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Written Answers

Volume 416: debated on Tuesday 20 January 1981

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Written Answers

Bail Refusals And Bail Hostels

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the most recent figure for persons in official custody because bail could not be granted for lack of a fixed address, and how this compares with the previous two years; and what are the capacity and locations of the four new bail hostels that are in preparation.

I regret that information about persons not granted bail for lack of a fixed address is not available centrally. The available information about magistrates' reasons for refusing bail is in Table 8.10 of the Criminal Statistics, England and Wales, 1979 (Cmnd. 8098).New bail hostels are in preparation at Cleveland (12 places), Stafford (12 places), St. Alban's (15 places) and West Midlands (about 15 places).

Prison "Governor's Handbook"

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will place a copy of the prison

Governor's Handbook in the Library at the House of Lords.

The Governor's Handbook is an unofficial publication and is the work of a prison governor undertaken on his own initiative. A copy is being placed in the Library.

Yellowlees Report: Definition Of "Adult"

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the word "adults" in the report of Sir Henry Yellowlees on the Medical Examination of Immigrants means "persons over the age of 18".

The word "adults" occurs mainly in those paragraphs of the report that deal with the use of X-rays for estimating age. In that context, the report indicates that the word refers to people aged 21 years and over.

Yellowlees Report: Age Estimations

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they agree with the opinion expressed in paragraph 3 of Appendix I of the Yellowlees Report that in estimating the age of children by


"the accuracy attainable is of the order of plus or minus six months".

The passage in question is not an opinion but a statement of the accuracy of age assessments obtained in the United States of America and Western Europe using tables of skeletal maturation.

The Sword Of Shivaji

asked Her Majesty's Government:What decision they have made in response to the request of the Chief Minister of Maharashtra that the sword of Shivaji, historic as a symbol of resistance to British and Mogul occupations, should be returned to India.

The Chief Minister of Maharashtra during a visit in December last made oral requests for return of a sword which is in the Royal Collection. He was informed that if the Government of India wished to request its return, they should make a formal approach in writing to the Lord Chamberlain which could then be considered. No such formal application has yet been received.

Hong Kong: Conviction Of Chinese Girl

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will advise Her Majesty The Queen to grant a pardon to the Chinese girl (whose identity is known to the Home Office) who, at 16 years of age, was convicted in Hong Kong of stealing a bar of chocolate valued at 5p when unemployed and hungry, with the consequence that she now has a criminal record which will prejudice the rest of her life.

We do not at present have all the relevant information on this case. When this is available, I will write to the noble Lord.

Afghanistan: Un Resolution

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will support the invitation of the United Nations General Assembly to Dr. Waldheim to appoint a special envoy to explore a settlement of the conflict in Afghanistan on the basis of self-determination.

Her Majesty's Government supported the United Nations General Assembly resolution of 20th November. We have since urged the United Nations Secretary-General to appoint a special representative in accordance with the resolution which was supported by 111 countries.

Equal Pay For Women

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will strengthen legislation for equal pay for women to bring it into line with the directive of the European Commission as requested by the TUC.

The Government consider that the Equal Pay Act 1970, as amended by the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, meets the requirements of the EC Directive on the approximation of the laws of the member states relating to the application of the principle of equal pay for men and women (75/117/ EEC).

Wisley Airport

asked Her Majesty's Government:When Wisley Airport was sold to the Earl of Lytton:

  • (a) whether the Secretary of State was informed before the decision was implemented;
  • (b) whether there was any clause in the contract of sale to enable the Crown to receive a proportion of the enhanced value arising out of the possibility of the ranting of planning permission (already applied for) to convert it into a general aviation airport.
  • The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of the Environment
    (Lord Bellwin)

    (a) All land transactions work undertaken by the Property Services Agency is done under the direction of the Secretary of State for the Environment, (b) The Contract of Sale and Transfer contained no such clause.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether, when the Secretary of State comes to consider the merits of the appeal by Jenstate against Guildford Borough Council's refusal of planning permission, he will regard the PSA as an independent authority and not part of his department for the purposes of this inquiry.

    The appeal by Jenstate Limited will be decided by the Secretary of State for the Environment on its planning merits.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether their Green Belt policy is the same as that stated by the Secretary of State in his letter to Lord Nugent of Guildford of 7th August 1980.

    asked Her Majesty's Government:How many contracts to sell land or buildings have been exchanged and completed within 24 hours by the PSA in the last 4 years.

    The Government have no records designed to provide this information. However, I am advised by the Conveyancing Branch of the Treasury Solicitor's Department that transfers of interests in land have been arranged by way of contract and conveyance on the same day.

    Housing Finance

    asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether their "ongoing study of housing finance" (

    Official Report, 16th December 1980, cols. 979–980) covers the following points:—

  • (a) that fair rents for new houses are often only sufficient to cover management and maintenance, so that the whole capital cost has to be met by subsidy;
  • (b) that comparable houses produced by local authorities and housing associations in the same area are often let at widely varying rents; and
  • (c) that a house-purchaser buying with the aid of an endowment mortgage can obtain income tax relief not only on interest but also on capital repayments;
  • and if not, why not.

    On these and other subjects the department as a matter of course assembles and analyses information in order to be able to assist my right honourable friend in the conduct of his responsibilities for housing. As I told the noble Lord on 16th December, now is not the time for another major review of housing finance.House adjourned at one minute before eight o'clock.