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Written Answers

Volume 114: debated on Thursday 9 April 1987

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 9th April 1987

Education And Science

Pickup Initiative

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much money it is estimated that the PICKUP initiative has generated for each polytechnic, technical college and college of further education.

An enquiry by the National Advisory Body for Public Sector Higher Education during the course of a recent exercise designed to finance an increase in PICKUP work revealed that 38 of our polytechnics and major colleges are now turning over more than £100,000 a year from PICKUP training and the five leaders have turnovers in excess of £500,000. The total income for the 38 establishments from PICKUP activity was over £10 million.

Inner London (Further Education)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what proportion of pupils aged 16 years and over have remained in full-time education in inner London; and how this compares with the national average.

The percentages of 16 and 17-year-olds in full-time education at maintained schools and further education establishments in the academic year 1985–86, in inner London and in England were as follows:

Academic year 1985–86
I.L.E.A.England
16-year-olds in full-time education (Percentage of age group)14646
17-year-olds in full-time education (Percentage of age group)12730
1 The number of 16 and 17-year-olds expressed as a percentage of the total number of 15-year-olds in maintained secondary schools one and two years earliert respectively.

School Activities (Charges)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is his policy on charges for music lessons, field trips, cookery lessons and other similar school activities.

The law on charges for school activities is contained in the 1944 Education Act. Charges for educational "extras" were included in the recent review of local authority fees and charges. The Government has not yet complete consideration of the results of the review, but hopes to have done so fairly soon.

Geological Surveys (Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether he has yet received a copy of Sir Clifford Butler's report on geological surveying in the United Kingdom; and whether he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has not yet received the report. It was commissioned jointly by the Advisory Board for the Research Councils and the Natural Environment Research Council. It will be for the chairmen of those bodies, if they wish, to submit the report to my right hon. Friend with whatever advice they may wish to offer.

Dr And Mrs W G Mclean

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science why he has not answered the letter written to him by constituents of the hon. Member for Birkenhead, Dr. and Mrs. W. G. McLean, 2 Poplar road, Oxton, Birkenhead on 14 December 1986.

Universities (Research)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received from university authorities about their ability to raise private funds and receive benefactions for research in view of the money available for maintenance of laboratory facilities.

Science Budget

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has allocated the additional £15 million for the science budget in 1987–38, which he announced on 1 April; and if he will make a statement.

Following receipt of advice from the Chairman of the Advisory Board for the Research Councils, I am today informing the bodies concerned of the following additions to their allocations for 1987–88.

£ million
Agricultural and Food Research Council1·5
Economic and Social Research Council0·8
Medical Research Council3·8
Natural Environment Research Council0·8
Science and Engineering Research Council7·5
British Museum (Natural History)0·3
The Royal Society0·3
In addition I am allocating a further £1·25 million in 1987–88, from within my programme, to the Natural Environment Research Council to reinforce the important and valuable work of the British Antarctic Survey. Supplementary Estimates for all the above expenditure will be presented in due course.

Teachers (Pay And Conditions)

asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science when the first order under the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Act will be laid before Parliament; and when he will issue guidance on the use of the £500 incentive allowance.

The first order to be made under the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Act 1987 was laid before Parliament today. It provides for a pay increase for school teachers from 1 January 1987 and for conditions of employment to have effect as terms of teachers' contracts.I have today written to the relevant local education authority associations, teacher unions and bodies representing the interests of governors of voluntary schools sending them a copy of the order, a draft circular about the order, and a paper setting out the Government's current thinking about the use of incentive allowances and in particular the £500 allowance.Copies of this letter and the attachments are available in the Vote Office.

Trade And Industry

Guinness Plc

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects the investigation into Guinness plc to be concluded; and if he will make a statement.

The inspectors are proceeding with their investigation with commendable speed. I cannot say when it will be concluded.

Torvinstyle Properties Ltd

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has yet completed his consideration of the report concerning Torvinstyle Properties Ltd., trading as Five Star Developments; what action he proposes to take; and if he will make a statement.

The information obtained concerning Tovinstyle Properties Ltd. is still being considered and I cannot say what action it is proposed to take.

Oecd Countries (Exports)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what information he has for each of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries as to the value of total exports per capita in United States dollars, including oil, in the latest year for which figures are available.

The information is in the following table:

OECD Exports per Capita 1986
CountryUnited States $
Canada3,415
USA908
Japan1,746
Australia1,431
New Zealand11,699
Austria2,969
Belgium/Luxembourg6,715
Denmark4,149
Finland3,325
France2,162
F R Germany3,973
Greece1458
Iceland13,346
Ireland01,915
Italy1,706
Netherlands5,563
CountryUnited States $
Norway4,397
Portugal1591
Spain703
Sweden13,634
Switzerland5,704
Turkey159
United Kingdom1,867

Notes:

1 1985 Exports 1985. Population figures used throughout.

Source:OECD.

Industrial Assistance

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many companies in Bury have obtained regional selective assistance under section 7 of the Industry Act since November 1984; and how much financial assistance in total was offered to them.

In the period from 1 November 1984 to 31 March 1987, 13 companies in Bury were offered regional assistance under section 7 of the Industrial Development Act 1982. The total value of these offers was £1,478,000.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many companies in Bury have obtained assistance under the business improvement scheme; and how much financial assistance in total was offered to them.

Since the business improvement services scheme started in November 1984, offers of assistance have been made to 116 companies in the Bury travel-to-work-Area, to a total value of £956,921.

Privatisation (Multiple Share Applications)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement as to what proportion of the shares of BT were examined for possible illegality as referred to in the answer of 13 February 1985, Official Report, column 176, to the right hon. Member for Swansea, West (Mr. Williams).

All the shareholdings under the United Kingdom offer for sale were so examined. The overseas share issue arrangements were explained in the earlier answer.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will make a statement as to the arrangements that were made for the examination of BT share applications for possible illegalities.

Arrangements were made to deter and detect multiple applications. They led to some 6,600 applications being rejected.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will publish in the Official Report the number of multiple share applications discovered in the following privatisations: Amersham International, British Gas, Cable and Wireless and Associated British Ports, and the number of prosecutions arising from multiple share applications, together with the penalties involved; and if he will supply the same information in respect of the Trustee Savings Bank flotation.

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry whether he will establish inquiries into the sale of shares in (a) British Aerospace (second tranche), (b) British Airways, (c) British Gas, (d) Britoil (second tranche), (e) Cable and Wireless (third tranche) and (f) the Trustee Savings Bank, with a view to establishing the precise extent of multiple share applications; and if he will make a statement.

Electronic Communications Infrastructure

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how, in the light of recommendation 15 of the Peacock report, the Government expect the electronic communications infrastructure in the United Kingdom to develop; and if he will make a statement.

My right hon. Friend has set up a new steering group to advise on such prospective infrastructure developments. This steering group, which is chaired by Mr. Alstair Macdonald, a deputy secretary in my Department, has as its members Mr. John Alvey, formerly a director of BT plc, Professor Bryan Carsberg, Director General of Telecommunications, Mr. Ivor Cohen, managing director of Mullard Ltd. Mr. John Fairclough, the Government's Chief Scientific Adviser and Professor Stanley Metcalfe of Manchester university.We have also awarded a major study contract to a firm of consultants to identify ways in which the United Kingdom electronics communications infrastructure may be expected to develop over the next two decades, and the likely effects on suppliers, users and society as a whole. This study is expected to take some eight months to complete.My Department has also prepared a discussion document as a basis for wider consultation on these issues. This document is being sent to the major players in the communications industry for comment. This will help to ensure that both the study and the work of the steering group start on a sound footing. Copies of the discussion document have been placed in the Library of the House and will be made available more generally by my Department on request.My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary informed the House last November that we would be considering recommendation 15 of the Peacock report in more detail. Both the consultants study and the establishment of the steering group are essential steps in this process.Following the study, and in the light of its outcome, the responses to the discussion document and concurrent reviews by the steering group, the Government expect to make public the conclusions they have reached.

Gross Domestic Product

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what was the rate of growth in London's gross domestic product during 1985; and what was the last year for which figures are available when a greater rate of growth was recorded.

Regional gross domestic product data are available only in current price terms; constant price data are not available. Therefore, the figures quoted make no allowance for inflation.

Greater London's GDP in 1985 was nearly 12 per cent. higher than in 1984. The last year when a greater rate of growth was recorded was in 1980. For further information see the article "Regional accounts, 1985" Economic Trends November 1986, a copy of which is available in the House of Commons Library.

Post Office

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the profit targets for 1987–88 for the letters, parcels and counters business of the Post Office.

The overall profit target for the postal business of the Post Office for 1987–88 is 3·25 per cent. return on turnover, before net interest and tax, on the current cost accounting basis. Profit targets for the three subordinate businesses in 1987–88, calculated on the same basis as the overall target, are 2·8 per cent. for letters, 6·7 per cent. for parcels and 1·2 per cent. for counters.

National Metrological Co-Ordinating Unit (Report)

asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he expects to publish the annual report of the National Metrological Co-ordinating Unit, as required by section 60(1) of the Weights and Measures Act 1985; and if he will make a statement.

The report covering the period 1 April 1985 to 31 March 1986 has been published today. I have arranged for copies of the report, which includes the audited statement of accounts, to be placed in the Library.

Energy

Combined Heat And Power Stations

asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is his policy with regard to the provision of urban sites suitable for combined heat and power stations.

Provision of sites for CHP stations is a commercial matter for the promoters of CHP schemes.

Energy Labelling

asked the Secretary of State for Energy whether he has any proposals to introduce energy labelling for electrical appliances.

Many manufacturers and retailers already provide energy consumption data for electrical appliances, either in their sales brochures or in the form of "energy labels" on the appliance itself.

Magnox Reactors

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if it is his intention to publish in full the long-term safety reviews of magnox reactors as soon as they are completed.

All long-term safety reviews of magnox reactors will be assessed by the NII, whose conclusions will be published in due course.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list, by station, the current status of the long-term safety reviews of magnox reactors currently being carried out by the Central Electricity Generating Board and the nuclear installations inspectorate, indicating the date when such reviews commenced, and the estimated dates for completion.

I refer the Hon. Member to the replies I gave to the hon. Member for Yeovil (Mr. Ashdown) on 3 December 1986, at column 675–76 and on 16 December 1986, at column 477.

Power Stations (Repairs)

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many major repairs to nuclear power stations have been undertaken since 1983; and at what cost.

asked the Secretary of State for Energy how many major repairs to coal-fired power stations have been undertaken since 1983; and at what cost.

I shall ask the chairman of the CEGB and BNFL to write to the hon. Member.

Concessionary Coal

asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will estimate the average consumption of house coal and smokeless fuel per household in the United Kingdom; and if he will publish details of the supply of concessionary fuel to mineworkers in each National Coal Board area.

[pursuant to his reply, 20 March 1987, c. 649]: Disposals of house coal in the United Kingdom in 1986 were some 8·5 million tonnes, and of smokeless fuels were some 3·2 million tonnes. Of some 21 million households in the United Kingdom, an estimated 4 million use solid fuel in some form, of which about 2·8 million use solid fuel as the main form of heating.

Transport

Underground (Escalators)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will call for such a report from the chairman of London Regional Transport as to how many escalators at Underground stations are not in working order, how long in each case they have been out of order, and when they are expected to be returned to working order; and if he will make a statement.

I have no plans to call for a report. Responsibility for the efficient day-to-day operation of the Underground lies with London Underground Ltd. which has a substantial repair and maintenance programme underway.

Road Schemes (Private Involvement)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many road schemes sponsored or supported by his Department have private financial involvement.

On 1 April a Bill to authorise the construction of a new bridge between Dartford and Thurrock was introduced. Subject to parliamentary approval, the bridge will be financed privately, constructed and operated by Dartford River Crossing Ltd. and will cost about £86 million at July 1986 prices.

There are currently 10 road schemes, with a total cost about £2·5 million, for which the Department are negotiating payment of the cost of the works with private developers.

The Department has no comparable information for local highway authority schemes supported through transport supplementary grant. This grant is paid towards accepted expenditure by the authorities themselves, net of any private sector contributions.

Eastern Distribution Road, Stafford

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what representations he has received regarding the proposed eastern distribution road in Stafford; and why the construction of the road has not yet been commenced.

I have received several representations supporting an early start to this local authority scheme. It is for Staffordshire county council, as highway authority, to decide what priority it should be given.

Orange Badge Scheme

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many people were in possession of an orange badge at the latest date for which figures are available.

800,000 in March 1986 according to information supplied by local authorities.

A406 (Popes Lane-Western Avenue)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to be able to announce his decision on the A406 Popes Lane-Western Avenue scheme, for which he received the inspector's report in summer, 1985.

I refer my hon. Friend to the reply I gave my hon. Friend the Member for Ealing, Acton (Sir G. Young) on Tuesday 7 April 1987, at column. 125.

A15–B1206 Link

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he will made a decision on Humberside county council's application to build a new road junction on the A15 road at Bonby Lodge to link with the B1206.

Humberside county council's preliminary report about a new junction at Bonby Lodge was received in February. We have asked for further information in order to make a judgment. We will consider the matter when this information is provided.

Traffic Commissioners (Bus Deregulation)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement about the work and the effectiveness of the traffic commissioners following bus deregulation in 1986.

The transitional arrangements for registration of bus services under the Transport Act 1985 placed a heavy burden of work on the traffic commissioners and their staff. They are to be congratulated on the way in which they have discharged these duties.

Financial Management Initiative

asked the Secretary of State for Transport whether he will make a statement on the effect on his Department of the financial management initiative.

My Department's approach to financial management is set out in the annual departmental plan. A copy of the 1986–87 plan is in the Library of the House. The 1987–88 plan will be available shortly.Particularly good progress has been made in executive units, which employ some 90 per cent. of the Department's staff. More of them are now individually accountable units with challenging targets for controlling unit costs and improving quality of service. As examples of progress, the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Centre last year achieved its target of turning round 90 per cent. of transactions within 8 days, while reducing the real unit cost of each transaction by 2 per cent.; unit costs in the vehicle inspectorate increased by only half the rate of inflation. Motorway maintenance work has been speeded up by increased use of lane rental contracts, reducing costly delays to motorists and the road haulage industry.

Road Signs

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he proposes to introduce a coach route sign and a coach bus sign in his Department's "Signs Manual".

Bus and coach signing is being reviewed.A range of signs will be authorised on an experimental basis and their effectiveness compared before prescribing such signs for general use. Local authorities can meanwhile apply to the Department for special authorisation of particular signs.

Ashbourne Bypass

asked the Secretary for State for Transport what progress is being made with plans for the Ashbourne bypass; and whether he will make a statement.

Preliminary investigations by consulting engineers are now well in hand. Traffic surveys are to be carried out this month and in May. These will establish the traffic patterns in and around Ashbourne, and help us plan and test possible routes for a new trunk road. We hope to be able to consult the public on alternatives next year.

asked the Secretary of State for Transport how many representations he has received about the plans for the Ashbourne bypass in the last six months; and if he will indicate from whom they have come.

In the last six months written representations have not been received.

Trains (Overcrowding)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport what statistics he has available on passenger train overcrowding.

I receive copies of British Rail's annual survey of the loadings of London commuter trains.

Roads (London)

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all major road schemes in the Greater London area that have departmental approval to proceed; and what is the cost of each scheme.

I am currently reviewing the national trunk road construction programme and hope to announce conclusions shortly. The current programme of major London schemes is set out in "National Roads England 1985". A copy is in the Library. I have also announced a proposal to safeguard the line of a new western environmental improvement route for London.

Traffic Management Guidance

asked the Secretary of State for Transport when he proposes to issue traffic management guidance to the London borough councils under schedule 5 to the Local Government Act 1985; and if he will make a statement.

Following consultation with the London local authority associations and the police on the draft sent to them last November, and taking account of other comments we have received from some of the wide range of interested organisations who also received copies, we have today issued traffic management guidance to the London borough councils.Copies of the circular to London boroughs to which it is annexed are available in the Libraries of both Houses.Well-designed traffic management can contribute positively to economic, social and environmental conditions in London and play an important role in helping communities cope with traffic problems. In particular, we wish to encourage vehicles to make the fullest possible use of London's strategic network of roads in preference to seeking alternative routes through suitable streets and residential areas. Well-managed traffic benefits private and public transport users alike and also helps create better and safer conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.The traffic guidance we have now issued will be particularly useful to the London borough councils.

  • (a) as a context for preparing annual transport policies and programmes, and
  • (b) in formulating proposals affecting the designated road network for which my consent is needed.
  • We look forward to continuing to develop with the borough councils new initiatives to tackle London's road and traffic problems.

    Helicopter Search And Rescue Service

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport on what date he anticipates a search and rescue service helicopter will be located in north-west Scotland.

    Tenders for provision of a search and rescue helicopter for north-West Scotland have been received and are being evaluated. An announcement will be made as soon as possible.

    Coaches (Speed Limiters)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he has begun the consultation process on draft regulations to require speed limiters to be fitted to all coaches which are capable of exceeding the motorway speed limit.

    A technical standard for speed limiters has now been agreed. Draft regulations based on the standard are being circulated to interested parties today, which set a timetable for all coaches to be fitted with speed limiters calibrated to a maximum speed of 70 mph. The draft regulations would require new coaches to be fitted with a speed limiter from 1 April 1988, those first used on or after 1 April 1984 from 1 April 1989, and older coaches from 1 April 1990. Coaches first used before 1 April 1987 would not be affected by the proposals. Any limiter fitted before the regulations come into effect would not need to comply with all the details of the British Standard, but would have to meet the tamper-proofing and calibration requirements.

    Seat Belts

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will be introducing regulations before the end of this month to make it mandatory to fit seat belts to the front seats of all new large coaches and minibuses.

    We expect to make regulations requiring the fitting of seat belts to all exposed seats on new coaches and to the front seats of new minibuses within the next four to six weeks.

    Carriers' Liability (Limits)

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport which states have not ratified the Montreal protocols to the Warsaw convention to raise carriers' liability limits to 100 SDRs; and if he will make a statement.

    The following states have ratified Montreal protocol No. 3 to the Warsaw convention, which will raise carriers' liability to 100,000 SRDs: the United Kingdom, Brazil, Portugal, The Netherlands, Colombia and Italy. It is open for other states to ratify if they wish.

    asked the Secretary of State for Transport which states have entered into special contracts with their passengers to provide for higher limits of liability under the Warsaw convention.

    Full details of other states' arrangements for passenger compensation are not available. I understand that most developed countries require their airlines, or at least their national carrier, to take out "special contracts" with their passengers at a level of about 100,000 SDRs. The latest information I have is:

    Country
    Switzerland200,000 Swiss francs
    Ireland, Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Japan100,000 SDRs
    Belgium90,000 SDRs
    France, Portugal80,000 SDRs
    Israel80 to 100,000 US dollars
    West Germany58,000 US dollars
    Canada300,000 Canadian dollars

    Prime Minister

    Mr William Casey

    Q6.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list those occasions on which she met Mr. William Casey, while he was head of the Central Intelligence Agency.

    I refer the hon. Gentleman to the reply that I gave to the hon. Member for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes) on Monday 6 April at column 21.

    Open Tech

    asked the Prime Minister if she will indicate what financial and planning resources have been put into Open Tech provision (a) in Northern Ireland and (b) in Great Britain over the last five years.

    The Open Tech programme, which ran from October 1982 to March 1987, was funded by the Manpower Services Commission, which does not operate in Northern Ireland. The Commission provided nearly £51 million over that period, to help fund the production of 30,000 hours of open learning materials and develop a range of supporting services. Up to 39 commission staff were involved at any one time. No information is available about additional resources provided by contracting bodies. The Department of Education for Northern Ireland funded a separate programme between March 1985 and March 1987, providing some £200,000 for supporting services for existing open learning materials, most of which have been produced by Open Tech.

    Departmental Responsibilities

    asked the Prime Minister if she will place in the Library the advice given to trades unions about options for reallocating responsibilities between the Department of Employment and the Department of Health and Social Security.

    Official Visits

    asked the Prime Minister on how many occasions since 1983 the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food has been accompanied on his official visits to Brussels by a Welsh Office Minister.

    My right hon. Friend has not been accompanied on official visits to Brussels by a Welsh Office Minister since 1983.

    Scottish And Border Television Companies

    asked the Prime Minister, pursuant to her answer to the hon. Member for Hackey, South and Shoreditch on 6 April, what is the estimated cost of her forthcoming meeting with news and current affairs executives from a number of broadcasting and newspaper interests in Scotland.

    The estimated cost of this function is about £1,000. This will be in line with the cost of other similar functions held at 10 Downing Street.

    British Telecom

    asked the Prime Minister what is the current level of fees payable to British Telecom for the interception of telephone communications; on what basis the fee is calculated; with which other companies Her Majesty's Government have contracts in respect of such services; and if she will make a statement.

    It has been the practice of successive Governments not to comment on the details of the operation of the interception arrangements.

    Cruise Missiles

    asked the Prime Minister whether, in the light of the decision of the Belgian Government to delay the deployment of 32 cruise missiles, scheduled for delivery by the end of 1987 if negotiations on intermediate nuclear forces are still in progress by the end of the year, she has anything to add to her reply on 19 March, Official Report, column 554, regarding the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation policy towards the continued deployment of long range intermediate nuclear forces in the absence of an agreement with the Soviet Union; and if she will make a statement.

    Following Mr. Gorbachev's statement on 28 February the Belgian Government reaffirmed the position on missile deployments which it has held since 1985. After the meeting of NATO's Special Consultative Group (on INF) on 27 March, which includes all the European basing countries, the chairman issued a statement which included the following:

    "The SCG also reaffirmed the Alliance's readiness to modify, halt, reverse or dispense altogether with its deployment of LRINF missiles as part of a balanced, equitable and effectively verifiable arms control agreement. On the other hand, the Group confirmed NATO's determination to continue the deployment of LRINF missliles as scheduled, in the absence of an INF arms control treaty with the Soviet Union obviating the need for such deployments".

    Japanese Prime Minister (Letter)

    asked the Prime Minister if she will place in the Library a copy of the letter she received from Prime Minister Nakasone of Japan regarding trade relations with that country.

    No. It is not normal diplomatic practice to publish exchanges of this kind.

    Cabinet Committees

    asked the Prime Minister what is her practice on allowing people other than Ministers, civil servants or serving officers to attend formal meetings of Cabinet Committees.

    As a general rule no one who is not either a Minister or a servant of the Crown may be invited to attend a meeting of a Cabinet Committee. Exceptions to this rule are allowed only in most unusual circumstances.

    Engagements

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 April.

    Lloyd asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 April.

    asked the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 9 April.

    This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in this House I shall be having further meetings later this afternoon, including one with King Hussein of Jordan.

    Defence

    Diego Garcia

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to the answer of 19 January, Official Report, column 412, what information he has about United States satellite monitoring facilities on Diego Garcia; and if he will make a statement.

    The ground-based electro-optical deep space surveillance system on Diego Garcia is a space tracking station for the passive monitoring by light sensitive telescopes of objects in space, particularly satellites in geosynchronous orbit.

    Civilian Doctors (London Weighting)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will pay a London weighting allowance to civilian medical practitioners employed by the Ministry of Defence in the London area; and if he will make a statement.

    No. The rate of pay of civilian medical practitioners employed by the Ministry of Defence is fixed by reference to notional figures used by the Doctors and Dentists Review Body when fixing the remuneration of NHS general medical practitioners. General medical practitioners in the NHS do not get extra remuneration for working in London and it would be wrong, having based the pay on that of an analogue which does not receive London weighting, to add London weighting to the Civil Service rate for civilian medical practitioners.

    Financial Management Initiative

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence whether he will make a statement on the effect on his Department of the financial management initiative.

    The Ministry of Defence's response to the financial management initiative, which incorporated developments already in train, primarily involved the introduction of a top management information system and managerial budgets with associated delegated powers (executive responsibility budgets and staff responsibility budgets). The Public Accounts Committee took evidence on this programme from the permanent under secretary on 17 December 1986. Changes stemming from MINIS include the reorganisation of the Ministry of Defence which came into effect on 2 January 1985 (Cmnd. 9315). The basic purpose of executive responsibility budgets, which now cover a very wide range of support activities in the United Kingdom, is to enable managers to carry out their tasks more efficiently and economically. The current programme involves some 340 units, with operating costs of about £3·5 billion a year. Although the final stages of the implementation process have yet to be completed there are already indications that this new budgetary system is helping to promote greater cost consciousness and providing a basis for more effective planning and decision making. Examples of benefits in terms of better value for money include a significant improvement in engine repair times at a naval helicopter repair depot; a more economical system for the testing of blood specimens at an Army hospital; and increased productivity at RAF supply depots.The Department's financial training programme has been substantially expanded in the light of the financial management initiative. Training is being provided for service personnel as well as civilian staff.

    Service Personnel (Scotland)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report the number of service personnel located in Scotland by virtue of port basing but who are resident elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

    5,419 Royal Navy personnel are currently serving on ships base ported in Scotland. It would not be possible without disproportionate effort to determine how many are resident elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will publish in the Official Report a breakdown of the total annual wage bill paid to service personnel based in Scotland for each of the past four years.

    Annual wage bills are not maintained by geographical area. The following is an estimate for the financial years 1983–84 to 1986–87 inclusive:

    £ million
    1983–84151·4
    1984–85169·0
    1985–86181·9
    1986–87192·3

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report the total amount of wages paid to Ministry of Defence service personnel included in the Scottish regional total but who are resident elsewhere in the United Kingdom for each of the past four years.

    Civil Servants (Scotland)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report the total annual wages bill paid to Scottish based Ministry of Defence civil servants for each of the past four years.

    This information is not readily available and to provide it would involve disproportionate cost and time.

    Royal Navy Armaments Depot, Coulport

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he is able to estimate the number of job losses at Royal Navy Armaments Depot, Coulport due to Trident missiles being serviced on board the vessels by members of their crews.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will estimate the number of jobs likely to be lost at Royal Navy Armaments Depot, Coulport and at the Faslane base due to the longer duration of patrols to be undertaken by Trident submarines.

    The planned pattern of Trident submarine patrols will have no bearing on the employment levels at Faslane and Coulport.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what are the implications for the pattern of employment, in terms of specific skills, of the proposed refits of the United Kingdom Trident squadron; and what are the implications for the current labour force mix engaged in the Polaris refits.

    Trident refits will be undertaken at Rosyth.Employment levels in the royal dockyards are matters for the commercial managers.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence for what purpose the United States navy vessel Vega calls at Royal Navy Armaments Depot, Coulport.

    The Vega calls at RNAD, Coulport to deliver material for use in connection with the support of the United Kingdom Polaris programme.

    Us Forces (Scotland)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report the breakdown of the annual payments received from the Government of the United States of America for the upkeep of their facilities located in Scotland for each of the past four years.

    Payments received from the Government of the United States of America for the upkeep of facilities made available to US forces in Scotland, that is maintenance and minor works services, for each of the last four years were:

    £
    1983–841,140,126
    1984–851,174,000
    1985–861,221,059
    1986–87785,638

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list in the Official Report the current number of Ministry of Defence service and civil personnel in Ministry of Defence facilities located in Scotland.

    The number of United Kingdom service personnel deployed in Scotland on 1 January 1987 was 20,846 and the number of full-time equivalent civilian staff was 18,130.Service numbers include RN/RM personnel serving on ships whose home port is in Scotland and which were in home waters on 1 January.Civilian numbers exclude casual staff.

    Clyde Submarine Base

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the latest estimate of the cost of the expansion of (a) the Trident facilities and (b) the conventional facilities at the Clyde submarine base; and what percentage of the total Trident budget is represented by (a) above.

    The total cost of works developments at the Clyde submarine base is estimated at some £550 million; of this, some £350 million can be attributed directly to the Trident programme and this figure amounts to 4 per cent. of the total costs of that programme. However, to the figure of £350 million must be added Trident works costs in other locations, contingency and certain other costs in order to arrive at a total which represents the figure of 7 per cent included in the breakdown of Trident costs made available to the House by my right hon. Friend on 27 January this year.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence why there has been an increase since May 1984 from 1,500 peak-time jobs to 2,500 jobs at the Clyde submarine base.

    Since May 1984 the design of the facilities at the Clyde submarine base has been refined and the work required to build them more accuately defined. The construction programme for Trident in Scotland as a whole will, at its peak, create over 2,500 jobs; most of these will be at the Clyde submarine base.

    Air Defence

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the efficiency and readines of the Royal Air Force air defence.

    The RAF's high standards of readiness and effectiveness are demonstrated in regular air defence exercises. We are in the midst of a very substantial programme to improve our air defences, which I outlined in my reply to the hon. Member for Manchester, Central (Mr. Litherland) on 24 February, at column 217. Once completed, our air defence system will be greatly enhanced.

    Tornado F3

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the efficiency and effectiveness of the Tornado F3 fighter.

    The excellent range and loiter capability of the Tornado air defence variant make it ideally suited for the role of air defence of the United Kingdom. Although the Tornado ADV's Foxhunter radar does not yet meet all the requirements of the Royal Air Force, action is in hand to rectify this. Radars to an interim standard have already been delivered.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what representations he has received about Royal Air Force air defence capability.

    The only representation received recently is a letter from my hon. Friend.

    "A Nuclear Free Europe? Why It Wouldn't Work"

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence how many copies of the publication, "A Nuclear Free Europe? Why it Wouldn't Work", were printed; how many were distributed; and what was the total cost.

    "A Nuclear Free Europe? Why it Wouldn't Work" was published in 1982. From such records as are now available, it is estimated that 30,000 copies were printed, of which approximately 13,000 have been distributed so far. The total cost of production is estimated as £2,459.

    Fighter Pilots

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what is the Royal Air Force's current shortfall in operationally trained fighter pilots.

    The RAF has sufficient operationally trained air defence and fast jet pilots to fill all front-line cockpits and operationally related ground appointments.

    Observation Posts (Gwynedd)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence, pursuant to his answer of 2 April 1987, if he will publish in the Official Report the locations of the 40 observation points on Gwynedd at which rainfall measurements are taken.

    A list of the meteorological observing stations in Gwynedd, showing the location name and national grid reference of each, is as follows:

    Grid reference
    Llanymawddwy, Troed-y-Foel2910 3195
    Aberangell, Esgairangell2829 3105
    Aberdovey2605 2960
    Llanegryn, Peniarth2612 3054
    Buarthre Newydd2745 3259
    Dolgellau2728 3187
    Talsarnau2610 3361
    Ffestiniog, Minafon2716 3433
    Trawsfyndd Power Station2695 3390
    Llydaw Intake2636 3547
    Nantmor2603 3463
    Porthmadog Power Station2569 3391
    Cwmystradllyn, Lower2557 3442
    Pant Glas, Bwlchderwin2459 3472
    Botwnnog School2263 3313
    Bardsey: Lighthouse2112 3206
    Edern Primary School2277 3393
    Glynllifon Park2455 3554
    Anglesey: Llansadwrn, Gladlys Lodge2553 3758
    Anglesey: Cefni Reservoir2444 3772
    Anglesey: Valley Met Office2309 3757
    Anglesey: Holyhead, Ty Mawr2217 3818
    Anglesey: Llyn Alaw2376 3853
    Angelsey: Amlwch, Penrhyd2427 3914
    Anglesey: Llwydiarth Esgob2436 3843
    Anglesey: Plan Cadnant2557 3731
    Pen-y-Ffridd Research Station2563 3705
    Aber, College Farm2656 3732
    Conway Mussel Tanks2785 3773
    Yspytty-Ifan Treatment Works2811 3456
    Vdelas Hall2851 3516
    Betws-y-Coed Field Centre2803 3571
    Belmont2815 3569
    Llanrwst, Gwydyr Uchaf2796 3608
    Cowlyd2738 3635
    Coedty Reservoir2756 3668
    Tal-y-Cafn, Penrhyd2791 3718
    Grid reference
    Bodnant2800 3725
    Llanuwchllyn2878 3298
    Tryweryn Dam No 22881 3399
    Bala Sluices2935 3356

    Diver Training (Portsmouth)

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if trainee divers from the Royal Engineering Diving Establishment at HMS Vernon are still training on the mudflats in Portsmouth; and if he will make a statement.

    There are a variety of diving courses which are held at the Royal Engineers Diving Establishment at Portsmouth. These comprise a basic five and a half-week course, a seven and a half-week advanced course and a three-week diving supervisors course. In addition, there are two day diving aptitude tests held for Army personnel who wish to be considered for training to become a qualified Army diver. In order to carry out diving, it is sometimes considered necessary for trainees to cross mudflats at low tide in order to reach the training area. In addition, for all diving training, an element of endurance training in dry suits is necessary. Military diving is an arduous and potentially dangerous activity often carried out in unpleasant conditions. Divers need to be fit, adaptable and determined.Divers are frequently required to wear dry suits for long periods and to carry out physically demanding tasks while wearing dry suits, both in and out of water. Endurance training in dry suits is a necessary and relevant part of both diver aptitude testing and subsequent diver training. There is no "mud-run" for personnel undergoing diver aptitude testing, but for those undergoing the formal diving training programme endurance training in dry suits is a necessary and relevant part of both diver aptitude testing and subsequent diver training. There is no "mud-run" for personnel undergoing diver aptitude testing, but for those undergoing the formal diving training programme endurance training in dry suits may include training on mud. All endurance training is strictly supervised by fully qualified instructors.

    Radioactive Waste

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what technical investigations have taken place in the Gillingham area into the disposal of radioactive waste from the royal dockyards; and what have been the results of the technical investigations.

    There are no plans to dispose of radioactive waste from the royal dockyards in the Gillingham area. A small quantity of radioactive material is stored at MOD Gillingham and this will be removed to a permanent disposal site whenever one is available.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what technical investigations have taken place at Rosyth into the possible storage of radioactive waste within the dockyard or naval base; and what have been the results of the technical investigations.

    The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate has carried out a comprehensive hazard analysis of the current facilities and procedures for handling radioactive waste, so as to permit the Rosyth dockyard and naval base to support the RN's fleet of nuclear submarines.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he has set aside funds for the building of a new facility for storage of radioactive waste at Rosyth dockyard.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence what new policy decisions have been made (a) within the last two years and (b) within the last six months about the disposal, transportation and storage of radioactive waste created as a result of nuclear submarine refits at Rosyth dockyard.

    It had been intended that one of the near-surface radioactive waste burial sites being investigated by NIREX would accept low-level and short-lived intermediate level waste from Rosyth. However, the Government, in responding to the Environment Committee's report on radioactive waste, published on 12 March 1986, decided that the chosen NIREX near-surface burial site should accept only low-level waste. Short-lived intermediate waste will now have to be stored until other arrangements can be made.

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement about future plans for the storage of radioactive waste at Rosyth dockyard and naval base at Drigg.

    Low-level radioactive waste from Rosyth dockyard and naval base will continue to be sent for disposal at the shallow land burial site at Drigg until the new NIREX near-surface burial site is in operation, what that will be used.

    Gruinard Island

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make a statement on the results of the decontamination of Gruinard Island.

    I have now received the conclusions of the independent advisory group which has been reviewing the evidence on the efficacy of the decontamination treatment. The IAG has reported that it is convinced that the decontamination has worked well and considers on the basis of the evidence that the island could now be returned to civil ownership. The IAG has recommended, and I have accepted, that before the island is so returned, it should be demonstrated both to the group and to the general public that the whole island can be used in the same way as agricultural land on the mainland. This demonstration will be achieved by a local farmer shepherding part of his flock on the island during the coming summer.

    Defence Contracts

    asked the Secretary of State for Defence if he will list the companies or subsidiaries of companies based in Scotland, which are currently engaged in defence contracts or subcontracts.

    [pursuant to his reply, 20 February 1987, c. 874]: I regret that the information required could not be provided except at disproportionate cost.

    Attorney-General

    Land Registry

    asked the Attorney-General whether he will waive current charges relating to caution registrations using form 63/13, where protracted delays have occurred in the processing of registrations at district land registries.

    Delays in the processing of appliations do not give rise to any need for the registering of cautions since the priority of such an application is determined by the date upon which it is received by the registry and not by the date upon which the certificate is issued.

    asked the Attorney-General what fees have been collected for the most convenient period in connection with registration of cautions using form 63/14 resulting from delays in registration of residential property.

    About 850 caution applications are currently received each week. The fee for each application using form 63/14 is £20. There is no reason for believing that any of these cautions are lodged by applicants for registration concerned about delays in processing their applications since the priority of such applications is determined by the date upon which they are received by the Registry and not by the date upon which the certificate is issued.

    asked the Attorney-General what were current levels of staff in each of the district land registries at the most recent convenient date; and whether he has any plans to deploy more staff to reduce current delays in registration of residential property.

    The permanent staff in posts at the end of February 1987 at each of the district land registries was as shown in the table below:

    OfficeNumber
    Croydon478
    Harrow514
    OfficeFirst registrationsTransfer of part/dispositionary first leaseDealingAll categories
    Croydon60855265
    Harrow601266790
    Tunbridge Wells1601805872
    Lytham118835478
    Nottingham1501062590
    Gloucester1101356092
    Stevenage1601155178
    Durham89664270
    Plymouth14914269106
    Swansea107774081
    Birkenhead65704054
    Weymouth109754973
    Peterborough101872572
    A number of steps have been taken to taken up in dealing with applications These include computerisation, overtime recruitment, opening new offices and improvements in practice and procedure.

    Office

    Number

    Tunbridge Wells624
    Lytham531
    Nottingham670
    Gloucester680
    Stevenage612
    Durham459
    Plymouth513
    Swansea383
    Birkenhead381
    Weymouth444
    Peterborough430

    In addition to the 13 district land registries, offices have recently been established at Telford and Coventry which together account for a further 111 staff. 555 casual staff are currently employed at district land registries. This is further supplemented by overtime. This level of staffing takes up the full authorised resources. As from 2 April 1987 a further 376 staff have been authorised at district registries and are being recruited and trained. The extent to which these will help to reduce current delays will largely depend on the levels of applications.

    asked the Attorney-General whether he will publish the surplus or deficit position on current transactions relating to each land registry district office in the last five years.

    The Land Registry's revenue in the registration of title department exceeded expenditure by £64·5 million in the five financial years 1981–86. Profit and loss accounts are not separately maintained for individual district registries.

    asked the Attorney-General what is the current length of time taken by each of the district land registries to register residential properties after application; and whether any steps are being taken to expedite current levels of performance.

    The table shows at each district land registry the average completion times in working days at the end of February 1987 for each category of substantive application.

    asked the Attorney-General what steps the Land Registry is taking in the light of the long current waiting periods for registration of residential property to protect applicants against the creation of further equitable interests.

    The priority of an application to register a purchase or mortgage is determined according to the date upon which the application is received by the Registry. Accordingly, the lodging of such an application will give the purchaser or mortgagee priority over any third party interests subsequently created.

    asked the Attorney-General what advice the Land Registry is issuing to applicants for registration who are likely to have to face delays for longer than 20 weeks.

    When a new title application is lodged for registration, an acknowledgement card is sent indicating the likely number of weeks that the Land Registry will take to process the application. It contains a note explaining that if a delay in completing the registration will cause specific problems (for example, because of a pending resale of the property) and the Registry is informed every effort will be made to process the application as quickly as possible.

    asked the Attorney-General what was the last occasion when the work load of the Land Registry was assessed in relation to current levels of staff employed; and whether he will make a statement.

    The Land Registry's work load and staffing was assessed in April 1986 when the preparatory work was undertaken for the 1986 public expenditure survey.

    asked the Attorney-General what representations he has received from conveyancers, solicitors or their representative organisations on the delays relating to registration of residential property by the Land Registry.

    During the last 12 months the Lord Chancellor has received some 12 letters of enquiry from solicitors and one from a conveyancing company regarding delays at the Land Registry. Some of these inquiries were general; some related to specific transactions. No formal representations have been received from representative organisations.

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    India (Visa Applications)

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will list the number of personnel employed by the British high commission in India dealing with visa applications in each year since 1979.

    The establishment of entry clearance officers (and above) dealing with applications at each of our posts in India on 1 January of each year was as follows:

    New DelhiBombayCalcuttaMadras
    19795411
    198054111
    19815610
    19825510
    19836610
    19846610
    19856610
    19866610
    19871110212

    1 Immigration work transferred to Bombay March 1980 but resumed in Madras in October 1986 with the introduction of the visa regime.

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the average waiting time for applications from citizens of India for entry visas to the United Kingdom at the latest date.

    Figures published for the last quarter of 1986 show that the waiting time for settlement entry clearance applicants was between two and 11 months in New Delhi and between four and 12 months in Bombay. There are no settlement queues in Madras and Calcutta.All applications for short-term entry clearance are considered within 24 hours. Of the estimated 13 per cent. needing further examination, the waiting time for those now applying in April is 10 days in New Delhi, one day in Bombay and three in Madras.

    Diplomatic Service

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many women currently hold the position of ambassador, high commissioner or chargé d'affaires within Her Majesty's diplomatic service.

    One woman currently holds the position of ambassador. No women currently hold that of high commissioner or chargé d'affaires.

    Bed-And-Breakfast Accommodation

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what representations he has received from the Government of Bangladesh concerning the number of Bangladeshi families in bed-and-breakfast accommodation in the United Kingdom.

    Commonwealth Secretariat

    asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the move of the Commonwealth Secretariat to No. 2 Carlton gardens while Marlborough house is refurbished.

    On 6 April a memorandum of understanding was signed at Malborough house by the Secretary of State for the Environment on behalf of the British Government and the Commonwealth Secretary-General, covering arrangements relating to the move which will take place at Easter. Necessary refurbishment of the centre block of Marlborough house is expected to take about three and a half years to complete, following which the secretariat will reoccupy the premises.

    Home Department

    Racial Incidents

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many racial incidents have been reported in the London borough of Waltham Forest in each of the past four years; and how many have resulted in a conviction.

    I refer the hon. Member to replies I gave to his question on 26 February 1987 at column 344 and to a question from the hon. Member for Newham, North-East (Mr. Banks) on 4 December 1986 at columns 711–14. Information about convictions could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

    Nursing Advisory Council

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the members of the Nursing Advisory Council set up to advise the head prison nursing services in developing the professional competence of prison hospital officers and nurses.

    The members of the advisory committee are Mr. Peter Barker, head of prison nursing services (chairman): Mr. J. K. Berry, hospital chief officer, HM prison Wormwood Scrubs; Mrs. J. Elliott, senior sister, HM prison Cookham Wood; Mr. D. Gooderham, English national board; Mr. D. N. Harrison, hospital chief officer, HM prison Wandsworth; Mr. J. Kay, Prison Officers' Association; Mr. A. Lee, chief nursing officer, Park Lane special hospital; Mr. P. Mellor, Royal College of Nursing; Mr. J. Tait, principal nursing officer, Department of Health and Social Security; and Mr. A. Taylor, Prison Officers' Association.

    Police (Complaints)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department in what circumstances and why he set aside in Home Office guidance the requirement that consent to complaints being made against police officers must be given in writing.

    The requirement for a member of the public to give consent in writing to a third party to make a complaint on his behalf is to be found in section 84(4) of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. It neither can be nor has been set aside in Home Office guidance.

    Deportation Orders

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many deportation orders were made in England and Wales in each year since 1979 to the latest date;(2) how many deportation orders were made in

    (a) Liverpool and (b) Merseyside in each year since 1979;

    (3) how many deportation orders were made in Northern Ireland in each year since 1979 to the latest date.

    Deportation orders for the whole of the United Kingdom are dealt with by the Home Office. The total numbers of deportation orders made in the United Kingdom are published annually in "Control of Immigration : Statistics, United Kingdom". Table 12 of the issue for 1985 (Cmnd. 9863) covers the years 1975–85. The total for 1986 was published in table 14 of Home Office Statistical Bulletin 3/87. Information by area of the United Kingdom is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

    Immigration

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many applications for permanent leave to remain were granted in (a) Liverpool and (b) Merseyside in each calendar year since 1979 to the latest date;

    (2) how many applications were made for permanent leave to remain in (a) Liverpool and (b) Merseyside in each calendar year since 1979 to the latest date.

    The total numbers of persons granted settlement in the United Kingdom are published annually in "Control of Immigration: Statistics, United Kingdom". Table 15 of the issue for 1985 (Cmnd. 9863) gives totals for the years 1975 to 1985. The total for 1986 was published in table 2 of Home Office statistical bulletin 3/87. Corresponding information on the total numbers of applications made and for particular areas of the United Kingdom is not readily available and could only be provided at disproportionate cost.

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many immigration cases were dealt with by the Liverpool immigration office in each year since 1979 to the latest date.

    The available information is as follows:

    Passengers arriving at pools (including Liverpool airporl)Seamen seeking leave to discharge from shipsApplications for leave to remain and cases involving illegal entry and deportation and interviews related to applications for entry clearances
    1979154,9273,77290
    198069,6203,449311
    198130,0302,543607
    198218,6312,3641,722
    198324,4962,6322,434
    198422,3942,0432,786
    198525,9231,7593,199
    198610,7811,9516,025

    Visa Applications

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many applications were made for entry visas in India in each year since 1979; and how many were granted in each year to the latest date.

    The information requested is given in the following table:

    Applications in India for entry clearance to the United Kingdom1
    Number of persons
    Applications received2Applications granted
    197924,51020,180
    198018,11017,010
    198114,64013,910
    198211,3209,810
    198311,1008,650
    19849,8708,000
    19858,0206,440
    198629,50026,230
    1 For settlement or temporary purposes
    2 Including applications which were subsequently withdrawn

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many civil servants were employed in his Department dealing with visa applications from (a) Commonwealth and (b) non-Commonwealth countries in each year since 1979 to the latest available date.

    Many staff in the Immigration and Nationality Department carry out interviews and deal with inquiries relating to applications for visas and other forms of entry clearance as part of their general duties, but their numbers cannot readily be assessed. Since Autumn 1986, four members of staff of the Immigration and Nationality Department have been engaged on the issue of re-entry visas. In addition staff of the passport department have been engaged on the issue of re-entry visas as follows:

    1984–851985–861986–87
    172122
    Figures for earlier years are not available; and it is not possible to differentiate between Commonwealth and non-Commonwealth work.

    Metropolitan Police (Special Safety Procedures)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will place in the Library a copy of the Metropolitan police special safety procedures regarding the no-go or difficult-to-police areas in London.

    Bramshill Police Training College

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) what were the original estimates for each aspect of the installation of the control and command centre at Bramshill police training college; what were the eventual costs of each contract; and which companies completed the works at the college;(2) which companies were awarded contracts in connection with the installation of the control and command centre at Bramshill police training college;(3) what was the initial estimate for the control and command simulation centre at Bramshill police training college.

    I assume that the hon. Member has in mind the simulated operations complex which is being constructed at the police staff college, Bramshill to extend the training facilities there. A contract for the construction of the building was initially awarded to W. E. Chivers and Sons Ltd., with the main sub-contracts being awarded to Drake and Scull Ltd. and to Electrical Installations Ltd. The original estimate, at November 1983 prices and subject to variation of price in respect of labour and materials, was £1,771,000 which included £262,500 for mechanical services, £173,775 for electrical services and £200,000 for fees. Subsequently W. E. Chivers and Sons Ltd. was placed in the hands of receivers; the contract with the company was terminated and Drake and Scull Ltd. withdrew. A new contract to complete the construction was awarded to Lovell Construction (Southern) Ltd., and a new sub-contract for mechanical services awarded to Planned Maintenance Engineering Ltd. Payments to W. E. Chivers and Sons Ltd. totalled £271,699 subject to claims for damages. It is not possible to give the final cost of the other contracts because work will not be completed before the end of 1987.

    Prison Hospitals

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proportion of hospital rooms in prison hospitals will be provided with integral sanitation, and when he expects this work to be completed.

    Information is not collected centrally in the form requested. I will write to the hon. Member when the available information has been assembled.

    Prison Establishments (Nursing Cover)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether it is the policy of Her Majesty's Government to provide 24-hour on-call nursing cover in all prison establishments.

    No. It is the policy of the Director of Prison Medical Services to provide 24-hour medical cover in all establishments and 24-hour nursing cover in those establishments where that is judged to be necessary.

    Prison Hospital Staff (Training)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects the review of the training needs of prison hospital staff in relation to the taking of X-rays, referred to in the Government's reply to recommendation 8 in the third report of the Social Services Committee, Session 1985–86, to be completed.

    Mentally Disordered Prisoners

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what progress has been made by the joint Home Office/Department of Health and Social Security working group examining the problems of mentally disordered people in prison.

    The working group of Home Office and DHSS officials considering the problems presented by mentally disordered offenders in the prison system will report back to Ministers in May.

    Prisoners (Medical Attention)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will instruct all prison officers that in all circumstances any prisoner asking to see a doctor should be able to do so.

    Prison rules require that every request by a prisoner to see the medical officer shall be recorded by the officer to whom it is made and promptly passed on to the medical officer. There is no reason to think that prison staff need to be reminded of the requirement.

    Drug Abuses

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department when he expects discussions to be completed between the prison department and the probation service aimed at creating a framework for treatment and rehabilitation programmes for drug abusers whilst in custody and after release into the community; whether voluntary agencies are also being consulted about such a framework; and if he will make a statement.

    We expect the discussions between the prison department and the probation service to be concluded shortly.These discussions are aimed at improving the cohesion at establishment level of existing effort to help drug misusers in prison, with particular reference to the interface between the prison medical service and the probation service, and of developing that effort across the prison system. Consultation with voluntary agencies about the framework would be inappropriate; however establishments will he encouraged to consider the contribution which suitable drug counselling facilities in the community may be able to make.

    Electoral Registration

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will provide such estimates as are available as to the number of potential electors who have failed to register for the current register; how this compares with each of the past 10 years; and if he will make a statement.

    The most recent estimates are those made by the Office of Population Censuses and Surveys in a published survey of electoral registration. The survey indicated that in 1981, 6·5 per cent. of eligible people in Great Britain were not included in the electoral register for their qualifying address. This compared with a figure of 3·5 to 4 per cent. found in a comparable survey in 1961. The Home Office has taken a range of initiatives in the light of the 1981 survey aimed at increasing the accuracy of the electoral register. We shall be continuing to work for improvements.

    Mr David Sands

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the chief constable of Hampshire about the police visit to the home of Mr. David Sands prior to his death; and if he will state the branch and specialisation of the officers involved.

    I understand from the chief constable of Hampshire that police officers went to Mr. Sands's home on the evening of 28 March 1987 after his wife had reported him missing. The officers involved were local uniformed police officers.

    Electors (Absent Votes)

    asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will introduce an amendment to the Representation of the People Regulations to allow electors who have moved house to make application for an absent vote, which will continue without further application until such time as the applicant is no longer qualified for registration at his old address; and if he will remove the new requirement that such applications need to be attested.