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Written Answers

Volume 415: debated on Thursday 4 December 1980

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Written Answers

Williams V Home Office: Documents

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will deposit in the Library of the

House copies of the Prison Department documents in the case of

Williams v. Home Office which were read out in the High Court between 25th February and 28th March this year, and subsequently given to The Guardian by Harriet Harman; whether they will also deposit in the Library copies of all the other documents handed to lawyers acting for Mr. Williams and returned to the Home Office at the end of the case, and, if not, whether they will give reasons for their refusal.

The documents disclosed to lawyers acting for Mr. Williams were disclosed only for use in the action concerned. To deposit them in the Library of the House would be inconsistent with the practice of successive Governments in maintaining the privacy of internal working papers.

Heathrow: Police Costs And Security

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will give details of Metropolitan Police costs at Heathrow Airport for each year since the responsibility was assumed by the Airports Division, and whether they will estimate the proportions of manpower and time allocated to its various principal duties.

The amounts charged for police services at Heathrow (including overheads) have been as follows:

£ million
1974–75 (November to March)1.132
1975–762.931
1976–773.115
1977–783.372
1978–794.021
Subject to the outcome of continuing discussions about the percentage addition for overheads, the charges for 1979–80 will be between £5¼ million and £5½ million. The proportions of time devoted to security and routine duties are currently under review, but the most recent estimate is that 50 per cent. of uniformed police time and 12½ per cent. of CID time are spent on security work.

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will detail the sources from which Metropolitan Police costs at Heathrow Airport are met, the basis on which these calculations are made, the system by which overhead costs are allocated among contributions and the proportion of police time currently allocated to anti-terrorist duties.

Police costs are met by the British Airports Authority under the Policing of Airports Act 1974. The charges take account, inter alia, of the number of police personnel directly employed on duties relating to the policing of the airport; the scale used for the recovery of costs for the provision of special services under the Police Act 1964; a percentage addition to cover overheads; and the costs of traffic wardens. Costs attributable to security duties (including overheads) are met from the Aviation Security Fund. Since 1974 50 per cent. of uniformed police costs and 12½ per cent. of CID costs have been reimbursed in this way, but these proportions are under review.

School Absences In Scottish Cities

asked Her Majesty's Government:How many children aged 11–16 years were absent from school in Edinburgh, in Glasgow and in Aberdeen, respectively, on any one day in 1980 and on the same date in 1979 and 1978; and of this number, how many children appeared before the Children's Panel in each successive year.

The incidence of absence from school is primarily a matter for individual education authorities and the information is not available centrally.

The Green Pound: Consequences Of Present Value

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the consequence of the present value of the green pound for:

  • (a) the British farmer;
  • (b) the British consumer;
  • (c) the British food manufacturing industry;
  • (d) the level of imports of fuel, fertilizer and machinery;
  • (e) trade in farm products within the EEC; and
  • (f) British agricultural exports.
  • The present value of the green pound means that the sterling equivalents of the European Community's farm support prices are 13·3 per cent. higher than if they were converted at the market rate for sterling. On existing levels of production and consumption, it can be calculated that, were this position to remain for 12 months, a difference in support prices of this order would advantage United Kingdom farmers in a full year by about £500 million, and that it would be likely to raise the food price index and retail price index by about 2¼ per cent. and ½ per cent. respectively.Compared with using the market rate of sterling, therefore, the present value of the green pound should stimulate increased farm production, and should result in lower food imports, higher agricultural exports and greater output by the industries which supply agriculture. It is, however, difficult to measure these effects precisely.

    Eec And The International Sugar Agreement

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the EEC Commission has recommended that the EEC should join the International Sugar Agreement; and, if so, what is the Government's attitude to this recommendation.

    The Commission has recently proposed that the Community should open negotiations with the International Sugar Organisation with a view to acceding to the Agreement. The Government have consistently supported Community accession on mutually acceptable terms, and we welcome this initiative.

    Job Discrimination And Ethnic Minorities

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What action they are taking in response to the disclosures in "Half a Chance? A Report on Job Discrimination against Young Blacks in Nottingham", authorised by the Commission for Racial Equality, indicating that West Indian and Asian candidates for jobs were rejected on ethnic grounds.

    Any evidence that racial discrimination is widespread in non-manual work is a matter of concern to the Government. It gives added emphasis to the importance of the efforts already being made to eliminate such discrimination to this area as elsewhere and encourage equality of opportunity.

    Employment Of Overseas Nationals: Request To See Passport

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What actions they are taking to end the practice of some employers in demanding to see the passports of prospective black employees.

    None. It is not unreasonable for a prospective employer to ask to see the passport of any individual irrespective of colour, if he has reason to suppose that he may be an overseas national subject to conditions affecting his availability for employment. This remains true whatever the political colour of the Government.

    Endangered Species In Transit

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will give details of the species listed in either Appendix I or Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and passing through the United Kingdom under the Customs transit procedures, that have been released from the Customs area of the port of entry and that did not then proceed directly to another port for exit purposes, but were kept for a period of time at some other premises in the United Kingdom, and whether they will list the species and numbers involved in each year since the Endangered Species Act 1976 became law.

    I regret that this information is not available because separate statistics are not compiled for goods in transit through the United Kingdom.

    Kingfishers And Kingfisher Skins: Imports

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list the number of licences issued by the Department of the Environment to import the kingfisher species,

    Halcyon smyrnensis, in each of the past five years, and whether they will list the total number of skins of the kingfisher species, Halcyon smyrnensis, imported in each of the past five years and the countries from which the imports were made.

    Since the species first became subject to import licensing in October 1976, only three licences have been issued for Halcyon smyrnensis; two in 1978 and one in 1980.In 1978 2,000 skins were licensed for import and in 1980 a further 2,000 skins were licensed for import—all from China.

    Bats: Protection

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will ask the Nature Conservancy Council (NCC) to draw the British Broadcasting Corporation's attention to the damage likely to be done to bats in this country if they are portrayed as harmful to human beings, as they were in a recent episode of "Doctor Who" on BBCI, particularly as all species of British bats are beneficial to human beings, and are now known to be drastically declining in numbers, with some species in serious danger of extinction; and whether they will ensure that the NCC makes every effort to publicise the proposed provision in the Government's forthcoming Wildlife and Countryside Bill that would give protection to all British bats, enlisting the support of the BBC in this effort.

    I am sure that we can leave the question of the public image of bats to the NCC. Once the Wildlife and Countryside Bill is enacted, every effort will be made to ensure that its provisions are appropriately publicised by the media, including the BBC.

    Highclere Park, Hampshire: Proposed Dual Carriageway

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Why the Department of Transport has published no alterative route to their proposal to put a new dual carriageway section of the A.34 through High-clere Park, Hampshire, in view of the fact that the park is based on a medieval park and owes its present beauty to the work of Capability Brown, and in particular why the department has not published the alternative route recommended by the Landscape Advisory Committee in 1978.

    Following a site inspection of possible routes for the improvement of the A.34 trunk road at Whitway in north Hampshire in March 1978, the Landscape Advisory Committee recommended that a route to the east of the A.34 and a route to the west should both be pursued, but expressed a preference for the latter, which passes through the eastern edge of Highclere Park. In November 1979 the Department of Transport consulted the public about this route. Although no alternatives were offered for comment, the department's published statement explained that an alternative to the east of the A.34 had been considered and rejected, because it would be more damaging to the environment of the community of Whitway and to local agriculture, would sever Whitway from neighbouring Burghclere and would be more expensive to construct. There was little response to the consultation but the replies received indicated general support for the route through the park. It was of course open to anyone to suggest an alternative route but no one did so at that stage. The way, therefore, seemed clear for my right honourable friend the Minister of Transport to proceed with the formal publication of his proposals under the Highways Acts and that was done in July this year. There have since been objections and they will be considered before the matter is taken any further.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the current position over the Department of Transport's proposed new dual carriageway section of the A.34 through Highclere Park, Hampshire, and whether they will hold a public inquiry into the proposal.

    My right honourable friend the Minister of Transport published his proposals for the Whitway Diversion of the A.34 trunk road in July this year. A number of objections, including suggestions for alternative routes, have been received. There have also been representations in support of the published route. My right honourable friends the Minister of Transport and the Secretary of State for the Environment are considering the next steps, which could include a public local inquiry, and will make an announcement as soon as possible.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they were aware of the Department of Transport's proposal to put a new dual carriageway section of the A.34 within yards of the Ionic Temple, remodelled by Sir Charles Barry in 1838 and situated in Highclere Park, Hampshire, when the Historic Buildings Council made a grant of almost £20,000 to repair the Temple, and whether they were aware of this proposal when the decision was taken to open the area around the Temple to the public as a country park.

    The Department of the Environment was aware of proposals for improving the A.34 when the question of a grant towards the cost of repairing the Temple came before the Historic Buildings Council in 1979. The proposed new route for the A.34 should not damage it physically, nor interfere with views of it from the park.The decision to open to the public the area surrounding the building rested with the owners.

    Sites Of Special Scientific Interest: Loss Or Damage

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will list the main types and sources of damage done to the 57 key sites of special scientific interest listed in the Nature Conservancy Council's

    A Nature Conservation Review that are known to have been destroyed or seriously damaged, differentiating between agriculture, commercial forestry, Forestry Commission activities, roads, industrial development, housing and other factors.

    I attach the list of 57 key sites listed in A Nature Conservation Review recently identified by the Nature Conservancy Council as destroyed or seriously damaged. This was drawn up on the basis of information available on damage principally caused by agriculture or forestry operations. The NCC is currently reviewing the loss of and damage to sites of special scientific interest generally. These are as follows:

    • Destroyed
    • Wintringham Marsh, N Yorks
    • Clehonger Meadow, Hereford and Worcester
    • Kilquockadale Flow, Dumfries and Galloway
    • Southern Parphe, Highland
    • Seriously Damaged
    • Starveall Down and Stony Hill, Wilts
    • Homington, Oddstock and Coombe Bisset Downs, Wilts
    • Coombe Hill Canal, Glos
    • Sibson-Castor Meadows, Cambs
    • Carn Gafallt Meadows, Powys
    • Lakenheath Warren, Eriswell High and Low Warren, Suffolk
    • Hartland Moor and Arne Heaths, Dorset
    • The Swale (Isle of Sheppey), Kent
    • The Wash Flats and Marshes, Lincolnshire
    • Leigh Marsh, Essex
    • Lindisfarne-Ross Links—Budle Bay, Northumberland
    • Romney Marsh, Kent
    • Hickling Broad and Horsey Mere, Norfolk
    • Upton Broad, Norfolk
    • Calthorpe Broad, Norfolk
    • River Great Eau, Lincolnshire
    • Wormley Wood—Hoddesdon Park Wood, Hertfordshire
    • Waterperry Wood, Oxfordshire
    • Bedford Purlieus Group, Cambridgeshire
    • Bardney Forest (Lines, Limewoods)
    • Foxley Wood, Norfolk
    • King's and Baker's Wood, Bedfordshire
    • Coed Mats Yr Helmau, Gwynedd
    • Whitbarrow and Witherslack Woods, Cumbria
    • Eaves Wood, Lancashire
    • Roudsea Wood, Cumbria
    • Loch Sunart Woodlands (Glen Cripesdale), Strathclyde
    • Conistone Old Pasture and Bastow Wood, N. Yorkshire
    • Alkham Valley Woods, Kent
    • Finglandrigg Woods, Cumbria
    • Orton Moss, Cumbria
    • Coille Ardura, Strathclyde
    • Upper Teesdale, Durham
    • Simonside Hills, Northumberland
    • Kielderhead Moors, Northumberland/Borders
    • Cairnsmore of Fleet, Dumfries and Galloway
    • Keen of Hamar, Shetland
    • New Forest Valley Mires (Denny Bog), Hampshire
    • Sandringham Warren (Dersingham Bog), Norfolk
    • Cumwhitton Moss, Cumbria
    • Moorthwaite Moss, Cumbria
    • Biglands, Cumbria
    • Cors Geirch, Gwynedd
    • Cors Erddreiniog, Gwynedd
    • Bure Marshes, Norfolk
    • Surlingham Marshes, Norfolk
    • Glasson Moss, Cumbria
    • Hummel Knowe Moss, Cumbria/Northumberland
    • Coom Ring Moss and Seletia Moss, Cumbria/ Northumberland
    • Blar Na Caillich Buidhe, Highland
    • Forsinard -badanlock Flows, Highland
    • A'Mhoine, Highland
    • Merrick—Kells, Dumfries and Galloway
    House adjourned at half-past seven o'clock.