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Written Answers

Volume 33: debated on Friday 3 December 1982

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Written Answers To Questions

Friday 3 December 1982

Wales

Coastal Protection (Criccieth)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what approaches his Department has received for financial assistance for coastal protection at Criccieth where residents fear the effects of coastal erosion on their property; what surveys have been arranged to assess the dangers; and if he will make a statement.

The Welsh Office has this week received preliminary inquiries from Dwyfor district council about the eligibility for financial assistance under the Coast Protection Act 1949 of a scheme to safeguard the

Title of reportDate requestedDate receivedWhether Published or notFrom whom commissioned
1. Planning for DevelopmentNot knownFebruary 1965YesB. A. W. Trevallion
2. Summary Report on Tourism and Property Development PlanningJanuary 1970February 1970YesTransport & Tourism Technicians Ltd.
3. Property and Tourist DevelopmentNovember 1969March 1970NoSir Derek Jakeway
4. Outline Development PlanFebruary 1971December 1971YesShankland Cox & Associates
5. Investigation of Ground Water ResourcesNot known1971YesJ. Mather, IGS
6. Proposed Esso Inter-American RefineryNot knownJune 1972YesEconomic Consultants Ltd.
7. Study of cost and structure of distribution of household goodsAugust 1972June 1973NoK. Levick
8. Report on Her Majesty's Prison on Grand TurkJuly 1975July 1975NoJ. A. B. Allen
9. Establishment and Development of Air ServicesMarch 1976December 1976NoPeat, Marwick & Mitchell
10. Report of Salt Production and Marketing AdviserNot knownFebruary 1977NoC. C. Osborne
11. Recommendations on the arrangement for establishing and control of casinosJuly 1978April 1979YesGaming Board of Great Britain
12. Turks and Caicos Salt ProjectMarch 1979November 1979NoCoopers & Lybrand Associates
13. Negotiation of an Agreement relating to a ship to ship transfer facilityJune 1979September 1979NoCoopers & Lybrand Associates
14. Study of proposed infrastructure investment in respect of a tourism development on ProvidencialesAugust 1979October 1979NoWallace Evans & Partners/Maxwell Stamp Associates Ltd.
15. Turks and Caicos Islands Development PlanMay 1981November 1981NoP. Selwyn, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex
16. Report on the Parrot Cay Development ProjectMarch 1981March 1981NoHays Allan, Chartered Accountants
This list does not include numerous reports by advisers and officials of the Overseas Development Administration, the British Development Division in the Caribbean, United Nations Agencies and so on.

Attorney-General

Matrimonial Homes

asked the Attorney-General in how many cases, following the sale of former matrimonial homes consequent upon the termination of marriage, a redetermination of capital has taken place; and to what extent the Law Society is choosing to exercise its discretion in this regard.

Separate figures are not kept of redeterminations in the circumstances described, nor of cliff opposite Castle Street, Criccieth. A reply has now been sent to the council saying that the proposal appears to be eligible, subject to compliance with the usual statutory procedures. It is for the council, as coast protection authority, to arrange for surveys to assess dangers.

Overseas Development

Turks And Caicos Islands

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list in the Official Report the titles of studies or reports which have been commissioned by Her Majesty's Government, or by them on behalf of the Government of the Turks and Caicos Islands, since 1964, concerning the economic development of the islands or any sector of their economy and society, whether or not those studies have been published, together with the dates of request for, and receipts of, the respective reports together with the names of the firms, bodies or persons from whom they were commissioned.

The information is as follows:the cases in which on a redetermination the assessment officers of the Department of Health and Social Security—not the Law Society—disregard the proceeds of the sale of the matrimonial home.

Home Department

Royal Family (Security)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, in relation to paragraph 8 of the report of the inquiry by Lord Bridge into the appointment of the Queen's Police Officer, on what dates the review of security arrangements for royalty following the assassination of Earl Mountbatten of Burma was initiated and the Wilson-Dellow report was presented.

The report was commissioned on 28 August 1979 and submitted on 10 September 1979.

Education And Science

New Technology

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will bring forward proposals to encourage and train teachers responsible for the development of new technology in schools.

Substantial numbers of teachers are now receiving training on the use of new technology in schools. Under the microelectronics education programme, it is expected that around 10,000 teachers will have attended short pilot courses in the current financial year, with a similar number likely to attend next year. The Government are now considering a possible extension of the programme after 1984. Also, in conjunction with the Department of Industry micros in secondary schools scheme, local education authorities have provided short courses for around 11,000 teachers over the past 18 months. Similarly, local education authorities will be required to provide training for primary teachers from schools receiving a micro under the micros in primary schools scheme.

Teacher Training

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what terms and conditions will apply to staff leaving institutions as a result of the closure of teacher training courses.

All staff made redundant qualify for statutory minimum redundancy payments, subject to the normal rules concerning redundancy payments. In addition, redundant teaching staff aged 50 and over are eligible for premature retirement terms, providing for immediate payment of accrued superannuation benefits, which may be enhanced at the employer's discretion. Premature retirement compensation is not available to redundant teachers under the age of 50, but on 4 November my right hon. Friend announced new arrangements which will allow employers to pay to redundant teachers aged 41 to 49 in advanced further education lump-sum compensation above statutory minimum levels. Those arrangements will run until 31 August 1985 and will be at employers' discretion; the maximum enhancement will depend on age and service, and the upper limit of the enhanced redundancy payment will be 66 weeks' pay.

Open University

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received in respect of the level of fees he will assume will be charged by the Open University for the 1983 academic year; whether his assumptions include fee levels broadly in line with 1982 fee levels; and if he will make a statement.

Since the announcement last year that the Government's assumed level of Open University tuition fees for 1982 would be £120, compared with £98 for 1981, my right hon. Friend has received some 90 representations protesting about the increase and asking that future increases be kept to a minimum. He has decided that the assumed fee for the academic year 1983 should be held broadly in line with that for 1982 after allowing for inflation. The 1983 level, of which the Open University has been informed, is £127.

Civil Service

Rayner Review

asked the Minister for the Civil Service if he will provide a list of the £203 million of potential savings in the Civil Service resulting from the scrutinies of Sir Derek Rayner.

Potential savings worth about £274 million a year plus about £39 million once-and-for-all have been identified by the scrutinies and reviews with which Sir Derek Rayner has been associated. These potential savings—which exclude recommendations rejected or otherwise found to be unobtainable—arose from the following programmes:

ProgrammePotential savings
1979 "Rayner Projects"£67 million a year plus
£28 million once-and-for-all
1980 Scrutiny programme£119 million a year
1980 Review of Government Statistical Services£17 million a year
1981 Scrutiny programme£56 million a year plus
£4 million once-and-for-all
1981 Review of Research and Development Support Services£15 million a year plus
1981 Review of Administrative FormsQuantified savings of £0·3 million already agreed; further and more substantial savings in processing will also be achieved.
Firm decisions have already been taken in respect of about half these savings. The rest depend on further consideration and consultation. Additional savings will come from the 27 scrutinies and three multi-Department reviews being conducted as part of the central efficiency strategy for 1982. This programme is not yet complete.Individual scrutinies and reviews are the responsibility of the departmental Ministers concerned. I would refer the right hon. Member to them for further details of particular studies.

National Finance

Members' Expenses (Taxation)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer why most hon. Members are taxed upon the notional benefits which they receive from reimbursement of expenses when travelling to and from their homes and the House of Commons, other than via their constituencies.

Reimbursed expenses of such travel are taxable as emoluments under the Taxes Act.

Prime Minister

Republic Of Ireland

asked the Prime Minister whether she will seek an early summit meeting with the Prime Minister of Eire to discuss with him political matters generally and those affecting the relationship between Eire and Northern Ireland.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply which I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Basildon (Mr. Proctor) on 30 November.—[Vol. 33, c. 114.]

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Fishing Industry

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will now announce the details of his scheme of temporary aid to the fishing industry.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave on 1 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Bodmin (Mr. Hicks).—[Vol. 33, c. 177.]

Land Settlement Association

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what consultations he has had with the executive committee and the tenants of the Land Settlement Association upon its future;(2) if he will initiate steps to create a co-operative structure within the Land Settlement Association which will give the tenants the opportunity to administer their affairs on a co-operative basis.

AlcoholExcessive speed having regard to road conditionsPoor road conditions
23–28 and 31 December 1981—1 January 198215111
23–27 and 31 December 1980–1 January 1981158
Information in respect of the three previous Christmas and new year periods could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Housing (Belfast)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the proposed proportion of new houses to be built in relation to the number of houses demolished in the following redevelopment areas in Belfast; numbers 24, 26/27, 31, 37, 28, 32, 18, 40, Fl, F2, F3, F4 and 12/13.

This is a matter for the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, but I am advised by the chairman that the position in the redevelopment areas is as follows:

Percentage
2432
26/2769
3132

I refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Chichester (Mr. Nelson) on 1 December.—[Vol. 33, c. 178–79.]

Newcastle Disease

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he is now in a position to make a further announcement about the implementation of revised import safeguards against the introduction of Newcastle disease.

The Dutch authorities have now provided detailed assurances in relation to our requirements on the animal health rules to be applied to their exports to Great Britain of poultry meat and eggs. They have also undertaken to provide the appropriate certification for such exports. As a result, imports will be permitted from 6 December in conformity with the general import rules which I deposited in the Library of the House following my announcement on 4 November.—[Vol. 31, c. 2.]

Northern Ireland

Road Accidents

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in how many of the road accidents occurring in Northern Ireland over the Christmas and new year period during the last five years the primary cause has been (a) excessive consumption of alcohol, (b) excessive speed and (c) poor road conditions.

Alcohol, excessive speed having regard to road conditions and poor road conditions were factors in the following number of accidents:

Percentage
3729
2837
3236
1876
4028
Fl99
F2, F3, F4*26
12/1318
*Being dealt with by the Executive as one area.
The extent of new housing in any redevelopment area depends upon the density of new provision, the availability of additional land which can be brought into housing use and the demand for housing and the alternative opportunities open to those whose houses are scheduled for demolition.

Youth Training Programme

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many new teaching posts have been approved in Northern Ireland to cater for the extra work associated with the youth training programme; how many of these are likely to be filled by qualified teachers; and how many have been transferred from industry and commerce.

At 26 November 1982, 185 new teaching posts had been approved in Northern Ireland for the 1982–83 academic year to cater for the extra work associated with the youth training programme. Of the 136 teachers already appointed to these posts, 134 hold qualifications which entitle them to teach in institutions of further education and 53 have transferred directly from industry and commerce.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many people have now been taken on under the youth training programme; and if he will make a statement.

Since the programme started on 20 September, 6,761 young people have started full-time training on the youth training programme in Northern Ireland. At the present time there are still approximately 5,500 young people on youth opportunities programme schemes.I am very encouraged by the response of young people to the programme to date, and I am confident that the Government will fulfil their guarantee to offer a place on the programme to all 16-year-old school leavers who did not enter employment after leaving school this year.

European Community (House Building Aid)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, pursuant to his reply to the hon. Member for Basildon of 19 July, what further progress has been made to achieve unanimity in the European Economic Community Council of Ministers on the draft resolution concerning aid for house building in Northern Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

Discussions on ways of making progress towards the adoption of a regulation to provide much needed assistance for housing in Northern Ireland are continuing with our Community partners.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Falkland Islanders

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what plans are under discussion to enable those Falklanders who may wish to do so to leave the islands.

Any islander wishing to leave is free to do so upon payment of the appropriate fare, subject only to availability of places on aircraft or ships. So far as I am aware, only three islanders have taken steps to resettle in Britain since the Argentine invasion.

Dr Anatoly Koryagin

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the authorities in the Soviet Union concerning the release from detention of Dr. Anatoly Koryagin; and if he will make a statement.

The Government have on a number of occasions made clear their views on the abuse of psychiatry for political purposes in the Soviet Union. The leader of the British delegation to the CSCE review meeting in Madrid raised Dr. Koryagin's case at a plenary session of the conference on 16 November 1982.

Madrid Conference

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if, pursuant to the answer of 24 November, Official Report, c. 841, he will list the specific initiatives taken by the British delegation at the conference on security and co-operation in Europe at Madrid to date.

The initiatives taken by the British delegation have been in drawing attention to violations of the Helsinki Final Act, in particular by the Soviet Union and Poland, and to the need for a clear mandate for a conference on disarmament in Europe. The British delegation has supported amendments put forward jointly by Western countries to the draft concluding document tabled by the neutral and non-aligned countries in December 1981. These amendments are designed to strengthen the commitments of all participants in various areas covered by the Helsinki Final Act.

Commonwealth Inter-Governmental Organisations

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to confer diplomatic status on all Commonwealth inter-governmental organisations; in which form this issue was discussed with other Commonwealth Governments; and where the discussions are recorded.

Privileges and immunities are accorded to international organisations whose membership is composed entirely of Commonwealth countries under the provisions of the International Organisations Act 1968 as amended by the International Organisations Act 1981.. The recent Act was introduced so that Her Majesty's Government could grant treatment to all- Commonwealth international organisations equal to that which can be accorded to those international organisations whose members are foreign States.The decision to do so was not discussed with other Commonwealth Governments, but it is assumed that they support the measure.

Defence

Anti-Radar Weapons

asked the Secretary of State for Defence what provision is being made for ground suppression anti-radar weapons for the Royal Air Force for the next five years.

I have nothing to add to the reply I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Welwyn and Hatfield (Mr. Murphy) on 1 December.—[Vol. 33, c. 197]

Falkland Islands

asked the Secretary of State for Defence why he has not yet published a full list of all units which took part in the Falkland Islands campaign; and if he will now do so in the Official Report.

The composition of the task force and its supporting elements will be included in the White Paper on the lessons of the Falkland campaign which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence intends to present to Parliament shortly.

Employment

Unemployment Statistics

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what percentage of unemployed (a) men and (b)Women in the county of Derbyshire have been without work for one year or more.

At 14 October, 40·8 per cent. of all registered unemployed males and 23·8 per cent. of all registered unemployed females·old basis·in the county of Derbyshire had been unemployed for over 52 weeks.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons were unemployed in the county of Derbyshire in 1979, 1980, 1981 and at the nearest available date in 1982.

The following table gives the numbers of people registered as unemployed in the county of Derbyshire at October each year from 1979:

October each year
Number
197915,990
198027,406
198140,723
198246,986
October each yearTotal unemployedof which, unemployed for over 52 weeksAged under 18 unemployedof which, unemployed for over 52 weeks
19779,8303,280
19789,4993,3241,45969
19799,0623,3781,24625
198011,1223,5811,63510
198113,9545,2681,68034
198214,4696,5391,56060
The total number of unemployed claimants—from now on the count is based on claimants—in the area at October 1982 was 13,240.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report tables for each month from and including October 1981 comparing unemployment figures for each region in the United Kingdom on the new basis—claimants—and old basis—registration—and for each region in each month an analysis of the difference broken down by the following categories: (a) registered non-claimants, (b) severely disabled, and (c) in respect of the changed method of counting.

The number of unemployed claimants in the county—from now on the count is based on claimants—was 45,085 at October 1982.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the percentage of unemployment of young people under 21 years of age in the Liverpool travel-to-work area at the latest date; what percentage have been unemployed for more than one year; and what were the respective figures in May 1979.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 33]: Percentage rates of unemployment by age are not calculated for local areas. At October 1982, there were 19,809 young people under 20 years of age registered as unemployed—old basis—in the Liverpool travel-to-work area. Of this number, 24·7 per cent. had been unemployed for over 52 weeks. The corresponding figures at April 1979—not availale for May—were 11,863 and 22·8 per cent. An analysis for the age group specified is not available.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment what were the total figures for unemployment in Sunderland in October from 1977 to 1982; how many had been unemployed for 12 months or more in those years; and what were the figures for youth unemployment in each year.

[pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 34]: The following table gives the total numbers of people registered as unemployed and the numbers who had been unemployed for over 52 weeks at October each year from 1977 in the Sunderland employment office area. It also gives the numbers of young people under 18 years of age registered as unemployed and the numbers who had been unemployed for over 52 weeks at October each year from 1978. A cross-analysis by age and duration of unemployment was not made for October 1977.

[pursuant to his reply, 30 November 1982, c. 121]: As the tables are rather extensive, I am ser ding the hon. Member the information requested, and placing copies in the Library.

School Leavers

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many school leavers are unemployed at the latest available date in the county of Derbyshire; and what is the approximate number of school leavers available for each vacancy.

At 14 October, the number of unemployed school leavers under 18 years of age claiming benefit—from now on the count is based on claimants-in the county of Derbyshire was 2,730.At 8 October, there were 1,137 unfilled vacancies at employment offices and 39 at careers offices in the county of Derbyshire. The figures relate only to vacancies notified to employment offices and careers offices; vacancies notified to employment offices are estimated to be about one-third of all vacancies in the country as a whole. Because of possible duplication, the figures for employment offices and careers offices should not be added together. Some vacancies notified to employment offices may be suitable for young people, but their numbers are not separately distinguished. Moreover, the number of vacancies remaining unfilled at a particular date takes no account of the flow of vacancies being notified, filled or withdrawn, which would reflect activity more closely. For example, during the 12-month period to September 1982, 21,242 people were placed in jobs by employment offices and 2,729 by careers offices in the county of Derbyshire.

Walthamstow-Leyton

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people are unemployed in the Walthamstow-Leyton area; and how many of these have been unemployed under 12 months, between 12 and 24 months and over 24 months.

asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people in the Walthamstow-Leyton area are being supported under the special employment measures.

The following table details the number of people in the Walthamstow-Leyton area being supported under the various special employment measures:

MeasureN u m b e r supported
Temporary short-time working compensation schemeNIL
Job release scheme149
Youth opportunities Programme*290
Community industryNIL
Community enterprise Programme/community Programme4
Young workers scheme
* The figure quoted is the cumulative total of entrants into the programme from April 1982 to September 1982.
The figure quoted is for the total number of applications approved since the start of the scheme in January 1982.

Environment

Council House Sales

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment in the Lambeth inner city partnership area, how many (a) council owned homes and (b) housing association homes are covered by the right to buy provisions of the Housing and Building Control Bill 1982.

House Purchase (Costs)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what were the total costs of house purchase during 1980–81; what amount was met by householders; how much of this was interest payment; what amount was borne by the Exchequer; and how much of this took the form of tax relief on interest.

Audit Commission

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what arrangements he has made for consultation with the appropriate bodies on the membership of the Audit Commission.

I have now written to the local authority associations, the Greater London Council, the Trades Union Congress, the Confederation of British Industry and the Consultative Committee of Accountancy Bodies, inviting their views on the following list of proposed members:

Chairman

Mr. John L. Read, Chairman, The Lep Group plc.

Members

Sir Lawrie Barratt, Chairman and Managing Director, Barratt Development plc.
Sir Kenneth Bond FCA, Deputy Managing Director, General Electric Company plc.
Mr. P. S. Bowness, Leader, London Borough of Croydon;
Chairman, London Boroughs Association.
Mr. K. J. Bridge CIPFA, Chief Executive, Humberside County Council.
Mr. I. D. Coutts FCA, Member, Norfolk County Council; Chairman, Association of County Councils Finance Committee.
Mr. I. F. H. Davison FCA, Senior Partner, Arthur Anderson & Co.; Chairman, Accounting Standards Committee.
Mr. G. A. Drain CBE JP, General Secretary, National and Local Government Officers' Association.
Mr. D. H. Fisher IPFA, Chairman, Wales region, British Gas Corporation.
Professor C. D. Foster, Director and Head of Economics and Public Policy Division, Coopers and Lybrand.
Mr. J. Gunnell, Leader, West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Council.
Mr. N. P Hepworth OBE IPFA DPA, Director, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
Mr. P. F. Kimmance CB, Chief Inspector of Audit.
Mr. D. Lees FCA, Finance Director, Guest, Keen & Nettlefold plc.
Mr. I. S. McCallum, Member, Woking Borough Council; Chairman, Association of District Councils.
Mr. R. E. Shaw, Member, London Borough of Camden; Vice Chairman, Association of Metropolitan Authorities.

Transport

Ml-Al Link Road

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what correspondence has taken place between Ministers in his Department and the M1-Al link road action committee.

There has been only one exchange of letters between Ministers of this Department and the M1-Al link road action committee, but correspondence has taken place on a further six occasions via my right hon. Friend and his preecessor as the Member for Daventry (Mr. Prentice). There have also been correspondence and two meetings between the committee and officials of my Department. The committee has consistently supported the alternative strategy.

Heavy Goods Vehicle Test Stations

asked the Secretary of State for Transport which categories of staff at heavy goods vehicle test stations currently have rights to redundancy payment in the event of their being transferred to non-governmental employment; and whether it is his intention to introduce legislation in the current Session to reduce or remove any of these rights.

The terms and conditions available to vehicle testing staff transferring with their work outside Government are still under discussion. I will consider the possibility of special compensation if, in the event, the terms for those transferring are significantly less favourable than those at present available. The question of redundancy procedures and payments should thus not arise for those who transfer.

Revenue Grant

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) on what basis he has calculated the provisional figures for revenue grant in 1980 to 1984 to the metropolitan counties and the Greater London Council as set out in the schedule to Cmnd. 8735;(2) what formulation he used to determine the provisional allocation of the total revenue grant between each of the six metropolitan counties and the Greater London Council.

The same considerations as those expressed in the Transport Bill as introduced, including the overall national picture on resources for local transport, the benefit that can be firmly identified would result from the support and the levels of present and past expenditure related among other things to recent fares policies and service changes. The figures represent my judgment at this stage as to what is a reasonable level of subsidy in all these circumstances and which on that account should be clearly lawful.

Industry

Small Businesses

asked the Secretary of State for Industry how he will measure the effect of the proposals announced by the Under-Secretary of State to the House on 26 November, Official Report, c. 1177, which are aimed at securing a larger share of public procurement orders for smaller businesses.

The proposals are designed to assist small firms' access to Government contracts. My Department will monitor the working of these arrangements in consultation with purchasing Departments. We shall also be seeking the views of small business representative organisations.

Post Office (Security)

asked the Secretary of State for Industry whether he will use his powers of direction in the interests of national security to require the Post Office to install devices to detect explosives planted in mail by terrorists; and if he will make a statement.

No. The Post Office is already fully aware of the problem and is reviewing its measures in the light of recent incidents. The right hon. Gentleman would not, of course, expect me to comment in detail on what these measures comprise.

Laker Airways

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what sums were paid to British Aerospace by his Department in support of Laker Airways' purchase of Airbus A300 aircraft.

The Department of Industry has now made a final payrnent of £305,013 in respect of the relevant interest rate support arrangements. The total sums paid to British Aerospace in this connection have thus amounted to £5,765,983.

Gateshead

asked the Secretary of State for Industry what categories of financial assistance are now available to manufacturing firms within Gateshead.

[pursuant to his reply, 30 November 1982, c. 156]: Manufacturing firms within Gateshead are eligible for the following forms of regional industrial assistance:

  • (a) Regional support under the Industry Act in the form of regional development grants—at 22 per cent.—and selective assistance using powers under section 7 of the Act, including:
  • (i) in-plant training scheme;
  • (ii) exchange risk guarantee scheme;
  • (b) inclusion in the assisted areas factory building programmes of the English Industrial Estates Corporation;
  • (c) assistance from the quota section of the European regional development fund;
  • (d) loans from the European Investment Bank.
  • In addition, the following assistance measures are available on a national basis and therefore to manufacturing firms in the area:

  • (a) General support arrangements under section 8 of the Industry Act 1972 for assisting large projects;
  • (b) Six schemes offering assistance under section 8 of the Industry Act as follows:
  • (i) Flexible manufacturing—including robotics—scheme;
  • (ii) Coal-firing scheme;
  • (iii) Private sector steel;
  • (iv) Microelectronics industry support programme;
  • (v) Computer aided design and test equipment support;
  • (vi) Small firms loans guarantee scheme.
  • (c) Support for innovation; a general support facility for promoting research and development. Special arrangements within this facility include:
  • (i) Microelectronics application projects;
  • (ii) Information technology;
  • (iii) Fibre optics and optoelectronics scheme;
  • (iv) Electronic computer aided design, manufacture and test;
  • (v) Computer aided design and computer aided manufacture;
  • (vi) Software products scheme;
  • (vii) Advisory service for small and medium-sized companies.
  • Trade

    Laker Group

    asked the Minister for Trade what information he has as to the amount of consumers' deposits still owed by organisations which bonded holidays sold by the Laker Group; and whether he has any indication as to when such deposits will be returned.

    Payment is still outstanding from bonds provided by the two Laker companies, Laker Air Travel Ltd. and Arrowsmith Holidays Ltd. The administration of the relevant bond moneys is a matter for the Tour Operators Study Group Trust Fund Limited—TOSG.I understand from TOSG that some 95 per cent. of individual consumers booked with the two companies were provided with a replacement holiday, or have since received payment from the bonds. Because of the way in which the records of Laker Air Travel Ltd. were maintained for its North American holidays, there has been some delay on claims in that sector. I am told, however, that significant progress is now being made by TOSG, leaving only a comparatively small number of claims outstanding. Some of these raise certain legal difficulties, but TOSG hopes that all proper and valid consumer claims will have been cleared by early next year.

    Non-Departmental Public Bodies

    asked the Minister for Trade (1) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Air Travel Reserve Fund Agency is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments";(2) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the British Film Fund Agency is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments";(3) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Civil Aviation Authority is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments";(4) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the National Film Finance Corporation is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments".

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the British Hallmarking Council is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments".

    Following the Pliatzky recommendation, I have instituted a five-year rolling programme of reviews in which the council is included.The last review of the BHC was carried out in July this year, and I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given to his question on 2 December.—[Vol. 33, c.

    239.]

    asked the Minister for Trade (1) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the British Overseas Trade Board is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments";(2) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Simplification of International Trade Procedures Board is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments."

    asked the Minister for Trade (1) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the British Tourist Authority is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments";(2) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the English Tourist Board is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments."

    I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given in reply to his question of 29 November.—[Vol. 33 c. 61.]

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Hearing Aid Council is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments."

    The Hearing Aid Council was established by the Hearing Aid Council Act 1968. The council is not answerable to the Secretary of State for the conduct of its statutory responsibilities. There are 12 council members, including the chairman. The only staff employed by the council is a part-time registrar, whose accountancy firm provides the necessary office services. The council meets three or four times a year. The running expenses of the council in 1981 were £14,577 a year and were met from registration and retention fees. The chairman believes that the council is doing its work effectively, efficiently and with economy.

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the National Metrological Co-ordination Unit is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments."

    The unit was established under the Weights and Measures Act 1979 to perform essential work. My Department monitors the unit's activities and expenditure and, in particular, examines with the unit its proposals for activities and expenditure in the context of the unit's annual budget. A copy of the unit's first annual report and audited statement of accounts required by sections 9 and 10 of the Weights and Measures Act 1979 was placed in the Library of the House on 10 December 1981. I expect to receive the second report shortly.

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Policyholders Protection Board is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments."

    The Policyholders Protection Board was set up under the Policyholders Protection Act 1975. The board's activities are financed by the insurance industry and no public expenditure is involved.The workings of the Act and of the board were reviewed by my Department last year. The report we published—HC 363 of June 1981–found that no major changes were needed in the scope of the Act, the level of protection, or in the functions and composition of the board.I remain satisfied that the board is carrying out its duties.

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Red Sea Lights Company Limited is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments."

    This company was formed to undertake the responsibilities that fall to Her Majesty's Government under the Red Sea lights agreement. The company is subject to all the requirements of the Companies Acts and is limited by the guarantee of its members. They are officials of my Department, accountable to me for the company's effectiveness, efficiency and economy. None of the company's costs fall on the Exchequer—the United Kingdom contribution is met from the general lighthouse fund—but the company's articles require its accounts to be subject to scrutiny by the Comptroller and Auditor-General. Most of the company's costs are met by the other Governments who are parties to the agreement. Their representatives are provided with detailed accounts and meet annually to discuss them with the company's management.

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the National Consumer Council is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments".

    The council's chairman and I are in regular touch about its work. In this and other ways we keep its activities under continuing review, within the framework of the financial and manpower controls to which I referred in reply to my hon. Friend's previous question on 2 December.—[Vol. 33, c. 238–39.]

    asked the Minister for Trade what practical steps he has taken to establish that the nationalised industries consumer councils are doing their work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, arid that they continue to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments".

    These matters have been reviewed in our examination of the NICCs, to which I referred in my reply on 1 December.—[Vol. 33, c. 206.]—to my hon. Friend's previous question.

    asked the Minister for Trade (1) what practical steps he has taken to establish that the Monopolies and Mergers Commission is doing its work effectively, efficiently, and with economy, and that it continues to fulfil a useful purpose in accordance with the requirement stated in "Non-Departmental Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments";(2) when he last conducted an overall review of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission in accordance with the requirement laid down in section 7 of "Non-Department Public Bodies: A Guide for Departments"; on what grounds he decided to retain the body; and what areas for savings in finance and manpower were identified.

    [pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 61]: The commission's functions were substantially increased by the Competition Act 1980 and its staff augmented to deal with the wider role. Its reports on references provide a regular opportunity for me to monitor its work. A further review meeting the requirements in section 7 of "Non-Departmental Bodies: A Guide to Departments" will be carried out in due course.

    asked the Minister for Trade when last he received written advice from the Cinematograph Films Council; and what action he has taken as a result.

    [pursuant to his reply, 1 December 1982, c. 205]: On 29 November 1982. I have instructed my officials to take appropriate action.

    asked the Minister for Trade when last he received written advice from the Advisory Committee on Historic Wreck Sites; and what action he has taken as a result.

    [pursuant to his reply, 1 December 1982, c. 205]: The commttee meets regularly in March, July and November each year to consider proposals for designation orders and licences to survey or excavate protected sites, and makes recommendations as appropriate. So far, all the committee's recommendations have been accepted and implemented. Its most recent meeting was due to be held on 30 November to consider requests about diving activities in the coming year. I am awaiting its advice. My hon. Friend will recall that following a parliamentary question from himself on 9 December 1981–[Vol. 14, c. 412]—I decided to cut the numbers on this committee from 17 to 12.

    Funeral Services

    asked the Minister for Trade if he will ask the Director General of Fair Trading to investigate the trading practices of, and prices charged by, undertakers and others who provide funeral services.

    No. The National Association of Funeral Directors has a code of practice drawn up in consultation with the Office of Fair Trading, covering services provided by members.

    Bargain Offer Order

    asked the Minister for Trade whether he is yet in a position to announce proposed changes to the Bargain Offer Order; and if he will make a statement.

    On 29 July I said that I had instructed my officials to undertake a comprehensive review of section 11 of the Trade Descriptions Act and of the Bargain Offers Order and to consider proposals for new primary legislation.I indicated that it would not be appropriate to impose new burdens on traders in this field in advance of the results of this review. I proposed, therefore, to simplify the Bargain Offers Order so that all concerned have a clear understanding of the legal position. The most important change would be to ensure that the order applies only to price and value claims where a trader quoted a comparative price or value or provided information from which such a price or value could be calculated. This should avoid the possibility of advertising slogans making general claims about value being interpreted as contrary to the order.My Department issued a consultation document today which includes drafts of the proposed new Bargain Offers Order and of the guidance notes for trading standards officers. It seeks views within three months on the draft order, the draft guidance notes and on possible future primary legislation.I have placed a copy of the consultation document in the Library.

    Dioxin

    asked the Minister for Trade (1) if he will list in the Official Report those materials imported into the United Kingdom in 1981 that contained Dioxin;(2) if he will list in the

    Official Report the commodities exported from the United Kingdom in 1981 that contained Dioxin.

    [pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 63]: The classification of products in the Overseas Trade Statistics does not enable such a list to be compiled.

    European Community

    asked the Minister for Trade (1) what percentage of United Kingdom exports of manufactures were sent to the rest of the Common Market in the current year to date; and what were the comparable percentages in the previous five calendar years;(2) what percentage of United Kingdom imports of manufactures came from the rest of the Common Market in the current year to date; and what were the comparable percentages in the previous five calendar years;

    [pursuant to his reply, 29 November 1982, c. 64]: The information is as follows:

    Shares of United Kingdom Trade in Manufactures Accounted for by EC Countries
    Percentage
    ExportsImports
    19773447
    19783649
    19794052
    19803949
    19813749
    1982*3751
    * Provisional January - October.

    Social Services

    Cervical Cytology

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make additional resources available to enable family practitioner committees to have a high standard of patient recall for cervical cytology, particularly amongst those women under the age of 35 years.

    I refer the hon. Member to my replies to my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Mr. Silvester) on 21 December 1981–[Vol. 15, c. 297]—and 26 October 1982–[Vol. 29, c. 386]—and my hon. and learned Friend's reply to the hon. Member for Wolverhampton, North-East (Mrs. Short) on 16 June 1982–[Vol. 25, c. 289.] Beyond this there are no plans to make additional resources available to health authorities for cervical cytology recall.

    National Health Service (Dispute)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many operations were cancelled and how many outpatient appointments were cancelled during the Health Service dispute in (a) the United Kingdom as a whole, (b) the Merseyside regional health authority and (c) the Macclesfield district health authority.

    Information as at 7 November 1982 is as follows:

    Operations cancelledOut-patient appointments cancelled
    England147,000125,000
    Mersey Region5,50024,000
    Macclesfield District60160
    Information for the United Kingdom is not available.

    Cannabis

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether, following the report of the group on the effects of cannabis use in November 1981 and its conclusion that cannabis might be helpful in the treatment of patients undergoing cancer chemo-therapy, the further research they recommended is being done.

    Yes. It is expected that the results of this work will be published in the medical press in due course.

    Local Office Dispute (Birmingham)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the latest position regarding the local office dispute in Birmingham.

    Following my reply to the hon. Member's question on 11 November—[Vol. 31, c. 260–1]—talks continued at length with departmental trade union officials. Although an agreement for a return to work was reached for a second time with the Civil and Public Services Association and recommended by its national executive committee, it was rejected by mass meetings of strikers on 19 November. Since then the unions have sought to increase industrial action by calling on their members to withdraw co-operation in manning the emergency payment centres, to extend the strike outside Birmingham, and to take part in a one-day Department-wide strike on 3 December. We remain convinced that we have responded constructively and reasonably to the issues raised in the dispute, but, in view of the union's decision to seek to escalate action, we have now felt obliged to withdraw the proposals contained in the agreement for a return to work.Perry Barr local office reopened to the public on 25 November. The 10 other offices in Birmingham remain closed, but the emergency payment centres have continued to work normally and there has been no extension of this industrial action to other offices.

    Local Office Closure (Perry Barr)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why his Department closed the Walsall Road local office in Perry Barr; and what circumstances brought about its reopening.

    The decision whether a local office can continue to provide a public counter service in the face of industrial action is for local management in the light of all the circumstances. In the case of the Perry Barr local office, a number of staff followed their union's directive to come out on indefinite strike from 4 November. At that time, management judged that to reorganise duties in order to maintain the public counter service could have led to an escalation of the action within the office and thus jeopardised the ability to maintain the large number of regular benefit payments which the office usually makes. The situation was kept under review and the office was reopened as soon as management judged that this could be done.

    Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) why the medical laboratory scientific officer grades within the National Health Service are treated as professional for the purposes of registration as a profession supplementary to medicine but not for the purpose of pay determination;(2) why medical laboratory scientific officers have been excluded from the enhanced pay offer to nurses and professional staff.

    Registration as a profession supplementary to medicine was not the determining factor in the Government's decision to include some professional groups with nurses and midwives for the purposes of pay offers. I refer the hon. Member to my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Huddersfield, West (Mr. Dickens) on 25 October.—[Vol. 29, c. 303.]

    Prescribing (Working Group)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will expedite his response io the Greenfield working group on effective prescribing; what annual savings would result from the group's recommendations; and what representations he has received about the report from the medical profession.

    I refer the hon. Member to my reply to the hon. Member for Newcastle upon Tyne, East (Mr. Thomas), on 10 November 1982.—[Vol. 31, c. 181.] I have received no representations about the report from the medical profession.

    Huddersfield (Hospital Waiting Lists)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the waiting list for all categories of operation at the Huddersfield Royal infirmary and St. Luke's hospital, Huddersfield; and by how many it has increased since 1979.

    Up-to-date information on the waiting list for operations at Huddersfield Royal infirmary and St. Luke's hospital, Huddersfield, is not held centrally. The hon. Member may wish to contact the chairman of Huddersfield health authority direct for this information.

    Perinatal Mortality Rates

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list the perinatal mortality rates for each health district within the south east Thames regional health authority and the south west Thames regional health authority for 1978 and 1981.

    The information requested is as follows. It should be noted that perinatal mortality rates for health districts can vary quite widely from year to year, owing to the small numbers of events occurring each year.

    Perinatal mortality rates per 1,000 total births for health districts in South East and South West Thames regional health authorities 1978 and 1981
    Area1978*1981
    South East Thames
    Brighton HD14·712·1
    Eastbourne HD13·211·1
    Hastings HD14·19·7
    Canterbury and Thanet HD13·111·6
    Dartford and Gravesham HD12·613·4
    Maidstone HD13·513·1
    Medway HD16·113·6
    South East Kent HD15·912·3
    Tunbridge Wells HD9·810·0
    Bexley HD14·89·2
    Greenwich HD16·211·8
    Bromley HD19·09·5
    Guys HD14·712·2
    Kings HD14·111·5
    Lewisham HD15·914·1
    St. Thomas HD19·715·8
    South West Thames
    East Surrey HD13·215·7
    Area1978*1981
    Mid Surrey HD12·44·5
    North Surrey HD13·611·0
    North West Surrey HD10·714·5
    South West Surrey HD10·411·2
    West Surrey and North East Hampshire HD13·412·1
    Chichester HD13·59·2
    Cuckfield and Crawley HD15·111·6
    Worthing HD17·110·6
    Croydon HD15·99·9
    Kingston and Richmond HD11·37·0
    Roehampton HD10·510·6
    Sutton and West Merton HD14·111·9
    Wandsworth and East Merton HD15·611·3
    * Provisional figures.

    Mentally Handicapped Persons (Specialist Workers)

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what consideration he is giving to providing, on a regional basis, for a proportion of specialist workers for the blind to have additional training in the special needs of mentally handicapped people; if there is any action he will be taking; and if he will make a statement.

    I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given to my hon. Friend the Member for Brighton, Kemptown (Mr. Bowden) on 2 December 1982.—[Vol. 33, c. 271.]

    Housing Benefit Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the outcome of the partial start to the housing benefit scheme.

    The partial start to housing benefit involved the withdrawal of housing costs from the supplementary benefit payments of 1·4 million local authority tenants and the award to them of 100 per cent. rent and rate rebates by the local authority. Reports from the DHSS regions indicate that the position on 22 November was as follows:

    DHSS local officesLocal authorities
    Work completed by 22 November428 (95 per cent.)377 (79 per cent.)
    Will complete by 4 December10 (2 per cent.)90 (19 per cent.)
    More than two weeks late14* (3 per cent.)12 (2 per cent.)
    *11 are involved in industrial action.
    Six authorities are linked to DHSS offices involved in industrial action.
    The table indicates that the great majority of local offices and local authorities have carried out this major, administrative exercise efficiently and on time. I am happy to pay tribute to their efforts.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether his Department is studying ways of using computers for the education of the disabled.

    I have been asked to reply.Under the microelectronics education programme, a number of development projects are now under way relating to microelectronics and the education of the handicapped. Four special education microelectronics resource centres have also been established to promote the effective use of microelectronics in the teaching of children with special educational needs. The Department is holding a conference in Birmingham later this month, in conjunction with the Council for Educational Technology, to consider the curricular implications of microelectronics in special education.