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Written Answers

Volume 387: debated on Wednesday 16 November 1977

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Written Answers

Exchange Control: Surrender Rule

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they are satisfied that the specific legislation embodied in the Exchange Control Acts has not been used for a purpose not intended by Parliament in relation to the 25 per cent. Surrender Requirement.

(Baroness Birk)

It was the clear intention of Parliament as expressed in the Exchange Control Act 1947 to provide the Treasury with wide discretionary powers. I am satisfied that the 25 per cent. requirement is properly imposed within those powers. Section 37(1)(c) of the Exchange Control Act 1947 gives the Treasury express power to impose conditions on any permission given under that Act. The permission required under Section 17(2) of the Act by United Kingdom resident holders of foreign currency securities to transfer those securities to other persons is only given subject to the condition inter alia that transactions in fulfilment of the 25 per cent. requirement are previously undertaken.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What immediate plans they have for consulting with the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England and other interested bodies on the effect foreseen from the reduction or abolition of the 25 per cent. Surrender Requirement:

  • (a) on the Reserves;
  • (b) On United Kingdom Invisible Earnings; and
  • (c) on effective management of Overseas Portfolios.
  • These matters are kept under review and interested bodies are consulted as appropriate.

    Horses And Ponies: Illegal Exports

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they have studied the BBC film, in the programme "Public Eye", on Wednesday, 9th November, about the apparently illegal export of Shetland ponies and horses; and whether they intend to institute legal and other action against the individuals and practices exposed.

    This programme contained no evidence of any illegal exports of horses or ponies or of any mistreatment of these animals.

    Archway Road Order

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will revoke the order made in 1975 in respect of the Archway Road widening, following the ruling made by the inspector that the forecasts used to justify those orders could no longer be substantiated, and his consequent indefinite adjournment of the inquiry.

    No, but steps are being taken to obtain up-to-date traffic information as requested by the inspector.

    Adjudicators And Appellants' Nominated Representatives

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list the occasions since the beginning of 1976 when an adjudicator has refused leave to a person nominated by an appellant to appear before him, giving the dates of these occasions, the names of these persons and where possible the reasons given by the adjudicator for his decision.

    No records are maintained of occasions when adjudicators have refused leave for nominated representatives to act on behalf of appellants, but it is thought that such action has been taken only in a very small number of cases.

    Immigration Appeal Tribunal

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many applications were made to the Immigration Appeal Tribunal for leave to appeal to the Tribunal against decisions of adjudicators in 1975, 1976 and the first nine months of 1977 by the Home Office and by appellants' representatives respectively, and how many in each category were granted and refused.

    About 1,525 applications for leave to appeal to the Tribunal were made to the Tribunal in 1975 and about 1,600 in 1976. Records do not show how many of these were made by the Home Office and how many by others. The number of appeals by the Home Office lodged with the Tribunal was 77 in 1975 and 110 in 1976. The number of appeals lodged with the Tribunal by others was 250 in 1975 and 499 in 1976. The figures for appeals lodged with the Tribunal include cases where leave to appeal was granted by an adjudicator and some appeals to the Tribunal at first instance. No corresponding figures for 1977 are yet available.

    Mr Tashi Thondup

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why Mr. Tashi Thondup, a refugee from Tibet who has been in the United Kingdom for 14 years, has been detained in Pentonville Prison for 10 months; why the Home Office Minister responsible for immigration wrote on 14th June that Mr. Thondup had been admitted to Friern Hospital, and did not subsequently notify those interested in the case that he had been returned to prison; and whether the Minister is yet ready to answer a letter on this matter dated 6th April, enclosing a large file of papers from Mr. Thondup's solicitors.

    Tashi Thondup, who was released from custody last week, was admitted to this country as part of a group coming to the United Kingdom Pestalozzi Children's Village on the usual understanding that once trained or qualified here he would return to his own community to help them.In the light of deteriorating performance and conduct (including convictions of a number of offences) it was thought best in the circumstances to give Mr. Thondup a short extension of stay in July 1976 to enable him to make arrangements to return to India. But he did not do so. In January 1977, following a further court appearance, Mr. Thondup was recommended for deportation by the court. After an out of time application for leave to appeal had been refused my right honourable friend made a deportation order on 24th March 1977.Representations were made by the noble Lord and several others that Mr. Thondup should not be deported, or that if he were to be returned arrangements should be made for him to leave this country under Section 90 of the Mental Health Act 1959 or under some similar arrangement. In the light of these representations and Mr. Thondup's disturbed condition, detailed inquiries were put in hand for his reception in India. These were necessarily protracted but before they could be completed my right honourable friend concluded that in view of further changes in his medical condition—which involved a temporary admission to Friern Hospital—it would be right to consider sympathetically revoking the deportation order and giving him leave to remain in the United Kingdom for a further period if satisfactory arrangements could be made for his case upon release from custody.These have proved extremely difficult to make in this case but I am glad to say that the Khan Tibet Centre have most kindly agreed to provide accommodation for him. We are most grateful to them for this offer. The deportation order has been revoked; and Mr. Thondup has been released from prison and given permission to remain in the United Kingdom for a further year.The letter of 14th June was a courtesy to warn the noble Lord that my right honourable friend had directed that inquiries should be made in India and that the outcome of Mr. Thondup's admission to Friern Hospital might be a significant change in his circumstances. This was the case in that my right honourable friend, as I have explained, concluded that the deportation order might be revoked if suitable arrangements could be made for his care upon release. My honourable friend the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State wrote to the noble Lord last week as soon as they had been finalised.

    Unclos Iii: Informal Composite Negotiating Text

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they agree with the proposal in the Informal Composite Negotiating Text of UNCLOS III that States should have the right to construct artificial islands and other installations in the High Seas; what purposes such islands and installations might serve, particularly if constructed in the waters superjacent to another State's continental shelf beyond 200 n.m. and how such a proposal can accord with the concept of the High Sea.

    The British Government are in agreement with the proposal in the Informal Composite Negotiating Text. Such constructions will be for the purposes indicated in the text. The coastal State enjoys an exclusive right to construct, authorise and regulate such constructions on its continental shelf, whether within or beyond 200 miles. These proposals reflect developing international practice and aspirations.

    The text provides that the coastal State should have due regard to the rights of other States. The British Government fully support this approach and have sought throughout the negotiations in the United Nations Law of the Sea Conference to ensure that a balance is maintained between the need to preserve the traditional freedom of the High Seas and the rights of coastal States to exploit their marine resources.

    Oil Supplies: International Agreements

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the United Kingdom is in certain circumstances obliged to supply oil to other countries, either under the International Energy Agency Agreement or under any Agreement within the European Community; and, if so, under what detailed provisions.

    The United Kingdom could be obliged to supply oil to other countries under the Agreement on an International Energy Programme [Treaty Series No.111 (1976, Cmnd 6697)]. Article 7.3 of the Agreement describes the circumstances in which a participating country could have an allocation obligation to supply, directly or indirectly, oil to other participating countries. The United Kingdom is a participating country for the purposes of this programme.An obligation to share oil with other EEC countries could also arise under a Council Decision which was agreed in principle at the Energy Council on 25th October on a Community target for reducing energy consumption in the event of oil supply difficulties. The main objective of this Decision is to provide for EEC Member States to reduce energy consumption in an oil supply crisis. In addition, in a prolonged crisis those States with a relatively low dependence on oil would be expected to make proportionately greater savings, and to share the extra savings with other Member States. In such circumstances, we would expect the United Kingdom to be a small net donor.

    Hereford Diesel Generating Station

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What stage has been reached with the application by the Midlands Electricity Board to build a combined power station supplying steam and hot water as well as electricity to local industries at Hereford; and whether they will give encouragement to similar schemes elsewhere.

    The Midlands Electricity Board applied on 10th August 1977 for the consent of my right honourable friend the Secretary of State for Energy under Section 2 of the Electric Lighting Act 1909, and deemed planning permission under Section 40 (1) of the Town and Country Planning Act 1971, to construct a diesel generating station at Hereford in connection with a proposed combined heat and power scheme.In addition the Board also require the Secretary of State's authorisations under Section 6 (2) of the Electricity Act 1957 to generate electricity (a function otherwise reserved to the Central Electricity Generating Board), and Section 14 (3) of the Energy Act 1976 to establish an oil-fired generating station. The last requirement makes it necessary to consider also the possibility of using alternative fuels. These matters are under close consideration and a decision will be announced as soon as possible.The Government's concern over combined heat and power development and the possibilities it offers for energy conservation led my right honourable friend to set up a study group under his Department's Chief Scientist. The recent report from a Working Party of the Group, published as Energy Paper No. 20, indicated a major step forward in our understanding of the district heating aspects of CHP. The electricity supply industry has itself examined a large number of possible district heating and industrial schemes seeking those that could save energy economically. My right honourable friend welcomes the opportunity to consider initiatives in the CHP field.House adjourned at eighteen minutes past six o'clock.