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Written Answers

Volume 86: debated on Wednesday 13 November 1985

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Written Answers To Questions

Wednesday 13 November 1985

Environment

Local Government Reform (Compensation)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what decisions he has reached, following his discussions with the Trades Union Congress, on the compensation arrangements for staff affected by the abolition of the Greater London council and the metropolitan county councils.

My noble Friend the Minister of State has discussed staffing issues relating to the Local Government Act 1985 with the TUC local government committee, the AMA, and the London and Metropolitan Government Staff Commission. We have also received many responses and representations from other bodies and from many individuals on these matters.In the light of the views we have received, we have now decided the package of measures which will apply to the staff affected by abolition. My noble Friend has today written to the TUC, enclosing a note summarising the main features of the package. I am arranging for copies of his letter and the note to be placed in the Library. My noble Friend has also written to the AMA and to the staff commission; and arrangements are being made to send copies of the announcement to all the authorities, associations, and unions concerned.In the Government's view, this package represents a fair balance between, on the one side, the interests of the ratepayers in the metropolitan areas who will ultimately bear the costs, and, on the other, those of the staff concerned, who are faced with the disruption of their careers by the abolition of seven major employers. In making these decisions the Government has had strict regard to the unique circumstances of abolition.The Government now look to all of those concerned to ensure that the staff involved are as fully and speedily informed as possible about where they stand under these new arrangements and we expect the expiring authorities, the borough and district councils and the unions, now to work together towards a smooth redeployment of staff into the reorganised structure of local government in the metropolitan areas.

Waste Recycling

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has any plans to encourage waste recycling in the private and public sectors.

The Department is co-operating with the Department of Trade and Industry in a programme of measures designed to stimulate more recycling of materials. This includes participation in the work of the recycling advisory unit at the Warren Spring Laboratory. We are currently preparing a circular to local authorities which will encourage measures to facilitate recycling provided that these avoid increases in current expenditure. We are particularly concerned that local authorities should take full advantage of opportunities open to them for securing provision of bottle banks at no extra cost to themselves, and that disposal authorities should reflect the benefit of such measures by giving collection authorities appropriate rebates.

Water Supplies (Nitrate Content)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will establish a new system for monitoring the nitrate content in water supplies.

The EC directive relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption came into operation last July and established a new system of minimum monitoring frequencies for nitrate in water supplies. All statutory water undertakers now follow this system, and monitor much more frequently when nitrate concentrations are high or start to rise significantly.

"Home Improvement—A New Approach"

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how many representations his Department has received which were critical of the effects on housing stock of the proposals put forward in his Green Paper "Home Improvement—a New Approach."

My Department has received 423 responses to the Green Paper on home improvement to date. Over 50 per cent. of these expressed no overall judgment on the merits of the proposals; a third were generally unfavourable.

Ethnic Community Schemes

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much his Department has spent for the past five years, including the present financial year, on support for ethnic community schemes; and what proportion this figure is compared to the whole urban aid scheme.

The approved urban programme expenditure on projects of a specific benefit to ethnic minority communities for the last five years was as follows:

Amount* £ millionProportion of UP expenditure† percentage
1981–8284
1982–83156
1983–84279
1984–853211
1985–863912
* This is the total of approved partnership, programme authority and traditional urban programme expenditure on ethnic minority projects including figures for both new and committed schemes. An estimate is included for the Liverpool partnership for 1985–86.
† These percentages relate to the total approved inner area programme expenditure for the partnership and programme authorities, and the traditional urban programme. The approved expenditure includes an element of overprogramming to allow for programme slippage, so the final outturn position may not precisely reflect the pattern of approvals.

Chinese Community

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment how much his Department has spent in the last five years including the current financial year on schemes for the Chinese community.

The approved urban programme expenditure on projects of specific benefit to the Chinese community for the last three years is as follows:

£
1983–8491,000
1984–85131,000
1985–86402,000

Notes:

1. Figures for earlier years are not available.

2. This is the combined approved partnership, programme, and

Approvals for Local Authorities in Cumbria under the TUP

CAP

REV

1979–80

CopelandAdventure playground off Furness Street, Millom5,000
CumbriaWest Cumbria MIND group homes13,000
18,000

1980–81

Barrow-in-FurnessHawcoat Community Centre79,9202,880
CumbriaCleator Moor Montreal C of E Nursery School25,000
97,92027,880

1981–82

1982–83

AllerdaleWest Cumbrian Co-op development group2,000
CarlisleCarlisle Aid for Women1,951
CopelandMillom CAB2,8004,855
Big Hill Adventure Playground1,3757,418
Transport Scheme8,3751,659
Project Homeless Ltd26,050
Improvement to Richmond Community Centre3,365
Bigrigg Community Centre63,500
Mini-bus project, W Cumbria MIND8,5002,000
CumbriaWorkington: Ashfield Child Guidance Centre13,700
Community Worker, Workington10,300
Valley Community Centre, White Haven10,300
Community Worker for the Elderly and Handicapped10,300
Residential Experience Scheme2,400
Social Worker, Ashfield Centre, Workington10,300
Newton Nursery Class, Carlisle12,800
St Michaels Day Centre, Workington4,000
Peripatetic teachers for pre-school mentally handicapped26,000
Howgill Centre, Whitehaven31,000
Youth Wing, Netherhall Centre, Whitehaven50,0007,000
Appointment of Social Worker16,500
137,915200,533

1983–84

AllerdaleFacelift Scheme, Maryport town centre30,000
Innovation Workshops8,000
Barrow-in-FurnessDalton Baths30,000
CarlisleErection of Industrial Workshops at Port Road124,000
Erection of Industrial Workshops at Hewson Street59,000
After School play scheme95015,718
CopelandAge Concern—luncheon club36,00017,153
Provision of Play area at Whicham1,375
Footbridge over Lowca Beck2,000
CumbriaBotcherby family centre50,000

tradition urban programme expenditure on schemes for the Chinese community including figures for both new and committed schemes. The approved expenditure includes an element of overprogramming to allow for programme slippage, so the final outturn may not precisely equate with approvals.

Grants (Cumbria)

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish a list of all grants paid under the traditional urban aid programme and the value of grants paid for each project to each authority within the county of Cumbria for each year since 1979.

A list of projects in Cumbria approved under the traditional urban programme is as follows. Grant is paid at a rate of 75 per cent. on approved costs. The normal duration of revenue approvals is five years.

CAP

REV

Development of community business and workshop20,00012,000
Peripatetic teacher for pre-school mentally handicapped8,500
West Cumbria MIND—Copeland5009,000
303,825120,371

1984–85

AllerdaleFacelift Scheme, Maryport town centre Phase 260,000
Innovation Workshops Phase 212,00022,750
Barrow-in-FurnessIndustrial Units, Walney Road80,000
CopelandCleator Moor Mill120,000
West Hensingham Community Centre20,000
292,00022,750

1985–86

AllerdaleLow cost workshops for new businesses50,00050,000
CopelandGreenbank Community Centre14,670
64,67050,000

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment whether he will publish his proposals for the urban development grant and the traditional urban aid programme for the future in the county of Cumbria.

No authority in Cumbria has been invited to submit bids for new approvals under the traditional urban programme in 1986–87. My right hon. Friend has agreed to consider proposals from the local authority associations on the assessment of need in urban areas for future years. Allerdale, as an enterprise zone authority, is invited to bid for urban development grant.

Institute Of Zoology

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he has now received the report of the review group looking at the Institute of Zoology; and if he will make a statement.

Yes. It was a condition of the Government's support for the Zoological Society of London that there should be an independent scientific review of the Institute of Zoology, and I am grateful to the Advisory Board for the Research Councils for undertaking this. I have today placed a copy of its report in the Library. The board found that the institute's research was of high scientific quality, of crucial value to zoological collections nationally and internationally, and with important applications to the quality of the environment, for conservation of endangered species, the understanding of wildlife dynamics, and the preservation of leisure activities. In addition, much of the work was highly relevant to medical research. All contributors to the institute's funding received excellent value for money. The advisory board recommended that further consideration be given to providing support for institute activities at Whipsnade and suggested some increase in the block grant to the society. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State has carefully considered this last recommendation, but he has concluded that it would be inappropriate to make any change in the level of grant at present. It is for the society to decide how best to allocate the resources available to it. The level of support for the society will be reviewed in 1986–87, as indicated in the statement by the then Secretary of State for the Environment on 13 December 1984, at column 580.

House Building

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will estimate the number of new housing starts that are required each year to maintain the housing stock at current levels of size and quality.

At 1984 rates of removal of dwellings from the housing stock, about 22,000 new houses would be required to maintain the stock in England at the same size as at the end of 1984 (18,574,000). Maintaining the quality of the stock depends far more on upkeep and renovation than on new building, hence there can be no unique number of houses to be demolished and replaced to maintain the quality of the housing stock at its present level.

asked the Secretary of State for the Environment what estimate he has of the percentage of the new housing starts required each year to maintain existing levels which are currently made.

Attorney-General

Prosecution Service

asked the Attorney-General what account he is taking of the representations being made to him about the structure of the new prosecution service and the pay levels involved; and if he will make a statement.

I have received representations from the Crown Prosecution Service Trade Union Group, the Prosecuting Solicitors Society of England and Wales and the National Association of Prosecuting Solicitors' Staffs as well as from a number of individuals and hon. Members. I have met the CPSTUG on three occasions and officers of PSSEW also on three occasions. They explained to me their concern about the published proposals as to pay, grading and complementing. In addition, they alleged a lack of information on important matters affecting their members. The most recent of these meetings took place yesterday and I was able to respond in respect of a wide range of matters affecting conditions of service in a way which met a large proportion of the requests made by CPSTUG.As regards three matters identified as giving rise to particular concern, I informed the CPSTUG and PSSEW as follows:

First, the salary scale for the crown prosecutor grade will now be substantially improved, so that it will extend from £10,500 to £15,000 (£9,700—£14,000 was formerly proposed). The intermediate points will be as follows: £11,100; £11,700; £12,300; £12,950; £13,600; £14,250. This will mean a substantial reduction in the number of transferring staff to whom pay protection will need to apply.
Secondly, the ratio of crown prosecutor to senior crown prosecutor posts will now be improved from 3: 1 to 2: 1. This, too, will reduce the number of transferring staff who will require pay protection, and will certainly enhance career prospects within the new service not only in terms of an increase in the number of senior crown prosecutor posts, but also because the improved ration means some consequential increase in the number and grading of the more senior posts.
Thirdly, the provisions for pay protection have also been improved. Here, it has previously been announced there will be full pay protection for 10 years from the date of transfer so that, if they wish, staff may stay on their original local government pay scale and receive local government pay rises. This 10-year period will be followed by one of four years during which the individual's salary will be tapered by five equal annual instalments towards the appropriate Civil Service salary. It has now also been decided, exceptionally, that if at the end of this overall period of 14 years the individual's salary still represents a lead over the appropriate Civil Service salary there will be a provision whereby the higher salary may be retained on a mark-time basis until such time as the Civil Service salary appropriate to his-her grade equals or exceeds the mark-time salary.

With regard to each item of a wider range of issues ancillary to the main questions of pay and grading, I informed the CPSTUG and PSSEW of our specific intentions, and the Director of Public Prosecutions has written to all chief crown prosecutors designate with these details so that they may be promulgated to transferring staff.

Wherever possible existing conditions will be carried over when staff transfer, sometimes on a short-term transitional basis, sometimes on an individual reserved rights or mark-time basis. The overall approach has been to try to ensure that staff will not be disadvantaged by transferring, while at the same time having necessary and proper regard to the general terms and conditions which apply to the rest of the Civil Service.

I am satisfied that these proposals are appropriate to the Government's dual objectives, namely, of ensuring that the new service attracts and retains staff of the calibre necessary for its important work, and of avoiding the imposition on the taxpayer of an unnecessarily heavy bill.

Crown Courts (Trial Delays)

asked the Attorney-General how long, on average, defendants spend in custody awaiting trial at the Crown Court (a) nationally and (b) in London and the south-east.

The average waiting time during 1984 between committal from the magistrates' court and start of Crown Court hearing for defendants committed in custody was 10·1 weeks in England and Wales overall, 16·5 weeks in London, and 11·5 weeks in the remainder of the south eastern circuit.

Solicitor-General For Scotland

Travelling People

41.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he has any plans to meet the procurator fiscal of Kilmarnock, to discuss the Lord Advocate's policy towards the non-harassment of travelling people.

I have no plans to meet the procurator fiscal to discuss this matter.

Warrant Sales

42.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland when he intends to put before Parliament Her Majesty's Government's proposals for changes to the warrant sales procedure in Scotland.

The right hon. Gentleman's question is felicitously timed since my noble and learned Friend the Lord Advocate has today presented to Parliament, under section 3(2) of the Law Commissions Act 1965, the Scottish Law Commission's report on diligence and debtor protection. The report will be published tomorrow.Before deciding in what precise way reforms should take place the Government wish to be fully aware of the public reaction to the Commission's recommendations. My noble and learned Friend intends therefore to issue a consultation paper inviting comments on the report. The consultation paper will be issued once the report is published, and copies will be placed in the Library.

Drug Offences (Statistics)

43.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what percentage of the total number of cases brought before the High Court in 1985 have been drug cases; how may cases have been brought to court this year; and how many are pending.

Figures available to 31 October 1985 indicate that approximately 31 per cent. of cases brought before the High Court so far this year have been drugs cases. Six hundred and ninety-one cases had been indicted into the High Court to 31 October 1985 of which 213 were drugs cases. It is presently estimated that there are 134 cases pending for sittings of the High Court in November and December. Thirty six of these are drugs cases.

45.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland if he will give the numbers of prosecutions for drug-related offences under summary and solemn procedure, respectively, for the latest year for which statistics are available.

The latest year for which the statistics requested are available is 1984. The figures are at present provisional. Three hundred and forty-four persons were proceeded against for drug-related offences under solemn procedure; 2,239 persons were proceeded against for such offences under summary procedure.

Statements (Tape Recording)

44.

asked the Solicitor-General for Scotland what discussions he has had recently with procurators fiscal about tape recording of statements by suspects in police stations.

I have had no such discussions recently with procurators fiscal. The report of the working party supervising the experiment was published on 29 August 1985 and a consultation paper has been issued inviting comments from interested bodies prior to 31 December 1985. A decision will thereafter be made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State as to whether tape-recording of police interviews should be introduced in Scotland on a formal basis.

Education And Science

Overseas Students

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he will reconsider the scheme to charge overseas students full rates for academic courses taken in the United Kingdom.

No. There is no reason why the taxpayer should subsidise all overseas students. The Government are committed instead to a policy of targeted support related to the needs of particular overseas countries and to British policy objectives. In 1984–85 over 16,000 students were supported at a cost of over £70 million.

Music Education

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what criteria are used to determine the level of financial provision for music education; and if he will make a statement.

The responsibility for determining the level of provision for music education in maintained schools rests with the local education authorities and with the schools themselves. My right hon. Friend has made clear the Government's view that music should have a worthwhile place in the primary and secondary school curriculum, and that all pupils in our schools can derive fulfilment and enjoyment from the study and practice of music.

Schools

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science (1) what information he has concerning the number of schools in England and Wales that were built within the last 10 years; which are between 10 and 50 years old; and which are between 50 and 80 years old, or are over 80 years old;(2) what information he has concerning the number of schools in the north-west region that were built within the last 10 years; which are between 10 and 50 years old; and which are between 50 and 80 years old, or are over 80 years old.

Information in the form requested is not held centrally. However, in the 10 year period 1975–76 to 1984–85 approval was given to 1,074 major building projects for the provision of new or replacement maintained schools in England, including 129 in the north-west region. Figures to cover the earlier periods are not available. Schools in Wales are the concern of my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Wales.

Pupil-Teacher Ratio (Derbyshire)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how the pupil to teacher ratio in Derbyshire today compares with figures for 1979 and 1981.

The overall pupil-teacher ratio for maintained primary, middle and secondary schools in Derbyshire local education authority in January 1985 was 18·3. The corresponding ratios for 1979 and 1981 were 20·2 and 19·9, respectively.

Transport

Aviation Fuel

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on research work being carried out on anti-mist in kerosene additive to aviation fuel in order to retard inflammability.

The full-scale crash demonstration of anti-misting kerosene, which took place in December 1984, revealed weaknesses in AMK's ability to suppress fire in the presence of a powerful, sustained ignition source—such as a hot engine. The Federal Aviation Administration of America recently held a fuel safety reseach conference to review all available options to reduce the risk of post-crash fire. The conference recommended that there should be a continued programme of research to define the conditions in which AMK is effective and to investigate the practical problems of its use. The FAA's response to the conference recommendations is expected in about three months.

Drivers (Physical Fitness)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on the regulations governing the physical fitness required for drivers of commercial coaches, of heavy goods vehicles and commercial aircraft, respectively; and what steps he has taken to satisfy himself of the adequacy of these regulations in terms of the safety of the public.

Holders of United Kingdom pilot licences are required by the Civil Aviation Authority, which is solely responsible for aviation safety standards, to hold a valid and appropriate medical certificate.A public service or heavy goods vehicle driver applying for a first or subsequent vocational licence is required to be medically fit and to have been free from any epileptic attack since reaching the age of five. The licensing authorities are guided by standards recommended by the Medical Commission on Accident Prevention in its publication "Medical Aspects of Fitness to Drive" (4th edition published last month).Compliance is checked by a declaration every time a driver applies, and by an initial medical examination. Public service vehicle drivers are required to submit a fresh medical report with every five-yearly renewal application from the age of 46, and then annually from the age of 65; heavy goods vehicle drivers have to provide a report with renewals every three years from the age of 60. Both categories of driver are required by law to report to DVLC the onset or worsening of any disability which is expected to last more than three months.These procedures were reviewed by a working party which reported in September 1983, and I announced the Government's conclusions about its proposals in my answer to the hon. Member for Bradford, West (Mr. Madden) on 14 June 1985, at columns

593–94. Our aim is to identify, directly and by bringing the risks to the attention of doctors, the small percentage of drivers whose medical history indicates that they present a high risk.

European Road Safety Year 1986

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what contributions his Department will be making to European Road Safety Year 1986.

My Department will give European Road Safety Year its full support. The Department's national publicity campaigns will use the Community logo and poster and will focus on themes agreed in the Community (children and young people, cyclists and motorcyclists, drinking and driving). We shall encourage initiatives by local authorities and by the private sector, and publicise these in a special newsletter.

M25 (Fog Hazards)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what reports his Department received (a) before the road was planned and (b) during its construction about the possibility of fog hazards on the M25 at points where the motorway crosses river beds.

Separate studies were carried out before construction began on sections of the M25 crossing the Mole valley in Surrey, the Gade valley in Hertfordshire and the Colne valley in Buckinghamshire.In August I announced that the Meteorological Office had carried out a study which identified places along the whole of the M25 which were particularly fog-prone. We are now considering what further steps we might take to help reduce fog-related accidents on the motorway. But there is only one real answer to the problem of safety in fog, and that is careful driving.

A140

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what plans there are now or have been in the past to make the entire A140 a dual carriageway road; and if he will make a statement.

Since the Department accorded trunk road status to the A140 in 1978 there have been no plans to dual the road or any part of it. It is unlikely that predicted levels of traffic will justify dual carriageway improvements in the foreseeable future.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what improvement schemes are currently planned for the A140; and if he will make a statement.

Bypasses for Scole and Dickleburgh are in the national trunk road programme for start of work between April 1987 and March 1989. Improvements are also being planned for the B 1135 junction and the Church road junction at Tasburgh, and further schemes will be considered for the programme when they become justifiable.

British Rail (Western Region)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if, when he next meets the chairman of British Rail, he will discuss the board's draft proposals for service reductions on western region suburban services out of Paddington to Reading via Hanwell and if he will make a statement.

Responsibility for timetabling services lies with British Rail. If my hon. Friend has any specific points, I suggest that he raises them with the chairman.

Coaches

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) if he has any plans to introduce legislation to restrict coach speeds further on motorways;(2) whether there are any plans to introduce legislation to ban coaches from the fast lane of motorways.

We are looking very closely at ways of controlling the speed of coaches on motorways, and I shall announce our conclusions in due course.

Home Department

Plastic Bullets

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department which police forces in England and Wales have ordered or received plastic bullets.

I understand that at present the following police forces hold stocks of plastic baton rounds:

Metropolitan PoliceLeicestershire
Avon and SomersetMerseyside
EssexNorth Wales
Greater ManchesterNorth Yorkshire
HumbersideSussex
KentWarwickshire
Lancashire
No orders for this equipment are outstanding.

Prison Workshops And Hospitals

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the future of Crown immunity in regard to prison workshops and prison hospitals.

On the assumption that the question is intended to relate to health and safety legislation, no change is planned to the present position whereby the Health and Safety Executive exercises its powers to inspect prison department establishments to ensure compliance with the relevant statutory provisions.

Mrs Muriel Mccullough

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he will consider moving Mrs. Muriel McCullough from Durham prison.

The question of transferring Mrs. McCullough from Her Majesty's prison Durham to another establishment will be considered shortly.

Blundeston Prison

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will publish the findings of the inspection team which visited Her Majesty's prison, Blundeston between December 1984 and January 1985.

A copy of the staff inspection report was made available in the normal way to local management and the interested trades unions in July. We have no plans for any more general publication.

Terrorism

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give details of persons wanted in connection with terrorist offences committed since and including 1969 who have been extradited from the Irish Republic to Great Britain and vice versa.

The return of fugitives to and from the Republic of Ireland takes place by means of endorsed warrants of arrest. The Department does not have records of individual cases, but I understand that since 1969 no fugitives have been returned in respect of terrorist offences. However, two persons were returned to the Republic who had claimed unsuccessfully that their offences were political, and one person was returned to Great Britain having made a similar claim.

Prison Medical Service

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to integrate the prison medical service into the National Health Service: and if he will make a statement.

A considerable degree of functional integration between the prison medical service and the National Health Service already exists.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the total number of prison hospital officers; and how many of them have professional nursing qualifications.

On 1 November 1985 there were 901 hospital officers, of whom 131 had professional nursing qualifications.

Prisoners (Drugs)

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will give for 1984 the total number of doses of drugs administered to prisoners, the number of prisoners receiving those doses and a breakdown of such dosage by prisoner's sex.

The numbers of doses of medicines (of all categories) recorded in prison pharmacies as having been administered to inmate patients in the year ended 31 December 1984 are:

Numbers

Establishments for males8,580,014
Establishments for females925,472
TOTAL9,505,486

The number of patients to whom the medicines were administered is not recorded.

Police National Computer

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the inquiry into an alleged misuse of the police national computer announced on 19 June, Official Report, column 138, to be completed; and when he expects the result to be made public.

I understand that the Police Complaints Authority expects the inquiry to be completed early in the new year and that a statement will be made as soon as practicable thereafter.

Mr Roy Garner

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis stating how much money from public funds has been paid to Mr. Roy Garner, and a detailed breakdown of the purpose of such payments; whether any reward limits have been exceeded in any payments to Mr. Garner; and why.

It is not the practice of the Metropolitan police to release details of reward payments.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide details of his Department's broadcasting unit's involvement relating to the proposed Brass Tacks programme which refers to Mr. Roy Garner and alleged payments to him by the Metropolitan police; and if he will make a statement.

The broadcasting department of the Home Office was not involved in the decision of the BBC to defer transmission of the programme.

Lower Security Prisons

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what steps are planned to implement the control review committee's recommendations for greater home leave opportunities, the use of telephones and the relaxation of censorship in lower security prisons.

We accept the merit of the arguments advanced by the control review committee for enhancing these aspects of regimes at establishments in the lower security categories, and we intend to make a start shortly on implementing these recommendations at open establishments.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many passengers who have been temporarily admitted pending further consideration of their cases have been returned at public expense between January and September; and what was the corresponding number for the same period in 1984.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the average delay between the receipt of a letter from a Member of Parliament on behalf of an immigrant or visitor refused at a port of entry and a reply from the Minister.

In the third quarter of this year a substantive reply was sent about 11 weeks, on average, after the receipt of written representations on port refusal cases. This period has increased by about a week since then, reflecting the increase in the number of representations made.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many passengers from Bangladesh entered the United Kingdom between July and September 1985, compared with the same period in 1984;(2) how many passengers from Bangladesh entered the United Kingdom between July and September in each of the following categories:

(a) ordinary visitors, (b) business visitors, (c) students, (d) returning residents, (e) with entry clearance for settlement and (f) in other categories.

In July to September 1984 a total of about 8,000 Bangladeshi citizens (including returning residents and those given settlement on arrival) were admitted to the United Kingdom. Corresponding figures for 1985 are not available, since the figures of admission of passengers by nationality are not yet available beyond the end of June.

asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many people from Bangladesh have (a) been given temporary admission to the United Kingdom and (b) absconded in each month since January 1984.

Employment

Wages Councils

asked the Paymaster General if he will estimate the number of people living and working in the Greater London area who are employed in industries covered by wages councils.

Electrical Inspectors

asked the Paymaster General what was the number of electrical inspectors in each of the last 10 years; and what is the present number.

The number of electrical inspectors employed by the Health and Safety Executive is as follows:

1 NovemberNumber
197537
197646

1 November

Number

197749
197850
197951
198046
198145
198243
198341
198440
198537

One new electrical inspector is expected to take up post shortly and further recruitment is planned in the next few months.

Regional Fraud Teams

asked the Paymaster General how many employees in his Department are employed in the regional fraud teams; and what will be the total cost of running these squads during the current financial year.

On 31 October 1985 there were 93 employees employed in the regional fraud teams. These teams are to be increased and by the 30 November 1985 it is expected that there will be 113.The total gross cost of running these teams, including the expected increase in staff, is likely to be £1·7 million in the current financial year. The net cost is nil, with a minimum calculated saving to the Exchequer of £5·9 million.

Disabled People

asked the Paymaster General how many registered disabled people were in employment in the United Kingdom on the last available date; and how this compares with corresponding figures for each of the previous five years.

I regret that the information is not available in the form requested.

Pay

asked the Paymaster General what was the average increase in pay for each of the past 10 years for (a) the lowest paid 10 per cent. of men and women, (b) the lowest paid 25 per cent. of men and women, (c) the highest paid 10 per cent. of men and women and (d) the highest paid 25 per cent. of men and women.

The following table sets out the available information on the annual percentage changes in gross weekly earnings of full-time adult employees at the lowest and highest decile points and at the lower and upper quartiles of the earnings distribution.The change in earnings at the particular decile or quartile points of the earnings distribution will not necessarily reflect the change in earnings of particular individuals. The position of particular employees in the earnings distribution will vary over time as earnings vary with seniority, changes in grades and occupations, etc.

Percentage increases in gross weekly earnings of full-time adult employees* at decile and quartile points of the earnings distribution

Lowest decile†

Lower quartile‡

Upper quartile║

Upper decile¶

Year to April

Males•

Females■

Males•

Females■

Males•

Females■

Males•

Females■

197618·721·718·122·318·024·818·925·1
197710·815·010·113·59·89·88·78·3
197811·211·212·210·413·011·113·69·9
197913·013·414·112·414·512·013·710·8
198020·721·920·322·822·025·324·326·0
198111·012·911·212·814·217·015·821·6
19828·27·78·98·110·29·210·27·1

1983

7·4

9·0

7·7

9·8

8·0

10·1

9·1

9·3

19846·76·87·06·38·77·69·16·7
19856·27·17·27·18·08·47·66·6

Source: New Earnings Survey

* whose earnings were not affected by absence

† the point below which the earnings of 10 per cent. of employees lie

‡ the point below which the earnings of 25 per cent. of employees lie

║ the point above which the earnings of 25 per cent. of employees lie

¶ the point above which the earnings of 10 per cent. of employees lie

• the figures to 1983 relate to males aged 21 and over; those for 1984 and 1985 relate to males on adult rates of pay

■ the figures to 1983 relate to females aged 18 and over; those for 1984 and 1985 relate to females on adult rates of pay

Community Programme

asked the Paymaster General how many additional community programme places became available in October.

Labour Statistics

asked the Paymaster General if he will publish in the Official Report the total numbers of persons available for work in (a) 1970, (b) 1979 and (c) 1983 and at the latest date for which figures are available; and how many persons were actually employed or self-employed in each case.

It is estimated from the labour force survey that in the spring of 1984 there were 23,348,000 people living in private households in Great Britain who were in employment (employed or self-employed) or engaged in employment training schemes; the equivalent figures for 1979 and 1983 were 24,126,000 and 22,830,000. In 1984 there were a further 4,363,000 who said they would be available to start work within two weeks. Corresponding estimates are not available from earlier surveys.

Truck Acts

asked the Paymaster General (1) which organisations or individuals he has consulted about the future operation of the Truck Acts;(2) if he will list in the

Official Report all the individuals and organisations who have made representations to him opposing the abolition or amendment of the Truck Acts;

(3) if he will list in the Official Report all the organisations and individuals who have made representations to him calling for the abolition or amendment of the Truck Acts.

Two consultative documents have been issued by this Department on the future of the Truck Acts.More than 600 copies of the consultative document on the repeal of the Truck Acts published in March 1983 were issued. The Department received over 100 responses from organisations of employers and workers, and from other bodies and individuals. Of the options put forward in the paper, a few organisations favoured outright repeal of the Truck Acts, but a substantial majority of respondents favoured repeal of the Truck Acts with the enactment of up-to-date legislation concerning deductions from wages.More than 500 copies of the second consultative document on the form which the measures on deductions might take were issued, and more than 150 responses received.A majority of respondents favoured some form of protection on deductions and in the case of deductions in respect of stock or cash deficiencies there was strong support for a limit on the amount which can be deducted in any pay period.

asked the Paymaster General (1) if he has any plans to amend the Truck Acts; and if he will make a statement;(2) if he has any plans to repeal the Truck Acts; and if he will make a statement.

We intend to introduce legislation during this parliamentary Session to repeal the Truck Acts and associated legislation and to introduce up-to-date provisions concerning deductions from pay.

European Community (Draft Directives)

asked the Paymaster General what recent discussions have been held in the EEC Council of Ministers on (a) the draft directive on noise at work, (b) the draft directive on parental leave, (c) the draft directive on part-time work, and (d) the draft directive on employee consultation; what are the remaining government objections to each of these drafts; and if he will make a statement.

I refer the hon. Member to the reply by my right hon. Friend the former Secretary of State to my hon. and learned Friend the Member for Leicester, South (Mr. Spencer) on 25 June, at columns 370–71.In discussions on the draft directive on noise between officials since the June Labour and Social Affairs Council, it has become clear that there are still some problems concerning the proposed provisions for hearing checks and for exposure levels in new plant. These are more fully described in a supplementary explanatory memorandum (8818/84; COM(84)426) submitted to the House on 22 October.On the draft directives on parental leave, part-time work and employee consultation the position is unchanged since my replies to the hon. Member on 17 July, at column 170.The results of the Government's domestic consultation exercise on the draft directive on parental leave were placed in the Library on 8 November. The debate on parental leave recommended by the Select Committee on European Legislation is likely to be held in the near future.The draft directives on noise and parental leave are likely to be discussed at the Labour and Social Affairs Council on 5 December.

Overseas Development

Unesco

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether any discussions have taken place in the last six months between the United Kingdom and the United States concerning United Kingdom membership of UNESCO; and if any such talks are planned for the future.

We have kept in regular contact with the United States Government about the reforms which we and other Governments have been seeking in UNESCO, mainly through our contacts with the United States observer mission in Paris and at the general conference. I met Mr. Newell of the United States State Department in Washington this June and the chairman of the United States observer panel (Mr. L. Marks) in Sofia last month. We intend to keep in touch with the United States and other partners before our final decision on UNESCO is made.

Development Council

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the outcome of the European Community Development Council held on 4 November.

I represented the United Kingdom at the EC Development Council on 4 November. The main item on the agenda was to review the Community's response to the famine in Africa. The Council noted that the Community and the member states had more than fulfilled pledges made by the European Council in Dublin in December 1984 to provide 1·2 million tonnes of food aid to the countries in Africa most severely affected by famine.It endorsed in principle proposals by the European Commission to use resources available from the fourth and fifth European development funds to finance rehabilitation in the countries in Africa most severely affected by famine; and invited the Commission to identify specific actions to be undertaken in each country.In accordance with the conclusions of the European Council in Milan in June 1985, the Council also considered the Commission proposals to establish a reserve in the 1986 EC budget to provide up to 500,000 tonnes of wheat equivalent in addition to the normal food aid programme should famine conditions recur. The Council considered that, without prejudice to the budgetary process, the creation of an additional food aid reserve was necessary. The United Kingdom recorded its view that a reserve to meet such emergency needs should be established within the Community's normal food aid programme for 1986, and that food aid for famine relief should be the first call on that programme.The Council also discussed briefly Commission papers on women in development, the co-ordination of member states' aid policies and trade promotion. It agreed on programmes of further work in each of these areas.

Scotland

Drug Dealers (Glasgow)

11.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Strathclyde as to the steps being taken by the police to curb the activities of drug dealers in Glasgow.

No. Strathclyde police have responded vigorously to the upsurge in drug misuse and trafficking. Last year its drug squad was increased in strength from 19 to 30 officers, with the main thrust of force policy directed towards the detection of dealers. In 1984, 389 persons were charged with drug trafficking offences and I understand that this year, in the period up to 30 September, a further 288 persons have been charged with such offences.

Gartcosh

12.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received in relation to Gartcosh; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has received many representations on various aspects of the British Steel Corporation's decision to close the Gartcosh cold-rolling mill. The decision was one for the commercial judgment of the corporation. The closure will reduce surplus capacity in the corporation's cold-rolling activities and thereby increase overall productivity and improve the financial performance of the corporation.

Farmers (Severe Weather Compensation)

13.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now make a statement on the situation regarding representations which have been made to him for financial aid to the farming industry following recent severe weather.

My right hon. Friend has received representations from many quarters, including from many right hon. and hon. Members. These are all being considered carefully and an announcement about financial aid will be made as soon as possible.

23.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what assistance he proposes to offer to the agricultural industry in view of exceptionally bad weather during the summer and autumn.

In the light of all the relevant information and of the many representations I have received, I am currently considering what assistance should be given. An announcement will be made as soon as possible.

28.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he is now in a position to announce measures to assist those farmers hardest hit by the exceptional summer weather conditions in Scotland.

Council House Sales

14.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what are the most up-to-date figures for council house sales in Aberdeen.

In the quarter ending 30 June 1985, the most recent quarter for which information is available, there were 103 sales to sitting tenants in Aberdeen city bringing the total to 2,443 sales since the introduction of the Tenants Rights Etc. (Scotland) Act 1980.

25.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he is considering to increase sales of public sector houses; and if he will make a statement.

Over Scotland as a whole, receipts from council house sales are in line with estimates and the level of applications to buy is buoyant. However, we are anxious that tenants should be fully aware of the opportunities for home ownership, and last month we launched a publicity campaign to ensure that all tenants receive information on the rights given to them by this Govenment to buy their homes. In addition, we shall shortly be bringing forward proposals to extend the right to buy to tenants of housing associations and regional councils and to increase by a further 10 per cent. the discount available on sales of flats.

Agriculture (Highlands And Islands)

15.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the current situation within agriculture in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland.

Like many other parts of Scotland, agriculture in the Highlands and Islands was hit hard by the severe weather conditions experienced over the summer months.It is still too early to predict to what extent the effects of the bad weather will depress farm incomes in the Highlands and Islands.

Further Education (Funding)

16.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will take steps to ensure that further education colleges, particularly Telford college, receive the necessary funding for their educational development.

It is the responsibility of the local authorities to decide what provision is made in current expenditure for further education, having regard to their expenditure guidelines. I cannot comment upon the provision made to individual colleges by particular education authorities.

General Practitioners (Patient Lists)

17.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what change there has been in the average patient list size per general medical practitioner in Scotland between May 1979 and 1985.

Figures are collected annually at 1 October. Between October 1979 and October 1984, the latest date available, there was a reduction in the average list size of general medical practitioners in Scotland from 1,856 to 1,704.

Integrated Development Programme

18.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has made to the EEC for the extension of the integrated development programme in the Western Isles and the possibility of extending it to the crofting counties.

Under my direction, my officials have been liaising with the European Commission about specific structures measures for some time. I understand that the Commission will shortly publish a package of specific structures proposals related to the Community area as a whole, both north and south.

Teachers' Salaries

19.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will now agree to set up an independent review of teachers' salaries.

No. Pay cannot be considered in isolation from a proper reappraisal of the duties for which teachers are paid.

Ministerial Meetings

20.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry), the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities and the Scottish Trades Union Congress.

My right hon. Friend met the chairman of the Scottish Council (Development and Industry) on 1 October and addressed the council's international forum on 8 November. He met the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on 4 October to discuss a variety of issues, and last met representatives of the Scottish Trades Union Congress on 12 November to discuss Ravenscraig and Gartcosh.

Agriculture Colleges (Advisory Service)

21.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met the principals of Scotland's agriculture colleges to discuss the implications of the proposed changes in the advisory service.

My right hon. and noble Friend the Minister of State met the chairman of the Council of the Scottish Agricultural Colleges and the college principals on 29 March 1985 when the future funding and organisation of the advisory service in Scotland were discussed.

My Department remains in very close contact with the college principals and is on the point of issuing a consultation paper on the future of the advisory services in Scotland.

Rating Reform

22.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what proposals he has for the reform of the rating system in Scotland; and when he expects to lay such proposals before Parliament.

I refer the right hon. Member to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State with responsibility for local government and the environment earlier today to the hon. Member for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall).

Greater Glasgow Health Board

24.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he next intends to meet the greater Glasgow health board to discuss its future finances.

I have no present plans to meet Greater Glasgow health board to discuss financial matters, but I met health board chairmen collectively yesterday and discussed a range of relevant issues. I am aware of the concern expressed by the board about the finance available to it. However, in terms of the SHARE arrangements—under which each board's share of the available revenue resources is determined—Greater Glasgow is the second best funded board in Scotland.

Scottish Tuc

26.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he will next meet the general council of the Scottish Trades Union Congress to discuss the Scottish economy.

I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply my right hon. Friend gave earlier today to the hon. Member for Kilmarnock and Loudon (Mr. McKelvey).

Drug Abuse

27.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about drug abuse in Scotland.

The Government are very concerned about the sharp increase in the incidence of drug misuse in Scotland in recent years. Within the comprehensive strategy set out in "Tackling Drug Misuse: A Summary of the Government's Strategy", published in March 1985, the Government are taking a wide range of positive measures aimed at curbing this problem

Teachers' Dispute

29.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the impact of the dispute in Scottish schools on the examination prospects for students in 1986.

I have placed in the Library of the House a letter of 5 November from the Scottish Examination Board to schools and education authorities which states its position in the light of the boycott of Scottish Certificate of Education and Certificate of Sixth Year Studies examination procedures announced by the Educational Institute of Scotland. This makes clear that, while not minimising the threat posed by the boycott, the board is resolved to do everything in its power to ensure that the 1986 examinations are held, that candidate's work is assessed and that awards are made. I share the board's resolve and commend its advice that candidates should continue with their studies.Separately, the Scottish Examination Board has indicated to me that it will be considering what arrangements for examination appeals might be most appropriate in 1986 in order to be as fair as possible to all candidates while fully maintaining the board's standards.In particular, the board has in mind the possibility of permitting parents or candidates themselves to apply directly for a re-marking of their examination scripts although no decisions have yet been taken and no retrospective changes can be made for 1985.The EIS sanctions extend to Certificate of Secondary Education courses administered by the North Regional Examination Board (NREB) and taken by a number of pupils in Scotland. The NREB has indicated that it will carry out its normal procedures but that the nature of the courses involved is likely to mean that, without teacher co-operation, final certification will be impossible.I deeply regret the EIS decision and also the decision of the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association announced yesterday to support a more limited boycott. I hope that, in the interests of their pupils, teachers will nevertheless carry out examination procedures normally.

33.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he last met representatives of the teaching unions to discuss the current dispute; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend and I last met representatives of the teachers' panel on 27 September. I refer the hon. Member to the statement made by my right hon. Friend on 22 October at column 161.

35.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what progress there has been in talks on the teachers' strike in Scotland.

I refer to my right hon. Friend's statement to the House on 22 October at column 161. The discussions with teachers' representatives are continuing.

Agricultural Research And Advisory Services

30.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the future of agricultural research and advisory services in Scotland.

As I indicated in my answer to the hon. Member on 30 October 1985 at column 546, my noble Friend the Minister of State hopes to publish a paper on the future strategy for agricultural research and development in Scotland around the beginning of December. A consultation paper on the future of the agricultural advisory services in Scotland is on the point of publication.

Dornoch Firth

31.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement about the progress of the plans to bridge the Dornoch firth.

My Department is in close touch with British Rail about the possibility of a joint road-rail crossing of the Dornoch firth and I am awaiting its decision on whether to make a firm commitment. Whether or not the rail element is included, progress on the scheme will depend on the satisfactory completion of statutory procedures and the availability of finance. The projected start date is therefore still very tentative, but I envisage the earliest date for the first phase, the approach roads, being spring 1987.

Public Housing Stock

32.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to increase the allocation for the next financial year of resources for the improvement and repair of the public housing stock.

I am not yet able to say what level of resources will be allocated to public housing next year.

Agricultural Production (Losses)

34.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the estimated loss of agricultural production in Scotland due to the weather conditions during the last six months.

An estimate of the impact of the weather and other factors affecting the profitability of British agriculture will be contained in the annual review of agriculture White Paper which will be published early next year.

Glasgow Eastern Area Renewal Project

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland on what date the Glasgow eastern area renewal project in Glasgow will officially come to an end.

The formal co-ordinating machinery for the Glasgow eastern area renewal project will be wound up on 31 March 1987. Discussions are now under way amongst the seven participating agencies about future management arrangements for their continuing commitment to the area after that date.

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many houses below the tolerable standard still exist in (a) the city of Glasgow, (b) the Glasgow eastern area renewal area of Glasgow, and (c) the Shettleston parliamentary constituency.

The city of Glasgow district council estimates that the number of dwellings below the tolerable standard at 31 March 1985 was just over 12,000. The corresponding figure for 31 March 1980 was 31,300. Information is not collected centrally for other than district council areas.

Legal Aid

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he expects to publish details of proposed new legislation regarding the administration of legal aid in Scotland.

My right hon. Friend hopes to introduce a Bill after the Christmas recess.

Housing (Dundee)

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if, following the unanimous decision of Dundee district council to approach him about the expenditure guidelines and rate fund contribution to the housing account allocated to the city, he will now meet a delegation from that council to discuss the allocations.

No. In line with past procedure, my right hon. Friend and I hold discussions on current expenditure guidelines with the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, not individual councils. On the provisional rate fund contributions to the housing revenue account my right hon. Friend has made clear his wish that representations from individual authorities should be made at official level. Such a meeting was offered to Dundee district council, but I understand that the council has, at least for the time being, declined the offer.

Youth Training Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received on changes intended by the Manpower Services Commission's proposals of June and September on funding and administration of the proposed two-year youth training scheme; what effect he expects these proposed changes will have on those organisations presently involved in Mode B schemes with particular reference to young people with special needs.

My right hon. Friend has received one direct representation on the subject of funding arid administration of the two-year youth training scheme. A number of representations have also been received by the Manpower Services Commission. It is recognised that it will take some time for existing providers of mode B1 schemes to adjust to the new funding conditions and the commission accordingly agreed in September revised transitional funding arrangements. The commission's training division area managers are now reviewing, on a scheme by scheme basis jointly with current mode B1 providers, the levels of transitional funding that would apply. It is too early to assess fully the outcome of this exercise, but it is anticipated that mode B providers will be reassured by the new terms and the individual review process. Several new incentives, including an additional allowance of £75 per month, have been incorporated into the new scheme to encourage the provision of places for disabled young people with particular training needs.

Trade And Industry

Steel Industry

36.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the steel industry in Scotland.

I have nothing to add to the announcement of the British Steel Corporation's strategy which was made by my right hon. and learned Friend on 7 August, copies of which are available from the Library.

Retail Grocery

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will give such information as is available to him regarding the latest figures for the breakdown in percentage terms within the retail grocery sector for (a) major multiples, (b) other multiples, (c) independent stores and (d) co-operatives.

The latest available official information is as follows:

Shares of retail sales of groceries and provisions, 1982
Per cent.
Multiple retailers with 100 or more outlets*44
Other multiple retailers*25
Single outlet retailers*19
Co-operative societies12
* Excluding co-operative societies.

Source: Retailing Inquiry 1982.

Information for 1984 based on independent surveys is given in the Office of Fair Trading report "Competition and retailing".

Eureka Project

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will list the six market or product areas with which the EUREKA project is concerned; and whether any of them have any military connotations.

The declaration of principles relating to EUREKA states:

"EUREKA projects will initially relate primarily to products, processes and services in the following areas of advanced technology; information and telecommunication, robotics, materials, manufacturing, biotechnology, marine technology, lasers, environmental protection and transport technologies".
There were six areas identified by United Kingdom industry and these have been reflected in the declaration.The declaration also states:

"EUREKA projects will serve civilian purposes and be directed both at the private and public markets".

Plasterboard

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if any controls exist on the importation of plasterboard from Spain; and if he will make a statement.

There are no controls as such on imports of Spanish plasterboard into the United Kingdom, but the European Commission did accept in March this year a price undertaking offered by the major exporter of Spanish plasterboard in respect of exports to Northern Ireland, following an investigation by the Commission under EC anti-dumping regulation 2176/84.

Industrial Buildings

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received any representations in respect of covenant guarantees of industrial buildings.

My right hon. and learned Friend has not received any representations on this subject.

Insolvency Act 1985

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what dates the various provisions of the Insolvency Act 1985 will become effective.

The greater part of the Insolvency Act is designed to be brought into effect at the same time although certain of its provisions, such as those relating to the disqualification of unfit directors and the attachment of personal liability for wrongful trading, are capable of standing alone. We have yet to take final decisions on the target dates for the commencement orders, but we intend to make the orders during 1986 and advance notice will be given. A major factor determining the timetable will be the preparation of the new and revised insolvency rules which implementation of the Act requires.

English Estates

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry on what grounds he took the decision to reduce the grant to English Estates; and what is the sum by which he has reduced that grant.

The provision of £16 million for English Estates in 1986–87, announced in Cmnd. 9428–II in January 1985, has been increased to £19·3 million. I would also refer the hon. Member to the comments of my right hon. and learned Friend in Hansard on 12 November, at column 481.

Portugal

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action has been taken in regard to proposed discriminatory Portuguese value added tax and alcohol tax legislation.

Her Majesty's Government have made firm representations to the European Commission on these issues.

Greece

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what has been Her Majesty's Government's response to the import measures announced by the Greek Government on 11 October.

Her Majesty's Government have expressed concern to the European Commission that the Greek measures against imports represent a major barrier to trade. I expect this concern to be reiterated when the Council of Ministers considers the measures later this month.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has made to the European Community Commission about the delay in pursuing its infraction proceedings against the Greek Government in respect of its restrictive profit margin controls introduced in April which discriminate against, inter alia, Scotch whisky exports.

Her Majesty's Government have made representations on a number of occasions to the Commission and to the Greek authorities about Greek profit margin controls. Despite being increased in April 1985, the permitted margin on Scotch whisky is still insufficient to cover the normal promotional and other costs of importers.

Ec (Regional Development Fund)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will list the amended quota ranges for the European regional development fund taking into account the accession of Spain and Portugal, together with the quota ranges which have applied in 1985; what effect the revised estimates for the integrated Mediterranean programme will have on the availability of quota funds; what increases in the total funds for the European regional development fund are contained in the Council of Minister's draft 1986 budget; and what estimate he has made of the effect of all these factors on the total amount of quota funds available to the United Kingdom in 1986;(2) what

(a) nominal and (b) real increase in regional funds is contained in the draft 1986 EEC budget approved by the Council of Ministers; and if the increase is sufficient to cover the 1986 share of the 4·1 billion European currency units designated for the integrated Mediterranean programme without cutting the fund's existing operations as stated in Cmnd. 9627 section 1.9.

I shall write to the hon. Member and place a copy of my letter in the Library.

Unit Trusts

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will place in the Library a copy of the newly agreed European Economic Community directive on the liberalisation of rules relating to unit trusts; if he will specify the arrangements included to allow for the presence of exchange controls in Italy and Ireland; and if he will make a statement.

The two draft European Community directives concerning unit trusts have not yet been finally agreed by the Council of Ministers because of a reservation by Denmark. I refer the hon. Member to the reply given by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 30 October 1985, at columns 501–2 to my hon. Friend the Member for Derbyshire, South (Mrs. Currie).I have placed in the Library copies of the latest drafts of the two associated directives. The first will harmonise the regulatory rules applying to unit trusts and other undertakings for collective investment in transferable securities (UCITS). The second will, by amending an existing directive, free transactions in units of UCITS from restrictions on capital movements. However, this liberalisation will be subject to the overriding provisions of the treaty of Rome which enable the Commission, on the application of a member state, to sanction the maintenance or introduction of exchange controls when a member state's economic situation justifies this. France, Ireland and Italy benefit from derogations whilst Greece—which operates under transitional arrangements—has applied for one.I attach considerable importance to the early agreement of these two directives. They would allow a unit trust authorised in one member state to operate throughout the Community without the need for any further authorisation by other member states. This mutual recognition of authorisations would represent a significant step forward in the opening up of the internal market in the financial services sector and allow the United Kingdom unit trust industry to offer its products throughout the Community. I will be urging the industry to respond positively to this challenge. I hope that the reservation by Denmark will be removed and the directives adopted in the near future.

Chicago Pacific

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he intends to take in connection with the proposed takeover by Chicago Pacific of Hoover (UK) Ltd.; and if he will make a statement.

If the proposed takeover qualifies for investigation under the Fair Trading Act 1973, my right hon. and learned Friend may refer it to the Monopolies and Mergers Commission for investigation. He will decide whether to make a reference after receiving the advice of the Director General of Fair Trading.

Matthew Brown Plc

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he received the report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission into the proposed takeover bid by Scottish and Newcastle Breweries for Matthew Brown plc; and if he will now make a statement upon their recommendations.

I refer the hon. Member to the report of the Monopolies and Mergers Commission on Scottish and Newcastle Breweries plc and Matthew Brown plc and to the notice issued by this Department, both of which were deposited in the Library of the House yesterday.

Defence

Defence Contracts

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the present defence contracts in which there is a joint British-United States involvement; and what is the percentage breakdown of the financial costings.

Production of the Harrier GR5 (UK) and the AV8B (US) aircraft is subject to an understanding between the two nations which provides for equal production sharing of the combined national programmes through subcontracting by the two prime contractors (British Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas). Continuing support for the Pegasus engine for the GR5 and AV8B is subject to equal sharing of the cost of common development-modification work. There are no other significant bilateral defence contracts with a joint British-United States Government involvement.

Uhsic And Stealth Technology

asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will now supply information on the refusal of the United States to comply with agreements to supply the United Kingdom with UHSIC and stealth technology; and what is the cost of the programmes initiated by the United Kingdom in both technologies.

On the first part of the hon. Gentleman's question, I have nothing to add to the reply given to him on 14 June 1985 by my predecessor, the right hon. Member for Bosworth (Mr. Butler), at column 575. On the second part, it is not our practice to give costs of individual defence research programmes.

National Finance

Value Added Tax

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will give the latest available figures for those businesses recorded as owing value added tax to the Government in any one quarter and, in particular, in the following categories: those businesses with a turnover of less than £100,000, those with a turnover of less than £250,000, those businesses with a turnover of less than £500,000, those businesses with a turnover of less than £1,000,000 and those businesses with a turnover of £1,000,000 or more; and if he will make a statement.

For the period ended 31 August 1985: 390,149 businesses were required to pay VAT by the due date of 30 September 1985; 173,423 such businesses still owed tax 10 working days after the due date; the outstanding tax was assessed at £453 million.The figure of £453 million is reasonably representative of the monthly value of assessments issued during this financial year. I regret that no figures are available of the amount of tax owed byb businesses according to category of turnover.

Black Economy

asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer what estimate he has of the amount of money lost to the Exchequer through the black economy and of the impact its elimination would have on employment; and if he will make a statement.

Recent estimates of the size of the black economy have varied from 2 to 16 per cent. of gross domestic product. This very wide range tends to confirm the Government's view that, correspondingly, it is not possible to make a reliable estimate either of the amount of money lost to the Exchequer or of the effect of its elimination on employment.

Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

Thailand

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what part the United Kingdom is playing in the anti-piracy programmes so far as assistance to Thailand is concerned.

The United Kingdom continues, with others, to help combat the scourge of piracy against boat refugees in the Gulf of Thailand. Since 1982 we have made annual contributions, totalling £335,000, to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for use in the Thai Government's anti-piracy programme. The incidence of piracy remains distressingly high, but since the inception of the anti-piracy programme there has been a welcome reduction in the number of incidents.

Nuclear Facilities

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs whether he will list those nuclear facilities in states not party to the non-proliferation treaty that are considered a high proliferation risk by the Government.

We are concerned about any significant nuclear facility which is not subject to International Atomic Energy Authority safeguards in any non-nuclear weapon state which is not a party to the non-proliferation treaty. We are particularly concerned about unsafeguarded enrichment or reprocessing facilities in such countries. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, facilities of this kind exist or are under construction in the following countries:

CountryFacility
ArgentinaUranium Enrichment Plant and Re-processing Plant.
IndiaRe-processing plants.
IsraelRe-processing plant.
PakistanUranium Enrichment Plant and Re-processing Plants.
South AfricaUranium Enrichment Plants.

Immigration

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will give the current waiting time for entry clearance interviews at each of the following diplomatic posts: Islamabad, Karachi, New Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta for husbands, wives, fiancés and fiancées, separately.

Information on the waiting time between first application and interview on 30 June for fiancés and spouses in the queues was published for the main entry clearance posts in the sub-Continent in the quarterly "Home Office Statistical Bulletin", "Control of Immigration Statistics", table 10 of issue 22/85, copies of which are in the Library of the House. At that time fiancées did not require prior entry clearance. The immigration rules and queuing arrangements were changed on 26 August. The waiting times for the groups in the new queues will not have stabilised until the end of this year.

General Summit

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement about the policies of Her Majesty's Government on the issues to be raised at the Geneva summit.

We welcome the prospect of a meeting between President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev. Contact at the highest level can make a valuable contribution to the process of creating better understanding and confidence between East and West. We hope the meeting will give impetus to the arms control negotiations in Geneva and elsewhere. We also welcome President Reagan's expressed determination to address regional questions and human rights' issues; both are sources of tension and misunderstanding, and progress on these would make its own contribution to better East-West relations.

Uganda

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on discussions with the Government of Uganda regarding the payment of compensation to former citizens of Uganda who were expelled and are currently living in Britain.

We have made it clear to successive Administrations in Uganda that we attach importance to their paying compensation to British nationals whose property was taken over by the Uganda Government in 1972. More than 140 properties were returned by the Obote Administration under the provisions of the Expropriated Properties Act 1982 to British nationals and companies who had applied for repossession. We have pressed both that Administration and the new authorities in Uganda also to make a start on the over 1,000 British claims for compensation under that Act. Earlier this year we gave the Uganda Government a list of 67 British claimants aged 70 years or over whom we considered merit priority treatment in view of their advanced years. The new authorities in Uganda have assured us that they will honour all Ugandan commitments. They have also confirmed that the Expropriated Properties Act remains in force.

Strategic Defence Initiative

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what recent discussions he has had with European Community countries on the implications for Europe of the strategic defence initiative.

The strategic defence initiative has not been discussed in EC fora, but has been discussed in other fora such as NATO and the Western European Union.

Falkland Islands

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what has been the total cost of expenditure within his responsibility on the Falkland Islands since 1981.

Expenditure on the Falkland Islands from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office vote comprises development aid, rehabilitation aid, payments under the war damage compensation scheme and costs associated with the posting of Diplomatic Service personnel to Port Stanley. In the financial years 1981–82 to 1984–85 the total cost was £28,340,000.

British Council

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he has any plans to increase the funds available to the British Council.

We cannot anticipate the publication of the Public Expenditure White Paper and the Supply Estimates.

Northern Ireland

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs when he expects to announce the results of his discussions about the future of Northern Ireland.

We cannot predict when there will be an outcome to the present discussions.

Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

Veterinary Laboratory, Lasswade

46.

asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will make a statement outlining the breakdown of the £1,425,000 expenditure in the last financial year on the veterinary laboratory at Lasswade.