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Written Answers

Volume 81: debated on Monday 17 June 1985

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Written Answers To Questions

Monday 17th June 1985

House Of Commons

Terrace Pavilion

asked the Lord Privy Seal (1) what is the annual cost in each of the last two years of erecting and dismantling the House of Commons marquee on the Terrace; and if he will make a statement;(2) what was the cost in each of the past two years up to March of repairing and refurbishing the House of Commons Terrace Pavilion, including the facilities for the two bars and the allied services following its dismantling and re-erection; and if he will make a statement.

The present awnings for both Houses were new in April 1983 and the cost of erection was included in the purchase price. Since then the Crown Suppliers have let an inclusive competitive contract to cover dismantling, storage, erection and maintenance. It is therefore not possible to quote separate costs for the two Houses, or for repair and refurbishment. The costs for both Houses' awnings, inclusive of VAT, departmental on-costs, and some engineering service costs falling on the Property Services Agency, were:

£
1983–8422,479
*1984–8517,574
* The erection of the awning for this season was after March 1985 and has not yet been brought to account.
In addition, two extensions were provided for the Commons awnings in May 1984 at a cost of £4,669.

Northern Ireland

asked the Lord Privy Seal how many minutes on average were spent per sitting day during the 1983–84 Session on Northern Ireland business.

Energy

Power Station (Norfolk)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if, in his discussions with the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board, there have been any proposals for a new power station in Norfolk.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

North-East Drift Net Fishery

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has led him to conclude that the catch from the north-east drift net fishery does not represent a threat to Scottish salmon stocks.

My fisheries scientists, in a report published in 1982, estimated that the effect of the north east drift net fishery on the numbers of salmon caught on Scottish east coast rivers from the Tweed to the Ugie was approximately 6·4 per cent., while the effect on total salmon stocks in those rivers would have been less. Continuing work by the scientists has provided no evidence to suggest that the north east fishery represents a threat to Scottish salmon stocks.

Agricultural Wages Boards

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food whether he intends to review the operation of agricultural wages boards; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friends the Secretaries of State for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and I currently have no plans to review the operation of the agricultural wages boards.

Badgers (Tuberculosis)

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what progress has been made in the preparation of a vaccine for badgers against tuberculosis.

Advances have been made in the collaborative research between workers at the central veterinary laboratory and the Middlesex hospital medical school aimed at investigating the immune response in badgers and in testing the BCG vaccine in them.It must be emphasised, however, that there are many difficult problems yet to be overcome, both in the development of a suitable vaccine and in its use in the field.

Beef Imports

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what quantity of beef has been imported into the United Kingdom from countries outside the European Economic Community in the last 12 months.

During the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available (1 May 1984 to 30 April 1985) the United Kingdom has imported some 102,000 tonnes of beef and beef products from countries outside the European Economic Community. This amount was made up as follows:

Fresh, chilled and frozen beef—35,172 tonnes.
Beef offals, processed beef and beef products—67,035 tonnes.

Source: United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics.

Freezer Trawlers

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Government's deliberations on the licensing of freezer trawlers for the mackerel fishery.

Major changes have taken place in the structure of the pelagic fishing fleet in recent years; in particular, the number of freezer trawlers has fallen from 26 in 1980 to one by the end of last year. Fisheries Ministers have therefore decided to institute, in consultation with the industry, an immediate full review of the restrictive licensing arrangements in respect of the pelagic fisheries, taking into account the current and prospective fishing opportunities.The review will include consideration of the particular restrictions on the licensing of purse seiners and freezer trawlers announced in a written reply to my hon. Friend the Member for Cornwall South-East (Mr. Hicks) on 29 July 1980. It will be carried out in advance of the review of the restrictive licensing arrangements for pressure stocks generally which is due to take place next year. Pending the outcome of the pelagic review, the three licences for freezer trawlers new to the fishery which were issued earlier this year owing to a regrettable misunderstanding in my Deprtment will be maintained on a provisional basis. In the meantime, no further mackerel licences will be issued to freezers unless the new vessel is to replace the remaining one vessel that has been licenced to fish for mackerel before this year.The freezer trawlers will be allocated for 1985 a mackerel quota of 3,374 tonnes per vessel, which corresponds to the average catch of purse seiners last year. The definitive management arrangements for this year's North sea herring fishery, including the question of the quotas for freezer trawlers, are still under consideration, but, pending decisions on these, the freezer trawlers will be given an initial allocation of 400 tonnes per vessel when the fishery opens on 16 June, to count against their definitive quota for 1985.

Glysophate

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the outcome of the Forestry Commission's application under the pesticide safety precautions scheme for the aerial application of glysophate on up to 500 hectares of land.

The Forestry Commission has not sought a clearance under the Pesticides Safety Precautions Scheme (PSPS) for the aerial application of glyphosate. However, an application has been made by a chemical company marketing glyphosate preparations, who were granted limited clearance under the PSPS in November 1984 for the treatment of up to 500 ha of forestry with glyphosate. The Forestry Commission will be seeking the company's agreement to use that limited clearance in order to treat commission land. It is envisaged that the treatment will take place in August/September 1985.

Attorney-General

Molesworth (Leaflet)

asked the Attorney-General (1) if he will institute proceedings against the 22 signatories of a leaflet published and first distributed at Molesworth on 22 May, a copy of which has been sent to him, and urging members of the armed forces to disobey certain orders relating to nuclear weapons, for incitement to disaffection; and if he will make a statement;(2) if, following Mr. Peter Tatchell's remarks on Channel 4's "Comment" programme on 28 May urging members of the armed forces to think twice before obeying nuclear orders, he will institute proceedings against him for incitement to disaffection; and if he will make a statement.

As regards the leaflet distributed on 22 May 1985, the views put forward in it are of course quite unfounded in law and illustrate the confused thinking of its authors. However, I am satisfied that those to whom it is addressed are prefectly capable of appreciating it at its true worth and will treat it with derision. I therefore see no need to dignify it by making it the subject of criminal proceedings.Similar considerations apply to the remarks made by Mr. Tatchell on the Channel 4 programme.

Magistrates' Courts

asked the Attorney-General what advice he has given to those benches of magistrates who do not publicise the names of the individual magistrates sitting as a court.

The Lord Chancellor has received representations on the withholding of the names of magistrates and, after consultations with interested parties have been completed, he will consider whether he should issue any advice to magistrates on the subject.

asked the Attorney-General if he will inquire of petty sessional divisions in England and Wales how many and which benches of magistrates refuse to publicise the names of magistrates sitting in the court.

No: I have nothing as yet to add to the answer I have today given to the hon. Member on a related topic.

Education And Science

School Buildings

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received alleging deteriorating conditions of school buildings; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend is aware of some concern. Responsibility for the provision and maintenance of school buildings rests, however, with local education authorities and it is for them to determine their expenditure priorities within the resources available to them.

University Posts

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information he has as to the number of university posts which have been created under the new blood scheme since its inception, broken down into subject area.

The numbers of university posts allocated under the three year "new blood" programme, broken down by subject groups, are as follows:

Allocation of "new blood" posts*by subject 1983–84 to 1985–86 (Great Britain)
Subjects1983–841984–851985–86Total
Medicine435532130
Engineering/technology486035143
Biological sciences25402388
Mathematics20271562
Physical sciences668548199
Agriculture/veterinary studies811726
Subjects1983–841984–851985–86Total
Arts15331866
Social studies, business studies and education17392278
Total (all subjects)242350200792
* Includes posts allocated to the Open university.

Computers

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the average number of microcomputers in primary schools and secondary schools; and how many schools do not yet have a computer.

I understand that, in the maintained sector, there are on average about 10 microcomputers per secondary school and about 1·5 micros per primary school. Only a very few maintained schools do not have a microcomputer.

Deputations

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will give the number of requests made by hon. and right hon. Members for deputations to see Ministers in his Department which have been refused in the past six months; which Ministers were the subject of each requested deputation; what are the names of the hon. and right hon. Members who have been refused deputations; what was the date on which the hon. Member concerned was informed that he had been refused a deputation; and what was the issue on which the deputation was requested.

The information requested could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Primary Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will list in the Official Report the number of primary schools in each local education authority which are smaller than the minimum sizes discussed in paragraph 275 of the White Paper "Better Schools", Cmnd. 9469 and what proportion of primary schools this represents in each case, at the latest date for which figures are available; and what information his Department has as to the numbers of such schools currently subject to proposals for reorganisation.

Comprehensive Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will list in the Official Report the number of comprehensive schools in each local education authority which are smaller than the minimum sizes discussed in paragraph 275 of the White Paper, "Better Schools," Cmnd. 9469, in respect of (a) the number of forms entry, (b) the size of the sixth form and (c) both the above respects; what proportion of secondary schools this represents in each case; and what information is available to his Department as to the number of such schools currently subject to proposals for reorganisation in each case at the latest date for which figures are available.

Grammar Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will make a statement on the guidance issued by his Department in respect of the minimum size of grammar schools in terms of (a) the number of forms entry, (b) the size of the sixth form in the light of paragraph 275 of the White Paper, "Better Schools," Cmnd. 9469, (c) the number of such schools in each local education authority retaining selection which are smaller than the guidance in one or both respects and (d) the number of such schools currently subject to proposals for reorganisation.

The Department has issued no guidance on the minimum size of grammar schools. The principles for future guidance proposed in paragraph 275 of the White Paper, Better Schools, Cmnd 9469 related to primary schools and comprehensive schools.

Educational Maintenance Allowance

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what would be the cost of providing an educational maintenance allowance of £27 per week, 52 weeks a year to all those aged 16 to 19 years in full-time education in England, including those in further education colleges and taking into account savings in child benefit and existing educational maintenance allowance.

Student Grants

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what would be the cost of restoring all student grants to their October 1978 value;(2) what is the average level of mandatory student grant paid to mature students, single mature students, married mature students, and married mature students with children; and how many mature students there are in each category;(3) if he will estimate the additional cost of awarding all students in higher education a full maintenance grant in each of the categories

(a) 18 years plus, (b) 19 years plus, (c) 20 years plus and (d) 21 years plus in 1984–85 and in 1985–86;

(4) what would be the cost in 1985–86 of restoring mandatory student grants to the real value of the 1978–79 award.

Prime Minister

Confectionery Industry (Ministerial Responsibility)

asked the Prime Minister if she will list the matters relating to the United Kingdom confectionery industry on which (a) the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food and (b) the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry, respectively, answer parliamentary questions.

In general the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food is responsible for the sponsorship of the confectionery industry, including product labelling and compositional standards, but specific matters such as consumer protection and overseas trade are matters for the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry.A general guide to Departmental responsibilities is contained in The Civil Service Year Book 1985, a copy of which is in the Library of the House.

Bradford Disaster Appeal Fund

asked the Prime Minister, if she will make it the policy of Her Majesty's Government to increase its contribution to the Bradford disaster appeal fund by an amount equivalent to the estimated value-added tax revenue received from the sales of the gramophone record produced in support of the fund; and if she will make a statement.

No. The Government have made a special payment of £250,000 to the Bradford disaster appeal fund, which we believe to be an appropriate response to help the victims of that appalling tragedy.

Home Department

Civil Defence

23.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he is satisfied with the co-operation with his Department by Welsh local authorities in mounting civil defence training operations.

A number of local authorities in both England and Wales need to do more to fulfil their obligations, including training, under the 1983 regulations. Nevertheless practically all the Welsh authorities sent people to the Civil Defence college last year and also undertook some civil defence training themselves.

Life Sentence Prisoners

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the number of prisons in the United Kingdom which are used as training prisons for inmates serving life sentences; and if he will list the prisons concerned.

Excluding local prisons and remand centres which initially accommodate life sentence prisoners, 44 prison service establishments now accommodate life sentence prisoners. The 29 adult male establishments are as follows:

  • (a) Eight category B dispersal prisons—(prisoners who have been placed in security category A are accommodated in these prisons):
    • Albany
    • Frankland
    • Gartree
    • Hull
    • Long Lartin
    • Parkhurst
    • Wakefield
    • Wormwood Scrubs
  • (b) Nine other category B establishments:
    • Blundeston
    • Bristol
    • Coldingley
    • Dartmoor
    • Grendon (also takes male young offenders—see below)
    • Kingston
    • Lewes
    • Nottingham
    • Maidstone
  • (c) Eight category C establishments:
    • Acklington
    • Featherstone
    • Haverigg
    • Lancaster
    • Norwich
    • Preston
    • The Verne
    • Wayland
  • (d) Four category D establishments:
    • Ashwell
    • Ford
    • Leyhill
    • Sudbury
    The six establishments holding females and the ten establishments holding young male offenders are not categorised but are as follows:

  • (a) Six female establishments:
    • Askham Grange
    • Bullwood Hall
    • Cookham Wood
    • Durham
    • Holloway
    • Styal
  • (b) Ten young offender establishments:
    • Aylesbury
    • Chelmsford
    • Exeter
    • Finnamore Wood
    • Grendon (also takes adult males)
    • Liverpool
    • Lowdham Grange
    • Northallerton
    • Rochester
    • Swinfen Hall

    Two further category C establishments for adult males, Stocken and Channings Wood, are expected to receive life sentence prisoners in the autumn. It is also planned to accommodate young male lifers in Castington which is a youth custody centre at present under construction.

    Italians (Extradition)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many Italians living in Britain are wanted in Italy for terrorist offences; and whether extradition proceedings have been initiated in any cases.

    The available information relates to formal extradition requests and to requests for police assistance in tracing and arresting persons alleged to have been involved in terrorist offences. In recent years two persons accused of terrorist-related offences have been extradited to Italy. In 1981 the Italian authorities sought the extradition of seven Italian nationals accused of terrorist offences, but the cases were discharged by the Bow street magistrate because of insufficient evidence.I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that all but one of the group remained in this country. The commissioner also tells me that the Italian authorities are seeking the arrest of three further Italian nationals in connection with terrorist crime but that it appears that their alleged offences are not extraditable. Extradition proceedings are also currently in progress in respect of one person accused of such an offence.

    Concessionary Television Licences

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what representations he has received from Bradford metropolitan council during the last year concerning the issuing of free television licences to all households consisting solely of pensioners; what action he has taken as a result; and if he will make a statement.

    Of the three letters received from Bradford metropolitan council in the last year or so on the subject of concessionary television licences, one concerned the issue of free licences to all households consisting solely of pensioners, paid for out of taxation. We have replied explaining that in the Government's view the cost of free licences for all households comprising only pensioners, which we estimate would be about £225 million a year, could not reasonably be added to public expenditure.

    Firearms Act 1968

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which chief constables have adapted their procedures to conform with the recommendations of his recent working party's report on the administration of the Firearms Act 1968.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he is aware of any chief officer of police who has failed or refuses to comply with the Firearms Act 1968.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has yet reviewed the effect of the standard territorial conditions for use in the case of firearm certificate holders with access to a number of different locations for the use of weapons; and if he will make a statement.

    No. I would refer the hon. Member to the reply I gave to his question on 5 June at column 159.

    Hornsey and Wood Green constituency: Total Police strength by Police Station (Uniform and CID)
    Wood GreenHighgateMuswell HillHornseyTotals
    1984
    29 April1272839110304
    6 May1262839110303
    13 May1262839113306
    20 May1262839113306
    27 May1262839111304
    3 June1262839111304
    1985
    28 April1292434125312
    5 May1292434126313
    12 May1282434125311
    19 May1272434125310
    26 May1272434125310
    2 June1272435124310

    Note: These figures take no account of temporary absences due to sickness, leave, training, rest days, mutual aid etc.

    Computer Fraud

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he plans to seek further changes in the law to deter computer fraud and the expansion of crime based on the manipulation of electronic equipment; and if he will make a statement.

    We are keeping a watch on developments in this field to see whether changes in the law may be needed. We shall also look carefully at the findings of the Roskill committee which the Lord Chancellor and the Home Secretary appointed to consider the law and procedure in the conduct of criminal proceedings arising from fraud. Recognising the importance of the international dimension, the Government are represented on an Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development working party studying computer-related criminality.

    Coal Industry Dispute (Police Costs)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the Metropolitan Police Commissioner's policy on recompensing police officers who earned overtime while serving outside the Metropolitan police area during the coal industry dispute.

    Under the Police Regulations 1979 overtime is recompensed either by payment at the appropriate rate or by time off in lieu, at the officer's discretion, but if an officer elects the latter and cannot take time off within three months, he must be paid overtime.The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis adheres to these regulations.

    Metropolitan Police (Manning Levels)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner on the actual manning levels in the four police stations in the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency since 1 May and for the comparable period in 1984; and if he will make a statement.

    The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis tells me that the total number of police officers assigned to each of the four police stations was as follows:

    Television Licences (Refunds)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances refunds on the payment of television licences are payable; and if he will reconsider the criteria applicable in such cases.

    Refunds of television licence fees are generally available:

  • (a) when a licence ceases to be needed within the first 28 days of its validity; or
  • (b) when two licences are taken out but one was obtained in error; or
  • (c) when an unexpired monochrome licence is surrendered on issue of a colour licence.
  • We have no present plans to change these arrangements.

    Video Works (Classification Authority)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he will lay before Parliament his proposals for the designation of persons to act as the authority responsible for making arrangements for the classification of video works under the Video Recordings Act 1984; and if he will make a statement.

    [pursuant to his reply, 11 June, 1985, c. 389–90]: I have today laid before both Houses of Parliament revised proposals for the designation under section 4(1) of the Video Recordings Act 1984 of those persons who on designation will be the authority responsible for the matters set out in that section of the Act. I now propose to designate the Earl of Harewood, the Lord Birkett, and Miss Monica Sims, respectively the president and vice-presidents of the British Board of Film Classification (formerly the British Board of Film Censors).

    Wales

    Foreign Investment

    8.

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will estimate the amount of foreign investment in Wales and the number of jobs attributable to it since 1979; and if he will make a statement.

    Inward investment projects in receipt of selective financial assistance since May 1979 amount in value to nearly £750 million. These projects promise about 15,000 new and 8,000 safeguarded jobs. Competition for inward investment is keener than ever but the success achieved over the past two years indicates that Wales has a great deal to offer international companies.

    Labour Statistics

    14.

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what were the numbers of those in employment and available for employment in (a) Cardiff, North and (b) Wales in 1979, 1983 and at the latest convenient date.

    The full information requested is not available. I shall write to my hon. Friend about the figures for the Cardiff area. For Wales the total in employment, including the self-employed, in June 1979, 1983 and 1984 were 1,133,000, 1,019,000, and 1,043,000 respectively. For the same dates, the numbers of unemployed claimants were 73,500, 162,160, and 162,941 and for May 1985, 178,467.

    Education

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales which local authorities retain a selective secondary school system.

    None. Although two areas of Dyfed are not yet reorganised on comprehensive lines.

    Combined Heat And Power

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any plans to promote combined heat and power projects in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

    Combined heat and power is covered in the Government's promotion of the efficient use of energy and is the responsibility of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Energy. I therefore do not have any plans to promote the subject.

    Courtaulds (Greenfield Site)

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales what notification he has received from Courtaulds in respect of capital equipment purchased with Government grants for use at the Greenfield site during the past four years and due for disposal on the closure of the plant.

    Full details of assets on which regional development grants have been paid were supplied, as required by the conditions of the grants, in the course of a meeting with officials of Courtaulds at the company's Greenfield premises on 8 May 1985.

    Early Potatoes

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any further plans to help early potato growers in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

    I am closely monitoring developments in the early potato sector to ensure that there is no unfair competition resulting from breaches of European Community obligations.

    Afforestation

    asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many applications for afforestation in Wales under the forestry grant scheme were received by the Forestry Commission in each year since 1981; how many of these received approval for grant aid; and how many were the subject of a site visit by Forestry Commission staff before approval was given.

    The numbers of applications received for grant aid for new planting and restocking in Wales, from the start of the forestry grant scheme on 1 October 1981, are as follows:

    Number
    Six months to 31 March 1982104
    Year to 31 March 1983140
    Year to 31 March 1984155
    Year to 31 March 1985171
    Total570
    Of these, 464 applications were approved, 30 were refused or withdrawn, and 76 were still under consideration at 31 March 1985.

    It is the Forestry Commission's practice to inspect the area concerned before approving any application for entry to the forestry grant scheme.

    Transport

    Estuarial Crossings (Tolls)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he now has any proposals to change the position whereby certain estuarial crossings are tolled and others are not.

    No, the position remains as my right hon. Friend explained to the hon. Member on 14 February 1984 at column 113.

    Common Transport Policy

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the judgment of the European Court in favour of the European Parliament against the Council of Ministers for their failure to agree and implement a common transport policy.

    The European Court of Justice delivered its judgment in the case brought by the European Parliament for failure to implement a common transport policy on 22 May. The court ruled that the council had failed, in violation of the treaty, to assure the free provision of services in the field of international transport and to fix the conditions of admission of non-resident carriers to national transport in a member state. The judgment deals only with inland transport but the same arguments are applicable to shipping and aviation.I welcome the judgment. The Government have consistently pressed for the removal of restrictions on the free provision of transport services in the Community. The judgment supports our case. I hope that it will spur the Council to make more rapid progress towards this goal and that the Transport Council on 24 June can agree a programme of work which will lead to the early implementation of the court's ruling.

    Marine Rescue Services

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what provision there is for marine rescue between Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man; and if he will make a statement on the future of the marine rescue sub-centre at Ramsey, Isle of Man.

    Her Majesty's Coastguard has maritime rescue sub-centres at Belfast and Ramsey providing 24-hour coverage of, and co-ordinating capability for, marine search and rescue incidents which occur in the sea area between Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. Declared rescue facilities are provided by RNLI lifeboats at Donaghadee and Newcastle in Northern Ireland and at Port Erin and Port St. Mary on the Isle of Man, with rescue helicopters of the Royal Navy at Prestwick in Scotland and the Royal Air Force at Valley, North Wales. There are no plans to change these arrangements.

    Merchant Ships

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what was the new tonnage of merchant ships ordered for the United Kingdom fleet in 1984; and how much of that tonnage was placed in United Kingdom yards.

    The tonnage, in gross registered tons of merchant vessels of 100 grt and over, ordered in 1984 for United Kingdom registration was 183 thousand tons, of which 117 thousand tons was placed in United Kingdom yards.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what percentage of total world merchant ship tonnage is currently represented by the United Kingdom fleet: and what was the equivalent figure for 1965 and 1975, respectively.

    At 1 January 1985, the latest period for which world fleet statistics are available, United Kingdom registered merchant vessels represented 3·0 per cent. of the world total deadweight tonnage of merchant ships of 100 gross tons and over. The corresponding figures for mid-1975 and mid-1965 are 9·7 per cent. and 12·6 per cent. respectively.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will publish the latest figures for the size of the United Kingdom merchant fleet, measured both in the numbers of ships and in dead-weight tonnage; and what were the equivalent figures for 1965 and 1975, respectively.

    At end March 1985, the latest period for which figures are available, the United Kingdom-registered merchant fleet of vessels of 500 gross tons and over consisted of 758 ships with a total of 21·1 million deadweight tons. This compares with 1,770 ships of 50·7 million dwt at end March 1975 and 2,461 ships of 26·7 million dwt at end March 1965.

    Merchant Fleet (Overseas Earnings)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport what is his estimate of the current contribution of British shipping to the United Kingdom balance of payments; and how this compares with the equivalent figures in 1965 and 1975, respectively, measured in 1985 values.

    The net contribution of the United Kingdom shipping industry to the sea transport account of the United Kingdom balance of payments is provisionally estimated to be £547 million in 1984. The table shows the equivalent figures for 1965 and 1975 both at current prices and at constant 1980 prices. The 1980 price figures have been calculated using published constant 1980 price indices as a basis. Constant price estimates are complicated to construct and 1985 price figures are not available. Care is required in any interpretation of a net balance expressed at constant prices.

    Net contribution of the United Kingdom shipping industry to the balance of payments sea transport account
    £ million
    196519751984
    Current prices130539547
    Constant 1980 prices891,128591

    Vehicles (Regulations)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list divisions within his Department responsible for matters relating to the detailed enforcement of the following regulations: (a) the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1984, regulations 1–19 with appropriate schedules, (b) the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1978, as amended, regulations 1–79 with appropriate schedules, and in particular regulations 31 ansd 31 a-e, (c) the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations 1978, as amended, regulations 116b.

    My Department's vehicle standards and engineering division is responsible for the preparation of the regulations listed. New vehicles are, however, approved with regard to their construction by my Department's vehicle inspectorate or the vehicle and component approval division, whilst vehicles already in use on the road are subject to roadside inspections and spot checks by the vehicle inspectorate. The detailed day-to-day enforcement of these regulations is the responsibility of individual chief officers of police.

    Employment

    Factory Inspectorate

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he is satisfied with the numbers employed by Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate and the efficiency of their operations.

    Her Majesty's factory Inspectorate has sufficient staff to perform its essential functions. Efforts have been and are continuing to be made further to improve the efficiency of the inspectorate's operations.

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the number of prosecutions made by Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate between 1979 and 1985 and the average cost or penalty imposed.

    The numbers of prosecutions made by Her Majesty's Factory Inspectorate between 1979 and 1985 and the average penalties imposed are as follows:

    YearProsecutionsAverage penalty £
    19791,227181
    19801,297179
    19811,142206
    19821,350344
    19831,470265
    19841,300332
    1985 figures are not yet available.

    Merchant Fleet

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment what is the latest figure for employment in the United Kingdom merchant fleet; and how this compares with the equivalent figure in 1965 and 1975, respectively.

    The following table gives, for the dates specified, the estimated number of employees in employment in the sea transport industry in the United Kingdom. The Department's employment statistics are analysed according to the standard industrial classification (SIC) which does not identify the merchant fleet as such. The figures for June 1965 are for minimum list heading 705 of the 1968 SIC and those for December 1984 are for class 74 of the 1980 SIC. The date for June 1975 is given on both bases.

    Sea transport—United Kingdom
    Number of employees
    1968 SIC—minimum list heading 705
    June 1965115,000
    June 197588,000
    1980 SIC—Class 74
    June 197586,000
    December 198438,000

    International Labour Organisation

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, in respect of which conventions of the International Labour Organisation to which the United Kingdom is a signatory, the United Kingdom's compliance has been the subject of comment by the International Labour Organisation committee of experts; what were those comments; and if he will make a statement.

    The International Labour conventions in respect of which the United Kingdom's compliance has been the subject of comment by the committee of experts in its latest report are as follows:

    Convention 26:Minimum Wage Fixing Machinery.
    Convention 87:Freedom of Association and the Right to Organise.
    Convention 122:Employment Policy.
    Convention 144:Tripartite Consultation (International Labour Standards).
    Convention 151:Labour Relations (Public Service).
    Some of the comments of the committee of experts are long and detailed, and I will write to the hon. Member and arrange for a copy of my letter to be placed in the Library.The report of the committee of experts is currently being examined by the conference committee on the application of conventions and recommendations at the 71st session of the IL conference in Geneva, and I understand there may be discussion of some of the comments relating to the United Kingdom.

    Skillcentres

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will consider making more resources available for training for mechanical and electrical engineers at skillcentres.

    In order to make the best use of taxpayers' money training provision in particular skills is closely tailored to the needs of local labour markets. When evidence exists of changes in demand resources can be transferred into training in the skills required. If the hon. Member has any particular evidence in mind I would be pleased if he will write to me.

    Travel-To-Work Areas

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, with regard to travel-to-work areas, what was the value emerging from the calculations of the measure commuting links formula for Silloth and Waver wards combined and (a) the Workington travel-to-work area and (b) the Carlisle travel-to-work area, excluding Silloth and Waver.

    The commuting links requested are as follows:

  • (a) Silloth and Waver wards with the Workington travel-to-work area: 0·0016
  • (b) Silloth and Waver wards with the rest of the Carlisle travel-to-work area: 0·0038.
  • asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether, pursuant to his answer of 30 April, Official Report, column 107, regarding calculations of measure commuting links for travel to work areas he will set out parts (d) and (e) of that answer the factors Fab, Fba, Wa, Wb, Ra, and Rb as defined in Appendix 2 of the supplement to the September 1984 edition of Employment Gazette.

    The information requested is given in the following table.

    Waver with Wampool and WigtonWaver with Aspatria and Ellen
    Fab100
    Fba1010
    Wa970970
    Wb1,1501,290
    Ra790790
    Rb3,4501,640

    Job Release Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment whether the job release scheme for the disabled between 60 and 64 years will continue beyond 31 July.

    Yes. As my right hon. Friend announced on 12 November 1984, at column 445, both the full-time and part-time job release schemes will continue until 31 March 1986 with no further change in the ages of eligibility for both able-bodied men and women and disabled men.

    Disabled Persons

    asked the Secretary of State for Employment, in the light of the recommendation by the Manpower Services Commission report on the quota scheme that further research should be carried out, what initiative the Government will take; and if he will make a statement on the other recommendations of the report.

    [pursuant to his reply, 14 June 1985, c. 583–84]: As I said in my oral answer to the hon. Member for Cynon Valley (Mrs. Clwyd) on 11 June at column 742, I am currently considering the advice and recommendations contained in the Manpower Services Commission's report on the quota scheme. I shall report the Government's conclusions to the House in due course.

    Environment

    Right-To-Buy Legislation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if consideration has been given to amending the right-to-buy legislation in order to enable individuals in essential services with tied accommodation to receive assistance to purchase in the open market, as in the case of tenants of charitable housing associations; and if he will make a statement.

    Various possibilities along these lines have been and are being examined. But the scheme to assist tenants of charitable housing associations arose out of special circumstances which do not apply in the case of tied accommodation and there are of course other categories of tenants who are excluded from the right to buy.

    Non-Combustibility Levels

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence he has as to the reproduce-ability and repeatability of the new BS476 part II test for defining the alternative levels of non-combustibility under the draft approved documents relating to the Building Act 1984.

    On the basis of tests carried out by a number of laboratories the British Standards Institution committee was satisfied that the level of reproductability and reoperability was satisfactory. The fire research station is satisfied that in this repect the part II test is as good as if not better than the existing part 4 test.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he is satisfied with the data available to him to set the criteria for defining the alternative levels of non-combustibility under the draft approved documents relating to the Building Act 1984.

    Evidence from actual fires and from tests undertaken by the fire research station indicates that the use of non-combustible materials with less than 0·5 mm combustible facing will not, in the circumstances specified in the approved documents, increase the risk to the safety of the occupants of buildings. Such use is already permitted in Scotland and in inner London

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence he has of the effect of his proposal under the approved documents relating to the Building Act 1984 to allow composite materials with less than 0·5 mm of combustible facing each side to go untested by allowing the requirements for non combustibility to be limited to the core of such materials, on safety standards.

    My right hon. Friend is satisfied that the test data presented by the fire research station to the British Standards committee responsible for fire tests is adequate for defining the alternative levels of performance under the part II test for the purposes of the building regulations.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what evidence he has to the effect on standards of life safety of the changes to the non-combustibility requirements embodied in the approved documents with respect to the Building Act 1984; and if he will make a statement.

    The evidence from existing use, investigation of actual fires and from tests indicates that the proposed changes will not affect life safety standards.

    Empty Dwellings

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what policy initiatives he proposes to promote a reduction in the current level of vacancies in the private housing sector; and if he will make a statement.

    The Government want to encourage private owners to let empty property. As my right hon. Friend said in reply to the hon. Member for Holborn and St. Pancras (Mr. Dobson) on 12 June, it is hoped to introduce legislation to encourage the supply of more private sector homes to rent but probably not during the lifetime of this Parliament. Meanwhile, I hope that the owners of empty property will recognise the advantages of letting it rather than leaving it empty, and that they will not overlook the possibility of using shorthold.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what action he proposes, in the light of the findings of his Department's recent report "Local Authority Empty Dwellings" (a) to reduce the vacancy level of 6·9 per cent. in Government-owned and managed housing and (b) to seek to reduce the vacancy level of 2·3 per cent. in local authority dwellings.

    My Department will shortly issue a circular to local authorities setting out ways in which better management can help to reduce numbers of empty dwellings. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has also restored eligibility for housing association grant (Mini-HAG) to local authority short-life dwellings.The circular will be sent to Government Departments and a range of other public sector bodies (to whom as a group the figure of 6·9 per cent. relates) to emphasise once again the need to ensure that vacant housing stock is put back into use or sold at the earliest opportunity.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if, in the light of paragraph 6·2 of his Department's recent report "Local Authority Empty Dwellings" he will introduce legislation to impose upon all local authorities the obligation to place applicants accepted as homeless in accommodation of no lower a standard than that provided for other applicants; and if he will make a statement.

    My right hon. Friend has no plans to introduce such legislation. It is for local authorities to decide how to fulfil their obligations towards people for whom they have accepted responsibility under the Housing (Homeless Persons) Act 1977. As my Department's code of guidance makes clear, the possibilities include the use of their own stock or housing association of private sector property, but authorities are asked to avoid obliging homeless people to spend a certain period in interim accommodation as a matter of policy, and are advised to bear in mind relevant provisions of general housing and public health legislation.

    Housing (London)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether it is the policy of his Department to maintain a Londonwide renovation team responsible for the renovation of former Greater London council properties which have been transferred to the London boroughs for which properties the Greater London council maintains a residual responsibility.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he has ascertained how many London boroughs would wish, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished, to see Greater London council staff engaged on the programme to renovate former Greater London council housing transferred to the London residuary body and in what circumstances those boroughs would wish to see the staff retained in that body;(2) in what circumstances Greater London council staff engaged on the programme to renovate former Greater London council housing transferred to the London boroughs would pass to the London residuary body, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished;(3) what range of staff he envisages will pass to the London residuary body to support programmes related to renovation of former Greater London council housing transferred to the London boroughs, in the event of the Greater London council being abolished.

    My noble Friend will be moving an amendment in another place to the Local Government Bill which will provide for the London residuary body to take a positive role in seeking the views of the boroughs on whether the residuary body should take on specialist teams temporarily while long term arrangements are being finalised. This would apply to renovations teams.

    General Improvement Grants

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government on the future funding of general improvement grants.

    I refer my hon. Friend to paragraphs 76–79 of the Green Paper "Home Improvement—A New Approach" (Cmnd. 9513), which set out the Government's proposals for providing local authorities with resources and Exchequer support for home improvement grants.

    Nuclear Installations (North-West)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list and describe the steps taken by his Department pursuant to recommendation 10 of the report of the advisory group chaired by Sir Douglas Black on the incidence of cancers in the vicinity of nuclear installations in the north-west of England.

    In this field my Department acts jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food. Discussions have continued about new authorisations for discharges from BNFL Sellafield, and there will be formal consultation with the National Radiological Protection Board and the Department of Health and Social Security about the drafts of these authorisations. The new authorisation for liquid discharges is planned to come into operation before the end of the year. As announced by my right hon. Friend on 18 December, the authorisations will subsequently be reviewed every three years.The membership of the independent Radioactive Waste Management Advisory Committee has been extended to include medical experts. DHSS is now represented on relevant official committees. My Department, the MAFF and the DHSS are currently considering the most appropriate form of further action to implement paragraph d. of recommendation 10.

    Stolport (London Docklands)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how he proposes to limit the types of aircraft taking off and landing at the proposed STOLport facility.

    The types of aircraft permitted to use STOLport were defined in the conditions attached to my right hon. Friends' decision on 23 May 1985 giving planning permission for the STOLport. The enforcement of those conditions will, as is normal, fall to the local planning authority.

    Maltby Far And Low Common

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether any deed in respect of Maltby Far and Low Common has been deposited with him under subsection 2 of section 193 of the Law of Property Act 1925; and if he will make a statement.

    No. Under section 193(1) of the Law of Property Act 1925 the public have a legal right of access, for air and exercise, to the areas of common land at Maltby Far and Low Commons, by virtue of their location in an urban district on 1 January 1926. In these circumstances it would not be appropriate for a deed to be deposited under subsection (2).

    Urban Aid (Bradford)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will reconsider urgently the urban aid allocation to Bradford to meet revenue expenditure; what representations he has received from Bradford metropolitan council and Bradford voluntary agencies about the service implications of the urban aid allocation being reduced; and if he will make a statement.

    I have received a letter from city councillors and the Council for Voluntary Service. I do not propose to alter the allocation, which is the same in cash as last year. While it allows slightly less for revenue it allows more for capital expenditure.

    Right To Buy (Southwark Council)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what information he has as to the reasons for the delay by Southwark council in proceeding with the application of Mr. and Mrs. L. Downing of 17 Hillsborough Road to buy their council house; and when he now expects the transaction to be completed.

    I understand that Mr. and Mrs. Downing's right to buy application was delayed principally by Southwark council's failure, as yet, to produce a standard from of transfer for leasehold houses. I expect Mr. and Mrs. Downing to receive legal documentation by the end of June and for completion to take place within a month thereafter. I regret the delays caused by Southwark council.

    Nuclear Waste

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment when he proposes to make a special development order for the geological examination of the site at Elstow in Bedfordshire and any additional sites proposed by the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive for the disposal of intermediate level radioactive waste.

    My right hon. Friend expects to be able to do so in the autumn in respect of sites for a facility for shorter-lived wastes, after NIREX has announced the additional sites to Elstow, and my Department has undertaken appropriate consultations about the drafting of the order.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will give an indication of the likely date of the announcement of sites identified by the Nuclear Industry Radioactive Waste Executive for the potential disposal below ground of intermediate level radioactive waste; and if he will make a statement.

    For a deep underground facility, NIREX has been asked to search for at least three alternative sites, but it is not possible to say at this stage when it will be in a position to make an announcement.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when he now expects the investigation currently being carried out by his Department into the best practicable environmental options for nuclear waste management to be completed;(2) when the investigation currently being carried out by his Department into the best practicable environmental options for nuclear waste management is due to be completed.

    I expect the study of the best practicable environmental options to be duly completed by the end of the year.

    Rate Limitation

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the level of spending below which local authorities will be exempt from selective rate limitations for 1986–87.

    I have today laid before the House an order which uprates the £10 million exclusion in section 2(2)(a) of the Rates Act 1984 to £10·6 million.Any local authority in England budgeting to spend below this level this year cannot be considered for selection for rate limitation in 1986–87. Copies of the order are being sent to the local authority associations.My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales has already laid a similar order for Welsh local authorities.

    Nhbc Repair Scheme

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he is now in a position to specify when the first approvals for repairs will be given under the National Housing Building Council scheme for prefabricated reinforced concrete houses; when he expects the first repairs to be completed; and if he will make a statement.

    Urban Programme

    asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much money has been allocated for the urban programme holiday project for 1985; what expenditure has been agreed in Yorkshire and Humberside; and how both programmes compare with equivalent expenditure in 1984.

    Trade And Industry

    Aid And Trade

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the proportion of United Kingdom produced materials used in the projects supported through the overseas project fund in each year since 1979.

    The information requested is not available for the period up to September 1981, when the new guidelines for operation of the overseas projects fund took effect. Since then the proportion by value of United Kingdom goods and services used in the contracts awarded to United Kingdom companies, which received offers from the Fund, was as follows:

    Financial year of contract awardPercentage by value of United Kingdom goods and services
    1981–82*47
    1982–8339
    1983–8479
    1984–8575
    * Six months from October.
    Typically, local content has predominantly accounted for the balance of the content values. The increased percentage of United Kingdom content in the latter years reflects the more stringent criteria applied to OPF offers made since September 1981.

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the projects that United Kingdom companies have undertaken with support from the overseas projects fund in each year since 1979.

    For reasons of commercial confidentiality, it is not the practice to disclose particulars of individual cases which have been offered support from the overseas projects fund.In each of the financial years from 1979–80, the number of projects awarded to United Kingdom companies with support from the Overseas Projects Fund has been as follows:

    Number
    1979–805
    1980–8121
    1981–8223
    1982–836
    1983–845
    1984–852

    Export Controls

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he intends to take any action following the remarks of the Lord Chief Justice in relation to the Export of Goods Control Order 1981, made during an Appeal Court hearing on 10 May; and if he will make a statement.

    Cocom Regulations

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received a copy of the United States Export Regulations (COCOM) of 29 April.

    Yes. A notice setting out the amendments to export controls on software and electronic computers appeared in the United States federal register of 26 April.

    United States (Technology Restrictions)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the EEC Commission and what information he has supplied to the Commission regarding restrictions placed by the United States Government on access to scientific, trade, technical and academic conferences in the United States of America; and if he will make a statement.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answers I gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Elmet (Mr. Batiste) on 23 and 31 January at columns 425 and 260 respectively.

    Us (Export Controls)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received any information as to whether changes in the United States' security export control procedures have resulted in difficulties being encountered by United Kingdom companies in obtaining electronic equipment or components from that country.

    While we support the underlying purpose of United States security export controls, the procedures associated with them can be time consuming and a source of occasional difficulty for United Kingdom companies which rely on supplies of electronic equipment or components fom the United States. But I have no information which suggests that these problems have been made worse by recent changes in the US regulations.

    Electrical Appliances (Fitted Plugs)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received from the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliances concerning the demand for plugs to be fitted to appliances before sale; what conclusion he has reached; and if he will make a statement.

    I have not received any direct representations from the Association of Manufacturers of Domestic Electrical Appliances (AMDEA) about the fitting of plugs to appliances before sale. I have, however, seen a copy of a letter from AMDEA to the director of environmental health of Newport borough council. AMDEA explained in this letter that there were still manufacturing problems with the fitting of plugs to appliances and that a totally reliable plug was needed for use in mass production assembly techniques before these problems could be overcome.It has been suggested to me from time to time that the safety of consumers would be improved if domestic appliances had 13 amp plugs fitted to them before sale to the public. However, I do not think that the time for introducing legislation to make this mandatory because some 15 per cent. of households in the United Kingdom still have electrical supply systems which do not take 13 amp (square pin) plugs.

    Hotels And Guest Houses (Grants)

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to approve proposals from the English tourist board to take further account of the needs of the smaller hotels and guest houses and to modify the section 4 grant scheme.

    The English Tourist Board is currently considering a number of modifications to its procedures for administering the section 4 scheme which would be relevant to the needs of smaller hotels and guesthouses, and it hopes to introduce new arrangements shortly.

    Telephone Sales Promotion

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he has received any representations from the public about companies selling goods or services over the telephone; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he has been notified by companies or organisations engaged in telephone sales promotion of their intention to achieve self regulation by adopting a code of conduct; and if he will make a statement.

    I receive a number of complaints from the public about companies selling goods and services over the telephone.I have received no approaches on this matter from companies or organisations engaged in telephone sales promotion. However, following his report on "Selling by Telephone" which was published in October 1984, the Director General of Fair Trading is encouraging the adoption of new guidelines by all firms responsible for initiating or making unsolicited telephone approaches to consumers. I endorse this self-regulatory approach.

    Frozen Food

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the value and tonnage of quick frozen food exports and imports, respectively, to and from other European Economic Community countries during each of the past five years.

    Total quick frozen food products are not readily identifiable in the Overseas Trade Statistics. Such information as is identifiable for particular types of frozen food is given in the tables.

    Table 1: Frozen fish (excluding crustaceans and molluscs)

    United Kingdom Imports

    United Kingdom Exports

    *

    Weight

    Value

    *

    Weight

    Value

    198030342422
    198135371716
    198246532929
    198337482217
    198442532218

    * Weight=thousand metric tonnes

    Value=£ million

    Source: data corresponding to SITC/R2 Sub-groups 034·2, 034·4, 037·1 (part), and Items 054·61, 058·61, 058·62 and 098·09 (part) in the United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics.

    Notes:

    (i) the European Community is defined throughout in terms of current membership.

    (ii) United Kingdom imports are valued cif. exports are valued fob.

    (iii) 1984 figures are provisional.

    Table 2: Frozen fruit

    United Kingdom Imports

    United Kingdom Exports

    *

    Weight

    Value

    *

    Weight

    Value

    19803276
    19813265
    19826454
    19837543
    19846433

    * Weight=thousand metric tonnes

    Value=£ million

    Source: data corresponding to SITC/R2 Sub-groups 034·2, 034·4, 037·1 (part), and Items 054·61, 058·61, 058·62 and 098·09 (part) in the United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics.

    Notes:

    (i) the European Community is defined throughout in terms of current membership.

    (ii) United Kingdom imports are valued cif. exports are valued fob.

    (iii) 1984 figures are provisional.

    Table 3: Frozen vegetables

    United Kingdom Imports

    United Kingdom Exports

    *

    Weight

    Value

    *

    Weight

    Value

    198040143314
    198167232612
    1982118472413
    1983139552513
    1984137622415

    * Weight=thousand metric tonnes

    Value=£ million

    Source: data corresponding to SITC/R2 Sub-groups 034·2, 034·4, 037·1 (part), and Items 054·61, 058·61, 058·62 and 098·09 (part) in the United Kingdom Overseas Trade Statistics.

    Notes:

    (i) the European Community is defined throughout in terms of current membership.

    (ii) United Kingdom imports are valued cif. exports are valued fob.

    (iii) 1984 figures are provisional.

    Scott Lithgow Ltd

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the completion accounts relating to the sale of Scott Lithgow Ltd. to Trafalgar House plc in March 1984.

    The auditors respectively of British Shipbuilders and Trafalgar House have been unable to reach agreement on these accounts. Under the terms of the sale, therefore, the issues in dispute will be referred to an independent expert for determination. Meanwhile, British Shipbuilders has agreed to make a payment in respect of issues not in dispute, principally the cost of completing an oil rig for BP, which was partly completed at the time of sale. Pending Parliamentary approval of the necessary supplementary estimate, this payment will be funded through a repayable advance from the Contingencies Fund.

    British Overseas Trade Board

    asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry for what reasons the support of the British Overseas Trade Board was withdrawn from British companies exhibiting at the 1985 autumn fair at Frankfurt; how many companies were promised support; what was the anticipated cost of the support; how much notice of withdrawal was given; and how many complaints have been received by his Department or the British Overseas Trade Board.

    [pursuant to his reply, 12 June 1985, c. 462]: Where British Overseas Trade Board (BOTB) support has not been offered to British exporters exhibiting at the 1985 Frankfurt Autumn Fair this is because the BOTB has considered that other overseas exhibitions better meet the objectives of its support by providing the more effective return to the British economy.The trade associations and other bodies which sponsor BOTB groups at overseas exhibitions were aware that the BOTB's programme of support would be reduced this year; a copy of the BOTB's consultation document—available in the Library—was sent to them on 3 December 1984. No offers of support were made and then withdrawn as a result of the reduction in the programme.The net cost to the BOTB of support at the 1984 Frankfurt Autumn Fair was £54,000; this could have been expected to be of the order of £52,000 in 1985.Trade associations and other sponsoring bodies were advised of the BOTB's view about which exhibitions they considered it likely they could include in the programme of support by a BOTB letter dated 17 April. Fourteen letters have been received about the BOTB's decision on this exhibition. Trade associations and others were also informed on 17 April that BOTB support is likely to be given at the Frankfurt Spring Fair in March 1986.

    The Arts

    European Discussions

    22.

    asked the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State answering in respect of the Arts, what discussions he has had with Ministers for the Arts of other European countries; and if he will make a statement on the subjects raised.

    My noble Friend met Ministers responsible for culture within the Community in Brussels on 28 May. They discussed a number of questions, including the needs of the European film and TV programme industry, policy on book pricing, and the future organisation of work within the cultural programme.

    National Finance

    Pound Sterling

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will estimate the average value, taking the average internal purchasing power of the pound sterling during 1970 as 100p, of the pound sterling in each year since 1979.

    The figures, which are based on the RPI, are as follows:

    Internal purchasing power of the pound (1970=100p)
    Pence
    197933
    198028
    198125
    198223
    198322
    198421

    Parliamentary Votes (Allocation Of Expenditure)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer with reference to the answer to the hon. Member for Warley East, on 20 May, Official Report, columns 340–341, whether, when Parliament approves the total provision of Votes under the relevant Appropriation Acts, the Treasury may credit the equivalent sums of unused and surrendered balances to other subheads, without first obtaining Parliamentary approval by means of a revote or otherwise, in those cases where the recipient subhead is such as to involve direct public expenditure while the unused balances thus disposed of were originally voted under a subhead restricted to transactions confined by statute within the central Government: and what is his policy towards exceptional cases of this nature.

    Yes. The Government have discretion to vary the allocation of the total provision approved by Parliament between any subheads within the same vote. This discretion applies equally to transfers from subheads covering transactions within central Government to other subheads, although in exercising it the Government take into account the fact that any transfer between provision classified as non-public expenditure and provision classified as public expenditure could affect net public expenditure. However, in the case to which the hon. Member alludes expenditure on both subheads is classified as public.The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster announced on 24 April that the Government would be looking at the Vote arrangements governing the acceptance of assets in lieu of tax. That review is in progress.

    Mortgage Interest Relief

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if, pursuant to the answer of 16 May, Official Report, columns 189–90, he will provide the figures for mortgage interest tax relief for 1983–84 onwards, excluding the estimated cost of relief in respect of mortgages previously under the option mortgages scheme.

    Johnson Matthey Bankers

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer when the Bank of England first indicated to the company its concern about the financial circumstances of Johnson Matthey Bankers.

    European Community (Legislation)

    asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer whether there is any material, other than the annexes to the letter sent by the Commissioners of Customs and Excise to the European Commission on 28 December 1977, copies of which have now been placed in the Library, pursuant to his earlier answer, Official Report, 4 June, column 115, which an individual would need to have to know his rights and obligations under the directly applicable legislation of the European Communities.

    Scotland

    Forestry Commission

    Mr. John Mark Taylor asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the duties and responsibilities of the Forestry Commission's conservancy private forestry and environment officers since the conservancy reorganisation of April.

    The principal functions of the Forestry Commission's conservancy private forestry and environment officers are, in broad terms,

    • —to advise the conservator on the best use of Forestry Commission resources to achieve a reasonable balance between forestry operations and the protection or enhancement of the environment;
    • —to promote interest in private forestry and provide guidance to forest district managers on all professional forestry matters relating to private woodlands;
    • —to co-ordinate sources of advice on all matters relating to broadleaved woodland;
    • —to provide general oversight and guidance on the implementation of plant health regulations relating to forestry and forest products;
    • —to ensure that satisfactory liaison is maintained throughout the conservancy with statutory bodies and agencies and organisations representing woodland owners, conservation groups and recreation interests;
    • —to ensure that the work of the Forestry Commission is properly presented to the public.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when the Forestry Commission, in its consideration of applications for felling licences for the clearance of broadleaved woods, adopted its policy of presumption against such clearances; and what size of wood is considered to be a small wood, such that it might be an exception to this presumption, as outlined in the Forestry Commission's booklet on consultation procedures, issued in May 1984.

    The Forestry Commission's approach to the consideration of applications for felling licences for the conversion of woodland to agricultural use has been evolving over a number of years. In March 1984, the point had been reached when the commission's local staff were instructed that there should be a presumption against such conversion. This was reflected in the long-term policy proposals made in the commission's consultative paper "Broadleaves in Britain" issued in May 1984 and formally published as commission policy in its booklet on the consultation procedures issued at that time.The presumption against conversion, as stated in that booklet, did not include small woods which were not visited by the public and were not a feature in the landscape. A small wood was generally regarded as being one of less than three hectares, but the interpretation of this was dependent on other factors such as the extent and type of surrounding woodlands.In the light of the operation of this policy ard discussions in connection with its broadleaves policy review, the commission subsequently decided that consideration of each case should be on the basis of an initial presumption against the conversion of any woodland to agriculture. This has been reflected in the latest edition of the booklet on the consultation procedures issued in April 1985.

    Voluntary Organisations (Grants)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the total value of the grants awarded to organisations under section 10(1) of the Social Work (Scotland) Act 1968.

    Grant payments made in 1984–85 totalled £2,911,490 for revenue expenditure and £148,656 for capital.

    Afforestation

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions the Forestry Commission has awarded grant retrospectively for afforestation under the foresty grant scheme; and if he will list in the Official Report the names of the sites involved, their areas, and the reasons why retrospective grant was awarded.

    Since the introduction of the forestry grant scheme in October 1981, the Forestry Commission has approved over 5,500 applications totalling some 157,000 hectares. Of these, approval to planting was given retrospectively on only 10 occasions. The names, location and areas of the sites involved are as follows:

    Name and locationArea on which approval granted retrospectively (hectares)
    Syke Farm, near Buttermere, Cumbria1·2
    College Estate, Kirkoswald, Penrith, Cumbria0·9
    Yonsea Farm, Ashford, Kent1·3
    Exton Estate, near Oakham, Leicestershire3·2
    Thurlow Estate, near Haverhill, Suffolk0·4
    Annat Estate, Lochaber, Highland Region15·0
    Otter Estate, Tighnabruaich, Strathclyde Region5·1
    Strathfillan Estate, near Bridge of Orchy, Central Region95·0
    Doune Estate, Doune by Stirling, Central Region0·4
    High Kiers, Kyle and Carrick, Strathclyde Region96·0

    In eight of the above-named cases, the commission felt morally bound to pay grant because the applicant had been advised or been given the impression, either orally or in writing, that approval had been given and had proceeded with the planting on that basis. In the remaining two cases, an administrative error resulted in payment being made for planting carried out before the scheme had been formally approved.

    In all these cases, consultations had been carried out with other interested authorities, as appropriate, and agreement reached on the proposals before a decision was reached to give retrospective approval.

    Certificate Of Education

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the qualifications, the age limits and the maximum number of scripts per marker laid down for Scottish certificate of education examiners; and whether any of these rules have been relaxed in the current year.

    The qualifications for appointment as markers of Scottish certificate of education examination scripts and the duties of the post are matters for the Scottish Examination Board. The board stipulates that applicants for appointment as markers must have at least three years relevant experience of presenting pupils for the Scottish certificate of education or three years examining experience in tertiary education in Scotland. There is no minimum age limit for appointment but a maximum limit of 70 years is generaly applied. The maximum number of scripts per marker varies from year to year and from subject to subject. Each year every applicant is informed of his maximum script allocation early in the appointment process.The board has not relaxed its experience or age criteria this year except in the case of 2 experienced markers who were retained by the board although marginally over the age limit. In most subjects, the maximum script allocation in 1985 increased by comparison with 1984 but in no subject has the maximum allocation increased by more than 25 scripts.

    Forestry Commission (Consultation)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether the Forestry Commission, when considering ways of achieving greater public accountability in its regional advisory committees, intends to consult interested voluntary bodies.

    I can confirm that it is the Forestry Commission's intention to consult with a number of interested voluntary bodies over its proposals once they have been formulated.

    Primary And Secondary Schools

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what were the total numbers of (a) primary schools and (b) secondary schools in Scotland in 1984, 1983, 1982, 1981 and 1980.

    The information is as follows:

    Number of Schools/Departments Year (September)
    19801981198219831984
    Education Authority
    Primary2,5222,4992,4892,4612,443
    Secondary444439442444440
    Grant-aided
    Primary2121202019
    Secondary2322212019
    Independent
    Primary6665635858
    Secondary5554545052

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list by region (a) the primary schools and (b) the secondary schools which were closed during 1983 and 1984.

    Fife Regional Council (Budget)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will estimate the effect on rate poundage in the current year of Fife regional council's expenditure in excess of guidelines in the last year and the current year and of its budgeting for an assumed rate support grant penalty equal to the current year's expenditure in excess of guidelines.

    The effect on the rate poundage in the current year of Fife regional council of budgeting £7·762 million above guidelines in 1985–86 with provision for a grant penalty of £7·5 million and a deficit carried forward resulting from the grant penalty for overspending in 1984–85 is 8·1p. The region's overspending of £4·465 million in 1984–85 is equivalent to 2·3p in rate poundage terms.

    Pupil-Teacher Ratio

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what, as at September 1984, were the pupil-teacher ratios in education authority schools for (a) nursery schools, (b) primary schools and (c) secondary schools; and how these figures compare with those at September 1983.

    The information is as follows:

    Pupil-Teacher ratios in education authority schools
    YearNurseryPrimarySecondary
    September
    198325·320·314·0
    1984*25·620·313·7
    *The figures for 1984 are provisional.

    Edinburgh District Council (Budget)

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what recent representations he has received regarding a meeting with Edinburgh district council to discuss its budget; and if he will make a statement.

    On 14 June Edinburgh district council requested a meeting with my right hon. Friend to discuss its representations against his proposal to reduce its rate by 5·2p. On 17 June my right hon. Friend and I met representatives of the council.

    My right hon. Friend will now be considering, in the light of these representations, whether and in what terms to lay a report before Parliament seeking approval to a reduction in the council's rate.

    Glysophate

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland under what particular conditions and for what particular management purposes the Forestry Commission is considering aerial applications of the broad spectrum herbicide glysophate; and why in those conditions, spot treatment by hand-held applicators is not considered suitable.

    Glysophate is being used for the control of dense grasses and weeds. Aerial applications has been chosen in a few areas where conditions, such as the size of the area involved or access difficulties, would make spot treatment by hand an inefficient means of applying the chemical.

    Broadleaved Woodland

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions in the year to 31 March the Forestry Commission consulted the Agricultural Department over applications for felling licences to clear woodland for agricultural purposes.

    [pursuant to his reply, 6 June 1985, c. 256]: In the year ended 31 March 1985, the Forestry Commission consulted the Agricultural Departments over 163 such cases.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions, in the year to 31 March, the Forestry Commission issued felling licences for broadleaved woods; of these, how many licences had conditions requiring the replanting purely of broadleaved trees; and how many hectares of woodland this totalled.

    [pursuant to his reply, 6 June 1985, c. 256]: In the year ended 31 March 1985 the Forestry Commission issued 224 licences for the felling of broadleaved trees, of which 103 licences covering 135 hectares had conditions requiring replanting with broadleaves only. In addition, a significant number of licences were issued requiring restocking with a mixture of broadleaves and conifers, designed to lead eventually to woodlands with a predominantly broadleaved character.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions in the year to 31 March the Forestry Commission issued felling licences which permitted the clear-felling of broadleaved woodland for conversion to agriculture, and how many hectares of woodland this totalled.

    [pursuant to his reply, 6 June 1985, c. 256]: There were 34 felling licences issued in the year ended 31 March 1984 covering 67 hectares.The information given in my reply to the hon. Member on 25 April, at columns

    532–33, named those broadleaved woodlands licensed for clearfelling for conversion to agriculture in the period 1 January 1985 to 31 March 1985, but should have ascribed 33 of those to the year ended 31 March 1985 and not 31 as stated. A further licence of the

    type granted in the year but omitted from the list brings this total to 34. This related to a 0·5 hectare woodland at Brook Vessons farm, Shropshire.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions in the year to 31 March officials from his Department confirmed to the Forestry Commission that a proposal to clearfell a broadleaved woodland and convert it to agricultural land would make a significant contribution to the viability and economy of the agricultural holding concerned.

    [pursuant to his reply, 12 June 1985, c. 452]: There were 21 such occasions, covering all the Agricultural Departments, in the year ended 31 March 1985.

    asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on how many occasions in the year to 31 March the Forestry Commission issued felling licences which permitted felling of broadleaved woods, without there being conditions attached for the replanting solely of broadleaved trees, and what area of woodland this involved.

    [pursuant to his reply, 12 June 1985, c. 452]: In the year ended 31 March 1985, the Forestry Commission issued 121 such licences covering 334 hectares.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    South Africa

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if Mr. Ewen Fergusson, deputy under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, has visited the United States of America to discuss developments in South Africa in the current year.

    Mr. Ewen Fergusson visited the United States from 18–25 January for a familiarisation visit in relation to his official responsibilities for the Middle East and Africa. His programme included, in New York, meetings with United Nations permanent representatives and officials in the Secretariat General and, in Washington, members of the Senate and House of Representatives, congressional officials and officials in the White House and State Department.

    Ec (Voting Procedures)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the policy of Her Majesty's Government and what practice they follow when a veto is exercised by a member state on a matter for which the European Community treaties prescribe majority voting.

    Successive British Governments have held the view that when a member state considers its very important interests to be at stake, discussion should be continued until unanimous agreement is reached. It is our practice to decline to participate in a vote where a member state has explicitly opposed this on grounds that its very important national interests are at stake.

    European Council (Luxembourg Meeting)