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Written Answers

Volume 374: debated on Thursday 7 October 1976

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Written Answers

Civil Service Recruitment: Eec Languages

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many civil servants fluent in one or more of the official languages of the EEC, other than English, have been recruited in each of the last ten years by each Ministry or Department.

A total of 756 members of the Home Civil Service fluent in one or more of the official EEC languages, other than English, joined the Service in the ten years 1966 to 1975 and are still serving. As the full tabulation by Department and year of entry is somewhat large for inclusion in the Official Report I am sending it to the noble Lord separately.

Government Car Service: Former Prime Ministers

asked Her Majesty's Government:

  • (a) whether some or all ex-Prime Ministers have the use of an official car with a chauffeur;
  • (b) when this arrangement began and for whom;
  • (c) what is the cost per individual and in total;
  • (d) whether this arrangement continues for the life of the beneficiary or, if not, when it terminates; and
  • (e) in what form was Parliamentary authority obtained for this service?
  • All the then former Prime Ministers were in February 1975 offered the use of a Government Car Service car and driver for journeys in and around London. No charge is made for journeys to attend official engagements and on Parliamentary business in their capacity as former Prime Ministers. Use for other purposes is subject to a charge at the current Civil Service mileage rate. Very infrequent use is made of this facility and the cost is correspondingly low. The arrangement is intended to continue indefinitely. It is regarded as an extension of the normal practice of providing cars for use by Ministers, which does not require specific Parliamentary authority.In addition, the personal use of an official car and driver for all journeys was given to Mr. Heath in December 1975, and to Sir Harold Wilson in April 1976. The average annual gross cost of providing each car is £10,600. Use for private or party purposes is again subject to a charge at the Civil Service mileage rate. The arrangement is subject to review in the light of the security situation.

    Boarding School Allowance

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they can supply, for the most recent convenient year, a table of the number of boarding pupils assisted by Government Departments at different categories of school in England and Wales, as in Table 26 of the First Volume of the First Report of the Public Schools Commission.

    Information in the form requested is not available and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost. Approximate numbers of children for whom boarding school allowance was claimed for the autumn term 1975 are as follows:—

    Diplomatic Service1,850
    Home Civil Service and Overseas Aid Personnel1,900
    Armed Forces22,000
    Of these children it is estimated that some 3,000 were in schools maintained by local education authorities, 4,000 in direct grant schools and the remainder in independent schools.

    Diplomatic Service: Children's Educational Allowances

    What are the present educational allowances for children of members of the Diplomatic Service serving overseas; whether these allowances persist for five or more years before or after service overseas; and how these allowances are treated for tax purposes.

    Members of the Diplomatic Service are paid allowances in respect of their children at boarding school in the United Kingdom within specified maximum rates per child. At present the maximum rates per annum are as follows:—

    Boy's Public School£1,404
    Girls' Public School:£1,348
    Boys' Preparatory School:£1,264
    Girls' Preparatory School:£1,213
    Diplomatic Service officers who have not yet been posted abroad are not eligible for the allowance. Those who are posted to the United Kingdom from abroad continue to receive an allowance in respect of any child at boarding school, provided that they remain liable for further duty overseas at any time and are in fact expected to be sent abroad again within a few years (the average home posting lasts two to three years). If an officer has been five years at home, the allowance ceases automatically, except in rare cases in which an officer is retained in a home post for a short time beyond five years for essential operational reasons.When the recipient is serving overseas, boarding school allowance is not liable to income tax. When he is serving at home, tax is payable, and the allowance is "grossed up" so that he is left after tax with the net sum which he would have received if overseas.

    Government Office Cleaning

  • (a) in London,
  • (b) outside London,
  • cleaned by contract cleaning companies for each year since 1970 and if they will detail the cost.

    The information requested is not available centrally and could not be obtained without disproportionate cost. However, a survey carried out in 1970 on behalf of the National Board for Prices and Incomes in connection with their investigation into Pay and Conditions in the Contract Cleaning Trade (NBPI Report No. 168) indicated that approximately two-thirds of the total area of Government offices was then cleaned under contract and one-third by directly employed labour. I have no evidence to suggest that these proportions have altered significantly since 1970.The NBPI report gives the cost of cleaning Government offices by contract in 1970 as approximately £4 million. Information readily available centrally about the cost of contract cleaning is incomplete and in any case shows only the Estimates provision for the years 1975–76 and 1976–77. These figures are:

    (Full-time equivalent staff in post as at 1st April each year)
    Agriculture, Fisheries and Food239½244236½233230238243
    Customs and Excise198½200207211½234252274
    Environment/PSA (a)320270157115120155169
    Health and Social Security749741½726½699½601641685
    Home Office8887½6484½799699
    Inland Revenue377385407½398½389398405
    Lord Chancellor's Office(c)(c)173148172172190
    National Savings336306½278199182132129
    Trade and Industry(c)908278½605653
    Scottish Office (Central Services)(b)171½95½100½158154152150
    Other Departments577539591½437½430432704(d)
    (a) Department of the Environment established on 12 November 1970, incorporating the former MPBW, MMLG and Ministry of Transport.
    (b) Scottish Office established on 1 April 1970, incorporating the former SDD, DAFS, SED and SHHD.
    (c) Separate figures not available.
    (d) The Manpower Services Commission, Employment Service Agency and Training Services Agency were hived off from the Civil Service in 1974 (204 staff) and returned on January 1, 1976 (273 staff).

    1975–76£11·2 million (including Supplementary Estimates)
    1976–77£12·4 million (excluding Supplementary Estimates)

    asked Her Majesty's Government:The number of directly employed cleaners in each of the main Government Departments:

  • (a) in London,
  • (b) outside London,
  • for each year since 1970.

    Departmental returns for the years in question do not differentiate between staff employed n London and elsewhere. The following numbers of non-industrial cleaners are expressed as full-time equivalents, with two part-time cleaners counted as on; full-time cleaner:House adjourned at five minutes past eleven o'clock.