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Written Answers

Volume 35: debated on Tuesday 18 January 1983

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 18 January 1983

Trade

Trading Practices

asked the Minister for Trade whether he will list in the Official Report all the investigations currently being carried out by his Department in relation to trading practices.

My Department undertakes a wide range of different types of inquiry, both formal and informal, which might be regarded as investigations in relation to trading practices. Many are conducted in confidence. A full list of those not subject to considerations of confidentiality which might fall within the scope of the hon. Member's question could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

James Brewster And Associates

asked the Minister for Trade for which years since 1978 the firm of James Brewster and Associates has filed accounts at Companies House.

Accounts for James Brewster and Associates Ltd. have been filed for the years ending 31 December 1978 and 31 December 1979.

Great Universal Stores

asked the Minister for Trade if he will state to whom his Department gave advance notice of its intention of publishing the Monopolies Commission's report on the takeover bid by Great Universal Stores Ltd. of the Empire Stores (Bradford) additional to the notification on 4 January to the latter-named company; and whether he will cause an investigation to be made into any inside dealings due to such prior announcement and notification.

On 4 January 1982 Great Universal Stores PLC and Empire Stores (Bradford) PLC, and the financial advisers to these companies, were notified that the report would be published on 6 January. Also on 4 January, the Stock Exchange was notified of the publication date; the information was thus available to the market as a whole. I have no evidence which would suggest the need for an investigation.

Stranded Vessels (Salvage)

asked the Minister for Trade what functions are carried out by Her Majesty's Coastguard in respect of stranded ships, their contents and fittings; and what guidance is given by his Department to Her Majesty's Coastguard as to the legal ownership and status of such vessels and contents and as to any rights of salvage by members of the public.

The main responsibility for dealing with wrecked property on the coast of the United Kingdom and in United Kingdom territorial waters lies with the receiver of wreck for the district. He is usually an officer of Her Majesty's Customs and is appointed by my right hon. and noble Friend. Officers of Her Majesty's Coastguard may exercise the powers and perform the duties of a receiver of wreck in his absence and are available at all times to give him any advice and assistance he may require. Detailed and comprehensive guidance on matters relating to wreck and salvage is given by my Department to receivers of wreck. The guidance given to Her Majesty's Coastguard is set out in the following extract from "Instructions and Operational Procedures for Her Majesty's Coastguard":2.11.8 Assistance to Receivers of Wreck.2.11.8.1 The Secretary of State for Trade is responsible for appointing Receivers of Wreck under the Merchant Shipping Act 1894. The principal objectives of the Receiver's office are the protection and preservation of wrecked property and the restoration thereof to the owners.2.11.8.2 Officers of Her Majesty's Customs are normally appointed Receivers of Wreck and their responsibilities are given in "Instructions in respect of wreck and salvage, 1926" as modified by general minutes to Receivers of Wreck issued from time to time by the Department of Trade.2.11.8.3 While the Act enables officers of Her Majesty's Coastguard to perform the powers and duties of a Receiver of Wreck in the absence of the Receiver, in practice Her Majesty's Coastguard confine their activities to providing assistance to the Receiver as outlined below:

  • A Information about the incidence of "wreck" is passed to the Receiver. "Wreck" should be taken to include wrecked vessels, aircraft, hovercraft, jetsam, flotsam, lagan and derelict found in or on the shores of the sea or any tidal water.
  • B Salvors of wreck are to be told to deliver it to the Receiver of Wreck unless they have proof of ownership in which case full details should be given to the Receiver.
  • C If it is considered necessary, and provided that it does not interfere with normal duties and undue expenditure of time and money is not incurred, Her Majesty's Coastguard may provide temporary guard on the wreck or take custody of it until the Receiver makes his own arrangements.
  • D Property in the custody of Her Majesty's Coastguard must not be removed by the owner or his agent without the approval of the Receiver. Once the property has been delivered up to the owner, the responsibilities of the Receiver and Her Majesty's Coast guard cease. If the property remains unprotected on the beach, and the owners ask Her Majesty's Coastguard to provide protection, the request may be acceded to if:
  • 1. It will not interfere with normal duties;
  • 2. the request is made in writing; and
  • 3. the owners agree to provide adequate recompense for the time involved.
  • Consumer Credit (Regulations)

    asked the Minister for Trade whether he is yet in a position to make a statement following his reply to the hon. Member for Lichfield and Tamworth on 22 October, 1982 Official Report, c. 238, on the recommendations of the Director General of Fair Trading on the subject of the Consumer Credit Advertisement and Quotation Regulations.

    No, but I hope soon to complete my preliminary consideration of the report with a view to consultation with interested bodies.

    Aircraft Noise

    asked the Minister for Trade if he is yet able to reply to the criticisms of the Civil Aviation Authority directorate of operational research and analysis report 8203 "Reaction to Aircraft Noise near General Aviation Airfields", contained in the Travers Morgan planning critique commissioned by the Environment Airfields Federation, a copy of which has been sent to him.

    No. In view of the extensive nature of the consultant's comments, I have asked the authors of the DORA report to produce a further short report dealing with the points raised. I hope that this will be ready for publication shortly, and I shall then place a copy in the Library of the House.

    Textile Imports

    asked the Minister for Trade what action he has taken subsequent to the recommendation by the Select Committee on European Legislation for a debate on the EEC proposals for a Council regulation on common rules for imports of certain textile products originating in third countries and for a Council regulation maintaining the arrangements for imports into the Community of textile products originating in Taiwan.

    The proposals in question were received by my Department on 10 and 9 December 1982, respectively. Explanatory memoranda on them were submitted on Monday 13 December 1982. The final negotiations of the bilateral agreements under MFA3 were concluded only on 13 December 1982. I made a statement to the House on the consequences on 14 December 1982. The Scrutiny Committee considered the proposals on 15 December 1982.The current bilateral textiles agreements expired on 31 December 1982. In order to avoid a hiatus in the United Kingdom textile and clothing industry's protection against low-cost imports, I believed it essential that the new bilateral agreements should enter into force with effect from 1 January. For this to happen, the proposed regulation had to be adopted by the Council of Ministers before the end of last year which, in effect, meant adoption at the final 1982 meeting of the Council on 21 December.Similarly, the proposed Taiwan regulation provides for new quotas—until the end of June 1983—on all the products of which Taiwan is a significant supplied to the United Kingdom and paves the way for their continuation until the end of 1986. It was equally essential that this regulation should be adopted before the end of 1982 if there was to be no hiatus between the expiry of the present quotas on Taiwan on 31 December 1982 and the entry into force of the new quotas.In these circumstances, I felt obliged to give Government approval for the regulation to be adopted before the end of last year. I very much regret that these special circumstances did not leave time for the proposals to be debated before their adoption.

    Manufactured Goods

    asked the Minister for Trade what was the last occasion on which there was an annual deficit in United Kingdom trade in manufactured goods.

    [pursuant to his reply, 17 January 1983, c. 66]: There has been no occasion on which the United Kingdom has recorded, on a balance of payments basis, an annual deficit on trade in manufactured goods.

    Energy

    Home Energy Advisers

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will publish in the Official Report a table of those electricity boards and gas regions which have home energy advisers, showing the number of advisers in each area.

    I have asked the chairmen of the Electricity Council and the British Gas Corporation to write direct to the hon. Gentleman.

    Sizewell Inquiry

    asked the Secretary of State for Energy what consideration has been given to the suggestion made by the inspector at the Sizewell inquiry that he should have his own counsel; and what action he proposes.

    I have agreed to a request from the inspector, Sir Frank Layfield, QC, that counsel to the inquiry should be appointed following his advice that this was necessary to assist him and the assessors in the efficient conduct of the inquiry. The Treasury Solicitor has accordingly retained Mr. Henry Brooke QC for this purpose.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    United Nations General Assembly

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on how many occasions in 1981 and 1982 there was a vote in the United Nations General Assembly; and on how many occasions the 10 member states of the European Economic Community all voted in the same way.

    In 1981 there were 159 votes in the United Nations General Assembly and the Ten voted together on 76 occasions. A further 206 resolutions were adopted by consensus in which the Ten joined.The figures for 1982 will not be available until next month. I shall write to my hon. Friend.

    North And South Korea (Reunification)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when the question of the reunification of North and South Korea was last discussed at the United Nations.

    The Korean question was last debated by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1975. The item was also inscribed in the General Assembly's agenda in 1976 but was withdrawn before the debate.

    Hong Kong

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many applications have been made to the Hong Kong Immigration Department for emigration over the past three months; and how these figures compare with the previous quarter.

    Hong Kong residents do not have to obtain permission from the Hong Kong Government to emigrate so no comprehensive emigration statistics are available. However, the Immigration Department represents the United Kingdom and some other Commonwealth countries for visa purposes: the number of applications for emigration to these countries that it received in the last quarter of 1982 was 164 compared with 135 in the previous quarter.

    Turkey

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to the Turkish Government concerning the repression of human rights in Turkey.

    The Government continue to make the Turkish authorities aware of our concern over alleged violations of human rights. The Turkish authorities claim that they are making genuine efforts to investigate allegations and, where these allegations are proven, to punish the culprits. We shall continue to watch developments closely.

    Overseas Development

    Lesotho

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Her Majesty's Government will provide assistance to those who suffered in the South African raid on Lesotho on 9 December.

    Her Majesty's Government have offered a contribution of £5,000 to the relief fund established by the Lesotho Prime Minister for the support of the families of the victims of the raid. Parliamentary approval of this new service will be sought in a Supplementary Estimate for the overseas aid Vote. Pending that approval, the necessary expenditure will be met by a repayable advance from the Contingencies Fund.

    Wales

    Welsh Language

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will estimate the number of primary school children in Wales coming from homes whose language is not Welsh who can speak Welsh with fluency.

    In September 1981, the latest date for which information is available, the number of primary school children aged five and over whose home language is not Welsh but who can speak Welsh with fluency is estimated to have been about 15,000. This estimate is derived from assessments of fluency made by head teachers.

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many of all secondary school children in Wales at the most recent available date (a) are taught Welsh (i) as a first language and (ii) as a second language and (b) are not taught Welsh at all.

    The latest available information refers to September 1981, and is as follows:

    Teaching of Welsh in maintained secondary schools
    Pupils taught Welsh as a first language22,814
    Pupils taught Welsh as a second language89,127
    Pupils not taught Welsh at all126,668

    School Milk

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total number of pupils (a) in primary schools and (b) in secondary schools in each county on 24 September 1982 (i) taking free school milk on that day and (ii) buying milk on that day; and what proportions these represent of the number of pupils marked present on the morning of that day in each county.

    Special Schools

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will publish, by county, the officially recognised number of special schools; and how many of these are (a) day schools, (b) day and boarding schools, (c) boarding schools and (d) hospital schools.

    The latest available information refers to September 1981 and is as follows:

    Special Schools in Wales
    Day schoolsDay and boarding schoolsBoarding schoolsHospital schoolsTotal
    Clwyd8513
    Dyfed2316
    Gwent41117
    Gwynedd4217
    Mid Glamorgan6410
    Powys224
    South Glamorgan107219
    West Glamorgan527

    Handicapped Children

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied that the forms used by his Department to compile statistics on handicapped pupils are adequate to identify fully secondary handicap among such pupils; and if he will review this matter with representatives of the Wales Council for the Disabled.

    The present forms contain little information about secondary handicaps but the whole question of the collection of statistics on handicapped children is being reviewed with the coming into force of the remaining provisions of the Education Act 1981 on 1 April 1983.

    Foreign Investment

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what importance he attaches to the encouragement of investment in Wales by overseas companies; and whether he will make a statement.

    The encouragement of inward investment to Wales is of fundamental importance in terms of both the direct employment provided and the special contribution that projects from overseas can make to the development of a diverse, modern and efficient industrial base within the Principality. The competition to attract international mobile projects has become very much keener in recent years and with that in mind I have re-examined the arrangements that exist to promote Wales as a location for such investment and to translate potential interest into firm projects.

    The Development Corporation for Wales has over the past 25 years made a considerable contribution to the task of attracting firms from the United States, Japan and Western Europe to establish manufacturing units in Wales. It has collaborated closely with the Welsh Development Agency and my Department. I now believe it necessary to streamline the arrangements we have and in particular to bring together the activities undertaken by the Development Corporation for Wales and those of the Welsh Development Agency and of my Department which relate to the attraction of inward investment into one unified operation under a single director. Proposals for a new organisation have been discussed with the chairmen of the agency and the corporation and details will now be considered by the respective boards. The need to maintain essential continuity in terms of both staffing and operations will be borne very much in mind in planning for the establishment of the new body. I hope that it can come into being on 1 April.

    The new body will maintain the closest liaison with the Department of Industry's Invest in Britain Bureau and with Diplomatic Service posts in those countries which are the principal sources of inward investment. I am also anxious that there should be very close collaboration between the body and local authorities in Wales in the task of assisting inward investment. I am consulting representatives of local authorities on arrangements for involving them in its work.

    Rural Buildings (Use)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales whether he will introduce a scheme to bring redundant rural buildings into productive use.

    I have approved a new scheme of grants which will be operated by the Welsh Development Agency and the Development Board for Rural Wales. Grants will be available in rural areas at the discretion of the agency and the board up to a maximum rate of 35 per cent. of the cost of converting redundant buildings for use by craft industry, light industry or service industries promoting or supporting tourism, craft industry or light industry. Full details of the scheme are available from the agency and the development board.

    Civil Service

    Retirement Age

    asked the Minister for the Civil Service when the retirement age in the Civil Service was set at 60 years; and what is the increased annual cost of the pensions of this retirement age in 1982–83 and each of the two succeeding financial years.

    The minimum retirement age in the Civil Service has been 60 since before the middle of the last century. As there are no plans to change this policy, no extra pension costs will be incurred in 1982–83 or the two succeeding financial years.

    National Finance

    Matches And Lighters (Duty)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, further to his reply, Official Report, 29 November 1982, c. 76, what were the receipts obtained from the excise duty on (a) matches and (b) mechanical lighters in 1981–82; and whether he can give an estimate of the revenue from the excise duty from (a) matches and (b) mechanical lighters from April to October 1982.

    Net receipts (provisional) of excise duty were as follows:

    (£ million)
    (a) matches(b) mechanical lighters
    1981–8211·35·1
    April-October 19826·83·0

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer by what percentage receipts from the excise duty on (a) matches and (b) mechanical lighters rose in 1981–82; and what percentage of total customs and excise receipts the duty on matches and lighters was in 1980–81 and 1981–82.

    Receipts from exise duty on matches and mechanical lighters in 1981–82 were 113 per cent. and 21 per cent., respectively, more than in 1980–81. Duty receipts from matches and mechanical lighters represented 0·04 per cent. and 0·06 per cent. of total customs and excise net receipts in 1980–81 and 1981–82, respectively.

    Mortgages (Tax Relief)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the aggregate cost to the Exchequer of tax relief on mortgage repayments for first-time house buyers (a) in the first year of repayment and (b) in each of the next four years.

    [pursuant to his reply, 17 January 1983, c. 20]: I regret that estimates cannot be provided as the information on mortgage interest eligible for tax relief does not distinguish that paid by first-time buyers.

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what would be the annual gain to the Exchequer of restricting tax relief on mortgage repayments to tax paid at the standard rate income tax.

    [pursuant to his reply, 17 January 1983, c. 20]: the latest estimate of the yield is £140 million in a full year at 1982–83 income levels.

    Travel-To-Work Costs (Tax Relief)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many letters and other representations he has received advocating some form of tax relief for travel-to-work costs.

    [pursuant to his reply, 17 January 1983, c. 21]: Each year a number of letters and other representations are recieved on this point. The precise figure could not be obtained without disproportionate expense.

    Northern Ireland

    Terrorism (Murders)

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons have been murdered by terrorist violence in each police division and former police county in Northern Ireland from 1968 until the end of 1982.

    Statistics are not kept in the form requested, but the number of deaths resulting from the security situation in Northern Ireland during the period 1969 to 1982 inclusive is as follows:

    PoliceNumber
    Division
    A145
    B352
    C315
    D221
    E82
    F108
    G38
    H235
    J93
    K147
    L70
    M75
    N223
    O71
    P27
    R64
    Total2,266
    Figures for 1968 are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many persons were killed by terrorist violence in Northern Ireland from 1968 to the end of 1982; how many were regular soldiers, Ulster Defence Regiment, Royal Ulster Constabulary, Royal Ulster Constabulary Reserve, USC members and civilians; and how many in each case were women or children.

    Statistics are not kept in the form requested, but the number of deaths resulting from the security situation in Northern Ireland for the period 1969 to 1982 inclusive is as follows:

    Numbers
    Army366
    UDR126
    RUC115
    RUC'R'57
    Ulster Special Constabulary0
    Civilians1,602
    Total2,266
    Out of the total of 2,266, 159 were women and 174 were below the age of 18.Figures for 1968 are not readily available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    Firearms Certificates

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many shotguns, rifles, hand guns, air rifles and pistols, respectively, are at present held on firearms certificates in Northern Ireland; and what estimate he makes of the number of firearms certificates that are due for renewal in 1983.

    At 30 November 1982 the total number of weapons held on firearm certificates in Northern Ireland was 117,621, made up as follows:

    Numbers
    Shotguns77,274
    Handguns10,258
    Rifles13,688
    Air Weapons15,605
    Miscellaneous796
    It is estimated that approximately 18,500 firearm certificates are due for renewal in 1983.

    asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many police officers and of which ranks, and how many civilian staff and of which grades, are employed at the Royal Ulster Constabulary headquarters on the processing of applications for and renewal of firearms certificates as at 1 January 1983; what are the respective salaries for each grade and rank; what was the total expenditure on overtime and allowances in the last financial year for which figures are available; and what is the projected figure for the current year.

    The information is as follows:

    Grade/RankNumbersAverage Pay (excluding overtime and allowances)
    £
    Superintendent117,960
    Chief Inspector113,260
    Inspector111,910
    Sergeant110,440
    Constable18,170
    Clerk54,392
    Clerical Assistant213,617
    Total expenditure on overtime and allowances amounted to £25,685 in 1981–82 and is estimated at £18,900 for 1982–83.

    Home Department

    Risley Remand Centre

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current catchment area for Risley remand centre for both males and females; and if he has any plans to make any changes in either catchment area.

    Risley remand centre receives male prisoners who are unconvicted or convicted and awaiting sentence and who are committed by magistrates courts in Cheshire, Clwyd, Lancashire and Merseyside, and parts of Cumbria—excluding those committed for appearance at the Crown court at Carlisle—Derbyshire, Gwynedd and Staffordshire; and female prisoners in the same categories who are committed by courts in Clwyd, Derbyshire, Greater Manchester, Gwynedd, Lancashire, Merseyside, Nottinghamshire, Shropshire, South Yorkshire, Staffordshire, West Midlands and West Yorkshire, and parts of Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Powys. As stated in my reply to a question from the hon. Member on 23 December—[Vol. 34, c. 622.]—we are considering the feasibility of establishing a remand function at Liverpool prison to enable that establishment to assume responsibility for the majority of men remanded by courts in Merseyside who are currently held at Risley. We have at present no plans to make any changes in Risley's female catchment area.

    National Association Of Victim Support Schemes

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to his reply of 21 December to the hon. Member for Exeter (Mr. Hannam), Official Report, c. 434, how much money was made available to the National Association of Victim Support Schemes in 1981–82, 1980–81 and 1979–80, respectively.

    Grants made by the Home Office to the national association were:

    £
    1981–8215,100
    1980–8112,000
    1979–805,000

    Vips (Protection)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will establish a national police and protection force to protect the Royal Family,

    Victims of offences currently recorded as homicide attributed to acts of terrorism connected with Northern Ireland by year of recording and occupation
    England and WalesNumber of persons
    YearOccupation
    TotalArmed forces*Police officerOther
    197277
    197311
    1974431726
    197511119
    197622
    1977
    1978
    197911
    1980
    1981312
    1982‡1111
    * Including civilians employed by the Armed Forces and families of Armed Forces personnel.
    †(provisional).

    Firearms (Deaths)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons were killed by the use of firearms in England and Wales during 1980, 1981, and 1982, respectively; of these murders, how many were committed during armed robberies; what weapons were used in each case; and whether the weapons used were legally held, or had been stolen.

    In a case of homicide it is not possible in the absence of a court decision to distinguish between offences of murder, manslaughter and infanticide. The total number of offences currently recorded as homicide by shooting in 1980 and 1981 is published in table 4.3 of "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 1981"; a separate offence is recorded for each victim of homicide. The number of such offences committed in the course of furtherance of theft and the types of weapon involved is given in the following table. Information for 1982 is not yet available. The other information requested is not available centrally and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    embassies, visiting Heads of State and other similar persons, the costs of such a force to be met wholly from national Exchequer funds and not from local authorities or local ratepayers from the areas where the residences of these public representatives may be situated.

    Terrorism (Statistics)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many persons have died as a result of Irish Republican Army and other Irish terrorist violence in England and Wales in each year since 1968 to the end of 1982; how many were civilians and how many were police men and police women; and how many were members of the armed forces.

    The information available, which is given in the following table, covers offences of homicide which have been attributed on the evidence available to acts of terrorism connected with Northern Ireland; however, the coverage may not be complete. No figures are available for the period 1968 to 1971.

    Offences currently recorded as homicide by shooting in the course or furtherance of theft by type of weapon
    England and WalesNumber of offences
    Type of Weapon19801981
    Pistol21
    Shotgun:
    long barrelled1
    sawn-off1
    TOTAL32

    Turkish Political Refugees

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Turkish political refugees were in the United Kingdom at the latest available date.

    Norfolk County Constabulary

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the present strength of the Norfolk county constabulary.

    Yorkshire Ripper (Report)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made in considering and implementing the recommendations in Mr. Byford's report of his review of the Yorkshire ripper case.

    My Department has issued to chief officers of police circulars of guidance on the investigation of a series of major crimes and on the Contempt of Court Act 1981. Copies of these circulars have been placed in the Library.

    Employment

    Fishing Industry (Redundancy Payments Scheme)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what moneys have been paid annually since the inception of the redundancy payments scheme by the Government and the employers in respect of middle and deep water fishermen; and how much has been paid out in each year and to how many fishermen.

    The information requested is not available. Statistics of statutory redundancy payments are analysed by industry order numbers of the Standard Industrial Classification. Order 1 covers agriculture, forestry and fishing and cannot be broken down further.

    Unemployment Statistics

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement on the latest unemployment figures.

    The December figures were disappointing. But it is worth noting that unemployment in the United Kingdom rose only half as steeply in 1982 as it did in 1981. It also rose much less steeply—in percentage terms—than in many other major countries similarly affected by the world recession. We take no comfort from that, because our competitive position is still far too weak. The best way in which those in work can help the unemployed is to keep down pay settlements, to help our industries beat the foreign competition and create the jobs we need.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many persons were unemployed in the Liverpool travel-to-work area at the latest available date.

    At 9 December 1982 the number of unemployed claimants in the Liverpool travel-to-work area was 88,976.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many people were unemployed in the Merseyside special development area at the latest available date.

    At 9 December 1982 the number of unemployed claimants in the Merseyside special development area was 131,731.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list in the Official Report all those employment areas in the United Kingdom where unemployment is over 20 per cent. stating the percentage level of unemployment in each case.

    The following is the information in respect of unemployed claimants at 9 December 1982 for jobcentre areas, either singly or grouped to form travel-to-work areas.

    AreaPercentage rate of unemployment
    Clacton on Sea20·5
    Hunstanton26·5
    Falmouth22·8
    Helston20·4
    Ilfracombe27·5
    Newquay23·0
    St. Ives23·1
    Corby20·2
    Mablethorpe26·1
    Skegness22·3
    Mexborough*22·6
    Rotherham20·3
    Whitby23·4
    Ormskirk*21·1
    Consett*27·0
    Hartlepool21·5
    Ebbw Vale*24·5
    Holyhead*22·7
    Lampeter*21·9
    Pembroke Dock31·3
    Rhyl22·0
    Tenby28·1
    Anstruther21·8
    Arbroath20·8
    Forres21·0
    Fort William22·0
    Irvine*24·2
    Portree20·3
    Rothesay25·4
    Sanquhar20·1
    Stornoway25·5
    Armagh20·3
    Ballymena*21·6
    Coleraine*23·0
    Cookstown30·9
    Downpatrick*21·5
    Dungannon34·3
    Enniskillen24·9
    Londonderry*27·3
    Newry31·3
    Omagh21·5
    Strabane37·7
    * Travel-to-work area comprisong two or more jobcentre areas.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the total number of unemployed and the percentage of unemployment for each region in the United Kingdom.

    At 9 December 1982 the numbers of unemployed claimants and the percentage rates of unemployment for each region of the United Kingdom were as follows:

    Number UnemployedPercentage Rate
    South East710,8969·7
    East Anglia78,66411·3
    South West194,84111·8
    West Midlands355,64216·1

    Number Unemployed

    Percentage Rate

    East Midlands187,72711·9
    Yorkshire and Humberside292,20914·5
    North West430,08015·8
    North226,76317·5
    Wales174,57216·9
    Scotland333,20315·3
    Northern Ireland112,31020·1
    United Kingdom3,096,99713·3

    This information was contained in the press notice issued by my Department on 6 January.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the total number of unemployed and the percentage level of unemployment for each of the new employment areas in the county of Norfolk.

    The following table gives the number of unemployed claimants in each jobcentre area in Norfolk at 9 December 1982. It also gives the percentage rates of unemployment for the jobcentre areas, either singly or grouped to form travel-to-work areas.

    Jobcentre areaNumberPercentage rate
    Cromer1,53018·5
    Dereham1,28015·2
    Diss1,15510·5
    Downham Market93314·2
    Fakenham91012·4
    Great Yarmouth6,28617·0
    Hunstanton1,01526·5
    Kings Lynn3,39711·9
    North Walsham90910·8
    Norwich11,893*10·3
    Attleborough593
    Wymondham782
    Thetford1,415*14·4
    Swaffham1,022
    Brandon‡428
    *The rate relates to the combined jobcentre areas i.e. the travel-to-work area.
    † Brandon is in Suffolk but it is part of the Thetford travel-to-work area.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing the number of unemployed and the percentage unemployment for each county in the East Anglian region.

    The following table gives the numbers of unemployed claimants and the percentage rates of unemployment in each of the counties in East Anglia at 9 December 1982.

    Unemployed claimantsPercentage rate
    Cambridgeshire22,48910·1
    Norfolk33,12012·5
    Suffolk23,05510·1

    Liverpool (School Leavers)

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment (1) what is the level of unemployment among school leavers in the Liverpool travel-to-work area at the latest available date;

    (2) how many school leavers in the Liverpool travel-to-work area have failed to obtain employment at the latest available date.

    At 9 December 1982, in the Liverpool travel-to-work area, there were 3,784 school leavers under 18 years of age who had failed to find employment. Percentage rates of unemployment are not calculated in respect of school leavers.

    Job Vacancies

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment how many job vacancies there were in the Merseyside special development area and the Liverpool travel-to-work area at the latest available date.

    At 4 December 1982 there were 2,240 vacancies remaining unfilled at jobcentres and eight vacancies remaining unfilled at careers offices in the Merseyside special development area. The corresponding figures for the Liverpool travel-to-work area were 1,662 and five, respectively.The vacancy statistics relate only to those notified to jobcentres and careers offices; vacancies notified are estimated to be about one-third of all vacancies in the country as a whole. The number of vacancies 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, 38,654 people were placed in jobs by jobcentres in the Merseyside special development area. It is estimated that the public employment service accounts for about one in four of all placings.

    Education And Science

    Assaults On Teachers

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether, in view of the concern of teachers in general and their trade unions and the Assistant Masters and Mistresses Association in particular at the growing number of violent physical attacks upon teachers by both pupils and their parents, he will collate and publish the statistics of such cases, and if he will take measures to stop such attacks.

    Although I share the concern about attacks upon teachers, I think the answer lies in swift and firm action at a local level rather than in a statistical exercise by central Government.

    Nursery Education

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many teachers were employed in nursery education in 1979, 1980, 1981 and to the nearest available date in 1982.

    The full-time-equivalent numbers of qualified and other teaching staff employed in maintained nursery schools and nursery classes in maintained primary schools in England were as follows:

    JanuaryNumber of teaching staff
    19795,743
    19805,974
    19816,117
    1982*6,228
    * Provisional.

    Special Schools

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will give the amount per student that is being spent on special education in each local authority for the years 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1982; and if he will make a statement.

    I am writing to the hon. Member setting out detailed information in response to his question.

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will give the total number of mentally-handicapped children in each local authority who are on waiting lists for special schools and special classes for the last three years for which figures are available; and if he will make a statement.

    Returns from local education authorities show a steady fall over the past few years in the number of children, including under-fives, assessed as being educationally subnormal and awaiting places in special schools. The figures for each local education authority are as follows and relate to January in each year. Many of these children receive education in ordinary schools or otherwise while awaiting places in special schools. The Department does not collect information about handicapped children awaiting places in special classes in ordinary schools.

    Numbers of Children Ascertained as Educationally Sub-Normal and Awaiting Places in Special Schools
    197919801981
    Greater London
    Barking9108
    Barnet42
    Bexley7149
    Brent498
    Bromley342
    Croydon111317
    Ealing111020
    Enfield201512
    Haringey33179
    Harrow471
    Havering443624
    Hillingdon1781
    Hounslow7102
    Kingston-Upon-Thames2109
    Merton1218
    Newham
    Redbridge18117
    Richmond-Upon-Thames2
    Sutton26
    Waltham Forest11625
    Inner London683416
    West Midlands
    Birmingham1819514
    Coventry282414
    Dudley121210
    Sandwell23
    Solihull4158

    1979

    1980

    1981

    Walsall132
    Wolverhampton851

    Merseyside

    Knowsley221020
    Liverpool1931
    St Helens91413
    Sefton322
    Wirral424332

    Greater Manchester

    Bolton221012
    Bury341
    Manchester13
    Oldham6256
    Rochdale1386
    Salford2111
    Stockport322110
    Tameside501050
    Trafford171411
    Wigan161316

    South Yorkshire

    Barnsley1233
    Doncaster12155
    Rotherham
    Sheffield9

    West Yorkshire

    Bradford9910538
    Calderdale21
    Kirklees13118
    Leeds1073530
    Wakefield672965

    Tyne and Wear

    Gateshead889559
    Newcastle Upon Tyne14139
    North Tyneside5516
    South Tyneside112
    Sunderland27385

    Non-Metropolitan Counties

    Isles of Scilly
    Avon150128155
    Bedfordshire617481
    Berkshire231413
    Buckinghamshire447271
    Cambridgeshire407371
    Cheshire128106103
    Cleveland43347
    Cornwall2146
    Cumbria261111
    Derbyshire354019
    Devon524241
    Dorset162518
    Durham167175
    East Sussex534744
    Essex668665
    Gloucestershire74226
    Hampshire181196148
    Hereford and Worcester629683
    Hertfordshire31441
    Humberside815438
    Isle of Wight
    Kent429430128
    Lancashire969984
    Leicestershire154551
    Lincolnshire9211274
    Norfolk953418
    North Yorkshire574143
    Northamptonshire525141
    Northumberland423015
    Nottinghamshire1308294
    Oxfordshire17168

    1979

    1980

    1981

    Salop122828
    Somerset1282996
    Staffordshire30823196
    Suffolk1039787
    Surrey908295
    Warwickshire906633
    West Sussex11311480
    Wiltshire53829

    ENGLAND TOTALS

    4,215

    3,809

    2,860

    1979

    1980

    1981

    Special Schools82,90182,22883,152
    Special classes in maintained primary and secondary schools8,5428,4288,288
    Total91,44390,65691,440

    The drop in the total number of children in this category is reflected in the reduction in the waiting lists, as shown in the answer to the hon. Member's other question.

    Hearing Aids

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many projects or units are now being funded by the Medical Research Council for advanced ergonomically designed hearing aids incorporating the latest technological processes and components.

    I understand that the Medical Research Council is supporting two projects relating to advanced designs of acoustic hearing aid. One is at the MRC institute of hearing research, Nottingham, and the other, which has also received DHSS support, is at the MRC neuro-otology unit, London.In addition, the council supports a major collaborative programme of work at Guy's hospital, at University college, London, and at Cambridge university on the artificial electrical stimulation of the cochlea for those with profound deafness. The MRC neurological prostheses unit is preparing intra-cochlear implants for a separate programme of work which has external funding, on this topic.The council also supports several projects on the psychoacoustical basis of hearing impairment, knowledge of which is an essential prerequisite for the rational design of hearing aids. In at least one case this research is complemented by work on hearing aid design supported by fiinds from other sources. In addition, the council supports projects related to the service provision of hearing aids.

    British Antarctic Survey

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what provision he is making to allow an expansion of the British Antarctic Survey's activities in the current financial year.

    To allow for expansion of the BAS programme, I am increasing the Natural Environment Research Council's cash limit for 1982–83 by £0·5 million. This increase is offset by savings available elsewhere in my programme. The new cash limits are:

    asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many mentally-handicapped children for 1979, 1980 and 1981 were receiving education in special schools and special classes; and if he will make a statement.

    Returns for local education authorities show the followin numbers of educationally subnormal pupils in special schools and special classes in England in January of each of the years:

    £'000 Cash
    Present Cash limitRevised Cash limit
    Vote 4
    Educational Services115,225114,725
    Vote 8
    Natural Environment Research Council57,53558,035
    Additional provision for the cash limit increase will be sought by means of a spring Supplementary Estimate.

    Scotland

    Job Creation (Glasgow)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he plans any new initiatives to alleviate the high level of unemployment in Glasgow.

    I am very concerned about the high levels of unemployment in Glasgow and we are already devoting very considerable resources to tackling the problems of the area. As part of a special development area, the city benefits from the maximum possible levels of Government assistance, and the Scottish Development Agency is actively involved in several projects in Glasgow which collectively should help to provide badly needed jobs for the city. For those unable to find a job the full range of special employment and training measures are available and have been greatly expanded in recent months.

    Unemployment Statistics

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will publish a breakdown for the average annual numbers of those unemployed in Scotland in each year since 1972 for (a) males, (b) females and (c) both sexes for the following age groups: 25 to 34 years, 35 to 44 years, 45 to 54 years, 55 to 59 years and over 60 years, respectively.

    The information is set out in the following tables. Since 1979 the analysis of the unemployment register by age has been carried out quarterly; before that date the register was only analysed by age twice yearly—January and July. The annual averages below, except where noted, are accordingly calculated from four and two figures respectively.

    Table 1
    Annual average unemployment in Scotland1972 to 1982 Males
    Age Breakdown
    Year25–34 years35–44 years45–54 years55–59 yearsOver 60 years
    1972*23,50619,61715,9587,55912,246
    197317,25415,03113,4616,52412,021
    1974†13,72611,45410,6244,78810,108
    1975‡18,19313,88712,2205,18110,564
    1976**23,92917,50914,8216,15311,902
    197727,88419,57816,2467,11811,909
    1978††27,01719,09416,3457,59411,789
    197925,51917,80115,7447,86611,070
    198031,16220,99918,5339,29712,377
    198146,54530,31426,35513,42116,220
    198252,85034,62830,15415,95117,027
    Table 2
    Annual average unemployed in Scotland1972 to 1982 Females
    Age Breakdown
    Year25–34 years35–44 years45–54 years55–59 yearsOver 60 years
    1972*4,6072,7923,7782,085104
    19734,2002,2453,3411,930173
    1974‡2,9081,4592,3081,33166
    1975‡4,9752,6563,2981,74384
    1976**7,3823,6034,0902,018128
    197710,5855,0275,1952,326204
    1978††12,9165,7105,8422,737171
    197914,4815,8045,8712,989162
    198018,0177,4577,1263,455178
    198123,14010,1589,6154,539189
    198225,26611,70711,1805,211228
    Table 3
    Annual average unemployed in Scotland1972 to 1982 Male and Female Total
    Age Breakdown
    Year25–34 years35–44 years45–54 years55–59 yearsOver 60 years
    1972*28,11322,40919,7369,64412,350
    197321,45417,27616,8028,45412,108
    1974‡16,63412,91312,9326,11910,174
    1975‡23,16816,54315,5186,92410,648
    1976**31,31121,11218,9118,17112,030
    197738,46924,60521,4419,44412,113
    1978‡‡39,93324,80422,18710,33111,960
    197940,00023,60521,61510,85511,232
    198049,18028,45625,65912,75212,555
    198169,68540,47235,97017,96016,409
    198278,11646,33541,33421,16217,255
    * Short-time workers registered as unemployed were included in the figures for 1972.
    ‡ No January figure, due to power strike.
    ‡ No January figure, due to industrial action.
    ** From April 1976 adult students were excluded from count.
    †† In 1978 because of the changeover in the frequency of the analysis three were completed in January, July and October.

    Terrorism (Murders)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons have died in Scotland as a result of Irish Republican Army and other Irish terrorist violence in each year since 1968; how many of them were policemen and policewomen; how many were members of the armed forces; and how many were civilians.

    The Scottish murder statistics for the period since 1968 record no deaths associated with Irish terrorist activity.

    Firearms (Murders)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many persons were murdered by the use of firearms in Scotland during 1980, 1981 and 1982, respectively; how many were killed during armed robberies; and what were the weapons used in each case.

    In Scotland, no such cases were recorded in 1980.In 1981, murders of four persons by the use of firearms were recorded, none during armed robberies. The weapons used were shotgun—three deaths—and rifle—one death.Information for 1982 is not yet available.

    Defence

    Hms "Conqueror"

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether the dagger on the patrol flag flown by HMS "Conqueror" on her return to the United Kingdom indicated a role in conjunction with special forces.

    The traditional dagger emblem indicated participation in special operations.

    Knoydart Estate

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the reply to the hon. Member for West Lothian (Mr. Dalyell) on 20 December, Official Report, c. 414, when he expects to decide whether to acquire the Knoydart estate; and if he will include organisations concerned with the protection of the environment among those with whom he will consult.

    We have now reviewed the proposal to purchase Knoydart for military training and have decided that although the estate would have met some part of a growing training need, the many difficulties associated with the proposal outweighed the benefits. The Ministry of Defence will not therefore be proceeding with the acquisition of the estate.

    South Korea

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many United Kingdom troops are stationed in South Korea; what is the cost of keeping them in that country; and who is responsible for payments.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many British Ministry of Defence personnel are based in South Korea.

    The United Kingdom provides a platoon of 28 personnel on rotation from Hong Kong for the United Nations honour guard in South Korea. In addition there are two officers—who also serve as defence attache and assistant defence attache—and three soldiers serving in the Commonwealth liaison mission to the United Nations command, and one soldier acting as clerk to the defence attache. The annual cost of providing these personnel, including transport and other support costs, is about £600,000; this is borne by the Ministry of Defence.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what duties the British troops stationed in South Korea perform.

    The duties of the honour guard are normally mostly ceremonial. Members of the Commonwealth liaison mission represent the United Kingdom on the Military Armistice Commission and on other appropriate occasions, and administer the United Kingdom element of the honour guard.

    Prime Minister

    Engagements

    Q4.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q5.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q6.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q7.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q8.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q10.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q11.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will state her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q12.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q13.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q14.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q15.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q16.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q17.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q18.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    Q19.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    Q20.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 18 January.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for 18 January.

    This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today. This evening I shall be attending a diamond jubilee reception for the National Asociation of Pension Funds.

    Scotland

    Q9.

    asked the Prime Minister if she has any plans to visit Scotland in 1983.

    Arms Reductions

    asked the Prime Minister, pursuant to her answer of 16 December, Official Report, c. 477, if she will publish in the Official Report a list of the dates during which negotiations have taken place at Geneva on a comprehensive test ban treaty; if she will indicate what progress has been made in these negotiations; and when she anticipates that they will be successfully concluded.

    Tripartite negotiations on a comprehensive test ban were held between the United Kingdom, the United States and the Soviet Union in Geneva between 1977 and 1980. Considerable progress was made, but in important areas, such as verification, substantial work remained to be done. In the Committee on Disarmament in Geneva a working group is examining problems of verification which have to be resolved if a treaty in which we can place confidence is to be concluded.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list the dates of formal meetings in which the United Kingdom has been represented for the purpose of securing the zero option; and what progress has been made in these negotiations.

    Discussion of NATO's position in the INF negotiations, which culminated in the endorsement of the zero option, took place at a series of NATO consultations in 1981 which led up to the meeting of the nuclear planning group on 20–21 October 1981 and the meeting of NATO's special consultative group on 20 November 1981. Only limited progress has been made in the negotiations so far because the Soviet Union has been unwilling to give up its demand to retain a monopoly of land-based INF missiles like the SS20. The next round of negotiations begins on 27 January.

    asked the Prime Minister what practical targets for achievement have been agreed with the United States Administration in relation to the negotiations which are being undertaken by the United Kingdom through the medium of the United States to reduce substantially the number of strategic weapons; and what success these negotiations have achieved.

    At the strategic arms reductions talks, and with our full support, the United States has proposed a reduction of one-third in the numbers of warheads carried by the superpowers' strategic ballistic missiles, involving a cut of over a half in the numbers of the ballistic missiles themselves. The United States is the only Western power taking part in the negotiations, although it holds frequent consultations with us and other allies.

    asked the Prime Minister, pursuant to her reply of 16 December, Official Report, c. 477, if she will list the actual reductions in armaments which have arisen out of the Vienna negotiations on mutual and balanced force reductions, indicating the number of (a) missiles and (b) other weapons by which the armoury of each side has been reduced, and the annual value of these reductions in financial terms to the United Kingdom Treasury.

    No armaments have been reduced by either side as a result of the MBFR talks. Progress in these talks has been deadlocked because of continuing Eastern refusal either to co-operate in resolving the dispute over the size of Eastern forces in the area or to discuss effective verification measures.

    asked the Prime Minister whether Her Majesty's Government have yet made any response to the new ideas on nuclear missile reduction put forward by the Soviet Union and mentioned by the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 15 December 1982.

    We have made it clear, publicly and to the Russians, that their statement may be a step in the right direction, if it means they recognise that SS20 missiles must be reduced. But to demand a continuing Soviet monopoly of such longer-range missiles, while insisting that the Americans alone implement a zero option, would be unacceptable. The British deterrent has no place at the INF negotiations.

    Chemical Weapons

    asked the Prime Minister on what date representatives of the United Kingdom Government have met representatives of the Soviet Union to discuss the rejection of chemical weapons; and what has been the response of the Soviet Government.

    The Committee on Disarmament, of which we and the Russians are members, has established a working group to elaborate a convention banning the development, production and stockpiling of chemical weapons. The working group, which held sessions in 1981 and 1982, opens its spring session today.In February 1982 Britain tabled fresh verification proposals in the working group. In July 1982 the Russians tabled basic provisions for a convention acknowledging the need for on-site inspection.

    Ministerial Visits (Costs)

    asked the Prime Minister how much has been spent in each year since 1972–73 in respect of visits by (a) Ministers and (b) officials to (i) the Soviet Union, (ii) other East European countries and (iii) West European countries; and whether any estimate is available for expenditure in these areas over the next five years.

    The information is not available. Departments keep their own records and the details could be collected and extrapolated only at disproportionate cost.

    House Of Lords (Members' Interests)

    asked the Prime Minister whether she will introduce legislation to ensure that all Members of the House of Lords declare their interests in private and public companies in a register of interests similar to that which applies to Members of the House of Commons.

    Railways (Wales)

    asked the Prime Minister if she will transfer responsibility for the railways in Wales from the Department of Transport to the Welsh Office.

    Falkland Islands

    asked the Prime Minister what was the cost to public funds of her visit to the Falkland Islands.

    The cost of the Hercules, VC10 and helicopters was some £200,000.

    Comptroller And Auditor General

    asked the Prime Minister if she will give details of the total number of staff of the Comptroller and Auditor General and the number of these who are qualified accountants; and if she will list separately the number and the qualifications of the staff of the Comptroller and Auditor General who are employed on the audit of the National Health Service.

    The present staff of the Comptroller and Auditor General for England, Scotland and Wales numbers 816, of whom 682 are audit staff, and the remainder supporting staff. Prior to 1975 all audit staff recruits had to pass external examinations following a three year training programme specially designed to meet the Department's needs but not leading to a recognised accountancy qualification. Since 1975 all trainee audit staff recruits have been required to qualify as members of the Chartered Institute of Publich Finance and Accountancy whose course and examinations are particularly relevant to the accounting and audit requirements of the public sector. At present, the Department has 66 staff who are qualified as members of accountancy bodies. A further 273 are at various stages of training for such qualifications.Thirty-three audit staff are currently employed on the audit of the National Health Service in England, Scotland and Wales. Of these, 13 have passed the departmental training examination; two are qualified members of CIPFA; and 18 are undergoing training for that qualification.The Comptroller and Auditor-General for Northern Ireland employs four staff on NHS audit and their qualifications are: one FCCA; one ACIS; one undergoing training for the CIPFA qualification; and one unqualified.

    Fuel Debts (Disconnections)

    asked the Prime Minister how many electricity and gas disconnections for debt there were in December 1982.

    I have asked the chairman of the Electricity Council and of the British Gas Corporation to send the information direct to the hon. Member when it is available.

    Civil Servants (Retirement)

    asked the Prime Minister how many civil servants have taken advantage of early retirement at 55 years up to the end of 1982; and what is the estimated cost in pensions for the current financial year and the next two financial years.

    The normal retirement age in the Civil Service is 60. Retirement at age 55 is not generally available, although limited voluntary early retirement schemes have been introduced from time to time under which civil servants may retire at various ages. Under the most recent schemes, approximately 800 non-industrial civil servants left in 1980–81. The average cost of their pensions at that time was £3,400 per annum.

    asked the Prime Minister how many new employees will be needed in the Civil Service in 1982–83 and each of the two succeeding financial years as a result of (a) retirement at 60 years, (b) early retirement at 55 years and (c) early retirment at 53 years.

    It is not possible to estimate the number of new employees who will be required in the Civil Service between 1982 and 1985. We have declared our intention of achieving significant manpower reductions in the Civil Service and these reductions will be achieved by natural wastage wherever possible. We expect that 13,000 non-industrial civil servants will reach age 60 in 1982–83, 11,800 in 1983–84 and 11,100 in 1984–85—comparable figures for the industrial grades are not held centrally. However, not all those reaching age 60 will retire and not all of those who do will be replaced. It is not possible to estimate the number of civil servants who will retire before reaching age 60.

    Falkland Islands (Franks Report)

    asked the Prime Minister whether she is satisfied that the information which has appeared in the news media relating to the conclusions of the Franks inquiry has not come from Civil Service or Government sources.

    Access to the report of the Falkland Islands review committee has been restricted to a small number of people on the strict basis of "need to know", and I do not believe that any of those concerned has given information to the media about its contents or conclusions.

    Social Services

    Fuel Bills (Assistance)

    15.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any plans for special help with fuel bills for pensioners and others on low incomes in the current year.

    The supplementary benefit heating additions were increased by 15 per cent. in November in line with the increase in the retail prices index fuel component over the period November 1981 to November 1982. Over 2 million households now benefit from this help. We have also improved the arrangements for single payments of supplementary benefit to help people with their heating costs if, as we all hope will not be the case, the weather is exceptionally severe this winter.

    Hypothermia

    17.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many persons died from hypothermia in each of the last three years.

    The number of deaths with mention of hypothermia, in England and Wales, for 1979–1981 was as follows:

    YearDeaths
    1979824
    1980596
    1981685

    21.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many deaths due to hypothermia have been recorded in the current winter.

    General Practitioners (Premises)

    18.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will implement minimum standards for new premises for general practitioners.

    We are currently considering with representatives of the profession the introduction of further guidance on minimum standards. This will apply to all practice premises, not just new ones. We will announce details of these proposals when our discussions are complete.

    Social Security Offices (Manpower)

    20.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the current total of staff in local social security offices; and how this compares with one and two years ago, respectively.

    For 1 December 1982, 1981, and 1980 the figures, rounded to the nearest 500, are 63,000, 65,500 and 65,000.

    Benefit Offices (Bedfordshire)

    22.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the number and location of supplementary benefit offices in the county of Bedfordshire; and if he will make a statement.

    I recognise the need to provide an integrated local office in Dunstable to cover the south Bedfordshire area; otherwise, I am satisfied with the number and location of supplementary benefit offices in the county of Bedfordshire. As my hon. Friend knows, a site for a Crown building has been acquired in Dunstable, but lack of funds has prevented its construction and an early start is not anticipated. However, unemployed people who wish to claim supplementary benefit no longer have to attend their local DHSS office. Since 6 December 1982 they have been able to claim by post, and this arrangement is of particular benefit in areas such as south Bedfordshire, where claimants may live some distance from their nearest supplementary benefit office.

    Prescription Charges (Cystic Fibrosis)

    23.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he will add cystic fibrosis to the list of medical conditions which qualify the patients for exemption from prescription charges.

    I have a great deal of sympathy for people suffering from conditions such as cystic fibrosis not included in the exemption arrangements. In fairness, however, no one condition can be considered in isolation for addition to the list. I regret that because of the significantly increased costs which would arise if the list of specified medical conditions were to be extended, I cannot agree to widen the present arrangements.Many adults suffering from cystic fibrosis will already qualify for exemption—for example, on income grounds.

    Family Practitioner Committees

    24.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has any plans to put cash limits on expenditure by family practitioner committees.

    Administrative expenditure by family practitioner committees is already cash limited. Independent consultants are currently reviewing arrangements for forecasting and control of expenditure on family practitioner services including the possibility of operating a cash limit on part or all of the expenditure. I look forward to receiving the report and will consider it carefully before deciding on any further action.

    Supplementary Benefit (Claims Processing)

    25.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the average time for processing a new claim for supplementary benefit nationally and in the offices dealing with the constituency of the Isle of Ely now and in May 1979, respectively.

    The Cambridge local office handles claims from people living in the Isle of Ely. Information is not recorded about the average time taken to process claims to supplementary benefit made in person at local offices, but these claims would normally be processed on the day of call or within the following two days.The average number of days taken by Cambridge local office to process claims made other than by personal call—for instance, by post—was five days in May 1979 and also in November 1982, the latest period for which figures are available. The national average in comparable periods was six days.

    Resource Allocation Working Party (Population Statistics)

    26.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he has reached any conclusions in his examination of the question of the population statistics used to calculate the resource allocation working party allocations to health authorities.

    The resource allocation working party recommended that in calculating regional health authorities' target allocations, the latest available mid-year estimates of population should be used. I see no reason to depart from its recommended method of assessing the relative need of regions for funds. When allocating funds to regional health authorities each year account is certainly taken of factors, such as the growth and decline in populations in individual regions, in reaching a view on what progress is to be made towards the targets so calculated.

    Hospital Waiting Lists (Tottenham)

    27.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will reconsider the resource allocation working party allocations in order to reduce those hospital waiting lists which are larger in Tottenham for certain surgical operations than in other areas.

    The north-east Thames regional health authority is responsible for the allocation of resources to Haringey health authority.

    National Health Service (Pay Review Board)

    28.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what recent discussions he has had concerning the creation of a National Health Service pay review board; and if he will make a statement.

    34.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the current situation following the industrial action in the Health Service.

    I refer the hon. Member and my hon. Friend to my right hon. Friend's reply to the hon. Members for Warrington (Mr. Hoyle) and Ogmore (Mr. Powell) and my hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (Sir W. van Straubenzee) earlier today.

    Overseas Visitors (Hospital Treatment)

    29.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what revenue has accrued to the National Health Service as a result of the imposition of charges for hospital treatment of overseas visitors.

    Supplementary Benefit

    30.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he is satisfied that administrative procedures result in sufficient information being given to local offices of his Department by those in receipt of redundancy payments when they make application for supplementary benefit.

    Yes. New claims for supplementary benefit by unemployed people are now normally made on a postal application form. This form contains two direct questions specifically asking whether or not redundancy pay has been received or is owing, followed by supplementary questions asking for full details. If the information given by the claimant is unclear, local office staff will take action to resolve any doubt in the normal way.

    Hearing Aids

    31.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many National Health Service hearing aids were issued in 1982.

    During the year ended 31 August 1982, the latest 12 month period for which records are available centrally, over 466,000 National Health Service hearing aids were issued in England and Wales.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will take steps to ensure that National Health Service hearing aid centres have supplies of aids in the BE 30 and BE 50 range; how many requests he has received for such supplies from centres in the north-west Thames region; and if he will make a statement.

    Hearing aids in the BE 30 and BE 50 ranges are issued to hearing aid centres in response to their monthly forecasts of demand. Approval is being sought to the increasing of supplies by the allocation of additional money from within existing cash limits, as anticipated in the reply given to the hon. Member on 20 December 1982.—[Vol. 34, c. 354.]

    District Health Authorities And Family Practitioner Committees (Liaison)

    32.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether he is satisfied with the arrangements for liaison between district health authorities and family practitioner committees.

    At the moment family practitioner committees are established by district health authorities, which appoint one third of their members, meet their administrative costs and are the employing authorities for their staff. There should therefore be a reasonable relationship between the two bodies, and I am not aware of any general liaison problems. However, I believe that there is scope for a more positive contribution by family practitioner committees to the planning and development of health services. One of the aims of the Government's proposed changes in the committees' status and the appointment to them is to promote this more positive approach. Close collaboration will be needed between the two bodies, and we shall take steps to secure this.

    Newham (Geriatric Facilities)

    33.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services what progress has been made towards the provision of geriatric facilities within the London borough of Newham.

    The Newham health authority is consulting widely on proposals for reorganisation if its services consequent on the completion of a new district general hospital. The hon. Member may like to seek further information direct from the authority.

    Married Women (Family Income Supplement)

    35.

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on what date employed married women will become eligible to receive family income supplement.

    It is intended to introduce arrangements from November 1983 to enable married women to satisfy the full-time work qualifying test for FIS on the basis of their own employment.

    Matthew Trust

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services why the Matthew Trust is no longer allowed to carry on its work with prisoners at Broadmoor.

    The Matthew Trust has never had any established role in relation to patients at Broadmoor hospital who are not prisoners. There is a full range of professional staff at the hospital who are responsible for the treatment and care of patients. Voluntary organisations, such as the League of Friends, whose sole concern is the welfare of the hospital and its patients, play an important part in the life of the hospital. The trust has made some contributions to patients' benevolent funds and given financial gifts to some individual patients. Unfortunately, the trust has also recently announced that one of its main aims is to campaign to have all nursing staff represented by a nursing union rather than the Prison Officers Association. The management is not willing to admit a body campaigning for these objectives inside the closed environment of the special hospital.The hospital management has however, said that it will allow written communications from the trust concerning any future monetary gifts if the social work department or the responsible consultant is satisfied that such a gift would be helpful to a particular patient.

    Hepatitis

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report a list of the groups of workers for whom hepatitis is now prescribed as an occupational disease; if he proposes to add to this list; and if he will make a statement.

    Viral hepatitis is a prescribed disease for occupations involving close and frequent contact with human blood or human blood products; and for workers in close and frequent contact with a source of viral hepatitis infection through the medical treatment or nursing of a patient suffering from the disease, or through work ancillary to this treatment or nursing.The Industrial Injuries Advisory Council is currently reviewing the terms of prescription for viral hepatitis. My right hon. Friend will consider whether amendments to the scheme are necessary in the light of the council's report.

    Breast Prostheses

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has now concluded his examination of the criteria for re-ordering breast prostheses; and if he will make a statement.

    We are seeking the views of professional and other interests on possible changes to the present arrangements. I shall write to the hon. Member when these consultations have been concluded.

    Invalidity Benefit

    asked the Secretary of State for Social Services, at the latest available date, how many persons were in receipt of invalidity benefit.