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Written Answers

Volume 124: debated on Thursday 10 December 1987

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Written Answers To Questions

Thursday 10 December 1987

Wales

Housing Waiting Lists

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if his Department will collate figures for housing waiting lists in Wales.

No. Waiting lists are not compiled by local authorities on any uniform basis. There would be no merit in collating the figures centrally, since this would not provide meaningful information.

Intensive Poultry Farming

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales how many representations he has received over the past five years on the adverse environmental impact of the establishment of intensive poultry farming in Wales.

No comprehensive records are kept, but since 1984 approximately 14 representations have been received about the environmental impact of poultry farming.

Welsh Language

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he is satisfied with the present state of teaching of the Welsh language in Wales; and if he will make a statement.

Encouraging progress has been made. Our proposals for including Welsh in the national curriculum are a further significant step forward.

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether he has completed his consideration of the responses to the consultation exercises conducted by his Department on the question of Welsh language legislation; and if he will make a statement.

After studying the responses I have concluded that both I and the Minister of State need to take further soundings on this sensitive issue. I propose early in the new year to meet representatives of several organisations to discuss the matter further. Additionally, I am setting up a working group with a membership spanning a very broad spectrum of Welsh life to be chaired by the Minister of State. This group will consider the more substantive comments submitted as part of the consultation exercise, seek any further views it feels necessary and advise me on the most constructive and appropriate action that I might take to foster the Welsh language.

Nhs (Consultants)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what provision exists in his Department's budget for the current financial year for the employment of outside consultants in relation to his Department's responsibility for the National Health Service in Wales.

At the start of the financial year, £0·282 million was earmarked with hospital and community health services provision for consultancies for which there was an outstanding commitment to provide central funding. Since then a further £0·200 million has been made available for consultancies in respect of Gwynedd and Mid Glamorgan health authorities from funds released through slippage in the take-up (by authorities) of funds originally allocated for centrally financed service developments.

Integration Operations

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what progress has been made in the European Commission with regard to the integration operations proposals put forward by Gwynedd, Dyfed and Powys county councils; and if he will make a statement.

The Commission has not yet reached a decision on the integrated operations programme for Dyfed, Gwynedd and Powys. I have fully endorsed the submission and I am pressing for an early decision.

Community Hospital (Gwynedd)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales whether staff of his Department have had discussions during the past three months with members or staff of Gwynedd health authority about the practicability of scheduling at an early date, the construction of a new community hospital to serve Dwyfor and north Meirionnydd; and if he will make a statement.

Ysbym Madog

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales on what date his Department received an inquiry from the Gwynedd health authority concerning the legal status of Ysbym Madog, Porthmadog; and on what date his Department replied to such an inquiry.

Health Authorities (Sale Of Land)

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales what guidelines he has issued in relation to the sale of land or buildings by health authorities in Wales; and whether health authorities are allowed to retain the cash proceeds from such sales and to use them at their unfettered discretion.

Health authorities are required to conduct land transactions within the procedures set out in the National Health Service "Land Transactions Handbook" and the relevant Welsh health circulars. They are entitled to receive the proceeds from the sale of land or buildings no longer needed by the health service except in those cases where the property has become surplus because of a closure following a centrally funded scheme. In such cases the sale proceeds will not be kept by the district health authority, but will benefit the all-Wales provision. Health authorities may use the proceeds of sale for the provision of hospital and community health services for which they are responsible.

Hospital Closures

To ask the Secretary of State for Wales if he will list all those hospitals in Wales for which closure proposals have been submitted to him for decision, after the appropriate local consultation procedures, during the past four years; and if he will indicate for each one whether closure was approved or rejected or whether a decision is still pending.

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

Transport

Welded Rail

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many miles of continuous welded rail he expects to authorise, as envisaged in British Rail's corporate plan, in the years 1988–89, 1989–90, 1990–91 and 1991–92.

British Rail's expenditure on continuous welded rail is a management matter for which they do not require ministerial consent. The mileage of track on which British Rail expects to complete work in each year is as follows:

Mileage
1988–89268
1989–90249
1990–91241
1991–92228

Railway Crossing, Criccieth

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what direct representations he has received from residents of the Criccieth area concerning the danger of the railway crossing at Criccieth; whether he has replied to these representations; if he has agreed to meet the county councils for the area to discuss this problem; and if he will make a statement.

Representations have been received from the Criccieth Maes Railways Crossing Action Group that the existing Automatic Open Crossing should be programmed for immediate conversion to an Automatic Half-Barrier installation. The Department have replied to the effect that British Railways have primary responsibility for deciding what alterations should be made and when the works should take place. We have had no request to meet the county councils for the area.

Motor Cycle Noise

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport if he will make a statement on progress with the implementation of the Motor Cycle Noise Act.

We are preparing two sets of regulations on motor cycle noise. The first, under the Motor Cycle Noise Act, will introduce controls on the sale of motor cycle silencers and exhausts. The second, an amendment to the Construction and Use Regulations, will bring into effect the provisions of directive 87/56/EEC, which sets tighter noise limits for motorcycles first used on or after 1 October 1990.

We expect to circulate both sets of regulations for comment early in the new year.

A43 (Accidents)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many personal injury accidents have occurred at the junction of the A43 trunk road with the unclassified road from Charlton to Evenley since the dual carriageway was opened on 20 August; and what action he proposes to take to improve visibility and reduce further accident risks.

There have been two personal injury accidents. The junction is of a type common throughout the country. It is well signed and has good visibility. Our agents, Northamptonshire county council, have been instructed to monitor the situation and examine whether there is any scope for improvement.

Traffic (Lowestoft)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport when he expects to make public the findings of the Maunsell report into Lowestoft's traffic problems; and if he will make a statement.

We are considering the Maunsell report following the consultant's study of traffic movement on A12 in Lowestoft. I shall make an announcement about the findings and our response as soon as possible.

Special Types General Order

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport whether he intends further to amend the Special Types General Order.

Yes. I have signed an amending order to modify the new rules set out in Statutory Instrument 1987 No. 1327. This extends the time for changing existing vehicles used for carrying abnormal indivisible loads. These will now be permitted until 1 October 1989 to operate with their existing axle arrangements. For those weighing up to 80 tonnes gross weight the maximum axle weight will be reduced to 13·5 tonnes. From 1 October 1989 the maximum axle weight for these vehicles will be further reduced to 12·5 tonnes and the new rules on axle arrangements will apply.

Railways Inspectorate (Chief Inspecting Officer Post)

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport why the recently advertised post of chief inspecting officer at the Railways Inspectorate has been set at one grade lower than that of the current holder of the post.

When unified grading was introduced into the enlarged open structure of the Civil Service, the post of Chief Inspector of Railways was assigned to grade 4. Grade 4 posts are, however, usually responsible for the management of grade 5 officers. There are no such posts in the chief inspector's command. The present chief inspector retires next year and this represented an opportunity to consider the grading of his post. Since it does not involve the management of other senior staff, it was decided that it should formally be grade 5.

There is no intention, implied or otherwise, to diminish the post of the chief inspecting officer or the statutory responsibilities of the post. I am fully conscious of the need to appoint a candidate of the highest quality to carry out these important duties. The advertisement makes it clear, therefore, that a higher salary will be considered for a candidate with exceptional qualifications or experience.

Prime Minister

Hillmorton

Q71.

To ask the Prime Minister if she has any plans to make an official visit to Hillmorton in Rugby.

Holy Loch

Q137.

To ask the Prime Minister when she next expects to pay an official visit to Holy Loch.

Council House Sales

To ask the Prime Minister how many council houses and flats have been sold to their tenants since May 1979 in the United Kingdom.

More than I million tenants have bought their own homes since May 1979.

Engagements

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 10 December.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 10 December.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 10 December.

To ask the Prime Minister if she will list her official engagements for Thursday 10 December.

This morning I presided at a meeting of the Cabinet and had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others. In addition to my duties in the House, I shall be having further meetings later today.

Attorney-General

Land Registry

To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to the answer of 30 November, what specific plans there are to cut the length of time it takes to process new titles in the Land Registry; and if he will make a statement.

In his response to the Adjournment debate on 30 November 1987, at columns 741–44 my hon. and learned Friend, the Solicitor-General, set out specific plans to meet the Land Registry's commitments and to contain, and eventually reduce, the backlog of outstanding casework, including new titles.

Welsh Language

To ask the Attorney-General who is to be the successor to Mr. Roderic Bowen QC as Welsh Social Security Commissioner; and if he will be capable of chairing hearings undertaken in the Welsh language.

Oral hearings continue to be held in Cardiff on a regular basis to deal with appeals which arise in Wales. A commissioner, based in the London office, is available to conduct oral hearings in the Welsh language should the need arise. The Lord Chancellor has no plans at present to appoint a further social security commissioner to be based in Wales.

Family Law Reform Act 1987

To ask the Attorney-General, pursuant to the answer to the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Mr. Corbett) 23 July, Official Report, column 291, how the Government have derived the figure of £3·5 million a year as the cost of implementing part II of the Family Law Reform Act 1987, and if he will give a breakdown of this figure.The Attorney-General: The figure of £3·5 million is derived from the impact on the county courts and on the legal aid fund of the increased rights given to both unmarried parents by part 11 of the Act. The breakdown of costs is as follows:

£million
Court services and judiciary0·4
Services of probation officers0·6
Legal aid2·5

Education And Science

Books And Equipment

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what system he has for ensuring that the provision made by him in grants to local education authorities for books and equipment in schools is being allocated by schools and local education authorities for those purposes; and if he will make a statement.

Education support grant is allocated to authorities for specific purposes, including the provision of books and equipment for GCSE. Grant may be claimed only on expenditure which an authority's auditors are satisfied has been made for that purpose. However, it is for individual authorities and schools to decide on the priority to be given to books and equipment within expenditure supported by block grant.

Overseas Students

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what were the numbers of students registered at universities in the United Kingdom from countries outside the EEC, defined by country of origin, in each of the years since 1978.

The required information for 1986 for countries with more than 250 students is shown in the table. Information for all countries could be provided only at disproportionate cost. In addition, there were 7,000 students from other non-EC countries. Information for earlier years has been published in "Statistics of Students from abroad in the United Kingdom", by the British Council, a copy of which is in the Library.

Students from abroad in United Kingdom universities
1986
Hong Kong4,729
United States4,202
Malaysia3,788
Singapore1,606
Nigeria1,493
Norway1,104
Iraq1,061
Algeria1,059
Iran1,044
Canada952
Cyprus719
China716
Kenya688
India650
Pakistan634
Saudi Arabia575
Japan444
Brazil419
Egypt419
Zambia392
Australia363
Jordan356
Cameroon336
Lebanon330
Sri Lanka324
South Africa316
Indonesia286
Bangladesh280
Tanzania261
Total29,546

Adult Literacy

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what information he has available to him regarding the standards of adult literacy in England and Wales.

Few adults are unable to read or write at all, but there are a large number who have problems with reading, writing and spelling. In a report recently published by the Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit, it is reported that 13 per cent. of 23-year-olds who were interviewed in the National Child Development Study survey in 1981, said they had some problems with reading, writing or numeracy. If this were typical of all adults, an estimated 5·5 million people in England and Wales could have difficulties with literacy and numeracy. The Government provide help through the Adult Literacy and Basic Skills Unit which acts as a central focus to assist LEAs and voluntary organisations to establish new basic skills provision and develop existing provision. The grant to the unit for the current year is £2,170,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science what representations he has received concerning adult literacy.

My right hon. Friend has not received any such representations during the present Session.

Cern

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science whether the review of CERN has yet been completed; if a decision has yet been reached on the United Kingdom membership of CERN; and if he will make a statement.

I understand that the CERN review group, chaired by Professor Abragam, has completed its work and that its report will be available before the CERN council meeting on 17 December. The report's recommendations will be taken into account in reaching any decision.

School Meals

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will seek to provide information as to how many children living in Lancashire are in receipt of free school meals; and what percentage of Lancashire school children this represents.

The total number of free school meals taken in Lancashire on the day of the annual school meals census in October 1986 was 44,017, or 21 per cent. of full-time equivalent pupils registered at maintained schools.

Pupil-Teacher Ratios

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science if he will give the total number of pupils on school rolls and the pupil-to-teacher ratio in primary schools in Cleveland for each year since 1979.

The number of pupils on roll and the pupil-teacher ratio in maintained primary schools in Cleveland each year since 1979 were as follows:

January each yearPupils1Pupil-teacher ratio
197965,38623·4
198062,77023·1
198160,44623·1
198257,32122·4
198354,39521·8
198453,50522·1
198553,10622·2
198653,27022·3
198753,75522·1
1 Full-time equivalent pupils. Part-time pupils counted as 0·5.

"Educational Reform"

To ask the Secretary of State for Education and Science how many copies of the booklet "Educational Reform" have been printed; to whom they are to be distributed; and what is the total cost of the publication itemised by costs of (a) printing, (b) preparation at all stages, (c) distribution, including postage, and (d) other costs.

500,000 copies of the booklet have been printed. Individual copies have been sent to all headteachers and clerks of governing bodies in England; to all right hon. and hon. Members and to some noble Lords; to local education authorities, chief education officers, examining bodies, teacher unions, examining groups, employers' groups and others known to have an interest and who requested copies of the consultation documents. Further copies are available on request from my Department.The cost is as follows:

£
(a) Printing46,450
(b) Design4,250
(c) Postage45,560
(d) Other costsNil
Total196,260
1 Unit cost 19·25p.

Defence

Foreign Service Allowance

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what consultations took place with the Retired Officers Association over the replacement of foreign service allowance from I January 1988 with a cost of living allowance.

Cost of living addition was agreed after extensive negotiations between the official and trade union sides of the national Whitley Council in 1985 and 1986. It was announced within my Department in a Defence Council instruction on 2 May 1986 and is being introduced progressively worldwide. Transitional arrangements were included in the agreement for staff whose allowances were reduced.The Retired Officers Association is not a member of the Council of Civil Service Unions and does not have independent negotiating rights. However, like all civil servants, including non-union members, members of the ROA are subject to such nationally negotiated agreements. The new rates for staff in Germany result from a recent Treasury inspection. They were agreed following negotiations with local trade union and staff representatives. The local representative of the ROA was given the opportunity to present the association's views to the inspector.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is his estimate of how much retired officers filling service appointments as re-employed officers will on average lose in a year as a result of the replacement of tax-free foreign service allowance with cost of living allowance.

Under Inland Revenue rules, overseas allowances can only be regarded as tax-free if they compensate for necessary and actual additional expenditure. One of the major features of the cost of living addition (COLA) provisions is to pay child provision only to officers with eligible dependent children whereas foreign service allowance included an element for a child in the basic rate, whether or not the officer had dependent children.This change will result in any civil servant without children, including retired officers, receiving the basic rate of COLA without child provision. In Germany the new rate of COLA for this category of staff in the grade equivalent to RO3 is approximately £760 per annum less than the old FSA rate, due mainly to this change.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what is the average annual payment of foreign service allowance to (a) a young married officer with young children and (b) retired officers filling service appointments as re-employed officers who no longer have dependent children; and what will be the average annual payments of cost of living allowance for these examples after 1 January 1988.

The old and new rates in Germany payable to a married civilian officer with two children compared to that for a married officer with no children, for the grade RO3 in which the majority of retired officers fall, are:

Old £New £
Band 4 Civilian Officers without dependent children2,6301,869
Band 4 Civilian Officers with 2 dependent children at post3,0144,212

Retired Officers (Re-Employment)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he will make it his policy to preserve the pay and conditions of retired officers filling service appointments as re-employed officers, after the introduction of cost of living allowance on 1 January 1988.

Foreign service allowance is being replaced by the cost of living addition (COLA) which came into effect on 9 January 1986. COLA is being introduced progressively worldwide as individual countries are inspected under the allowances procedure. The COLA agreement applies to all UK-based civilians serving overseas and it is not within the power of my Department to exempt any of our staff from the terms of this agreement.

Low-Level Flying

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has anything to add to his replies to the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) on 10 November, Official Report, column 157, and the hon. Member for Workington on 16 November, Official Report, column 451, on the number of RAF fast jets lost in low-level accidents in the United Kingdom and surrounding waters in 1986; and if he will make a statement.

The information given in my answer to the hon. Member on 16 November is correct. The answer on 10 November to a question from the hon. Member for Burnley (Mr. Pike) about the number of aircraft and airmen lost during Royal Air Force fast jet operations involving low-flying training in the United Kingdom and surrounding waters in 1985–87 omitted to mention one aircraft loss which occured in 1986, but had not at the time of the answer been identified in records as occurring during a low-flying excerise over the sea. No fatalities were involved.

Tr-1 Reconnaissance Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what discussions have been held with the Lockheed company concerning the possible purchase of the TR-1 reconnaissance aircraft.

Holy Loch (Servicing)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if he has received any request or notification from the United States authorities relating to the replenishment or servicing of United States Navy Tomahawk cruise-missile armed submarines at Holy Loch.

Any discussions of this nature would be confidential between the two Governments.

European Fighter Aircraft

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence if the European fighter aircraft is expected to be procured as a one-for-one replacement for Royal Air Force Jaguar and Phantom aircraft: and if he will make a statement.

I have nothing to add to the answer I gave to the hon. Member for Dundee, West (Mr. Ross) on 8 December at column 149.

Royal Ordnance Factories

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when he expects to respond to the report by the National Audit Office on the loss of public money involved in the sale of Royal Ordnance factories; and if he will make a statement.

I understand that the Committee of Public Accounts examined the accounting officer on 9 December on the Comptroller and Auditor General's report on the costs and benefits of the sale of Royal Ordnance plc. Once the Committee has reported to the House on its conclusions, the Government's response to those conclusions will be given, in the customary manner, by means of a Treasury minute.

Radioactive Contaminants

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many armed forces exercises involving radioactive contamination have taken place at Buchan since 1981;(2) if he will make a statement about armed forces exercises involving radioactive contamination at Buchan.

It is not our policy to discuss the locations where exercises involving the use of radioactive contaminants are held.

National Finance

Vat (United States Forces)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what is the estimated loss to the Exchequer of exempting maintenance and equipment contracts for United States forces in Britain from value added tax; under what authority this is done; and if he will make a statement.

The information on revenue forgone is not available and could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.Relief from the United Kingdom duties and taxes is afforded to United States visiting forces under the authority of an exchange of notes between the governments of the United Kingdom and the United States of America which was made in 1952 and which supplements earlier agreements including the mutual defence assistance agreement of 1950.

Friendly Societies (Political Donations)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer how many and which organisations lodging accounts with the Director of Friendly Societies show political donations.

I regret that an answer could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Public Expenditure

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer why he does not include defence procurement expenditure in tables showing identifiable public expenditure by function in England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland.

Defence procurement expenditure is deemed to have been incurred on behalf of the United Kingdom as a whole and it is, therefore, not appropriate to allocate it to an individual country in tables showing identifiable public expenditure by function and territory.

Television (Public Service Messages)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to the answer of 1 December, Official Report, column 543, what information the Central Office of Information has as to the number of viewers reached by public service messages on BBC and independent television, respectively; what specific steps he is taking to achieve greater audience penetration amongst those who watch predominantly BBC channels; if any fee is payable to the BBC for this service; and if he will make a statement.

The Central Office of Information receives regular reports from the BBC and independent television companies detailing the times at which public service messages were transmitted and the channels or companies which broadcast the material. However, this information does not include audience figures and it would need a disproportionate use of resources in the Central Office of Information to research individual audience figures for each public service message. In the 12 months to the end of September 1987, the independent television companies and the BBC reported details of more than 16,000 transmissions of Government-sponsored public service messages.Monthly guidance is given to encourage the greater use of topical public service messages, but transmission must be at the discretion of the broadcasting organisations. No fee is payable to the BBC or ITV companies for the transmission of public service messages.

Housing Bill

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer what was the total cost of reissuing the Housing Bill, excluding printing; and of that how much was the postage cost for distribution.

The cost of re-issuing the Housing Bill (excluding printing) cannot be determined exactly without incurring disproportionate cost, but it is estimated to have been around £300, of which some £175 would have been for postage and carriage.

Ec (Budget Council)

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the outcome of the European Community Budget Council meeting on 9 December.

The Budget Council met in Brussels on 9 December. I represented the United Kingdom.The Council held further discussions on the establishment of a 1988 draft budget. I again made clear that any draft budget must respect the own resources ceiling. The Council adjourned without reaching agreement.

Job Creation

To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer, pursuant to his reply of 26 November, Official Report, column 293, how many jobs in manufacturing industry in Scotland were created for each year since 1975.

[holding answer 7 December 1987]: Estimates of employees in employment in Scottish manufacturing industries, along with comparable estimates for the service sector and total employees in Scotland, are as follows:

Employees in employment in Scotland: thousands, mid-year
(Changes on a year earlier in brackets)
ManufacturingServicesTotal
1975645 (-38)1,158 (+30)2,076 (-8)
1976615 (-30)1,182 (+24)2,071 (-5)
1977622 (+7)1,182 (-)2,071 (-)
1978611 (-11)1,190 (+8)2,067 (-4)
1979604 (-7)1,224 (+34)2,102 (+35)
1980564 (-40)1,244 (+20)2,082 (-20)
1981510 (-54)1,233 (-11)2,002 (-80)
1982477 (-33)1,228 (-5)1,950 (-52)
1983444 (-33)1,216 (-12)1,899 (-51)
1984434 (-10)1,231 (+15)1,901 (+2)
1985430 (-4)1,244 (+13)1,904 (+3)
1986410 (-20)1,260 (+16)1,888 (-16)
1987398 (-12)1,278 (+18)1,890 (+2)
Changes between
1975–87-247+120-186
1979–87-206+54-212
1983–87-46+62-9
Some of the decrease in the figures for manufacturing will be the result of the reclassification of jobs such as industrial cleaning, catering, computer services and road haulage previously done by manufacturers' own employees and now done by sub-contractors. This developing feature of our economy has the effect of exaggerating the extent of the move from manufacturing to service sector employment. Employees in employmment in the service sector in Scotland increased between 1976 and 1987.

Employment

Community Programme

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what representations he has received from voluntary and conservation bodies concerning proposals for the reform of eligibility criteria for the community programme.

I have received a number of representations from voluntary and conservation bodies about the community programme eligibility criteria.

Benefit Adjudication Officers

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment how many additional support staff for unemployment benefit adjudication officers have been appointed, following recommendations of the chief adjudication officer's annual report.

The chief adjudiction officer first recommended an increase in support staff for adjudication officers in his annual report for 1984–85. Since the period covered by that report, my Department has conducted an internal survey into the organisation of the adjudication service. In the two years since that survey some 90 additional clerical and secretarial staff have been introduced to support the work of adjudication officers.

Passive Smoking

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will introduce legislation to protect employees in their places of work against the consequences of passive smoking; and if he will make a statement.

The Government are awaiting the fourth report of the independent Scientific Committee on Smoking and Health, which is expected about the end of the year. I understand that the report will cover the health risks associated with passive smoking, on which the committee made an interim statement earlier this year. We shall then be able to consider any further action that may be needed on smoking in the workplace. We are continuing to encourage employers to limit the exposure of nonsmokers to tobacco smoke at work on a voluntary basis, for example by workplace agreements to limit smoking to particular areas or to segregate smokers and non-smokers.

National Dock Labour Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what is his estimate of the number of people employed in national dock labour scheme ports; and what information he has as to what proportion this constitutes of the total number employed in all ports.

The forthcoming report on manpower in the United Kingdom ports industry, soon to be published jointly by the British Ports Association and the National Association of Port Employers, will show that, of around 40,000 people employed in United Kingdom ports on 20 March 1987, about 28,000 (70 per cent.) worked in scheme ports.

Sex Discrimination Act 1975

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment what proposals he has concerning section 51 of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.

A consultation document has been published today. It explains the changes required in relation to section 51, sets out in detail the other legislation under consideration and seeks, by 29 February, views on the extent to and manner in which the legislation should be amended. Copies of the document have been placed in the Library.

Restart Scheme

To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish up-to-date figures showing the number of unemployed people who have been issued with invitations to attend restart interviews since the beginning of the scheme, the total number of interviews conducted during the same period and a breakdown of the difference between these two totals, estimating (a) those who ceased to be unemployed prior to receiving the invitation, (b) those who left the register between the receipt of the invitation and the interview date and (c) other reasons for non-attendance; and if he will also provide an estimate of how many of these people would be likely to leave the register if the normal outflow from the unemployment register continued at pre-restart levels.

[holding answer 7 December 1987]: Since the start of the restart programme, 3,286,000 people have been invited and 2,558,000 have attended an interview. It is not possible to break down the difference between these two totals in the manner requested. However, among those people invited for interview who do not in the event attend for interview are:

  • (a) people who cease to be unemployed shortly before or after receiving their invitation;
  • (b) people who are about to start work;
  • (c) people who cease claiming unemployment benefits for other reasons.
  • We do not know how many people ultimately find work or other opportunities as a result of a restart interview.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish up-to-date figures showing (a) the average duration of unemployment of those who have attended restart interviews and (b) the proportion of restart interviewees who remain on the unemployment register (i) one month, (ii) two months, (iii) three months and (iv) six months after a restart interview.

    1 June 1986 to 9 October 198610 October 1986 to 8 January 19879 January 1987 to 9 April 198710 April 1987 to 26 June 198729 June 1987 to 25 September 1987
    People counselled under restart366,451412,600506,046409,436612,264
    Referals
    Job37,93034,90638,66938,12852,181
    Community Programme56,88348,19543,24730,10245,040
    Jobclubs17,27823,35836,05439,52059,057
    Enterprise Allowance Scheme16,80017,49320,08716,04722,732
    Restart Courses63,14968,09557,80119,65525,316
    Training45,32751,34959,26774,305101,022
    Voluntary Projects Programme9,62811,35714,7867,14911,198
    Voluntary Work
    Employment rehabilitation Centres2,8831321,7269341,229

    Jobstart Scheme

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish up-to-date figures showing the total number of payments made under the jobstart scheme, together with a breakdown of the wages of jobs covered by the scheme in the same format used in the reply given on 18 April 1986, Official Report, columns 527–28; and if he will show the average duration of jobstart payments.

    [holding answer 7 November 1987]: Since the introduction of jobstart, 18,107 people have been accepted on to the allowance. The total sum paid out under jobstart up to 27 November 1987 amounts to £6·8 million. The most recent figures available as to the breakdown of wages of jobs covered by the scheme are as follows:

    1 July 1986 to 25 September 1987
    Wages (£ a week)Number
    0 to 39642
    40 to 491,101
    50 to 592,521
    60 to 694,104

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: Most of those interviewed under the restart programme are invited to interview after six, 12 or 18 months unemployment. The information requested on the length of time spent unemployed after a restart interview is not available.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Employment if he will publish up-to-date figures, showing the outcome of interviews conducted under the restart scheme, covering the period from the introduction 01 the scheme, in the same format used in the reply given on 6 November 1986, Official Report, columns 523–24, together with a breakdown of these figures to show outcomes for each three-month or similar time period.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: The number of people interviewed under the restart programme and the numbers referred to the various menu items, broken down into three-month periods since the national inception of restart, are shown in the table.We do not know how many of those selected for interview are ultimately placed in a job or in a training scheme or programme.

    Wages (£ a week)Number
    70 to 797,543
    Total15,911
    Information on the average duration of jobstart payments is not available.

    Yts (Statistics)

    To ask the Secretary of Slate for Employment how many persons have had a benefit penalty applied to them by an adjudication officer for refusing to enter a YTS course or for leaving a YTS course early, for each month since December 1983.

    I have been asked to reply.The numbers of people who have had their supplementary benefit reduced for refusing a youth training scheme place, or for leaving courses early, in each month since December 1983, are as follows.

    For 4 Weeks ending:Refusal of PlaceEarly Leavers
    1983
    20 December168789

    For 4 Weeks ending:

    Refusal of Place

    Early Leavers

    1984

    17 January191733
    14 February2651,362
    13 March1651,229
    10 April881,093
    8 May63895
    5 June47853
    3 July53806
    31 July36627
    28 August27462
    25 September25502
    23 October40649
    20 November42716
    18 December32579

    1985

    15 January35357
    12 February56766
    12 March50607
    9 April34469
    7 May36429
    4 June22405
    2 July17401
    30 July18318
    27 August10267
    24 September12371
    22 October48426
    19 November29496
    17 December22405

    1986

    14 January9217
    11 February25475
    11 March28526
    8 April20375
    6 Mayn/a555
    3 June17322
    1 July20318
    29 July17282
    26 August6234
    23 September16346
    21 October16507
    18 November25428
    16 December25392

    1987

    13 January25219
    10 February22350
    10 March17403
    7 April10306
    5 May3106
    2 June680
    30 June965
    28 July465
    25 August380
    22 September264
    20 October181

    Home Department

    Recidivism

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what is the current rate of recidivism among former prisoners; and what was the rate for each of the previous four years.

    The readily available information relates to sentenced prisoners reconvicted within two years of discharge from a prison department establishment and is published annually in "Prison Statistics England and Wales" copies of which are in the Library. Table 8(a) of the latest issue (Cm. 210) gives information about those discharged in 1983 and earlier years.

    Sheltered Housing (Fires)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many fatal fires there were in local authority homes for the elderly or sheltered housing in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement.

    The information readily available is given in the table. Fire statistics for 1986 will be available shortly.

    Fires, and deaths in fires, attended by local authority fire brigades in certain locations1
    United KingdomNumber
    198319841985
    Elderly persons' homes1
    Fire deaths2375
    Fires resulting in these deaths of which, in local authority345
    premises3212
    Sheltered housing1
    Fire deaths546
    Fires resulting in these deathsof which, in local authority545
    premises311
    1 Information on location is based on brigades' descriptions of the premises involved. Figures for "sheltered housing" exclude premises described by brigades as old peoples" dwellings (flats, bungalows, etc) but not specifically as sheltered housing.
    2 Figures published annually in "Fire Statistics United Kingdom" (Table 32 of the volume for 1985).
    3 Fires readily identifiable from fire reports as occurring in local authority premises. It is possible that some of the other fatal fires above were also in local authority premises.

    Home Defence Exercises

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will make a statement on the role of local authorities in the major home defence exercises planned for September-October 1988.

    We have indicated to local authorities our belief that participation should be limited to the provision of guidance by county emergency planning officers on any local authority matters which may arise.

    Police (Complaints)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department how many complaints were lodged against police officers yearly, since 1979; and of them (a) how many complaints were withdrawn, (b) how many complaints were upheld, (c) how many complaints were rejected and (d) how many prosecutions were brought against police officers as a result of a complaint.

    Information about complaints made against the police and their outcome is contained in the annual reports of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Constabulary and of the Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis. Further informaton can be found in the annual reports of the Police Complaints Board or, since 1985, the Police Complaints Authority. These reports are available in the Library.

    Firearms

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list in the Official Report how many firearms, of what calibres and types (a) civilian held, (b) police owned, and (c) armed forces owned, which have been (i) stolen and (ii) recovered in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available.

    Information on the number of burglaries and thefts recorded by the police in which firearms were reported to have been stolen, by principal weapon type and location of incident, is published in tables 3.12 and 3.13 of "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 1986" (Cm 233) copies of which are in the Library. Information is not collected centrally on the numbers of weapons stolen in these incidents, on their ownership or on the number subsequently recovered. The information included for thefts and for burglaries from military establishments is thought to be incomplete because such offences are not necessarily reported to and recorded by the police. Comprehensive figures for thefts from the armed forces are not readily available.

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he has made any estimate of the number of lives which will be saved annually as a result of his recently announced measures for firearms control, and how many would arise (a) from the reduced use of firearms by the legal holders of such weapons and (b) from the reduced use of firearms in the commission of other criminal acts which end in murder or manslaughter.

    It is not possible to estimate how many lives might be saved by the Government's proposals for new firearms controls. The Government believe, however, that the new measures will reduce the risk of firearms misuse, which the Hungerford shootings and other recent incidents have shown to be unacceptably high.

    Murder And Manslaughter (Firearms)

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many persons have been the victims of murder and manslaughter in cases where a firearm was used which was not known to have been legally held in each of the last 10 years for which figures are available;(2) how many persons have been the victims of manslaughter or murder by persons legally holding firearms, in each of the last 10 years for which records are available; how many of these murders were committed by persons related to the victim; and if he will provide a breakdown of the type of firearms used in each year;(3) how many persons have been the victims of manslaughter or murder by legally held firearms stolen from their owners in each of the last 10 years for which figures were available; in how many of these cases such deaths occurred when other crimes were being attempted or carried out; and what information he has as to the type of weapons used in each year.

    Information on offences of homicide by shooting and on the type of firearm involved is published annually in tables 4.3 and 3.6 of "Criminal Statistics, England and Wales" copies of which are in the Library; the latest issue (Cm. 233) gives figures for 1976–86. The available information on the relationship between victim and suspect for all homicides by shooting and on homicides by shooting in furtherance of theft or gain is given in the tables. Information on whether the firearms involved were legally held, illegally held or stolen is not available centrally; corresponding information for earlier years could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

    Table 1
    Offences currently1recorded as homicide where the victim was related to the principal suspect by type of firearm
    Number of offences
    YearTotalType of firearm
    Long-barrelled shotgunSawn-off shotgunPistolRifleOther
    198212912
    19832214251
    1984191919
    19852910225
    1986231553
    1 As at 1 June 1987.
    Table 2
    Offences currently1recorded as homicide where the victim was related to the principal suspect by type of firearm
    Number of offences
    YearTotalType of firearm
    Long-barrelled shotgunSawn-off shotgunPistolRifleOther
    19823111
    19833111
    19846321
    19856123
    1986211
    1 As at 1 June 1987.

    Mrs Fatima Mohamed Gulaid

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department if he will list the organisations and lion. Members who have made representations to his Department concerning the proposed deportation of Mrs. Fatima Mohamed Gulaid.

    No representations from organizations have been received about the proposal to remove Mrs. Fatima Mohamed Gulaid following refusal of leave to enter. Representations have been received from the hon. Member, from the hon. Members for Liverpool, Mossley Hill (Mr. Alton), for Liverpool, Walton (Mr. Heffer), for Liverpool, Garston (Mr. Loyden), for Liverpool, West Derby (Mr. Wareing) and for Liverpool, Broadgreen (Mr. Fields). On 11 November an early-day motion was tabled and signed by eight hon. Members, including the hon. Member for Liverpool, Riverside. We expect to reach a decision on the case shortly.

    Winson Green Prison

    To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department (1) how many female prison officers have been allocated to the male prisoners' wings at Winson Green prison under the fresh start programme;(2) if the duties of the female prison officers at Winson Green prison, Birmingham, include supervision of slopping out by male prisoners; and if he will make a statement.

    Six additional female prison officers were allocated to Birmingham prison last month. Part of their duties involves working with male officers in male prisoners' wings, for example to lock and unlock prisoners. The arrangements take account of the need to preserve privacy and decency.

    Trade And Industry

    Stock Exchange (Deregulation)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate he has of the effects of deregulation upon the turnover of foreign investment on the stock exchange; and if he will make a statement.

    Such figures as are available about foreign investment on the stock exchange are contained in the autumn edition of its publication "Quality of Markets Quarterly".

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what estimate he has of the effects of deregulation on the average commission rate on share dealings on the stock exchange; and if he will make a statement.

    The stock exchange, in the autumn 1987 edition of its report "Quality of Markets Quarterly", has given its most recent estimate about the trends in commissions since big bang, namely 27 October 1986.

    Departmental Establishment (Wales)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what was and is the total establishment number of the Department of Trade and Industry in Wales for each year since 1970.

    Staff-in-post figures for the Department of Trade and Industry in Wales for each year since 1976 were as follows:

    Number
    1 April 19761,608
    1 April 19772,262
    1 April 19782,262
    1 April 19792,395
    1 April 19802,270
    1 April 19812,194
    1 April 19822,060
    1 April 19831,979
    1 April 19841,788
    1 April 19851,770
    1 April 19861,769
    1 April 19871,727
    Figures prior to 1976 are not available. The figures in the table do not represent a comparative series because of machinery of Government changes.

    Estate Agents

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will introduce legislation to make the description of homes for sale given by estate agents in their publicity material subject to the provisions of the Trade Descriptions Act.

    Textiles (Turkey)

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what were the results of the European Community's recent negotiations with Turkey for renewal of a voluntary restraint arrangement for textiles; if he will publish the agreed import limits in the Official Report; and if he will make a statement.

    Auditors

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster what proposals he has for implementing the European Commission eighth company law directive on the regulation of auditors.

    I have today placed in the Library of the House a note setting out the basis on which the Government intend to implement this directive. This follows detailed consultation. Legislation will be included in the next Companies Bill.The main points are as follows: the directive governs the supervision of auditors engaged on the audit of the annual accounts of companies where such audit is required by company law. Our intention is that the overall responsibility for this supervision should be exercised by the Secretary of State, but the detailed implementation will be entrusted to recognised professional bodies. However, the legislation will be designed to enable him to transfer these responsibilities to a general auditing council or some other supervisory body, if, in due course, he considers it appropriate to do so. Under the proposed system, the ability to practise as an auditor will depend on the fulfilment of appropriate education and training requirements to be administered by recognised professional bodies according to standards approved by the Secretary of State, or on individual approval by the Secretary of State. In addition, practising auditors, including those individually approved by the Secretary of State, should be designated "registered auditors" and subject to detailed supervision by a body approved for that purpose by the Secretary of State. Any body seeking approval as a monitoring body should have to demonstrate the adequacy of its rules and procedures against broad criteria set out in the legislation.We propose to keep statutory provisions on the edcuation and training requirements for the recognition of professional qualifications to the minimum necessary for compliance with the Directive. This will give the recognised bodies the maximum flexibility to develop new courses and make other adjustments in the light of changing circumstances.In fulfilling the directive's requirement to safeguard the independence of auditors, we believe that the emphasis should be on strengthening professional guidance rather than statutory requirements. However, the Secretary of State will need to be satisfied that the guidance is adequate before approving a monitoring body. We also intend that companies other than small companies should have to disclose fees paid to their auditors for non-audit services.We also propose to remove the existing statutory prohibition on corporate auditors. The basis on which incorporation should be allowed poses some questions and I welcome the recent announcement that representatives of the accounting profession are setting up a joint working party to consider them. We shall want to take account of their conclusions before putting forward detailed proposals. I do not believe, however, that the need to safeguard independence necessarily rules out outside ownership of shares. I hope, therefore, that the working group will be able to reach agreement on ways of safeguarding independence while allowing an appropriate degree of flexibility in the way incorporation is permitted.

    Patent Office

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster if he will undertake a feasibility study into relocating the Patent Office to Yorkshire and Humberside.

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster whether he will make it his policy to transfer the Patent Office in London to Yorkshire and give consideration to finding a site in Harrogate.

    My officials together with officials from the Welsh Office and the PSA are currently examining the feasibility of relocating the Patent Office to Cardiff or Newport. These locations already house large DTI establishments and locating the Patent Office close to them would yield significant operational and financial benefits. I, therefore, have no plans to look elsewhere at the moment.

    Plymouth

    To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster when he expects the European Commission to give its agreement to the continuation of the intermediate area status of the Plymouth travel-to-work area.

    The Commission's agreement to intermediate area status for Plymouth was for a three-year period from November 1984. I am pleased to confirm that, on the basis of a submission by my Department supporting the case made by the local councils, the Commission has no objection to Plymouth's intermediate area status being extended for a further four-year period.

    The Arts

    British Library (Hebrew Collection)

    To ask the Minister for the Arts if he will issue a direction to the British Library Board under section 5 of the British Library Act 1972 to compile and publish a catalogue of its collection of Hebrew printed books.

    It is for the British Library Board to determine the priorities for its cataloguing programme. The library hopes to publish early next year a second supplement to its original 19th century Hebrew catalogue.

    Museums And Galleries

    To ask the Minister for the Arts if he is satisfied with access for disabled people in wheelchairs to all museums and galleries for which he has responsibility.

    I am satisfied that the museums and galleries for which I am responsible are fully aware of the needs of disabled people and are doing all they can to meet those needs. This includes improving access in existing buildings and planning for the needs of the disabled in new buildings.

    To ask the Minister for the Arts if he is satisfied that the extension to the National gallery and the Tate gallery of the north in Liverpool will provide adequate access for disabled people.

    I am satisfied that the new extension to the National gallery has been designed to provide a full range of facilities, including adequate access, for disabled people, both visitors and staff. Similarly, I am satisfied that the needs of disabled people, including that of adequate access, have been given particular consideration in the planning and refurbishment of the Tate gallery building in Liverpool.

    To ask the Minister for the Arts if he is satisfied with the access for disabled people to the new Turner gallery at the Tate; and whether he has received any complaints from disabled people or organisations on this issue.

    The needs of disabled people were taken into account when the Tate gallery drew up the design brief for the Turner gallery. The director and trustees of the Tate recognise, however, that further improvements need to be made, particularly within the building. They are taking steps to rectify the situation. I have not received any representations from disabled people or organisations on this matter.

    Energy

    Coal Mining

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy (1) if he has any plans to repeal the restriction on deep coal mines which prevents them from employing more than 30 people;(2) if he intends to abolish the royalty that must be paid to the National Coal Board on every ton of coal mined by private opencast pits;(3) if he has any plans to remove the restrictions on marketing to which private coal mines are subject;(4) if he has any plans to seek to reform legislation relating to the licensing of private coal mines;(5) if he intends to facilitate worker buy-outs of local pits by National Coal Board employees.

    Under existing legislation the British Coal Corporation is responsible for the issue of licences for private mining operations and is entitled to levy a royalty on coal produced under licence. There are no present plans for changes to that legislation, but the Government are considering the possibility of changing the statutory limits on both deep mined and opencast licensed production. The corporation is considering whether there is scope for increased flexibility and transparency within that legislation. The corporation does not require licensed coal to be delivered to it except by agreement with the licensee. Within existing legislation British Coal is prepared to consider proposals by former employees to establish worker co-operatives.

    Power Stations

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy whether plans by the Central Electricity Generating Board for new fossil fuel power stations at coastal sites in the United Kingdom include flue gas desulphurisation based on sea water scrubbing.

    The sea water scrubbing process is at an early stage of development and there are no present plans to use it at proposed new fossil power stations.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy if he will make it his policy that the retrofitting of flue gas desulphurisation proposed for three coal-fired power stations and the programme to retrofit low nitrogen oxide burners at the 12 major stations operated by the Central Electricity Generating Board will be retained following the privatisation of the industry.

    The Government will expect existing commitments entered into by the Central Electricity Generating Board to be fulfilled following privatisation of the industry.

    Plutonium

    To ask the Secretary of State for Energy what is the present preferred method for the transport of civil plutonium from Sellafield to Japan; and what safety tests have been conducted, or are planned, on both emergency planning and container packaging for this transport.

    I have been asked to reply.I understand that the present preferred option for the proposed transport of reprocessed plutonium to Japan is shipment by air, although this is not expected to take place until 1992 at the earliest.Emergency arrangements for all types of radioactive materials transport are required by national and international regulations, and are subject to periodic testing by exercises.Design testing and development of a suitable package is in progress.

    House Of Commons

    Redundancies

    To ask the hon. Member for Berwick-upon-Tweed, as representing the House of Commons Commission, how many employees of the Commission or its predecessor have been made redundant on grounds of redundancy or financial exigency in the last 10 years; and if he will make a statement.

    In the last 10 years one employee's appointment has been terminated on grounds of redundancy.

    Refreshment Department

    To ask the Lord Privy Seal what was the total profit made by the House of Commons Refreshment Department in the week preceding the Christmas recess in 1986.

    Social Services

    Agency Nurses

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the present monthly additional cost from employing agency nurses rather than regular nurses in the National Health, Service.

    I refer my hon. Friend to my reply to the hon. and learned Member for Leicester, West (Mr. Janner) on 9 November at columns 100–101. For the reasons explained in that reply it is not possible to provide the information requested.

    Doctors' Lists

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) to what size the patient list is going to be increased in order to qualify for full basic practice allowance, as set out in the primary health care White Paper;(2) on what measure of patient numbers the practice list leading to qualification for full basic practice allowance will be based; and if he will make a statement;(3) if the proposal to increase the minimum list for qualification for full basic practice allowance applies to rural areas.

    Changes in the criteria for entitlement to full basic practice allowance proposed in the White Paper "Promoting Better Health" will be the subject of negotiations with the British Medical Association's general medical services committee. We will be consulting the general medical services committee over the scope for introducing measures to assist family doctors who practise in rural areas.

    Aids

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what drugs are available from the National Health Service for those over 65 years of age suffering from HIV contracted through blood products.

    People whose immune systems become impaired because of infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) may acquire opportunistic infections which are amenable to treatment and for which the full range of appropriate drugs are available through the National Health Service. Zidovudine (Retrovir) inhibits replication of the virus and is available for the management of patients with serious manifestations of HIV infection. The choice of drugs for an individual patient is a matter for the doctor concerned.

    Hospital Closures

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how many hospitals have been closed as temporary closures in each of the last eight years; how many have re-opened subsequently; and how many have been disposed of.

    Attendance Allowance

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the total number of recipients of attendance allowance (a) at the lower rate and (b) at the higher rate at the latest date for which figures are available.

    The information requested is set out in the table.

    Attendance allowance: Numbers of recipients at 31 March 1986
    Number
    Higher rate237,000
    Lower rate348,000

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what would be the estimated net annual cost of providing (a) attendance allowance in respect of children below the age of two years who are otherwise eligible but at present are excluded by reason of their age, and (b) mobility allowance in respect of children below the age of five years under the same criteria.

    [holding answer 30 November 1987]: If the proportions of children who would qualify for attendance allowance below age two and for mobility allowance below age five were similar to the proportions of children currently eligible, the costs in a full year would be about £17 million and £8 million, respectively. These figures must, however, be treated with caution because they do not exclude the unquantifiable number of impaired infants who might be ineligible because their need for attention or inability to walk is no greater than that normally to be found in a child of that age.

    Rent Taper

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the number of pensioner households which will lose entitlement to housing benefit as a result of the increase in the rent taper to 65 per cent.

    The estimated number of pensioner households losing all entitlement to rent allowances or rent rebates as a result of increasing the rent taper from 60 to 65 per cent. is 25,000. Some of these will retain entitlement to rate rebates. People receiving income support will be unaffected because by definition they continue to receive maximum help with rent.

    Notes:

    1. The source is the 1985 family expenditure survey, updated to 1988–89.

    2. Further information on data sources can be found in the introduction to the revised technical annex, "Impact of the Reformed Structure of Income-Related Benefits", which is in the Library. This does not identify housing benefit separately.

    Housing Benefit Regulations

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) in what circumstances accommodation is considered to be particularly suitable for elderly, sick or disabled persons by virtue of (i) size and (ii) heating system for the purposes of schedule 1, paragraph 1(c)(ii) to the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987;(2) in what circumstances accommodation is considered to be not particularly suitable for elderly, sick or disabled persons by virtue of (i) size and (ii) heating system for the purposes of schedule 1, paragraph 1

    (c)(ii) to the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987;

    (3) by what criteria other than size or heating system accommodation will be assessed as particularly suitable

    for elderly, sick or disabled persons for the purposes of schedule 1, paragraph 1 (c)(ii) to the Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987.

    The Housing Benefit (General) Regulations 1987 provide that a charge for an alarm system may be met through housing benefit where the system is provided in accommodation which is occupied by and has been specifically designed or adapted for elderly, sick or disabled people or is otherwise particularly suitable for them. In deciding whether accommodation is particularly suitable, the regulations require authorities to consider the size, heating system and the other major features or facilities of the accommodation as a whole.The question of whether accommodation is particularly suitable is a matter for local authorities to decide. The factors we would expect a local authority to take into account in reaching its decision include the number of bedrooms, the overall amount of floorspace, the number of rooms which are heated as well as the location of the accommodation, its proximity to health and social services facilities and its accessibility.A one-bedroom ground floor property with heating in the bedroom and living room and which is close to shops, health and social services facilities is likely to be considered suitable for an elderly, sick or disabled person; whereas, for example, a property with several spare bedrooms, heating only in the living room, and which is at a distance from such facilities would be considered unsuitable.

    Nhs Superannuation Scheme

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how many nurses have opted out of the National Health Service superannuation scheme as soon as they have finished their training and made their first job move, since 1983, or over any similar period for which figures are available.

    The specific information requested is not available. However, the total number of members who left the National Health Service superannuation scheme with a refund of contributions and therefore less than five years service since 1983 is as follows:

    Number
    198352,287
    198452,728
    198553,933
    198651,161

    Medical Laboratory Scientific Officers

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any plans to accord higher pay and status to medical laboratory scientific officers; and if he will make a statement.

    The pay and grading of National Health Service medical laboratory scientific officers is a matter for the professional and technical staffs a Whitley council. I understand that an offer of a 5 per cent. increase in pay and allowances effective from 1 April 1987 was accepted on 16 November. Discussions are expected to begin shortly on proposals for a comprehensive review of the medical laboratory scientific officer grading structure.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will consider individual representations for medical laboratory scientific officers when he prepares his response to the forthcoming report of the current Whitley B committee.

    I assume my hon. Friend is referring to the planned discussions between the management and staff sides of the professional and technical staffs 'B' Whitley council on proposals for a revised grading structure for medical laboratory scientific officers. MLSOs will be represented in those discussions by the staff side of the Council, but it is open to individuals to make their views known through management channels.

    Cervical Cancer (Dewsbury)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how many women in the area covered by Dewsbury health authority have died from cervical cancer in the last 10 years for which figures are available; and what is this figure expressed per 1,000 women.

    The information is shown in the table.

    Numbers of deaths and death rates per 1,000 women for malignant neoplasm of cervix uteri (ICD 180)1for usual residents of Dewsbury health authority.2
    1977–86
    YearNumbersRates (per 1,000 women)
    197780·49
    197860·37
    197960·36
    198080·49
    1981120·73
    198280·49
    198380·49
    198440·24
    1985100·61
    198650·30
    1 International Classification of Diseases 8th, 9th Revisions.
    2 Dewsbury Health District 1977–81.
    Dewsbury District Health Authority 1982–86.

    Waiting Lists (Teesside)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how many people are on hospital waiting lists in (a) South Tees health authority and (b) North Tees health authority.

    The latest information available centrally is contained in the booklet "Hospital In-Patient Waiting List—England at 31 March 1987, National, Regional and District Summaries", copies of which have been placed in the Library. For more recent figures the hon. Member may wish to write to the chairmen of the district health authorities concerned.

    Emergency Alarm Systems

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has any proposals to provide assistance through income support with the installation and running costs of emergency alarm systems.

    The costs of the installation of emergency alarm systems are not met under the existing supplementary benefit scheme and we do not intend to make specific provision for this under income support or the social fund. Where a person's income support assessment includes an amount towards his housing costs (in particular, mortgage interest) help will be available for the running costs of an emergency alarm system. Help will be given only where the alarm system is provided in accommodation which is occupied by and is particularly suitable for elderly, sick or disabled people and the claimant has no choice but to meet the cost as part of their service charge.

    Parliamentary Constituencies (Hampshire)

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will list in the Official Report each of the parliamentary constituencies in Hampshire in ranking order according to the size of their current electorates, indicating the percentage variation on the average number of electors per constituency in England.

    The information requested has been taken from OPCS monitor EL87/1 and is as follows:

    1987 electorate
    Parliamentary constituencyNumberPercentage difference from English average1
    Eastleigh88,664+27·4
    East Hampshire87,476+25·7
    Aldershot81,791+17·5
    Portsmouth, North81,350+ 16·9
    Romsey and Waterside80,179+15·2
    Basingstoke79,116+13·7
    Fareham77,910+12·0
    Winchester77,527+11·4
    Havant77,412+11·2
    Portsmouth, South76,814+10·4
    New Forest75,780+8·9
    Southampton, Test74,711+7·4
    Southampton, Itchen73,412+5·5
    North West Hampshire70,916+1·9
    Gosport68,891-1·0
    1 The average number of electors per constituency in England is 69,585.

    Short-Term Locums

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he has made any estimate of the effect of the abatement rules on the availability of recently retired consultants for short-term locums in the summer months, and of the effect this has had on National Health Service waiting lists.

    It is not possible to make any such estimate. The abatement rules which apply to consultants are those which apply to all National Health Service staff who retire from the service and take retirement benefits. The current abatement provisions in the major public sector occupational schemes are under review.

    Medical Practitioners

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services why he has not answered the letter from the Secretary of the British Medical Association of November 1986 requesting a meeting with him on the subject of the superannuability of fees payable to medical practitioners who serve on district management teams; and if he will make a statement.

    I have replied to the British Medical Association today, at the same time expressing my regret about the error which has occurred.

    Abortion

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the cost to public funds of abortions carried out under the National Health Service for the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available.

    In 1986–87 the total cost of abortions carried out under the National Heath Service, including those performed under agency arrangements with the private sector, is estimated to be approximately £13 million.

    Family Planning

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what was the cost to public funds for the most recent 12-month period for which figures are available of supplying under the National Health Service, without charge, contraceptive devices and related substances.

    The latest information available about the cost of National Health Service family planning services gives expenditure of £76 million in England in 1985–86. This covers the cost of contraceptive substances and appliances prescribed, contraceptive fees paid to general practitioners and appropriate health authority staffing and overheads costs.

    Benefit Payments

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will provide information for each of his Department's offices at Bradford and Keighley on total expenditure on supplementary single payments and number of payments granted for the periods (i) January 1985 to December 1985, (ii) January 1986 to December 1986, (iii) August 1985 to July 1986 and (iv) August 1986 to July 1987.

    [holding answer 2 December 1987] Information about single payment expenditure and the number of payments made for each of the Department's offices in Bradford and Keighley is given in the tables.

    Table I
    Number of payments
    1984–851985–8611986–8711987–88
    Bradford East16,81819,61414,3622,090
    Bradford South12,16714,96212,2491,919
    Bradford West12,20815,64413,3202,175
    Keighley5,5166,2716,3191,183
    Table 2
    Expenditure
    1984–851985–8611986–8711987–88
    Bradford East1,199,0161,595,3871,219,857181,569
    Bradford South769,6911,052,278916,405147,769
    Bradford West1,215,0771,358,7791,149,496196,967
    Keighley398,713497,612461,14586,541
    Notes:
    1 Figures for 1986–87 and 1987–88 are provisional and subject to amendment.
    1. Information is given for the year April to April.2. Figures for 1987–88 are given for the period 8 April 1987 to 28 July 1987.

    Housing Benefit

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will estimate the number of households receiving (a) certificated and (b) standard housing benefit containing non-dependants in respect of whom deductions from housing benefit are made; and if he will estimate the proportion, in each case, who are subject to either the higher or lower rate of non-dependant deduction at the latest available date.

    [holding answer 3 December 1987]: The estimated number of housing benefit recipients in Great Britain for which a deduction was made in respect of one or more non-dependants in autumn 1986 was as follows:

    Thousands
    Certificated cases340
    Standard cases370
    TOTAL710
    The number of non-dependants in each category in certificated housing benefit households was as follows:

    Thousands
    Higher rate deduction210
    Lower rate deduction160
    TOTAL370
    This total is higher than the corresponding figure quoted above because there is on average more than one non-dependant per household.Information on the number of non-dependants in each category in households receiving standard housing benefit is not available.

    Labour Force Survey

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish in the Official Report data from the latest labour force survey showing how many residents of the United Kingdom (a) were born in the Republic of Ireland and (b) are citizens of the Republic; and whether he will include separate figures for the south-east region and Greater London.

    It is estimated from the 1986 labour force survey that, in spring 1986, the numbers were as follows:

    Area of residencePersons born in Republic of Ireland '000Citizens of the Republic of Ireland '000
    United Kingdom580560
    South East Region of England290250
    Greater London180160

    Blind People

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services (1) what are the most recent statistics on annual registrations as partially sighted by people in age ranges (a) 16 to 64 years and (b) and over 65 years, whose BD8 shows the cause of blindness to be (i) glaucoma, (ii) diabetic retinopathy and (iii) cataracts;(2) what are the most recent statistics on annual registrations as blind by people in age ranges

    (a) 16 to 64

    years and (b) and over 65 years, whose BD8 shows the cause of blindness to be (i) glaucoma, (ii) diabetic retinopathy and (iii) cataracts.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: The data are given in the table.

    Annual registrations as blind and partially sighted by people aged 16 to 64 years and over 65 years: certain causes
    BlindPartially sighted
    16–64 years (1985–86)
    Glaucoma7268
    Diabetic retinopathy152128
    Cataracts (including congenital)95128
    Over 65 years (1980–81)
    Glaucoma1,209834
    Diabetic retinopathy437243
    Cataracts (including congenital)1,0121,054

    Note: Registrations arising from more than one of the causes listed have been counted under both, or all three, conditions.

    Restart Interviews

    To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will publish up-to-date figures showing the total proportion and numbers of benefit disqualifications or reductions that are linked to restart interviews; how many of these were (a) because of failure to attend the interview without good cause, together with the number of reinstatements following a later interview, (b) on the grounds of non-availability for work and (c) because of the refusal of suitable offers of employment; how many of these decisions were subject to appeal; and what was the outcome of such appeals.

    [holding answer 7 December 1987]: I have been asked to reply.Under long-standing legal rules people can lose benefit if they fail to attend an employment interview without good reason. Up to 28 September the total number of claimants disallowed under these rules for failing to attend restart interviews was 27,991. Information is not available on the number of these people who appealed against these dis-allowances nor on the number who had their benefit reinstated following a later interview.Any refusal of benefit subsequent to a restart interview follows not from the interview itself but from the decision of an independent adjudication officer operating under long-standing legal rules adopted by successive Governments.

    Scotland

    Firearms

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how many representations he has received since 1 July calling for amendment of the law of Scotland relating to the control of firearms.

    About 100, the majority commenting on the statement made by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for the Home Department on 22 September of the Government's main conclusions following the Hungerford tragedy.

    Health Boards

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland whether he will itemise, for each health board in Scotland, the donations received by the health board from voluntary organisations, patients, relatives or other benefactors for each month of 1987 to date.

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland how much the pay settlement for National Health staff has cost each health board in Scotland in each year since 1982; and how much extra funding for this was made available by his Department.

    [holding answer 8 December 1987]: Table 1 shows the full cost of pay settlements for National Health staff for the years 1984–85, 1985–86 and 1986–87. These figures are derived from broad estimates by health boards. I regret that figures for 1982–83 and 1983–84 are not available.Boards' allocations have been increased year on year to allow for forecast inflation, including the cost of pay settlements. Financial allocations additional to this were made in 1984–85 and 1986–87 and these are shown in table 2. The amounts in table 2 are in addition to the allowances for forecast inflation already included in boards' allocations in those years.

    Table 1
    Estimated total costs of pay settlements for national health staff
    £ thousand
    Health Board1984–851985–861986–87
    Argyll and Clyde4,0993,8084,542
    Ayrshire and Arran2,8702,6613,341
    Borders901783965
    Dumfries and Galloway1,5991,3921,653
    Fife2,7872,5363,174
    Forth Valley2,6102,3942,939
    Grampian4,9984,5575,590
    Greater Glasgow14,36113,34716,186
    Highland2,0931,9212,309
    Lanarkshire4,6293,9977,360
    Lothian8,9338,1549,737
    Orkney164121173
    Shetland192180209
    Tayside5,3814,7945,831
    Western Isles338250350
    Scotland55,95550,89564,359
    Table 2
    Additional allocations
    £ thousand
    Health Board1984–851986–87
    Argyll and Clyde1,634411
    Ayrshire and Arran1,139299
    Borders33186
    Dumfries and Galloway584147
    Fife1,083280
    Forth Valley1,058268
    Grampian1,983511
    Greater Glasgow5,9311,473
    Highland836211
    Lanarkshire1,844467
    Lothian3,584903
    Orkney6016
    Shetland7619
    Tayside2,128530

    Health Board

    1984–85

    1986–87

    Western Isles11429
    Scotland22,3855,650

    Agricultural Development

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if, in the light of the failure to resolve EEC budget difficulties, he will indicate the likely date of the commencement of the Scottish islands agricultural development programme; and if he will make a statement.

    Mr James Stobo

    To ask the Secretary of State for Scotland if he will make a statement on the relevant experience of the newly appointed chairman of the Scottish Seed Potato Development Council, Mr. James Stobo, with particular reference to any direct or indirect experience of the production, processing or planting of seed potatoes.