Written Answers To Questions
Wednesday 29 April 1987
Education And Science
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science, pursuant to his answer of 17 March, Official Report, column 471, about computer usage in schools, what steps are taken by his Department to monitor the results of spending on computers in schools; how he measures the performance of different schools; and what recent representations he has received from Her Majesty's inspectors on this subject.
The Department undertook a survey in 1985 on the use of computers in schools and related expenditure, copies of which are in the Library. A further survey is planned for this autumn, and thereafter at biennial intervals. Whilst the Department has riot undertaken systematic performance measurements of individual schools in the field of information technology, reports by Her Majesty's inspectorate often include observations on this.
|Science Budget Grant-in-Aid||1983–84||1984–85||1985–86||1986–87|
|General (net of receipts)||1,357||1,373||1,471||1,440|
|Pensions (net of receipts)||154||85||104||177|
|Transfer of Centre for Cullure of Algae and Protozoa (CCAP) (net of receipts)||—||—||—||338|
|Science Budget Grant-in-Aid|
|General (net of receipts)||1,310|
|Pensions (net of receipts)||123|
|Transfer of CCAP (net of receipts)||75|
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will make a statement about the nature and scale of research related to multiple sclerosis supported by public funds.
The Medical Research Council is the main Government agency for the support of biomedical research. I understand that the council is supporting a number of research projects on multiple sclerosis, including both basic work on the nature of the disease and clinical studies of its treatment. In the financial year 1985–86, the last year for which figures are available, the council spent £403,000 on research into multiple sclerosis. The council is always willing to consider soundly based research grant applications in competition with other applicants.I understand that research into multiple sclerosis is also carried out in universities and medical schools using funds for teaching and research allocated on advice from the University Grants Committee. The Government are not in a position to influence directly the scale and nature of this research activity.
Freshwater Fisheries Biological Association
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what changes have been made in the funds granted to the Freshwater Fisheries Biological Association through the Natural Environment Research Council; and if he will make a statement.
The funds granted to the FBA through the NERC for the last four years have been as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if there are any plans for a programme of research into the treatment and cure of hay fever; and if he will make a statement.
The Medical Research Council is the main Government agency for the support of biomedical research. In the financial year 1985–86, the last year for which figures are available, the Council spent approximately £616,000 on research projects directly and indirectly related to hay fever. The council is always willing to consider soundly based research grant applications in competition with other applicants.Research into hay fever may also be carried out in universities and medical schools using funds for teaching and research allocated on advice from the University Grants Committee. The Government are not in a position to influence directly the scale and nature of this research activity.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he has received any recent representations from teachers, parents or pupils in Hertfordshire regarding the current dispute; and if he will make a statement.
My Department has received letters expressing a variety of views about teachers' pay and conditions of employment from teachers, parents and pupils in a range of local education authorities.
Secondary Pupils (Costs)
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what is the appropriate cost of educating a secondary school pupil in inner and outer London; and what is the approximate grant provided by Government to cover those costs.
The net recurrent expenditure per secondary school pupil in ILEA and the average for the outer London boroughs in 1984–85 were £1,940 and £1,250 respectively. Most Government support for local authority education is provided through the block grant element of rate support grant, which is an unhypothecated grant in support of all services. It is not possible to identify a particular element as being in support of secondary education.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will break down the pupil-teacher ratio given in table 3.12.4 of the public expenditure White Paper between primary and secondary schools.
Pupil-teacher ratios within maintained primary and secondary schools in England each year from 1982 to 1986 are given in the table. These figures differ from the overall pupil-teacher ratios given in table 3.12.4 of the public expenditure White Paper as they include qualified teachers only and exclude teachers employed by LEAs who were not in schools on the census day. Projections for future years are not available. The Government's expenditure plans assume a continuing improvement in the overall pupil-teacher ratio up to 1990 in order to give effect to their policies for the schools. The plans do not consider how this improvement might be reflected in pupil-teacher ratios within the primary and secondary sectors. The Government look to local authorities and schools to take advantage of the improved overall pupil-teacher ratio by employing teaching staff to the greatest benefit of the pupils.
|January each year||Pupil/teacher ratios within schools|
"Outlaws In The Classroom"
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science what complaints he has received under section 46 of the Education (No.2) Act 1986 about the booklet concerning homosexuality entitled "Outlaws in the Classroom" which is being circulated by some teachers in schools in the Leicester area; what action he proposes to take; and if he will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend has today received correspondence from my hon. Friend concerning this booklet. He is giving careful consideration to the points raised and will write to him in due course.
asked the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will reconsider the criteria for closure of secondary schools in rural areas with a view to varying the guidelines on minimum size.
The advice in the draft circular "Providing for Quality" on the desirable minimum sizes of different types of school is not intended to be interpreted as narrowly prescriptive. It makes it clear that, for geographical and other reasons, it might not always be possible to bring all schools up to the recommended sizes. My right hon. Friend is currently considering the draft circular in the light of various comments made on it.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what specific areas of the Central Electricity Generating Board safety case for Sizewell B have yet to be fully accepted for licensing purposes by the Nuclear Installions Inspectorate.
My right hon. Friend informed the House in his statement of 12 March, at columns 475–7, that the NII judges that there are no safety obstacles of substance to the issue of the licence. The NII are now finalising the drafting of the pre-construction safety report with the Central Electricity Generating Board.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy; further to his statement on 12 March, Official Report, columns 475–77, if he intends to publish in full the final pre-construction safety report and the final safety review as soon as they are available, as recommended by Sir Frank Layfield in the Sizewell B inquiry report.
My right hon. Friend accepted this recommendation in principle in his letter of 12 March 1987 to the chairman of the CEGB giving his consent to the station. He urged the CEGB to publish these reports insofar as it can do so within the constraints of commercial sensitivity, as soon as possible after it has submitted them to the NII. My right hon. Friend has placed a copy of his letter in the Library.
Power Station Sites
asked the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he will list by year and location the urban and non-urban power station sites owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board which were sold between 1979 and 1985;(2) if he will list by location the urban and non-urban power station sites owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board which were sold in 1986;
(3) if he will list by location the urban and non-urban power station sites owned by the Central Electricity Generating Board which are currently for sale.
The sale of power station sites in England and Wales is the responsibility of the Central Electricity Generating Board. I have asked the chairman to write to the hon. Member.
Renewable Energy Sources
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what the annual expenditure by his Department for renewable sources of energy has been for the period 1979 to 1986.
Expenditure on my Department's programme for research, development and demonstration into renewable sources of energy during the period 1979 to 1986 including external contributions is set out in the table:
(1) Where available figures include expenditure on waste as a fuel and passive solar under the energy efficiency demonstraton scheme; contributions from external contractors and the European Commission.
(2) Information on spend by contractors is estimated from the contractual link with Department spend in many cases and thus may not he exact. In particular, it may be a few months out in its allocation and therefore spend from one year may have been moved to another year.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what is the estimated advertising and promotional expenditure for energy efficiency and renewable sources of energy by his Department for 1987.
Estimated expenditure for the current financial year is £7,580,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the annual advertising and promotional expenditure for energy efficiency by his Department, British Gas, the Central Electricity Generating Board, the Electricity Council and British Coal for the period 1979 to 1986.
Expenditure by the Department of Energy is as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Energy if he will list the annual advertising and promotional expenditure for nuclear power by his Department, the Central Electricity Generating Board, the Electricity Council, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd., the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Authority and the South of Scotland Electricity Board for the period 1979 to 1986.
Advertising and promotion by the CEGB, the Electricity Council, BNFL and the SSEB fall within the commercial responsibilities of these organisations, and I have asked the chairmen to write to the hon. Member.The Government fund a public information programme about civil nuclear power carried out by the UKAEA. Expenditure in the current year is expected to be about £2·5 million. I refer the hon. Member to my answer to the hon. Member for Meirionnyd Nant Conwy (Mr. Thomas) on 26 June 1986 at column 270, in which I gave details of expenditure in previous years.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what are the current estimated costs in 1986 prices for a commercial demonstration fast breeder reactor.
No commercial demonstration fast reactor has been built in the United Kingdom. The capital cost of such a station would depend upon the design, the time of the order, and other factors.
asked the Secretary of State for Energy what information he has as to how many claims have been made against British Gas for compensation for personal injury or damage to property in the event of gas explosions; and how many were settled in the claimants' favour.
I have asked the chairman of British Gas to write to the hon. Member.
Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what official visitors from Paraguay have been received, by the Government since 1979.
The following Paraguayan Ministers have visited the United Kingdom between 1979 and April 1987 in an official capacity:
- Dr. Ugarte Centurion, Minister for Industry and Commerce, May 1980 and April 1983;
- Dr. Nogues, Foreign Minister, June 1981;
- Dr. Saldivar, Foreign Minister, March 1986.
Diplomatic Missions (Parking Fines)
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish up-to-date figures indicating in numerical order, the number of unpaid parking fines incurred by each diplomatic mission in the last quarter for which figures are available; if he will publish, in alphabetical order by country, the number of unpaid parking fines incurred by each diplomatic mission in the last two years; and if he will make a statement.
The information requested by my hon. Friend is given in the tables. the tables also include those international organisations which have incurred unpaid fines. The figures may be reduced by late payments.The annual total for 1986 (23,237) is only 21 per cent. of the total for 1984 (108,932). We welcome this very significant reduction, and expect it to continue in the future. We shall continue to take firm action against the worst offenders, and will also be writing to those few missions which showed a significant increase in the number of unpaid fines in 1986 over 1985.
|Fixed penalty notices cancelled on grounds of diplomatic immunity (Metropolitan Police District)|
|Antigua and Barbuda||0||0|
|German Democratic Republic||329||242|
|German Federal Republic||132||139|
|Papua New Guinea||6||9|
4th Quarter 1986
|United Arab Emirates||118|
|German Democratic Republic||43|
|German Federal Republic||40|
|United States of America||21|
|Yemen Arab Republic||14|
|Papua New Guinea||2|
|Antigua and Barbuda||0|
Foreign Affairs Council
asked the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in the Official Report a statement on the outcome of the Foreign Affairs Council held on 26–27 April.
I attended the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg on 26 and 27 April.The Council held a first discussion of the Commission's proposals for the future financing of the Community. I stressed that the root of the Community's financial difficulties lay in failure to control agricultural production, and that addressing that problem and improving the control of Community expenditure must therefore be the key elements in the lasting solution which we all want. Further discussion will take place at the May ECOFIN and Foreign Affairs Councils.The Council agreed on a mandate for the Commission to open negotiations with Hungary on a possible agreement on trade and economic cooperation. Negotiations are expected to begin in the near future.
Turkey's application to join the Community was referred by the Council to the Commission for their opinion, following the normal procedure under article 237 of the treaty of Rome.
The Commission reported to the Council on recent discussions with the Japanese Government on the problem of Japan's trade surplus. The Commission will shortly be making formal proposals for urgent action to prevent diversion of trade following the imposition by the United States of duties on Japanese electronic and other goods. The Council will discuss further action in accordance with an agreed timetable at its May, June and July meetings.
The Council approved guidelines for EC aid to Asia and Latin America. It also discussed relations between the Community and Yugoslavia and between the Community and Israel.
In political co-operation, Ministers agreed a statement by the Twelve on the situation in Sri Lanka, the text of which has been placed in the Library of the House.
I also attended, on 27 April, the first meeting of the Co-operation Council under the EC/Algeria cooperation agreement.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what were the numbers of out-patient attendances in National Health Service hospitals in Wales (a) in the years 1970 to 1975, (b) in the years 1975 to 1980 and (c) in the years 1980 to 1985.
The required information is given in the following table:—
|Period1||Total Number of New Outpatient Attendances||Total Number of All Outpatient Attendances|
|1 (six years inclusive).|
asked the Secretary of State for Wales, what were the numbers of inpatients treated in National Health Service hospitals in Wales in (a) the years 1970 to 1975, (b) the years 1975 to 1980 and (c) the years 1980 to 1985.
The required information is given in the following table:—
|Period1||Total Number of In-Patient Discharges and Deaths|
|1 (six years inclusive)|
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what were the numbers of available beds in National Health hospitals in Wales in (a) the years 1970 to 1975, (b) the years 1975 to 1980 and (c) the years 1980 to 1985.
The required information is given in the following table:—
|Period1||Average Daily Number of Available Beds|
|1(six years inclusive)|
National Health Service
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the total expenditure on the National Health Service in Wales in the years (a) 1970 to 1975, (b) 1975 to 1980 and (c) 1980 to 1985, expressed in actual and in real terms.
The following table sets out the information requested for each year since 1974–75.
Total Net Expenditure on tire National Health Service
1 The information requested is not available prior to 1974–75.
2 Actual expenditure revalued to 1985–86 prices using the GDP deflator.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales what was the recurring revenue allocation to the National Health Service in Wales (a) in the years 1970 to 1975, (b) in the years 1975 to 1980 and (c) in the years 1980 to 1985, expressed in actual and in real terms.
The information available is set out in the following table:
|Net Revenue Expenditure on ihe National Health Service|
|Actual Expenditure||2 Real Terms|
|1 The information requested is not available prior to 1974–75.|
|2 Expenditure figures revalued to 1985–86 prices using the GDP deflator.|
asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what was the total cost of providing the renal dialysis unit at Bangor, Gwynedd;(2) how much was his Department's contribution to the renal dialysis unit at Bangor.
The capital cost of providing this unit was met by the company providing the service and the information requested is not held by the Department. The Department pays the charge levied by the company in respect of each dialysis session.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what was the total cost of providing the renal dialysis unit at Carmarthen, Dyfed;(2) how much was his Department's contribution to the renal dialysis unit at Carmarthen.
The capital cost of providing this unit was met by the company providing the service and the information requested is not held by the Department. The Department pays the charge levied by the company in respect of each dialysis session.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what was the total cost of providing the renal dialysis unit at Swansea, West Glamorgan;(2) how much was his Department's contribution to the renal dialysis unit at Swansea.
The total capital cost of providing the renal dialysis unit at Morriston hospital, Swansea was £561,000, all of which was provided by the Department.
Medical Genetics Centre, Cardiff
asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) what was the total cost of providing the medical genetics centre at Cardiff;(2) what was his Department's contribution to the medical genetics centre at Cardiff.
The total capital cost of providing the medical genetics centre at Cardiff is £1,168,000, of which the Welsh Office contribution is £868,000.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales when he proposes to lay the Rate Limitation (Designation of Authorities) (Exemption) (Wales) Order relating to the totals of relevant expenditure included in the Welsh rate support grant reports for 1986–87 and 1987–88.
The passage of the Local Government Finance Act 1987 has clarified the definition of total and relevant expenditure and enables me to make these orders. I propose to lay the first order shortly. The second order will be laid as soon as practicable thereafter. No local authority in Wales is subject to rate limitation in either 1986–87 or 1987–88.
Lucas Factory, Ystradgynlais
asked the Secretary of State for Wales (1) if he will receive a deputation from the Lucas factory at Ystradgynlais in South Wales to discuss the proposed redundancies at the plant; and if he will make a statement;(2) what measures he proposes to take to stimulate new employment in the Ystradgynlais area in the light of the redundancies proposed at the Lucas plant; and if he will make a statement.
No redundancies have been announced at the Lucas Electrical factory at Ystradgynlais. All involved are working actively on possibilities to maintain employment. A meeting would not be appropriate. Mid Wales Development and my own Department are continually working to stimulate new employment in the area. I was particularly pleased to see the recent announcement by Clifford Williams and Son Ltd. of plans to double their work force at Ystradgynlais to 200 by the end of next year.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will provide a breakdown of expenditure to date relating to the costs in Wales of the Chernobyl accident in the following categories (i) farmers' compensation schemes, (ii) additional equipment purchased for monitoring purposes, (iii) additional staff time spent on radiation monitoring and administering the compensation scheme for farmers and (iv) additional staff time spent on informing the public on the Chernobyl accident and its effects.
The available information, at 28 April 1987, is as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many companies in Wales received the Queen's award (a) between 1975 and 1980 and (b) between 1980 and the latest available date; and if he will make a statement.
Welsh Office records show that the numbers of companies with factories in Wales which received the Queen's awards for exporting or technological achievement were as follows:
asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he will take the appropriate steps to investigate the financial operation of the YTS scheme administered by the Development Board for Rural Wales; why the scheme is to be transferred to the Mid Wales training unit; and if he will arrange for an independent audit into the scheme covering the period 1983 to 1987.
[pursuant to his reply, 9 April, c. 375]: Adequate audit arrangements already exist and I know of no reason for further financial investigation of the scheme. Any transfer to a new management would require the approval of the Manpower Services Commission, which has received no request for such approval.
asked the Secretary of State for Wales how many new council houses were built in the financial year 1978–79 in (a) Wales and (b) Neath, respectively; and what was the corresponding position in the financial year 1986–87.
[pursuant to his reply, 27 April]: The numbers of local authority dwellings completed in Wales in 1978–79 and 1986–87, (including completions by new town corporations), were 3,869 and 828 respectively. The corresponding figures for Neath are 137 and 28.
asked the Prime Minister if she raised the subject of unitary taxation at her meeting with the Governor of California on Thursday 9 April; and if she will make a statement.
The matter was discussed. I welcomed the progress which California had made, but said that we hoped the further steps needed to meet our concern would also be taken.
asked the Prime Minister what steps are taken to ensure that Ministers have sufficient contact with the Data Protection Registrar during the design stage of major Government computer projects which process large volumes of personal data.
|Civil Servants in Great Britain|
|1 January dates||Full-time||1Part-time||Total Civil Service as a percentage of|
|2(i) the employed labour force||3(ii) working population|
|1 Part-time staff are shown as whole units and are treated as such in the calculation of the column of percentages. The more usual practice for Civil Service manpower counts and targets is to treat them as half units.|
|2 Figures for the employed labour force include employees, the self-employed and members of Her Majesty's Forces but exclude the unemployed. For all years Department of Employment estimates for the previous mid-December dates have been used.|
|3 Figures for the working population represent the employed labour force plus the unemployed. Estimates for the previous mid-December dates have been used.|
Machinery of Government changes affect the comparability of figures throughout the period shown. Details are given in the 1986 and earlier editions of Civil Service Statistics, copies of which are available in the House of Commons Library.
Sources: Her Majesty's Treasury's Records; Department of Employment.
asked the Prime Minister what has been the outcome of the examination of statements made by certain persons alleged to have been involved in war crimes following their arrival in the United Kingdom and subsequently when applying for citizenship.
Last month, my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary invited the Simon Wiesenthal Centre to supply the evidence on which its list of alleged war criminals was based. Until this evidence is available to us,
Under section 38 of the Data Protection Act 1984, each Government Department is treated as separate from any other Government Department. It is accordingly for individual Ministers to decide how much contact they need to make with the Data Protection Registrar at the design stage of major computer projects for their department. The Data Protection Registrar welcomes close contacts with Departments in these matters at an early stage.
asked the Prime Minister if she will publish in the Official Report the total numbers of full and part-time civil servants employed in each year since 1970 up to the most recent date for which figures are available, indicating in percentage terms the proportion that each figure represents of the total working population; and if she will make a statement.
The figures are as in the following table:it will not be possible to tell whether it calls into question the truth of the statements to which the right hon. Member refers.
Northern Ireland (Terrorism)
asked the Prime Minister what policy steps she intends to take to counteract the increasing violence and deaths caused by republican terrorism in Northern Ireland since 1 January; and if she will make a statement.
My right hon. Friend has already reviewed the present security situation with his advisers, including the Chief Constable and the General Officer Commanding and is urgently considering what further measures and resources may be necessary to reinforce the campaign against terrorism in Northern Ireland.
asked the Paymaster General what are the latest figures for the number of people who have had their claims for unemployment benefit suspended since the availability for work tests were introduced in (a) South Humberside, (b) Lincolnshire and (c) each unemployment office in these two areas.
Under long-standing legal rules adopted by successive Governments, it has always been the practice that, wherever a doubt arises as to whether a benefit claimant is available for work, payments are suspended until the independent statutory adjudicating authorities decide entitlement. Those rules have not been changed in recent years.
asked the Paymaster General if he will set out the number of applicants waiting for each of the courses offered at the Deptford skillcentre at the most recent convenient date, together with the estimated waiting period in each case.
The waiting period for skillcentre courses can vary depending on the length of the course, which can range from two to 52 weeks, and on whether it recruits as vacancies become available or by block entry, for example to meet particular examination dates set by external bodies. The latest available information for courses running at Deptford skillcentre in 1987–88 is as follows:
|Class||Number on waiting list at 24 April||Estimated waiting period (months)|
|Commercial Technology (Intermediate)||7||2|
|Painting and Decorating||50||12|
|Screen Process Printing||26||7|
|Work Related Skills (Commercial)||47||4|
|Work Related Skills (Manual)||16||4|
|1 This course requires a block entry of 12 trainees, so the waiting period cannot be estimated.|
asked the Paymaster General whether he will publish in the Official Report the number of employees covered by each column in tables 18.7 to 18.11 of the Monthly Digest of Statistics.
For industries within manufacturing industry at September 1986, the available information on the number of manual employees corresponding to tables 18.7 to 18.9 of the "Monthly Digest of Statistics" is shown in Table 1.10 of Employment Gazette, December 1986, a copy of which is in the Library.Employment estimates for the nearest comparable industry groupings to those shown for the average earnings index in tables 18.10 and 18.11 of the "Monthly Digest of Statistics", at December 1986, are as follows:
|Employees in Employment in Great Britain December 1986|
|Division, Class or Group of SIC (80)||Number of employees in employment (thousands)|
|71–72, 75–77, 79||1,313|
|81–82, 83, 84||2,046|
Unemployed Resource Centres
asked the Paymaster General if he will place copies of the Manpower Services Commission internal memorandum concerning the withdrawal of funds from the unemployed resource centres in the Library; and if he will make a statement.
The Manpower Services Commission has no internal memorandum on the withdrawal of funding from centres for the unemployed. All applications for the renewal of community programme projects, including those from centres for the unemployed, must meet normal community programme criteria.
asked the Paymaster General if he will list the contracts, with the subject of the assignment, awarded to management consultancy or accounting firms by his Department in 1986, with the name of the consultants concerned.
I refer my hon. Friend to the reply given to my hon. Friend the Member for Beaconsfield (Mr. Smith) on 18 February at column 611.
Job Training Scheme
asked the Paymaster General, pursuant to his answer of 10 April, Official Report, column 434, when he expects to be able to provide the relevant information on the job training scheme; and if he will consider publishing it in the Official Report.
The Manpower Services Commission expects its area offices to have signed contracts with all new job training scheme managing agents by the end of May. Full details should be available at its head office by mid-June.I will write to the hon. Member as soon as these details are available and place a copy of my letter in the Library.
Trade And Industry
Textile And Clothing Industries
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next plans to meet the Trades Union Congress textile committee to discuss the future of the textile and clothing industries.
I refer the hon. Member to my reply to a similar question of his on 10 December last. I have no plans at present to meet the Trades Union Congress textile committee.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the number of computers paid for by his Department in schools.
Yes, Sir. My Department has made excellent progress towards the Government's objective of introducing and encouraging the use of computers in schools.Since 1981, my Department's help towards the purchase of computers and related equipment by schools has included: Three Microcomputer in Schools schemes (June 1981-December 1984) whereby a total of £15·1 million was spent on providing 6,514 secondary schools and 27,407 primary schools with a half-price micro system plus monitor; in March of this year, a grant of £3·5 million allocated to local education authorities and the independent sector, which resulted in the purchase of over 2,000 computers in addition to other peripheral IT equipment. Assistance to enhance the capabilities of existing computers has included: the Support for Educational Software scheme with £3·5 million funding over three years (1985–86 to 1987–88) which encourages the purchase of additional software; and in March 1986 the Modems in Schools scheme, under which every middle and secondary school received a free modem to give them access to national databases.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on Government support for Airbus.
Discussions with British Aerospace about its combined application for launch aid in respect of the Airbus A330 and A340 projects are continuing. We aim to reach a decision as soon as possible and an announcement to the House will be made thereafter.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he has taken on information so Far received from the inspectors appointed by him to inquire into insider dealing at the Department of Trade and Industry.
I have received no information from the inspectors which calls for action on my part.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what evidence is available to him that other steel producers in the European Economic Community are receiving state subsidies for steel production.
None. Almost all forms of state aid for steel have been banned since 1 January 1986 by unanimous decision of the Council of Ministers, and with my encouragement the Commission has been keeping a vigilant watch since then.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has any plans to review the current criteria for regional aid; and if he will make a statement.
I have no such plans.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress he has achieved in securing wider access for British exports to the Japanese market.
In the year ending February 1987, the United Kingdom visible trade deficit with Japan was £3.8 billion. Some progress has been made. I am glad to say that in 1986 United Kingdom visible exports to Japan increased by 18 per cent. to £1.2 billion.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the value, for the most recent 12 months, of motor car exports to Japan; and what is the comparable figure for imports from that country.
Motor car exports to Japan for the 12 months ending February this year amounted to £24 million; for the same period imports were £817 million.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (1) if he will introduce forthwith an increase of 40 per cent. in the duty of Japanese leather imports to the United Kingdom;(2) what action he intends to take in relation to the situation regarding Japanese leather exports to the United Kingdom being subject to duties not exceeding 7 per cent. compared with a tariff of 60 per cent. placed on almost all leather exports to Japan.
Tariffs are a matter for the Community as a whole. The Government continue to seek better market access abroad for British exports rather than to reduce imports. With our Community partners we have made clear to the Japanese Government our concern about excessive protection by Japan of its leather industry. We look to Japan to make early and substantial improvements in existing arrangements, to the benefit of British and other Community exporters.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry to what factors he attributes the decline in the United Kingdom's share of manufactured exports and the trend of the United Kingdom's export performance in comparison with other European manufacturing nations.
Our share of world exports of manufactured goods reflects a variety of factors including both price and non-price competitiveness and the geographical and commodity composition of our exports. United Kingdom exports of manufactures were again at record levels last year since 1981 the United Kingdom volume share of main manufacturing countries' exports of manufactures has been maintained, halting years of decline.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next intends to meet the Confederation of British Industry to discuss the trade deficit in manufactured goods.
My right hon. Friend meets the CBI regularly at the National Economic Development Council and on other occasions. At present he has no plans for a special meeting on this subject.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will indicate the nature and size of the current deficit in the balance of trade in manufactured goods.
In the first two months of 1987, there was a deficit in trade in manufactures of £0·5 billion.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the value of imported children's nightwear; how many tests for flammability were carried out on such garments in the last year for which statistics are available; and if he will make a statement.
The total value of imported nightwear in 1986 was £37·3 million. Children's nightwear is not separately identified in the overseas trade statistics.The 1967 regulations, which remained in force until 28 February 1987, required only children's nightdresses to pass a fammability test. No information is available on the number of tests carried out by suppliers for assessing the flammability of the material or by local authority trading standards departments for enforcing the regulations.
Cars (Local Content)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he is satisfied with the level of local content and United Kingdom sourcing by multinational car manufacturers based in the United Kingdom.
There is clear evidence of welcome improvements, both actual and planned, in the levels of local content and local sourcing achieved by the multinational car producers, but the Government always want to see them do more.
United States Of America
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what the balance of trade with the United States of America was in 1986.
In 1986, our exports to the United States were worth £10 billion, compared with imports of £8 billion. There was thus a crude balance in our favour of some £2 billion.
Research And Development
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next intends to meet the National Economic and Development Council to discuss research and development funding.
My right hon. Friend attended the meeting of the National Economic Development Council on 1 April at which industrial innovation, including funding for research and development, was discussed.I expect that the council will discuss this subject at future meetings in view of its importance for the improvement of industrial competitiveness.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations he has received with regard to advanced manufacturing technology; and if he will make a statement.
My Department receives advice on a continuing basis from the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Committee, which also has responsibilities towards the Science and Engineering Research Council. The committee has recently provided advice on a number of topics. These included the IT86 report on information technology and the Department's priorities for expenditure on science and technology in the field of manufacturing. The Department's officials also have a continuing dialogue on advance manufacturing technology with a wide range of organisations, including institutions and industrial companies.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement about the prospects for the merchant shipbuilding industry.
The market for merchant shipbuildings remains highly competitive but the success of British Shipbuilders in China, which will be most welcome to the hon. Member's constituents, shows that we mean what we say about giving all the support we can in the battle for new orders.
National Quality Campaign
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the progress of the national quality campaign.
Since its launch in April in 1983, the campaign has reached over 50,000 firms. There are now around 9,000 entries in the latest edition of the "Register of Quality Assessed United Kingdom Companies". It is clear that more and more firms are adopting a companywide approach to quality which is vital to their competitiveness. The progress must be maintained, however, and the commitment of all sectors of industry and commerce to quality in the goods and services they provide is essential. The campaign is being extended, for example, on a regional basis and a quality activity programme is planned for the slough area later in the year.
European Technical And Research Collaboration
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on European technical and research collaboration.
I believe that European technical and research collaboration can play an important role in improving the technological base and competitive position of United Kingdom industry.My Department therefore supports specific collaborative activities where there is clear added value to United Kingdom industry in doing so. This is demonstrated by the importance we attach to, for example, the European Space Agency, ESPRIT and EUREKA.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is his latest estimate of the fall in the real value of manufacturing investment in the north since 1979.
When the world recession hit a sector suffering from poor competitiveness, resulting from years of high inflation, low productivity growth and poor rates of return on investment, there was a sharp fall in manufacturing investment, which continued up to 1982. Since that date, with industry becoming more competitive and better adapted to the demands of a modern economy, investment in the north has steadily increased. Excluding leased assets, for which no regional data are available, manufacturing investment in the north fell from £613 million in 1979 to £256 million in 1982 and rose to £403 million in 1985 at 1979 prices.
General Agreement On Tariffs And Trade
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on progress in the current general agreement on tariffs and trade round.
The Uruguay round is scheduled to take four years from its launch last September. The various negotiating groups have completed their initial series of meetings and further work will be done during 1987 on defining problems and proposing solutions to them. Negotiations on detailed proposals will begin in 1988.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans the Government have to increase investment in manufacturing industry this year; and if he will make a statement.
Investment decisions are for industry. The best stimulants are confidence in the future and the prospects of good profits. Our sound economic policies, which have brought sustained growth in the economy, improved profitability and low inflation, are the best guarantees of favourable conditions for further investment.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he next intends to meet the Trades Union Congress to discuss investment in manufacturing industry.
My right hon. Friend meets the TUC regularly at the National Economic Development Council, where matters relevant to improving industrial performance are discussed. I have no plans for a separate meeting on the subject, but I met the steel committee representatives on Thursday 26 February.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the most recent figure for output in manufacturing industry; and how this compares with the figure for the same month 13 years ago.
The hon. Member will appreciate that monthly data can be erratic. However, since the trough of the recession in 1981, manufacturing output has increased by over 15 per cent. to reach a level of 107·6 in February 1987, based on 1980 equal to 100. This was about 1½ per cent. lower than the level of output in February 1974.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the current level of investment in manufacturing industry.
Investment in manufacturing industry was nearly 20 per cent. higher in 1986 than in 1983. The underlying determinants of manufacturing investment.—sustained growth in the economy, improved profitability and a low rate of inflation—are very favourable, and forecasters expect a further significant increase in manufacturing investment in 1987.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the effects on the United Kingdom economy of trade protectionism.
Protectionism is a short-range and essentially short-term response to economic and international trade developments and it undermines the open world trade system created by GATT rules. It must be distinguished from protection, which can be legitimate and operated fairly. Governments have social, economic and political priorities which require the protection of some types of economic activity, and this is recognised by GATT. Protectionism raises prices, reduces choice and encourages an inefficient allocation of resources. Were it to proliferate, it could weaken world trade and damage prospects for world economic growth, including the growth of the United Kingdom economy.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many prosecutions have been undertaken since 1979 under part VI of the Companies Act for the organisation of a concert party.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry how many prosecutions have been undertaken since 1979 under part VI of the Companies Act for the organisation of a concert party.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the latest prospects for Anglo-Soviet trade.
During her visit to Moscow, the Prime Minister agreed with Soviet Prime Minister Ryzhkov to work together to achieve by 1990 a volume of 2·5 billion roubles in our bilateral trade, which would mean a 40 per cent. increase in rouble terms. A good start has been made towards this target, with contracts and letters of intent worth nearly £400 million signed during or since the visit. Officials of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Trade are in London this week for discussions about the development of our trade. Despite the low oil price, which limits the Soviet Union's purchasing power, I believe there is now a good prospect of considerable growth in two-way trade over the next few years.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what action he is taking to ensure that any renewal of the quota system for the steel industry within the European Economic Community will be followed by the provision of the same level of national and official support for the industry in the United Kingdom as in the other member states.
Whether or not the production quota system is renewed, it is essential that the Commission vigorously enforces the strict code banning almost all state aids for the steel industry which was introduced on 1 January 1986 with the unanimous support of the Council of Ministers. The British steel industry does of course have my full support.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the value of total exports won with the assistance of aid and trade provision since 1979.
Since 1 January 1979, orders for £2·1 billion-worth of United Kingdom exports have been won with the assistance of £460 million under the aid and trade provision.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry when he last met the president of the Confederation of British Industry to discuss the prospects for British industry.
I met the president of the Confederation of British Industry at a meeting of the National Economic Development Council on 1 April, where a number of matters related to the prospects for British industry were discussed.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received any representations from the inspectors appointed by him to inquire into the affairs of Guinness requesting more resources.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he has received any representations from the inspectors appointed by him to inquire into the affairs of Guinness requesting more resources.
No. In accordance with usual practice in company investigations, the inspectors are using support staff from the accountant inspector's firm. There are no contraints on resources in the investigation, either in terms of money or manpower.
Efficiency And Productivity
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if he will make a statement on the United Kingdom's present position in the efficiency and productivity leagues of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development countries.
The United Kingdom's productivity growth in manufacturing industry has been the fastest of all major OECD countries since 1979 and the prospects for further growth are excellent. This compares with the period 1973 to 1979 when the United Kingdom was at the bottom of the productivity growth league.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what progress he has made in pursuit of collaborative and marketing arrangements for British telecommunications equipment manufacturers.
The initiatives for such commercial arrangements must lie with companies. The role for Government is in support of their efforts. To this end my hon. Friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State has met many of his European counterparts. I am encouraged by the number of companies successfully developing arrangements of this kind.
South Korea (Scotch Whisky)
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he proposes to take to secure the removal of trade barriers against the sale of bottled-in-Scotland Scotch whisky throughout South Korea.
We will continue to press the Korean Government, bilaterally and with our European partners, for the early removal of restrictions on imports of bottled-in-Scotland Scotch whisky.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what steps he takes to ensure that policies to encourage inward investment are carried out in co-ordination with the policies on promoting United Kingdom industries at home and abroad.
Successive Governments have encouraged inward investment for the benefits it brings to the economy. Applications for selective assistance for inward investment projects are assessed against the same criteria as domestic projects. One important factor in this assessment is the impact which the new investment will have on firms already established in the same sector.
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry who many jobs were created by inward investment into the United Kingdom in 1986.
The Invest in Britain Bureau recorded 322 investment decisions taken by overseas companies during 1986. From the information provided by the companies themselves, these decisions are expected to create more than 16,500 new jobs and safeguard over 9,500 others. Further information is available from the Invest in Britain Bureau's annual report, copies of which I will place in the Library of the House.
Western Infirmary, Glasgow (Renal Unit)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the representations he has received from the western district Greater Glasgow health board local health council over the renal unit at the Western infirmary, Glasgow, about which the hon. Member for Glasgow, Maryhill wrote to him on 31 March.
My right hon. and learned Friend has received no representations from the greater Glasgow west local health council on this matter. The local health council has made a submission to a panel of inquiry set by the greater Glasgow health board and, as my noble Friend the Minister of State explained in his reply of 23 April to the hon. Member's letter, it would not be appropriate for Ministers to comment on that submission.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland when he intends to publish a further bulletin with the results of the official monitoring for environmental radioactivity in Scotland.
Scottish Development Department statistical bulletin Number 1(e) 1987 ("Environmental Monitoring for Radioactivity in Scotland: 1981–1985") was published today and copies have been placed in the Library.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will now undertake a review of the present requirements for applications for new shotgun certificates.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report the statistics for each police authority in Scotland for each year since 1979 showing the number of assaults reported when the victim of the crime was over retirement age in absolute numbers and expressed as per thousand head of population in the police authority area, together with the percentage clear-up rate of these crimes in each area.
This information is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make it his policy to furnish information, similar to that available to the Department of Health and Social Security in England and Wales, concerning the total expenditures by each health board on agency nursing to fill staff shortages.
The numbers of agency nurses employed by the Health Service in Scotland are very small. Over the quarter to 30 September 1986, the total hours worked by agency nurses equated to 145 whole-time equivalent staff, this being about 0·4 per cent. of total qualified nursing staff. In view of these numbers, the considerable effort to collect the expenditure information requested cannot be justified.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland how many forestry grant scheme applications are currently being considered which affect land within Caithness and Sutherland; and if he will list them and the hectarage involved.
The Forestry Commission is currently considering 28 such applications, as follows:
|Name of Properly||Area (Hectares)|
|Forestry Grant Scheme|
|Cnoc Moine Na Caillin||284·4|
|Limekiln and Whitewell||1,431·5|
|Cnoc Na Main||149·8|
|Kirkton Farm (Eglaise Muir)||194·4|
|Broadleaved Woodland Grant Scheme|
|Migdale Mill Farm||1·6|
|Strathmore Lodge Woods||0·7|
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what was the total area of land which was referred to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland by the Forestry Commission under forestry grant consultation procedures during the years ended 31 March 1986 and 31 March 1987; and if he will list in the Official Report by the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area offices, the area of land in relation to which the Department advised it was (a) acceptable to award forestry grant and (b) inappropriate to offer grant on agricultural grounds.
During the period 1 April 1986 to 31 March 1987, a total of 49,895 hectares of land was referred to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland by the Forestry Commission under the procedures for consultation on forestry grant scheme applications. The detailed information requested is as follows:
|Area Ofice||Area Referred (in hectares)||Area Cleared (in hectares)||Area Not Cleared (in hectares)|
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list in the Official Report the total areas of land which the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland advised the Forestry Commission were acceptable for award of forestry grant aid in each of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland area offices in each of the LCA classes 4, 5 and 6 in the year commencing 1 April 1986.
I regret that this information could be provided only at disproportionate cost.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will instruct the Foresty Commission (a) formally to acknowledge and respond to all comments or objections from statutory consultees over applications for forestry grant aid, and (b) inform statutory consultees of the outcome of all applications it has commented upon; and if he will make a statement.
In order to keep down administrative costs, it is the Forestry Commission's normal practice only to acknowledge or respond to comments or objections from statutory authorities consulted over forestry grant applications when there are issues which need to be resolved in discussion with the authorities concerned. The commission always informs authorities of the outcome of the application in such circumstances, as it does in other cases if requested to do so. I do not see any need to instruct the commission to change this fair and reasonable procedure.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has now completed his consideration of the implications for Scotland of the European Court of Human Rights' judgment in the case of Robert Weekes and the English High Court judgment in the case of Brian Handscomb; and what changes in parole policy he now intends to implement.
The Divisional Court judgment in the case of Handscomb and others was critical of certain aspects of the arrangements in England and Wales for setting the date of the first formal review by the parole board machinery for those cases in which a life senntence is not mandatory. The arrangements which operate in Scotland are rather different and do not appear to be open to the same criticism. I shall, however, consider what implications the judgment may have for our system, in the light of the conclusions on which my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has announced that he will make a statement shortly.My right hon.Friend the Home Secretary has also announced today his decision in the case of Mr. Robert Malcolm Weekes, who was also subject to a discretionary life sentence. I shall be considering further with my right hon. Friend the implications of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in this case for our domestic law, and shall review Scottish practice in the light of this judgment, which does not refer to life sentence prisoners in general.
Health Service (Contracts)
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give details of all contracts which have been put out to public tender since 1983 in the Health Service, together with any resulting savings.
Details provided by Scottish health boards and the Common Service Agency of contracts which have been put out to public tender since 1983 to end 1986 and estimates of resulting savings where these could be calculated are given in the table below:
|Health Board/CSA||Total number of contracts let||Savings over previous costs £000's|
|Ayrshire and Arran||8||61|
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland in what circumstances he will prevent a local transport authority from imposing a speed limit when the proposal meets his own environmental and accident criteria.
My right hon. and learned Friend never refuses consent for a speed limit if he is satisfied that the relevant criteria are fully met.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what weight he attaches to the recommendations of the relevant chief constable that a speed limit should be imposed upon a particular stretch of road.
The chief constable's view is one of several factors which are taken into account when determining whether consent should be given to the imposition of a speed limit.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether reports have been received from Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland on Barlinnie prison, Barlinnie special unit and social work units in Scottish prisons; and if he will make a statement.
I have received reports by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons for Scotland on his inspections of Barlinnie prison, Barlinnie special unit and social work units in Scottish prisons. I have today placed copies of the reports in the Library, together with my responses, and I am sending a copy to the Member in whose constituency the establishments are located; to the Chairman of the Select Committee on Scottish Affairs and the Chairman of the Scottish All-Party Penal Affairs Group and to other interested bodies. Copies may also be purchased from my Department.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what research proposals his Department has received for studies into the relationship between drug abuse and AIDS and HIV infection in Edinburgh and Lothian region, and into the transmission of HIV infection to babies; and what response his Department has made to those proposals to date.
The Scottish Home and Health Department has received, and is at present funding, five research projects costing in total £160,000 relevant to the relationship between drug abuse and AIDS and HIV infection. The Department has received one application relating to the transmission of HIV infection to babies for which funding was not recommended by the Chief Scientist's biomedical research committee on the grounds of scientific merit.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he has taken to ensure that staff of his Department are warned about those homosexual and other activities which are deemed to involve a high risk of AIDS infection.
[pursuant to his reply, 30 March 1987, c. 383]: In June 1986 the staff of my Department were issued with comprehensive guidance on AIDS which was based on material provided to all departments by the Management and Personnel Office and the Civil Service Occupational Health Service. Further guidance, based on the Department of Employment-Health and Safety Executive booklet "AIDS and Employment", is currently being prepared for issue to staff.
asked the Secretary of State for Scotland whether any current or former staff of his Department have been found to have developed AIDS or antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus.
[pursuant to his reply, 30 March 1987, c. 383]: I refer my hon. Friend to the answer given by my hon. Friend the Minister for Health on Wednesday 22 April.
ask ed the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he has any plans to arrange for staff of his Department to be screened for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus.
[pursuant to his reply, 30 March 1987, c. 383]: No.
Agriculture, Fisheries And Food
asked the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many applications by landlords for repossession under the terms of the Rent (Agriculture) Act 1976, of an agricultural tied cottage there have been since the Act came into force; and how many alleged offences under section 28(11) and 28(14) of that Act there have been, together with details of the number of prosecutions subsequently brought, and the average fine imposed.
I shall reply to the hon. Member as soon as possible.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) if there are any plans for the inmate of Wandsworth prison now receiving dialysis treatment to be given a kidney transplant;(2) for how long the present private dialysis treatment now being given to an inmate of Wandsworth prison is planned to last;(3) how many prison officers escort the inmate from Wandsworth prison for dialysis treatment; how many hours are involved in this work per week; and what is the total cost:(4) who gave permission for an inmate at Wandsworth prison to receive private dialysis treatment; what is the weekly cost of this treatment; and who is responsible for paying it.
I shall reply as soon as possible.
Association Of Chief Police Officers (Legislative Guidelines)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what guidelines have been issued by the Association of Chief Police Officers on the Public Order Act and the Police and Criminal Evidence Act; and if he will arrange for copies to be placed in the Library.
I am not aware of any guidelines issued on these Acts by the Association of Chief Police Officers, although the association has produced forms for use in connection with procedures required by the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984. Guidance on the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 has been issued by the Home Office in circulars 88/1985 (which has the ALPO forms as an appendix) and circular 89/1985; and on the Public Order Act 1986 in circulars 77/1986 and 11/1987. Copies are in the Library.
Police Officers (Lost Hours)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will estimate for each of the last 10 years the numbers of police hours lost by officers (a) attending criminal courts on days when the cases did not call in court, (b) when the accused person changed his or her plea or (c) when the prosecution deserted the case.
I regret that the information from which any such estimates might be made is not available.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what recent representations he has received about Her Majesty's Government's crime prevention initiatives; and if he will make a statement.
We receive a steady flow of correspondence about our crime prevention initiatives, which demonstrates a high level of public interest. My hon. Friend's letter of 13 April is one example. That letter proposed the early promulgation of results of our local crime prevention project in Bolton and that the lessons learnt should be put into practice promptly. I welcome my hon. Friend's continued support for this project and shall write to him shortly.
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether he has now completed his consideration of the judgments of the High Court in the case of Brian Handscomb and the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Robert Weekes; and what changes in parole policy he now intends to implement.
The Divisional court judgment in the case of Handscomb and others, delivered on 2 March, upheld the lawfulness of the policy for the release of life sentence prisoners announced in reply to a question by the hon. Member for Hampshire, East (Mr. Mates) on 30 November 1983. Indeed, it described that policy as unassailable. The judgment was, however, critical of certain aspects of the application of that policy in relation to the setting of the date of the first formal review by the Parole Board machinery of those cases in which a life sentence is imposed at the discretion of the trial judge, that is, for offences other than murder (for which the life sentence is mandatory). I am discussing with the Lord Chief Justice the arrangements necessary to take account of the judgment and I shall make a full statement shortly. The case of one of the applicants, Mr. Brian Handscomb, is now being reviewed by the Parole Board machinery in accordance with the relief offered to him by the Divisional court.Robert Malcolm Weekes was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966, at the age of 17, having pleaded guilty to a number of offences, including armed robbery. This offence was committed in a pet shop, using a starting pistol loaded with blank cartridges. He stole the equivalent of 35p, which he dropped as he left. The trial judge said that he regarded Mr. Weekes as a very dangerous young man and explained that he regarded a wholly indeterminate sentence as appropriate so that the Secretary of State could release him when he had become responsible. The sentence was upheld by the Court of Appeal.Mr. Weekes was released from prison in March 1976 and recalled in June 1977, having behaved in such a way as to suggest that he represented a potential danger to others and to himself. He was released again in October 1982 and further detained in April 1985, because he had been out of touch with the probation officer supervising him under the terms of his life licence. He was released in September 1985.Mr. Weekes' application to the European Commission of Human Rights related to his recall to prison in 1977 and his continued detention. He alleged a breach of article 5, paragraph 1, of the European convention on human rights, which provides that no one shall be deprived of his liberty save in prescribed circumstances, such as lawful detention after conviction by a competent court, and in accordance with a procedure prescribed by law. He also alleged a breach of article 5, paragraph 4, which provides that everyone who is deprived of his liberty by arrest or detention shall be entitled to take proceedings by which the lawfulness of his detention shall be decided speedily by a court and his release ordered if the detention is not lawful. The Commission, having reported on the case in December 1984, referred it to the European Court of Human Rights. The court delivered judgment on 2 March and found that there had been no breach of article 5, paragraph 1, and that Mr. Weekes' detention had been lawful. However, the court found that there had been a breach of article 5, paragraph 4, in the circumstances of Mr. Weekes' case.The court's judgment accepts that, for the purposes of article 5, paragraphs I and 4 of the convention, where a life sentence is imposed because of the gravity of the offence, supervision of the lawfulness of detention, including any subsequent decision to recall the prisoner following release on licence, is incorporated at the outset in the original trial and appeal. On the other hand, it suggests that different considerations may apply where it is apparent that a life sentence has been passed, not so much as punishment, but primarily so that the indeterminate sentence enables the offender's progress to be monitored so that he can be released when it is safe to do so. This distinction is not recognised in our law, and the court itself observed that it may be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to disentangle elements underlying a particular sentence and to determine which of those elements was accorded more importance by the sentencing judge.However, the court found that
"the clearly stated purpose for which Mr Weekes' sentence was imposed, taken together with the particular facts pertaining to the offence for which he was convicted … places the sentence in a special category":
one in which the lawfulness both of the continuing detention and the recall of the prisoner following release on licence must be subject to review by a body with the powers of a court. The court found that the current review procedures of the Parole Board did not fulfil the necessary requirements of the convention in that respect.
I agree with the court's view that the circumstances of the offence of which Mr. Weekes was convicted make his a highly exceptional case. We have no domestic review procedure which fulfils what the court decided were the requirements of article 5, paragraph 4, in his case. Moreover, I am satisfied that there is no evidence that Mr. Weekes now represents a danger to the public such as was the concern of the trial judge over 20 years ago. In these quite exceptional circumstances I have decided that it would be right to recommend Her Majesty to remit the remainder of Mr. Weekes' life sentence. This will have the effect that he will no longer be liable to supervision or recall to custody.
We shall consider the implications of the relevant provisions of the convention for domestic law and practice in the light of this judgment, which does not, however, apply to life sentence prisoners in general. The "Special Category" into which the European Court concluded that the case of Mr. Weekes fell is in any view strictly limited.
Waltham Forest (Meeting)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will call for a report from the Metropolitan Police Commissioner on the meeting held outside Waltham Forest town hall on the evening of 9 April, in particular as to whether any charges have been brought in relation to any of the speeches on the grounds that they allegedly transgressed the law on racial abuse, constituted incitement to racial harassment or incitement to violence.
I understand from the Commissioner that this was a peaceful meeting attended by over 5,000 people and that no one present has been charged.
Police Station, Oakham
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department whether his Department has now received the letter dated 1 April from Mr. Robert Angrave, chairman of the Leicestershire police committee, regarding the provision of a new police station in Oakham; and what response he intends to make to it.
In reply to his letter of 1 April, we informed the chairman of the Leicestershire police committee that, as I told my hon. Friend on 5 March, at column 1021, we hope to be able to give approval next year for work on the new Oakham police station to start in 1991–92.
Metropolitan Police (First Aid)
asked the Secretary of State for the Home Department what arrangements are being made for future first aid training for police officers within the Metropolitan police area; and if he will make a statement.
I understand from the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis that all officers obtain the St. John Ambulance certificate during their initial training. Uniformed sergeants and constables then have a two-day course every three years until they have completed 22 years service. Officers working on some specialist duties receive additional training. There are no plans at present to extend this, but first-aid training is kept constantly under review.