in April 1980, did not imply any doubt about the importance of international standards

showing imports of oranges in 1980 during each duty period from (a) dutiable sources at the full rate, (b) dutiable sources at the reduced rate, and (c) duty free sources.

The information is as follows:work, but, owing to other heavy claims more directly related to export promotion, BOTB funds were no longer available.However, in view of the representations made by industry and the importance my Department attaches to international standardisation, I am looking at other possibilities of providing some alternative financial help.

Estate Agents Act 1979

asked the Secretary of State for Trade what professional bodies have been consulted by the Office of Fair Trading in connection with the drafting of public guidance on the coming into force in May 1982 of the Estate Agents Act 1979; what was the period within which those professional bodies were asked to comment; whether the Office of Fair Trading intends, as a result of those comments, to make any changes in the guidance it proposes to publish; and if he will place in the Library a copy of the draft text and a note of any changes it is intended to make as a result of comments.

This is a matter for the Director General of Fair Trading, and I will ask him to write to my hon. Friend.

Polychlorinated Biphenyl

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how much polychlorinated biphenyl has been imported into the United Kingdom.

I regret that reliable information is not available. Polychlorinated biphenyls are not separately distinguished in the Overseas Trade Statistics of the United Kingdom, nor is there any means of identifying imports incorporated in electrical or other appliances.

Electrical Plugs And Fuses

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will take steps to prevent the importation of inferior quality electrical plugs and fuses into the United Kingdom; and to ensure that the British Standards specification is being maintained in the field of electrical plugs and fuses; and if he will make a statement.

I assume that the hon. Member is concerned lest imported plugs and fuses not meeting the requirements of British standards might be dangerous. Plugs and fuses, imported or domestically manufactured, must satisfy the provisions of the Electrical Equipment (Safety) Regulations 1975 and 1976. Although it can be assumed that products complying with relevant British standards would satisfy the regulations, compliance is not mandatory. However, new regulations are being drafted and I shall consider whether compliance with the standards should in future be required for plugs and fuses.

Market Entry Guarantee Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he will introduce legislation to allow sales and marketing consultants to apply for help under the market entry guarantee scheme.

The market entry guarantee scheme, originally restricted to manufacturing industry, was extended to the service sector, including consultancy services, with effect from 24 June 1981.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade how many applications he has had for the market entry guarantee scheme.

The market entry guarantee scheme was introduced on 26 Janurary 1978. A total of 331 applications have been received resulting in 102 agreements. A further 15 companies are considering offers of agreement and 29 applications are under consideration.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade if he is satisfied with the operation of the market entry guarantee scheme.

Whilst always open to suggestions for improvements, I am broadly content with the operation of this scheme. Industry's interest has continued at a high level, particularly since the scope of the scheme was extended to cover the service sector last June.

House Of Commons

Members' Cafeteria

asked the Lord President of the Council which persons are entitled to eat in the Members' Cafeteria, whether accompanied by hon. Members of not.

The information is contained in "Refreshment Department Information and Regulations", which is available from the general manager of the Refreshment Department.

Principal Corridor (Strangers)

asked the Lord President of the Council under what circumstances strangers, other than employees of the House or accredited representatives of the press, are permitted to walk along the Principal Corridor of the House during sitting days.

Industry

Remote Sensing Satellites

56.

asked the Secretary of State for Industry, pursuant to the answer given to the hon. Member for Arundel on 16 February, Official Report, c. 108, what discussions are currently in progress for the further development of remote sensing satellites by the European Space Agency.

The member States of the European Space Agency are currently in the final stages of discussing the content and organisation of a remote sensing satellite programme, ERS-1, which will provide member States with oceanographic information to aid offshore activities, ship routing and the provision of marine forecasts.The programme is now open for member States to specify their levels of participation and it is expected that the definition phase will be started soon.

High Technology (Investment)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how much estimated investment in the high technology area has occurred in the United Kingdom since May 1979; and in which regions this investment has occurred.

Information relating to net annual investment in individual industries is included in the results of the annual census of production. Results for 1979, analysed by standard region, have been published in table 5 of each of around 160 separate industry reports. Estimates for the period since May 1979 are not available.

Financial Assistance (Statistics)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry by how much money, either in the form of grants and allowances or taxes forgone, the following areas have benefited from the actions of his Department in the most recent period for which figures are available: North Staffordshire, West Midlands, United Kingdom and the assisted areas; and if he will also express the overall figure as the amount per person in the population and per unemployed person in each of the specified areas.

The most important items of Government policy from which firms in North Staffordshire and the West Midlands benefit are capital allowances—the effect on tax receipts of this, or taxes forgone, for the whole country was £6·7 billion in 1980–81—and stock relief—£2·1 billion—through the tax system. The area also benefits from Department of Industry support for British industry which in 1980–81 amounted to about £2¾ billion. This includes payments to British Leyland with its strong presence in the West Midlands Science and Technology Act expenditure, support for British Steel, small firms and other heads, including regional policy.The following paragraph quotes the expenditure on schemes, where this is readily available for the geographical areas specified in the question. All except section 8 schemes are limited to assisted areas. The items excluded from the figures shown, but mentioned in paragraph 1, are more significant in North Staffordshire and the West Midlands than the items for which figures in the form requested are readily available.Expenditure under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 amounted to £0·5 million in North Staffordshire and £10 million in the West Midlands in 1980–81. Section 8 expenditure totalled £32 million in the assisted areas and £72 million in Great Britain in that year. Expenditure on regional selective assistance was negligible in the West Midlands in that year, as only Oswestry qualified as an assisted area. Gross expenditure in 1980–81 on the main items of regional preferential assistance—regional development grants, regional selective assistance and land and factory building—was £703 million in Great Britain, all of this of course arising in the assisted areas. Not all of this expenditure is the responsibility of the Department of Industry. Given the lack of regional information on many important items of assistance to British industry, it would not be meaningful to compare per capita expenditure figures for the items mentioned in this paragraph.This answer is limited to Great Britain rather than the United Kingdom. Assistance to industry in Northern Ireland is administered by the Northern Ireland Department of Commerce.

Wales

Psychiatric Illness (Young Persons)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if, in view of the recommendations of the Welsh National Association for Mental Health regarding the

Number
Traumatic and Orthopaedic specialtyClwydDyfedGwentGwyneddMid GlamorganPowysSouth GlamorganWest Glamorgan
In-patients
Urgent cases waiting more than one month42372153592663
Non-urgent cases waiting more than twelve months18231913248656100283
Total cases7858267952201,336993578
Out-patients
Cases waiting more than three months563331,553962,3149552,013
Total cases5829312,2445313,740351,7742,859

Varicose Veins (Operations)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will give the average waiting time for each regional hospital board in Wales for an operation for varicose veins; what is the waiting time for National Health Service patients and private patients under the

increased incidence of psychiatric illness amongst the young, he will take steps to increase the number of family practitioners in areas of increasing unemployment.

The admission of additional family practitioners to existing medical lists in any area is a matter for the medical practices committee, but studies to date have not demonstrated a direct relationship between unemployment levels and the incidence of psychiatric illness.

Bypasses

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many local authority bypasses were started in 1979–80, 1980–81 and 1981–82; and how many are expected to start in 1982–83.

The following numbers of schemes described as bypasses or relief roads in local authorities transport policies and programmes have been or are due to be started:

number
1979–803
1980–814
1981–826
1982–833

Orthopaedic Patients

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what is the total number of patients awaiting treatment in the orthopaedic specialty in each of the eight area health authorities in Wales; and if he will specify the number waiting for more than (a) one month, (b) three months, (c) six months and (d) 12 months.

The latest available information is given in the following table. It relates to the position on 30 September 1981 and is not in precisely the form requested.National Health Service; what is his best estimate of the cost of treatment prior to operation for varicose veins in each of the areas of Wales; and if he will make a statement.

This information is not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Meat (Quality)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take steps to introduce methods to test the quality of meat which is now being made available to the public through shops, restaurants and school canteens where instances of debased meat, containing excessive water, cereal, rind and bone protein, are on the increase; and whether he envisages an expansion of inspector services to make enforcement of the law more effective.

Proposals for revised meat product regulations were issued for comment in July and September 1981. Consultations are proceeding with a view to bringing revised regulations before Parliament by the Summer Recess. Enforcement of food quality regulations, the analysis of foodstuffs and the employment of inspectors are the responsibility of local authorities.

Daniel Report

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will update tables 12 and 14 of the Daniel report of 1975 to take account of the effects of the equalisation of water charges.

It is not possible to update these tables, because the methods of charging for measured supplies of water have changed considerably since the tables were published. All authorities now impose a two-part tariff—a standing charge according to the size of the meter which is related to the fixed costs of providing the supply—and a charge per thousand gallons consumed. Because of the many possible variations of the standing charge, it is not practicable to calculate a meaningful average charge.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Vietnam And Kampuchea

asked the Lord Privy Seal how much aid has been given to Vietnam and Kampuchea since January 1981; and whether the distribution of food which is provided through the aid programme is dependent on any political considerations.

No United Kingdom aid has been given to Vietnam since January 1981. In March 1981 a grant of £300,000 was made to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to provide relief to Cambodian refugees in Thailand or on the Thai-Cambodian border and, subject to parliamentary approval, a further £125,000 will be provided through the International Committee of the Red Cross for the same purpose. Also subject to parliamentary approval, the Government have pledged £250,000 of food aid in support of these UNHCR and ICRC programmes. This will be distributed by the world food programme. Political considerations are taken into account in the allocation of all aid, including food aid.

National Finance

Building Societies

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will abolish the composite tax arrangements with building societies and place them on an equal footing with other financial institutions; and whether he will make a statement.

No. The present arrangements result in the collection of a large amount of tax at small administrative cost.

Personal Information

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer in what circumstances confidential personal information held by his Department is supplied to other Departments of State.

Double Taxation (Brazil And Argentina)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when he considers that the negotiations on the bilateral double taxation agreements with Brazil and Argentina will be concluded.

We broke off negotiations with Brazil early in 1979 because the Brazilian terms were unacceptable. Recently the Brazilians indicated that they might be prepared to modify these terms, and the Inland Revenue has agreed to meet a Brazilian delegation at the end of April to examine the scope for reopening talks.A comprehensive double taxation convention with Argentina was initialled at official level in December 1980. Since then we have been pressing Argentina to enter into arrangements for signature of the convention.

Mortgage Tax Relief

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a copy of the discussion document recently sent to building societies about administration details of implementation of the proposed change in mortgage tax relief law.

Excise Duties

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will list all changes in rates made since May 1979 in (a) petrol excise duty, (b) diesel excise duty, (c) vehicle excise duty for private cars and for a medium goods vehicle and a heavy goods vehicle, (d) car tax and (e) value added tax on vehicle and fuel sales; and what was the revenue for each category of tax with the percentage increase in the period, in nominal and in real terms.

[pursuant to his reply, 15 March 1982, c. 18]: The information is as follows:

Tab1e A
Changes in rates of Tax
June 1979March 1980March 1981Ju1y 1981March 1982
(a) Petrol excise duty (per litre)+1·5p+1·9p+3·82p+1·72p
(b) Derv excise duty (per litre)+1·5p+0·8p+3·82p-1·91p+1·34p
(c) Vehicle excise duty (per Vehicle per annum)
Private Vehicle+£10+£10+£10
Medium goods Vehicle 5½–5¾ tons unladen weight+£80+£71+£70
Heavy goods Vehicle 10½–10¾ tons unladen weight+£274+£177+£343
(d) Car tax
(e) Value added tax
Motor Vehicles8 per cent. to 13 percent.
Petrol12½ per cent. to 15 percent.
Derv8 per cent. to 15 per cent.
Table B
net receipts in 1978–79 and estimates for 1982–83
Change between 1978–79 and 1982–83
1978–791982–83*NominalReal terms†
(£ million)(£ million)(per cent.)(per cent.)
(a) Petrol excise duty1,6543,950+140+44
(b) Derv excise duty559925+61-0·5
(c) Vehicle excise duty1,1131,854+67+0·2
(d) Car tax381600+57-5·3
(e) Value added tax on vehicle and road fuel sales*6851,975+188+73
* Estimated.
† Adjusted by the GDP deflator at market prices.

Public Sector Borrowing Requirement

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how much of the estimated public sector borrowing requirement in 1981–82 he expects will have been funded by borrowing from the banks and increase of coins and notes.

[pursuant to his reply, 15 March 1982, c. 19]: The public sector borrowing requirement for 1981–82 is estimated to be around £10½ billion in the Financial Statement and Budget Report. The final outturn will not be known until May 1982. Analyses of the financing of the PSBR by economic sector and type of asset are published in Financial Statistics—table 2.6. The June 1982 edition will include figures for 1981–82 as a whole. We expect that over the year the PSBR will have been fully funded by sales of gilt-edged stock and national savings to the non-bank private sector. The increase in coins and notes in circulation is likely to be less than £½ billion. The contribution of the monetary sector, which includes banks and licenced deposit takers, to financing the PSBR is unlikely to be significant and could even be negative. Within the latter amount will be included the increase in holdings of notes and coin by the monetary sector.

Gaming Machines

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place in the Library a report on the review of gaining machine taxation referred to in the Official Report, 9 March, column 744.

[pursuant to his reply, 15 March 1982, c. 19]: No. In the course of the review many representations were made, both written and oral, to Ministers and to the Commissioners of Customs and Excise. Some reported the results of confidential surveys and others contained comments which were clearly not intended for publication. It would give a misleading impression of the review to publish a report based only on the non-confidential material.

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what consultations he proposes to hold before 1 October 1982 on the implementation of the new gaming machine licence duties.

[pursuant to his reply, 15 March 1982, c. 19]: My right hon. and learned Friend's Budget proposals for gaming machine taxation have been made after wide consultation. I do not consider further consultation to be necessary. It is, however, open to any interested party to make representations or inquiries, and there will be opportunity for further discussion when the relevant provisions of the Finance Bill are considered.

Home Department

Stansted Hijacking (Policing Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the particular financial difficulties of the Essex county council, he will consider increasing the 50 per cent. police grant in respect of the hijack emergency operation at Stansted Airport on 27 and 28 February.

No. The level of police grant is approved by Parliament and cannot be varied for individual police operations.

Television (Wales)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, in view of the defective functioning of the BBC television booster at Barber's Hill, Llangollen, Clwyd, which results in poor reception of BBC Wales programmes in the Llangollen area, he will take steps with a view to remedying the situation.

I understand from the BBC that a few temporary faults have recently affected transmissions from the Llangollen relay station at Barber's Hill, but these have been remedied and the corporation is unaware of any other problems regarding the reception of BBC Wales from that relay. If my hon. Friend is aware of any such problem in Llangollen and could let me have further details I shall arrange for the matter to be investigated more fully.

Crime Prevention

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether, following the statistics on crime in London published on 10 March, he proposes to take any further steps to deal with the growth of violent crime, including muggings, on the streets of London and elsewhere.

The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis and other chief officers have constantly under review their operational response to crime, including violent street crime. My officials, in consultation with Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary, are studying tactics in different force areas in order to disseminate knowledge of the most effective tactics to deal with street crime.

Personal Information

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances confidential personal information held by his Department is supplied to other Departments of State.

The Home Office supplies confidential personal information to other Government Departments in a variety of circumstances. These include the provision of information relating to the treatement of convicted offenders, their whereabouts and their transfer from one part of the United Kingdom to another; information relating to applications to enter or remain in this country or to take employment here; and information required for statistical and research purposes. Personnel records are also passed to other Departments, principally in connection with the transfer of staff to them.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Artificial Sweeteners

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recommendations have been made to him concerning which artificial sweeteners should be allowed in foodstuffs (a) for adults and (b) for children; and if he will make a statement.

A report by the Food Additives and Contaminants Committee on sweeteners in food was published on 10 March and copies have been placed in the Library of the House. Regulations made under the Food and Drug Acts list those substances which may be used as sweeteners and the committee recommend that five further sweeteners should be permitted. The committee also recommend that sweeteners other than sugars should not be permitted in foods manufactured specifically for babies and young children. I have invited comments on the report from all interests concerned, before taking a decision on new regulations.

Northern Ireland

Varicose Veins (Operations)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will give the average waiting time for each regional hospital board in Northern Ireland for an operation for varicose veins; what is the waiting time for National Health Service patients and private patients under the National Health Service; what is his best estimate of the cost of treatment prior to operation for varicose veins in each of the areas of Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

The information requested on average waiting times for operations for varicose veins is not available, nor is it possible to estimate the cost of treatment of patients prior to operation.

Personal Information

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in what circumstances confidential personal information held by his Department is supplied to other Departments of State.

Prime Minister

Engagements

Q4.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q7.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q9.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q11.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q12.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q13.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q14.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q15.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q16.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q17.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q18.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q19.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q20.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q21.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q24.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q25.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q26.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q27.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q28.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q29.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q30.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q31.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q32.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q34.

asked the Prime Minister what are her official engagements for 16 March.

Q35.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q36.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q37.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q39.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q40.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q41.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q45.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q46.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q47.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q49.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q50.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q51.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q52.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q55.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q56.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q58.

asked the Prime Minister if she list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q59.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q61.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q62.

asked the Prime Minister whether she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q63.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q64.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 16 March.

Q65.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

Q66.

asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 16 March.

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, including one with the Presidents of the Council of Ministers and the Commission of the European Community. Later I was present at the arrival in London of His Majesty the Sultan of Oman. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall attend a State banquet given by Her Majesty the Queen in honour of the Sultan of Oman.

Child Benefit

Q6.

asked the Prime Minister if she will estimate the percentage and weekly money reduction in the real value of child benefit payable in November 1982 compared with the combined value of child tax allowance and family allowance in 1955 for a second child aged 12 years in a family paying the standard rate of tax.

The comparison which my hon. Friend is seeking to draw is not an apt one because although in 1955 family allowance was not paid for the first child in a family its payment for second and subsequent children undoubtedly contributed to the support provided for the family as a whole. It would therefore be reasonable to apportion the family allowance paid to a two-child family in 1955 in part to the support of the 12-year-old second child. On this basis the 1955 child support, at November 1982 prices assuming a 9 per cent. increase in the retail price index in the 12 months up to that date, would be £7·48, compared with child benefit of £5·85 this November. This represents a reduction of £1·63 a week or 21·79 per cent. For a family which in 1955 had insufficient income to benefit from the child tax allowance a comparable calculation shows an increase in child support of £8·55 a week or 271·4 per cent.

Q44.

asked the Prime Minister by how much she estimates that child benefit will have declined in real value between April 1979 and April 1983.

It is not possible to estimate the real value of child benefit at April 1983 because there is no forecast of inflation between November 1982, when the rate of child benefit will be increased, and April 1983.

Disarmament

Q8.

asked the Prime Minister if she will seek to address the United Nations Special Session on Disarmament in June.

The Pope

Q10.

asked the Prime Minister whether any arrangements have been made for His Holiness the Pope to meet Her Majesty's Government during his forthcoming visit.

I shall be meeting the Pope during the course of his visit. Details as to when and where our meeting will take place have yet to be finalised.

Devolution (Scotland)

Q22.

asked the Prime Minister if she has received any representations on the introduction of a measure of Scottish devolution.

Since the repeal of the Scotland Act 1978 in June 1979, I have received a small number of such representations from hon. Members, other individuals and organisations.

Taoiseach

Q33.

asked the Prime Minister when she next proposes to hold talks with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland.

I expect to meet the Taoiseach later this month at the next Session of the European Council. No date for another meeting has yet been fixed.

Science And Technology

Q38.

asked the Prime Minister when she expects to give the Government's response to the House of Lords Select Committee on Science and Technology report published on 9 December 1981.

Minister For Consumer Affairs

Q42.

asked the Prime Minister when the decision on ministerial arrangements for consumer affairs, referred to in her reply to the right hon. Member for Stoke on Trent, South (Mr. Ashley) on 25 February, Official Report, column 444, will be taken.

Civil Servants

Q43.

asked the Prime Minister whether she is satisfied with the decline in the numbers of civil servants since 1979.

The number of civil servants is down by 57,000 since we took office. This is over halfway towards the 102,000 savings by 1984 which I announced in May 1980. There is, of course, still some way to go, but I am satisfied that we are on target for a total of 630,000 by April 1984. The Civil Service is now more streamlined and efficient than it was in 1979 and we are continuing to pursue policies which enable civil servants to give the best value to the taxpayer.

Fuel Costs

Q48.

asked the Prime Minister which Government Department is responsible for collecting and collating information relating to the fuel costs of retirement pensioners and families on low incomes.

The Department of Employment has overall responsibility for the family expenditure survey which includes information of this kind. In addition, the Department of Health and Social Security has carried out similar ad hoc surveys relating solely to low income households.

Budget Response

Q53.

asked the Prime Minister if she is satisfied with the response of industry to the recent Budget.

I welcome industry's generally favourable reaction to the Budget, which, I believe, creates the necessary sound financial framework within which industry can consolidate its recent advance.

Utah Valley (Cancer Compensation)

Q54.

asked the Prime Minister if she will seek a meeting with President Reagan to discuss with him a British contribution of compensation to those who have suffered from cancer arising from British nuclear tests in the Utah Valley, United States of America.

No British atmospheric nuclear tests have ever been carried out in the Utah Valley area. Since the early 1960s underground tests have been carried out by the United States on our behalf at the nearby Nevada test site, but these have not resulted in the release of any radioactive material into the atmosphere. The question of compensation by the British Government therefore does not arise.

Brussels

Q57.

asked the Prime Minister when she next intends to pay an official visit to Brussels to discuss Common Market issues.

Cable And Satellite Television

Q60.

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a statement on the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the future of regulation of cable television and satellite television transmissions.

My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary told the House on 4 March of our decision to go ahead with direct broadcasting by satellite. This is a clear indication of our intention to enable British industry to take full advantage of the opportunities which new technology offers. In his statement—[Vol. 19, c. 414–420]—my right hon. Friend promised a further announcement shortly on the future role of cable television.

Computers

asked the Prime Minister how many computers are currently in use in the United Kingdom in all Government Departments; and if she will split this figure between the main areas, namely, the National Health Service, local government, central Government, the nationalised industries, and so on.

There are currently more than 650 large and medium-sized computers in use in the United Kingdom in central Government Departments for administrative and scientific purposes. Details of these were published with the May 1981 edition of "Management Services in Government", a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library. In addition, over 700 micro-computers are in use in central Government Departments. Figures for the number of computers in the National Health Service, local government and nationalised industries are not available centrally, and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Public Assets (Sales)

asked the Prime Minister if she will ensure that in respect of sales of taxpayers' assets, such as Amersham International, sales will be by tender and not at fixed prices.

We shall continue to consider carefully the appropriate method of sale in relation to each asset sale. Tender will continue to be amongst the options considered.

Education And Science

Youth And Community Service

4.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will issue guidelines to education authorities to avoid disproportionate reductions in the youth and community service.

The Government believe that expenditure on the youth service should be maintained, and have taken steps to help local authorities do so. However, it is for each authority to decide how to allocate its resources.

Teachers (Imprisonment)

5.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what criteria he uses when deciding whether a teacher who has served a term of imprisonment should be precluded from taking up a teaching post after leaving prison; on how many instances his Department has had to adjudicate during the past 10 years; and, of these, how many were banned from teaching and how many were allowed to continue their careers as teachers.

My right hon. Friend is concerned in these cases with the welfare and protection of children and the need to maintain high standards of conduct in the teaching profession. Over the past 10 years, 198 cases involved teachers serving prison sentences. A breakdown in the form requested is not available for that period, but in the year ended 31 March 1981, of 32 such cases, 20 resulted in total and two in partial exclusion.

Universities And Polytechnics

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will estimate the reduction in the number of student places in polytechnics arising from his education policy; and if he plans to reverse this trend in the future.

Far from reducing, the number of students on advanced courses in polytechnics in England is estimated to have increased by 13,000 or 7 per cent. this year. The plans in the expenditure White Paper published on 9 March—Cmnd. 8494—do, however, assume that there will be reductions in student admissions in advanced further education in subsequent years.

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if, further to his answer of 16 February, he will take steps to obtain estimates from universities and polytechnics of the numbers of university teachers and non-academic staff who will be made redundant in 1982.

Universities and the public sector institutions are still in the process of deciding whether staff will have to be made redundant and when redundancies will occur.

School Discipline

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will issue guidelines to local authorities to promote discipline in classrooms.

I strongly support local education authorities and schools in their efforts to maintain high standards of discipline. I have no evidence, however, that authorities are looking to me for guidance in this matter.

44.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek to include under the provisions relating to information as to schools and admission arrangements contained in the Education Act 1980, the means of enforcing discipline in that school.

There is already provision in the Education (Schools Information) Regulations 1981 for parents to be given information about disciplinary arrangements in individual schools.

Sex Education

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has received any representations on the inclusion of provision for sex education in the core curriculum.

We have received a few representations on this subject, expressing a wide range of views.

Church Schools

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to encourage an increase, where appropriate, in the number of voluntary Church schools.

The responsibility for planning primary and secondary education in their area rests with local education authorities in consultation with voluntary bodies providing or wishing to provide schools. If a voluntary body wishes to establish a voluntary school, it is for the promoters to publish proposals, after consultation with the local education authority, under section 13 of the Education Act 1980. My right hon. Friend then decides each proposal carefully on its merits.

Student Grants

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received concerning the proposal to keep the minimum award for student grants at the present cash level.

Since the main rates of student grants for the academic year 1982–83 were announced on 2 December 1981, my right hon. Friend is receiving a large number of letters on all aspects of student awards, only a very small proportion of which mention the proposal to keep the minimum award at its present cash level.

Inner City Schools

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will undertake a special study of the problems of inner city schools.

In recent years the Department has sponsored a number of studies which bear on the problems of inner city schools, and a further wide-ranging study is unlikely to throw up new solutions. Not all inner city schools are problem schools. Despite the particular difficulties which they may face, some are vital and stimulating places. I will maintain a close interest in this issue.

Deaf And Blind Children

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he proposes to make any additional provisions for the teaching of deaf and blind children.

The numbers of blind or deaf children for whom local education authorities must make provision are falling, and nationally, available places exceed demand. The situation is being kept under review.

Schools (Proficiency Tests)

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek to introduce a system of proficiency tests and standards in schools in a range of subjects at below the level covered by existing examinations.

My right hon. Friend is considering what action might usefully be taken to provide all school leavers with a written record of their achievements whether or not these include graded results in public examinations. I believe it would be helpful if such records offered an indication of proficiency in skills such as numeracy and literacy and the ability to communicate effectively.

Higher Education

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will estimate the number of eligible students who will fail to gain (a) university and (b) higher education places in the coming year compared to 1981.

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what shortfall he now envisages between places available in institutions of higher education and students qualified to benefit from such educational opportunities over the next three years in the light of the latest statistics now available.

Not every qualified young person seeks a place in higher education. Reliable figures for those obtaining places in 1981 are not yet available although early indications suggest that a broadly similar proportion of qualified students obtained places in higher education in 1981 compared with 1980. There are many factors which have to be taken into account when estimating likely future entrants to higher education. Variation in any of these factors can give rise to significant differences in the final estimate. If the proportion of mature entrants to higher education remains constant and if the proportion of the 18 to 20 age group in Great Britain obtaining two GCE A-levels or equivalent qualifications increases in a way that is broadly consistent with recent increases in those continuing in post-16 education, then it is estimated that, to admit the same proportion of those so qualified as was admitted in 1980–81, the number of additional full-time and sandwich home students to higher education institutions who would have to be admitted compared with the student number projections underlying the "Government's Expenditure Plans 1982–83 to 1984–85"—Cmnd. 8494—would be of the order of

Number
1982–8315,000
1983–8421,000
1984–8525,000

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is satisfied with the present arrangements for funding higher education.

No. Successive Governments have been dissatisfied with the arrangements for financing local authority higher education. The advanced further education pool was cash limited by the Education Act 1980. A consultative document on the policy, funding and management of higher education outside the universities was published in July 1981. My right hon. Friend has now established the national advisory body for local authority higher education to enable the distribution of the pool to be informed by an element of academic judgment.In the university field, my right hon. Friend recently told the Education, Science and Arts Select Committee that he was considering whether it would be appropriate for Ministers to give clearer guidance to the University Grants Committee than hitherto on national priorities.

37.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he proposes to modify or redefine the "Robbins" principle for availability of higher education.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply my right hon. Friend gave to the hon. Member for Lewisham, West (Mr. Price) on 1 December 1981.—[Vol. 14, c. 103.]

Education Expenditure

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what percentage of the United Kingdom's gross national product is spent on education compared with other EEC countries.

The latest year for which the information is available is 1978–79 and is as follows:

CountryTotal educational expenditure as percentage of Gross National Produce
With population of over 50 million
United Kingdom5·4
France5·3
Germany F.R.4·7
Italy4·6
With population of under 15 million
Netherland8·5
Denmark6·9
Ireland6·3
Luxembourg6·1
Belgium6·0

50.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received about the current level of expenditure on education in England and Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Since 1 January 1982 I have personally met and discussed the current level of expenditure on education in England and Wales that falls within my responsibilities with representatives of the following:

  • 21 January—Catholic Teachers' Federation
  • 18 February—Secondary Heads Association
  • 25 February—Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association
  • 25 February—Caribbean Teachers' Association.

Corporal Punishment

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has any proposals for changing the law in respect of the use of corporal punishment in schools in England.

A recent judgment of the European Court of Human Rights has raised the question of ensuring respect for parental convictions against the use of corporal punishment in schools. The Government are considering the judgment and its implications.

School Standards

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he is now able to publish Her Majesty's inspectors' report on standards in schools.

Engineering Undergraduates

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many engineering undergraduates there are expected to be in British universities by 1983; and how this compares to the number there were in 1978.

In 1978–79 there were 28,270 undergraduate and 3,204 postgraduate full-time and sandwich engineering and technology home and European Community students in universities in Great Britain. I understand from the UGC that it envisages that there will be of the order of 6 per cent. more such students in 1983–84. The percentage increase for engineering undergraduate students only is likely to be of the same order.

Universities

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the response from universities to his letter to the general secretary of the Association of University Teachers, published in the Official Report on 15 February, column 56.

My right hon. Friend has received little response from universities to his reply to the General Secretary of the Association of University Teachers. In responsse to a further letter from the general secretary he has agreed to meet a deputation from the association.

18-Year-Olds

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the percentage of 18-year-olds currently participating in higher education in England and Wales; and how this figure compares with other member countries of the EEC.

The 18-year-olds participating in higher education in England and Wales in the academic year 1980–81 were 7·5 per cent. of the total population at this age. Strictly comparable figures for other member countries of the European Community are not yet available for that year.However, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published statistics for certain countries of the European Community which show the 18-year-olds participating in higher education in 1975 or 1976 expressed as a percentage of the total population at this age. These participation rates are given in column 1 in the following table.Comparisons between countries of higher education participation rates at a particular age are influenced by the precise structure of higher education in each country, in particular by the age at which students normally enter higher education and the length of course. In some EC countries students enter higher education later than in the United Kingdom and take longer to qualify.A more meaningful comparison is to show all new entrants to higher education as a percentage of the total

1976–77 unless otherwise stated
1.2.3.
18-year-old participants as percentage of all 18-year-oldsAge group encompassing 80 per cent, of new entrants to higher educationAll new entrants as percentage of typical year group calculated from column 2
Belgium*n.a.18–2033·9
France10·918–2027·7
Italy†4·419–2130·6
Netherlands‡6·018–2025·5
Federal Republic of Germany1·019–2119·2
United Kingdom║7·318–19*32·3
DenmarkNil19–2136·8
Ireland¶13·0*n.a.
Greece¶9·4*n.a.
Notes
* Not available.
† Universities only.
‡ Non-universities only.
║ Includes part-time.
¶ 1975–76.
* 1977–78.

Bradford University

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received regarding the level of grant from the University Grants Committee to Bradford university.

In addition to other representations received, my right hon. Friend is to meet the vice-chancellor of Bradford later this month and I shall be visiting the university in April at the vice-chancellor's invitation.

Educational Services

38.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from local authorities about the proposed level of expenditure on educational services in 1982–83.

Since my announcement on 21 December 1981 of the Government's expenditure plans for education in 1982–83, I have received written representations and inquiries from elected members and officials of a number of local authorities.

Undergraduates (Numbers)

39.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many undergraduates are

population in the "typical year group" entering higher education. The following figures have been prepared by the OECD. Column 2 shows the age group encompassing 80 per cent. of all new entrants to full-time higher education in each country, from which the typical year group is calculated—for example, for the United Kingdom the typical year group is the total number of 18 and 19-year-olds divided by two.

These figures show that each year the total numbers entering full-time and part-time higher education in all age groups in the United Kingdom are roughly the equivalent of one-third of a typical year group. On this basis, we compare favourably with all our European partners.

expected to be in British universities by the autumn of 1984; and how this compares with the numbers at autumn 1978.

The number of full-time home and European Community undergraduates in universities in Great Britain in December 1978 was 222,930. It is estimated that there will be 218,000 in the autumn of 1984 if the student number targets set by the University Grants Committee for such students are attained. Both figures include students from Greece. There are no target numbers for overseas undergraduates from countries outside the EC.

School Closures

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many State primary and secondary schools were closed in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980 and 1981, respectively.

The information is not available in the form requested. The number of schools approved or determined for closure by my right hon. Friend or local education authorities during those years is as follows:

PrimarySecondary
19778716
19787713
19796116
19808329
198118336

Wisbech Grammar School

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the future of Wisbech grammar school.

I understand that Cambridgeshire education authority is about to consult locally on a scheme to reorganise secondary education in the Wisbech area, which would include ceasing to maintain Wisbech grammar school. If the authority decides to proceed, proposals will be required under section 12 of the Education Act 1980.

Student Unions

42.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what recent representations he has received concerning the current system of financing student unions; and what further consideration he has given to the matter.

My right hon. Friend has received a number of representations seeking to meet part or all of student union expenditure through voluntary subscriptions. However, it is too early to contemplate reversing the arrangements introduced this academic year for funding student unions in competition with other calls on the recurrent income of their parent institutions and returning to a system of subscriptions. Before introducing these arrangements the Government gave careful consideration to a wide variety of options. The one chosen alone reflected the position of the student union as an integral part of its parent institution as defined in charters, statutes and articles of Government which also entail automatic membership of the union on enrolment in the student body.The new funding arrangements recognise that decisions on student union responsibilities must be taken locally and ensure that the cost is borne by the institution so closing the open-ended arrangements criticised by the Public Accounts Committee. There are already indications that the new arrangements are leading to greater cost-effectiveness.

54.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what further consideration he has given to the question of ultra vires activities of student unions.

Mathematics Teaching

43.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he expects to be able to implement any of the recommendations of the Cockcroft inquiry into the teaching of mathematics in schools before 31 December 1982; and if he will make a statement.

The report's recommendations are directed to a variety of agencies, and we hope that it will be widely read. It is too early to say which of its recommendations will be implemented in the short term. The Government are considering those recommendations where central action is called for or may be beneficial.

National Advisory Body For Local Authority Higher Education

45.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he last chaired a meeting of the National Advisory Body for Local Authority Higher Education.

I chaired the first meeting of the committee of the national advisory body on 1 February and will chair its second meeting on 22 March.

Higher And Further Education

46.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when he informed local authorities of the changes in the financial arrangements for the advanced and further education pool in 1982–83; and what form this announcement took.

The overall size of the predetermined advanced further education pool was announced by the Secretary of State in the course of his answer to a parliamentary question on 21 December—[Vol. 15, c. 316.] Details of its distribution to authorities, and the precise level of individual authorities' contribution to the pool, were notified by means of a letter to all local education authorities dated 12 January 1982. The revised arrangements for the pool's distribution had been devised over the previous year in close consultation with representatives of the local authority associations and other interests.

16 To 19-Year-Old (Education Costs)

47.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what was the cost to public funds of the recent report by Arthur Young McClelland Moores & Co. entitled "Costing Educational Provision for the 16–19 age group".

52.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether his Department has carried out a cost analysis of the relative costs of (a) sixth forms and (b) tertiary colleges; and if he will make a statement.

No. The manual "Costing Educational Provision for the 16–19 Age Group" prepared for the Government and the local authority associations by Arthur Young McClelland Moores & Co. and recently published sets out a method by which local education authorities can cost alternative forms of 16 to 19 provision in their areas, in the light of their very variable local circumstances.

Secondary Education (West Cumbria)

48.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what will be his attitude towards the representations of the Conservative Party in West Cumbria on the subject of its reorganisation of secondary education.

If statutory proposals are published and fall to my right hon. Friend to decide, he will consider them solely on their individual merits. In doing so he will take account of evidence presented by the local education authority and provided by way of objection under section 12(3) of the Education Act 1980, together with all other representations from whatever source, in order to come to a conclusion on the educational and expenditure issues involved.

Unemployed Teachers

49.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the most recent estimate of the number of people qualified to teach who are unemployed.

The total number of people in England registered with the Department of Employment as unemployed and seeking work as teachers in Schools in December 1981 was 17,317. Some of these people may not be qualified to teach in maintained schools.

Manchester (Reorganisation)

51.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has reached a decision on the modified Manchester reorganisation scheme submitted to his Department; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the answer I gave to-day to the Member for Manchester, Gorton (Mr. Marks).

Gce O-Level

53.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received about the retention of the General Certificate of Education at Ordinary level; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend is aware of the strong differences of opinion which exist about the best way to reform the existing dual system of examinations at 16-plus and some of the many letters he has received on this subject favour the retention of separate GCE O-level and CSE examinations. He hopes it will be possible to consult the examination boards in the near future about a detailed statement of Government policy on this issue.

School Sports Grounds

55.

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many local education authorities and sports organisations he has consulted about the possible future use of school sports grounds; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has carried out no such consultations. He welcomes shared use of schools although decisions about such use are for individual local education authorities. DES Statistical Bulletin 1/82 shows that school playing fields and indoor sports facilities are regularly used by outside groups.

Varicose Vein Complaints (Research)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what research facilities are being financed directly or indirectly by his Department into the causes and treatment of varicose vein complaints; and if he will make a statement.

The Medical Research Council, which receives a grant-in-aid from the science budget of the Department, is not currently supporting any projects specifically concerned with the causes and treatment of varicose vein complaints. Much of the council's wide programme of basic research, particularly in the fields of connective tissue and muscle, the cardiovascular system and genetics. could, however, be relevant to this area. It is likely that, in addition, a certain amount of research into the causes and treatment of varicose veins is being carried out at universities and medical schools, using funds provided through the University Grants Committee as block grants for teaching and research.

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