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Written Answers

Volume 79: debated on Thursday 16 May 1985

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 16 May 1985

Home Department

Metropolitan Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what has been the cost to the Metropolitan police of providing at football matches in London additional police officers whose costs were not defrayed by the football clubs themselves.

Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis tells me that this information is not available. Metropolitan police charges to football clubs for policing at matches are based on the full economic cost of a previously agreed number of police officers posted inside the ground. Additional officers may, at the discretion of the police, be deployed inside the ground if the need arises on the day, and the club would not be charged for these. Clubs are not required to meet the cost of officers posted in the streets and other public places outside the ground; this is an ordinary policing requirement.

Community Radio

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects to make a further announcement about the development of community radio and the granting of licences for experimental low power transmissions.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply given to a question from my hon. Friend the Member for Mitcham and Morden (Mrs. Rumbold) on 9 May at column 469.

Northumbrian Police

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what was the authorised establishment of the Northumbrian police as at 31 March; how many officers there were actually in post; to what he ascribes the deficiency; and if he will make a statement.

The authorised establishment of the Northumbrian police is 3,378, an increase of 53 since May 1979. The strength of the force was 3,295 on 31 March 1985. Police manpower levels fluctuate from month to month because of different recruiting and wastage patterns, seasonal changes and other local reasons. I understand that there was further recruitment to the Northumbrian police in April 1985, and the present strength is 3,314. The number of full-time civilian staff in the force has increased by 211 to 931 since May 1979, including an increase of 81 in the last year.

Irradiated Fuel Leak (Temple Mills)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what emergency services were present at Temple Mills in east London on 9 May to deal with the suspected leak from an irradiated fuel flask.

Officers from the British Transport police, the Metropolitan police, and the London fire brigade attended.

Missing Persons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish a table showing juveniles and vulnerable adults who were (a) recorded as missing from outside the Metropolitan police district, including overseas, and (b) who were traced or identified, broken down under each heading by age and sex, for each of the last 10 available years; and if he will make a statement.

Metropolitan Police (Road Accidents)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department, pursuant to the answers to the hon. Member for Leicester, East on 13 May, if he will provide a breakdown as between marked and unmarked police vehicles of the figures relating to (a) road accidents involving Metropolitan police vehicles on emergency calls and (b) casualties resulting from road accidents involving Metropolitan police vehicles on emergency calls.

The precise figures requested are not readily available. The breakdown between marked and unmarked Metropolitan police vehicles involved in accidents when answering emergency calls or pursuing suspect vehicles in 1984 in which death or injury resulted, is as follows:

Marked vehiclesUnmarked vehicles
Fatal accidents41
Injury accidents3310

Television Detector Vans

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many detector vans are used by the Post Office for the purpose of detecting those who have not paid their television licences in the Greater London area and in each of the six metropolitan counties.

The 22 detector vans are available for use throughout the country, though at any one time they may all be concentrated in a particular metropolitan or other area.

Benzodiazepine

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will have consultations with (a the Association of British Social Workers, (b) the National Society for Mentally Handicapped Children and Adults, (c) National Association for Mental Health, (d) the Medical Practitioners Union, (e) social services departments, (f) the Transport and General Workers Union, (g) the Confederation of Health Service Employees, (h) the National Union of Public Employees and (i) the General Municipal, Boilermakers and Allied Trades Union about the possible rescheduling of benzodiazepine drugs under the United Nations convention on psychotropic substances.

My right hon. and learned Friend will be considering shortly how these drugs should be scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and he will be happy to take into consideration, at this stage, any comments which any organisation may wish to put to him

Trade And Industry

Farm Machinery

40.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the current level of United Kingdom farm machinery exports.

In 1984 agricultural machinery (excluding wheeled agricultural tractors) to the value of £138·7 million (fob) was exported.

Source: Business Monitor PQ 3211.

Silk

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he has recently held discussions with representatives of the Chinese Government concerning restrictions on the import of Chinese silk; and if he will make a statement.

No. However, my officials are in contact with the Chinese authorities concerning the administration of the import licensing controls.

Companies (Subordinate Legislation)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has now finalised his plans for remaking subordinate legislation in the light of the consolidation of the Companies Acts.

Yes. The instruments to be remade are as follows:The Companies (Forms) RegulationsThe Companies (Disqualification Orders) RegulationsThe Companies (Registers and other Records) RegulationsThe Companies (Disclosure of Directors' Interests) (Exceptions) RegulationsStock Exchange (Designation of Nominees) OrderThe Companies (Unregistered Companies) RegulationsIn addition, we shall be revising the Companies (Alteration of Table A etc.) Regulations in order to clarify various points raised with the Department since the regulations were published last October and to make them easier to use.The Companies (Unregistered Companies) Regulations were laid before the House on 8 May. The remaining instruments will be laid shortly with a view to their all coming into effect on 1 July at the same time as the consolidation Acts.

Weights And Measures

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether it is intended to publish the report of the Eden committee on the "Metrological Control of Weighing and Measuring for the Use for Trade".

Arrangements are now in hand to publish the report in full. Publication will be followed by extensive consultation with all the relevant interests. I shall inform the House when copies of the report are available. In the meantime, I have placed a copy of the Committee's recommendations in the Library.

Wales

Lobster Fisheries

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what representations he has received concerning possible local byelaws for the protection of lobster fisheries from over-exploitation; and if he will make a statement.

I have received representations from one fisherman about a draft byelaw prepared by the South Wales Sea Fisheries Committee with a view to licensing lobster fishing in its district. Should such a byelaw be submitted formally to me it would be advertised so as to allow me to take any objections into account before deciding on its confirmation.

South Of Cardiff Redevelopment Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will make a statement about the progress so far on the south of Cardiff redevelopment scheme.

Since I gave approval, in principle, for urban development grant in respect of the development proposals by Tarmac, work on the necessary legal arrangements has been continuing and is progressing well. A public inquiry into the compulsory purchase of land needed for the development ended on 22 April and the inspector will be submitting his report to me next month. I hope to be able to announce my decisions on the compulsory purchase orders by the end of June.

Uht Milk

asked the Secretary of State for Wales how much UHT milk is currently consumed in Wales; and how much of this consumption consists of milk produced in (a) Britain, (b) the European Economic Community and (c) the rest of the world.

Fifty nine million litres of UHT milk were sold in England and Wales in the year ended 31 March 1984: separate England and Wales figures are not readily available. In 1984 approximately 99 per cent. of total UHT milk sold in Great Britain was produced in Great Britain, with the balance being accounted for by imports from the European Economic Community.

Ante And Post-Natal Care

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will set out the figures for expenditure on (a) ante-natal and (b) post-natal care in Wales for each of the years from 1979–80 to 1984–85.

Acid Rain

asked the Secretary of State for Wales what action he intends to take to reduce the amount of ecological damage caused by acid rain in Wales.

There is no reliable evidence to link ecological damage in Wales with acid rain, but research is being carried out to assess the relative contributions made by acidic rainfall, soil and bedrock types, afforestation and land practices, to the known acidity of some Welsh lakes and streams.

Prime Minister

Terrorism

Q18. Mr. Latham asked the Prime Minister what further discussions she envisages with Heads of Government at the European Council or other international bodies to combat terrorist atrocities.

The December European Council endorsed measures to strengthen co-operation against terrorism and abuse of diplomatic immunity. We have since continued to work for further co-operation within the Ten. We welcomed the discussion of terrorism at the Bonn economic summit and shall continue to work for close and effective international co-operation in that forum and elsewhere.

Fa Cup Final

Q40. Mr. Pavitt asked the Prime Minister if she intends to pay an official visit to the London borough of Brent to attend the Football Association cup final.

Lost Documents (Disciplinary Action)

Q47.

asked the Prime Minister what disciplinary action Her Majesty's Government propose to take against civil servants responsible for losing the documents concerning the Tornado aircraft and the perimeter fence at Aldermaston which were recently found on a rubbish dump in London.

It would be premature to reach any conclusions about the incident to which the hon. Gentleman refers until the investigations into it have been completed.

Rail Electrification (North Wales)

Q98.

asked the Prime Minister whether British Rail has made any proposals to Her Majesty's Government to electrify the North Wales line in the near future.

Engagements

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

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House I shall be having further meetings later today.

Secretary Of State For The Environment (Speech)

asked the Prime Minister whether the speech of the Secretary of State for the Environment to the County Planning Officers Society dinner on Thursday 14 March represents the policy of Her Majesty's Government.

Value Added Tax Tribunals

the Prime Minister whether she will consider changing the arrangements for administering value added tax tribunals.

I have decided to transfer responsibility for administering the VAT tribunals to the Lord Chancellor in relation to England and Wales and Northern Ireland, and for Scotland to the Secretary of State for Scotland with effect from 1 April 1986. The responsibilities of the Secretary of State for Scotland will be discharged on his behalf by the Scottish Courts Administration.Consequential provisions will be introduced into the current Finance Bill.

Civil Service (Secondments)

asked the Prime Minister if she will make a further announcement about secondments to the Civil Service.

In my reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Erith and Crayford (Mr. Evennett) on 18 March I announced that, in the light of the legal advice which had been received, measures were being taken to provide that future appointments to the Civil Service by secondment are made in compliance with the Civil Service Order in Council 1982 and any regulations made thereunder. New procedures will be introduced as soon as possible. Until then, all proposals for new secondments are being referred to the Civil Service commissioners and are being considered on an individual basis against the background of the provisions and discretionary powers contained in the Order in Council.There remains the question of regularising appointments on secondment terms made by Departments in the belief that the Civil Service Order in Council 1982 did not apply to such arrangements. The Civil Service commissioners have been advised by their legal advisers that an appropriate way to proceed would be by way of a further order—the Civil Service Order in Council 1985 — the object of which will be to regularise all such appointments made during the currency of the 1982 order and its predecessor the 1978 order on or before 18 March 1985 when I made the announcement to which I have already referred. The order was made at a meeting of the Privy Council which was held yesterday, and a copy of it has been placed in the Library.

Bonn Economic Summit

asked the Prime Minister if the countries represented at the Bonn economic summit made any criticism of United States policy in Central America and in particular its military and economic measures against Nicaragua; and if she will make a statement.

There was general agreement among the countries represented at the summit on the need for political stability, national security and economic recovery in Central America. We made clear our view that Nicaragua should cease its destabilising policies.

Civil Servants (Terms And Conditions)

asked the Prime Minister if Her Majesty's Government will include in the terms and conditions of employment in the Civil Service a declaration that the holding of racialist views is not compatible with employment in the service; and if he will make a statement.

"Protecting The Ratepayers"

asked the Prime Minister if she will give the most recent estimate of the costs of the information programme on the Rates Act 1984 entitled "Protecting the Ratepayers".

I refer the hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment to the hon. Member for Tottenham (Mr. Atkinson) on 22 November 1984, at column 282.

Share And Property Ownership

asked the Prime Minister (1) what initiatives Her Majesty's Government are pursuing to promote wider share ownership;(2) what initiatives Her Majesty's Government are pursuing to promote the wider ownership of capital and property.

Extending direct ownership is an integral part of our commitment to an entrepreneurial and dynamic economy.Privatisation has already probably doubled the number of individual shareholders in the United Kingdom and has meant that over one third of a million employees have acquired shares in the companies in which they work. We have given individual investors preferential treatment in recent share sales. The tax treatment of profit sharing schemes has been improved and new tax reliefs for share option schemes have been introduced, benefiting over half a million employees. Other tax changes including the abolition of investment income surcharge, reduction of stamp duty and other tax measures will promote wider ownership of shares, capital and property. In the City, far-reaching changes which will increase the opportunities for individual investors are under way. And under our right to buy policies, extended last year, and other initiatives to support low-cost home ownership, three quarters of a million council and public sector tenants have brought their own homes, and the number of home owners has increased by over 1·8 million.Our policies in all these areas are deliberately designed to spread ownership and to encourage employees to participate in the success of companies in which they work. I have no doubt that they are succeeding and will continue to do so.

Overseas Development

Christian Aid

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what public funding has been made available to or through Christian Aid in each of the last five years.

The Overseas Development Administration h as made the following grants to Christian Aid for the purposes stated:

1. For projects co-financed under the joint funding scheme
£
1980–81250,000
1981–82300,000
1982–83330,000
1983–84330,000
1984–85700,000
Total1,910,000
2. For relief or development projects in support of refugees (information for 1980–81 and 1981–82 is not readily available).
£
1982–8310,000
1983–847,000
Total17,000
3. For disaster relief
£
1982–83127,949
1983–84150,000
1984–851,183,087
Total1,461,036
4. For a special disaster relief programme in Bangladesh
£
1984–85113,927
5. For bilateral food aid
£
1984–85*150,000
* All for Ethiopia.

Education And Science

Institute Of Hearing Research

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement on the progress of the work of the Institute of Hearing Research and on the adequacy of its findings.

The programme of research at the Medical Research Council's Institute of Hearing Research continues to progress very well, and I understand that it is considered by the council to be of high scientific merit. The institute is making important contributions to knowledge on the problem of hearing.

Academic And Related Salaries

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what reply he has sent to the letter he received from Dr. A. J. Mount, president of the Hull Association of University Teachers, requesting an independent committee of inquiry into academic and related salaries.

I am sending Dr. Mount and others who have written to me on the subject a statement of the Government's position on university teachers' pay. That makes it clear that the request of the Association of University Teachers for an independent committee of inquiry falls to be considered with the university employers in committee A in the first instance.

Gcse Examinations (Religious Studies)

the Secretary of State for Education and Science why religious studies is not included in the range of subjects for the new GCSE examinations for which a distinction may be obtained.

The three models for GCSE distinction and merit certificates put forward in the Department's consultation paper last December all include religious studies as an option within one of the subject groupings.

Universities (National Insurance)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what estimate he has made of the cost to each university of proposals to alter employers' national insurance contributions; and when he expects to announce whether his Department will give grant aid to the universities to cover the additional cost.

No estimate has been made of the cost to individual universities of the proposals to alter employers' national insurance contributions. The additional cost to the universities as a whole is estimated to be about £7 million in the first 12 months. The possibility of providing additional funds is under consideration and it is not yet possible to say when an announcement will be made.

Departmental Committees Of Inquiry

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many departmental committees of inquiry he and his predecessors, including Ministers of

Public Expenditure
£million 1984–85 prices
1976–771977–781978–791979–801980–811981–821982–831983–84‡1984–85
(i) Education
(a) Central Government1,9711,6101,5731,6461,7381,6491,7801,7781,764
Percentage change(-18)(-2)(+5)(+6)(-5)(+8)(0)(-1)
(b) Local authority*12,51311,73511,71511,47311,75911,65511,62711,68311,434
Percentage change(-6)(0)(-2)(+2)(-1)(0)(0)(-2)
(ii) Schools
(a) Central Government1127745695857515461
Percentage change(-31)(-42)(+54)(-16)(-1)(-10)(+6)(+12)
(b) Local authority*9,3469,3268,5728,3348,5178,3628,3118,3198,172
Percentage change(0)(-8)(-3)(+2)(-2)(-1)(0)(-2)
(iii) Universities†
(a) Central Government║1,6291,2771,3011,3571,4491,3581,5071,4881,466
Percentage change(-22)(+2)(+4)(+7)(-6)(+11)(-1)(-1)
(b) Local authorities
* Includes current expenditure of local authorities (both relevant for rate support grant and other) and their capital expenditure.
†Current and capital expenditure on universities; also includes grants to the Open University, the Computer Board for the Universities and Research Councils and to certain other bodies.
‡Figures for 1984–85 are provisional.
║The universities line excludes income from tuition fees which are largely paid from public funds as part of student awards. As the balance between recurrent grant and fee income has changed from time to time, the percentage changes shown are not a true measure of changes in public expenditure on universities.
Education, have commissioned since 1955; and what were the subjects the committees investigated, the dates they were established, who chaired them and the dates they reported.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 43–48]: I regret that the item about school examinations listed at column 47 was partly incorrect and that a reference to the report of the committee of inquiry into the teaching of mathematics in schools has been omitted. The information should read as follows:

'School examinations: report of the steering committee established to consider proposals for replacing the General Certificate of Education ordinary level and Certificate of Secondary Education examinations by a common system of examining. 1977 [1978].
Chairman: Sir James Waddell.
Mathematics counts: report of the Committee of Inquiry into the Teaching of Mathematics in Schools. 1978 [1981].
Chairman: Dr. W. H. Cockcroft.'

Expenditure

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will state the amount of (a) central Government and (b) local authority spending during each of the last 10 years, together with the percentage change in real terms over each previous year. under the following headings: (i) education, (ii) schools and (iii) universities.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 54]: The following table shows public expenditure on universities in Great Britain and on schools in England for the last nine years; figures for 1975–76 are not readily available on a comparable basis. The GDP deflator has been used to revalue figures for earlier years to 1984–85 prices. Percentage changes have been calculated from the previous year's figure.

Energy

Nuclear Material (Safeguards)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy to what uses nuclear material withdrawn from safeguards under article 14 of the tripartite agreement between the United Kingdom-Euratom and International Atomic Energy, Cmnd. 6730, is put.

Nuclear material withdrawn from safeguards under the terms of article 14 of the agreement between the United Kingdom, Euratom and the IAEA is used for national security purposes.

Attorney-General

Fraud Investigation

asked the Attorney-General whether his Department issues any guidance to police and other law enforcement agencies concerning the investigation of fraud and related offences.

No. My responsibility is for the work of the Director of Public Prosecutions who does not himself undertake the investigation of fraud or any other category of crime. However, he is always willing to advise the police and other enforcement agencies, particularly in respect of cases of alleged fraud where he is likely to be responsible for the conduct of any resulting prosecution. In cases of particular complexity this assistance may extend to the establishment of a fraud investigation group to co-ordinate legal and investigative aspects of the inquiry, about which my right hon. and learned Friend the Home Secretary has issued advice to chief officers of police. I meet the Director of Public Prosecutions regularly to discuss the work of his Department. The scope of these discussions includes the handling of fraud cases generally as well as individual cases of particular difficulty or importance. the guidelines as to the criteria for prosecution which I published in March 1983 are of general application. But I have published no formal guidelines relating to any specific categories of criminal offences. Following establishment of the Crown prosecution service my existing criteria will be supplemented by the guidance which the Director will be required to promulgate by virtue of clause 9 of the Prosecution of Offences Bill.

Civil Service

Ministerial Appointments (Directory)

asked the Minister for the Civil Service (1) whether he intends to publish an up-to-date directory of paid public appointments made by ministers;(2) whether he will publish a list of additions, deletions and amendments to the directory of paid public appointments made by ministers, last published in 1978.

The "Directory of Paid Public Appointments" has been superseded by the Cabinet Office (MPO) annual publication "Public Bodies." This contains a large amount of detailed information about public bodies, including ministerial appointments. The 1984 edition was published by HMSO in December last year. The next edition is due out in December 1985.

Northern Ireland

Window Frames

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what is the estimated difference in cost to the Northern Ireland Housing Executive between refurbishing metal window frames and replacing them.

This is a matter for the chairman of the Northern Ireland Housing Executive who has advised me that the average cost of servicing galvanised metal windows in a typical 7-window house is £150. The cost of replacement varies with the size and type of window frame and ranges from approximately £600 to £1,700 per dwelling.

European Institution

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who represented the Northern Ireland Office at the meeting in London on 24 April with a delegation from the European Parliament about European institutions; and if he will make a statement on the views expressed by the Northern Ireland Office representative on the proposals for (a) European union, (b) United Kingdom membership of the European monetary system, (c) a reduced role for the use of the national veto in decisions by the European Economic Community Council of Ministers and (d) the suggested Inter-Governmental Conference for a new European Economic Community treaty and reformed institutions.

My right hon. and learned Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, assisted by my hon. Friend the Member for Edinburgh, Pentlands (Mr. Rifkind), received the delegation and gave the views of the Government as a whole on the specific matters referred to, which have been explained in the House on several occasions recently. My Department was not separately represented at the meeting.

Gaelic Studies

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what encouragement and assistance are being given to Gaelic studies in the Province.

Irish is studied by more than 20,000 pupils in Northern Ireland secondary schools and is developing in a proportion of primary schools. The curriculum, however, is essentially a matter for school authorities and head teachers and is not dictated or controlled by the Government or the Department of Education for Northern Ireland. Bunscoil Ghaelach, an Irish language primary school, obtained grant-aided status in September 1984, and a special unit in which tuition is provided through the medium of the Irish language has been approved at Steelstown primary school, Londonderry.Irish is also available in the Province's two universities and St. Mary's and St. Joseph's colleges of education. As with any other interest areas which meet Department of Education criteria, support is granted to extra-mural courses in Irish or aspects of Irish culture.

District Councils (Abuse Of Power)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will state the occasions since the imposition of direct rule when ministerial intervention, or action by the Commissioner for Complaints, was invoked on account of alleged abuse of majority power by district councils; and with what result.

Information is not available in the form requested. The annual reports of the Commissioner for Complaints show that since 1972 some 693 complaints were received about the actions of district councils and that in 59 of these the Commissioner found maladministration. Copies of the reports are available in the Library.

University Staff

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information he has as to the trend in real terms over the last five years of the pay of university staff in Northern Ireland.

The determination of the salaries of university staff is not a matter in which the Department of Education for Northern Ireland is directly involved. Any agreements affecting salaries, reached through the appropriate negotiating machinery in Great Britain, are automatically applied by the two universities in Northern Ireland.A comparison of the current salaries of university teachers with those paid in October 1979 indicates that salaries have broadly kept pace with the retail price index.

North Down And Ards Unit

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland why he has asked the North Down and Ards unit of management to reduce its 1985–86 budget by £166,000.

Decisions on the allocation of resources to the units of management are a matter for the Eastern board itself. The board, in common with the other three boards, is required to realise efficiency savings of 0·5 per cent. of its revenue budget. These funds are retained by the board and reinvested in selected priority service developments along with the additional funds made available by the Government.

Dogs

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what information he has as to the number of dogs which have been destroyed since December 1983.

I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Penrith and The Border (Mr. Maclean) on 15 April 1985, at columns 58–59.

Belfast (Redevelopment)

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will make a statement about the integrated operations plan for the redevelopment of Belfast with European Community aid.

The Belfast integrated operations document, which I presented to the European Commission on 21 February 1985, lists all the capital projects within the Belfast urban area put forward by Northern Ireland Government Departments, district councils, public bodies, voluntary bodies and the private sector for the period 1985–86 to 1989–90 which are envisaged in current expenditure planning or which are regarded as desirable. Integrated operations involves the focusing of public, private and European Community resources on a limited geographical area to maximise their impact. Their is no separate European Community fund for integrated operations, apart from a small budget which may assist feasibility studies within an integrated operations area.

Medical Cards

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many applications for new medical cards were received and how many sent out on each day and each week from 1 April to the week ending Saturday 18 May.

The central services agency does not normally maintain records of this nature. However, during the period from 29 April 1985 to 13 May 1985 inclusive the numbers of applications received and medical cards issued were as follows:

ApplicationsIssues
29 April1,5011,231
30 April3,2201,769
1 May5,9723,137
2 May5,3234,330
3 May5,8104,136
4 May2,4191,325
5 May4142,376
6 May6185,176
7 May7,2292,490
8 May5,4263,162
9 May4,4853,158
10 May3,4805,506
11 May5433,572
12 May344,740
13 May3,143*3,000
49,61749,108
*Estimate.
These figures cover valid applications for replacement medical cards. In addition, approximately 1,500 applications have been received during the period from new applicants and people who have changed doctor. Of these applications, all those received from applicants of voting age have been processed.

Wages

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many workers in Northern Ireland now earn less than the Council of Europe's decency threshold.

The New Earnings Survey indicates that in April 1984 about 37·5 per cent of full-time adult employees in Northern Ireland had gross weekly earnings for a full week of less than £108·3, the latter figure corresponding to 68 per cent. of the national average for all full-time adult employees. Although an advisory committee of the Council of Europe has suggested the figure of 68 per cent. of national full-time adult average earnings as significant in considering low pay, the figure has not been accepted or recognised by the United Kingdom or any other European country.

Security

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland whether all the recommendations in regard to staffing levels and security measures outlined in the Baker report have been met.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 3]: The Government have announced their acceptance in principle of the main conclusions of Sir George Baker's review of the Northern Ireland (Emergency Provisions) Act 1978. Detailed consideration of his recommendations is now being given with a view to making proposals to amend this legislation.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the numbers of maximum security prisoners in each prison in Northern Ireland; and how the staffing levels to deal with them compare with the staffing levels required for similar prisoners in Great Britain.

BelfastMaze CompoundMaze CellularMagilliganArmaghHydebank
Governor Grades9416724
Chief Officers429222
Principal Officers27193816513
Senior Officers512946241015
Officers45840687833898152
Clerical Grades2618331179
Trades Staff42225421618
TOTAL6175001,074419130213
The new prison at Maghaberry is expected to have a requirement for about 550 staff.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many civilians are employed as teachers and instructors at each prison in Northern Ireland.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 3]: Numbers are as follows:

EstablishmentFull-Time TeachersCivilian Instructors
HM Prison, ArmaghNilNil
HM Prison, Belfast1Nil
HM Prison, Maze Compound523
HM Prison, Maze Cellular
HM Prison, Magilligan111
HM Young Offenders Centre Hydebank Wood48
There are also three civilian chief instructors who are not directly involved in instructional duties. In addition, a panel of part-time teachers is maintained at each establishment, together making 105. The services of these teachers are called upon as required.

Stop Orders

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (1) how many stop orders the planning authorities have issued in each of the last three years for which figures are available because building work had commenced before planning permission had been given, in (a) the Antrim borough council area and (b) the Newtownabbey borough council area; and in how many of these cases planning permission was subsequently granted;

[pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 3]: There are 759 high risk prisoners in Northern Ireland prisons: 468 are in Maze cellular prison, 160 are in Maze compound prison, and 131 are in Belfast prison.High risk prisoners in Northern Ireland, like category A prisoners in Great Britain, are not accommodated as a separate group, and it is therefore not possible to identify and compare the relevant staffing levels.

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland what are the staffing requirements for each prison including the new prison in Northern Ireland; and what are the actual staffing levels for prison staff in each grade.

[pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 3]: Staffing requirements for prisons are dependent on the number of prisoners held and other factors, and are therefore under constant review.On 26 April 1985, staffing levels were:(2) how many stop orders were issued by the planning authorities in each of the last three years for which figures are available because they contravened regulations on ribbon development, in

(a) the Antrim borough council area and (b) the Newtownabbey borough area; and in how many of these cases planning permission was subsequently given;

[pursuant to his reply, 15 May 1985, c. 150]: Only one stop notice has been issued for whatever reason in the last three years. It was in respect of building work begun without permission in the Newtownabbey borough council area in 1984. Planning permission was subsequently granted on appeal.

Planning Applications

asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many planning applications have been turned down in each of the last three years for which figures are available because they were deemed to infringe the area of special control in (a) the Antrim borough council area and (b) the Newtownabbey borough council area.

[pursuant to his reply, 15 May 1985, c. 151]: The information is as follows:

198219831984
Year ended 31 December
Antrim borough council area133119
Newtownabbey borough council area232224

House Of Commons

Research Assistants (Passes)

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list the numbers of hon. Members who have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and more than 15 research assistants' or temporary research assistants' passes, respectively.

The number of research assistants' passes per Member on issue on 13 May 1985 were as follows:

Number of Research Assistant PassesNumber of Members
Nil310
1235
265
321
49
53
64
70
81
92
100
110
120
130
140
150
More than 150

Secretaries (Passes)

asked the Lord Privy Seal if he will list the numbers of hon. Members who have 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and more than 15 secretaries' or temporary secretaries' passes, respectively.

The number of secretaries' passes per Member on issue on 13 May 1985 were as follows:

Number of Secretary PassesNumber of Members
Nil185
1337
291
324
46
51
62
72
81
91
100
110
120
130
140
150
More than 150

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Falkland Islands (Fishing)

41.

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what advice has been sought by fishermen's organisations in the United Kingdom about prospects for fishing off the Falklands.

The Government have received inquiries from commercial firms about our policy on fishing in the area around the Falkland Islands. They have been told that we are exploring ways of establishing a multilaterally based conservation and management regime.

Licences

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list in the Official Report all the different types of licences operated or granted by his Department and the year in which they first came into operation.

With the exception of permits under section 3 of the Antarctic Treaty Act 1967 (the powers to issue which have been delegated in accordance with that section), the functions of the Foreign Commonwealth Office do not involve the granting of administrative licences of the kind to which I take the hon. Member to refer.

Extradition

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is his policy towards the inclusion of provisions having retrospective effect regarding extraditions to the United Kingdom in the forthcoming extradition treaty between the United Kingdom and Spain.

I am unable to give any details of our negotiations with Spain while they are still in progress. The text of the treaty when signed, will be laid before the House in the usual way.

National Finance

Football Pool Betting (Revenue)

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give details of the revenue received by his Department from (a) the duty on football pool betting and (b) value added tax from professional soccer in each of the past five years.

The revenue received from football pool betting in each of the past five financial years was as follows:

£ million
1980–81150
1981–82169
1982–83193
1983–84198
1984–85*212
*Estimate.
On the basis of information provided by the Football League, it is estimated that the yield from value added tax on admissions to football matches is of the order of £6 million a year.

Extra-Statutory Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of his review of extra-statutory tax concessions.

Yes. The Inland Revenue and the Customs and Excise will be issuing press releases giving information about extra-statutory concessions which have not previously been published. I am placing in the Library of the House:

  • (i) a copy of those press releases;
  • (ii) a copy of the existing Inland Revenue booklet IR1 listing previously published Inland Revenue concessions;
  • (iii) a copy of the existing VAT leaflet 700/23/84 listing previously published VAT concessions;
  • (iv) an explanatory memorandum on extra-statutory concessions generally.
  • The Customs and Excise press release lists non-VAT concessions already published in other Customs and Excise notices.

    A revised booklet IR1 incorporating the newly published Inland Revenue concessions will be issued as soon as possible. The VAT leaflet will also be replaced by a new publication, including both VAT and non-VAT concessions, as soon as possible.

    New and existing Inland Revenue administrative practices will continue to be subject to a regular twice yearly review to identify any which should properly be classified as extra-statutory concessions. The published list of concessions will be updated accordingly.

    I hope that the House will welcome this response to the debate which took place on the subject at the time of the last Finance Bill.

    Intergovernmental Agreement

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will place a copy of the text of the 1985 Intergovernmental Agreement in the Library.

    A copy of the text of the 1985 Intergovernmental Agreement has today been placed in the Library of the House.

    Mortgage Interest Relief

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will provide a table showing the cost of mortgage interest tax relief for each year since 1964 at 1985 prices.

    [pursuant to his reply, 10 May 1985, c. 534]: Information is given in the table. The figures for years up to 1968–69 include the cost of relief for qualifying interest paid on bank loans, which cannot be distinguished from mortgage loans in information available centrally. The figures for 1983–84 onward include the cost of relief in respect of mortgages previously under the option mortgage scheme.

    ERM currencies198319841985April 1985*
    DeutschemarkJanuary-September; November-DecemberJanuary; November-DecemberJanuary-MarchApril
    French francJanuary-May; August-September; November-DecemberJanuary; November-DecemberJanuary-March
    LiraJanuary-MarchJanuary-February
    Belgian francJanuary-DecemberJanuary-February; DecemberJanuary-MarchApril
    Dutch guilderJanuary-September; November-DecemberJanuary; November-DecemberJanuary-MarchApril
    Danish kronerJanuary-May; July-September; November-DecemberJanuary-February; October-DecemberJanuary-MarchApril
    Irish puntJanuary-May; August-September: November-DecemberJanuary-February; November-DecemberJanuary-March
    * Using the December 1982 notional fluctuation margins.

    Estimated revenue cost of mortgage interest relief

    £ million at 1984–85 Prices*

    1963–64590
    1964–65700
    1965–66810
    1966–67900
    1967–681,020
    1968–691,050
    1969–701,200
    1970–711,360
    1971–721,360
    1972–731,490
    1973–741,890
    1974–752,200
    1975–762,250
    1976–772,400
    1977–782,000
    1978–791,950
    1979–802,200
    1980–812,550
    1981–822,400
    1982–832,350
    1983–84†2,900
    1984–85†3,500

    * This column has been expressed in 1984–85 prices using the retail prices index.

    †Provisional.

    Pound Sterling

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his reply, Official Report, 22 April, column 374, concerning the exchange rate of the £ sterling against certain European monetary system currencies, if he will indicate the changes in the fluctuation margins; if he will add the April 1985 figures to his previous answer on the December 1982 basis, and on the basis of the margin relevant in April; and if he will indicate the number of occasions on which the £ sterling moved outside its notional fluctuation margins on the basis of the changes in the margins which have occurred since 1982.

    [pursuant to his reply, 15 May 1985 c. 153]: The following table lists the months in which sterling's monthly average exchange rates against currencies in the EMS exchange rate mechanism have moved outside sterling's notional fluctuation margins since the end of 1982. The margins used are those current at the time in question. For April 1985, both the current margins and the December 1982 margins are used:

    Asset Sales

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will publish in the Official Report a table showing (a) the annual proceeds from sales of public sector assets and (b) the impact on the public sector borrowing requirement of these asset sales, in both cases from 1979 to date.

    £million
    1979–801980–811981–821982–831983–841984–85 (estimated outturn)
    Special sales of assets3704054944881,1422,100
    Sales of land and buildings8591,2932,1002,8472,5922,536

    The direct effect of such sales is to reduce the PSBR by a corresponding amount.

    Ec (Budget Contributions)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether he will publish in the Official Report a table showing for each member state of the European Economic Community the contribution under value added tax and

    VAT and other Own Resources as percentage of GDP
    198019811982198319841985
    VATORVATORVATORVATORVATORVATOR
    Belgium0·400·730·440·720·540·800·480·870·490·800·480·80
    Denmark0·400·330·370·320·400·310·430·320·420·350·410·31
    Germany0·420·370·460·370·500·350·550·330·540·360·520·33
    France0·390·240·440·240·520·240·530·240·510·260·510·24
    Ireland0·490·580·430·570·570·540·750·590·610·690·550·60
    Italy0·300·380·500·300·410·290·480·270·500·260·470·25
    Luxembourg0·460·130·660·130·750·131·090·131·150·160·940·11
    Netherlands0·380·670·400·620·460·580·480·570·470·600·440·56
    United Kingdom0·340·490·420·420·560·470·560·430·530·460·560·43
    Greece0·460·310·510·480·560·420·530·370·530·45

    Notes

    1. For value added tax columns the calculation of the percentage of GDP used the amount contributed by member states, inclusive of the balances and adjustments of previous financial years.

    2. Greece joined the Community on 1 January 1981 and for the years 1981 to 1985 will pay instead of VAT a financial contribution based on GNP.

    3. From 1979 to 1980 the European budget was established and implemented in European units of account. As from 1981 the budget was established and implemented in European currency units. For 1981 the value and composition of the ECU was the same as the EUA.

    4. GDP base figures—non-UK GDP figures for the years 1980 to 1984 taken from OECD "Main Economic Indicators" (April 1985). These figures were converted to EUA/ECU equivalents using exchange rates averaged for the years in question. The difference in the value of the exchange rates used to define the GDP and VAT/other own resources data from the base figures has been left out of account. For 1985 non-UK GDP figures are Commission estimates derived from "European Economy". UK figures for all years to 1984 are from Central Statistical Office documents. 1985 UK figures are derived from "European Economy".

    5. VAT and other own resources base figures—for the years 1980 to 1983 the amounts are taken from the Official Journal of the European Communities —Courtof Auditors report for the financial year 1983. For 1984 other own resources are from the European Commission's budget revenue estimates; for VAT the figures are taken from the supplementary and amending budget for 1984. For 1985 the figures are established in Council on 23 April 1985.

    Sterling (Foreign Exchange Dealings)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is his estimate of the turnover annually in foreign exchange dealings in sterling.

    Comprehensive figures are not available. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York undertook a survey of United States foreign exchange market turnover in April 1983. The results were published in the FRBNY Quarterly Review, Summer 1984 and suggested that average daily turnover was around $34 billion of which 16·6 per cent. represented transactions

    [pursuant to his reply, 13 May 1985, c. 30]: By far the largest components of public sector asset sales are the "special sales of assets" programme (which mainly takes the form of sales of company securities) and sales of land and buildings (mostly council house sales). The figures since 1979–80 are as follows:other own resources, respectively, as a percentage of gross domestic product to two places of decimals for each year since 1980 and the forecast for the current year.

    The information requested is given in the table. However, the calculations for the United Kingdom do not take account of the offsetting effect of refunds for the United Kingdom contributions to value added tax and other own resources.against sterling. Similar data are not available for transactions in Europe but it is thought that average daily turnover in London is no less in total than that in the United States.

    Environment

    Inner Cities (Deprivation)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give the rankings of the indices of deprivation of each of the inner city partnership authorities in relation to all English and Welsh authorities.

    The information requested is shown for England in the table. Information about Welsh authorities is not available on a comparable basis.

    Rank Position on Absolute and Percentage Values on Key Indicators—Derived from 1981 Census Data
    Partnership Authorities
    BirminghamGatesheadHackneyIslingtonLambethLiverpoolManchesterNewcastleSalford
    Unemployment
    Absolute128315021231523
    Percentage(17)(23)(15)(33)(36)(5)(8)(22)(23)
    Overcrowding
    Absolute13915378232142
    Percentage(17)(33)(2)(14)(9)(23)(21)(38)(50)
    Single Parents
    Absolute16213316432125
    Percentage(24)(118)(1)(6)(2)(16)(4)(55)(29)
    Pensioners
    Absolute142626326451018
    Percentage(131)(97)(97)(73)(120)(77)(42)(42)(42)
    Amenities
    Absolute110915217238249
    Percentage(79)(279)(5)(9)(11)(28)(25)(300)(117)
    Ethnic
    Absolute12209266551961103
    Percentage(18)(320)(3)(13)(6)(146)(39)(107)(181)
    Population Change
    Absolute3371094121914
    Percentage(27)(38)(7)(3)(5)(10)(8)(18)(15)
    Low Skill
    Absolute135485229352420
    Percentage(43)(46)(51)(57)(131)(13)(17)(99)(17)

    Notes:

    (1) Absolute values relate to the number of persons (or households) for a particular indicator.

    (2) Percentage values relate to the proportion of the population (or households) for a particular indicator.

    Land

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what resources are currently being devoted to securing the disposal or the bringing into use of land that is currently registered.

    Fifty three staff of various grades are engaged, mainly part time, in land register work. Their land register responsibilities include encouraging landowning bodies to bring land into use or to dispose of it.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment pursuant to his answer to the hon. Member for Mid Staffordshire on 15 January, Official Report, column 96, if he will indicate the nature and costs of the additional resources which would be required to secure the disposal of publicly owned unused and under-used land of between half an acre and one acre.

    Additional staff would be needed within my Department and probably by the public bodies whose land is registrable. The size of the increase would depend on the number of sites in this category; this is likely to be substantial.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what steps he has taken to satisfy himself that all publicly-owned unused and under-used land eligible for inclusion in the public land registers is so registered.

    All public bodies listed in schedule 16 to the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 have been requested to register their holdings of unused and under-used land, in accordance with guidelines set out by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State. Every six months such bodies are asked to up-date their entries in the register. In addition, where we have reason to believe that a particular site ought to be entered in the register, the matter is taken up with the public body concerned.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many times and in what circumstances he has used his powers under the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 to compel authorities to dispose of publicly owned unused and under-used land.

    Under the powers conferred upon him by section 98 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 my right hon. Friend has directed four local authorities to take steps for the disposal of their interest in four specific plots of land entered on the land register.We are currently considering possible sites where notices under section 99 of the Act (notifying the authority concerned of a proposal to make a direction under section 98 and of its proposed contents), might be appropriate.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is satisfied with the rate of progress of sales of unused and under-used publicly owned land; and if he will make a statement.

    Between the time when the registers were established and 30 April 1985 about 5,729 hectares of land have been removed by reason of their disposal by the public sector. In the same period, a further 2,386 hectares have been removed because the land has been brought hack into full use. I am keen to ensure that progress in bringing back into use unused or under-used land is maintained.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has on the extent to which local authorities are making public land registers available to the general public; and if he will make a statement.

    Section 96 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980 requires district councils to make a copy of the land registers available for public inspection at their principal offices at all reasonable hours. Authorities generally are complying with this requirement.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report on an authority by authority basis the gross proceeds of sales of publicly-owned unused and under-used land marketed specifically through the media of the public land registers.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will publish in the Official Report on an authority by authority basis, the number of sales of publicly-owned unused and under-used land brought to fruition specifically as a result of the establishment of the public land registers for each year to the latest available date.

    This information is not available: it cannot be established how much of the 5,729 hectares of registered land which has been disposed of has been sold as a result of the establishment of the land registers.

    Fluoridation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the full chemical breakdown of the substance or substances currently being used to fluoridate the public water supplies.

    Hexafluorosilicic acid (H2SiF6) or disodium hexafluorosilicate (Na2SiF6) are currently used to fluoridate public water supplies. The chemical analysis of the former by weight is 80 per cent. water and 20 per cent. Na2SiF6, with minute traces of other substances such as phosphate and chloride. The chemical analysis of the latter by weight is at least 98 per cent. Na2SiF6 with traces principally of water and iron.

    Local Government Reform

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if the local authority associations and individual London boroughs will be consulted over the terms of an order conferring on himself nomination rights to ex-Greater London council housing in the event of the Greater London council being abolished.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he intends to consult the local authority associations and individual London boroughs over the terms of any order transferring Greater London council seaside and country homes to a local district in the event of the Greater London council being abolished.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) where the office running the Greater London mobility scheme will be accommodated in the event of the Greater London council being abolished;(2) how many national mobility office is funded; who employs its staff; and what plans he has for it in the event of the Greater London council being abolished;(3) if he intends to place any restrictions on the national mobility office in the use of delegated powers to nominate tenants through the Greater London mobility scheme, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished.

    The national mobility office is funded almost wholly by the Exchequer and the staff are employed by the GLC on a contract basis. I expect to write shortly to those bodies represented on the national mobility steering committee inviting them to establish a working party to examine the possibilities of operating the Greater London mobility scheme through an enlarged NMO. The suggested terms of reference cover arrangements for funding, staffing and other related matters (including accommodation); and the preparation of a draft agreement between my right hon. Friend and the national mobility steering committee.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) what arrangements he has made for the delegation of his nomination rights to Greater London council seaside and country homes in the event of the Greater London council being abolished;(2) when he will announce what proportion of vacancies in Greater London council seaside and country homes will still be available to Londoners in the event of the Greater London Council being abolished;(3) if he anticipates that the number of vacancies available to Londoners in Greater London council seaside and country homes will fall in the financial year 1986–87, when compared with previous years;(4) if, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished, district councils in receipt of Greater London council seaside and country homes will be permitted to sell any such homes which are vacant and which are not to be made available to Londoners:(5) when he expects to publish his paper outlining his proposals for the transfer of ownership of Greater London council seaside and country homes in the event of the Greater London council being abolished.

    The paper will be published shortly and will among other things cover nomination rights, distribution of lettings and sales.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will list those bodies, associations, authorities and persons which have expressed support for his proposal to confer on the Secretary of State nomination rights to Greater London council seaside and country homes for retired Londoners, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished;(2) if he will list those persons, bodies, authorities and associations which have expressed support for his proposal

    to confer on the Secretary of State nomination rights to former Greater London council housing in the event of the Greater London council being abolished;

    (3) if he will list the professional bodies, institutes, academic centres, voluntary housing groups and housing associations which support his proposals to abolish the Greater London council housing role.

    I must ask the hon. Member to seek the views of the bodies concerned direct.

    Radioactive Waste

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what progress is being made with regard to feasibility studies into the emplacement of radioactive waste under the seabed; and if he will make a statement.

    I assume the hon. Member is referring to the concept of emplacing intermediate-level wastes under the continental shelf. I understand that NIREX has received tenders from five firms for a feasibility study of this concept and are considering them.

    Cloisters (Leakage)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the circumstances in which there was a leak of water into hon. Members' accommodation in the Cloisters over the weekend of 11 to 12 May; and what steps are being taken to prevent a recurrence.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how long he estimates it will take to repair the damage caused by leaking effluent to hon. Members' offices in the Cloisters over the weekend 11 to 12 May; what was the origin of the damage; and if he will estimate the cost of repairs to furniture and carpets.

    The failure on Sunday 12 May of a ball-valve in a cistern in the Members' cloakroom on the Principal Floor above the corridor outside the Cloisters resulted in an overflow of clean water which ran down into Members' accommodation below. Mopping up was started immediately the flood was discovered, and was completed on Monday morning; drying-out of carpeting took place throughout Tuesday; the room was dehumified on Wednesday, with carpet cleaning and de-odorisation on Thursday. The fault was rectified on Sunday 12 May.Drying out of the stonework may take some weeks, depending on weather conditions.The cost of the specialist carpet cleaning was £40. If a new carpet is required, this will cost around £1,000 plus labour charges. There was no damage to furniture.All overflow pipes are being checked to prevent a similar flood recurring. I very much regret the inconvenience caused to hon. Members.

    Seaside And Country Homes

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many applications to build new seaside and country homes his Department has received from London authorities since 1 April 1984; and in how many of those cases he has intervened.

    Three applications have been received in respect of one GLC scheme. We intervened on cost grounds, but are willing to consider more economical proposals.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished, local district councils in receipt of Greater London council seaside and country homes will be allowed to allocate such homes to tenants who are not elderly.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when Greater London council seaside and country homes will be transferred to local district councils in the event of the Greater London council being abolished.

    London Docklands Development Corporation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) on how much of the land within the London Docklands (East Docklands) Compulsory Purchase Order 1985 the London Docklands Development Corporation has specific proposals;(2) what programme for infrastructure works and relcamation the London Docklands Development Corporation has for land within the London Docklands (East Docklands) Compulsory Purchase Order 1985; how the programme is phased and over what period; which sites are included in each phase; and what is the cost of each phase;(3) how much land within the London Docklands Development Corporation area, not acquired by the London Docklands Development Corporation, was either newly developed or in the process of development by 31 December 1984;(4) with respect to the land acquired by the London Docklands Development Corporation on which new development had taken place or had started by 31 December 1984, how much of this land was subject to works by the London Docklands Development Corporation before development could take place; and at what cost.

    I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers I gave him on 29 April 1985 at columns 31–32.

    Housing Stock

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment, pursuant to the answer of 8 May, Official Report, column 412, if he will explain on what basis the figure of £3,051 million for the gross housing provision for England for the current year has been calculated.

    The total gross capital provision of £3,051 million for housing for 1985–86 is made up as follows:

    £ million
    Local authorities2,321
    Home loan scheme for first-time purchasers2
    Housing Corporation685

    £ million

    New Towns43
    3,051

    Health Partnership Finance (Hackney)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment why the health partnership finance sent to Hackney by his Department was £150,000 less than the million pounds promised for the year 1985–86; and when the remaining £150,000 is to be sent.

    The partnership allocations issued to both the Hackney local authorities and to the City and Hackney district health authority are the same in cash terms as last year. I am satisfied that no promise to increase the health allocation has ever been given by this Department.

    Housing Defects Act

    Lord James Douglas-Hamilton asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his policy with regard to the timescale within which defective houses should be repaired under the Housing Defects Act.

    The designations made under the Housing Defects Act allow eligible owners to seek assistance before 30 November 1994. As I indicated in my reply of 7 May to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Perry Barr (Mr. Rooker), the National House Building Council has approved its warranty arrangements for the repair of such houses and I hope that the first approvals of repair schemes will be given this summer, and that the first repairs under the NHBC scheme will be completed by the winter.

    Rates

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what are the average rate rises in England for 1985–86 compared with 1984–85 for (a) owners of domestic properties and (b) council house tenants and other houses in the public sector, local authority by local authority.

    Percentage increases in domestic rate poundages and domestic rate bills (gross of rate rebates) in 1985–86 are the same in each locality for both owners of domestic properties and council house tenants and other houses in the public sector. I have already placed the available information on these increases in the Library.Estimates of average cash increases in rate bills for owners of domestic properties are not available centrally. Estimates for council house tenants, authority by authority, are not readily available, and cannot be produced except at disproportionate cost.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the average level of rates in 1985–86 for (a) owner-occupied properties and (b) houses in the public sector.

    Based on information available so far, the estimate of the average level of domestic rate bills in England in 1985–86 is about £350 per hereditament.No separate estimate is available for owner-occupied properties. An estimate for council house tenants is not readily available and could only be produced at disproportionate cost.

    House Of Commons (Maintenance Staff)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many Property Services Agency maintenance staff there are in the House of Commons.

    There are 26 technical and 108 industrial maintenance staff employed at the PSA's parliamentary works office. Of these, 14 technical and 33 industrial staff work shifts to provide 24-hour cover for the Palace of Westminster and the parliamentary outbuildings. Staff are not allocated specifically to maintenance in the House of Commons.

    Royal Docks

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) if he will state the programme of infrastructure work being undertaken or planned by the London Docklands Development Corporation in the royal docks area; what is the estimated cost; and if it was put out to competitive tender;(2) on what part or parts of the land now owned by the London Docklands Development Corporation in the royal Victoria dock, that corporation has specific proposals; what they are; and when they concluded any consultation with the local authority covering any such proposal.

    I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answers I gave the hon. Member for Newham, North-West (Mr. Banks) on 29 April 1985 at columns 31–32. All LDDC contracts for infrastructure work are put to competitive tender.

    Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Beef Variable Premium Scheme

    4.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the retention of the beef variable premium scheme for 1985–86.

    The Commission's original CAP price proposals for 1985–86 made no provision for continuation of the beef variable premium scheme. I made it clear however that I would insist on satisfactory provision for the scheme before I could agree to any final settlement, and I was accordingly pleased to see the premium covered in the latest compromise proposals discussed this week. I regret that agreement on this, as on other price fixing questions, has yet to be reached.

    Confectionery Industry

    12.

    the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he last met representatives of the confectionery industry; and what subjects were discussed.

    As the confectionery industry will be aware we are available to them at all times and there are frequent contacts with the Ministry at all levels. Their representatives last met my right hon. Friend at their request on 9 February 1984, when I was also present, and CAP price fixing issues of relevance to the industry formed the main items of the discussion.

    Horses (Tethering)

    16.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals concerning the tethering of horses.

    Farms (Environmental Survey)

    17.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects the publication of the results of his Ministry's survey of environmental topics on farms.

    It is currently planned that the first results of the survey of environmental topics on farms should be published around the end of July.

    Food Prices

    18.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will provide the most recently available figures comparing the increase in food prices and the retail prices index.

    The most recently available figures show that in the year to March 1985, food prices increased by 3·6 per cent. and the retail price index by 6·1 per cent.

    Food And Environment Protection Bill

    19.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what arrangements he has already made for consultation in preparation for the implementation of regulations under the Food and Environment Protection Bill [Lords]; and if he will make a statement.

    We are compiling an inventory of the organisations and individuals, including interested Members of this House, who will receive our consultation document on the implementation of part III of theBill.Once the Parliamentary debates on the Bill are completed we shall consider the points made on all sides and issue a comprehensive set of proposals.

    Agriculture And The Countryside

    20.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will produce a Green Paper on the future of agriculture and the countryside.

    The Government's response to the first report from the Environment Committee on the operation and effectiveness of part II of the Wildlife and Countryside Act, which will be published shortly, will contain a comprehensive statement of the Government's policy towards agriculture and the countryside.

    Cereals

    21.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what policies he will be recommending to the European Economic Community Council of Ministers to deal with growing European surplus of cereal products.

    I remain convinced that a sustained policy of price restraint is the best way of bringing a better balance to the Community cereals market.

    Milk Quotas

    22.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the sale or lease of milk quotas.

    At present the sale or lease of milk quotas as such is not permitted although quotas may be transferred with land. We fully recognise the need to achieve greater flexibility in the quota system and are therefore taking the initiative in pursuing the possibility of getting agreement to the leasing and sale of quotas in discussion in the Council of Ministers. This will not be easy to negotiate as there is still strong opposition to both concepts from the Commission and some member states, especially to sale which is unlikely to be negotiable at the moment.

    27.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how much quota has now been surrendered under the milk outgoers' scheme; and if he will make a statement.

    By 10 May, 1,595 producers had committed themselves to surrender a total of 265·0 million litres.I am pleased to say that, we have achieved our two principal objectives of making exceptional hardship awards in full for 1985–86 and restoring small producers' quotas to base year production levels for 1985–86.

    Departmental Costs

    23. Mr. Pawsey asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what economies were made in the last financial year in the administrative costs of running his Department.

    The running costs of my Department are estimated to have been reduced by about 31/2 per cent. in real terms in 1984–85.

    Cap Expenditure

    24.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food by what percentage common agricultural policy expenditure in the latest 1985 European Economic Community budget proposals can be further increased and still remain within the financial guidelines.

    Salmon Tagging

    25.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he will now make a statement on the Government's decision on the introduction of a salmon tagging scheme.

    As I said in answer to the hon. Gentleman on 20 February, the examination which we are conducting has revealed a number of considerable difficulties and no decisions have yet been made. I shall make an announcement as soon as we have been able to reach a conclusion.

    European Community (Agricultural Legislation)

    26.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of his recent discussions with his European Economic Community counterparts on proposals to make European Economic community agricultural legislation more sensitive to the environment.

    As my right hon. Friend the Minister said in his reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West and Torridge (Sir P. Mills) on 13 March, the Council of Ministers agreed a new agricultural structures regulation which permits member states to introduce schemes to encourage farming methods and practices which are sympathetic to the environment in environmentally sensitive areas.

    Animals (Transit)

    28.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what recent representations he has received about regulations covering the transit of live animals.

    The Ministry continues to receive letters raising points about regulations covering the transit of live animals.

    Dairy Farmers

    29.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what is the number of dairy farmers in the United Kingdom at the present time; what was the number six years ago; and what is his estimate of the number likely to exist in three years' time.

    In March 1985, 48,848 milk producers were registered with the milk marketing boards in the United Kingdom. In March 1979 there were 60,808 registered milk producers. No estimates have been made of the number of milk producers in three years' time but it seems likely that the number will continue to decline in line with the long term trends towards greater productivity and efficiency in milk production.

    Farmers (Less Favoured Areas)

    30.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what measures are being taken to seek to ensure a better take up of the new benefits available to farmers in the recently extended less favoured areas.

    Any farmer who suspects that his land may be within the less favoured areas boundary may either send details to his local office for the Ministry to check or consult the detailed maps himself at the Ministry's local office. These arrangements have been given regular national and local publicity, most recently through a national press release on 15 April.

    Environmental Co-Ordination Unit

    31.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement about the operation and effectiveness of the recently set up environment co-ordination unit in his Department.

    The environment co-ordination unit was established to provide a central co-ordinating point for the many aspects of Ministry activity affecting environmental issues; to create closer links between the advisory, scientific and policy interests within my Department; and to develop a coherent strategic approach to conservation over the whole range of the Ministry's responsibilities. In performing these functions. the unit has played a valuable part in the further strengthening of my policies for encouraging and supporting good conservation practice.

    Horticulture Industry

    32.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if his Department operates any scheme to help the horticulture industry reduce its energy costs.

    Yes. Under the Ministry's capital grant schemes grants are available for investments in energy saving measures in the glasshouse sector.

    Agricultural Development And Advisory Service

    33.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the future of the Agricultural Development and Advisory Service.

    In reply to a written question by my hon. Friend the Member for Devon, West and Torridge (Sir P. Mills) on 13 November 1984, I announced the publication of a report on the future of the agricultural development and advisory service by Professor Bell, and my endorsement of his general conclusions. However, I made clear that a good deal of further work would be needed before detailed final decisions could be taken on the recommendations in the report. That work is in hand and I hope to be in a position to make a further statement be fore the summer recess.

    Dairy Farmers (Northern Ireland)

    34.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress he has made in achieving equality of treatment for small dairy farmers in Northern Ireland.

    I am aware of the difficulties in Northern Ireland that have been caused by there being insufficient quota from the outgoers scheme available for reallocation to small producers and am discussing with my right hon. Friends how to tackle the problem.

    White Fish

    35.

    asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether, in view of the falling catches of white fish in the North sea, he will press for the reduction of by-catches in industrial fishing in the pout box from the temporary concession of 18 per cent. down to 5 per cent.

    Mr. MacGregor