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Written Answers

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1987

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Written Answers

Prisoners' Relatives: Assisted Visits Scheme

asked Her Majesty's Government:What new arrangements are planned for administering the assisted visits scheme for prisoners' relatives; when these arrangements will come into effect; and whether all those relatives in receipt of supplementary benefit who are at present eligible for assisted visits will remain eligible under the new arrangements.

New arrangements are being introduced for the administration of the scheme for assisted visits to prisons by close relatives. A new unit of the Home Office Prison Department will administer the scheme for England and Wales. Because it would he uneconomic to have a separate unit to administer the Scheme for Scotland, the Home Office unit will act as an agent for the Scottish Home and Health Department. For administrative convenience the new arrangements will begin to operate from 1st March 1988 in respect of visits to inmates in Scotland and from 11th April in respect of visits to inmates in Great Britain as a whole. Applications and payments will be handled by post rather than within DHSS local offices as hitherto. In order to take account of forthcoming changes in the social security system, financial eligibility will be based upon entitlement to income support which replaces supplementary benefit, family credit or a low income certificate, but apart from this the principal terms and conditions of the scheme will remain the same.

Asian Language Teaching In Schools

asked Her Majesty's Government:In how many schools Asian languages are taught and in how many of such schools Asian languages are taught to pupils of European ancestry.

The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Education and Science
(Baroness Hooper)

This information is not collected centrally.

University Extra-Mural Adult Education: Funding

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is their policy on the funding of liberal adult education provided by extra-mural departments of the universities.

Following consultation with the universities, the Government have decided to transfer responsibility for these grants to English universities to the Universities Funding Council proposed in the Education Reform Bill. The Government consider that this work should properly take its place alongside the other work of the universities to be funded through the Universities Funding Council rather than to be funded partly by the Department of Education and Science and partly by the council. One consequence of this transfer will be that Her Majesty's Inspectorate will cease to inspect the work of university extra-mural departments. The Government are confident that the council will attach as much importance to this work as the Government do. A working party, consisting of officers from the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals, the University Grants Committee, HM Inspectorate and the department, has been established which will examine the practical details involved in the transfer of responsibility in order to ensure a smooth transition.The grants to Welsh universities are still under consideration and a decision will be made later.

Msc: European Social Fund Allocations

asked Her Majesty's Government:What benefit the Manpower Services Commission has received from the European Social Fund in each of the last five years.

The following allocations have been made from the European Social Fund in respect of Manpower Services Commission programmes in each of the last 5 years:


asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they consider that the Manpower Services Commission has drawn sufficient attention to the benefits it has received from the European Social Fund.

The 1986–87 Annual Report published by the Manpower Services Commission acknowledges the European Social Fund contribution to its programmes. Department of Employment and Manpower Services Commission officials are currently discussing ways of improving publicity for 1988 social fund applications.

asked Her Majesty's Government:What steps they have recently taken to increase public awareness of the assistance provided by the European Social Fund to the Manpower Services Commission and its activities.

On 27th July, the Department of Employment issued a press release about the European Commission's decision on the European Social Fund allocations to the United Kingdom for 1987. In a note to editors an allocation of £254 million from the fund for MSC training schemes was highlighted.

Yts: European Social Fund Allocations

asked Her Majesty's Government:What percentage of youth training schemes has been financed by the European Social Fund in each of the last five years; and whether they are satisfied that the general public is aware of this contribution from the European Community to training schemes in the United Kingdom.

A small number of applications is made each year to the European Commission for European Social Fund assistance for the YTS in the relevant priority areas. It is not, therefore, possible to say exactly how many individual schemes have received such assistance. The amount of social fund assistance received by the United Kingdom over the four years that YTS has been fully operational is:

1984£138 million
1985£93.7 million
1986£107.8 million
1987£155.3 million
Although the MSC does acknowledge in its annual report the assistance given to its programmes by the social fund, officials in the Department of Employment and Manpower Services Commission are currently working at ways in which this can be improved still further.

Research: Definition For Tax Purposes

asked Her Majesty's Government:What is the definition of research in relation to VAT liability (Schedule 6, Group 6, Item 2(a)) in so far as it applies to education or research of a kind provided by a school or university or charitable organisation.

Customs and Excise's interpretation of the term is set out in their VAT Leaflet 701/30/87 (Education), and is as follows:

"Research is to be understood as original investigation undertaken in order to gain knowledge and understanding. It includes the use of existing knowledge in experimental development to produce new or substantially improved materials, devices, products and processes including design and construction. It excludes routine testing and analysis of materials—e.g. for the maintenance of national standards—as distinct from the development of new analytical techniques. In the humanities it includes scholarship which leads to new or substantially improved understanding."

Fast Reactor Planning In Europe

asked Her Majesty's Government:What conclusions were reached by the European Fast Reactor Utilities Group when considering proposals from the European design companies for work on a common model when it met on 1st December?

I have asked the chairman of the Central Electricity Generating Board to write to my noble friend.

Museums And Galleries Funding 1988–91

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether they will announce allocations of funding for museums and galleries during the next three years.

Following my announcement on 5th November (Official Report, cols. 1189–1191) of a three-year settlement of the arts budget, I can now announce allocations to individual museums and galleries for the period from April 1988 to March 1991.Overall provision for museums and galleries will be £157 million in 1988–89, £160 million in 1989–90 and £164 million in 1990–91. These figures are substantially higher than the £125·6 million which appears in the relevant estimates for the present year, for two reasons. First, there is a substantial increase, rising from over £11 million in 1988–89 to almost £12 million in 1990–91, in the planned provision for museums and galleries out of the settlement announced on 5th November; secondly, the total includes transfers of funding to the museums and galleries and the Museums and Galleries Commission in respect of services, including superannuation and the services of the Treasury Solicitor, for which the institutions will in future pay directly from their running costs, and property rates and certain rents which have been included in the provisions for building and maintenance work. The combined effect of these changes is to give a clearer picture of the total resources which the institutions as a group are receiving from central government through the arts programme.Subject to parliamentary approval of Supply Estimates at the appropriate time, the Government propose that the allocations to specific institutions shall be as indicated in the table below. Excluding transfers, these figures amount to an increase of 15·9 per cent, for the three-year period as a whole. They are intended to give museums and galleries a firm base on which to plan their future activities and development. By providing the largest increase in the first year, they are intended to encourage early action to strengthen the institutions' management and financial position. Apart from the figures for building and maintenance in the second and third years, referred to below, the figures will not be reviewed in the course of the 1988–89 expenditure surveys unless the situation changes substantially in ways that cannot be foreseen today. The Government will consider in 1988 what provision to make for the last year of that survey—i.e. for 1991–92; and similarly in 1989 what provision to make for 1992–93—with a view to a rolling three-year programme.

Provision for running costs is being increased to take account of particular needs. Each institution will receive increases over and above the forward planning figures notified first in the spring of this year. My right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts is in particular providing increased grants for the Tate Gallery to help with the costs of the gallery in Liverpool which is to open next year; for the Imperial War Museum for the costs of fitting out the new galleries which will result from its major redevelopment scheme; and for the National Gallery for the running costs of the new Sainsbury Wing, which is due to open in the final year of the period.

Within the allocations for running costs, the Government have earmarked a total of £0·57 million to help the institutions through training and in other ways to improve their management and marketing. The Government also made provision within the grant-in-aid to the Museums and Galleries Commission announced on 5th November to enable the commission to assist other museums and galleries in the same way.

The Government have given careful thought to the question of purchase grants and have decided to give a higher priority to the other, more pressing needs which the institutions have represented to my right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts and which are reflected in the allocations for running costs and building and maintenance. Purchase grants will therefore remain in cash terms at their present levels for the time being.

The allocations to the individual institutions include for the first time provision within their grants-in-aid for building and maintenance. The building and maintenance programme for most of the institutions, which is at present managed by the Property Services Agency and carried on its Vote, will, as my right honourable friend the Minister for the Arts announced in July 1986, become the responsibility of the individual institutions from 1st April next; provision for it will be made in the Office of Arts and Libraries' Vote. The Government's allocations for this purpose will total £48·47 million in 1988–89. This includes the increase of £6 million which I announced on 5th November would be devoted to strengthening the building and maintenance programme. The Government hope that the institutions will be able as a result to tackle their priority maintenance tasks and get the new system off to a good start. For 1989–90 and 1990–91 the Government have decided to allocate to individual institutions the bulk of the money for building and maintenance, but to keep for future allocation a margin of 25 to 30 per cent, of the total. The allocation of the margin, amounting to over £12 million in 1989–90 and nearly £15 million in 1990–91, will depend partly upon the plans which the institutions bring forward and the extent to which they can raise money for these from other sources.

The national museums and galleries make a splendid contribution to conserving and displaying our national heritage. With the provisions which the Government are making for the next three years and with the incentive which these provide to strengthen their financial position, the Government are confident that they will continue to do so and that the institutions will welcome the firm basis which these allocations provide for their future planning and development.







British Museum
Running costs15·66516·13216·594
Building programme7·5805·7006·000
Purchase grant1·4001·4001·400
Sub Total24·64523·23223·994
British Museum (Natural History)
Running costs15·37015·77216·242
Building programme6·7405·8005·600
Purchase grant0·1900·1900·190
Sub Total22·30021·76222·032
Imperial War Museum
Running costs6·3186·5156·129
Building programme6·5202·7001·700
Purchase grant0·1001·1000·100
Sub Total12·9389·3157·929
National Gallery
Running costs5·2335·4066·208
Building programme3·4903·3002·900
Purchase grant2·7502·7502·750
Sub Total11·47311·45611·858
National Maritime Museum
Running costs5·5305·6785·791
Building programme2·5102·5002·000
Purchase grant0·2050·2050·205
Sub Total8·2458·3837·996
National Museums and Galleries on Merseyside
Running costs6·7806·9967·169
Building programme2·6902·5002·400
Purchase grant0·7500·7500·750
Sub Total10·22010·24610·319
National Portrait Gallery
Running costs1·9962·0202·072
Building programme3·0201·5001·500
Purchase grant0·3100·3100·310
Sub Total5·3263·8303·882
Science Museum
Running costs11·04711·37411·652
Building programme5·2103·4003·500
Purchase grant0·3750·3750·375
Sub Total16·63215·14915·527
Tate Gallery
Running costs6·3006·5866·766
Building programme2·7802·8002·900
Purchase grant1·8151·8151·815
Sub Total10·89511·20111·481







Victoria and Albert Museum
Running costs12·90013·31513·716
Building programme7·4805·4005·400
Purchase grant1·1451·1451·145
Sub Total21·52519·86020·261
Wallace Collection
Running costs1·1491·1861·217
Building programme0·4490·4000·400
Purchase grant
Sub Total1·5981·5861·617
To be allocated later for building and maintenance12·10014·700

Running costs, including provision for building and maintenance

Greater Manchester Museum of Science and Industry1·4731·5161·552
Museum of London2·7762·8552·923
Sir John Soane's Museum0·2750·2950·305
Sub Total4·5244·6664·780
Museums and Galleries Commission6·4816·6966·877
Research and Support Services0·5000·5000·500

*Individual provisions for the building programme in these two years will be increased when full allocation is made.

Conveyancing Services: Legislation

asked Her Majesty's Government:Whether the Conveyancing Services Bill introduced in this House on 28th April 1987 will be introduced again during the present Session.

Family Courts

asked Her Majesty's Government:When they expect to make an announcement concerning the future of family courts.

I am concerned to attain the best possible arrangements for dealing with family business, particularly in respect of proceedings involving children. The Government are considering all the different ways of achieving this objective. An announcement will be made when their consideration of these matters is complete.