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Written Answers

Volume 124: debated on Tuesday 8 December 1987

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Written Answers To Questions

Tuesday 8 December 1987

Wales

Children (Intensive Care)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list, by each health district in Wales, the amount spent on intensive care for children in 1979 and in the latest year for which figures are available.

Abortions

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list, by each Welsh district health authority, the cost of abortions in money and as a percentage of all Health Service expenditure, in the latest year for which figures are available.

Primary Schools (Bus Transport)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if any grants are available from his Department for bus transport to Welsh primary schools in Wales where the main language of teaching is Welsh.

No, but local education authorities have powers to provide school transport free of charge where they consider it necessary. Expenditure on such transport is eligible for rate support grant.

Cleddau Bridge (Tolls)

asked the Secretary of State for Wales if he has any proposals to abolish the Cleddau bridge tolls; and if he will make a statement.

This is a matter for Dyfed county council which is the owner and operator of the bridge.

Prime Minister

Stourton Coundle

Q33.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will pay an official visit to Stourton Coundle.

Enniskillen

Q50.

To ask the Prime Minister whether she will make a statement following her visit to Enniskillen.

I found the Remembrance service which I attended in Enniskillen on 22 November a most moving occasion. I have been deeply impressed by the brave and noble response of the people of Enniskillen to the horrific murder of 11 people on Remembrance Sunday.This Government will never concede to those who seek to pursue their aims through violence. We shall continue to give all possible support to the security forces and to the law abiding people of the Province in resisting terrorism. We shall also strengthen co-operation on security with the Government of the Irish Republic, as agreed at my recent meeting with the Taoiseach.

Godshill

Q88.

To ask the Prime Minister when she next intends to make an official visit to Godshill in the Isle of Wight.

Engagements

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 8 December.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 8 December.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Tuesday 8 December.

This morning I had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House I shall be having further meetings later today, including one with the Polish Foreign Minister.

Trade And Industry

Insurance Companies

To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) what measures he has of the effectiveness of the monitoring by his Department of the London Life Association Ltd. life assurance company; and whether his Department has received any report on the internal management reporting and internal control systems operated by that company;(2) if his Department receives, as part of its work on monitoring the financial and trading position of life and other insurance companies, regular reports from independent accountants on the adequacy of the management information systems and internal control systems in those companies; and if he will make a statement.

My Department monitors the financial and trading position of non-life insurance companies mainly by examining the returns which insurance companies submit each year. In the case of life insurance companies, examination of the returns is carried out on behalf of my Department by the Government Actuary's Department.Regulations require that there shall be annexed to each return a certificate by directors of the company which, unless such a statement cannot truthfully be made, must state

"that for the purposes of preparing the return—
  • (i) proper accounts and records have been maintained and adequate information has been obtained by the company, and
  • (ii) an appropriate system of control has been established and maintained by the company over its transactions and records".
  • It is also a requirement that there shall be annexed to the return a report by an auditor, who must be independent and qualified, stating, inter alia,

    "in the auditors' opinion and according to the information and explanations they have received … whether it was reasonable for the persons giving the certificate to have made the statements therein."

    The most recent return for London Life Association Ltd. relates to the year ended 31 December 1986, and both the directors' certificate and auditor's report are in standard form.

    I am satisfied that the monitoring by my Department and the Government Actuary's Department of London Life Association Ltd. has been effective. Officials contacted the company in 1986 because of concern about its financial position and reviewed with the company the remedial action it was then taking. At the beginning of November this year, the company was asked for an update on its financial position and in particular about the impact of the stock market falls and my Department has been kept informed of the further remedial action initiated by the company, and continues to be in close touch with the company.

    Westminster Property Group Plc

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he has any information on the progress of the inquiry into the affairs of Westminster Property Group plc; and whether he or the inspectors have referred any matters arising from the inquiry to the Crown prosecution service.

    The inspectors' report on the affairs of Milbury plc and on the membership of its subsidiary, Westminster Property Group Ltd., has been received. Certain matters arising from the investigation have been considered by the Crown Prosecution Service, which has decided that no action should be taken.

    Fireworks

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster (1) if he will finance or organise a national training scheme for the organisers of firework displays;(2) if he will introduce legislation to require the manufacturers of fireworks to sponsor a national training scheme for the organisers of firework displays.

    No. The fireworks industry already helps train organisers of major displays when requested. I am not convinced that a national training scheme is needed. Organisers should follow the instructions on the fireworks and heed the advice in the leaflet for display organisers issued by my Department.

    Timber

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will adopt trade directives or regulations which positively discriminate in favour of timber from sustainable sources; and if he will make a statement.

    The Community's import regime for timber is in general a liberal one, and the Community is committed to the further liberalisation of trade in tropical products, including tropical timber, in the GATT Uruguay round. The Government would need to study carefully with Community partners any specific proposals from the world timber industry for positive discrimination worldwide in favour of imports from sustainable sources. Such proposals would need to be consistent with the Community's international trade obligations, which normally require non-discriminatory treatment as between like products from all suppliers.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what action Her Majesty's Government are taking to ensure the implementation of the International Tropical Timber Organisation's policy objectives.

    The Government support the objectives of the international tropical timber agreement and recognise that they contain provisions both to promote the expansion of trade and the encouragement of sustainable tropical forestry development.The United Kingdom was one of the first signatories to the agreement, and we have continued to be supportive in the work of the organisation.

    Export Controls

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when changes in strategic export controls, recently agreed in COCOM, will be introduced in the United Kingdom.

    The Export of Goods (Control) Order 1987 (SI. 1987/2070) published today and coming into force on 1 January 1988 includes agreed changes to strategic export controls. My Department is also publishing a booklet on these controls for the guidance and information of exporters. Copies of both the order and the booklet are being placed in the Library.

    Patents

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what is the expected level of throughput of patent applications through the United Kingdom Patent Office, in the light of his policy of expediting the transfer of work to the European Patent Office in Munich.

    I have no plans to transfer domestic applications to the European Patent Office. For a number of reasons the demand for patent services from the United Kingdom Patent Office is reducing. I am therefore considering what steps might be taken to ensure that the United Kingdom Patent Office can provide a more cost effective service which will thereby benefit United Kingdom users.

    European Regional Development Fund

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what percentage of the European regional development fund's grants made to the United Kingdom during 1987 was made to the south-west region.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: The south-west region's share of 1987 grants so far has been 6·0 per cent, but further allocations of grant in respect of 1987 remain to be made.

    Sendzimir Club

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what steps have been taken to ensure that the Sendzimir Club, which controls the price of stainless steel and of which British Steel is a member, promotes an efficient, competitive market in stainless steel; and if he will make a statement.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: The main safeguard of an efficient, competitive market is EC and national competition law, for which the appropriate authorities are the European Commission and the Director General Fair Trading.

    Civil Service

    Ethnic Origin Survey

    To ask the Minister for the Civil Service when his Department will publish the report of the latest phase of the staff-in-post ethnic origin survey of the Civil Service.

    A copy of the latest phase of the staff-in-post surveys covering London and the south east and East Anglia will be published tomorrow. Two other reports will be published at the same time. These are:

  • (a) a pilot ethnic origin survey of departmental recruitment.
  • (b) a joint management-trade union side response to the findings of a report by Social and Community Planning Research on school leavers attitudes to the Civil Service.
  • Copies of these three reports will be placed in the Libraries of Parliament.

    The Arts

    Libraries (Funding)

    To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will make a statement on his proposals to provide incentive funding for public libraries.

    I am glad to announce the establishment of an incentive scheme for public libraries in England. For this, I have set aside £250,000 a year for three years, 1988–89 to 1990–91. The main objective of the scheme is to promote new developments in the provision of these services. The awards given, following open competition, will cover up to 40 per cent. of the cost of development projects and feasibility studies. I shall give priority to the support of activities which involve collaboration with other libraries and the private sector. I have placed a descriptive note on the scheme in the libraries of Parliament.

    Environment

    Urban Development Corporations

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment when he expects to announce the formation of new urban development corporations; and if he will make a statement.

    I refer the hon. Member to the answer my right hon. Friend gave on 7 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Kingswood (Mr. Hayward).

    Urban Regeneration Grant

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how much was budgeted for the urban regeneration grant for the last 12-month period; and how much was spent.

    Urban regeneration grant was introduced in April 1987. £30 million of public expenditure was allocated for urban regeneration grant and urban development grant together in 1987–88. Expenditure at the end of September is estimated at £14·3 million.

    Council House Sales

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment how many council houses and flats were sold in each London borough from 8 May to 8 May for five years up to and including 1987; and if he will snake a statement.

    Information on council house sales has been collected almost wholly in regular quarterly returns, and the figures in the table are those reported for the period of five years from 1 April 1982.

    Sales of dwellings by London boroughs April 1982 to March 1987
    Number
    City of London915
    Barking and Dagenham15,365
    Barnet3,585
    Bexley1,414
    Brent11,502
    Bromley3,760
    Camden660
    Croydon13,264
    Ealing12,511
    Enfield3,300
    Greenwich12,347
    Hackney1731
    Hammersmith and Fulham1,513
    Haringey11,950
    Harrow1,372
    Havering11,965
    Hillingdon11,776
    Hounslow2,302
    Islington1944
    Kensington and Chelsea504
    Kingston upon Thames1,097
    Lambeth1700
    Lewisham12,515
    Merton2,401
    Newham12,104
    Redbridge11,795
    Richmond upon Thames1,282
    Southwark11,545
    Sutton1,719
    Tower Hamlets1913
    Waltham Forest11,992
    Wandsworth7,627
    Westminster11,367
    1 Complete returns not available for whole period.

    Toxic Waste (Storage)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what consideration is being given to proposals for the storage of nuclear or toxic waste off the North sea coast utilising existing coal mines as means of ingress; and if he will make it his policy not to adopt such proposals.

    My right hon. Friend is not aware of any proposals to store radioactive or toxic waste off the North sea coast with access via existing coal mines. We have no policy to adopt such proposals.

    Wildlife

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) when he intends making a final decision on the granting of full protection under section 9(1) of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 to further wildlife species;(2) which animals, recommended by the Nature Conservancy Council for further protection, partial protection or full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 quinquennial review, were not so included in his recent announcement of changes to the Act's protected lists;(3) if he will give reasons for the exclusion of each of those species recommended by the Nature Conservancy Council for further, partial or full protection under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 quinquennial review which were not so included in his recent announcement of changes to the Act's protected list.

    Further to the announcement by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State on Tuesday 1 December of wider protection for a total of 79 species of animals and plants under the terms of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, he is currently giving further careful consideration to the conservation case for those species recommended for protection by the NCC and not referred to in his announcement. The species concerned are the adder (vipera berus), allis shad (alosa alosa), basking shark (cetorhirius maximus), freshwater pearl mussel (margaritefera margaritefera) and 22 species of British butterflies (rhopalocera). A final announcement on these will be made in due course, when further evidence on these species has been secured and evaluated.

    Housing Improvement Grants

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will list in the Official Report the number and value of housing improvement grants in each year since 1974.

    The numbers and amounts of housing renovation grants paid to private owners and tenants in each year from 1974 to 1983 appear in table 7.2 of "Housing and Construction Statistics 1974–1984", and the figures for 1984 to 1986 are in table 2.18 of "Housing and Construction Statistics" part 2, No. 30: copies of these publications are available in the Library.

    Renovation And New Building (Whitehall)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is the estimated total cost of the renovation and new building works in Whitehall incorporating Richmond terrace.

    I reported in November 1986 that the estimated cost of construction and fitting-out was £36 million. The current estimate, including contractors' claims paid to date, additional inflation and variation of price payments, is £38·6 million. The final cost will depend on settlement of the final account including claims still being negotiated.

    Housing Land

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the future of the joint housing land availability studies which were recommended in his Department's circular 15/84.

    Joint studies by local planning authorities and housebuilders which look in detail at the housing land supply situation, have now been completed for 33 structure plan areas; details are given in my Department's "Progress Report Land for Housing", published on 13 November, copies of which are in the Library.These studies have demonstrated their value in establishing the facts of land availability, and I hope that planning authorities and housebuilders will continue to cooperate in keeping them up to date.Problems have arisen in some instances over the treatment of sites which are not individually identified in the study, but may in aggregate make a significant contribution to land supply. It may be helpful to amplify the advice given in paragraph 8 of annex B to DOE circular 15/84.Land availability studies should not normally attempt to identify small sites of less than 0·4 ha (one acre) or infill sites; nor should they identify small sites which are not specifically allocated for development or redevelopment. But such sites, together with the conversion of larger houses into smaller units or the adaptation of nonresidential buildings for use as housing, can make a useful contribution to total housing provision and this is to be encouraged. It is reasonable therefore that land availability studies should include a realistic allowance for supply from these sources. On the basis of past experience and appraisal of future potential, the local planning authority and housebuilders should aim to agree an allowance for this in the overall assessment. Whatever allowance is made should be clearly justified by evidence of the contribution which such sites have made to housing provision in the area in recent years, and should not be overestimated.Larger sites of more than 0·4 ha that are likely to become available for development within the five-year period should normally be capable of being identified and should be assessed on the basis set out in the circular. While some unidentified sites of more than 0·4 ha may become available, their incidence is likely to be highly variable and their contribution to housing land supply is inherently unpredictable. To attempt to take such sites into account is likely to introduce too great an element of uncertainty into the overall assessment and no allowance should be made in the studies for this factor.

    Rating Reform

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what is his best estimate of the total annual amount of central Government support, assuming 1987–88 budgeted expenditure, that would be required to pay for rebates on the proposed commmunity charge.

    The cost of rate rebates is estimated, on the basis of assumptions underlying the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, to amount to £1,370 million in Great Britain next year. As indicated in the financial memorandum to the Local Government Finance Bill, the estimated additional cost of community charge rebates in England and Wales is £130 million. This estimate is, however, sensitive to factors such as changes in the number of claimants, the level of the community charge, and the precise details of the rebates, which have not yet been determined.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what studies he has commissioned into the feasibility of a banded community charge; and if he will publish them.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: A banded community charge is a local income tax rather than a community charge. In addition to all the disadvantages of LIT, a banded community charge would uniquely have major "earnings trap" effects, whereby a person whose income rose by £1 could find his bill increasing by as much as £400.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what maximum payment of community charge including community water charge would have been payable by pensioners on basic retirement pension income, in the current financial year, for each local authority area; and if he will express each sum payable as a percentage of the total community charge in that area.

    [holding answer 4 December 1987]: Water is not a local government service in England. On the basis of the 1988–89 social security arrangements, all pensioners wholly reliant on a state pension would pay only 20 per cent. of the full community charge levied by their local authority and would receive help towards that 20 per cent. through income support.

    Environment Council

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment if he will make a statement on the outcome of the Environment Council on 3 December.

    I refer my hon. Friend to the answer I gave on Monday 7 December to my hon. Friend the Member for Fulham (Mr. Carrington).

    Storm Damage Expenditure

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment what conclusions he has reached following his consultation with local authorities about the exclusion of storm damage expenditure from grant penalties.

    On 21 October I announced that in view of the severe damage caused by the storm on 16 October the Government would make available to local authorities special financial assistance under the Bellwin rules. This meant that the Government would meet 75 per cent. of the costs of eligible works above a threshold.I subsequently made it clear that the threshold proposed for the operation of the Bellwin rules would apply cumulatively to any subsequent emergency for which the Government were prepared to grant special financial assistance during the course of the financial year. To help, where expenditure was not eligible for Bellwin assistance, the Government proposed to make additional capital allocations available.

    I also announced that I proposed to exclude from total expenditure—in effect to relieve from grant losses—that 25 per cent. of eligible expenditure above the threshold which authorities would have to meet themselves.

    I have consulted local authorities and the associations on my proposal for a total expenditure exclusion and considered very carefully their comments.

    For 1987–88, I now propose to widen the exclusion to cover all storm-related revenue expenditure above the threshold defined for Bellwin rules whether eligible for special financial assistance or not, including revenue contributions to capital outlays made by the end of March 1988.

    I also propose to exclude from total expenditure all debt charges incurred in respect of capital expenditure on storm damage on 16 October up to the end of March 1989 in 1987–88, 1988–89 and 1989–90, after which grant entitlement will no longer be affected by expenditure.

    I shall be consulting the local authorities and associations on these revised proposals.

    I have also been asked by local authorities to extend beyond 31 January the date by which work eligible for special financial assistance must be completed. I have therefore decided to extend the date by which work of an emergency nature must be completed to 1 March.

    Education And Science

    Redundancies

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many employees of his Department have been made redundant on grounds of redundancy or financial exigency in the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement.

    Eight, four of whom are on notice which expires in May 1988These redundancies occurred as follows:

    1981—One part-time cleaner in a local office. Cleaning services were arranged with the major occupier of the building.
    1986 and 1987—Two typing staff. Local offices closed.
    1986—One packer, nominally on secondment to British Library at Boston Spa. Post regraded and incumbent unwilling to accept regrading.
    1987—Four security guards, all over 60, given requisite notices of redundancy in May 1988 on contracting out of service.

    Competitive Team Sports

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will take steps to seek to ensure that all state school children take part in competitive team sports.

    The working group on physical education which my right hon. Friend will set up in due course will recommend guidelines for the content of physical education as a foundation subject within the national curriculum.Taking account also of the recommendations of the forum on school sport set up by my right hon. Friend and my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Environment to consider the place of sport in schools, we hope to ensure a balanced programme of physical education, including competitive sports within all maintained schools.

    Religious Education

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what assessment he has made of the extent to which current teaching includes instruction on Christian history and Christian values for all pupils.

    Her Majesty's inspectorate provides evidence through reports of inspections on the nature and quality of religious education given in schools. All the agreed syllabuses currently in use give a central place to teaching about Christianity. Where an LEA wants to update its syllabus, it is a statutory requirement that the Church of England should be represented on the conference appointed by a local education authority for this purpose.

    Open University

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if there is to be any change in the arrangements for funding the Open University.

    No. The Open University will continue to be funded directly by my right hon. Friend.

    Polytechnics And Colleges Funding Council

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will now appoint a chairman to the Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council.

    Local Education Authorities
    1985–861986–871987–88
    AFE bidBid per studentAFE bidBid per studentAFE bidBid per student
    £000££000££000£
    Barking2,1363802,5114512,679483
    Barnet2,9434234,0485826,750989
    Bexley2670
    Brent
    Bromley626990104
    Croydon
    Ealing9123031,2114021,797597
    Enfield
    Haringey
    Harrow743766750801
    Havering
    Hillingdon
    Hounslow82842113468277147
    Kingston-upon-Thames2,5314333,8546877,3781,313
    Merton12435440114
    Newham
    Redbridge
    Richmond-upon-Thames
    Sutton
    Waltham Forest
    Inner London2,935928,75727413,875422
    Birmingham403592,4603532,606369
    Coventry1,6562616,7591,0515,079788
    Dudley2362
    Sandwell22232530
    Solihull
    Walsall120146
    Wolverhampton1,9103373,7846783,966710
    Knowsley
    Liverpool4,0214662,8023235,416653
    St. Helens
    Sefton

    Following the Second Reading on 1 December of the Education Reform Bill, which makes provision for the establishment of a Polytechnics and Colleges Funding Council, I have invited Sir Ronald Dearing to become the first chairman of the council. I am delighted to say that he has accepted. Sir Ronald will relinquish his present appointment as chairman of the Council for National Academic Awards next summer.

    Advanced Further Education

    To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how much capital expenditure for advanced further education in each local education authority in England and Wales was (a) applied for and (b) spend in each of the last six years, respectively, both in absolute terms and as a percentage of their allocated advanced further education numbers.

    [pursuant to his reply, 12 November 1987, c. 182]: The table sets out LEAs' bids for advanced further education capital expenditure in cash terms and on a per student basis for each of the financial years 1985–86 to 1987–88. The bids per student were calculated using the National Advisory Body target AFE student numbers (in full-time equivalents) for the year in question. Similar information for the earlier years is not available.

    1985–86

    1986–87

    1987–88

    AFE bid

    Bid per student

    AFE bid

    Bid per student

    AFE bid

    Bid per student

    £000

    £

    £000

    £

    £000

    £

    Wirral
    Bolton1055220098250121
    Bury
    Manchester4,4653704,6093745,683450
    Oldham
    Rochdale
    Salford660393198121488280
    Stockport
    Tameside
    Trafford
    Wigan
    Barnsley
    Doncaster124134140144
    Rotherham
    Sheffield2,1022302,7042902,980315
    Bradford3221947954811,307796
    Calderdale
    Kirklees1,7763473,0455924,936963
    Leeds9731361,3381881,408198
    Wakefield12011210796188170
    Gateshead
    Newcastle upon Tyne1,2351593,9945085,096626
    North Tyneside
    South Tyneside2383821682604576
    Sunderland8601973,9939135,5161,268
    Isles of Scilly
    Avon4,1254943,7964491,787218
    Bedfordshire41319221297334142
    Berkshire372104495142400114
    Buckinghamshire9106241,1047811,090770
    Cambridgeshire1,000489
    Cheshire2171806119665
    Cleveland9992423,3458271,420357
    Cornwall220275366470
    Cumbria1291401351366054
    Derbyshire240849103231,720638
    Devon1,7512461,884264752104
    Dorset1,3144761,4265262,410879
    Durham
    East Sussex1,4922522,1903635,250881
    Essex2,240601728194994264
    Gloucestershire15382454246947503
    Hampshire1,4181319,6258733,017273
    Hereford and Worcester201222131,049585
    Hertfordshire1,9333113,5735854,558727
    Humberside6892001,3723901,138328
    Isle of Wight
    Kent11150326145
    Lancashire2,1552743,6844613,202389
    Leicestershire615832,1252883,725513
    Lincolnshire
    Norfolk218156
    North Yorkshire4650195201214221
    Northamptonshire239134849448385189
    Northumberland
    Nottinghamshire1,1931431,2661511,602185
    Oxfordshire4,1888737,1791,5134,780980
    Salop
    Somerset
    Staffordshire9891794,0307294,858837
    Suffolk
    Surrey3015406204220109
    Warwickshire
    West Sussex
    Wiltshire
    England61,284228109,933408126,603465

    Energy

    Coal Industry (Grants)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is the value of total grants made to the coal industry by the Government since 1946–47 at 1987 prices.

    Information on grants made to the coal industry can be obtained from the British Coal Corporation's annual report and accounts, copies of which are held in the Library of the House. To convert figures to 1987 prices one should refer to tables 114–117 (general index of retail prices—all items) of Economic Trends annual supplement 1987, a copy of which is also held in the Library.

    Electricity (Privatisation)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if, when next he meets the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board, he will discuss with him the case for the maintenance of the national grid in the event of privatisation; and if he will make a statement.

    I meet Lord Marshall regularly to discuss matters relating to the privatisation of the electricity supply industry. Our proposals for privatisation do not envisage the breaking up of the national grid.

    Electricity (Cross-Channel Link)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if there are any plans to pursue the possibility of a further cross-Channel link to secure the interchange of electricity between France and the United Kingdom.

    The CEGB keeps this matter under regular review with Electricite-de-France. There are no plans at present for a further cross-Channel link.

    Seismic Data

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what plans there are for the release of seismic data.

    Oil Exploration Records

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what arrangements are in hand for the public release of offshore and onshore oil exploration records held by his Department; if any changes are to be made to the time scale for the release of information on wells drilled; and if he will make a statement.

    Arrangements have been in existence since 1976 for the release of well data after five years. I have no plans at present to change the time scale for the release of such information.

    Scotland

    Tourism

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what plans he has to assist the tourist industry in Fife, North-East.

    The development of the tourist industry in Fife, North-East is primarily the responsibility of the industry itself as the main beneficiary. The local authorities and the Scottish Tourist Board co-operate with the industry in a number of ways, including the partnership in the area tourist board. For its part, the Scottish Tourist Board will continue to encourage and assist development in the area, as elsewhere in Scotland, and will consider all proposals on their individual merits and in relation to the board's overall priorities. I understand that the board, in conjunction with other bodies, is currently examining tourism opportunities in the East Neuk of Fife.

    Windblow

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether there will be any nature conservancy involvement in the committee dealing with windblow problems; and whether the Nature Conservancy Council will be represented on this committee.

    I assume that my hon. Friend is referring to the Forest Windblow Action Committee set up by the Forestry Commission. This committee is primarily concerned at this stage with providing advice to woodland owners on the clearing of blown timber and the orderly marketing of that timber. This being so, there is no need for the Nature Conservancy Council to be represented. The committee will be able to seek the advice of the council if nature conservation issues arise in connection with the replacement of the blown woodland.

    Aids

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether his Department has contingency plans to contain an epidemic of AIDS within the heterosexual population of Edinburgh in the next five years.

    At present there is little evidence of infection among the heterosexual population in Edinburgh, apart from intravenous drug misusers. One of the objects of the Government's public education campaign is to persuade the public to take the necessary safeguards to avoid the spread of the infection. Nevertheless, an expert working party we set up in November last year under the general manager of Lothian Health Board (the Tayler working party), in assessing the likely scale of the AIDS problem in Scotland, estimated that a small number of the heterosexual population would contract AIDS by 1991. Any estimates of the numbers developing the disease have to be treated with extreme caution, but meantime health boards have been asked to plan on the basis of the Tayler report.

    Children (Intensive Care)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list, by each health authority, the amount spent on intensive care for children in 1979 and in the latest year for which figures are available.

    Forests (Tourism)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what information he has regarding the number of tourist visits paid to forests run by the Forestry Commission in 1986; and what information he has about any plans to develop forests further for tourism.

    Information is not available in the form requested, but surveys carried out in 1987 suggest that as many as five million visits are made to Forestry Commission forests on a Sunday in the peak holiday season. The commission is reviewing its recreation policies at present, giving particular consideration to how it might further encourage tourism and collaborate with other interested agencies to help meet the growing demand for countryside recreation. Three new forest parks were announced in 1987, with special provision for public access and recreation.

    Trees

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he has any plans to seek to ban the export of raw logs and endangered tree species; and if he will make a statement.

    I have no plans to ban the export of logs. I am not aware of any tree species in the United Kingdom that might be endangered through exports.

    Egg Production

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland (1) what is his estimate of and basis of calculation for the cost to the Scottish egg industry of adapting to EEC battery cage legislation in Scotland;(2) what is his Department's estimate of and basis of calculation for the costs of compliance with the additional requirements for three, two and one birds under the Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987 for egg producers in Scotland.

    EC directive 86/113 places inescapable obligations on all member states. The cost of compliance will vary from producer to producer according to the type of cage in use, its age, and how the space allowance and other requirements contained in the directive are to be met. No estimate of the aggregate cost to Scottish producers is available.The same consideration will largely apply in the context of the allowances for three, two and one birds specified in the Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is his estimate of the number of Scottish egg producers who will cease egg production because they are unable to comply with the additional requirements for three, two and one birds contained within the Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987; and what representations he has received on this matter.

    Representations on the regulations have been made by a number of hon. Members and by the president of the National Farmers Union of Scotland. The views expressed have in some cases been critical of the additional space requirement for less than four birds and in others have condemned the retention of the cage system and complained that the space allowance is too low. No information is available on the number of egg producers who may cease production, if any.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he proposes to take to ensure that Scottish egg farmers are not put at a competitive disadvantage with their European counterparts in the implementation of the provisions of EEC directive 86/133/EEC, as implemented by the Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987.

    EC directive 86/113 lays down minimum standards. Other than in situations where less than four birds are housed in a cage these minimum standards will apply in the United Kingdom. In the majority of cases therefore Scottish farmers will be in an identical situation to most of their European counterparts though it is worth pointing out that in Denmark and in West Germany the minimum space allowance for four birds and more will be higher than in the United Kingdom. We shall be keeping the matter under review.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what advice he proposes to give egg producers in Scotland as to the time at which they should comply with the provisions of the Welfare of Battery Hens Regulations 1987, implementing EEC directive 86/113/EEC, in the light of the further scientific review to be undertaken in 1993 and of the assurances given by the Government that consequential problems will be kept under continual review.

    The regulations come into force on 1 January 1988. As from that date all new cages must conform: for existing cages the space allowance must be achieved by 1 January 1995. Within the seven-year lead-in period for existing cages, the timing of any change will largely be a matter for the individual producer. The Government will maintain close links with the industry on both its ongoing review and the scientific report due from the Commission by 1 January 1993.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what steps he proposes to take to monitor compliance within Europe of the provisions of the European directive 86/113/EEC, on the welfare of battery hens.

    Compliance with EEC directives is a matter for individual member states and for the European Commission. In this instance article 7 requires the Commission to undertake inspection programmes within member states to ensure that the directive is complied with and uniform standards applied. The Commission is also required to produce reports on these inspections.

    Raspberries

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will give figures to show the average acres of planting for the Glen Clova variety of raspberries in each year since 1982.

    Information on the areas of soft fruit grown commercially in Scotland is not collected on a varietal basis. The total areas of raspberries grown in each year since 1982 were:

    Hectarage

    19822,593·2
    19832,516·9
    19842,409·6
    19852,332·2
    19862,206·6
    19872,102·9

    In 1987 some 75 per cent. of the total area was occupied by Glen Clova. The pattern of varietal production is likely to change as newer varieties become more widely available.

    Standard And O-Grade Courses

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what is the difference in the costs of the supplies and services required to run (a) standard grade courses and (b) the O-grade courses they supersede.

    No information is available centrally on the costs of specific items. In 1988–89 £6 million will be available to local authorities generally in respect of current expenditure on non-teaching costs associated with standard grade, and there is provision of £3 million for capital expenditure. In that year there will also be current expenditure of £870,000 by central Government on support for the new standard grade courses.

    Scottish Development Agency

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will list at 1987 prices the real value of Government expenditure on the Scottish Development Agency for each year from 1979.

    [holding answer 26 October 1987]: The information, at 1987–88 prices, is set out in the table:

    Financial year£ million
    1978–79107·3
    1979–80112·6
    1980–81117·0
    1981–82101·6
    1982–83125·5
    1983–84105·2
    1984–8590·0
    1985–86101·6
    1986–8793·0
    1987–88194·9
    1 Provision.
    As Government expenditure on the SDA is expressed in net terms the figures are not illustrative of total agency expenditure resources over the years. This also partly explains the variations between years.

    Roads

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of advice by the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities on the effect of any reduction in the threshold or any increase in the proportion of works required to be put out to tender on roads authorities' ability to maintain adequate direct labour organisations, he will abandon his proposals to change the present direct labour organisation tendering regime.

    No. Last summer a survey of Scottish roads authorities was undertaken to find out the distribution of work between the direct labour organisations and private contractors in 1985–86, which was the first fully operational year of the present system (1984–85 having been a transitional year). The survey showed that it would be practicable to reduce from £50,000 to £25,000 the threshold above which all general roads work in Scotland must be put out to tender and, on 10 April 1987, it was announced that this reduction would be put into operation from 1 April 1988, subject to a further survey of the performance of Scottish roads authorities over the period 1986–87. The Scottish Development Department is analysing this second survey and a further announcement will be made in due course.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland what representations he has received from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities regarding the impact of any further reduction in the threshold or increase in the proportion of works required to be put out to tender on the ability of roads departments to retain sufficient labour with the proper expertise to cope with a severe winter emergency.

    The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities has made known to the Scottish Development Department, on three separate occasions, its opposition to increased competition for roads work undertaken by roads authorities' direct labour organisations.

    Employment

    Training Schemes (Easington)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will list the number of places on the job training scheme in Easington for each week since it started; how many places were taken; and how many trainees have dropped out.

    Since 1 April 1987, a total of 521 people from the Easington area have been offered the opportunity to attend an information session about the new job training scheme and it is known that 109 of these have started on a scheme.Trainees leave the scheme for many reasons, some to get jobs. The Manpower Services Commission has commissioned a follow-up survey to look into the destinations of trainees. The first results will be available in the new year.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is the number of serious accidents sustained by Manpower Services Commission trainees within Easington constituency during the last three years.

    Information is not available in the precise form requested. The number of major injuries to YTS trainees in the Durham area over the last three years to the end of September is 29. Comparable figures for adult trainees are not available.MSC accident figures have been compiled on a similar basis to those prepared by the Health and Safety Executive on employed persons. However, the Commission's figures will include a number of accidents to trainees in educational establishments which may not have been reportable to the Health and Safety Executive had the individuals been employed.

    Up to 31 March 1986, major injuries were classified according to the severity criteria laid down in the Notification of Accidents and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1980. From 1 April 1986, major injuries are classified according to severity criteria laid down in the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 1985.

    Jts (Statistics)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many contracted managing agents for new job training schemes are: (a) local authorities, (b) public sector colleges, (c) non-profit making or voluntary organisations and (d) private sector commercial training agencies, what is the number of traineeships planned for each sector; and what is the number of those who have entered work placements for each sector, at the latest available date.

    At 30 October 1987, there were 314 managing agents across the country, of these 41 were local authorities, 16 were public sector colleges, 55 were nonprofit making or voluntary organisations, 177 were private training agencies and 25 were from the Skills Training Agency.The number of contracted starts for each sector is as follows:

    Starts
    (a) local authorities26,544
    (b) public sector colleges8,850
    (c) non-profit-making or voluntary organisations40,295
    (d) private sector commercial training agencies103,681
    (e) Skills Training Agency18,500
    Total197,870
    No information is available on the number of training placements with employers in each sector.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proportion of new job training scheme trainees have had identified in their personal action plan a recognised qualification; and how many are expected to achieve the qualification during the training period.

    The information is not available. The new JTS provides long-term unemployed people with a mix of directed training and practical experience with employers which may lead to a qualification or a credit towards one. At the outset of their training, when personal action plans are drawn up, it is not always possible to identify the potential qualifications that long-term unemployed people may achieve.

    Yts (Statistics)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what the regional occupancy rates on the YTS are at the latest date, and for equivalent dates for each year since the scheme started.

    The table shows a regional breakdown of occupancy rates on YTS at the end of September for the five years 1983–1987.

    Occupancy Percentage at end September

    Region

    1983

    1

    1984

    1985

    1986

    1987

    South East24968726971
    London3759605455
    South West5173807674
    West Midlands25273767471
    East Midlands + Eastern27776
    Yorkshire and Humberside5274817782
    North West5377827874
    Northern6078787971
    Wales5476837876
    Scotland4970797573
    Great Britain5172777473

    1 The 1983 figures are considerably lower than in subsequent years due to the build up of YTS in its first year. The 1983 figures also exclude about 17,000 trainees on Construction Industry Training Board schemes.

    2 From April 1986 the midlands and south-east regional boundaries were redrawn to form new south-east, west midlands and east midlands regions.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many YTS trainees left the scheme to enrol in another scheme run by a different employer or a different managing agent in the current year.

    The Manpower Services Commission's latest follow-up survey of all young people who have left a YTS scheme during the period April 1986 to May 1987 shows that, in Great Britain 11 per cent. of leavers were enrolled on another YTS scheme at the time of the surveys.

    Labour Statistics

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what was the number of unemployed people in (a) Burnley, (b) Pendle, (c) Rossendale and (d) Accrington travel-to-work areas at the latest date for which figures are available.

    The following information is in the Library. On 8 October 1987, the numbers of unemployed claimants in the areas requested were as follows:

    Travel-to-work areaUnemployed claimants
    Burnley4,575
    Pendle3,322
    Accrington and Rossendale4,915

    Foreign And Commonwealth Affairs

    Disarmament

    79.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to sustain the disarmament process following the intermediate nuclear forces agreement.

    80.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he will take to sustain the disarmament process following the signing of the intermediate nuclear forces agreement.

    81.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to sustain the disarmament process following the signing of the intermediate nuclear forces agreement.

    83.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he intends to take to sustain the process of arms control following the intermediate range nuclear forces agreement.

    84.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he intends to take toward further disarmament measures, in the light of the United States of America, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics agreement on intermediate range nuclear forces.

    89.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to sustain the disarmament process following the signing of the intermediate nuclear forces agreement.

    91.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what steps he is taking to sustain the disarmament process following the signing of the intermediate range nuclear forces agreement.

    NATO's priorities for arms control post-INF are for 50 per cent. cuts in the strategic arms of the United States and Soviet Union, a global ban on chemical weapons and the elimination of conventional disparities between NATO and the Warsaw pact in Europe. We shall continue actively to promote and support these objectives.

    85.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the next stage in his discussions on arms control in Geneva following the signing of the intermediate range nuclear forces agreement.

    87.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the next stage in the discussion on arms control in Geneva following the signing of the intermediate range nuclear forces agreement.

    90.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is the next stage in the discussion on arms control in Geneva following the intermediate nuclear forces agreement.

    The bilateral Geneva nuclear and space talks between the United States and Soviet Union will continue. We look forward to the completion of a treaty providing for a 50 per cent. reduction in the strategic offensive weapons of the United States and Soviet Union. The 40 members of the conference on disarmament will continue to work towards a comprehensive global and verifiable ban on chemical weapons.

    Conventional Stability Talks

    82.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's position on conventional stability talks.

    86.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's position on conventional stability talks.

    88.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what is Her Majesty's Government's position on conventional stability talks.

    We fully support the launching of conventional stability talks covering the Atlantic to the Urals, which were first called for in the NATO Brussels declaration of December 1986. To this end we are playing an active part in informal discussions between NATO and Warsaw pact representatives in Vienna aimed at agreeing a mandate for the negotiations which it is hoped will begin in the course of next year. The establishment of a stable and secure balance of forces in Europe at lower levels will be a primary objective of the Government in these negotiations, together with the elimination of disparities and of the Warsaw pact's capability for surprise attack and offensive action.

    Peace Accord (Central America)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what information he has about compliance by the Government of Honduras with the central American regional peace accord.

    The Central American Presidents will be considering the question on compliance with the peace agreement at their meeting in San Jose on 15 January, on the basis of information to be supplied by the International Verification and Monitoring Commission. We await their conclusions.

    Notifiable Military Activities

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will publish in full in the Official Report the United Kingdom's calendar of notifiable military activities for 1988, as required under the 1986 Stockholm agreement on confidence-building measures.

    The United Kingdom's calendar is set out below. The format follows that laid down in the Stockholm document. In accordance with the Stockholm provisions a copy of this calendar was passed through diplomatic channels to all CSCE states before 15 November. We shall, as required, individually notify the exercises at least 42 days before they commence. We shall also follow the procedure in paragraph 32 of the document for exercises undertaken without advance notice to the troops involved.UNITED KINGDOM ANNUAL CALENDAR OF MILITARY ACTIVITIES SUBJECT TO PRIOR NOTIFICATION

    No. 1: Exercise Iron Hammer

    • 56.1 (Type of military activity and its designation) Field Training exercise, exercise name: IRON HAMMER.
    • 56.2 (General characteristics and purpose of the military activity) To exercise armoured divisions and support forces.
    • 56.3 (States involved in the military activity) United Kingdom, Federal Republic of Germany, Belgium.
    • 56.4 (Area of the military activity, indicated by appropriate geographical features and/or defined by geographic coordinates) Germany in area bounded by:

    Salzgitter52.08N,10.20E
    Gottingen51.32N,09.56E
    Bad Pyrmont51.59N,09.15E
    Beckum51.45N,08.03E

    • 56.5 (Planned duration of the military activity and the 14-day period, indicated by dates, within which it is envisaged to start) 21 days: start date between 28 October and 10 November 1988.
    • 56.6 (The envisaged total number of troops engaged in the military activity) United Kingdom element 25,000.
    • 56.7 (The types of armed forces involved in the military activity) Armoured division.
    • 56.8 (The envisaged level of command, under which the military activity will take place) Divisional.
    • 56.9 (The number and types of divisions whose participation in the military activity is envisaged) 1 armoured division (UK).
    • 56.10 (Any additional information concerning inter alia, components of armed forces, which the participating State planning the military activity considers relevant) Also participating are one independent brigade (FRG) and one independent regiment (Belgium).

    Note: This exercise involves 25,000 troops but interoperation with 1 GE (German) corps is expected.

    No. 2 Exercise Teamwork

    • 56.1 Amphibious landing. Exercise Name: TEAMWORK
    • 56.2 To demonstrate and improve readiness and effectiveness of NATO forces in amphibious operations.
    • 56.3 United States, United Kingdom, Netherlands, Norway
    • 56.4 Northern Norway in area bounded by:

    Harstad68.48N16.33E
    Bjerkvik68.33N17.33E
    Evenes68.28N16.43E
    Salangen68.54N17.28E

    • 56.5 1–2 days start between 9 and 23 September 1988
    • 56.6 UK element 2,800
    • 56.7 Amphibious forces
    • 56.8 Brigade (in conjunction with Norwegian regional command)
    • 56.9 Not applicable (one UK brigade)
    • 56.10
    • (A) Involves landing craft and support helicopters.
    • (B) This exercise runs concurrently with Norwegian National exercise BARFROST.
    • (C) 700 Netherland troops will operate as an integral element of the UK amphibious brigade (this number is not included in paragraph 56.6 above).
    • (D) This voluntary entry is provided for information without precedent for future United Kingdom calendars.

    1 October 1986

    1 October 1987

    1 October 1988

    Posts

    Entry clearance officers

    Supervisory staff

    Entry clearance officers

    Supervisory staff

    Entry clearance officers

    Supervisory staff

    Dhaka174·15224·15234·15
    Accra·50·502·50·502·50·50
    Lagos3·20123·20123·20
    Kaduna·45·052·451·052·451·05
    New Delhi51133133
    Bombay51111111·25
    MadrasNilNil2Nil2Nil
    Calcutta0·90Nil0·90Nil0·90Nil
    Islamabad182·65263·65273·65
    Karachi1·25·207·251·207·251·20
    Total51·19·7599·117·7510·1118·00

    Note: Some staff have other duties apart from their entry clearance function.

    West Bank And Gaza

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make representations to Israel concerning the right of spouses to join their partners in the West Bank and Gaza.

    We regularly urge the Israeli authorities to ease their restrictions on the reunification of Palestinian families.

    Exercise Purple Warrior

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the role of the official from his Department embarked on HMS Ark Royal during exercise Purple Warrior.

    The Foreign and Commonwealth Office official was playing the part of political adviser to the joint force commanders on foreign policy matters as required within the scenario of the exercise.

    Afghanistan

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs if he will make a statement on the implications for relations between the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union of the presence of British mercenary forces in Afghanistan.

    Visa Control

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what has been the total cost of administering visa control in the five countries which became subject to such visa control in October 1986; what is the estimated cost of administering such visa control over the coming year; how many entry control officers were in post on 1 October 1986 and 1 October 1987; how many entry control officers will be in post on 1 October 1988; and if he will make a statement.

    The figures requested concerning present and future costs of administering visa control in the five countries are not immediately available. The figures will be communicated to the hon. Member as soon as they have been collated. The number of officers, excluding United Kingdom-based and locally engaged support staff, involved in entry clearance work is as follows:

    Territorial Limits

    To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs what discussions there have been with other member states about the effect of the extension of the United Kingdom's territorial limits on access to United Kingdom waters by European Community fishermen; and if he will make a statement.

    Officials have had discussions with representatives of both France and Belgium and with the European Community Commission. There is a clear difference of legal opinion about the effects on other member states' fishing rights under Community law of the Territorial Sea Act 1987 which changed United Kingdom baselines in certain areas.The common fisheries policy settlement secured in January 1983 provided among other things for the continuation of previous arrangements under which member states are allowed to exclude vessels of other member states from fishing within their coastal belts, subject to recognition of certain rights of access which, in the case of the United Kingdom, were restricted to parts of our six to 12 mile belt calculated from the baselines of the territorial sea. As the result of the coming into force of the Territorial Sea Act 1987 on 1 October 1987, the six to 12 mile belt around the United Kingdom, as measured from the new baselines, moved outwards in certain areas. Whilst our view is that the parts of our coastal belt where other European Community fishermen have access were altered accordingly, it has been put to us in the discussion that this infringed access rights under Community law.This difference in interpretation of Community law needs to be resolved and we remain in contact with the European Community Commission and the other member states concerned. In the present circumstances and bearing in mind the importance we attach to preserving the integrity and effectiveness of the common fisheries policy in the interests of the United Kingddom fishing industry, my right hon. Friend, the Fisheries Minister has instructed our fisheries enforcement officers to refrain from taking action which might exacerbate or extend the dispute until the legal question is resolved.

    Transport

    Smoke Hoods

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will raise with the chairman of the British Airports Authority the refusal of a request from a franchise operator at one of the British Airways Authority's retail outlets to sell smoke hoods; and if he will make a statement.

    No. This a matter between BAA plc and the franchise operator. BAA plc did not consult us before taking its decision.

    M6

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether any major road works are planned on the M6 between where it meets the M1 and the Preston exit in 1988; and if he will make a statement.

    We are currently planning to carry out the following major works on part of the M6 in 1988.

    SiteWorkProvisional start date and duration
    J6–7ResurfacingMay, for approx 2 months.
    J9–10ResurfacingApril, for approx 1 month.
    J13–14OverlayAugust, for approx 2 months.
    J16–17Reconstruction/OverlayFebruary, for approx 5 months.
    J29–31Reconstruction/OverlayAdvance works currently underway. Main works to commence February for approx 5 months.
    There will also he various bridge works taking place which may affect the main carriageway. It is hoped to carry out at least some of the works on lane rental contracts with the aim of minimising delays to the road user.

    Mersey Tunnel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport, whether he is prepared to write off part of the capital debt of the Mersey tunnel; and if he will make a statement.

    The Merseyside Passenger Transport Authority has submitted an application for special financial assistance, which the Department is considering. I cannot anticipate the outcome of that examination.

    Severn Bridge

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he is prepared to write off part of the capital debt of the Severn bridge; and if he will make a statement.

    It has been the policy of successive Governments that estuarial crossings promoted on the basis that costs would be met from tolls should be paid for by users who enjoy the savings in time and money that these undertakings make possible. The Severn bridge undertaking is capable of meeting the objectives of its enabling legislation, including the repayment of its capital debt.

    Traffic Offences (Vehicle Confiscation)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will introduce legislation to permit the confiscation of vehicles, the drivers of which have been convicted of manslaughter or dangerous or reckless driving or driving while under the influence of drink or drugs; and if he will make a statement.

    Confiscation of vehicles following serious motoring offences is one of the issues being examined by the road traffic law review, under the independent chairmanship of Dr. Peter North. The report is due early next year.

    Channel Tunnel

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what discussions he has had with the chairman of British Rail about future rail links between the Channel tunnel and the north-west of England; and if he will make a statement.

    It is the responsibility of British Rail to plan the provision of future rail links with the tunnel. Section 40 of the Channel Tunnel Act requires them to publish proposals by 31 December 1989. I understand that the board intends to consult widely during the preparation of this plan.

    Radioactive Material (Manchester Airport)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what radioactive material has been flown from or to Manchester airport; and where its destination and its departure points were, over the most recent period for which figures are available.

    There is no requirement for this Department to keep records of this traffic. I understand that the amounts of radioactive material being transported from British Nuclear Fuels sites via Manchester airport are small samples going regularly to Euratom establishments in Europe, primarily for verification purposes.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what future plans exist to fly radioactive material through Manchester airport; to what destination; and from what departure points.

    I understand that British Nuclear Fuels has no plans to use Manchester airport for shipments of radioactive materials over and above the present consignments of very small sample quantities.

    London Underground

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the railway inspectorate is consulted about layout and materials when tube stations are refurbished; and if he will make a statement.

    Only when the refurbishment involves significant structural alterations.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the railway inspectorate was consulted before London Underground decided to erect wire cages to prevent fare evasions at automatic ticket barriers; and if he will make a statement.

    London Underground has no plans to erect wire cages to prevent fare evasion at existing automatic ticket barriers or the new ones which are not yet in service, hence there is no question of it consulting with the railway inspectorate on this matter. Any temporary partition which may have been seen near the sites of new barriers has been erected for short periods during construction.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport to what extent the railway inspectorate bears in mind arguments on cost when considering proposals affecting the safety of the London Underground.

    London Regional Transport has a statutory duty to provide or secure the provision of public passenger transport services in London and in so doing to have due regard to efficiency, economy and safety of operation. In considering proposals affecting the safety of the London Underground the railway inspectorate also bears these requirements in mind.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list the matters to do with safety on the London Underground on which the railway inspectorate has changed its advice to London Underground since 1979.

    The railway inspectorate's main advice to London Underground is contained in the Department's published requirements for railway construction and operation, and in the remarks and recommendations of its accident inquiry reports. The advice given by these means has not changed in any significant manner since 1979. In the matter of the one-person operation of trains the inspectorate accepted, before the introduction of one-person operation on the Piccadilly line in August this year, LUL's revised detailed criteria for one-person operation in tube tunnels. On matters concerning staff safety, the inspectorate frequently gives advice or requires action under the health and safety at work legislation, and some of this advice may be varied from time to time in response to changing circumstances.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the railway inspectorate advises London Underground on safety training and safety procedures; and if he will make a statement.

    Whilst these are primarily matters for London Underground Limited, the inspectorate has commented on them in its published accident inquiry reports. Advice is also given where necessary in furtherance of the inspectorate's enforcement duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether the railway inspectorate carries out safety inspections of the London Underground; and if he will make a statement.

    Details of the inspectorate's safety inspection work, which covers all railways in Great Britain, including the London Underground, were given in the answer on 3 December.

    British Rail (Line Closures)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what are the implications for the operation by British Rail of procedures involving the closure of lines of the recent decision of the Appeal Court in relation to the Wortley Curve; and if he will make a statement.

    It is in the first instance British Rail's responsibility to consider the implications of the judgment.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy to refuse any application from British Rail for closure of the Wortley curve.

    No. My right hon. Friend will consider any such application on its merits.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make it his policy that any public inquiry into a proposal to close the Wortley curve will have terms of reference to take account of the future social and economic effects of the closure.

    In considering any rail closure case, my right hon. Friend is already required by section 54(1) of the Transport Act 1968 to have regard to any matters which for the time being appear to him to be relevant, including any social or economic consideration.

    Railway Inspectorate

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total of professional and nonprofessional staff of the railway inspectorate in 1978–79 and in each year since.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what was the total cost in 1978–79 prices of the railway inspectorate in 1978–79 and each year since.

    I regret that reliable figures for the total cost of the railway inspectorate are unavailable for the years before 1984–85.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many of the railway inspectorate staff are deployed full-time on work on the London Underground.

    Agriculture, Fisheries And Food

    Wheat Exports

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what has been the highest and the lowest restitution payment made in respect of wheat exported from the United Kingdom since 1 August.

    Different levels of restitution are paid for grain exported from the open market and from intervention. In the latter case, the subsidy required to export the grain is reflected in the selling price, which also takes account of the level of the MCA. The refund itself is small and fixed; during the period since 1 August 1987 it has been less than the MCA, resulting in a charge on exports; the highest and lowest charges have been £6·26 and £2·98 per tonne respectively.The highest and lowest levels of refund on exports from the open market during this period have been £65·37 and £47·98 per tonne respectively (net of the United Kingdom MCA). Since these refunds apply throughout the Community and export licences are valid for five months, it is impossible to say what levels of refund applied to exports from the United Kingdom during this period.

    Environmentally Sensitive Areas

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (1) what evaluation his Department is making of the progress of environmentally sensitive areas;(2) whether he intends to produce a report on farming practices within environmentally sensitive areas;(3) what evidence he has about the output from farmers in environmentally sensitive areas farming in accordance with regulations issued under the Agriculture Act 1986 in relation to output from comparable farmers outside the scheme; and if he will make a statement.

    We are in the process of establishing a monitoring programme for environmentally sensitive areas. This will gather and analyse information on landscape, wildlife, historic features, farming practices and socio-economic developments. Our objective will be to assess the scheme's effects on these inter-related items and, as the hon. Member suggests, to monitor output trends on agreement and non-agreement land. However, the scheme was launched only nine months ago and it is, therefore, too early to gather meaningful evidence about output trends. I hope to publish a first report, as required by section 18(8) of the Agriculture Act 1986, during the course of 1988.

    Intervention Stocks

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on what date Her Majesty's Government accepted responsibility for paying 25 per cent. of the cost of storing food in intervention; and what has been the cost of this contribution since that date.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: Further to my reply of 3 December at column 707, the reduction in reimbursement rates from December 1985 has marginally reduced the United Kingdom's net contribution to storage of food in intervention. For 1986 our receipts from the Community were cut by about £23 million, but our payments to the Community (net of Fontainebleau abatement) dropped by about £24 million, an overall gain of about £1 million.

    Butter

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food at what sale price, expressed in pence per pound, Her Majesty's Government released for sale

    Type of inspectionHoldings visitedUnderpayments discoveredUnderpayments as percentage of holdings visited
    Test inspection2,577742·9
    Inspections arising from complaints1254536·0
    Total2,7021194·4

    Mink And Coypu

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food how many mink and coypu farms,

    the 97,190 tons of butter between 1 December 1986 and 31 October 1987 under the arrangements referred to in his reply of 30 November.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: The butter referred to in my reply of 30 November was sold under two schemes, either for processing into concentrated butter for cooking at a fixed price of 12·27p per pound or for use in compound animal feed at a price, set by monthly tender, of between 2·11p and 2·19p per pound.

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food what was the total amount of butter exported by the United Kingdom in each of the calendar years 1975 to 1986; and what total amount has been exported in 1987 up till the most recent date for which figures are available.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: The data requested are set out in the table:

    United Kingdom Exports of Butter 1975–1987
    (Tonnes)
    19753,135
    197616,029
    197714,504
    197857,388
    197961,807
    198080,075
    198173,169
    198263,307
    198353,264
    198424,517
    198324,926
    198633,205
    1198792,039
    Source: Overseas Trade Statistics.
    1 January-September.

    Farm Wages

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food on how many of the 2,900 holdings visited by agricultural wages inspectors in 1986 cases were discovered of the underpayment of wages; and what this represents as a percentage of the holdings inspected.

    [holding answer 4 December 1987]: Agricultural wages inspectors visit holdings either on routine test inspections or in response to complaints, the latter revealing a much higher proportion of underpayments than the former. The detailed figures for England in 1986 were as follows:respectively, there are at present in each region of the United Kingdom, and how many of each species are so kept.

    [holding answer 4 December 1987]: There are no mink farms in Wales. For other parts of the United Kingdom the position was Scotland seven, Northern Ireland one as at 1 December. By MAFF region the position in England was:

    NumberAs at
    Northern1524 November 1987
    Midlands and West1624 November 1987
    Eastern73 December 1987
    South Eastern631 March 1987
    South Western73 December 1987
    Details of the numbers of mink held on these farms are not available, but it seems likely that the total number is of the order of 100,000. There are no coypu farms in the United Kingdom.

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he has any estimates of the number of mink and coypu presently in the wild in the United Kingdom.

    [holding answer 4 December 1987]: Mink are now very numerous in the wild and are spread over most parts of mainland Britain; they are also well established in Northern Ireland. However, my Department has no reliable scientific data on the numbers involved.Coypus in the wild have been confined to East Anglia where an eradication campaign has been under way since 1981. None have been found since April 1987, but eradication cannot be confirmed until 1989 at the earliest.

    Agriculture (Code Of Practice)

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if it is his intention to implement immediately the Health and Safety Commission's new code of practice in relation to agriculture.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: My responsibilities for such codes are limited to agricultural workers employed by my Department. It is my intention to implement them in so far as they apply to particular employees.

    Rating Reform

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if any special measures will be introduced when the poll tax is implemented to offset the circumstances of agricultural workers for tied cottages who at present do not pay rates; and if he will make a statement.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: No. Rates are payable on tied cottages under the present system and farmers frequently agree to meet this bill on behalf of their employees. In such cases, rates can be treated as taxable expenses for the employers and as taxable benefits for the employees. It is intended under the new system that employees should still be able to agree with their employers to meet the community charge.

    Food Regulations

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food if he will list all regulations that have been made, and are still in force under section 13, subparagraph (b) of the Food Act 1984.

    [holding answer 2 December 1987]: Regulations made under section 13(2)(b) of the Food Act 1984, are made jointly with the Secretary of State for Social Services and the Secretary of State for Wales; the following deal specifically with matters referred to in paragraph (2)(b) and are still in force:

    The Slaughterhouses (Hygiene) Regulations 1977, S.I. No. 1805,
    The Fresh Meat Export (Hygiene and Inspection) Regulations 1981, S.I. No. 454 (as amended by S.I. 1983 No. 173 and S.I. 1985 No. 216),
    The Food Hygiene (General) Regulations 1970, S.I. No. 1172,
    The Imported Food Regulations 1984, S.I. No. 1918, The Food Hygiene (Markets, Stalls and Delivery Vehicles) Regulations 1966, S.I. No. 791 (as amended by S.I. 1966 No. 1487), and
    The Food Hygiene (Docks, Carriers, Etc.) Regulations 1960, S.I. No. 1602.

    Alternative Land Use

    To ask the Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food when he expects to bring forward detailed proposals for the set aside of agricultural land.